Monday 31 December 2018

The year is ending.

Celebrating New Year when one is alone  is no   fun.   Best to go to bed at the usual time and wake up to the new year.   It's only another day after all.
That seems to be the view which is not only mine but that of all my friends who are now living alone.    Doesn't mean that we are necessarily lonely or sad (although some of us might be).   I don't think there is anyone in the UK who will be sorry to say good-bye to 2018 (except perhaps some of those sad souls who have made it across the Channel in those horrendous boats and who. although they are 'in custody',  have at least  in their eyes made it here.)

The sunset tonight has been spectacular - not sure whether  that is a good or a bad omen.   'What will be will be' - but history will certainly not look upon 2018 as a successful year for the UK.   What happens in the next twelve months will possibly make the position clearer.   Surely it can't get any less clear.

I met a friend in town this afternoon by accident and we went into our usual cafe for a coffee.   It was heaving and the owner, who came to chat for a minute, said it had been heaving all day and that almost everyone had had a full English breakfast.   He suggested they were all lining their stomachs for a full night's drinking celebration.   So we just have to assume that most folk just carry on as normal.

Sunday 30 December 2018

The Year's End.

I suppose you could say that we have been lucky with the weather over the Christmas period - and it is set to be the same over New Year before the cold weather arrives.   Most of our Christmasses seem to fall into this bracket don't they?

Being a tidy soul (a bit of an understatement actually) I shall not be sorry to say 'good-bye ' to the old year.   Then I can take down the Christmas cards, read the many messages on them, enjoy them one by one and then DUST!

Not having to do much cooking for the first time in fifty years I did manage to cook a chicken and pigs in blankets and stuffing on Boxing morning for the buffet at my son's.   A big treat has been seeing my Grand-daughter and her husband and my Great Grand-daughter (aged 2) who stayed the night and 'took Tess for a walk' (a great event at the moment in the life of my Grand-daughter).

But this morning's gentle walk on our usual route means that things are more or less back to normal.   The dawn was exquisite, as it has been for the past few mornings.   I am sure that my camera would take a shot which showed the colour but I don't know how.   As it is it comes out as a pale imitation.

Time now for a shower and then off to our usual Sunday lunch - salmon again today I think.

Friday 28 December 2018

Posh fare

Friend W and I were tootling into town on the way to our usual Friday venue for lunch when suddenly W suggested we treat ourselves and instead of turning left at the traffic island we went straight on to the village of West Witton to The Wensleydale Heifer = a notable eating place in the Dales - for a posh version of fish a chips.

Although almost fully booked they managed to find room for us.  (and judging by the number of people there by the time we left we decided there was definitely plenty of money about up here, although of course, as everywhere, there are folk who can't afford this kind of food).

Perfect ambience, excellent service from friendly staff, delicious food (the Lobster Bisque was the best I have ever tasted) and a cheery atmosphere (lots of well-behaved children) made this a memorable meal.   We wouldn't do it every week, it would be too self-indulgent.    But a once a year treat at the end of the year set us up nicely.   Once I got home I slept all afternoon!

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Christmas Day

Tess and I went out to lunch with two other friends to friend W's - delicious down to the last mouthful. W took this photo of Tess ready and waiting to be called by Santa for a replacement reindeer (note the Christmas collar).

Monday 24 December 2018

Christmas eve.

Christmas eve and after a beautiful warm, sunny day there is now a beautiful moon and quite a sharp frost.   The price we pay I suppose, but well worth it.All is ready for the big day - for the first time in fifty years I have much less to do and am not actually responsible for any food unless I wish to be.   I have opted to cook the salmon, the chicken and stuffing and the pigs in blankets for my son's buffet on Boxing Day but everything is ready to take out of the fridge or freezer when I return from friend W's tomorrow tea time.

I did what I always do on Christmas eve - poured myself a glass of sherry and sat down and watched Carols from Kings - the start of Christmas for me.   My dear friend Jean, who has been dead many years, used to spend Christmas with the farmer and me (and her daughter, who is my God-daughter) and together we always watched it.

There is something magical about Christmas eve when it gets to this time (11pm) whether one is a believer or not.  When I was drawing the curtains at around half past four this afternoon Father Christmas, in full, authentic regalia, came walking up the road opposite.   Where he had come from and where he was going I have no idea but I did wish I had had my camera handy.

Whatever you intend doing this Christmas enjoy every moment of it.   I shall not put a post on now for a couple of days as I shall be too busy - but Happy Christmas to everyone.


Sunday 23 December 2018

Once a year.

'Christmas comes but once a year,
and when it comes it brings good cheer.'

Can't help feeling that once a year is enough, don't know about you.  Our little market town is usually quiet on a Sunday, especially in Winter.   But when I drove through today to get petrol the town was heaving = there was an extra market - Christmas trees and holly wreaths, fish, fruit and vegetables, all manner of possible presents.

All the cafes were open and appeared to be doing a good trade and there was even the stall selling hot beef rolls (and there was a good smell .)

Tomorrow there will be frenzy of folk collecting their poultry which they ordered weeks ago - I shall try to go in as early as possible.   Then the rest of the day will be free to spend doing this and that and Tess will get several pleasant walks as the sun is forecast to shine.

Christmas Day I am spending with three friends and Boxing Day with family.   For the first time for many, many years I am not doing the catering.
I think my family think I am past it now - and they are most likely right.    I am rather looking forward to January 2nd.   Don't know about you.

Friday 21 December 2018

Christmas cards.

I get such pleasure from receiving cards at Christmas.   Something to do, I think, with living in seven different places and making friends in each one.  My first husband and I were heavily involved in Early Music and played in a Group - harpsichord (virginals, which I played), recorders, crumhorns and the like.   It took up most of our spare time either practising or playing in concerts and I still have a lot of friends from those days who are only in contact at Christmas.   Sadly the list gets smaller as each year one or two die but I still look forward to hearing from those still going strong even though all the early instruments have been sold for well over twenty years as we moved North and my first husband returned to his first love - painting. 

 Painting meant that he met and got friendly with yet another group with another interest - and so another lot of cards is exchanged. 

Add to that all the old school friends, all the friends from  our teaching days, all my dear farmer's farming and Auction Mart friends, all the friends I have made living here in what is a very friendly village, my family - you will see that I am running out of space to put the cards.   But how good it is to receive them and to read maybe a couple of lines about how things are with them.   Keep up to date, revive old memories (some of them almost eighty years old!) and bring to bear the real spirit of Christmas.

Happy Christmas to you all.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Grey day

A very grey, very wet day here today.  Mood swings are inevitable I am afraid.

The Jeremy Corbyn 'stupid woman' / 'stupid people' row which has broken out today in the House of Commons is just another nail in the coffin of common sense whatever the truth.   I, in common with a large majority of the population of this country I suspect, am heartily sick and tired of the whole thing.    The millions of words that have been wasted - not to speak of the money that has been spent - while crises in areas like the NHS, education, universal credit, wait for answers.

 Future generations will look back on this time in the governing of our country as either a farce or a disaster, depending on one's point of view.   Now, today, Brexit has been driven from being the News
Headlines by a drone disrupting flights at Gatwick and other airports - a problem, according to a chap I heard speaking on the news this evening - which has been gathering probability for some months and was forseen.   All we need now is leaves on the railway lines and it will truly be Christmas.

Wednesday 19 December 2018


What a difference a day makes.   Yesterday was grey and dismal - as was my mood.   Today it is warm, the sun has shone all day and I am pleased to say that my mood has lightened.   Friend S called and took Tess for her afternoon walk.   I walked with them for a short while and when they walked off Tess never gave me a backward glance.  Nothing beats a walk - she would sell her soul for one.

I walked back home alone, put on the coffee for their return and browsed through a book on slow cooking which I couldn't resist buying and now intend to start using - my slow cooker has not been used much over the Summer .   Yesterday in The Times the long range weather forecast suggests that conditions are building up in the Arctic similar to the way things went last year so that we could be in for 'The Beast from the East' again early in the New Year.   I shall fill my deep freeze just in case.

