Wednesday, 30 November 2016


I have been to my exercise class this afternoon, so am now staggering about and very stiff in muscles I forgot that I had.   But also feel better for it.

Whilst I was there the Aga engineer came and the Aga is now getting hot again.   It takes quite a while to reach its normal heat but I hope it will be there by morning so that I can make the first of the four Christmas cakes I make at Christmas.  Then I can tick that off my list.

It has been a lovely day here today but because of a breeze it has felt quite  cold, in spite of the temperature on the dashboard registering eight degrees whereas yesterday it was only three.   But the sunset was absolutely spectacular - all shades of blue, golden and orange.   Nature at its very best.

I am busy compiling a Quiz for Christmas for the local Nature Reserve I support, so I shall go now and try to compose a few more cryptic clues.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016


I never thought that I would live to say this, but friend W and I had an interesting and quite enjoyable morning this morning doing something that I have never done before.

As I have said before, we live very near to Catterick Garrison, the largest Garrison in Western Europe, although you would never know it as you drive through a couple of miles of pleasant, neat, well-kept - and green - landscape.

They have recently built a new shopping complex
just across the road from quite a large Tesco store.
W and I decided to go and take a look at it this morning.   Most of the shops are the sort of shops I never go into - and what an eye-opener touring round them proved to be.  I bought quite a lot of vegetarian food to put in the freezer for Christmas from Iceland (my son is vegetarian and catering for a different menu on Boxing Day is really a chore too far).   We went around the Pound Shop and Yorkshire Trading and also around Aldi.  All of the shops had plenty of customers - young mums with babies in the main - presumably wives of young servicemen.

We ended up with a cup of coffee in Costa coffee, which was also obviously the meeting place for the same young mums and babies.   What a lot of babies all in one place at once.

I arrived home pretty footsore at just before lunchtime.   The farmer had been sitting in the house all morning waiting for a call from the Aga engineer to say when he was coming as we are still without any means of cooking.   But no call so far, so fish and chips for lunch - a long time since we had them and we both quite enjoyed them.   No more for me today though as I am still quite full.   The farmer paled at the thought of no tea, so I shall go now and rustle up a ham sandwich for him.

Sitting here at the computer, looking out of the hall window I can see the most glorious deep orange sunset.  Looks like another cold but clear day tomorrow.   Today the temperature never rose above three degrees and the day began with a severe frost.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Irritating news.

I am sure that in the giant scheme of things it is not all that important, but why do these things always happen at inconvenient times?   We are just entering a cold snap of weather - tonight is set to be the coldest night of the year so far - and what has happened?   The Aga has decided to go on strike.

Yesterday morning I put on the lunch to cook - chicken thighs with Mediterranean vegetables - and suddenly realised that the oven temperature was going down quite rapidly.   By tea time the Aga had gone out.   The farmer cleaned it out this morning, but it has made no  difference so now I am waiting for the Aga engineer to ring.   Luckily we have the wood burner on in the back room and the central heating throughout the house, but it is quite a big house with high ceilings, so it will be good when it is going again.

It runs on oil, as does the central heating.   When I think of my parents with just one fire in the living room and hot water bottles in the beds, we really don't know we are born, do we?

In fact this afternoon has been a sunny afternoon, and as most of our windows face due South there has been some warmth from the sun.   In fact, driving home from town the temperature on the car dashboard registered nine degrees and the sky was a clear blue. 

So now it is fingers crossed that the engineer rings later tonight to arrange to come.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

A Nice Afternoon.

What could be nicer on a very cold, wintry day, than sharing the afternoon with a group of friends, laughing, chatting and eating?

Friend E invited six of us to share a leg of local lamb she had been given,   so at half past one we all sat down (after canapes) to roast lamb with mint sauce, bread sauce, apple jelly, delicious gravy - and roast and mashed potatoes, diced swede, carrot batons and steamed broccoli - all taken with a glass of white wine.   This was followed by apple crumble and creme fraiche and finally coffee and chocolates.

The rest of the afternoon we all sat in her sitting room, the sun streaming through the windows and chatted -- and laughed, before leaving at four o'clock to come home.   It was a lovely afternoon.

Now almost time for Strictly - I wonder who will go out this week.   We both hope it will be Ed Balls - funny he might be but it is a dance competition and his dance skills are sadly lacking.
But I expect his fans will keep him in for another week.

