Friday 30 December 2016

New Year

New Year's Eve tomorrow and yet our little market town was so very quiet today.   The shops were almost empty - no queueing like Christmas Eve - and there was hardly any Market.  (Friday is our Market Day).

It does seem as though the tradition of staying up to see in the New Year is fading.   I still like to do it and usually have a little nap in the afternoon so that I can manage to stay awake until the clock strikes the Midnight hour.

My big parties (40 people with me cooking a whole salmon and half a ham) are over a few years ago.   For a start many of the friends who came have passed away, some are disinclined to come out now they are older and I no longer feel like all the work involved.   (sorry I have gone into italics - don't know how and certainly don't know how to correct it!)

So tomorrow evening it will just be the farmer and me, my son and his wife, my friend W and (I hope) friend A, although I am not sure whether or not he will be with us.

Today I have made a large shepherd's pie which we shall eat with red cabbage (cooked with apple and onion and brown sugar), sprouts and peas.
We shall follow this with a choice of Christmas pudding with ice cream or cream, Christmas cake with a selection of cheese or a pineapple pavlova which I made this afternoon.   It has somewhat disintegrated on its removal from the oven, but I shall reconstruct it with cream and pineapple (hopefully).

We shall sit and chat until a couple of minutes before the start of the New Year and then have a drink to welcome it in.  But of course (and this may well be another reason why no-one celebrates at parties any more)   as they are all driving home then it will not be an intoxicating drink.

But the important thing to say is that I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy New Year for 2017 and let us all hope for peace around the world and less suffering for the millions who have seen years of war. 

Wednesday 28 December 2016

One over - one to go.

Well, that's Christmas over and done with - just New Year's Eve to go.   Both of these festivals are precious to the farmer and me - and have been ever since we married twenty three years ago, so we keep them up, albeit with a reduced number of friends joining us.

This Christmas we had the day itself on our own and had a lovely, quiet day.   Boxing Day was spent with my son and his wife and my step grandson and his little daughter of almost eleven months old (Mum, who is a social worker, was working).  D'arcy was a delight - happy and smiling all the time - and just walking and so proud of it.   So our afternoon was spent just playing with her.   In the evening we had a meal and then just sat and chatted.   So really a quiet Christmas altogether.   

New Year's Eve I am cooking a meal for six of us, so that is an easy evening too - the difficulty is always staying awake until the New Year arrives, so we are eating later in an effort to help us. 

Over the period we have had horrendous winds here - although not as bad as in the far North of the country.   I wonder whether people on the mainland going home to places like the Western Isles ever managed to get there as ferries were cancelled for several days and this morning in The Times there is a photograph of a forty seven foot wave off the coast of Shetland.

Today it is totally still.   Fog was forecast but there is no sign of it here.   At a quarter to ten in the morning the sun is shining and there has been a hard frost, so everywhere looks beautiful.

Farming life goes on of course (the animals don't know it's Christmas) and this morning they are coming to 'do' the sheeps' feet (not before time as one or two of them are eating grass from a kneeling position.)   They have just arrived.

Hope you have all had a good few days.   Here's to blogging in the New Year.

Friday 23 December 2016



Thursday 22 December 2016

Giving to Charity

At Christmas I always like to give some money to charity and for many years I chose a cancer charity or a charity near to home.   But this year the plight of so many children all over the world has on many occasions moved me to tears and I feel I could better support a charity which helps these children.

I think of all those tragic families fleeing Aleppo - the news shots of them were so heart-rending and we never saw the worst of it all.   And then there are the children suffering in the civil war in Yemen; I still cannot forget the sight of a little chap of about eight who had lost all his extended family of twenty four and had been rescued and was being cared for by a neighbour.

But now the difficult task of choosing the charity. When I read of the enormous salaries paid to the Directors of some of the major charities I begin to question what they are spending my money on.   I am sure the people in charge could present a good argument as to why such a lot of money goes on such things but I am still not sure.

Also I remember some years ago giving money to a charity sending books and pencils and crayons to impoverished schools somewhere in Africa -I can't remember the name of the charity or the country involved - but I remember reading later that the materials never reached the schools but were stolen at the point of landing to be sold on.

I already give on direct debit to Great Ormond Street Hospital to assist in the building of a new wing for the parents of terminally ill children.   I also support Save the Children.   Am I supporting the right charities?

I have been really looking into this for a week or two because Elizabeth (About New York) is knitting me an elf hat for my new great grand-daughter and wants me to give money to a childrens' charity for it (it is on its way).   At present I seem to be coming down in favour of
Medicin sans Frontiere, which seems to be doing such marvellous work.

Has anybody out there got any ideas please?

Wednesday 21 December 2016


Today we had our monthly Poetry gathering.   Yes, in the run-up to Christmas we decided that none of us would be too busy and that a relaxed afternoon would do us all good.   And we were right.

Most of the poems chosen had either a Christmas theme or a Solstice theme, today being the shortest day.   We always have the meeting in frend W's conservatory and the sky above was blue all afternoon although it was a cold day too.

Afterwards we had a cup of tea, as we always do, and a selection of 'goodies' to start off the Christmas season.   What a pleasure it is to meet with a group of friends who all love poetry and to spend what is my favourite afternoon of the month in their company.

It is all downhill for me now as I have so little left to do and can literally sit back and enjoy the next few days.

Monday 19 December 2016

It draws near.

Providing one is well organised (or reasonably so) then I always think the last few days before Christmas are very frustrating.   The weather forecast for the UK suggests that the jet stream is going to be roaring across us throughout the holiday period and that we are in for almost everything it can throw at us.

I have an appointment every day of some kind or another regardless of the weather and as the farmer and I always spend Christmas day with just the two of us I am not overwhelmed with jobs.
Boxing Day there will only be five of us (1 of whom, my son, is vegetarian - but his meal is already in the freezer) plus my step great grand-daughter who is only ten months old so will not present much difficulty foodwise.

The freezer is packed solid, as is the store cupboard and the farmer always gets all my fruit and vegetables from our market on Friday morning when he goes down for our newspapers at half past six  (he doesn't have to queue!), so I
shall relax and take it easy over the whole period.

Shaking one or two of the wrapped presents which are already under the tree. I can tell we have some new jig saws.   We always spend Christmas afternoon and evening watching selected programmes on TV, playing Rummikub and doing a new jigsaw (and possibly having a warming drink and a mince pie along the way).  Can't come soon enough for me.   I hope you are all ready and not rushed off your feet.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Another outing.

Another outing, another lunch out - this time with the farmer to meet my God-daughter and her husband  in Ravenstonedale - a village not far from the Mallerstang, quite high in the Pennines and just about half way between our homes.

We had lunch in The Black Swan, a lovely pub with a very Christmassy atmosphere and beautiful log fires.   Dogs everywhere as folk called in on their morning walks.

All four of us had roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, roasties, and a selection of well-cooked vegetables.  This was followed by Christmas pudding souffles - they were out of this world, so very light and yet tasting strongly of Christmas pud.

