Wednesday, 28 February 2018


Another heavy fall of snow overnight.   By tea time yesterday, when it was beginning to freeze again, some of the snow had gone.   This morning it is even more wintry.   But at present the sun is shining directly into my sitting room and kitchen windows and thus warming the bungalow a little.

Today should have been our Poetry meeting but sadly friend W has had to cancel it.   Nobody would be able to get through (some of the group come from Richmond).   In all the years it has been going this is the first time it has been cancelled.

Friend S can't get her car out to come and take Tess for her usual Wednesday walk, but friend J has rung to say that she will take her this afternoon. Thank goodness for such helpful friends.   Tess took one look out of the front door and refused to go into I actually put her on the front step (twelve hours since she had done a wee).

My son has just rung to say that he can't get his car out of his drive - and in any case he lives down an un-made-up lane which is also impassable.   Our local Comprehensive school is closed.

But, I have to say, sitting here in the warm with a cup of coffee and looking out on the wintry scene is rather pleasant. (the only thing missing is today's Times which hasn't arrived yet).

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Where is the Beast?

Well, where is the Beast from the East?   Alright, so we have about two inches of snow, but no strong winds, and mostly bright sunshine and the temperature is on or around nought.   Actually quite a pleasant day.  Now and again a blizzard comes our way but it is gone in an instant and then the sun prevails again.   I hesitate to speak too soon though as Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be worse, so perhaps we shall see him tomorrow with all his ferocity.

 I had to go into town to deliver a letter and friend W rang to say 'shall we go out to lunch?' so we combined the two and went to The Bolton Arms in our little town.   W had liver and bacon with mash and mushy peas and I had gammon, pineapple, egg and chips with peas.   Both were delicious.   There was an enormous log fire burning in the grate, the sun shone on the market square and the whole place was a buzz of people coming and going.   We had a really pleasant couple of hours.
So thank you W for suggesting it.

John talks today of the value of friends.  I was reminded of this today when first of all friend J rang to tell me not to take Tess out in the snow as it might be slippery and that she would call and take her over the fields with her dog Meg.   About a quarter of an hour later friend E knocked on the door to see if I needed any shopping  as she was just about to walk in during a sunny spell.   And she had hardly gone when W appeared in her car to take me in for lunch.   Oh yes John, I know all about the value of friends.

The Beast is supposed to strike again tomorrow and Thursday with increased ferocity but the amber warning patch seems to be moving further North so hopefully we might miss the worst of it.  I shall keep my fingers and everything else crossed.


Monday, 26 February 2018

Reading and Books.

Some people can't imagine life without it whereas others struggle to get through one book.  I belong a Writers' Group and we used to have a member who had never read a book in his life.

I can't imagine life without a book 'on the go' - sometimes two or three at once if they are different types of book.   Most of all I like a good novel and have, like most readers, 'favourite' authors.   But I also love travel books; in fact my late husband used to often reckon I liked reading about such things rather than going.   Good books about Natural History - authors like John Lister Kaye, Robert Macfarlane, and Roger Deakin spring to mind.

Our Reading Group mostly reads novels (although we did recently read a Patrick-Leigh-Fermor book which was very enjoyable).   Last month it was The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers, a book based on the history of the coiners of the Calder Valley at the end of the eighteenth century.   This month it is my turn to choose and I have chosen
Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty - a tale about a retired couple having a weekend in Amsterdam, a weekend during which they examine their marriage and their lives - as the front cover says 'a profound examination of human love and how we live together.'  I hope that the other members of the group like it as much as I did.   MacLaverty is a fine writer.

Another good read is a book my son lent me - I found it impossible to put down once I had started it.   It is Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor - if you come across it.   It is all written in the third person - no speech at all, which suits me fine but is not everyone's cup of tea.

If you are a reader then enjoy your read over the next few days if you live in the UK.   According to the forecast the best thing to do is to wrap up warm and stay home.

Sunday, 25 February 2018


This week my calendar is full- every day has something pleasant to do.   But the weather forecast promises doom and gloom from tomorrow onwards.   Yesterday - and particularly today - have been beautiful.   There has been unbroken sunshine, a chill wind but temperature of around three degrees.

It is suggested that from tomorrow it is all downhill - Polar winds, icy cold temperatures, possiblity of electricity cuts, heavy snow.   Hard to believe looking out of my window, but we shall see.    Tomorrow morning is my Book Club.   We meet in one another's houses and as this month's house is just round the corner from where I live that should be easy.  And I suppose it would also be sensible to nip into town and stock up on essential supplies.   Then, if all else fails, I can retire to bed and live on Kelloggs Fruit and Fibre - and maybe the odd slice of ham on good bread.

