Monday, 5 December 2016

Mishap 2!

Another mishap this morning when the farmer appeared deshabile once more - standing there in just his shirt and underpants he said he had had another mishap.

While filling the tractor with tractor diesel (he was standing by it at the time), the tractor accidentally knocked the tap off the tank and diesel oil spilled all over him - coat, trousers, boots - the lot.

Hastily plugging the hole he dashed round to our neighbours (G was thank goodness in) he 'borrowed' a spare tank and G brought it round immediately.   The diesel was pumped into the new tank and then the farmer came in to assess the situation - thankfully leaving boots and coat outside.   The outside coat was assigned to a forthcoming bonfire, trousers, socks etc. were put straight into the washing machine.   At present the whole house smells of diesel oil, but other than that everything is back to normal - a new tap is fitted and the oil is back where it belongs.

Never an ordinary, quiet life on the farm!

Sunday, 4 December 2016


How many calories will it use in typing this?   The farmer has just taken friend W and me out for Christmas lunch to The Pantry in Hawes.   Run by farming friends of ours, it serves up the most delicious and wholesome food but has never let the words "sensible helpings" appear on its menus.

We booked a month ago when the first three Christmas dates were announced.   The cafe seats around ninety and all three dates were fully booked within hours.   They are set to serve over five hundred Christmas lunches before the big day - and they serve their own-raised beef, turkey, goose and duck.

I had slices of turkey, goose and duck, along with roast potatoes, red cabbage, carrot batons, roast parsnips, peas, creamed leeks, stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and gravy.   There were also pigs in blankets but I forgot to get one.

A fruit drink was served with the meal, top ups whenever you asked.    The sweet table was heaving.   I have put a photograph of it on but that is after a good three quarters of folk had already chosen their pud (I took it on the way out).   This was followed by unlimited coffee top ups with individual mint chocolates and then everyone was offered a mince pie to take home and warm up for tea!

Now home and very full of food I do not intend to sleep it off but shall get on with my knitting as soon as I have written this.

I have taken a selection of photographs for you to see but do bear in mind with the ones of the journey - the farmer does not slow down for photographs and where it is not sunny it tends to be in deep shade.


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Coffee Morning.

What an enjoyable morning I have had.    Yes, it was sad to miss all the goings-on in our little town, with Santa and singing round the tree and all the other christmas activities that were advertised.   But really the parking meant that it was quite a long way to walk and it was a cold morning.

In any case, it was also the monthly Church coffee morning in the village and I always go to that - especially so this month when K brought her famous mince pies and brandy butter.   At sixty pence each they were an absolute bargain - hot, spicy and delicious.

There were lots of people there (and an adorable miniature dachshund puppy called Chloe who stole my heart).  In addition there were some interesting stalls - one lady was selling stuffed toys - mainly polar bears- excellent value for stocking fillers.
She also had a pile of knitting patterns free to good homes and I found a lovely baby one which I shall definitely use shortly when I have finished the one I am knitting.

Another stall sold her usual cards and jig-saws so I bought the farmer a jig-saw of skaters, which I have a feeling he will start tonight after Strictly.

And there was the usual food stall run by A, who usually makes Turkey Lasagne, which I always buy and put in my freezer.   She hadn't made any this time but she did have excellent small cakes - these were square and iced (mine had a snowman on top) and will lead me nicely into the Christmas period should anyone call for a cup of coffee.

Home again now.  The farmer is still out shooting
and after baking myself two jacket potatoes and eating them with butter (absolutely my favourite meal - I have simple tastes food-wise) I now have Christmas cake number two in the oven and the timer says there are ten minutes to go before it is time to look at it - so off I shall go.

Hopefully I will be back tomorrow.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Important day tomorrow.

It is market day in our little town and the fruit and  vegetable stalls have a large selection of different kinds of oranges, bags of nuts,holly wreaths - everything connected with Christmas.   It really does begin to feel like Christmas here, particularly as the town is also full of men getting ready for tomorrow's event - the lighting up of the tree and the arrival of Santa Claus.

