Yesterday, Malcolm had a Very Significant Birthday. No party, he said. Definitely no party. Instead, we travelled by train in style – First Class – to Edinburgh and back.
We nearly missed the train. Thanks to Storm Ciara, an hour and a half was almost not enough to travel the 18 miles to Northallerton Station. Our first major diversion was a mere mile from home, and things didn’t get better.
We were at the station in time. Just. But the train was late. Never mind. Beyond Newcastle, this is one of England’s finest train journeys. The coast near Alnmouth, distant views of Holy Island, Berwick-on-Tweed, while enjoying a late breakfast, and unlimited coffee at our table – that stressful journey to the station had been worth it.
Gateshead from the train.
Alnmouth from the train.
Berwick on Tweed from the train.
Once in Edinburgh, this is what we were faced with.
We put our heads down and made straight for the National Museum of Scotland. And there we stayed. All day. It was no hardship. We had an interesting morning in the fascinating if not photogenic gallery devoted to Scotland’s twentieth century of social change. A very light snack. And in the afternoon, we followed no plan. Every gallery had something of interest. So we each followed our noses, and visited far flung Inuit territory in Canada, plunged into the oceans, watched the Millennium Clock strike three, wondered at unwearable clothing in the costume gallery … We know we’ll be back – so much to see, and it’s so beautifully displayed and interpreted.
That’s why we didn’t leave the museum.
On arrival, a taste of what’s to come.
So much to see, so little time.
The Natural History Gallery.
The Natural History Gallery.
Reflections observed from the Balcony Cafe.
So many bicycles..
The Millennium Clock – worth a post on its own.
The main hall, viewed through an elk.
A pac-a-mac? Or an inuit parka made from seal gut?
Yup’ik spirit dance mask, Alaska.
Court Mantua. British, 1750s
Back into the blizzard for the train home. Here’s something to smile at.
And here’s our journey home on the train.
Edinburgh Castle from the train in Waverley Station.
Nearly forty years ago, we lived in Sheffield, next-door-but-one to Bryan. He was and is a carpenter. His wood never came from the woodyard though. It was always scavenged. You’d find him investigating skips or nosing through derelict buildings. Not for him IKEA generation pine and MDF. No, Bryan looked for weathered oak, warm-toned cedar, maple, cherry, iroko. He’d pick up a walnut floorboard or a broken mahogany cupboard door. He’d squirrel away a fragment of marquetry or a shard of polished ebony. Who knew when they’d come in handy? Everything was carefully organised next to his workshop: it might wait years and months for its moment of glory, but every piece of wood would find a use … one day.
He wanted projects he could put his personal stamp on – no identical sets of anything for him. And he liked to try things out and experiment. So he made a deal with us. We’d get the dining table we wanted if he could try a few techniques that might or might not work. No money would change hands. In exchange for being guinea pigs, we would get a table – for free – that might fall apart within the year.
Forty years on, we’re still using it. We still enjoy the almost-game-of-chess to be played on its surface. We fondle the dome of wood rising gently along one side. We smile as we remember the small marquetry lines that punctuate one of the legs: they show the knee heights of Thomas, then four, and Ellie, then two. We invent tales about the stick-man water carrier and enjoy the pretty mother-of-pearl buttons embossed into the surface. Look at the legs. Each is different – one made from pillars of the checker-board assembly scattered on the surface.
The stick man.
The exploded chess board.
That sensual polished nipple of wood along one side.
Tom’s leg height.
Another detail from the side.
… and another ….
… and another …
One of the table legs.
A small detail.
Crawl underneath. The table is dedicated to everyone in the family. There’s a further notice: this one.
We’ve called in one 10,000 meal service, as promised on the dedication notice. Sadly, Bryan now lives in Wales, and we have moved north from the Sheffield street where we once all lived. Bryan and I each have a different partner now, and we’ve rather lost touch. But that table ensures that he’s never forgotten. And when I go, will it have to be chopped in three? Each of my children wants it. Perhaps it’ll be a Judgement of Solomon moment for them.
I’m an indifferent housewife and Malcolm is worse. What’s the point of dusting until you can actually see a result from doing so? Malcolm would probably say ‘What’s the point of dusting? All it does is re-arrange the dust.’ Hoovering happens when it has to.
So last week it was a terrible shock when I decided to have a really good spring-clean, hoiked the edge of a rug out from under the radiator where it’s normally firmly wedged, and found this…..
…….. the corner of our Persian rug chewed to a fragment. By clothes moths. Of whom I could see not a single sign.
Well, we cleared up the mess and left it at that. Until today. Malcolm had a little sort out of the jumpers in a drawer, and found this….
….. and this ……
Well. Spring cleaning it is then. With a vengeance. We’ve ransacked the shops for nasty chemicals, packaged for the most part in plastic (so much for our eco-credentials), and set to with the vacuum cleaner, dusters, scrubbing brushes, mops. It’s either that or face the world with every item of clothing interestingly decorated with a filigree of little holes.
Will it make us less indifferent housekeepers? Probably not. It’ll take more than that to change the habits of a lifetime. But then, it turns out that both Harrogate and Ripon are suffering from a serious Invasion of the Clothes Moth. Even Houseproud Housewives are not exempt.
Another update from my daughter’s long and exceedingly difficult journey from young widow to cancer patient to reconstructed survivor. You may have noticed that the more normal her life becomes, the fewer the posts …. so let’s hope it’s an even longer wait till the next one…..
A friend recently remarked that you’re all so heavily invested in my story that it would be only fair to let you see a picture of the new knocker. She’s probably right. So, here’s the result of my trip to the Build-A-Boob Workshop back on that Tuesday in late February. I’m actually quite proud of it – and, simply from a surgical perspective, it IS pretty impressive (in comparison with the flat-chested butchery which was there before, anyway). Unless there’s a market for MastectomyPorn™ – which, to be fair, there probably is somewhere – I guess this is only interesting to those who really care. So, here you go.
This is the norkitecture. My DIEP/TRAM autologous breast reconstruction, should you care to Google it (though readers of a nervous disposition may wish to look away now). No implants whatsoever. What little tummy fat I had has now been re-sited into…