Friday, 3 February 2023


 A short post today as I have had quite a few visitors.   I have just put on my computer to order my medication so thought I would pop by to say hello before I settle down for the evening and get snug.

My carer has just gone so I am in my dressing gown and slippers and all ready for bed although it is only   7pm.   But we were having a chat and she told me that her son and his partner, who live in a flat in her house, had just today lost their pet and were very upset.   When I asked what their pet was (expecting the answer to be either cat or dog) I was astonished to be told that it was a Lizard called Gerald!  Apparently they had buried it in the garden and put flowers on its grave.

When I expressed astonishment she told me that she had once cared for a lady who had a pet Iguana.  It seems that again I am old fashioned.   I can't imagine having loving feelings for a reptile.  I have loved all my dogs and cats over the years and been very upset at the passing.   

When we had Foot and Mouth disease and our whole herd of cows had to be destroyed (and then burnt in our paddock) I think both the farmer and I cried (the vet who lived with us for a fortnight made us go to the burning (it took the team a whole day to build the burning site with layers of wood, coal and various things before laying the cows and sheep on top (in a very  sympathetic way I must say).   The vet and the burning team stood round as the fire was lit and we all stood quietly (fortified by a glass of whisky each - which the vet provided,  ) Our favourite cow was number 55 (all cows are numbered and registered by the Cattle Movement Service in the UK) a very maternal cow who in Summer when cows calved - often overnight in the field - would try her level best to steal the calf and tempt the calf away.   If we saw the cow had calved when we fetched them in for milking and if she was distressed and calling for her calf we would quickly search the field to find 55 and there would be the calf.   She wouldn't make a fuss when the farmer picked up the calf and carried it back to its Mum.  We made sure at the burning that we did not stand by 55.

But a Lizard called Gerald?   Not sure how I feel about that.   Have any of you got strange pets?   I rather  think I remember John (Going Gently) having a pet hen.  (and of course plenty of parrots and cockatoos around.

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Am I being provocative?

 I wear elastic stockings, 'old ladies' shoes and can only walk with my various walking aids, which litter the place and constantly annoy my still-tidy mind?  So the answer is 'dont be daft'.

But Deborah Ross in today's Times talks of such things - the kind of things my friends and I so often talk about.  So often we see girls walk past, women on TV, in clothes which most folk of my generation think are.   The blouses with one button too many left undone, or the neck of a dress so low that it shows the 'split' between the breasts almost to the nipples.  So can you blame a man for reacting to such things?

I think things have moved too fast for my generation to keep up.   Friend S and I, talking the other day about being up ladders when at work and men purposely coming by to walk under the ladder in an effort to 'see our knickers' or maybe even to hope we weren't wearing any.

What did we do about it?  Well we changed to wearing trousers if we had to keep using ladders.   We didn't shout from the roof tops that men were abusing us any more than they complained that we were being provocative.

I have just Googled one or two things which I consider to be landmarks.   When I was at school (1937 to 1948) all our teachers were single women - if you married you had to leave.   We had one teacher - Mrs Lucas- who had been widowed early in the war and who taught at my Grammar School (we all adored her mainly because she was so glamorous and dressed so beautifully compared with the rest who were middle-aged spinsters,) and of course our compulsory uniform had a skirt below the knee (and did we dare to roll it up at the waist two or three times - you bet we didn't). cream viyella blouse, navy blue tie and socks to the knee.   In other words we were well covered and I don't think it entered our heads to make any adjustments -ie to be provocative.   One girl did get  pregnant and had to leave immediately.   The whole school was assembled and subjected to a talk by a doctor (lady of course) on the perils we faced from the opposite sex.  For goodness sake biros weren't invented until 1958; we were still using pen and ink or if we were well enough off a fountain pen (high on our Christmas present list!)

But the greatest leap forward to the stage we have reached now is surely the so-called Smart Phone - invented in 1994 and sold by tens of thousands  That a man sitting opposite a woman on a train can send her a photograph of his p**** while sitting there is as far as I am concerned ridiculous or at least it would be were it not a horrendous invasion of her privacy and to many women frightening.

How do we stop it?   I don't think we can. I think the cat is well and truly 'out of the bag', the stable door is shut but the horse is long gone.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Pretentious? Moi?

 Is it pretentious to give your house a name?   Obviously not if you live in The Manor or The Grange?   But what if you live in a road on an estate of similar houses?

Well   I have never bothered.   Mainly because I have never been able to think of a suitable name and also I have always had a number (19 at the moment).  

Carol Midgley, writing in The Times today talks of Jeremy Clarkson (who doesn't - he does rather invite controversy doesn't he) and how he insists that the locals who have made such a fuss about his new farm shop (Diddly Squat Farm Shop no less - rather opening the whole debate don't you think?) tend to be incomers (Londoners) those whose houses have been given fancy names rather than those who just use addresses like 22 Oak Avenue.

