Wednesday, 15 July 2020

This and that.

I have just taken this photograph of myself with my old digital camera (I don't have a smart phone) - not very flattering but not bad for eighty seven I suppose.   Anyways I am stuck with what I've got.
'O would some power the giftie gi us - or something like that said the poet.   I must say I was hoping I looked more the like gardening expert Carol Klein - my only excuse is that I have slept on my hair all week and it is due for 'renewal' in the morning.

It is 227 years this week since that wonderful poet of the English Countryside, John Clare, was born.  What a miserable life he had - what privations - and yet what inspirational poetry he produced.   Maybe it was a blessing that he spent a large part of his life in a madhouse, not really knowing who he was.  On the day of his birth the young William Wordsworth watched from the Isle of Wight as the British Fleet gathered in The Solent preparing to fight the French.

I must say it does get one thinking about Time and its passing.   227 years since Clare was born.   As I said yesterday 130 years since my own father was born and now here am I at 87 in the photograph - the passage of time,  so many 'improvements' in the way of life, so much scientific achievement - and here we are - stopped in our tracks
 by Covid 19.   Sometimes I think we do too much thinking about it all.
 
It is what has become seen as a 'typical July day' 
here - and St Swithin's Day at that - not very warm, cloudy with no sign of a sun, a slight drizzle falling - not enough to amount to anything but just enough to make it feel 'unSummery'.   I have spent the morning doing various jobs which needed doing, cooked a light lunch, and now after putting on today's post I shall top up my week end Tesco order.   Then I intend to put my feet up.   I saw last week that 'The Thirty-nine Steps' was on television one evening.   I might go on to iplayer and see if I can find it.   It is years since I saw it and it might be a totally relaxed couple of hours.   I had a poor night's sleep so that might just do me good.  Enjoy the rest of your day.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Grass

My lawn is growing at quite a pace and just when I thought it was getting too long for comfort I hear my Gardener here strimming the edges and then he will be mowing the lawn.   I was talking to my neighbour in the front garden after my walk this afternoon when my Gardener passed on his way somewhere.   He wound down the window of his van - I presumed to tell me when he was coming
to mow the grass.   But no - he called out 'Like your hair!!' (I have at last managed to have it cut as I reported the other day).  That's the sort of Gardener I like.

It has been yet another cloudy, breezy quite chilly day here.   Oh for some warm July weather.  Surely Summers used to be better than this when we were young.   Didn't they?   Or is it all in our imagination.   This week sees my father's birthday - he was born 130 years ago.   I wonder what he would think of the world today - the man who could remember seeing cars preceded by a man with a red flag.  It seems no time at all since he went although it is in fact fifty years.

Such a strange thing time.   As we get older it seems much easier to remember things that happened fifty years ago than it is to remember where I put my walking stick five minutes ago.  And often I am talking with friends and we try to recall a name, or a place and none of us can remember.   It usually comes to me about four o'clock in the morning.   And if I think it begins with a certain letter of the alphabet it is almost certainly not that letter at all.

Well, we are still more or less in semi lock down and I see in today's Times that scientists are anticipating 120,000 deaths in this country over the winter from Covid 19 if we have no vaccine and it is a very cold winter, so no let up of things for a while yet it seems.

On that jolly note I will leave you until tomorrow.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Another week begins.

I have been retired for thirty-seven years, so long in fact that I have almost forgotten what it is like to actually go to work.   I took early  retirement at fifty because my then husband was ten years older than me and was retiring from the Civil Service at sixty.   It was good that I did because we had six good years together before he died.   But for me the week still begins on a Monday morning - a new beginning.   The new beginning this week is much like last week - cloudy, windy and not all that warm.   Joggers, runners, dog-walkers and the like pass my bungalow as the morning goes on and they are all in shorts and shirt sleeves.   I had my walk round with my anorak on and I can't say I was too warm.

Did anyone else watch the amazing Kanneh-Masons - a family where all seven of the children are  brilliant musicians(the oldest, Sheku, played at Harry and Meghan's wedding).   They were all holed up together in Nottingham for lockdown together with Sheku's room mate who came from Brazil and (for obvious reasons) had no wish to go back and spend lockdown there.  It was a one-hour uplifting programme, lovely, good natured children - they played in their street on NHS Clapping night giving their neighbours a concert.   Bechstein have even lent them two grand pianos for lockdown.   It just made me realise how lockdown has changed so many of us in so many ways.

