Monday 29 February 2016


Word has spread around the village today that two Springer Spaniels have run away from their home and are on the loose.   They have run away once before and so are usually kept on the lead when they walk, but their owner fastened them together and then let them off the lead for a 'bit of a run' on her walk yesterday.   Their bit of a run meant that they ran off and still had not come home this morning.

They could easily have become tangled up in a hedgerow somewhere with that joint lead - and it could lead to a very unpleasant end - I do hope not because Springers are lovely dogs.
But of course my sympathies have to lie with all the local farmers, who have very pregnant ewes in the fields at present, so everyone is keeping a close eye on their flocks today.

A friend with a rabbit problem in her fields has had the 'ferret man' over the week-end and he has caught six adults and plenty of babies.   It seems sad to catch and kill the rabbits but around here our fields become overrun with them and as ten rabbits are said to eat as much grass as one cow, we really cannot let them all survive.

The horizon has many plumes of smoke rising up today.   The weather is dry and the burning of the ling (heather) is well underway.   Heather is burnt in rotation each year to stimulate new growth.   It is the staple food of grouse which are plentiful on our moors.   They are quite a secretive bird and rarely seen as the heather is such a good camouflage - I have never tasted it but understand that the prevailing taste is of heather!

Tomorrow is the meteorological first day of Spring.   Call it that if you wish but I shall wait for March 21st - I may be old fashioned but that is my prerogative and it certainly doesn't feel the least like Spring outside. 

So I intend to stoke up the log burner and have a good read once I have read all your blogs and finished my ironing.   Sorry I didn't post yesterday but Blogger decided he would have a day off and refused to work for me.   He is back to normal today.

Saturday 27 February 2016

Early memories.

Sometimes I wonder just how accurate our memories are.   Funnily enough, the older I get, the more early memories seem to surface.   I think this happens to everyone - but to what degree are they accurate?   And why is it that we remember some things with what seems to be such clarity while other things have faded completely and only resurface after a jogging from someone else who shares the same memory?

For example, a few years ago I found out that a school friend with whom I had not had contact for fifty years, lived only about thirty miles away from where I live - and I also had her address.   So I wrote to her and we arranged to meet for lunch - and recognised one another immediately.  (forwarned is forarmed of course).   Needless to say, we reminisced - she remembered some things and I remembered others - but there were hardly any shared memories.   Things which had made enough impression on me to stick in the depths of my memory had passed her by - and vice versa.

So I have raked the corners of my mind to think of my earliest memories - perhaps you could do the same and we could all share them.

When I was about three I fell into the garden pond in my sister's garden.  A neighbour's daughter who was about eight years old was playing with me and she ran and got my sister and I was pulled out.   That night the pond was filled in.  Possibly my earliest memory I think.

I started school when I was just over four years old.  At the time I had a blue knitted teddy which I called 'Woolly'.   He came to bed with me every night.   One night when I looked for him he had gone and my mother said that now I was a big girl at school I didn't need him any more and she had given him to a neighbour's baby to play with. (when I think that my son, who is well into his fifties, still has the toys he used to line up in his bed at night, I suppose I should have been devastated - but I wasn't and seem to have accepted it.  )

Another very early memory is of seeing an airship go over our house very low in the sky.   I was always told it was the Hindenberg shortly before it crashed, but I have never looked into it - just presume it was either that or the R101.

Just three early memories from my store.  Have you any from your store?

**I should add that my son has the toys in a box in the loft - not still lined up along the foot of his bed every night!!


Friday 26 February 2016


Our friend and neighbour A has got a 'thing' about moles.   They are a serious threat to meadow land as it is bad at silaging time for the soil of molehills to get into the silage bales - and this is really unavoidable.
He seems to spend a lot of his time mole-hunting and his latest idea is tempting them with marshmallows - apparently they love them and can't resist them.   So he is out popping them into mole runs.   How many he is eating for himself on these forays he doesn't let on!

Market day - coffee day when we all meet at 9.30am in a local cafe - must get ready to go.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Important Date

Tuesday March 1st is, of course, St David's Day.   But it is also an important day for my particular farmer, who is  very tidy-minded and likes to keep everything shipshape around the place.   One of the things he gets annoyed about are untidy hedges.   Some of our fields are enclosed with the traditional Dales stone walls, some have 'cams' (as they are called up here) of hawthorne bushes which have grown together to form almost a thicket, and some have mixed hedgerows - sloe, holly, beech, hawthorne, maple - a lovely variety of things which make for a pretty hedge.

