Friday, 31 July 2015

Too busy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Another busy day.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 27 July 2015

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

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

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

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Spam Party

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

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

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

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The First Day

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

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

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

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

Friday, 24 July 2015


It is the 1940's week end here in our little town and the shops (and tomorrow the shop assistants) are all dressed accordingly.   Many of the windows are covered with sticky paper in criss-cross patterns, flags hang everywhere and some people have dressed their shop windows with a variety of things 1940-ish.

Tomorrow couples, the men in army, navy and air-force officer's uniforms  and the ladies in 'fashionable' silk dresses and those little fox furs which you draped round your neck so that the teeth clamped on the brush of the fox to hold the thing together (ugh) will stroll round the market square.  Jeeps will run up and down the market square; sometimes there is the odd gun or even a tank and there is a general air of the end of the war.

At coffee this morning we were chatting about the war, which many of us can remember, and how our parents strove to keep the fear and worry at bay.   One of our 'gang' - well into her nineties, talked of working in the Post Office during the war and of having to deliver telegrams, often holding the worst possible news.   Then we began to talk of the food - about food like bananas being missing, about chocolate being rationed (one of our gang is almost a chocoholic), about what we had to eat.

The upshot is that friend E has decided to hold a 1940's lunch in her home on Sunday - even when he heard what we are having, the farmer agreed to come too.   So wartime lunch, courtesy of E, will be held at 1pm on Sunday and the principal food on the menu will be Spam Fritters!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

A Satisfying Job Completed.

Few household jobs, for me at any rate, are as satisfying as defrosting the freezers.  I always do this twice a year, once just before Christmas when I wish to put lots of Christmas stuff in and once about now when produce in the garden is almost ready (anyone down South who is already harvesting peas, broad beans and runner beans - lucky you).

It is a chore - but then aren't most household jobs so; after all as soon as one has finished the job it begins to want doing again doesn't it?

Yesterday it was the turn of the smaller freezer to be switched on again (I defrosted it a couple of weeks ago) and the big freezer to be switched off.   Last evening the food was transferred to the little freezer and the farmer kindly gave the big freezer a jolly good clean for me.

Now the big freezer is back on and I am just about to transfer the stuff back again - but with one big difference.  Is everyone like me or are there really some people who label everything, put it on the correct shelf in the freezer and use it in the correct order?

I shall start as I mean to go on (fingers crossed behind back) and put everything in the right place.  Really cleaning the freezers out was a salutory lesson in bad household management - half empty bags of peas and other vegetables, half a packet of oven chips (nasty things anyway), two curries bought from a stall at one of our coffee mornings a long time ago and well past their sell by date, and many bits and pieces I had completely forgotten about.

I have just driven to our Brymor ice cream parlour to buy several different flavours of ice cream, always a good stand by for an instant pud if someone calls unexpectedly (I always make a selection of fruit sauces with some of the raspberries, blackcurrants etc. in the garden and freeze them).   So off I go now to begin the job.   Any obvious gaps will be filled tomorrow (market day) using my cool bag and we shall be up and running again.

I shall not get the freezers in a mess this year (but I shalln't sign any agreement to bank on it).

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

the moving finger writes

and having writ moves on.   

I began looking at my blog at 8.30 this morning, nine o'clock has just struck in the dining room and I am still at my computer - in my dressing gown (it is one of the few mornings in the week when there is absolutely no rush to have a shower and get ready to go somewhere).   So what news this morning?

The farmer has just put the food we bought yesterday out at the bird table and scattered poultry wheat on the floor.   Within a couple of minutes eighteen collared doves were on the grass scoffing the wheat.   We hear so many stories about declining bird populations but this is one of the huge success stories - in fact since they arrived here (I believe in around the fifties) they have become so succesful that they are almost a nuisance.    But they are a pretty bird and goodness knows how they ever breed so successfully because their nests are terrible ('two sticks across and a little bit of moss' as the poet says).   We have several nests in our Scots Pines and are always finding broken eggs on the lawn beneath during the nesting season.

Today, one of my favourite days in the month, is our Poetry Day when anything up to fifteen of us meet in friend W's conservatory to read our favourite poems (and maybe have a short discussion afterwards).   One of the nice things is choosing them and I sat for an hour or two last evening doing just that.   The trouble is that once you open a poetry book it is easy to get carried away and just read on:

I had been reading about Carol Rumens and her poetry (she was heavily influenced by Philip Larkin.   I am reading her poem 'Coming Home' about returning home from across the channel.  She gets across very well in her final stanza how small each individual is in the world.

