Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Two 'D's

Two things beginning with D today.   The first one is the most serious and I really can't decide what to do.

I am becoming quite immobile and, because of arthritis mainly in my knees and ankles, some days I have great difficulty in walking and in keeping my balance.   It is on these days that I find it very hard to take Tess for the three walks she needs and deserves - however short.

But then in the evening when we settle down, I look at her in her basket and I know that I just could not bear to be without my little friend who I have had since she was six week's old. (she is now nine and a half).

Now it looks as though I could have a new home for her with a dog-loving couple who have just lost one of their two beloved  dogs and would dearly love another one.   And I ask myself - am I being kind to her to keep her in such a restrictive life or will her main concern be to stay with me (she has known no other life and has always been here on the farm) regardless of her shorter walks and virtually no walks in the fields - and when I move all her walks (except for those if I employ a dog-walker,or if my friend calls to take her out) will be in very different terrain.

My second D has been a Day out - or rather an afternoon out - and is in some ways connected in that my son and his wife took me on a drive out into the lovely countryside around here.   We didn't go into The Dales but rather the other way towards Ripon and then out into the rolling scenery around there.   The harvest is in and the golden stubble fields shone in the sunshine.   The views were wonderful.   We called in at Studley Royal and sat by the lake and had a pot of tea and a scone with jam and cream.   I took Tess as I didn't wish to leave her alone all afternoon.   I found managing her, her lead, my stick and my handbag very trying - there were lots of dogs around and she was no trouble but I still found it
very hard.  

What shall I do?

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Out to Lunch

No surprise there then.   Coffee with friends early in our usual coffee shop and then friend W and I went to one of our favourite venues for lunch.   I needed a present and a card for a forthcoming birthday and there is a charming shop there which is good for such occasions.

We had our favourite lunch - Seafood Platter - a plate holding smoked salmon, smoke mackerel, prawns in marie rose sauce, mayo, green salad leaves, a warm brown roll and butter.  This,  followed by a cup of good coffee, is a most satisfying meal.

There was thick fog when I drew back the curtains at 6.45am and since then it has been cloudy but as I write this at 4pm the sun is breaking through.  As usual it is ukulele practice tonight.   I spent a couple of hours filing my music in alphabetical order last evening so at least I should be able to find whatever it is we are expected to play tonight.

My right knee is much improved today so I am pretty sure that yesterday's intense pain was due to my twisting it rather than arthritis - that's a relief.

Monday, 21 August 2017


Just for a couple of minutes the total eclipse was shown on the BBC News this evening and I must say it was quite awe-inspiring.   It did set me wondering what early man must have thought when such phenomena occurred.   Were they afraid, did they think that the end of the world had come - or did they indeed think of their existence in terms of living in a 'world'?   I am sure they didn't.

In fact, we can't begin to imagine how they viewed anything can we?   Up to the invention of writing and with it the possibility of being able to write one's thoughts and feelings down, we can't know much at all about how our ancient ancestors thought.   From relics and artefacts we can deduce a lot about how they lived and ate and fought one another. But thinking - now that is a different matter altogether.

Having thought about it for a bit I suppose it is still true that none of us know what people think, do we?   We only know what they choose to tell us and quite often that is what they think we want to hear rather than what they really think.

Right, that's enough of the 'deep' stuff for today.
Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to give me a wide variety of book titles for my book club.   I have sent for Bernhard Schlink's 'The Reader' for a start, so thank you Rachel for that suggestion - I will let you know how I find it.
What books we like is another thing which varies from one person to another.   I have just had quite a struggle with Zadie Smith's 'Swingtime' - a very good book but not an easy one to read.

I got in quite a mess ordering it from Amazon - accidentally involving 'Prime' and accidentally ordering it twice.   But I persevered and eventually got both things corrected (Prime cancelled and one book order cancelled).   As with all things computer I find that the only way is to keep doing it oneself until it comes right - otherwise life is made up of always asking someone else to do it for me.

Perfect warm Autumn morning has given way to cloudy, cool conditions.   In spite of very bad arthritis today I shall now go down the Lane with Tess for a short walk.   With my Winter fleece on!


Sunday, 20 August 2017


When one lives alone then Sundays can be a bit of a pain because it is the day in the week when families do things together.   But it doesn't need to be like that.

