Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Barra

 Well it seems that we in the North East of the country have, after all, got off rather lightly this time.  Storm Barra according to the six o'clock News, has not hit us in the North East has hard as was expected.   Thank goodness for that must be the response of those in Northumberland and Durham who have now been nine days without services.

My old school friend from Lincolnshire rang for a chat this afternoon and we were(as usual) soon  talking about 'the old days' when we were nippers (there's another dialect word for you S) and when, looking back, we were deprived - but of course it didn't seem so at the time.

No electricity so all cooking done in the side oven by the fire which was lit first thing every morning winter and summer in order cook the dinner, bake the bread and plum bread, top up the cake tin and (the opposite side of the actual fire from the oven) fill the boiler with fresh water from the standpipe in the street to keep us going with hot water all day.  And often (and the best bit) put a rice pud in the bottom of the side oven last thing at night to cook as the heat went out of the oven as the fire went out.   By lunch time next day once the fire was going again it would be perfect (or so it always seemed).

No central heating so everybody sat as close to the fire as they could get and all the women 's legs were red and burnt up the front and freezing up the backs.

Ah those were the days.  Oh and wrap the oven shelf in a bit of old sheeting and take it to bed.   In the time it took you to get undressed (no hanging about in a cold bedroom where the inside of the glass froze up if it was a hard frost) the bed was warm.   And when you awoke in the morning the water in the jug and bowl for your morning wash (no bathroom) would be frozen and you would need to break the ice in order to wash.

Thankyou for central heating - an even better invention than sliced bread.

Monday, 6 December 2021

Book Group

Today has been Book Group and how we all love it.   Just five of us and we meet in my bungalow to enable me to attend these days.  We meet for two hours - coffee and a biscuit and then an intro by whoever has chosen the book and then a discussion. M's choice this month - Maggie OFarrell's 'The vanishing Act of Esme Lennox'  - a very well-written but disturbing book which brought back so many memories for all of us.   We really had the most fascinating discussion.   One which I feel could have gone on all day.

The weather has been pretty abysmal so that has been the sum total of what I have done today.   One minute a glishy sun through black clouds the next minute pouring rain.    Another storm (beginning with B this time after Arwen last week)promised for later in the week.   Hopefully this one is likely to hit the West more than the East - the poor North East has now had its ninth day without power.

It is certainly 'the dark days before Christmas' as my mother used to call them - four o'clock here and looking out of the computer room window it is pitch black.   Only fifteen days to the shortest day !

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Christmas

Yes. it is coming whether we like it or not and preparations have to be made whether we are doing anything special or not.   So I made a start today, wrote a series of letters to put into cards, wrote a few cheques for grandchildren and great grandchildren to put into their cards, addressed all the envelopes and got them ready for posting.   One big, and time consuming, job done.  As I am actually doing nothing special at Christmas once I get present buying and wrapping out of the way that will be a big weight off my mind.    Surprising how tiring I found it.

Friends S and T called after lunch with a delightful present - four red hyacinths ( still in early bud so hopefully will not be open before Christmas if I keep them fairly cool).   They are in quite a large 'pretend' tree trunk with a small door in it - and there is a Christmas wreath on the door.   We decided it was the Hobbit's house.   It is books like The Hobbit which keep the magic alive isn't it?

That is two lovely  -plants in one week - first a Poinsettia on Thursday from P and D and now the Hyacinths from S and T  - it really does begin to feel like Christmas. 

It has been quite a miserable day here today - dull and often rainy too.  Of course I watched the Strictly results programme - Dan went out at last  I have to say he has had a huge following .  Presumably this is because he is a popular figure on television anyway but he certainly has made huge strides forward with his dancing.   I was sorry to see him go but as it is the semi finals next week it would have been a bit of a travesty to keep him in any longer.

See you tomorrow when, hopefully, I shall have slept well and am feeling a bit more lively.

 

 

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Saturday

  

Saturday again and three weeks today will be Christmas Day - just another day says Derek and I do tend to agree with him.   Yes it was good when both my first husband and then my farmer were here.  But alone it really is just another day.   Kindly my carer is bringing me a Christmas dinner - but as she is not bringing it until late afternoon I shall most probably eat it on Boxing Day.   My farmer's party trick was setting fire to the Christmas Pudding on the big day.   He would pour a good helping of Brandy into a saucepan and set it on the Aga to heat.   He would tip the pudding on to a good decorated plate and when the brandy was very hot he would set fire to it in the saucepan and pour it - still flaming - over the pudding.

Now this year I am having the day alone.   I don't mind this at all.   I shall have had books for Christmas so plenty of reading material, I shall earmark what I wish to watch on television, I shall have a sherry before my lunch (which, if I decide to keep my Christmas dinner until Boxing Day, may well be Sausage and Mash which I have in the freezer).

I shall chat with my son of course but going round means he has to cook three different meals (he is vegetarian, his wife and I eat rather different food from one another too) 

                               ********

Meantime I shall raise a topic from today's Times.   How do couples  these days  meet,form a relationship and then either move in  or marry? Reading about it it all sounds so complicated but in my day it was always so easy.   You tended to marry a local lad or - if you worked in a nearby town you might spread your wings or if you went to University then the world was your oyster.

