Thursday, 20 February 2020

Interlude.

No posts this week-end - friends arriving tomorrow so there will be a lull in things.   I might post on Sunday evening, otherwise Monday.   Have a good week-end.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Wednesday

Another cold, breezy and dull day here - quite depressing, although it is selfish to say this as this time the storm has not affected us very much and we have no flooding.   When  I look at the extent of rivers bursting their banks and flooding huge areas, putting thousands of homes under water, destroying hundreds of acres of crops - it is all so distressing.   There was a lovely old couple of ninety on the News this morning, going back to their house  - the whole place was in uproar and covered with mud and the old lady was horrified and said it looked like a jumble sale.   But what brought tears to my eyes was that they had been breeding Koi Carp in the pool in their back garden for many, many years and that was their biggest worry - had they been destroyed.   Well they hadn't, the carp were still there, calmly swimming up and down.   The lady was reduced to tears of joy, saying that she would have been 'distraught' if their beloved fish had gone.  It was such a touching moment.

I got up and had my breakfast but then decided that I really didn't feel well enough to stay up.   So I tidied round and went back to bed with The Times, the telephone and a pencil and pen to do the puzzles.  I put the blanket on and stayed in bed until half past eleven when my son rang to see how I was (he is on half term) and offered to do some shopping for me.   I got up, had a shower, got dressed and by that time he was back with my shopping.   I felt back to normal and this afternoon I have tatted about doing all sorts of jobs.  (I have friends coming for the weekend) so all is well once again.   I think maybe I want the Spring to be here!   Only another ten days until it is March and we do usually get a few signs of Spring then don't we?

When I look at the huge areas of the country which are being devastated by water I feel it is selfish of me to even think about being under the weather when I can't put my finger on the cause.
I am missing Tess of course, but even then I can't help feeling relief that I haven't to take her out in this windy weather (my Physio says I must not walk in windy weather).

On Saturday evening I intend to give John's recipe for chicken thighs with chorizo a whirl - all the ingredients are coming in the morning with my Tesco order - I will report back on how it turns out.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Lazy Day

I didn't feel at all well this morning - in fact I didn't feel all that well yesterday either.    So this morning I decided to cancel everything and have a day in bed.   I can't recommend it enough - this evening I feel so much  better.  I breakfasted and then went back to bed with The Times and my book, put on the electric blanket and just luxuriated in not doing anything.   I got up and made myself a bit of lunch, intending to shower and get up and decided instead to go back to bed, which I did.   I stayed until tea time, dozing, reading, just thinking - just a thoroughly lazy day. And after watching an hour's television I am just reading my replies and typing this before going back to bed.   I still feel tired so I am sure I shall sleep the night away too.   There was a time when this would have made me feel so guilty but not any more.  I should do it more often.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Monday

So John enjoys reading mundane posts.   Well on the whole I would guess that when one reaches my age most peoples' lives are mundane - or if they are not then they would wish it were so.   One of the plusses of reaching my age and ( at present) being relatively fit, is that most of the pressures of a working life have disappeared.  Alright I have to walk with a stick but compared with many folk in old age that is just a minor irritant.   I do have one major irritant, which I would have dealt with in my stride when I was younger, but it will eventually sort itself out.

But really I think the trick in old age is not to consider one's life 'mundane' - it is not called 'the third age' for nothing these days.   Sixty is now called the new forty so presumably eighty is the new sixty - or that is how I am looking at it.   So here are a few tips on how to stop old age being boring.   Yes I know, there is one major fact in this. You have to have enough money to pay the bills and a little bit over so that money is not a major issue.

1.   Have plenty of friends.   Value their friendship,
      make time for them, invite them round for a 
      coffee and a chat, or go out for one if funds 
      permit - or even for lunch.   Search around - 
      many places now have special pensioners 
      lunches.

2.   If you are mobile enough  then consider the
      idea of a dog.   You would not believe the
      number of people I have met while walking
      Tess.

3.    Join things.   There is a thriving U3A in my
       little town and it offers plenty of choice in
       courses - in addition to an over 60,s club 
       (which is well attended).   In addition there is
       also a local Probus, a W I, several study
       groups , a local Camera Club - I could go on.

In my experience few people come to you - you have to go out and look for them.   I could count on my fingers the friends who call hoping to find me in.   They are special friends who are dear to me and who know I am always pleased to see them and 'put the kettle on' when I see them on the drive.

The U3A class I have joined is my Book Group.  We meet in one another's houses on the first Monday in each month, we take it in turns to choose the book and we meet and talk about it over a coffee and a biscuit.   If everyone comes there are eight of us.   This month's book, chosen by M, is 'Olive Kitteridge' by Elizabeth Strout - a
very good book indeed.   Last month's was Elizabeth Gaskell's 'North and South' - also a really good read.

So my advice is - don't let old age get you down, don't let it become a mundane, daily trudge - as so many people seem to do as they get older.   My intention is to go out, meet folk, do things (as Rachel does - it is lovely to read of her exploits- although I do realise that she is very much younger than me and can hop on and off a bus or a train and plan wonderful trips abroad (which I did twenty years ago but wouldn't attempt now).