We shall all keep soldiering on.



Saturday, 24 February 2018


Rachel writes today about the dark net - something so sinister and something that many people (me included) know absolutely nothing about.   Yes, of course, I have read about it and about the recent cases she talks of.   Yes, of course, I am appalled by it.   I think the sentences handed out are about right - the damage done in the name of sex  - particularly to children and young people - is irrepairable.   Witness the men in their fifties and their grief, their broken spirit, in the recent trial of the football coach, also found guilty

What makes it all so hard, certainly for people of my generation, is that in our day life was relatively untroubled by such things.   I am sure I am right when I say that almost all of us (I am speaking of both sexes here) have at some time in our lives been subject to some form of sexual harrassment.   If we are lucky then it has been minor but some of us have experienced worse than that.  And we have had to live with it throughout our lives.   But this business of the dark net is something else, something I certainly find hard to take in.   And it is of course the downside of the advances made in such things as computers.

When I was a child our free time was on the whole (unless it was pouring with rain) spent out of doors, in the fields, climbing trees, searching for tadpoles, fishing, playing in the river.   In the winter we would have village magic lantern shows, threepenny 'hops' on Tuesday evenings in the village hall (all the boys stood at one end and all the girls at the other and only the bravest boys dare ask the girls for a dance!)   How innocent it all seems by today's standards, and yet I am sure that to a lesser extent these things went on because there always will be 'sad' individuals who get sexual kicks out of such behaviour.

Oh for an innocent world.   But then I don't suppose such a thing has ever existed and never will.   It is just that whereas once upon a time it was just individuals, now such people can reach thousands on this wretched dark net.

I can do absolutely nothing about it, so I shall try to ignore it.   Is that cowardly?   Maybe it is.   I am fully aware of it but in the days I have remaining in my life I shall try to concentrate on the good.  How it will be possible I don't know.   In addition to all I have written here there are the images of Syrian children, many of them babes in arms, covered in blood and being dug out of the rubble.   And what happened to the people in Yemen who have suddenly disappeared from being a news story after months of being in the headlines?   I don't suppose for an instant that their problems have gone away.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Update on previous post.

After writing the previous post I had a serious talk to myself and told myself not to be such a wuss.  Then I picked up the phone and phoned British Gas to discuss my account (deafness causes me to panic rather at this type of call.)   The young man I spoke to could not have been more helpful.  In a matter of minutes everything was sorted out, new smart meters were agreed on, direct debits were organised - I ended up very proud of my achievements and decided I had to pull my socks/ankle high tights up and get on with living.
Polar winter on its way next week they say - so I shall pile on extra layers, turn the heating up and go to earth until it is over.   Keep warm.

Another by-product of growing old.

Following on from yesterday's mention of growing old, there is another aspect of which I am very conscious.   Maybe it is just me - in fact I would love to know whether anyone else experiences the same feeling - but the older I get the more I find I have to stop myself losing my confidence.

I married young and had a very happy first marriage, bringing up one son and playing in an enthusiastic early music group - several of whom were professional musicians - and in addition holding down a responsible, fairly high up role in secondary education.   At the same time I managed to do a couple of degrees in my 'spare time', went off on music courses and generally filled every minute.

Then I had two years as a widow after nursing my first husband through cancer.   Meeting and marrying the farmer was more than I had ever expected to happen.   We had retired and moved to the countryside before my first husband died.   Now, suddenly, I was a farmer's wife - a completely different life, so different that there really was no point of comparison.   I had twenty three years of another very happy marriage - I now realise just how lucky it was that this could happen twice.

Now alone again - a son nearby - lots of wonderful friends - lots of interests - still able to drive - why should my confidence begin to waver?   I can only put it down to age (and I have met others who feel the same).   Perhaps it is the fading of physical strength, or hearing, or a general slowing down.   I don't know.   As I said yesterday - I am no Luddite.   I do keep abreast of current affairs.   But increasingly I need to remind myself who I am and what I am capable of 'off my own bat' lest I fall by the wayside.

Do others feel the same?   Yes, I know we all begin to age from the moment we are born, but eighty is a bit of a milestone whatever anyone might tell you about eighty being the new sixty.
Perhaps I need to snap out of it and buy myself one of the new 'must have' jump suits.   Might even do that if someone can tell me how one can go to the loo quickly if one is taken short (another side effect of getting older!)