Percy and I have had a stroll round the estate in quite a sharp wind.   We didn#t see a soul.   Now it is almost tea time- cheese and pickle sandwich with a beetroot  salad, followed by a banana.  I always have my main meal at lunch time - mainly because I am too lazy at tea time to cook a proper meal.   Today I had for my lunch what I would call a 'wash day' lunch - the kind of thing my mother would cook in the middle of doing the washing the hard way.   Cold meat left from yesterday, friend potatoes (mash fried so that there was a nice crispy bottom to them) and a mix of broccoli, cauli, carrots and peas also left from yesterday and heated in the microwave.  I had some Branston Pickle with my lunch - my mother would have had home made green tomato chutney - and my mouth waters at the very thought of it.   No comparison.

Until tomorrow.   Off to watch The Repair Shop.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Sunday

It has been a slightly better day today with quite a lot of sunshine and hardly any breeze.   So I went on a slightly longer walk with Percy than usual.   Because of the wind over the past few days I have not been walking as Percy doesn't manouvre well on windy days so I am rather out of condition and my goodness it showed.  By the timeI got back home I was very tired indeed.   I quickly got some lunch and then sat and read my book for a couple of hours.

My son rang for his chat late afternoon and shortly afterwards my God daughter also rang so I had two really nice long chats.   B ut I am still very tired so  I have decided the sensible thing to do is to have an early night.   I watched a wonderful programme about the musical family who live in Nottingham and have all been living at home during lockdown (one of the sons played at Harry and Meghan's wedding).   As there are seven of them and they also had another young man living with them - and all play an instrument - and play to a professional standard for the most part - it was a very lively household.   Amazingly Bechstein had lent them two grand pianos for lockdown!
 This was followed by my weekly dose of CountryFile, which I always watch and also Antiques Road Show which I try not to miss - I have had my fill of television for today.

Back to fighting fit tomorrow I hope.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Yum Yum

Saturday is usually my pasta day.   I almost always have a Zoom Coffee Morning with friends which finishes about a quarter to eleven and it is rather nice to then not to have to think too much about what to have for lunch.   I have tried various pasta sauce recipes (I have never enjoyed one out of a jar or a tin) and they rarely come up to my expectations.   So today I thought I would try one posted on her blog by Sue (The Cottage at the end of a Lane) for an Aubergine Sauce.   It was delicious and I shall certainly put it on my list to have again.   It is vegetarian but would not come amiss with either chopped streaky bacon or chorizo as a garnish.
It is marginally better weather in that it isn't raining, but there is still a sharp wind blowing.   But I fear I shall have to brave the weather and go out with Percy - it is almost a week since I went.   Yesterday I got all togged up to go and the heavens opened and it poured for a quarter of an hour so I daren't go in case it happened again.

Last evening there was a bewitching programme on the television about the East Anglian Fens - I blog with two people who live close by - Rachel and Sue.   I think (hope) most of us love the area in which we live.   But I must say the wildlife in those wetlands was amazing.   I am not a great television watcher - I hate soaps and sitcoms - but there is another programme I wouldn't miss and that is the one on BBC Four every Saturday evening - This Farming Life.   How my farmer would have loved it.   I was chatting to one of the two farmers who bought our farm (it was separated in two when we sold it) the other day and he too said he would never miss it.   If you don't already watch it (it is about farming in Scotland) do give it a try.

Well, it's not July weather out there although the Weatherman assures us that it is on its way (sadly he is always talking about London and speaks about  'up here' as though it is beyond redemption) but Percy and I must gird our loins and go for a perambulate.   See you on Sunday unless anything exciting happens to bring me back on here later in the day.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Friday

Just another day like the ones that have gone before it this week weather-wise.   This photograph sums it up nicely, taken about five minutes ago from the window next to where I am sitting at the computer.
(sorry about the washing line stretching across).  One minute the sky is blue and the hot sun is shining, then pretty white fluffy clouds drift across, then comes the angry black cloud and a heavy shower.

