Posted by: christinelaennec | August 8, 2014

The garden in summer

Several of you have very kindly said you’d like to see how the garden has fared in its first summer.  It has been an absolute delight to me.  Here are some photos, and I hope not too many words:

end of July

end of July

I would like the flowerbeds to be mostly perennials, with roses and other plants along the fences.  But as the perennials are all very young, this spring I planted a lot of annuals to cover the bare ground.  I particularly like these apricot-coloured nasturtiums.  I was very surprised that the roses, which I planted bare-root in January, flowered.  The five climbing roses have become pretty floppy, but I need to wait a bit longer before they’ve grown enough to tie them against the fence.

nasturtiums and Falstaff rose

nasturtiums and Falstaff rose

I planted nigella (love-in-a-mist) and Angel’s Choir poppies in the semi-circular bed.  And I let some wild daisy plants grow there too – the effect has been so delicate and pretty!

Angel choir poppies, love-in-a-mist and volunteer daisy plant/weed

Angel choir poppies, love-in-a-mist and volunteer daisy plant/weed

Some of the things in the garden are gifts from friends.  Roobeedoo gave me some marigold seeds, and they obviously love the tropical heat of Glasgow.  The plants are now about 2 1/2 feet tall!

Roobeedoo's marigolds.

Roobeedoo’s marigolds.

For years I’ve loved growing sweet peas.  They don’t do well if grown in the same spot every summer, so I have two places where I’m sure they will be happy.  Certainly Spot Number One has produced some excellent flowers.  They didn’t like the sunny spell we had in July, but a few good rains have brought them out:

sweet peas

sweet peas

I have forget-me-nots from two friends, kaffir lilies from another friend, and then this very special lupin.  It’s the descendant of a lupin in my good friend T’s garden in Aberdeen.  About ten years ago I collected seed from it, and then had several lovely lupin-children in my own garden in Aberdeen.  Two summers ago, I collected seeds from them, and crossed my fingers.  The following spring we were on the verge of moving house and so it wasn’t until this March that I planted the seeds.  And look at the result!  I am so surprised it actually flowered this year.

Grandchild of T's lupin in Aberdeen.

Grandchild of T’s lupin in Aberdeen.

Tilly has been coming out into the garden since the beginning of May.  She does enjoy it to some extent, as long as we are right with her, and as long as she doesn’t encounter other cats through the fence at the bottom, or what I think is the smell of the fox.  I take her out every day just before 5:00, which is her tea-time.  Below is a rare instance of her actually relaxing in the garden.  Mostly she is on high alert, checks that I am very nearby, gets huge bush-tails, and generally runs back inside within 10 minutes!

Tilly hiding out

Tilly hiding out

Last winter I read a lovely book by Marta McDowell called Emily Dickinson’s Gardens.  Emily Dickinson particularly loved the native violet, called “Heartsease”.  I ordered seeds to grow it, and to my surprise these have also done very well.  They have flourished and now cover most of the bare earth in the photo below, which I took at the beginning of July.  Their little faces are so sweet!

Heartsease (violets)

Heartsease (violets)

The summerhouse has been a wonderful place to have a cup of tea, and visitors have really enjoyed it as well.  I’m still working on making some bunting but otherwise there’s nothing much to see in the summerhouse at the moment.  Here is the view from it:

view from summerhouse, early July

view from summerhouse, early July

I had hoped to save a lovely pink tea rose from the original garden, but it didn’t survive.  So I replaced it with the only rose bush (as opposed to climbers) in the garden.  It is a lovely pinky-peachy colour and like all David Austin roses, smells divine:

Boscobel rose

Boscobel rose

The only trouble in paradise has come in, ironically, with the new soil.  I think the landscapers were as horrified as I was that the soil they provided had small bits of horsetail (equisitum) in it.  This is a weed that I never remember encountering in Aberdeen, but I see it everywhere here in Glasgow. It can grow through concrete.  At first I literally had nightmares about it being in the garden, but now I realise that I just need to keep a careful watch, and dig it up when I find it.  Most of what I’ve dug up has been very small shoots, and hasn’t returned.  Fingers crossed.

I mentioned that we “planted” earthworms in the new beds.  I still rarely encounter worms in the soil, but as one commenter said, if we keep applying compost and manure, they will be there.  I also planted 150 wildflower plants into the new turf – during a few absolutely freezing and drenching January and February days!  It was worth it:  we now have red and white clover proliferating, chamomile, lady’s bedstraw, two kinds of daisies and other wildflowers that don’t mind being mown short every few weeks.