Keep warm.   It was the most beautiful sunset as we came home.   Isn't nature wonderful?

Friday, 25 November 2016


And not Black up here in The Dales I must say - we are just not cajoled into spending our hard-earned money on things which are supposedly 'special offers' for Black Friday.
It has been the most beautiful cold, sunny, still, late Autumn day - the kind of day when it feels good to be alive.  I have a friend who has had a severe stroke and I was conscious this morning of how J would be missing her beloved birds as she lays semi-conscious in her hospital bed.

I have finished my Christmas shopping (says she boastfully) - mainly because most of it has been done on line.   I am now going to sit down and finish writing my Christmas Cards.   That only leaves me to make four Christmas cakes, which I make every year - one for us, one for my son and his wife and two as presents.   I shall just make those in odd moments as and when I have an afternoon at home - and I shall enjoy it, knowing that the pressure is off.
   I am going out to lunch tomorrow with friends and looking forward to that greatly.   Always something to look forward to - that is the solution for me. 
 **Hot off the press.
This afternoon the farmer came in half way through the afternoon having slipped into the beck while cleaning in out (it was blocked with weed and backing up so in danger of flooding the field).
Totally wet from the waist down he got a good telling off from me - not for getting soaked but for doing a job which I don't think he should have been doing - he should have got someone in to do it.   So his clothes are all now in the washing machine and he is warm and dry again.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Rudeness and how do you deal with it?

One of the two supermarkets in our little town is going through a major refit.   To make matters worse, the builders who originally started the job have gone into administration.   At last new builders have started  - in the meantime the shop is half its usual size, the rest being shut off while the work is done.

Things are a bit chaotic in there but the staff are doing their best.   As the Post Office is located in the top corner I have to go in once a week, so I usually collect one or two things on my way out.

On Tuesday morning there was only one till open at the check-out and there was a queue of about a doaen people waiting.   Directly behind me in the queue was a quiet-looking middle aged gentleman with a small bottle of something in his hand.

The woman in  front of me had a loaded trolley.
Suddenly another cashier appeared at another till and immediately the chap behind me (with one item) nipped across to be served quickly.   The woman in front of me yelled, "Oi you, where do you think you're going?   Get back in the queue like everybody else."

He came back into his place and said quietly to me that he only had one item and was in rather a hurry.   She heard him and continued her tirade to everyone's embarrassment.

She arrived at the check-out at this point and the next check-out also became empty.   I said to him,
"Please do go in front of me - you only have one item."   He thanked me and scuttled off.

I shall be interested to hear your views on this.  That she was being extremely rude there is no doubt.   But should we have all ignored it?   Should he have done it in the first place?

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


Today was our Poetry afternoon and I can't tell you just how much I enjoy it - and I think I speak for all dozen or so of us.

It is certainly one of my favourite afternoons of the month.   It is lovely meeting like-minded folk, it is a treat to all meet together in friend W's warm conservatory, it is a joy to look out the possible poems to read (in my case TS Eliot, George Mackay Brown, and two poems written by Welsh poets after the death of RS Thomas (my favourite poet).)  And finally, of course, comes the joy of sharing the poems with the rest of the group and talking about them.   Some of the group are really knowledgeable about poetry and we always learn something we didn't know.

It has been a much better day here today and ended with a beautiful pink sky as the sun went down.   It has of course become very cold as it got dark, but after all it is November.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Goodbye Angus!

Storm Angus seems to be moving on - or wearing itself out.    But this morning when the farmer tried to go into town for the morning papers at half past six he could not get out of the drive.

The wind, which was very strong during the night (once I have taken my hearing aid out I can't hear it) had taken a huge branch off one of the Scots Pines at the side of the house and laid it across the drive.   As I went into town to meet friends for coffee I took this photograph.   Sorry it isn't very good but the farmer is very camera shy and would not pose for another one, so it was this or nothing.By the time I returned home at lunch time it had all been cleaned up - looked as though Santa's elves had been round.

I suggested to him that with the wind that strong I was worried that a branch might fall on to the roof.   He just said what was the point in worrying about something like that - you just have to 'take what comes'.   Oh how I wish I could be like that.   I am am a worrier - and worry about every possible happening.   Are you a worrier or do you take everything in your stride?


Monday, 21 November 2016

Stormy weather.

Reading this morning's paper and then seeing the six o';News tonight, I realise just how very bad the weather has been in the South of the country.

