We’re hoping we may have some “guisers” visiting us this evening!
This is what in our family we call “Glasgow hair” – the effect of the damp air:
I hardly recognise myself because my hair didn’t used to be quite this madly curly. But I’m not complaining. The Dafter likes how her curls spring up as well. (Michael’s just glad to have hair, full stop.)
On Sunday a woman in church amazed me by saying, “I thought you were from the Isle of Lewis”. Because of my dark colouring and my curly hair, she said. Well, I do have a few great-grandparents unaccounted for, so who knows? Maybe there is a link there. Or maybe it’s just living in Glasgow!
The “fall colors” in Glasgow have been really stunning. Friday was a very wet day here – can you see the water flowing down the path in the photo below? But even in the gloomy low light, the colours were beautiful.
The enormous Victorian glasshouse is called “The Kibble Palace,” after its designer John Kibble.
I didn’t have time to stop for a cuppa at the tearoom, as inviting as it looked. I went there a few times in the summer, and it is a very nice place to be.
After leaving the Botanics, I walked across the bridge on Queen Margaret Drive, which gives you the most amazing view down into the River Kelvin:
It’s hard to believe that you’re in the heart of a large city in places like this. You can see how the surface of the river was being pelted by the rain. I was very glad to have a good waterproof coat and an umbrella, and enjoyed being out on such a beautiful autumn day.
You can find out more about the Botanics on their website here. I hope you are all having a very good weekend!
Two years ago, Roobeedoo and I took a day trip from Aberdeen to go to the Glasgow School of Yarn. I remember at the time the Dafter had been ill for seven weeks, which seemed like the ultimate catastrophe. How life changes one’s perspective! Back then I had no inkling that I would be living here, either. On that occasion, we took a workshop with the amazingly energetic Stephen West. This time I was on my own and was only able to manage an hour’s visit. But it was a delicious hour!
The event was organised by the Yarn Cake knitting shop, and as its name indicates, there was cake involved. I had apple and marzipan cake, and a much-needed coffee, and sat marvelling at the architecture of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh church (there are more photos of the church in my 2011 post, second link in the paragraph above). Then I went to buy some yarn!
I went armed with a wonderful book sent to me by a friend in the USA, that has lots of small projects. I bought some blue sock yarn from Abstract Cat, some pearly silk yarn from the Skein Queen, and some rose pink DK from Old Maiden Aunt. It was really nice to talk to the vendors and dyers. Last time I was here, I bought some beautiful wool from Abstract Cat, which ended up becoming my much-loved Rainbow Dreams shawl.
All too soon it was time to head back home. It was a very damp day. But the colours of the trees here, even on a gloomy and rainy afternoon, have been really stunning:
I’ve said it before, but Thank Goodness for Knitting! It brings me so much happiness.
I hope you’re all having a good week, and enjoying the autumn.
Yesterday morning found me happily knitting and reading on the train to Aberdeenshire, to visit my friend Roobeedoo. We had a great visit, and amongst other things she took me to the Quaker cemetery in Kinmuck. It was established in 1680, and I think it reflects the order and simplicity of Quaker beliefs:
The dates on the gravestones don’t have the names of the months, but their numbers - “4 month 15th” meaning “April 15th”:
As always when looking at 19th-century gravestones, we saw many of people who had died young.
In earlier days there was a problem with the medical students of the University of Aberdeen coming to raid the graveyard for dissectable bodies, so the Quakers used a kist to keep their dead in until they were safely buried.
My hostess was strangely shy about having her photo taken – don’t you love her cardigan? It’s the Staccatto Jacket, made originally for her daughter. Just to be fair, here is a photo of me:
It was a very rainy day, and we dried off by the fire at her house afterwards – with delicious apple cake and tea. She had just finished blocking TinCanKnit’s thistle scarf. (The link at the top of this post will take you to her post about it.)
I was very sorry to say goodbye, and took the train back into Aberdeen. I had a little bit of time to do a few errands before catching the train back to Glasgow. It was absolutely bucketing down!
