Thursday, 31 May 2012

Safely gathered in - just.

On Sunday the long range forecast told us it was going to be mainly fine all week with just a risk of an odd shower here and there.

At this time of the year farmers all have to come to a decision. To cut the grass, or not to cut the grass. There are so many factors involved. The grass has to be long enough to make the first cut viable but this has to be balanced against the fact that the first grass of the year is the most nutritious. In addition there has to be a forecast of several days of dry weather so that before it is gathered up and baled it can dry. This means it wants really dry weather - not necessarily sun but certainly not what we call around here 'muggy' weather.

Some of our neighbours decided that this was not the week to cut - as did the farmer. But one neighbour took the plunge and cut all his grass down. Then, the day before yesterday, the forecast changed - today was going to be a wet day (and it is). All the grass was laid in his fields, drying nicely. Suddenly, around six o'clock last night the gathering, baling and wrapping team arrived (this is mostly done subcontract around here as the farms are not large enough to merit buying such expensive equipment).

When we went to bed at 10.30 - we can see the fields from our West-facing windows - the fields were full of bright lights and after midnight the farmer heard the equipment go past. They had finished. This morning S must be heaving a sigh of relief - all is indeed safely gathered in. Just.

Now, if the weather holds over the summer and he is lucky, he might get two more cuts in before the dairy cows come in for winter. This will mean plenty of food in store and less food to buy.

Over breakfast this morning I talked to the farmer about silage. He remembers well when it first became fashionable to silage instead of haymake. At first he and his father continued just haymaking (farmers, in fact countrymen in general, are slow to accept change). Then one year they ran out of hay and had to buy silage in for feed at the end of Winter. The milk yield shot up. After that they made silage.

At first it was put into clamps, covered in plastic sheeting and weighted down (often with old tyres). Some farms still do this with some of their silage so that they can have 'at face' feeding once the dairy cows are in - in other words they can help themselves whenever they wish. If this happens then cattle cake and additives are fed in the trough. Our farmer neighbour has a mixer and he mixes silage from his clamp with minerals, molasses and cattle cake and feeds this to his cows every morning.

We have our silage in black plastic bags. Some farms have pale green plastic bags. I do wonder why the bags can't be grass green and thus less obtrusive. One thing is for sure - they need gathering in quickly once the grass has been bagged up - rooks and crows can't resist pecking holes in the bags and that lets the air in which is no good at all. This is the reason why you often see silage bags covered in sticky tape.

But when all is said and done (and I have gone on a bit this morning) it is all about milk yield.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A Black Hole?

I wasn't going to put on a post today because I have done so much to-ing and fro-ing. This morning I took Tess to a friend's house (thank you G) while I did my usual supermarket trawl. Then I took Tess to her hairdressers. After lunch I had to go and collect her from the hairdressers and, after a chat with the lady we decided that I needed to see the vet as Tess appeared to have rather sore skin on her feet. So then it was down to the vet's.

It seems that she may have an allergy to grass seeds and pollen. As most of her walks are with the farmer and involve chasing rabbits into the hedge bottom and barking down their holes this is a sorry state of affairs. However, she has had various injections (some of which she did not care for at all) and we have to watch and see if it improves. The vet says that if the skin breaks it will be much more difficult to clear up, so we shall have to bite the bullet I'm afraid. It is sad because I cannot explain to her why she can't go.

Sitting in the hairdressers waiting for Tess I got to musing on a subject which has always interested me, so I thought I would just ask if anyone else out there has the same experience.
There are some possessions in my past life which have just disappeared without trace and I often wonder what happened to them. Does everyone feel like this? Being a woman of course many of these things are cosmetic!

I once had a lovely pin brooch with three small enamel Egyptian stamps on it. The pin itself was gold and I used to wear it to pin a scarf in the days when such things were fashionable. I suddenly thought of it the other day. I have not seen it for many, many years. Did I lose it? Did someone steal it? Did I give it away? Or is it in a black hole somewhere where all such things go - waiting to be claimed?

