Saturday, August 17, 2019


Nothing to report, except that I’m going back to Kirkmichael tomorrow – with the cats, and with Helen and her family – and won’t be back until the beginning of September or thereabouts. Helen seems confident, but I don’t think we’ll all fit in the car. I will take the Calcutta Cup scarf again, and am determined to finish it before I come back.

We went to see Austentatious today, my one nod to this year’s Festival. They improvise comedy of a vaguely Jane Austen-ish sort. I think I would have enjoyed it more in a smaller theatre, where we might all have felt part of the improvisation. They were good, though.

I’ve been fermenting a chilli mash again, meaning to make “my” chilli sauce to take some to Kirkmichael for James’ and Cathy’s daughter Rachel, who was kind enough to praise it recently. It is the Jamie Oliver recipe from YouTube, chillies omitted and the whole infused with fermented chilli mash at the end, to taste. But I am too tired. Maybe tomorrow morning, before we go. I’ve made some more kimchi recently, but am not making much progress with eating it.

I can’t now fall into bed, as I would choose, because I am committed to a grocery delivery at least an hour hence.

Reading: I’ve re-read enough Jackson Brodie, and have reverted to “The Last September”. I started again from the beginning, because I find the names as confusing as a Russian novel. “Francie”, for instance, is “Mrs Montmorency” on another page, and there are many others similar. It’s all right for the first chapter or two, with about half a dozen significant characters, but then we have a tennis party.

Thank you and bless you,  for your comments. See you in September.

Friday, August 16, 2019


Two more (long) rows of Spring Shawl today. I am now thoroughly embarked on the final motifs, the cats’ eyes. That's better.

I got a nice little book of “Ten Poems About Knitting” for my birthday earlier this week. (86! How did that happen?) One of them begins “I knit to keep death away” – and the line is underlined. Surely not by the sender! It’s a bit unnerving.

Lizzie and Dan are safely here, looking remarkably spruce after a night of sitting bolt upright on a bus. Various people will gather here tomorrow for a bread-and-cheese lunch before we go to see “Austentatious”. If I’m strong enough. I am in some doubt.

Scams

I’m calming down a bit. Archie, on being told the story, says that the scammers must have thought they were about to land a big fish. Indeed so.

Clearly, there are great similarities on both sides of the pond. I get a lot of those calls to say that I am about to lose my internet connection – almost all from non-native-English-speakers. In January when we are all tearing our hair out at the approach of the Income Tax deadline, we have wonderful ones, recorded in perfect HMRC voices, to say that our tax affairs are being investigated. Very scary, but it needs only a moment to reflect that, on a land line, at least, a recorded message must be harmless because there is no way Her Majesty can know whether or not the butler has answered the phone.

(Alexander has told me always to disregard recorded messages.)

An old boy who used to be a governor of the Bank of England got caught by the loss-of-internet one recently. (They install something very nasty on your computer if you let them.) And a shrewd columnist on the Times nearly fell for one of the worst, when you get an email purportedly from your accountant or your lawyer or your estate agent changing their bank details and then you send your tax payment or the down payment on your new house to the wrong address.

Jeanfromcornwall, I was delighted to hear from a fellow Thunderer fan. I can’t remember how my husband and I heard about them, but when we did we went to the factory (which is in Birmingham, where we lived) and bought two. They hang by the back door in Kirkmichael and are used when someone needs urgently to summon help. I blew a Thunderer when I broke my right arm.

Thursday, August 15, 2019


Again, no knitting. Either I’ll have to pull myself together, or give up blogging.

Rachel’s youngest child, Lizzie, and her boyfriend Dan will be here early tomorrow (after a night on a bus – I could do that when I was their age) for a couple of days of Festival-ing.

James’ and Cathy’s youngest, Kirsty, covered herself with glory, A-Level-results-wise.

And Archie and I moved life somewhat forward today.

I am still feeling shocked by yesterday’s scam – it’s sort of like finding rats in the larder. I’m afraid it’s no use reporting it. I wasn’t quick-witted enough to grab any details – the sort code and the account number of the account “in my name” to which he wanted me to transfer rather a lot of money, for instance. The lead story in the Times today is about how the police duck out of dealing with such crimes. And in my case, no crime was committed, thank goodness.

I was awfully grateful for your comments.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Here we are safely back. We had a good time. It was wonderful to turn the cats free, as is their birthright. I didn’t worry at all, this time. They love me, in their furry way. They came home.

Paradox caught a mouse! It was very small – probably, in fact, a shrew. She was delighted with it. All those who don’t believe in instinct – there are such – should watch a 2-year-old indoor cat with her first mouse.

I didn’t knit a stitch. Kate Atkinson supervened. Like you, Peggy, I am re-reading with great pleasure. The feeling/knowledge that I’ve-been-here-before is an asset.

Here is my husband’s stone:




And that of Helen and David’s eldest son (a year older than Archie), next to it:



And the two together:



The swirl at the top of each is meant to link them  -- important, since the names are different. The slight impression these photographs give of not-straightness is erroneous.