All the shops have decorated their windows beautifully (I will put photographs on one day if I manage to get into town early enough to get  a view without a crowd of people.)

How different Christmas is today to when we were children.   The farmer talks with great affection of his childhood Christmases (he is one of six and was brought up in the days when spare money went on buying things for the farm).  They each had a stocking hanging above the mantelshelf and each stocking had sweets, nuts, an orange, perhaps a colouring book and some crayons and usually the boys (3) had one big present between them (he talks still of the year they got a large sledge - and it coincided with a very bad winter; what fun they had.)  The three girls would also get the same and one large present between them.   In those days any spare money was ploughed back into the farm.
(it is my theory that one reason there are so many elderly batchelor farmers around here is because they never had any money to spare for girl friends, or for modernising the house.   These days women will just not accept that like they did in the old days).

My friends and I will not be going into town in the morning - it will be busy with children enjoying themselves, the carparks will be full - and in any case it is the monthly church coffee morning in the village  - and a special Christmas one where, as well as the usual coffee and biscuits, K will be selling her delicious home-made mince pies complete with a large blob of brandy butter.   Who would miss that?   It is the farmer's shooting day so I shall hope to buy one for him so that he can sample her cooking when he comes in.

As regards the shooting day, the local Hunt came an hour ago to remind him that they will be hunting in this area tomorrow.   He told them that they would have to watch out, but it is my guess that any fox worth its salt has enough sense to keep well away from the sound of guns, so he will probably go the other way.   In any case,but don't let on to the farmer, I always hope that all game and also foxes escape to fight another day.

Aga working perfectly(touch wood) - so cake number two may be made tomorrow.


Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Ladies have arrived.

Yesterday twenty ladies descended on our farm - twenty rather heavy, hopefully pregnant ladies who have taken up Winter residence in our loose housing.

It was cleaned out a month ago (full of last year's well-rotted manure, which was spread on the fields) and at the beginning of this week the farmer spread a deep layer of straw ready for their arrival.   Two hens immediately commandeered it for their own and promptly laid a couple of eggs each in the straw!

They came up the pasture from our friend and neighbour A and once they saw the straw and the deep layer of silage ready for tea outside they trotted in happily, udders swinging from side to side.

They will stay in there until maybe a month before the due date of giving birth when each one will go home for a special diet for that last month.   For the past few months they have 'enjoyed' a wander in the fields with a friendly Aberdeen Angus bull, so time will tell how many are pregnant.   Hopefully it will be all of them.

So welcome Ladies of the Dale.  I always enjoy your Winter stay.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


I have been to my exercise class this afternoon, so am now staggering about and very stiff in muscles I forgot that I had.   But also feel better for it.

Whilst I was there the Aga engineer came and the Aga is now getting hot again.   It takes quite a while to reach its normal heat but I hope it will be there by morning so that I can make the first of the four Christmas cakes I make at Christmas.  Then I can tick that off my list.

It has been a lovely day here today but because of a breeze it has felt quite  cold, in spite of the temperature on the dashboard registering eight degrees whereas yesterday it was only three.   But the sunset was absolutely spectacular - all shades of blue, golden and orange.   Nature at its very best.

I am busy compiling a Quiz for Christmas for the local Nature Reserve I support, so I shall go now and try to compose a few more cryptic clues.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016


I never thought that I would live to say this, but friend W and I had an interesting and quite enjoyable morning this morning doing something that I have never done before.

As I have said before, we live very near to Catterick Garrison, the largest Garrison in Western Europe, although you would never know it as you drive through a couple of miles of pleasant, neat, well-kept - and green - landscape.

They have recently built a new shopping complex
just across the road from quite a large Tesco store.
W and I decided to go and take a look at it this morning.   Most of the shops are the sort of shops I never go into - and what an eye-opener touring round them proved to be.  I bought quite a lot of vegetarian food to put in the freezer for Christmas from Iceland (my son is vegetarian and catering for a different menu on Boxing Day is really a chore too far).   We went around the Pound Shop and Yorkshire Trading and also around Aldi.  All of the shops had plenty of customers - young mums with babies in the main - presumably wives of young servicemen.