We are not all that big a country so it seems odd that this, the first real storm of the winter, should behave in such a way.   The strip in the South had inches of rain and strong winds - and ultimately bad flooding; the extreme North had snow and in the middle it was just breezy and cloudy.   Although not a bad day here it wasn't the kind of day that made you feel like going out.   So we stayed in by the fire.

Today remnants of that stormy weather have reached us and it has been blowing a gale and pouring with rain for most of the day.   The wind is blowing directly from the North here so it has also been bitterly cold.   Even Tess had to be coaxed out for a utility walk.

It seems to be set to blow itself out by tomorrow night, but in the meantime there seems to be much disruption down in the South of the country and once again serious flooding.   Why does it always seem to happen just before Christmas?

Keep warm everyone - and sit it out, wherever you are - it is on the way out.   My thoughts, as always in severe gales, lie with those at sea.

Saturday, 19 November 2016


I have been standing in the sitting room window watching a hen blackbird feeding outside.   It has been a damp night and a whole lot of dead, wet leaves are lined up against our garden fence just outside the window.

She started at the bottom end and systematically turned over every leaf with her beak and found something to eat under almost every one.   I know that when I sweep up leaves like this I always find wood lice, slugs and worms - well Mrs Blackbird had no difficulty in finding her breakfast I can tell you.

Coming through into the kitchen I saw the greater spotted woodpecker arrive.   He loves the peanuts but today he decided to start his breakfast by moving up the trunks of the Scots Pine trees, chipping off bits of bark and finding something to eat behind them..

A wren was scratching around in the hedge bottom behind the bird-feeders and in the field next door five or six pheasants were scratching around.

We spend around a hundred pounds each month on food for the birds and we get huge pleasure from watching the large variety we get here - Winter and Summer.   We shall not stop feeding them - but it did strike me how very efficient they are at finding their own food in all but the most severe weather.

The same goes, of course, for the grey squirrels who have taken all our hazel nuts from the numerous bushes in the hedge;  and the various birds who have had their fill from the fallen crab apples.

Have we lost a lot of that ability (Cro excepted)?
Do we now expect the Supermarkets to provide our food all year round?   And have many of us even lost the ability (or perhaps the inclination would be a better word) to stockpile for winter with jams and pickles (again I make the exception here for the numerous bloggers I follow who are trying to be self-sufficient - and I do so admire them for it)?

Will we eventually become a nation who rely entirely upon the supermarkets for keeping us alive?   As more and more couples have to both go out to work in order to pay the mortgage and thus have very little time to prepare home cooked meals, will we all come to rely on the freezer or the delivery man who brings ready meals to our door?   Interesting thought.   What do you think?  And where do you fit into this equation?

Friday, 18 November 2016

Help please.

Foxglove Covert Nature Reserve is an excellent facility on the Garrison at Catterick, close to where I live (the largest Garrison in Europe).   It goes from strength to strength and has a wonderful selection of bird life, mammal life, flora - and a good building for teaching groups and just sitting around and chatting about what can be seen over a cup of tea.

Four or five times a year I produce Cryptic Quiz Sheets, which they sell at £1  a copy for funds.   One, on Games and Pastimes, is about to finish.
Because it is so near Christmas I thought I would do the next sheet on Christmas itself - the answers all being words connected with the Festive Season.

I also thought I would do it in alphabetical form - one question,  the answer to which is the next letter of the alphabet - and then perhaps to end - one question the answer to which is the letters in Merry Christmas.  

But finding words which I can use to set clues around is harder than I thought.   I need other brains please.

Some letters I already have plenty of possible words - e.g. Star, shepherds, stuffing, stocking, stollen, Santa (I only need one word but some words are difficult to clue).

Some letters I am stuck on.   So can you please help me out?   I need Christmassy words for the following letters -  L;  O;  U; V; X; Z.    Any other letters would be alright.   If I already have the word you suggest it doesn't matter does it?

But any help you can give me would be very much appreciated. 

Thursday, 17 November 2016


Today has been positively the worst day of the winter so far, (alright it is still officially autumn, but believe me you wouldn't have guessed it here today).

My hair appointment is always on a Thursday at 1pm and I drove down in the pouring rain.   When I came out I even went in the car the three hundred yards or so to the supermarket because of the heavy rain.   Luckily I found a place right outside the shop (it was so wet that there were few people around).   The one good thing was that the supermarket was virtually empty, so I could wander round at my leisure and collect the few things I wanted.

