Monday, 18 March 2019

Busy day

I have had a very busy day today and am just too tired to put on a post - it is half past seven in the evening and I am going to settle down to watch University Challenge.  So apologies for no post - see you tomorrow.   Sufficient to say that today is my 3400th post - and still going strong.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Lincoln Imp

Anyone who has lived in Lincoln will have heard of the Lincoln Imp - he is such a symbol of the city.    I grew up there and went to school within a stone's throw (literally) of the Cathedral and the Imp.   And, like many people who have lived there and have now moved away, I have a replica of him hanging on my kitchen wall.

He is not easy to spot if you walk round the Cathedral.   He is actually not far from the altar, but very high up and not all that obvious - you really have to look for him.   Gwil tells me they went recently to the Cathedral but were unable to find him.

So here, especially for you Gwil - and for anyone else who would like to hear the story - is today's post about the Lincoln Imp. 

 One day the devil, feeling in a good mood, decided to let all his imps out for a frolic.   First of all they stopped off at Chesterfield and twisted the spire of the church there.   Then some of them carried on to Lincoln, planning to create havoc in the Cathedral.   They sent the Dean flying, broke some stained glass and then, rising from a Bible left open on the altar, an angel stepped out and put a stop to it all saying he would turn them all to stone.  

Most of the imps escaped but one was a bit too slow and there he sits for ever, high up, not far from the altar, turned to stone for ever and there for all to see and reflect on their own sins.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Spring?

et  us
It is rare up here to get a pouring wet day.   Alright it might pour overnight and just be clearing up when one arises - or it might rain more or less all day.   But last night, when I let Tess out for her last wee, it was pouring.   When I got up in the night the rain was lashing down the windows and now, at two in the afternoon, it is still lashing down.   I expect the river will be well and truly over - the road here is standing in water.   Tess took one look out and decided she would cross her legs rather than venture out.   We have just been for a quick sortis round the block.   Water, water everywhere is an understatement.   The wind has gradually risen as the morning has progressed.   The weather forecast is absolutely accurate.

As a result I have got some jobs done which have been languishing.   First of all I have ordered an office shredder.  I now have two if not three years of farm accounts which can be destroyed - they are taking up a lot of room but the Inland Revenue demand they are kept for some years.   Because BT have taken it into their heads to revise the whole e mail system bit by bit (and they have revised mine and several peoples round here) I had lost my link to Amazon in the process - it took me a long time to reinstate it.   And no - I couldn't remember my password - and if I had a password book I would lose it anyway; that is the kind of person I am.   Anyhow all done and dusted now. 

I have also made a list for my gardener when he comes.   If I don't make a list I remember something as soon as he has gone - and he is one busy man at this time of the year.   I have plants sitting waiting to be put into the ground - at least they won't be short of water when he plants them. 

If anyone else has had the e mail system completely updated by BT I would be interested to hear what you think to it.   I went to the BT site and they say they are updating everyone eventually but it will take a little time.   I am sure that when I get used to it I shall like it, but changing is such a chore.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Topsy turvy.

What a topsy-turvy first few months of the year.   First of all we get ten days of really balmy weather in February, when there are reports of swallows along the east coast (never the warmest of places).   Then  in comes March like a lion, such strong winds that Thelma reports a branch of a tree demolishing a conservatory roof next door to her and rooks' nests blowing out of trees. At the same time Si reports the sighting of a house martin in Newark.    In this windy weather!  The rooks nesting in the trees in our town car park are well on the way with their breeding this year and I noticed today that their nests looked very insecure.

Next week better weather is promised.   I sincerely hope so because Thursday is the first day of Spring - I do hope that day at least lives up to its promise.  

I refuse to mention, other than in passing, the terrible events in New Zealand or the muddle in Westminster.   Please - for the sake of our sanity, let us have a few days concentrating on something beautiful.  

Do you remember the old adage which we used to recite when we were kids and which, in those days, always seemed to hold true - January snow, February fill dyke, March winds, April showers, sweet May flowers?   (can't remember any more - can anybody else?)

Thursday, 14 March 2019

This and that.

Judging by various weather reports it would seem that we , here in North Yorkshire, have fared much better than folk in many parts of the country.  We have no doubt had torrential rain - the river has been over and the roads have been flooded (the fields by the sides of the road are still flooded, large pools lie on the roads and the flood signs are out), but each day we have had brilliant sunshine throughout the day and as long as one kept in a sheltered spot there was a feel of Spring in the air.   The rain seems to have mostly come during the night.   Long may it continue to do so (I expect this paragraph is tempting fate and I may arise tomorrow morning to a downpour - if so blame me).

Being driven through Wensleydale this af ternoon by friend W , on our way to the Residential Home for the Elderly in Bainbridge for our monthly sing song, I was amused to see that in the fields which had been flooded (where there are often fifty or so Canada Geese grazing) there were hundreds of Canada Geese - they had colonised the huge flood pools and were swimming up and down, really enjoying themselves.   It's an ill wind.

The elderly residents really enjoy our afternoon - we play the ukulele and we all sing the old songs they love - songs like Daisy, Leaning on a Lamp post, Side by Side.   They never fail to say they are looking forward to next month when we leave.   Two of the residents had passed away since our meeting last month - always a sad thing, but inevitable.   It does serve to remind one of one's own mortality.

I switched on our News when I came in, after taking Tess round the block for her last walk of the day.   But the Brexit news is all so appalling I couldn't bear to watch it at all.   I don't really understand any of the disagreements fully but I am beginning to think that none of our M P's do either.   The whole thing is in such a mess.  I suppose history will look back on it as just a hiccup but from where I am standing it looks more like a complete break down.  I keep telling myself I will neither watch the news or read the Newspaper  for the next few weeks, but then after a couple of days I am drawn to it again.   Was there ever such a mess?

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Technical brains.

For most of my adult life I have not had to think 'technically'.   Both of my husbands - in very different ways - were very practical men who could come up with a sensible solution to almost all problems - and who could call in an expert when they couldn't.

Now I am having to think technically for myself  and, dear reader, I have to tell you that I am totally and utterly useless at it.   Even the most simple problem sends me into a muddle.   And today I am totally ashamed of myself.

When I came home from town yesterday in my car I realised that the car radio was on and playing very quietly in the background.   I don't like background noise - however  quiet (something to do with being deaf I am sure) - but I just couldn't see how to turn the darn thing off.   I must have turned it on, but I didn't know how I had done that either.   This morning the sound was still there when I went to the Hairdressers.

She offered to come with me to my car after my hair was done but she is after all in quite an advanced stage of pregnancy so I thought it very unfair to drag her out in the gale which was raging outside.   And I knew friend S was coming this afternoon to take Tess for a walk, so I waited.   Friend S is a practical lady and as I knew - she opened the car door and switched the radio off.   I must have pressed the on switch accidentally at some point.   Why didn't I know how to do it - it was simple enough?

Is it just that some of us can't be bothered to learn these simple things?   I do remember once in the far distant past, before I trained to be a teacher, I worked - getting experience pre college - in a school for mentally handicapped adults - it was a very happy year in my teaching life.   But one day, when the head (a very strong, capable lady) had been called out, the plug broke on the electric iron when one of us was teaching a pupil ironing skills.
There were three of us there and none of us could change a plug!   When Mrs G came back I remember what she said, word for word:   'I despair.   Three so called capable women and not one of you can change a plug.   You should be ashamed of yourselves.'   (I still couldn't do it today - in fact I am not even sure whether you do change plugs these days or have we moved on from that?   (if not then please feel free to despair on my behalf).

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Tuesday

No, I refuse to contemplate today's vote and everything to do with it.   It is all so awful it is best just not to imagine what or what might not happen.

So let's contemplate the weather instead.   I believe it is the Irish who have christened the coming storm by the good old Welsh name of Gareth.   For a while this afternoon the rain stopped and the sun came out and indoors it was very pleasant - but the wind began to rise and outside it was a different story.   Now, at seven in the evening, it is rainy/windy/stormy.   Yes, Gareth,you are making your presence felt. So batten down the hatches.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Alterations.

