Thursday, February 29, 2024

I’m back in the sitting room, poking away with one finger again. I’ve been sleepy.

   Happy Leap Day to us all!

   The newspapers are full of reports of Tom Kingston’s sudden and unexpected death (husband of minor Royal Lady Gabriella, daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent). Presumably we will know more eventually. One source — I’ve now forgotten which — specifically said that Prince William’s sudden and unexpected withdrawal from his godfather’s memorial service yesterday was not linked.

   Otherwise I have little to report. Archie came to see me. Helen has been here. My watch gave up the ghost and my current carer went down to Tesco to buy a new battery for it. It was so expensive that I fear we are approaching the moment when we throw away a watch that needs a new battery. I can remember the days when an electronic watch with 100% accuracy (with an honest Arabic face) — which is what I wear — cost rather a lot. There was something called an Accutron.

    No knitting. But a new needle has arrived in the post. I had the right gauge in one that was uncomfortably long and one that was uncomfortably short. I hope I’ve got it right this time.

  Wordle: a three, at last, for me. And for Alexander and for Mark and for Theo. Four for Rachel and Roger. Five for Ketki. Uncharacteristic silence for Thomas.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024


This is a departure. I’m back in the Catalogue Room, trying to write to you on my aged mobile computer. After all these weeks, it seems slower and stiffer even than I am, and (so far) I can’t load Freecell. I always liked to start with a couple of hands of that. It’s bliss to be back to an actual keyboard.

      Not much to report, either. I’ve successfully plotted “TheCalcuttaCup ‘24” and done a bit more knitting. I think I’m nearly ready to plunge in, and have decided to knit the motif only once, and to keep the knitting circular by cutting the contrast yarn after every row.

     I’m feeling a certain amount of mental sludge. Hard to express, but a sudden awareness of diminishing acuity.

    Comments: You may well be right, Catdownunder, that Prince William was absent from his godfather’ memorial service because of the sudden death of Thomas Kingston. How is he (Prince William) related to Lady Gabriella? (This will sound like gibberish. See yesterday’s comment for a starter.) My mother was brilliant at relationships and could spot a second cousin twice removed at fifty paces. I enjoy it, but can’t, in this case, be bothered to figure out exactly where Prince and Princess Michael of Kent fit into the scheme of things.

    The whole point of being back here in the catalogue room is to show you pictures. I’ll skip great-grandchildren for the moment to show you snowdrops from Helen’s recent visit to Burnside.

   And a picture of Paradox having a nap in her new home in the south of England. There is no doubt that both she and Perdita are much happier cats now that there are hundreds of miles between them.

   Wordle: another day of predominantly fours. Alexander had a five (I didn’t think it was all that easy, either) and Mark a three. Theo was another four, in DC, and, as has happened before, we haven’t heard from Roger yet.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

 Helen is working here again today. We had lunch together and discussed, as one does, Prince William’s last-minute withdrawal from his godfather’s memorial service. Royals don’t do that sort of thing. Helen didn’t know, not being interested in rugby, that Princess Anne had missed the Calcutta Cup.

  We were alarmed. On the other hand both Princess Anne and the Queen were present at the memorial service, so there is probably no alarming conclusion to be drawn.

  Helen took me on a wheelchair tour of the house this morning. I didn’t find “the book I think I need” (see yesterday) but I did find a book of knitting-shaped graph paper, and my chart for 2004, which gave me a needed 2. Nowadays I do the date in the form ‘24 and so forth, so recent 2’s were in short supply. I could wing it, for 4.

   (That doesn't entirely make sense. But I couldn’t find my charts from any of the last three years.)

   So this year’s chart is ready. I’ll do a bit more round-and-round st st and then launch into it.

   Wordle: Roger scored five today. Everybody else had four. We are getting more uniform, lłl

Monday, February 26, 2024

 I was puzzled about Princess Anne too, Chloe (comment yesterday). She was presumably kept away from the Calcutta Cup match by family or general royal duties. Or maybe she just had a cold. We’ll never know. I know she will have been sorry not to be there.