The same goes for another brooch - a spray of lily of the valley - not precious in terms of the stones, but something I really loved. And then there is a moss green pure wool dress which I adored and which I wore for a few years. I don't recall it being worn out (and I must tell you that I have clothes in my wardrobe which I have had for well over twenty years, and still wear). I don't recall taking it to a charity shop. Is it in that black hole waiting to be reclaimed too?

I could go on, making a list of all the things which have somehow faded out of my life but remain in my memory, but I won't bore you with any more. Is it just me that this happens to, or is everyone the same? I won't even start on the books!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Secret Places

One of the nicest things about the English countryside is that you often come across little secret places which are fascinating. We did exactly that on holiday one day.

Between Alnwick and Rothbury there is a long, steep hill. We came down it several times and each time we noticed a church down in the valley and said that if we had time we would go down and look at it. Finally, before visiting Cragside, where the house doesn't open until 1pm, we took the time to go down the hill and investigate. What a jewel!

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist at Edlingham is first mentioned in the will of Sir William de Felton in 1358 when he requests that his body be buried in the church. The 14th century tower has no belfry openings, only narrow slit windows which suggests it was possibly used for protection for the villagers during the Border raids with Scotland.

The oldest stonework dates back to about 1050 and the chancel arch is late 11th or early 12th century - a Norman structure. Inside was full of flowers - this is obviously a much-loved and much-used church and the sense of peace along with the sense of history made it a wonderful visit.

About a hundred yards away from the church, down a grassy lane across a field, sits Edlingham Castle ruins. This goes back to the 12th century and the most prominent remains are the Solar tower - again built as protection against the Border raiders.

The sun shone, the lambs called for their mums when they saw us coming, and we spent such a lovely, peaceful hour on the site. If you are ever in the area, don't pass it by.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sights, sounds and smells.

One week of warm sunny weather is all it takes to make the English countryside come alive.
Browning knew this so well from his exile in Italy - no wonder he longed for the birdsong and the pear blossom and the cuckoo.

Well the cuckoo has yet to put in an appearance but today, with the farmer out walking with his walking group, I had coffee with a friend this morning, sitting in her garden enjoying the sun and hopefully getting an input of vitamin D.

After a watercress, tomato and goat's cheese sandwich, followed by four fresh apricots (my favourite fruit), Tess, I and the camera set off down the lane for our walk. I apologise for the quality of the photographs today but trying to hold the dog lead and the camera and also to listen for villagers' cars on their way to chapel in the neighbouring village meant that any photograph I took had to be quick.

The sun has brought out all the lovely wild flowers on the verges. There is hawthorn blossom (May blossom) everywhere - the hillside is covered with sparkling white hawthorn bushes and the sides of the lane are thick with it; the edges of the lane are lined with cow parsley and the combined smell of the two (both almondy) fills the air; buttercups are now out and replacing those early celandines. You think celandines are a beautiful yellow but you forget just how much more beautiful the buttercup is until you see it in flower again.

The farmer's favourite wild flower along our lane is the avens. There are two varieties - the wood and the water - and they have subtle differences. But it doesn't really matter which is which because to the farmer they are all 'soldiers' buttons.

Little clumps of speedwell (birds'eye) pop up through the grass here and there. They haven't really got going yet but it is nice to see them having a good try to get through the long grass towards the sunlight. They really are the clearest blue.

In some places the Lady's Bedstraw has colonised great areas and is strong enough to crowd the grass out. I have a great love of green flowers, so this has always been one of my favourites. As has the pink campion. Much of it was in the hedge bottom across beds of nettles and uneven ground, but I got as near as I dare for the photograph.

The white stitchwort, like the birds'eye, has hardly got going yet but it has pushed up through the grass too and here and there the first tentative bits of purple vetch are just coming into flower.

And what of the sounds? There are curlew everywhere, trying their hardest to lure you away from their nests in the long grass of the fields by calling and pretending a broken wing; also oyster catchers are flying over in a frenzy saying 'keep away'.

In the distance there is the clack-clack of a silaging machine - somebody is cutting and baling their first crop grass. We can but hope that they are not cutting a field where curlew are nesting - it is always a hazard. The heavenly smell of cut grass wafts over the lane.