It took me an age to get on to my e mails this morning as BT kept telling me that it had up-dated the whole site to make things easier and more available.   I must say that after half an hour of  struggling, pressing arrows and the like, I certainly began to lose the will to live.   But magically, suddenly it all came right and the updated, revised, so called 'better' system appeared on the screen.   So far I find it all very strange but no doubt, like all the other changes I have weathered, I shall get used to it.   But, as usual, I do question why - when things are working well - they have to change.
Is it just because so computer whizz kid wants to play about with the system?

It has been a lovely day here (viewed from inside) - cold but dry and windy and the sun has shone all day.   The weather forecast for the week is nothing special and on breakfast television weather photographs this morning I was surprised to see one of several inches of snow at Hawes in North Yorkshire, only fifteen miles from my door.   But we have none here - and long may it remain that way.

I don't care to have a day when I don't speak to anyone.   When one lives alone, as I do now apart from my dog, it is easy to get into the habit of having days like that.   But on Mondays my cleaning lady comes and we have a good chat over coffee after she has 'gone through the bungalow'.   Two walks round the estate with Tess have meant that I have also chatted with at least four dog owners and their pets - one especially, a Patterdale/Border Terrier cross, is a particular favourite of Tess and her owner is always happy to stand and chat.

As the day has progressed everywhere has dried up nicely and now, as the sun goes down at almost four o'clock, the cold is coming down and the central heating has been turned up accordingly.  Soon it will be time to draw the blinds and get snug and warm for the evening - but first one last walk round with Tess - a short one this time merely for utility purposes you understand.


Sunday, 10 March 2019

Sunday

Well it's back to normal again today after the razz-a-ma-tazz of the birthday celebrations yesterday.    Such a strange day today - one minute it is brilliant sunshine and the next it is snowing hard and there is a fierce wind blowing.

Salmon florentine as usual for my lunch - it really does taste beautiful on a deep layer of spinach - and because I am right off sweet food at present I had camembert for my pudding. Then it is a cup of tea in the bar, home again and take Tess for a walk before I take off my coat.  All done now so I can relax.

The fields are beginning to green up - in other words the  grass has started to grow and in those fields where there are no sheep it is bright green.
No lambs close to here yet although I did see some on Thursday when I drove through to Sedbergh over the Pennines.   I think to most people they are the first real sign of   Spring - well that and the catkins and they are everywhere.   And in the morning the birds are starting to sing seriously - does the heart good even if there is a snow shower outside the window.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Birthday meal.

It is my son's birthday tomorrow and I suggested earlier in the week that I take them out either for Sunday lunch tomorrow or for a meal tonight.   They thought about it long and hard and came up with the fact that they would rather have a pizza here tonight than go out.   So the table is set for their arrival and a Yorkshire curd tart sits in the fridge for 'afters.'

For anyone that doesn't know what a curd tart is it is a pastry case filled with sweetened curds and sultanas added.   It is utterly delicious.   I used to make it regularly but this one is bought from the branch of Thomas the Bakers - a local Yorkshire baker - and their sandwiches and cakes and bread are as good as home made.  On the whole I think my baking days are more or less over.   I love making inventive salads and things like that - and even casseroles - but anything which can go wrong I  leave to the professionals.

Here today it is a very cold and very windy day.   There has been intermittent sunshine but it is not a day for going far.   Tess and I have had two walks round the estate and I went into town for the curd tart - other than that I have stayed indoors and read the paper.   Now I await my visitors, complete with pizzas.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Nostalgia

I usually watch 'Antiques Road Trip' over my tea and today was no exception to that.   Suddenly there, on the screen, was an item which brought memories flooding back (this probably only applies to anyone over the age of seventy as the world turned full circle on its axis the day that the pill became available).

There on the screen were a pair of cinema seats covered in green velvet.   They had seen better days and the velvet was faded and worn in places.   But the thing that brought back the memories was the fact that they were what we used to think of as 'back row' seats.   Courting couples used to try to get to the cinema early enough to get one of these on the back row because the 'arm' between the seats would push up so that what began as two seats could be converted into one 'settee'  (much easier to do one's courting).   I can't count how many films I have not seen because we were sitting in one of these.  Sadly (or otherwise, depending upon one's point of view) that sort of 'courting' went out of fashion long ago, never  to
return. 

By the time the farmer came along, a couple of years  after my first husband passed away, I did get a taste of both ways of wooing -  but there was
a frisson in that first way  that sticks in the mind don't you think?

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Too much water

Following on from yesterday I made my decision not to go over to the other side of the country today.   There has been rain in the night and when I went down to the bottom end of the town to fill up with petrol this morning the river was banking and the fields either side were deep in water - obviously the river had been over and flooding overnight.   Too much of a risk I thought.

I e mailed my God-daughter (it was she I was intending to lunch with) who confirmed that the weather was awful over there too.   So we called it off, sadly as I was really looking forward to going.

Now, at half past eleven there is a lot of blue sky although there is a sharp wind and looking over to the West the sky has a lot of big, black clouds - so perhaps for the best.

Now to change the subject - have you seen Boris's Hair?   (yes, it needs a capital letter all of its own).
There is only one question one can ask oneself -
has it always looked that terrible mess just because he was too lazy to go to the barbers or because he was making a statement of some kind?    Maybe his latest girl friend has made him have it cut - or maybe he thinks it creates a better impression on the Electorate.   Whatever the reason I think he looks a whole lot better.

Now, suddenly, the sky is blue and the sun is shining (momentarily as it happens) so I make a snap decision, ring A and arrange to drive over the Pennines to Sedbergh after all.   It takes an hour - I change rapidly and  am off quite quickly, arriving there just after one o'clock and meeting in The Black Bull for lunch.   Lovely hotel with a blazing, welcoming stove, pleasant staff and a delicious, tempting menu.   I had three duck Spring rolls with a dipping sauce, together with a bowl of chunky chips and a lime and soda water.
A had a bowl of beef broth and a thick  beautiful ham sandwich absolutely stuffed with thick cut ham.   We chatted for an hour, during which it rained and then I started for home.   It poured all the way home but there was no flooding other than in the fields, so I got home safely.   It was lovely to see her.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

A Downside

One of the (very few) drawbacks to living in the Yorkshire Dales is that there are quite a few rivers and we are not short of steep hills either.   The upshot of this is that when it rains the water pours off the hills down into the rivers.   The River Ure
(our river) is said to rise twenty feet in an hour and of course then the roads in and out of the dale become impassable. 

Tomorrow I am thinking of possibly going across the dale but I know that if I go and it then rains heavily and the river is high, there is always the possibility that I shall be unable to get back home.  Decisions, decisions.  I shall wait until morning and review the situation then.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Lunch

Our Tuesday lunch day today (every other Tuesday) and a new lady which is always nice, especially as she lives further down my road.  Of course there is only one thing we could possibly eat today and that is pancakes, because today is Shrove Tuesday.   The first course was pancakes stuffed with a mixture of ham and cheese - and they were delicious.   For the second course we could have chocolate brownies, or sandwich cake, or more pancakes - this time served with either golden syrup or lemon juice.   I am a lemon juice fan and had two with lemon and sugar, so four altogether - two with ham and cheese and two with lemon juice.   And then, being really naughty
(may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb) I finished off with a piece of chocolate brownie - that was delicious too.   Marks all round to A our cook each week, who does it all cheerfully and without complaint.

So it is nothing else to eat today after the huge lunch - maybe a fruit salad at tea  time because I have just stocked up my fruit bowl this morning and have seriously missed fruit the last couple of days as I have been too lazy to get out the car and go shopping.

As the day has worn on so the wind has strengthened and it is now blowing a gale and is very cold.   But the sun is shining so that inside, in my sitting room facing South, it is very pleasant.
Tess thinks so too - I came home at two after lunch, to find her stretched out on the sofa in the full sun (she is not allowed on the furniture).   Back in her own bed now, and suitably chastened, I do hope she is not forming  a new habit.

Cup of tea and unopened magazine now - what could be better?

Monday, 4 March 2019

Biting off almost more than I can chew

It was Book Group this morning and a friend who also goes and lives quite near to me suggested we walk together as the venue was just at the bottom of our road.   The weather was pleasant although chilly and we set off twenty minutes before we were due.  It was downhill all the way and we did, of course, arrive early.