And then a Philip Larkin - one of my favourites 'Maiden Name'.

Then a Ted Hughes 'A Pink Wool Knitted Dress', such a sad poem in the light of the marriage of Hughes and Plath, about their wedding day.

If there is time I shall end with 'Little Trotty Wagtail' by John Clare - because we have a pied wagtail who visits our front lawn every morning - his nest must be somewhere near and he is such a neat and pretty bird.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


The weather here is cold and damp and we have so far had little or no Summer weather at all apart from one week in early June.   And yet despite this the corn is beginning to ripen.

On our drive down to the feed merchants this afternoon (we go through lower levels and out of the Dales) we passed many arable fields.   Some of them were still plain green, some were beginning to turn yellow and one or two were totally golden-yellow.   They looked like wheat to me but the farmer quickly corrected me, pointing out that the green fields were the wheat.   The seemingly gold fields were in fact Winter Barley.

When I suggested that it looked ripe and that no doubt the Combines would be out any day now he repeated one of his famous mantras.   When your Winter Barley looks ripe then is the time to shut the field gate and go on a fortnight's holiday before you cut it.

Wrong as usual.

Monday, 20 July 2015


In Saturday's Times there was such an interesting article written by Matthew Parriss about foregiveness.   It was in the light of the recent trial of one of the last remaining Nazi guards from Auswitchz (sorry about the spelling) and his subsequent imprisonment.

Some of his victims said they would never forgive him and others said they had already done so -this raises such an important issue and one which I feel is such a very personal one that it is hard to come to a decision which side to come down on.

One lady who had lost thirty of her close relatives there spoke so movingly about forgiveness and the necessity to forget the past - others said they never could forgive or forget.

My previous husband had been on the so-called 'Death Railway' across Thailand as a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese.   He had been taken prisoner as a boy soldier shortly after his seventeenth birthday.   He rarely spoke of  his ordeal and managed to live a happy, relatively healthy life until the age of sixty six.   But he never found the  will to forgive.   He could not forgive his captors for their cruelty and their lack of humanity.
 Yet his friend,an ordained minister, who later on became Chaplain to the Queen, who was a prisoner with him and I have to say a very great support to him - I would almost go so far as to say that without his support and friendship my husband would probably not have survived the many attacks of malaria (both kinds), pellagra, dysentry, beri-beri and many more - forgave to the extent of having a Japanese curate in his parish after the war ended.

So I think we can conclude from that that any kind of forgiveness is a very personal thing - some people find it much easier than others.
And I don't think this just applies to major issues like the ones above; I think it probably applies all down the line.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Spotting the birds.

This must be the week-end for letting out all the newly-bred pheasant poults because our lane is covered in groups of young pheasant today.  On our way out to lunch (four of us to a local hostelry while the farmer went off on the fortnightly walk) we stopped to see about a dozen wandering aimlessly along the lane - they didn't realise that twenty yards further down the lane a stoat was hiding in the grass and just waiting to pick one off after we had passed.   When he saw us he panicked and turned round three or four times before dashing off into the undergrowth.   But I have no doubt he would be back - easy pickings at this stage sadly.   By the time we returned three hours later (yes, it was a long lunch) there were three or four of them dead on the road and crows were having a bean-feast on their remains.

And, speaking of birds, I really didn't realise until yesterday just how lucky we are to have so many birds in our garden.  A friend who lives in Southend called in for coffee and although he is not a bird enthusiast he was fascinated by the variety here at our bird feeders.   The RSPB now recommend that you don't feed in summer but we have always done so and as we get such pleasure from them we have continued.   We do find they each like a different food:
sunflower hearts: hedge, house and tree sparrows.
                            blue, coal and great tits.
                            greater spotted woodpeckers if there are no peanuts.
peanuts:               greater spotted woodpeckers.
                            all the sparrows as a last resort and ditto tits.
mixed seed          anything will eat this and it does seem to go first.
fat balls:              long-tailed tits and sparrows.
niger seed:           gold finches.
There are some ground-feeding birds who never go on the feeders, but every time a bird roots out a seed at lease a dozen fall to the ground so there is usually enough there to go round.   The farmer also scatters poultry wheat for the pheasants every morning.
The ground-feeders include:  collared doves, stock doves, wood pigeons, jackdaws, magpies (these two are strongly discouraged),
robins (who also adore meal worms which they only get in winter),
yellow hammers, blackbirds and the occasional thrush, chaffinches in abundance and the occasional blackcap.  A wonderful variety I think you will agree.