The man in front of me in the checkout queue was so frazzled that he left his bank card in the machine.   The woman on the checkout ran out after him but really couldn't remember what he looked like (neither could I) so she just had to put it in a safe place and hope he realised and came back for it.

Arriving home, the farmer had lit the wood burner and we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting by it -him reading the paper and doing the brain exercise page- me continuing to knit.   When I have finished this baby cardigan I will put photographs of them all on here to show how busy I have been.   (Only three weeks to go now).

Off back to the warmth now.   It has finally stopped raining but I can't see a single star so it must still be cloudy.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016


I have just made my fourth Christmas List.   What has happened to the other three?   I shall probably find them - one by one - around March/April time.
And shall I understand them?   Doubtful as I usually write them in a sort of code so that if the recipient of any present listed should find the list, it would be meaningless.   This time I have cracked it and made the list and filed it on my computer under CHRISTMAS LIST.   You can't get more straightforward than that  can you?

Now that my final batch of guests have departed before the festive season I shall begin to make my cakes (I make four - three as presents and one for ourselves (I don't like it anyway).   When I have finished today's post I shall start writing my Christmas cards.

So, you will see, I am well prepared and intend to take it all in my stride.   No need to do otherwise.

Pouring rain has given way to strong wind and bright sunshine - quite a cheery day from inside but as the wind is directly from the North I expect it is a different story outside the door.

My exercise class has been cancelled as the tutor is not well.   It is five weeks since we had a class and my joints are going rusty.   I try to keep busy and energetic but it is not the same as doing it all to music (and yes, I know, I could put the radio on at home and do the exercises - but I don't.   I need others to participate).

The whole time I have been writing this a little robin has been perched on the top of the privet hedge just outside the hall window - I think he is reminding me that there are only thirty shopping days to Christmas.   I need to go out there and tell him that I don't care - it is all done and dusted.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Drawing in

as in 'the nights are drawing in' - one of my mother's favourite expressions.

At a quarter past one this afternoon the watery sun went behind a cloud and it looked as though it was about to get dark.   It didn't of course, but suddenly we are in the dark days and there will be nothing but short days until a few weeks after Christmas.

They were putting up the Christmas lights in our little town this morning as we sat in the window of our cafe drinking our morning coffee.   Perhaps it is as well - all the glow and twinkle of the market square festooned with fairy lights, plus the Christmas-dressed shop windows, will add a degree of light to what otherwise would be a gloomy week or two.

 My visitors have gone, my cleaner has been this morning, I have done the washing and ironing for the week and I am back to normal.   Perhaps it is a sign that I am really getting old in that I do love the routine of day after day of doing the same things -Tuesday coffee morning, Wednesday exercise class, Thursday hair appointment, Friday meeting the 'gang' for coffee, Saturday - when the farmer is shooting then W and I go out for lunch.   And so the weeks pass by.

Now it is on to Amazon to start ordering a few Christmas presents - that will be another Christmas job done and another thing to tick off my list.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Moving on.

Well, are we all moving forward - or what?   Over here in the UK there is only so much time we can give to worrying about the US Election results however much we are appalled by them.   After all, we can do absolutely nothing about any of it.

So I for one intend to move on, get on with my life and try very hard to ignore anything that is going on over the pond.

My great-grandchild is due in less than a month.   My grand-daughter has shared her pregnancy with me by keeping me updated and has now informed me that there has been a definite shift in position of the baby and that she is now finding herself walking in an all together different way.   This last three weeks or so is going to be hard for me too - I am impatient for the day.   Also, I am knitting like mad (at least that is keeping me involved).

My visitors went early this morning.   It has been a lovely relaxed week-end with them.   P is like my second son - I have known  him and welcomed him into my house and family since he was in his early twenties and he is now sixty six - so no pressure.   D his partner of ten years or more, is a lovely chap, also retired, good company and together they are so happy.   What more could anyone wish for?

All the scrap steel has left the farm.   The farmer hired two very large skips - the second one was collected late this afternoon - and I must say that everywhere looks a lot tidier.

The last cattle on the farm are going home on Wednesday.   There is still plenty of grass for them to eat but at this time of the year it tends to lack goodness, and as these beasts are all destined for the table eventually, it is very important that they do not begin to lose their body weight.   So they will be going inside for a bit of fattening up.