The marble floors of Aberdeen station were awash. The monitors had a “Special Notice” asking people to take care, and there were small forests of yellow cones and even the occasional pail to catch a leak in the roof.
I said a fond farewell as the train pulled out of the station, over the River Dee, and on around the lighthouse. The coast was plunged in deep mist, so I only glimpsed the occasional rushing waterfall underneath. Even the cows in the fields were hardly visible. And then it was home again, home again, jiggety jog!
Thank you, Roobeedoo, for a wonderful afternoon!
As British readers will see from the below photo, this is not a recipe for custard in the British sense of the term (the delicious creamy custard that you pour over fruit crumble). This is a variation of a staple of my American childhood, baked custard. And this is how I used up the other cup of pumpkin puree that was left after I made the muffins. It’s basically like a little pumpkin pie without the crust.
Here’s my recipe, which I’ve adapted from the Low-Fat Moosewood Cookbook. I used half a recipe for my one cup of pumpkin puree. Again, 1 cup = 8 fluid ozs.
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 / 375 F / 190 C
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk OR (as evaporated milk is about as hard to locate as pumpkin puree itself here in the UK) use semi-skimmed milk that you have heated til the bubbles appear, and allowed to cool. This batch was made that way.
Gradually add, and mix well:
2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon gingerPour into glass custard cups or ramekins (approx 8 – 10 of them) and place inside a baking tray. Fill the baking tray with about 2 inches of boiling water.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into one of the custard cups comes out clean. Cool, then refrigerate.
Like pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie, these are better the next day!
It’s Michael’s birthday!
Here he is with his birthday breakfast, which we haven’t yet begun as the Dafter is enjoying a Sunday morning lie-in. Thank you Michael for all your hard work not only at your official job but in getting us moved to a new city and a new home, and most of all for always arranging a few hours a week to work at home so I can get a break. Happy Birthday!
Many people would probably think I was exaggerating when I tell you that I was in raptures at the supermarket the other day to discover they sell Libby’s pumpkin puree. I am not kidding you – in Aberdeen I used to travel a distance to get my hands on this stuff, and at quite a price as well! Prior to that, my darling mother used to bring me tins of pumpkin puree on her visits to Scotland, bless her.
So the other day, I gleefully opened the tin of pumpkin puree and made some pumpkin muffins:
I’m not too sure where I got the recipe from, and it’s in a kind of garbled mix of American and British, but if you’re interested, here it is. 1 cup = 8 fl oz
1. Preheat oven to 400F / 180C / Gas Mark 6. Butter 12 muffin cups.
2. Combine (ideally, sift) the following in a large bowl and blend well:
1 1/2 cups (about 200 grams) plain flour
6 Tablespoons brown caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3. In a smaller bowl, beat together:
1/2 cup milk
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup (about 50grams) melted butter
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend well.
5. Fill the muffin cups halfway and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
Like other pumpkin dishes, these are even better the next day.
Sharp-eyed readers will be wondering, What did she do with the other cup of pumpkin puree she had left? Aha! All will be revealed (I hope) in another pumpkin post. In the meantime, Happy October!
You’ve kindly asked to see pictures of our new house (an taigh ùr) in Glasgow, and I am very happy to oblige. As long as you will “take us as you find us” – this is obviously not a home décor blog! And if you have no interest in new house stuff, please tune in again another day.
The house was built between 1895 and 1913, and we love it because it’s an older house. Before we bought it, it had been owned by the same family for 57 years, although lived in by renters for the past few years. So let me take you on a little tour. Here’s the front hallway and door:
There’s no hall closet as we had in our old flat, so here we have coat hooks and furniture for scarves, hats and mittens.
As you come in the front door, you see the hallway and the stairs:
Here you see a print of my favourite painting in the Aberdeen Art Gallery, Winifred Nicholson’s Honeysuckle and Sweet Peas. The actual painting is much smaller than this print, and is even more magical in person. It seems to beam out light, and is quite beguiling.
The living room is the first door on your right, and those who knew our double-upper in Aberdeen will notice some similarities!