The four of us - four friends, all widows ranging in age from early seventies to mid-nineties,  meet for coffee in the week and for lunch every Sunday.
We have many a laugh, never have to think about cooking Sunday lunch, take joy from one another's company.   How do people who have no friends manage through life? 
I left a line full of problem washing (handwash only;line dry; wash and iron inside out with a cool iron; wash dark colours separately - you know the kind of thing) flapping in the breeze when I drove off to collect friend W for lunch.   When I came back it was all dry and it is now inside and waiting to be ironed.   Although it said wash dark colours separately the red cotton blouse has not made my white knickers pale pink, nor has the navy blue cardigan made them pale blue. I sometimes think that manufacturers print these things in garments just to protect themselves.  I just plonked it all in the washing machine together (I might of course change my mind when I find that one of the garments has shrunk!)

Suddenly the land around us has taken on a different aspect.  The two fields in front of the farmhouse have been harvested (wheat) for wholecrop, the fields have been double-ploughed and today they have been re-sown for next year's crop.  The fields around the farm which have recently been silaged have now been well and truly 'mucked' (leaving a rather healthy but unsavoury smell permeating the whole house).  In the garden at the side of the house the rowan is being summarily stripped of its berries by blackbirds.   The tree is full of them as they furtively hop from branch to branch helping themselves - dropping more berries than they consume but not somehow having the sense to fly down and pick the berries up from the floor.   Can anybody explain why it is that these same blackirds can spot a grub of some sort at close quarters, or a worm emerging from the ground?  Yet they can't see a dazzlingly orange berry they have just dropped?

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A Busy Day

It is a sunny but windy and chilly day today.   I had various little jobs to do so I set off early into town with Tess on the passenger seat.

She sat in the car while I went and got The guardian and some milk and then got some money.  Yesterday my gardener came and did four hours work for me - and by golly what a difference he made in four hours;  everywhere looks clean and tidy again.   The farmer always kept the driveway neat and tidy - he kept the weeds down and swept up the pine cones each week because they make such a mess.  The people who are buying the farm try their best to help me but really are too busy to do too much.

After that I made yet another visit to the Tip with a boot full of rubbish.   It is so cathartic each time I go.  Then I called at the library with a list of possible books.   I couldn't get a single one I had on the list but got three by recommended authors.   It will shortly be my turn to suggest the book for our Book Club and so far the only book I have read which I consider superb is only out in hardback and therefore too expensive.  It will not be out in paperback until February.   I can however thoroughly recommend it here.   It is Bernard McLaverty's 'Midwinter Break' and the writing is excellent.   If anyone has a suitable Book Club book they could recommend, please do help me out.

Then it was down to our Lane for our morning walk.   That went well and Tess enjoyed it hugely.  The drive back was a bit of a nightmare because there was a cycling time trial taking place and the route led up our lane.  I therefore spent much of the journey home driving at about eighteen miles an hour (only for a mile or so) but at least it gave me a chance to clock the mileage of these eager young cyclists pedalling like mad up hill and against a strong wind.

This afternoon has been a two-hour ukulele session which I enjoyed but found very tiring.  Some days (and today was one of those days) my mobility is so poor that doing very much at all is a major effort.I came in and had an hour's snooze in the armchair so feel lively enough to take Tess for another walk in the field now.

Friday, 18 August 2017

My Saviour

I came home from lunch out (not a rare occasion as I am sure you know) to discover Derek, my gardener, here and knee deep in weeds and grass cuttings.   I really don't know what I would do without him.   He spends four hours here and the whole garden looks magical as a result.

Luckily he also works for the lady where I am moving so I can continue to rely on his services there.

Another week has passed with absolutely no sign of progress with my moving date, so I shall just have to try and relax and not think about it over the weekend otherwise the whole thing will drive me scatty.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Back at last.

I'm back folks after an enforced break due to B T somehow cutting off my telephone and my hub late on Monday afternoon.   Couldn't help wondering if Neil of Yorkshire Pudding fame had something to do with it.   I went out for the afternoon to visit friends and when I returned it was to find that he had called (and left me a tin of salmon, which he knows I love).   I sent him a quick e mail to say I was sorry I had missed him and suddenly, five minutes later, my hub light went to red and my telephone went dead.   Open Reach have been working at the top of the road all week which may have had something to do with it.  Anyway I am back on line and my phone is working so all's well that ends well.

It is so nice to meet folk I blog with - several have actually called and stayed overnight - but please, if you intend to come this way, let me know and then I will endeavour to be in when you call.

I am no nearer moving as things have not really progressed a great deal.   I know these things take time but it is almost six months now since the farmer died and I really do want to get settled into my new home before the winter sets in.

It has been a lovely day today.   Our group of ukuleles played for a group who meet regularly in a nearby Golf Club - we meet for a sing song and it is enjoyed by us all.   Now I am home, catching up on my e mails and enjoying the sunshine of a late Summer's evening.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Such is farming.