The book was Lee Child's 'Killing Floor' - macabre, grotesque and absolutely not on my list of enjoyable reading.   But, as we all agreed, it is par for the course in a book club to read everyone's choice, discuss it, and then if you don\t' like it make a note not to read any more books by that author.   As Lee Child has now written twenty four 'Reacher' novels somebody must like them but there was too much blood for me, although I admired his skill in writing.

When it was time to return I must admit I struggled - uphill all the way and around half a mile I would say.   Still I feel good that I have now walked a mile today plus two walks with Tess, so that can't be bad can it?

Friend W has just called and reminded me that it is Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) tomorrow - and as it is the day when we have lunch with a group of a dozen friends we are hoping A, who cooks the meal, has remembered.   As far as I am concerned it is any excuse for a pancake - with maple syrup  (or preferably with lemon juice and sugar.)

Storm Freya was destined to wreak havoc but I must say that thankfully she almost missed us - rain and fairly strong winds but nothing like they had in the West of the country.   Sadly the very warm spell has spoilt us but Spring will soon be here - it is, after all, already meteorological Spring isn't it?

Saturday, 2 March 2019

The Words we use.

I have just been listening over breakfast to talk about how the words we use tell folk exactly where in the country we originate.   The most obvious one is what we call the evening meal.   Where I come from (Lincolnshire) we had breakfast, dinner, tea and supper.  Although my father took sandwiches  for his mid-day meal we (my mother and I) had our 'normal' cooked dinner (that is until I had school dinners) and my father's dinner was put on a plate.   Just before he came in at the end of his working day my mother would put his plate, covered by another plate, over a pan of boiling water to warm up (no microwaves in those days).  My mother and I would have tea at the same time - maybe something on toast like eggs from our hens, or home made bread and jam, or maybe salad from the garden.   Supper would just be a milky drink with a biscuit.   Listening to the programme this morning there were so many variations to this - the most obvious was instead of breakfast, dinner, tea and supper it would be breakfast, lunch, and either dinner or supper, depending on how posh you were.

Now apparently, as people move around the country more and social boundaries loosen a bit, these are all becoming more blurred.

Another instance is the word 'beck', which we use round here.   I called it a 'stream' before coming up here, but in some areas it is a 'rill' and there are dozens  of names for these small water courses.

Language is fascinating but social mobility and the way we now often live miles from where we were born means that I suppose eventually all these variations will die out - as will so many of our customs.   At our village coffee morning this morning, looking round the village hall, so many people were newcomers (offcumduns) - very few 'native' villagers are left and how happy the newcomers are to live in such a lovely village where the few that are left make the newcomers feel so welcome.

Friday, 1 March 2019

The First of March.

Had it not been such a glorious, and unseasonable, February we would have said that today had a touch of Spring in the air;  as it is we mourn the passing of the false Spring and say it is chilly today.   But reading some of your posts today and considering how I feel although I am no longer able to garden, and rely on my gardener calling, we are all slipping into garden mode.  Every shelf on the garden stall on the market this morning was full of colour - violas in hanging baskets, tiny pots of tete a tete narcissus, grape hyacinths, single primroses, cowslips, pansies, polyanthus - what a temptation.

 I gave my outside tubs a good dead-head and a good feed yesterday and already, this morning, they have perked up and look ready, and willing, to face the Spring.

The usual lunch out - fish pie with a glass of white wine -has left me feeling comfortably full.   And returning to a warm welcome from Tess, who had herself just returned from her PetPals walk, makes the house seem less empty.   Not sure what I shall do when she is no longer with me - after all she is eleven years old and the lump on her side is still there, although it does not seem to be bothering her in any way.

From today the weather seems to be going rather on a downward slope but I know that many places are in need of rain.   Just send the rain without the March winds please and then I shall be happy.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Temperature

The temperature is more than ten degrees colder then it was yesterday.   It is six degrees here today, the mist has not cleared, the sun has not appeared,there is a cold wind blowing.   In other words it is typical late February weather.   I shall be glad to get all the blinds drawn and the central heating turned up full  - that is what I crave at the present moment.

I have a new book to recommend.  It only came  out in paperback at the weekend but I managed to get a good used copy from Amazon and am enjoying it so much.   It is Aminatta Forna's 'Happiness' and I really can't put it down.   Do give it a try and let me know what you think of  it.

What is it about the actual sun that makes us feel so much better?   Yesterday when I walked round with Tess early in morning all the birds were singing, even the Songthrush.   This morning only the robin was breaking the early morning silence.
Please Mr Sun come back soon - after what I can only describe as a Brexit winter I think we are all in need of some warm spring sunshine - and it will give us something else to think and talk about.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

High as an elephant's eye

s w
The sun I mean of course - and an appropriate quote as it is indeed another beautiful morning, the last I believe because March begins to remind us that Spring is not here yet.   But yes, the sun is quite high, high enough for me to draw back my louvre blind and sit on the settee facing South and read without the sun shining in my eyes - it is now higher than the top of the window.

And then, speaking of elephants, a mention in today's Times in Matthew Parris's 'My Week' gives food for thought.   He tells how an elephant died in the middle of the last century on a Showground in Bakewell in Derby shire.   Many people had never seen an elephant and as it lay dead hundreds of folk came to see it.   As they gathered round the corpse  there was a huge explosion of gas from the dead beast - in other words it farted - and there was panic as people fled in terror.

Anyway, let's get a bit more sensible shall we?   Today is my poetry day at friend W's - one of my favourite days in the month when about ten of us meet and read our chosen poems, and relax, and discuss them in a not too serious way and just have a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.   Tess likewise as friend S (who happens to live next door to our Poetry meeting) always takes Tess on a walk for me - so we are both set to enjoy our afternoon.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

That is the question

To iron or not to iron.   That is the question I am asking you today.   I can more or less predict who will answer that they never iron anything - modern-thinking women all of them.

Well. sorry to them from me, but I have to iron.   I don't always feel like standing at the ironing board and yes, it does often make my legs and arms ache.   But it is worth it.   Sheets - there is nothing in this world more wonderful than sliding between freshly laundered and ironed sheets when the bed has been changed - it makes the effort involved worthwhile.   Tea towels - opening the drawer to a neat pile of ironed tea towels - not much effort to iron but a great deal of pleasure to behold as you hang a clean, freshly ironed one on the hook.   Shirts - nobody will ever convince me that an ironed shirt doesn't look better on a man than one which has just been hung on a hanger to hang out before being worn.   Yes, I am old fashioned, yes I make work for myself, but the satisfaction I get from the results makes it worth it for me.

Another blissfully warm and sunny day.   I went into town to meet friend C for a hot chocolate in our favourite cafe - I went in just a sweater and trousers - no sign of a jacket.   I understand that it is beginning to go downhill from tomorrow onwards, so let's make the most of it. Now I shall take a gentle stroll round the estate with Madame - she needs the sun on her back too.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Monday

It is one of those Spring days when the sun is out, there is no-one about and the quiet everywhere is so quiet that you can hear it.   Do you know what I mean?   Maybe it is the product of being profoundly deaf - I don't know.   But whatever the reason, sitting on the wall in my backgarden the warmth of the sun is bliss.   No doubt about it, today is the warmest day of the year so far here in North Yorkshire.

My cleaner, who comes on a Monday, is not able to come today.   Of course I hit the cleaning at full pelt (as I always do ) and after tidying everywhere,changing the bed, washing the bedding, drying it, ironing it and putting it in the airing cupboard, making the bed up with clean bedding, walking the dog twice so far, cleaning the kitchen units and floor and cooking myself a sausage, bean, mushroom and tomato lunch I am now, at twenty minutes to four in the afternoon, absolutely shattered and barely able to walk because my ankle is hurting so much.  I have just watered my outside pots and now I shall do no more today.

