Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Harbingers of Spring.

 Well thank you everyone.   It is a pouring wet day here - heavy rain forecast for the next few days, followed by heavy snowfall.   The ground is already saturated and the becks are full to bursting with snowmelt from the Moors above us.  So what happens over the next few days is quite crucial.  So it will be good to just look through what you all very kindly wrote yesterday as your Harbingers of Spring.   Just reading through the list makes my heart lift a little - hope it does the same for you:

Here in the UK

Spring bulbs poking through the ground. 

The first daffodil. forsythia and crocus - and the preponderence of the colour yellow - surely the colour of Spring.

Tadpoles appearing in the ponds.

The arrival of the chiff chaffs - although some apparently stay here all year with climate change (they'll have a shock this week).

And Tom points out that a doctor told him that sputum becomes cleaner as Spring progresses (not sure we wish to know that).

In Canada and the US

A lot of you spoke of the arrival of Summer birds - the Cranes feature heavily as did the robins (much bigger than ours) and the blackbirds

The piping up of the frogs.

The first Spring flowers.

The catkins.

The smell of the Aspen woods.

The last leaves on the trees being pushed off by the arrival of the new ones.

Migrating geese going South.

In Europe

A softness in the air

The quality of the light and the arrival of birdsong.

Cherry blossom in bud.

The arrival of martins and swifts

First cuckoo call.

Arrival of lapwings, geese and coltsfoot (Sweden)

Now, don't you feel a bit better reading through that regardless of the awful weather outside?   Have a good day.

Monday, 18 January 2021


 It's strange how coincidence works isn't it?   I don't think I have thought of the cuckoo for years.   Then, suddenly on Saturday I thought of it - how we always 'waited' for the first cuckoo call when we were children, how we always came running home to tell everybody we had heard the cuckoo - that odd bird that lays its egg in the nest of another bird because it is too 'lazy' to bring its own child up.   That is what we always said.

Thinking about it on Saturday for some reason, I wondered how long it was since I had actually heard the cuckoo.   So long that I really can't remember.   Then on Saturday, in the night, I dreamt I heard it - it kept calling and I woke in the morning with this odd feeling that I had heard the cuckoo.   Then on Sunday, reading Monty Don again, I turned the page and there was his article on the Cuckoo!  Cuckoo numbers are down 65 per cent since the early 1980's so that, coupled with the fact that their favourite birds for using to rear their offspring are pipits or reed buntings - maybe there are more of these in Lincolnshire where I grew up than there are up here in the Yorkshire Dales.

Interestingly he also points out that we can hardly accuse these strange birds of coming 'home' to lay their eggs because they spend at least seventy percent of their year in Africa - that is their home.  He says they are 'every bit as African as Gorillas'

But we did look for them as one of the pointers to the arrival of Spring.   I am not sure what I look for now.   Do you have a day when you see or hear something which confirms for you that Spring is here?   Snowdrops appear - always a delightful sight - and we are inclined to say that it won't be long before Spring.   Then the early daffodils confirm this.   But somehow there has to be more - maybe the arrival of the first swallow (we had many at the farm - always a lone one (male) would arrive and for perhaps a week he would sit on the wires waiting before another arrived), or perhaps a smell in the air, or the first 'sticky buds' on the horse chestnuts.

Let's see if between us we can compile a list of what we look for as the first sign that Spring is actually here.   It can't come soon enough can it?   Heavy rain and localised flooding 'promised' here this week.  So let's try and ignore it and think of Spring.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

This and That

 Sun out nice and early, temperature above freezing, snow going gradually, half past nine in the morning and folk already out walking their dogs.   My Carer has been, helped me wash and dress, got my breakfast (I can get it if she is not here), made my bed - done other esentials and gone.

Sundays are always long days and now that we are not meeting for our usual Sunday lunches (oh how I miss them - the friendship, the conversation, the food,) the day seems endless.   So today I am determined to keep myself busy one way or another.   The sun is already rising higher in the sky (it is, after all, a month since the shortest day) and is already shining into my sitting room this morning.   I am putting out of my head my father's old saying 'as the days lengthen the storms strengthen').

Over my second cup of tea I was reading a bit of Monty Don's 'My Garden World' - the bit where he speaks of Geese and how many farmer's wives used to keep a few geese to sell at Christmas to add to their coffers.   How they used to get them 'oven ready' and how they would all be ordered well before Christmas.   It brought back memories of my parents when I was a child.   We lived in a small Lincolnshire village of, maybe, a couple of hundred inhabitants.   There was a post office and village store, a Co-op grocery store and a Butchers.   Mr Green, the Butcher, whose shop was almost opposite our house, had an arrangement with my mother.   She dressed all his poultry for him (she loved doing it) and in return she never paid for her meat (she was a real meat-eater, which probably explains why I am not all that keen on meat having had it almost every meal as a child).   My father was happy to kill the poultry humanely and he would also light the copper (outside in the wash house) so that he could 'dip' in the dead birds to make plucking easier.  Thinking about it I suspect my parents somehow kept the goose down because we always had goose-feather 'mattresses. '   In fact I rather think my parents still had one right to the end.   My father was a 'reluctant changer' (remember the collar studs and the short sleeved shirts from earlier posts).

