curiosity about the ways of the world

Category: Homes and housing

Bye bye blackbird…and our Edinburgh urban jungle

Through the window I saw a robin on the bird table, two blackbirds underneath, a grey squirrel in the white stemmed birch, four fat pigeons and three pretty doves squabbling on the ground.  If we had a pear tree perhaps there would have been a partridge in it.  A record-breaking cold spell brought hungry wildlife into our back garden. That’s something to celebrate just a short walk from Edinburgh city centre.  Oddly, it added to my sense of loss as we packed to leave our old urban jungle home.

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Ghosts of census past and present

Thursday 17 March 2022.  Approaching Census night the old kitchen has the look of a Victorian museum, or maybe a low budget costume drama.  Granny’s white cotton nighties hang in front of the shiny black range. Crisp and cool to the touch, they are the very devil to iron.

These are things of impressive though now impractical beauty and I rediscovered them during one of those lockdown cupboard clear-outs of 2020.  On impulse, I dug them out again to spruce them up in time for our Scottish Census 2021 – postponed because of Covid.  Removing the creases and wrinkles from yards and yards of best cotton, tackling the finicky fine tucks and broderie anglaise round the neckline, I’m thankful for the steam iron.  A Victorian maid standing in the old scullery (more or less where I am typing now) would have been applying flat irons heated on the coal-fired range, and no doubt listening out for the bells summoning servants to other tasks in grander parts of the house. Let’s call on Elizabeth…

Ironing granny's nightie: Fay Young
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Knock knock: who’s there?

No fear of sleeping in these mornings. By 8.30 there’s a lusty knocking on the bedroom wall, nothing personal you understand, just a purposeful hammering and banging, drilling and pounding. I’m not complaining. They are knocking the old house into new shape and it’s good to hear sounds of life next door again. Continue reading

Cameron’s poll tax?


speaker seen between Unite flags at bedroom tax demo


On a bleak, finger-chilling day, some heart-warming moments.  At the demonstration against the bedroom tax outside the Scottish Parliament,  a young Edinburgh student stirs the blood with invective against Holyrood Palace: will they be paying tax on unoccupied bedrooms? Like f*** they will. And, a trade unionist raises hopes: “This will be Cameron’s poll tax”. Loud cheers. Continue reading

Royal Housing for the Poor?

Stop Press: Monday 9 Jan. No reply yet from RBS but this idea has provoked great response from young people and sympathetic support from Malcolm Chisholm MSP and Mark Lazarowicz MP so I will be posting an update as soon as possible…

The Skinny Magazine has wickedly bestowed Stand Comedy Club comedians with magic powers to make New Year resolutions for others (please read David Cameron’s and make a wish that real life could be like this).  While the spirit of good will is still in the air, I’m writing my New Year resolution for the Royal Bank of Scotland. Continue reading

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