Wednesday 31 January 2018

Sell by dates

I have friends coming for the week end and am greatly looking forward to it.   It will be my first staying guests since I moved into the bungalow.
I thought I ought to do a bit of tidying round in the kitchen today before I put away my Tesco order which I had delivered this morning.

The first thing I did was to empty the fridge and wash it out.   In the process I removed the following from the top shelf.   Jars of mint sauce, tartare sauce, lazy garlic, Dijon mustard, and horseradish sauce.    Oh dear reader, I am ashamed to say that apart from the lazy garlic all were well past their sell-by dates.   All jars have been emptied and put into the dishwasher prior to going into recycling.

I then took the drinks bottles off the bottom shelf of the tea trolley - drinks bottles I hear you say.  Drink doesn't have a sell by date.   But my bottle of Campari said use before 2015!!! so it too went the way of all flesh.

So in the morning it is out with the vacuum cleaner and the spray polish as my cleaning lady is unable to come this week. Not easy for me these days.   It is fine getting down onto the carpet to dust the bottom shelf it's just that it is absolutely impossible to get up again.

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Andrew Marr

I have been watching the excellent programme on BBC Four - The Making of Modern Britain.   It was especially good tonight because it was about the thirties, finishing this week with the outbreak of war in 1939.   A lot of it was a time I remembered - early in the thirties, when I was born, was a tough time for the working man and my father talked about it when I was a child, so I grew up knowing a lot about it too.

The old footage on camera was brilliant - , the rise of the Blackshirts, a succession of weak Prime Ministers - Baldwin, Ramsey McDonald, Chamberlain - Churchill's arrival back on the scene.  

If you aren't watching it I urge you to catch up on it .    It is a fascinating history lesson from beginning to end - ought to be compulsory viewing in school.

Of course, as with all life, it is easy to be wise after the event but it shows up such glaring errors in government here, attitudes to places like India and most of all foreign policy.   Let's hope we've got it all a lot more in perspective these days. I can't help wondering how such a film in the future will view Brexit.

Monday 29 January 2018

Neat and tidy

Are you a tidy person?   I really do think that we are probably born either tidy or untidy - or is it, like so many other things in life an argument between nature and nurture?

I can't stand anywhere to be untidy, hence today when I came back from taking my car to Northallerton for 9am (a round trip of around 45 miles) I continued the job I began on Saturday - the emptying, sorting, cleaning and refilling my wardrobes.    First the section holding scarves, handbags, gloves and shoes (Saturday), next the section holding jumpers, cardigans and the like (Sunday) and today coats and trousers.   Now it is all done.

Wednesday is our rubbish collection day - one week  dustbins and the other week recycling stuff.   I had a lot for recycling so instead of waiting until Wednesday and putting it outside (the forecast is for very windy weather) I took it all up to the tip after lunch (Tess adores the tip as there are such exciting and enticing smells!)

Coming back I had quite a lot of business letters to write (the farm business is not entirely cleared up yet) - I have done this and walked across to post those that needed posting.    Then I read all e mails and now I am putting on this post. 

And I am telling you dear reader - that is absolutely all I intend to do today.   Now I shall go, feed the dog, make my tea on a tray and sit and watch the television (if I can find the right station on my new smart TV!)

Sunday 28 January 2018

A wet Sunday

Today sounded like a good day according to last night's weather forecast.   Temperatures up to twelve degrees the weatherman said.   Well, true, it was quite warm but there has been a stiff breeze blowing and it has rained all day, so quite disappointing after all.

The gang of four (remember them?) lunched at The Golf C lub - delicious as usual- very busy today.   We arrive at half past twelve, have a drink, lunch at one and then go into the bar for a tray of tea and arrive home around four.   When one lives alone (as all four of us do) this takes up quite a large part of what could so easily be a very lonely Sunday. 

Tomorrow my car goes in for its first service.   Goodness me, how time has passed.  There used to be a time when the new car had to go in after quite a short time to have an oil change; now it is serviced only once a year and although I didn't buy it until March it was a demonstration model with 138 miles on the clock and was registered in January, hence the early service.

