Monday, 22 May 2017

Overdone things.

I have overdone things a bit today and am now very tired.   This morning a friend C and I drove into a town twelve miles away for knitting wool.   The shop was closed so I drove on into Northallerton and bought some there but that is further away - fifty mile round trip.

I came in, ate a quick lunch, fell asleep in the chair and woke up just in time to go to Ukulele practice- not getting home until almost four this afternoon.
Poor Tess has had just two fairly short walks today - and I feel guilty,   But I really am too tired to take her out again,  so I shall now go and sit down and watch the Chelsea flower show on television.

The Queen has just arrived to look round.   My goodness - she is walking round at ninety - I feel guilty complaining of being tired.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Lunch out.

Well, that's nothing new is it?   Today it was with three friends - L,C and W - set for one o'clock and delicious it was too.   L and C both had roast beef, W had roast pork and I had macaroni cheese (I was going to have salmon but by the time we ordered there was no salmon left; but there is a good veggie menu so I was happy to tuck into that.)
 
Afterwards it was coffee and a chat in the bar.   There were quite a lot of people there that we knew so the atmosphere was friendly.   Up here there is none of that crossing the road rather than asking how you are a few weeks after one has lost one's life partner, it is straight down the middle - tell it as it is, and all the better for it.

Friend L (Lavinia but Win for short) is ninety six years young and as we are all knocking on a bit we got to talking about lavs at the bottom of the garden and jerries under the bed in the night - and of houses with no bathrooms.   We came to the joint conclusion that today's youngsters don't know the half of it.

Then it was home to walk Tess, who was very pleased to see me.   I do feel guilty leaving her alone, but I try to walk her three times a day as far as I can with at least one of the three walks off the lead so that she can chase the rabbits (they are quite safe and they know it).   I need to get out as much as possible.

Tomorrow I go with friend C to buy more knitting wool in the morning and then in the afternoon there is ukulele practice.    I am not very good yet but I am making progress - and that is pleasing.  Playing with the rest of the group makes me keep up and improves my playing no end each week.  When I get a bit better I might put a clip on U Tube!!!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Our Favourite Walk

But a short distance from the farm is a Lane; it is a Public Foothpath through the beautiful woodland called Givendale.   It is our favourite walk because it is safe for Tess to be off the lead (she has little or no road sense) and we rarely see another person - occasionally deer, often rabbits, sometimes a brown hare but rarely a human.

I was up with the lark this morning, having gone to bed quite early, and so off on our walk by half past eight.   I can make it a round trip - in this case call at The Lane for a walk (about half a mile there and back), drive on into town, collect a Guardian news paper (my choice on Saturdays),  drive up to the tip (itself a scenic journey through fields full of lambs) with my latest load of old clothes, dishes I no longer want etc., and then back home.

In addition to my newspaper I bought myself an indulgent small chocolate bar and when I got home I made a pot of coffee, ate my bar, drank my coffee and read the paper.

The next time I looked at the clock it was almost midday and time to cook my Jersey Royals with carrots, broccoli and mange tout and two quickly fried fillets of sea bass for lunch.

Here are some photographs of the Lane so that you can enjoy the walk too.   The first part is open to fields either side and then it is lined by Givendale Wood.   If we could walk far enough (for 'we' read 'I') we could carry on across the fields and eventually arrive back at the farm.

There are patches of pink campion - such a delightful pink - and patches of Lady's Mantle (alchemilla); the trees are coming into leaf and the birds were in full throttle this  morning; sadly no cuckoo (although both my son and my daughter in law have heard one this year.)




Friday, 19 May 2017

Tracking things down.

As you know I shall fairly shortly (all being well) be leaving the farm for the last time and moving into a bungalow.   This will be a wrench as this is the longest I have ever lived anywhere (twenty four years), but it is inevitable and in any case this house is far too large for one person to live in.

One of the things I shall be sad to leave behind is my Aga cooker, which has served me well.   We bought it new twenty four years ago.   It has kept us well-fed, kept the kitchen and the fabric of the house warm and kept the water very hot.   Now I shall be leaving all that behind.

There is one difficulty with Agas - it is almost impossible to clean them when they are 'on' (which is all the time).   The surface of the cooker is so hot that anything you try to clean it with dries before it has any impact.  So it is best to give the whole cooker a good going over when you switch it off for its six monthly service.

But one thing remains which has been troubling me.   There is a solid shelf, sometimes called the 'cold plain shelf' or the 'cooling shelf'.   I have used it constantly throughout the life of the Aga.   It started out 'silver' but is now black and no amount of elbow grease will get it back to its original newness.

I have written to Aga and to various suppliers and been totally unable to get a replacement.   I am useless at such things.   My daughter in law heard of my plight and in about half an hour had located one only ten miles away at an Aga supplier.  Brand new, it cost only fifteen pounds and this afternoon we drove over and bought it.   Job done.

As a thank you, on the way back, we called in a lovely new cafe which has opened and I treated us to  tea for me, coffee for her and two delicious cakes (Danish with raspberry jam for me and lemon merigue pie with ice cream for her).   So, a successful afternoon all round wouldn't you agree?

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Early Morning.....

.....the best time for spotting rabbits!

Tess and I walked down the pasture this morning at half past eight.   The birds were singing and the sun was shining but there was a chilly wind blowing.

Tess was in ecstasy at the number of rabbits there were everywhere and I had already noticed that they are busy trying to dig holes in the grass verges of the lane.   There was every size from teeny tiny ones up to old grandfathers.

Without looking it up (and I have no time as I go to the hairdresser at twelve today) I don't know what the gestation period of the rabbit is (no doubt one of you will look it up for me)  but I daresay that young rabbits are kicked out of the nest to fend for themselves at a very young age.

They really are so very pretty.  But, when the pasture is there for milk cows to graze, one can't afford to be sentimental.  I read somewhere that ten rabbits each as much grass a day as one cow.   Well I saw more than fifty this morning and I am sure that was only the tip of the iceberg.

We have three kinds of rabbit-catchers who come round - the man with a gun, the man with ferrets and the fox.   Don't know who will step in here, but I am sure that the fox will have such easy pickings from the rabbits that he will let my hens alone - unless of course he/she fancies a change of menu.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Massage

I had my first ever massage today.   To say it was soporific is an understatement - I went to sleep.

I think it is the first time I have truly relaxed in the last eight weeks and I am sure it did me immense good.   In fact I was so relaxed when I came out that I was apprehensive about driving the ten miles or so home - but so soon got going again once I got on the road.

When I got home the little boy next day, who is seven, had drawn me a picture and left it on the kitchen table for me to find.   It was a lovely surprise and it is now on the wall.
Simple things can give so much pleasure can't they?

As I put the car away in the garage I noticed how busy the swallows were, in and out of the space at the top of the barn door.   Yesterday was a wet day so there will at last be mud for them to put together their nests.   Flying all the way from Africa then building a nest and raising at least one brood, often two - what amazing birds they are.  What a wonderful thing Nature is - and how we notice it at this time of the year.