And over all is the tinkling of the beck as it makes its way swiftly down the slope. Tess makes a welcome stop there to fill up with drinking water.

When we get home I spot a buzzard, wings so detailed against a deep blue sky, soaring above the farm and for once I really envy him. He has an overall view of all the beauty of a warm May day.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

New arrivals and a sick animal.

Last night the sheep came for the summer. Twenty sheep and thirty nine lambs - Swaledale pedigrees - tumbled out of the back of a trailer, all mixed up. For a few minutes there were calls of "Mum, where are you?" before finally it all got sorted out. Then it was immediately down to the serious business of eating the fresh grass. I love when the lambs come - it is the nearest we ever get to having a lambing time of our own. (and the farmer assures me that my romantic view of that is vastly exaggerated!).

We have a sick bullock. He belongs to our neighbour who bought a few bullocks to eat the grass off on his meadow. This one has viral pneumonia and needed to be inside for the vet to see it, so the farmer offered one of our barns. There he lies on clean straw with plenty of water to drink and hay to eat. The vet has given him four massive injections and I must say that by yesterday evening he was looking a lot better. We could no long hear his chest rattling when we stood outside the barn. Now he must stay there until he is completely better as viral pneumonia is catching and we don't want any of the other animals to go down with it. I don't suppose the hot weather helps.

Parsnip asks me to post a photograph of our vegetable garden and later today (when I have had my shower and got dressed!) I will walk down and take one before the weeds begin to show. I must say that the farmer keeps the veggie garden in very good condition and it is a credit to him.

The weather is set for a fine weekend here in the UK - so everyone here enjoy it while it lasts. Let's all hope it lasts over next weekend, so that everything is right for the Jubilee celebrations.

Friday, 25 May 2012

A Little Outing.

Shed cleaned out, potting bench looking sparkling and the shed window - which was festooned with cobwebs - cleaned until it shines. Good job done. My privet 'bird' given me years ago by my friend,M, thanks M, cut into the shape roughly resembling a bird and all pots watered. That was yesterday's jobs on return from the poetry morning.

Last evening we took a trip down the lane to a friend's farm to deliver something and on the way were astonished to find that there were literally hundreds of orchids out. There are usually quite a few on the sides of the lane, where the wood is; but this year there are hundreds and they extend into the wood itself.

At the farm our friends weren't about but we left our parcel and on the way out I took a photograph of some of their goslings. This is what I call a proper farm. J and S have arable land, grass land, sheep and lambs, suckler cattle, dogs, cats, geese (which they breed for the table at Christmas), hens scratching in the yard, even a goat. When you get out of the car you are met with a plethora of dogs with wagging tails and friendly cats. If you are lucky you might even see a cat carrying her kittens around. Lovely place to visit.

This is where I got my two goose eggs when I bred a pair of geese and this is where the pair of geese (yes, there was one of each sex luckily) returned when they began to attack my bantam hens. I try not to think about the fact that they probably ended up on somebody's Christmas dinner table.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

A Moment enjoyed is never wasted.

A cousin has died this week at the age of eighty-eight. She went gently after some months of deep confusion and everyone is relieved that it is all over with no suffering. She had a good life; she never married and had a career as a Headmistress - devoted her life to it in fact. She had many interests - in particular Italy and all things Italian - she became a fluent Italian speaker.

But her death has underlined, as death always does, the need to enjoy each and every day. I have a little 'motto' on my wall with the saying of the title of this piece. Today was a day for doing just that.

The weather here is absolutely lovely. In the fields of Wensleydale the farmers are silaging and the air is full of the smell of cut grass. The lambs are getting a bit bigger and they are gambolling around enjoying the warm weather, as are the dairy cows, glad to feel the sun on their backs at long last.

