Saturday, 3 June 2023

Is it worth it?

Is it indeed?

I have neither the ability or the wish to be in the public eye - marriage, motherhood, friendships, hobbies and now what at ninety I can only call Super-retirement have suited me fine.   But watching Phillip Schofield being 'hauled over the coals', seeing his demeanour and his face in the few clips which were put on the News over the last couple of days has made me think a lot about things.   Sitting in the sun, unable to be active, leaves me with plenty of time to think and, I can tell you, I have been thinking.   That tortured face left me feeling 'drained'.

Has 'ordinary' life always been like this?   I suppose it has.   Are we 'above' animals?   We certainly think we are.   But sex has always 'reared its ugly head'.   There have always been what we will call 'indiscretions'. 

At one end of the scale is what I will call 'Physical Attraction'.  For the unattached then this is, of course, the beginning of a relationship.   But once in a loving relationship that doesn't mean that one never again meets/comes across other people to whom one could become attracted.  And that feeling can often be mutual.   But the 'loyal' personal even if they recognise the fact,  doesn't follow it up. 

"We aren't animals, we don't let our instincts take over"!  Or something like that.

But who are we to judge?    There always have been what I will call 'Broom cupboard incidents', the looks, the touching inappropriately, the things one regrets instantly.

But if one is in the public eye then the slightest thing becomes instantly public knowledge.   Now we read of remote controlled sex toys in  Parliament (really?), of indiscriminate sex - often regretted instantly -. 

It is easy to stop reading about all these indiscretions, easy to push the off switch on the TV remote control.

With our politicians do we expect them to be 'whiter than white'?   With public figures in Show Business do we expect them all (folk dressed to kill, made up to the nines, often in situations where they are almost expected to advertise their availability) to be innocent?

I am not speaking here of the Jimmy Savilles, the Rolf Harrises and the like.   I am speaking of Law Abiding citizens who pay their taxes.

Can any of us, hand on heart, say there have not been some situations in our lives when temptation has been put our way?  Some of us can say we did not carry it through, other may have done but regretted it.   That doesn't matter - it is personal choice.   What does matter that - providing the law is not broken - should it become public knowledge?

I am not arguing for or against.   And, frankly, I just do not care how many children Boris Johnson has fathered.   But what |I do care about is the public 'hounding' of individuals in the public eye just for the sake of a 'good story'.

Anyone breaking the law deserves investigation whoever they are - and punishment where any offence is proven.   But seeing Phillip Schofield's face and demeanour in that TV interview just made me think, probably selfishly, 'thank God he is not my son' - because I fear for him frankly.


Thursday, 1 June 2023


Funny word isn't it when you think about it?  I can't help thinking of getting on your bike again and going for a ride! (I see folk riding past on their bikes and think if I got on one now I would just wobble across the road and fall off (hopefully on to the grass verge not the kerb).   Anyway - to the more serious stuff and away from frivolity.

I have a new chair.   It looks very smart and matches my other furniture beautifully and - more importantly - it is comfortable and has been specially made with my disabilities in mind.  I have fallen in love with it. (might even give it a name - any ideas?) 

It cost £1,400.   The reason I am telling you this is because of what comes next.

Most towns and a lot of country lanes and bits of spare land have become 'tips'.   I don't get around in my car any more but I don't expect things have changed since my driving days.  Near to the farm was a sort of lay-bye come lane - gated and full of wild flowers and long grass.  In the far corner was an old - very old - caravan and in the caravan lived a man;  in the old days he would have been called a 'tramp' I suppose.   He had an even older bike and once a week he would cycle into town (about a mile) get his pension from the post office, do his food shopping and then push his bike, now laden with carrier bags, back home.  A couple of the bags would be full of beer cans and the rest food.  For drinking water he used the tap in our calf house.   He had always used it.   I don't know whether he had ever asked permission - he just used it - never spoke just came with a bucket, filled it and went again.   The farmer never stopped him.

Where did his rubbish go - beer cans, bags, spare food that had 'gone off' ?  On to an existing pile in the corner of the lay by.  Over the years the pile got bigger and more smelly and occasionally (naturally) one would see the odd rat. )our farm cats frequented the area on a  daily basis as they roamed the fields for baby rabbits.   And occasionally a vehicle would stop and the driver would chuck something on to the pile.   In other words it became the local dump - well hidden by vegetation in Summer, open for all to see in Winter.