And, like John, I  love reading about what she does - her cats, her trips into Norwich, the classes she attends, the films she sees, the way she makes friends and the way she and Sue from Suffolk (also a blogger) meet for a coffee and a chat.   It is these things that make the world go round, make one forget about Coronavirus, about HS2, about Boris's exploits, about what Donald Trump is up to.   I leave all that to the next generation.  Maybe that is selfish but this is really 'me time'.   I make donations to one or two of my pet charities, I try to help anyone when it is within my power to do so - other than that I try to live life to the full and I do urge you - if you are over 60 and retired - to do the same.




Saturday, 15 February 2020

Temptation

Today I am finally succumbing to temptation and buying myself an ipad.   I have held out against the advice of friends for a long time, but I have gradually begun to see how useful it will be and so today's the day I order it.   Friend H, who lives next door, is coming round this afternoon to talk about it with me and then the die will be cast.

Storm clouds have gathered, rain has started and the wind is getting up.   I am just hoping Rachel is right in her comments yesterday when she said that the storm would peak out in the Atlantic.   My son's village can definitely not cope with any more water.   They have the sandbags out and are doing all they can but the power of water is unstoppable.   I will continue this post later in the day when we see how it has developed. 

Well it has rained heavily all day and the strength of the wind has increased but during the evening the rain has stopped.   I have just looked out of the front door and the wind is strong but it is fine.   The trouble is that because of the hills the water comes down the hills long after the rain has stopped so we shall not know for a while yet whether we have escaped the worst of it.   Fingers crossed.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Friday

Mid afternoon, and what promised to be a pleasant warm and sunny day has suddenly deteriorated into a wet, cold and windy day.   Rather a disappointment as the forecast for the week end is ghastly.   Storm Dennis this time and our town and the neighbouring village are bracing themselves for a downpour and hoping for the best.   There are signs of Spring everywhere, which makes the whole thing worse somehow.   Almost every garden on the estate has a few snowdrops, primroses, hellebores or crocuses out, tulips are poking through and the Viburnums around are in full flower (all of them (including mine) have been badly pruned and are well past the point of no return but the flower clusters are pleasant to look at.)

Out to lunch with friend W (scampi, chips and peas and fish pie with crispy kale respectively) and then a  look in the lovely shop at Tennants where they have such a super collection of possible gifts.  Now back home and just time to order myself a pair of boots in the Hotter Sale with my two Premium Bonds received this morning.

As I write this, hordes of rooks keep swooping over my back garden, blown about by the wind - and they seem to be enjoying it.  I love rooks - they have always been my favourite bird since childhood, when my bedroom window looked out over a rookery (now long gone) and the same rooks that crossed the farm each morning and evening on their way from and back to their rookery now cross my garden as it is on their flight path to the upper dale where they fan out and find things to eat.

I shall now go and make myself a cup of tea and settle down to watch the last episode of Antiques Road Trip for this week.   At last the young man has cottoned on to what to buy in order to not lose a stack of money each night - so fingers crossed for him tonight.

 

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Rubbish

There are always going to be people around who don't care - people who drive without a thought for other road users - people who never put a single can or item of food into the trolleys for the homeless which are in our supermarket.  I could go on, but the thing that has'got me going' this morning is the item on Breakfast Television about the dumping of rubbish.   Do these people who dump huge piles of rubbish give no thought at all to the farmers whose land they often dump it on, or at the very least block the gates to their fields, or the unsightly mess of a lay by full of goodness knows what - just a mess of rubbish?

I found it annoying when I lived on the farm and walking Tess would find folk had thrown take-away cartons and drinks cans out of their car windows.   About once a week I would take a bag with me on my morning walk and usually manage to fill it with rubbish on the lane sides.

But the rubbish shown on 'Breakfast' was in an altogether different league - huge piles of it or even buildings stacked with bales of it.    The cost to our Councils and Local Authorities for moving this and disposing of it runs into millions countrywide. I wonder what these folk's houses and gardens are like.

To lighten my mind after that rant - there was about an inch of snow on the tops of the walls in my back garden and it wasn't freezing.   However, when I looked at my snow covered car and at the state of the road outside I decided discretion was the better part of valour and cancelled my usual 9.30 hair appointment.   Now, at a quarter to twelve I have tidied round the bungalow and am sitting here in my dressing gown (having got deeply into my book (detective novel) over my breakfast.   But does it really matter?   Now I am going to shower, dress and cook something for my lunch.   Could be a jacket potato - I haven;t had one this week and I have some oriental vegetables so they will be a good filling (soy sauce?).   The sun is just coming out so should the snow melt from the footpaths in time I might go round the block with Percy (yes I have chosen his name).

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Wednesday morning early.

Ice everywhere this morning.   My car is enveloped in a sheet of it and all the paths and roads are covered with it.   I shall not venture out today.