There are lots and lots of bees in the garden – a new friend has given me a bee identification guide!  And there are some butterflies, mostly white ones.  I will have to get a butterfly identification guide as well.  The birds come in to feed, drink and wash.  And the very last “creature” I want to show you is a funny gift from the Dafter:

A gift from the Dafter

A gift from the Dafter

He keeps an eye on things outside and makes me laugh.

I hope you’re all having a fun summer and enjoying either your own gardens or (even more relaxing) other people’s!

 

Posted by: christinelaennec | August 4, 2014

Games, friendship and commemoration

A few weeks ago, we weren’t too sure what to expect with the Commonwealth Games coming to town.  Everywhere you went, there were (literally) signs that things were going to be different:

Getting ready before the Commonwealth Games

Getting ready before the Commonwealth Games

The Games finished last night, and we all agreed that we’d thoroughly enjoyed them.  There were a lot more people, and a lot more police, than usual, but it really lived up to its reputation as “the Friendly Games”.

Last weekend we ventured into town, and were amazed at the crowds:

Sunday afternoon July 27, 2014.  Glasgow's Buchanan street with a "Clydesider" in foreground.

Sunday afternoon July 27, 2014. Glasgow’s Buchanan street with a “Clydesider” in foreground.

In the photo above, the man with grey trousers and a red and white shirt is one of the 15,000 Games volunteers, nicknamed the “Clydesiders”.  They were everywhere you went, and were truly friendly, come rain or shine.

Buchanan Street, Glasgow, July 27 2014.

Buchanan Street, Glasgow, July 27 2014.

There was a great family atmosphere, and a lot of cultural events alongside the sporting ones.  Michael succeeded in getting tickets to the squash semi-finals, and that was very interesting.  I don’t know much about squash – it seems to be ping-pong played inside a box, essentially.  But the human drama was fascinating.  The first match we watched was between two women on the England team and were they bad-tempered!  One threw down her raquet and had to be ordered to return to the court.  But the second match, between the best male squash player in India and a man from the England squad, showed true sportsmanship.

Squash semi-finals

Squash semi-finals

They were courteous to each other, and applauded good volleys even when on the losing side.  It was a joy to watch them.

I was also fascinated by how the court had to be wiped down by the volunteers.  I can’t imagine how sweaty it must have been inside!  Sometimes the players would slip, and the cleaning crew would descend to mop things up in the middle of a match:

Squash semi-finals

Squash semi-finals:  cleaning the court

Everyone around us was very knowledgeable about the sport and there were tense moments, with much discussion amongst the spectators, when a player requested a video replay:

Squash semi-finals

Squash semi-finals

Certainly in the matches we saw, the audience responded to good sportsmanship. It was reported that the crowds encouraged members of all the different teams.

I like the photo below – behind the guy on the green phone you can see four young pals walking along together.  One of them has the red cross of St. George painted on his face to show he’s an England supporter; two of the others have Scotland’s colours.  (And the fourth has a marvellous head of ginger hair!)  I think they were all together, and I liked that.

England and Scotland supporters in the crowd:  friends.

England and Scotland supporters in the crowd: friends.

My memories of the Commonwealth Games will be:  policemen wishing me a good morning as I walked to church; helping a woman with a partially-sighted daughter to find parking outside a control zone – she was a farmer’s wife who had driven for hours to come; friendly volunteers at the train stations directing people; an Isle of Man team member doing training runs in our neighbourhood.  Oh and the fact that during the Opening Ceremony people were invited to donate money to Unicef – over £5 million was raised for children in the Commonwealth countries by the end of the Games.

The Closing Ceremony was last night, and tonight we are marking 100 years since the start of the Great War.  The public are being urged to turn out all lights for an hour from 10 to 11 pm, to mark the last hour of peace, and echoing the Secretary of State’s remark 100 years ago, that the “lights will go out all over Europe”.

With all the dreadful conflicts that are going on in the world right this minute, it would be so nice to think that the spirit of the Games will ultimately prevail.  I have no photos of candles so will leave you with another symbol of hope, flowers:

bouquets from the garden, 4 August 2014.

bouquets from the garden, 4 August 2014.

 

Posted by: christinelaennec | July 24, 2014

A big, wet, adventure!