See you again tomorrow now that I am 'back to normal'!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

A Short Pause.

Two days absence ahead.   I have friends over from Windermere until Monday evening, so shall enjoy their company and be absent for a couple of 
days.   All being well I will be back on Monday evening.

Friday, 11 November 2016

We need to remember.

Friday is market day in our little town and quite a busy market it is too when the weather is right - as it was today.    There is not a single vestige of snow left anywhere and the sun has shone all day.

It so happens that our War Memorial stands at the top of the market square - and today is November 11th.

At around a quarter to the hour a group of people began to gather and by a couple of minutes to the hour a sizeable crowd had gathered.   I had intended to join them to stand for two minutes to remember the war dead but my watch was a couple of minutes slow.   As I bought my cheese from the cheese lady (who has almost every cheese known to man) she said she might have to stop in mid-service to observe the two minutes silence.   So I joined her and we both stood by the stall.   Gradually, as people walked up the market, they seemed to realise what was happening and everyone stood in silence for the two minutes.   It was quite a moving occasion.

Two minutes out of the whole year is nothing - but it is just a token of appreciation for the many  who have given their lives over the years - there has hardly been a year when there has not been a war somewhere has there? And it is also good to remember the thousands of wounded men who have lost limbs or had other life-changing injuries - just two minutes; that is all it takes from our lives.  

Thursday, 10 November 2016


Cold and just below freezing overnight but now around four degrees, bright sunshine and a cold breeze.   In fact (from inside by the fire) it is a pleasant day and the snow is gradually going.

The woodburner is glowing brightly and as the doors are all open (inside doors of course) and our farmhouse faces due South, so gets any sun that is going, the house is warming up nicely.   And the snow is beginnning to go in earnest.   Apparently it was quite a localised snowfall - just a strip down the centre of the country.

There is a distinct feeling over here that already the implications of the American election are beginning to fade.   For sure, it is a democratic country - they have chosen and democracy dictates that we accept it - like it or not.

Today I visit the hairdresser and that is all.   And as it is only a mile down the road that is no hardship.   The farmer has to go the the dentist just before that.

He is giving our cattle hay to eat as they spend an awful lot of time wandering round the field looking for something to eat.   These are cattle being grown on for beef and even several days without access to the plentiful supply of grass in the pastures is enough for the weight to begin to drop away (and of course they are sold by weight).   So last evening (after they had followed Tess and the farmer up the field on their walk)  he went back with a couple of bales of hay.   It had all gone this morning, so a couple more bales have been take up and the farmer they belong to has been rung with the suggestion he fetch then back and fatten them indoors.

The sheep, on the other hand, don't want anything to do with hay, or pellets thank you - they know quite well how to scratch the snow away and get at the grass and seem quite happy in their fur coats.

My quilt is finished and will be pressed this morning.   Then I shall make a shopping list (which will include two balls of white baby wool
for my next project) ready to shop tomorrow for our friends P and D coming over from The Lakes for the week-end.  (an apple crumble is already in the freezer for lunch).

Keep warm everyone.   And to my friends in the US - bear up and I am sure we all send you our best wishes for the next few years.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

What a day!

In all senses of the word.   I switched on the television to see how the American election was doing - but switched it off again.   At the moment it is all too depressing.

Then looking out of the window, we have had four inches of wet snow overnight and it is snowing still.  I hardly expect there will be an exercise class this afternoon as our tutor comes from about twelve miles away - all uphill - and the roads are very slippery according to the farmer, who has been into town for the papers (which were absolutely on time, so they can't be bad everywhere).

The wood burner is lit, I have unearthed a heavy, long cardigan, and if the class is cancelled I shall spend the afternoon sewing together my crochet squares to form a blanket for the new baby's buggy (when it comes in three weeks time) and doing the Times crossword.

I shall try not to think of the election results, about which I can do absolutely nothing anyway.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Busy(ish) day

This morning it was an early delivery from Tesco of my groceries ordered on-line.   It was an especially long list of things as I have friends P and D  coming for the week-end.   As they live in Windermere in the Lake District, I am hoping that the weather, which is very cold, does not take a turn for the worse.   Whichever way they come they have to come over the high Pennines.   The farmer has just passed me and says the forecast is for snow overnight and then 'not a bad day tomorrow' - so we shall have to wait and see (or to use the farmer's usual expression regarding the weather 'we shall just have to take what comes'.)