To get there we cross over the moor where there are wild horses and for the first time they were by the side of the road, so the farmer took a photograph out of the window.   Somebody must feed them we decided.   Tess and the farmer had a walk along the wall side before we came off the moor and back on to the road again.


Saturday 17 December 2016

Out to lunch.

As regular readers of my blog posts will know, this is not unusual.   In fact there is rarely a week goes by when I don't go out to lunch at least once.

Today is the day for the farmer to shoot with his syndicate,   The damp, dark, foggy days have disappeared and today is bright, sunny, cold and frosty first thing this morning.  So, while the cat is away the mouse will play and friend W and I decided to go out for lunch.

W drove a few miles up the Dale to the village of Swinnithwaite and to Berry's Farm Shop and Restaurant.   Here we had a wholesome (and large!) plate of sausage, mash and peas.   It was delicious and we were full.   This did not stop us following it with a mince pie and coffee.   I have now come home feeling I don't want to eat anything else for at least a week. (we are going out for Christmas lunch tomorrow)|.

On our return journey, through Wensleydale bathed in Winter sunlight, we had to stop in order for the local Hunt to cross the road and ride off up the fields on the other side.

I am not a hunt supporter, neither is friend W, but I do love to see the spectacle of the Huntsmen in their red coats, riding their magnificent horses - and the hounds too (although by the time we got there the hounds were off out of sight over the top of the hill.

But the spectacle did round off a rather splendid couple of hours in the middle of the day.

Friday 16 December 2016


Well, I must say it has been slightly lighter today - all relative of course but at least the fog cleared for part of the day although it looks to be in danger of returning to some extent this evening.

This morning was my usual meeting with friends for coffee (and toasted teacakes for some), then a wander round our lovely market (already looking very Christmassy) then home for lunch.   After lunch the farmer and I drove down to our feed merchants - another job done for the christmas break - well stocked up with cat food, dog food, bird food and hen food 

I must say that there is something I love about the almost colourless scene of this time of year.   (if you look closely then there is colour to be seen) and on the return journey I took a few photographs.    Please bear in mind that the farmer never slows down for photographs, so they were taken at speed.   But they do show that for a while at least the fog had all but disappeared.
This pretty cottage stands at the entrance to the Jervaulx estate.   I like the smoke rising from the chimey - telling us that somebody is in and that they are snug and warm.
Passing the bottom of the village of East Witton - which has one of the largest village greens in the country.   This was once an estate village, but over the years the cottages have been sold off.   The Blue Lion - a very upmarket restaurant-is at the bottom of the green - in fact we were passing it when I took the photograph.
Crossing over the River Ure by Ulshaw bridge - one of my favourites in the whole area.   The river is not high - there has been little rain lately.
Driving up 'our' lane - almost home!

Finally - I make four Christmas cakes each year - three as presents and one for ourselves.   I have just finished decorating the first one for friend G.   I thought you might like to see it.


Thursday 15 December 2016

Dark days before Christmas.

Yet another day today when it has never got completely light.   There has been a fairly thick fog and lights have been on all day (that goes for in the house and in the car).   The weather isn't cold - eight degrees on the dashboard when I went to the hairdresser this afternoon - but it is just very dismal weather.   And both the farmer and I are noticing that our arthritis is very much worse today - it is as though the cold wet weather has got into our bones.

On the way home from the hairdresser I called in at our Surgery to collect our drugs for over the Christmas and New Year Periods.  It saves a lot of work both for me and for them over the next couple of weeks and they are only too happy to provide them in advance.

I also took them in a tin of shortbread, as I do every year.   They are a jolly good team there - the reception staff and the dispensary staff- and it does no harm at all at Christmas to thank them for being so cheerful and helpful throughout the year.
They came out to say thank you and to wish us both a Merry Christmas - it's always good to say thank you.

Although such things play havoc with hairstyles, I almost wish it would blow a gale tomorrow - just to get rid of this wretched fog.   Still - only another six days to go to the shortest day!

Wednesday 14 December 2016


On Wednesday afternoons I go to an exercise class for the over sixties.   It really does me such a lot of good.   The sitting down half I find relaxing as we go through one set of muscles after another, stretching and moving them to music and I feel much better having done this with the help of a professional who knows what she is doing.

The standing part is not so easy for me as my balance is not very good, but I do what I can and always use a chair for balance.

Today we had a shortened class and then all made our way the five hundred yards or so into the centre of the town to The Post Horn, where we had reserved a table for afternoon tea.   I should add that we wore some kind of Christmas decoration - hat, ear rings, flashing reindeer horns, head bands.   You name it - whatever we wore we certainly looked a festive lot.

We had scones with jam and cream, toasted tea cakes, tea, coffee, orange juice, chocolate cake and an hour's fun.   Luckily there was hardly anyone about and the cafe was almost empty apart from us so we weren't making much of a disturbance.

But hardly a healthy end to a session designed to keep us all in shape was it?

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Christmas decorations.

I don't put up all that many decorations at Christmas - just a small artificial tree and a few other things.   But I do love to see them around the town and this morning I took a few photographs for you to see.   The first two are of the two window sills in The Post Horn (the cafe where our gang meet twice a week for morning coffee):

And here are two shop windows in our gift shop - Serendipity.   Sorry about the pole down the centre of each window - but they are support poles and I can do nothing about that can I?

Such a magical time for our children isn't it?   Just so terrible that in so many places in the world there is no magic in anything at all.

Monday 12 December 2016


Yesterday was the most frustrating day.   I decided to make number three out of my four cakes I always make at Christmas (one for us and three as presents).   I needed to get it into the Aga early because I needed to cook the Sunday lunch in there later in the morning.   (I have an Aga cake baker, which cuts down the baking time on fruit cakes).

I went on line to see my e mails and in mid-reading of one I lost my internet connection.   I was without it all day, although the blue light was on.   It came back on at around six o'clock in the evening.

It did strike me just how much we have come to rely on the computer for so much in our lives.   Yes, I still have friends who refuse to have anything to do with it - and I personally think that is their loss, but the trouble is that when it sudddenly 'goes off' - when suddenly all connection with the outside world is lost - there is a huge sense of frustration.

It almost made me want to go back to the old method of pen and ink - almost, but not quite.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Linda at Colorado Farm.

Linda - if you are reading this - I am still reading you each  day but am absolutely unable to leave a comment as there is no comment box and no reply box to click.

Thank you.

Thank-you so much for all your congratulations - not that any are due to me really; all I have done is worry the last few weeks and say I would be glad when it was all over.

My first parcel will be on its way on Monday morning.   I have knitted two cardigans in first size and hearing Ula'a weight and seeing her photograph makes me wonder whether they will fit.  So I need to get them there quickly.   I have also crocheted the pram blanket behind the jackets in the photograph.   The squares are pure Wensleydale Longwool.   The only thing is that it will not go in the washing machine other than on a cold wash, so it is that or hand wash, which is a nuisance with babies.   Still, I have enjoyed making it and am rather pleased with the finished article.   The three other cardigans I have knitted are all in six month size, so it is not so urgent to get them there.

