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.