Wednesday, 21 March 2018

cold -colder-coldest

Well, here, as Spring has just arrived, it seems that by Easter we are going to be in the grip of more bitter cold weather.   A strong North wind is going to set in, which usually means that here in North Yorkshire we bear the brunt of it.   Still, comfort ourselves that the Inuit would probably find it pleasantly warm here now.

Three hours at the hairdressers this morning having my quarterly perm.   A nuisance and some may think a waste of good money.   The trouble is that my hair is both very fine and very straight and a perm makes it easy to control.

My herbaceous plants have arrived this morning, beautifully packed and in pots ready for planting.   Unfortunately my gardener has not yet been to sort out the bed where they are to be planted.   So for the time being they are in their pots in a sheltered position waiting the time when they can get their feet into the soil.   For anyone interested, the plants I have bought so far are as follows:
Astrantia Pink Pride.
Astrantia major Shaggy.
Geranium Elke.
Geranium Pink Penny.
Helleborus niger (the Christmas rose)
Helleborus hybridus double pink.
These for the border once the shrubs have been
removed and the ground has been dug and manured.
Also for the rockery so far I have bought an
erigeron, a plant which I love in spite of its very invasive habit.
Now it is time to attack and try to control Marestail.
Time will tell.
Friend S called to take Tess for her afternoon walk.  On her return she kindly retuned my television for me as yet again it had wandered away from the station and was just telling me there was no signal.
Then I realised that the central heating had not come on.   Investigating I found that there was a fault somewhere in the boiler which was flashing
EA whatever that means.   I pressed reset and at last the heating has come back on and all is warm.
If anyone reading this knows what EA stands for could they please let me know?   I only had the boiler serviced a fortnight ago and it is not due to be serviced again until February next year.

Tomorrow the first anniversary of my dear farmer's death.   I am not looking forward to it, but it has to be got through and a friend is there to help.   All shall be well.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Strugglers and lunch out.

Today was our Strugglers Meeting, where a group of us meet to discuss various topics which we are interested in or which we feel need airing.   We meet for a relaxed hour and a half and I always come away feeling that things are not so bad really.

Then it was a short trip along the road to our local
TOSH - the meeting place for many of our U3A groups and also various other groups within the town - Probus, Tai chi, Keep fit, a weekly film.  We really are a lively little town with so much going on.   We are very lucky.

Every other Tuesday the volunteers do a two course lunch to which anyone may go.   It is very reasonably priced and as we all sit round one large table it is an opportunity to chat to others who turn up.   Today there were about ten of us and the menu was chicken and bacon casserole with curly kale, followed by apple tart and custard.   Very tasty and it passed a pleasant hour and half hour.

This was followed by quite a long walk (for me) with Tess in bright sunshine on this, the first day of Spring (the equinox is today) and now it is time for tea.


Monday, 19 March 2018


Suddenly, in the space of an hour this afternoon, the snow began to go.   I went to ukuleles at a quarter to two and my front lawn was deep in snow.   When I returned at a quarter past three there was no vestige left and all was green.  Let us all hope that we have seen the end of it for this year. (please don't let me be tempting fate here).

I was thinking this afternoon just how very far communication has come in the space of my lifetime.   When I was a child in a village on the 
edge of the Fens in Lincolnshire, only three or four folk in the village had a telephone - the doctor, the rector, the judge who happened to live in the big house in the village and the Lord of the Manor.   Maybe a couple of the farmers too.

The likes of us had to trudge the mile to the red phone box, put in our twopence and press button A speak to anyone - the house could have burnt down in that time.

Now during the past week I have had e mails from America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Germany and France.  And joy of joys, at a quarter past one last Saturday afternoon I had a telephone call from my grandson who lives and works in China.   My parents, both of whom died in 1972 , would scarcely credit it.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Why blog?

Somebody on my comments questioned the need to put a post on every day.   In fact someone else questioned the need to blog at all.

Blogging is such an individual thing, so I thought I might give you my reasons for blogging and for almost always blogging every day. 