Thursday, 22 February 2018


Bright, sunny, getting colder - this about sums up today here in North Yorkshire.   Over the tops of the houses of the estate where I now live I can see the Fells and the Grouse Moors and I see that today they are beginning to burn the heather.   Plumes of white smoke rise here and there - this burning is very much controlled and only done when the weather is right.   Grouse feed on heather and it is done to rejuvenate the plants so that they grow strong and healthy.

Just when we all felt that it was March next week and we were coming to the end of what has been a cold winter here, the weather forecast tells of Polar weather next week (they are not sure which parts of the country will be worst affected) and advises 'the elderly' to stay indoors and keep warm.  The weather map showed the deep blue of very cold weather all across Russia and Siberia and then sweeping down through the whole of Europe.

So, I ask myself, 'am I classed as elderly'?   Well, I am in my eighties; the girls on the checkouts in the supermarket regularly ask me if I want them to pack my bag; people hold doors open for me.  I presume this means I must look elderly (and I do walk with a stick) but the trouble is that I do not feel elderly.   Alright, I have an arthritic ankle which makes me a little unsteady in my walking (although friends tell me I walk much better now) and I am certainly not short of wrinkles but I try to keep abreast of things -the news, the newspaper, the computer.   On the whole I do not see myself as a Luddite.   But, nevertheless, if the weather really does become Polar I may well take to my
bed with a flask of Horlicks! 

I just paused to watch the headlines of the six o'clock news - the news and the pictures from Syria are terrible - I could hardly bear to look.   The United Nations Security Council are meeting later tonight in an effort to get a ceasefire so that aid can get in to help those trapped and injured and get some of them out.  On the one hand there was slightly heartening news last week when North Korea decided to join in the Winter Olympics and so one felt there might be a chink of light in World affairs.   Now that chink has gone and indeed darkness is worse than it was before.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A Jolly Jaunt.

Tess and I had a lovely jaunt out today - one of the most enjoyable days for a long time.    We went up over the top of the Pennines, down the other side and ended up in the little town of Sedbergh to meet my God daughter for lunch at Three Hares.

On the way we stopped at Cotter Force (Force is a local word for a waterfall) - one of Tess's favourite spots.  There was no one but us there so early in the morning apart from Mr and Mrs Mallard swimming serenely up Cotter Beck - they made a gigantic fuss when they saw us and flew off, quacking loudly.
I parked where my God daughter works so that I could leave Tess in the shade and then walked the quarter of a mile to the Three Hares.   Lunch was delicious - I had sweet potato and rosemary soup and a smoke salmon and mayo sandwich.   Then together we walked back to the car.

I stopped on the way back to photograph the Howgill Fells - so very different from the rocks of the Dales - I always think they look like green velvet and they are a wonderful backdrop to the little town of Sedbergh.
It was such a lovely day that, much to Tess's delight we stopped on the way back and walked up to Cotter Force again.   It really is such a pretty place.   This time I saw just one couple with an elderly labrador who had a pleasant conversation with Tess before we walked back to the car and began our journey home.   Such a lovely day.

When I was walking into town from where I parked my car I had to pass Sedbergh church.   Here  is the churchyard.   Why is it I wonder that so many churchyards have such brilliant displays of snowdrops?

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Gas Man Cometh.

Alright, I admit it.  I am just a little bit frightened of gas.   This is probably because I have never had it before - for the last twenty odd years my heating and cooking have been done with oil and before that with electricity.    So, when a fortnight ago my gas central heating boiler began to switch itself off at will and the blue light began to flash on and off, I began to panic a little, although pressing the reset button brought it back on again.

This morning the chap came to service the boiler and to reassure me that there is nothing to be scared of with gas.   Having just come in and found the bungalow warm and cosy and the heating chugging along nicely, I feel much better about things.

Too late to go to my usual Strugglers meeting, I decided to go and do a bit of shopping before our trip out tomorrow.  A friend rang and together we went out for a bit of lunch at the Golf Club.   As usual it was delicious.   She had mince with herby dumplings and nice veg andI had my usual Taste Platter (deep friend salmon goujons, camembert, mushrooms, onion rings and chicken - all served with chips and salad.   A glass of soda and lime before and coffee afterwards - and friend G lent me four good books to read, so I have come home replete in all senses of the word.

Twice round the block with Tess, now  I shall feed her and then watch Antiques Road Trip.   More about the books I have borrowed another day.

Monday, 19 February 2018


As Rachel pointed out on her post this morning, it has been a damp sort of day and yet not unpleasant - and as Si pointed out on his post, the bird song seems to be increasing each day - doesn' t it do the soul good?

