Sunday, 20 January 2019

Sunday morning.

It is almost eleven in the morning and Tess and I have just come back from our morning walk.   Contrary to what I expected, there is no sign of frost, the sky is a mottled blue with white puffy clouds and it is quite mild.   There is not a breath of wind.  I am going shortly to collect W to take her up to my other friend W's and then in her car we shall all three go out to our usual lunch venue.   Unfortunately friend C, who usually joins us, has been ill in hospital and although she is now out and on the mend, she is not up to joining us today.
If you read this C - get your strength back up, we shall miss you today.

After I get back home and take Tess for her walk again I will finish off this blog. 

Super lunch - we all had salmon with potatoes three ways and plenty of veg.   Delicious stuff.
After arriving home and before taking Tess out I had a quick wander round the garden.   It has been such a lovely sunny day and the temperature has been five - and with the  sun out it really felt like a Spring day -  I took a few photos of what is stirring in the garden.   It does the old heart good because, of course, it is nowhere near Spring yet.
So here you are - signs of Spring in a North Yorkshire garden:





Feels like a frost tonight.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Every picture tells a story....


These two pictures, taken on our estate during my morning walk this Tess early today, say more about the weather than all my words can say.  It looks just the same now - no change all day.  Winter has arrived.

Friday, 18 January 2019

A wintry outing.

Today, in a slight deviation from our usual plans, friend W and I had a different venue for lunch.   All through Spring, Summer and Autumn we go over the top of the Pennines to Kirby Lonsdale to meet our friends P and D for lunch - always an outing we enjoy.   But we never go in the Winter - the road is so bleak and the weather can change at the drop of a hat.  So today it was Hawes, the unofficial capital of Wensleydale.

Today 'slight snow' was forecast but we all four, from two different venues,  set off in good spirits.  It was bitterly cold and slightly hazy.   I had hoped to take some photographs of Wensleydale for you but the haziness made the idea of photographs a non-starter.   Passing Addlebrough  in this weather always brings home to me how ancient the landscape is when I think that the Iceni tribe had a camp on the flat topped hill, from where they must have been able to see for miles around.

We met on time- went into the pleasant, warm restaurant, which was packed, took our places at the reserved table with a lovely view, read the menu and tucked into a delicious meal (in my case beef and vegetable pie with vegetables and chips (chips with gravy I hear you ask in horror) followed by Grand Marnier and Orange flavoured bread and butter pudding and custard.   At present I don't feel I want anything else to eat for at least a week, but I am sure the feeling will wear off.

By the time we left Hawes and the Wensleydale 
Creamery Restaurant it was quite seriously snowing, but we had only gone a short distance towards home (fifteen miles away) when the snow stopped. Now, central heating turned up, curtains and blinds drawn, Tess and I are snug for the night.   I am hoping there is none of the white stuff around when we draw the curtains back in the morning.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Thursday

I always have an early hair appointment on a Thursday.   Yes, maybe it is lazy of me to always get someone else to wash my hair and persuade it into some kind of shape, but I cannot tell you how long it is since I washed it myself - definitely more than twenty years.   I go as soon as the hairdresser opens and so am home again half an hour later.

My rule is at least two - and often three - walks a day with Tess (not all that long as I am not capable of long walks, but far enough to get some fresh air and exercise).   I also have a rule that every day I do the Brain Exercises in The Times - a codeword, a killer, a quick crossword and a word circle.  Then if I feel inclined there are three Sudoku to go at, increasing in difficulty.   I try to read the newspaper - after all I have bought it - and hopefully a couple of chapters of a book I happen to be reading.   This, plus tidying up, planning lunch (if I am not eating out!) putting a post on my blog, reading other posts, various regular visits out, and my days are quite full.

Today was a  day when a small group of us visit an Alzheimers support group to play ukuleles and sing old songs.  It is always an enjoyable afternoon as everyone enjoys the singing and there is always a lovely atmosphere.   Friend A called for me because we are still at the stage where it may be dark before I arrive home and I can't drive in the dark.  When I arrive home it was still quite light - a month tomorrow since the Winter Solstice and at last it is beginning to lighten.   Do hope the old adage ' as the days lengthen the storms strengthen' does not apply this year.   It has certainly been a very cold day today - around two degrees and very sunny but with a sharp Northerly wind.