  If you’re at all interested, follow up Maureen in Fargo’s comment yesterday, pointing to the blog entry where there is a picture of me holding up my knitting to the Cup Itself and also other Cup-related and  knitting-related pictures. Thanks, Maureen.

  For ‘24, I plan to put the Cup and date in that navel-level stretch of plain vanilla st st which I have just reached in the Spalding sweater (Brooklyn Tweed) (which is knit top-down). I have been much frustrated today in not being able to WALK around the house to find the book I think I need to make a chart for “ ‘24”. I know what it looks like. I know where it should be. I can’t remember what it’s called. Appreciate walking while you can, those of you who can still do it.

Wordle: I cancelled my NYT subscription yesterday — WordleBot wasn’t worth it. I was anxious lest they would strip me of my winning streak. But they didn’t. I am currently 55, hoping to get past my all-time-high of 67. 

  Threes and fours today. I was a three, I am pleased to report. In DC, it  was three for Theo and four for his father Roger. Over here, Ketki and I were the threes. Thomas hasn’t been heard from yet.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

 Princess Anne wasn’t there yesterday, to see Scotland win a 4th successive Calcutta Cup. She is patron of Scottish rugby, and a most devoted and enthusiastic one over many years. She wouldn’t have stayed away in favour of toasted cheese by the fire.

Since  I am being so feeble about illustration, please look the Cup up in Wikipedia or somewhere. It’s rather beautiful. It is close to being the oldest sporting trophy in circulation. It was made in Calcutta of silver melted down from rupees remaining to a British regimental rugby club, and has been awarded to England or Scotland, as appropriate, after the annual match ever since.

I went to see it once, taking a tour of Murrayfield while it was here. Somewhere there is a picture of me holding up some of my Calcutta Cup knitting next to the Real Thing. I sought in vain for that picture this morning. Nowadays there is a duplicate cup which lives at the loser’s stadium. When we were being shewn around at Murrayfield we were told that the only perceptible difference is the slightly darker colour of the Real Thing.

I first incorporated it into knitting into a Christening shawl for Kirsty Miles, James’ and Cathy’s daughter. That was for a great triumph, in the year 2000. Scotland had lost every game, even against Italy. England had won all of hers. A former Scotland coach, Ian McGheechan, remarked at the time, “They won the Six Nations. We won the Calcutta Cup. Everybody’s happy.”

And I’ve knit it ever since. You can see last year’s effort in the picture above. I’ll hope to tell you about this year’s tomorrow. But I never expected victories to come so thick and fast. 

Wordle: ALL six British-based scored four today. Theo had three, and we haven’t heard from Roger.  My winning streak is up to 54. My max was 67. So it’s getting scary. 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

 We won. I think I heard the television say that the last time Scotland won four Calcutta Cups in a row was in the late 19th century. I’ll try to tell you more about it tomorrow, including plans for the knitting.

Friday, February 23, 2024

 Cold out there. We have had a peaceful day, Helen toiling away in the study. She brought me two delicious purple artichokes from Valvona and Crolla this morning. Both have been consumed.

   Attention is being given to access and to aching hip. Thank you for your comments. I think I’ll tell Archie to bring me some gummies.

   No knitting so far, and no reading even.  What have I been doing all day? Dozing. 

   Wordle: threes and fours today. The British contingent divided on gender lines — that was neat. Threes for Thomas, Alexander and Mark. Fours for the rest of us. In DC, Theo was the three and Roger the four.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

 It’s still a bit too cold to venture back into the Catalogue Room. Maybe someone younger, indeed, could teach me to move pics from here on the iPad to here on the blog. Helen sent a beautiful one this morning, of snowdrops abundantly blooming and daffodils pushing forward in the lawn in front of our house in Kirkmichael. 

  (Step inside the fence in the picture to the right, angle the camera a bit more to the left, cutting out the house. Trees and sunshine and snowdrops.)