One thing I appreciate greatly, living, as I now do, on a housing estate - and living alone - is that now I have left the farm, down its lonely lane (albeit a beautiful one) I see, and speak to, so many more people.   I cannot be lonely.  Having a dog also helps.   I am so glad I didn't pass her on to new owners because there are so many dog owners on this estate and it is so very easy to speak to one another when we meet as we walk our dogs.

I try to do three walks each day - morning, lunch time and just before dark - each one around the various footpaths which divide up the houses and bungalows.   It keeps Tess in trim (and me to some extent) and it is also good for my arthritis.   I still need my walking stick but I am much more active.

This afternoon was a ukulele afternoon - just six of us, but such fun playing and singing for an hour.   Alexander's Ragtime Band went down a treat after half a dozen practice runs.  Oh yes, we play all the latest tunes!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Sunday morning.

Just a quick post before I go off to collect friend W and then on to our usual Sunday lunch.

It is a lovely day here.   It is warmer, the sun is shining, there is little or no wind and - more importantly - the birds are going mad.   As I walked round with Tess I saw a dozen blackbirds, all scratching about in the undergrowth for food; a tree full of great and blue tits at the feeders and some making such a racket - 'tee-cher', 'tee-cher'.
Everyone seemed more cheerful , calling across the road to one another - all the same thing -
'Spring seems to be coming this morning'.   Oh my goodness, are we ready for it this year. 

It is now half past four and I am back from lunch out with my friends (cod loin in Hollandaise sauce
with mashed and roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots and diced swede in a very nice sauce , followed by a very light chocolate pudding and custard.    we sat in the bar for an hour with a cup of tea - lovely).   I came in and took Tess for a walk, turned the central heating up and am now just updating my post before settling down with a cup of tea.

How different the day has turned out to be.   From that lovely sunny start it has developed into a foggy day (and very cold fog at that) and there is nothing spring-like about it.   Going out just now I was struck by the silence - not a bird singing and I can't say I blame them.

Back tomorrow.

Saturday, 17 February 2018


A lot of us are writing about education today - I don't know why.   My post is prompted by an article in today's Guardian by Peter Bradshaw - 'I can't do my times tables and I don't care.'

I agree with him, and with Rachel, Gwil and Cro, all of whom say similar things about education in different ways.

Bradshaw argues that times tables are completely useless and that number bonds (i.e. ways of making ten - e.g. 7+3 or 8+2) are more important.

How I feel having taught in Comprehensive schools for all my working life, is that much of what we learn is pretty useless unless we happen to be about to make a career in the particular subject.
For example - a student who wishes to be a doctor needs (presumably) science subjects across the board, whereas someone who intends to become a
Librarian needs a very good grounding in English.

But what we all need, without a shadow of doubt, is to learn how to learn, to be given a grounding in developing an enquiring mind and given the 'tools' to take it further.  

From all my schooling I have always thought that times tables and number bonds were perhaps the most useful things I learnt, alongside the urge to be constantly learning, using the skills I was given.

Many is the time when, out with my friends, times tables crop up when working something out (dare I say often dividing up the lunch bill!!) and somebody usually says - good job I know my tables.

Are they still taught in school or are they one of the things that has fallen by the wayside? I know there was a time in Junior schools when if something interesting cropped up a good teacher was able (becoming aware of how the children were all so fascinated by it) to drop her planned lessons and concentrate wholly on the thing that had caught their imagination, working maths, english, history, geography, outdoor skills, art - the lot - all into a 'project'.   I doubt this is possible any more.   And I really wonder whether children do chant their tables until they know them

What is your view on tables and number bonds - are they essential or have you managed without them.   I know a lot of students who left school with minimum qualifications in these skills and then would turn up on the check out at Tesco a few months after they left when I went to do my shopping.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Just an ordinary Friday.

 Our local auction house, Tennants, are offering a Winter Warmers menu in their restaurant throughout January and February so naturally friend W and I wended our way down there after our usual morning coffee with 'the gang'.   Fish pie with prawns served with savoy cabbage, green beans and samphire and accompanied by a glass of house rose wine - and all for ten pounds.   What's not to like?   We finished with a coffee and a look round some absolutely beautiful tables and chairs and jewelry - all to be included in future sales and then came home.

It is such a nice day without the sharp cold wind that has been blowing for days and so Tess and I had a walk in spite of the fact that she had only recently returned from her Friday Petpals walk with Rio and Cosmo.   We both enjoyed it and when I have finished this we are going to take the air again before shutting up for the night.

