Thursday, 30 September 2010

A Day Out.

Today I motored through Wensleydale to Sedbergh in Cumbria to meet my god-daughter for lunch. It is a journey of about thirty miles, straight through the Dale and it takes about an hour. Luckily I set off early, thinking to take one photograph of each village I drove through so that you could all see some of our lovely Dales villages.
When I got just over half of the way there the road was closed and all traffic was diverted round by an extra ten miles or so, which was very frustrating. I only just reached our meeting place in time.
After a nice sandwich lunch (bacon and brie sandwiches since you asked) I set off back, still using the diversion and grumbling to myself about the long way round. All was forgiven though as once out in the open country - joy of joys - a young fox crossed the road just in front of my car and jumped the wall into the field. What a beauty he was - a deep, deep red and without a single blemish. The farmer, on hearing this said he would be a young one who had not yet developed the skills of stealth where humans were concerned - also his deep red colouring means he was young too. It made the whole diversion bearable.
The diversion was across a high moor, a road I know well. The weather was lovely and the sky was fantastic. I took some long range views for you to see - it is all a bit distant but it is the best I could do.
Down in the dip once back on the correct road, there is a farm where they have traditional Dales ponies. One of the mares has had the sweetest little foal - I stopped and took a photograph - again it is distant but that was as near as I could get.
So enjoy the photographs of our lovely Dales villages - and the distant fells. Storms are forecast for tomorrow, which made today all the more enjoyable.

Photos. Left/Right - from the top.

Dales pony mare with her foal.
Wensley village - it was this village which gave the dale its name - but it was largely destroyed by plague in the sixteenth century.
Hardraw -
View up the Mallerstang - note the Carlisle to Settle railway in foreground.
Redmire with its magnificent tree on the green.
Castle Bolton with its medieval castle (Mary Queen of Scots imprisoned here).

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Which paths did you take?

This month's theme for our Writers' Group is to write about the good things which have happened in your life, rather than the bad things. I can't say it is a topic which appeals to me as a writer, but it did set me thinking and I thought I would share my thoughts with you today.

I suppose from the moment we are born our lives take pathways - straight paths, winding paths, T junctions, cross roads - and even, I suppose, paths which we have to make for ourselves through uncharted territory. And which path we take affects the rest of our lives.

Some people have such misfortune throughout their life, others have what they often choose to call 'Good Luck'. I expect that for the majority of us life falls somewhere in the middle - some good things, some things not so good. But, as they say, the human spirit is indomitable and most of us cope with whatever is thrown at us. But isn't it interesting how one split second decision can influence the rest of our lives? I thought you might like to share a few of your pathway selections with us. So here are a few of mine to get you in the mood and to start you off:-

When I was a teacher in an inner city school in the Midlands I never thought that I would - twenty five years later - be the wife of a farmer in the Yorkshire Dales. What paths led me there?

Firstly deciding to move out into the country on taking early retirement. Secondly the choice of house to buy. We looked at three or four possibilities, all in the Dales but far apart. I wonder what made us choose the one in the village where the farmer lived. I often pass a house we looked at in a village about ten miles west of here and I always think - if we had chosen that house I would never have met the farmer and my life would have been so very different.

Then there is our recent wonderful break in the Netherlands. This would never have come about if we had not looked through a holiday brochure and decided to go on the Hurtigruten up the coast of Norway. And similarly, if our friends in the Netherlands had not chosen to go on the same boat at the same time, then we would never have met and formed such a friendship.

It seems to me that our whole lives are made up of these tiny - but most important - events - these pathways we choose to take and where they lead to. So - dear readers - you have had a few days of looking at my photographs; now put on your thinking caps and tell us about a path you have chosen to take and its outcome. It should all make such interesting reading.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

One last post on the Netherlands....

before I come down to earth and start writing about ordinary, mundane things again!

Is it my imagination, or is the whole transport thing much more efficient over on mainland Europe? I know we were only there for five days but everything seemed to run much more smoothly.

Every train we went on was on time; every tram we mounted had plenty of room and moved along at a good speed; the canal boats were zipping up and down; and the bicycles - did I mention the bicycles? - of which there are literally millions - you can hire them at every railway station, there are special cycle lanes - oh I could really wax lyrical about the bicycles.

