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!