The Dafter and I recently went on an amazing adventure – we went camping! This is amazing for a few different reasons: firstly, she was in a wheelchair until not so long ago, and this would have been impossible; secondly, this was her idea; thirdly, we are not particularly experienced campers and anyone who knows us might be a bit surprised. However, it was a great success!

We drove up out of Glasgow and into the mist. The Dafter really enjoyed being out in the countryside.  She hasn’t been on such a long car trip in a very long time and it was just wonderful that she was having fun.  We drove over a place that is well-named, a mountain pass called the Rest and Be Thankful:

Rest and Be Thankful, Scotland.  July 2014.

Just beyond the highest point of the Rest and Be Thankful, Scotland. July 2014.

We stopped for a break, and I very much enjoyed my coffee:

Coffee break!

Coffee break!

We hit the rain just before Tarbert, Argyll, and drove on through some very narrow and winding roads with passing places.  It took us 50 minutes to drive 13 miles, with a few stomping-on-brakes and squeaking-past-very-carefully moments.  I was glad that I’ve had quite a lot of experience on such roads, as the heavy rain didn’t make it any easier.  Finally we reached our destination, Port Bàn campsite.

Cafe at Port Ban campsite, Argyllshire.

Café at Port Bàn campsite, Argyllshire.

We waited for a few hours to see if the rain would clear, but eventually, there was nothing for it but to put the tent up in the pouring rain.  The Dafter was an excellent helper and encourager, and we managed to keep most of our things dry – though we ourselves got soaked.  There is no photographic evidence of this part of the camping trip!  I kept thinking of my great-granny May, for whom camping was not a holiday choice but often an unavoidable living condition.

Later on in the evening it did clear just a little bit, and I had a wee walk on the beach, just a few yards away from our tent.  I knew that Jura lay beyond the water, but it was completely invisible.  The water itself was remarkably clear:

Clear water - the edge of the water is where the green seaweed is.  Sound of Jura, Argyllshire.

Clear water – the edge of the water is where the green seaweed is. Sound of Jura, Argyllshire.

I always love hunting for shells:

Shells and stones on the beach at Port Ban.

Shells and stones on the beach at Port Ban.

The pink flowers of the sea thrift had almost all faded, but if you look closely at the photo below you can see a few late bloomers:

Moss and sea thrift amongst the rocks.

Moss and sea thrift amongst the rocks.

The rain started up again well before bedtime, but we ourselves were dry as we fell asleep under the pelting of raindrops on the tent.  The morning dawned dry, which was a great relief as I don’t know how I would have made breakfast otherwise.  Other campers had shelters and much larger tents, and even tvs and fairy lights!  But I was able to make a little kitchen right outside, and I did enjoy my cup of tea.

Morning walk on the beach.  Sound of Jura, Argyllshire.


Morning walk on the beach. Sound of Jura, Argyllshire.

The Dafter went for a walk on the beach while I made pancakes:

Making pancakes:  Mama

Making pancakes: Mama

Everything was pretty wet, but I congratulated myself on having packed the matches inside two plastic bags!

Making pancakes:  The Dafter

Making pancakes: The Dafter

The Dafter was in very good spirits, and not too tired after her night sleeping on the ground.

Happy Camper!

Happy Camper!

The weather cleared up just about the time we left, and at last the Paps of Jura emerged from the clouds.

The Isle of Jura, seen from north of Kilberry, Argyllshire.

The Isle of Jura, seen from north of Kilberry, Argyllshire.

I have been to Jura a few times, as some friends used to have a holiday house there.  Very few people live there, but there’s a distillery and a small village around it.  As I looked across, I remembered staying in our friends’ house when I was pregnant with the Dafter.  I was certain that this pregnancy wouldn’t last, like the others, but I let everyone else look after Our Son, while I rested for a week in bed.  And yet my worst fears didn’t come true – as proved by the teenage Dafter bouncing around next to me.  Life is truly remarkable!

We returned home midge-bitten, tired and happy.  The Dafter was fairly whacked for a few days after our trip, but I think that is to be expected.  She has only stayed at home all day once since we returned, which is pretty good going.  She is still hugely enjoying working at the charity shop, which is great.

And as you may know, there is nothing like camping to make you LOVE getting into your bed when you get back home!

