Sunday, 19 August 2018


Trawling through people's posts today I do find more and more mentions of 'seasons of mists and
mellow fruitfulness'.   Cobweb photographs with great beads of dew on them - morning mists over the fields and woods - plenty of that sort of thing.
The seasons go on and there is nothing we can do to stop them.   In fact I love Autumn; it is a kind of winding down time and some years Autumn colours are beautiful - let's hope this year is one of those years. 

A big reminder of this here in my part of the Dales is the Wensleydale Show.   Passing the site today on my way out for our usual Sunday lunch I passed the Show field and already the poles and guy ropes are up ready for the big marquees which will begin to go up on Monday  (the show is next Saturday). 

The Wensleydale Show is a sign that the Show season is coming to an end.   Locals take these events very seriously - the farmers for their livestock and the wives for the produce they grow or the cakes they bake.   Our farm was very close to the Showground and each year my farmer would walk up to the show and have his lunch there.   (Feed Merchants have large tents and provide a picnic lunch (Pork pies, sandwiches and cake) for those farmers who are their customers.  And as anyone will tell you it is a rare Yorkshireman who will not go for a free meal!

I have just watched an episode of 'Swallows and Amazons' on TV (Childrens).   My son loved the books when he was a boy and still has the complete set.   The children in the book are the same age as I would have been at that time - the books are contemporary to my childhood - and I watch the clothes, the hairstyles, the behaviour in amazement.   Did we really behave and dress like that?   Obviously we did - these costume dramas are nothing if not accurate but really they seem way before my childhood time.   I enjoyed it.


Saturday, 18 August 2018

Done it!

Well - I have done it.   I almost did it yesterday but drew back at the last minute.   After all it is only 18th August and the sun is trying its best to shine here today.   But there is a strong wind blowing.   So what is 'it'?    I have put on my thermal vest.   And on top of that I have put on a thinnish polo-necked jumper.   It was either that or turn on the central heating.   Saturday is a day when I rarely do anything and apart from administrative jobs which I will probably do when I have eaten my Sea Bass with peas and the first of my runner beans I have nothing else to do.

Saturdays are the hardest day of the week to fill when one lives alone.   Sundays are fine as I go out with three friends for lunch.   Had today been a pleasant August day then Tess and I might have had a longish walk - but even with my thermals on no thank-you!

Friday, 17 August 2018

Bank Holidays

Another one coming up next week-end.   Another opportunity to leave the house and join a traffic queue going to somewhere or other and taking hours to get there.   The traffic will be held up on and off all the way;   the sky will be threatening at the very least; when you get to your destination either there will be a queue to get in (if it is a stately home) or the cafe will have run out of scones and cake (again, if it is a stately home.  If your plan is to go to the seaside then be assured that by the time you get there the car park will be full and all the parking places on the side of the road will be full and should you just be intending to go for a scenic drive then a heavy mist  will descend over distant views and when you get to the pretty little church you planned to visit you will find the church tower cloaked in scaffolding and danger signs everywhere to keep you well away.  Such is life on a bank holiday.   You have been warned but I don't expect it will make any difference.   At the very least I shall expect to see you in a queue for an ice cream at a parlour somewhere near me.

Thursday, 16 August 2018


W and I decided to head here for our lunch today - head in fact to the Three Horseshoes pub where the quiche is legendary.  Wensley is only about two miles from where we live, so no journey to speak of and, as we expected,  quiche, salad and chips was superb.

Wensley was once home to the only market in the Dale (the Dale is still called Wensleydale) and until 1563 it was the centrepoint of trade for the whole area.   Then the village was more or less wiped out by Plague and the emphasis for trade moved to either Leyburn or Hawes.   Both little towns still have cattle markets and sheep markets
(Hawes sheep market is one of the most important for the Swaledale sheep) and both towns still have a good market along the street (or in Leyburn's case in the Market Square).

Some parts of the church (it is no longer in use) date back as early as 1290 and it is a Grade 1 Listed Building but both the church itself and the churchyard are now redundant and have a sad, neglected air.   Inside the church there is that smell which you get nowhere else - easily recognisable.

The whole village is part of the Bolton Estate so that almost all the houses are of a certain period (there have been some private houses added on but all are sympathetically built).

