Saturday, 28 March 2015

One step forward, two steps back.

Isn't it always the same at this time of the year?   There is so much for the farmer to do on the land.   There is muck to be spread, fields to be harrowed (half done) and rolled, fertiliser to be spread. wind-blown branches and wood to collect (half done), gates and fences checked and repaired where necessary - and all before the cattle go out into the fields for the Summer.

We have had two sunny, pleasant, obviously Spring days.   Now today it is almost Winter again, with a very strong wind blowing and frequent showers.  How rarely is the ground just right for the tractor - it is either muddy or it is too dry.   Days of dry ground means that the farmer has had a very bad neck and shoulders, probably caused by jolting up and down on the tractor while spreading slurry.

Now only a few days from the end of March  (it always seems such a long month doesn't it?) which came in 'like a lamb' it seems likely that it will go out 'like a lion'.

Tonight (or rather in the early hours of tomorrow) we shall put the clocks forward one hour and evenings will become lighter.   Somehow mornings being darker is hardly noticeable.

Yesterday, over in Kirby Lonsdale, which is of course much further West than here in the Dales, all the daffodils were out and the lilac was heavily in bud. Here little is really moving apart from the young nettles which are springing up everywhere.   I am just having a day inside.  I have cooked a lunch (bacon and egg with chips, sweet corn and peas, followed by delicious fresh oranges - so good at this time of the year), shall now light the wood burner and have a peaceful afternoon doing the crossword.

Enjoy your weekend wherever you are.

Friday, 27 March 2015

A Kirby Lonsdale Day again.




Every so often friend W and I go over the Yorkshire Dales, through the Trough of Bowland and into the little town of Kirby Lonsdale to meet our friends P and D for lunch in Avanti, the Italian Restaurant there.

Because whichever way we go means going over the watershed of the Pennines, we never go over the Winter months, when the weather on the top can be altogether different from here.   So today was our first time this year.   The weather was beautiful.

Ingleborough, one of The Three Peaks, was snow topped and stood out brightly - usually it is cloud-covered but today there was a lovely view of it.

The Ribblehead viaduct on the Settle to Carlisle railway showed up marvellously - pity there was no steam train crossing as we passed.

Arriving in K L we made our way to Avanti where we had a delicious lunch - you will see a photograph of my choice - chicken, saute potatoes and green beans in a parmesan sauce and then, as always (after strolling through the town with our friends) we came home by a different route, through the little town of Sedbergh.   Approaching Sedbergh were the Howgill Fells, standing out in the sunlight.

We never tire of the journey - today the fields were full of very young lambs gambolling up and down, the sun shone, there was very little traffic and a good time was had by all.  Enjoy my photographs, all taken from a moving vehicle, so they may well be a little out of focus.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The farmer is not well today.   After sitting for four days solid on the tractor doing the same thing, he has stiff shoulders and a very stiff neck.   In addition he is coming down with a cold.  So he is rather sorry for himself.

Reading Bovey Belle's post today (Codlins and Cream) about the loss of a dear friend, made me think about how we lose friends as we age.

Several people, who because I live up North I have lost touch with other than cards at Christmas and the odd letter and e mail, have stopped contacting me.   I shall never know why.   P, who lives in the Midlands and is a very old friend, always read my blog and often answered it with an e mail.   He would also send me a photograph if he had visited an interesting church.   Suddenly he stopped all communication.   I sent him e mails, I sent him a Christmas card - but nothing has been heard of him since around last Autumn.   I have no way of knowing what has happened.

Similarly, friend C, who I know has had one or two strokes and has largely lost her memory, has stopped communicating.   As I hardly know her children (she had two sets of twins in eleven months!) and have no idea where they live, again I can't contact them to see what has happened.

Both these friends are well into their eighties.

Another much younger and very dear friend suddenly stopped all communication about three years ago.  Her husband still lives at the same address but on the census she no longer lives there.   I don't suppose I shall ever know where she has gone - but as with the other two I miss them greatly.   This is one of the built in hazards to getting old I am sad to say.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Pruning.