All hedge-cutting has to be completed by law before March 1st.   This is because after this date it may disturb nesting birds - and indeed we do have a splendid variety of birds which nest in our hedges - blackbirds by the score, and yellowhammers to name but two which nest here every year.

This year, as you know, has been one of the wettest on record and as the year has gone by the farmer has got more and more worried that his hedges would not get cut in time.   

Well, this week the weather has been sunny, frosty and perfect for the job.   And, true to form, our trusty hedge-cutting man, Mike, arrived with a helper yesterday and by the end of the afternoon all our hedges were looking very smart.   There are still a few briars, which the farmer will go round and cut off, but other than that all is shipshape.

In addition, for the last two days, the cows in for the Winter have been cleaned out and bedded down with fresh straw.   The 'muck' has been led to a heap in the field to spread when it has matured a bit more.

All  is neat again.   There is just one fly in the ointment.   About six months ago the farmer backed into a wall  on his cousin's farm and made a large dent in the back bumper and cracked the back light.  This afternoon, I have to report that I did exactly the same on the other side - this time on our calf-house just outside the back door.   I suppose the only good thing is that we had not taken the car in for the first bump to be repaired - so now we have to book it in for a new bumper and new lights - if we had had it done after the first bump  it would have been another new bumper - so perhaps that is a tiny glimmer of pleasure to be had from the whole affair.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Tidy but not too tidy please.

What actually constitutes tidiness?   Sometimes our lane can look a positive mess.   At present it is closed for the putting in of a new gas main, and it can only be used by the residents (very few).   But we are a tidy lot and the only mess is the unavoidable mess of the grass verges being dug up - and the gas men are doing their level best to keep this to a minimum.

But usually, when it is open to through traffic there is a lot of rubbish lying around - empty cigarette packets, beer cans, empty fast food boxes - presumably thrown from passing car windows.   And worst of all, plastic carrier bags and scraps of plastic, which tend to snag on bushes and hedges and flap about in the wind.

When my bad ankle is up to the walk, I sometimes don rubber gloves and wander up the road with a bag to pick up the litter.   I only do it for a short way - but anything is better than nothing.

However, we all see tidiness in a different way don't we?   Weeds are a case in point.   Our lane has a border of - first dandelions, then cow parsley, then meadow-sweet.   The hedges are swathed in wild honey-suckle and then in blackberry blossom.   In March there is sloe blossom and wild plum blossom too.   And amongst all this there is also ragged robin, the odd orchid, pink campion and one or two patches of cowslips.   'Weeds' abound in other words.   And so many people view weeds in a negative way.

Of course we don't like them in our flower gardens but the men with spray guns do tend to go round and spray indiscriminately.   I was reminded of this today when reading about John Constable and his painting of 'The Cornfield'.   He was living in London at the time he painted it, and most of the wild flowers which might have grown there left to their own devices, had disappeared.

There was a local botanist called Henry Phillips and he obliged Constable by sending him a list of the wild flowers growing around his home in Flatford.  "all the tall grasses are in flower, bogrush, bulrush, teasel.  The white bindweed hangs its flowers over the hedge, wild carrot and hemlock flowers in banks of hedges and the  rose-coloured pesicaria in wet ditches is very pretty.  He goes on - ragged robin, mallow, thistle.........

Tidiness can become 'mad tidiness' as Ronald Blythe says (which is where I got the information about Constable).   Many of our field margins have been mown so that the wild flowers have all but disappeared and the same goes for many of the grass verges alongside the roads.   It is lovely to see that on some of our motorways efforts have been made to reintroduce plants like cowslips, which in many cases have colonised whole banks on the roadside.

A weed is a plant that is unwanted in the garden, not in the countryside.  I would be sorry to see the thousands of dandelions which line the road from here to our little market town sprayed into extinction.   I look forward to them every year.  But I always hope that they are not decorated by the addition of rubbish which can so easily be put into a rubbish bin by any thinking person with an ounce of soul.

Monday 22 February 2016

The sun!!!

All day the sun has been shining with all its might.   Not just a pale, watery sun such as we have caught a glimpse of now and again through the winter months, but a strong, bright sun.   Our kitchen windows are large and they both face due West, so you can imagine that getting the tea tonight was quite difficult.   The sun dazzled, and to make matters worse my specs have reactolight lenses, so that they went permanently into sunspecs mode.  This meant that when I carried the tea tray into the back room by the woodburner, where we always have afternoon tea, where the window faces due North,
I couldn't see there either.