Four of us - W,S,L and myself, set off for Simonstone Hall Hotel on the Buttertubs Pass for an eleven o'clock Poetry reading by local poets, as part of the Swaledale Festival. The event was a sell-out. About fifty people - mostly ladies of a certain age but with one or two brave men amongst them - in a room set out with round tables laid with coffee cups ready for the interval.
Lovely poetry from a local poet, Ann Pilling and a lady who used to be local, Sue Considine, plus several others. Lovely poetry, lovely company, lovely surroundings and - the icing on the cake - a stop off on the way back in the pretty village of Askrigg for sandwiches and a cool drink in a roadside cafe.

Back home the farmer and I had an hour clearing out the garden shed and doing odd bits of gardening here and there. So there you have it - no time wasted today and every moment enjoyed. Hope your day was as good.

I surreptitiously took a quick photograph in the interval. I thought it was too intrusive to take one of one of the poets doing a reading. (I should have asked before it started). Hope you get an idea of the nice informality of the occasion from the photograph.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A Holy Island.

I suppose islands were really good places for religious communities in the days when there was persecution, as they are much easier to defend. Iona springs immediately to mind.

We were quite eager to go to Lindisfarne - Holy Island - although we have been before, it is quite a magical place with such a history. Before going you have to study the tide tables, as for some part of each day it is possible to get to the island over a causeway. As we live in the same local area we often hear of cars stranded, having left it too late to get off. Then there is a little rescue station - you have to climb up there, abandoning your car, and wait to be rescued by the emergency services. It happens all the time.

There is an excellent museum where the history of the island is told - people have lived there since Viking times and before and until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII it was a place of pilgrimage.

I have just put on three photographs to give you a taste of the place. The castle is on my blog several days ago. The Priory is a ruin but has such an atmosphere. And in the church is this wonderful carving of monks carrying the body of St. Cuthbert.

The third picture is of a lovely old settle in the kitchen of Lindisfarne castle. In the days when these places were cold and draughty, how lovely it would have been to sit by the fire on this.

If you are in the area - do go - but do consult the tide tables first, otherwise you could be cut off there overnight.

It is still hot here and perfect gardening weather, so today has been a day of clearing another area and potting up some plants for the summer. There was a great temptation to go out again after tea but I have to think of aches and pains tomorrow and not get over enthusastic! The farmer swears that his broad beans and peas have grown an inch today - they were looking so desperate for some warm weather.

Several folk in blogland have sent me seeds and I have sown them today - so thanks to Tanya - Lovely Greens - for her kidney bean seeds, now in a pot and also to Gina - BT The Crafty Gardener (who no longer blogs) for her aquilegia. Isn't it exciting waiting to see what comes through. Friends, S and N, gave me a lovely sweet pea last year and I saved the seed. This has also gone in today if you are reading this S and N. If you live in the UK do enjoy this weather while it lasts.

I am going to a Poetry event which is part of our local Swaledale Festival tomorrow with two friends, so shall report on that to give you all a rest from Northumberland.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


So,so many calls on my time this week and my computer is running super slow for some reason. First of all the temperature was eight degrees when we returned at the weekend, today it is twenty five degrees and rising. Glorious weather but rather a shock to the system.

Of course, when the temperature becomes Spring-like, the garden calls, so in addition to my weekly shop I have also been to the garden centre to stock up on essential supplies today and after our evening meal I spent an hour in the garden, finding out that in the past few days my roses have all developed black spot - so that meant spraying and hoping I have caught it in time.

However, just a quick look at Craster for you today. It is the lovliest little fishing village, only a couple of miles from where we were staying, and as we were there very early on Sunday morning we were the only people about. It is here that they smoke the wonderful Craster kippers (I had one each morning for my breakfast - delicious).

There is a sad story attached to the tiny harbour. There was no harbour here and the fishermen just launched their boats from the beach. In 1904 the son of the Craster family, Captain John Charles Craster was killed in action in the Thibetan campaign. It had always been his dream as a young man to build a harbour and as a memorial to his memory the family built the harbour.

From here there is a mile walk to Dunstanburgh castle, a bracing walk in the cold wind but it was sunny and we really enjoyed it. I'll be back tomorrow with Lindisfarne - after a visit to the hairdresser (badly needed) and a couple of hours in the garden.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Hello again folks.

