Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Our own produce,

Anyone who blogs with Cro Magnon will, like me, be green with envy at the wonderful variety and quality of the vegetables and fruit he grows in Haddocks.

Well, at last, today we have begun to harvest some of the produce from our own, rather Northerly, garden.   In fact today's lunch consisted of everything we had grown ourselves (apart from the milk, and there was a time when that would have been home-produced too).

We had field mushrooms from the pasture in an omelette, using our own eggs.   With it we had young broad beans with parsley sauce (both beans and parsley from the garden) and followed it with fresh raspberries (our own) and cream.   Not only was there great satisfaction in the eating of it but also in the fact that all the farmer's hard work had at last come to fruition.

Now there is a huge quantity of peas to pod and freeze!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Illegal Immigrants

No doubt like many other people, I find the whole business at Calais (and also in those boats crossing the Med) distressing, degrading and very disturbing.

The issues of immigration are complex and it is easy to say that we just don't want them here and that the whole problem should go away.

This morning there is an excellent - and interesting - article in Times 2 about Dominique Mollard who paid hundreds of dollars to get on to a 14m dinghy with 38 African migrants in order to film the experience.   The results I understand are terrifying (at least 1721 people died in the first four months of this year attempting the crossing).

The mix of people is itself interesting - a widow with a five month old baby, a graduate who just wants a job.  The voyage doesn't go well and what should have lasted for five days meant twelve days at sea with only a bucket for toilet facilities and sea sickness as well.

Many people don't expect to make the journey alive and most of them know that they will get a rough reception if they do.   But they are desperate.

He did manage to find out that one African mother and her baby did succeed and the mother got a job as nanny for a Spanish family in Morocco (the journey across the Med was not successful) and now lives in Spain with her daughter now eight years old and doing well.

When you see the immigrants at the Channel Tunnel you see just how young they are  and also how desperate.  You see how they are disrupting the traffic and making these huge illegal camps.   

We are all protective of our own territory.   I too do not like folk encroaching on my own personal space - none of us do.   I don't know what the answer is.   What I do know is that if I was an African mum of a graduate son I would be proud of his achievement and if he decided to chance his arm although I wouldn't want him to I would back his attempt, even though I knew I would probably never see him again.

Mollard suggests the answer lies in providing more help of the right kind in Africa.  Any money which rich countries put in should be carefully monitored for building factories, small companies and spending any money wisely.

When we see this distressing scene night after night on our TV News Screen we know that somehow, sooner or later, a solution has to be found.   He reminds us that a few generations ago folk were leaving the UK to go to America, so the problem is not new.

Please don't think I am condoning any of it - I just find the whole thing distressing, the conditions squalid, the horror of mothers and tiny babies so desperate that they will take to these awful boats.

What is the answer?

Sunday, 2 August 2015


Signs of Autumn are arriving early here in the Dales - even earlier than usual, as we have had no Summer to speak of.   In fact I worry that it has been impossible to get in the hay and even second crop silage is far behind.  The farmer does not seem to worry; he has seen it all before and never failed to get everything 'safely gathered in' finally.

Today he brought in the first of the wild field mushrooms - just five of them, new and in pristine condition.   After his walking group he came back to bacon,  tomato, fried potatoes, mushrooms and egg for his tea.  I can't remember ever finding mushrooms this early before.

On the wires the swallows are beginning to gather in long lines, although almost every nest still has second brood babies in it.   This year's first brood are practising flying around like mad to strengthen their wings for the long journey back to Africa.  (via Malta where they are terribly persecuted).

In the hedgerows the rowan berries are beginning to turn orange and the hawthorn berries have a faint tinge of red.  And the predominant colour of the roadside verges in the purple of the various thistles.

Today five of us went out for lunch and I think we all of us overate.
My favourite course was the starter, which for me was a salmon-stuffed pancake served  with a lemony Hollandaisse sauce.  Delicious.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Nostalgia for the past.

I think people who live in the countryside have far more nostalgia for the past than 'townies' - after all there is far more to be nostalgic about.