I have four tubs of pansies and polyanthus along the front of my bungalow - they were looking very sad this morning where the frost had caught them
but by afternoon they had perked up. Let's hope the sun puts in a good appearance tomorrow - it does the soul good.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Poetry

We had a super Poetry meeting today - only two members missing - and a varied and interesting variety of poems.   Thank you to those who gave me ideas = I read a few of them and they were well received.   I would have read more of your suggestions except that I had already come across Dylan Thomas's 'Poem in October' (It was my thirtieth year to heaven) and I just had to read that.
Thomas - that absolute master with words - didn't disappoint. 

H read one of my favourite poems - Shelley's 'On a favourite cat drowned in a tub of goldfishes'.   How I loved that poem as a child - my father would read it to me night after night; it was always the poem I wanted to hear.   Every time I hear it now it reminds me of him and the happy childhood I was lucky enough to have.  Shelley was only thirty when he died - one wonders how his poetry would have developed had he lived longer. 

Tess had her long walk with friend S while we were at poetry, so she happily ate her tea and settled down for the evening.   Everything on our television is in one way or another about Brexit and really I (and many others like me) have no desire to listen to any more until common sense prevails.   So I shall now go and trawl through iplayer to see if I can find something light and interesting to watch.   I have run out of reading matter sadly.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Tuesday

Not a bad day here again, sun came through quite early and shone for much of the day.   It has been fairly mild but quite windy.   I had a late start as I  woke up an hour late at eight am after a rather disturbed night.   For the second time this week Tess woke me in the night with a short bark from her bed in the kitchen.   At least I think she did, although I am beginning to wonder if I am dreaming that she is barking. 

Thinking that she just might want to wee (or worse) I got up, put on my dressing gown and slippers and went to her crate.   She was sitting up and looking rather surprised  (I suppose she heard me coming) but I put her on her long leash and opened the front door letting her out on to the front lawn.   She does her late wee on the lawn every night of the year and I can recommend it - my lawn is beautifully green (in parts!).   Just as earlier in the week, she made no attempt to walk on to the grass and wee.   She sat happily on the front step looking up and down the road.  I stood just inside the door getting decidedly chilly.  The road was so quiet, the street lights stay on all night and there is one almost outside my bungalow.   The moon was shining.  After two minutes I brought her in, put her back in her bed and climbed back into mine.   My hot water bottle was still warm - I was soon warm and asleep again. 

This morning I was out at our monthly meeting where a group of friends meet once a month for a quiet hour to talk over any problems, any worries or just anything we wish to air really.   Afterwards friend W and I once a fortnight go out to lunch with another group who have become friends - about a dozen of us meet for lunch cooked by A  - today it was Lamb casserole followed by Christmas pud and custard.   

Brain exercises for the rest of the afternoon - walking the dog exercises my limbs, The Times mind exercises exercise my brain.   If I do both every day then I feel it helps to keep me going.
Now it is time to sign off and choose my poetry because tomorrow is our monthly Poetry meeting.
Do you have a favourite poem?   Mine seems to change with the seasons.  This time of the year I always read A E Housman's Shropshire Lad - particularly 'Lovliest of trees, the cherry now' (if you don't know it please do look it up - it will make you think of spring and all of us need that at this time of the year.)

Tuesday



Just after five Tess woke me up with a bark from her bed in the kitchen.   

Tuesday

Lovely day again here - once I got going.  

Monday, 14 January 2019

Patience

One of my mother's favourite sayings if my father was getting all 'het up' about something was -
Patience is a virtue.
Catch it if you can. 
Seldom in a woman
But never in a man.

This was never true in my experience.   I have had two very happy marriages and both husbands were the absolute model of patience.   Models sometimes to the point of being irritating.

'How much longer are we going to have to wait?'
' Calm down - it won't happen any quicker if you get in a state about it.'