So here, for my last selection of photographs of our short break, are photographs of transport. We spent an interesting afternoon in The Hague, seeing the Parliament Buildings and the Royal Palace (and even seeing the Foreign Minister giving a TV interview!). The station there was on two levels and really looked like something from a space movie - and the trains were spot on time too.

We spent a pleasant hour on the canals in Amsterdam, where river traffic flows up and down - canoes, little motor boats and big canal cruisers - all seeming to pass each other effortlessly.

Double-decker trains seem to be the norm there and it is great being 'upstairs' with a fantastic view.

As for the bicycles - everyone seems to ride one, children sit in lovely little boxes on the front, or on the back, of their dad's or mum's bike; dogs are taken for 'walks' on a lead attached to a bike; I know the flat terrain makes cycling easy but it all looks so idyllic. Maybe I viewed it all through rose-tinted specs.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Netherlands...again.....

I am not back down to earth yet after our holiday - there was so much to see and so many things to learn and our friends were so good at explaining things to us. Of course in four days we saw only a tiny fraction of the country but my goodness me, our friends took us here and there and filled in the background as much as they could.

I think one of the things which makes the country so fascinating to me is that is so reminds me of my childhood in the Fens of Lincolnshire - the terrain is so similar. Much of the land in the area we were in is below sea level. The roads are built up and as you drive along you look down on fields which in Spring will be full of tulips. At this time of the year they are still colourful with flowers - dahlias, gladioli, astilbe, violas - all making wonderful strips of colour.

I had a good look at the map before we went over and I was interested in a green coastal strip which seems to stretch from one end of the country to the other. Needless to say that when I mentioned this to F and R, our hosts, they immediately took us to look at that area. There is a long strip of clean beautifully pale sand which stretches for miles along the coast. Behind that sand are the 'dunes' natural sandy hills which in many places have been turned into pleasant country parks. We walked on the sands and we strolled through the park - there were fallow deer, roe deer, a herd of cattle and - as everywhere we went - many water birds - coot, swan, heron.

One thing which interested me was a plant which is fairly new to the dunes area - I took a photograph (see above) both of the flower and of the bud and shall send both to Stuart (Donegal Wildlife - see my side bar) for a positive identification, but I think it is Datura. The speed with which it seems to be colonising large areas seems to me to be worrying for the future. In two years it is growing into small trees and there are hundreds of seedling plants - made me think of Japanese Hogweed.

I hope you like the photograph of the fishing lines anchored to the sand - I think it is my favourite photograph of the whole trip. The rods were fastened into the ground with thick metal bars and the lines stretched taut way out to sea. What were they hoping to catch? Does anybody know?

The country seems to me to be completely ruled by water - but it all seems to be so well controlled. There are a lot of polders - areas of land reclaimed from the sea - these areas have been drained and then protected from flooding by dykes. Since the year 1200 the size of the country has been increased by more than a fifth.
The dykes are beautiful both for their plant life and their bird life - and at the same time they are an essential part of the country. Hope you enjoy today's potographs.

1. Datura bud.
2. Walking in the dunes. 3. Datura flowers.
4. Strips of flowers. 5. Toadstools growing through cowpats.
6 and 7 The sands of the coastal strip - and the fishing rods.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

I'm back!

I hope you like my new header. You probably can't read what the words say and my skills in blogland are too bad to change the colour to a readable one - so until Dominic is available to do it for me I shall have to tell you that the words tell that we have been to the Netherlands for a holiday - and the header is the lovely little fishing village of Hoorn.

Where to start. We have been for a few days to stay with very dear friends quite near to Amsterdam. The weather was very kind, the company was perfect, the food was splendid - and the things we saw were amazing. There - I have almost run out of adjectives!

Our friends took us to so many places. F remembered that I had said some time ago that I had always wanted to see Rembrandt's 'The Nightwatch' and that I loved painting by Van Gogh. So, where did we go on the first day - we went by very efficient train service into Amsterdam. First we went to Rijksmusem to see the nightwatch - oh my goodness me - how huge the painting is and how full of minute detail - from the gold embroidery on the clothes, the lace neck ruffs - and even the shadow of a hand on the coat of another.

Then it was across the square to the van Gogh museum - to see Fishing Boats on the Beach and A Pair of Old Boots - my two favourite pictures by Vincent. I have them in several books and I know them so well - but nothing prepares you for seeing them 'in the flesh' and seeing his use of colour.