And I thought back to my childhood Lincolnshire Village where, as far as I know there were no road names (very small village) and where every single house had a name.   And yours truly knew them all.  I used to push my red doll's pram from one end of the village to the other.   There were only houses on the top side of the road.   The bottom side was low lying and close to the River Witham which was subject to flooding in the Winter.

Every house had a name on the gate,   Were they pretentious?   I don't know - I never thought of them as such and I am sure that the postman appreciated the help they gave him.   I can only remember one now all those years  later - and that was EMOCLEW - if you haven't realised by now that is Welcome backwards!

This was of course long before television and our evening entertainment was usually pencil and paper games (obviously organised by my parents as an important part of my education - for which I thank them all these years later).   When it was my turn to choose I often chose house names in the village because all those walks with my pram paid off - I was always nosy (still am) and I knew all those house names off by heart so I always won.

But food for thought here:   Carol Midgley speaks of Billy Connolly and his wife Pamela Stephenson buying a house near Windsor and changing the name to 'Gruntfuttock Hall!  When they came to sell it and wished to do so privately with as little fuss as possible, the Estate Agent advised them to change the name and they changed it back to Forest Lodge.

Yes I suppose we are all pretentious to a degree.  On the front of my bungalow, as well as the number by the front door, I also have a Green Man on the wall.   It was given to me by friends but I did put it up didn't I?

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Goodbye to January again!

 When you get to 90 you do begin to wonder if this is the last January you will see.    Don't get me wrong - this is not a morbid thought - when you get to 90 you also live each day as it comes and enjoy it.   Any thoughts of the future, certainly in my case, are not at all morbid.

But I can't say I am sorry to say 'good-bye' to January and 'hello' to February tomorrow.   February is a short month and it does mean that it is not long to March and the real beginning of Spring.   Yes I know it is daft to think like this.   It sounds as though I give a personality to each month;  as though poor old January is now sitting there saying  'ah well that's me done for another year and I haven't managed a good old 'kelching' of snow like I used to do.'  (kelching is a Lincolnshire dialect word I think - it certainly (in my mind)) describes exactly what I mean.

We always used to say 'February fill-dyke' -  I wonder if he will (I think of him as a he).   One year since I have lived here he did bring us ten days of good, old-fashioned, deep snow.   The talk of the town as though if was unheard of and how dare February be so unfeeling.

They always say if March comes in like a lion he goes out like a lamb (and vice-versa) which implies that perhaps they have a discussion beforehand (who's going to be the lion this year mate?)

Anyhow enough of this nonsense.    What's the weather like where you are this morning?   Here it is teasing.   When the rookies went over (they get earlier every day and before long they will be long gone when I draw back the curtains) dawn had broken with the most beautiful sky and there was a gale blowing.   I am sure the rooks knew exactly where they were aiming for but the wind had other ideas and they were being blown back and forth and trying hard to beat it.   As Ronald Blythe used to say like a lot of 'black rags' in the sky.

By the time I came to sit here my window was covered with rainspots and the clothes line had a row of glistening beads of water as the sun came out again.   And the valerian has (I swear) grown another inch overnight.   Interesting what Derek had to say about the valerian's tap root - although the gardener cut it down to the ground in Autumn (Valerian is one of his pet hates)it is up and happily spreading along under the hedge, well-sheltered from the frost.

Well, I have just looked at the time - twelve o'clock.  Time for my roast pork Sunday dinner (brought as usual by my carer) to go into the microwave.   See you tomorrow.  If you have time and want a lift to your spirits do go to Si's yesterdays post (Careering through nature on my sidebar).

Monday, 30 January 2023

Don't believe it!

   If there is one thing I have learned through living in a South-facing bungalow it is to never believe what you see.  It was a pretty dawn - stripes of apricot and blue and not a cloud in the sky.   Lunch time the sky is pure blue, still no clouds and a sun which makes it impossiible to see friend S, sitting across the room from me, without drawing the blinds because a sun which is strengthening daily is straight in my eyes.  (Don't draw the blinds, we are saving electric because the sun and the radiator thermostat have had a stand-up fight and the sun has won!  the radiators are stone cold but the house is lovely and warm.)  But step outside the front door and you learn the truth.  It is bitterly cold and there is an almost-gale blowing.

 So, what is new today.   Well the talk up here in our little North Yorkshire market town is of the fifteen year old girl in Hexham, Northumberland - a similar town to ours, where everybody knows everybody and nothing much ever happens- has been stabbed to death by a sixteen year old boy from the same school - and a sixteen year old boy stabbed and injured.   That means two or three families damaged beyond repair for ever -and for what?