I understand that mother and baby were going home this morning (they live in Glasgow) - one thing is for sure - from today their lives will be changed for ever.

Here us a little story about babies which will make you laugh.   A friend was telling me the other day how she was at tea with friends where mother and father were both doctors.   They had four children - two plus twins.   During tea one of the children explained to the table in general that she had heard that day at school how babies got into their mummies tummies, but when she explained, she had got it all wrong.   Father carefully explained the truth in quite explicit language at which she said in horror, "Did you and mummy actually do that four times?"   Her twin sister replied, "Don't be silly, it would only be three times because we are twins!"   Oh the innocence of little children - and how quickly it goes these days.

Friday 9 December 2016

A Great Day!

Since I have reached my eighties I have become much more emotional and after a good ten minutes of crying I am (almost) stable enough to write a post to say that my Grand-daughter has had her baby today.   Weighing in at more than nine pounds she is a gorgeous little girl;  they have called her Ula.

Thursday 8 December 2016


Into Northallerton to M and S Food this afternoon for a few more bits and pieces of food for the Christmas week-end.   Saadly all the pigs in blankets had gone, so I shall try in our little town in the morning.   Soon my freezers will be full so at least I know we shall not starve over the festive period.   We really do all behave as though a siege is about to happen don't we.

In a way it has all got a bit out of hand.   I know that whether or not we have food on our tables at Christmas will make not a scrap of difference to people starving in countries like Syria and Yemen, but I did watch the special item on the News the other evening about Yemen and the plight of babies and small children especially - and everyone else of course - reduced me to tears.   How can I justify worrying about whether or not I have pigs in blankets on my Christmas table when I think of those poor people who have nothing, not even enough food to stay alive.

Sad to say that any spirit of Christmas is sadly lacking in the world today and we can do little to right the situation.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

No time.

Yesterday somehow the day ran away with me and it was late evening (and jig-saw time) before I had a chance to visit my computer, so hence no post.  The farmer and I are having a break from our nightly games of Rummikub and doing a few jig-saws.   The one we are doing is one I bought at the Coffee Morning last Saturday and at 500 pieces it is just the right size to be enjoyable without becoming bored with the picture.

A dense fog descended as the day wore on and by tea-time it really was thick.   Friend G called and I persuaded her to stay and have some tea with us.
I had made some tuna sandwiches (if you make them with a tin of tuna in springwater do try adding a desertspoon each of mayo and cider vinegar and a good grinding of black pepper - it makes all the difference.)   We had them with crisps and cherry tomatoes - very tasty.

By the time G went at around 6.30  the fog was so dense that she had a terrifying drive for the four miles home, having her fog lights on and driving slowly, following the kerbside.   She also said how impressed she was by the road markings and how helpful they were.

This afternoon is hairdressing day and this morning I shall make leek and potato soup for supper this evening, and also I shall press my latest knitted baby garment.   Won't be long now I hope (due date is the eleventh).

How quickly the time flies by. I intend making my usual four cakes for Christmas - two made, two to go.  All being well I shall make another tomorrow morning as I am not going out until two in the afternoon.

Warmer this morning and fog cleared.

Monday 5 December 2016

Mishap 2!

Another mishap this morning when the farmer appeared deshabile once more - standing there in just his shirt and underpants he said he had had another mishap.

While filling the tractor with tractor diesel (he was standing by it at the time), the tractor accidentally knocked the tap off the tank and diesel oil spilled all over him - coat, trousers, boots - the lot.

Hastily plugging the hole he dashed round to our neighbours (G was thank goodness in) he 'borrowed' a spare tank and G brought it round immediately.   The diesel was pumped into the new tank and then the farmer came in to assess the situation - thankfully leaving boots and coat outside.   The outside coat was assigned to a forthcoming bonfire, trousers, socks etc. were put straight into the washing machine.   At present the whole house smells of diesel oil, but other than that everything is back to normal - a new tap is fitted and the oil is back where it belongs.

Never an ordinary, quiet life on the farm!

Sunday 4 December 2016


How many calories will it use in typing this?   The farmer has just taken friend W and me out for Christmas lunch to The Pantry in Hawes.   Run by farming friends of ours, it serves up the most delicious and wholesome food but has never let the words "sensible helpings" appear on its menus.

We booked a month ago when the first three Christmas dates were announced.   The cafe seats around ninety and all three dates were fully booked within hours.   They are set to serve over five hundred Christmas lunches before the big day - and they serve their own-raised beef, turkey, goose and duck.

I had slices of turkey, goose and duck, along with roast potatoes, red cabbage, carrot batons, roast parsnips, peas, creamed leeks, stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and gravy.   There were also pigs in blankets but I forgot to get one.

A fruit drink was served with the meal, top ups whenever you asked.    The sweet table was heaving.   I have put a photograph of it on but that is after a good three quarters of folk had already chosen their pud (I took it on the way out).   This was followed by unlimited coffee top ups with individual mint chocolates and then everyone was offered a mince pie to take home and warm up for tea!

Now home and very full of food I do not intend to sleep it off but shall get on with my knitting as soon as I have written this.

I have taken a selection of photographs for you to see but do bear in mind with the ones of the journey - the farmer does not slow down for photographs and where it is not sunny it tends to be in deep shade.


Saturday 3 December 2016

Coffee Morning.

What an enjoyable morning I have had.    Yes, it was sad to miss all the goings-on in our little town, with Santa and singing round the tree and all the other christmas activities that were advertised.   But really the parking meant that it was quite a long way to walk and it was a cold morning.

In any case, it was also the monthly Church coffee morning in the village and I always go to that - especially so this month when K brought her famous mince pies and brandy butter.   At sixty pence each they were an absolute bargain - hot, spicy and delicious.

There were lots of people there (and an adorable miniature dachshund puppy called Chloe who stole my heart).  In addition there were some interesting stalls - one lady was selling stuffed toys - mainly polar bears- excellent value for stocking fillers.
She also had a pile of knitting patterns free to good homes and I found a lovely baby one which I shall definitely use shortly when I have finished the one I am knitting.

Another stall sold her usual cards and jig-saws so I bought the farmer a jig-saw of skaters, which I have a feeling he will start tonight after Strictly.

And there was the usual food stall run by A, who usually makes Turkey Lasagne, which I always buy and put in my freezer.   She hadn't made any this time but she did have excellent small cakes - these were square and iced (mine had a snowman on top) and will lead me nicely into the Christmas period should anyone call for a cup of coffee.

Home again now.  The farmer is still out shooting
and after baking myself two jacket potatoes and eating them with butter (absolutely my favourite meal - I have simple tastes food-wise) I now have Christmas cake number two in the oven and the timer says there are ten minutes to go before it is time to look at it - so off I shall go.

Hopefully I will be back tomorrow.

Friday 2 December 2016

Important day tomorrow.