We had lunch in the museum cafe and then went on a boat trip down the canals - a perfect day. I shall post photographs of this trip another day.

On the second day of our stay F and R had remembered me talking about what used to be called Zuider Zee - a place which fascinated me as a child. So where did we go?
We went to the lovely fishing village of Hoorn on the side of what used to be called Zuider Zee. We sat in a cafe for lunch - the farmer had the egg lunch in the photograph - I had something a little more ' gentle' a beef carpaccio sandwich. A grey heron sat close by us throughout lunch. There were working boats moving about and setting off into the Zee; there were fishermens' nets hanging over the sides of the bridge; there was a strong smell of fish in the air. The walk through the old town was beautiful. Sometimes it was sunny and sometimes cloudy, which accounts for the differing tones in the photographs - but it didn't rain, it was warm and so interesting. To finish off the day F drove us over the dam itself and we saw just how huge the area of water was and how cleverly it has all been controlled.

More about the Netherlands tomorrow. It has been the most marvellous holiday - but of course it is always nice to come home.

Friday, 17 September 2010

A Village visited.

How often do we drive through villages on our way somewhere and only see that one main road through? I do this often several times a week through the village of Crakehall on my way to Bedale or Northallerton.

Yesterday the farmer had an appointment witht the Physiotherapist in that village and Tess and I went with him. He parked the car by the village church and Tess and I walked round the village, knowing that he would be about three quarters of an hour before he came back.

What a delightful village it turned out to be. There are about half a dozen well mown village greens - one of which (in front of the Hall) is the village cricket ground. All around the edges of the greens are pretty, well-cared-for old stone cottages with lovely cottage gardens full of country cottage flowers - like the cosmos in the picture.

We didn't see a single vehicle as we meandered along the lanes and then set off along a narrow but obviously well-used footpath - not knowing where it would lead us.
Half way down the path was the village penfold from earlier days (for readers in the US, this was an enclosure where lost sheep could be stationed) and this has been transformed into a lovely little garden with a sheltered seat.

Eventually we came out on to the main road right by the side of the beck - which is the same beck that runs through our fields here - shortly after Crakehall it enters Bedale and becomes the River Em on its way to the Swale, then the Ouse and finally into the Humber estuary and out into the North Sea.

Once back on the main road we wandered along a raised footpath and onto the big green, stopping to photograph the Village Quoits Court outside the village pub. They have an active quoits team which plays regularly throughout the summer months.

We crossed the road and went into the churchyard, where there was a conveniently placed seat from which we could see when the farmer returned. We sat there in the sun and I noticed that the path was made of old tomb slabs - they made such interesting reading and were certainly food for thought - 'Margaret, loving wife, died in childbirth in 1823 aged 32 years; James, dearly loved, died in 1796 aged 2 days; Eleanor, beautiful daughter died aged 11 months in 1801. Goodness me, aren't we the lucky ones with all our advanced medical care?

We drove on to buy the grass seed for the field the farmer has just finished ploughing and then came home in thoughtful mood just thinking how lucky we are in so many ways.

Photos. Centre top: Cedar tree in churchyard.
Left: The Hall and cricket green. Right: Church green.
Left: Cottage and garden. Right: Quoits court.
Left: The Penfold. Right: Beck bridge.
Left: 19th century cottage. Right: Cosmos in bloom.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Desert Islands - A Meme for today.

Last night we decanted our Raspberry Vodka and our Blackcurrant Vodka - both are the most beautiful colour and taste so different - the raspberry has a much sharper taste. But both will make a welcome drink by the wood burner on a cold Winter's night. Now the demijohns are washed and sterilised and ready to receive the blackberries for the blackberry whisky. If I were to be deposited on a desert island I would hope I could have a bottle of that blackberry whisky with me.

And that brings me to today's meme - it is ages since I did one. Reading all your comments on yesterday's post about Maurice O'Sullivan's life on Blasket Island at the beginning of the twentieth century, it struck me how we choose who to blog with and that when we get our little 'coterie' of bloggers we find we have so much in common. So many of you either knew of the book or said you would now like to read it.

So - how about taking part in this?

You are about to be landed on a desert island from which there will be no escape for at least a year. You can take a bottle of your favourite tipple (see above) and you can take accoutrements for your favourite hobby (pencils and papers, paints and canvasses, binoculars etc.)and you can take just 5 books. So here is the meme - which five books on your shelves would you take for that year? I have listed mine below to start you off. I shall be fascinated to see what you all choose.