You will gather from this that the person who is impatient has always been me.   Even now that I am well-retired and really have no need to get in a rush about anything, I still need things done yesterday.

Today I had a business meeting with someone who I feel is going too slowly with the job he is doing  for me.  All the  papers were checked and double checked (and triple checked if I am honest) but I still got 'in a state' = a feeling I have experienced all my life when a situation is out of my control.
Does it help to feel like this?   It most certainly does not.

When I got into the car to drive into town I couldn't find my disabled parking badge.   I searched my shopper and my handbag, went back indoors and looked in one or two other handbags and then, because I was running out of time (another 'failing' - I must always be spot on time), I drove in without the badge, parked a little way out of town (no change for the parking meter) and walked in - not easy with my poor mobility.

 Going to the bank after the meeting I found my badge - it was in my handbag all the time.   In my rush I had overlooked it.   To cheer myself up I went into my favourite restaurant and had scampi, chips and peas for lunch, followed by a cafetiere of Italian coffee.   By the end of the afternoon I had more or less calmed down apart from tinnitus, which always attacks fiercely when I am upset about anything.

These were feelings I recognised from my working days, when I was in a position of responsibility and things had to be well-organised and working properly.   The difference this time being that I am not doing the organising in the main - and that, I suppose, is the flaw in my armour.   I still like to be the one 'in charge'.  Oh dear, we never stop learning about ourselves do we, whether the information be good or bad.
 

Patience

One

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Saturdays.

Living alone is not fun at all, but when ones partner has gone there really is no alternative.   Saturdays are the worst day of the week.   As readers of my posts will know, I have plenty of friends and plenty of things to do in the week - plenty of lunches out, ukulele playing, meeting friends for coffee, book group, discussion group, dog walks where I meet the same people each morning and we exchange a word or two.

Sundays four of us go out to the same restaurant each week - we have a permanent booking.   But 
on Saturdays everyone seems to be with their family.   It can be hard to get through Saturday  unscathed.   As it happens this afternoon I went into Richmond with my son and his wife for a coffee and cake - sometimes we have an evening take-away.   But more often I am alone with Tess.
This is where my blog comes in.   You may be a long way away - even across the Pond as they say - but I am making contact and 'speaking' with someone.

And this is where John's post today struck a chord (Going Gently) .   He is thinking of turning his Ukranian Village field into a series of allotments for villagers, so that there gets to be a community of like-minded folk,all interested in 'grow your own', all likely to be there on Saturday mornings (not at work then) and digging away and comparing notes.   I think it is a brilliant idea.   We all need people in our lives.   We are not designed to be lone wolves - so well done John.   Wish I had a field to share.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Not this year!

This is something I came across yesterday when I was looking through my desk.   I took the photo several years ago when we had heavy snow and the farmer was feeding some of the sheep.   I had it made into a Christmas card for the next year and this must have been a spare one.   Sorry for the poor rather blurred image but it has obviously gone through several processes before it got to here.   It is lovely to look back on times like this, although obviously tinged with sadness.   I remember the day well. 

I took another photograph which I intended to put on just above this part of the post but sorry, it refuses to move.  But the other night I made a salad for my tea (feeling virtuous) - I made it look really pretty on the plate by dividing the plate into sections - wild rocket, feta cheese, cous-cous, piccolo tomatoes,pecan nuts and pineapple.   I sat admiring it before tucking into it - the French dressing bottle in my hand - when it suddenly struck me how 'foreign' this salad would have been to my parents.   They were keen salad eaters, but it all came out of our garden - lettuce, tomatoes from the greenhouse, radishes, celery.  I looked at the packaging on all the things I had used for my salad - every single one of them had come from abroad - Morocco, Italy, Greece - (I try not to buy salad ingredients from Spain having seen a TV programme showing thousands of acres of greenhouses and the immigrant workers who work in them for very poor pay and in very poor conditions.)  No doubt some of you will be appalled that I should make a salad like this when I could use English salad ingredients (have you ever tasted a tasty English tomato at this time of year?) but I happen to like all the things on my plate.   I enjoyed the salad very much as it happens.  