I feel thoroughly ashamed to be complaining about the glorious sun.  I think it is because we are so unused to seeing it.

So welcome sunshine - a herald of Spring (we hope).

Sunday 21 February 2016

Out to lunch - again!

Regular readers of my posts will know that I seem to be out for lunch more often than I stay home; some weeks that is indeed true.
Today we were intending to stay home.   Having been to M and S on Thursday with friend W - and having bought some rather tempting foods - I thought we would stay home and have chicken kiev for lunch.   That is until I got it out of the freezer only to find that I had mis-read the label and it was indeed vegetarian kiev.   I love vegetarian food but the farmer is not too keen.  So when I suggested that I should treat him out to lunch, he perked up considerably.

Fifteen miles up the dale in absolutely awful weather - strong winds and rain - to our friend's cafe, The Pantry'.   The farmer had roast pork, apple sauce, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots and red cabbage.   I had a half portion of roast lamb, mint sauce and the same vegetables only in smaller quantities.   We have driven home at the side of ever-rising water in the River Ure.   One lady who came in to the cafe said that they had had to turn back and find another way in as the road was flooded (always a risk up there in wet weather).   We got home safely without seeing too much water.

It was far too windy and wet to get out and take photographs and we were in a line of traffic the whole way, so the three photographs I took give you only a taste of a rising river.   The one where there is obvious speed, shown by the blurred image of the bridge, is in fact one of the feeder becks and one of the reasons why the River Ure rises and floods so quickly.

Home again now.   Tess was pleased to see us and now sits on the bottom step in the Hall, next to me on the computer.   Am now going to sit by the woodburner, suitably full after that delicious lunch.

Friday 19 February 2016

Wintry journey.

It was quite a wintry journey to Kirby Lonsdale with friend W today, but I must say that a spot of expert driving took us there in no time.

These were two photographs I took as we were driving along.   The first one, of course, is of the Ribblehead Viaduct and the second one is just to show that we were not far below the snow-line.

As we came down into the Trough of Bowland it was an altogether different kind of day.

Avanti, the restaurant we always go to, was as good as ever (seafood pasta for me, chicken ciabatta for W), the company was lovely and we had a super day out, as we always do.

I never gave it a thought until I got home, but when the farmer came in he complained loud and long about the smell of garlic as soon as I came through the door!

Thursday 18 February 2016

Another busy day.

My posts have been a bit haphazard this week as I have been very busy.   Today is 'hair day' (very important for people with unruly hair like me).  But this afternoon a friend suggested that we went over to Teesside Park shopping centre to a large Marks and Spencer - and I never turn down an offer like that, especially as tomorrow we are going to KirbyLonsdale to meet our friends (weather permitting as it means going over the wa tershed of the Pennines).

But my real 'busy' time has come about because a friend asked me if I would edit some written material for him.   It has been like being back in teaching again and I have really enjoyed doing it - going through the stuff line by line and suggesting alternatives etc.
I am still only half way through the project, but as the weather forecast is for the weather getting worse over the week-end then I might get the project finished.

Back home now, the dishwasher emptied, the dog and cats fed, all the food I bought put away either in the fridge or in the freezer - so now ready to sit down and put my feet up.   Nighty=night.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Normal curve of distribution.

There was a really interesting article in yesterday's Times, and in the light of what Rachel and I had to say about education and how there is now such a shortage of skilled tradesmen, it was so pertinent.   Sadly I forgot to keep it (the Times makes good fire lighters).

It was written by an ex-headmaster and he was talking about how the emphasis had changed in examinations.

When I did my training - early in the 1960s - great emphasis was placed on the normal curve of distribution in marking techniques.
The chap in yesterday's article argued that this was no longer the case, that teachers on the whole had stopped teaching the wideness of a subject and were concentrating on teaching answer techniques to questions which might come up on the exam paper.   This was often making the curve skewed.

It is sad that this has happened.   It reminded me of Gradgrind in the Dicken's novel.   Facts, facts, facts - what has happened to the discussion, the experimenting, the creative learning techniques?
I don't think it is just at  Secondary level necessarily.   I have a friend who used to be a Primary Headteacher and she talks of wonderful projects children used to do.   The one which made an impression on me was a project they did on the Vikings.   I wonder how much time Primary school children have to spend on such things these days.   Schools used to be able to incorporate maths, english, arts and crafts - the lot all in one project.   Is there still time for this in Primary schools or have Ofsted visits overtaken this in importance?   Is there a mum or a teacher out there who can answer this question for us?