Various flashing lights around continue to drive me mad so I pull the curtains early to shut them out.   Might seem a bit Scrooge-like to you but really they are so distracting.   I am beginning to feel a bit Christmassy.   Friend S brought me a jolly Santa to wear on my Christmas jumper - I will photograph it to show you tomorrow and will wear it when I go out to lunch on Christmas Day.
I shall now go and toast my Crumpets.   Make of that what you will John, Tom and Cro!

Monday 17 December 2018


Just sometimes these days I am on the verge of losing my confidence.   It surprises me when it attacks because I have always been full of confidence but nevertheless it happens.

My mobility is not brilliant because of arthritis in my ankles, although luckily they are not particularly painful.   My balance is not good enough to walk without a stick.   I don;t hear well but have hearing aids for both ears which make my hearing perfectly adequate.   Other than that I am fine.   But some mornings I wake and wonder whether I can rustle up the energy to get going and get on with life.   I have a loving family and some very good, loving friends but, when the chips are down you are on your own.

The answer I suppose is to go into Sheltered Accommodation.   But I always think of that as 'the beginning of the end' and have no intention of doing that until I really have to - if at all.   Days like today - when I feel like this - are luckily few and far between - today's brought on by lots of jobs in town this morning, a heavy bag to carry, no space in the Market Square so a further walk into the Car Park added to a general feeling of lassitude.

A good night's sleep,theuite company of friends tomorrow and I shall be back to normal.    Now it is time for a walk with Tess before it gets dark - another thing that keeps me going.   Warmer day today so  quite pleasant for walking.   See you tomorrow.

Sunday 16 December 2018


I live on the top road on my estate and our bungalows are on a bit of a rise, consequently our windows look out over the whole estate,   This is particularly true of mine as I have waste ground opposite.   One by one the windows I look out on are becoming full of twinkling, flashing Christmas lights.   Of course they are not in any way synchronised and looking at them for any length of time is very tiring, so I tend to draw the curtains
and shut them out.

The other thing about them which I don't find pleasing is that the majority of them are electric blue.   Since when was this colour seen as 'Christmassy'?   I really have no desire, should I decide to stay up on Christmas Eve, to see Santa's sleigh go past festooned in blue.   So, if you or one of your elves is reading this then please can we stick to the traditional red, green and gold?   If ever someone breeds a holly with blue berries then I will take it on board.

Saturday 15 December 2018


'Black ice'. 'worst road conditions since early 1990's ', 'busiest day of the year'   This is a pretty awful combination but it came from the lips of this morning's weather forecaster.   It is now twelve minutes past three, it is dark enough to draw the blinds and put up the central heating switch a notch and as the rain falls on the window it is freezing, so one must assume it is doing the same when it hits the ground.  I am glad that my hospital appointment was yesterday.

Yorkshire people have a reputation for being very canny with their money so I don't expect much excessive spending up here although the shops are full of very tempting things to buy.   If I get an opportunity next week I will go round a few of the shop windows in the town and show you the decorations.   They are always worth looking at.

Am I decorating the bungalow?   I don't have a lot of inclination to do so - December is not a happy month - this is my second Christmas without the farmer - but I am not alone.   I read Sue's blog and am always inspired by the way she keeps going.  I have electric candles in the kitchen window, a Happy Christmas sign in the hall, two small trees in the sitting room, scented candles and lots of Christmas cards dotted around - and that's it.  I  may add a wreath to the front door but I have just had a lantern fitted to the side and that looks rather Christmassy so maybe not.

Friday 14 December 2018

A Day Out

Lovely day here today, sunny and bright but with snow forecast for tomorrow as a cold front and a warm front meet.   Isn't it odd how we begin to talk about the weather in technical terms?  The snow is forecast to go after one day but then it is set to get colder again.   I think I shall stop looking at the forecast.   Whatever the weather we have to take what comes so we might just as well grin and bear it.

I had to go today to The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough for a UNeck Scan.   It was a long way (almost fifty miles) to go for something that took all of five minutes.   But my son very kindly took me and we had a lovely day out.   We were there early enough to have a coffee and cake in the Costa cafe before I had to go to Radiology and after we came out we stopped in the pretty little town of Yarm for a bit of lunch.   My son is vegetarian and has been for the last forty odd years and the cafe we found made him a veggie sausage bun, which he enjoyed.   I had veggie too - a jacket potato stuffed with garlic mushrooms and served with a salad.   A cup of coffee each and we were off home.   Taking a wrong turning meant that we had a lovely ride through very pretty, empty scenery - ploughed fields, neat hedges,the odd field of sheep - until we suddenly recogised where we were and resumed our way home.

Tess was so pleased to see me and we had a stroll before it got dark - a stroll as the sun set and the sky gradually lost its red glow.   Now, central heating turned back up, tea over, a snug evening is called for for both of us.

Thursday 13 December 2018


I am spending Christmas Day with three friends and we are sharing the cost of the food.   So today, after my hair appointment, friend W and I made the trip to Northallerton to a food M and S to stock up on things we needed for the Christmas feast.   What lovely food the M and S stores have and how tempting.

It wasn't a case of searching for what food to buy, rather a case of rejecting things which, although tempting, were going to be superfluous to our needs on the big day.   One thing I did buy was a box of Medjoul dates so that I could make a salad I had in a restaurant the other day and which was absolutely delicious and so easy to make:
a bed of mixed leaves scattered with sliced (lengthways) dates, pecan nuts and crumbled feta and dressed with a light French dressing. Try it, it is absolutely delicious and so refreshing after so much rich food.

On our way back from Northallerton we called at a farm shop for a light lunch - Pannini filled with sliced hot sausage, stuffing and streaky bacon and served with a sliced jacket potato (piping hot and browned under the grill) and a light salad.   Delicious.  (that's my menu description for today Thelma).

For various reasons I am feeling rather fragile at the moment so a day out - even if it was shopping - was a very enjoyable day.   My Petpals lady, who walks Tess a couple of days a week, is not well at the moment but her assistant does it for her and soon after  my return Tess went off on her jaunt and has just come back full of the joys of Spring (or maybe Christmas).   So let's cheer up everyone - only another ten days to the shortest day.   It can#t come soon enough for me.   I hate the dark nights, especially without the wood burner I had at the farm.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Farce or what?

What is going on?   How must we look to the rest of the world?   Well it seems to me that everyone is going about their daily business - planning, making lists, spending more money than they have, running up credit card bills, wrapping presents, going to works' parties and society dinners,  eating and drinking far too much already and hiding the scales.   Yes, it's Christmas - just in case you didn't know it or had momentarily forgotten with the Westminster shambles - and nothing takes precedence.

I don't know the outcome of the vote in Westminster yet.   It is 9.34 and I shall switch on the ten o'clock news to find out.   There may well be someone better suited to fight our corner in Europe, but as someone who is no longer particularly interested in Politics, all I can say at this stage is I do not like the idea of vultures circling around a body, waiting for a chance to strike.   And that is how it seems to me.

It has been a dull, grey, dismal day here - as befits what seems to be going on in the country.   Maybe Christmas is just what we need to brighten things up after all.


Tuesday 11 December 2018


A dismal shade of grey has descended over the landscape of Wensleydale today.   First thing in the morning sunshine was promised but it quickly gave way to this and even the town's Christmassy windows failed to dispel the gloom.   Our morning coffee was enjoyable for the companionship and the familiarity and the taste of the coffee (or in one case hot chocolate) rather than the scene outside the window.    I arrived home to find a card from Australian friends with their address on the envelope so I dashed off a card and letter and went back into town hoping I had caught the 'post by' date (missed it by one day so hope it still gets there).   I love receiving cards = and sending them = now they really do cheer things up.

It is the last episode of 'Mrs Wilson' tonight - what a fascinating tale it has been, especially as it is based on a true story and the leading actress is in fact the grand-daughter of the woman involved.  It did set me thinking - have there been instances of women being bigamists?  All the ones I have ever heard of have been men, but it would be interesting to know the answer to my question.

Three seventeen here and almost dark.   I shall finish now and take Tess for her last walk of the day.   That will be three walks for me - selfishly - that has done me a lot of good.   Giles Coren in The Times today slates dog owners and says  'if you feel the need to own a living thing get a b***** fish.'    All I can say is that he should try it and then he might well change his mind.