It is market day in our little town and the fruit and  vegetable stalls have a large selection of different kinds of oranges, bags of nuts,holly wreaths - everything connected with Christmas.   It really does begin to feel like Christmas here, particularly as the town is also full of men getting ready for tomorrow's event - the lighting up of the tree and the arrival of Santa Claus.

All the shops have decorated their windows beautifully (I will put photographs on one day if I manage to get into town early enough to get  a view without a crowd of people.)

How different Christmas is today to when we were children.   The farmer talks with great affection of his childhood Christmases (he is one of six and was brought up in the days when spare money went on buying things for the farm).  They each had a stocking hanging above the mantelshelf and each stocking had sweets, nuts, an orange, perhaps a colouring book and some crayons and usually the boys (3) had one big present between them (he talks still of the year they got a large sledge - and it coincided with a very bad winter; what fun they had.)  The three girls would also get the same and one large present between them.   In those days any spare money was ploughed back into the farm.
(it is my theory that one reason there are so many elderly batchelor farmers around here is because they never had any money to spare for girl friends, or for modernising the house.   These days women will just not accept that like they did in the old days).

My friends and I will not be going into town in the morning - it will be busy with children enjoying themselves, the carparks will be full - and in any case it is the monthly church coffee morning in the village  - and a special Christmas one where, as well as the usual coffee and biscuits, K will be selling her delicious home-made mince pies complete with a large blob of brandy butter.   Who would miss that?   It is the farmer's shooting day so I shall hope to buy one for him so that he can sample her cooking when he comes in.

As regards the shooting day, the local Hunt came an hour ago to remind him that they will be hunting in this area tomorrow.   He told them that they would have to watch out, but it is my guess that any fox worth its salt has enough sense to keep well away from the sound of guns, so he will probably go the other way.   In any case,but don't let on to the farmer, I always hope that all game and also foxes escape to fight another day.

Aga working perfectly(touch wood) - so cake number two may be made tomorrow.


Thursday 1 December 2016

The Ladies have arrived.

Yesterday twenty ladies descended on our farm - twenty rather heavy, hopefully pregnant ladies who have taken up Winter residence in our loose housing.

It was cleaned out a month ago (full of last year's well-rotted manure, which was spread on the fields) and at the beginning of this week the farmer spread a deep layer of straw ready for their arrival.   Two hens immediately commandeered it for their own and promptly laid a couple of eggs each in the straw!

They came up the pasture from our friend and neighbour A and once they saw the straw and the deep layer of silage ready for tea outside they trotted in happily, udders swinging from side to side.

They will stay in there until maybe a month before the due date of giving birth when each one will go home for a special diet for that last month.   For the past few months they have 'enjoyed' a wander in the fields with a friendly Aberdeen Angus bull, so time will tell how many are pregnant.   Hopefully it will be all of them.

So welcome Ladies of the Dale.  I always enjoy your Winter stay.

Wednesday 30 November 2016


I have been to my exercise class this afternoon, so am now staggering about and very stiff in muscles I forgot that I had.   But also feel better for it.

Whilst I was there the Aga engineer came and the Aga is now getting hot again.   It takes quite a while to reach its normal heat but I hope it will be there by morning so that I can make the first of the four Christmas cakes I make at Christmas.  Then I can tick that off my list.

It has been a lovely day here today but because of a breeze it has felt quite  cold, in spite of the temperature on the dashboard registering eight degrees whereas yesterday it was only three.   But the sunset was absolutely spectacular - all shades of blue, golden and orange.   Nature at its very best.

I am busy compiling a Quiz for Christmas for the local Nature Reserve I support, so I shall go now and try to compose a few more cryptic clues.

Tuesday 29 November 2016


I never thought that I would live to say this, but friend W and I had an interesting and quite enjoyable morning this morning doing something that I have never done before.

As I have said before, we live very near to Catterick Garrison, the largest Garrison in Western Europe, although you would never know it as you drive through a couple of miles of pleasant, neat, well-kept - and green - landscape.

They have recently built a new shopping complex
just across the road from quite a large Tesco store.
W and I decided to go and take a look at it this morning.   Most of the shops are the sort of shops I never go into - and what an eye-opener touring round them proved to be.  I bought quite a lot of vegetarian food to put in the freezer for Christmas from Iceland (my son is vegetarian and catering for a different menu on Boxing Day is really a chore too far).   We went around the Pound Shop and Yorkshire Trading and also around Aldi.  All of the shops had plenty of customers - young mums with babies in the main - presumably wives of young servicemen.

We ended up with a cup of coffee in Costa coffee, which was also obviously the meeting place for the same young mums and babies.   What a lot of babies all in one place at once.

I arrived home pretty footsore at just before lunchtime.   The farmer had been sitting in the house all morning waiting for a call from the Aga engineer to say when he was coming as we are still without any means of cooking.   But no call so far, so fish and chips for lunch - a long time since we had them and we both quite enjoyed them.   No more for me today though as I am still quite full.   The farmer paled at the thought of no tea, so I shall go now and rustle up a ham sandwich for him.

Sitting here at the computer, looking out of the hall window I can see the most glorious deep orange sunset.  Looks like another cold but clear day tomorrow.   Today the temperature never rose above three degrees and the day began with a severe frost.

Monday 28 November 2016

Irritating news.

I am sure that in the giant scheme of things it is not all that important, but why do these things always happen at inconvenient times?   We are just entering a cold snap of weather - tonight is set to be the coldest night of the year so far - and what has happened?   The Aga has decided to go on strike.

Yesterday morning I put on the lunch to cook - chicken thighs with Mediterranean vegetables - and suddenly realised that the oven temperature was going down quite rapidly.   By tea time the Aga had gone out.   The farmer cleaned it out this morning, but it has made no  difference so now I am waiting for the Aga engineer to ring.   Luckily we have the wood burner on in the back room and the central heating throughout the house, but it is quite a big house with high ceilings, so it will be good when it is going again.

It runs on oil, as does the central heating.   When I think of my parents with just one fire in the living room and hot water bottles in the beds, we really don't know we are born, do we?

In fact this afternoon has been a sunny afternoon, and as most of our windows face due South there has been some warmth from the sun.   In fact, driving home from town the temperature on the car dashboard registered nine degrees and the sky was a clear blue. 

So now it is fingers crossed that the engineer rings later tonight to arrange to come.

Saturday 26 November 2016

A Nice Afternoon.

What could be nicer on a very cold, wintry day, than sharing the afternoon with a group of friends, laughing, chatting and eating?

Friend E invited six of us to share a leg of local lamb she had been given,   so at half past one we all sat down (after canapes) to roast lamb with mint sauce, bread sauce, apple jelly, delicious gravy - and roast and mashed potatoes, diced swede, carrot batons and steamed broccoli - all taken with a glass of white wine.   This was followed by apple crumble and creme fraiche and finally coffee and chocolates.

The rest of the afternoon we all sat in her sitting room, the sun streaming through the windows and chatted -- and laughed, before leaving at four o'clock to come home.   It was a lovely afternoon.