I am totally satiated with too much lunch (crab and lobster fish cakes with salad - absolutely delicious and light as a feather), braised beef in the chinese style with rice, and mango and coconut pannacotta.   The whole lunch finished off with coffee and home made chocolates.  Nothing more for me today thank-you. 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Walking and eating.

It is the farmer's turn to lead his walking group tomorrow and he has the route all planned, although he has just been looking at the OS map with a view to shortening it a bit if the threatened rain hangs about.   It is forecast to arrive overnight and clear by lunch time, which would be fine.   But if it is late arriving then the walk can always be cut down by a mile or so.

I, on the other hand, am going out to lunch with three friends.   We are going to the same pub we went to a fortnight ago because the ambience and the food are both so good.   My meal last time (crayfish and apple salad followed by wild mushroom and pine nut risotto) was so delicious that I am tempted to have the same again.   I am not a great meat eater and I do love risotto.

So the poor farmer - if he calls the walk off because it is just too wet (highly unlikely as they are a pretty intrepid lot) - he will either have to sit at home and eat his sandwiches (actually a little pork pie with chutney sandwiches and a packet of crisps followed by a picnic slice) or he will have to brave eating a pub lunch with four ladies - and I know which he will choose!

Piano moved!

My piano moving went very well.   Two young men arrived around three thirty in the afternoon,complete with piano trolley.   They had the instrument on the trolley in no time and left me for the one mile trip to my son's house, where they got it in equally easily  - no problems at all and all most professionally done.   And all for considerably less money than other firms had quoted.   So if you happen to live in the Wensleydale area and need a removal job doing I cannot recommend Brights of Wensleydale too highly.  Two young men, well mannered and charming and doing the whole thing in a most professional manner.   Well done Brights.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Gardens and removals.

Two topics for today.  First to gardens.   It was Open Gardens with scarecrows in  our village on Sunday and my son and his wife opened their garden to the public - it is a lovely garden with lots of secret corners, steps and surprises.   Their scarecrow sits in the centre of the front lawn guarding a tiny patch of long grass and daisies which my son has left in the lawn (he is a Roger Deakin fan) which is indicated as a Nature Reserve with No Fracking, and the scarecrow wears a badge saying Head Warden.   There is also a particularly beautiful clematis in full bloom.

Now to the piano of the title.

 I play piano and have done since I was a small child.   The piano you see, which is a Hopkinson - quite a good make - was bought for me by my parents as an eighteenth birthday present, so I treasure it greatly.   Sadly I rarely, if ever, play it these days.   Since marrying the farmer twenty odd years ago there always seems to have been other things to do and indeed the Schubert Impromptus which you see on the stand, have not been played for a very long time.  When I think I used to be up to performance standard with them in some ways I am ashamed that I have let it go.  When I sold my harpsichord I had the piano reconditioned so it is in fair shape.

My son teaches music - guitar, double bass, cello and piano - in schools and also to private pupils and this piano is much better than the one he has.   So tomorrow evening a removal company is going to attempt to move the piano from my house to his - getting it into his music room is going to be a tight fit so we are keeping our fingers crossed.   I know it will go into the sitting room as when I lived in the cottage I had it in there (and would often play until four o'clock in the morning when I lived alone after the death of my first husband).  Now I am going to sign off and start moving things - hare cards which are stored behind the lid until I have enough for another clip frame full for the utility room (I collect hares and can hear the farmer saying 'not another nail in the wall'.), photographs from the top (where am I going to put those I wonder.  For now they will go on the Welsh dresser in the dining room).   Then my next job will be to empty the music cabinet and sort out the music.

All rather sad jobs but they have to be done and the space will be useful as we only use that room when we have a lot of people there and there is never enough room for us all.
So off now to get on with the job

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


It is now late evening and I have only just had time to sit down at the computer.   It has really been a day and a half.