It may be ridiculous, but I like to cover up the t.v. when we’re not using it. This room faces south-east so gets plenty of sunlight. I used the curtains I made for my study in Aberdeen, though covered the green fabric at the edges with yellow fabric. (The reason for these tacked-on side bits was simply that at the time I couldn’t afford to buy as much of the main fabric as I needed. The Dafter actually likes the effect, which is high praise!) I like how the wall of the room curves to the sides of the bay window. And there is some lovely plasterwork, which you can glimpse below. I will try to do a separate post about it, as it pleases me so much!
When I posted about our old flat, there was a lot of discussion in the comments about bookshelves. When we came to this house, we purchased quite a few new bookshelves, to make up for the built-in ones, so the house is reassuringly full to the gunnels with books once again. Or, as some people might think, cluttered as usual with books!
The wheelchair usually lives in the boot (trunk) of the car, in fact. We made sure we made room for the piano, as the Dafter really wants to play again once she’s a bit better. And you will notice there is even some room left on the bookshelves – for now.
Now let me take you into the other main room on the ground floor of the house, the dining room:
This room faces northwest, so gets the evening light, albeit through the porch which is beyond. I should mention that Tilly has never again attempted to go up the chimney in this fireplace, so we’ve taken the dressing-gown out. The vase of flowers on the table was sent to me by the lovely South Holburn Parish Church in Aberdeen – wasn’t that so nice of them?
In the dining room there’s a cupboard built into the wall with open shelves. The Dafter enjoyed helping me arrange vases, teapots and jugs on it, along with some decorations:
One of the interesting things about this move was having the chance to recount the history of some of our possessions to the Dafter, who was too young for such conversations the last time we moved house. My granny’s rocking chair now has a place by the dining room fire, the table was made by Michael and a friend in Illinois, we made some of our bookshelves ourselves, and a lot of our furniture we rescued from “Bulk Collection Day” when we were graduate students in Connecticut. The red chair above is one such item, but by no means the only one.
The Dafter and I had a good laugh recently when she fished a wrapped sweetie out of her bin, where it had just fallen. She apologised, to which I replied, “You needn’t apologise to me about getting things out of bins,” which sent her into peals of laughter. “I guess not! Look at all the things in the house you and Dad got out of the rubbish!”
Before we leave the dining room, let me show you two most wonderful things. Firstly, you can just see the pulley, where we dry most of our washing. It has six bars and is eight feet long, so you can fit two loads onto it. As the Dafter said, “Those Victorians knew what they were doing!” As the heat rises, the laundry dries.
Secondly, you might notice there are two built-in cupboards on this side of the room. The one that’s open in the photo is just like our “Aberdeen press,” and holds plates, cups and serving dishes. The larger door takes you into a most amazing under-stairs cupboard, which we call the Harry Potter cupboard:
The cupboard goes around the corner, diminishing under the stairs. It’s the only closet in the house and is hugely handy for keeping supplies and cleaning things. There are some very sweet touches, such as the wee wooden compartments and what I presume is an old coat-hanging-rack (above the ironing board). Note the balloon that Michael hung on the corner of the compartments, as a reminder to duck when rummaging. A young friend who came for tea commented, “You could rent that out to a university student!”
Beyond the dining room are the kitchen and the porch. The kitchen is small but bright and pleasant:
To the left of this photo are some shelves for pots and pans, and the fridge. The window looks out onto the back garden:
The garden is needing a lot of very fundamental work, as the garage has an asbestos roof, and the paving and walls in the garden are dangerously crumbling. I’ll tell you more about that in another post, though.
To the right of the sink is the door to the back porch:
This is a bright and very functional area, as you can see. On a sunny evening the light pours in, and through the window into the dining room. On a rainy day the sound of the rain on the plastic roof delights me because I feel so snug inside.
Let me take you upstairs now, if you’re still following along. You come up the stairs to the first landing – the bathroom is off it – and up more stairs to the top landing. The skylight lets in a lot of daylight, and is another way to tell if it’s raining hard.
