Sunday, 26 January 2020

Sunday again.

How quickly Sundays come round (Salmon Florentine again today I think).   I like Sundays, when the four of us meet, chat, wave and chat to friends and have a nice lunch, pot of tea and relax for an hour afterwards.   It has become such a pleasant part of my weekly routine.

As I write this at 10.39am, looking out of the window, I see the clouds scudding by and there are rain spots on the glass.   Without going out of the door I know that the weather pattern has changed and it is January weather after a week of Spring-like weather here in The Dales.  The bushes and the hedge at the top of the garden are waving about in quite a strong wind and the sky at the moment is full of rooks struggling against it to get somewhere important to them.

Today my thoughts are in China - I know it is a huge country with millions of inhabitants but any new virus is scary and as I have a Grandson working there (not in Wuhan province) it naturally concerns me more than it usually would.  And, of course, it is already spreading to neighbouring (and further afield) countries - as one would expect in these days of world-wide travel taken as a matter of course.   Let's just hope that it is identified and that research soon produces a vaccine.  I think that often we get too complacent about things and this has pulled us up short (as did Foot and Mouth Disease in the cattle and sheep on our farm in the early nineties) - there are always threats lurking there in the background.   I remember how my mother used to talk about the terrible flu epidemic which swept through after the First World War and killed so many young men who had survived that only to die so soon afterwards.

Enough doom and gloom - onwards and upwards -  I am missing my sweetheart of course but am now beginning to look back on our happy times together and the good twelve, trouble-free years she had.   I know it was her time and now I have many happy memories.

Saturday, 25 January 2020


Saturday, as I am sure many of my readers know, is rarely my favourite day.   Last Saturday I had a lovely day with my God-daughter and her husband but visitors on Saturdays are quite unusual unless they are here for the week-end (rare now because I find entertaining quite difficult these days except for the few who come and treat the place like home (ie make their own beds, stack the dishwasher after meals (better than I do), get up later then me so that I can have a quiet breakfast and gather myself together and various other small things.)

It is now a quarter to three in the afternoon on a day which promises a deterioration in the weather.  Now and again the sun bursts through the cloud but it is certainly chillier and the forecast is for the weather to become more 'as it should be in January' by tomorrow.   But here we have had a lovely sunny week.. 

So far I have communicated with three friends by e mail, waved to a neighbour and chatted to the Post lady for a couple of minutes (commiserating again about the loss of Tess as she has a Border Terrier too).   Luckily my monthly magazine came this morning as did my Daily newspaper - so plenty to read and plenty of puzzles and crosswords to do.

It's funny how leisure activites have changed with the advent of televisions and then computers and all their appendages isn't it?   I sat drinking my cup of tea a while ago, thinking of what my parents would have been doing on a Saturday afternoon.   Well it isn't all that cold, it's fine, there's scarcely any wind:    my Dad would no doubt have been out in the garden, cutting back this and that, having a bonfire of prunings that had been lying about, forking over a bare patch if it was dry enough (we lived in the Fens and often the soil was slow to dry out).   Mum would have had a pile of mending waiting in her sewing basket - socks to mend (no throw-away when a hole appeared in those days - does anyone mend a sock these days?), buttons to sew back on - even - would you believe it - sheets to turn;  she used to turn sides to middle on good quality sheets if they began to be thin in the middle.   Summer Saturdays (if fine) would be saved for one thing - Crown Green Bowling - their pleasure in the Summer.

My young days it would often be Walking - driving to some beauty spot and walking seven or eight miles, picnicking or calling somewhere for food on the way.   I expect this happens still - that is a pleasure that disappears as arthritis creeps on.
But there is still much pleasure to be had if you look for it.    The door bell has just gone - a friend has popped in for a chat and a cuppa - so put the kettle on, cut a couple of slices of Date and Walnut cake, up the Central Heating - three o'clock, just the right time for a cup of tea.   Cheers!


Friday, 24 January 2020


A nice full house for our Coffee Meeting this morning -   so a very pleasant hour was had by all. This was followed by a nice lunch at our usual Friday venue (fish pie and crispy kale for me and ham and turkey/leek pie with honeyed carrots for W. )   Being naughty we decided to share a helping of chunky chips (delicious) and then wished we hadn't done so.   Still that feeling will go off (eventually).

Then it was home as I had decided to have the lock changed on my front door - just home in time for the locksmith who took all of five minutes to complete the job efficiently.   Now, at  half past three, I feel as though I have done a day's work, although in fact I have done next to nothing.   The central heating has switched itself on which suggests it is coming cold earlier this evening, so I shall shortly close all the blinds and get the bungalow snug for the evening.