I have had a lifetime of discipline - getting up, getting my child off to school, driving myself to school where I taught for most of my working life,
coming home, preparing a meal, doing household chores and then going to bed. 

Retirement brought with it the chance to settle down and do the things I had always wanted to do - read, embroider, play the piano, walk, play early music and join an early music ensemble - very enjoyable - every day filled. 

 After the death of my first husband (married 39 years) I had a couple of years still doing these things, taking my dog for walks, taking on various voluntary jobs.   Then I married the farmer - helped with feeding calves, various farm jobs - looked after hens, reared chicks.   Again a very full life.

Now in my eighties and living alone - I cannot change the habits of a lifetime and sit around doing nothing.   I am not terribly mobile (arthritis) but can still drive my car.   I have lots of friends and we do things together, I go out a lot.   I now have a garden to plant - I was a keen gardener for many years.   But after years of being busy all day and having a routine of doing things, no way can I suddenly start sitting around.   So I still have my planned day - ukulele playing, reading (especially the book for my book group) etc; and built into that is writing my blog.   It is a discipline for me - it makes me think of something to say, it makes me get up and go to my computer, sit down and write.  I never take my lap top to my knee - it is important to walk to my computer room, sit down and write.   

So I suppose I can say that I see blogging every day as a form of discipline for me.   And at least it has given me my topic for today!


Saturday, 17 March 2018

How shall we manage?

Not sure how I shall manage without my daily input of John's wisdom and wit (Going Gently) but I do understand how he needs a break, especially as he is under the weather at the moment.   But come back soon John - and get well soon.

Here in North Yorkshire we are back in the throes of the Mini Beast from the East.   As I look out of the window it is snowing heavily outside - blizzard conditions.   At present it is slightly above freezing so it is quickly going, but I suspect that given another hour things will be very different.   The only consolation is that this spell is only short and once the week end is over  things should begin to warm up again.   In addition a sharp Easterly wind is blowing and clouds of snow are drifting past the window too - very bad sign of drifting.   Will this winter never end?

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Best laid plans..

A fortnight ago friend W and I planned one of our visits to Kirby Lonsdale.  At the last minute we had to call it off because of the deep, deep snow.   As I am sure you know by now, the visit entails going over the top of the Pennines so if the weather is suspect down here at 600ft asl, then sure as eggs is eggs is will be ten times worse up there.   Today it has poured with rain all day, there is a sharp easterly wind blowing and as we came back this afternoon the fog was beginning to form.   The forecast for tomorrow is worse - not a day for such a journey so reluctantly we have called it off again.  Snow is forecast again for the week-end - winter has not finished with us yet.

This afternoon a small contingent of our Ukulele group were playing for the local Alzheimer's Society - a sing along.   In spite of the awful weather there was a really good turnout and the afternoon was, as usual, a huge success.  To see some of the 'patients' who come along with their carers (usually husband or wife) when they come in and then as the meeting ends, is such a pleasure as often they are transformed.   One lady in particular comes in looking frail and troubled, she sings some of the songs with us and by the end of the hour and a half  she is smiling and talking a little.   Makes it all very worthwhile.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

A Cooler Wednesday

How sad to see this morning that Professor Stephen Hawking has died (I think he might me a Sir too but am not sure).   To live to the age of 76 with that kind of handicap is in itself much to be admired but to add so much to the world in terms of scientific study and mathematics just takes him out of the realm of ordinary people.   And what an inspiration he must have been to others with Motor Neurone Disease.

To more mundane things.   Well perhaps the affair of the poisoning in Salisbury is not mundane, but we have heard little else for the last few days.   The people of Salisbury must be heartily sick of it all.   I know it is an extremely serious matter - that such a nerve agent should find its way to a cathedral city as it has.   And I know that where it has come from and who did it is equally serious.   But I can't help feeling that we have too much information.   This is the problem these days - we don't really know anything about the matter, only what 'they' choose to tell us, so wouldn't it be better to say much less.   As someone once said - a little learning is a dangerous thing.   Being a Double Agent must be about the most dangerous job in the world I guess.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Spring? Afraid not.