And yesterday, as we drove up the lane to go to Hawes, we had a perfect example when we stopped to allow this to go past.  What a glorious way to travel about the countryside in the sunshine.

Today is Yorkshire Day.   Three cheers for the old North Riding.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Too busy

Yesterday I was just too busy to do a post.   I suppose in many ways I should be pleased to have such a busy life - but why is it that some days are intensely busy and then other days are completely empty?  Is it the same for everyone.

I gave a little dinner party last evening as my Grand-daughter was down for a couple of days to stay with her Dad.   She lives in Glasgow and found that it is possible to come down easily on the Settle to Carlisle railway line - wonderful, scenic line and then her dad meets her at Garsdale, where she alights.   From there there are numerous walks among the High Pennines - one of which they did on Wednesday when she arrived.

Last night I cooked a simple meal.   I tried a Miller-Howe soup recipe for pea, pear and watercress (it sounded interesting is my excuse).  If I make it again I shall omit the sherry - only a small amount but I didn't care for the taste of it against the vegetables.
Then I did jacket potatoes in the Aga (an easy, almost lazy option). I always use Elfe potatoes which are excellent for roasting and have a lovely golden, buttery texture, with butter and grated cheese, goat's cheese and pepper quiche, Caesar salad, apple raisin and walnut salad, black olives, Wensleydale cheese and grapes.   For pud I did fresh raspberries, fresh strawberries - both with cream, a  cream, yoghourt and apricot pud I found in a recipe book - and finally fruit cake and coffee.

I had to shop for this in the morning, I had a hair appointment at 1pm as usual and an appointment at the doctor's at 3pm as my antibiotics are really disagreeing with me.   Finger continues to improve and he has changed the medication and also referred me to a dermatologist to check that it is not skin cancer as the nail is so distorted.

All this and then cooking the meal.  The farmer (bless his heart) cleared the table, stacked the dishwasher and wiped all the tops and put things away afterwards.   Am I lucky, or am I lucky?

Friday - our coffee meeting of pals - now off to Hawes with the farmer.   We have been waiting for his flat bed trailer to arrive - it has just come.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Another busy day.

My finger is much improved.   I have stopped taking the antibiotics and will hope for the best - returning to the doctor if the infection returns.   The tablets were making me feel so ill I just couldn't take them.

This morning the farmer decided to jump in with both feet and drive to Ripon and buy himself a new flat bed trailer so that he can put his little digger on to it and drive around to friends' farms to help them with their drainage problems.  (after well over two inches of rain in twenty four hours these problems are showing up well today!)   I went with him for the ride.

After lunch friend W and I went off to Tesco in Catterick Garrison as she had promised to help me choose a new telephone.   We have had ours for some years and I find it increasingly difficult to hear on it.  We chose one, had a coffee, drove round a large new shopping complex which is being built (quite impressive so far), and then came home.

After tea, by which time I was at last feeling a little better, I read the instruction book for putting everything into our new phone.   I decided you need at least an MSc in plumbing in telephones in order to do it and so I shall now have to enlist the help of my son when he has a little spare time.  I think for a few weeks it will be hard enough to operate it, but putting all the information in is quite beyond my powers.

Several times today we have actually had sunshine, although there have been some sharp showers too.  Tomorrow promises to be slightly better.  I do hope the weather holds as England have done so well today at cricket - I shall keep my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


The weather today, as yesterday, is absolutely diabolical.   As I look out of the hall window it is pouring with rain, I have a woolly jumper and a cardigan on and am still quite cold and there is no sign of an improvement.

In addition my finger is still giving me some pain.   I can see that the antibiotics are working; already the swelling is going down and the inflammation is much less - but sadly the indigestion caused by the antibiotics (to be taken only on an empty stomach) is so awful that I am virtually unable to eat much.