Posted by: christinelaennec | July 16, 2014

Hopeful stripy shawl

In the first winter of the Dafter’s illness, I made a Hopeful Stripy Cardigan.  The pattern for the cardigan is “Wentworth” by Kaffe Fassett, that genius designer of colours.  I had been buying the expensive wool for the cardigan for over a year, one or two balls a month, and I loved both making the cardigan and wearing it.

This past winter, looking at all the leftover yarn from my cardigan, I thought I would use the same colourway but make a triangular shawl.  Having discovered Russian seams, I was able to weave every end in as I went.  It has been the most soothing knitting project I think I’ve ever done.

Here is the result:

Hopeful stripey shawl

Hopeful stripy shawl

I increased every other row at the bottom, but then sometimes by two stitches per row as I neared the top of the shawl.  And I attached a band and ties to the top, as I knew I wanted to be able to tie the shawl around me to keep my hands free.

Hopeful stripey shawl

Hopeful stripey shawl

As with my cardigan, I love feeling the soft colourful stripes around me:

Hopeful stripey shawl - tied

Hopeful stripey shawl – tied

This project was not without its moment, however. The first time around, I realised once I’d blocked the shawl that I had miscalculated the increases for the top 10″ or so of the shawl.  Out came the scissors!

Painful design modification using scissors!

Painful design modification using scissors!

I could see where I’d gone wrong, so I picked up the stitches and continued on my way.  Once I’d decided what needed to be done, I didn’t mind this, and was actually happy to have more to knit.  For those of you on Ravelry, the details (such as they are) are here.

I still have the chopped off piece of soft stripes, and I have plans for that.  I also want to try another stripy shawl – seeing as I still have Kidsilk Haze wool left over.  But on my next stripy shawl, I want to try increasing every row, and doing my own stripe design.  That will need to wait a while, though, as I have lots of other projects waiting to be knitted / crocheted / finished.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying wrapping myself up in hopeful stripes.

I hope you’re all having a good week!

Posted by: christinelaennec | July 11, 2014

Greenbank Garden, Glasgow

A big thank-you to everyone who’s rejoiced with us over the Dafter’s recent improvement.  It was a pleasure to be able to bring you some good news on that front!  She has had a good week, working some shifts at the charity shop, and helping out with the neighbour’s children.  She also travelled into town with me on the train for the first time – she’d thought it would be underground the entire way, and was pleasantly pleased to be above ground and to discover her new neighbourhood from a different angle.

This post is about Greenbank Garden, which I visited here in Glasgow a few weeks ago.  There are quite a few photos but I’ll put whatever commentary I have in the captions.  I took the bus there on a Sunday afternoon, and although I hadn’t nearly reached the end of the bus line, I was amazed at how un-city-like my environs were!

The green fields of Clarkston, on the south side of Glasgow.  June 2014.

The green fields of Clarkston, on the south side of Glasgow. June 2014.  Greenbank Garden is about a 15-minute walk from the bus stop.

Local schools' wheelbarrow competition.  Greenbank Gardens, Glasgow.  June 2014.

Local schools’ wheelbarrow competition. Greenbank Garden, Glasgow. June 2014.

Gate leading into the garden rooms, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.

Gate leading into the garden rooms, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.

Going through the gate into the garden rooms, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.

Going through the gate into the garden rooms, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.

Looking back through the gate to Greenbank House.  Glasgow, June 2014.

Looking back through the gate to Greenbank House. Glasgow, June 2014.

Perennial border, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.  June 2014.

Perennial border, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow. June 2014.

Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.  June 2014.

Greenbank Garden, Glasgow. June 2014.

Pretty birdhouse, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.

Pretty birdhouse, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.

Border, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.  June 2014.

Border, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow. June 2014.

Poppy, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.  June 2014.

Beautiful poppy, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow. June 2014.

Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.  June 2014.

Greenbank Garden, looking back towards the house from the end of the garden.  Glasgow, June 2014.

Good use of an old carpet in a very damp path.  Greenbank Garden, June 2014.

Good use of an old carpet in a very damp path. Greenbank Garden, June 2014.

Fountain, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.

Fountain, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.  It was nice to see some teenagers visiting the garden!

Swallows on the wing in the courtyard.  Greenbank House, Greenbank Gardens, Glasgow.

Swallows on the wing in the courtyard. Greenbank House, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.  I took these photos while enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake from the cafe.

Swallows on the rafters near the courtyard, Greenbank House, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.

Swallows on the rafters near the courtyard, Greenbank House, Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.