Today a large skip was delivered to the farm as the farmer has decided to really begin a major clear up.   By this evening the skip is full, so the company are collecting it tomorrow and delivering another empty one.   At last!


Friend W and I have been into Northallerton this afternoon to the new Marks and Spencer's Food Outlet.   It was very good - lovely fresh food and nice wide aisles so that it was easy to negotiate regardless of how many people were there.   As it happens  it was not too busy.


I even bought my Christmas turkey (that makes Christmas seem very near) and have put it into the freezer, so that is one thing off my mind.   If you are interested - there are actually thirty three shopping days to go (I am not counting Saturdays and Sundays because anyone who voluntarily joins the mad Christmas rush at the week-ends unless they positively can't avoid it has my full sympathy).


Next job is to go and empty the dishwasher and put the contents away.   See you tomorrow - it is back to Exercise class again after a three week gap, so there will be some aches and pains by Thursday I guess. 





Monday, 7 November 2016


I wonder if in the far, far distant past homo sapiens used to hibernate in the winter.   If not then how did he manage to stay alive, living in caves and before the invention of fire?  Layers and layers of fur I suppose.

I did once read of folk somewhere in the world - in the Himalayas I believe - where the whole village retreats underground in Winter with their stores of food;

All I can say is that cold, wet weather like we have had over the past few days, with the wind coming from the North has definitely made me feel like hibernating.

Then this morning, as we came back from our feed merchants in Masham and drove into the market square in our little town, I saw my old friendW - 95 and counting - zipping across the road, still wearing the anorak she has worn all summer, no hat, no gloves - carrying a laden shopping bag as she made her way home.   They make them tough up here.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Boston bean soup.

Six of us are out to lunch today to celebrate friend W's 80th birthday.   The farmer is not included (an all girls do) so I am cooking him a turkey lasagne I bought at the coffee morning yesterday (cooked by Ann they are always delicious and I buy two - this time I have frozen one) and he will have yoghourt for pud.   He doesn't mind at all - I think he rather likes the idea of a couple of hours peace and quiet.

There will also be the remains of yesterday's soup which I made for tea when he came in from a shooting day.   The soup was delicious and was the Friday recipe published in The Times.   If you are interested I am sure it is available by going to the correct place on line - it is a Lyndsey Bareham recipe for Boston Bean Soup.   It is easy and quick  to make and although it has a lot of ingredients (red onion, carrot, cannelini beans (tinned), chopped tomatoes (tinned) dijon mustard, tabasco, lemon juice, it is ready to eat within half an hour - thick, main meal soup - very hearty and warming.   I served it with Paul Hollywood's par-baked rolls, which only take ten minutes in a hot oven and really taste like home made bread.
It may very well be the lunch I serve next Saturday when my friends P and D arrive (along with a crumble I intend to make during the week and freeze).

Keep warm (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere where you need to keep cool (lucky you)).

The weather here is absolutely awful.   There is a strong North wind blowing, it is showery  and deeply dull.  The farmer has just laid the woodburner ready to light - can't be soon enough for me although I am going out in two hours.

Saturday, 5 November 2016


Today was the monthly local church coffee morning in our village hall and as usual I went along.   It is nice to catch up with friends and also to meet villagers I only see once a month.   Lots of nice chats.

But the highlight of the morning - and sadly I did not have my camera with me - was the arrival, wrapped in her 'mum's' coat and snuggled up tight, of Tilly, an eight week old Border Collie pup.   She was absolutely adorable, looking round with her intelligent eyes and not missing a thing.

Just when we thought things couldn't get any better Chloe, a nine week old miniature dachshund, arrived, wrapped in a blanket and carried by her 'mum'.

Puppies are adorable - clean, unsullied, bright-eyed, smooth coated - and so innocent and untainted.  

Of course, as with us all, babies grow up into adults. This morning as I ate my breakfast banana, I looked out of the window into the paddock.   The sheep and their this year's lambs (now almost as big as their mums) are in there at the moment.   There is plenty of good, luscious grass for them to eat.   Were they eating it?   No - instead they were all eating holly leaves from the hedges.   Holly - I ask you - prickly stuff, can't be easy to eat.   But there they all were - sheep and their lambs - eating away as though it was their favourite meal.

Animals !!   There is no accounting for them once they become adult (rather like humans then) - I will stick with those two puppies any day.  They were utterly charming.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Following instructions.

