Thursday, 27 October 2016

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

There is no mistaking today for anything other than an Autumn day.   There is a chilly wind blowing from the South West and as I stood in the upstair bay window, thousands of golden beech leaves scudded past the window in a flurry, like golden pennies from heaven .

The hedge cutting man, Mike, has arrived to tidy our hedges before the winter comes and the fields get too wet to bear the weight of the tractor and cutter. 

We have four types of field boundaries and all and treated differently.   One field is bounded by a plantain (a small wood) and a beck.   This is fenced to prevent cattle getting over the beck and into the wood and the farmer keeps the fence in good order.   At the moment it is full of grey squirrels, which Tess would dearly love to catch - but they are much too clever for her.

Then there are the stone walls - this is the most common form of field boundary in the Dales and we have many.   They do have to be maintained, so that usually there are some repairs to be done every year.   Small creatures tend to live in these walls over the winter - stoats, weasels and the like.

Some fields are separated by "cams" made up of ancient crab apple and hawthorn trees or large bushes.  These might be trimmed back a bit if they venture too far out into the field, but on the whole they are left alone as shelter for the birds (and usually there is a wealth of berries which are also left for the arrival of the fieldfares and redwings).

We also have a few short hedges and these are cut each year.   Yearly cutting means that they thicken up nicely and so provide perfect nesting sites for small birds; earlier this year we had three pairs of yellowhammers and their offspring at our birdtable and all nested in these hedges.

Some people object to these hedges being cut, but we have fields full of over-wintering Swaledale sheep with long, matted wool.   These hedges by Autumn are full of the briars of blackberries.  Sheep and briars do not mix and the more they twist and turn when they get caught, the worse situation they get into.
So it really is essential to keep them trimmed.

This Sunday we put our clocks back for one hour - then it will be dark by five in the evening and although an hour lighter in the morning, this never seems to make a lot of difference.   Yes, we are really entering what my mother used to call 'the dark days before Christmas'.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


We had an especially lovely Poetry meeting this afternoon as our hostess, W, has a very Special Birthday coming up shortly.  Secretly we have managed to buy her a piece of silver, which she collects.   Friend S also baked a super cake (which had mashed pineapple and mashed banana in it and was delicious) so, apart from the poetry it was all a huge success.

The poetry, as usual, was varied - some serious, some light-hearted.   J, as usual read her favourite Betjamen; we had a good laugh, a lot of lovely poetry and I am sure we all came home having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. 

The Autumn colours are just coming into their maturity here in the Dales.   This is the Rowan tree I can see from my kitchen window.   Hopefully, over the next few days. I will have more beautiful photographs of our magnificent Autumn colours.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Hard work.

Three days away and it is hard to get back into the routine of putting a post on every day.  Does everyone find this?   Normally I have thought of something to blog about by around ten o'clock in the morning, but today my thoughts have been occupied by first of all having my usual Tuesday morning coffee with three friends and then managing to concoct a reasonable lunch from various things left in the fridge.

I hate to waste food.   I always think of all the people (some of them in this country, let alone all in other places) who find it hard to manage to feed their families - either through lack of money (here) or through wars, or through lack of food generally.  And when I put out food for the farmer to take down for the chickens (who will eat absolutely anything rather than the expensive food which is put into their troughs every day) I feel a stab of defeat that I haven't managed to use it up before its sell-by date (a bit of a load of rubbish anyway.   As we were saying over coffee this morning - forget the date on the packet, smell it, inspect it carefully and unless there is something seriously amiss - eat it.)

So, it was tail end of a joint of ham, fried up left-over 'new' potatoes, various salads and - joy of joys to the farmer - a proper rice pudding made because I had excess milk and also some single cream left.   Cooked slowly all morning in the Aga - it was a delight.

Now tomorrow it is back to normal food-wise.   And as all the washing and ironing has been done, the same is true of getting the house straight too.   Tomorrow is our monthly Poetry meeting, so this afternoon has been spent looking for what I am going to read tomorrow.   So far I have chosen parts of A E Housman's 'A Shropshire Lad' - the part which quotes 'those blue remembered hills.'
Searching for the poems is almost as enjoyable as reading them out to the group.

I will be back again tomorrow to let you know how the meeting goes.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Home again

We have just returned after taking our dear friends back to Durham Tees Valley airport for their flight back to Amsterdam.   Their plane left at 17.10, so they should be home and almost through Schipol by now.  (it is an hour's flight).

And what a lovely weekend we have had with them.   The days have been too short to go anywhere but nevertheless, we have managed to enjoy life.   Saturday we took it easy - they had had a very early rise and by the time we had eaten lunch the daylight was almost over.   But yesterday the farmer took us for a lovely drive through the most beautiful part of Wensleydale, stopping for a short walk for them to look at West Burton Falls (painted several times by Turner).   Our friend, F, remarked that we really do live in a very beautiful country - and I must say I agree with him.   Then we went for Sunday lunch in a pleasant venue where we all four had a lovely lunch.  Each evening we have played Rummikub - a game which they first taught us many years ago - and luckily we all managed to  win some games, so no-one was disappointed.