Monday 10 December 2018


Yesterday was a day of pure unbroken sunshine; today started like that but as the day has progressed the cloud has increased and now, as the light goes, it is cloudy.   Luckily Tess and I managed two walks today in the sunshine.   I intended to take her for a third walk but friend E called for an hour and by the time she had gone it was dark.

With Christmas I have got to the stage of a longish list of things yet to do.   One by one the things are getting crossed off and that gives me a feeling of satisfaction.   Today, when my cleaning lady left I nipped up to Tesco to buy ready-to-roll marzipan (yes, I know it is lazy, I admit to it) for a cake for my son.   I am happy to have mine un-iced.   Also to buy a gift token for another present.   The list gets shorter by the day - just how I like it.

Christmas is not the same without the farmer - and, of course, never will be again.   But we soldier on and try to keep cheerful (and succeed most of the time).   Tess is a great help even though she doesn't of course know it is Christmas.
(Well at least not until a slice of turkey appears in her food bowl).

Friends help tremendously - what would we do without them?   As I said a few minutes ago in answer to Rachel's blogpost - they have helped me through some tough times over the last couple of years and that goes for my blogging friends as well as those near enough to knock on my door.
So thank you all.   I hope your Christmas plans are going well and that you all have a good Christmas.   And, Rachel, get packing that case or if I remember it may well be a rucksack.

Saturday 8 December 2018

Troubled times.

The News is now full of the riots in Paris, and to a lesser extent in other French cities I believe.  What is it that makes the French so much more 'passionate' about their politics than we are?   We might spend a lot of time moaning about issues like Brexit (who coined that word and hasn't it become irritating?) and an additional tax on fuel or some such issue.   But we do little or nothing about it other than moan.   We settle into some sort of complacency which spreads around and damps everything down.

Please don't think I wish it to be otherwise.   What is happening in France is terrible - people are suffering - often innocent people.   I believe the tax which sparked the riot in the first place has now been withdrawn, but now that things have started it seems difficult for it to stop.

Add to this the awful, dismal, damp weather, the long nights, the short, often dark days (my father always called the next two or three weeks 'the dark days before Christmas) and really nothing seems to be right anywhere in the world.   I expect it will pass, as everything does, but at what cost - mentally, physically and in terms of the cost, which will I expect run into millions.

.I looked at Tess a short time ago.   Had her tea, had her 'wee and poo' walk, nestled in her basket by the radiator, settling down for yet another sleep and not a care in the world - and I couldn't help thinking ' would that it were like that for us all' -
dangerous thinking I suppose.

Still, tomorrow is another day and sun is forecast even if it is accompanied by gales and turning much colder.   At least my patio will dry - it has been wet and covered in wet leaves for the past month.

Thursday 6 December 2018


On and off the sun keeps putting in an appearance today, rather like somebody fiddling with the light switch.   But every brief appearance is welcome after a few wet, foggy and gloomy days.

Having visitors - even such expected and loved ones as the two who have now gone - is a mixed blessing.   I so look forward to them coming.   I enjoy every moment they are here (so does Tess as she gets longer walks) and after a couple of days they go, leaving a void which gets less and less as the days pass. 

But I always over-cater and this is true of everyone who comes to stay.   They go and I am left with a fridge full of food.    This morning I have frozen everything which is freezable and within date - smoked haddock, chocolate puddings, bread, milk.   The rest I have just piled on to a plate - olives, grapes, coleslaw, Florida salad, maple beetroot, pate, brie - that was my lunch.
Now I am going to the physiotherapist for my regular manipulation and when I return it will be to make tomato and onion soup for tea.   Then the cupboard will be bare again.

Tuesday 4 December 2018


Nice morning coffee with friends in town.   Then it was home again and shortly afterwards friend S, who usually takes Tess for a walk on Wednesdays, called to say could she take her today instead as it was such a lovely day.   Off they went, T went too as his volunteer work today was not needed.   They walked Tess round the reservoir - off the lead - and she adored it.   Plenty of sniffs, wees and a couple of poos (too much info I suspect) later and they were back home for a cup of coffee.
In the meantime I had been out to lunch on our Tuesday fortnightly jaunt.   Today it was roast ham and pineapple with jacket potatoes followed by
ginger pudding and custard, a mince pie and coffee.

Since then I have packed a parcel, paid a bill, written this post, read posts on my side bar and now am ready to sit down and relax.   Until tomorrow.

Monday 3 December 2018

Back to normal.

My visitors have gone now - it was lovely to have them here.   They are like family and so no trouble.   In addition D takes Tess on many of her walks and she loves that as he goes quicker and further than I do.  Occasionally P goes too but he has an aversion to poo so objects to collectin the stuff in poo bags and disposing of it in the bins provided!

The shepherd's pie was delicious.  I have of course made one hundreds of times over the years but I ran a recipe off the internet and followed it to the letter  and it was somehow slightly different.   There were additions of tomato paste,  Worcester sauce, a drop of sherry and some beef stock to the original minced lamb and it was certainly tasty.

The bedding and the towels are washed, have been through the drier, have been ironed and are on the airer ready to be back on the beds tomorrow - that's how I like it. Ukuleles this afternoon - Christmas music for fun - a nice relaxation after a busy weekend and now completely back to my normal life tomorrow - always good however much you enjoy the change.

Friday 30 November 2018

Not for softies.

Old age of course I am talking about.   When a really nice young man from the Co-op  kindly wheeled my shopping across the zebra crossing to the boot of my car and packed it all in the box for me, we were chatting as we walked along and I suggested he made the very most of being young (and handsome with it) because it is no joke getting old and you don't realise it until you get there.   He just smiled.

Today proved just how true it is.   When the wind blows from a certain direction it blows straight down the Market Square in our town and consequently straight down the main road.   I needed to cross the Main road at the crossing (market day and very busy) and stepped off the kerb when the pedestrian light turned to green.   The wind caught me and had I not had my stick to firmly anchor me to the ground I think I would have 'done a Mary Poppins' and probably ended up somewhere near the church at the bottom of the hill.   And not having an umbrella to use as a parachute as she did I would probably have fallen and broken something vital.

However I managed to arrive safely at the bank, get home, unpack my shopping (friends coming for the week-end) and drive down for lunch out at our favourite Friday restaurant.   Super and very quick starter of pecans, dates and pear and a bed of leaves  with a light dressing; well worth bearing in mind for the future.   Then it was home to make the meat part of tomorrow's Shepherd's Pie so that there is no rush in the morning when all I have to do is cook and mash the potato topping at my leisure.

There will probably be no post for a couple of days when they are here so have a nice week end everyone.

Thursday 29 November 2018

A Long Way to Go.

Derek says he finds himself longing for Spring - I am with you there all the way Derek.   After such a glorious Summer and a reasonable beginning to Autumn we have been suddenly plunged into this spell of drenching rain, strong, gale-force winds and damp, drear chill.

But we do have to remind ourselves that we haven't reached the first day of Winter yet so there is a long way to go.   I am sure that if we could just get a day or two of sunshine we would all perk up a bit.   My bungalow faces due South and when the sun shines it heats the whole place.  But the windows into the sitting room and kitchen are big and when the sky is black and no sun appears it makes an enormous difference.  Truth be known I am missing the farm's wood burner.

I shall go in a moment to watch the last of three programmes 'Inside the foreign office' - I am not sure how much of what they say is convincing but it does give one an insight into just how these so-called 'important figures' dash from A to B.   They fly from one side of the world to the other at  the drop of a hat.   I couldn't keep it up for a week and it is nothing to do with my age (86) I couldn't have done it at 26.   The moral here I suppose is that a high salary and being important is no substitute at all from relaxing, having evenings and week ends off and enjoying life.   Or do they live in a different world from me - metaphorically of course.


Wednesday 28 November 2018


Poetry today and an absolutely awful day to go with it.  Although a little bit warmer this was offset by a sharp wind blowing, absolutely teeming rain now and then and a generally awful day.  Only six of us there but what lovely poetry we had.