  The carer and I have had a good day recovering equilibrium. The trouble with yesterday, apart from disappointment, is that we were instructed to be ready three hours before the appointment hour. Since the appt was for 3 p.m., that spoiled lunchtime. At one point during the afternoon Helen got them on the phone and they said they were 10 minutes away. I put my coat on and got into my wheelchair.

  Today Archie came and I fed him lunch. He was a bit low. I have passed on your comments about “gummies” (blog and comments yesterday). We’ve sort of concluded that I must ask my GP. 

  Knitting progresses. I have wound the new ball, for the waistband, and found a circular needle of the right size. There are still a few more stitches to do before launching into it. What if I don’t have enough of the toning shade?

  Wordle: my starters gave me two greens and a brown. Looking at my grid now, in the shades of evening, it’s hard to see why I didn’t score three. But I managed to think of an odd word which qualified butcwas wrong, Four for me.

  Ketki and Thomas joined me there. Threes for Rachel and Alexander and Mark. Roger and Theo both posted four. That’s some comfort.


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

 The ambulance didn’t turn up. (See yesterday.) Three people’s day close to ruined — mine and Helen’s and my carer’s. Not to mention the hospital slot wasted. If we ever get another one, we’ll have to go by taxi and that means we’ll have to figure out how to get down those six steps.

  It looks like quite a nice day out there, too. I'm sorry to have missed it. 

  Helen’s youngest son, Fergus, was here for a while this morning. He is about to go off to do a four-day induction test for Sandhurst — that is, to be accepted to be trained to be an army officer, the four days of testing being physical and mental and psychological. I’d take Fergus if I were the British army.

  My hip grows more and more uncomfortable. Archie is coming tomorrow to advise on medical marijuana, widely available in Scotland but is it wise? 

  There was no Six-Nations rugby last weekend, as you must have guessed if you have the slightest interest. Calcutta Cup coming up on Saturday, here in Edinburgh (which improves our chances). That means the annual match against England. 

  And I knit a bit further forward, amidst all the tension and increasing gloom. 

    Wordle: I scored four today, along with Thomas and Alexander. Five for Rachel and Mark. A brilliant three for Ketki. In DC, it was three for Theo and four for Roger.

  My maximum winning streak, long ago, was 67. I’m now back up to 50, I think probably the second-best streak. It adds to the daily excitement.


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

 Another pleasant day, judged from in here. And tomorrow — excitement! — I will go out. I have an appointment at a hospital for advice on wheelchairs, much needed. The trouble is, we have elected to go by ambulance which has meant booking a time slot a whole three hours before the appt. And then home again? The appt itself, at 3pm, will last about an hour. Perhaps they can also advise on getting down and up my six front steps. I’ll certainty ask. 

 I’ll tell you all about it in due course.

  And once tomorrow’s adventure is behind me, I firmly resolve to get into the Catalogue Room after breakfast and boot up my laptop and send you some pictures. The current time of day, when I usually write,  is too late for picture-sending; I have drooped too far.

  Knitting has progressed. I still need three more visible stitches — six more actual rounds — before starting the welt. It feels endless. The “new” ball looks somewhat diminished, I tell myself.

  Wordle: I crawled home with five again, and for the same reason as yesterday: my two starters and my first guess got me to line three, with four greens. In line I four guessed wrong again about the missing letter.

Thomas, Ketki, Mark and Rachel got three. Alexander four. Roger in DC was another three. No news from Theo yet, unusually. Is it all luck, or do I need to re-think my starters?




Monday, February 19, 2024

 Another reasonable day — a bit less wonderful, weather-wise, but still pretty good. Helen has been working here all day — that’s always nice, even though we never meet. An old internet-blog friend came to see me and I disgraced myself by a major failing of memory. But we had a nice time, even so.

  And I did some knitting. When I achieve the desired length with this half-brioche for the body, I switch to a smaller-gauge needle and carry straight on with the st st  welt in a toning shade. There’s nothing in that prospect to slow me down. Then sleeves. But the shoulders are sufficiently dropped that that is not a terrifying prospect either. The broad st st neckband is very important.