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Thursday

An afternoon playing for residents of a care home deep in the Yorkshire Dales - just three of us and a book of songs dating back as far as the First World War.   Ukuleles for us and a box of instruments for the residents - bells, tambourines, little drums and the like.   Some residents in the early stages of dementia, others with mobility problems, others who just feel the need for residential care in what is a very 'homely' home.   They seem to enjoy it = we go once a month =  I certainly do.

The journey is always pleasant whatever time of year (not least because W drives and I sit and chat and enjoy the view).   No lambs yet - I am sure one or two farmers in the Dales will have started lambing but higher up the Dale, where we went, the majority of the sheep are Swaledales and lambing starts much later.   The weather was pleasant today but it is easy in January to be lulled into a false sense that Spring is on its way - not so - January, February and even March can be cruel as we go above a thousand feet. 
 
Home again.   Tess had her long walk with PetPals this afternoon.   Now the doors are locked, we have both had our tea, everywhere is tidied and we have settled down for the evening.   Tess to do what she seems to do most of the day now - sleep- and me to watch the one River programme I didn't see - the one on the Amazon.  The ones on the Mississippi and the Nile were excellent, so I am looking forward to this one.

When the programme is over I may well start next month's Book Group choice -  'Days without end' by Sebastian Barry.   It is about America in the 1850's - the Indian wars and the Civil war.   Has anyone read it?

 

Thursday


Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Behaviour

Folk complained that the government had the fortnight's recess for Christmas when the Brexit debate was ongoing.   Well at least we had a fortnight when Brexit was barely mentioned - Gatwick with its drone scares more or less took over.

But of course it couldn't last.   Today the whole shebang was headline news again.    This time it was mainly because of the protesters outside the
Palace of Westminster - the abusive language and the argument on whether or not the protesters had abused the Public Order Act.

I have no wish to get involved.   At my age I really don't care which way things go (yes, I know that is a selfish view taking into consideration my grandchildren and great grandchildren ) I just want it all to be over and done with so that we can all get back to normal.

But I couldn't help thinking this morning as I saw the Protesters and the Politicians on Breakfast television that to some extent the pot is calling the kettle black.   These days when I see Prime Minister's Question Time or debates in the House the abuse being hurled from one side to the other, the mayhem constantly caused so that really no sensible debate can be taking place, I cannot but despair of the way our country is moving towards 
 something I don't like.   Am I right or is the right for Free Speech paramount above all else?
.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Tuesday

It is not often that the North is 'better' than the South - we are usually the underdogs (not that I mind as the South has so many more people and up here our countryside is quite empty = and long may it remain so) but weatherwise this week we are definitely the winners.   When I got up in the night and looked out of the window the sky was literally ablaze with stars and until a short time ago the sky was an unbroken blue and the sun was shining.    Cold it might be but it is a lovely day.
Friend S has been and taken Tess for a lovely long walk so she is very happy too. 

Yesterday fast broadband was added to my computer so that today there are teething problems
and for a while I couldn't get on to my blog.   Then my emails weren't working.   Now, at present, everything seems to be working well - time will tell.

A wonderful programme on television last evening had me enthralled with a journey from Vienna, through Switzerland and to the summit of the Eiger - all by train, including rack and pinion towards the end.   I have always been a great traveller - luckily both of my husbands enjoyed travelling too - but now my poor mobility means travel is virtually impossible on my own.   But programmes like this take me to places I shall never visit, without moving out of my armchair - so bring them on I say. 

Last week it was three great rivers of the world from source to the sea - the Amazon, the Nile and the Mississippi - how lucky we are to have programmes like these brought into our homes.   I often think how much my parents, especially my father, would have enjoyed this.   My father was a great amateur naturalist and some of the programmes on natural history would have enchanted him.

Great day for drying clothes = towels flapping on the line - must fetch them in, I don't think they will dry any more today.   So until tomorrow.....