But I did manage a most exquisite lunch.  The first tiny, little finger nail sized, broad beans were ready in the garden and so we had
roast salmon, courgettes, broad beans and potatoes with parsley (this season's crop from the garden) sauce and it was to die for.   Any minute now I am supposed to take another antibiotic and I am not at all sure I can face it.   As Heron said yesterday - try live yoghourt instead (I have some in the fridge).  I know you are told to finish any course of antibiotics you start, but really the indigestion is making life very difficult.   The farmer reminded me that the last time I took antibiotics was on holiday in Canada once (maybe ten years ago) when they were prescribed but made me feel worse than the infection.   In fact I didn't take them and when the farmer caught the bug several days later, he took them - all very unorthodox.

Well the rain continues to pour down, the farmer is digging a drainage channel across the pasture with his new digger which has a good, waterproof cab on it (and a radio), so he is dry and happy no doubt listening to local radio.

Our telephone is back on after two days without a land line (well done BT for prompt action)  and at least we live up here and are in our own home rather than up here on holiday, which would be awful (spending all day playing  games in a rented cottage costing the earth is not my idea of fun).

Monday, 27 July 2015

Here they are on Saturday afternoon waiting for the mums to be shorn and the babies let back into the field - they are pedigree Swaledale sheep more used to being up on the 'tops' and very flighty down here at only seven hundred feet.

Of course, as is usually the case, the moment they lost their coats the rain set in and today it is cold (fifteen) and very wet.   I thank my lucky stars that the farmer recently bought me a tumble drier because the last few weeks any drying of washing outdoors would have been impossible.  And this weather is set to last until the middle of August (when will we get the haymaking done?)

It is a limited post today because I have a sore finger which makes typing difficult.   After putting up with a red and swollen middle finger for the past week I finally went to the doctor this morning.  I have an infection under the nail and he has put me on a course of antibiotics for a week.   Not sure which is worse - the indigestion caused by the antibiotics or the sore finger.   But it does hurt to type with it.   So I will sign off.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Spam Party

Nine of us sat down to the spam party lunch today at friend E's.  I had to call on the way at the shop to buy some freezerbags as I have run out and there are raspberries galore to freeze.   The 1940's weekend was still in full swing, although black clouds were gathering.  A pipe band was playing in one square, our local band was playing in another square, there was bopping as yesterday and folk in uniforms were strolling around.

Then we arrived at E's to a drink and pre-lunch nibbles and chat.   Once we were all assembled we went in to a beautifully set table with E's lovely collection of china and silver.  We had fried spam with carrots, cabbage, mashed potato, apple sauce, fried onions, and liver and onions for anyone who didn't want spam.   For puds there was summer pudding and/or gooseberry crumble with cream and custard.   This was followed by cheese and biscuits and then mints and coffee.   We sat for around three hours and a lovely time was had by all.   By the time we left it was pouring with rain and the 1940's weekend had been washed away.   It was so cold (12 degrees) that the central heating went on as soon as we arrived home.

Just a couple of photographs to give you a flavour of the event - plus one of the farmer in the rocking chair.  Have a pleasant sunday evening.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The First Day

The sun is shining and the town is absolutely bursting at the seams.   The forecast for tomorrow is not so good, but if it is all downhill after today I am sure it will be judged a success.

We (friend W and I) were down early and found places for our usual scone and coffee.  The childrens' roundabout was going, the 1940's music was playing,  men and women in uniforms of all kinds were parading up and down - there was a tremendous atmosphere with everyone so friendly.   All the cafes were full to bursting (almost all have tables out into the market square) and every table was full.   Two old wartime busses were tootling about, several steam engines had steam up and gave off that glorious smell, and there were also one or two old lorries from that time.

A space had been cleared in the square and when the dance music came on couples were be-bopping like mad, all adding to the occasion.   Lots of people had brought their dogs so that all kinds of dogs were wandering about with their owners.   It was a really jolly atmosphere and everyone seemed willing to chat.   A little group obviously intending to be Frenchmen (berets, striped shirts and the like), a Frenchwoman (tres chic) bopping on the dance 'floor', stalls selling 1940's undies and stockings with seams, stalls selling fox furs and dresses (£85 each if you want one), mens' hats and jackets. It is all taken very seriously.

Here are some photographs - they were taken quickly, none of them posed, so that often people got in the way, but I do hope they give you a taste of a jolly  Saturday a la 1940.