I was without internet access for several days - then we went on holiday - but here I am back from Northumberland, my internet is working again and soon (after a lot of washing and ironing) I shall be back to normal.

The weather was dry, cool and breezy while we were away. The hotel - The Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel in Embleton - was superb and very well placed for visiting Holy Island (Lindisfarne), Alnwick with its lovely castle and gardens, Bamburgh with its castle, the Chillingham Wild cattle, the Cheviot Hills and the lovely countryside.

But, as always, it is good to be back - and better weather is forecast for later this week. I, for one, can't wait.

The photograph above is just a taste of Northumberland. It is of the castle at Lindisfarne - well worth the climb up although it was a windy day and the climb down was a bit terrifying. I'll be back when I have got things sorted out and put away. In the meantime, its good to be back on the internet and connected to you all again. I had 104 e mails in my inbox - and I read them all before putting this blog on. Now I must away to get the farmer's lunch. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Before too long I shall do a post about the farmer's sheepdog, Tip. Hopefully it will be accompanied by a few photographs. He is a tough dog and lives outside in the shed on a bed of straw. He is well protected from the weather but because he has never been indoors his coat is very thick and keeps him warm. Of course, he can't come in because he has never been house-trained.

Unlike the young lady in the photograph above who is not allowed on the furniture. Well that's the idea but as you can see, when the central heating is on the bench under the kitchen window is just too tempting and she manages to get up on it, lay her head on the pillow and go to sleep. And I just have not got the heart to move her. I should have done it the first time I caught her, because it is too late now.

She is great friends with Blackie, the farm cat and it is only a matter of time before he joins her on the bench!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

New arrivals.

The first of the summer grazers have arrived. They came yesterday - a dozen or so young British Blue X cattle belonging to our friend and neighbour. These young ladies left their mums in the Autumn and have been inside since, so this is their first foray into the big wide world unaccompanied by mum to keep them safe.

Needless to say they are frisky in the extreme. They fly up and down the pasture, tails in the air and feet thudding in the damp grass. Anybody entering the field invites a careering group who screech to a stop a few yards away and then watch carefully. Turn and face them and say boo and they retreat backwards very quickly.

I for one do not intend to enter the pasture for a few days yet. Tess goes with the farmer and Tip, his sheepdog, and takes absolutely no notice of them whatsoever. This afternoon, when the farmer has his walk, I hope he takes the camera and gets a photograph to add to this blog - in the meantime it is photographless for obvious reasons!

Here comes the photograph. Tip, our sheepdog, is keeping his eye on them in the foreground - and as usual they are going across the pasture like rockets. Hopefully, they'll settle down in a couple of days.

Monday, 7 May 2012

When is 'remote' 'remote'?

Last week's Times did a review on a local B and B in the Wensleydale village of Bainbridge. This village is on the main A684 which runs from the M6 through to the A1 basically and is the main route through this part of the Dales. The reviewer of the B and B, who probably lives in an inner city, spoke of Bainbridge as being 'remote'. Well, I wouldn't call it a Metropolis, but there are other villages within a couple of miles, whichever way you go. For 'remote' here you would need to go up Ravenstonedale or Tan Hill, both of which have isolated farms which are the only buildings visible in any direction.

Today we had to go to Sedbergh, which meant driving down the A 684 through Bainbridge and the surrounding villages, through Hawes and on to the little market town of Sedbergh. We took Tess and we took a picnic lunch and a flask of coffee. On the way back we intended to call at Cotter Force, a waterfall which has featured many times on this blog, for a dog walk. However, we changed our minds and went instead into an offshoot of Wensleydale - Cotterdale. Now that I really would call remote.

Many years ago I heard a lady from there give a talk on patchwork. Somebody asked her when she learned to do such beautiful work. She replied that when she was a girl in the 1940's, winters could be very bad and often the dale was cut off from the outside world for as long as six weeks, so they couldn't go to school. They never ran out of food because her parents would know that they had to stockpile it for such an occasion. To occupy the girls her mother would collect bits of old material throughout the summer months - old summer dresses, shirts etc. Then, when they were snowed in, they would make quilts - all sitting round the fire, laughing and talking and sewing. She said they were some of the most memorable parts of her life.

