Wednesday, 23 June 2021

My Estate

 I left the farm when my dear farmer died four years ago and I moved the short distance into our little Yorkshire Dales market town - only a mile away or over two fields as the rooks fly.   So everything was familiar and it hardly felt like moving house except for the fact that I was moving to a very much smaller house - or rather from a fairly old farmhouse with high ceilings, bit rooms, a big Aga heated farm kitchen and a big vegetable garden to a small bungalow on last estate before you leave the town - then over two fields and you are at my farmhouse.

At my age of course it was a sensible move and now, after four years, I am used to living amongst people again (the farmhouse was quite isolated) and I am very happy.   It is a lovely estate - a mixture of semi detached and detached houses and bungalows, one or two small modern terraces, several three storey properties - all set at differing angles and at differing distances from the road or from each other.   Trees have been planted and, as a friend pointed out, it rather has the feeling of a separate village to it.    Every one has a garden of some kind - mine is larger than most because I live in a detached bungalow with a garage tacked on the side and a footpath all round and the back garden stretches the full length of the property.   But I used to be a keen gardener and I have a nice gardener now.

There is only one road 'into' the estate and I live on that road so that early in the morning and again at tea time there is traffic going out and coming home. I used to have my dog, Tess, and we walked three times a day every day so that I know a very large number of people on the estate - those who are also dog lovers and walk their dogs daily - usually past my house.   We chat and pass the time of day - so there is always something to look at.   No vehicle goes out into the big wide world without passing me if you like to put it that way!

Today a quite different happening took place just outside my window - for the first time I can ever remember.  A class of children either from the top end of the primary school or the lower end of the Comprehensive have been having Road Safety lessons.   They cycled from my bungalow to the Main Road, round the Traffic Island, back to the road opposite my window, where they turned right (remembering to look right, look left, look right again before turning with the appropriate hand signal).   They cycled out of sight and then a couple of minutes later appeared again.   They were all kitted out in shiny green jackets and helmets.   And the bikes were identical, suggesting that maybe they belonged to the school and that lessons were starting, maybe during P E lessons.  I really enjoyed watching and when Priscilla and I began our walk, after thinking about it I decided to go the same way that I always do - so that I was seen as a hazard to be avoided, and they all did so without being told to do so.

Well that's about all that has happened.   So far the sun is out and it is warm as long as you keep out of the brisk wind.   Priscilla and I did our walk and encountered a piece of hedging with a pink wild rose in bloom.   I smelled it before I saw it - exquisite.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Another Day Bites the Dust

 How speedily the days fly by (especially when you're having fun) - it is not as though I do anything much these days - just living is about as much as I can manage.   It was my Tesco order day- due to come between nine and ten this morning.   It came at a couple of minutes past nine, just as I was managing to push Priscilla along the front path with my newly-potted Gazania (I brought it in last night as there is a threat of a frost (yes at mid-summer) here at present.

The sun was already out and within five minutes the one flower was out (they go in and out with the sun) - it is called 'Tiger Lily' and the flower  is exquisite).  I came back in, washed out the fridge and put the food away, taking some things out into the garage.   Standing in the garage I realised just how long it must be since I had cleaned the garage and so I started.   Bear in mind I can only walk with the aid of Priscilla and have to be constantly on my guard against falling over.   I cleaned out all the cupboards in the old sideboard, throwing away bits and pieces which have been there since I moved in four years ago (it is a good day to do it as it is bin day tomorrow).  I washed down the window sill and the top of the sideboard.   How much better it looked.   You know that feeling of satisfaction you get at a job well done?   Well I got it even if it did take me three hours rather than the half hour it would have taken me in my mobile days.

Since then I have done more or less nothing - just sat in the chair with my feet up and read the paper.  At tea time I took Priscilla round again to the front door and brought in my Gazania.   Already the sun was going in and it was chilly - after a pleasant, warm, sunny day.  Picking up the plant pot it radiated damp warmth - wonderful growing conditions - long may they continue - but oh how we do need rain.

Legs very wobbly tonight after too much mobility but nothing a good night's sleep won't put right.

Monday, 21 June 2021

A New Week begins.

 Everywhere down South of a line from Birmingham to the Wash as they used to say when they divided the country into sections,  is desperate for the rain to cease,   Here in the North our gardens are sadly in need of a decent downpour but none is forthcoming.   Today is cold, cloudy and breezy.   I have added two more layers as the day has gone on.  But it is quite tempting to put on the central heating - on the Solstice.

