Tuesday, 16 January 2018


We are lucky in our little market town in that there is really quite a lot to do.   In addition we are also only five miles from a multi screen cinema and a very large Tesco, although our local shops are so good that really there is no need go any further.

We have quite a thriving University of the Third Age with plenty of courses to choose from (I began ukulele with a U3A course run by friend W).   We also have a good, thriving arts centre TOSH - stands for 'The Old School House'.   The building was, when I came to live up here, a Roman Catholic Primary School but when that closed the building remained and is now used for all kinds of activities.   There are exercise classes, yoga classes, Probus meets there, there is a Tuesday club where the over 65's meet for chats, activities etc. and then dominoes on Wednesday afternoons.   Fridays evenings there is always a film showing (Dunkirk this week) and often on a Saturday evening there will be a musical group, a folk group or a speaker on some subject.

Today, after our Strugglers' meeting (a once a month meeting where we have interesting discussions), we all walked along to Tosh because it is the day they cook a lunch for people who wish to drop in.   We had a lovely, chatty lunch of shepherd's pie, followed by steamed ginger pudding and custard, a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit - all for £5.   I haven't eaten at home this week yet! 

There are also Probus clubs, Luncheon Clubs,  plenty of activites going on at various other venues - we are quite spoilt for choice.   Don't let anyone ever tell you that life in the country is dull.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Filling time

There is a very fine line between filling one's time pleasantly when one is retired (I mean old   really) and overdoing it.   I cross that line several times each week at present and seem to be chasing my tail.   What is the answer?   I don't wish to be sitting here on my own twiddling my thumbs or knitting jumpers for my great grandchildren all day, I wish to be out amongst people, chatting, learning, having fun.    But just sometimes it all gets just a bit too much.

Today has rather been a case in point.    The lady who cleans for me comes each Monday morning at 9am.    I was late up and usually she takes Tess for her morning walk for me.   But when she came this morning it was absolutely sheeting down with rain.

So when she had gone I had to walk Tess for a quarter of an hour.   Then I had to go into town to fulfil a long list of things on my list.   Things like banking, shopping for food, all mundane but necessary jobs.   By this time it was mid-day and I  was due to be collected by friend W to go and play ukuleles at half past one.   So I slipped into my favourite cafe and treated myself to their scampi, chips and peas. (delicious).

Then it was home to take Tess for her midday walk (remember my ankles are bad and in wet weather particularly bad, so I only walk slowly and with a stick).   Then I had a long phone call and while I was on the phone friend W called to take me to ukuleles.    What followed was a very enjoyable hour - about ten of us (one new member) playing stuff we like playing, having a
laugh - a perfect hour.   Then it was home again and take Tess for another walk.   Then feed her and get my tea and finally sit down just in time for  Antiques Road Trip after I had gone next door to collect a parcel that the delivery man had left there.

It is now 7.30-   I shall watch University Challenge at 8.30 and possibly Silent Witness for an hour if I can keep awake that long.   Rather less busy tomorrow thank goodness.   But I do wonder which is better - flying about chasing one's tail or sitting about doing little or nothing.   Getting old is no joke  but the alternative's worse!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Nice evening.

My son and his wife came round last evening and we had take away pizzas with chips and salad.   No, I wouldn't want it every day but now and again it is fun.    The pizza I had was vegetarian and had tomatoes, jalapenos, olives and cheese.   The salad was varied and good and the chips were crisp and hot.   No complaints really except the jalapenos were a bit on the hot side!  It passed a
nice Saturday evening.

Today has dawned cloudy and very cold as forecast.   No sign of any sun.   Sunday is always my day out to lunch with friends so no need to think about what's for lunch.   I have just about time to iron yesterday's washing before my friend calls to take me so shall close my post and may add to it later.   Incidentally - do you iron the clothes?   My friend W doesn't even possess an iron - I iron everything.   Yesterday I bought a new duvet cover in the sale and brought it home and unpacked and ironed it - it was very creased.  When my son called he said he thought my generation equated untidiness and lack of ironing as signs of poverty and that was why we still kept everything so tidy and ironed even the dusters.   Do you agree?



Saturday, 13 January 2018

Blank screens

Sitting before a blank screen on a dismal afternoon is not very inspiring ergo I am feeling most uninspired.   The weather is bitterly cold here today as a sharp breeze has got up and the sky has been consistenly grey all day.   In other words, the second Saturday in  January has got very little going for it.