Now almost time for Strictly - I wonder who will go out this week.   We both hope it will be Ed Balls - funny he might be but it is a dance competition and his dance skills are sadly lacking.
But I expect his fans will keep him in for another week.

Keep warm.   It was the most beautiful sunset as we came home.   Isn't nature wonderful?

Friday 25 November 2016


And not Black up here in The Dales I must say - we are just not cajoled into spending our hard-earned money on things which are supposedly 'special offers' for Black Friday.
It has been the most beautiful cold, sunny, still, late Autumn day - the kind of day when it feels good to be alive.  I have a friend who has had a severe stroke and I was conscious this morning of how J would be missing her beloved birds as she lays semi-conscious in her hospital bed.

I have finished my Christmas shopping (says she boastfully) - mainly because most of it has been done on line.   I am now going to sit down and finish writing my Christmas Cards.   That only leaves me to make four Christmas cakes, which I make every year - one for us, one for my son and his wife and two as presents.   I shall just make those in odd moments as and when I have an afternoon at home - and I shall enjoy it, knowing that the pressure is off.
   I am going out to lunch tomorrow with friends and looking forward to that greatly.   Always something to look forward to - that is the solution for me. 
 **Hot off the press.
This afternoon the farmer came in half way through the afternoon having slipped into the beck while cleaning in out (it was blocked with weed and backing up so in danger of flooding the field).
Totally wet from the waist down he got a good telling off from me - not for getting soaked but for doing a job which I don't think he should have been doing - he should have got someone in to do it.   So his clothes are all now in the washing machine and he is warm and dry again.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Rudeness and how do you deal with it?

One of the two supermarkets in our little town is going through a major refit.   To make matters worse, the builders who originally started the job have gone into administration.   At last new builders have started  - in the meantime the shop is half its usual size, the rest being shut off while the work is done.

Things are a bit chaotic in there but the staff are doing their best.   As the Post Office is located in the top corner I have to go in once a week, so I usually collect one or two things on my way out.

On Tuesday morning there was only one till open at the check-out and there was a queue of about a doaen people waiting.   Directly behind me in the queue was a quiet-looking middle aged gentleman with a small bottle of something in his hand.

The woman in  front of me had a loaded trolley.
Suddenly another cashier appeared at another till and immediately the chap behind me (with one item) nipped across to be served quickly.   The woman in front of me yelled, "Oi you, where do you think you're going?   Get back in the queue like everybody else."

He came back into his place and said quietly to me that he only had one item and was in rather a hurry.   She heard him and continued her tirade to everyone's embarrassment.

She arrived at the check-out at this point and the next check-out also became empty.   I said to him,
"Please do go in front of me - you only have one item."   He thanked me and scuttled off.

I shall be interested to hear your views on this.  That she was being extremely rude there is no doubt.   But should we have all ignored it?   Should he have done it in the first place?

Wednesday 23 November 2016


Today was our Poetry afternoon and I can't tell you just how much I enjoy it - and I think I speak for all dozen or so of us.

It is certainly one of my favourite afternoons of the month.   It is lovely meeting like-minded folk, it is a treat to all meet together in friend W's warm conservatory, it is a joy to look out the possible poems to read (in my case TS Eliot, George Mackay Brown, and two poems written by Welsh poets after the death of RS Thomas (my favourite poet).)  And finally, of course, comes the joy of sharing the poems with the rest of the group and talking about them.   Some of the group are really knowledgeable about poetry and we always learn something we didn't know.

It has been a much better day here today and ended with a beautiful pink sky as the sun went down.   It has of course become very cold as it got dark, but after all it is November.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Goodbye Angus!

Storm Angus seems to be moving on - or wearing itself out.    But this morning when the farmer tried to go into town for the morning papers at half past six he could not get out of the drive.

The wind, which was very strong during the night (once I have taken my hearing aid out I can't hear it) had taken a huge branch off one of the Scots Pines at the side of the house and laid it across the drive.   As I went into town to meet friends for coffee I took this photograph.   Sorry it isn't very good but the farmer is very camera shy and would not pose for another one, so it was this or nothing.By the time I returned home at lunch time it had all been cleaned up - looked as though Santa's elves had been round.

I suggested to him that with the wind that strong I was worried that a branch might fall on to the roof.   He just said what was the point in worrying about something like that - you just have to 'take what comes'.   Oh how I wish I could be like that.   I am am a worrier - and worry about every possible happening.   Are you a worrier or do you take everything in your stride?


Monday 21 November 2016

Stormy weather.

Reading this morning's paper and then seeing the six o';News tonight, I realise just how very bad the weather has been in the South of the country.

We are not all that big a country so it seems odd that this, the first real storm of the winter, should behave in such a way.   The strip in the South had inches of rain and strong winds - and ultimately bad flooding; the extreme North had snow and in the middle it was just breezy and cloudy.   Although not a bad day here it wasn't the kind of day that made you feel like going out.   So we stayed in by the fire.

Today remnants of that stormy weather have reached us and it has been blowing a gale and pouring with rain for most of the day.   The wind is blowing directly from the North here so it has also been bitterly cold.   Even Tess had to be coaxed out for a utility walk.

It seems to be set to blow itself out by tomorrow night, but in the meantime there seems to be much disruption down in the South of the country and once again serious flooding.   Why does it always seem to happen just before Christmas?

Keep warm everyone - and sit it out, wherever you are - it is on the way out.   My thoughts, as always in severe gales, lie with those at sea.

Saturday 19 November 2016


I have been standing in the sitting room window watching a hen blackbird feeding outside.   It has been a damp night and a whole lot of dead, wet leaves are lined up against our garden fence just outside the window.

She started at the bottom end and systematically turned over every leaf with her beak and found something to eat under almost every one.   I know that when I sweep up leaves like this I always find wood lice, slugs and worms - well Mrs Blackbird had no difficulty in finding her breakfast I can tell you.

Coming through into the kitchen I saw the greater spotted woodpecker arrive.   He loves the peanuts but today he decided to start his breakfast by moving up the trunks of the Scots Pine trees, chipping off bits of bark and finding something to eat behind them..

A wren was scratching around in the hedge bottom behind the bird-feeders and in the field next door five or six pheasants were scratching around.

We spend around a hundred pounds each month on food for the birds and we get huge pleasure from watching the large variety we get here - Winter and Summer.   We shall not stop feeding them - but it did strike me how very efficient they are at finding their own food in all but the most severe weather.

The same goes, of course, for the grey squirrels who have taken all our hazel nuts from the numerous bushes in the hedge;  and the various birds who have had their fill from the fallen crab apples.

Have we lost a lot of that ability (Cro excepted)?
Do we now expect the Supermarkets to provide our food all year round?   And have many of us even lost the ability (or perhaps the inclination would be a better word) to stockpile for winter with jams and pickles (again I make the exception here for the numerous bloggers I follow who are trying to be self-sufficient - and I do so admire them for it)?