Another part of the gardens - open in the evening!  Enticing.  Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.  June 2014.

Another part of the gardens – open in the evening! Enticing. Greenbank Garden, Glasgow. June 2014.

Honeybees at work in a field across from Greenbank House.  Greenbank Garden, Glasgow.  June 2014.

Honeybees at work in a field across from Greenbank House. Greenbank Garden, Glasgow. June 2014.

After ten minutes' walk, I'm nearly back to the bus stop.  Clarkston, Glasgow.

After ten minutes’ walk, I’m nearly back to the bus stop. Clarkston, Glasgow.

View out across Glasgow - I'm not too sure what I'm looking at here, so if you have local knowledge, please tell us in a coment!

View out across Glasgow, looking towards the North-West.  I believe Loch Lomond is behind the long ridge of hills, and the city centre is around to the right, out of the frame.  You can see why Glasgow is called the “Dear Green Place”.

This garden reminded me not a little of Crathes Castle Gardens.  I liked how enticing the various garden rooms were.  For example, I could hear the tinkling noise of the fountain, could sometimes see the spout of water over the top of a hedge, and I spent a wee while searching for it.  So that when I finally took the right path and found it, I felt very pleased with myself!

Now that I know the way, I will have to go back and perhaps on a day when the house is also open.  I particularly enjoyed the bus trip – knitting at the front of the top deck of the double-decker bus, as you do!

Posted by: christinelaennec | July 7, 2014

Dafter update: excellent news!

My dear regular readers,

As you will know, my daughter (the Dafter)’s life has been blighted by severe M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for nearly three years now.  If you search the tag or category ME/CFS on my blog, you can read what she has been going through.  In a nutshell, for over two and a half years, she’s been largely bedbound, needing a wheelchair to go any distance outside of the house, and suffering from very bad “brain fog”.  She’s missed three years of schooling; a few months ago she could no longer remember what it felt like to be healthy.  Your comments and support on this blog have been such a great help for our family.  Well, I have some really excellent news!

Just over two months ago, she began a private (i.e. not on the National Health Service) therapy for M.E. called Mickel Therapy.  We, along with her doctors, and friends who have followed this saga with love and concern, have been amazed at the changes that Mickel Therapy has wrought.  Two months ago she was able to be out of bed a total of 2 1/2 hours a day, and was just about managing to leave the house three times a week, with the wheelchair.  Now she is able to do several activities a day (including, recently, going out before lunch), she can walk over a mile, and has begun to take part in life in the world once again.

The Dafter before her party, late June 2014.

The Dafter before her party, late June 2014.

As you might imagine, the past two months have seen us all holding our breath lest another dire relapse befall her, and we have all been in a constant state of adjustment concerning what she is able to do, and the support she needs.  She still needs quite a lot of encouragement, support, and practical help.  But she is starting to be able to have something of a normal life!  I know that her recovery may include downs as well as ups, but I believe that Mickel Therapy has given her a technique to handle her symptoms that she’ll always be able to use.

Recently, she decided to throw a Positivity Party.  She invited all the people roughly her age that she’d met since we moved to Glasgow a year ago – the church youth group that I’d hooked her up with, a couple of girls from the high school she was only able to attend on four occasions during this past academic year, and two teenage neighbours.

Before the party

Before the party

I took her shopping for party food, and we helped set things up.  Then Michael and I withdrew (with Tilly the cat) into our bedroom once the party started, so it really would be her party.  About a dozen kids came, and what a huge success it was!  The trampoline was a big hit, as were the balloons and bottles of bubbles.  She’d been worried we’d bought too much food, but I said, “you’d be surprised – teenagers are like locusts!” and indeed it was all gone by the end.  They played tag in the back garden, and she had a special compilation CD playing out in the summerhouse.  Gusts of laughter reached us through the open window.  She had a few party games up her sleeve: “Honey I Love You” was a big hit.  (You have to say Honey I Love You with a straight face.)  I heard her laughing a deep chuckle that I haven’t heard for a few years.

So we’ve been in a time of rapid transition.  Whereas a month ago, I was organising and accompanying her on all of her outings, she is now able to walk to a friend’s house nearby, or the park, for a few hours.  She’s been so courageous in trying out new things.  She began going to the youth group church’s Sunday morning services (a different church from the one I’ve joined) on her own.  I think it’s wonderful that she has her own church.  She’s desperate to have some independence, and to work.  She’s beginning to do volunteer work in a charity shop, has volunteered for another shop, and last weekend she stayed after church to help distribute food at their foodbank.  I’ve linked her up with a young family nearby with two very active wee ones, and she’s going to be giving the mother a hand at home.  She’s thinking of going back to school part-time in August.