My Clematis Montana Rubens, which for years has just grown on an old tree trunk, has decided this year that it will meander along the washing line.  It looks splendid.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Much-needed rain.

It rained here all day yesterday and this morning I awoke to rain.   But my goodness how very pleased the fields and gardens were to welcome it.   Already the grass has greened-up and everything looks fresh and new again.

Now, at seven in the evening, there is a sharp breeze blowing but the sun is shining and it is warm.   The accountant has been here all afternoon going through the farm accounts for last year so poor Tess has been in for most of the day.

This morning was the 'Strugglers' meeting I go to - a group of us meet and have a quiet morning talking about things which are interesting us, or worrying us.   Such a productive and satisfying time I find it.   Afterwards we went and had lunch in The Posthorn in our little town.

So I have just walked down 'our' lane with Tess.   I didn't feel like it but I really enjoyed it once I got going and I feel much less tired than I did before I started out.   Tess enjoyed the doggy smells and I enjoyed the Spring smells - can't be bad.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Last Resting Place


Yesterday afternoon in warm sunshine we buried the farmer's ashes at the bottom of the pasture by the beck (just behind the fence) and the wood.   All the bluebells were out in the wood, the blackbirds were singing and he was laid to rest on the fields he loved.   May he rest in peace.

A stick marks the spot if you want to see exactly where we put them.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Lunch

This week I have been out to lunch three times - well twice to lunch and once to a very late breakfast

Living alone again does raise problems which have to be addressed for some time before a set of rules begins to sink in.

Never buy two of anything - one will be eaten and the other will languish in the fridge.   And don't tell me to freeze it because I just don't feel like eating the second one.   Also, as I have shortly to move, I am desperately trying to empty the fridge. I am trying not to put anything into it.

It is almost as cheap to eat a pub lunch as it is to cook one for onself - and it is a lot less bother - and no washing up.   All this may be extravagant but at the moment I am self indulgent. And after a lunch today of quiche (hot and delicious) a large mixed salad and chips, I shall not feel like anything else to eat today except maybe an orange tonight.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Ashes

My beloved farmer's ashes came home this afternoon.   On Sunday his sister, his niece and I will scatter them into the hedgerows of his fields.
The hawthorn blossom is out on the hedges, the new green leaves are just bursting.   On the beck the marsh marigolds are flowering - deep yellow - one of his favourite flowers. In the wood the bluebells are out - some blue and some white; he would always come home at lunch time and tell me when they burst into bloom.

On the wires all the swallows are here.   He would count them until he saw how many pairs would be nesting in the barns.   Two pairs of pied wagtails are back and are pecking in the yard.

He would have noticed all these things - he was a countryman through and through.   He would have noticed and then come in and reported it to me.
I just hope that wherever his spirit is - it is seeing all these things just as he has seen them for the last seventy three years.   Seeing them and taking simple pleasure in the arrival of another Spring.   God bless him.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Manifesto and other things.

I have no idea what the plural of manifesto is and I am too lazy at this time of the day to get up from my chair in the hall and go into the kitchen to find the dictionary and look it up.

But as far as I am concerned, I am totally and completely disillusioned with Politics everywhere.   I read through - or hear on the News - details of a Manifesto.  It never seems to me to bear any relation to reality.

I know there is so much wrong with our country - the NHS is in crisis and needs so much more money spending on it.   Schools are in crisis and need more teachers.   Potholes in the roads (round here at any rate) are horrendous.   I could go on, but I won't.   We all know the score.

People get hot under the collar about immigration - and in many cases justifiably.    But then I go into the National Health System, as I have done so regularly over the last six months with my darling farmer,  and I see that if this country banned all immigration then there would be an enormous shortage of trained and brilliant staff in hospitals - and that goes for everyone from nurses, through doctors and on to consultants.   Many of them were no doubt born here, but often their parents were not.

The whole situation is so complex.   We are told that there is a huge shortfall in money available for anything -  from the NHS, through the transport system, the education system.   Yet if a sudden war comes up somewhere in the world then billions are immediately found to  pay for weapons (and kill innocent people in the process of using them.)

I want to opt out of voting.   I am totally and thoroughly disillusioned with them all.   But women fought and died for the right to vote, so I would never do that.

Any suggestions?  

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Wednesday

At the moment the days seem to be passing in a bit of a blur.   Suddenly I am very tired most of the time, which is not like me at all.

Today, in a bid to perk myself up, I took my daughter in law to the garden centre and while there we had a bit of lunch in the cafe.   It is a beautiful day today - the best of the year so far; the sun shone and there was little wind.   But even so, when I arrived home I went and lay on the bed and slept for a couple of hours.  Not like my usual self at all.

Suddenly Spring is busting out all over.   There is even May blossom (hawthorn blossom) out on the sheltered hedges (quite often we are almost into June before that happens here in the North of England).

Yesterday I packed a box of cut glass items and when I have finished on my blog I intend to pack a box of Minton china.   One job a day is my motto.

Seven weeks today since the farmer's death.   On Sunday we intend to scatter his ashes back on to the farm land where he has spent all his life.  Another milestone.

 

Monday, 8 May 2017

Monday

If only it wasn't  cold life would be so much easier.   The sun keeps shining on and off but that  east wind off the North sea makes everywhere icy cold.

Speaking to the solicitor this morning it does seem that things are all coming together.   I dare not say it too loudly but mid June does sound to be a possible moving date.

Yesterday my son and his wife went to the garden centre and returned with about a dozen boxes, all flat-packed, so I can begin to sort out some things for packing now.   All I need is the enthusiasm to start - today sadly lacking.

Tomorrow a group of us are going out for breakfast - perhaps that will fill me with energy.
I am off for a ukulele practise now.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Successful Day.

It is surprising now how some days are so much more successful than others and I end them feeling a sense of satisfaction.   Today is one of those days.

First of all, before going to the Church Coffee Morning, I went into town to buy a Guardian Newspaper and also to deposit three plastic bags of the farmer's sweaters in the deposit box for The Salvation Army.  Another job to tick off my list.

After lunch my son came with an armful of boxes to take more books to the Oxfam Shop in Richmond for me.   We packed the boxes and then I went with him and his wife into the town and while he took the books we sat in the car and then all three of us went into the Deli and bought a few things.

I came home and in a 'firm' mood I brought downstairs all the papers I had amassed on my desk, sorted them out and put them into laabelled files.

My last job of the day was to e mail the accountant to ask her when the accounts would be done.   She returned the e mail within five minutes to say they were done and she would be contacting me on Monday about coming over to tie up loose ends.

Now if that isn't a satisfying day I don't know what is!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Friday again.