Will we eventually become a nation who rely entirely upon the supermarkets for keeping us alive?   As more and more couples have to both go out to work in order to pay the mortgage and thus have very little time to prepare home cooked meals, will we all come to rely on the freezer or the delivery man who brings ready meals to our door?   Interesting thought.   What do you think?  And where do you fit into this equation?

Friday 18 November 2016

Help please.

Foxglove Covert Nature Reserve is an excellent facility on the Garrison at Catterick, close to where I live (the largest Garrison in Europe).   It goes from strength to strength and has a wonderful selection of bird life, mammal life, flora - and a good building for teaching groups and just sitting around and chatting about what can be seen over a cup of tea.

Four or five times a year I produce Cryptic Quiz Sheets, which they sell at £1  a copy for funds.   One, on Games and Pastimes, is about to finish.
Because it is so near Christmas I thought I would do the next sheet on Christmas itself - the answers all being words connected with the Festive Season.

I also thought I would do it in alphabetical form - one question,  the answer to which is the next letter of the alphabet - and then perhaps to end - one question the answer to which is the letters in Merry Christmas.  

But finding words which I can use to set clues around is harder than I thought.   I need other brains please.

Some letters I already have plenty of possible words - e.g. Star, shepherds, stuffing, stocking, stollen, Santa (I only need one word but some words are difficult to clue).

Some letters I am stuck on.   So can you please help me out?   I need Christmassy words for the following letters -  L;  O;  U; V; X; Z.    Any other letters would be alright.   If I already have the word you suggest it doesn't matter does it?

But any help you can give me would be very much appreciated. 

Thursday 17 November 2016


Today has been positively the worst day of the winter so far, (alright it is still officially autumn, but believe me you wouldn't have guessed it here today).

My hair appointment is always on a Thursday at 1pm and I drove down in the pouring rain.   When I came out I even went in the car the three hundred yards or so to the supermarket because of the heavy rain.   Luckily I found a place right outside the shop (it was so wet that there were few people around).   The one good thing was that the supermarket was virtually empty, so I could wander round at my leisure and collect the few things I wanted.

The man in front of me in the checkout queue was so frazzled that he left his bank card in the machine.   The woman on the checkout ran out after him but really couldn't remember what he looked like (neither could I) so she just had to put it in a safe place and hope he realised and came back for it.

Arriving home, the farmer had lit the wood burner and we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting by it -him reading the paper and doing the brain exercise page- me continuing to knit.   When I have finished this baby cardigan I will put photographs of them all on here to show how busy I have been.   (Only three weeks to go now).

Off back to the warmth now.   It has finally stopped raining but I can't see a single star so it must still be cloudy.

Wednesday 16 November 2016


I have just made my fourth Christmas List.   What has happened to the other three?   I shall probably find them - one by one - around March/April time.
And shall I understand them?   Doubtful as I usually write them in a sort of code so that if the recipient of any present listed should find the list, it would be meaningless.   This time I have cracked it and made the list and filed it on my computer under CHRISTMAS LIST.   You can't get more straightforward than that  can you?

Now that my final batch of guests have departed before the festive season I shall begin to make my cakes (I make four - three as presents and one for ourselves (I don't like it anyway).   When I have finished today's post I shall start writing my Christmas cards.

So, you will see, I am well prepared and intend to take it all in my stride.   No need to do otherwise.

Pouring rain has given way to strong wind and bright sunshine - quite a cheery day from inside but as the wind is directly from the North I expect it is a different story outside the door.

My exercise class has been cancelled as the tutor is not well.   It is five weeks since we had a class and my joints are going rusty.   I try to keep busy and energetic but it is not the same as doing it all to music (and yes, I know, I could put the radio on at home and do the exercises - but I don't.   I need others to participate).

The whole time I have been writing this a little robin has been perched on the top of the privet hedge just outside the hall window - I think he is reminding me that there are only thirty shopping days to Christmas.   I need to go out there and tell him that I don't care - it is all done and dusted.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Drawing in

as in 'the nights are drawing in' - one of my mother's favourite expressions.

At a quarter past one this afternoon the watery sun went behind a cloud and it looked as though it was about to get dark.   It didn't of course, but suddenly we are in the dark days and there will be nothing but short days until a few weeks after Christmas.

They were putting up the Christmas lights in our little town this morning as we sat in the window of our cafe drinking our morning coffee.   Perhaps it is as well - all the glow and twinkle of the market square festooned with fairy lights, plus the Christmas-dressed shop windows, will add a degree of light to what otherwise would be a gloomy week or two.

 My visitors have gone, my cleaner has been this morning, I have done the washing and ironing for the week and I am back to normal.   Perhaps it is a sign that I am really getting old in that I do love the routine of day after day of doing the same things -Tuesday coffee morning, Wednesday exercise class, Thursday hair appointment, Friday meeting the 'gang' for coffee, Saturday - when the farmer is shooting then W and I go out for lunch.   And so the weeks pass by.

Now it is on to Amazon to start ordering a few Christmas presents - that will be another Christmas job done and another thing to tick off my list.

Monday 14 November 2016

Moving on.

Well, are we all moving forward - or what?   Over here in the UK there is only so much time we can give to worrying about the US Election results however much we are appalled by them.   After all, we can do absolutely nothing about any of it.

So I for one intend to move on, get on with my life and try very hard to ignore anything that is going on over the pond.

My great-grandchild is due in less than a month.   My grand-daughter has shared her pregnancy with me by keeping me updated and has now informed me that there has been a definite shift in position of the baby and that she is now finding herself walking in an all together different way.   This last three weeks or so is going to be hard for me too - I am impatient for the day.   Also, I am knitting like mad (at least that is keeping me involved).

My visitors went early this morning.   It has been a lovely relaxed week-end with them.   P is like my second son - I have known  him and welcomed him into my house and family since he was in his early twenties and he is now sixty six - so no pressure.   D his partner of ten years or more, is a lovely chap, also retired, good company and together they are so happy.   What more could anyone wish for?

All the scrap steel has left the farm.   The farmer hired two very large skips - the second one was collected late this afternoon - and I must say that everywhere looks a lot tidier.

The last cattle on the farm are going home on Wednesday.   There is still plenty of grass for them to eat but at this time of the year it tends to lack goodness, and as these beasts are all destined for the table eventually, it is very important that they do not begin to lose their body weight.   So they will be going inside for a bit of fattening up.

See you again tomorrow now that I am 'back to normal'!

Saturday 12 November 2016

A Short Pause.

Two days absence ahead.   I have friends over from Windermere until Monday evening, so shall enjoy their company and be absent for a couple of 
days.   All being well I will be back on Monday evening.

Friday 11 November 2016

We need to remember.

Friday is market day in our little town and quite a busy market it is too when the weather is right - as it was today.    There is not a single vestige of snow left anywhere and the sun has shone all day.

It so happens that our War Memorial stands at the top of the market square - and today is November 11th.