Eventually - after a year or two - the old man's health failed and Social Services moved him into hospital where he died.  The authorities arrived, cleared the rubbish away and burnt the caravan where it stood, completely cleared the site and disinfected it all.

So back to my chair.  Remember how much it cost me (excellent service, delivery and suchlike) - to take away my existing chair they wanted £70.   It was a good chair with a wooden frame but forty years old and worn out.   Had we still lived on the farm it would have gone on the bonfire.

I refused to pay £70 and after asking around I found our local council (was Richmondshire and is now North Yorkshire C.C.) would collect it for £51.   They are coming for it on Saturday. It has to be on the footpath at the bottom of my drive on Saturday morning by 6am and has to be suitably covered if it is raining as they won't collect anything which is wet.

I sent them a note telling them at 90 I couldn't get it down the drive but would leave it outside my garage where they could clearly see it.   If it is raining it will be just inside the garage and the door will be open. 

Hopefully it will disappear but it does beg the question - I wonder just how many such objects appear on tips in laybyes or chucked over the hedge into some field or some bit of waste ground.

Recycling is the eternal problem isn't it?  Even to simple things like crisp packets (do they go in the rubbish bin or do they go in the recycling box?)  I notice Kit Kat wrappers (Kit Kats are my weakness, along with Crisps - we all have weaknesses don't we?) can now be recycled.

I have an answer as far as these small things are concerned - I put it in the box in the kitchen for my carer to decide. 

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Being an Observer

 I don't think I have ever had time to really look at people I don't know before.

I sit here thinking about what I have just written - goodness me, in all my teaching years and Parents' evenings of course I have.   People I don't know have arrived and sat down opposite me at a table to discuss  their child and his/her work/behaviour ( in the widest sense).   But then, of course, there has been an immediate connection - a common interest.   A brief 'friendship' usually emerges in these circumstances if one has developed the right technique for encouraging it - because parents' evenings are a two-way thing.   What the teacher learns about the parents - the way they look, the way they behave, their whole attitude - helps in every case to add to the teacher's knowledge of each individual child in his/her care.  If the evening is a success then they are not 'ships that pass in the night' but just another addition to the teacher's mental build-up of each individual child.

Now - at 90 - (sorry to keep reminding you of the fact but believe me I have to keep reminding myself)- I have through circumstances become just an observer for much of the time.

Two choices (I am cutting out TV here) - either I sit at my computer and observe either the screen or the garden through the window - maybe at some times of the year an animal (beef cattle, sheep) might pop its head over the stone wall but rarely, so it is observe garden and/or wildlife.   Or I sit in my nice new chair and look out of the window at the 'passing traffic'.   After living here now for over five years it  is amazing how familiar folk have become.

I can divide them into various groups (into my mind came the words 'Venn diagrams' - remember them from your school days?) - first and foremost  dog walkers - 7 - 8am and again after tea.   One soon learns who takes their pet for a short walk so that they poo away from their own doorstep and who is going for a 'proper' walk.   Past they go - at a fair speed (depending on the dog - plenty of different breeds from chihuahua to setter).  Those in the first category - back in a couple of minutes, poo bags swinging from which ever hand is not holding the lead) - the rest - some stroll back, others I don't see -they have a morning and evening route worked out and obviously return by a different way.    'By their dogs shall ye know them' has become my mantra with this group.

Mums with babies/toddlers pushing buggies pass later (do Mums still do as they did in my day - bath babies first thing, potty train, feed, dress, walk ) - I have no way of knowing.   All I can say of this group is by golly how quickly newborns become toddlers (different vehicles sameMum pushing) become      tiny tots on scooters, little bikes etc).

Ladies going shopping - middle aged walking briskly; only a mile into town so easy walking with a couple of shopping bags on market day.  Older ladies go past later at bus time (stop at the end of the road) and then return using the next bus.

And then there are the walkers - usually in at least pairs - dressed for the weather, sticks in hand, waterproofs in rucksack if they have listened to the weather forecast.