The Dafter, late June 2014.

The Dafter, late June 2014.

Unless you’ve been cut off from the world in a similar circumstance, it’s hard to understand how challenging “simple” things are for someone who’s spent two and a half years in bed.  Being in a crowd, being out on her own for a little while, meeting new people, coping with noise levels – she has been so courageous taking all this on.  She and I have taken the bus twice, and we will keep practising that.  She still can get very anxious about doing “ordinary” things, and I can only imagine how vulnerable and fragile she must feel at times.  But she said to me recently:  “When I get really scared, I just think, What would you rather — to try this, or to be stuck in bed?  And then I can be brave, because I know which I’d rather!” Her concentration is still impaired, but I know that will return to normal, given time.  She was able to do two hours of training at the charity shop, including a Health & Safety induction.  (Those sorts of things are challenging for my own concentration levels!)

I remember when she first fell ill in 2011, my minister met with me.  I think she’d been ill for six weeks at that point, which was already beyond my comprehension as a parent.  He said to me, “When she comes out of this, she’ll have far more knowledge of herself than other people her age.” And this is very true.  She is very perceptive about her own reactions to things, and has such maturity in her choices.  She’s also gained tremendous compassion for others, and a very philosophical outlook on life.

M.E. is a very mysterious illness.  It can be like a noose:  the more you struggle against it, the tighter it will get you in its grip.  The Dafter believes that M.E. probably is a label that covers a number of different illnesses, because her symptoms have been very different from other people’s she’s met or read about online who have M.E. We all are deeply appalled by the ignorance that surrounds M.E. – here in the UK it is classified as a psychiatric disorder, rather than a biomedical condition [edit:  see note below!] and the NHS has downgraded it as a condition only to be reviewed every five years instead of every two.  The suffering, loneliness and isolation that people endure because of this illness can be completely devastating.  And yet no-one really seems to care! Just over a year ago, and despite my very best efforts to arrange visitors, the Dafter was going five, six and seven weeks at a time without seeing anyone other than her parents.  At any age this is dreadful, but when you’re a child?  Okay, it’s not a terminal illness.  But some people have been severely afflicted by it for decades.

We know two other young people diagnosed with M.E. for whom Mickel Therapy didn’t bring about a breakthrough.  The Dafter says she can see why this might be, considering how very different cases of M.E. are.  So we are just incredibly grateful for what it has given her, and consequently us.  Thank you to those who gave us a gentle push to try it – you know who you are!  And thank you so very much to all who have left such kind and caring messages of encouragement.

The Dafter still has a ways to go before she can have the kind of full life that one imagines she would have had without M.E.  But that doesn’t matter.  Time is on her side.

[Edited to add:  the classification of ME/CFS is a point that ME charities have expressed concern about.  As the 2009 article "Classification conundrum" on the Action for ME website says, "many doctors... have regarded the illness as primarily psychiatric..."  ME is classified as a "somatoform disorder, located within the section "Mental and Behavioural Disorders" chapter of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).  In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) somatoform disorders are in a category "within a specifically psychiatric classification".  I don't know whether things have changed much in the last five years.  I can tell you that the Dafter's doctors in Glasgow consider ME to be the province primarily of the psychiatrist and not the paediatrician.]

Posted by: christinelaennec | July 5, 2014

The Willow Tea Rooms (Sauchiehall Street)

I was really delighted to read that the future of the iconic Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street is now secure, after being taken over by a charitable trust.  I have always really liked Charles Rennie Mackintosh design, and this tea room is important because it was one where Mackintosh had a say in every aspect of the building, decor and even the waitresses’ uniforms.

It opened in 1904, and as I seem to have lost my own photo of the outside, here is one from Wikipedia:

The Willow Tearooms on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.  Photo from Wikipedia.

The Willow Tearooms on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Photo from Wikipedia.

I’ve written about the Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street, which are similarly located above a shop.  But there isn’t anything particularly distinctive about the exterior of the tea rooms on Buchanan Street, whereas the ones on Sauchiehall Street present a very unified statement, unmistakably complementing the interior.