Our fortnightly chat on Zoom with friends in Cumbria told a similar story of the weather over there.   These regular fortnightly chats, like visits to the hairdresser, my other Zoom with friends, Book Group and suchlike all mean that the days pass by quickly and it seems to be always the week end again.

In just the same way one of the things which makes the individual day pass quickly is my daily walk 'round the block'.   It takes me about three quarters of an hour, plus another quarter of an hour preparation and that is quite a large chunk out of the day.

So, what have I done today apart from the Zoom with friends P and D?   Well this morning friends S and T called for a quick visit and then called after lunch when T oiled a door for me and S kindly potted on the Gazania she bought me as a present towards the end of last week.   Now when the weather warms up again (towards the end of the week according to the weatherman) the pot can take up its spot by the front door where - in the full sun - it will open its yellow and brown striped face every time the sun shines on its flowers.

That's about the extent of today's news so I shall now go and watch Michael Portillo in his fancy attire riding a train somewhere or other.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Another day

 Well a nice full week-end - a change after months of Covid induced solitude and I have really enjoyed it.  Friend D came this afternoon and spent the afternoon here.   She brought two individual apple pies with her so I went without a pud and we enjoyed them over a cup of tea while putting the world to rights.   She didn't go until half past five and as I always watch Country File and Antiques Road Show that meant that I just had time to do my walk round the block before the News and an evening's viewing.   One long phone call since and it is really time for bed so just a short post this evening.   It has been a fine day again here although the patio was damp when I drew back the blinds this morning - but nothing to speak of.  To sum the weather up - sunny in parts, quite a breeze blowing and when the sun went in chilly.   See you all tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Saturday

Saturday, as I am sure you know, is my least favourite day of the week.   Nothing spectacular happens, nobody comes, it is a non-day.   Today has been a little different and it has made a lot of difference.

I had my walk with Priscilla early, soon after my carer had gone.   I was a little way down the slope when I was overtaken by a man with Priscilla's double - the only difference being that she is red and his was blue. As he sailed past he called out 'mine's faster than yours in a jolly voice'.   On the spur of the moment I couldn't think of a reply other than a rather feeble laugh - later I thought of various things I could have said but of course it was too late.  'Mine's only a Ford - yours is more of a Mercedes' for example - or 'you obviously keep yours better oiled'.   Any ideas?

Since home before ten o'clock I have had several nice surprises.   The first is that my son and his wife are  coming round for a pizza which my son will order to be delivered here.   It must be early as my daughter in law has to be back home for eight for her medication.   But it will break the evening up nicely.   Then friends S and T called - they had bought me a Gazania from the Garden Centre to fill a blank spot in my side border where I lost a plant to frost earlier in the year.   It is now almost four in the afternoon and I have been busy most of the time.  My lunch (scampi, sweet potato chips - cooked in the Remoska and then eaten with a lovely salad) was, as usual left for me by my carer.

And so the days go on - they rarely drag because people are so good - they keep me going.

I spotted an advert in today's Times - Thompson and Morgan the seed/plant people were offering Geraniums very cheaply - presumably surplus stock - so I have ordered one batch of twenty - goodness knows where I shall put them all as I really only need about half a dozen but my son and daughter in law garden as well as both side neighbours so we should all be glowing red as the summer wears on.   It is the Solstice on Monday and it is all downhill after that.   It reminds me that one year the farmer and I spent midnight on the Solstice listening to a concert in Tromso cathedral.   The sky was clear, there were children playing in the street and the outdoor cafes were full of people drinking coffee - there was no suggestion that it was likely to get dark anytime soon.   Happy days.   It would have been his birthday early next week.

Friday, 18 June 2021

A Complaint

I know I have written on this topic before several times so at risk of repeating myself here goes - I am writing about it again.

Since I fell and broke my hip in late October I have not been into our little town at all.   I always go to the Hairdresser each Thursday morning but my Salon is this side of the town so I don't go into the centre at all.   But this week, because their next Client had a Doctor's appointment the taxi had to collect me ten minutes early and instead of asking them to drop me at the Salon I asked to be dropped off at the Newsagent's in town so that I could peruse and finally buy a Gardening magazine.   I then walking gently back with Priscilla and arrived just on time for my appointment - important as the number of clients allowed in at once is limited by Covid regulations.