For me my favourite was those chosen by friend W, who read poems which in some way were connected with war (this being our nearest Poetry to the Remembrance services to recall 100 years since the end of the Great War).

Some of them were such a reminder for me of my father.   Born in the  late 1880's he was at school when a lot of poetry was learnt by heart and throughout his life he had a great love of poetry and could remember poems off by heart.   Some of these W read today - notably 'The Battle of Blenheim'   In many ways it is a shame that the learning of poetry by heart has more or less completely died out - a little of it in the curriculum
would not come amiss in my opinion. 

J read 'The Highwayman' another poem he knew by heart and would recite given the opportunity.
They don't write 'em like that any more.

I read part of Basil Bunting's 'Briggflats' - a poem I love and which I have read at our Poetry meetings many times before.   It is such a dismal day and the poem evokes Spring and the May blossom in its opening lines.   Briggflats is a Quaker Meeting House in Sedbergh (where I go now and again to meet my God -daughter for lunch) and going into Sedbergh from this direction means that one crosses the River Rawthey - the poem opens with lines about the river.   If you don't know it do Google it - and indeed Briggflats - both worth a look.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

New Bathroom.

Out of the blue the plumber rang this morning and said could he come and replace the loo and washbasin this afternoon.   Of course I said yes - it is so good to find a plumber who says he will come and then comes on time.   Three hours later and it was all done, cleaned up and back to normal.   It looks very different but at least the cold tap on the washbasin is no longer so stiff I can hardly turn it on and the loo flushes first time you depress the button.   A good job done in record time.
Tess and I tootled down to the carpet shop, chose a vinyl flooring and they are going to come and measure  it up tomorrow (but not fit it until Christmas week).  It was appalling weather when we ventured out - pouring rain, strong wind and very cold.   Now, at last, the doors are shut, the plumber is gone and we can begin to get warm again.

It is our Poetry afternoon tomorrow so I shall now go and choose what I am intending to read and have a few practise runs - I hate to stumble over a word when I am reading a poem; it destroys the whole spirit of the thing.   Judging by the weather forecast we shall need poetry to cheer us up tomorrow (and warm winter woollies too).

Monday 26 November 2018


I thought I was fed up with animal programmes.  I have watched them until I felt saturated with them.   But it (Sunday night, 8-pm BBC1) has been fascinating, mainly I think because it concentrated on the lives of one particular animal.   First the Chimpanzee, then the Penguin and this week the Lion.

The last two programmes - penguins and lions- have attracted controversy in that in both programmes the team doing the filming (a long job during which the team get close to the animals concerned both in distance and in feelings) have assisted the animals in their survival.   In the case of the penguins, a group of parents and babies had managed to get themselves trapped down a ravine and it was impossible for them to get out.   One by one they were dying, especially the young who were very vulnerable.   The members of the team were visibly moved and ended up digging a ramp for them to escape, which they did.

In the case of the lions,  the Pride was much diminished and in danger of completely dying out.
People in the Masai Mara were grazing their cattle in the area and the lions were hell bent on an easy catch.   But the Masai had put down poisoned meat which the cubs ate.    This time the film crew called in the vets to treat the cubs.

Were they wrong to do this?  It is certainly open to question.   But to see these tough men, often filming in awful conditions, in tears over the fate of their 'stars ' was actually quite moving.   I really don't know which side I come down on.   What is your opinion?


Sunday 25 November 2018


Out to lunch as usual for Sunday.   Only three of us today as our old friend in her nineties was doing something with her family.  Following on from yesterday's post, all I can say is that we are so jolly lucky to be able to go out to lunch every week.   Most weeks we all have salmon on a bed of spinach with vegetables and it is consistently delicious. 

Now back home, dog-walk finished, dog to feed, cup of tea to get for me and then it is downhill all the way to bedtime.   The nights have drawn in so that now it begins to get dark at about half past two.   At present there is a raw cold in the atmosphere and it is lovely to get inside and get wam.   It is on days like today that I miss my Aga and my woodburner.

Saturday 24 November 2018

Watch the pennies.

Joanne (Cup on the bus on my side bar) has written such an interesting post today talking of how her parents were frugal and how she was brought up not to waste anything.  That is exactly how I was brought up too, in an age where there was enough money in our family to live comfortably, to make ends meet, to never get into debt and to afford little luxuries like a week's holiday every 'trip week', but only because my mother was a very careful manager.

Tinned food was frowned upon, but my mother always kept a tin of red salmon (never pink salmon), a tin of peaches and a tin of evaporated milk in the cupboard so that if visitors called unexpectedly on a Sunday afternoon she could always find something for tea.   There would always be cake in any case as she never bought cake but made her own (and bread) so that  this was plentiful.

 Nothing was ever wasted.   A bit of stale bread in the breadbin would mean a bread and butter pudding the next day and if the milk went 'off' on a thundery day then it would be left to form curds and then dripped through a piece of muslin hung on the washing line, seasoned with pepper and chopped parsley from the garden and we would have it in sandwiches for tea.   The remains of the Sunday joint would be cold on Monday with left over potatoes fried, minced for shepherd;s pie on Tuesday and hopefully enough left for Wednesday too.   There was never any disgrace in doing this.   The disgrace was in wasting the food.

We never had a freezer, not even a fridge that I remember.   We had a meat safe  on the North wall of our stone-floored pantry.

Of course the advent of these mod cons has meant that food can be stored so much easier but we read of the 2 for 1 offers not being used and one of them ending up in landfill.  So I can but ask what has happened to our society that, when half the world doesn't have enough to eat, we waste so much food?

Friday 23 November 2018

An outside Light.

Contrarily it is the very dark nights over the past week that have shown up just how dangerous it is outside my front door.   I do already have a movement sensitive light on the corner of the bungalow and that shows up the path to the front door.   What I need now is a light on the wall by the door itself which I can switch on to order either when someone rings the doorbell or when someone is about to leave the house.   It does not need to be movement sensitive.    What it needs to do is to show up the dangers of the step down on to the path itself.

 When the electrician came to assess the work he told me that the wiring in the bungalow is really unsatisfactory.   I can't explain why = it is all too complicated but it has resulted in my asking him to check it all over, replace the fuse box and do anything necessary.   Another job needing to be done.   Each time I start a job I find that more needs to be done.  Hopefully it will be done before Christmas.

Just for fleeting moments today the sun came out 
and each time the mist miraculously melted away.  What a difference the sun makes.   It was suddenly brighter and warmer.   Then it all went again.

Is anyone else in the UK watching 'Inside the Foreign Office'?   I am and am finding it interesting but I can't help wondering  whether it is really possible to make such a programme without the characters acting rather than being their real selves when put in front of a camera.   Some of the remarks they make don't altogether ring true to me.   Maybe I am too cynical.   If you are watching it what do you think to it?

Thursday 22 November 2018


What a busy week it has been - every day has been jam-packed - still it is better than having nothing to do isn't it?   Friend W and I had a pleasant lunch out as she is unable to go out for our usual Friday lunch tomorrow.  We each had a seafood platter -fish cake, salmon goujons and scampi with a basket of chips, and a really good salad.  We finished off with a cup of coffee each and it set us up nicely for the afternoon.   In fact at a quarter to eight I still haven\t eaten anything as I feel full.

Tess had an extra-specially long walk this afternoon with PetPals and has been asleep in her bed since coming back - her tea on the kitchen floor is uneaten as I write.

Tomorrow I have an electrician calling to discuss putting an outside light over my front door.   There is a light on the corner of the bungalow but outside my front door is quite a big step and it is not all that easy to get in and out of the front door in the dark unless you know exactly how things are.   So yet another job to be done - but necessary.


Wednesday 21 November 2018


It is the sort of cold today that gets right through to your bones.   Central heating full on all day and still I am cold.   How I miss my old Aga and my wood burning stove now that I have moved into my 'modern' bungalow.   I really don't think I shall ever get used to it when really cold days descend on us.

It is the day when friend S takes Tess for her walk.   Tess so looks forward to it and goes wild with excitement when she hears S at the door.   She always comes back tired and hungry, eats her tea with gusto and settles down to sleep in her basket.