I took some photographs of Cotterdale for you to see. The buildings are right at the end of the Dale and that is all there is - maybe seven or eight houses and i think some of them are holiday cottages. There is one farm.

The stony bank of the little beck is a perfect nesting place for oyster catchers. Two were there and flew on to the wall. They are in the photograph - perhaps if you blow it up to fill the screen you will just be able to see them. The fields were full of Swaledale ewes and their lambs, the beck had ducks, oyster catchers, wagtails, dippers - all carried on as though we weren't there - I don't think they associate a car with humans. I also took a photograph of a dear little rabbit on the side of the beck. It is so tiny you can hardly see it but I am putting the photograph on anyway.

So, you reporters from London and the like, make sure you really know what 'remote' is before you describe a thriving village on a main road as such. In any case those of us who live up here like to keep it that way.

Incidentally, the photograph with a small building in the middle distance - the building is probably a lime kiln.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Visitors and the Himalayan Garden.

Sorry about the gap in blogging but I have had friends staying since Friday.

On Friday evening they took the farmer and I out for a meal to a local pub - Crayfish and Apple salad (delicious) followed by spinach and spring onion and blue cheese risotto for me - super dinner.
Yesterday our guests went to the Wensley Food Festival in the morning and then in the afternoon
(after they had eaten an ostrich burger at the Food Festival) they and the farmer went to the Himalayan Garden and I thought you would be interested in both the concept and the photographs

In the late 1990's a hotelier called Peter Roberts retired and bought a property on the edge of the Dales in a village called Grewelthorpe. Somebody looking at his twenty acre garden - completely unworked - told him that it was an ideal spot for growing plants from the Himalayas. Thus an idea was born in the mind of a man who knew nothing at all about gardening.

It only opens from March to June but the rest of the year the gardeners who work there, tend, plant, take cuttings and send plants and buy plants to make for a better garden the next year.
Seeds are collected from plants growing in their native lands - lands like Nepal, India - and are then sown and germinated here in the gardens. Resulting plants are either planted out in the Himalayan garden or sold through the nursery, which is a thriving one.

There are plenty of species rhododendrons and they are quickly bought by collectors who have both the expertise and also the right conditions for growing them on.

In addition each year Peter Roberts commissions local artists and sculptors to add works of art to the setting - many of these are for sale.

I wish I could go too - I have been many times in the past - but these days my ankle and my arthritic knees do not care for the steps and the steep slopes. But the farmer took the camera with him and I thought I would share some of his photographs with you today. Enjoy, while I wash the sheets from my visitors visit and peg them out on the line on a bitterly cold but sunny day to dry and to smell of the fresh air!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Washing line wars.

Are you old enough to remember 'We'll hang out the washing on the Seigfreid Line'? I am jolly certain that in those days - everyone hung out their washing to dry. My mother lugged a great basket of it down the garden to the lawn (well, the bit of rough grass) and pegged it out, dashing back and forth on damp days to get it in and put it out again. Years later I remember being at my sister's house in Lowestoft on holiday when my brother in law came in and said to my sister," I've just driven down the road in my car and your washing is by far the whitest!" I remember my sister swelling with pride - he couldn't have said anything more flattering, and that includes 'I think you are the most beautiful woman in the world.'

Today in the Times I read that a lady who lives near to Hull, is putting her house on the market because her neighbour insists on hanging out the washing on a line which then spoils her view. It seems that it is a man who is hanging out the washing - and that the said washing includes "his wife's knickers" (shock, horror). All I can say is - a MAN hanging out the washing? Surely that is a first (sorry men, I know that isn't true, but let's say it is a bit unusual.) "Why doesn't he own a dryer, like everyone else?"

Well, I for one have never owned a dryer. To me the smell of washing freshly in from the line and smelling of fresh air is one of the loveliest smells there is- and that comes from someone who lives on a farm where the air is often full of smells I would rather not mention. But somehow the washing doesn't seem to pick that up.