Today is a Spring Day - sunny, hardly any breeze and quite warm - beautiful in fact.   This morning I went into town to do one or two jobs and then met friend E (only the two of us this morning) for our usual coffee.   Coming home I stopped off to pay the newspaper bill and to buy a couple of Gardening Magazines (yes, the bug has bitten me), had a quick lunch and then Tess and I drove down to the farm (always rather sad), parked the car and walked down 'our' lane for a quarter of a mile or so - and then back to the car.   How we both enjoyed it.

Yes, the gardening bug has hit me.   Yes, I am infested with Marestail, but there is nothing I can do about that other than to try to keep it down and to learn to live with it.   Derek, my gardener, knows this garden well and together we will keep it in check (any attempt to ban it is doomed to failure).

I have now ordered seven new plants to arrive next week from clareaustin hardy-plants - astrantia, hardy geraniums, hellebores and an erigeron which I particularly like.   The bed for them does not have Marestail so Derek is going to prepare that first.   Now I have in mind a couple of clematis to climb up and over my stone wall - then I shall really have made a start.

We need to make the most of today as the weather forecast is not good - it is going to get colder and by the weekend we shall be subject to snow showers - and the cold weather is then set to continue until the end of the month.   But today the sky is blue so let's not be downhearted.

Mary Berry last evening made some delicious and easy-looking recipes so my next job is to go to her site and download them.   Enjoy any blue sky that might have come your way today.

Monday, 12 March 2018


This is not a day when I feel cheerful - for a variety of reasons.   Of course the anniversary of the death of my dear farmer is fast approaching (March 22nd) so that doesn't help.

The party I gave for my son's sixtieth on Saturday was a delight and it was so lovely to see all the family together (apart from Dan in China) but when I got out of bed on Sunday morning my legs just would not work.   It took me a long time to get going and today they are still not brilliant.

In addition today has been a pouring wet day - it has never stopped.  I have forced myself to keep doing jobs rather than sit about, which would only make me feel worse

I did a load of washing, I took some rubbish up to the tip, I bought some needed stationery and came back and after lunch (and taking Tess for her second walk of the day) I sorted out various utility things - gas and electricity, council tax for next year and the like.  All jobs which needed doing but which I had no inclination to do.

Now it is tea time, I shall feed Tess and then myself and then before I know it it will be time to watch Mary Berry!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Party

The buffet party for my son's sixtieth birthday went well.   My grand=daughter came round early in the morning and together we prepared all the food.   It took us three hours and as far as I was concerned those three hours were a delight = these days I rarely get my grand daughter to myself for any time at all - after all, she has a toddler to look after.   We had such a lovely time prepared the planned buffet and chatting together.

We were catering for ten, many of whom were vegetarians.   We had veggie quiches, ham sandwiches, tuna/mayo sandwiches and veggie sandwiches to my grand daughter's recipe: grate together red onion, carrot and strong cheese, add salt and pepper and a dash of  white wine vinegar
and then bind with mayo. (delicious - try it).  Potato pancakes spread with cream cheese and smoked salmon, a cheese board garnished with black and green grapes, hot rolls and butter, a giant salad nicoise, crisps, various pates and biscuits for cheese or for spreading with pate.  Finally I made a huge apple and plum crumble which we served warm with ice cream or single cream.   There was white wine, rose wine, tea, coffee - plenty of chat and laughter and finally a large chocolate birthday cake.

We decorated the front windows with  60 signs and his three children and me clubbed together and bought him a top of the range tablet.

The icing on the cake was that at half past one we were able to speak to his son who is teaching in China.

Everyone mucked in with clearing things away, loading the dishwasher and keeping things tidy.  It was a lovely occasion.

Out to lunch today.   Mothering Sunday meant that the restaurant was packed to capacity and the staff were run off their feet - but obviously doing well.
Salmon in white wine and tarragon sauce with roasties and seasonal vegetables, followed by an orange sorbet served in the shell of an orange.