How quickly Fridays come round - Friday and our coffee meeting of friends in The Post Horn Cafe.  This morning we were virtually all there - eleven of us (we do make rather a lot of noise!) - and following on from this friend W and I went out to The Three Horseshoes and had a delicious lunch - (W - Spare ribs and me Quiche - both with their lovely chips!)

I think everyone around here in our part of the country is entirely sick of the strong wind blowing in straight off the cold North Sea.   Today it is wall-to-wall sunshine but still very cold because of the wicked wind coming from the North East.
And I expect Thelma (North Stoke on my side bar) is feeling it even more up there on the North York Moors.

I must say that the countryside is 'greening up' in spite of this.   I was pleased with my walking ability this afternoon.  I am having to walk Tess on three walks a day - only short walks but they are getting longer each day and today I managed down the pasture and back up the next pasture.  And I saw three Ladies' Smocks out and a handful of Buttercups - a sure sign that Spring is really here.   In addition to that there are two swallows in residence in the yard, along with a pair of pied wagtails.   The farmer would have been in with this news.

Tomorrow is our Church Coffee morning - how the months fly by.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

These are the days!

Today I had a list of eight telephone calls I had to make urgently.   I had all the numbers stored in my phone, so I sat in the armchair, rang each one in turn and ticked them off my list.   The whole operation took me about ten minutes.

When I was a child in the nineteen forties, there  were few telephones in the village.   The three pubs (The Royal Oak, The Ferry Boat and The Hunter's Leap) each had one, the Vicar had one and the Doctor.    Then there were one or two "posh" folk - a Judge (no less!), a man who owned a chain of Tobacconists' Shops, a Military Man - and maybe one or two others we didn't know about.

But no-one would have dared to ask to 'borrow' one to make a phone call, however urgent.   There were two red boxes in the village, each about half a mile from our house.  We would treck there, clutching our two old pennies, dial the number we wanted and hope that somebody answered.   If they did we would tell them our problem (you really wouldn't ring unless there was a problem - this was not the days of the 'chat') and hope you got the important bit out before the pips told you your money had run out and you would have to feed the machine with another two pennies (varying degrees of success here).   If there was no reply you would Press Button B and get your two pennies back.

And we thought nothing of it.   That was how it was in those days.   I sometimes wonder what future generations will make of our way of life.   What do we do which in the future will be seen as such a terrible chore?

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Treasures

Treasures are not always things of great value.   In fact in my experience that is rarely the case.   One example is my needle tin.  I have had it for about
thirty five years and I treasure it greatly.

Every October half term my then husband and I would debate where to go for our last half term holiday before Winter set in. We had this discussion every year and mostly in the end we settled on Venice - our favourite place on earth.

This particular year as we waited in the Departure Lounge at Heathrow who should walk in but some friends from Wales - also Venice bound for half term.   Such a surprise - and a pleasant one too.

We went our separate ways each day but usually met up for supper somewhere in the evening.   In fact one evening my friend queued at La Fenice (not long before it burnt down) for tickets to see The Shanghai Opera Company - a memorable evening that was.

Whilst we were there it was my Hallowe'en birthday and my friend bought me this little oval tin of chocolate pastilles.   I remember we shared them at the theatre and had a wonderful evening. 

I kept this charming little tin as a storage tin for my large darning needles and I have used it ever since. 

About five years after giving me the tin my friend committed suicide.   I never knew what drove her to such lengths but it has made the tin one of my most treasured possessions.

When I finally shuffle off this mortal coil I expect the tin will be thrown away - it will have no significance to anyone remaining.   The memory of that birthday in Venice will disappear along with the tin.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A Long Gap in posts.

I must apologise for the long gap between posts - two reasons for this; one is that I have had a lot to do with sorting things out, both things I no longer wish to keep when I move and also matters to do with the farm accounts etc.   The other thing is that friends have been persuading me to go out to lunch (doesn't take much doing).

Yesterday I went up to friend G's to take the latest quiz sheet I have set for Foxglove Nature Reserve and the two of us, plus Tess, had a lovely walk round the Reserve.   The bird life was astonishing.  As we sat having a cup of coffee we saw a pair of jays, red polls, siskins, yellow hammers plus all the usuall birds I see here.

We went into the Italian restaurant and had a nice lunch (scallop and king prawn risotto for me and sea bass for G) - all in all a very pleasant day.

I find that I am getting very tired and need to go to bed quite early but at least I am sleeping well.   In the evenings I tend to knit for my great grand-daughter .  I have just had the latest photograph of her (I knitted the cardigan she is wearing) - she is sitting up now and the photograph is taken in the park.  Isn't she gorgeous?

Friday, 28 April 2017

A Day Out.

Friend W and I went over to Kirby Lonsdale on the edge of the Lake District today to meet our friends for lunch in the Italian Restaurant there.   It is our first visit this year as we never venture over the high Pennines in Winter.

The weather was lovely as was the countryside.  The horse chestnut trees, their 'candles' just coming into flower, were at their most majestic.

Just to make the journey extra special, here are two  modes of transport we saw on our journey.
The first is a train going over the Ribblehead Viaduct - we pass it so many times on this journey but this is the first time we have actually seen a train on it, albeit  a rather boring example.   The next is this lovely 1915 car, driven along at a stately pace by a gentleman giving smart hand signals.   He looked to be really enjoying the drive.


These outings were usually the ones where the farmer went and had his lunch at the Auction Mart - but this will not happen again.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Busy

Today has been a very hectic busy day dealing with various things to do with the estate.   I find it all so tiring although everyone is very helpful.

Doing things 'on line' is hard for me often.   What I can do I do easily and often.   But new things often take ages and then fail because I can't find my way round things.

My son and his wife have called and have brought me a Bounty Bar - an indulgence but one which I love, so I shall go and make myself a cup of tea and have it with my Bounty and watch Super Vet.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Catastrophe today.

This morning one of the pregnant heifers in the cow shed was being herded out into the yard with several others when she slipped and fell up against
the metal door and landed badly on the concrete yard.

The result was that she broke her hip.   The vet was called.   She was only a couple of weeks from giving birth to her first calf but sadly the vet said that she couldn't be saved.   She was  put down.   The 'knacker man' has just been to collect her body.   Such a shame for one so young.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Magical Experience.

This morning friend W and I went on a thirty mile trip to Marks and Spencer's at Teeside Park for a look round.   As always, the clothes disappointed, although I did buy a lovely red cardi and a bright green T shirt.

The food department was a different matter and I found plenty of delicious things I couldn't resist so am stocked up for a few days to come. 

The magic happened as I turned into our Lane on my return journey.   Two hundred yards before the farm a beautiful young deer stood in the middle of the lane, watching my approach.   I slowed down but she didn't move and I got right up to her.   Then she trotted slowly in front of me until I turned into the farm gate, at which point she jumped over the wall and into the field, leaping away to the far corner, where she stopped to watch as I went down the drive. I felt sad, knowing that this sort of thing will not happen when I move into the town.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Walkies

It is a lovely morning but according to the weatherman it is the last of the Spring weather and later today Winter weather will sweep down from the North with wintry shows to accompany the sharp, cold winds.   Typical April weather here in the North I would say.