I get to know some of them a bit - if the day is warm enough I take Priscilla outside and sit by the front door ready to call over the front lawn to passers by.   Dog walkers are the best bet to elicit brief conversations (breed, behaviour, name etc) and some have become quite 'pally' - that goes for the dogs too. 

Plenty of folk pass in cars  - I am not interested in cars as long as they go) but that is only a brief glance.

But they are an interesting lot - dress varies enormously but only one thing stands out as worth mentioning.   Sorry but I do not like tattoos.   They might be 'fashionable' but now that the weather has warmed up a bit I do seem to be drawn to observing men in shorts, often fat tummies drooping over the waist line, and countless tattoos.  (I recall an elderly lady in the village stopping me when I was about to marry the farmer a couple of years after being widowed.   She remarked how lucky I was and said she would like to meet someone and remarry -( "but he must have his own teeth and he must keep his shoes clean.").   So I will end by saying - never in my whole life time could I marry a man whose body is covered in tattoos (but then I am sure they would all say, without exception "never in my whole life time could I marry a woman of 90, unable to walk and nosey enough to sit there observing me as I walk past"                                                                  

Tuesday, 30 May 2023


Not everyone loves gardening.   I have always loved pottering in the garden and although I can no longer do anything but look, I still get such a lot from the experience.   It is the sense of tranquility I think; it is a space, however small, where I feel I can forget any worries           about the world and where it is heading - I get enough of that fron reading The Times each day (I do want to know what is happening everywhere but little of it these days fills me with a sense of pleasure).   But if you have the same kind of feelings that I have then please sit down with your morning cup of coffee and whatever you eat with it (kit-kat, tea cake, scone anyone?) and click on John's post today - I have just left it after wandering between the photographs as they increasingly filled me with the same feeling I get from my garden.   Go to 'By Stargoose and Hanglands' on my side bar and see if you agree -it has certainly been the high point of my day as it sit here recovering from Shingles. )

You may think of Red Valerian as a weed (my gardener certainly does) although I read somewhere the other day that it is an important medicinal plant - does anyone know what it is used for?   It is 'out' in my garden, standing up tall and strong against a background of an evergreen hedge and I love it.

And amongst a plethora of self-sown Aquelegia is a new - and very welcome - addition.   It is large flowered and is a very deep purply=blue and I welcome it with open arms and hope it seeds freely - it is the most beautiful colour.

The Alliums are bobbing about in the rather strong (and rather cold) East wind which is blowing in across the North York Moors from the North Sea and as it does so it dries up our soil even more at a time when everything is sorely needing a good drink of pure rain.  My gardener planted twenty three years ago.   Rather than seeding from their dark pink heads they seem to be disappearing (only ten this year) - I suspect field mice are the culprits - alliums are in the onion family so they possibly make good winter food for the Sunday dinner table.  I know where a family of field mice live in a hole in one of my stone walls - I see them now and again - and welcome them.   I don't begrudge them an allium or two (and when I see the alliums in the giant tent at Chelsea I can only think of mine as 'poor relations'.)

Pink rock-roses are everywhere - if there is a rock they will find it and quickly cover it.   And I am not short of rocks - plenty of those apart from the dry stone wall at the top.   If you are familiar with The Yorkshire Dales you will know that dry stone walls abound - walls built over hundreds of years, built with stones dug out of the earth they surround, knocked down by sheep and built up again by dry-stone-wallers or the farmer.   I was talking to a retired farmer the other day who has a daughter who is a professional photographer.   He commented (with puzzlement I suspect) how she had hundreds of photographs she had taken of stones.   'Stones' he said with puzzlement in his voice - as much as to say -when you've seen one you've seen them all.   How differently we see things - the sheep looks at stones and sees a possible escape into the next field if there is a wobbly bit of wall (the grass  is always greener both to a sheep and metaphorically to a lot of humans); the farmer looks at stones weighing up which one fits best in the space in the wall he is rebuilding after the sheep has knocked it down; the photographer with a fascination for stones looks at a stone and sees the beauty in its colour, its shape, the bits of moss growing on it ---.   Perfect example of 'it takes all sorts'.

Don't forget to pop over to 'By Stargoose and Hanglands' will you?