Ah well - these things happen.   All the grass was down and my neighbour, who is already working the farm although things have not gone through yet, was hoping to make hay.   Saturday and Sunday were forecast to be fine and warm with a breeze, so he was quite hopeful.  I was unsure because I know how often the farmer has felt the same and then things have gone wrong.

Sure enough, while I was out to lunch, it poured with rain.   As I was going to bed last evening (I tried to stay up to look for meteors but was too tired) there was such a lot of noise in the field.   I got up to look out of the window and all I could see were lights in the fields around the farm.

This morning all the fields are full of wrapped silage.  Obviously all hope of hay was abandoned, he cut his losses and made it all into silage.  Such is farming.

Back to the said lunch.   Friend W had friends for the weekend and she very kindly invited me to lunch yesterday.   And what a lunch it was!!  She had roast a large piece of ham - which was mouth-wateringly delicious and with it we had tiny salad potatoes, beautifully made chips, sweet corn, mange tout, chantenay carrots and broccoli.  Afterwards sticky toffee pudding, ice cream and super fruit salad and cream.   Then it was back into the conservatory for Lady Grey tea and  a lovely chat.   I stayed until half past five - a lovely day - so thank you to my dear friend.

Today has dawned sunny and warm.   I am taking my son and his wife out for lunch and then it will be back to sorting through mounds of farm papers - a job I am hating but a necessary job before I move.   As I took many old Defra booklets to the tip yesterday for recycling I did just wonder how many of these documents (delivered to every farm in the land I presume) had ever been opened and read.   They are issued each year and must take up quite a large percentage of their budget.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Friday, 11 August 2017

This and that.

One of the disadvantages of being so long in moving (and my poor organisation) is that I have packed all my battery chargers so that I can't take a photograph of my airer to show you - my camera battery has run out.   I will have one more try:
Success!   Here is my airer - it works on a pulley system - the Aga is on the right (in the white space) under the oak mantelpiece.   I shall miss it
greatly when I move.

Now to what I intended to write about.   When I was a small child the only 'fodder' farmers could make was hay.   They waited for what they hoped was going to be a dry spell - no long range forecasts in those days which is why  old farmers are still such good weather forecasters.   Then they cut their grass - only one cut a year and then they hoped and prayed that the weather would hold.
Sometimes it did, sometimes it got wet a few times before it could be gathered.   My father in law, who was still alive when I married the farmer, used to say that there was only one year when it was an absolute disaster in his lifetime.

I well remember as a small child going to my Aunt's in The Dukeries (an area of Nottinghamshire) and going with the farmer to gather in the hay which had been left to dry in the field.   We would ride to the field on the broad back of the horse pulling the empty cart and ride back to the farm on top of a full hay wagon. Any smell of hay now brings back such a feeling of nostalgia for me.   No health and safety rules in those days.

The man who has bought our farm (still in the process of going through much to my frustration) is working it too - we can't let everything get out of hand during the wait after years when the farmer kept it in such good order.   After making silage he is now attempting to make some hay and to this end he cut yesterday in what was a glorious day here.   Now today it has been dull all day and has been attempting to rain for the last couple of hours - holding off so far.  Good weather is forecast for tomorrow and Sunday so let us hope he is successful.   If not it will all be made into silage - that is the choice farmers have these days.

Tomorrow I am going out to lunch to friend W's.   She has friends staying and I have been invited.  I look forward to it because I know there will be chips for lunch (their daughter loves chips and so do I but rarely allow myself the luxury).

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Living Alone again.

One thing I have noticed about being on my own again (apart from still missing the farmer every single day) is how the jobs can pile up and there seems no need to do them.   When there were two of us then things like food shopping, washing and ironing (yes, I do still iron) - the mundane jobs, had to be done regularly.   Now that I am alone it is not the case.

Washing tends to be done - as one friend who also lives alone said - when one almost runs out of clean knickers (!!)  - and shopping never seems to need to be done apart from fruit and vegetables and topping up the dog and cat food.

But today the jobs had piled up - and there were also some appointments, so it has been a very busy day. It has also been a lovely, sunny, late Summer day so a joy to be out and about.

Hair at 9.30, letters to post,  a visit to the Physio, a topping up with petrol, a visit to a car wash - I must say it is lovely to drive away with the car gleaming - and a nice walk with the dog off the leash. Washing flapping on the line - I shall collect it shortly and iron it and put it up on the airer.  The airer over the Aga is one thing I shall miss when I move.

Unfortunately a visit to the Physio always makes me very tired for the rest of the day so that jobs after that were a bit of an effort.

Meanwhile, as I am doing all these jobs, the fields around me are being cut - hopefully for hay if the weather holds - for silage it it breaks.  The cut grass smells delightful.