To begin with I slept badly and finally woke up at 5am.   The man was coming to service the central heating boiler and the Aga and as we had switched the Aga off last evening, I knew it would be cold.  So I came downstairs, had a cup of redbush tea and a round of toast and then set about cleaning the cooker.

The heating man came at ten past eight which meant an early breakfast.   Shortly after his arrival the decorator came to look at the two rooms we want decorating, so I had to show him round the bedroom and the kitchen and discuss the details with him.

I had to have Tess at the hairdressers for a quarter past ten and it is ten miles away.  Rushing, I put down my hearing aid and then couldn't find it at the last minute.   It was only when I went back in my mind over what I had been doing that I thought to look in my handbag and luckily it was there.   I hear very little without it.

It is ten miles to the dog parlour and by the time I got back home it was time to get an early lunch as it is my exercise class this afternoon.

After lunch I did an hour's exercise for the over sixties then dashed off as soon as the class finished to collect Tess again.   Back home it was time to make the sandwiches for tea and then take Tess for her afternoon walk.   No wonder I fell asleep over the News!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Giving to Charity.

I imagine that, like me, you are inundated with letters asking for charitable donations.   I had two charities that I gave to every month - the RSPB and Great Ormond Street Hospital.   In addition to this the farmer and I always have a charity we support at Christmas as a special one off - usually UNICEF.

A few months ago Great Ormond Street's charity organiser rang me - told me how valuable my contribution was and told me what they were doing with the money - a worthwhile cause indeed as they are building a new block to house families of severely ill children who need the support of their mum and dad.  At the end of the conversation she asked if I would double my contribution each month.   I did a quick calculation and decided that as RSPB already get my membership fee four times a year I would transfer the extra money I sent them each month and add it on to my Great Ormond Street contribution - a more worthwhile cause I believe.   I really cannot afford to increase my charitable donations.   And so I did this.

Now this morning I have had another letter from Great Ormond Street asking if I can afford more.

This is not an isolated case.   It happens with most charities one helps out.   Every so often, once they have your address, they contact you to see if you will give even more.   There was even a case in the Times a few months ago about a lady who had twenty seven monthly direct debits to charities.

I shall continue with my monthly debit to Great Ormond Street because I think it is such a worthy cause.   But I am sure it does put people off contributing if they are constantly bombarded with more and more requests for money - either by letter or worse still by telephone.

How do you feel about this?

Monday, 13 July 2015

Has the world gone mad?

Or have I just read this wrong?

I think I read that Djokovic made a total of £1.88 million to add to his already large fortune by beating Federer in the Wimbledon final yesterday.  I also think I read that some people paid as much as
£44,000 for a ticket to watch the match.

Watching film of babies being pulled ashore from boats in the Mediterranean, people from sub-Saharan Africa desperate to get into Europe for a 'better life' I cannot help but ask myself the question.  'Are we giving folk the wrong message by bandying about these enormous figures, by paying such enormous sums that a great number of people are now getting so rich that it is impossible for the rest of us to even imagine the sums involved?'

I am a retired teacher and I manage nicely on my teacher's pension and my old age pension - but I cannot even imagine what having a million pounds is like.   And what is more, I have absolutely no desire to find out.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

A Jolly Sunday Jaunt.

Today after after an early lunch the farmer and I had a ride out.  We took Tess and went up on to the high ground where I haven't been for quite a while (the farmer often walks there on his Sunday walks).
We crossed the bridge over the Arkle beck and drove up into Reeth in Swaledale. (almost all of the dales are called after the water which flows through them; Wensleydale is the exception but it did used to be called Yoredale after the River Ure which flows through)

In Reeth we turned right into one of my favourite Dales, which is also one of the wildest.   We went into Arkengarthdale (called after that Arkle beck we crossed.In the distance is Calver, one of the high points of the Dale.

We parked so that the farmer could take Tess for a walk  - and how she enjoyed it.   Somewhere new, new smells, new opportunities for wees (she must have done twenty at least) and she came back full of the joys of spring.  And then it was on to Langthwaite, the only village in the dale.

The village has another claim to fame in that it has a shooting lodge which belonged to Sir Thomas Sopwith (of Sopwith Camel fame) 
and it stayed in his hands until his death in 1989 at the age of 101.