One of the advantages of lunching at Tennants - our local Auctioneers and Valuers - is that if there is a sale on (as there is today) each lot in turn is flashed up on the screen and you can watch the bidding and see how much each item sells for.   It always saddens me to see how little beautiful furniture fetches.   It happens too on Antiques Programmes on television.   Unless it is Mouseman furniture or something like that then really beautifully-crafted furniture goes for next to nothing or else doesn't reach the reserve price and is withdrawn.   Much of this stuff is individually craftsman -made of beautiful wood and yet these days many folk would prefer mass-produced stuff.   Why is that I wonder?  Somehow our values have changed and we look at things like this in a different light.   I heard on some news programme the other day about how these days people prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than 'stuff'.   Is this a good thing or a bad thing.   I really don't know.   I do know that the one or two pieces I have which have been in my family for a long time I value greatly and bring back happy memories when I look at them.   What do you think?

Thursday, 23 January 2020


I have come to the conclusion that we are lucky here in The Dales.   Every morning I watch the weather forecast and for the last few days the forecaster has said, apologetically, that it will be cloudy everywhere.   Somehow we have missed that cloud here in The Dales and each day we have had quite a lot of sun.   Not hot of course - it is Winter - but sun and (out of the breeze) warmish.   My Gardener even came this morning and did a couple of hours tidying up in my garden - and by golly it looks better for it.

Between us we have decided to plant up the 'empty' section with shrubs.   I say 'empty'; those of you who have read my posts over the years will know that one section of my garden is severely infected with the weed Mares' Tail.    It has had several sprays with a specialised Weed Killer but to no avail.   Reading up about it another suggestion is to plant it with shrubs and just  keep hoeing at the weed whenever it shows its face.   Should you not be familiar with said weed I will tell you that it is thought to be the 'oldest' weed in history and virtually ineradicable.   So watch this space.


Wednesday, 22 January 2020


I shall wait later until later in the day to write my blog.   It is Poetry this afternoon;  I intended to write this morning but I have woken up with a blinding headache and almost an inability to write this - each word needs careful thought before I commit it to paper.    I shall try again later - hope that whatever it is troubling me will have sorted itself out by then.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Ship shape and Bristol Fashion.

Monday morning, washing done and in the tumble drier,  the lady who cle ans for me has been and gone and everywhere is neat and tidy - just how I like it.   I cooked myself a lunch of roasted root vegetables and a jacket potato which I stuffed with tuna and that was delicious.   I did intend to go out for a walk with my walker this afternoon but, although it is a lovely sunny day the wind is now very strong so I don't intend to chance it.   I know I have to keep walking or I shall become unable to walk, but not in a strong wind.   Instead I keep walking around the house doing various jobs so I am not sitting around.

As I sit here at my computer in the window of my computer room a seagull floats over the garden carried in the wind.   Seagulls are everywhere here although we are a good sixty miles from the sea I would have thought.   I guess we are about mid way between the North Sea at places like Saltburn and the Irish Sea at maybe Morecambe.   When we were children we would point out seagulls and say they were coming inland as there was going to be a storm at sea.   Now they lay their eggs and raise their young on the moorland I can see from my window.   Times have changed - I guess these seagulls are a success story in terms of numbers.  The sky may be completely empty of seagulls but stick the plough into the ground and set it off down the first furrow and I'll bet by the time a farmer gets to the other end of that furrow there are a hundred seagulls behind him.   How do they get the message?

Here's hoping for a few more days of bright sunshine - cold it might be but how welcome the sun is in January.   I have snowdrops in bud in my garden.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

A Lovely, cheering day.

Today my God-daughter and her husband drove over from the West of the country (Preston), over the tops of the Pennines (snow here and there) to see me for lunch and a chat.   It was lovely to see them and when Saturdays are often lonely days for anyone living alone it was good to have company.   We went out to lunch and all had turkey and ham pie served with vegetables (and for two of us chunky chips - Alan had new potatoes.  We then had sorbets and finally coffee.

I was touched that they made the long journey really to say they were sorry about Tess.   More neighbours also called this morning to say they were sorry too.   It has been a roller coaster of a week but gradually things are getting back on to an even keel. 

The weather has been beautiful today here - blue sky, sunshine all day and out of the breeze quite warm.   The same kind of weather is forecast for tomorrow so we are being lucky.

Like Rachel I too had a very bad night last night.  I woke up at about half past two and finally got up, put the central heating on, made myself a cup of tea and sat and read North and South until half past five when I returned to bed,went to sleep and didn't wake up until nine o'clock.   Now, at half past eight in the evening, I can hardly keep awake.


Friday, 17 January 2020


Another disgusting day weather wise although it was kind enough to me to stay fine until I got back home from the Hairdresser at half past ten.   I was lucky enough to have a nice succession of friends,   to see how I was coping - a couple this morning and then this afternoon my neighbour H came and had a cup of tea and half way through friend E who lives a little further down the road, came and we all three had a pleasant chat.   It was still pouring with rain when they left and still is doing so as I write this.   The doorbell rings, so I must delay and further blogging until later.

It is now Friday morning.   I have just been down into town where a group of us usually meet for coffee.   This morning nobody else turned up (two are on holiday, the rest must have not come because the weather is still disgusting.)   It did mean I could be really naughty and have a toasted tea cake.   I am going out for lunch in an hour and of course I am not now at all hungry - my own fault.