There is such an improvement in the weather today that I was prompted to have a short walk round the garden.   Nothing much there (other than the dreaded Mares tail which I must learn to hoe out and tolerate (in that order) but the bulbs I planted are peeping through and Spring is on its way; whatever the weather might throw at us in the next week or not - it is inevitable.

Thursday, 15 February 2018


I think the shooting of America's school children has loomed large in all our thoughts today.   At tea time on the News we learn that he has been planning the shooting for some time and has not kept the fact secret.  I think over here we find it almost impossible to understand.   Certainly I do - that there can be so much hatred for one's fellow men.

I for one need to be thinking of a calmer subject.
Living alone teaches one not to dwell on things like this over which one has no control.

My afternoon has been taken up with Ukulele playing - five of us at an afternoon for an Alzheimer's support group.  Tea, coffee, cake, chat and singing to the ukulele- all the old songs that everyone knows.   I wish you could see the faces of the people who come - how much happier  they look when they leave - and I mean both the patients and their carers.   To have an afternoon of company, away from the house, with other people
who understand their difficulties.

 It was home to more snow falling and a bitterly cold wind blowing.   I desperately need to feel just a hint of Spring.   Please.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

My garden and other problems.

Someone who commented on my post yesterday said how she liked the look of the design of my garden and how she couldn't wait to see what would come up in a few weeks time.

I am afraid the answer to that is simple.   The lady who lived here was not the slightest bit interested in gardening so almost nothing is planted.  There are several elderly, sad shrubs, which are sadly in need of taking out and replacing, there is a rockery but all there is in it is one cluster of snowdrops.

The other side of the path on the top layer has  got an infestation of Mares Tail - a weed which is impossible to eradicate however hard you try.

You will have noticed that the garden is steep and has been terraced.   The bottom tier can be reached by standing on the patio so I have planted up two areas with a lot of Spring bulbs, which are just beginning to come through.   I am about to go to a garden centre and choose five new shrubs, which my gardener will plant for me.   I shall then buy a selection of rock plants for the top tier, but I shall be unable to plant this up as I feel totally unsafe climbing up to that height.   As to the side with the Mares Tail, then I have no idea what to do there.

The front garden, which is quite large, is entirely lawn.  I might possibly get my gardener to cut out a bed and plant something in it to relieve the monotony - I haven't decided yet.   Spring needs to come first.

No sign of it today though.   The snow which fell yesterday has remained, there is a strong wind blowing and it is bitterly cold.   To add insult to injury, when I switched my television on this morning to watch the News I just got a black screen and a sign saying No Signal and it has been like that all day.   The television engineer has just been and he has been out most of the day doing exactly the same thing.   For some reason I was not picking up the signal from the North East and Cumbria transmitter - it had changed for one further down the country which I was unable to access.   Five minutes and it was sorted.   But sod's law there is absolutely nothing I want to watch on television tonight - shall have to look on iplayer if all else fails.

My son (who is on Half Term this week) has kindly been and taken Tess out twice today for me.  Apart from the cold and the biting wind it is also very slippery underfoot and I am afraid of falling.   The weather forecast is that it is set to get
slightly warmer over the next few days - can't come soon enough for me.

I cooked a nice, warming vegetable soup for my lunch- all manner of veggies I had left from the weekend.   It was delicious.   Also in my Remoska I cooked a pork sausage casserole of good quality sausage with onions, garlic,sweet potato and an apple.   That was good too and there is enough left for tomorrow.   You need good, warming food inside you in cold weather like this.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Snow and Pancakes

Well, it is February after all.   When I ventured out with Tess at half past eight it was looking like rain but by the time I returned the idea of rain had turned to snow and now, at lunch time there is about an inch of the stuff - wet and sloshy and gradually transforming into rain thank goodness.   But it is still slippery underfoot.   The photographs are taken from my back and front windows
But, intrepid as our gang is, it didn't stop our little special jaunt.   It is after all Pancake Day - Shrove Tuesday, the day when traditionally one eats up all the 'goodies' left from Christmas and goes on to a simple semi-fasting diet for Lent which starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. 

So almost a dozen of us met in the cafe at Tennants of Leyburn at a quarter to ten - most of us for pancakes, streaky bacon and maple syrup.
Two hours of lovely laughs and conversation with friends - what could be better on such a dismal day?

Monday, 12 February 2018

..Bank closures

Thelma (North Stoke) writes today about Banks closing in her little market town up here in North Yorkshire.   The same is true of the little North Yorkshire town where I live - and I suspect the same is true all over the country.   The reason the  banks give is the rise in on-line banking but where does that leave the rest of us who don't choose to do that?