An update on Tess - she is back to normal in that she is full of energy, eating well, dashing to the door when anyone comes.   I shall try to put the tumour out of mind until the inevitable day comes when we have to say goodbye.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Sad news.

Tess did indeed have a tooth infection and has had
her teeth de-tartared and cleaned.   She is on anti biotics and hopefully that will clear it up.   She is certainly more perky tonight.   But, sadly, the scan showed up that she has a large mass in the stomach area which is almost certainly cancer.

I have decided not to have investigative surgery.   She is over ten years old and has never had anything wrong with her.   The vet has said that they could probably (but not certainly) remove at least part of the tumour but that it would regrow.

Tess has been a fit and healthy dog for her ten years and I am not prepared to let her go through an operation at her age and with this prognosis.
You can imagine I am pretty upset, especially so near to the anniversary of the farmer's death, but am soldiering on and friends have all been so good.

Tomorrow is my son's sixtieth birthday and a buffet is planned here.   We are all going to speak to my grandson in China via the internet at 12.15
so that will cheer me up.   My grandchildren are here, as it my great grand daughter who is just over a year old, so it will be a special day.   And I must say that Tess is back to normal, dashing about and not in any pain, so as long as  she goes
on like this all shall be well.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Medical report.

Well, no worse is the short explanation.  Tess is still feeling sorry for herself and really wandering about moping.   But she doesn't appear to be in such pain - hopefully she won't be after a large injection of antibiotics and painkillers.   Today she had eaten absolutely nothing at all.   Suddenly, at tea time, I had a brain wave.   If there is one thing she absolutely cannot resist it is tinned tuna.

I put down a plateful (about half a tin) and she perked up immediately, walked over and had about three mouthfuls, then retreated to her bed again.   However I went in the other room and ate my tea and when I returned she had eaten the lot.
But the worrying thing is that she has still not had a drink and must by this time be very dehydrated.
There is water down for her, there is skimmed milk down for her - but she has not touched either. 

Still, tomorrow we should know.    I have to have her there early so I am going to ask the vet to look at her teeth and if they really are decayed then to take them out and put her out of her misery.

There is still snow lying on the tops here and also along the hedge backs, so that each field has a white margin round it.   When we were kids we used to say that if the snow was left lying like that it was waiting for more to come.   But the forecast is for warmer weather for the weekend.   The first taste of Spring - when all of us keen on our gardens begin to get itchy fingers.

Another progress report on Tess tomorrow.


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

A Day and a Half.

Today has been very hard going to say the very least.   I should have been going to my Writers' Group at ten o'clock, but events overtook.  

Tess, my ten year old Border Terrier, was not at all well yesterday and ate absolutely nothing at all = nor did she have a drink.   This morning there was no improvement so as soon as the vet opened at 8.30 I telephoned and got an appointment just after 9. 

After a thorough examination the vet took a blood test and said she would telephone me later in the day.   I returned home and got lunch.  Friend S came to take Tess for a walk but she really was not well enough to go far - although she did enjoy it.
Luckily S was still there when the vet phoned as my hearing is not brilliant  on the phone.  The outcome is that she needs to have a scan - this is to be done early on Friday morning.   I was told to go back to the vets and collect anti biotics and a pain killer to tide her through until then - so off I went again, taking my shopping list with me so that I could call on the way back and do some shopping.

Wh en I tried to give Tess the antibiotics she screamed with pain everytime I went anywhere near her mouth (her breath is very bad) and would not accept them.   So it was back to the vets again for injections of both anti biotics and pain killers - enough to last through to Friday morning. Tess is asleep in her bed, comfortable at last and I am shattered - I am having a lunch party here on Saturday so need to have an early night!

I wonder if her problem is just severe toothache - I  hope it is nothing more serious.   Certainly her breath smells absolutely foul which may be an indication.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Out to lunch

This morning was, of course, our coffee morning - only three of us today and the fourth friend, C, is on holiday at a cottage in the Lakes.  So we had a nice chat for an hour or so in an almost empty cafe.   Really, in this kind of weather, the cafe owners in our little town must have a rather thin  time.