I have just had an e mail from my Grand-daughter who lives in Glasgow and has a little girl aged three.   Long ago I gave her my Paddington Bear, bought for me in the 1980's by a very dear friend I have sadly lost touch with.   All three of my grandchildren had played with Paddington as they were growing up - at one stage even wearing his wellies, but in the course of those years his hat went missing.  They all loved him dearly.

When they came a couple of weeks ago I asked whether they had ever got a replacement hat for him.   As a result they researched where it might be possible to get a new hat and wrote to them.   This is the charming letter they had in reply.
Isn't that lovely?   I am sure my Great grand daughter is delighted - and now all he needs is a lavender bag for his pocket.  (what good advice).
It is things like this that warm the heart in a week when all the news for me has not been good (although day by day things are getting easier to bear - and I look at the paw prints daily as I come out of the front door.)

Wednesday, 15 January 2020


It is a bright, cold and very windy day - almost too windy for me to stand up.   When I walked up the main street in our little town the wind was so strong it nearly blew me over and a lady kindly helped me across the road (believe me, that's when you feel really old).  If the wind is in a certain direction it is always hard to walk in the market square.

Today I lit a candle for Tess and it has burned brightly in the sitting room all day - just a little reminder of what a bright star she has been in my life.   As many of you predicted I had a very good night's sleep last night and feel much more like my old self today.   There is still a hurt there but, as I said on my comments page in answer this morning, when BT put me a new phone line in a few weeks ago Tess stood on the concrete before it was set and her paw prints remain just outside the front door - a great comfort now.

Friends are still calling on me, telephoning me, arranging to come and see me - it is all very touching and make it all so much more bearable.  As friend T pointed out - she is with David and her beloved rabbits now.   I am a Humanist and a non-believer but a lovely thought nevertheless.

I have made a package of remaining food, leads and such like to give to someone - I am sure somebody, somewhere will be pleased with them.   I have no intention of taking on another dog - a pup would need far more exercise than I could provide and an old dog is really just taking on trouble I can do without.   I shall have to get used to living alone completely - I have masses of friends and I also quite like my own company.   This month 's book for Book Group is Mrs Gaskell's North and South - all 400 odd pages of it
and only three weeks to read it in - so I have plenty to do. 

Has anybody out there read any Elizabeth Gaskell lately?   I read 'Cranford' for School Cert more years ago than I care to remember and I can't remember being enamoured with it.  I can't remember anything about it anyway after all this time but I belong a book club and I do firmly believe I should read every book so I shall start tonight.

I have bought myself a present today - a replacement small television for the one which gave up the ghost in my kitchen about a year ago.   Now I can eat my breakfast in the kitchen at the table and watch Breakfast Television rather than carry my breakfast through to the sitting room on a tray to watch it in there and risk tripping over something (I am really good at that) and throwing my breakfast all over my new settees.   Til tomorrow.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

My First day.

Sleeping last night was almost impossible for me - I couldn't stop my brain working overtime.   At half past three I got up and went to my computer and 'played' with it for an hour and a half.   When I went back to bed I did eventually fall asleep and then of course I slept late.   But it didn't matter.   My neighbour called before I was dressed because she had heard my sad news and soon after she went another friend rang and I was talking to her for an hour.   And so it was lunch time.

I have been overwhelmed by everyone's comments and kindness - they have certainly helped me through the day.   I have heard Tess many times - heard her basket creaking, heard the 'clack' of her claws on the kitchen wood floor - and many's the time I have glanced at where her basket used to sit to see if she is alright.   And although for the last few weeks she has slept most of the time and been unusually quiet, the house seems strangely quiet and empty without her here.  But I know I have done the right thing and now I have to pick up the pieces.

It has not been a day when I have missed walking with her - she would have hated it too - it has poured with rain all day.   I had a mountain of ironing to do and have done a bit here and there throughout the day (I can't stand for long at once) meaning that there is just a duvet cover to do in the morning.   There are two programmes I quite enjoy on the television this evening (a weekly documentary on Mevagissey in Cornwall and the fishing industry there) and a programme on Ben Fogle in the Wilds.   Neither programme needs a lot of thought (good because at present my brain is a bit scrambled) but does pass the time.   Last evening my son kindly came round to sit a while and we watched University Challenge together - we both enjoy it and always have a contest to see how many of the questions we can answer (he always wins - I say because his brain is younger than mine!)   I managed seven last night - in most cases they were questions the teams got wrong - mainly because they were too easy I think - questions about natural history (trees, birds, flowers and the like) they always seem weak on.
Sometimes there is a contestant whose knowledge is incredible and last night the chairman of one team had a very impressive tally of answers - she rarely had to consult her three colleagues.   Such a brain - one wonders where such characters end up at the end of their university life. 

I shall try to stay awake until my normal bedtime tonight and if I do then I think I should be assured a good night's sleep.