Monday, 10 December 2018


Yesterday was a day of pure unbroken sunshine; today started like that but as the day has progressed the cloud has increased and now, as the light goes, it is cloudy.   Luckily Tess and I managed two walks today in the sunshine.   I intended to take her for a third walk but friend E called for an hour and by the time she had gone it was dark.

With Christmas I have got to the stage of a longish list of things yet to do.   One by one the things are getting crossed off and that gives me a feeling of satisfaction.   Today, when my cleaning lady left I nipped up to Tesco to buy ready-to-roll marzipan (yes, I know it is lazy, I admit to it) for a cake for my son.   I am happy to have mine un-iced.   Also to buy a gift token for another present.   The list gets shorter by the day - just how I like it.

Christmas is not the same without the farmer - and, of course, never will be again.   But we soldier on and try to keep cheerful (and succeed most of the time).   Tess is a great help even though she doesn't of course know it is Christmas.
(Well at least not until a slice of turkey appears in her food bowl).

Friends help tremendously - what would we do without them?   As I said a few minutes ago in answer to Rachel's blogpost - they have helped me through some tough times over the last couple of years and that goes for my blogging friends as well as those near enough to knock on my door.
So thank you all.   I hope your Christmas plans are going well and that you all have a good Christmas.   And, Rachel, get packing that case or if I remember it may well be a rucksack.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Troubled times.

The News is now full of the riots in Paris, and to a lesser extent in other French cities I believe.  What is it that makes the French so much more 'passionate' about their politics than we are?   We might spend a lot of time moaning about issues like Brexit (who coined that word and hasn't it become irritating?) and an additional tax on fuel or some such issue.   But we do little or nothing about it other than moan.   We settle into some sort of complacency which spreads around and damps everything down.

Please don't think I wish it to be otherwise.   What is happening in France is terrible - people are suffering - often innocent people.   I believe the tax which sparked the riot in the first place has now been withdrawn, but now that things have started it seems difficult for it to stop.

Add to this the awful, dismal, damp weather, the long nights, the short, often dark days (my father always called the next two or three weeks 'the dark days before Christmas) and really nothing seems to be right anywhere in the world.   I expect it will pass, as everything does, but at what cost - mentally, physically and in terms of the cost, which will I expect run into millions.

.I looked at Tess a short time ago.   Had her tea, had her 'wee and poo' walk, nestled in her basket by the radiator, settling down for yet another sleep and not a care in the world - and I couldn't help thinking ' would that it were like that for us all' -
dangerous thinking I suppose.

Still, tomorrow is another day and sun is forecast even if it is accompanied by gales and turning much colder.   At least my patio will dry - it has been wet and covered in wet leaves for the past month.

Thursday, 6 December 2018


On and off the sun keeps putting in an appearance today, rather like somebody fiddling with the light switch.   But every brief appearance is welcome after a few wet, foggy and gloomy days.

Having visitors - even such expected and loved ones as the two who have now gone - is a mixed blessing.   I so look forward to them coming.   I enjoy every moment they are here (so does Tess as she gets longer walks) and after a couple of days they go, leaving a void which gets less and less as the days pass. 

But I always over-cater and this is true of everyone who comes to stay.   They go and I am left with a fridge full of food.    This morning I have frozen everything which is freezable and within date - smoked haddock, chocolate puddings, bread, milk.   The rest I have just piled on to a plate - olives, grapes, coleslaw, Florida salad, maple beetroot, pate, brie - that was my lunch.
Now I am going to the physiotherapist for my regular manipulation and when I return it will be to make tomato and onion soup for tea.   Then the cupboard will be bare again.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018


Nice morning coffee with friends in town.   Then it was home again and shortly afterwards friend S, who usually takes Tess for a walk on Wednesdays, called to say could she take her today instead as it was such a lovely day.   Off they went, T went too as his volunteer work today was not needed.   They walked Tess round the reservoir - off the lead - and she adored it.   Plenty of sniffs, wees and a couple of poos (too much info I suspect) later and they were back home for a cup of coffee.
In the meantime I had been out to lunch on our Tuesday fortnightly jaunt.   Today it was roast ham and pineapple with jacket potatoes followed by
ginger pudding and custard, a mince pie and coffee.

Since then I have packed a parcel, paid a bill, written this post, read posts on my side bar and now am ready to sit down and relax.   Until tomorrow.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Back to normal.

My visitors have gone now - it was lovely to have them here.   They are like family and so no trouble.   In addition D takes Tess on many of her walks and she loves that as he goes quicker and further than I do.  Occasionally P goes too but he has an aversion to poo so objects to collectin the stuff in poo bags and disposing of it in the bins provided!

The shepherd's pie was delicious.  I have of course made one hundreds of times over the years but I ran a recipe off the internet and followed it to the letter  and it was somehow slightly different.   There were additions of tomato paste,  Worcester sauce, a drop of sherry and some beef stock to the original minced lamb and it was certainly tasty.

The bedding and the towels are washed, have been through the drier, have been ironed and are on the airer ready to be back on the beds tomorrow - that's how I like it. Ukuleles this afternoon - Christmas music for fun - a nice relaxation after a busy weekend and now completely back to my normal life tomorrow - always good however much you enjoy the change.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Not for softies.

Old age of course I am talking about.   When a really nice young man from the Co-op  kindly wheeled my shopping across the zebra crossing to the boot of my car and packed it all in the box for me, we were chatting as we walked along and I suggested he made the very most of being young (and handsome with it) because it is no joke getting old and you don't realise it until you get there.   He just smiled.