Tuesday 16 February 2016

A Good Start to the Day

Now that it is beginning to get light a little earlier my pleasure at the start of the day has suddenly increased, as it does every year.  I sit up in bed, the curtains drawn back, drinking my morning cup of tea (which the farmer has brought me every single morning in the twenty two years we have been married) and wait for the first signs.   Still the weather has to be fairly cloudless for it to be light enough, but this week because it is frosty and sunny each day, the sky has been clear.

And suddenly they come - the rooks.   They come in their thousands from the rookery half a mile down the road, calling importantly to one another as they pass over and in front of the house on the way to their feeding grounds in the fields up the dale.   It takes them half an hour to pass.

This morning I had another sight to thrill at the same time.  There is a post holding the telephone wires between our house and next door's and throughout the time the rooks were passing, a barn owl sat on the post watching them.   As they finished going past, it lifted its great wings and glided off nonchalantly across the fields.

The birds at the bird table - the spotted woodpeckers,  the various tits, the robin, the blackbirds, the hedge, tree and house sparrows, the pheasants, the jackdaw and the wood pigeons - suddenly seemed quite tame by comparison.

I have to make the most of it.   In a couple of weeks it will be light enough for them to be past before the curtains are open.   They are early risers.

Monday 15 February 2016


The poet said the April is the cruelest month, but I would argue with that and say that I think February takes that title.   At the end of January it is easy to think that Spring is almost here.   The snowdrops are out, the aconites are out and a few primroses in sheltered spots.   Then along comes February even more cruel than usual this year with that extra day.

Today there has been snow.   Not a lot but accompanied by a North East wind which has made it feel bitterly cold.   The sun has shone throughout the day and by late afternoon the snow had largely disappeared apart from in sheltered spots where the sun couldn't get. 

Now, in early evening, the moon is shining and there is a hard frost.   I have not ventured out.   I live in fear of falling on the ice, but apart from  that I had lots to do. 

Monday is almost always my day for staying at home.   As friend G remarked recently, I am a creature of habit.  Monday is the day I do the week's washing and ironing and put it up on the airer over the Aga.

Late morning a friend called.   He has written a commentary to accompany a book of his etchings (he is one of the foremost etchers in the country) and has kindly asked me to edit it for him.   I look forward to doing this greatly - food for the mind.

I made a start this afternoon and am now going to look through it and check the metre and the rhyming scheme.

We are all shut up for the evening.   The hens are in.   The farm cats have been fed and hopefully are in the barn with the hay, where they should be snug and warm in spite of the outside temperature.   Sometimes the farmer sees them still asleep early in the morning, and they sleep wrapped around one another.  I can't bear to think what will happen when one of them goes (they are about eleven years old) - the other one will be bereft;  they have been together since they came to us at six weeks old (from a farm down the road which had just too many semi-wild cats).  They are both excellent at catching rats, mice and especially baby rabbits.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Valentine's Day

It is a lovely morning here - cold with a sharp wind blowing, but bright and sunny.   As the farmer drew back the bedroom curtains at ten minutes past seven (Sunday is the day when he has a 'lie-in') a barn owl swooped past the window.   Sadly I didn't see it but we do know it lives in one of our barns.

And true to the old adage about St Valentine's day being the day when the birds choose their mates for the year, as I stood at the sink I saw Mr and Mrs Sparrow busily chucking bits out of a nest box in readiness for their new nest this year.   So in spite of there being snow on our moor and on Penn Hill it is reassuring to know that Spring really is getting  close to the corner.

Saturday 13 February 2016

Out for lunch.

The farmer has gone walking with the Wensleydale Society today.  He had hardly left the house when there was a snowstorm which lasted an hour, but didn't settle.

W and I decided to go to Masham, about ten miles away, to a cafe called Johnny Baghdad's.    Although only small it was packed and the smells emanating from the door were delicious.

They serve a variety of Middle Easter food with overtones of European and Far Eastern touches.   W had Thai cakes with chick peas, salsa and salad and I had Spanish omelette with black olives and salad, also served with a salsa.   The food was delicious and very cheap( £15 for the two of us) and heavily laced with garlic as the farmer discovered the moment he came back through the kitchen door after his walk.