When my previous husband and I lived in Wolverhampton, on the day we moved in we were invited next door for drinks and were told in the nicest possible way that it was a tradition in the cul-de-sac that people only hung out their washing 'during business hours'. As we both worked during business hours, this made for difficulty. We solved it by hanging out washing in the space outside our back door, where we were overlooked by no-one. In fact these neighbours became great friends, but their whole lives were devoted to 'keeping up the standards.'

His brother was a Lord and he tried to maintain that kind of life-style. I clearly remember when, as an old man, he was sent home from hospital in the ambulance. There was nothing more they could do for him and he wished to die at home. As the ambulance drew up outside the house, my husband was mowing our lawn (and yes, if we missed a week he would tell us our lawn was ready to be mown.) My husband stopped mowing and went to help him into the house, where we were met by his wife who told him to sit in the chair and she would get him a cup of tea. He was in his dressing gown and insisted on going to get dressed in his suit and wearing a tie before he sat down for a cup of tea. His words were, "No thank-you dear, I shall get dressed first. We must keep up the standards."

'Keep up the standards' became our catch phrase after that. It was half in fun, and yet there was something to be admired in it too I think.

So I shall continue to hang out my washing every Monday morning (yes, I am old fashioned and still wash on Mondays) - weather permitting. I shall continue to bury my nose in the sheets as I bring them in off the line, smelling the fresh air and the sweetness of the wild flowers as I do so.
I shall not buy a dryer because where I live I think it is totally unnecessary and it uses electricity that I am sure the farmer would rather not pay for. If I lived in a flat, or even in a town, it might be different. But certainly if my neighbour filled the line with washing out to dry, knickers or no knickers, I would even fetch it in for him if it rained and he was out. That's called being a good neighbour!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Back to 'normal.'

....whatever that is, as some-one famously said. (Or am I thinking of Prince Charles and 'love'?)

Whichever - it is so good to be back in working order again and in contact with 'the world'.

It has been our monthy Writers' Group this morning - ten members, all friendly, interested in words and enjoying talking about them. What more could anyone wish for?

Today we were also joined by our President, Mike Amos, who told us so many amusing stories and who joined in so well with our activities. I always leave 'Writers' full of enthusiasm for putting pen to paper.

We published a book last year called 'Trains of Thought' - proceeds went to the Wensleydale Railway, which is run by volunteers. The book contained two pieces by each member of our group, all on the subject of travel. I must say that we did rather well with it, running to a reprint and raising a considerable sum for the railway.

Now we are thinking about our next project, which we hope will be another book - called something like 'Flights of Fancy' - again two pieces by each member and the proceeds of this one going to our local Air Ambulance, which runs on contributions from the public. I have written one possible piece and this morning I had another idea just as I awoke. Isn't it strange how ideas can pop into one's head in that moment between sleeping and waking? So when I have finished the blog today and read a few of yours, I shall begin my next piece - it will be called
'The Magic Apron' and when I have done the rought draft I shall post it for your comments.

Home early from Writers in order to meet the computer engineer - everything mended - then lunch and then my walk with Tess. It did strike me on the walk that the muddy puddles at the side of the lane show just as much about our wildlife as a fall of snow does. There were lots of rabbit prints and pheasant prints along the sides of the lane. There is no shortage of either around here at the moment.

Just opposite our gate, on the other side of the lane, is a large deep blue patch of forget-me-nots. The colour is amazing and it is such a joy to see them on this dull day with a bitterly cold East wind blowing. It is also a joy to hear the blackbirds singing away - the weather doesn't seem to bother them at all.

See you again tomorrow. So lovely to be back.


I have been off-line for a couple of days - my internet light went off. It has been most frustrating but this morning the computer doctor came and all is now well (touch wood!). He thinks it was probably water getting into the line somewhere during our terrible weather on Sunday - when it rained incessantly here in the Dales. Without my computer I feel absolutely bereft.

Hopefully, I will be back with a blog later today - but now it is taking the dog for her lunch-time walk which is top priority. See you soon.