And how depressing was the walk from the Newsagent's to the Salon?   I arrived totally disillusioned and, in fact, horrified.   First of all our lovely shop, Serendipity, which sold a wonderful variety of quality goods - Handbags, jewellery, china, cards, candles, furniture, bedlinen and a variey of other things - and was a real Mecca for tourist traffic (many stop here for a coffee stop on their way for lunch at The Wensleydale Creamery) has closed.   Yesterday I saw that Costa Coffee, which was housed in what once  was our HSBC Branch and had fairly recently been totally refurbished before it closed, had also closed.   Its windows were filthy, rubbish was piled up in the doorway and weeds grew all along the path edge.   It was disgraceful.

Two major shops in the town closed.   It is only a small town and the shops are distributed round the Market Square and quite unmissable.   What kind of impression does it all give to visiting tourists and what kind of welcome to the few thousand inhabitants?   Very poor I would guess.

Yes - I admit it.   I am old fashioned.   But I have spoken before about Joe Hardy who, when I was at Primary School in the village eighty years ago, was what we called the village'Road Man '.   His tools?  A long handled, stiff sweeping brush a shovel and a wheel barrow.   Our Lincolnshire village never had a scrap of rubbish anywhere.   If it did then when you passed Mr Hardy working away at his own pace, you told him.

Now we have a fancy brush on a lorry - it goes along the gutter, sweeping it clean.   It doesn't pull up any weeds in the gutter and, of course, it can't get into doorways.   Is it not possible that a couple of men could be found for this, and many more small towns and villages, and employed as modern 'road men'?

The added advantage of Mr Hardy as far as we kids were concerned was that on wash days (always Mondays) Mr Hardy's smalls were hung on the line by Mrs Hardy and small they most certainly were not because he wore what I think were called 'combinations' - a kind of sleeved vest and long underpants in one, with a large hole at 'bottom level' for obvious reasons I presume.   And on a windy day (no pun intended) they flapped amazingly in the breeze!

And, by golly, dare to drop a sweet paper in his sight and you got what for. 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Swearing

 Is it just me or does anyone else feel the same.   At school we were always taught that if we couldn't think of a better word to use than a 'swear word' then we needed to work on our vocabulary.   I never heard my father swear other then perhaps the occasional 'damn' if he hit his thumb with the hammer or something like that.   Neither did I ever hear my brother swear.    Later, when I married, I never heard my first husband swear - and I am sure he knew a few approopriate words having been in the army (and a prisoner of war) and when I married the farmer, early in our marriage I said to him,'I have never heard you swear David.   Do you swear?' and his immediate reply was, 'not in front of ladies'.   Have I just been lucky or were we old fasioned?

I ask these questions in the light of revelations in today's Times about e mails between politicians (I really don't think at the the moment they deserve capital letters) in which every other word is the 'f word' - and I ask whether the use of the f word as an adjective adds anything use ful.   Surely all it does is to 'soil' the question and belittle the questioner.  I wonder how such communications will be viewed in future generations.

Do you have a view on this?   Is there a time and a place for such language?   I think not but then, maybe I am just old-fashioned.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

This and that

First of all,   - what memories I seemed to have stirred up yesterday - we don't forget our childhoods do we?   You all remembered teddies, dolls in their prams, bikes, lego, dolls' houses - so many treasures and the litle things like scraps, card dolls with outfits -I'm sure we were all transported back a good few years.    As I have said before - a moment enjoyed is never wasted.

And so to today.   The weather here gets closer by the minute.   After the catastrophic floods around our towntthree years ago I think we are probably all a bit apprehensive about the next day or two when severe thunderstorms are forecast.   We have to take whatever is thrown at us but we are hoping for the best.

My garden is in severe need of a drink.   Friend S arrived a short time ago with two plants from her garden which needed splitting up.   They are now sitting in the shade on my patio in a bucket with damp soil in the bottom and I have left a message on my gardener's phone asking him to call in and help.

Things 'go over' so quickly in this weather.   They seem to be only in flower for a couple of days before their flowering period is over and they are dying back.   But I have found in the past that cutting off the flower heads and then waiting for a good rain quite often produces a second crop of flowers.

My telephone has been out of order - my landline.   Paul, the engineer, came at eight o'clock this morning and said he had mended it but it still has no dialling tone so I am waiting for my son to finish his day's teaching before I get him to sort it out for me again. 

