Thursday, 22 October 2020

Getting in a Tizz!

 Is it something to do with age - is is to do with the times we are living through - is it a personality disorder?   I don't know what it is but what I do know is that I easily get into a sweat these days.   I rarely seem to have a day when I can be on an even keel all twenty four hours.   Is it just me?

It all started with Gardeners' World magazine - out today and full of good solid gardening reading and (if I am lucky) a couple of photographs of Monty thrown in for good measure.   Here's me, sitting over a round of toast and honey and admiring the new vista of my back garden sans the two miserable trees and thinking about how the bit of garden not yet planted up (blame Mares Tail)  needs something, when this month;s Gardeners' World plops through the letter box.   And in it a special offer for bulbs for the garden - daffodils (last chance to plant them). tulips - a very tempting offer - buy three lots and get the cheapest of the three free.   Yes!

Right - pick up the phone and order.   So I assemble card, magazine, items I wanted clearly marked and dialled.  The phone was answered promptly so I held out high hopes.   But of course I was in a queue.  I waited and waited but no animated human emerged - just a recorded one sorry to keep me waiting for the next available whatever.   Eventually, and because it kept reminding me I could do it,  I put the phone down and went on line to do it.   But of course I had to get on line first and my laptop would not allow me to get there.   Because of another problem (might tell you another day if I can't think of anything else to write about) my son had kindly changed my e mail password for me yesterday.   When I tried to use it BT wouldn't accept it.   I went on the phone and a lovely chap - full of patience - tried helping me.   Remember I shake, I am old, I am very deaf (as well as daft) and I kept apologising and I struggled.   Eventually, after half an hour I gave up and said I would get my son to ring.   This is always difficult because my son knew that half way through, for security reasons, they would ask to speak to me and we would be back to square one.   I rang my son to tell him and Eureka! he had sorted it out - all's well that ends well.

After a sandwich I went on line to order - I assembled all the things I needed, sorted out a password for a new account with Gardeners' World magazine - but could I find the special offer bulbs?   No.   After ten minutes searching I gave up and tried the telephone again.   Joy of joys = I got a lovely young man - he spelt my name right without having to ask me how to spell it, took my order, checked it with me and took down all the details.   Five minutes and we were all done and the bulbs will be here in about ten days - just - hopefully in time for the end of the month.   Where I intend them to go the soil is sheltered and still warm so they should be alright. All's well that ends well and all that, but an hour later I am only just beginning to feel unfrazzled and I don't intend to go on a walk today although it is quite pleasant out there.   Life never used to be like this - and retirement is supposed to be a slowing down of life and a time of relaxation.   Some hopes.



Wednesday, 21 October 2020

A Good Excuse

 I had intended to go on my usual long walk (well, long for me) today but I had only got half way round - and conveniently near to a short cut home - when it began to rain heavily.   It was a good excuse to turn back.   So I did have a walk but not as long as I would have liked.  I am quite tired today for some reason.

But yesterday my gardeners arrived without warning and they cut all my hedges and then tackled the two large old evergreen trees which were neither use nor ornament.   It took them a couple of hours to saw them down, grub out all the roots and cart them away.   Today I look out on a completely transformed garden and I am delighted.   Now I hope to send for some bulbs - just about time to plant them -    to fill the space prior to planting up in April, which is what the nurseryman suggests.How do people manage who have no interest in gardening I wonder.

Friends called this morning to do a bit of shopping for me and as it is my birthday shortly they brought me a delightful bag with hares on  it.   I am very thrilled with it - it is almost too beautiful to use.   I do feel slightly ashamed as I have no idea when their birthdays are but one day - when all this Covid business has gone away - I do intend to take them out for a slap-up meal for their kindness to me over the Covid period.   There are many times when I couldn't have managed without them and I am eternally grateful.

A couple of weeks ago an elderly gentleman walking his dog opposite my bungalow on the opposite side of the road called across to me to ask how I managed Percy.   Because of my deafness I couldn't really hear what he was saying.   As I was washing the pan after lunch today (sea bass since you ask) I caught sight of him going past again so I called to him and went out to speak.   As I was explaining to him how I loved walking with Percy but my Physio had told me I mus t never walk with a dog in case the dog darted off after another dog, a dog and its owner went past on the opposite side of the road,  the man's dog went berserk and pulled the man over into the road -- luckily he anticipated the fall and fell in a relaxed manner.   He couldn't get up unaided, I couldn't help him, but luckily my gardener was coming down the road in his van, stopped and together we had the man up on his feet in no time and he seemed fine.   We had a lovely chat and he seemed none the worse for the incident but like me his balance is not brilliant.

Three people I knew have passed away in our little town in the last ten days or so.  The first funeral was today and I understand that because the number at funerals is limited the street down to the chapel was lined with people 'paying their last respects' to Diana, a lovely local lady, much respected and loved by all.   Very much a sign of the times, sadly.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Then and Now.

