Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Stop the World....

...I want to get off.   I can't help feeling a bit like that as at present nothing seems to be happening does it?   Here in The Dales most people seem to have self-isolated apart from those who are keeping us going - delivering newspapers, groceries, milk and the like.   I have not been out since a fortnight last Saturday apart from once or twice round the block with Percy when the weather has been especially pleasant.   Other days I have made do with a bit of gardening.   Today I have planted up three herbaceous geranium plants I sent for and watered them in.    When I think of all the rain we have had over the Winter the ground is especially dry.

Nothing is happening, things (apart from the virus of course) seem to have come to a standstill and one is forced to fall back on one's thoughts.   This happened this morning when reading Matthew Parris in today's Times.   He is my favourite columnist - I very much admire his writing and his subject matter is always food for thought.   Today he writes of his beloved Mother, who died on Monday aged 93 after a long and happy life.   In a moving tribute to her he quotes Thomas Traherne and it is worth thinking about:   'you never enjoy the world aright. til the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars:  and perceive yourself  to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you.'

His mother was a great believer in reincarnation  (which he is not and nor am I) and also loved robins dearly.   This morning while speaking to his brother on the telephone he saw a robin regarding him calmly from a bush outside the window.   A sign?   Most likely not - but I know from my own experience the comfort one can get in the early stages of bereavement from small happenings like this.   I still get them occasionally - a glimpse of the farmer out of the corner of my eye  in a familiar place or a familiar pose.   Or something is said that he would have said.   And for a moment it is as though he is saying it.   None of it any kind of proof about life after death - all just happy memories of times ingrained on one's brain.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

That great Inviter

Yes, you've guessed it.   The Sun!   Grey,bleak days and then suddenly the sun comes out and it is altogether a different day out there.   The patio could do with a good sweep and there are three herbaceous geraniums waiting there on the garage window sill to be planted but it is not inviting out there with a cold North wind blowing - but then the sun comes out - so maybe I will go out there when I have written my today's post.

The birds are definitely nesting in my garden hedge.    A dunnock keeps darting and out and further along a blackbird.   It's a good thick hedge with plenty of cover so I hope both succeed and that the babies emerge to a warmer world than today.

Shopping is becoming a problem because it is nigh on impossible to get a delivery slot from Tesco.   My last slot is on April 10th and after that there is nothing - I am told that the only way to secure a slot is to go on to the site at midnight, which is when they put their next day deliverly slots on - and they are snapped up rapidly.   I just can't face staying up until that time so I am having to rely on the kindness of friends and neighbours.

I haven't looked at the News at all today - I have become saturated with it all - without listening I am fully aware of the seriousness of the situation, I am grateful for the friendships which are keeping me going, I am grateful for my son and his wife who ring up daily to see if I need anything, and I am grateful to all my blogging friends - we are riding along on the crest of the wave of our bloggy friendships aren't we?   And long may it continue until all this is over and we can get back to normal.   Take care.

Monday, 30 March 2020


What strange times we are living through. Nature carries on as though nothing is different - the leaves sprout on the hedges and trees;  I see that the mature ash tree I see from my window here is already showing a faint flush of green so it looks as though it will be the ash before the oak this year - implying that we shall be in for a soak over the Summer rather than just a Splash.   Nobody needs me to tell them that we definitely do not want that this Summer.   In only  four months it will be a year since we had the dreadful storm here in our town and neighbouring villages and some householders are still not back in their homes yet after the clear up.

It is another cold day with a sharp wind still from the North - just a little more sunshine today so we are on the up.   And next week we can expect much warmer weather so that is something to look forward to. 

 Life has suddenly become much simpler for those of us in self'isolation.   The highlight of my day has become something simple like a friend ringing for a chat, or a friend walking past with a dog and a friendly wave.   And even lunch (salmon and haddock fish pie with veggies) has become quite an event.   Now I no longer have my cleaning lady coming I am trying to do one job a day - today's was to strip and change the bed, wash the bedding, dry it and it is now sitting there inviting me to go and iron it.   My next job after the bed - now well aired - has been remade.   So -off to my chores folks - see you tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

British Summer Time.