Monday, 7 January 2019

Book Group


My book group meets on the first Monday in each month and we go round members' houses.   It was my turn to be the hostess today.   There were seven of us and our book for discussion was Robert Harris's 'An Officer and a Spy'.   There was a long and healthy discussion and we had all enjoyed the book - a fast moving account of the Dreyfus affair.   I learned more from it that I ever learned in A Level history.

Then, after a  hurried lunch of 'Fridge Bottom' soup (home made I hasten to add - sweet potato, red onion, carrot, leek and a stick of celery plus mixed herbs and bouillon stock) it was off - driven by friend W- to an hour's relaxed ukulele playing with friends.   Then home again to take Tess for her walk round the estate before getting tea for us both (not the same menu!)

Beans on toast for me, eaten on a tray while watching the first week of a new series of Antiques Road Trip - my favourite of the many antiques programmes on television.

Really a 'too busy' day for me these days although I enjoyed it.   But it is so good to relax with friends.   It is the moving about which tires me more than anything.   But a much easier day tomorrow - only into town for fruit, pay the paper bill for the week, buy some envelopes and meet friends for coffee.   Our usual meeting place is closed for the week so a new venue.   But we know their coffee is good.

Tesco deliver my grocery order in the morning nice and early - a lazy way of  shopping I know but it fills the fridge, freezer and cupboard and I don't have to do the majority of the work.

Spare a thought for Cro today.   He has lost his beloved dog, Bok.  When they die they leave a great big hole in our hearts don't they?

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Sunday

Sundays are always good in that I don't have to give lunch a thought as four of us always go out to lunch..  (prawn salad for me today I think).  Sunday is perhaps the hardest day of the week when one lives alone and going out to lunch passes a large part of the day.   Weather wise I think we have been very lucky up here in the North East of the UK.  Although there has been quite a lot of cloud we have also had quite long periods of sunshine (at the moment my garden is flooded with sunshine but it comes and goes).
All this does tend to lull one into a false sense that
Spring is on its way (herbaceous geranium, winter jasmine and pansy, viola and polyanthus in full bloom  do nothing to dispel these thoughts).   But there is nothing like a bit of sunshine to cheer one up in this rather dismal stage after Christmas.

Twelfth night been and gone, decorations away in a drawer.  I have looked through my cards (lots of robins this year) and when I go out to lunch I shall take them in a bag for my friend who will be there.   She makes all her cards and likes plenty of ideas.


So now it is all back to normal.   My Book Group meets here tomorrow to discuss the Robert Harris book 'An Officer and a Spy' - I always look forward to that.   The diary fills up - always good.  I have no desire to sit and vegitate.   While I can move I shall get about.   Still driving at present although I don't go all that far, but it does make life a lot more pleasant being able to just go to see friends or nip into town.   I had hoped when I moved here that I would be able to walk the mile or so into the town centre but I think it is just too far.

So, get back to your activities, put Christmas behind you.   I do hope that by now you have eaten up all the goodies.  I thought I had and was
intending to have a slightly frugal diet this week before I dare step on the scales - then this was absolutely destroyed last evening when I had a Mamma Mia Pizza from the take away (with chips and salad) - delicious.   Shall start the frugal eating tomorrow!

 

Friday, 4 January 2019

A Good Read.

I sent for a book recommended by a friend.   It came yesterday.   It is quite 'unputdownable' to coin a word.   If you want a really good read then read this - there is some food for thought there.   The book is 'Anatomy of a Scandal' by Sarah Vaughan.   If you read it, or have already read it then please let me know what you think.  I sat up half the night reading it.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

'Remembrance of things past'

You have to believe me when I tell you that, although one always has things happen which remind one of the past, these flashes of memory increase with age - and what is more they become more poignant.   This was brought home to me by reading my son's post (made out of words on my sidebar).   His poem speaks of how hearing 
Tubular Bells reminds him of the past.   I am sure such things happen to you; they happen to us all.

Sitting over my coffee after lunch I mulled the idea over in my mind.   Tubular Bells (I haven't heard the sounds since my son left home to go to University in 1973) but the very mention of the word reminded me how he would latch on to a favourite piece of music and, for a while, it would consume his every waking moment (he did read music at Uni and does work in music now).