How times have changed eh?   When I was a child only the vicar, the doctor, the judge who lived in our village and the Lord of the Manor had cars.   The rest of us relied on the very reliable public transport.   Now there is hardly  a house on the estate where I live where there isn't at least one car.   We rely on cars and as a consequence other forms of transport have dwindled to almost 

The same applies to heating - I didn't know anyone with fancy central heating when I was a child.   Everyone had a coal fire and you sat round
it in the evening and the front of your legs got burnt and the backs were still freezing cold.   If you had a side oven next to your fire you took the shelf out when you went to bed, wrapped it in a bit of old sheeting and warmed your bed with it.   No fancy electric blankets. 

Well, enough reminiscing, doesnt get you anywhere.   Reading through it reads like a Stream of Consciousness post - sorry about that.

A picture (not a good one I'm afraid) of my Amaryllis - especially for Mary who has asked to see it.  I will put on a post later in the day after my usual lunch out with friends.

Saturday 27 January 2018

Urban myth or truth?

Outside my front sitting room window there is a hill up from the lower part of the estate.   When there is ice on the road this hill becomes almost impassable and the cars slip and slide about unable to get to the top.

At the top is a Grit and Salt bin. (I can't help feeling it might be better half way down the hill) but last week, whe n the road was at its worst, the bin proved to be empty.  So every time  a good samariton slithered up the path with a shovel over his shoulder, it was to see him open the bin, see it was empty and to go back home without doing anything.

My  cleaning lady came and told me that someone from lower down the estate had put on Facebook about the empty bins and I have to say that within an hour of her going all the bins had been filled with grit and salt.   However, they were soon empty again (I suspect some was taken for private use as well as the public paths).   So, what happens next time?

Well a lady told me yesterday that the Council can only afford to fill the bins twice each winter on the present Council tax allowance for the job.   Apparently it costs £80 to fill a bin and some villages in hilly areas (we are in the Dales) have as many as seven bins.   This means £560 for that village alone or £1120 for the year.   And there are a lot of villages in the Dales.

Now this may or may not be true but it is food for thought .   We complain if our Council Tax goes up, we complain if the grit bins are empty.   How many more services are there like this?

Dog poo bins springs to mind (sorry!).   There are quite a few on the estate as there are also plenty of dogs and mostly responsible dog owners.   I don't know who empties them or when - I guess it just might be the bin men when they come round for our rubbish.   But the bins do get full to overflowing and people tend to put the poo bags on the floor round the base of the bin.   If it is a windy night they do tend to blow about all over the paths and roads surrounding.   Not a pretty sight.    So we say - the bins should be emptied more often.   I wonder how much that horrible job costs to do. 

Not a cheerful post by any means - not a cheerful day either - dull, blowy and damp in the air.   Not particularly cold though so we can't have everything.

Friday 26 January 2018

Out to lunch

Well nothing new there I hear you say.   No,you are quite right but it was an interesting morning.   Our usual coffee place is closed this week for refurbishment and so we went instead to Tennants, Auctioneers and Valuers who have both a cafe and a restaurant.   

On the way in we noticed that the Restaurant had special 'Winter Warmers' on offer with a free glass of house wine.   So even before we had our coffee we booked a table for two (friend W and I).

Sitting with about eight other friends in the cafe having coffee I found the large television on the wall absolutely mesmerising.   There was a sale on in the Auction Rooms and the lots were being displayed on the television screen with the prices being offered on each lot totting up in the left hand corner so that you could see how much each lot went for.   Fascinating.   There was lots of beautiful jewelry and it was really interesting to see how much each lot fetched.

Then it was in to lunch, joined at the last minute by friend M.   And what a delicious lunch it was.   Probably the best fish pie I have ever had - individual pies with just white fish and prawns in a rich sauce and with leeks and then smooth mash on the top.   I couldn't fault it and it was served with finely shredded cabbage mixed with green beans - that was delicious too, as was the rose wine.  And all for a special price and served by delightfully pleasant staff - coats taken by the maitre d' - hot bread rolls with olive oil and/or butter to begin with - water with ice and lemon on the table without asking.   All this on offer until the end of February - we shall be going again.

Tess was out with her petpals Rio and Cosmo when I got home so it was turn up the central heating again and sit and read The Times until four when the Chiropodist is due to call.   And not before time say my feet. 