   Thank you for “Black Lamb Grey Falcon” — comments yesterday. I’ve added it to my list. And for the encouraging remarks about Chinese vegetarian food. And about Lourdes. I remain very conflicted about that last one. A last chance to travel? I’ve got to decide any minute now. 

  Wordle: we were much divided today. I scored a dismal five. I got stuck with four greens, missing the fourth letter. The other poor scores —Rachel, six; Theo and Mark, five — had the same configuration. So did Roger, but he managed to wriggle out in four.

   Both Alexander and his wife Ketki scored two; their son Thomas, three. 



Sunday, February 18, 2024

 Another pleasant spring day. Maybe we’re getting somewhere.

  Clare came this morning. We thought about going on the parish trip to Toulouse and Lourdes at the end of May. People would have to put up with me as part of their Christian (and Lourdes-focused) duty, but I fear it would be too much for them. Especially when it got to the nitty-gritty aspects of the commode. 

   Later in the day I thought about buying “Vegan Chinese Food”. I may still come around to that one. It’s well spoken of (and much cheaper than flying to Toulouse). Do any of you know it? 

  My recently-planted salad factory is coming on nicely. I really must get back to the Catalogue Room and to showing you some pictures.

   Franklin has launched a sock-knitting course for his patrons. We’ve only had the introductory essay so far. There are some wonderful sock yarns out there these days. 

   I haven’t done any knitting today, and I am beginning to be afraid that I am holding back because it is pleasant to knit round-and-round without getting anywhere, but finishing-off is going to be much more demanding.

   Thank you for your comments. I am continuing to enjoy Lane Fox on the Iliad. And my new Loebs arrived. The new traslation (for such it is) is very simple and clear, and very closely related to the Greek.

   Wordle: I am the class dunce again today. My two starter words gave me one green vowel and two browns. I struggled mightily but couldn’t think of anything. I finally gave up and typed in a Jean-word — qualified in every respect except that it re-used a previously eliminated letter. The result was no progress at all — I still had one green and two browns, although by now I knew one more place, for each brown, where it couldn’t be.

   That was line three. I did much better on four — my original letters were now all green, but I had made no progress at all with the two letters that had been missing from the beginning.

   I thought of something that fit, from the diminishing stock of available letters. And it was right. Five for me.

   Mark, Rachel, Ketki, and Alexander all had four. Three for Thomas — he’s clever, that boy.Theo and Roger both scored three as well. They’re clever, those Americans.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

 Spring continues to advance, but slowly.

  Helen’s husband David is here for a long weekend from Thessaloniki. We had a nice visit this morning. 

  Thank you for your book suggestions (comments yesterday). I’ll keep a memo. For the moment i’m reading (audibly) Robin Lane Fox on the Iliad and “Damascus Station” by David McCloskey, recommended strongly by David this morning. I feel it may be too masculine and exciting for me. I also — while David and Helen were here — ordered the Loeb edition of the Iliad from Amazon. That’s the one that has English and Greek on facing pages.

  I am astonished that we didn’t have it amongst our many Loebs, but I am told not. 

  All very cultured. But I have done no actual reading or knitting today, so it doesn’t count for much.

  Wordle: Two for Thomas; three for Rachel, Alexander, Ketki, Roger, and Mark; four (oh dear) for me and Theo.

Friday, February 16, 2024

 Sunshine again, but today for the first time this year it felt like real spring sunshine, warm through the window. 

  I measured my knitting this morning on the kitchen table: 10 1/2” out of a necessary 12”. To be followed by a broad st st welt to be knit in a toning shade of Brooklyn Tweed “Tones”. But before that, the sleeves, still in half-brioche stitch in the original yarn. Still, I’m making progress. 

  I finished “The Whalebone Theatre”. The war certainly splits it in half. Perhaps I feel that the whalebone theatre itself is not quite strong enough a motif to hold things together. Or plausible enough. The book is highly recommended, in any case. I wonder how it was done. The scenes in occupied Paris feel absolutely authentic, but the author couldn’t be that old. 