There really is nothing like spending time   with old friends who are such friends that one can relax and not have to 'stand on ceremony' as they say.

Earlier in the year, when we went on our cruise, we met them for the tour round Kukenhof Gardens and they kindly bought me a lovely book explaining the origins of the gardens and the thinking behind the planting.
I look forward to reading it and may well share some of it with you later.

In the meantime, the washing machine is singing away merrily, as is the tumble drier with the first washed load.  The farmer and I have just had toasted cheese for tea, and once I have written this I shall look at what you have all written while I have been absent. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Normal service.

Normal service will be resumed in a few days time.   Meantime - enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

32 weeks and counting.

I am shortly to become a great-grandmother again - in about a month.   Today my grand-daughter sent me a photograph of her thirty two week scan, showing the baby sucking its fist.  (they do not want to know the sex beforehand).

It took me back fifty-eight years ago, when I was expecting my son.   Then you went to the doctor when you suspected you might be pregnant, he sent you to a clinic attached to the maternity unit where you had chosen to have the baby and you went there once a month.   That was it really.

Now there are so many 'photographs', blood tests and the like - progress is staggering really.   I suppose it is the same in all areas of
health, but they certainly keep their eye on you, which is good.  

So I shall keep you informed of progress from now on.   Looks like only four more weeks to go.   She is still teaching as I write this and is feeling very well, so I hope now that all goes well for her.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Tess by Glennis

,My friend, Glennis, sent me this lovely photograph of Tess today:
It is always difficult to get Tess in a position which makes a photograph easy to take, but Glennis has managed it here - so hope you  enjoy.   And thank-you Glennis (thanks from Tess too.)

Monday, 17 October 2016


What a difference a bit of sunshine makes.  My visitors from The Netherlands are coming at the week-end and I am busy organising things for them coming - we are so much looking forward to seeing them.

Yesterday was fog, rain, cloud and thoroughly miserable - today (what a difference a day makes) there is a light breeze and the sun has shone all day.

This morning the farmer went to his feed merchants in Masham, about ten miles away.   I went with him for the ride (as I usually do) and I took my camera, expecting that the trees of Autumn would be spectacular.   They have hardly begun to change yet, apart from the odd beech tree here and there, so my Autumn colours of Wensleydale will have to wait a while.

The farmer has started tidying up jobs for winter.   I am trying to persuade him to hire a skip and fill it.   I am sure there is enough 'rubbish' lying about to fill a dozen skips - but my goodness me he takes some persuading.  In fact I shall not mention it again or I shall tip the scales over into nagging rather than persuading.   He does agree that there is a lot of rubbish on various benches (last year a robin built a nest on the bench in his big shed and the nest was really not visible unless you knew exactly where to look.)   Everything on the bench was the same brownish colour - tools, rusty bits of this and that, bits of old rag etc.   She laid her eggs, reared her young and off they flew and nobody disturbed her.


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Cabin fever.

I am suffering somewhat from Cabin Fever, but really it is such horrible weather that there is no point in going anywhere.

Today we awoke to thick fog, which has at last cleared after an hour of rain.   Now, mid afternoon, the sun is trying to break through the clouds, but it is very cold.

Lamb cutlets for lunch served on a bed of spinach and with new potatoes and savoy cabbage on the side.   And for once I got the cutlets cooked just right.   Television chefs tend to cook them for about two minutes each side and then serve them really pink.   Neither the farmer nor I are keen on pink meat whatever it is - we belong to the well-cooked brigade.   Nice crispy fat on the edge also enhances them - so tasty they were indeed.

More than two days in the house and I am getting restless.   I always think that there may indeed come a time in the not too distanr future when I cannot get out, so while I can go out and about I shall continue to do so.   Back to 'normal' tomorrow.   And hopefully the weather will have improved.

Saturday, 15 October 2016


Today has been a quiet day for me, except for a very early start as it was 'flu' jabs at the Medical Centre just after eight o'clock this morning.   They have it all so well arranged that the farmer and I were there and back in twenty minutes.   It is a bind going and I know that left to his own devices the farmer wouldn't bother, but I always make him go.   Anything is better than a dose of 'real' 'flu' - and I know the injection doesn't cover completely, but it is the best they can do and certainly more protection than nothing at all.

I can't bear to go out leaving things to be done so I had to have an early start in order to put the breakfast pots in the dishwasher, make the bed and have my shower.

My only other job of any value has been to make a large blackberry, raspberry and apple crumble to put in the freezer later today ready for our Dutch friends who will be here next week-end.   I have done this, also making three small ones for the farmer, myself and friend W - we might as well sample the mixture.

Now, at half-past two in the afternoon (by my
newly-found wrist watch!!)  I shall empty the dishwasher and then knit until tea time.   A woman's work is never done.