We have reached that time of year when there is little to watch on television unless one is an ardent sports fan - football, racing and tennis are the order of the day today - none of which I am remotely interested in.    But are you watching The Great British Sewing Bee?   If so then you will know that it is the final tonight.   Do you have a favourite to win?   I certainly think that the Frenchman is the most talented, but all three finalists are so talented and such 'fun' people that I shall just sit back and enjoy it. 

Until tomorrow dear old friends. 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Toys

I watched 'The Bidding Room' on television this afternoon.   I have not had a brilliant day and have felt very tired.   Apart from usually watching 'Escape to the Country' during my three o'clock siesta I hardly ever watch television during the day.   But today I did my usual walk although I felt tired and it was something I should not have done.   The last half of the walk is uphill and I had difficulty getting home.  So after lunch I rested and watch The Bidding Room.   On it were two Face Screens - not particularly valuable (£65) but very pretty and they brought back memories for me.

If you don't know what Face Screens are they look a bit like hand-held mirrors, made of papier mache with pretty handles.   They were used in the pre central heating days to screen one's face from the heat of the open fire.   (In Jane Austen's time)

They were beautifully decorated with scraps.   I had completely forgotten scraps.   Are you old enough  to remember them?   I have no idea when they went out of fashion but when I was a child in the thirties we used to save up our pocket money to buy books of scraps - small sticky backed pictures which you peeled off and then stuck in books you were making.   I particularly remember buying scraps of wild flowers and birds and sticking them in special books.   I haven't seen any for years and years.

In fact I don't think children have 'toys' like this any more - everything to 'play'  with seems to be in one way or another related to the smart phone.

I tried to think of other toys I had but really I could only remember one or two.   I did have a doll's pram and I did have a succession of bikes as I grew. I expect children still have pocket money (no doubt much more in proportion than we had when money was less plentiful).   Maybe dolls' houses and toy trains were both still 'in fashion 'but I can't remember much else.

Can you recall any of your toys? 

Monday, 14 June 2021

Reverie

 Reverie is a state I spend a lot of time in these days - now I have a carer who also brings me meals and cleans for me there is little else for me to do.   I have a long (for me) walk each day and then potter.   Yesterday I got to thinking about 'time'.

It is forty-five years this September since my son left home to go to University in Manchester to read Music.  Forty-five years - he now has children and one grandchild and another on the way.   Where has the time gone and how can he possibly be sixty three when his childhood seems like yesterday?

It is sixty nine years since my first marriage - a very happy one which lasted thirty nine years and after two and a half years of widowhood I married my farmer and it is now four years since he died - and it seems like yesterday.   Where has time gone?

It no longer seems possible that so much time has elapsed.   And I certainly don't wish I was young and just starting out on life now - but I expect that is how every generation feels.

What has prompted me to write along these lines?   Well each day during schol term time a bus which takes Primary School children from outlying areas to the Primary School parks down a road just opposite my sitting room window.   As I set out this morning on my walk round the driver got out and I stopped to speak to him for the first time.   At 84 he is still driving and has no intention of retiring.   He insisted on doing the whole of my walk with me, going the long way round to his own house.   The company was very nice and we both enjoyed the chat (he too lives alone).   And we got talking about time and what a strange concept it was.

Somehow I think the older one gets the more one thinks about 'the old days';  not a day goes past when I don't think of some incident in my childhood, my school days, my childhood friends, escapades,  they all seem to float to the surface of my thinking.

Changing topics completely - my landline is out of order and BT are coming to look at it on Wednesday morning.    In the meantime the appointment I had this afternoon with The Falls Team has fallen by the wayside.   They always ring before they arrive just to make certain I am in.   I rang them but only got an answer phone, I left a message but obviously they haven't received it as the time has long passed for their visit and nobody has come.   All I can say is that it is a good job I walked round with my bus driver friend this morning otherwise I would still be waiting for them without having had my walk.

Are we to have a hold up in release from the final stages of Lockdown?   It would seem so - we shall know later today and as distressing as it may be we must abide by what the experts say, especially now we have got this far.   It does look as though we must grit our teeth and carry on.

In the meantime I must look seriously into buying three or four low growing shrubs for my rockery which is plagued by the Mares Tail weed.   Preferably they should be evergreen.   Any suggestions anyone?