  I’ve gone on to Robin Lane Fox on the Iliad, in Audible. I suspect I will leave it entirely audible, and buy something trashy for actual reading. But what?

   Helen has been working here again today, but I haven’t seen much of her. We think we have straightened out all our financial problems. 

  I tried to switch over just now to watch Mr Biden’s statement about Mr Novalny’s death “live” but either Biden is late or the connection failed.

   Wordle: I got two greens from my starters this morning, one v. one c. And two brown c’s. I quite soon thought of a knitting-related word and put it in for old times’ sake, expecting it to be wrong but it wasn’t. So I scored three.

   There was little sign in the rest of my group that knitting conferred an advantage. Ketki scored a brilliant two. Roger and Rachel were with me on three. Alexander and Mark were the fours; Thomas five; Theo six. He had greens for the first three letters of the word, and guessed wrong three times. Knitting would have helped there. 


Thursday, February 15, 2024

 I’ve attached a new ball of yarn. And the idea is, if I start relevant blog posts like that, I’ll be able to check back easily to make sure that no ball takes more than a fortnight. It’s not much to ask.

  The weather has been dismal, grey, wet, but not as piercingly cold as it was a few days ago.

 Little other news. Helen has been working here again. I got some knitting done this morning (and hope for more before bed). I continue to enjoy “The Whalebone Theatre”. We’re now in Paris in ‘44 — the allies have landed in Normandy but haven’t reached Paris yet. Exciting.

  I agree with you, Mary Lou, (comment Tuesday) that the second half  of the book shifts on its axis. But so did the whole world, in 1939. I’ll deliver a final verdict soon. 

  Wordle: another four, for me. Another stinker— my starters gave me four browns, two v’s, two c’s. Titanic struggle (I hate anagrams.) Success! But it was wrong.

  Line four was right. And when I went back to WordleBot later, it told me after line two that there was only one possibility, after line three that “There was only one possible solution left and this wasn’t it. TheWordYouPut was a valid guess but unlikely to be the solution…”  I’ve been here before. Ridiculous. My guess wasn’t a foreign word or a plural or a past tense. It was a singular noun, and not obscene. 

  No Roger and no Ketki yet today. Ketki is often first of all. The remaining six of us were evenly split between threes and fours.



Wednesday, February 14, 2024

 Another grey, cold, wet day. Helen has been working here again. No knitting. I spent a fair amount of time asleep in my chair. I must pull myself together.

 There was a story in the paper yesterday about a farmer burning the wool clip. A few decades ago it was worth a penny or two, even to a farmer who raised sheep for food. It would be used for carpets and insulation.

  But then artificial fabrics took over those functions. I always assumed that merinos — whose fleeces are much desired for garments, from knitting wool to Saville Row — weren’t happy in Britain because the weather wasn’t good for their delicate chests. But yesterday’s paper suggests that merinos are too small to be very useful as a food crop. 

   I wonder how the thickness of Shetland lace yarn — measured in microns — compares to fine Merino. Industrious googling would probably tell me.

   Wordle: my starters gave me two green consonants and two brown vowels. It was still something of a struggle to think of a qualifying word. I got one at last. It didn’t seem very likely but it was right. So, three for me, always a welcome score.

But everybody else got three as well except for Thomas and Roger, who had fours, so I guess it counts as easy. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Fat Tuesday

 Cold and windy, but Edinburgh was again brighter than many another place.

Today much like yesterday. Helen is still working here, not much seen. 

 Not much knitting. However the current ball is nearly finished —tomorrow should see it done. Or even tonight. 

 I’m getting on nicely with “The Whalebone Theatre”. I seem to have the audible version too — did I buy them both together? The wonderful thing is that the two versions are acquainted with each other. When I sit down to knit and be read to, the audible version knows how far I’ve read with my eyes, and starts right there. And vice versa.

  You who are familiar with the 21st century probably take that sort of thing for granted, but it seems like magic to me.