By the time we got to Masham the sun was shining and it was a pleasant, tho' cold day.   But as the seats in W's fourtrack are heated it was beautifully warm in there.

Now we are both home, Tess has been taken for her walk and the farmer is lighting the wood burner.   A snug, cosy night is called for, garlic or no garlic.

Thursday 11 February 2016


As I get older nostalgia kicks in.   I think it probably happens to us all, and of course we do tend to miss out the unpleasant bits and perhaps embroider the good bits.  That is unless something really unpleasant happened to us during childhood, when it is a different matter.

I was reading about the death of an old man in Suffolk yesterday.  He was well into his nineties and he had been a Wheelwright.   Now that is a trade which was once so important in the farming world and has now more or less died out except for the one or two who still remain working in farming museums etc.

I suppose the advent of the tractor sounded the beginning of its death knell.   The farmer has an old Fergie (in fact he has got two or three but only one which is complete and actually working - he pushes the muck out into the midden with it every morning.)   But his 'best' tractor is only three years old.   It has two seats (so the little boy next door can have rides in it quite happily), a radio, a heater - in fact luxury.

But as for wheelwrights - no need for them at all.

I remember one particulary with affection.  I may have got the facts wrong, because I am speaking of seventy odd years ago, but I dearly loved his yard.

He had his workshop in the village of East Markham in The Dukeries of Nottinghamshire, where my Aunt Kate lived.   I used to go along with my Dad to visit him when we were at my Aunt's - I suspect my Dad dearly loved that yard too.   It was littered with old wheels, shafts, piles of wood and the odd carthorse wandering about in what was really a sort of paddock.

There was always a smell of wood and of paint.   The wheelwright I read about lived in Suffolk, where traditionally carts had blue bodies and Venetian and Chinese red wheels.    I don't know whether these colours were nationwide or whether each county had its own colour scheme - I suspect the latter.

And it was on top of a load of hay in one of his carts that I saw the Flying Scotsman go hurtling past on the London to Scotland line.

The Flying Scotsman is in the News again this week' having been restored it is about to make a historic journey from London again to the railway museum in York.  Some things never change.

Wednesday 10 February 2016


I am posting early today as I have a busy day.   As part of my campaign (suggested by my physio) to lose a stone in weight in order to give my bad ankle a little less weight to support, I have cut out all sweet things and am using far more vegetables in my cooking.   So there is sweet potato and carrot soup to make and red peppers to stuff for lunch.    Then I have my exercise class at 1.30 this afternoon, followed by a visit to the optician for my new specs which are ready for collection (and very expensive too) and then a visit to the Medical Practice to organise a long appointment for my annual check-up (suggested by them I feel fine and would not have bothered otherwise.)

But following on from yesterday's post about jobs and 'horses for courses' I wonder how many of you in the UK watched the programme the night before last about the sheep farmer husband and wife on the Raby Estates in Weardale.

Weardale, for readers from further afield, is North of here and for North read 'higher', 'bleaker', 'less populated' and a jolly sight colder for much of the year.   

Here a husband and wife, tenant farmers with three children (two girls and a boy all under twelve) keep Swaledale sheep and a few beef cattle.   And by golly do they work hard.   They make a living - that is all that can be said.   No great profits, just solid work seven days a week trying to breed the best Swaledale sheep so that farmers will be willing to pay more for sheep from their flock in order to improve their own flocks.

Their children, all of whom looked exceedingly healthy, and all of whom had witnessed birth and death and 'tupping' from an early age were so well-spoken and knowledgeable.   The little boy's description of how the tups are put to the ewes in early Autumn and how this produces lambs in late Spring was a delight to hear.

We saw them all - father, mother and children - working tirelessly through lambing, moving the flocks up on to the moor, moving them back down later in the year.   We witnessed shearing, various medical treatments, difficult births, dead sheep - the lot.

And we witnessed a good social life.   The hub of the whole year was the annual show, where the farmer carried off a huge number of cups and where all the family met up with other farmers for a good natter.

We also saw the children in the local school.   I was so impressed with the level of language among these children.   They were able to chat freely and their wealth of vocabulary was amazing.

Such an upliting film.   Do get to watch it if you missed it and it is on again.

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Horses for courses.

You no doubt remember that our lane is closed to everyone but the six families who live on it - four of them farms, one haulage contractor and one an ordinary house.   The sign at the top of the lane says 'Residents Only'.