You could have fooled me.   Insert Winter for Summer and you would be nearer the mark.   We all religiously put our clocks forward here in the UK last night but nobody told the weather.   There is a strong North wind blowing and there are flurries of snow now and again.   Even Spring would be an overstatement.

Being here in self isolation we are allowed one short walk each day.   I feel it is important to take advantage of that even though I don't always feel like it.   And, true to form, I put on hat, coat and gloves and ventured round the block with Percy.   And golly did I feel better for it.   Sadly I had a call from Australia whilst I was out and there is no way I can phone back because I don't know the number (or the time difference:  I don't wish to ring in the middle of the night).   J, who made the call, sent me an e mail instead. 

My God-daughter also rang and we had a lovely chat - it is things like this that keep the world turning in times of crisis.   I am sure it will all be over one day but at present that day seems a long way away.

I smiled to myself earlier this afternoon when I opened my wardrobe to take out my topcoat for my walk.   Usually at this time of the year - on or about the first day of Spring - I begin to look critically at my wardrobe and think about what I might buy for Spring and Summer (and try to resist buying most of it).   But this year - in self isolation - there is not a lot of point is there?   If there are to be no lunches out in the foreseeable future, no outings with friends, no call to get 'dressed up' then it would be a waste of time.   Is there anyone out there who would actually buy new Spring clothes just to wear at home on one's own.

Well, in spite of it all, on my walk I saw hazel catkins, the silver birch buds are beginning to burst and the hawthorn is coming into leaf.  All is going to be right with the world one day.  Oh! and I saw my first clump of Lenten roses too.

Saturday, 28 March 2020


There is something very comforting about friends.  After more or less a week of warm, Spring-like weather, suddenly the wind has turned to the North and the sky has clouded over, so that intermittently we have a heavy shower.   It is not a nice day.   I was pleased to see my plants arrive by post (3 different Herbacious Geraniums) but they have gone into the garage for now;  no way am I planting them out in the cold and they are all reachable so no excuse for ringing my gardener and asking him if he would pop round and do it for me.

But my friend and neighbour rang me this morning to see if I was 'alright'?   She couldn't find my number so she rang another friend S for it.   So then S rang me to ask if I was 'alright' as my neighbour hadn't seen me.   This network of friends is very comforting when one lives alone.

I hope everyone is managing to 'keep their heads above water' during these worrying times.   I must say that to some extent my days pass rather aimlessly.   I have plenty of jobs to do - finishing the teddy I started making about three years ago,    sorting a book shelf out, cleaning the one or two bits of silver which haven't been cleaned since I moved in here. I could go on but one of my father's favourite sayings in such a situation was, "Don't keep doing your jobs twice - once is enough when you've got your duster in your hand."   Somehow the day passes without my doing much at all other than getting a mid day meal and keeping the place tidy.   Oh and chatting on the phone of course.

Someone says in today's Times that she thinks we should applaud at 8pm every Wednesday night for all those marvellous NHS Staff who are keeping things going in such difficult conditions.   What a brilliant idea.   Are we going to do it?   It is such a small thing to do for the huge sacrifice they are making.

Well, soldier on everybody.   It will come to an end, although goodness knows when.   Keep smiling.

Thursday, 26 March 2020


On the news at six it was suggested that we open our front door or a window and at 8pm applaud the National Health Service Workers and the Volunteers.   I opened the door at about two minutes to eight.   It is a still, very dark night and the sky is full of stars - very beautiful.   When eight o'clock came at first there was silence - then bit by bit the applause grew until it seemed that the whole of the town was applauding - the sort of night when sound carries and very little traffic about - it all helped.   For several minutes the wave of applause filled the air.   I found it very moving and without a doubt it brought a feeling of solidarity.   We are all in this together and together we will win.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

1984 and all that.

Yes, as so many who write in Blogland have said - the whole situation is nothing short or sureal.   It is as though we are onlookers to a strange situation going on outside our window.   Unfortunately, of course, this is not the case and it is remarkable how quickly many of us have adapted to it.   How I organise my time each day has changed dramatically - not necessarily for the worse - just different.   And I suspect that for me (should I be one of the ones to survive the pandemic) and many more of my age the difficulty may well be slotting back in to Society again.   In other words, I am beginning to rather like the seclusion, the narrowing of one's expectations each day, the reorganisation of one's priorities.   Apart from organising food supplies and essentials like toilet paper, soap and such like, life has suddenly become a lot simpler.   Now that (hopefully) my supply chain is more or less in place my day consists of deciding whether to do half an hour in the garden (the most I can manage at a stretch), cook a lunch, read my book, change the bedding on my bed or clean the kitchen units.   No way can I do that in one day - I have to choose one - or at the most two and stick to them.