March at the end of the week.   March can be a cruel month and I am afraid that February has lulled us into a sense that Spring is here.   On my walk at lunch time there were primroses, iris reticulata, all kinds of daffodils from tiny tete a tete to large ones, crocuses, helleborus, wallflowers, rosemary in bloom in gardens and on the grass verges plenty of lesser celandines and daisies.    Does the old heart good.   There was even a patch of coltsfoot - I love this weed and it really loves the sun - every flower was facing the sun full on with joy at our lovely weather.   Enjoy it while it is here everyone.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Sunday

Outside the window the sun is shining brightly, there is no breath of wind and a stillness that only happens early in the morning (the one last thing at night  has a totally different air to it).   It is almost nine o'clock but the estate seems to be still fast asleep.

Tess has eaten her five Bonio biscuits.   She is very odd.   I put them on the rug by the sink and she carefully carries each one out into the hall, lays them one by one in a line and then goes out there and eats them.   If I only put four down she will come back to the biscuit cupboard and sit and wait there for the fifth before she starts eating any of them.   There is no accounting for what goes on in a dog's mind.  Cah she count up to five?   Wno knows.   Now she is sitting out in the back garden in the sun.

Today, as all my readers know by now, is our lunching day - The Golf Club (and no, we none of us play golf ) has an extensive menu.   Today I think I shall have prawn salad and chips but am contemplating having a starter because I need to have two courses and I have gone off puddings altogether - some of the starters are to die for.

If anything spectacular happens during the day I may well add to this tonight, but so far today this is all I intend to write.   So enjoy your day too and I hope the weather is a beautiful with you as it is here.  For sure everything here is being apricated well and truly - including me.

If anything it has been warmer than it was yesterday here.   For lunch I had poached salmon with mashed and roast potatoes and plenty of good vegetables.   I just don't feel like eating sweet puds any more so instead of a pud I had a camembert starter for my pud and it was delicious.   Then a lovely pot of tea in the bar afterwards and home again to take Tess for a walk before it got dark.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

A New Word

I have learned a new word today from David Hambling in Weatherwatch in today's Guardian and that word is Apricity.   And my goodness does that word apply to today.   It is an Old English word and it means coming from the warmth of the sun on a Winter's Day.   Walking along with Tess this morning after the thick fog had cleared it was so warm.   I met friend M on my walk and she had a scarf and a winter coat on.   Her first words were 'I feel so overdressed'.   David Hambling goes on to say that to apricate means to freshen and disinfect by exposing to sunlight.

The sky is pale blue, there is still fog above the River Ure (I can't see it but I know it is in that dip in the middle distance) and there is not a breath of wind.   Compare it to this time last year and we get a perfect example of the vagiaries of British Weather.   This year there are reports of migrating birds already here in the South of England, so now we must hope that there isn't a sudden huge drop in temperature.

What to do on a Saturday?   Well how I wish I could go out into the garden with my hoe or my little hand fork and take up some of the weeds which are beginning to appear.   But after falling last year I have promised I will not be so stupid again.   My gardener will no doubt appear within the next week or so and he will take care of that. 

My plan today was to go through all my files and papers and make sure they were tidy and in order.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak - best left for a miserable wet day methinks. 

PS   I have just seen a butterfly and several bees in my garden!

Friday, 22 February 2019

Spring

Today, here in the Yorkshire Dales, it is Spring.   It was cold yesterday and the forecast says it is not going to be all that warm tomorrow - but today there is little or no wind, the sun is shining and it is warm.   And it does the heart - and the soul - good.

As most folk here will know, today was a special day for an elderly man in Sheffield.  When he was a small child in 1944, he was walking his dog over the playing field when an American bomber flew over very low.   The men on board were waving - he thought possibly because there were children on the field - in fact they were hoping to crash land there but on seeing the children - and then a housing estate - they overshot both, landed in woodland and all were killed.  A memorial was built to them and he has tended it daily throughout his life.   Today, on the seventy fifth anniversary of that day, he was the guest of honour as US and British air force top brass, plus thousands of locals, plus the BBC Breakfast crew - all turned out and at 8.45 this morning there was a fly past over the site in their honour.   There was not a dry eye to be seen - it was a very moving time for everyone.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Pleasure

One never knows where and when pleasure is going to strike.   Today was a busy day - manicure at nine this morning, followed immediately by a wash and blow dry for my hair (can't let Tess upstage me) and then a dash over to near Bedale for my six weekly visit to my Physiotherapist.   I didn't arrive home for my lunch until twelve o'clock and I had said I would go to play for the Alzheimer's Group in Richmond to be there for 2pm (taken by friend W).   I was almost too tired to eat my lunch and wondered whether to say I wouldn't go, but I wasn't driving once I got to W's and I knew if I stayed at home I would just sit and go to sleep.   So I went.

And what a lovely meeting it was - the most there we had ever had - the room was full of patients and carers and we all had a good old sing of the old songs they all remember.   Everyone enjoyed it, many came alive whereas often they sit quietly and do nothing, or even fall asleep.   Today everyone was lively and interested.   I came home at 3.30pm feeling totally refreshed myself -much better than falling asleep on the sofa at home.   Now I can go to bed and sleep well - I hope.   So good night.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Cut and blow dry




Well the big day has come and Tess has had her cut and blow dry.   Top two photographs are the before of course and bottom two after.   Sorry they are not good photographs but time was short and how ever much I tried to get her to look at the camera I failed to catch her.   However, I am sure you get the general idea.   She certainly looks (and smells) one hundred percent better.   When S and T took her for a walk later this afternoon (in her smart jacket, which S bought for her sometime ago) she trotted along very proudly.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Goodbye

She was a dear lady.   Born in 1927 she didn't have an easy life.   She left school early, as working class children all did in those days, and worked in various jobs, all of them hard work.    After marriage she had five children but in order to make ends meet she also took on various menial jobs - as anyone living in those days knows life was not easy.

Her two passions were singing and dancing - and she did one or both at every opportunity. Sadly her husband died quite young, but at least her children were grown up by this time.   She continued to work hard and after fifteen years or so she met J, and together they made a life for themselves, going abroad at every opportunity so that she grew to love her holidays - Australia, Europe - J says that as soon as she had unpacked her case she would say, 'where are we going next?'

I only knew her for the last couple of years when
she came with J to sing with us once a month at the Alzheimer's Society singalong to our ukuleles.
By golly, could she sing.   All the old favourites from the twenties, thirties and forties she sang - enjoying every minute.   She might not have been able to recognise and name her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren any more but she hadn't forgotten those songs.   For yes, she developed Alzheimers.

Today friend W and I, along with other friends from the Group of helpers, went to her funeral.  There was a good turnout.   She would have been pleased.   And I think we sang the two hymns well enough for her too.   Now she is at peace.   J will miss her - as will her family - but she has had a good life .  And gradually J will pick up the pieces and carry on, just as she would wish him too.
So rest in peace D - we shall remember you for the character you were.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Nor any drop to drink.

Water is seeping into my garden and gathering on my patio.   It just about dries up, then it rains, then I have a pool again.   This morning my water insurance  (Home Serve) came and a nice young man looked into it carefully and pronounced it not drinking water but water draining off the field behind my bungalow.   He thinks there may be a land drain which has broken or is blocked.   And so a process has begun.   So far I have rung Yorkshire Water - step one.   Now I await Step two.   Hopefully it will not be an insurmountable problem but be assured I shall keep you up to date on proceedings - (a problem shared is a problem halved).

It is not until one lives alone that problems become PROBLEMS.   For most of my life, since first leaving home, I have had a practical man to take care of things like this.   And I am ashamed to say that I find it hard to deal with this kind of thing myself.   I blame old age but I suspect it would be just the same if I was thirty years younger.

 One thing is for sure.   I am a product of my generation.   The engineer who came to look at the problem had many tattoos on his arms.  I find it difficult not to be influenced by this - when I was young the only folk who had tattoos on the whole were ex-seamen.   Now it is almost all young men - and even a few young women.   Why should I complain?   It is their bodies and they do what they like with them.   But it is a barrier I have to cross when dealing with folk.   I am thoroughly ashamed in this case - a nicer, more efficient, friendlier, kinder man it would have been hard to find.   So I apologise for having to cross that barrier - it is time I pulled myself up into the twenty first century.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Plastics

Following on from yesterday's post I have been thinking about plastics and rubbish.   Our little market town is generally free from rubbish - give or take the odd coke can, the odd plastic sandwich pack -and the odd heap of dog poo some irresponsible dog walker fails to pick up.