We really love the detailed woodwork in the house, especially painted white. This is where I found Tilly sliding down the banister (thank you again Tilly for the laugh).
Another view of the landing:
We’re still needing to get a lampshade – oh well! There are two bookshelves and a wardrobe on the landing, containing puzzles, games, children’s books and craft supplies. You can see the door into Michael’s study, the smallest of three bedrooms. This room just fits a guest bed, and Michael’s desk and bookshelf.
The larger front bedroom is the Dafter’s. It took her over three weeks to unpack and arrange it, and she has loved being in it. It’s very sparkly and twinkly. Here are some evening snaps of her space:
She particularly enjoyed arranging her own bookshelves:
The letters on her wardrobe were a project she dreamt up last winter, when all she could do was very simple collages. The sequin art she also did when ill. They are also very sparkly, though it doesn’t show in this photo.
Lastly, our bedroom:
It looks out onto the garden, and so gets the evening sun. It’s a very cosy room – good for thinking and dreaming.
Our new house is quite a bit smaller than our flat in Aberdeen, but it was good for us to strip back our possessions to the most precious ones. Also, we have a loft here (as Tilly will tell you), so unlike in our previous flat, we can hide family archive items and out-of-season clothes away.
Everyone knows that moving is stressful and hard work, which I won’t deny. But I found aspects of it very beneficial. We’ve taken time to look through old photo albums, to sort through funny old family papers, to talk about the history of some of the things that we’ve taken the trouble to drag around with us for years. It’s been really good to re-evaluate the importance of things in our life. Not only the importance of objects (“Why on earth did we keep that? To the charity shop!”) but also of things like space – for ourselves, for guests, for the garden – and whether having more space and being further away from the city was what we wanted (it wasn’t).
So it’s been good. There’s an old Gaelic saying: “Taigh gun chù, gun chat, gun leanabh beag; taigh gun ghean, gun ghàire”. That means “A house without a dog, without a cat, without a little child, is a house without cheer and laughter”. Well, we don’t have a dog, and our child isn’t little anymore, but already this new house has cheer and laughter.
Thanks again for all your cheerleading on the way!
Although in lots of ways my American English has slipped into British English, one word I do very much love and want to keep is “fall”. Not as in The Fall of Biblical fame, but as in autumn. For some reason ever since I was a child I’ve loved the word and the concept of fall – fall colors, falling leaves, “sweater weather”.
The weather in Glasgow has continued to astound us ex-Aberdonians by its mildness. We’ve had a few chilly mornings, and some drizzy days, but no frost and no need for hats, so far. I’ve had a few opportunities to explore a bit. I love how at the same time we are close to good transportation (a train every 15 minutes into town, busses even more often), but there is also so much nature to be found in the city.
Here is a beautiful archway of two rowan trees over a corner house’s gate:
Do you suppose we’re going to have a cold winter? Look at all those berries!
Here is a beautiful avenue of lime trees (I think), beyond a brilliant entrance gate to a park:
And the fuschia in our front garden is still producing beautiful blooms:
Obviously our house’s railings were sacrificed to the war effort in World War II – a phenomenon I wrote about here. The fenceposts on our front fence are rotting, so we will need to have it replaced. But not the fuschia!
Here is one of many bike paths made on former railway lines. There are usually lots of people walking dogs, and cyclists of all ages on these paths – this photo was taken during a lull.
Closer to home, just as we had a three-legged dog across the street from us in Aberdeen, here in Glasgow there is a three-legged cat who lives two doors down! Her name is also Tilly, and she makes the most of life. This afternoon she was rolling around in the warm sunshine and entreating me to give her a petting:
Very inspirational! The Dafter is still not doing too well, but is in pretty good spirits and managed to get to the hospital for a blood test this morning. She said that it was good to be reminded that she’s not the only one who’s coping with serious problems, “and some of those children are never going to get better, unlike me”. That’s the spirit!
So we’re making the most of life, just like three-legged Tilly (and indeed our own Tilly, who is upstairs with the Dafter as I write). Thanks to everyone for the lovely comments. I hope your week is going very well.
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