One of my greatest failings is that I am hopeless at following instructions.   I suspect I am far too impatient and as I have aged, so has the problem got more noticeable.   But it has always been there.

Often the computer throws up a problem - for example I got several e cards for my birthday earlier this week but was unable to open any of them.   Since I went over to Windows 10 I seem to need another Adobe update but although I click on it, when the instructions come up for getting started somehow I just can't understand them and I lose patience.

Another example occurred today.   The farmer gave me money for my birthday and I decided to send for a sweater I liked.   It came this morning, just as the farmer and I were off to my Friday morning coffee and tea cake meeting.   At lunch time I tried it on, loved it but it doesn't feel right and just doesn't fit well enough.   So it has to go back.

It was only when I came to pack it in its original wrapping that I found I had opened the parcel at the wrong end and therefore the adhesive strip to fasten it down again was not able to be used.   Why was I so impatient?    Why didn't I wait long enough when I first picked up the parcel to read which end to open the bag?

And why, yesterday, when I cooked a whole chicken in a bag in the Aga for lunch, in spite of an instruction in capital letters which read 'COOK THIS WAY UP' did I manage to cook the thing upside down?

Answers on a postcard please.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Feral cats

There are always feral cats around here.   There is a long-haired white and black tom who is often seen running across the farmyard - Tess always chases him off - and who, I suspect, eats the cat food we put down for our two farm cats, Blackie and Creamy, if they happen to be out somewhere when it is put down.

Our two farm cats came from another farm and were from feral stock.   Blackie has got fairly tame but Creamy will not come near enough to be stroked.

Yesterday the white and black cat ran across the lane in front of my car as I drove home from town.
When I mentioned this to the farmer last evening he says he suspects that this cat has fathered a litter of lookalikes as there are now five or six half grown white and black kitten/cats roaming the fields, as well as a couple of ancient ginger ones.

I worry about what becomes of them in the very cold weather, but as the farmer says - they have never been pets, they have no concept of home life in front of the fire - they were born to live outside, scavenge for their food and find somewhere warm to sleep on cold nights.   After all, there are plenty of barns full of straw or hay about round here and I am sure these cats are nothing if not opportunists.

Do you have feral cats?   Are they present in  towns as well as in the country?   Does anyone feed them?


Wednesday, 2 November 2016


Another glorious day here with Autumn sunshine, but it is getting a little bit colder each day and tonight there is a feeling of frost in the air.   I drove the mile or so into the village this afternoon to visit friend M and on the way passed a stand of Horse Chestnut trees all of them the most beautiful golden brown.   Autumn is well and truly on its way now.

M and I had a lovely chatty afternoon.   We were neighbours for a few years (my son now lives in my house and is her neighbour) and so have always got plenty to chat about.

I took my crocheting.  Last winter, really for something to do on cold, wet days, I crocheted around fifty squares in Wensleydale wool.   Now that I have a great grandchild almost due I am joining them together to make a blanket for the pram - it is cold up in Scotland where they live, so will help to keep the baby warm.

For lunch I made individual fish pies.   Reminder to self - don't do it again.   The whole house smells of fish pie.   The farmer insists he can't smell it, but I definitely can and to make matters worse I had done a load of washing and ironing and put it up on the airer above the Aga.   Now I ask myself - will all the clean clothes smell of fish pie too?    Any suggestions for getting rid of the smell?   I defrosted the fish in the microwave and got rid of the smell in there by microwaving a small pot of lemon juice for a couple of minutes.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016


Today really has been the most perfect day in terms of the weather.   After waking up to a wet morning here in North Yorkshire, within an hour the sun was shining and it has been wall-to-wall sunshine all day.   There was a slight cool breeze but in the sun it was still quite warm.

Our morning coffee meeting - three of us today - passed off nicely as usual; plenty of laughs, plenty of chat, good coffee and delicious toasted teacakes.   Then it was home to cook lunch and the afternoon catching up on blogs, ordering a sweater from M and S as a birthday present from the farmer, ordering new cartridges for my printer, and welcoming (and chatting to) the lady who called to sell us our poppies.

Now there is just about time to empty the dishwasher, feed the dog, get a salad ready for tea and put my feet up in time to watch 'Flog it'.

I really was overwhelmed by everyone's birthday greetings yesterday - thank you all so much.  I also had lots of cards and letters from friends - all of which added up to a very nice day indeed.