I can't really speak for other places in this country - these days I don't go all that far afield - but I think we would all be in agreement about the bits of plastic in the sea and how they are killing and torturing our wildlife; and the dog poo which walkers seem to think doesn't need picking up in the fields, although it can cause serious harm to cattle.

But I have been watching programmes where Chris Tarrant has been making railway journeys of interest.   Last week he was in Vietnam and I was keen to watch it because my grandson works in China and has recently been to Vietnam for a week's holiday.   He went from the North of the country to the South on what is called the 'Reunification Railway'.   I was stunned by the amount of rubbish strewn absolutely everywhere.
It was as though nobody ever picked up anything but just dropped it where they stood - plastic boxes, cardboard and paper wrappers, drinks cans and bottles - they were just everywhere. 

Should it worry us ?   I think so.   Shouldn't every country have a programme to educate people about the need to recycle?   It seems to me we are a long way off reaching any kind of solution.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Signs of the times.

I see that Rachel does not really believe in climate change.   I really don't know enough about it to make an educated comment, but there is no doubt that glaciers are melting and that there are signs of change everywhere - but whether permanent or just  a passing phase - we can all argue about that I suppose.

But it is interesting that many young people have decided to do something about it and protest with their strikes yesterday.   I can't discover whether our local comprehensive took part.   It would be interesting to question some of the young people individually to see what they know about it and how well informed they are or whether they are just 'jumping on the bandwagon'.

But there is an interesting article in today's Guardian which is certainly food for thought.  It really does seem at present that the protesting school children are putting our politicians to shame.   Dominic Grieve (the former Attorney General) quite rightly in my opinion, suggests that all this business of threatening to leave without an agreement is tantamount to a 'three year old threatening to hold  his breath if he doesn't get the toy he wants'.   And in the same article (by Jonathan Freedland) Nancy Pelosi (Democrat House Speaker) suggests that Donald Trump's behaviour over 'the wall' at present in nothing more than a Temper Tantrum.   I love the way she describes it saying that as a mother of five and a grandmother of nine she recognises one when she sees one.

What times we live in - if you believe in climate change - when the young are protesting about what in the future may well be seen as the most important thing in our generation while politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are indulging in such childish behaviour.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Friday

Well it is Friday again.   My two grandsons, who have been here in the village staying with their Dad (my son) have moved on to Glasgow to stay with their sister.   I have so enjoyed their company and enjoyed talking to D, the grandson who lives and works in China.   He returns on Tuesday and yesterday I took them both to the station.   Only after the train had left and i had returned home did I find D's mobile on the floor of my car.    What to do?   He needs it before he returns to China.   The problem was solved today when I got a text to ask if I would  post it to his brother's back in West Yorkshire.    So this morning I swathed it in bubble wrap and several Amazon bags and then a Post Office bag, took it to the Post Office and sent it Registered post.   It should hopefully arrive in time for him to take it back with him.   But tell me this - why do young people always have to have their mobile phones out to fiddle with them?   We were only going the twenty or so miles to the station - it could easily have been kept in his pocket.  I don't think I will ever understand the young - but then I think it was ever thus.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Spring?

Today has been a Spring day until around half past two when it suddenly became a late Winter's day as the sun began to go down and the blue sky paled.   Still, it has been a lovely day and everywhere I look the snowdrops and the crocuses are out.  It does make one feel hopeful that it won#t be all that long before it really is Spring even if we do get a bit more winter yet.

I had to take my two grandsons into Northallerton this morning so that they could catch the train up to Glasgow to stay with their sister there for a few days before my grandson returns to China.   He has not seen his niece since she was a few weeks old and now she is almost three so he is looking forward to that. 

I came home, had a healthy salad lunch and have done little since.   It was a Petpals day for Tess so she had a nice long walk in the sun and has come back tired out.  Then a friend called and we had a nice chat.   Now it is my favourite antiques programme in half an hour, so I shall settle down to watch that. 

I noticed this morning when I walked round with Tess first thing that the blackbirds are singing along with the robins and the hazel catkins are beginning to look as though they are at least thinking about bursting.   It all does the soul good even if last year we did have that nasty shock of a spell of snow very late - things like that do make one wary of predicting what might happen over the next few weeks.   But we have got as far as St Valentine's Day without too much bad weather this year.

The farmer didn#t have a lot of time for Valentine's Day - thought it was all a bit false - but that didnt mean he wasn't a romantic at heart.   His flowers that he brought me would mostly be from the farm as he was walking round - bluebells from the wood, a tiny bunch of cowslips from the hedgeback, a handful of haselnuts or a handful of field mushrooms.    How I miss all these things.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Contrary weather

Today is quite contrary.   The weather forecast has told us that this week there will be a real taste of Spring in the air as warm air sweeps up from the Mediterranean..   It is indeed nine degrees and rising and yet, having just been on a walk round with Tess on her after lunch walk, it feels really cold in the sharpish wind.   Yes, I know it is still February and we have another six weeks or so to go before we can think about Spring - but there is no feeling of Spring in the air today despite the forecast.

My grandson is here on his visit home from China where he teaches English.   It is only two years since I saw him, but standing next to him in my hall as he prepared to go back to his Dad's last evening he seemed to have grown about six inches since I saw him last.   As he is thirty then I am sure he will not have grown in the last two years, which leads me to but one conclusion - I have shrunk!   I come up to about his chest and felt like a little old lady.  I am taking them all out for a meal tonight so I shall smarten myself up in an effort to look a bit younger (or maybe it is better to say a little less old). 

We are only going a couple of miles down the road for our meal - to a pub which has an extensive menu and is by no means at the posh end of the market.   It has a giant woodburner, it has stone floors,  it is a real, old fashioned country pub and there should be something on the menu for each of us one who will eat more or less anything, one who chooses carefully what she eats, one vegetarian, one vegan/vegetarian and one who has eaten Chinese food for the past two years.
Quite a tall order to fulfil - I shall report back tomorrow.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Up with the lark.

It was up with the lark this morning because I had to be in Northallerton before nine o'clock to take my car in for its annual service.   H next door very kindly took Tess for her morning walk - I was very grateful and what is more H took her about four times as far as I am able to walk.

My car was brought back to the door of the showrooms - it has been cleaned and polished and looked very smart and what it more the engine seemed so much more perky on the return journey.
It is a good job done and another job to cross off my list.

Shortly after returning, the lady who cleans came to clean through the bungalow for me.   She is such a practical person - she puts me to shame.   I have now had my cordless vacuum cleaner for about six weeks and she decided that today was the day to wash the filters once she had vacuumed through.  They are now drying on the draining board and I had a demonstration on how to replace them in the machine before she went home.   Having worked for me for at least twenty five years she has got my measure perfectly.   What I would give to have a practical brain.

My grandson is home on a fortnight's holiday over Chinese New Year (he teaches in China) so I am really looking forward to seeing him.   He is spending four days with his father and should have arrived this afternoon.   It is two years since I saw him - two very eventful years for him I suspect.

No more post today - I have a very sore shoulder and typing is irritating it somewhat.   See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Sunday

It is almost ten in the evening before I get a chance to read down my side bar, read yesterday's comments, write a response and then, finally, get round to posting something today.   I always do it in this order as a matter of habit - I love reading your comments - they are often so helpful and so enlightening.   Thank you for them all.

I went out for a look at my tulips coming up this morning - I would guess about half of them have been very neatly excavated and eaten.   I refuse to be cross or disappointed.   Something is staying alive by eating them and I shall put something else in the border as the year goes on.

My electrical work is finished as is the bathroom ceiling - now it is just the car service and then I can relax for a while.   During relaxation I shall be thinking about a little patch of lawn just outside the fence but in my front garden (which at present is  grass but I wish to change to make a bit of interest).   The space is only about ten feet square and I would like to put  just a few dwarf shrubs in.
I have two conical shaped dwarf box bushes which at present are in terra cotta pots - but they have blown over so many times over the winter that the pots are now smashed to smithereens - so they will go in for a start.   Any suggestions anyone - I probably only  need about three more.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Saturday

T, the decorator, nipped round this afternoon (he only lives in the next road) just to sand down the holes where the down lights had been in the bathroom.   He had called and filled them in yesterday.   Now in the morning he will come round and give the whole bathroom ceiling a coat of emulsion and it will all be done.   I shall wash both bath mats to spruce the whole place up and then everything will be shipshape again.