Two things happened yesterday which reminded me of the old days and of today - and how they differ.   And I suppose in every generation or two there are changes like this - or is this perhaps the century where things have changed more quickly than ever before?

First of all the Postman arrived with a Parcel for me (a cardigan - I buy all my clothes and all my books on line).   We had a chat on the doorstep and he remarked that these days other than parcels all he seemed to deliver was junk mail - everything else was done 'on line'. I reminisced about my childhood when everything was done by letter'.  In the thirties only a few 'important people' in the village had a phone, the rest of us went to the red phone box, put in our two pence and pushed Button A if somebody answered and Button B if we wanted our money back.  Everything that wasn't urgent was done by letter.   My mother wrote to her sisters - two in Huddersfield working in the cotton mills and one in The Dukeries working in service- regularly and received replies and I would pick up the envelopes and recognise who the letters were from by the writing.  There were two deliveries each day - one in the morning and one just after lunch and it was rare for there to be no mail because both of my parents were avid writers.  I wrote thank you letters at Birthdays and Christmas and - like all my friends - from the age of around ten I had a pen friend in England (she was called Diana Wickens.  I wonder what happened to her - she lived somewhere on the South Coast but I can't remember where) and a pen friend in France in the hope of improving my French.  How times have changed - it is e mails,facebook - all the modern ways - or nothing these days.  And so the Post Office dwindles - and will probably disappear altogether in a few years.

And that brings me to the second thing.   I watched 'Who do you think you are?' last evening on the television.   It was David Walliams looking back into his Family History.   On one side was the terrible First World War and a Grandfather who spent forty odd years in what was then called 'a Lunatic Asylum' suffering from 'Shell Shock' - dreadful to hear about.   Then the other side of his family where a relative went blind after a cataract operation went wrong and ended up playing a Barrel Organ in Portsmouth in an effort to keep his six children and his wife fed and clothed.   But there there was a happy ending when he 'made good' and ended up owning a Funfair.   We saw lovely old film of the funfair and it was just as I remembered it - and by golly that made me feel old!!   There were swing boats, cockerels and horses, the whip, the cake walk, the flying chairs - all the fairground rides I remember going on as a child and the things like the shooting gallery, the roll a penny, all the places where you never won but always thought you might.   And there were the side shows  - the world's fattest man, the world's thinnest woman, various 'freaks' as they were called - hideous and not even contemplated in such circumstances these days but the only way to survive in those far off days.

And I wondered how we will be viewed in a hundred year's time - what things that we now do and take forgranted will be looked back on in amazement.    How everything changes and how slowly we change with it.   I might be almost 88 but I am using the internet - as are almost all of my friends.   Progress indeed.

One thing doesn't change and that is children's humour.   There was a delightful example of it during the programme about David Walliams who is of course a comedian.   Apparently he is also a childrens' author and it showed him reading one of his books to a hall full of very young, Primary School children.   He read about a little boy who had so much air blowing out of his bottom that it shot him up into the air.   When he read it out the whole hall erupted with laughter and you realised that he had just got the humour right for the age.   It was an absolute delight to see.

And a final note - lovely day here - I had my usual long walk and I enjoyed every single minute of it.   My gardener has been and has cut all my hedges and also sawn down two old trees - we really are getting there at last.



Monday, 19 October 2020

Oh Dear!

 After a week of singing my praises about how my walking was improving every day and how I was managing to walk that bit further each day suddenly today I came up against a brick wall.   I found my walk jolly hard going; so much so that I had to cut it short and go back on a shorter circuit than usual.   Even that was a struggle.   There could be two reasons for this - one it is a colder day and two there is quite a strong wind blowing.   Whatever the reason I shall not be going for a little top up after tea as I have been doing.   I have just turned the heating up a notch and when I have finished this I shall draw the blinds along the back of the bungalow (which faces North) and shut out the end of the day, which is cloudy anyway.

I came in, made myself a cup of tea and thought about lunch.   Obviously I needed a sustaining lunch (I had porridge sweetened with honey for breakfast)but couldn't be bothered to do much.   Then I remembered cold new sliced potatoes in a basin in the fridge - so I had it!   Fried new potatoes (lots!) with a small tin of Heinz beans in tomato sauce, four slices of fried streaky bacon and a fried egg.   It was delicious!!

Friend W called with a magazine I hadn't read so easy reading after tea.   We had a pleasant socially distanced chat (she didn't come inside) about what we had been reading, then I came onto my blog, wrote it, pressed the wrong button and the whole thing disappeared as if by magic - hence the gap but at least the title is apt.

Walking round earlier in the day I got to thinking about our circle of bloggers.   Of course there are many more but I can't begin to tell you all how grateful I am for our little circle.   I feel we have been friends for so long and i look forward to our chat most days.    Do please continue- it is one of the few bright sparks during this awful Covid and I thank you all most sincerely.

