Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


The beginning of February, snow on the ground, cats secreted in unexpected nooks (the bathroom is still of interest but since No. 2 Cat did not progress to the use of an angle-grinder we’re passing no comment at present), gradually being overwhelmed by the pile of unread books taking over various parts of the house. Wool is also encroaching and I have not yet unwound the scale model of the Himalayas I intended for a rug, mostly because No.1 Cat, the elderly and best-beloved, decided it offered support for his arthritic hops and adopted it for a while.

I’m in Chapter Fifteen of Fellowship with Demons, struggling a bit (partly just to find the time to type). No chance at the moment to pay a visit to Edinburgh and stretch my legs round the Meadows and the back of South Clerk Street where I need to be. I heard a writer on the wireless the other day (blowed if I can remember her name, sorry, but Radio 4), who said she had never walked much until she became a writer, then found that her brain worked best at 3 miles per hour. I’m with Virginia Wolff (not a thing I often say, but there are one or two points of her view where we might, had occasion offered, have nodded in sage agreement and taken another sip of gin and tonic) who liked to go for walks in winter dusk in the city, when people had lit their lamps but not yet drawn their curtains, revealing tantalising playlets of their lives to the passing world.

We travelled to Lockerbie and back last weekend. May I applaud the people of Dundee for their egalitarian abandonment of the use of car indicators? It’s a fine sign of a sense of community, everyone clearly just knowing what everyone else is doing and where they’re going. Clearly someone has realised that those little orange lights are a distraction, and a rather tasteless one at that – garish orange, very Seventies (though I suppose that’s retro now). The Dundee population has abandoned their use in favour of a rather sudden flashing of delightful cherry red brakelights when the driver in front makes an unexpected manoeuvre ... Peebles, though – now that’s a nice town. I hadn’t been there since Adam was a boy, but it is a busy, practical, clean, neat, attractive town. We had a decent lunch on our way down and another in a different plase on the way back, and there were more choices we wouldn’t mind trying another day. A walk by the river, clutching our hats to our heads, a stroll around a few pleasant independent shops, and on we went. The hills haven’t changed much since my childhood, though streams of water running off the moors had frozen across the road. Still, we’d left the North-East in snow so we were lucky. The sheep were bonny and clean with a fine staple that had me reaching for my knitting needles ...

Just outside Lockerbie, the stars were a wonder. In the city we so often can only pick out the Plough and bits of Orion, so it was a delight to stand and stare, tracing half-forgotten shapes. Those Greeks had a bit of imagination, though: I’m afraid Cassiopeia is a W, and that is that!

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