Saturday, 28 November 2015

Unsolicited gifts from Charities.

If, like me, you are fed up with unsolicited gifts from various charities, especially around Christmas, please go to my yesterday's post and read the reply from Anne of The History Anorak - she works for one of these charities - who explains very clearly why such charities find it necessary to do this at Christmas.  It makes most interesting reading.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Eyes versus tum.

Oh dear, there are occasions when my eyes are bigger than my tum, as my mother used to say.   Meeting this morning for our Friday morning coffee and chat, I (and several others) just couldn't resist a cheese scone.   Our usual cafe is closed today for a new floor, so we went to our usual Tuesday cafe, where without a doubt they make the best scones in Yorkshire.

I did already know that a group of us were meeting at our local Auction House Cafe for lunch (and that was only two hours later) but that didn't deter me - although it should have done.

In the cafe, where seven of us met for lunch (an old friend had come up from Oxfordshire for a few days, so it was nice to meet up) I did not feel like eating at all.   But I succumbed to a gruyere, beetroot and orange chutney panini with salad.   It was delicious.   But I now feel that I never wish to eat anything again.   I probably feel like John (Going Gently) when he has had a surfeit of Scotch Eggs.

But at least I have not succumbed to Black Friday and have given all shops a very wide berth.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Chaser.

The last of the ladies have come in for now and we have as many as our loose housing will comfortably hold.   There they will stay until maybe a couple of weeks before their due date when they will be taken back to the Home Farm to calve.

All the cattle are inside apart from the final seven heifers who are out in the field with a good old solid Saler Bull.   All the cows and heifers on our neighbour's farm (it is a dairy farm with Holstein breed) are artificially inseminated (AI) but it is quite expensive to do and if, after a couple of tries, the fertilisation has not taken place then they are put out with the bull in the hopes that he will do the necessary.

Sadly, if that doesn't work after a couple of months then the heifer or cow is deemed to be barren and sent to market.   It is a harsh world but dairy farming is a business and the farmer can't afford to be sentimental.  So at present the neighbouring farmer lives in hopes - after all, these calves have been reared and that is an expensive business.   It is always sad if it turns out to be for nothing.

But as of today they are enjoying life out in the open with plenty of good grass still there for the eating and with a gentle giant 'chaser bull' for company.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


It was our Poetry afternoon today and ten of us met to read our favourite poems.   As always, there was a huge variety - something for everyone - and it was really a splendid afternoon.   I personally find it one of my favourite afternoons of the month.   We meet at 2pm and usually end with a cup of tea at around 4pm.   If there is no Poetry group in your area I really can recommend your starting one for like-minded folk.

Christmas preparations go ahead smoothly (so far) with all presents bought (yes, I am lazy and buy all my grandchildren vouchers).  About a third of my cards are written and stamped (I buy a book of stamps each week when I go into the post office).  Many of my cards go to friends who I haven't seen for years, so letters go in them and they take some time, but the bonus comes when I receive a letter from them.

I make four cakes and two are now finished - both of them using glace fruits only.   I shall make a third one tomorrow morning - a more conventional one - then it will just be one more to go.

I really quite enjoy this run up to Christmas because puddings and cakes make the house smell so nice and spicy.   But what I would do without Delia's Christmas Recipe Book I really don't know.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


There seems to me to be a phenomenon whereby even if the temperature rises on the thermometer it still feels colder.   After several days when there was a frost, today the temperature was eight degrees when I awoke and it has stayed around that mark; and yet, because it is damp and rather miserable, it feels so much colder.   This tends to suggest that how cold one feels is all in the mind.

It is the dampness which makes the cold feel as though it has got through to the bones.   I really think I could do with borrowing Cro's hat (if you haven't seen it do go to Magnon's Meanderings - I think he looks rather handsome in it).

Today, to my absolute joy, the long-tailed tits have arrived on the fat balls.   They come every Winter and if other years are anything to go by then once they have found them they do tend to visit every day.  Blackbirds are also arriving in large numbers so I have begun scattering crumbs for them.   They also love suet.   One of the pleasures of Winter is the bird life round here.

Keep warm wherever you are.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Winter Landscapes.

Yesterday afternoon, with a bitterly cold wind blowing, we braved the weather to drive the twelve miles or so to Thorpe Perrow Arboretum in order to buy a season ticket for a Christmas Present.
It really was the most beautiful afternoon and I took photographs of the journey back.

I love winter landscapes with bare trees - and yesterday's journey was a joy.   So enjoy looking at the countryside around our area.

The top photograph is of my favourite farm.   It may not look anything special in the photograph,  But you should see the view!

They've arrived.