Then it was back through another road down through lead mine country, over Surrender Bridge and there we stopped by a ruin of lead mine workings; this area is peppered with lead mines where  many were active until the 1920's when foreign lead became cheaper and the lead miners had to find other work,  many of them leaving for America.

Back in Reeth again we sat and had an ice cream and listened to the Reeth Silver Band who were playing on the village green.   They played a magnificent rendering of Post Horn Gallop with some splendid triple tonguing by the soloist.   A super afternoon.

Apologies for the Langthwaite picture coming out of order (Langthwaite church).

Saturday, 11 July 2015

A Coffee Morning.

Our neighbouring village of Constable Burton sometimes holds a Coffee Morning in the  village hall.   Today was one of those days and I went along with three friends.   Sadly there were not nearly enough folk there to make it worthwhile from a raising money point of view.   But it was a lovely morning.

The tables are always beautifully set out with nice china, the cakes are home-made and all delicious, and the company is delightful.  Friends W, M and I all had scrumptious coffee cake and C had
chocolate cake topped with strawberries and cream.

On our way out I dashed in front to take a photograph of the other three coming out.  As I was taking it a kind man offered to take one of the the four of us together.   I told him I would give him a mention, saying that a handsome young man offered.  He said to add that he didn't run off with the camera afterwards either!   (in fact my digital camera is now so old that it is no longer fashionable - rather like my mobile phone - and me also come to think of it).

The farmer and I have just done an hour in the front garden (it
 really needs a day!) and look who has chosen to pay us a visit,
along with several of her sisters yet to flower.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

When our local R C Primary School closed a few years ago a group of people got together and set up an Arts Centre - The Old School House - or TOSH for short.

They hold exhibitions, various classes (my exercise class is there and I have also been on a couple of literature classes over the winter months) and once a week they show a film.   It is only a DVD on a drop-down screen, but it is only down the road and also it does support the enterprise.

For £15 a year you can be a friend of TOSH and for that, as well as a card which gets you a percentage off various cafes in the town, you get one free drinks ticket and one free cinema ticket.  So in my book good value for money.

This week's film was Second Best Marigold Hotel - showing at 4.30 and again at 7.30, so a group of us went to see it.  The hall was absolutely packed and we enjoyed the film.   Nothing spectacular, just a regurgitation of the first film really, but nevertheless a gentle, pleasant, nostalgic film.   And I always love to see the street scenes of Indian cities.

For many years I really wanted to go to India.   My first husband had been there for some months convalescing after the end of the war (when he was a prisoner of the Japanese on the Death Railway) and he vowed never to return, so we never went there, although we went to various places in China and what was the the Soviet Union.
But India was out.

I am always enthralled by the colour, the millions of people on the streets, the traffic, everything about it is so exotic.   I now know that I could not even consider going - all too much. Maybe in the next life. 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

An early morning laugh!

Something to make you laugh this morning.

I shop on our market on Fridays for most of my good, fresh food.  I supplement this during the week by going into our local, very good shop for extra fruit and vegetables.   But the stuff which is heavy and awkward to carry I order on line from the large supermarket on Catterick Garrison, which is a few miles away.  This includes toilet rolls in packs of nine (awkward to carry), semi-skimmed milk (heavy to carry) cleaning and washing products and tinned food (mainly various kinds of beans), the Irish oats we like for our morning porridge, cans of dog food (very heavy) - this kind of thing.   

It is delivered each Tuesday morning very early and I have got into a routine of washing out the cupboards and the fridge before I put everything away.   It all works very well.

Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when my on line order included 27 toilet rolls (3 packs of nine).  My hand had been heavy on the button when ordering, and I hadn't checked it over.   Once before I ordered 6 jars of our favourite marmalade (Tiptree).
The moral is to keep your finger light on the button.

A friend once received one carrot -so there is another moral there - read the things on offer carefully.

Anyway, the good news is that we shall not need any more toilet paper for a very long time. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


It struck me today how our food habits have changed over the years.  The ingredients in our local supermarket seem to come from all over the world - the spices, the tins of various forms of coconut, the curry sauces, the pasta sauces, the exotic vegetables our parents had never even heard of.   Even the twenty or so different types of bread fill a whole shelf and fill the shop each morning with the aroma of freshly baked bread.