Oh Dear!

Sunday, 18 October 2020

happy as I am

 I can now, with Percy, walk gently to the bottom of my estate.   It is not easy because it is downhill all the way and Percy does not like downhill - he wants to romp away so I have to try and keep his brake on.   Coming back, uphill all the way, is much easier and quicker.   My walk today was straight after lunch and again I didn't feel like going out.   It is a quiet day weather-wise but when I got out I realised there was a very fine mist of rain in the air.  As I went down my drive L stopped outside.   L collects my medication for me from the Chemist.   I order it on line from the Medical Centre and L collects it for me from the town chemist three days later.   It works well and it is very kind of her.   I am no longer capable of driving into town, walking without Percy - with just my walking stick - climbing the three steps into the chemist and then doing the whole thing in reverse back to the car.  Percy has a good shopping box incorporated in his make up so I didn't have to go back inside to leave the drugs.

I suppose our walk daily is now about three quarters of a mile.   As the estate goes down towards the bottom on the whole the houses get bigger and more spacious, but they have smaller gardens and usually garages for one car.   Most houses seem to have two, or even three, cars which means that the drive and often the kerbside outside has a car parked most of the time.   This also makes the road quite narrow.  I must say I much prefer where I live at the top end - there is a closed-down feeling at the bottom end - a feeling I don't care for.  I always feel my spirits lift as I climb back up to the top.

I also have what is possibly the largest space of garden on the estate.   Many folk would not like this but I love it, especially now that I| have got half of it done with gravel and less labour-intensive.  One more small piece to go and two old trees waiting for my gardener to saw them down and I have finished.   It will be really good to stand and look out on a completely finished    - easy to care for - garden.   As I passed many front gardens today on my walk it is easy to see who loves gardening and who finds it a chore - I am sure it is the same wherever you live too.

Saturday, 17 October 2020


 No sun today  -- but no rain either - just a nothing sort of day.  We had our usual Saturday morning Zoom this morning; six of us and just a nice forty minute chat to start off the day.   Then the Postlady came and had to ring my new bell as she had a parcel for me.   She has been away for a while in hospital and it is lovely to have her back - she is such a cheerful soul and always has a chat and a smile.   We talked about three very local people who have died recently - about their lives and how they had enjoyed them.   We agreed that 'when your time is up, your time is up' and both declared we would live each day as it comes - hope you will all do the same.

After lunch (my soup maker made me a batch of carrot and lentil soup) I also had lasagne Percy and I set off on our walk - a little bit further today.   I have to say I didn't feel like going today.   There was no sun to warm me now and again and it was an effort to get going.   But once out I enjoyed it and went a little further than I went yesterday and on the way back a friend who lives further down the road was looking out for me (she had seen me go past going down the road) and we had a ten minute socially distanced chat.   I find these little chats, and these chats in blogland, such a help in these troubled times.

Saturdays are usually my least favourite days but, like last Saturday, tonight is a really great night for my tastes on BBC Four - another Francesco da Mosta programme on Venice - they are such brilliant programmes and still one more to go after this evening - then an hour of Michael Palin travelling all over the world and then - joy of joys another new unseen Inspector Montalbano mystery.   I intend to have a really indulgent evening.

Night is already falling outside - almost time to draw all the blinds and shut it out.    But first - one thing I noticed on my walk round this afternoon:   many gardens have a Pyracantha shrub in them.   They are an easy shrub to grow and obviously very popular.   Every one I passed was laden with berries, either yellow or orange.   I have one in my garden it has orange berries here and there but certainly not in profusion.   The difference - most of the ones I saw which were laden were growing up against house walls, which means they would be gaining heat from the walls (most bungalows and houses on the estate are built of stone bricks) which certainly retain the heat from the sun.   My bush is against a stone wall at the top of the garden and the North wind whistles through the gaps in the stone.   The wrong place for a shrub I guess.   Well you live and learn.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Much better day

 Not a single shower today - sun now and again but mostly high cloud with bits of blue sky here and there.   I slept badly so was a little late up but had just finished tidying round, cleaning the kitchen and having a shower and deciding to go early (10.30) for my walk when the electrician's van  swerved into the drive.   He had come to fit my new door bell.   He offered to come back later but no,  best to get it done with, so I took my coat off and he began.   The instructions were in about a dozen different languages and they were also quite complicated.   There were eight chimes to choose from (!) and of course I had to listen to them all to make a decision.   Most were so frightful that I couldn't bear them and eventually we settled on a Westminster chime (it reminded me of our clock at home when I was a child).   I have one gadget plugged in the the hallway and the other in the sitting room.   To get the one in the sitting room in place he had to empty my huge bookshelves and move the bookcase about three inches.   Both settees were covered in books.   But it did give me a chance to sort them and dust both books and shelves, which I haven't done lately.   But I left that job until I had paid the electrician and he had left and then I went for my walk.   And today I walked to the bottom of the road and back - the furthest I have walked so I am pleased with my progress.   On my return I couldn't face doing the books before lunch, nor could I face cooking much for lunch.   It was either swap the meals round (sandwich at lunch time and cook this evening or have something quick.   I chose the latter)   So jacket potato stuffed with streaky bacon quickly fried and the last of my lovely tenderstem broccoli followed by a baked apple stuffed with raisins and honey and eaten with a dollop of creme fraiche.   It was good.   Then it was wipe the shelves, dust the books and get everything shipshape again.