Jenny Joseph (When I am old I shall wear purple and a red hat that doesn't go) has died this week at the age of eighty five.    Most people loved that poem and it was an inspiration to a lot of elderly people I think.    I don't think I have quite reached that stage yet but I always bear it in mind for when I do.

I went into town to complete one or two jobs this morning and walking past our favourite Friday haunt decided to go in and treat myself to a toased teacake and a cafatiere of Columbian coffee (with hot milk).   The cafe was almost empty, in fact the town was too, like a ghost town on a dismal Saturday morning.   As I sat drinking my coffee and reading my Guardian I smiled to myself and imagined my dear farmer looking down on me.   He would have  thought spending money on coffee and a teacake when I only live half a mile away would have been a gross waste of money.   (He wasn't a Yorkshire man for nothing you know).   But I raised my cup to him nevertheless because he never begrudged me doing just that as long as I didn't ask him to join me (or expect him to pay for it!)

Friday, 12 January 2018

Pet Pals

Tess has just returned from her Pet Pals walk which she does each Thursday and Friday.   Each day costs me £10 and for this she gets a walk of around three quarters of an hour - on Thursday she is the only dog and on Friday she is one of three.
She shares the walk with Rio and Cosmo - a Dalmation and a Labradoodle. Usually friend S takes her for a walk on Wednesdays - this means that on three days a week she gets good walks.
Occasionally another friend J calls and takes her.
On the other days I take her for three walks - early morning, noon and just before it is dark (unless it is icy) so, considering she is ten in a couple of weeks she doesn't do too badly. 

Of course, as you all predicted, I was right in keeping her after I moved.   The bungalow would be a very lonely place without her and we have both managed to adapt our life style to the changes forced on us. 

We are settled in; there are many advantages, not least people and vehicles going past all day.   I thought you might like to see photographs of my sitting room (taken from both ends as it is a large room) and my kitchen.   More another day.

You will see that I have opened the louvred blind in the kitchen.   Anyone old enough to have seen 'The Day of the Triffids' will realise I had two choices - give my amaryllis more light or let it burst through the ceiling.   You will be pleased to hear that the bud is now opening.  Apple Blossom is the variety - and another bud is just pushing through at the side.

Until tomorrow. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Nursing Homes.

Several of us playing ukulele this afternoon at a Nursing Home for the elderly in a nearby village.   The particular home has a very good reputation and the inmates seem quite happy - all of them in their eighties or nineties I would guess.   They have varying degrees of mobility - some much worse than me, some better.  Whenever I go I ask myself the same question.   Could I live here?
The answer is always no,but I think that is because I manage well living alone - but it may not always be so. 

Here I have the freedom to drive where I wish to drive, to call upon who I wish to call upon, to tootle off for an afternoon, to ring a friend and ask them out for lunch. All that would be denied to me in such circumstances.

The residents enjoyed our sing song.   One elderly lady came up to me afterwards, saying how much she had enjoyed it because we had sung all the old songs they knew and they could join in Daisy, Cockles and Mussels, Pack up your Troubles,
all the old favourites.

Coming home friend W and I were talking about getting old and loneliness.   I would say that, if you have had a partner at some time in your life, it is more or less impossible when one of you is left alone, to not feel lonely some of the time.   What to do?   Giving in to it is, I am sure, not the answer.   Possibly the way to fight it is to have plenty to do, lots of interests, plenty of friends and maybe some kind of voluntary work if one is fit enough. 

All I know for sure is that I have no desire to enter any kind of rest home/nursing home/care home.   For as long as I possibly can I wish to remain in my own home, with all my possessions around me, master of my own fate and totally independent.

The day may well come, but I am not there yet.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018


One of the things I like best about my new home is that it is on an estate of houses and bungalows.   For the last twenty four years I have lived down a Lane (a beautiful one I might add) and really enjoyed it, because the farmer was always around somewhere, either working in the surrounding fields or in the yard.   Once he had gone it was a very lonely place to live, especially in the evenings.

Now, suddenly, I am surrounded by people, there are constantly cars going past and there are people knocking on the door.   And I like it.

When I am out on one of my walks with Tess I speak to everyone, even if it is only to say 'Good morning' (most people answer, a smile works wonders) and occasionally I meet a kindred spirit and we stand and chat for a while.   This happened today.