I would like to settle down to sleep early tonight in my bed because last night my God-daughter stayed and we stayed up quite late talking together and then got up at crack of dawn as she had an hour's drive to work and had to be there for eight thirty.   Luckily, as she had to drive 'over the tops'
to get here the weather was not as bad as we feared - sleet and wet snow but that's all.

A pleasant afternoon today with a couple of friends calling and an hour's chat over a cup of coffee - what could be better on a cold, miserable afternoon?

Tuesday 20 November 2018

A wet day

An understatement.   It is 3-40 and almost dark.   This will have to be a short post so that I can get in Tess's walk before darkness descends.   It has poured with rain on and off all day.   A strong east wind is blowing and I cannot think of a single nice adjective to put in front of today however hard I try.

This morning I bought myself a new cordless vacuum cleaner which I needed because my cleaner had broken down.   Then I bought myself a new toaster and matching kettle - not because either had broken down but because they were old and I thought red ones would be cheery in my kitchen.   They are.

This necessitated another trip to the Council Tip - my second trip this week.   Once with all the flower boxes from my birthday and today with three electrical appliances.   Shedding detritus is so liberating.   But that is not the only reason I enjoy going to the tip.   The men who work there are a joy, whatever the weather.   The rain was pouring down.   They were all in their hut keeping dry and warm.   But the moment I stopped, out they came, smiling and helpful and emptied my boot for me, making me sit back in my car in the dry.   A rotten job on a day like this but they always cheer me up and for this I thank them most sincerely.

Sunday 18 November 2018

A Garden Post

After thick early morning fog it is now a lovely, clear sunny day.   But Tess and I just nipped up to our Council Tip with the flattened cardboard flower boxes that my Birthday flowers came in (the garage is now neat and tidy once more) and there - only a mile away - it is still thick fog.

My fence looks splendid and it is perfect in that Tess is now free to roam the garden at will and is unable to escape.   She has no road sense at all having grown up roaming the fields with the farmer and rarely venturing on to the lane.   The lady next door is so impressed that she is having various bits added in her garden and the fencer is working there today. And the lady who lives the other side of my bungalow is also so impressed that she has asked him to do some for her too.

Sorry about my shadow but at least it shows you just how sunny it is.

My garden is, of course, beginning to die back but if anyone could hazard a guess at what tree that is in bloom I would be grateful.   It was a large tree but my gardener pruned it back.   This year's growth hasn't flowered but there are plenty of blooms coming out on last year's.
Here is the view from the back terrace so you can see what I hope will be the tulip border in the Spring!
Sorry the garden picture has come in the wrong place but you get the general idea.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Luck sends a good samaritan round.

Oh dear, it pains me to tell Rachel and Derek that they were totally correct - but they were.   This morning, my fence being completely finished (if the weather is suitable I will photograph it for you tomorrow) I began the tulip bulb planting.   I divided the border into five sections and then scattered bulbs on the first section and planted them.   I went in to make a coffee and found that my back was aching.   I dare not do any more.

This afternoon my son came round with his wife and planted the rest in under half an hour, raked the ground over and then put the forget me nots along the front of the border - it may well be too late for these but worth a try as they were so cheap at the end of the season and they are very sturdy plants. 

So now all is done and at a very reasonable cost in my opinion.   There is something very satisfying about fulfilling one's plans isn't there?   I am now going to relax and watch a programme on the friendship between Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst.   When I think back to my childhood and the radio (which as a family we listened to avidly
(this is Henry Hall and tonight is my guest night - remember that?)) aren't we lucky to have such a huge selection?

Friday 16 November 2018


My new fence is looking splendid and is almost finished - I shall put a photograph on then.  The weather has really been first class for the job and my joiner/gardener has worked really hard on it.  Now all that remains is to finish the creosoting - he came and started today when it was very foggy.    The fog thickened and by mid-afternoon had become fine rain, so he abandoned the job and went home.   I was pleased as he has developed a terrible cold and I felt he should be at home with a few hot toddies and with his feet up.

Meanwhile friends W and M and I all went out to our usual venue for lunch.  Delicious as always - we had the same this week:   a starter of red onion, beetroot, a strong cheese  sauce and a salad mix. The next course was a chicken, ham and leek pie with lovely roasted carrot and parsnip and a tub of chips.   Far too much, but that's better than not enough.

Then we had a look round the items for sale tomorrow  - it is a Fine Art and Fine Furniture sale and the stuff in the sale was exquisite.    I got home and had only been in a short while when the furniture shop rang to say that my sitting room curtains were ready and could they bring them to hang.   What a pleasant surprise.   It is only a  fortnight since my decorator left and I had been led to believe it might be Christmas before my curtains were ready.   Now they are up, beautifully hung and drawn against a dismal night outside.   The room looks and feels much warmer.

I tipped all my tulip bulbs into a bucket, gave them a good mix up and now they are ready for putting in.   A pleasant surprise was that when I unsnipped them from their bags I found I had totally miscalculated and had only bought 150 not 250 - a much more realistic number to plant.   Divided into groups of five units that means only 30 bulbs per unit of ground.   One a day starting tomorrow means that they will all be in by Wednesday - the day when the weather is destined to become wintry - so hopefully I shall beat it.

What a busy week this has been.   And, judging  by my calendar, next week is going to be just as busy, particularly as I have a dear friend coming 
to stay the night on Tuesday - so one thing is for sure - there will be plenty of chat that night.


Thursday 15 November 2018


Retired for over thirty years, widowed for eighteen months, moved into a new bungalow a year ago - that kind of history doesn't sound as though it generates much in the way of activity does it?   Well you would be wrong to think that because yesterday was a case in point.   Six times I switched on to write a post and six times an interruption - either at the door or on the telephone - delayed me and made me switch off the computer.   Finally, when it got to eight in the evening I gave up as a bad job and watched Rick Stein - even then he was interrupted by a phone call from my son.   We spoke for an hour, as we often do, mostly about Politics and War,  and consequently I went to bed late and didn\t get to sleep until four this morning as my mind was too active. 

Today is another day.   The sky is a clear, unbroken blue, the sun is shining and it is a beautifully warm Autumn day.   Tess and I had our morning walk rather late as I slept in.  We met half a dozen dog-walkers and chatted and by the time we got home my fencer was here giving the completed fence a coat of creosote.   It looks splendid.   He has made such a good job of it.
Now all that will be left to do is for me to plant the tulip bulbs.   In the night, when I couldn\t sleep I devised a plan - I shall divide the border into sections with bits of wood and plant one section of 50 bulbs each day, leaving the wood in place for now so that there will not be a gap between plantings.   That way I shall not get over-tired with bending down (I hope).   Tomorrow may well be the day on which I begin (after my usual Friday lunch out).   Derek may well be right when he says it is far too late to plant the Mysotis.   But the sun is warm, the plants were only fifty pence a tray, so it is worth a try.   I love them in a garden and I love shaking the plants around as they go to seed so that eventually they are everywhere.   How could anyone resist that heavenly blue?

I shall go and cook my jacket potato and my stir-fry now.   This afternoon is ukuleles with the Alzheimer's patients and carers.   I love that and so do they.   It is a joyous afternoon.


Tuesday 13 November 2018


I now have a total of 250 tulip bulbs to put into my new border.   They really need to be in by December (flowering March to  April)but I can't begin to put them in until the fencer has finished - hopefully within the next day or two.   I also have several trays of Mysotis  (forget me not) to edge the border with - so quite a task.   He will do it for me if I ask him but as it is on the flat part of the garden I really want to try and do it myself - and at present the weather is perfect for the job.   So I hope it holds out for a day or two longer.

I look at the dreadful wildfires in California - I can't imagine anything more terrifying; the tragedy of losing all ones precious possessions doesn\t bear thinking about.   I suspect it is not the things which have cost the money which are missed so much as those little personal things - the gifts from loved ones (especially if they have left us and passed away), the photographs, the loved childrens' toys - that sort of thing.   Gayle at the Square Dogs would know all about that as I believe she has experienced it once.   My heart goes out to them all - and also to anyone who has actually lost a loved one in it all.