My local HSBC (which used to be Midland bank many years ago) has been my bank of choice for the last fifty odd years and during that time I have never overdrawn or even come near to it.   Two years ago the branch in our town was given a make over and looked very smart.   'Good'. I thought, they would hardly spend all that money on the branch if they intended to close it.  I couldn't have been more wrong.   A year later it is closed and now the building moulders away at the top of our market square - the railings rusty and thick with weeds and rubbish, the paintwork peeling, thoroughly neglected.   Signs on the windows tell us that eventually it will become a Costa coffee shop.

Meanwhile I have two choices - for some things I can go into the Post Office and do the transaction there, for others I have to go to my designated branch which is twenty five miles away - and I no longer drive in the town.

I suppose it has always been thus - money talks, money dictates what happens.   We minions might think we are the favourites of our banks or whatever, but not so.   The money HSBC spent on doing up a branch destined to close will no doubt already have been clawed back in various money-saving ways.   

And it is not just that.   I think of the protests against Fracking which are taking place near where Thelma lives (North Stoke blog again) - small, devoted folk ardently behind their cause standing up and fighting against giants of industry.

Fittingly in this year when the Suffragette movement is in the news again being a hundred years old, all these things which make us feel 'downtrodden' (and I include many, many female
'causes' in this as well as the two cases above) also serve to remind us that we have a long way to go and I doubt if we will ever get there.

Protesting about anything might make us feel a bit better but can anyone give me an example where it has actually worked (and yes I do know women have the vote but there are plenty of things wrong with society and its attitude to women still).

Sunday, 11 February 2018


Does anyone else find it quite refreshing that we are having quite a 'proper' Winter this year?   For the last few years our Winters have been mild and damp - what they call 'muggy' up here in Yorkshire.   Now this year the season seems to be on time.   The aconites are in full bloom, snowdrops - on the farm they were quite often out by New Year- are only just into full bloom here and even the early miniature daffodils are just coming through.

Driving out for lunch today it was good to see Canada Geese in quite significant numbers in some of the damp fields.   When we returned they had gone - presumably up the Dale into Wensleydale, where they tend to congregate in large flocks each Winter. 

On my morning walks with Tess I pass  a hedge of hazel.   The catkins are not even beginning to 'break out' yet although I suspect if I went back to the farm where there is a sheltered hedge of hazel, it might be a different story.    And one week of warmer weather would, I am sure, be enough for everything to put on a spurt.

Do you give on a regular basis to charity?   If so, then like me I expect you have been both shocked and disillusioned  by the revelations of the past few days.   It begins to look as though the problem may well not just be with Oxfam and I am sure that all the large charities will suffer greatly as many people withdraw their support.   The whole problem also is that many of these organisations do pay their Heads rather large salaries which again makes one question giving.   And yet seeing the people in areas where help is so desperately needed just makes the decision of whether to withdraw support or not even harder. I suspect that by the time we get to the end of next week we shall have read much more about the whole thing.

Another week starts tomorrow - another week of wintry weather forecast  - but at least a week that includes Shrove Tuesday - pancake day.   Our little gang is planning to go out for lunch on that day - a lunch of streaky bacon, pancakes and maple syrup.  Can't be bad.   Enjoy the week whatever you may be doing - and wrap up well to keep warm.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Best-laid plans.....

It is best not to plan in too much detail what one intends to do on the morrow.   As I said yesterday, I intended to have a quiet, warm, 'shut-up' day but, of course, it didn't turn out like that at all.

On opening up the blinds this morning I must say that the weather looked a little suspect, but by the time I had eaten breakfast and made the bed things were a little brighter and Tess and I embarked upon our morning walk in a pale, watery sunshine.

No wind so not particularly cold, it was a pleasant walk.   One of the nice things about the estate where I now live is that there are plenty of dogs (and therefore dog owners) and it is nice to chat to them during my walk.  There are all kinds of dogs - this morning we met a Cairn terrier (nice lady owner new to the area), a Labradoodle (man always walks him and the dog is so well-behaved on lead that he puts the rest to shame) and a gentle Border Collie we meet most mornings.

Full of good intentions immediately I got back and while I was togged up from my walk I sorted out all my recycling rubbish.   We have a very good recycling authority here and they collect every other Wednesday.   The trouble is that my road is windy and lately we have had a lot of gales.   On windy mornings it is hard to keep the recycling stuff in the boxes and I don't care to see it off down the road, so I have taken to sorting it and taking it the mile or so to the tip myself - and that is where I was bound this morning.