The first person to try out the new bell was my neighbour H.   She had been gardening and brought me a bunch of her sweet peas.   I have a pretty cut glass vase and they fitted in it nicely.   I put them next to one of my favourite photographs of the farmer - I took it myself when we were going up the coast of Norway on the Hurtigruten some years ago.   Lovely memory of him and that holiday.

So, a productive day and still Monty Don and Gardeners' World to look forward to tonight - if I can stay awake!


Thursday, 15 October 2020

Blue sky at last.

 After days when it was either looking like rain, raining or the roads were running with water which was running down the drains before it started up again, this morning's sunrise was beautiful.   It made me realise just how much the year is 'turning' as the sun rising in the East was actually shining into my sitting room window rather than into my bedroom window and I know that this evening the same will happen when the setting sun shines into the opposite corner of my sitting room window.   It always catches me unawares until I suddenly notice it one day.  Yes, only a fortnight before our clocks go back (Spring forward fall back as we used to say as a reminder) and our dark nights really arrive.

It would be easy to begin dreading the coming Winter with its possible lockdown retrictions at worst or semi lockdown at best as it looks at present.   But we really must not let ourselves get like that - I am determined to go into November with a more cheerful frame of mind.   To this aim I am trying to speak 'face to face' to at least four people each day (today it was E on the way to the hairdressers, when we walked together - she to the bus, me to the hairdresser- then H the hairdresser; we chatted behind our masks as she washed and blow dried my hair - then out on my walk M saw me coming and opened the front door so that we could chat for a while and then G my electrician who is hoping to come and fix the bell shortly).   I also aim for several phone calls - today I rang M my neighbour.   Her daughter's dog had an operation yesterday and she was worried about 'a lump' being cancerous.   It wasn't and she was joyous as he is already recovering, then my son rang.   They had been down country for his wife to have blood tests which she has  to have annually - he rang when they got back home.   My dear old school friend (we are the same age and   have been friends since the day we started infant school (and that wasn't yesterday)) rang and we had a good reminisce.  Finally the young lady who collects my medication rang and said she would collect it tomorrow for me.   So you see I have had plenty of 'chat' today.

I have endeavoured to walk 'the circuit' round the estate every day for the last ten days and have only I think missed one day, when the weather was just too wet.   Today when I walked round just before lunch I arrived back home and contemplated walking round again straight away as I felt so fit after my first circuit.   Of course my ankles still hurt - arthritis never goes away - but I can tolerate that if I feel well.   I know if we get another wet spell the tiredness will return but I am determined to keep up the Dunkirk spirit.   Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Fairly miserable Wednesday

 Yes, I am afraid we are going through a miserable spell of weather.  I thought it was slightly better today - big black clouds but blue sky too and  when the sun came out it was warm.  I thought ' strike while the iron is hot', put on my coat, put my woolly hat in Percy's cabinet and set off.  The sun was lovely.   I had only gone a hundred yards when out of nowhere came pouring rain - no warning, no slight drizzle - just pouring heavy drops.   I turned round and came back home and sadly that it is for today - it has more or less rained ever since.

I had decided on an easy quick lunch today - so I made it and it was delicious.    I made a souffle omelette with two eggs and stuffed it with quickly browned button mushrooms and served it with my favourite tenderstem broccoli.   Easy indeed but a lot of toing and froing to get everything ready at the same minute and an awful lot of washing up for my dishwasher.   I gave it its monthly special wash this morning too.

My doorbell has decided to stop ringing - or rather it rings when it chooses to, which is worse because people ring and if it doesn't ring inside they think I am out and go away.   The electrician came to look at it yesterday and the upshot is I need a new one, it is 'click and collect' and should be here tomorrow so he will be along to install it and it is to be one with a speaker in the kitchen and one in the sitting room and has a choice of about six different ring tones!!  So it will be decisions, decisions.

There is more than enough blue sky now to make a pair of sailor's trousers as we used to say when we were kids - so maybe another quick walk with Percy after tea (smoked salmon pate  on brown seeded bread) - see you tomorrow when I hope to have more news than I have today when news has been a bit thin on the ground.