Until tomorrow.

Monday 12 November 2018

Autumn Walk.

My afternoon's walk today with Tess has convinced me of something I have known for a long time:   I was absolutely right to keep her when I moved.   It was rubbish to think I would not be able to 'cope' with her - she has kept me going.   She has made me get up in a morning to let her out.   She has made me do three(albeit fairly short) walks a day for her sake.   And above all she has been the company I would have otherwise missed.   Life would have been very quiet and lonely.   Alright - she doesn't answer back, but you would be surprised how much her eyes can convey.

This morning we did our usual walk round the estate, meeting our usual dogs, having our usual chats to people (and dog to dog).   After lunch we had a longer walk down our old farm lane.   Autumn leaves have almost disappeared from the trees and bushes and few hips and berries remain on the bushes.   I suspect the fieldfares and redwings and Winter thrushes have been around although I saw none of them, just the evidence. 

Now, at twenty to four in the afternoon, I am tired after my walk and I need a sit down.  Tess is patiently waiting for her four o'clocks and I shall sit down with a cuppa.   I managed to find sixty tulip bulbs in town this morning to buy for my new border by my new fence (not finished yet) but I need at least as many more, so I shall search again tomorrow.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Remembrance week-end

This has been, for me at any rate, such a poignant reminder of war and of the sufferings of people throughout the world.   It seems it will never end. 
The generation of my son (who is sixty this year) has at least been a generation when young men have not been conscripted into the armed forces (at least in the Western world) but I doubt there has been no time during those sixty years when there has not been fighting and killing somewhere.
And for what?

The ceremonies this week-end have caught my admiration for another reason too.   Is there anywhere in the world where events like this are organised with such precision, such thought and such commitment ?   To some this may not seem important, but to me it is important that the whole thing goes off to perfection from start to finish and my goodness it has done.

At two minutes to eleven this morning, with only those two minutes to go before Big Ben struck that important eleven o'clock and silence fell over the battlefields of Europe (and what a silence that must have been) I couldn't believe that everyone would be in their place.   But of course they were - with about twenty seconds to spare.

I read in the comments on someone's post a while ago (sorry I can't remember who it was) that they had heard someone say it was time now that we forgot about it all.   For the sake of the millions who have died, have been maimed for life, have lost loved ones, have been persecuted because of their race or their religion - we must never, ever forget.

Friday 9 November 2018


Proper breakfast and proper lunch today and no ill effects - seems I am over the worst and on the mend.

It is an absolutely awful day here today - thick, wet mist, strong wind (I know, how can the two go together?) and cold to boot.   Friend W brought Tess home - she has kindly had her there for the last two nights and taken her for a walk before she has brought her back each morning.   Not sure how keen Tess was to come back because both nights she has slept on the bed.   Last night W says she took up so much bed that in the middle of the night she had to push her further over.   And, to add insult to injury, she was dreaming, whimpering and snoring all night. 

 The man building my fence has been here all day in this horrible weather and has pushed on through it.   It is all looking very  professional and will look brilliant when it is finished, but I do wish he hadn't worked in such awful weather - he is by no means a young man.   I would take a photograph but at a quarter to four it is almost dark so any photograph would be meaningless.

Here's hoping for better weather tomorrow.

Thursday 8 November 2018

Fencing progress.

In spite of the weather turning from bright sunshine to wet mid way through the morning, my gardener continued to work in the rain.   All the fencing is now here ready to be assembled and this afternoon the two end fence posts have been concreted into place and propped up to dry overnight.

No post yesterday as I went down with some kind of sickness and diarrhoea bug on Tuesday afternoon.  Friends have been brilliant and at the moment friend W has taken Tess to stay there overnight so that I don't have to take her out first thing in the morning.   Yesterday evening my son called out the 111 doctor and she gave me a good examination and said she thought I was on the mend.   Today I am much better although weak after a couple of days with absolutely nothing to eat.   Thank goodness for my son living near and for my good friend W.   Tess adores her anyway so I am sure she doesn't mind sleeping there. (especially as she has the run of the house, whereas here she sleeps in her crate).

I am hoping to stay up to watch the 9pm programme on Prince Charles.  I am a great admirer and feel over the years he has been much maligned.   It will be interesting to hear what his nearest and dearest have to say about him - after all they know him much better than any of us do.


Tuesday 6 November 2018

Progress report.

My hedge is all down, including the thick trunks, and all is carted away to a bonfire pile on a nearby farm.   My gardener has dug the ground over well and is busy measuring up at the moment so that he can go and order the wood for the replacement fence which he will probably make in my garage on wet days in the next week or so.   He insists it is 'not a big job' and I must say that once he gets stuck in he really does make it look so easy.

My friend and neighbour next door is a keen gardener and her garden is lovely.   Now I can see it at least until the new fence is in place and it is lovely to do so.   Also, the amount of light the removal of the hedge has let in is amazing (the 
 hedge was high and was a dark green coniferous hedge).

I have been out to our fortnightly lunch when twelve or so of us go to our local meeting place and eat lunch together.   We have lots of laughs and all get on so well together that it is an enjoyable occasion every time.   Today it was pasta with meat balls followed by apple crumble and custard and a cup of coffee - and all for five pounds.   Can;t be bad and all home cooked. 

Now I am back home, I have turned the central heating up higher.  The thermostat was set at twenty but it is quite a warm day today and when I came in the bungalow felt quite cold - now it is snug and warm again.  

I suppose we are all waiting 'with baited breath' for the mid-term election results.   Although we are across the pond they will have an influence on life here - and around the world.   The future looks quite scary unless something changes I think.   But do we really know what is happening?   As with everything, we only know what we are told. 

Here, the really sad and sickening news is that someone made a model of the Grenfell Tower and actually burned it on a bonfire last night (Bonfire Night) - at least the people concerned went to the Police Station when people began to complain.   Did they not realise the terrible hurt they would be doing to the survivors?

These things and also the stabbings on the streets of London - where are things heading?   What sort of society are we making for ourselves when young men resort to this.  Sorry to be so negative today but that is how it all looks to me.

Monday 5 November 2018

At last

The big day has arrived!   My boundary hedge, which has grown too wide and infringes on my friend and neighbour's garden so that it is difficult for her to walk up the path into her lovely back garden, is being removed by D, my gardener.

He arrived this morning with his petrol-driven chain saw and is, at present, making a huge pile which will remain on my patio until his friend with a big trailer comes to take it away.   This is my last big job before winter sets in and it will be a good job done.   The gardener is making a fence to put in its place and it is a fence to match that which he has already made along the front border.
Sorry it is a rotten photo but I took it from the computer looking through the window.   Too lazy to go outside on what is a miserable morning.

Sunday 4 November 2018


Sometimes I switch on and go to new post without the slightest idea what to write.   Today is one of those days but I make it a point in the day when I really try to write something as a form of discipline.   It is easy to become aimless as one ages and I refuse to get like that.

It is friend W's birthday today and instead of our usual four out to Sunday lunch we were seven - a jolly gathering.Then coming in and immediately taking Tess for a walk walks down my lunch (salmon today followed by lime and coconut sorbet) and means that I can come in, shut the door, turn up the heating and settle down for the rest of the evening (and watch Countryfile and Strictly Results of course). 

The week ahead is set to be much milder than last week so maybe a few remaining planting jobs outside might get done.   Now that I have been in my bungalow more than a year (just),things really seem to have settled into a pattern.  The next job to tackle is the boundary fence - the dying hedge needs taking out and a fence building.   I have it in hand and am waiting for the fencing man to call and see me.

Friday 2 November 2018

Sitting room and other things.

Well, as promised, here is a view of my newly decorated sitting room.   As my son rightly said - 'more you Mum than the way it was before.'  It is certainly much more restful now that there is no patterned wallpaper to distract my eye.