Now all that remains is my car to be serviced on Monday - then all jobs at present are finished.   This is just as well as my grandson, D, who lives and works in China, is home for Chinese New Year and will be spending four days up here next week with his father (and me too of course).   It is more than two years since I saw him and I can't wait - I am so looking forward to it.   At my age going two years without seeing a grandchild is far too long but I know how happy he is working out there and that makes it all worthwhile.

We have had some very heavy rain here over the past few days - mostly overnight I am glad to say, but my decorator, who drove through the Dales and over into Lancashire today, tells me that in many places the roads were almost flooded with standing water.   Not for nothing is February known as 'February Fill Dyke'.   But hopefully next week has a forecast of dry, mostly sunny weather so hopefully everywhere will dry up apace.

I shall now go and look if there is anything on television to watch.   Saturday evenings are always non starters as far as I am concerned, so thank heaven for iplayer I say.   See you tomorrow.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Goodbye Joe.

At last Joe, my electrician, has finally packed away all his spanners, screwdrivers, flashing lights, all the things that made Tess a nervous wreck, and gone - finished, job completed, check list for a complete overhaul of my electrical system done.   His work has been exemplary - I
can't speak too highly of him.   For a week his van has been poorly and in being repaired at the garage so he has not been able to come.   But he popped in for a couple of hours yesterday to do a job which was urgent and then he came back today to tie up all the loose ends and finish. 

The urgent job yesterday was to remove the down lights in the bathroom at my request and fit me an ordinary bathroom light - it is absolutely lovely and the light it gives out (LED) is such a pleasant, soft light.   The job needed doing yesterday because the decorator had arranged to come in the evening to fill in the downlight holes and plaster over them.  Now the decorator is coming again tomorrow afternoon to give the four 'holes' a quick emulsion paint so that when he comes on Sunday morning to emulsion the whole ceiling it will be all done.   Why anyone wishes to have downlights escapes me - maybe they were all the rage at one time. 

Our usual lunch out today was, as always, delicious.  W had beef and stilton pie with roasted roots and a glass of red wine ;  I had fish pie with crispy kale and a glass of white wine.   Coffee afterwards and then home before Petpals arrived to take Tess for her afternoon walk.    As I write this she is fast asleep in her basket and has not moved out of it to go and eat her tea.   Seems to me a well-loved dog's life is a brilliant life.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Sunshine

Sunshine and February are not words which necessarily go together in the same sentence.   But they are doing today.   And, what is more, there is just a hint of warmth in the sun in spite of a cold wind.   The weathermen tell us that there is probably more snow to come before we are finished with Winter but every day like today lifts my spirits.   I had a couple of weeks when I felt very low and on the verge of sinking into depression.   This rather scared me.   But several days when the sun has shone through the sitting room windows have lifted my spirits considerably and all is well again.

But it got me thinking about the labels we put on things these days.   Maybe I have been a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) sufferer,but if so does it help me to have a label, or does it make things worse?   I am really not sure.    The same goes for so many things these days - children are hyperactive - some have always been so as any teacher will tell you - does it help us to put a name to it? 

This is not in any way meant as a criticism - scientists and others who know what they are talking about have identified symptoms and have labelled the people with these symptoms as suffering from certain conditions.    Does it help to have a label?   I really would like more information on this.   It may well be that to say that I have been 'down' for a few days because there has not been a sign of the sun is an insult to anyone suffering from SAD - I certainly don't mean it in that way.  I really would like to know the answer the my question - does it help a sufferer from any condition like this to have a name - a label - does it mean that you know you are not alone, that there are other sufferers?

Changing the subject and returning to the problem with my tulip bulbs and their disappearance - they are still disappearing - there is no sign of any part of the bulb, just a hole in the ground where the bulb has been.   A friend I meet each morning on my dog walk tells me that she and her husband (he a keen gardener before his death) had the same problem one year, set traps and caught almost forty mice and voles.   Oh dear.   Now I have another problem - I have no desire whatsoever to kill outdoor mice and/or voles.   If they are the culprits - then let them keep eating the tulips if it means they stay alive through the last days of winter.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Staying in.

I have had to stay at home all day today because I ordered a new bookcase from The Cotswold Company and it was scheduled to come today.   They let me know that it would arrive between five and eight this evening but as friend S was coming to take Tess out I stayed at home.  T also came and before they went he very kindly cleared up a lot of cardboard and packing from my last Cotswold purchase - it was in the garage.   He took it all away and will take it to the tip for me tomorrow.   Now the garage is full again - this time from the excellent packaging round the bookcase.

I must ask whether my readers in the UK watched Don McCullin on BBC Four on Monday evening.   He is a photographer and he retraced his footsteps (he is now 83) from some of his past.   Both the images he photographed and the commentary he gave as he went round were very good.   If you didn't see it = I really recommend it.
Some (but not many) programmes stay with you and this is one of those for me at any rate.

It is now twenty minutes to eleven and I am more than ready for bed.   The electrician is coming to finish off tomorrow and the decorator is coming in the evening to fill in the holes where my down lights have been taken out in the bathroom.   I shall be happy to say good -bye to them.

Good night and sleep well.

 

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Mystery

Anyone who reads my blog regularly may remember that I had a fence built in Autumn and a narrow b order of garden in front of it.   My son and I between us planted just under three hundred tulips in the border and they are just beginning to poke through the soil.   Well something has decided to start digging them up.    There are holes in the soil where I presume the bulb has been and there is no sign of a bulb.   My daughter in law says she thinks it is the birds - she may well be correct.   But whatever it is I do wish they would leave them there to flower in May.

All the snow has gone and has been replaced today by horrible fog and a damp cold.   This is set to disappear tomorrow as the wind rises and we may even get a sunny day.   Tess hopes so of course as it is the day when friend S takes her for a walk.

I have to stay  in to take delivery of a new bookcase I have ordered.   At last I shall have an opportunity to really sort my books out into categories and then into alphabetical order (fingers crossed).   This may sound a bit optimistic but I am going to give it a try because I can search for an hour for a book and not find it and then, as I am casually passing the shelves I see it there.   I don't suppose I am alone in doing this.

The gas boiler has been serviced today so that is another job done.  I can tick it off my list of things outstanding to be done - I hate lists like this - things have to be done quickly for me.

Everyone in our Book Group really enjoyed 'Days without End' by Sebastian Barry.   It generated such a lot of discussion.   Our next book is 'Killing Floor' by  Lee Child - can't get much more different than that I guess.   But I really believe that one should read all kinds of books - just because one is retired doesn't necessarily mean one should give up on page five if one is not enjoying the reading.   What do the rest of you think?   Should you be able to say that  now you are retired you need only read books you enjoy or should you still be prepared to tackle books outside your field of enjoyment?

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Sunday morning

This is positively the last time I shall write this post - I got to the last sentence last evening, pressed the wrong key and, despite having saved each paragraph, lost  the lot.  (my son this morning tells me that cntrl/undo on a right click might have got it back, so shall try in future).   I have a condition called Benign Essential Tremor, which is inherited but, although something in the brain, is quite harmless except it means drinking a full cup of tea can be quite an effort.   My hands shake and it gets worse if I am under any kind of pressure or in any case towards evening.   It can occur anywhere - in my case hands.   Interestingly the actress Katharine Hepburn - for any of you old enough to remember her - had it in her head and neck from a very young age.   If you see old films of her you will see that she always had slight difficulty in keeping her head still.

I have just typed it all again this morning, pressed the wrong key right at the end again and lost it again.   So here goes with once more into the breach. 