At around a quarter to the hour a group of people began to gather and by a couple of minutes to the hour a sizeable crowd had gathered.   I had intended to join them to stand for two minutes to remember the war dead but my watch was a couple of minutes slow.   As I bought my cheese from the cheese lady (who has almost every cheese known to man) she said she might have to stop in mid-service to observe the two minutes silence.   So I joined her and we both stood by the stall.   Gradually, as people walked up the market, they seemed to realise what was happening and everyone stood in silence for the two minutes.   It was quite a moving occasion.

Two minutes out of the whole year is nothing - but it is just a token of appreciation for the many  who have given their lives over the years - there has hardly been a year when there has not been a war somewhere has there? And it is also good to remember the thousands of wounded men who have lost limbs or had other life-changing injuries - just two minutes; that is all it takes from our lives.  

Thursday 10 November 2016


Cold and just below freezing overnight but now around four degrees, bright sunshine and a cold breeze.   In fact (from inside by the fire) it is a pleasant day and the snow is gradually going.

The woodburner is glowing brightly and as the doors are all open (inside doors of course) and our farmhouse faces due South, so gets any sun that is going, the house is warming up nicely.   And the snow is beginnning to go in earnest.   Apparently it was quite a localised snowfall - just a strip down the centre of the country.

There is a distinct feeling over here that already the implications of the American election are beginning to fade.   For sure, it is a democratic country - they have chosen and democracy dictates that we accept it - like it or not.

Today I visit the hairdresser and that is all.   And as it is only a mile down the road that is no hardship.   The farmer has to go the the dentist just before that.

He is giving our cattle hay to eat as they spend an awful lot of time wandering round the field looking for something to eat.   These are cattle being grown on for beef and even several days without access to the plentiful supply of grass in the pastures is enough for the weight to begin to drop away (and of course they are sold by weight).   So last evening (after they had followed Tess and the farmer up the field on their walk)  he went back with a couple of bales of hay.   It had all gone this morning, so a couple more bales have been take up and the farmer they belong to has been rung with the suggestion he fetch then back and fatten them indoors.

The sheep, on the other hand, don't want anything to do with hay, or pellets thank you - they know quite well how to scratch the snow away and get at the grass and seem quite happy in their fur coats.

My quilt is finished and will be pressed this morning.   Then I shall make a shopping list (which will include two balls of white baby wool
for my next project) ready to shop tomorrow for our friends P and D coming over from The Lakes for the week-end.  (an apple crumble is already in the freezer for lunch).

Keep warm everyone.   And to my friends in the US - bear up and I am sure we all send you our best wishes for the next few years.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

What a day!

In all senses of the word.   I switched on the television to see how the American election was doing - but switched it off again.   At the moment it is all too depressing.

Then looking out of the window, we have had four inches of wet snow overnight and it is snowing still.  I hardly expect there will be an exercise class this afternoon as our tutor comes from about twelve miles away - all uphill - and the roads are very slippery according to the farmer, who has been into town for the papers (which were absolutely on time, so they can't be bad everywhere).

The wood burner is lit, I have unearthed a heavy, long cardigan, and if the class is cancelled I shall spend the afternoon sewing together my crochet squares to form a blanket for the new baby's buggy (when it comes in three weeks time) and doing the Times crossword.

I shall try not to think of the election results, about which I can do absolutely nothing anyway.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Busy(ish) day

This morning it was an early delivery from Tesco of my groceries ordered on-line.   It was an especially long list of things as I have friends P and D  coming for the week-end.   As they live in Windermere in the Lake District, I am hoping that the weather, which is very cold, does not take a turn for the worse.   Whichever way they come they have to come over the high Pennines.   The farmer has just passed me and says the forecast is for snow overnight and then 'not a bad day tomorrow' - so we shall have to wait and see (or to use the farmer's usual expression regarding the weather 'we shall just have to take what comes'.)


Today a large skip was delivered to the farm as the farmer has decided to really begin a major clear up.   By this evening the skip is full, so the company are collecting it tomorrow and delivering another empty one.   At last!


Friend W and I have been into Northallerton this afternoon to the new Marks and Spencer's Food Outlet.   It was very good - lovely fresh food and nice wide aisles so that it was easy to negotiate regardless of how many people were there.   As it happens  it was not too busy.


I even bought my Christmas turkey (that makes Christmas seem very near) and have put it into the freezer, so that is one thing off my mind.   If you are interested - there are actually thirty three shopping days to go (I am not counting Saturdays and Sundays because anyone who voluntarily joins the mad Christmas rush at the week-ends unless they positively can't avoid it has my full sympathy).


Next job is to go and empty the dishwasher and put the contents away.   See you tomorrow - it is back to Exercise class again after a three week gap, so there will be some aches and pains by Thursday I guess. 





Monday 7 November 2016


I wonder if in the far, far distant past homo sapiens used to hibernate in the winter.   If not then how did he manage to stay alive, living in caves and before the invention of fire?  Layers and layers of fur I suppose.

I did once read of folk somewhere in the world - in the Himalayas I believe - where the whole village retreats underground in Winter with their stores of food;

All I can say is that cold, wet weather like we have had over the past few days, with the wind coming from the North has definitely made me feel like hibernating.

Then this morning, as we came back from our feed merchants in Masham and drove into the market square in our little town, I saw my old friendW - 95 and counting - zipping across the road, still wearing the anorak she has worn all summer, no hat, no gloves - carrying a laden shopping bag as she made her way home.   They make them tough up here.

Sunday 6 November 2016

Boston bean soup.

Six of us are out to lunch today to celebrate friend W's 80th birthday.   The farmer is not included (an all girls do) so I am cooking him a turkey lasagne I bought at the coffee morning yesterday (cooked by Ann they are always delicious and I buy two - this time I have frozen one) and he will have yoghourt for pud.   He doesn't mind at all - I think he rather likes the idea of a couple of hours peace and quiet.

There will also be the remains of yesterday's soup which I made for tea when he came in from a shooting day.   The soup was delicious and was the Friday recipe published in The Times.   If you are interested I am sure it is available by going to the correct place on line - it is a Lyndsey Bareham recipe for Boston Bean Soup.   It is easy and quick  to make and although it has a lot of ingredients (red onion, carrot, cannelini beans (tinned), chopped tomatoes (tinned) dijon mustard, tabasco, lemon juice, it is ready to eat within half an hour - thick, main meal soup - very hearty and warming.   I served it with Paul Hollywood's par-baked rolls, which only take ten minutes in a hot oven and really taste like home made bread.
It may very well be the lunch I serve next Saturday when my friends P and D arrive (along with a crumble I intend to make during the week and freeze).

Keep warm (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere where you need to keep cool (lucky you)).

The weather here is absolutely awful.   There is a strong North wind blowing, it is showery  and deeply dull.  The farmer has just laid the woodburner ready to light - can't be soon enough for me although I am going out in two hours.

Saturday 5 November 2016


Today was the monthly local church coffee morning in our village hall and as usual I went along.   It is nice to catch up with friends and also to meet villagers I only see once a month.   Lots of nice chats.