While it is warm I went for an early morning walk down the pasture.   You will see from the photograph that we had company on our walk.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

I make a purchase.

I have driven into Northallerton this morning and bought myself a new car.   Our Astra is too big for my needs and I am not comfortable with it.   We have had Vauxhalls from new for a long time now and the salesman, Andy, has been the same throughout - so I telephoned him and then went in to see him today.

The upshot is that I am now the proud owner of a new white Vauxhall Corsa - much more suited to my needs.   It is a nice, nippy little car - much easier to park; just a nice little runabout.   It should see me out I would think. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

A New blog.

The farmer's niece, who is an extremely good photographer with a marvellous imagination, has at last created a blog.

Her photographic montages and the  things she sells as a result - cards, mugs, jig-saws - all manner of things - are brilliant. 

Please do visit her blog for me - look at how she finally comes to a decision about a particular shot - and how clever her skills are.

She is on my side bar - Kitchy & Co.   Please let me (and her) know what you think.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Thursday

When will this so-called Spring get a bit warmer?   Perhaps it is something to do with my somewhat depressed state at the moment, but I do find the weather very cold and seem to have the central heating on most of the time these days (and my electric blanket at night.)

Today Tess and I went down to the feedmerchants to buy cat biscuits for the farm cats and wheat and layers pellets for the hens.   On the way back we stopped at Marfield Wetlands and had a walk.   There was a sharp wind blowing but it didn't seem to be deterring the ducks and other water birds - they were paired up and in many cases nesting.   I did take my camera but forgot to put it in my pocket when I left the car in the car park.   But I promise I will get back into photography before long.

My son and his wife return from their holiday in Wales today - I must say they seem to have been away a very long time.  (twelve days) and I shall be pleased to see them home.

In the feedmerchants there was a man with a cage holding four brown labrador pups - they were exquisite.   Isn't every young thing beautiful?   Why do they have to grow up (that includes us humans too).

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Wednesday

How kind and thoughtful everyone is being.   I am being carried along on a tidal wave of goodwill for which I am so grateful.

Today - a month to the day since the farmer died - I had to go into town to do various jobs.   So, after taking Tess for her morning walk, I drove into town and walked round getting rid of all the paperwork I had earmarked for various places.   Then I had half an hour to spare before I went to collect a friend for lunch out (her treat) so I popped into the Posthorn cafe for a quick Italian coffee then on to collect friend D.

We drove the few hundred yards to Tennants cafe where we had  a delicious shepherd's pie lunch followed by an orange juice - and of course a nice chat.   I had scarcely been home five minutes before friend S called to take Tess for a walk.   As she walks very much quicker than I do Tess would of course enjoy her walk much more than usual.

Now it is 4pm and I have just one more 'office' job to do before I relax for the evening.   I have always done cryptic quizzes for our local nature reserve and although I stopped them completely during the farmer's last illness I feel ready to pick up the pen and start a new one, so that is on my list of things to begin to do.

Today has been very cold and colder weather is forecast for the week-end so it will be back to winter woollies.

The quickly called General Election has taken most of us by surprise.  I am a bit fed up with politics and at present can't rustle up much interest.   I do know, however, that it will dominate the news for the next seven weeks.   That and, no doubt, all the postulating over North Korea by Donald Trump.   What troublesome times we live in.   Sometimes I wish I lived in isolation with no television, no newspaper and no access to any news.   But of course that would probably be boring after a few days.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Spring

In spite of a sharp, cold wind here in the North of the country, Spring is marching relentlessly onwards.

The daffodils in my garden are all but gone and are ready to have their heads pinched off before they put all their energy into forming seeds.  (remember to leave the stems though so that the goodness from them can go back into the bulb).
My double flowering, weeping cherry in the front lawn is in full flower and a joy to behold.   And the blue tits in the wall are still busy feeding young.

Out to lunch again today with friend W after a morning meeting with a group of friends to talk about various things and as we got back in her car afterwards we noticed that the purple lilac where we parked was heavily in bud.

Once things start to move there is no stopping them in spite of the fact that we desperately need water everywhere (although not as much as Derek does in the nature reserve on the Kent coast, where the ground is cracked from last year and has never recovered; not a good start to the year.)

The are no swallows yet.   The farmer used to watch carefully and note the arrival of the first swallow.   Last year it was on April 17th, so already they are late.

It is a month tomorrow since the farmer went - how quickly the time passes in some ways and how slowly in others.   I am managing to fill my time most days and that is a good thing.   Onward and upward as they say.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Easter Monday

Today, for the first time since the farmer died, I am alone all day.    Friends have been so good at keeping me occupied and inviting me out for meals but today I face stark reality.   

So far it has gone very well - I am concentrating on filling every minute if I can.    My cleaner came at 9am and I put on two loads of washing at about the same time. After we had had our coffee she went and I took Tess and drove into town for my newspaper.   Then I came back the long way round and we walked up 'our' lane.   For once there is very little wind and the sun is out and walking up the lane was a pleasure with the sun on my back. 
Along the sides of the lane the cowslips and dandelions were out and in the wood the cock pheasants were calling out.   I let Tess off the lead and she rarely strayed far from my side.

Now, after lunch (ready meal lasagne with carrots and broccoli) I am about to iron this morning's washing and then sort out some more books for the charity shop.

At the moment I tend to feel tired without actually doing anything to make me tired.   I still have to fit in a couple of ukulele practices - only maybe five minutes each time, but 'little and often' tends to make the fingering stick in one's mind more easily.   Time will tell.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Spring

Tess and I are finding some different walks.   Obviously I can't take her for six mile runs, which she has been having while under the care of a friend.   But I take her about a mile on the long leash and allow her the freedom to sniff every blade of grass if she so wishes.

This morning I drove into town to collect the paper and then came back the long way round and called at 'our' lane.   Today there is a sharp, cold wind blowing but the sun is out and most of the lane is sheltered by trees.

In the distance we saw a hare; luckily Tess was on the long leash.   Not that she would have ever caught it, but I didn't want it scared and it gave me great pleasure to watch it.   We also saw the first orange tip butterfly and several bumble bees.

Celandines are out everywhere and the first dandelions are just beginning to burst into flower.
Everywhere the blackthorn, which is plentiful around here, is in full bloom.

All poignant reminders that the farmer is not here to see the emerging Spring.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Poem

At the farmer's funeral, a week ago yesterday, the Eulogy (the early years written by his sister and the later ones written by me)  ended with a poem written by one of his nieces.   She says she doesn't know where it came from;  I say that it is obvious that it came from her heart.  I have asked her permission to print it here - and she has given it.  So here is Anthea's poem.  Read it and you have the farmer - in a nutshell:

I hope there's cows in heaven, with calves for me to feed.
I hope there's sheep with lots of lambs that skip around the fields.
Chickens in the orchard and wild birds flying free,
From the treetops, through the hedgerows, they are singing just for me.