1. Ronald Blythe's 'Out of the Valley' - a book in diary form about the English countryside - I can read it at odd moments to remind myself of home.
2. Edwin Morgan's 'Collected Poems' - I should get plenty of inspiration from this to keep me attempting to write poetry throughout the year.
3. L M Montgomery's 'Anne of Green Gables' - for when I am too tired to read anything that requires much thinking. I have read it so many times that I almost know it off by heart. Sheer escapism.
4. Philip's 'World Atlas' - so that I can fantasise about where I will go when that boat arrives.
5. Ernest Shackleton's Writings - I am assuming my desert island is hot so to read the terrible adventures of a group of men in such cold conditions should give me hope.

Which five books would you choose? I do hope you join in and give us all an interesting read.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Egg of a Seabird..lovely, perfect and laid this very morning.

So says EM Forster in the foreword to a delightful book I am reading.

The Blasket Islands lie off the Atlantic coast of Ireland, a short ferry ride from The Dingle Peninsula. They have been uninhabited since 1953 when the last few residents left for the mainland and better health care.

Maurice O'Sullivan was born in 1904 and he wrote this book as a series of stories for his children to read when they were older. The original is written in the Irish language. But the book has such universal appeal - it tells the story of his childhood and adolescence on these islands, the story of a way of life that has gone for ever.

It was a way of life which was very harsh. The diet was poor and was heavily supplemented with puffins, seagulls eggs - anything they could scavenge from the wild. Often they were shoeless and often they were penniless, but the enjoyment of life, the mischief they got up to, the cameraderie of the villagers - it all shines through in this absolutely delightful book.

A friend has lent it to me to read. She had a copy many years ago and lent it to someone and lost it. Last week, in Barter Books in Alnwick, she says it jumped out of the shelf and into her hands as she went through the door. I am so glad it did because I have loved it. Do try to find a copy.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

A Farming Post.

It seems a long time since I wrote about work on the farm, so I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to bring you up to date.

This is a 'finishing off' time of year for farming up here - although cattle are still out it will only be a few weeks before they need to come in for the Winter. When that happens will depend very much on the weather in general and the amount of rainfall in particular. Once the ground gets soaking wet it is neither good for beast nor land for the cattle to be out. So now is the time when the farmer gets the indoor housing ready.

The first thing is to clean out last year's debris, which has been gently steaming and rotting throughout the Summer. Many little rodents have taken up residence and the cats have been having field days laying on the warm manure and catching anything which dares to venture out. Well, last weekend the farmer hired a giant 'muck-spreader' for the day and the loose housing is now completely empty and ready to be filled with new sweet-smelling straw for the beast to come in.

All the outbuildings are stacked with bales of straw and all the silaging has been finished, so now it is time for the farmer to look at the state of the fields. He did this at the weekend and decided that 'cow-house field' needed ploughing and re-seeding. That has been today's job.

Unfortunately, three times round the field and he hit a boulder which broke one of the blades on the very ancient plough. Luckily he had one replacement blade which he has now fitted and as I write he is finishing off the ploughing.

Tess and I had a walk round the fields and I took a photograph of the ploughing, and of the farmer mending the plough. Also you will see how fantastic the crop of crab apples is. We have a lot of wild crab apples in the hedges here and they are laden with little red apples. Now the cattle will be hoping they fall off the tree - all the cattle love these little sour apples. Hawthorn berries are now very ripe; the bushes seem to be laden and they look a picture. Before too long the fieldfares will arrive and make short work of them.

I read in the Times newspaper that the reason our berries, apples, plums etc. are so prolific this year is all due to the very harsh Winter we had. Whatever the reason, the hedgerows look magnificent, so enjoy my photographs.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Another poem for the Poetry Bus this week.

My dear friend, Joan Cairns, is eighty-eight years old and writes wonderful poetry. This week I remembered to tell her Marion's subject for the bus - "Colour" and joan rang me this morning to say she had written a poem about red. So here it is - she does not compute but she does love to have her work read - so I am putting it here on her behalf. Isn't it good?


This tree, this day,

performs her sensuous dance
of red leaves
falling in spirals
slow as spiders.

One by one
she sheds her scarlet clothes,
teasing us with glimpses
of her nakedness to come.