I came into my computer room about nine yesterday evening, switched on the light, the bulb fused and all the lights in the house went off.   Yes - I know and freely admit - I am a wimp where such things are concerned, having always left them to the man of the house throughout both of my marriages.   I now know this was a stupid error.    I had a responsible job which I did and enjoyed yet can;t change a light bulb I can sense you thinking.

I do have various batteried lanterns around the house in case there is a power cut so I wasn't without light and I did know where the fuse box was (out in a very cold garage) but without going to look at it I was pretty certain it was too high for me to reach without my little steps and I didn't fancy that in the dark.   Luckily my table lamps worked so I didnt sit in the dark for the rest of the night but I did go to bed feeling pretty useless and downhearted. 

This morning I got up before it was quite light, opened all the blinds and curtains, went out into the garage, found I could easily reach the fuse box,  flicked up the offending switch - all done and I felt proud of myself.   Alright - such a little thing but did my self confidence (which is at a low ebb at the moment for reasons I won't go into) a lot of good.   Changing the light bulb is another thing though as it means bringing the steps into the house and climbing them to reach the light - I shalln't attempt that.   One fall from a step ladder spells disaster at my age.

As I sit here looking out of the window the ice on the patio is melting quite quickly so the temperature must have risen above freezing  although it is a largely grey sky and a brisk wind - just bits of blue sky here and there.   (in the middle of typing this sentence the sun has come out).  There was a time when in February we expected this sort of weather and would have been surprised if we had had anything else.   But now the reverse is true isn't it?

My Grandson, who teaches in China, is staying there, as are the other English teachers with him.   They are subject to various restrictions, they have to wear a mask when they go out and their movements are restricted and their school is closed for now.   But he is expecting to be teaching on line shortly which pleases him as life is  a bit boring with all the restrictions in place.   He is in good spirits.

Afternoon now - still sunny but with occasional snowy blizzards passing over quickly.   I have just been for a walk with my trusty steed.   Thought you might like to see him.   Any ideas for a name?

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Tuesday

We should have known when we planned it that it was likely to be doomed.   Our friends P and D, who live in Windermere and who know we don't care to drive over the top of the Pennines in mid Winter, had arranged to meet us at the Creamery in Hawes today for a lunch - we booked a table a few weeks ago and were really looking forward to it.   But the weather had other ideas and early this morning P rang to say that they didn't like to risk the weather coming over by the Three Peaks.   Looking on line did show snow in the area and it is high ground.   So sadly we cancelled - doubly sadly as they revealed that today was their Anniversary and therefore a celebration.   So - sorry we called off P and D - but HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

It was a sensible precaution because we have had almost every kind of weather throughout the day - hail, snow, blizzards, periods of sunshine - but always very cold and windy.   W and I, along with friend M, decided to eat in town - I had sausage, mash with onion gravy and crispy kale;  M and W both had fish pie and crispy kale.    If you have never had crispy kale do try it.   Break or chop kale into florets, spray it with that oil you can buy in an aerosol if you wish to lose weight, toss it well so that it is well-covered with oil, spread it on a baking sheet and bake for a short time in a very hot oven until crisp.   Watch it like a hawk because it soon burns.   The result is delicious and even the most seasoned kale-hater will convert immediately.   Maybe 5 minutes is adequate if the oven is very hot - but do watch it - it easily goes from lovely bright green to brown and burnt.

Now it is night time, the ground has a thin layer of snow which will certainly stay overnight, and it is very cold.   Stay warm everyone.

Monday, 10 February 2020

February

'February fill dyke' - not called that for nothing but really there is no need to overdo it is there?   We caught the very worst of the weather up here in July with that horrendous thunder storm in which our little village (only a mile from my bungalow) featured on the National News.   Some of the houses flooded then have still not been fully restored to normality and as the beck swept past their gates yesterday I am sure there was more than one quaking heart.   But boards and sandbags kept the overflowing beck on the road rather than down the drives.   So all was well this time.

Today it is just windy and mostly dull - now and again a brief burst of sunshine, but fleeting.   Well, it is February and for many years this is the kind of weather we would expect.   But contrarily for the last few years it has not been like that, so when bad weather hits, as it has done this week end, we feel badly done by.

The lady who cleans for me rang to say could she come tomorrow instead as one of her grand children was not well enough to go to school, so I seem to have been wandering about aimlessly all day doing more or less nothing.   I have some very busy days coming up so really it has probably done me a lot of good. 

Looking out on the garden snowdrops, crocus and pink hellebores are all flowering away with not a care in the world.   Isn't it good how nature carries on regardless.   As I came back from lunch out yesterday I passed fields full of Swaledale sheep sheltering in the walls and hedgebacks.   What  hardy animals they are.   On Breakfast Television 
this morning Amanda Owen, the Yorkshire Shepherdess, who lives up the top end of Swaledale, was showing rounding up these hardy sheep to bring them down to lower ground.   Not all that long before they lamb - maybe eight weeks at most - out in all weathers and they didnt look all that keen to come down off the tops in spite of seeing the drier grass.   We are a  hardy lot up here.