I'm drawn into the meadow by the smell of sweet turned hay.
I wonder if it's ready or it needs another day.
I'm greeted by some old pals with a wagging of their tails, 
So we walk a little further across fields of rig and furs*.

Standing by the beck side with the water crisp and clear,
Memories are flowing, thoughts of many happy years.
The fields that I have tended and the stonewalls I've rebuilt,
The seeds that I have scattered and the weeds
I've made wilt.
The barns are now redundant but forever they'll remain,
So we head on over yonder, up the hill to old Mill Lane.

The gate's already open and the sunlight's getting low,
I turn to face the farm now, one more look before I go.
South Dyke in all its glory, bathed in golden light.
My little piece of heaven
I've lived here all my life.

*rig and furs - many of our fields still bear the
undulating rigs and furrows from medieval farming.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Wednesday

Today saw a laughable situation.   Friend W has persuaded me to try and learn the ukulele so that I can join her ukulele orchestra.   I am giving it a go and we arranged a first lesson - I thought at her house and she thought here.   So for half an hour or so we sat at one another's houses waiting.   She rang me on my new smart phone, but it was my first call on it and I didn't recognise the ring - I thought it was a car alarm - also when it rang I was just crossing the Panda crossing and by the time I got back to my car it had stopped.  All was well that ended well and the first lesson taught me a couple of basic chords - I shall now practise in 10 minute stints.

After that we drove the short distance to Wensley village to have a delicious lunch in The Three Horseshoes pub.   Then it was back for me to have a manicure.   Little treats for myself are making me feel a bit more upbeat about myself in these first difficult days.

It is still very cold here although quite sunny.  It is certainly still winter woollies time.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Tuesday

I have had a much busier day today and it has been very much easier.    So that seems to be the answer - keep busy.

Winter has returned and there is a cold North wind blowing.   In spite of this Derek, my new-found gardener, has been and has done a couple of hours emptying pots and filling them with small pansies (violas) in shades of pink, lilac and purple.   They really do look very pretty.   He spent the rest of his two hours doing other tidying up jobs and I feel much better about how things look.
,We met for coffee and scones as usual this morning and then, after a rather rushed lunch, I had to go to the physiotherapist.   I started out a quarter of an hour early and Tess and I went for a walk down a pretty lane, where Tess had a thousand smells.

Now we are back, my dinner (cottage pie and Mediterranean roasted vegetables) is in the oven and I am catching up on a few blogs.

Tomorrow is another busy day - I hope it will be a bit warmer.

 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Monday

And so the days go by.   I am taking each day as it comes and today I have been so terribly tired that I keep falling asleep.   I feel guilty that I am not taking my dog for longer walks but a combination of tiredness and sciatica means that I just don't have the inclination.

We went into town this morning but she stayed in the car while I did one or two jobs around the place.   After lunch I fell asleep for half an hour in my chair and as I awoke - just for a split second- I saw the farmer in the opposite chair;  this has happened several times over the last couple of weeks.  It doesn't worry me at all.

We had a short walk down the pasture after lunch.  It is quite a cold day here with a sharp wind blowing.   James was here shifting a few pregnant heifers when I came back and he handed me a ladle with about two dozen eggs in it - he had found a nest in the straw when he was bedding down this morning.   Goodness knows how long they had been there.

Two business letters later (they took an age), now my daily post (one way of trying to get back to normal) and it is time for a cup of tea.   Wish you could join me.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Sunday

After one absolutely beautiful, Spring-like day, today is much cooler and quite cloudy.   Typical April weather I suppose.

My niece, who has been staying with me since just before the farmer's funeral, has gone home this morning and I expected to have the day alone.   But, of course, friends have rallied round and soon after she had gone friend G rang and we went out to lunch to an Italian (sea bass), then watched a 
TV programme she had recorded about The Yorkshire Dales and then came home.   Within half an hour friend W called to arrange another thing - a ukulele lesson!!   Watch this space.

It seems a very long time since I watched the News - I really can't bear to hear it as the whole world seems to be in such turmoil.   My view of the world situation is that 'they' only tell us what they want us to hear, which may or may not be right, depending which side one is on, and as I am
in any case powerless to affect it in any way I feel justified in burying my head in the sand.   I do of course get distressed by the thousands of displaced people and the thousands upon thousands of small children whose lives have been irrepairably damaged in so many ways.
 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Saturday

The local community gave the farmer a wonderful send-off in our local village church on Wednesday.   The church was full to capacity and the congregation gave £550 in David's memory to be shared between the church funds and our local hospital MRI Scanner appeal.

Now it is time to pick up the pieces - I owe it to his memory to move on as far as I can.   At the moment my niece is staying with me, but she returns home on Sunday.   Already good friends are rallying round - I have been invited out to lunch on both Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday (my son is away over Easter) and this afternoon Tess has returned home after spending three weeks with my dear friend G.   

I am not at all sure how Tess views coming home - she has had the 'Life of Riley' for the last three weeks - lots of long walks, lots of cuddles on the sofa in the evenings.  At present she is wandering around looking a little bit lost.   But she will be great company for me once she gets back to normal.   In fact both of us have now got a big learning curve.

I shall try to post every day from now on so that I get some sort of pattern back into my life.   Thank you to everyone for the tremendous support you have given me.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Jobs..jobs..jobs...

There are so many jobs to do.   I am pressing on with them and gradually ticking them off my list.   Each one helps to relieve the tension when it is done.

Once the Farmer's funeral is over then I feel I shall collapse in a heap but begin to pick up the pieces.  In the meantime, thanks for your words of comfort and support -everything helps to maintain some kind of equilibrium.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Beautiful weather.

Why is it so much harder to bear sadness when the weather is beautiful, the Spring flowers are all in bloom and the sun is shining?   When I drove into town this morning and went into the Car Park the rooks were building and making a terrible noise (and a similar mess, dropping twigs left, right and centre, which I presume they suddenly considered unsuitable for their nests).

I have Sciatica and can only hobble about.   My Physiotherapist says this is because I am not allowing myself to really grieve and am therefore tense.   How can I grieve for the Farmer, who suffered so much over the last two weeks and then fell asleep gently and is now at peace?  Sadness and relief for his sake are my two overriding feelings.