Then it was time for the first shop for my lunch party (buffet) on Saturday for the occasion of my son's sixtieth birthday.   It makes me feel very old, especially when I look at him and he looks so young for his age (and acts so too).

Then it was out to lunch.    There are so many places to go here for lunch that there is never a need for anyone to feel lonely.   Yesterday our local church was providing home made soup and a roll.   Today TOSH (The Old School House) - our local Arts centre, also home to many of the U3A classes, was serving Lasagne with peas, followed by blackberry and apple crumble and custard,  all home made by volunteers.   All absolutely delicious and only £5 including coffee and a lovely chatty lunch with a dozen or so other ladies.

Home by 2 o'clock to meet a gentleman who is kindly going to fit me a handrail on my front door and one in my shower.   He is also fitting a chain on my front door and putting up my Green Man by the front door.   He (the G M not the handyman) has been on the shelf in my garage since I moved in.

Then it was walk Tess round the estate - she has not been well for the last couple of days.   She has not eaten anything and has spent a lot of time just sitting with her head down looking rather sad.   However, she seems a little better this afternoon, so I shall leave it another twenty four hours before I decide whether or not it is necessary to take her to the vet.

Now time to unpack my shopping and make a cup of tea - in that order.

Monday, 5 March 2018


At the moment life seems just a little bit hectic and overwhelming.  I really don't know why but it is coming up to the first anniversary of the farmer's death (March 22nd) and I think that is probably beginning to affect me adversely.   But life must go on.

The snow is going quite rapidly here.  The icicles which were dripping yesterday have gone completely and grass is showing through on parts of the front lawn.   The paths were clear enough this morning for me to take Tess for her morning walk - with care. 

This afternoon an hour's ukulele playing with a small group was very enjoyable and since I came home I have just done one or two household jobs which I had left undone.   Now I shall   settle down and watch Mary Berry, who never ceases to amaze me with her enthusiasm and her energy - and the way she behaves and dresses - like someone half her age.

My interest in gardening is returning and I am busy looking for various herbaceous plants to fill a small bed.   So far I have earmarked two or three winter flowering hellebores, ditto winter flowering heathers, a couple of perennial wallflowers and several possible geranium such as Russell Pritchard, which I particularly like.   The man who looks after my garden is coming as soon as the weather improves so I shall have to start buying them ready to put in.   Anybody got any other ideas - it isn't a very large plot so nothing too big and nothing which takes over.   Any suggestions welcome though.

Sunday, 4 March 2018


Only two of us for Sunday lunch today - roast pork for W and salmon goujons for me.  The temperature is +2, although it went down to freezing as we climbed the hill on the way to lunch.   It is a relief to see that the snow is finally on its way.

Two enterprising children came this morning and cleared my drive for me, so that by the time I returned from lunch it was absolutely clear as the bits they left had melted.   All the long icicles along my guttering were dripping like mad.   How good it is to see that the Beast has worn itself out. 

Already I am beginning to think again about my back garden and what I intend to put in it.   The lady who  lived here before was not a gardener so I am left more or less with a blank canvas (other than the dreaded Marestail, which I am going to have to learn to live with.)   My first job is to get my gardener to take out two or three old shrubs, dig the smallish border over and then plant it with herbaceous plants.   I already have in mind one or two perennial geraniums, some hellebores, some irises and spaces for annuals.   Summer bulbs may well feature too and winter flowering heathers.   The space I  have is large enough to make a nice bed but small enough to be kept under control.

Above it is a rockery which has no plants in it at all so I shall buy a dozen or so rock plants and see what happens when they are put in and start to grow.   All quite exciting really.   The other side is the bit with the marestail- for the time being that lies dormant. 

As I write and look out of the window, the white snow has turned a dirty grey colour and is shrinking before my eyes.   The sky is a darker grey colour and it is very misty.   Somebody in the South of the country (think it was either Derek or Rachel) speaks of sunshine today.   I would give anything to see the sun.  It has been absent for many days.