I met an elderly gentleman walking along the road.  We smiled and, simultaneously, remarked that we were sure we had met before.   Sure enough we had.   For the past years he has walked every day, regardless of the weather, on a round circuit, taking in this estate, across the fields and then up the lane past the farm (I have only, literally, moved across two fields) and back here.   Many times I have been walking Tess and have spoken to him.   It is these sort of encounters that make life interesting.

Out to lunch today with friend D - posh fish and chips - and jolly good it was too.   Home now, walked the dog again and at 3.36 thinking about making myself a cup of tea and settling down with the crossword.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

I took this photograph of an ash tree at the farm in 2001 and I suddenly remembered it when I awoke this morning to  fog.   There is a difference of course because here, on the left of the picture the
sky is already brightening up.   No such luck today here in the town.

Although the car dashboard showed a temperature three degrees above freezing, because it was damp and foggy it somehow felt much colder.   The tree I can see from my garden is an ash, but there the similarity ends because today I just can't see it.

The weather today here in North Yorkshire is cold, damp, foggy and has nothing at all going for it.   The best thing is to hunker down, keep warm and hope it is better tomorrow.

Monday, 8 January 2018

No news is good news???

Have you noticed just how selective the News is on the television?  We sit, mesmerised by what is going on on the screen, only half taking most of it in.   But, when we stop to think, in spite of the fact that we live in a 'free' country where we can say and think exactly what we like, the News seems to be censored heavily.

It is mostly gloom and doom.   Wouldn't it be good if now and then there was an item of news which lifted the spirits? 

Some pieces of news miss being reported altogether.   For example, an Iranian oil tanker collided with a cargo ship off the coast of China.   I have yet to see it reported.   I may well have missed a bulletin it was on - but surely it should have had headline reporting for at least one day.
Sometimes, the news on the headlines all sounds so very dreadful that I switch if off before the story comes on in full. Is this cowardly?   I think not because the way it is reported is usually only one view and not necessarily a true version.

Local news is even worse in terms of content.  Only very rarely is it that the headline is not a murder or a burglary.  Only very rarely is the headline something good, something pleasant, an achievement to be proud of.
All this doom and gloom leads us to believe that the world is a wicked place, that things are getting worse by  the day and that nothing has improved.
To counteract this is will just give you an instance from the weekly article in The Times today about things that have improved:   Global economy grew by three percent last year, global poverty is at its lowest level (yes there is still a long way to go to eradicate this, but an improvement is surely something to feel good about),  there are few airline crashes (1 crash for every 16million flights)
making flying the safest it has ever been.   Matthew  Syed, the writer of this weekly article, is particularly pleased about his last statistic - interracial marriages soar - he himself is the product of such a marriage but, my goodness, how times have changed since the late sixties when his mother, out with his older brother in the pram, was spat upon in the street.

We must be optimistic about the future, we must not always expect the worst.   This is the only world we have to live in - let's make the most of it in the spirit of optimism as we go into 2018.

Sunday, 7 January 2018


We awoke this morning to a sharp frost and a rather white world - very beautiful, but icy pavements are a no-go for Tess and me.   In fact we didn't venture out for our morning walk until after eleven when the sun had melted the frost on the footpaths.

We went to our usual Golf Club for lunch - four of us today and, as always, it was delicious.   Much quieter today too after the Christmas rush.   I must say it struck me as I sat there eating a Sunday dinner among quite a lot of local people, just how lucky we all are to be able to afford to go out every Sunday, to get someone else to cook our food for us, and never have to worry about where the next meal is coming from.   If only people everywhere were in the same position.   If only there weren't children dying for want of food.   I know us stopping eating our lunch out wouldn't make the slightest difference - but I still felt guilty.
And what can we do?   There is so very little in a world torn apart by conflicts, a world where equality is a word unheard of by millions, a world where people are born, live their lives and die all in abject poverty. 

Coming home was an ordeal as the beautiful sun was directly in my eyes most of the way and it was already beginning to freeze hard.   I drove at 40mph and impatient drivers kept passing me.  Why this impatience?   Surely it is better to be safe than to risk one's life (and that of others) on such road conditions?

Now there is a beautiful sunset - the whole sky is red.   No snow forecast so we shall all keep our fingers crossed.