Now to other things.   Lunch today was delicious at our usual venue.  Celeriac soup (fantastic, I shall certainly have a go at making this) followed by chicken, ham and leek individual pie with multi coloured carrots (most attractive on the plate ) and a tub of chips.  Coffee to finish and all the time a wedding party was assembling (the venue is licensed for weddings).  We had to leave before the bride arrived but we had a good view of the guests who came into the bar part of the restaurant for drinks.   It was a chilly day but the guests (all seemed to be under thirty) were all in quite flimsy dresses (men, thank goodness in lounge suits and not ill-fitting hired morning dress) and absolutely
unbelievable hats - how fashionable they seem to be this season for weddings.   As friend W and I remarked on our way out to the girls on reception, we would never wear clothes like this these days because we never went to weddings any more = it was more likely to be funerals. 

My friend and neighbour H came round later in the afternoon to view my sitting room decorating and we had a cup of tea and discussed the fact that in the Chinese zodiac we are both monkeys.   Do we have similar characteristics in our make up?   I am just off to have a read up about it on the internet and will report back.   Apparently we, as monkeys are light-hearted and tend to be pranksters - not sure that this is me - shall have to think about it.

Thursday 1 November 2018


This picture of a garden on the side of the Grand Canal in Venice hangs in my sittingroom.   It was painted by my first husband, Malcolm Rivron, and reminds me of our many holidays in Venice over the years.

Venice, one of my favourite places in the World, with an atmosphere and a beauty like nowhere else on earth.  And yet a place which always feels precarious, as though it will disappear under the sea without warning.

One of our first visits there was in the early eighties when our half term happened to coincide with a visit to La Fenice in Venice of the Shanghai Opera Company and after queueing all morning we managed to get tickets to sit on very hard forms in the pit of this very grand theatre to see the performance.  It was breath-taking although we couldn't understand a word of it.   In 1996 the theatre, almost completely made of wood, burned down and so I remember that visit with great affection.  Now, sadly the city is under five feet of water.  I cannot help wondering how many years the city will be there before it sinks into the sea and disappears for ever.

Wednesday 31 October 2018


This has been quite some birthday from beginning to end.   It is now half past five in the evening.   I have just lit my pumpkin and put it on the front step.   I shall now write this post and then I shall flake out on the sofa and do no more.

It started out pleasantly = nice morning, sunshine, no need for an early start, I got dressed and showered at my leisure and then took Tess for a walk.   Shortly after I got back I had three phone calls in rapid succession - all birthday calls.   At half past eleven I left to collect W to go out for a birthday lunch (scampi, chips and peas).   Luckily I for some reason shut the door into the bedrooms and the sitting room so that Tess had the hall, the dining room and the kitchen to roam in.   I had to be back by 1.45 because S was coming to take Tess for a walk as usual.

I arrived back home to find a large box on the door step with twenty cream roses in it.   But on opening the door all thoughts of roses were driven from my mind.   Poor Tess had had diarrhoea.   Everywhere.   She had gone to the patio door to go out and done it there.   There was then a trail across the hall and down the corridor. Of course I couldn't blame her.   I donned rubber gloves, got out the Astonish stain remover, a bowl of warm water, a scraper,cleared it all up as best I could, washed everywhere down, applied Domestos thoroughly.   Then I went into the hall to pick up fifteen birthday cards.   When I picked them up I realised that they had come through the letter box and fallen on a large patch of diarrhoea I had missed.   Every birthday card envelope was covered and I had to don rubber gloves and start again.   By now it was time for S who took Tess out of the way while I finished cleaning up.

At this point two more lots of birthday flowers arrived = I had run out of vases and each room already had two lots of flowers in it.   I had to root out jugs to use.   There are now flowers everywhere.   All my birthday cards were extracted with care from the soiled envelopes, the rubber gloves were binned, everywhere was cleaned again.  A day and a half if not two days all rolled into one.   Three more telephone calls before I could sit down.   So I am now going to rest.   My post on Venice and on my sitting room will have to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

A Good Feeling.

Maybe it is just me but I get such a good feeling when I have finished some chore I didn't want to start.   Today it was emptying the garage of accumulated rubbish.

Over the past few weeks the detritus has built up.
First of all the dog had fleas and, after de-fleaing her I threw out all her bedding and bought new.   The old stuff, after spraying with flea killer, went into a plastic bag and was put in the garage.   Every parcel which came in a box was dealt with and the box put in the garage too.   Then last week the decorator left his empty paint tins.   And then of course there were all the newspapers. 

It is not a nice day here - cold and wet - thoroughly miserable.   This morning hot chocolate with my usual Tuesday friends started the morning off well.   After this it was manicure morning and that made my hands feel good too.
I arrived home as a friend called to try to stick back the cover of the dishwasher in my built in kitchen.   The cover has come adrift and needs some attention so he is trying.   After lunch I looked out on the wet, miserable scene and decided I couldn't face doing the job today. 

It was at this point that I had a serious talk with myself.  'For goodness sake woman, get a hold of yourself and get the job done.'   So I did.   The men at the tip are lovely and so helpful.   They did all the emptying for me (even the curtains which had come down from my sitting room window and are not going back) and I drove back home in the pouring rain.   Tess had come with me so we had a quick walk and then came in to a nice warm bungalow.   And I feel very satisfied with myself.   A good day all round.  I give myself a metaphorical pat on the back.   Back tomorrow.

Monday 29 October 2018

A Late Post.

I am late putting on a post tonight because it is University Chall enge night and I always watch that and keep a tally of how many questions I can answer (8 tonight, about par for the course).   Given five minutes to think about my answer I could probably double that number but those young brains are too quick for me - and any chemical or ancient history questions pass me by.  Quite often the ones I answer are too easy for them (good example was a question a few weeks ago about 'who was furnished and burnished by Aldershot sun' - a starter question about which nobody had the slightest idea.    It was, of course, Miss Joan Hunter-Dunne in the Betjamen poem (far too low brow for our teams on tele).

I watched The Budget earlier and decided that it was all pie in the sky given the stage we are at with Brexit.   If there is no agreement then I suspect things will change dramatically.   I have reservations about budgets anyway - they never seem to make a lot of difference.

Very heavy frost here this morning.   My newly-planted polyanthus were flat on the ground and white over.    Out came the sun and half an hour later they were flourishing again.   My dog walk had to be late this morning as all the paths were slippery - the state of things to come I suppose.

Until tomorrow.   Might even get a photograph of my sitting room on.

Sunday 28 October 2018


The sitting room is finished.   I went out for lunch with my friends as usual and when I returned the painter had put the furniture straight, put down the rugs, vacuumed the carpet and left a note telling me to do no more for at least a day to allow the gloss paint to dry and the emulsion paint over wallpaper to dry well before rehanging the pictures.   Tess is disgusted with being kept out of the sitting room and having to spend the evenings in the kitchen.   She is not alone - not enjoying it either.

On the plus side I am keeping the central heating on higher than usual to help with the drying out process so at least we are not cold.   My cleaning lady is planning to come in the morning to help me return the sitting room to normal - sadly we will not be able to do this but, never mind, by next week end it will all be done and I must say it looks lovely.   I am so pleased with it.  That is another job I can tick off my list.

 Here in North Yorkshire it has been bitterly cold today although mostly sunny.  I think the cold coinciding with the change of the hour has made it feel as though Winter has really arrived.   It is my birthday on Hallowe'en and it usually fell during Half Term in my teaching days.  As I remember it we almost always had beautiful autumn weather.  Perhaps, like our childhood, we only remember the good weather.

Nice lunch today - prawn salad with chips (self indulgent) followed by raspberry and coconut gateau with ice cream.  I can't tell you how good it is to not have to think about what to have for Sunday lunch.

Saturday 27 October 2018


Very heavy snow shower first thing this morning.   Bitterly cold now but bright sunshine, so warm inside.   My decorator is here and I am sitting here surrounded by all my ornaments, pictures etc. trying to find jobs to do and at the same time keep out of the way.

Nothing much to report as nothing much is happening.   Already the sitting room looks much more my kind of room - gone is the ugly wall paper and in its place lovely Natural Hessian colour on the walls (apart from the brown end wall).   My cleaning lady is coming on Monday morning to help me put all the stuff back in situ.
I am sitting here tired of doing nothing.   Shall go and make myself a cuppa.