My Physio also says that writing every day is a good way of helping myself, so I am blogging again - not sure whether that will be every day or not, we shall have to see.   But for now - thank you to you all; you have helped me along the way.
 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Thank you

Just to say thank-you to all of you who have sent me love, prayers and comments over the last few days.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Farmer

A brief note to say that The Farmer passed away
peacefully and gently in hospital this evening.   I shall miss him terribly but would not have wished him to be here any longer with this terrible disease.   Thank you to you all for your thoughts and prayers over the past few weeks.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Latest update

The news is not good for the farmer today.   It seems highly unlikely that they will be able to give him any radiotherapy as it seems the tumour may well be too far advanced.   Luckily he does not seem to have altogether understood the situation.   A farming friend has just called in to see him, so there will be a happy hour of farming talk.   Thanks to you all for your comments - much appreciated/

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Support system

I was having coffee in town this morning with my dear friend W and we were discussing the great value in these circumstances of having a good support system.    I certainly have that - a whole host of good friends, family and all of you in Blogland too.   Thank you most sincerely.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Update

First of all can I just say how touched I am by all your messages on the Farmer's health.   You will never know just how much they mean to us and how they are helping us to get through it all.

To update - we have been to see the Specialist today.   The brain tumour is a Grade 4, the worst kind, and is inoperable.   The farmer is on high doses of steroids and goes next week to discuss having Radiotherapy.

He is in good heart and manages to feed the hens each morning, and the wild birds, and take Tess for three short walks each day.

He sends his thanks to you all too.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Update

I continue to be carried along by all your good wishes - I can't tell you how much they help.
,Just to give you an update.    The farmer has had a small hole drilled into his skull and a biopsy taken.
How long it will take for results apparently depends upon what kind of tumour it is.   In the meantime he is home, rather weak and only able to do very little.   Each day he tries to walk a little bit further with the dog and he is now feeding the hens.   He is on reducing doses of steroids and his language has stabilised to some extent so that although he forgets words he is nothing like as bad as he was.    He sends thanks to you all too.

God bless you all for thinking of us.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Thank you

Sincere thanks for your thoughts, prayer and good wishes.   They are helping tremendously.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Thank you.

I have just put on my computer for a moment and I find almost ninety lots of wishes, prayers and positive thoughts from all of you around the world.   I just can't thank you enough - the power of blogland - and the knowledge that I have so many virtual friends is so comforting and touching.   Thank you all so much from us both.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Farmer

For those of you who know, I can't thank you enough for your thoughts and prayers - it does help.   For anyone who has not yet heard = the farmer has a brain tumour.   He has not been well for some weeks and was undergoing tests.   It has now been confirmed that he has a brain tumour.

He has been in James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, where they have looked after him wonderfully.   On Wednesday he came home, with masses of steroids, and we are both due to see the Specialist on Wednesday when we shall know more about what is happening.  

You can imagine we are both totally stunned by the news but are bearing up as well as we can.   I do sincerely thank you all for your group hugs, your thoughts and your prayers.   They are helping.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Coffee morning.

Our Church Coffee Mornings have started up again into the new year.   I am not a church-goer but I always go (the first Saturday in the month) because as I live out of the village it is a good way of seeing one or two friends I might otherwise not see.

There were a lot of villagers there this morning and the usual buzz of conversation - a lovely atmosphere altogether.   A thermos of coffee on each table and a plate of biscuits.   A raffle table, a card stall, a jig saw and book stall - and most delightful of all - a home-made food stall with cakes, pies, marmalades and jams - and delight of delights Ann's Turkey Lasagnes.   She always saves me two which I freeze.   They are delicious and come in handy if I go away for the day and have to leave the farmer his lunch.

 Today I gave friend J a lift home afterwards - she suffers with a bad knee and a bad back - always worse in sharp weather like it is today.   Yesterday when we came home from the market it was ten degrees, today when I arrived home from the coffee morning the dashboard showed a temperature of one degree above freezing.   Quite a change.

Clear skies  - and my goodness how much lighter it is suddenly in the morning and how light it is in the evening - the rooks are not coming home to bed until after five now.   As so many have said in blogland this week - Spring can't be far away now.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Heating.

I am in the process of having Gas Central Heating put into my cottage in the village.   At the moment it is Oil Central Heating (which we have here on the farm, along with an oil-fired Aga) but the boiler is not fully efficient so I decided to change over.   It will be more efficient and - I am assured - cheaper to run. 

The gas has already been brought to the house so now we are waiting for the inside work to be done.  This is scheduled for the week after next and I understand that the weather is scheduled to turn wintry that week - sod's law I suppose.   My son and daughter in law live there and as my daughter in law is in poor health I am quite worried.   Various friends have offered electric appliances and I too have an electric convector heater they can have, and they also have an open fire in the sitting room and an open staircase to upstairs from that room, so perhaps things will not be so very bad.

I was talking to a lady yesterday who does not have central heating - from choice.   She does not care for it being too warm.   Each downstairs room has a fire place and she takes a hot water bottle to bed.   This time of the year we have our heating on from 6am to 10am and from 4pm to 8pm.   In addition we have the Aga going all the time and a woodburner in the living room.   We still have an electric blanket which goes on an hour before we get there and if my feet turn cold in the night I have been known to switch it on for a few minutes then!

Are you a cold person or can you manage with less heat in the winter?   I am sure I have got worse as I have aged - perhaps my blood is thinner.

Although the temperature here (according to the car dashboard) today was nine degrees at lunch time, because it is dull and damp with a sharpish wind blowing, it seemed cold to me.  I suppose that proves that it is all in the mind.   A bit more leaping about would probably warm me up - but you can rest assured that my leaping about days are well and truly over (if they ever began).

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Keeping going.

Nothing like persevering when one feels like not doing something.   I have undergone two very bad night's sleep - in both cases mostly because of cramp in my feet.   And, as I am sure you all know, if you can't sleep then unwelcome thoughts which you hoped to forget while you were asleep, pop into the head to exacerbate the situation.

Today is my exercise class, which I know is very good for me, and I was determined to go.   To that end I went back to bed after tidying round after breakfast.   I awoke several times with foot cramp but did manage two hours, getting up again at half past ten for a shower and to get lunch.

The first half hour of our class is 'top half' of the body and brain exercises and these I found most helpful.   But the second half is done standing up and really, after ten minutes, I was just too tired to continue so I sat down and watched.   In one way it was good in that I was able to watch the rest of the class and it was pleasing to see that I was nowhere near as bad as I thought I was compared with the rest of them.

But I must say that arriving home I had no energy left and was happy to sit by the fire.   It is very much warmer today - ten degrees for a while early afternoon, once the fog had cleared.   But a storm is approaching from the West.   We over here in the East are hoping that it is not quite as bad over here and that, perhaps, it doesn't get so far up the country as here.

It is the first of February today - and I forgot.   It always say 'rabbits' and ceremonially turn the calendar over.   Someone on their blog has just reminded me, so when I sign off I shall have to turn round three times.   Yes, I do still retain some of my belief in these daft old sayings.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Contrary weather

The usual Tuesday morning here in the Yorkshire Dales - with friends C and W in our favourite cafe drinking coffee and hot chocolate and eating a scone, a toasted tea cake and a piece of ginger cake respectively.  And, of course, that all important hour of chat.   Outside the window it was pouring with rain, although the temperature was higher than it has been for a while.

After lunch it was driving the mile to sit and chat with friend M in her cosy lounge.   Our friendship goes back a long way and whenever we meet we always have lots of laughs - important today as the rain stopped and the fog came down.   Shortly after three o'clock I decided it was time to come home as the fog was really thick and I can't drive in the dark (it was certainly getting dark).   But by the time I arrived home it was raining again and miraculously the fog cleared as if by magic.

During our chats today I find the several things are changing - folk are moving house, a friend is ill in hospital and other friends are seriously ill too.   Of course I know that nothing ever stays the same but nevertheless I have always liked to see the status quo remain intact = any changes and I become  most unsettled.   And that is how I feel this evening - many things are 'on the move' and somehow I have to maintain my equilibrium.

In this I know that I take after my mother, who went into a decline at any changes.   We used to make fun of her, but now I know just how she felt.
I could make a list of things which are on my mind at the moment but of course I won't.   It won't make them go away and - hopefully - in a few month's time I will look back at this year's beginning and think 'thank goodness all that is behind me'.

 

Monday, 30 January 2017

Yesterday

Early yesterday I sat up in bed drinking my early morning cup of tea and watching the sun come up.  The sky was a picture as the sun tinted the underside of the clouds first a deep red and then, gradually, turned to orange as the sun rose.   At that point the rooks flew past - thousands of them - chatting away as they went, quite close to my window.   So I had my fill  of joy before I even got out of bed.

By the time we had had breakfast the sun was really up and lit up the paddock so beautifully that I had to go out and take a photograph or two for you.
Add to that the fact that my snowdrops and aconites are out and you know that Spring is on its way whatever the weather throws at us.
Today friend W and I are off to M and S at Teesside Park (about an hour away) to have a look round - the first time we have been for about six months - let's hope we get some inspiration for our Spring wardrobes.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Times they are a-Changing.

I was at the village school in Lincolnshire
from 1937 to 1942.   Yes, it was wartime, but the only trip out from school was a bus trip to Elksley Waterworks in Nottinghamshire.   I remember it vividly and just as vivid was the build up to it, deciding on the packed lunch, what to wear etc.

At Grammar School (1942 to 1949) I don't remember any school trips of any kind.

What about projects?  I remember one at the village school and I still remember the excitement of doing it.   We had to collect labels off tins which showed where they came from.   Remember this was wartime, so there can't have been that many surely.   Our teacher put a map of the world on the wall and we stuck a pin and a bit of the label in the right place.   Is that why I am still so interested in Geography?

At Grammar School I don't remember any - it was heads down, get learning. 

Today in our local, weekly paper (The Darlington and Stockton Times - published every Friday) is an article which shows just how much more exciting a place school is these days.

Two of our Primary Schools started by writing letters to one another - pupil to pupil.   Then, after reading about a character called 'Flat Stanley' they each drew Flat Stanley on card and coloured him in.   Then they sent their Flat Stanley to their pen friend in the other school, who sent theirs the same so that everyone ended up with a Stanley to call his own.

Now, for a week, each child kept a Diary about the adventures Stanley had with them.   Then both schools got together for a morning's Workshop of Art, Drama and Writing.   Back in their own schools the children are now in the process of writing stories about the character and the aim is finally to produce a book of stories.

Isn't that just a splendid idea?

I would love to know whether your school had projects and visits.   Times have changed so much.
In my day women teachers were not even allowed to marry (of course men could!!);  we only had one Mrs on the staff and she was a war widow.  Our Primary school teacher was one Miss Kirkbride - past retirement age but kept on because of the war years.  When the boys left to go to the Boys' School in the next village (at eight) their teacher was Johnnie Laws; a firm disciplinarian adored by all the pupils (and father of a large family).

Now my grand=daughter, who teaches in Glasgow and is on Maternity leave, is planning to take her baby into school to show to her class - all keen and eager to see her.

There is no doubt which is the best method is there, but we can't move ahead of the times in these things can we?



 

Friday, 27 January 2017

Cold

Today is mind (and everything else) numbingly cold.    There is a thick all-enveloping mist and the sky is uniformly grey.

The farmer went off to the Auction Mart as he always does on a Friday morning and I went for coffee with the 'girls',   I am sure it was warmer in the cafe than at the Mart.

This afternoon the long-burner is lit, the house is warm and we are forgetting that there is an outside to go to.  Parsnip and apple soup, followed by beef casserole warmed us up when we came in and we have just about warmed through.

This week-end sees the end of the pheasant shooting season, so the last shoot is tomorrow and of course the farmer will be going.   So friend W and I will go out for lunch somewhere and so another day will pass, another day to say goodbye to January and get ready to welcome in February in the middle of next week.   It is a long time since we had such a prolonged cold spell - and I do hope it is soon over.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Nature.

We now have an extra hour of daylight morning and evening, and what a difference it has made.   Have the birds begun to sing where you are?  Robins are singing away and one or two blackbirds have also begun to tune up.   It is bitterly cold here, so it can't be the weather;  I can only assume that it is the extra daylight.

We really don't notice much of what goes on under our noses nature wise and as the farmer walked round the field this morning he saw this nest.   Not very good pictures I am afraid but at least he went back and took an image for me.   It is in the branches of a hawthorn tree, almost by our front gate.  Just think, Mrs Long-tailed tit raised her brood last year right under our noses and we never suspected a thing.




When I came back from the hairdresser's this afternoon, the garden by the side of the house was full of escaped sheep (around twenty of them had jumped the wall and wandered up the road).   The farmer was sitting by the fire and I quickly fetched him to put them back in their field.    He did this with the help of his brother, who just happened to be next door and saw what was happening.   I saw the funny side of it until I went outside and found that the wretched sheep had come to the back door and had attacked my tete-a-tete daffodils which were well in bud.   They had eaten almost every head off.   I have decided I hate sheep.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Lovely day


 Today has been a good day in all kinds of ways.   In the first instance the weather has been glorious providing you could ignore how bitterly cold it was.   The sky was a beautiful blue without a single cloud in it.   Friends over from the US (Boston) came for coffee this morning - two hours of lovely chat as we caught up on all our news.  Then, after lunch, our monthly Poetry afternoon - nine of us today - with lots of really interesting poems by a variety of writers.  Ending with a cup of tea this rounded up a very satisfying day.

It is so important when you get to retirement age that you strive to make life interesting.   It would be so easy to sit back, eat your meals, read the paper and do little else.   I can't exercise much as physically my walking skills are limited.   But that
doesn't mean I don't do a limited amount (I never miss an opportunity to go upstairs with anything that needs to be upstairs) or move around the house as much as I can.

Sitting listening to an afternoon of delightful poetry, carefully chosen to make an interesting selection, exercises my brain - different kind of exercise, but just as important.