Monday, 29 May 2023


Short and personal post today as I have run out of time and my evening carer will be here in a minute.  Today - Royal Oak Day - the twenty-ninth of May - is, I believe, Heather's birthday.    We have been together in Blogland Heather through thick and thin - so just to wish you a Happy Birthday - and I am sure all other regulars will join in with good wishes.   Us Oldies have to stick together - have a lovely day. 

Sunday, 28 May 2023

Farewell shingles??

 Well 'they' appear to be on their way out.   I am certainly in less pain and discomfort and the angriness of the blotches and blisters is paling a bit.   I don't feel one hundred percent yet but I am improving.

My dear friends T and S called with a jar of the very freshest honey only taken from the hive during the week-end - I shall sample it at tea time on a couple of crumpets.   They have been wrestling with swarms so are pretty worn out.

I do wish I could photograph my garden for you - it is awash with bearded iris,  osteospermum , pansies, rock roses and aquelegia.   I get such pleasure from it even if I can no longer do it myself.

Although I live on a housing estate, the site immediately opposite my bungalow is owned by the company who built the estate - they are a local firm and I have always presumed they intend it for their retirement.   Folk who call on me often remark that they wish there was a bungalow there and how they wouldn't wish to live opposite 'a bit of waste land'.   I love it.   It is hilly and the mounds are at present covered in Cow Parsley which glows white when dusk is falling.   The dandelions have finished - just the 'clocks' left to spread next years plants on my lawn and garden - and the surrounding ones too.   Here and there saplings of ash trees throw up new 'stalks' (they are 'culled' every couple of years) and they are now in full leaf - and all along the bottom of the site is a mixture of hazels (catkins are now finished and they are in leaf), a lovely silver birch and hawthorne bushes at present in full flower.   The May blossom smells wonderful.  I could be in the middle of the countryside in the front and AM in the countryside at the back as over my dry stone wall are the fields. (have just looked out and the old ash tree in the field is now in full leaf).

I am still a bit frail - shingles is not a nice illness - but it doesn't stop all the greenery around me burgeoning.   The sun isn't out today and it is a bit chilly - so no sitting outside for an hour but as you will have seen from my post today, Spring has really sprung.

I no longer use my oven or my hob.  My hob has a 'hood' with a 'chimney' to outside.   Sparrows have built where it comes out into the house wall.   Mum and Dad can be seen from the garage as they busily pop in and out with feed.   Babies can be heard clearly from my kitchen as they sound to have their nest inside.   Mr Blackbird has a rival Mr Blackbird - one sits on the apex of my roof, another on the roof next door.   I can't say they sing in Unison - quite a lot of discord and rivalry - you can have too much of a good thing.

Monday, 22 May 2023


I have shingles.   Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Saturday, 20 May 2023


 Do we all have them?   I really don't know about that.   I just know that I - from being quite a small child- have had them.   My first one - and one that has existed to this day, albeit changed to fit circumstances, is with Natural History in general - plants wild and garden, birds and (apart from hares) less so about our native wild animals.   Hares above all I adore - perhaps because in my childhood they were plentiful in Lincolnshire and seen around often.  Certainly it had nothing to do with my mother's love of jugged hare.  I could smell it cooking before I came through the gate and I never, ever touched it because it just brought to mind from a very young age the absolute freedom of a running hare in the flat Lincolnshire countryside.

I suppose I inherited the fascination from my Dad; we used to walk the lanes around the village - me with a wild flower book in my hand, he with a bird book.   He had a wonderful knack of finding birds' nests.   He would part the hedge and show me the nest - if the hen was sitting she would usually sit stock still, watching us carefully and he would quietly let the twigs in the hedge go back and we would move away only whispering what sort of bird she was when we got a bit further away from the nest (sometimes we would find one in the  bank on the side of a spring, in a tiny hole in the grass).

When we found a wildflower I would identify it from my book (I soon got to know what they were) and then I would pick just one flower (frowned on these days), put it into the damp paper I carried ready to be pressed and put into my book when I got home.  Then I would write a bit about it.   (How I wish I had those books now but they have disappeared in the mists of time).