By dusk the wind
has fingered clouds on the sky.
The dance begins,
a different, hectic rhythm.
The tree is abashed in her nudity,
her red clothes lying at her feet.

Joan Cairns.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Which are you?

Are you a 'cat person'? Are you a 'dog person'? Maybe a 'both' or a 'neither' person. One thing is sure, I think all of us come down into one of the camps - we don't seem to be neutral.
I am both a dog and a cat person (and, dare I say, if I had a pet rabbit I would be a 'rabbit person' too). When I look back over the dogs I have known in my life I realise that they have collectively given me hours of pleasure.
But it is when I look back over cats I have known that my memory throws up such characters. Maybe because dogs are rather servile towards their owners whereas cats live up to the saying "I am the cat that walks alone. All places are alike to me," they are certainly characters. So let me tell you about a few I have known.
My first cat, Tim, was quite literally a survivor. His mother was killed when he was about three weeks old - run over outside our cottage. I reared Tim on the bottle and he grew into a sturdy, stocky cat who rarely ate cat food, preferring to hunt and bring home rabbits, which he ate starting at the head end and working his way down over several days. When we moved we left him with the new owners of the cottage and he lived to a ripe old age.
The next cat I had was a Seal point Siamese. When we bought him he was so scared that he stayed behind the piano for three days, refusing to come out. Accidentally I left my sun hat on the carpet and before I knew about it the cat saw it, crept out, curled up in it and went to sleep and he never looked back! There was no question about what he should be called. He was immediately christened "Sam-I-Am" after 'The Cat in the Hat comes Back' - the Doctor Seuss childrens' book.
Sam was a wonder cat, popular with the neighbours, always 'the perfect gentleman' when he had to stay in the cattery. He lived to a ripe old age and after he died we had another Siamese - Puss.
Everyone knew Puss. He established a territory and went round it each morning lifting the metallic lids from any milk left on doorsteps and drinking the cream by dipping his paw into the bottle and then licking the cream off. A whole street of houses had wire milk racks fitted on to their walls as a result!
His final fall from grace was when our neighbour had a "Strawberries and Cream" party. She had a silver strawberry dish with a tiny shelf holding a silver cream jug. The guests arrived for the party. She took them on a tour of the garden. When she came back into the room Puss was sitting in the middle of the strawberries, drinking the cream from the jug.
When the farmer and I first married, seventeen years ago, we adopted three adult cats from Cat Rescue. Their names when they came were Onyx, Madiera and Ernest - and the names stuck. Onyx only stayed a short while as he jumped into the back of a van in the yard delivering feed - the driver didn't know he was there until he got back to the feed merchant and poor Onyx jumped out, never to be seen again. After two years Madiera got run over by a tractor. Ernest lived out a long, happy and faithful life here, only dying about three years ago.
He was a tabby cat, quiet, unassuming, a good ratter and mouser and not very friendly. Just occasionally he would honour you by allowing you to stroke him, but on the whole he was just self-sufficient. The same applies to the two farm cats we have now.
But there are two other cats I have known, cats which belonged to my friend, Joan.
Romeo was a large very talkative tabby Tom who ruled the roost completely so that Ellington, his black companion, was always in his shadow. Sadly about a year ago
Romeo had a brain tumour and had to be put to sleep.
What happened to Ellington? My goodness me, has he come out of his shell! Ellington, since he has been the only cat in the household, has taken it over. He greets all visitors, inspects them, jumps on knees, pawing your hand out of the way if he needs to. He joins in every conversation - loudly. He demands to be fed and will not take no for an answer. And this weekend he has excelled himself.
Sometimes he leaves an offering outside my friend's bedroom door - maybe a mouse tail, or perhaps a pair of mouse kidneys, or a bird's wing - you know the sort of thing. My friend accepts the gift, wraps it in tissue paper and puts it in the bin, taking it as part of a cat-owning life.
So, what did he leave outside her door yesterday morning? She opened the door and there on the landing was a mouse trap, complete with a piece of cheese and a dead mouse, just taking a nibble from the cheese. Knowing how clever cats are I am now sure that what Ellington was saying was - you need to get one of these, then you can catch my breakfast for me and save me an awful lot of trouble!
Have you a cat story to tell?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Early for the Poetry Bus this week.