My parents had a very simple diet.   It consisted of whatever they grew in the garden, supplemented by meat from the butcher opposite (my mother dressed poultry for him for many years - she absolutely loved doing it)  who supplied meat in payment for my mother's work.

Roasts were done every Sunday - beef, lamb, pork  in that order, week after week.   Chicken on special occasions apart from old hens of our own which were put into a pot and boiled to extinction which then provided delicious chicken in white sauce and chicken soup.

Fruit pies with Bramleys from our tree -  jolly good cooker which lasted well after Christmas if it was stored carefully.

If all there was in the garden for tea was lettuce and radishes then that is what we had - with a pile of salt on the side of one's plate, a green salad dressed with vinegar, and home-made bread and butter.

Now life is much more complicated.   Today I made a Lyndsay  Bareham recipe for Cauliflower cheese.  The ingredients included pulled ham hock, grated cheddar and emmental, dijon mustard, crumbs fried in butter.   Not difficult but time-consuming and much more elaborate than anything my mother would have bothered with.  She would be quite scathing about all this 'fancy food' as she called it.

But there is one area in which she would never have given way to 'modern methods'.   Roast beef always had an accompaniment of Yorkshire Puddings.   She made the mixture early in the morning before chapel, put the beef in the oven (a side oven with the fire banked up) and then made the puddings on her return, using the fat from round the beef to grease the tins well.   Me?  I use frozen Yorkshire Puddings which take five minutes on the oven shelf from frozen.   Do they taste as good?   No but they are a jolly sight easier!


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The best antidote.

I have just decided on the best antidote to all the problems in the world at present.   It is do as I usually do on a Tuesday morning - sit with friend W in The Post Horn Cafe in our market square and watch the world and his wife go past the window.  Tap and wave in any special friends and enjoy a coffee together and one of the best cheese/fruit scones you will find anywhere in the UK.

Come home to an ecstatic welcome from the dog and have a solitary lunch as the farmer has gone to recce a possible walk for the walking group (he has gone with a friend).   Eat a solitary lunch of a Cornish Pasty from Andy's Bakery - a pasty which I certainly don't need after that scone, but that will taste delicious as I eat it and try to do today's Sudoku in The Times.   Then take the dog round the fields for a rabbit walk and forget that anything is wrong with the world.

Is that such a terrible thing to do when any other approach would be entirely pointless anyway?

Monday, 6 July 2015


So, it looks as though the citizens in the birthplace of democracy are voting a resounding 'no' against further austerity measures to keep their finances afloat.   It also looks as though Europe is panicking at the result.   It seems we may all suffer at the outcome.

From this farmstead in the Yorkshire Dales, down a lane, pretty far from any hectic civilisation, surrounded by the sights and sounds of Summer - the bird song, the scent of roses, the company of friends, the beautiful views and walks, it all seems a long way away and of little consequence.

Cro says the results may affect all of us.   I do not disbelieve him.  But I do not understand a single point of it all.  The Eurozone, the single currency and all it entails are a completely closed book to me, as are so many other current issues in the world.

My philosophy is largely that I used my vote at our General Election to vote for the Party which best represented my interests both personal and in World situations.   Now I sit back and expect them to do their best.

Is this so very wrong?  Should I now be reading up on a subject I really do not understand? And, as regards other world issues (the Isis crisis, for example) should I spend time worrying about things over which I have no control, and about which I am only told what the Government choses to tell me?

The time will shortly come, the way things are going, when I no longer listen to the News Broadcasts.   What is Headline news one day is not mentioned the next or is pushed to a tailend report.  And who choses how these reports are worded and what goes into them - and probably more importantly - what is left out?

Am I losing my grip, or do many other folk feel like this?   Anyone who can throw any light on the subject please do so now for the sake of my sanity.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


Rather a hurried post today as we have both been out all day.  We didn't see the News at all yesterday as the Murray Tennis Match seemed to take over both channels and there didn't seem to be any early evening bulletin and tonight's News (we never watch more than once a day - that's depressing enough)  is on in twenty minutes, followed by Country File - the only programme we watch at present on television.

The farmer has been off into Wensleydale walking with his Walking Group.   They managed to get back shortly before yet another thunder storm arrived.