Friday, 2 March 2018


A little better in terms of the weather today in that the wind, although cold, is not quite as bad as it was yesterday.   Obviously freezing rain has fallen at some time and the paths in my front garden are very slippery.   But the paths in our little town have been well treated, I presume with rock salt, and they are clear and so easy to negotiate.   I am very wary of taking my car out because it has not been out this week and my drive is on quite a steep slope.   I am afraid that if I began to go down the slope I would be unable to brake at the bottom as the snow on my drive is still quite deep.

Friend W has a four by four and is intrepid in the snow so we did manage to go the mile or so into town this morning to stock up on supplies.   There didn't seem to be any panic buying at all - the good old Yorkshire stoicism has kicked in I think.
We went after our shopping (and our usual morning coffee) and had fish a chips in a cafe - that gave us our treat for the day and when I got home Tess was in her crate.   She had been for her Pet Pals walk,so she really has done very well for walks this week. 

When I got home it was to find footprints in the snow all around my bungalow.   My son had rung to see how I was managing in the snow and getting no reply was worried about me and had come round  to see if I was alright.   (I had already gone into town) - of course his footprints gave the game away where he had peered into every window.

Listening to the News it seems that some of the roads where there were huge tail backs have now been cleared - let's just hope that this wind calms down and stops pushing the snow into such enormous drifts across the major roads.   If it doesn't soon improve I shall be forced to go out and build a snowman in my back garden!

Thursday, 1 March 2018


A quarter past one at lunch time and for the first time since I got up this morning it has just stopped snowing.   It is that powdery snow (good for skiing apparently, but not good for snowballs) which is blowing around in a much stronger easterly wind.   In addition it is absolutely bitterly cold.   I am not going out.  I feel sorry for Tess, who keeps asking to go out, runs up and down the path, daren't go on to the lawn where the snow is deeper than her little legs, does a quick wee and runs back in.   I have just had an e mail from the dog walking service to say they are not coming today.  I have rung friend J, who only lives a short distance down the road, and she is going to take Tess for a short walk for me in about an hour.   Thank goodness.  And thank you J too.
I read in this morning's Times (which was absolutely on  time after no appearance yesterday) where a Headmaster of a Private Day School in the South of the country had written to parents inviting them to keep their children away from school if they wanted them to play in the snow.   He said memories of snow like this would last them all their lives and would be more important than a couple of days schooling while this weather remains. I must say that I agree with him.   Children kept in lessons will spend more time looking out of the window and longing to be out there playing in it than they will on concentrating on what they are supposed to be learning.  (when I was a child the classroom windows were too high up for kids to look out and see what was happening outside!)

It is snowing again - five minute break is all that we have had.  Outside in the back garden sits a hen fieldfare.   Her feather are all fluffed out to keep warm.   She has been here off and on for a couple of days.   Next door has two berried bushes and both are covered, but she has made no attempt to eat them.   She can fly because when I stood in the window and she saw me she flew off into a nearby tree.    Is she sick I wonder?   Fieldfares move around in flocks - in fact there was a flock in the trees opposite but she made no attempt to join them. I fully expect that one morning I shall find her dead somewhere in the garden.

Nature can be so cruel and as several of you have said - lambing is about to get underway; in fact is well underway in many areas.   Many farmers I suspect will lamb indoors (if they have anything like enough room to do so) but that also has its problems.   Sheep are outdoor animals - indoors brings on all kinds of threats of dire things like pheumonia.   A worrying time for all farmer I am sure.

Folk like me, long retired, warm, plenty of food in store, no real worries, are the lucky ones really.   The only problem for me is cabin fever and luckily my son has been unable to get to work this week.   Yesterday he called round and stayed to chat for an hour, today he rang me and chatted for an hour.
Similarly, in the evenings, various friends and also my niece, ring and chat - thank goodness for the telephone!

No end in sight at present for the cold weather - but it is March 1st today (white rabbits!) - meteorologically the first day of Spring (obviously postponed) so I am glad I am still sticking to the old-fashioned March 21st.   So everyone - it will be Spring in three weeks time - can't come soon enough can it