'Colour' is the topic this week. I have just walked down our lane for a couple of miles with Tess, looking at the dead and dying foliage and the beginnings of the Autumn colours - and I wrote this in my head as I walked. The trouble with doing a weekly 'poem' of course is that there is not time to hone one's words and one's skills, but it does make for spontaneity and - let's face it - we are not aiming for perfection here.

So a poem on colour. Or rather , in my case, a poem on the lack of colour:

All Colour Gone.

It was late when we came
to Ivelet,
where the white bridge shines
in the green landscape.
But the light had gone.

The trees stood
black and still
and the water
shone darkly.

Save for one place
where there were no trees.
Here the water was the hard,
cold silver of the sky.

Upstream a dark shape
slid into the liquid metal,
and ripples,
gentle and noiseless,
made their way to
where we stood.

(Ivelet bridge is the bridge on my header.)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Thorpe Perrow Arboretum.

What could be better on a lovely Autumn day than a walk through a beautiful Arboretum in the company of a good friend and her dog? Well, today I did just that and am posting the photographs so that you can share in the walk.

Thorpe Perrow is on the edge of the little town of Bedale, which stands by the A1 trunk road, not far from Scotch Corner and the trans-Pennine route. It is only about twelve miles from home and an easy journey through pretty countryside, so we set off at eleven o'clock this morning.

Thorpe Perrow is the home of Sir John and Lady Ropner who have, over the last twenty or so years, turned their garden into a magnificent country park. Many of the rare trees are very old and very large. Old dead and dying trees have been cleared and new ones planted; whole areas have been grassed and replanted with suitable shrubs - it is a joy to walk round - and so large that you can walk for an hour and hardly see a soul.

There is a newish Bog Garden which is splendid. Tree trunks are being allowed to rot into the soil and the one in the photograph above is covered with magnificent purplish fungus. The house itself stands on the far side of the lake, so is nicely cut off from the main park. The lake has fish - lots of tadpoles in Spring - and is home to a pair of swans and countless coot, mallard etc.

Give the place another week and the Autumn colours will be really magnificent, but we felt we needed to go before the weather broke and already there are Autumnal signs, like the lovely rose hips in the photograph. And some of the trees are beginning to turn into their colours.

There is now a lovely cafe at the entrance, so we were able to sit outside in the sun and eat a delicious bacon sandwich and drink a cup of good coffee. A friend unexpectedly joined us and we had an hour's pleasant chat. Sometimes one has a day (or in my case two days as I enjoyed yesterday too) when everything goes really well.
As I have said before 'A moment enjoyed is never wasted.'

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A Satisfying Day.

Sometimes one has a day which is wholly satisfying. Today was such a day for me and it began at nine o'clock this morning with a visit from the Chimney Sweep to the chimney of our wood-burning stove. It is always lucky to see the sweep's brush sticking out of the chimney, so I have put on a photograph I took this morning, so you can all be lucky by looking at it. (Make a wish! After he had gone (it is a very quick, vacuum-cleaner job and takes no time at all) the farmer re-emulsioned the chimney breast with the same colour as it was before (would you believe it is called 'muddy puddle'?), I took down and cleaned all the pictures, china etc. and by mid-morning it was all spick and span.

After lunch Dominic and his wife and I all went to Ripon Cathedral to see the Great Northern Art Exhibition. This show is put on every year and showcases the very best artists in the North of England. I must say there was some very admirable work.
Art is funny though, isn't it? We all seem to like different things - there were some I would love to have on my wall and some I wouldn't give house-room to - and yet I would say they were all thoughtful, well-executed pictures.

afterwards we had coffee and scones in a little Bistro by the Cathedral and then came back home (it is around 25 miles from us to Ripon) - having a lovely discussion about life on the return journey. Dominic has been so busy during this school holiday - which ends tonight - that I have hardly seen him, so today was a little bonus.

Another jolly outing for me tomorrow as there was an e mail from a friend asking me out for the day when I returned this afternoon. Meanwhile two more Autumn photographs above, as well as the sweep's brush. First just to let you know that the swallows are gathering and discussing their journey; secondly to show you that the Japanese Anemones are taking over in my front garden again - as they do every Autumn. I try to eradicate them as they are such a nuisance, but their roots are cleverly positioned under the footpath and any attempt to get rid of them is doomed to failure. I must also say that once they are in flower I am pleased to see them (you can't please some people, can you?)