We ended up with a cup of coffee in Costa coffee, which was also obviously the meeting place for the same young mums and babies.   What a lot of babies all in one place at once.

I arrived home pretty footsore at just before lunchtime.   The farmer had been sitting in the house all morning waiting for a call from the Aga engineer to say when he was coming as we are still without any means of cooking.   But no call so far, so fish and chips for lunch - a long time since we had them and we both quite enjoyed them.   No more for me today though as I am still quite full.   The farmer paled at the thought of no tea, so I shall go now and rustle up a ham sandwich for him.

Sitting here at the computer, looking out of the hall window I can see the most glorious deep orange sunset.  Looks like another cold but clear day tomorrow.   Today the temperature never rose above three degrees and the day began with a severe frost.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Irritating news.

I am sure that in the giant scheme of things it is not all that important, but why do these things always happen at inconvenient times?   We are just entering a cold snap of weather - tonight is set to be the coldest night of the year so far - and what has happened?   The Aga has decided to go on strike.

Yesterday morning I put on the lunch to cook - chicken thighs with Mediterranean vegetables - and suddenly realised that the oven temperature was going down quite rapidly.   By tea time the Aga had gone out.   The farmer cleaned it out this morning, but it has made no  difference so now I am waiting for the Aga engineer to ring.   Luckily we have the wood burner on in the back room and the central heating throughout the house, but it is quite a big house with high ceilings, so it will be good when it is going again.

It runs on oil, as does the central heating.   When I think of my parents with just one fire in the living room and hot water bottles in the beds, we really don't know we are born, do we?

In fact this afternoon has been a sunny afternoon, and as most of our windows face due South there has been some warmth from the sun.   In fact, driving home from town the temperature on the car dashboard registered nine degrees and the sky was a clear blue. 

So now it is fingers crossed that the engineer rings later tonight to arrange to come.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

A Nice Afternoon.

What could be nicer on a very cold, wintry day, than sharing the afternoon with a group of friends, laughing, chatting and eating?

Friend E invited six of us to share a leg of local lamb she had been given,   so at half past one we all sat down (after canapes) to roast lamb with mint sauce, bread sauce, apple jelly, delicious gravy - and roast and mashed potatoes, diced swede, carrot batons and steamed broccoli - all taken with a glass of white wine.   This was followed by apple crumble and creme fraiche and finally coffee and chocolates.

The rest of the afternoon we all sat in her sitting room, the sun streaming through the windows and chatted -- and laughed, before leaving at four o'clock to come home.   It was a lovely afternoon.

Now almost time for Strictly - I wonder who will go out this week.   We both hope it will be Ed Balls - funny he might be but it is a dance competition and his dance skills are sadly lacking.
But I expect his fans will keep him in for another week.

Keep warm.   It was the most beautiful sunset as we came home.   Isn't nature wonderful?

Friday, 25 November 2016


And not Black up here in The Dales I must say - we are just not cajoled into spending our hard-earned money on things which are supposedly 'special offers' for Black Friday.
It has been the most beautiful cold, sunny, still, late Autumn day - the kind of day when it feels good to be alive.  I have a friend who has had a severe stroke and I was conscious this morning of how J would be missing her beloved birds as she lays semi-conscious in her hospital bed.

I have finished my Christmas shopping (says she boastfully) - mainly because most of it has been done on line.   I am now going to sit down and finish writing my Christmas Cards.   That only leaves me to make four Christmas cakes, which I make every year - one for us, one for my son and his wife and two as presents.   I shall just make those in odd moments as and when I have an afternoon at home - and I shall enjoy it, knowing that the pressure is off.
   I am going out to lunch tomorrow with friends and looking forward to that greatly.   Always something to look forward to - that is the solution for me. 
 **Hot off the press.
This afternoon the farmer came in half way through the afternoon having slipped into the beck while cleaning in out (it was blocked with weed and backing up so in danger of flooding the field).
Totally wet from the waist down he got a good telling off from me - not for getting soaked but for doing a job which I don't think he should have been doing - he should have got someone in to do it.   So his clothes are all now in the washing machine and he is warm and dry again.