 A couple of days of incarceration because of the snow and I have a severe case of cabin fever.   There is no doubt about it I need to see and talk to other people.   Luckily I do live where there is plenty going on just outside the window - dogs being walked, friends walking past, plenty of cars - so it is not like living at the farm where I saw no one unless they made a particular effort to come.
So yesterday I got out - thanks to friend W, who has a four wheel drive vehicle and came down my road to collect Tess and I for the village coffee morning.   Tess always enjoys it because she gets a plain biscuit (never chocolate) from the biscuit plate on each table and then various 'doggy ' people there have treats in their pockets and she soon susses them out.   I enjoy it for two reasons.   First of all I meet the villagers who I rarely see these days as I now live in the nearby town - many are newcomers to the village and it is nice to meet them.   Secondly, A, who helps to run the coffee morning, makes and sells delicious turkey lasagne and always saves me two indiviual trays which I can then freeze when I get home.   It is always delicious and each tray makes a nice lunch for me.

As W and I had missed our usual Friday lunch out we decided that we would go to our usual Friday restaurant (Tennants Auction House in Leyburn) for lunch (sausage and musard seed mash and a glass of red wine) - very enjoyable as it always is.
Home again friend H next door came round for a cup of tea and then, just before the hard frost came down again, Tess and I took a careful, short walk round the estate.   So all in all I met and chatted to plenty of folk yesterday.   Today of course it is our usual Sunday lunch - all four of us - salmon for me I think.

My son and his wife were all set to go off last evening to their monthly poetry and music evening in Richmond, where poets and musicians who enjoy performing their own music play and read for one another.   The roads were icy and pretty treacherous and I worried that they might have problems - but he rang me to say the roads were well-treated and they had arrived safely.  If you would like to read the poem he wrote and read go to his post.   It is on my side bar (made out of words) and you can read it there.

Today it is out to our usual Sunday lunch venue with the usual three friends - C is fully recovered from her spell in hospital I am pleased to say.  Salmon for me today methinks.   Well, it is now 9.15 - so I think shower, warm coat, walk Tess and then do the Guardian crossword and it will be time to go out.   The sun is up and the snow is set to go as there is no frost forecast for tonight - it should be around three degrees here, so that is a relief.   Still time for much more wintry weather before Spring of course but at least a little respite.   Pansies in the front tubs, where they face South, are already back to normal as the sun has quickly cleared away the frost and snow but the polyanthus in the back garden still lay under four inches of snow.   It is supposed to be keeping them warm but I shall be happy for confirmation that they have survived the onslaught.





Friday, 1 February 2019

Friday

Friday the first of February - White rabbits!- slight covering of snow but now a lovely sunny day - sun pouring in through my sitting room window and Tess stretched out full length in it after having ten minutes out in the well-fenced garden whether she liked it or not.

So - no Brexit, no weather - let's have a change of topic today.

A few years ago, when the farmer and I still lived on the farm, I posted a photograph on this blog.   It was of a 4000 year old axe head which my father in law had picked up somewhere in one of the fields.   We had it looked at by a museum expert in York and he said the stone had come from the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District and had probably been discarded because it was no longer of any use - it had been used too much.

People travelled around all that time ago - not just from West to East in this country - but much further afield.   And as the centuries have passed so has man's desire to 'know what is out there' increased - and of course the ultimate has always been wars, sadly, when thousands of men have been transported away round the world for much more terrible reasons.

This morning in TheTimes which I read much more thoroughly than usual over my breakfast (I usually keep the thorough read for the evening when there is nothing to watch on the television) there are two stories which caught my attention and which I thought I would share with you.

One is of a Bronze Age locket - a bulla - found in the Shropshire Marches - and one of only two found in this country to date.   Who lost it?  Where had he/she come from - it would most likely be a 'local' but still a wonderful find.

But the other, and much more fascinating story I think is of a snowdrop.   Ann Treneman in her 'Notebook' today talks of a lady called Anna Pavord, who - when she moved to Devon- found a
distinct and 'different' snowdrop in her garden.   Intrigued, she sent it to a snowdrop expert (John Sales) and he told her that she was quite right - it was different.   He thought it was a wild snowdrop and maybe from the Caucasus.   How then did it get to her Devon garden?   He suggested that it might have come in the pocket of a soldier fighting in the Crimean war  (there was a local regiment who had indeed been there).

So folks, lets forget all about Westminster and its problems, the M1 and its snowy gridlocks - let's think instead of all these wonderful things that lie beneath our feet and which tell us so much about the movements and interests of our ancestors.

Have a nice day.

As I type here two hours later it is snowing again.  And in the meantime a good kelching (Lincolnshire word = no other will do) of healthy fym has been spread right up to my garden wall.   It is like being back on the farm again!



Thursday, 31 January 2019

Thursday

Minus seven here overnight.   I tried to alter the central heating to stay on for twenty four hours rather than the twelve it does now - in my innocence I thought I could just turn the thermostat down and it would tick over - but in fact I just couldn't do it correctly.   My son came round to see if he could help (at 10pm) but although he thought he had done it correctly he hadn't and again it stayed off all night.   The people who lived here before couldn\t find any of the instruction books to ovens, central heating etc. and although the instructions on the wall thing are quite detailed neither of us was able to succeed.
I am having the boiler serviced on Tuesday next week so the engineer should be able to do it for me - sod's law suggests that the cold snap may well be over by then.

We have not had snow.   There is thick ice on my car and the footpath looks slippery to say the least  -hence my intention to cancel my hair appointment in a few minutes.   There is no point in inviting a fall on the ice - there have been two Obits in The Times during the last week where death was 'as the result of a fall'.   The sun is already up and there is no wind, so it looks like another lovely day (if you are inside looking out).   More later if there is anything of interest to report.

The sun has been out all day and it was warm in the sun and out of the wind.   The ice more or less melted on the paths and cars- certainly on my side of the road.   I haven't taken Tess for a walk today - too slippery first thing and then at lunch time Petpals took her for her hour-long walk as they always do on Thursdays and Fridays;  I was too weak willed to take a walk for my health's sake, so just tatted about doing a bit of filing, writing a few notes for my book group on Monday, doing the Sudoku in The Times - and then it was time for tea.

Now a bit of fog has come down, it is still, very dark with lots of stars and thick ice everywhere.   No snow though.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Problems

It is half past nine in the morning, the sky is a clear blue, the sun is shining, my car is thick with ice and I would guess it is very cold indeed outside the door (I haven't opened it yet since I got up at seven).

John (Going Gently) speaks of getting out of the house so that he gets away  from his worries.   I begin to know the feeling as one thing after another does rather get me down.    At present it is the electrics in the bungalow.   My electrician is going through everything so that he can give me a certificate at the end of the work to say that the whole place is in good order.   That is proving a long and hard job. As  I mentioned yesterday,  the lights in the bathroom - four of them set in the ceiling - are proving difficult because of the wiring.   Luckily the ceiling is not Artexed in there and my painter and decorator called in at short notice (he is a great find thanks to a friend - he is her neighbour) and the upshot is that the four downlights are to be removed and then he is coming in the fill in the holes and just one ordinary bathroom light will be fitted - a great relief.

The next problem has presented itself in that the electrician found that there were some woodworm holes in one of the beams in the roof space.   It is never ending = I just stop worrying about one job and another worry takes its place.     John's answer is to get out of the house and to this end I am meeting a friend for lunch today.   Perhaps for an hour I can forget it all.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

To snow or not to snow?

Yesterday I booked my car in for its major service today - twenty miles away.  Then I watched the weather forecast - snow maybe.   First thing this morning I rang and cancelled.   The garage said the service would take two to three hours and I could have a courtesy car.  I couldn't see the point of driving home to almost immediately have to turn round and drive back so I declined and said I would take my book and sit in the warm showroom by the coffee machine and have a trip over the road for an hour to have a mooch round a really nice shop.   Then when snow was forecast
I pictured sitting there watching the snow getting worse and knowing I had to drive home through it. 

Well it has rained/snowed most of the day but only the really wet stuff.   But at tea time I noticed  my car windscreen was heavily iced so it will be interesting to see what morning brings.

The electrician has been here all day again doing my bungalow check - there are still a few more things to do.   I am having the  little ceiling lights removed in the bathroom and a central bathroom light put in.   The decorator popped in for a minute and he is going to come and plaster up the four holes and then emulsion the ceiling.   It will be so good eventually to have that all important certificate that the electrical work is all in order.