As you come through the shop on the bottom (which now sells CRM souvenirs), you first come up a flight of stairs to the tea room on the mezzanine.  Before you even reach the tea rooms, the stairs and wall make a very distinctive statement about the design sensibility that awaits at the top:

The first-floor tea room of the Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.  March 2014.

Stairs to the mezzanine tea room of the Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. March 2014.

The mezzanine tea-room is well-lit by the skylights above.  Even on a dark, rainy day, the white paint keeps it bright inside:

From the corner table.

The mezzanine tea room, from the corner table.

There is a large central well in the middle:

Looking across the large central well.

Looking across the large central well.

I really like the details:

At the back of the first-floor tea room.  Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. March 2014.

At the back of the mezzanine tea room. Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. March 2014.

The waitresses have black dresses and white aprons, which looks very old-fashioned to us – but their knee-length skirts would have caused the original patrons to faint:

Another view of the first floor, on another day.

Another view of the mezzanine tea room, on another day.

The “Room de Luxe” is on the first floor (for US readers, second floor), and was designed to be “light and feminine” according to the Willow Tea Rooms website.

Room de luxe??  Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

Room de Luxe on the first floor.  Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.  This window stretching across the building is what you see from the outside.

On a recent visit to the tea rooms, there was an exhibition in a room on the top floor, which I had never seen.  Again, the decorative details were intriguing:

Fireplace in a room on the top floor, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

Fireplace in a room on the top floor, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

While still a light room, the dark wood made quite a contrast to the tea rooms on the floors below:

Upstairs room, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

Upstairs room, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

I really like Mackintosh’s use of stained glass – which may well have been designed by his wife, Margaret MacDonald.  As you will have noticed, patterns of squares are a recurrent motif, as well as the teardrop and the rose.

Upstairs room, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

Upstairs room, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

You may have heard that Glasgow suffered a dreadful blow when the Glasgow School of Art, designed by Mackintosh, was devastated by fire recently.  I had always wanted to go there, but was waiting until the Dafter was well enough to go with me.  Alas, now I’ll never be able to see the original library.  But as it’s one of the best-documented rooms in the country, I’m sure it will be beautifully restored.

So the news that the future of the Sauchiehall Street Willow Tea rooms is secure is particularly welcome.

I hope you’re all having a good weekend!

Posted by: christinelaennec | June 27, 2014

A crocheted shrug

I learned to crochet just over a year ago, and have just made my first garment!

Summer shrug, in summer weather!

Summer shrug, in summer weather!

The pattern is Spring Fling by Ruth Maddock (be sure to get the updated instructions if you make this!) and I used Debbie Bliss eco baby cotton yarn.  I learned a lot making it – though I had to wing the last two rows as I couldn’t work out what the instructions were telling me to do.

My little helper!

My little helper!

I began this assuming that it would be too small or too big, or fail in some other way – but I didn’t mind giving it a go.  Imagine my amazement when I tried it over my shoulders and it actually FIT!  At this point I decided to make a wee investment.  Instead of using safety pins as stitch markers, I treated myself to these lovely rainbow stitch markers.  Is it just me, or do stitch markers give other people immense satisfaction in the making of something?

Crochet stitchmarkers from Proverbs31 on Etsy.

Crochet stitchmarkers from proverb31projects on Etsy.

So!  Who says an old dog can’t teach herself a few new tricks?!  [Edit:  If you're on Ravelry, details are here]

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Posted by: christinelaennec | June 25, 2014

Update on the swan family

Some of you will have read here about the sad death of Daddy Swan in the park.  He was killed by a dog, protecting the eggs.  I’m happy to report that Mama Swan seems to be doing very well!  Yesterday she had her brood out and about on the pond.

Mama swan and her eight cygnets.  June 2014.

Mama swan and her eight cygnets. June 2014.

They were all eating the weeds underwater, until it was time to head back to the nest.  I love the orderly queue formed behind Mama.  All eight cygnets were beak to tail in almost military precision:

Swimming off in an orderly line!

Swimming off in an orderly line!

Meanwhile, the duck family had taken over the swans’ nest:

Mama duck and her family.

Mama duck and her family.

Mama duck is on the left, and her growing ducklings are to her right.  They have grown a lot since last month.  I presume they would have hopped off when the swans returned?

A blue heron.

A blue heron.