I had thought about this yesterday evening too watching Rick Stein's 'Cornwall' (which I am enjoying tremendously) being repeated on BBC 2.   The women of Cornwall were 'dab hands' at dealing with the fish - especially in the days when huge shoals of mackerel were being caught and exported rapidly all over the country already 'gutted'.   It does seem that often women do essential support work in some industries.

And to change the subject again - if you are at a loose end today and need something to watch - Rachel suggested I watch Mark Lawson interviewing John le Carre (available on iplayer) - I watched it yesterday tea time - rivetting - do watch it if you haven't already seen it - absolutely brilliant.

Have a nice day. And - if you blog with BB at 'Codlins and Cream' do join with me in wishing her and her family all the best wishes now that they have moved into their new house.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

All Change

Yes, all change for now at any rate.   A thaw has set in and this morning, for the first time this week, there is a line of wet droplets on my washing line rather than a line of icicles.   And the sky has patches of blue here and there and the sun is out on a field in the distance.   But 'make the most of it' says the weather man - 'it won't last' - the snow will go and the rain will come and cause some 'localised flooding' and then it will turn cold again with more snow.   It is certainly an interesting winter with plenty of surprises.   But it breaks the covid monotony up a bit.

Vaccinations were going well but I understand that various places in the country have run out of vaccine at the moment so there are hold ups.

I have just been to our Saturday morning Coffee Morning - six of us - virtual (Zoom) of course.   Everyone has found something to do - some of us have shopped in Tesco during times when few were there, others are reading or doing jig saws or watching interesting programmes on TV.  Most are having other Zoom meetings to chat  and exchange news.   I think I am the only one with a blog to do each day - I enjoy it so much and it makes me think of something to say to you all even if it is pretty facile.

There is a lovely photograph on the front of The Times this morning of a bride with her two bridesmaids.   Covid regulations messed up her plans for her wedding so for her bridesmaids she has had her two Grandmothers - one eighty and one ninety - the photograph is one of such joy and is a delight to see. Small things like this make for small pleasures which enlighten the day don't you think?

Friday, 15 January 2021

An almost silent world.

 Outside, would you believe after yesterday, pure unbroken sunshine in a blue sky.   The snow on my roof is just beginning to drip past my sitting room window and the road outside was more or less impassable until a 'snowplough' of sorts went through earlier this morning.   Now it is possible to get out on to the main road with care.   Yesterday my carer never got here, as you know, but today she arrived an hour late brought by her aunt who has a four-wheeled drive car.   She brought me two cooked lunches to heat in my micro wave and she cleaned and tidied the kitchen which I was completely unable to do yesterday although I managed quite well on my own, knowing well that she would be here today to deal with jobs I couldn't do.   It has convinced me that I shall always need a carer for an hour each day - just to do  essential jobs I am not able to manage (shower, make and change the bed,)

Looking at the weather map on Breakfast television this morning I see that round here (Bedale) was the coldest place in the country last night (minus eleven degrees).   Pretty it certainly is but it is hampering my recovery as I just can't get out of the door to do a daily walk.   Yes I walk up and down my bungalow on and off all day but it is not the same and I fear my  mobility skills are slipping back at the moment.

But The Yorkshire Dales is not called 'Dales' for nothing.   We sit on the Eastern side of the Pennine Chain of hills (I daren't call them Mountains blogging as I do with friends from countries where there are 'real' mountains) but leaving our little town to go anywhere there is only one way out which is relatively flat(ish) - the other ways are all both hilly and bendy - that is the nature of our countryside and the fact that it does hamper travel in this kind of weather is more than made up for in the days when we can enjoy travelling around in such beauty.

And (selfishly) another minus factor is that everyone loves us so that any nice weather brings out tourists aplenty.   Yes - they are fully entitled to come and many of our shops and bed and breakfast facilities, not to mention holiday cottages and pubs serving meals - depend entirely on their custom to survive and make a living.   But on any nice day at the moment they do seem to be still arriving for their daily exercise - and Covid is ever present and we do wish at present they would stay away.

I am watching locals doing their daily exercise walk along my road - the same faces, the same dogs daily.   Today locals are struggling in the snow and ice - dogs are loving it, as are small children romping along, throwing snowballs, being pulled on sledges, what it is to be young!  If I was mobile - regardless of age - I would be out there making a snowman  - two bits of (plastic from my fire) coal for eyes, a carrot for a nose, one of my dear farmer's caps (I have four) on its head and a scarf round its neck.