So, with boxes of tins, glass, plastic, newspaper and card I set off.   The men at the tip are lovely and really helpful.   I have been going for so long that I know them and they do all the work for me and in no time at all I was back home with empty boxes for next time and with a good feeling of a job well done.

I put a home-made Lasagne in my Remoska (made by A and sold for Church funds at our monthly coffee mornings) prepared sprouts for putting on just a few minutes before it was cooked and sat down to read The Guardian.  As I got up to put on the sprouts my son and his wife pulled into the drive - they had come to take me out for after-lunch coffee.    So they waited while I ate my lunch and then off we went to Richmond (six miles or so) to Sip coffee bar for flapjack and coffee.   Lovely coffee shop, nice atmosphere and we sat in the window and watched the world go by.

Returning through the beautiful contryside of Swaledale (the long way round, but the most scenic) there were no signs yet of Spring but everywhere was green.   A couple of fields had large flocks of Canada geese, always a delight to see.

Home in time to take Tess for her late afternoon walk before darkness fell (nights are getting lighter aren't they?)  and now an hour to read posts and put on a blog, so a busy day after all.

My Grandson, who teaches in the South of China, has gone to Shanghai for four days - he is really travelling about and I do envy him so.   His Grandfather (my first husband, who died in 1991 ) was a prisoner of the Japanese (The Death Railway) and lived in Shanghai for three years before the war.   He loved China and its people.  He would be so proud to hear of D being there now.   I sorted out one or two photographs of my husband's regiment when in Shanghai for my son to put on Facebook for his son.   The wonders of modern computers.


Friday, 9 February 2018


We have been lucky here in the Yorkshire Dales today in that it has been a day of beautiful blue skies once the early morning snow showers had disappeared.   Now, as darkness falls, the temperature is rapidly falling and it is bitterly cold.
This morning the weatherlady on Breakfast television smiled all the way through the forecast and when the presenters asked her how she could smile at such an awful week-end forecast she replied that it was February and just what we should expect.   What I like about February is that it is short and to the point.   We are already a third of the way through the month and soon it will be March, the early daffodils will be out and we will begin to say goodbye to winter, even if it is reluctant to leave.

Our Friday coffee morning was well-attended this morning - most of the friends were there and, as usual we had our lovely chat. What a difference to life friends make.   What would we do without them?

The News is so depressing today - the two Jihadis
who have been captured, the Oxfam/Haiti scandal (it is stories like this, true or false, which do the big charities such a lot of harm as people withdraw their support), the Brexit talks, which drag on and on week after week.   If there was a piece of cheerful news then I didn't hear it today.

I have messed up my e mails and somehow I can't get into them as my password is not being accepted.  Luckily my son, who is much better at computing than I am, is coming round later to sort it out for me.   Without him I would be up the creek without a paddle.

Wrap up well and keep warm if you live in the North of the country this weekend.   Don't go out unless you have to, stoke up the fires or turn up the central heating and get out a good book to read.   That's my advice and that's more or less all I shall be doing.   See you tomorrow, although if all I do is sit about all day then I don't think I shall have much news for you.

Thursday, 8 February 2018


I always have my hair done on Thursday mornings and when I went for 9.30 it was a pleasant morning with no frost.   I had already taken Tess for her morning walk.   But by the time I came out half an hour later it had begun to drizzle and by lunchtime rain had set in.   Petpals came to take Tess for her long walk (Thursday and Friday) and I ate my lunch and prepared to go to Bainbridge up the Dale because it is an afternoon when some of us play for the old people in the care home there.

There were only three of us today - G who led the proceedings and W and I to play and sing.   We sing all the old songs (Daisy, Home on the Range,
Side by Side) and accompany ourselves on the ukuleles.   Everyone sings their hearts out and it is always a delightful afternoon.

Coming back through a miserable, wet Wensleydale and looking out of the window of the car it could only have been February.   The dashboard said five degrees but stepping out of the car when I arrived home it felt more like freezing point.

Of all the care homes around here (and there are a lot - there is an ageing population up here - folk retired here twenty years ago and are now needing sticks and three wheeled walking aids to get about.)
this is one of the happiest and the best.

I shall now go and wrestle with my Income Tax letter.


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Flu jabs

To have a jab or not to have a jab?   Every Winter opinion seems to be divided amongst my friends as to whether or not it is advantageous.

I always have one, being of the opinion that any cover against flu is better than no cover at all, and so far, touch wood, I have managed to escape the dreaded lurgy.  Having flu at my age is always bad but when you live alone, as I do, it is much worse. 