Looking out of the kitchen window while standing here still in my dressing gown, the weather looks reasonably good so I am about to bite the bullet and get into my gardening gear and go out and prune the roses down to three buds.   This has got to be the absolute last date for doing so as they are beginning to grow like mad.

We also spray at this time of the year for blackspot, which bedevils our roses every year.   Albertine, the climber, is the worse offender and according to the garden centre she is very prone to it.   He recommended throwing her out but I am afraid I love her too much for anything so drastic.   When I spoke to the farmer at breakfast time about the spraying he informed me he had done it last week when I was gadding off somewhere!

And speaking of this - we have three nest boxes up in our Scots pine trees by the house - all visible from the kitchen window.  They are quite high up and because of the farmer's balance problems I made him promise me that he wouldn't get the ladder to them to clean them out or replace the two which are very old.   I now find that one day when I was well out of the way (gadding off somewere as he chooses to call it) he got out the ladder, took the boxes down and replaced them.   You can imagine, he is very pleased with himself.

Today is our Poetry day and this afternoon I shall be off with friends to sit and read our favourite poetry all afternoon - wonderful, relaxing afternoon.

 Anyone over sixty reading this take note - I read in today's Times that 'experts' are now saying that us oldies should first of all make a pile of all slippers and burn them.   Then we should ask for arm weights and dumb bells as presents - we need to be out there getting fit, not sitting around in our slippers!   Have a nice day.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Election Day Looms.

I think we all know that the election takes place during the first week in May.   Do you think it would make any difference if, instead of being bombarded morning noon and night with electioneering, we had a month of complete silence, when we could think about things and make up our own minds?

Instead we are already getting shots of our leaders (??) cheering on their offspring at footie matches, preparing salads in very posh kitchens quite unlike any kitchen most of us watching possess and talking gobbldigook about what they intend and do not intend to do if they win the next election.

I for one hardly believe a word of it.   Neither do I believe that four weeks of intense electioneering will persuade all that many voters to change their minds.   We are a conservative (with a small c I hasten add) lot and once our minds are made up we tend to stick with it.

Roll on the second week in May when it will all be over, a government of some kind will be formed and life as we know it will return to normal, whatever that is.

And forests can stop quaking as all those election leaflets, most of which go unread, are binned.


Monday, 23 March 2015

My First field walk of Spring.

At last the fields are dry enough for Tess and I to have an afternoon walk over them.  Although there was a sharp wind blowing it was a pleasant afternoon and we set off in fine spirits.





I have to say that there is very little sign of spring yet.   In the fields the grass has yet to green up and there is no sign of bud on any of the trees.   Even the blackthorn, which is the first to show, seems to be waiting for a few days of warm sunshine.

The hazel catkins are out, although they are sparse on the tree I photographed.   Interestingly, underneath the tree are the shells of most of last year's nuts, neatly broken in half (probably by the sharp little teeth of mice), their contents eaten to stave off winter hunger.

Tess led the way along the beck side, watched by numerous rabbits from a safe distance - they are everywhere.   The side of the beck in our little plantain is peppered with rabbit holes - there is a large warren there,

While we are on the subject of the plantain, the farmer has seen (and heard) a pair of buzzard in the tree tops and we are hoping that they will nest there this year.   They are beautiful birds with their majestic hovering and floating in the air currents and they only take dead carrion so are no threat to small hedgerow birds.

Two pairs of yellow hammers are investigating the hedge where they always lay - and appearing at the bird table to top up on seed throughout the day.   They are most welcome.

At the field gate back on to the lane deep golden lichen grows thick on the blackthorn branches - almost the only golden yellow I see on my walk.  No sign of celandines and not even a marsh marigold in bud.   But I shall keep watching.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Yum, yum.