Yes dear readers.   I am still young at heart.   Keep safe and warm.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

A Silent World

 Yes, it is a completely silent world here.   We have had about eight inches of snow and most of the roads around us are blocked either by snow or by accidents.   Nothing is moving.   A few people pass well wrapped up on their walks or their obligatory dog walks, the odd Tesco van ploughs through the snow with a delivery.   Otherwise there is nothing to disturb the peace and it has snowed all day.  My carer has not been able to get out of her drive so I have been left to my own devices today.   I have stayed in my dressing gown, nightie and slippers - no point in putting my rather limited energy into getting dressed.   I managed to set off the dishwasher and empty it onto the units above when it finished.   Until I get my trolley with brakes I can't put crockery away.   I dealt with my commode, made my bed,  cooked a lunch (bacon, 2 fried eggs, eight small tomatoes fried,  a pan of sliced mushrooms fried in a little olive oil and the whole lot served on a slice of fried bread) - maybe not all that healthy but certainly tasty.  By that time I was really tired so I sat in my chair and went to sleep - slept through the Hairy Bikers cooking programme, Escape to the Country and Farmers' Market.   I only woke up when my carer texted me to ask if I had managed alright without her.

It isn't particularly cold and I really wonder whether it is actually freezing or not.   I suppose I shalln't know until morning - it does seem to have stopped snowing now.

I rang friends P and D in The Lakes to gloat over our snow - P loves snow and they never seem to get any in Windermere - and true to form they had none to speak of this morning.   They are moving shortly if everything goes according to plan -always a worrying, stressful time without all the worries about Covid too.

If you have snow where you are take care.  See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

A New Day

 A new day dawns - much like the last and the one before that.   Yes the weather changes but that's about all that does.   My single carer comes at half past seven in the morning, gets my breakfast, makes my bed, helps me dress- this morning gave me a shower and washed my hair.   I am not sure I shall ever reach the stage where I can shower without help again.  Even the news stays much the same - Covid, Brexit, t h e state of things in America.  Everything is depressing and there is little to brighten things up unless we happen to get a sunny day - not going to happen today - it is a grey sky.

The Times no longer makes exciting reading.   Today is Fashion Day in Times 2 but who wishes to buy new fashion when there is nowhere to go to wear it?   I already have one pair of trousers, one sweater and one (yes, another) leather jacket all unworn.

So - what to do to get a bit of interest going around my head?   Well there are the Mind Games in Times 2 and, providing I do them early rather than later in the day I can usually do them all fairly easily - and that does give me a sense of satisfaction that the old brain is still working.   A couple of chats with friends is  good.  Chatting with all of you takes up another hour or two and keeps the old mind working - and I really do value your virtual friendship - thank you


So what is there in today's Times that is worth thinking about?  Well, Matthew Parris is my favourite columnist and he writes every Wednesday a column called 'My Week' and there is usually something controversial in   it.   Today it is private medicine in a crisis.   He is in urgent need of a partial knee-replacement and he does not have private insurance - considering it unethical.   He is having increasing difficulty walking and feels it wrong to go on to an NHS List for an operation during this crisis - so he has booked himself into a private (self pay) hospital.  Private consultants feel that although the NHS paid to requisition beds in private hospitals during the pandemic they never actually used them.  This meant that consultants whose specialisms were not Covid related anyway were denied the opportunity to do operations.   So - is he right to 'buy' a bed in a private hospital, to pay for the operation?   He feels misgivings.   Is he right to?

And on the subject of Covid - was Boris right to go on a ten mile bike ride for his exercise?   Peter Black's cartoon in today's Times shows two Police Officers carting Boris off while he is saying that he was only testing his eyesight.   Poor old Dominic Cummings - he'll never live it down will he?

Tuesday, 12 January 2021


 Sadly I have had to ask one of my carers not to come any more.   We are at the stage of discussing about cutting down on how often they come.   I really must learn to be independent again.  But asking her to stop coming was prompted by the fact that she also goes into our local care home and there two members of staff have tested positive although her test came back negative.   I just cannot take the risk at this point in my recovery.   I am sad to have to say goodbye to her - she had become a real friend.

So I am coping alone in the evenings.   Last night was the first night and I coped well.   When I get my 'hostess trolley' with brakes I shall cope even better.

All traces of snow  have gone although there was a frost this morning.   Now, at a quarter to twelve, the sun is shining in a bright blue sky.   As usual I watched the thousands of rooks fly over from their rookery at day break as I ate my toast and then - joy of joys - a  - huge skein of geese flew over heading West.   Not sure what that means weather wise but it was a sight for sore eyes.


Isn't it strange what a day of sunshine can do?   It is not the middle of January yet and yet Spring is in the air today.   Tomorrow a band of snow is promised to cross us - that will drive away all thoughts of Spring - so I shall make the most of today.