Now it all seems to be dating apps and the like. Have all the likely venues for meeting disappeared?  Maybe there are no longer dance halls, sports venues, parties and the like.   I just don't understand from my advanced age.   Is it really so very difficult to meet folk of the opposite sex for a night out?   Answers on a postcard please as John would say.

Friday, 3 December 2021

A Post at Bedtime

 Well you will have heard of 'A Book at Bedtime' so why not a post at bedtime - to be frank, my lovely day yesterday was very enjoyable but although I slept well I have been tired all day today and have done just one or two little jobs and that's all.

I had a communication by post this morning which needed an answer - I intended to leave it but then I thought 'No, get it out of the way now' and I did and was then able to file it away.  Then I got out my Christmas cards ready to write - found one or two which needed a letter and managed to type one letter and one card.   Writing letters has to be done by typing as my handwriting is now unreadable and so difficult to do.   But at least I have made a start and I intend to hit it hard tomorrow.

That's all you are getting today - apologies but so ready for my snug bed.   See you in the morning.



Thursday, 2 December 2021

A very successful day

And a very enjoyable day too - and might I add that friends looked after me very well so that I only had a little back and forth to the kitchen to do and most of that was before they came when I could take my time.   The result is that I have enjoyed the day immensely and now that they have all gone I don't feel over tired at all.

 Rachel said she expected it all to go well - and it did.   My mobility is such that it takes me a long time to get from a to b and I can't do it unaided and I find it very tiring.   Today passed without any of that.

P and D live in Grange over Sands which is literally straight across from East to West of the country.   Friends took two hours to arrive and they brought the main course - a delicious ready-made dish with smoked haddock.   Friend W lives in the next village to me and was responsible for the veggies.  They all three arrived at the same time - W brought the vegetables - broccoli, leeks, cauliflower and green beans - all of which she cooked to perfe ction in the microwave.  I had set the table yesterday at my leisure and also taken the pudding (a lime tart) out of the freezer.

And so we all four came together.   The oven was switched on so that the meal would be ready at half past twelve.  W disappeared at about ten past to cook and then keep warm the vegetables and dead on  half past twelve we ate - no alcohol as P was driving but white grape juice, which was very pleasant and didn't make us sleepy.   We all had a piece of the lime tart  with locally made ice cream and then the 'boys' finished it off between them.

The dishwasher was loaded and switched on, the coffee was made and we all sat down in the sitting room and chatted for a couple of hours before everyone set off home.  D rang at half past four to say they had had a good journey back and were home.   It has been a lovely enjoyable day = so thank you to all three of them for putting the effort into make it so pleasant. 

I shall now go and watch tonight's winter walk on television unless it is playing up.   I have somehow pressed something and it is not quite behaving as it should.   Friend D fiddled with it this afternoon - I am hoping he has 'righted' it - otherwise I shall wait for friend S to call - she is a whizz with the television.

See you tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Rabbits!

Yes, it's the First of the Month.   Do you say Rabbits! if you remember when you get up ( and do you change that to 'White Rabbits' if you forget until  later in the day?   Or is it just me?)

My Great-Grand-daughter is five in a few days time and it set me thinking as I lay in bed a while ago waiting for the clock to get to six before I got up.  Now and then I get a picture from her with a bit of writing on - and each time I get one everything has got a bit more 'grown up' - the figure has suddenly go a body instead of just a head and legs, she can write her own name unaided, bits and bobs - a flower, a bird - appear in the picture and gradually bits of scribble disappear.   It is fascinating to see the development of a young mind.

It set me thinking how 'fashions' change.   When I started school aged four in early 1937 there was little traffic on the roads - my mother took me on the first morning.  At lunch time I came home alone - I was supposed to stay at school for my lunch - apparently I announced that it had been 'alright' but I preferred being at home!   My mother marched me back immediately and informed the teacher that if I did it again she was to smack my bottom.   I never tried it again

We did not have pencils and paper we had slates and chalk until we could write our names legibly.   By golly that was a real incentive to get going.  While I was still at that stage it was row upon row of pot hooks (like elongated s) until they got really neat and tidy.   A boy across the room from me threw his slate in my direction in a temper and hit my cheek bone with it - cracking it.   (the cheek bone I mean, not the slate).

When I started teaching it coincided more or less with the arrival of the 'initial teaching alphabet' when children who were having reading difficulties were taught that ae was an easier way of spelling made if you knew that ae made the A sound.   Not sure if it ever helped anybody.  It probably played havoc with their spelling for many years to come.

Now I fear that texting all day amongst the young is to some extent destroying spelling - when I text (rarely) I spell YOU but any young people replying spell it  'u'.

The longer I live (and this evening after a bad night last night  I seem to have been alive a very long time) the more I come to the conclusion that children learn in spite of school  not because they go to school.