  I have replanted my salad factory, using seeds of my own —purple tomatoes and blue sweet peas — in two of the lingots, lettuce and rocket in the other two. I’ll keep you posted. Now that the Downstairs Lavatory is finished and I can get down the passage again, and it’s getting lighter, there’s no excuse for not getting back to my laptop and showing you some pictures. 

   Wordle: I was the class dunce again. Mark and Thomas and Theo three;  Alexander, Ketki and Rachel four; five for me. Silence so far from Roger, who often comes in late.

   My starters gave me three browns, two consonants and a vowel. I struggled mightily without success, and finally put a Jean-word in line three. I still had two consonants and a vowel, although one of the consonants had turned green. Line four had four greens. And, as I’ve said, line five was right. 


Monday, February 12, 2024

 Bright and cold today. I think much of the UK was worse.

  Helen came, and we made some progress with financial problems. One of my bank accounts got frozen last year because I wasn’t using it enough. They warned us, but it was during the period when I was in and out of hospital and Cramond and Helen was away teaching mosaic-making. The problem is complicated by the fact that there are few bank branches left any more, with managers you can actually talk to. We’ll win in the end.

 Helen has been here for the rest of the day, working on a mosaic commission in the room that used to be my husband’s study. There’s lots more space there than in her studio. But she brings her own lunch when she’s working here, and I haven’t seen her.

 World news is too depressing to talk about.

  Wordle: four for me today. I had all but the last letter right on line three. Ketki and Roger were my fellow-fours. Three for everybody else. Pretty easy, I guess. 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

 So yesterday was Scotland’s turn to win a moral victory and lose the match. It’s not much fun.

The weather continues grey and wet. My grandchildren Rachel and Alistair, and Alistair’s girlfriend Amy, and Helen, came to see me this morning and we had a jolly time catching up with family news. Rachel recently came close to setting the family house on fire and we all enjoyed hearing the details of that episode. She was wearing the rapidly-knit sleeveless pullover and it looked very well.

  Looking back, I can’t find that I mentioned Rachel’s pullover, although I’m sure I did. She knit it in four days. It fits to perfection, without swatching. Rather, she did swatch, and then paid no heed to the result.

  I’m now reading The Whalebone Theatre (and listening to it while I knit), and quite enjoying it. Knitting went well today, and there’s still time for more. I’ve done about 9” of the 12” required since the sleeves were left behind. (It’s top down, remember.) More significant, the current ball of yarn is beginning to look deplenished.

  Wordle: Success yesterday, so my winning streak is unbroken. We were spread all over the track today. I scored three (so did Mark): that doesn’t happen often, at least for me. Four for Alexander, Rachel, Ketki and Theo. Five for Thomas, six for Roger. 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

 Rugby again — Scotland lost to France by a narrow margin. Very exciting, very distressing.

Little else to report, and no strength. I need to have something to eat and get to bed to make up for my missed nap.

Friday, February 09, 2024

 What a choice, for a mighty country — Biden or Trump! I am glad to be able to watch from a safe distance.

  I found that I, if pressed, could not snap back with the year my husband died. I remember day and month, and have worked out the answer so I’m ready with it now. (Oddly, no one has asked.) Now I need to figure out how old the cat is.

  I’ve done it. She moved in here in June 2015 and was presumably born in April. Coming up for her ninth birthday. Dear cat. Paradox was two years younger.

I did a pretty good evening’s-worth of knitting yesterday, and hope for the same again today. In the morning, when I finally attain my chair after the excitements of getting dressed and doing my exercises, I tend to drift off. Then, often, someone comes to see me (Helen, today). Then it’s nearly time to be transferred to the kitchen and start chopping something for lunch. Afternoon is carer’s-time-off when I try to sleep.

  Wordle: fours and fives today. The early reporters, including me, all got stuck with grn, grn, grn, ???, ???. Ketki, Rachel and I scored five. Alexander had four. Mark managed to achieve our configuration on line two, and scored a brilliant three. The late reporters all came at the answer differently and all scored four — that’s Thomas and the Americans, Roger and Theo. 