It is closed for the simple reason that they are putting in a new gas main.   Today they reached - and passed - our farm.   There are still huge piles of soil on the sides of the road, waiting to fill in the trench once the soil has sunk.   But to all intents and purposes it is now clear as far as our gate.

The men who are doing the job - three of them with an assortment of diggers, wheelbarrows, pipes, welding equipment and various other machines which are a mystery to me - have worked seven days a week, the weather has been awful - strong winds and an awful lot of heavy rain- but they have systematically worked through it all.

They have been courteous, helpful, pleasant - I can't fault them and I now intend to write to the Gas Board to tell them so.

It is easy to think of manual workers as somehow less intelligent than those working in offices, financial institutions, the arts and the like.   This is ridiculous and I came across an interesting quote today which summed it up so well.

Rider Haggard  once spoke of the big landowners and the men they employed in huge numbers in those days to do the manual jobs on their land.   He criticised anyone who saw these men just as 'hands'
saying, "Let any one of those landowners try even the easiest task done by the hands, such as 'drawing a ditch' and I think they would change their views.

So well done to the three men working our lane.   I don't even know what much of the machinery you are using is called, let alone how to put in a gas pipe so that every house gets its gas supply without interruption.

Monday 8 February 2016


For the benefit of readers in the US, I would point out that here in the UK we pay each year for the privilege of looking at the television by buying a BBC Television License.   I thought it was still £75 but now understand it has increased in price to something like £145.50.

Over the age of 75 we get it free.   Recently the BBC have suggested that those who can afford to pay this amount might like to forego their 'free' license and buy one, to increase the BBC's revenue.

Here are three reasons why I shall not be doing this:

1.   The salary of the Director General of the BBC appears to be
£450,000 a year.
2.   It was recently reported that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood had both had their salaries increased to £800,000 a year.
3.   The BBC is reported to recoup £50million each year for selling its Top Gear programme around the world.

These figures may not be correct.   Please correct me if I am wrong (I am sure somebody will) but doesn't it seem measley that the BBC are trying to get that little bit back off us to pay for such ridiculous amounts?


Sunday 7 February 2016



Saturday 6 February 2016

What if?

Reading this morning about Claude Monet it struck me just how many things in life are governed by that phrase.   In fact everything.
Throughout his life Monet would go now and then to visit his brother, who lived in Rouen.    Once when he went in February 1892, he stayed in a hotel which overlooked Rouen Cathedral and he sat at the window watching the daylight fade on the South West front and noticed how the light shifted from one place to another as it faded.  And that was enough to inspire his thirty amazing paintings of the cathedral showing the light at every hour, showing what atmosphere hourly does to stonework.

What if Monet had been given another room, one which didn't overlook the cathedral front?   Then his inspiration for the series would never had happened and we wouldn't be left with this wonderful set of impressionist paintings - perhaps amongst the most famous that he ever did.

Claude Debussy came to England and stayed in a hotel at Eastbourne.   Listening to the sound of the sea inspired him to write La Mer.   That most French of composers writing a piece which most people think of as quintessentially  French, inspired by the English seashore.

What if he had not come to Eastbourne?   Would he still have written a piece about the sea, a piece which is amongst his most loved?

And of course we can come down to the more mundane.

'What ifs' really govern every aspect of our lives - from the moment of our conception onwards.    Of course with the famous and the gifted we can speculate and marvel at the coincidences that put the artist or composer in the right place at the right time - but maybe it is no less worthy of thought when it applies to our own lives and the paths they have taken.



Since Christmas we have had very few sunny days, but on Wednesday friend W went over into Swaledale, the dale North of our Dale, and on the way she stopped and took these two beautiful pictures.

So today I have invited her to guest my blog and publish them:  I hope they give everyone a taste of the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales and the promise of more sunny days to come.

Thursday 4 February 2016

White lines.

The farmer says that there is one good thing to come out of all the rain we have been having, and that is that it has really highlighted the wet spots on our land.  Today after several days of gales and little or no rain, the land has dried up a tiny bit so he has been out with his machinery tackling the worst spot.   This morning dug the hole and this afternoon laid the drainage pipe.   By tea time it was all done and dusted, digger away and hopefully the spot a little drier.