We got back here in good order at midday, the cats complaining the whole way. We made a little detour on the way to Wolfhill, which turns out to be very near Dunsinnan which equals Dunsinane. Wolfhill is not, however, the very hill upon which as I did stand my watch I looked towards Birnam and anon, methought, the wood began to move. That hill is in another village, nearby.

Then while I was still unpacked and recovering, I had a phone call which I am by now quite convinced was a scam, but it was a good and complicated one. I have read of such (fortunately). He claimed to be from the bank. Two suspicious charges had been made on my debit card, he said, £500 of groceries in each case to be delivered to an address in Dundee. He knew the first four numbers of the debit card, and the name of the supermarket I use – that could have been good luck – and my street address.

He wanted me to transfer a rather large amount of money to a new account, “in my name”, to protect it. I refused. He urged me to phone him back at the number on the back of my debit card. I am an assiduous reader of financial pages, and I think I know that Bad Men do this, and can divert the call to their own number, as long as you ring it within the next 10 or 15 minutes.

I phoned Alexander, who said to do nothing, and that’s what I’ve done. But it was unsettling.

Sunday, August 11, 2019


I’m going to Kirkmichael tomorrow, until Wednesday. Back here that evening, or Thursday.

My husband’s gravestone is at last to be fixed in place. We were all set for midday tomorrow, but the stone mason (who is somewhere in the north of England, I think) has had an adverse reaction to a wasp sting, and can’t be there until later in the afternoon, or perhaps Tuesday. Greek Helen was planning to go, and Alexander with his sons. All that is certain now is that C. and I will be there (if he turns up).

I’ll take the scarf to knit and should make serious progress.

And the cats will come too. Despite them, I am feeling almost as jumpy as if I were going to Naples or the Isle of Wight.

Reading:  I have finished “Control” which is a perfectly adequate thriller. Publishers usually ask for two from a new writer these days – I’ll be interested to see what he comes up with next. There is room for improvement, but he (the author, Hugh Montgomery) has Schherazade’s trick of writing short chapters that each leave you gasping for the next one, and his use of the medical background is skilful.

Over coffee after Mass this morning we got talking about Kate Atkinson (a fave) and in particular her “When Will There Be Good News?” I’m sure I’ve read it – I’ve read all of Jackson Brodie – but the plot didn’t feel familiar, and, oddly, it wasn’t on my iPad. So I bought it, and am reading that. It has a familiar feel.

Then I'll go back to “The Last September”. It has a “modern” feel, shifting from the viewpoint of one character to another – and having lots of characters whose relationship to each other one struggles to keep straight. Rather like Virginia Wolff.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


A fresher day today, and the sun shone. But now we are back to apocalyptic rain and thunder and lightning. The iPad won’t connect to the internet. I think I’m all right here, with the laptop. We’ll soon see. How bereft I feel without the internet, alone in the universe!

One more row of Spring Shawl today – better than nothing.

Thank you for your kind remarks about Joe and Becca’s wedding. That was a good day.

Here is a pointless anecdote which serves, at least, to illustrate a point I often make, that there are few things better than creating a problem for yourself and then solving it.

Yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t find my keys. Normally, when that is the case, I have but to assure myself that since I am in the house, so must they be. Not so, yesterday. My nice man came about lunchtime (after my soaking in Drummond Place Gardens) and brought me a new battery for the car. When he had installed it, he came to the door and gave me the invoice and I paid him with my debit card and all four of our hands were occupied with this activity.

So when the keys weren’t with the invoice or the card, nor anywhere else plausible, I wondered if he still had them. I was anxious through the night. I rang him up this morning; he was sure he had given them to me. And as I talked to him, I solved the problem: I had put the keys aside, there by the door. Not a normal key-place, but there they were.

I told you it was pointless, but still, a great relief. I went off to the supermarket and the car went vroom, vroom.

Reading: “The Last September” is good, and I’m sure I will persevere, but it is also depressing. It’s a family-in-country-house story, a genre I adore (Mansfield Park! Il Gattopardo! Brideshead!) but this time with the grim sense of the Irish Troubles just beyond the gates, and the knowledge that the Irish will win and the house is doomed. So today I succumbed to a thriller – a medical thriller, at that: “Control” by Hugh Montgomery. It’s certainly thrilling.

Friday, August 09, 2019


Again, little to report – two more rows of the Spring Shawl. But tonight you’ll forgive me, because I’ve got the wedding pictures at last. They were stuck in my telephone, but Archie was here today and released them.

I’ve finished “Father and Son” – Susan, do read it. It’s fairly short, and quite interesting. I’ve embarked on Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Last September”. The Anglo-Irish in 1920. It starts well.

More bad weather. My personal trainer and I set off for Drummond Place Gardens in a drizzle, and came back two circuits later, soaked to the skin. I’m sure it did us good. And in the afternoon, the sun shone, at least for a while. It does lift the apirits.

Archie and I tried, again,  to go to the supermarket, and again the battery was flat. Now I’ve got a new one.

Here are the wedding pictures. The little girls leading the procession into the church are two of my great-granddaughters.








As you can see, we were blessed with our weather. The following week, the current succession of great heat and torrential rain started almost everywhere.