Snow permitting I am going out for lunch with a friend tomorrow.   As for the car service  = it is going to have to wait for some better weather.

Monday, 28 January 2019

The Window

On the main road, not all that far from the Grove where I now live, there is a bungalow.   When I first came to live here thirty years ago there was always an old lady sitting in the window for most of the day.    I found out that she was housebound and had carers call in to help her family to look after her but that she refused to go into care, preferring to stay at home.

It struck me today that if/when I reach that stage there are worse things than staying at home and sitting in the window all day, waiting for one's carers or one's meals to arrive.   It has been a lovely, although cold day here with unbroken sunshine.   I sat looking out of the window after my lunch of home made leek and potato soup with home made croutons and there was so much to see.   The sky was full of aircraft trails - mostly going (or coming from) South West.   And there were plenty of people passing walking their dogs on a lunch-time walk, several of whom waved. Then I noticed that on the horizon, on East Witton Fell, they were burning the heather in controlled burning on the grouse moors.   They don't have all that much longer to do it before the grouse start breeding and they have to stop the practice.   Clouds of brownish smoke rose into the clear atmosphere.   Later in the afternoon it disappeared.

One has to be realistic at my age so I have had the kind of day when things like this did certainly go through my mind - not in a 'sad' way but - as I say - one has to think about the future.   Maybe I shall just pop off one night in my sleep - the best of all possible ways - but wouldn't we all like to meet our end like that?   Don't send me answers on a postcard to that last question - the poor postman in Trelawnyd must be wearing out shoe leather = don't want our postman doing the same. 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Sunday

There is something very pleasant about sitting here at half past ten on a Sunday morning, looking out on crocus, snowdrops, polyanthus in bloom and plenty of bulbs peeping up and soon to be in flower (weather permitting) and not having to think what I am going to do about Sunday lunch.
All I have to do is make a decision between prawn salad with chips or salmon florentine with vegetables. 

Tess has been walked on a sunny morning.   The wind is very strong; far too strong for me to walk far but I managed a walk round the block and Tess managed her usual quantity of lavatorial duties so I don't have to venture out again until my drive to collect W and drive to our restaurant. 

My dashboard keeps telling me that it is time for an oil change.   I bought my Vauxhall Corsa new in April 2017.   The garage told me I needed an oil change in March 2018 and now they have sent me a letter to say I need an oil change in February 2019.   now my dashboard has joined in.   This seems to mean that the car doesn't go a full year without a service.   The only thing is that my mileage is very low (well under five thousand in two years) so perhaps that has some bearing on things.   My knowledge of all things technical is absolutely nil.   I have had two husbands who were good at this kind of thing and I refuse to learn about such things now.   I shall bask in ignorance.

So, tomorrow morning I shall ring the garage in Northallerton and book my car in.   Luckily the garage is directly opposite a shop which sells all manner of things worth looking at so I shall wander across the road and inspect their material, wool, rugs, sheets, you name it.   Probably have a coffee first at the garage - that is if there is anyone around to work the machine for me!!

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Brilliant service.

I do believe in giving credit where it is due - so here is what happened to me early this morning.  I have a teeny leak on the stop tap.   My electrician said I needed to get it 'seen to' and as I subscribe to Yorkshire Water's Home Serve I rang them on Thursday.   They gave me an appointment for 'sometime on Saturday'.   At eight o'clock this morning they rang me on their mobile to say they would be at my bungalow between nine and nine thirty.  This gave me time to take Tess for her morning walk.

At nine the plumber arrived - a very pleasant chap - and ten minutes later the job was completed and he was gone.   There was indeed a tiny leak - a nut had come loose and needed tightening.  Also the wet was partly due to condensation - so hopefully all is well now. 

Another book recommendation.   A friend has lent me 'The Ragged Edge of Night ' - a novel about a German village in the Second World War - about secret resistance by some of the villagers and about one particular family.   Coincidentally after reading it = and really enjoying it - I read about the author.   It is based on a true story and the author lives in the San Juan Islands in Washington State. She and her husband have a one acre micro farm.   I have a friend - who I met when she also blogged -  and she and her husband live there too and also have a farm (thousand flower) so there is a connection there. .   Four or five years ago the blogger from Thousand Flower and her husband called at our farm and stayed the night and we have kept in touch.   Such a coincidence.

How far reaching blogging takes us and what people we are put in touch with one way or another.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Friday

I have stuck to my resolution and for a whole week I have not listened to the News.    As Rachel suggested a few days ago, I have of course continued to read The Times - I could not bear not to have a paper to read - but any item on Brexit I bypass.   I have decided that as I can't do a lot about any of it and as they are like a lot of children falling out in the playground, I shall just ignore the lot of them.

Today is a relatively mild day - all set to start getting cold again tomorrow - so I have made the most of it and had several walks with Tess.   She has done really well as it is a PetPals day too and she had her walk with them just after lunchtime.   By the time I returned from my usual Friday lunch out she was back home. 

The frosts of the last night or two had prostrated the pansies, violas and polyanthus but today they have all perked up and are looking so pretty in the tubs outside my front door.   If there is a hard spell which kills them off before the end of Winter they have still earned their value over the last few months because they have given me such a lot of pleasure. 

 Beef and Stilton pie for lunch with roasted parsnips and carrots garnished with pea shoots  - and a glass of red wine and then a cup of coffee.   Three of us today and a very pleasant hour.   Set to turn colder so shall keep warm tomorrow.   I have to stay in as the man is coming to look at my stop tap which has a tiny leak - it isn't dripping but is always wet so there is a weakness somewhere (the electrician found it).

I shall now go and watch The Victorian House, a programme on BBC2 every Friday night which I am thoroughly enjoying.   Whatever you are doing this week end - enjoy doing it.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Thursday


The electrician has been here again all day today and - as yesterday - each time did he a job he found a dozen other jobs needing doing.   This afternoon I had to have some one come to fit an isolation switch, and he also found that a stop tap had a leak - and so it goes on.   He is not coming tomorrow as he is waiting for some parts and they will not be here until next week.   Tess will be mighty pleased.   She is a nervous wreck and, as I write this she is laid across my feet = shivering.

When he did various jobs there were pops and bangs and she did not like them.   She enjoyed her usual walk out with PetPals (with a golden labrador this time) but she has always been sensitive to noise and the older she gets and worse it becomes.   I am tempted to let her sleep in my bedroom tonight but the trouble is that it creates a precedent.   She has always slept in her bed and hopefully she will feel secure in it. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Electrics

I have to admit that I am only one step removed from the old lady who used to stick sticking plaster over all the plug sockets before she went to bed at night to make sure no electricity escaped.

When I had a lantern fitted by the front door the electrician found all sorts of things wrong with the electrics in the bungalow.  I asked him immediately to put the work in hand= you can't afford to mess with electricity.   So this morning he began.   By lunch time he had come across two or three extra problems but fortuitously my son and his wife called and my son was able to call the electrical company and various arrangements were made.   The upshot is that they are coming tomorrow afternoon to do some work.   Hopefully everything will be well by the week end.   Because of a hearing problem I find telephone conversation quite difficult.

When I got up this morning the central heating had not come on.   It was a bitterly cold, frosty morning and I remembered that once last year I had to press the reset button on the boiler.   Fortunately that is exactly what had happened and I had to reset the boiler before it would work.  Once that was done everywhere was warm in no time.  I think it is something to do with the gas boiler being on an outside wall.

Having had a man about the place for most of my life I am ashamed to say that I give up on things like this rather quickly, but when I have to do it I find things easier than I anticipated and get quite a kick out of doing something right.  (so far). 

We really are having such beautiful weather = blue skies, no wind and a quite warm sun in the middle of the day - but at night there are sharp frosts.  Looking out just before bedtime (when Tess goes out on to the lawn for her final wee) if the sky is full of stars then I know it will be frosty next morning - it is the price to be paid.   My poor pansies are droopy every morning, pick up during the day as the sun warms them and then droop in the frost again at night.   I wonder how long they can keep it up.