I really went out to take a few photographs in the garden (and to show my new hairstyle to my friend and neighbour who was in her garage.   Pink/red seem to be the dominant colours at the moment.
But one of my favourites, which (as long as you keep deadheading) stays out all Summer long, is the Gallardia.   Nothing subtle about it - a really 'in your face' plant but certainly a bright and cheerful plant on a dismal day - I have it in various parts of the garden.

I have to say that gardening (well doing what I can and asking my lovely gardener to do the steep bits), blogging, Zooming with three different groups of people, friends and my nightly chat with my son (and trying to keep off politics) have carried me through Covid so far.   And frankly, according to the World Health Organisation we have not reached the peak yet, I can't see things changing all that much in the near future.

Oh and don't forget reading.   Several people in Blogland recommended The Red Hill (thank you Sue for one) and I sent for it.   It came yesterday and it is delightful.   I am determined to make it last and am limiting myself to one chapter a day.   I could easily sit up and read it through the night but am not going to do so.   In all likelihood my Book Group will meet again next month - there are plans afoot - and we are all asked to take one book we have read over the break (!!) which we have enjoyed.   I have enjoyed quite a few but this will definitely be my choice.

Well my washing machine has just finised its cycle so I must go and empty it.   It is quite windy today and so I dare not put my washing on the line - I am too unsteady on my feet to cope with pegging out washing and a stiff wind blowing.   So next job will be to put on the tumble drier.   The door bell rang to advertise the delivery of my seven ready meals (order six and get one free) - they are brilliant, go straight in the freezer and are a good standby.   It has kept one catering firm going throughout the Pandemic - and it is a top notch catering firm too with a really good restaurant- and she told me when I rang to re order that they have done so well with this that they intend to keep going with delivering ready meals when the restaurant reopens.   Good to hear of some success.

Enjoy the cheery Gallardia which chose to come out blatantly at the top of my post for today!True to form - likes the limelight.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Gasp!!

Dear Readers if only you could see - before you is a New Woman.   The trip to the Hairdresser has produced a completely new and much more modern style.   I have had my hair dyed for years but she insists that what is there now is my own colour and it is a light grey.   The cut makes my hair quite manageable (touch wood) and frames my face nicely.   My Hairdresser is a genius and I have told her so.

It is cold and dismal with a mizzly rain now and again and I have just switched on the central heating.   It might be July but I have no intention of being cold.   The forecast is for better weather over the week-end so I am hopeful.   This afternoon W and I had a Zoom meeting with our friends P and D from Windermere and had a very pleasant forty minute chat about this and that.   The one thing we were all agreed on was that things are now so confusing that we really don't know what we can and can't do during the Covid restrictions.   Common sense seems to be the order of the day and I must say that up here in our town people do seem to be obeying instructions by and large.   The shops that are open have large notices on the windows giving instructions about entry, lamp posts have notices telling us to obey social distancing - and people seem to be doing just that.  I parked outside a pub and I noticed that they had one door for entry and the other door for exit.

I am finding the new Blogger a little confusing at times, so I am just hoping that having now finished today's posting I can find out how to post it!   See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Cats

The large tabby has just trotted through my garden.   Because my garden is steep it has been terraced and has several walls topped with slabs which make a perfect runway for any local cat to go across - and they do - one and all.   Some, like the big ginger one, linger but most just come in at one side, trot across and go through the hedge at the other end and out goodness knows where.   What mysterious creatures they are.   Whoever it was who said 'I am the cat who walks alone. All places are alike to me' knew cats well, just as whoever it was who said ' Cats are superior, Dogs are inferior, Pigs is equal'.   After talking on here the other day about tramps in the old days leaving marks on gateposts to tell other tramps that this was a friendly house I now find that a cat is leaving a not such a pleasant mark (s***) not to put too fine a point on it right at the foot of my front door step.   I am not sure exactly what this is supposed to signify.

