Friday, 26 May 2017

First name terms.

The two men who organise the tip and I are almost on first name terms, I have been so often over the past few weeks.  My golden rule is to visit the tip once a day and pack at least two boxes each day.  Yesterday I excelled myself by doing even better.
When we bought our Aga cooker new twenty five years ago a whole lot of baking tins came with it.
After all this time they are beginning to look a bit worse for wear, but I do want to leave them where possible, so I set to work to give them a special do.

Armed with Brillo pads, rubber gloves and plenty of hot water I was busily scrubbing the Aga cake baker at twenty minutes to eleven last night!   It definitely thought it was having a birthday and is glowing this morning.

Today - our coffee morning with friends - I didn't get in until eleven o'clock but set to immediately and gathered together another car boot load for the tip - old items of farming clothing (milking smocks, woolly hats and gloves for winter milking mornings), a couple of old casserole dishes, a couple of roasting tins I no longer want and two outside folding chairs long past their sell-by date.)
Each load taken brings about a kind of cleansing.

It is very hot here but luckily there is a cooling breeze blowing, so on the way back Tess and I did our lane walk.   Now we are home; we have both had a drink and after one more cup of tea I shall do my next job - pack and label a couple more boxes.   The job is endless but I am clearing out such a lot of things I no longer want - the charity shop is taking it happily - and one day it will all be finished.   Won't it?

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Busy

It is good for me to be busy but you can have too much of a good thing and really, when it comes to bed-time I drop asleep the moment my head touches the pillow.

I am surrounded by boxes - my hairdresser dropped off around fifty this morning - and I try to fill at least a couple a day.   I also try to go to either the tip or the charity shop each day.   This is my one opportunity to seriously thin out my possessions.   When I pop my clogs somebody else will have to do it, so it is best for me to do it now.  Today it was the turn of the charity shop to receive three bags full of things to sell.

Today was my first ukulele concert - and it went off alright.   The one piece which I felt was too difficult for me - I was able to air strum large parts of it, only actually strumming the C and G chords - and hopefully nobody noticed.   The concert was at the Annual General Meeting of the University of the Third Age, which is very popular up here and has a good following.   There is a whole range of activities on offer - I enrolled in the book group, which meets once a month on a Monday (a good day for me) and the lady who runs it is going to e mail this month's book title to me.

Nothing is settled yet - I am in limbo - but I am keeping busy; there is such a lot to do.

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?