Thursday, February 08, 2024

 Today we had a handover of carers. The current one is nicer, and at least I can feed my cat as much as she urgently wants. I think when we get things straightened out a bit I can also drink as much cider as I want — which is not that much. The current carer says that the alternate carer disapproves of her, too.

Neither of them is brilliant at housework. 

I’ve finished reading Anne Patchett’s “The Dutch House”. Recommended. I don’t know whether to go on to her recent book or turn elsewhere. I finished my Queen Mother book. Even the captious author couldn’t find much to complain of in her behaviour during the war. Even for royals — perhaps especially for royals — having young teenaged daughters must have made the fear of invasion that bit worse. 

No knitting so far today, but it’s early evening so far. I got a satisfactory amount done yesterday, and mean to start again soon.

Archie came today. We cooked lunch together. I didn’t care for it much, but he cleaned his plate. Eating with Archie is satisfactory that way, remembering restaurant meals in Italy. 

Wordle: I scored three! the first for a while. My starters gave me two green vowels. WordleBot says there were 20 possible answers at that point, but I guessed right. Everybody found it pretty easy.  Mark and Roger were the outliers with four, Thomas and Alexander (father and son) the stars with two. Threes for the rest of us.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

 The downstairs lavatory is finished. It’s looking good.

I am sorry for my silence. Sheer sluggishness.

I am feeling sad and anxious about the king’s cancer diagnosis, as if he were a member of the family. How quaint of Mr Biden to think that a phone call from himself is what the king needs, whereas other world leaders contented themselves with good wishes and prayers. Biden who didn’t come to the Coronation and who prefers Ireland anyway.

I’ve done some knitting. The objective must be to finish the new ball next week — 10 days rather than a fortnight this time. My granddaughter Rachel — James’ and Cathy’s daughter — just sent me a picture of herself in a well-fitting sleeveless pullover — four days’ knitting, she says. She’s the one who now works at the Wallace Collection. She’s coming to Edinburgh soon.

I must get back to my laptop and send you some pictures. Work in the Downstairs Lavatory made access to that room difficult — plus, it’s cold in there. 

Wordle: my two starters yielded four browns today — the dreaded anagram! However, I solved it briskly and typed in my solution — a three at last! But no! It was wrong! I now had one green, anyway.  I solved it again. Four greens, but still wrong. I got it, on line five. The class dunce. The other British-based players had threes and fours. Father and son in DC, Roger and Theo, both scored four. 

Monday, February 05, 2024

 The downstairs lavatory is nearly finished, to the great relief of all. They have done so much cleaning up after themselves that I have done no knitting — the connection being that when they run their industrial hoover I can’t hear my iPad reading “The Dutch House” to me, which is how I like to knit at the moment.

  So I read a great deal of Lady Colin Campbell’s (hostile) book about the Queen Mother. I should be ashamed of myself. 

  Helen came, but I don’t think we achieved anything. 

   It’s time to plant some new lingots in my salad factory. They have at last produced empty lingots into which you can plant your own seeds — I’ve ordered two of those, for tomatoes and sweet peas. And two ordinary ones, lettuce and arugula (=rocket). And I’ve ordered tomato and sweet pea seed. 2024 is under way.

  Wordle: yet again, my starters produced two browns, one owel and one consonant. After a brief struggle I abandoned all my high principles and typed in a Jean-word (=couldn’t be right because it re-used one of the letters eliminated by my starters). It served brilliantly— I now had two greens and two browns, and romped home in line    four.

   Roger was today’s star with three. His son Theo was the class dunce with six.The British contingent were evenly divided between fours and fives.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

 Sorry about yesterday. Six-Nations rugby is with us again, and that’s where I was. Wales were playing Scotland, in Wales.  We haven’t won there for a generation. Yesterday, they scored a moral victory and we had the win. 

   England beat Italy in Rome, but it was by no means the walkover one might have expected. Ireland beat France handily. Next weekend France will be here.