The new gas main creeps down our lane - now only a matter of yards from our entrance.   This afternoon, when I drove slowly up and past the workmen and equipment I noticed that on one side of the road there is a trench about six feet deep, where the new main is being laid.   It was not fenced off.   When I returned an hour later it was still open to the world (and with a good foot of water in the bottom) and the digger on the other side of the lane pulled over to let me through.   I found it quite scary as the width was only just enough and I kept expecting to end up with one side of wheels in the trench!

Reading the Times on my return I was interested to read yet another letter about the proposed trials to remove the white lines from the roads.   I find the whole idea a bit scary really and a letter writer today did make a good point in that the white line is a useful thing to follow on a foggy night.   But I am old enough to remember when winkers were first introduced and those fancy little markers which used to pop out the side of the car to indicate one was turning (or alternatively use a hand signal - hand straight out for turning right and hand and arm circled anti-clockwise to indicate turning left) were superseded by winkers.   There was a public outcry and people said there would be countless accidents and no good would come of it.   We do hate change, don't we?   Is the same true to white lines?

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Do you worry?

There is an interesting article in today's Yorkshire Post about what women carry about in their handbags.   I have just tipped mine out on to the table and I list the contents herewith:-
purse; cheque book; mobile phone; comb; diary; pen;spare hearing aid; tissues; bill to pay when I next go into town.   The writer of the article, Stephanie Smith, says that some folk say you can tell the state of a woman's mind by what she has in her handbag.

Some chap in America suggests that although you can tell the state of a woman's mind by what is in her handbag, perhaps a better strategy would be for her to make a diagram about her worries. So he did just that.  It makes interesting reading:
children - lunch, toys, room mess.  Worries about work.   House - state of cleanliness.  Personal - weight and looks.

No mention of health, which I found interesting.   Other than that I think we could all agree with most of it (with perhaps a question mark over weight and looks, which only applies to some of us).

Some of us worry more than others.   I used to be a terrible worrier but over the years I have learned to control it a little, but there are still worries.   Some of them - in fact most of them - fade a little after a couple of days.   But I think the health of all my loved ones - husband, son, grand children perhaps comes top of my list.  My oldest grandson is about to become a father for the first time (3 days overdue) and I shall be pleased when that is over and all is well. My own health - not so much.   Although having just booked a holiday which entails going through Amsterdam airport I am at present worrying about my mobility and the long walk to passport control.  Am I too proud to ask for a wheel chair?   Basically yes, but I think reason may have to take over and I might have to be sensible and give in.

As Stephanie Smith concludes, how lucky we are compared with others in the world, that we can waste time on such worries.  As John Lennon famously said, "Life  is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans."    And of course, knowing the outcome of his own life, nobody ever made a truer statement.

Tuesday 2 February 2016


Our lane is now closed to all but residents of the lane (5 families in its whole two mile length) for the next three months as they fit a new gas main down its entire length.   This has not meant a great disruption but there are stretches where one has to drive slowly on the grass verge as the road is taken up by fencing and machinery - and that verge is getting more muddy by the day.

But today even more disrupting was the fact that our friend and neighbour A found that his 'muck' tank was full to overflowing and so he hired the big machine to spread it on the fields - our fields as well as his own.   And slowly but surely the smell has permeated the whole house.   As his farm, and most of our fields, are all on the West side of the house and the gale is blowing in from the West, there is no respite.

But then I suppose that is what farming is all about isn't it?

Monday 1 February 2016

Down on the farm.

The Farmers' Guardian is one of the farmer's favourite papers and he reads it avidly each Friday.   I read some of the articles and find them fascinating.  His other vital reading matter is the Yorkshire Post, which he reads every evening from cover to cover.   On Saturdays there is a Country Week supplement and this week it has in it a surprising article, which I thought I would share with you.

I am often quite suspicious of 'National Surveys'.  I don't know who did this one and I don't know where it was done - I would presume it was probably done with city children (although I wouldn't bank on it).   But the results are shocking.

One in three children had never heard a cow 'moo' or a sheep 'baa'.
One in five didn't know which animal bacon came from; one in twenty thought cheese  was sourced from pigs; over a quarter didn't know that carrots grew underground - in fact nine percent thought they probably grew 'under bushes'.

In once read of someone standing in a check-out queue at the Supermarket behind a mother and child.   The mother told the child she had forgotten the potatoes and sent him to get some - he came back with a large frozen chips, which she accepted and carried on going through the check-out.

 I suppose that in this modern technological age this shouldn't be all that surprising, when children are so much more interested in their various 'gadgets' and many have no longer any contact with the countryside at all.   But it does seem a shame - does it matter?