Gardens were pretty - one in particular, obviously that of a very keen gardener, was perfection with such colour in spite of being small.   Have a wander round and get the feel of a delightful little place.   The River Ure flows through just below the church - well it is normally the River Ure but at present not much more than a dry river bed.

The very prettily situated village hall is totally green and is a wonderful addition to the village and its amenities.   I hope you enjoyed your walk round it.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018


When I read of large cities - and even smaller towns - there are always photographs of the downtrodden areas with their poor and the homeless and the people sleeping in the streets.
It all paints a very depressing picture.   It does seem that our homeless population is getting no smaller and many people are living miserable lives. 

Out here in areas like The Dales we see little of this.   I do know that problems like drugs exist and there are social problems.   Our local supermarkets  have foodbanks and most people put something in the collection points when they are doing their shopping.   But in all the time I have lived up here I have only encountered two homeless people - one man lived in an old disused caravan on our lane and used to get his drinking water from the tap in our yard.   He was also very anti social but if my mother in law saw him she would give him a meal and a cake she had baked.
Eventually Social Services took him away  (against his will I might add). 

The other was a middle aged woman who for a time lived in her car, sometimes on our lane and at other times elsewhere in the area.   Eventually Social Services took her in too. 

But that there is a huge problem with homeless people is in no doubt. There always was.   Some are young people who have fallen on hard times but many are older people who have withdrawn from society for one reason or another.   And when I was a child there seemed always to be what we called 'tramps' in the countryside where they had their 'rounds'.   They walked (tramped) between the villages and called at 'safe' houses on the way.

My mother always kept a place set in our wash house in case a tramp called and she could always put together some sort of meal for him to eat.   If she had any old clothes of my father's then she would also keep them and offer them to the tramp.
They were, if my memory serves me correctly, almost always men. 

The exception was Pyewipe Liz (Pyewipe being a small village on the banks of the River Witham not too far from our village).   Liz would come round about once a month with her daughter - a pretty little girl of about four - and she would eat anything that was offered to her and also beg any clothes for her little girl.   She became an almost 'loved' character in the village and I have often wondered over the years what eventually happened to her.   I expect that nowadays her daughter would have been taken into care because clearly she was not really in a fit state to care for her.

These characters from my childhood almost eighty years ago stick in my memory.   Things have improved in so many ways but I suppose there will always be people who wish to withdraw from society for one reason or another and in spite of
help on offer there will always be people who chose not to take it.

Are there people in your area like this?

Tuesday, 14 August 2018


The saying usually is that if you want something doing then you ask a busy person and they will fit it in.   Well sometimes this misfires.   Friend W and I are so busy - writers' circle, book group, circle dancing, singing for the brain, ukulele practices and concerts, friends coming to stay - the list goes on.   We are busy - and I assure you we both want to be - while we can do things we intend to do them.   You are a long time dead.

But the upshot is that there is no time during September when we can find a few days when we are both free and commitments are commitments.  So our few days away may have to be in October.   In my teaching days I always looked forward to the October half term, which usually fell on my birthday and the weather was almost always beautiful - Autumn leaves, pleasant weather - a perfect time of the year. 

So we are relaxed about when we can take a break - the time will come even if it is later rather than sooner.  

In the meantime jobs pile up.   My courgettes are moving apace;  my runner beans are in full bloom but no beans large enough to eat yet - must not be impatient.   Party for my grand daughter, husband and my great grand daughter before long, when they pass through - I am already thinking of buffet menus for one vegetarian, two pescatarians and a couple of us who eat more or less anything.

Outside grey skies predominate today and a slight light rain is falling most of the time - not enough to dampen the ground but enough to make one aware that rain is never far away.

So it is back to the drawing board as far as a break is concerned - but we will get there one of these days.

Monday, 13 August 2018


After a day of sunshine, heat and threatening black clouds it has at last rained heavily for the last hour.   This means I do not have to water my courgettes today - it is a chore I would rather do without.

At lunchtime friend S called and took Tess for an extra walk - she was delighted (so was I).   It is so good to have rain regularly again - not so good if you are holidaying up here but for anyone farming or gardening then it is a great relief. 