I think there are two herons who live in the park, but I’m not sure.  Anyhow, a sleepy blue heron was having his afternoon nap.  It’s wonderful to me that so much wildlife is supported by a city park.  There are also baby moor hens, different types of gulls, and no doubt other creatures that I’m unaware of.

I hope you’re all having a really good week!

Posted by: christinelaennec | June 19, 2014

My garden in June

Phew, it’s been scorching hot here in Glasgow!  About 25C / 77F for the past few days.  Honestly, this feels almost unbearably hot to us at times.  The garden has been happy, but before I show you that, the Dafter has also been continuing to do very well.  Here is a silly photo of her at Whole Foods.  The first time we went there she said, “It’s just like Oregon!”  And so it is.

Silly Dafter!  18 June 2014.

Silly Dafter! 18 June 2014.

Isn’t her dress fab?  She found it at a vintage shop in the West End, for a song.  Note her face now has some colour!  Here’s her usual expression:

Pretty Dafter!

Pretty Dafter!

She continues to make good progress with her ME/CFS, which is a delight after nearly three years of her being so very ill.

Now to show you the garden!  It amazes me to think that the plants have only been in it since February.

Back garden:  the sunny border.  Glasgow, 17 June 2014.

Back garden: the sunny border. Glasgow, 17 June 2014.

I bought quite a few bedding plants this summer, as the perennials are still just babies.  I know that in a few years there won’t be so much bare soil.

Birch bark cherry, foxgloves, pincushion flower, canterbury bells.  My back garden, Glasgow, 17 June 2014.

Birch bark cherry tree, foxgloves, pincushion flower, canterbury bells, volunteer poppies. My back garden, Glasgow, 17 June 2014.

I really like the Quaking Grass:

Quaking grass by the summerhouse, Glasgow 19 June 2014.

Quaking grass by the summerhouse, Glasgow 19 June 2014.

We’ve bought some solar lights to make it even more enchanting in the evenings, though so close to the solstice it’s still not dark by 11 pm in this clear weather.

Looking towards the house, 19 June 2014.

Looking towards the house, 19 June 2014.  Poppies and nigella grown from seed in the small curved bed.

I’m delighted that the two peonies I planted in February have had blooms:

"Bowl of Beauty" peony, blooming in its first year here.

“Bowl of Beauty” peony, blooming in its first year here.  Next to it is a clove-scented carnation.

First bloom on the "Kansas" peony.

First bloom on the “Kansas” peony.

Why Kansas?  Because I like its colour and shape, but also my great-granny May was born in Kansas.  In the other border, a plant that I thought I knew from the church garden in Aberdeen has grown to ten times the size I expected:

The shady bed, with huge Anthemis "Tinpenny Sparkle".  17 June 2014.

The shady bed, with huge Anthemis “Tinpenny Sparkle”. 17 June 2014.  Next year I will stake it!

I’ve sown wildflower seeds here.  (Karen, can you identify the seedlings for me?  Sweet william? Forget-me-not?  Time will tell!)

I planted eight bare-root roses in the depths of winter, and they all seem to be happy.  They are all climbing roses – three in the front and five in the back.  In the front garden, two are in bloom.

First blooms on the climbing rose "Graham Thomas", front garden, 18 June 2014.

First blooms on the climbing rose “Graham Thomas”, front garden, 18 June 2014.

I really love canterbury bells and foxgloves, which I had in Aberdeen.   In the evening they seem to glow from within, especially the light blue ones:

"Cornish Blue" canterbury bells, and white canterbury bells beyond.  Front garden, 18 June 2014.

“Cornish Blue” canterbury bells in front, white canterbury bells beyond, and purple ones in back. Front garden, 18 June 2014.

Here is the other climbing rose in bloom in front, the deliciously scented Gertrude Jekyll (which I had in Aberdeen and blogged about here):

Climbing rose "Gertrude Jekyll" in my front garden, 18 June 2014.

Climbing rose “Gertrude Jekyll” in my front garden, 18 June 2014.

Such a lot of happiness and pleasure!  And this garden is all ours, after 21 years of shared gardens in Aberdeen.  Working here is a solace, though some of the jobs to be done are a bit weird.  Yesterday Michael and I “planted” 100 worms from Yorkshire in the flower beds in the back, as the new soil there seems devoid of worms and is very clay-ey.  The postie didn’t exactly drop the box when I said, “Oh, our worms have arrived!”  Yes, that was a little bit naughty of me…

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 311 other followers

%d bloggers like this: