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.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Answers please

Or guesses.   I have had two jugs of holly covered in bright red berries in the house since before Christmas;  they have given me great pleasure but now the leaves have begun to fall.

Although I know that the birds love holly berries but never seem to eat them once they have dropped them on the ground, I scattered the stalks of berried holly around the bird table and waited to see what happened.   Although we had twelve male blackbirds under (and on) the table, none of them seemed to approach the berried stalks.

When we went to bed all the berries were still there.  When I drew the curtains back this morning all the berries had been eaten.   My question is - what had eaten the berries overnight.   A possible guess I suppose is mice.   Any ideas?
 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

First smile.

I have just received this picture of my Great grand-daughter's first smile.  It is such a lovely picture that I just had to post it as today's post.  It has certainly brightened up what is a very dull, wet day here in the Yorkshire Dales.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Friday 13th.

Do I believe in such rubbish?   No of course not.   But - really it is rather scary when snow, very strong gale-force winds, very high tides, full moon all coincide on the same day.   One does have to push such thoughts out of one's mind.

We seem to have got off lightly here in the Yorkshire Dales - certainly here on the Eastern edge.   The wind was very strong first thing this morning, there was a covering of snow and the temperature was below freezing (just) but as the day has gone on the temperature rose to three degrees, the snow began to go and the wind dropped to breeze.

Going out on my usual Friday morning 'jaunt' - wrapped in so many layers that I could hardly move - was, as usual, a good experience.   This morning we had a change of venue because our usual hostelry is closed for two weeks for redecorating.   We went instead to Tennants, our local Auction House and friend W very kindly took me there and gave me a lift home afterwards so that the farmer could feed up and bed down without having to stop to make the journey.

That was the good news.   The bad news is that Tennants cafe does the most marvellous breakfasts!   Now I had had my usual banana and bowl of the farmer's porridge so certainly did not need anything to eat but as two of our group had a breakfast I just couldn't resist a bacon bap (delicious).   As a result all I have had since has been a small bowl of vegetables at lunch time when I served up the farmer's lunch and a bowl of home made leek and potato soup at tea time.  I must say that the soup was jolly good and so warming on what has been a bitterly cold day.

A change of subject - I see that Tristram Hunt has resigned as an M P in order to take over the top job at The Victoria and Albert Museum.   Well done that man.   My own view is that with Corbyn in charge of the Labour Party the chances of them
ever becoming a force to be reckoned with are very slim.  And if I were he and offered the absolute Plum Job in the field which was my passion, I would jump in with both feet.   So I support him wholeheartedly.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Winter in all its rage.

The first 'real' taste of winter that we have had for several years has hit the country hard over the past couple of days and large parts have seen quite a lot of snow.   So far it has missed us here in the Dales.

Because the farmer is not one hundred percent at the moment he has not ventured out in the bitterly cold weather any more than he has had to.   Once the wild birds are fed, the farm cats are fed, the pregnant cattle are silaged and bedded down, the sheep have been looked at (he kills two birds with one stone and walks Tess at the same time) and the logs for the wood burner have been brought in, he brings himself in for the rest of the day.

I have had a busy afternoon - hairdresser, shopping for groceries for the weekend, collecting prescriptions from the surgery and finally driving to my Physiotherapist for a forty minute session - I arrived home at tea time just about exhausted.   One the way home, coming through a village with a thirty mile an hour limit, I accelerated just before reaching the sign to tell me it was no longer necessary to stick to 30mph and had reached about 35mph before I noticed a speed Police vehicle on the side of the road.   So now I have a wait to see whether or not I get a speeding fine.   Then, just as I turned into our land I hit and killed a cock pheasant.   This is a first for me as I always try to avoid them.   Sadly the local landowner had had a shoot today (I had seen all the cars on my way to the Physio) so this poor pheasant had managed to escape the guns, only to be killed by me.   Not sure whether the speeding or the killing of the pheasant upset me the most.

Now we are snug and warm. the wood burner is chugging away and we are set to play Rummikub.
All the curtains are drawn so if it snows we will not know until we draw them back in the morning.

I am thinking of the poor folk down the East coast who are being warned about an exceptional high tide.   I vividly remember the time when the coast of Lincolnshire was flooded and I believe around three hundred people were drowned.   Much of the land is reclaimed land and is very low-lying.   I believe the year was around 1957.  Hope to goodness it doesn't happen again tonight.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Weather

The weather here is contrary today.   I have been out to lunch with friend D - before she came the wind howled (60mph), the sky blackened, the sleet fell and the rainbow, against a backdrop of black clouds, was incredibly beautiful.

We went all of three miles to our local Golf Club for a Taste Platter (chicken, salmon, camembert and mushrooms - all deep fried - with chips and salad and there - I presume because we were sheltered - there appeared to be no wind, the sun shone and there was absolutely no sign of rain or sleet.

Home again at half past three in the afternoon and the black clouds have rolled in again.   Snow showers are forecast for tomorrow, but the west is expected to get it first, so by the time it gets over the Pennines and to here then I do hope it has weakened somewhat.

When I was young I loved the snow.   Now I hate it - the biting cold, the wind, the slippery conditions - give me a warm, snug room and my comfy slippers on days like that.

Keep warm.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

winter

So, it looks as though Winter is about to appear in the guise of snow and gales.  And it is set to come in from the West rather than from Eastern Europe.

Here in the Dales of North Yorkshire we are just hoping that the Lakes and the West side of the country bears the brunt of the snow before it reaches here.   I am going out with a friend for lunch tomorrow.   As the farmer has a quite long appointment at the doctor's in the morning for various tests, friend D is collecting me in her car and we are lunching at Tennants (our local Auction House).

Last Winter it was never cold enough for my heavy Winter coat (- I have had it for thirty two years - cashmere, camel coloured and a trench coat style it has never gone out of fashion).  Tomorrow may well be the day when it emerges once more from the spare wardrobe.

Simon - Careering through Nature - has a photograph of two aconites on his post.   I have a patch in my front garden - no sign of them yet and with this snow coming I don't expect there will be.
But plenty of winter jasmine out on a South-facing wall.    With this cold weather forecast we need to cast about for signs, however small, that if winter comes can Spring be far behind.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Out to lunch.

A pretty usual occurrence you must be thinking, and you would be right.   We were both out on Friday (me with friend W and the farmer at the Auction Mart); but today is a lovely, sunny day and we thought we would just drive to Hawes, only fifteen miles, where friends keep a restaurant - The Pantry - and have a good roast dinner.   We have both been a bit low as the farmer has health issues, so we decided it would do us good.

Tomorrow the car goes in (to Northallerton, twenty three miles away) for its annual service.  As I write this the farmer is giving it a good clean inside and out.   He has to have an X Ray in the hospital in Northallerton, so while he is there he will do both jobs.   I am going with him for company, hence the washing is merrily whirling around in the machine as I write.

It amused me no end that people were shocked that I could use the word 'ass' or 'arse' - a good old English word I might add, which has gone out of favour as polite - probably in Victorian times I would guess, when people even put frills around piano legs.   In any case, I was merely giving you the name of a blog to visit - Gwil's alternative blog is called 'zen my ass' and his post yesterday about UFO's was certainly interesting and is well worth a visit.
 
Sorry if yesterday's post was a bit on the gloomy side (Tom told me to lighten up ) but I must admit that I did feel a bit gloomy.   The feeling has largely gone this morning - with this sunshine in January how could it stay.   I just popped into the sitting room to look out of the window to see if my Winter hellebores (Christmas roses) were out - no such luck.   That would have just been the icing on the cake.

 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Predictions.

I wonder why we all feel the need to predict what is likely to happen during 2017?   Twice this week I heard "winter isn't over yet - there can be some really bad snow in February.   I remember in 1979..."   Well even the Met Office is not always spot on so really I don't see why we need to even try.   Let's wait and see.

Look at Last year and Predictions - Donald Trump and Brexit to name but two.   If we lived in Syria, Iraq, Yemen - or many other places - predictions would be far from the top of the list for worrying.  Being killed, getting enough to eat, would be much more important.   Just staying alive.

There will undoubtedly be more killings - who knows where - I have no doubt there will be earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, Avian flu in this country (it has already arrived).   There will be other things we haven't even thought of - good and bad.   We just have to hope that the good outweigh the bad.

I for one will just not be predicting anything - wait and see is to be my motto for the year (if I am still alive at the end of it - at my age it doesn't do to look too far ahead.)

If you want to see a U F O then go to Gwil's site (zen my ass) - now there's something to put you off predicting what the year might hold.


 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Friday

For the last couple of days I have not felt particularly like blogging and there has been nothing to blog about in any case.    The weather has been very cold, the farmer is not one hundred percent and I went with him to the doctor yesterday.   He has got to have a thorough M O T and undergo a lot of tests, which is good.   Perhaps we can get to the bottom of why he feels just a little under the weather most of the time.

Yesterday I managed to fit about a week's things into one day and ended up very tired.   I got a lot of  clearing out of slides done and taken to the tip - another clearing out day.   But I had a bit of a disaster with the computer (which I won't go into), then going to the doctors with the farmer, then getting the tea - and by that time I just felt like relaxing.

Today friend W and I went out to lunch and that really did me good.   Good friend, delicious lunch in a lovely warm restaurant - what could be better.  We had a  'platter' of salad, deep fried camembert, battered mushrooms, salmon, onion rings and breadcrumbed chicken breast.   A cup of latte coffee followed and I came home in a much better frame of mind.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Very cold weather

Very cold weather means that the farmer does not stay out for long.   He takes Tess for her morning walk round the fields - and this includes a look round the sheep at the same time - then sees to the hens.   The ban on letting them outside has been extended; because of the bird flu risk they must now be kept in until at least February 28th.

He feeds the wild birds too.  I suppose there is an argument against this when thinking about the flu, but we have done it for so long that a great number and a great variety of birds rely on us now.

The farmer makes sure that the kindling box is kept full and that the log supply is kept in good condition, makes sure everywhere is neat and tidy, and then he is in for the day (apart from a short walk with Tess after lunch and another walk around the sheep at late afternoon).

There are two newspapers to read (and he reads them from cover to cover and does the Sudoku puzzles too) and there is always a jig-saw on the go.   In addition of course we sit and chat.   Today friend C came for a cup of tea this afternoon and also to relieve me of a lot of surplus sewing/embroidery supplies so we had a pleasant couple of hours sitting by the woodburner, chatting.

Offloading all my embroidery bits and pieces has also been quite a relief.   I spent the morning sorting them out for her.   Does anyone else get a weird sort of pleasureable 'cleansed' feeling from a good sort out?

Monday, 2 January 2017

Thank goodness it's all over.

As the lady who cleans for me said a minute ago - " it's weeks coming with days of preparation and then it's gone in a flash!"   Well, now I just can't wait to get all the decorations put away and get the whole house back to normal.   None of this Twelfth Night nonsense for me.

I must say that we had lovely, thoughtful presents.   I am a great reader and have favourite authors (as I am sure we all do) and I was delighted to received two paperbacks by two of my very favourites.   I can't recommend them highly enough if you haven't read them (and if they happen to be amongst your favourite authors too).

Both have huge sections about the second world war - both very different in content and in the way it is dealt with - but graphic and gripping.

The first one is  Kate Atkinson's "Life after Life" and the second Sebastian Faulk's "Where my heart used to beat."  Having read them both I now want more and I want it now. 

Kevin Maher in today's Times says that today's
philosophy tends to be 'if I don't get that package within minutes of ordering it, my life will be over'.
He is speaking about Amazon's filing of a patent in the U S for a manned airborne warehouse which will float in the stratosphere at 45,000 feet and which will be able to deliver packages within minutes of ordering, by drone.

I must say that reading this I have not yet gone on to Amazon this morning to have a look what other books by the two authors I have mentioned I can send for.

The weather here is beautiful from the comfort of the house.   Standing in the bay window and looking out it is full sunshine, light breeze and glorious.   Step outside and it is very cold (on freezing) - but then it is January and this kind of cold kills bugs and is much better in every way than what we up here call 'muggy' weather.

So - here we are again.   A new year, new ideas and interests to fill the hours, plenty of visits out with friends for coffee and for food, a mound of Christmas jig saws to do (one down, six more to go) and three quarters of the Christmas cake left to eat (I don't care for it but it does stop me having to think about the farmer's tea time piece of cake.

Onward and upward is the way to go.