It is unbelievable that I have been retired from teaching in Secondary education for forty years (seems like only yesterday) but it does seem to me that in those forty years the whole ethos of teaching has changed beyond belief.   If there were drugs in schools in my day I never knew of them.  Of course there were love affairs (and of course at that age one thought they were forever - only when out in the big wide world did one realise there were many more fish in the sea ).   I don't know the circumstances of course - they will no doubt all come out in the sordid but sensational trial which will no doubt follow.   Just at the moment it is all about young lives being ruined and families being changed forever.

On a lighter note - still no spring flowers out apart from the Helleborus Niger but under the hedge was a big clump of Red Valerian.   My gardener calls it a weed and - like the self-seeding poppies which seed all over my garden - he attacks with gusto at the pre winter tidy up.   It is right outside the window in my computer room.   Where he chopped it out it has returned, it is a big clump. it is already a foot high and is full of buds.   I think we can say it is 'cocking a snook' at the gardener.

Maybe more spring flowers will arrive this week as the forecast is more of the same.   I wonder who will win the race.   My guess is the golden crocus.  Time will tell.

See you tomorrow.   

Saturday, 28 January 2023

Jack the lad!

 Jack Frost has done his worst (well it was minus eight one night).   He has broken my lovely deep blue pot into five pieces and killed the orange osteospermum who lived in it.My pot and his partner both lived on my front step and Jack killed the osteospermum in that pot too but left me one pot intact.

I look every day for the first signs of life in the garden but as yet no snowdrops and no crocus.   I know in both cases  they will suddenly be there one day.   Both are too far from the window for their leaves to show me where the flowers are - they will suddenly be there one day.   (and you can be assured that I shall shout it from the rooftop so you will know.


My friend G, who - as the rook flies - lives only around three miles away from me, had fourteen species for the Big Garden Birdwatch'   Here I have not seen a garden bird for weeks - I really do wonder if it is bird flu.

For some reason I slept badly last night and I keep falling asleep as I write so I shall sign off.   See you all tomorrow.

Friday, 27 January 2023

Gather ye rosebuds.

 'Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

  Old time is still a'flying.

  And this same flower that smiles today

  Tomorrow will be dying'  Robert Herrick

An old friend came to see me yesterday.Although we live only six or so miles apart, I can no longer go to her (can no longer walk or drive) and she is in many ways more handicapped physically than I but can still drive.

So after a gap of three years or so she rang and came to see me yesterday.   Although  a little younger than me (early eighties) her health - which has  been poor since early  middle age when she had to retire - is far worse than mine.   We both have carers and we both 'soldier on'.

We are both well-travelled -she adores Shetland and has been every year for I believe fifty years or  so  - finally having to stop because her health would not allow her the long journey.   But she has many friends there and is in touch with them regularly.   The same goes for South Africa and Namibia where she has travelled extensively and has friends who are in regular contact and also The Netherlands.

We are both great believers in travel and have spent any spare money on it.

Now of course we are past it so what have we got to show for it? a) a much wider knowlege of the world.   We can look at our photographs.   At the weekend I got out the Atlas and sat with my Grandson and together with our fingers we explored where he had been and where I had been.|Now I can get out my Atlas any day I wish and look up! b). wide circle of friends of many nationalities - we learn their customs, bits of their language  (ni hao, Hallo, Zdravstvuyte - Chinese, Dutch and Russian for hello).  And most of all we see the world - the people, the places, the customs - we gain a wider knowledge of the world and what goes on in it.   There is no better thing than ending up like this - although the information we gain and the understanding die with us.

Now in my case I can add to this the fact that I blog with all of you.  I can 'walk' round the countryside with John and his brother (by Stargoose and Hanglands), visit Trelawnyd with John and 'meet' some of the village characters, (Going Gently), look at the countryside in Germany or USA and various other countries thanks to you all).   And even meet people I blog with or welcome them to my home when they travel near.  Some years ago the farmer and I  met Elizabeth when we went to New York and she took us out for coffee in Manhattan.   My whole world has opened up with all the travel I have done (both physically and virtually).

Listening to my friend yesterday talking about friends she has made while travelling in South Africa, looking at photographs they have sent her of their family as they grow up.   And listening to her talk of the wild life she has seen and made contact with (she has stroked a cheetah)'.

Now all that is left is memories, photographs and chats with friends (not talking to and boring our friends with the details) -and same applies to you dear readers.   I have gone on long enough so will leave you with just a couple of memories that I treasure and think of often:

Flying over the 'bottom' of Iceland on our way to US and seeing a glacier as it met the sea;  and standing on the Athabasca glacier drinking a whisky as our coach waited for us.   Timeless memories especially now that my dear farmer has gone and all his memories with him.



Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Looking old

 One thing is for sure - the one certainty is that once we are born we are on the road to death - albeit a long or short road.

Once you get to my age (90) you know there isn't an awful lot of road left.   You can do one of two things it seems to me.   This was endorsed on Breakfast this morning I thought when a well-known singer (so well inown that I had never heard of him) said that at eighty he had been diagnosed with Dementia.   He had originally gone  to seek medical advice when he found that he could no longer do crosswords - an activity he enjoyed several times a day.   As I have explained here several times since my attack in October - some days I can rattle through the Mind Games in The Times and some days I give up - even the thinking is too much effort.

What struck me this morning as he sat on the couch with his interviewer was how smartly he was turned out (absolutely no giving in to old age with his modern haircut, his boots, his suit - all very smartly turned out).    That is what I like to see and is the rule I like to follow.

Being old cannot be avoided, but keeping up appearances is something to be proud of (to me at any rate_).   When I changed to a mobile hairdresser a few weeks ago and she asked me how I wanted my hair done I said, "Look - I am 90 and I can't do anything about that - but do my hair in a style which makes me look sixty!!"   And she did.  I can't do anything about the fact that I can't walk without aids but that dosn't mean I have to do it in slippers or in last years clothes - as long as I can afford to I shall keep up to date in what I wear - if only for myself-esteem.

I know everyone can't afford to do this..   I have a brilliant carer who scouts around to see what there is I never use (a slow cooker used once only before I broke my hip and had to have her come every day and also cook my lunch.)   With my permission she sold it on our local town facebook page then ditto my soupmaker.

I have always been a sucker for clothes.   Now I rarely go out obviously I don't need so many but friend S bought me the most beautiful scarf/shawl in a deep blue/green with leaves and tiny hedgehogs all over it.   I wore it over my best blue flcecy dressing gown when my grandson came on Monday evening.   I felt good and I am sure he would rather see me like that than in dowdy old clothes that had seen better days.   Please don't tell me that everyone can't afford it - I know they can't.   But they can either make an effort with what they have or they can give up on bothering.   I belong to the former camp and that lovely scarf jazzed my outfit up and made all the difference.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Lovely evening

Well yes, my Grandson came and we had such a lovely evening - after almost five years. He teaches English to Chinese adults right down in the South of China and, of course, he has not been able to come 'home' because of Covid (which he actually had at the end of last year.

My first surprise was when my son brought him in at around seven o'clock.   My son came into the room first and I thought it was my grandson!   They are so very much alike.   Another interesting thing was when he spoke - after living in China for almost six years his accent has changed completely.   He almost sounds as though English is his second language - although he still speaks perfect English  it is with a slight foreign accent.   As a teacher of English as a second language myself for part of my career I found it fascinating just listening to him.

We got out the Atlas and he pinpointed exactly where he is teaching (the place is right on the Tropic of Cancer) - it is never cold so he had to buy himself a lovely thick fleecy lined anorak to come home.

He is very happy there - he seems to  love everything about it and has many Chinese friends.  When I was in China many years ago my first husband and I bought a Chinese poem, writte n on parchment and when we got home we had it framed and it is hanging on the wall in my sitting room.  My grandson was able  to point out many of the characters on it(I have had it translated by a Chinese friend I have here) and to explain the whole idea of their written and spoken language.  It is fascinating and one wonders just how children ever learn to write it - it is so complicated to the English mind - although we did learn the symbols for 'forest',  'person' and 'water' on my picture.

We also talked about visits he has made - to Shanghai (where his grandfather lived for three or four years before World War 2), to Beijing and also to small towns around where he works, where he says a foreign face causes people to look at him and point him out to their children, who often try to practise their English with him.

He found the journey extremely tiring - he didn't come via Bahrein (I had got it wrong) - he came via Dubai with a 5 hour stop over.   So the whole journey took twenty four hours.   When I went many years ago the stop over was in Qatar and was only 2 hours).

We had such an interesting evening and it was so lovely to see him again.   I went to bed on cloud nine and slept like a baby.


Monday, 23 January 2023


I can't settle my mind to writing today.   It is cold,   One minute it is foggy and the next the sun  breaks through and for a minute I begin to warm up (I am sitting by the full on radiator) and I feel a bit more like writing - then fog descends and it is cold again.   I didn't sleep well.   I kept looking at the clock - the last time at half past five.   I thought i would have another hour and then the next thing I knew my carer was switching the light on - it was seven o'clock.

The other thing which made me sleep lightly I think was that today my dear Grandson, who works in China but is home on furlough, is coming to see me.   It is four years since I saw him (mainly I suppose because of Covid)  and I am so looking forward to seeing him.  At least I shall have something to write about then.   See you tomorrow.