Friday 26 October 2018


This afternoon, after a morning of doing bits of shopping, meeting the gang for coffee, and then lunching at our usual venue (three of us today - W, M and me) then going round a craft exhibition where both M and I bought lovely scarves which twist into a 'fashion' shape, I came in and decided that I really had better go straight out into the back garden and plant the twenty sturdy Polyanthus plants I had bought on the garden stall on today's market before the cold weather arrive.   Polyanthus are hardy plants, these were very good looking and I thought they would be better in the ground than left in the individual pots.

I did not feel like doing so.   I felt like coming in and putting my feet up.   But jobs awaited me.  Tomorrow morning at eight o'clock the decorator arrives to start work on my sitting room.   All week I have been removing books (lots), ornaments, cushions, rugs, everything except the larger items of furniture and the pictures.  I took down one picture but I had to stretch up too far and then when I got it off the hook it was too heavy, so I have left that for the painter in the morning.

The work coincides with a forecast of a very cold weekend which is unfortunate, although as long as it is sunny the sun will shine into the room and that should help.

All week there has been sunshine and my room has been beautifully warm and the central heating has hardly come on.   It is important to keep it warm this week end to help the paint dry.   Here the sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular.   Friend W took a couple of photographs which she has just sent me. Sadly they do not transfer well from her phone to my computer so I just hope you have had similar ones where you live if you are in the UK.

Thursday 25 October 2018

What started out as a lovely sunny day has rather spoilt itself by coming in cloudy so not a lot of heat from the sun today in the bungalow.

I have had to wait in for the plumber as there are several jobs for him to do in the bathroom.   He has just been and - as last time - there are complications.   It looks as though I shall have to have a new toilet system.   This will mean that there may be tiles short on the wall and also the flooring will need to be replaced as the base will be a different shape.   Then of course the question will arise on whether or not to replace the wash basin as it will not match the toilet.   Every small problem I come across since I moved in here multiplies itself into a big problem.    A nuisance but in the giant scheme of things not very important.

At last , after three days, my tomato soup is finished.  A friend from further down the road brought me a bag of tomatoes when they were cleaning out their greenhouse.   I already had a bowl of  tomatoes   so I chopped up a couple of onions and a red pepper, cut the tomatoes into little bits, put the lot in a saucepan, added a dash of Worcester sauce and a squirt of tomato puree, cooked them gently in rape seed oil for 5 minutes, added vegetable stock and simmered until all was cooked.   Then I liquidised it all and - it was one of the best tomato soups I have ever tasted.   It has lasted me for three lunches.   Can't be bad

If you have a minute to spare go to Kitchy and Co on my side bar.   A, who is such a clever artist and takes such brilliant photographs, has put on a lovely post about pumpkins.   She makes cards up to a professional standard - her patience is endless in setting them up.  Do have a read.

Wednesday 24 October 2018


Yesterday, with no prior warning, our Post Office was shut for the day.   It is housed at the rear of the Co-op and there was just a notice to say that it wouldn't open due to 'unforseen circumstances'.   It was annoying but I could easily use my card and the cash machine, which I did.   But it did make me think how many folk would walk up to get their Old Age Pension only to find they couldn't have it.   It's alright for me - I drive into town, park in a disabled spot (almost always available), cross the road at the crossing, do my bit of shopping, get an assistant to push my trolley back over the road and unload it into my boot, nip into the cafe for a quick coffee and then drive home.
But everyone is not so lucky.

Then I got home (having taken Tess for a walk before I went into town) and sat down to read The Times.   Having read Carol Midgley in Times 2 my fury knew no bounds.   I came to my computer and dashed off a letter to the editor.   Alright, it most likely will not get printed - but at least it vented my fury.   Writing about the incident where the man shouted at - and indeed insulted - the lady
who was seated next to him on an aeroplane she actually said (and I quote)  'who amongst us doesn't sometimes feel like abusing elderly women with arthritis?'

On Hallowe'en I shall be 86.   I go out everywhere - I eat out regularly (as I am sure you know by now), I go out with friends, I walk my dog three times a day, I even do a bit of gardening.   But (and it is a big 'but') I walk slowly - and have a stick because my balance is not brilliant either. 
 I also do my own shopping  - sometimes in the local shops (we have a good array in our town) and sometimes on line.   I can honestly say that NEVER have I encountered any abuse here.   Nobody pushes to get past, nobody grumbles when I am walking slowly.   People hold open doors for me, offer to carry my bag, help me in any way they can.   Yes - up here in North Yorkshire we are polite and friendly.   If Carol Midgley is speaking about what it is like where she lives and works (presumably London), then all I can say is that I am jolly pleased I don't live there.   She will one day be in her eighties and then (yes, I am feeling nasty) see how she likes it.

Now that has got off my chest - it is a lovely day here - less wind than yesterday and unbroken sunshine.   Make the most of it I think as the forecast is for very cold weather in the hills by the week-end.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Exciting or what?

There is so much to grumble about going on at the moment isn't there?   But I try not to let myself do any moaning (either in my head or out loud).  Then this morning a wonderful piece of news which fired my enthusiasm - that they have discovered a 2,500 year old vessel (a 75ft merchant vessel) lying more or less intact 2 kilometres down in the Black Sea. 

It lies fifty miles off the coast of what is now Bulgaria which shows just how far these early traders ventured from the coast on their travels up and down.   And to think it was sailing when Aristotle was alive and that it lies there on the sea bed, more or less intact considering its age.

The Siren Vase in the British Museum shows Odysseus strapped to the mast of his ship to avoid the temptation of the Siren voices.   The boat on the vase and the boat on the sea bed have matching masts.   As Jon Adams, Professor of Archaeology and chief scientist of the team which found the wreck says - no-one knew how accurate the depiction of the boat was on the Siren Vase:  now the one on the sea bed shows just how familiar the artist who depicted the ship was with the shipping of the day. 

Interestingly the reason the ship is so well  preserved is that below 490 feet the Black Sea is devoid of oxygen so that there are no marine organisms to consume the wood.

I can only begin to imagine the excitement of such a find but it has certainly taken my mind off all the turmoil going on in the world at the present time - so let's celebrate such a wonderful discovery.

Monday 22 October 2018


Here this morning there is a clear blue sky, a slight breeze and a chill in the air.   Inside of course, as my bungalow faces due South, the sun is warming the place beautifully and saving on my heating bill.

After living for so long on the farm (24 years) and before that in a house on the side of the beck in the village (5 years), living on an estate is very different.

But there are plus sides to it at my age.   First of all there are always people about.   Once the farmer died I could go all day without seeing a single person to speak to - in fact I usually did unless I made the effort to get the car out and go somewhere.   Now I know my neighbours both sides and we chat sometimes (neither of them are intrusive and on the whole we keep ourselves to ourselves (which is as I like it).

Then of course there is walking Tess.   This I do morning, lunch time and evening most days (Wed a friend takes her lunch time and Thurs and Fri I employ PetPals to walk her in the afternoon).  Many folk on the estate have dogs and this means I have got to know many people.   We stop, our dogs socialise for a couple of minutes while we just pass the time of day.   When you live alone these contacts are so important.

All this added to the amount of time I spend out with friends - meeting for coffee, meeting for lunch, just meeting for a chat - means that I do have a social life, which is most important.

I thought you might be interested to see my garden and how it is coming along, and also the view from the front of my bungalow and looking down the estate.

The plot that is unplanted is where I have an infestation of Mare's Tail weed.   This has been treated with a strong weedkiller and the soil has been lightened with any spare things like horticultural grit, loam, sand and such like.   Now it will be treated next year as soon as it appears - first by cutting off the early shoots and then by weed killing the long shoots.   We shall not have killed it - it is almost indestructible - but hopefully we shall begin to discourage it.   Then we shall plant lots of ground cover and shrubs and just keep at it.

In the top photo you will see that my neighbour has kindly left the last bit of a decrepit shed she has taken down (before the wind blew it down.   She has only been living there for a month) so that  there is no way that Tess can escape.
This is the view from standing on the front step of my bungalow.   Everyone is very friendly and I know - and visit - four of the houses you can see.
It is a year this week since I moved in and I am doing well.   Life goes on.