It has been a blissfully Spring-like day here - blue sky, no wind, warm - but in typical English fashion it is set to turn very cold for the week end.
So, with that in mind I decided not to transfer the pinks plants I had intended to move - give them a few more days and hopefully a rain so that the ground is a bit more condusive to welcoming them to their new site.

Instead I decided to use that time slot to ring my old school friend in the village where we were both born in Lincolnshire.  We had a lovely long chat which did make me glad I hadnt gone back there to live.   My memories are of a sleepy village of around three hundred folk - we all knew one another (which meant you couldn#t do anything you shouldn't because sooner or later your Mum would get to know) and life looking back seemed blissful in spite of a lot of it being in wartime.  From our back garden we looked across the River Witham to a tiny, beautiful church in the village of Greetwell.   Now my friend tells me that a huge by pass is being built in that area - so the view will be destroyed forever (except in my mind of course).

Well dear friends it is almost time (5pm) for the daily update on the Virus.   Do I want to watch it or do I wait for the six o'clock news or even longer for tomorrow's Times?   Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020


In this mad, mad world, where a lot of the population are obeying the rules and a crazy few are it seems taking delight in disobeying them it is so good to come across acts of kindness.   I had one today and I do hope he doesn't mind my sharing it with you.
Today friend W and I should have been going up over the top of the Pennines to Kirkby Lonsdale to meet our friends P and D who were coming over from Windermere.   We intended to lunch as we always do and catch up on any news.   But of course none of us could go and we were all disappointed.   But this morning I had a postcard from D.   I would like to tell you what he said.

Sorry the picture of the Ranunculus is on its side but it is a beautiful image of one of my favourite flowers.  He intends to send me a card from this collection from The Royal Horticultural Society each week for the next twelve weeks (he has twelve of these cards in a collection) during the self isolation period.   He says 'hopefully I will not be sending you the whole box'.   It is small acts of kindness like this that more than wipe out the images of the thoughtless and stupid behaviour of a minority.   It raised my spirits more than he will ever know.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Is it Monday?

All the days are merging into one now that I have absolutely nothing going on to mark the days out.  I suspect most of us are the same.   At least the sun is shining even if the wind is cold - imagine if all this had coincided with that awful long spell of wet days we had and that terrible flooding (and spare a thought for all those people who were flooded not so long ago and must be coping with the virus and the cleaning up - what a dreadful few months it has been).

When I drew back the curtains in my bedroom this morning the sun was well up and a lone bumble bee was having a slow mosey round my garden - the hellebores, the wallflowers and then off to have a quick look at the Chindoxia before soaring up over the wall into the field.   There is a cold wind blowing but it was warm enough for a bee to be around and that did me good.

Now we are almost banned from going out except in certain special circumstances.   I think this is the right move because people can be so silly.   Up here at the moment food delivery is not easy - people are more than willing to help but in many cases there are just empty shelves.   I am well ahead with my food supplies so am not worried but it is another thing to have to worry about and I could certainly do without it.

I am still reading Michael Palin's 'Sahara' first published in 2002 and I guess probably to accompany a TV series (which I don't remember being on and certainly didn.t see) -and I am really enjoying it.   It is so well written and given my love of travel books (I sometimes think I am a better armchair traveller than a 'real' traveller) Palin makes every place he visits come alive with little pictures he paints of situations or characters.
Just about time for another chapter before bed I think - so until tomorrow.   Take care every one of you.

Sunday, 22 March 2020


On a fine early Spring day the sun is shining even if there is a cold East wind off the North Sea.  I have walked round the estate with Percy and shall shortly to out into my back garden to see what is sprouting now that my gardener has tidied up for me.   I leave you with a photograph of my bungalow soaking up the sun.   Have a good Sunday.