Tomorrow's forecast is not so good but as it is my day for a cut, colour and wash and blowdry at the hairdresser's I shalln't mind so much.  (yes - I colour my hair.   I don't choose to have grey hair - my prerogative)

And the aconites and snowdrops in the front garden are out.   Spring is creeping in by the back door just to remind us that it is beginning the fight against Winter - a fight not won yet by any means but it is only a matter of time.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Weathers

I suppose whichever country we live in - parti cularly if we were born and brought up there - we quite quickly become accustomed to the climate and weather conditions.   It doesn't stop us complaining about them though does it?

Not sure whether this is a particular English characteristic or whether it applies to every Nationality.

A few years ago we went on the Hurtigruten, up the coast of Norway and round to the Russian border at Kirkenes.   We went to see the midnight sun and on Midsummer's night we went to a concert in Tromso cathedral on midnight.  Folk were drinking  coffee in outdoor cafes around the cathedral, children were playing on their bikes in the square - it was twilight and as dark as it got at that time of the year.

The converse is also true of course.   From mid December until mid February it will barely get light.   

The thought of living in perpetual semi-darkness for weeks makes me feel like curling up into a ball and hibernating.   But if one is born to it then I suppose it is a way of life.

Similarly with the degree of cold.  It is not a pleasant day here.   The sun came up and promised well, but it has been all uphill after that.  As I drove into town it was minus two and the fields were frosted although the sun was glinting on the grass and it was quite beautiful in a wintry kind of way.   By the time I returned after my trip to the Bank and a coffee with friend C (our favourite cafe is open again after a fortnight's redecorating) the sun had gone in, the cloud had descended, it was deeply depressing weather and yet the temperature had risen to plus six degrees.   It felt much colder.

Our friends F and R in The Netherlands often speak about how every year the dykes used to freeze and there was skating along them and yearly races.   Then the weather began to be warmer and now rarely are the dykes frozen enough to allow skating.

However, today in the Times there is a photograph of skaters on the dykes.  I am about to send a e mail to them asking if this ice is widespread and if this is one of those now rare happenings 'a skating year'.

Light the woodburner, close the curtains, get out a good book and Bob's your uncle.   Never thought I would reach this stage in life.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Lovely day out.

After seeing my lovely great grand-daughter yesterday (she is even more delightful in the flesh than in her photographs) and marvelling at the love, care and attention she is getting from her parents, this morning felt rather flat.

Suddenly the sun broke through what has been a whole week of grey skies and we just felt like a drive out.

The farmer drove through Wensleydale, through Coverdale and down into Kettlewell which I believe is in Cravendale.   Then we came back to Buckden and turned down the riverside and over the tops to drop down into Hawes in time to call at
our friend's restaurant for roast pork with sage and onion stuffing, apple sauce and lovely veg.

The temperature when we left home was two degrees.  It changed constantly on our journey, depending upon the height at which we were driving.   The lowest it went was minus two and the highest four degrees.

It is time to heat up yesterday's soup for our evening meal. so I will leave you with a selection of photographs I managed to take from the moving car.








Lovely old Yorkshire names for the villages, like
Carlton in Coverdale, Oughtershaw, Horsehouse,
Kettlewell, Yockenthwaite, Starbotton.   You couldn't make them up could you?

Saturday, 21 January 2017

No Hope!

Tess has just come in from her evening walk and as I am getting a dinner party ready she is glued to my side waiting for titbits (which she usually gets whenever there is a dinner party).

No luck tonight dear doggie - this lot are vegetarians!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Old Crafts.

The farmer is busy keeping our hedges in check and also mending the stone walls here and there.   The former tend to get a bit tangled with brambles which do mean that sheep get entanged more and more until they just cannot escape; the sheep do also tend to knock down bits of stone wall.   So, as Robert Frost so rightly said - Good fences make good neighbours and we don't want our always adventurous sheep to get over into next door's fields.

Once a year we have Mike, who arrives one day after the bird-nesting season is finished and trims all our hedges (mostly a mixture of hawthorn, blackberry, holly, ash and field maple) keeping them trim and also thick.   Constant cutting every year does mean that they never get a chance to thin out, and the small birds (yellow hammer, chaffinch, hedge sparrow) can build their nests well-hidden from prying eyes.

But it would be a shame if the old-fashioned hedge laying art died out.   The same applies to many of the old farming skills which disappeared with the advent of more and more modern machinery.

I came across an article today about The National Hedgelaying Society (Patron H R H The Prince of Wales), which is dedicated to keep the ancient art alive.   My father-in-Law used to lay all of our hedges and it is still possible to see his handiwork along the base of most of the hedges around the farm.   It is a time-consuming job and hard work to boot, but it would be a shame if it were to die out completely.   So it is good to see and read that there are still enthusiasts of the art (and it certainly is an art) around.

Now all the bramble prunings have been gathered up and brought back to pile ready for a bonfire on a day when the wind is in the right direction.   If it is a really cold day so much the better as it is lovely and warm standing close (at your front in any case even if your back is still freezing).

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Giving to Charity.

A few weeks ago Elizabeth (About New York on my side bar) knitted me two very pretty hats for my new great grand-daughter Ula.   All she asked for in payment was that I should give a donation to a charity which worked with children.

I put a post on about this and since then have really done some research into which charity to make a Direct Debit to.    I finally chose Medicins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).
I have today received a letter from them thanking me and including a paragraph about one of their projects.   I thought you might like to read it:
 
"I would like to take this opportunity to send a message from my colleague, Dr Emily Wise, who has been working in our tuberculosis programme in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan.   ""As a British Doctor working for MSF in the field, I have first hand experience of how your money helps to bring quality medical care to those afflicted by a humanitarian disaster and give back health and dignity to people who would otherwise be completely neglected or forgotten.   I have worked as a  medic in many different and challenging circumstances, at home and abroad, but I have never before felt so fulfilled by my work or seen how a small number of well-trained staff can have such a dramatic impact.   Without donations from people I and other doctors and nurses would not be here.   Our drugs would not be here.   Many of our patients would no longer be here.""

It is worth looking at their site if you feel like helping a worthwhile project as a New Year Resolution.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Sparrows.

I read somewhere that a naturalist found fifteen wrens huddled together for warmth last winter in a nest box one night.

We are very lucky in that we have plenty of house sparrows here.   They are supposed to be less common than they were but that is certainly not true here where during the day our holly hedge makes a deafening sparrow noise.   We have noticed that when we sit in the sitting room and have our afternoon tea, outside the windows there is a constant stream of sparrows flying up in front of the window.   We have discovered where they are going - they spend their nights huddled together in the house martins' nests under the eaves.

Although it is less cold here and the fog has mostly gone, it is still winter.   And as a friend quite rightly pointed out this morning - February is often an awful month.   I am hoping that she is proved wrong and that at the very least our snowdrops will be out and we will be reminded that spring is only just around the corner.

Keep warm.