The first lot of 'pregnant ladies' arrived into the loose housing this afternoon and have settled in well.   They walked over the fields and came into the bottom of the yard, making their stately way up into their shed for winter (well until their due date).  More will come in the days to follow.   I love it when they are here and I can take things like brussels sprout trimmings and potato peelings down for them.  Anything a little big different is relished - just like pregnant humans I suppose.

What made us laugh is that the hens all came up to have a look what was going on and stood about in the silage shed.   It was freezing cold but they didn't want to miss anything.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A mere trifle.

Several people have once again requested the recipe for a proper English Trifle.    It is a good standby - I made one yesterday for my grandchildren coming.   So here is the recipe again in the run-up to Christmas.   And please - in the interests of continuing to keep such things pure to their origins - do NOT add jelly.

In the bottom of a really pretty glass dish layer either sponge cake, trifle fingers or (at a push) sandwich or even Madeira cake.   Here in the UK you can actually buy Trifle Sponges .   Cover them
 liberally with enough sherry to really soak in. and leave for a couple of hours.    Next add a layer of fruit.   I usually use raspberries (we grow them in the garden and there are plenty in the freezer) - black cherries are a good alternative but if using tinned cherries then drain well or you will dilute the sherry (and you wouldn't want to do that would you?)   Next comes a layer of 'ordinary' custard - either make it with eggs and full cream milk, or be lazy and make it with custard powder (but always full cream milk).   When it has cooled you can put in a layer of amaretti biscuits.   Finally cover with whipped double cream - don't whip too much - you need it thick enough to hold its shape but don't overdo it.   Then it needs a chill in the fridge until about an hour before serving, when bring it out so that it reaches room temperature.   Enjoy.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

While the cat's away...

Yes, two mice, Friend W and I, treated ourselves out to lunch today as the farmer was out with his shooting syndicate.   The weather is very cold, but sunny and clear with a sharp wind blowing.

We went into our little market town, had a look round one or two Christmas displays, decided there was absolutely nothing we needed in the way of decorations (which we bring out for just a few days each year and then put away again).

I left home, leaving behind me a strange beeping noise, which I just couldn't locate.   I returned after a jolly good lunch of scampi, chips and peas - something I would never cook at home as the farmer will not eat any kind of sea food - and the beeping was still going strong.  Of course, the farmer located it in all of a minute when he came in from shooting - it was an indication from the smoke alarm that the battery was running out.

Trifle made ready for my grandchildren visiting tonight, almost time for Strictly Come Dancing from Blackpool's Tower Ballroom - a venue I knew well in my teenage years - and just about room in my stomach for a small helping of trifle after that scampi.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Our local 'fancy goods' shop has dressed its windows for Christmas.  Yesterday afternoon friend W and I went in to have a look at the special things they have in for Christmas (and to have a coffee in their lovely cafe upstairs - and to resist the cake).

It is a bit early to put on such a display but when I complimented the lady on her window displays she said they had specially done them early before a lot of the attractive stuff had been sold.   It is easy to get things out of the window so there is no problem. 

It has certainly made our little town look festive.   Inside the shop one of the attractive features is that they have a lot of glassware and crystal and these displays have been fitted with small lights which reflect around the shop.

We certainly came home full of the Christmas spirit.   Then I unwrapped the puds I had made and steamed overnight.   They seem to have shrunk a bit and I am not altogether happy with them, so I am now off into town to buy another small bottle of rum and a small white loaf for more breadcrumbs and then I shall make one more large pudding for our Boxing Day gathering.   The farmer and I might cheat by eating one of these smaller puddings before the big day.  There is always advantage to be gained from adversity if you know where to look.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


, Today sees the delivery of the straw for winter housing for the in- calf heifers and cows belonging to our friend and neighbouring farmer A.   At present the beast are still out in the fields but this week has seen a lot of rain and the fields are now wet and muddy, so although it is better for cattle to stay out for as long as possible,  it really is time they came in.   Hence the urgent delivery of straw for bedding.

The straw is coming from Bedale, which is about twelve miles away, and the first load set off in sunny weather.   But as the tractor and trailer turned into our farm the heavens opened and there was what can only be described as a 'cloud burst'.   I had my camera all ready to walk down the yard and take a photograph for you - but no way could I go out in that downpour, so I put on an anorak, nipped quickly to the edge of the patio and took one of the back view of the trailer.   I think you can get the general idea of the weather from the photograph.

Within about ten minutes it had stopped but not before the water had run off the tops and down the side of the field opposite flooding it yet again.   I took a photograph from the landing window of that.   The trouble with living at the foot of hills is that every rain storm produces more and more water.   Luckily it drains off quite quickly.   This afternoon the farmer intended to bed the housing down with straw ready for the ladies to arrive.   Instead he will spend much of the afternoon trying to brush the water out of the housing.