But the highlight of the morning - and sadly I did not have my camera with me - was the arrival, wrapped in her 'mum's' coat and snuggled up tight, of Tilly, an eight week old Border Collie pup.   She was absolutely adorable, looking round with her intelligent eyes and not missing a thing.

Just when we thought things couldn't get any better Chloe, a nine week old miniature dachshund, arrived, wrapped in a blanket and carried by her 'mum'.

Puppies are adorable - clean, unsullied, bright-eyed, smooth coated - and so innocent and untainted.  

Of course, as with us all, babies grow up into adults. This morning as I ate my breakfast banana, I looked out of the window into the paddock.   The sheep and their this year's lambs (now almost as big as their mums) are in there at the moment.   There is plenty of good, luscious grass for them to eat.   Were they eating it?   No - instead they were all eating holly leaves from the hedges.   Holly - I ask you - prickly stuff, can't be easy to eat.   But there they all were - sheep and their lambs - eating away as though it was their favourite meal.

Animals !!   There is no accounting for them once they become adult (rather like humans then) - I will stick with those two puppies any day.  They were utterly charming.

Friday 4 November 2016

Following instructions.

One of my greatest failings is that I am hopeless at following instructions.   I suspect I am far too impatient and as I have aged, so has the problem got more noticeable.   But it has always been there.

Often the computer throws up a problem - for example I got several e cards for my birthday earlier this week but was unable to open any of them.   Since I went over to Windows 10 I seem to need another Adobe update but although I click on it, when the instructions come up for getting started somehow I just can't understand them and I lose patience.

Another example occurred today.   The farmer gave me money for my birthday and I decided to send for a sweater I liked.   It came this morning, just as the farmer and I were off to my Friday morning coffee and tea cake meeting.   At lunch time I tried it on, loved it but it doesn't feel right and just doesn't fit well enough.   So it has to go back.

It was only when I came to pack it in its original wrapping that I found I had opened the parcel at the wrong end and therefore the adhesive strip to fasten it down again was not able to be used.   Why was I so impatient?    Why didn't I wait long enough when I first picked up the parcel to read which end to open the bag?

And why, yesterday, when I cooked a whole chicken in a bag in the Aga for lunch, in spite of an instruction in capital letters which read 'COOK THIS WAY UP' did I manage to cook the thing upside down?

Answers on a postcard please.

Thursday 3 November 2016

Feral cats

There are always feral cats around here.   There is a long-haired white and black tom who is often seen running across the farmyard - Tess always chases him off - and who, I suspect, eats the cat food we put down for our two farm cats, Blackie and Creamy, if they happen to be out somewhere when it is put down.

Our two farm cats came from another farm and were from feral stock.   Blackie has got fairly tame but Creamy will not come near enough to be stroked.

Yesterday the white and black cat ran across the lane in front of my car as I drove home from town.
When I mentioned this to the farmer last evening he says he suspects that this cat has fathered a litter of lookalikes as there are now five or six half grown white and black kitten/cats roaming the fields, as well as a couple of ancient ginger ones.

I worry about what becomes of them in the very cold weather, but as the farmer says - they have never been pets, they have no concept of home life in front of the fire - they were born to live outside, scavenge for their food and find somewhere warm to sleep on cold nights.   After all, there are plenty of barns full of straw or hay about round here and I am sure these cats are nothing if not opportunists.

Do you have feral cats?   Are they present in  towns as well as in the country?   Does anyone feed them?


Wednesday 2 November 2016


Another glorious day here with Autumn sunshine, but it is getting a little bit colder each day and tonight there is a feeling of frost in the air.   I drove the mile or so into the village this afternoon to visit friend M and on the way passed a stand of Horse Chestnut trees all of them the most beautiful golden brown.   Autumn is well and truly on its way now.

M and I had a lovely chatty afternoon.   We were neighbours for a few years (my son now lives in my house and is her neighbour) and so have always got plenty to chat about.

I took my crocheting.  Last winter, really for something to do on cold, wet days, I crocheted around fifty squares in Wensleydale wool.   Now that I have a great grandchild almost due I am joining them together to make a blanket for the pram - it is cold up in Scotland where they live, so will help to keep the baby warm.

For lunch I made individual fish pies.   Reminder to self - don't do it again.   The whole house smells of fish pie.   The farmer insists he can't smell it, but I definitely can and to make matters worse I had done a load of washing and ironing and put it up on the airer above the Aga.   Now I ask myself - will all the clean clothes smell of fish pie too?    Any suggestions for getting rid of the smell?   I defrosted the fish in the microwave and got rid of the smell in there by microwaving a small pot of lemon juice for a couple of minutes.

Tuesday 1 November 2016


Today really has been the most perfect day in terms of the weather.   After waking up to a wet morning here in North Yorkshire, within an hour the sun was shining and it has been wall-to-wall sunshine all day.   There was a slight cool breeze but in the sun it was still quite warm.

Our morning coffee meeting - three of us today - passed off nicely as usual; plenty of laughs, plenty of chat, good coffee and delicious toasted teacakes.   Then it was home to cook lunch and the afternoon catching up on blogs, ordering a sweater from M and S as a birthday present from the farmer, ordering new cartridges for my printer, and welcoming (and chatting to) the lady who called to sell us our poppies.

Now there is just about time to empty the dishwasher, feed the dog, get a salad ready for tea and put my feet up in time to watch 'Flog it'.

I really was overwhelmed by everyone's birthday greetings yesterday - thank you all so much.  I also had lots of cards and letters from friends - all of which added up to a very nice day indeed.

Monday 31 October 2016


Today is my eighty-fourth birthday, the sun is shining and it is warm for late October.   It has been an ordinary day - twenty birthday cards arrived from family and friends, flowers arrived from my God daughter and her husband at lunch time and more flowers are promised from my grand childred tomorrow - so with birthday cards and flowers all over there is a real celebratory feel to the house.

An hour ago my Step Great Grand-daughter, D'arcy arrived with her mum and dad - I will leave you with a photograph of her.   She was absolutely captivated by the dog - and the feeling was reciprocated!

Sunday 30 October 2016

Winter hoardings.

We have two walnut trees along the edge of our garden.   They have been there for thirty years or more but they never do really well - perhaps their position is wrong, or we are too far North for them.   At the most they have around fifty or sixty nuts on each year, and, although the farmer gathers them, we always find  that the nuts inside shrivel before they are ripe enough to eat.

This year the farmer picked them all as usual, putting them into a wooden crate and carrying them into the big shed (this is the shed which houses much of our farm equipment over the winter).   There were around a hundred walnuts.    When he went into the shed the next morning the crate was empty.   Something had taken the lot overnight.

Now I like to think that there are quite a few mice who have chosen to spend the cold winter in a state of semi hibernation in the shed and that during that one day they carried off the walnuts to stock up their winter larders.

I must say I do not begrudge them a single walnut - bon apetite mice wherever you have chosen to store them.