The farmer and I, along with friend W, have been out for Sunday lunch.   Isn't it good to do this?  When I was young I don't remember our parents ever doing anything like this.   Morning coffee perhaps at a friend's house, or afternoon tea (we always went twice a year to a great Uncle and Aunt who were very 'posh', so that I always had to be on my best behaviour and had a new pencil and a new exercise book to take so that I had something to do to keep me quiet).

Coming, as I do, from Lincoln, then Stokes's Coffee house was always a place to meet for morning coffee.   Last time I was in Lincoln I was pleased to find that it is still there in Glory Hole - a bridge over the River Witham.
 
But now the thing to do is to go out for Sunday lunch - a full roast dinner which saves a lot of hard work on the part of the cook, and also means a couple of slices off a really big joint, which is much more succulent that a tiny joint for two.

What did we eat?  Predictably the farmer had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with horseradish sauce and vegetables (he also had mushroom soup first).   W and I both had roast pork with stuffing and apple sauce and vegetables.   It was delicious.

Did we need any more?   No, definitely not - we were full to bursting.   Did we have any more?   The farmer had chocolate brownie, W had poached pears and I had icecream.   All followed by coffee.

We are now home - Tess has been walked on this lovely Spring afternoon - sun shining, sharp breeze, lambs in the fields, daffodils out in gardens, primroses out in the hedgebacks - oh yes -Spring has definitely sprung. Now I am going to sit in the chair and sleep off that Sunday lunch.
 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

DANCE FOR JOY.  AT LAST THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING HAS ARRIVED.   SO WHATEVER THE WEATHER WHERE YOU ARE (VERY COLD HERE) - HAPPY SPRING TO EVERYONE!

Friday, 20 March 2015

A bit of a non-event.

Well, a bit of a non-event I thought.  Yes, the partial eclipse happened dead on the minute it said it would.   And yet it only became dusky.  The birds continued to eat at the feeder and the robin was singing its beak off throughout.  I expected all the rooks to be on their way home to bed and all the little birds to retire to the bushes, but it didn't happen.

Perhaps, now that the sun is a lot stronger, that tiny sliver of sun along the side was enough to stop it going really dark.  Whatever the reason, a cock pheasant and one of my hens kept up a spat, almost a running battle, over the poultry wheat through the whole thing.

And yes, Cro Magnon, I do agree with you - I shall be celebrating the first day of Spring tomorrow as it should be.   Not that I shall be dancing naked round the blossom tree or anything like that, but I shall be taking deep breaths of the Spring air and saying goodbye to Winter  -even if it does happen to be premature (as is suggested in the comments on my yesterday's post by one or two answers from the States).

There is a plethora of Spring flowering plants on our market today - primroses and polyanthus in pots, bunches of daffodil and tulips to put in water ; everywhere you looked there was yellow and red and purple - it does the soul good.

Oh, and by the way, regarding the Spring celebrations - there never was a time when I danced naked round the blossom tree (in fact I think I feel more like doing it now than I ever did!) 

***Pictures on this evening's television news showed just how very exciting the eclipse was as it moved further North - the North of Scotland had a total eclipse and it really did go completely dark up there.   It was lovely to see the young school children so excited.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Spring!

Well, it has well and truly sprung today - wall-to-wall sunshine, albeit hazy and little or no wind.   In the sun it is a very warm day; in the shade it is still quite cold.   The weather has brought out the lawn mower brigade in force - they are everywhere like flies and making the rest of us who haven't even oiled ours after winter, feel guilty.

It was just the day for the lime to be spread on the fields and shortly before lunch time the lorries and the lime spreader arrived.   From the top road (where I ventured on a trip to Richmond with my daughter in law to sample flapjack and coffee in a lovely bistro) we could see the white 'cloud' strips across our fields.

Tess is limping and the vet thinks she has pulled a muscle rabbit chasing, so for a few days she has to walk on the leash to give the muscle time to heal.  She does not care for it.

Elizabeth tells me that three inches of snow are forecast for New York for tomorrow - seems winter is still trying to win the battle.  We do not want you here winter - begone!