Having finished my Book Group book (brilliant) I have now started another - 'Where the Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens. It is another book about America and about the 'marsh girl' - fascinating stuff and top of the best seller list at the moment.

I shall now go and microwave my roast beef and yorkshire pud which my carer brought me this morning for my lunch.   Then I shall have a walk with Priscilla.   Have a good day.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Goodbye snow

 Overnight the snow has disappeared apart from just a few places on East Witton Fell which I look out on from my sitting room window.  I haven't put my nose out of the door but obviously it is much warmer.  No sun though - just a dull, grey sky.

I am sad this morning because I have had to ask one of my Carers not to come any more.   She also works in a Care Home and several of the staff have tested positive for Covid.   She has tested negative - for now.  But I just dare not take the risk.   She is sad not to come and I am sad not to see her - she was a brilliant carer and I counted her as a friend too.

Right - let's get away from Covid - it does dominate our thoughts, the News, the Papers -  let's think about shorts for men - we can't get much further away than that can we?  Kevin Maher writes in The Times today that an Employment Trubunal in Manchester  - a man  it was ruled had suffered sex discrimination by being refused permission to wear three quarter length trousers - and yet his female colleagues were allowed to show the same, if not more, leg every day.   Now what do you think to that male readers?   And, if you are still of 'going to work' age are you going to get out your 'long shorts' to wear in the next hot summer?

I was immediately reminded of my dear late farmer.   Once when we were holidaying in Texas it was extremely hot.   Most of the men in the group were wearing shorts.   I popped into a shop and bought him a pair.   Did he wear them?   No he did not.As far as I could see his legs were fine (I fancied his legs as I fancied every part of him) in fact a lot better than most of the legs on show.   But no.   Cap on head, trousers on legs - the norm and he was sticking to it.   There is a different dress code I think for men and women.   I did touch on it the other week with stiff collars - but at the time women wore long skirts.   Short skirts have been all the rage for a very long time.   I remember a particular occasion in 1970 when I wore a yellow mini skirt and a navy blue silk blouse - adored both.    Plenty of leg showing.   So fifty years of short skirts and yet men still only wear their shorts on holiday - certainly not in the office.

We must conclude that men love to see women in short skirts - well we all knew that didn't we?   But they are not keen on showing off their own legs.   I wonder why.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Good Morning

 Good morning dear blog friends on this Sunday morning - a Sunday which, for some obscure reason, I keep thinking is a Monday.   Over Christmas the days meld into one and it  takes a week or two of the New Year, with The Times popping through the letter box at eight in the morning, to get me back into the rhythm of the week days.

Well good news this morning.   After a week of snow and ice with very bad driving conditions there was no frost last night and this morning I got up to find that the snow had receded about three feet from my front door, giving me a nice strip of green lawn and the road is full of puddles of water.   My carer even managed to get up - and park on - my drive again.

She brought me a lovely plate of quiche and salad for my lunch.   As I have sausage casserole and mashed root veg left from yesterday that is my two meals sorted for today.   I really am very lucky aren't it?

Several of my blog friends commented yesterday that Spring is only just around the corner.   I always try to think that once the first of February arrives but now I have brought my thinking forward a bit.

I had a very good night's sleep - not waking until a quarter to seven - couldn't believe it.   Last night I sat up and finished my Tracey Chevalier novel '

The Last Runaway' - how I enjoyed it.   And like several of you said - how nice it is to find a new author that you really enjoy.  Now I have all her books to 'go at'.

Looking out of the window I see that the thaw has at least uncovered my large clump of snowdrops which are well up in the green but not showing any white yet.   Every year I intend to ask my gardener to split them when they finish flowering and plant them around the garden.    They move so much more contentedly when moved in the green - so this will be their year.

I am discussing with my carers when I can manage without them and we have finally decided on a plan.   I am expecting a trolley with brakes shortly, which will mean I can transport goods across the kitchen - to the dishwasher, to the fridge, to the cupboards.   I can transport my lunch to the table easily and life will be much less complicated.   Once this arrives they will cut down to one visit a day - the morning visit.   This will mean they can take it in turns to come - I can have a couple of showers a week, they will change my bed and do the washing and drying in the tumble drier, and -- vitally - they will put my compression stockings or tubigrip on my legs.   This will be a good compromise for a while until I am (hopefully) completely back to normal.   Once the snow has gone I can get out onto the footpath with Priscilla and build up a bit of leg-strength.   I just hope she behaves as well as Percy did (as she has more efficient brakes she should behave better).

Well friends coffee calls (Taylors Lazy Sunday since you ask) - my carer makes me a flask before she goes and it keeps me going.   Have a good day and enjoy the sunshine if you are lucky enough to see our friend the sun today.