Now that I am severely deaf music, sadly, plays little part in my life.   But there are so many other memories that drop into my mind at the tiniest reminder.   Here are a few which spring to mind:

A mention of violets on a comment on my post yesterday immediately transported me back to  a railway embankment just outside the village where I grew up in Lincolnshire.  It was the main line to the North - we often used to go there in case we saw The Flying Scotsman (sometimes we did - it was all steam in those days) - and in early Spring the banks were covered with violets (the smell was divine).

Salads with lettuce as a base - I am not all that keen on lettuce, it always seems a bit nondescript-
I have only to look at the lettuce and I can recall my school friend Janet (we are still in contact now).  She was an only child and I was ostensibly as my brother and sister had by this time left home and her parents used to like me to go to tea as often as I liked so that we could play together.   I loved to go because she had the best toy farm I have ever seen -not seen a better one since - and I loved to play with it.   So we would eat our tea quickly and then out would come the farm on the table.   Always for tea we had lettuce sandwiches (her Dad was a keen gardener and grew an abundance of lettuce).   I would eat them, and enjoy them although at home I didn't like lettuce.
Now - see lettuce on the table and it doesn't take much to transport me back to setting up the barns and the fences and then bringing out the cows and horses to put in the fields.

I could go on - as I am sure you all could - but I don't wish to bore you.   But I'd love to hear of a few things which dredge up your memories.


Wednesday, 2 January 2019

January 2nd

Dull, still, quiet day with nothing happening weather-wise.   On our after lunch walk round the estate a short while ago the air was full of the sounds of birds twittering - sparrows, pigeons, rooks and black birds mainly - and it made me think of Spring.   Yes, I know, far too early to go down that road.  In the field the awful mud had dried up and everywhere was looking good.

Then I met a woman coming the other way and for a moment we stopped to chat.   I remarked on what a pleasant day it was.   She replied that she thought it was just the kind of day that promised snow this time of the year.   Couldn't help thinking on the rest of my walk that this more or less summed up the two extremes of thinking about  everything at present - not least Brexit.   I shall continue to think it is a 'nice day' until somebody
produces an umbrella.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Lang may your lum reek......

......wi' other people's coal.

For almost twenty years we had Scots neighbours and they always managed to get that saying in somewhere over the New Year period.  (The title in translation being ' long may your chimney smoke'.   Although both George and Elsa have been dead for many years I always think of them at New Year - a much more important festival for them than Christmas was.

Well it's all over now bar the shouting.  Driving through our little town this morning on our way to have coffee with M was like driving through a ghost town.   The Market Square was full of cars but few people were to be seen.   I did wonder whether folk had left their cars to collect today after a night of festivities.   Only a couple of shops were open and, judging by the amount of food folk have bought over the past week or so, I wouldn't have thought there was a danger of anyone going hungry. 

So it is back to normal tomorrow - whatever normality is for each of us - and not a moment too soon for me at any rate.   Looking out of the window as I sit here, staring at a clear blue sky as the sun sets, the sun is catching an airliner high in the sky either going off somewhere or coming in to land at Newcastle.   What would my grandparents have thought to it all I wonder?   Not only the fact that air travel has become an everyday happening but that ordinary people can afford it. 

In the garden bulbs are pushing through, polyanthus are in flower and in the tubs at the front, where we face South,  polyanthus, pansies and violas are all in full bloom.   In my kitchen window an amaryllis (red and white striped) is now in full flower.  I can see a patch of snowdrops which have broken through the soil so will not be all that long - not like those in Newark, which Si photographs and puts on his blog, in full bloom and giving such a lot of pleasure.   So I think I can say  - in this weather, with the start of a new year, with a pure sunny day - 'If winter comes can Spring be far behind?'

When I arrived home after coffee out this morning, someone had left a lump of coal on my front doorstep.   If whoever it was reads this = thank you for the sentiment.   The gesture is much appreciated .