These days of course I no longer walk in the countryside but my love of plants continues - wild or otherwise).   Today I see my neighbour's hawthorn tree is bursting into blossom - May blossom as we call it.  The smell of the blossom is so strong and so gorgeous.  Usually a blackbird sings from the topmost bow but at present I think Mrs B must be sitting on another clutch of eggs so he is busy on my front lawn looking for treats for her.   Instead a chaffinch has taken up pole position - a bit monotonous after Mr B.   I wonder what Mrs B thinks - her nest in my hedge is only a short distance away from the hawthorne.

As for flowers - my steep garden is coming into bloom again now that the Spting bulbs have largely finished apart from the Alliums which get less each year - I think the field mice like them as winter food.

Many of the blooms out now are either pink, blue or purple,   Sadly I can't get up into the steep  garden and have to watch from the patio - irritating because many of them I can no longer identify, they are too far away.   But I can still look and enjoy.

Other fascinations?   Words.   But I'll leave that for another day.

Thursday, 18 May 2023

Nuclear families.

 Usually the snippets in the first page of Times 2 tend to really irritate me (but provide good 'blog-fodder'.)  But  today Deborah Ross has provided me with a lot of food for thought in her designated number of  words  on 'The Nuclear Family'.

Apparently Danny Kruger MP (at The National Conservatism conference) has said he wants to see 'an end to the narcissism of the me generation'.   And he hopes this would engender a return to 'family values'.

This is a topic which I regularly discuss/argue with my son about.   It puts up our phone bills but we shall never agree so it really is a waste of money, as are most arguments on the telephone or not.   Give me an instance where an argument has ever changed anyone's views.   We get our views entrenched - right or wrong - and it takes a rude awakening to change them.

You could write a long list as to why the situation is as it is now.   Why do folk chop and change partners - in some cases, it seems to me as an outsider- like they change what is their favourite meal?

I would suggest that the following are some of the reasons:

We have more money (yes, I know many folk have rotten salaries/wages but still more money than the previous generations in real terms.)

Because household bills are high, both parties have to work thus much more opportunity for both sexes to 'view the field' and find greener grass (they think - often mistakenly).

These days the car has become as essential a part of family expenditure as a hot dinner - two people working so often 2 cars.   You can spread your wings a lot with petrol in your tank.

And  - all the above reasons mean that there is now rarely a situation where Grandma and Grandad, Aunts and Uncles, old Uncle Tom Cobley and all live within a stone's throw of one another so that baby sitting, providing meals, knowing one another's affairs - all that has largely disappeared and a visit to see Grandma and Grandad involves a three hour car journey and of your life they know nothing.

I don't think there is a single issue that has become entrenched in our society today that can go back to a previous way of looking at things.   We evolve and that is how it has always been and always will be.

And it is 'oldies' like me who look back and think that the old way of thinking was the best way.   I try hard to not think like that because I know it is a pointless exercise.  What life is like now is what is and it has to evolve at its own pace - a forward pace.

Watching old Michael Palin reruns on TV - it is not unusual to see some 'remote' tribal chief whip out his mobile phone - things are moving forward for good or ill.   Like it or lump it.



Wednesday, 17 May 2023

0ld age anyone?

 That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.

I don't think anyone has ever put it better than Shakespeare in these first four lines of sonnet number 73.

I love the sonnets and have always loved them.   These four lines have resonated more and more as the years have rolled by. For, let's face it,. we don't really contemplate old age when we are dashing about through teenage frolics,  then marriage and babies, then middle age when (if we are lucky) 'our'sweet birds' have flown the nest - suddenly( again, if we are lucky)we have a bit more money and can do things we have always wanted to do -travel in my case.

But now at ninety I don't think I am quite to the stage of no birds singing.    In fact today's Times 2  has Martha Stewart the cover star - in a swimsuit - and she is 81.   Don't panic I am not about to put on a photo of myself in such a garment.   In fact I don't expect to ever wear one again, although I   daresay a daily swim might do my muscles a world of good.

But the caption on the photo says'Is 80 the new sixty?'   Well I go along with that and shall update it a bit and say 'Is 90 the new 70?' 

Give or take a bit of osteoarthritis and a couple of non existent knee ligaments (which do make it essential to hold on tightly to Priscilla on any jaunts) there are still a few birds singing.   Probably old crows rather than perky wrens but thanks to Priscilla still able to fly.