It has been a fairly insignificant sort of day here both incident wise and weather wise.   It has been trying to whip up enthusiasm to rain all day but never quite succeeded.   Just dampish.   My son called,my neighbour was gardening and the three of us conducted a three way social distance chat for a while.   I gathered together the bits and pieces needed for my red letter visit in the morning to the hairdresser - mobile, hand sanitiser, face mask, bank card - all ready and to hand.   I  am hoping to come back transformed.   Then in the afternoon a Zoom with Windermere friends and friend W.   In social terms these days quite a busy day.

My poor rose has taken quite a battering in the wind over the past week and I suddenly noticed just how sad it looked.   I have snipped off all but one of its blooms (they were all past their best) and given it a good feed today so I am hoping it will recover well.   A little mouse lives in the wall right behind it and I am always conscious of it when I work just there.

Last night there was the most beautiful sunset.   I had my back to it but just happened to turn around at the right time to catch it.   These things are so fleeting.

Until tomorrow.....

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

A Question.

I really think that in many ways I have eaten better during lockdown than I usually do.   Yes, I know I haven't eaten out but I have certainly eaten a more varied diet of vegetables and with more time on my hands I have fiddled about with recipes to make life interesting.   I have bought the very best ready meals and added my own variety of vegetables.   On my last Tesco order I bought some gnocchi.   I have been thinking about it for a while.   I have had it in the past in Italy (as a change from pasta usually).    I must say if I am honest that whatever pasta dish I make (and I have several Italian cook books) the results are never as good as in Italy.   Something to do with the ambience I think.   So how did today's dish turn out?   Well I found a few recipes on the internet but after reading them decided to adapt two or three and add more veg.   Here it is - sorry if the photograph is the wrong way round but have forgotten how to turn it.
I must say it was good but I couldn't help thinking it would have been better with crispy fried potatoes rather than gnocchi!

Speaking to my son about the recipe he asked whether I still made Potato Cakes - I had completely forgotten them!   Mashed potatoes, lardons, parmesan, parsley and good seasoning all bound together with a beaten egg and made into 'cakes' are absolutely delicious and it is years since I made them.   So that's another thing on my lockdown list!!

Night, night.   See you in the morning

Monday, 6 July 2020

Ocean

I have just been reading about Ocean (what a lovely name) - the East Anglian Gypsy woman who wandered around Norfolk and Suffolk the whole of her life until she died in her early nineties.   I wonder if you have heard of her Rachel?

These 'characters' don't seem to exist any more do they whereas at one time every country area seemed to have one or two.   We certainly did on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens.    Our female 'woman of the road' was Pyewipe Liz, who used to wander through the villages with her daughter who, looking back, must have been of school age but never seemed to go to school.   I must be talking of the years just before the Second World War - maybe 1935 - 1939 (I was born in 1932).  I remember her well - she always called at our house because she knew my mother was friendly.    She would give Liz any clothes I had grown out of, give them both some kind of meal and send them on their way.   She was called Pyewipe Liz because she came from Pyewipe, about a couple of miles the other side of Lincoln.
Pyewipe is a small settlement on The Fossedyke, the 'canal' - dug by the Romans I think - which links Brayford Pool in Lincoln (the River Witham runs into that) with the River Trent at Newark.  And as for the odd name 'Pyewipe' for a settlement (too small to be called a village) - Pyewipe is a colloquial word in the area for a Peewit or Lapwing.

We also in those days had 'Men of the Road' - my mother would never have them called 'Tramps'.   Many of them were 'casualties' of the First World War - not wanting to live indoors they wandered about the villages, sleeping in barns, picking up a few days work as and when they could.   As was the custom in those days, our gate post had some kind of sign on it, put there by the men, indicating that this was a safe house to call at.   There was always a place set in our wash house in case a tramp called and he would always be given food - a hot meal if it was the right time, or maybe something as simple as bread (my mother baked her own) butter, cheese and a few pickled onions (she also pickled her own) but always something.   And if there were any old clothes of my father's she would make them try them on  in the wash house and if they fitted give them to them (my Dad would burn the old ones on the bonfire) but if they didn't fit she would keep them for the next 'caller'.

These characters seemed to disappear with the onset of the Second World War - or was it with the beginning of the so-called 'Welfare State' - and of course that is as it should be.   There is something romantic about it all, and something to look back on with nostalgia but in the cold, clear light of day - there is nothing at all romantic about it all, is there.