                        ***************

Friends are coming tomorrow, weather permitting, over the Pennines all the way from Grange over Sands to here - a journey of around two hours.   Because I now find getting a meal too much effort we are dividing the work load.   They are bringing the main course (it will need an hour in the oven when they arrive so they are ringing from fifteen miles away so that I can switch the oven on.)  Friend W is bringing the veggies and cooking them in my microwave and I am providing a Lime tart which at present is in my freezer and will emerge first thing in the morning and really good ice cream.   Then we shall all retire to the sitting room for coffee.   I do hope snow doesn't come again overnight tonight to spoil it all.   Many places up here have been totally without power for the last five days - it was quite a storm.

 

    

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Ths and that

 First to report that Mr Winkle has survived intact thanks to friend T this morning moving him a bit further along and into a safer place.   He refuses to believe that Mr Winkle was shifted by the strength of the wind.   All I know is that I watched the wind make him wobble back and forth when it was at its height.   But, whatever caused him to move, I can report that he has come through the storm unscathed and with all bits and pieces intact.

It seems ages since Priscilla and I ventured out in the weather.    (As somebody said - there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing).   To be totally frank, at my age I can - if necessary - use the weather as a perfect excuse for not venturing out and that is what I have been doing.   Looking out this morning, every single flake of snow had disappeared overnight, the sun was getting up and it promised a possible walk day.   But it has gone steadily downhill since then and is now a miserable damp day.

Friends are promised to come for the day on Thursday but as it involves coming over the top of the Pennines whichever way they come, they are understandably waiting until the last possible minute to  make up their minds.   They are bringing the main course with them, a friend is preparing the veg and cooking them in my microwave and I am defrosting a key lime pie and serving it with local Madagascan Vanilla Ice cream.  So not much to do for any of us.

I do hope they come.   They are amongst my dearest friends and it is a long time since I sawthem 'in the flesh' and Zoom is just not the same.   So let's hope there is not another downturn in the weather.

Friends S and T have just called and we have coffeed and chatted.   Their much loved and cossetted hens are shut in because there is an outbreak of bird flu not far away.   They get incredibly well-looked-after and I must say their eggs have the most golden yolks I have ever seen.   Typing this has prompted me to think I might well have a couple poached on toast for my tea.

It is almost dark at four in the afternoon in what my mother always called 'the dark days before Christmas' - then the days will begin to get longer again.    Can't come soon enough can it?   See you tomorrow.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Poor Mr Winkle.

I think I told you of my statue - a gift from my gardeners for my patio.   They bought it for me and brought it one Monday when I had Book Group here, so although I waved to them I had no contact with them other than that.   When I went into the back garden later in the day there he was.   It is actually a statue of Hercules with the Lion but they christened him Mr Winkle - yes you can guess - there is no hiding his masculinity as he leans nonchallantly against a lion.   The next time I saw them they told me they hoped he made me jump when I opened the bedroom curtains the next morning.

 I laughed and told them I had caught them out - when I came out of hospital I moved into the computer room at the other end of the bungalow.   Well they came again this week - my gardener has been poorly and they haven't been for ten weeks apart from to mow the lawn.    This week they did a massive winter tidy-up and yes- you have guessed it.   When I drew back the cutains in the computer room next morning - there he was - looking into my window.

We have had an awful blizzard with snow and winds of getting on for ninety miles an hour .   When I looked at Mr Winkle the gale had blown him (he is far too heavy for me to move) right to the edge of the wall.   An inch further and he would topple off.   He is far too heavy for me to move and in any case I can't climb the steps, so there he sits precariously.   Luckily the wind has died down.   I have friends calling for lunch on Thursday weather permitting so hopefully he will balance there until then.

Snow here is disappearing by the minute. 

Sunday, 28 November 2021

What to write about today

 Well, going out for a walk is certainly not an option today.   It was quite pleasant  when I got up (just after six as it is my carer's week end off and my reserve carer comes just  after seven to fit in with her other commitments.)

But by the time I had washed and dressed, breakfasted and cleaned my teeth it became obvious once the blinds were drawn back that the roads were icy and there had been a fall of snow overnight.   And within the next hour or so it snowed again - all morning.   Now there has been about an inch of the pretty but horribly inconvenient stuff, the clouds are clearing away, the sun is coming out and the sky is clear blue. 

I am wearing my new, delightful and beautifully knitted socks from Jenny (My Life in Flip Flops on my side bar) so at least I am warm.   And apparently we can say good-bye to this weather today for a day or two or though it does not promise to be much warmer.

I find my thought today drifting back time and again to the refugees in those dreadful camps by Dunkirk.   Whatever one's view on the refugee crisis, nobody would wish to see those young men women and children out under canvas in weather like this - thank goodness for the volunteers who seem to be supplying them with warming food.   What kind of life the children will have after a start like this I just can't imagine.   Nor can I imagine what it must be like to be so afraid in one's country that fleeing thousands of miles across often hostile country in search of a better life is preferable to staying put. 

We look at - and complain about - so much here.   We need I think to stop and think as the winter draws in that we have much to be grateful for.

Wrap up well dear friends - see you tomorrow.