For the past four weeks I have been watching Ed Balls in 'Trumpland' and I must say that the programme has been very interesting and so has Ed Balls's presentation of it.   Each time I see him on television he goes up in my estimation.   If you are a UK reader of my blog and didn't see the programmes then I do recommend you look at them.

Our local church, St Matthew's, has a 'Soup and a Pud' day each Monday when you can go, have home made soup and a home made pudding and a cup of coffee - for a donation.   Most people seem to make the donation five pounds and the meal today was very good.   Soup choices of courgette soup and/or tomato soup and a pud of homemade trifle. In our little town there really is no need to be lonely providing one is reasonably mobile because there is always plenty to do.

Friend W and I are thinking of having a short holiday in the Lakes at the beginning of September and have begun searching for spa hotels where we can really relax for a couple of days.   If anyone has any suggestions then please do let us know.

The rain seems to have subsided so I shall close down this miscellany and, while there is a break in the weather, take madam for her evening walk.   Back tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 August 2018


Sunday and out to lunch day.   I have just eaten breakfast and thought I would look at my e mails before having a shower.   Outside is a grey day and a long line of raindrops along the washing line - long time since I saw that.   I will return later in the day with an update on the day's events.

It has been very humid here all day - much warmer outside than it is inside - and on and off there have been showers.   I must say that it is a relief to have the drought behind us.

As usual lunch was delicious - we met the usual folk we meet there and the four of us sat and chatted until almost four o'clock thus passing a goodly part of the day.   Salmon featured highly on our menu as it usually does - a nice light meal and easily digested.

Tomorrow another week begins - I wonder what it will bring.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Living alone

Living alone is an art to be learned and it can only be learned when it happens - there is no practise.
This morning there was a coffee morning in a neighbouring village where W and I have friends and we had promised to go.   As usual it was lovely - toasted tea cakes and coffee on a sunny Saturday morning and a couple of hours chat with other people.   I had a particularly nice chat with a chap who used to be a farmer before he retired and who knew my farmer well.   I went home full of happy memories of the old days. 

But, of course, I went into an empty house (apart from my dear old dog who as usual was pleased to see me).   However hard one tries to get on with life Saturdays are the worst of all days.   Families are together and you are alone and the spectre of loneliness lurks.   I had plenty to do and I had bought two books on the second hand book stall so I would also have reading this evening but cutting out negative thoughts is never easy.   As my friend said, however hard you try the plain fact remains that 'the bed is too big'.   I thought this such a good analogy - in a happy marriage the end of the day usually brings a quick cuddle before lights out and once you are alone you are not first in anyone's life any more.   Everyone has, by necessity, someone who is more important to them.

The sun helps and today is still a lovely sunny day albeit considerably less warm. My courgettes and my runner beans are growing apace - I have just had cornish new potatoes and my own courgette
(gently fried in a mixture of oil and butter) with broccoli for my lunch.  Now I shall empty the dishwasher, re stock it with the lunch things and take Tess for a walk - in that order.   That will no doubt put me in a much better frame of mind.   Sorry for the moan.

Friday, 10 August 2018


Today saw friend W and me going over to Kirby Lonsdale to meet our friends from the Lakes for lunch in the Italian restaurant.   Each time I go I intend to have the same thing and each time I change my mind at the last minute.   Today I had it and it was absolutely superb.  Try it at home sometime when you really want a treat.   It can't be all that difficult to make.

I had Seafood Pasta in a white wine sauce.
 In other words - King Prawns, Mussels and Salmon with Tagliatelli in a really rich white wine sauce.   It was really delicious.

Friend W is looking after a friend's Border Terrier, Meg, who knows Tess quite well, so both dogs came with us.   The restaurant takes dogs quite happily and I must say that both of ours were impeccably behaved both in the restaurant and in the car. (far more so than a group of small children in the restaurant who ran around uncontrolled, shouted loudly, didn't eat their food and were a general nuisance.   I have the view that children need training to behave in restaurants from an early age and certainly well before they are let loose in such places).

We travelled through several downpours and each time the sun came out again.   The rain seemed to clear the air which was crystal clear over Wensleydale and over the Lune Valley.   Beautiful journey.   As we remarked on our journey - how lucky we are to live here.