  Knitting has progressed. I’ve finished a ball of yarn, wound the next skein, but haven’t joined it in yet so probably shouldn’t report. The distance covered by this interminable brioche rib so far is about six inches. I need twelve.

   Comments: thank you for everything yesterday. I do think trusts are difficult here in the UK. I have updated my will since my husband died. Helen and Alexander — who currently have power of attorney — are the executors, so I hope things will go relatively smoothly. They are the two who live in Scotland. My four children get on well with each other, thank goodness. And I won’t be here to suffer the fuss.

   I would keenly like to know what’s wrong with the Princess of Wales, and can only admire the way royal insiders and hospital staff have refused to leak. The hospital was surrounded by journalists but they managed (apparently) to get her out unnoticed. I’ve seen a report that says she has gone home to her parents. That would make sense.

   The Times had a report yesterday that claims there was a news story on Spanish television saying that she was in an induced coma. But nobody has picked that up and run with it.

   Wordle: I won yesterday, so the winning streak is unbroken, entering the second month. Four was the base score today. Five for me and Alexander. Six for poor Mark. 

Friday, February 02, 2024

Groundhog Day

 It was bright this morning, but has been dull and rainy this afternoon. The groundhog could take his pick.

Today is Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification. There is an old English superstition that if the day is fair, spring is still six weeks away, whereas if gloomy, spring is here. Climate-wise, it makes more sense here. Groundhog Day is presumably a secularisation.

Helen came, and we made some progress with my financial affairs. Even if I went into care, she wouldn’t be spared that. She and Alexander have a lasting power of attorney which inspires me to sit back and disclaim all responsibility. 

Knitting progressed well as I listened to someone reading Ann Patchett’s “The Dutch House” to me. Two days at most will finish the current ball — well ahead of the fortnight I set myself. 

Wordle: not so bad today. My starters gave me two browns, consonant and vowel. It was hard, but not as hard as some recent days, to think of a qualifying word. (That’s the secret — hold out for a real possibility on line three.) It was wrong, but I got it in four.

Alexander and Roger were with me on four. All the others — all five of them — needed only three.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

 I re-read  my blog posts from last summer, when I was staying at Cramond, to see if I could deduce anything about care homes. What I found was that I missed my cats — at the time I had two -  and, in one eloquent sentence somewhere, was afraid I wouldn’t recover from my lung infection in time to get home.

Well, here I am, and the lungs — I had almost forgotten about them— are better. Maybe I should just be happy to stay here as long as I can afford it. I think live-in care costs about as much as top-end nursing home care, but as long as I am here I must also pay for Council Tax, food, heating and light, and cat food. But I’ve got my dear, irreplaceable cat, and my cider. 

Being in care would certainly be a different experience once it was permanent and they started to break up this dear house.

Helen came this morning and we struggled with finance. I have three accounts here in Edinburgh. Two of them are “frozen”. We made no progress with trying to unfreeze them. But we found some money that we were able to get hold of (we think) and pay into the one un-frozen account (we hope). Life used to be easier, in some respects.

There was once when a picture by Dav*d W*ilkie was being sold in London under a lesser name. My husband was an expert, and knew. We sent James and Alexander to the sale, lest my husband’s appearance there alert anyone to the truth. We arranged in advance with the Bank of Scotland, Blairgowrie, to honour Alexander’s cheque.

And we got the picture. And when the auctioneer rang Blairgowrie to verify the check, they confirmed it in a calm Scottish voice. And then whooped around the office, “The Mileses got the picture!”

It’s still here. But banks aren’t like that any more.

No knitting yet today. There’s still time.

Archie dropped in at lunchtime. I hadn’t seen him for a while. He was in Cairo last week with his parents, where he had a good time.

Wordle: not quite so hard, today. My starters gave me three vowels, no less — two browns and a green. I struggled for a while and then thought of a really good word, but it was wrong (that often happens). I got it on the next line — so, four.

We were spread all over the place today. Two for Mark — brilliant! Three for Roger and Rachel.  My fellow-fours were Alexander, Ketki, and Theo. Five for Thomas, today’s dunce.