I have been out to lunch in a local pub, The Queen's Head, Finghall, with five friends.   Nice company, nice surroundings, pleasant staff and a delicious choice of meal.  I had my favourite starter, which is usually on the menu, of Crayfish and Apple Salad.  And for my main course I had wild mushroom and pine nut risotto.
A drink with my meal and coffee and a couple of chocolates afterwards and that is all I need for today.  I feel suitably full up.

Both of us arrived home and watched the thunderstorm out of the window.  That makes three storms this week.

Another week begins tomorrow - I wonder what this one will hold.  Hope you all have a good one.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Two Summer signs.

A walk round the paddock with Tess after lunch produced these two photographs - both the epitome of Summer to me.   Firstly the perfect English rose - wild, pink and sweet smelling, climbing all over the hedgerows at this time of the yearAnd secondly new cones growing on the Scots Pines - growing and, if necessary, pushing off last years cones in the process.   To everything there is a season.

Friday, 3 July 2015

As big as golf balls!

You often hear the expression 'hail stones as big as golf balls' - well they really were that big in the village which is less than half a mile from our farm.   Folk took photographs of individual hail stones laid on rulers to prove it.

Considerable damage was done - a friend's car had his roof so badly damaged that it is even possible he may have to have a new roof.   Several businesses has skylights broken and various people had the back windows of their cars smashed.   Quite a few greenhouses in the village bore the brunt of the storm and a Garden Nursery at Ravensworth near Richmond - maybe twelve miles from us - had over eight hundred panes of glass broken.   It was all quite terrifying.

More storms are forecast for tonight so the farmer has put his car into the garage as a precaution (we usually leave it out in the Summer because swallows nesting make such a mess of the roof).

It has been another lovely day, slightly cooler with a pleasant breeze.   But tonight it is warming up again and storms are set to creep up the country as the night progresses.  We have both slept badly for the last few nights - why is it that we somehow don't feel 'safe' without at least a sheet over us in bed?

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Just in time.

Yes, the farmer's intuition was correct and the hay which turned into silage was gathered in just in time.   All afternoon black clouds lurked round the horizon and he could hear faint rumbles of thunder (I couldn't as the sound was not loud enough to penetrate my hearing aid).  At about half past six it came - here it was just one flash of lightning and around five minutes of rain (measuring only 1mm), but at my son's house, half a mile away, there was a downpour and large lumps of ice fell from the sky - so large that he feared they would damage the roof of his car.

It was still very hot when we went to bed and I rather thought that a crash of thunder had woken me up at half past midnight.  I got up and went into the back bedroom and the sky was filled with amazing flashes of lightning - seven or eight  all at once and all over the sky.  We went back to sleep but this morning the lane was wet and the garden had obviously had rain.   The rain gauge showed we had had another seven millimetres - so another storm in the night then.   It is still hot this morning   We are just not used to this kind of weather are we?

Tess is spending her time laid on the utility room's stone floor - back legs splayed out so that her tummy lies along the cool surface.   Must say I rather feel like doing the same myself. 

The farmer has just brought in the first three sprigs of our sweet peas.   Just to show you lot further South (and in France, Cro) how late our garden is up here in the (usually) cold North.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Vagaries of Farming.

Such is the nature of farming that what yesterday was intended to be turned into sweet smelling,  crisp hay is now wrapped in netting and on its way to becoming silage (or pickled grass).

Today our extremely hot (for this part of the world) weather has turned humid and black clouds are massing on the horizon.   It is possible that thunderstorms may reach us by this evening.   The humidity level has meant that the crispness has gone out of the cut grass and it has become limp. 

The farmer has cut his losses and  asked farmer friend and neighbour G to pop over and bale it up, which he has done, and wrap it in net.   It now needs wrapping in plastic so the farmer has to find a contractor to do this at short notice - not usually an easy task.   But even wrapped in net as it is now at least it has some protection should we get a thunderstorm and torrential rain.   The forecasters say some will get it, others may miss it.

The storm has gone all around us - flashes of lightning and cracks of thunder - but so far no rain.   The bale-wrapping man has just arrived, so all will be done even if we do get a storm.

Out to lunch (wraps and salad) with friend S - delicious and lovely couple of hours of conversation.   We went to Tennants, our local, very grand Auction House, met friends and had nice chats.   Now home.  The farmer is leading in his wrapped bales, Tess is itching to get on her afternoon walk, I don't feel in the least like eating tea after a rather large lunch.