Now I see in today's Times that next Winter there will be two different jabs.   One, a gold standard jab - Quadrivalent - will be given to anyone between the ages of 18 and 64 who is in an 'at risk' group - for example pregnant women.   This vaccine, as its name suggests, protects against four different strains of flu.

If, like me, you are over 64 then you will only be offered the trivalent jab, which protects against just three of the strains.

I presume this is, as usual, a matter of money.   But as there are over 8000 deaths from flu each year it does rather beg the question of how old on average are those eight thousand people?

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

It is our Writers' Group in the morning (weather permitting as it is snowing at present) and the theme is 'A Reunion'.     The maximum words (we are a large group) is 250.   It is very hard to keep to that number.   I wrote a piece and found it had
600 words in it, so I spent a couple of hours last evening reducing it to 300.   Writers of regular columns in our dailies must have this problem every day but I found it  very difficult and had to cut out so much.   But when I finished I realised that what I had left out was probably best left to the readers to put in as they read it.  So it is short.  What do you think?

The affair had not been a long one.   He had said his wife didn't understand his needs, her marriage had always been underwhelming.   She had bought sexy clothes, his favourite perfume, and twice a week they had met - out of town - and conducted a passionate and clandestine affair.   It had ended when he was posted to the other side of the country and had left with his wife and children.   Her marriage had ended a year later as she had known it would.   She had not married again.

Her career had progressed and she had an enviable life style.   Now in her fifties she was contemplating early retirement and a chance to fulfil her dream of going round the world.

Suddenly she heard from  him again.   He was a widower, did she wish to pick up the relationship?
Thrown by the suggestion, undecided,  she agreed to meet and as the days went on she had become more and more excited at the prospect, remembering those afternoons together.   She had replenished her wardrobe, bought his favourite perfume, changed her hairstyle (everyone said how young it made her look!)

Stepping off the train and walking to a seat she saw she was a few minutes early.   Under the station clock they were to meet - as they always did. 

He walked across the forecourt.   She watched him.   He hadn't bothered to change; scruffy clothes, unpolished shoes, hair needing cutting, shaggy, untrimmed beard - he no longer had much hair on his head.   To sum up in one word - dirty.

She crossed the bridge to the opposite platform without approaching him and saw she had half an hour to wait before the train home.   There was half an hour in which to go into the Travel Agents and find a Cruise around the World.

Incidentally I have been watching for the number to appear and now I have missed the 3000.   So today is post number 3010 in the years I have been posting.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Fish pie.

Many of you have indicated that you would like my recipe for fish pie, so here it is.   Quantities are not given because of course it all depends upon how many you are making the pie for.

What fish to use?   I use good quality cod - maybe loin - as the main ingredient.   To this I add a much smaller quantity of smoked haddock and cut both into bite sized pieces. I  add king prawns (uncooked) but don't add them at the beginning or they will be overcooked. Add at least a pint of full cream milk to the fish, put it into the pie dish,  put in the oven and cook for no more than twenty minutes.   Strain off the milk into a saucepan, add the prawns to the fish and then heat the milk to boiling and thicken with cornflour (add salt and pepper at this stage).
Pour over the fish and prawns in the pie dish and leave to cool a little. 

Meanwhile I chop up two or three leeks into small pieces, steam them for a few minutes and make a layer on top of the fish in the pie dish.  Then add a layer of sliced hard boiled eggs and finally a layer of chopped parsley.   You can do this the day before and cover and leave in the fridge.

Steam the potatoes and put through a ricer and then add butter, single cream and salt and pepper to make a smooth, fluffy topping. This  I spread over the fish, forking up the top to make a rough, uneven surface.   I dot this with butter and then put into the oven for about forty minutes until it is bubbling out of the sides of the pie and the top is crispy and brown.   Enjoy.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Back to normal.

My friends have gone back home to Windermere, across the very snowy tops of the Pennines.   They had a good journey home and have rung to tell me so.

They have been my first staying guests since I moved into my bungalow and I have enjoyed their company very much.   And I have  cooked two meals - dinner on each evening - and apart from Boxing Day that is the only entertaining I have done.   I really must get back into it because not cooking for people has made me lose my confidence in my ability to do so.

Fish pie served with peas and shredded savoy cabbage and green beans and pie and mushy peas followed by mixed fruit crumble and custard were the meals I cooked.

Back to normal tomorrow - blood test in the morning and ukuleles in the afternoon.   As usual a busy week ahead and snow forecast too.