Today proved just how true it is.   When the wind blows from a certain direction it blows straight down the Market Square in our town and consequently straight down the main road.   I needed to cross the Main road at the crossing (market day and very busy) and stepped off the kerb when the pedestrian light turned to green.   The wind caught me and had I not had my stick to firmly anchor me to the ground I think I would have 'done a Mary Poppins' and probably ended up somewhere near the church at the bottom of the hill.   And not having an umbrella to use as a parachute as she did I would probably have fallen and broken something vital.

However I managed to arrive safely at the bank, get home, unpack my shopping (friends coming for the week-end) and drive down for lunch out at our favourite Friday restaurant.   Super and very quick starter of pecans, dates and pear and a bed of leaves  with a light dressing; well worth bearing in mind for the future.   Then it was home to make the meat part of tomorrow's Shepherd's Pie so that there is no rush in the morning when all I have to do is cook and mash the potato topping at my leisure.

There will probably be no post for a couple of days when they are here so have a nice week end everyone.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

A Long Way to Go.

Derek says he finds himself longing for Spring - I am with you there all the way Derek.   After such a glorious Summer and a reasonable beginning to Autumn we have been suddenly plunged into this spell of drenching rain, strong, gale-force winds and damp, drear chill.

But we do have to remind ourselves that we haven't reached the first day of Winter yet so there is a long way to go.   I am sure that if we could just get a day or two of sunshine we would all perk up a bit.   My bungalow faces due South and when the sun shines it heats the whole place.  But the windows into the sitting room and kitchen are big and when the sky is black and no sun appears it makes an enormous difference.  Truth be known I am missing the farm's wood burner.

I shall go in a moment to watch the last of three programmes 'Inside the foreign office' - I am not sure how much of what they say is convincing but it does give one an insight into just how these so-called 'important figures' dash from A to B.   They fly from one side of the world to the other at  the drop of a hat.   I couldn't keep it up for a week and it is nothing to do with my age (86) I couldn't have done it at 26.   The moral here I suppose is that a high salary and being important is no substitute at all from relaxing, having evenings and week ends off and enjoying life.   Or do they live in a different world from me - metaphorically of course.


Wednesday, 28 November 2018


Poetry today and an absolutely awful day to go with it.  Although a little bit warmer this was offset by a sharp wind blowing, absolutely teeming rain now and then and a generally awful day.  Only six of us there but what lovely poetry we had.

For me my favourite was those chosen by friend W, who read poems which in some way were connected with war (this being our nearest Poetry to the Remembrance services to recall 100 years since the end of the Great War).

Some of them were such a reminder for me of my father.   Born in the  late 1880's he was at school when a lot of poetry was learnt by heart and throughout his life he had a great love of poetry and could remember poems off by heart.   Some of these W read today - notably 'The Battle of Blenheim'   In many ways it is a shame that the learning of poetry by heart has more or less completely died out - a little of it in the curriculum
would not come amiss in my opinion. 

J read 'The Highwayman' another poem he knew by heart and would recite given the opportunity.
They don't write 'em like that any more.

I read part of Basil Bunting's 'Briggflats' - a poem I love and which I have read at our Poetry meetings many times before.   It is such a dismal day and the poem evokes Spring and the May blossom in its opening lines.   Briggflats is a Quaker Meeting House in Sedbergh (where I go now and again to meet my God -daughter for lunch) and going into Sedbergh from this direction means that one crosses the River Rawthey - the poem opens with lines about the river.   If you don't know it do Google it - and indeed Briggflats - both worth a look.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

New Bathroom.

Out of the blue the plumber rang this morning and said could he come and replace the loo and washbasin this afternoon.   Of course I said yes - it is so good to find a plumber who says he will come and then comes on time.   Three hours later and it was all done, cleaned up and back to normal.   It looks very different but at least the cold tap on the washbasin is no longer so stiff I can hardly turn it on and the loo flushes first time you depress the button.   A good job done in record time.
Tess and I tootled down to the carpet shop, chose a vinyl flooring and they are going to come and measure  it up tomorrow (but not fit it until Christmas week).  It was appalling weather when we ventured out - pouring rain, strong wind and very cold.   Now, at last, the doors are shut, the plumber is gone and we can begin to get warm again.

It is our Poetry afternoon tomorrow so I shall now go and choose what I am intending to read and have a few practise runs - I hate to stumble over a word when I am reading a poem; it destroys the whole spirit of the thing.   Judging by the weather forecast we shall need poetry to cheer us up tomorrow (and warm winter woollies too).

Monday, 26 November 2018


I thought I was fed up with animal programmes.  I have watched them until I felt saturated with them.   But it (Sunday night, 8-pm BBC1) has been fascinating, mainly I think because it concentrated on the lives of one particular animal.   First the Chimpanzee, then the Penguin and this week the Lion.

The last two programmes - penguins and lions- have attracted controversy in that in both programmes the team doing the filming (a long job during which the team get close to the animals concerned both in distance and in feelings) have assisted the animals in their survival.   In the case of the penguins, a group of parents and babies had managed to get themselves trapped down a ravine and it was impossible for them to get out.   One by one they were dying, especially the young who were very vulnerable.   The members of the team were visibly moved and ended up digging a ramp for them to escape, which they did.

In the case of the lions,  the Pride was much diminished and in danger of completely dying out.
People in the Masai Mara were grazing their cattle in the area and the lions were hell bent on an easy catch.   But the Masai had put down poisoned meat which the cubs ate.    This time the film crew called in the vets to treat the cubs.

Were they wrong to do this?  It is certainly open to question.   But to see these tough men, often filming in awful conditions, in tears over the fate of their 'stars ' was actually quite moving.   I really don't know which side I come down on.   What is your opinion?