Happy times, Part One

Published July 14, 2015 by Jackie

Last week, my nieces came up to Edinburgh for their now-annual visit. This is their third summer here, as their parents decided that they make more complicated journeys to school daily, and they could be trusted to travel between Kings Cross and Edinburgh unsupervised.

It’s a delight to have them stay, even though I have a tiny flat and we end up like sardines in my bedroom ~ seriously, if I push my double bed into the corner there is just enough space for an inflatable single mattress for E ~ but no room to put your feet, so all access is via the bottom of the bed. Ines shares the bed with me, though we each have our own duvet (and blanket, in I’s case)

I’d been knitting a promised snuggle sweater for E, and although I’d not sewn in any ends, it was hanging on the door. Squeals of delight when she saw it, but that girl will not stop growing, she’s 13 and 5’8″ and a bit bigger build than her sister, (Even since early June, I think she’s grown!) so I was glad I’d not sewn in any ends, as the sleeves were too short by a good 3 inches, and early next morning, before anyone else was up, I crept out of bed, made some coffee, and proceeded to add around 20-25 rows to the bottom of the sleeves. Thank goodness for top-down construction. Once it was finished, E wore that sweater non-stop! Even in July, but I suppose it is Scotland, and they’d had 36C in London the week before.

We did all the touristy things the first year they visited, and now they are a bit more interested in exhibitions and the like, tho E would love to go back to the Edinburgh Dungeon (yeah, really!) But bookshops, galleries and cake are on their agenda, maybe a bit of shopping?

They arrived just in time to visit the local market, so we popped out, got some food, some nice bread, tapenade, and for afters, marshmallows from our local artisan marshmallow maker. Actually they were very good and still had some marshmallows to take back to London at the end of the week.

On Monday, after a slow start to the day, we finally managed to leave the house after lunch, and I decided it would be quicker, and cheaper, for us to take a taxi up to Modern One and Two. This summer there is an MC Escher exhibition at Modern Two, and it’s well worth the entry fee. There are four large dedicated rooms upstairs, and this is the first dedicated Escher exhibition in the UK. Lots of familiar pieces, and a great insight into his life and work. Before we moved over to the other gallery, the girls had a lot of fun rushing around the wooden maze in front of Modern Two ~ a reminder that they are not quite grown-ups yet!

Across the road in Modern One, they have 3 rooms of fantastic HUGE Lichtenstein paintings, one room is filled with works inspired by other artists, such as Monet and Picasso, and then there’s the familiar piece in the National Galleries collection, but particularly interesting is the case of letters and newspaper articles from the time of the purchase.

We walked home down the Water of Leith to Stockbridge. It’s only a mile or so, but it took about an hour to walk, partly down to my requests to stop for a rest every so often, ie whenever we found somewhere to sit, so under the Dean Bridge, and just above Stockbridge. There’s always plenty for us to talk about as we rest!

On Tuesday, we had another late start, and this time headed over to Peter’s Yard for another late lunch, just filled rolls, no, not just filled rolls, really really good filled rolls! We each had something different, and had a taste of each other’s choice. All three were really yummy!

Then hopped on a bus to the Museum in Chambers St, where we went on a search for the Pringle exhibition. It’s in the new building, not the old, if you are looking, and be warned, the access between buildings is only possible from the ground floor. First, we had a look at the wonderful Large Tree Group tapestry by Dovecot Studios.

I don’t think they had seen the original exhibition a few years earlier in Dovecot, and I really wanted them to see it, and to explain about all the undyed yarn in different natural colours, the collective effort of farmers, spinners and weavers. And how many other 15-yr olds do you know who would spot the Dovecot logo in the bottom corner almost immediately? A Must-See!

But the Pringle exhibition was well worth it too! Beautiful sweaters, a fantastic video installation of Michael Clark’s dance company performing in Pringle knitwear too. Lovely back-stories about the catwalk and collection models, the latter of whom were usually girls from the Borders factory.

E fell for one of the sweaters on display, a cabled tunic, could I make that for her? Well yes, easily, we’d looked at a very similar pattern the evening before, and her sister had said she didn’t like it, so no fighting over that one!

Ines takes her time with exhibitions, she reads every word that has been put up with the exhibits, but her sister flies round, absorbing ideas and images. So we had a few minutes together outside the exhibition while we waited for Ines.

I have to tell you, dear reader, that on Monday, E had asked me to show her how to knit again. I think I tried when she was around 8, but they both lacked patience then. And we know you need patience to knit! I found some thick needles, and a ball of thick, nubbly wool. Possibly Malabrigo, I think it came from one of our destash parties, but it was wound into a ball, and ready to go.

Her knitting in her handbag, E found a little niche in the museum and proceeded to get her knitting out, with me around to explain her mistakes, and how to correct them. Having started on Sunday evening, by the time Tuesday bedtime came around, she had knit the entire ball, and she been shown how to cast off, and finished that herself.


What else could she knit, please? I found the left-over yarn from her and her sister’s snuggle sweaters, and a pair of short bamboo needles, thinner but not too thin. And we cast on an easy number to remember. Each row, stop and count your stitches at the end, there should be 25, how many are there now? More or less than the previous row? And then suddenly, she’d got it! And she’s off!!


Back to Tuesday, having taken them to Blackwells and the smaller Waterstones in previous years, this year was the turn of Looking Glass Books, in the Quartermile… well of course, it’s half bookshop, half cafe, and on our way to whichever cinema we decide to go see Mr Holmes at. I was delighted to treat them, not just to cake, but to a classic each. LGB has beautiful embossed editions of the classics, and it was a case of deciding which title to buy. Ines has a copy of Pride & Prejudice, but there was a lovely copy of Sense & Sensibility, and Eleanor decided on Alice and Through the Looking Glass.

From there, and after cake, we hopped over with our day-tickets to the Filmhouse to watch Mr Holmes, which was billed as English and Japanese with English subtitles. But very strangely, the entire movie was subtitled. Perhaps it was intentional, perhaps we’d stumbled on the one screening with subtitles? Ian McKellen was superb though, moving from playing his own age to playing a 93 yr old Sherlock Holmes with ease. Both girls love Sherlock, so were saving the movie to watch with me, and they loved it too.

No cooking that night, we dropped by to pick up baked potatoes in Stockbridge, and ate those while watching Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp in Chocolat, which they loved too! And Eleanor continued in her knitting practice!

Enough already, more on the rest of the visit tomorrow….


One comment on “Happy times, Part One

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