Did anyone see, or hear, Tessa Jowell yesterday in Parliament speaking about her fight with brain cancer.  Her speech brought tears to me as that is the cancer that killed the farmer (Glioblastoma).   It is a cruel disease.   She is a courageous woman and quite rightly received a standing ovation for her speech.

Thursday 25 January 2018

The Best Laid Plans......

I had rather good plans for today.   Because I have had one or  two very busy days (no time to put on a post yesterday as I had visitors in the evening - lovely chatty evening) I intended to have a nice quiet day today.   Hair appointment is always 9.30
and then I had nothing else planned and I intended to just take it easy.

Ha,ha.  I had started to make a recipe yesterday and had to finish it today by adding green olives and chopped tomatoes and simmering for an extra half hour.   When I opened the fridge I saw a parsnip and an apple staring me in the face reminding me that I intended to make parsnip and apple soup.   I did both of those jobs and as I was doing them the door bell rang and it was a friend R calling in for a chat.   Nice to see her and we sat and chatted for an hour.   Then it was time to eat my soup - very nice too..
The door bell rang - Lakeland with a parcel of various bathroom and kitchen cleaning sprays - I unpacked them.  If you have ever considered half a dozen spray cannisters together you will find that each has its way of being opened and it is not necessarily the same as its neighbour, so I now have a line of cannisters in the kitchen waiting for my son to interpret the instructions and get them in working order before I put them away.

I sit down at my computer to put on today's post and find an e mail from a stranger asking if I can tell him anything about Dick Riv ron as he has just bought a painting by him.   He was my first husband's uncle and a very good painter.   He lived in Australia.   So I spent the next half hour photographing the paintings I have by him, then found it impossible to send them by e mail - so that is another job for my son when he next calls.

It is almost tea time now.   The only thing is that I do content myself with the knowledge that as you age it is much better to be busy and moving about all day than it is to sit about.   And I have saved on the central heating because I have been so busy that I forget to turn the temperature up all day!

It has been a lovely sunny morning here but has now gone rather grey and is spitting about with rain.  I cheer myself up by thinking it will be February next week, February is only a short month and then it will be March and things will begin to improve.   Daft really, but it keeps me going in the dark days of winter (getting a bit lighter in the evening though isn't it).

Getting lighter in the morning too.   Those of you who have read my blog for a long time will know that my favourite bird is the rook and that on the farm we lived about half a mile as the rook flies from a huge rookery.   Well, I have literally only moved two fields away from the farm and those self same rooks fly over my bungalow each morning and it is now light enough for me to see them as I eat my shredded wheat and banana.   Nothing changes.

Four of the clock.   Time to get Tess's tea (yes she can tell the time) and then I really sit down with a cup of tea and watch Antiques Road Trip.   Hope I am not tempting fate by saying this - must go I hear the door bell!!!

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Busy day

This has been such a busy day.    Usual Tuesday morning coffee with the 'girls' - in a different coffee house this morning as our Post Horn is closed this week for refurbishment.   Then I had to
drive the ten miles or so to my Physiotherapist.
She is very pleased with me and puts it down to my daily short walks with Tess around the estate.   I have not been going in this bad weather but the temperature is back up to twelve degrees today and all the snow has gone so walks have been on the cards and both of us have enjoyed them.
Back from the Physio and into town to do one or two jobs and buy one or two cards to send to people.   That done, cards written and posted (it is so good living opposite a post box) and lunch done with (three o'clock before I sat down to eat it)  and no sooner had I done that than it was time for another walk with Tess and getting her tea.

At five o'clock my son popped in to put my dustbin out for me and as he went my fancy TV arrived.   The first thing to say about it is that it will not fit on to my tea trolley so tomorrow I have to go out and buy a new table for it to sit on.   Jonathan has 'plumbed' it in to my laptop for me and it is up and ready to go, but it took him a couple of hours and he has only just gone.

Now, at eight o'clock I am just about to sit down and put my feet up.    Every vestige of snow disappeared like magic overnight and everywhere is green.   What a joy to arrive at the Physio and find her lawn absolutely covered with aconites in full bloom and the churchyard next door awash with snowdrops - it does the soul good.

Monday 22 January 2018

Goodbye snow

At last the snow is reluctantly deciding it is time to go.   Today the temperature is five degrees and slowly but surely the snow and ice is receding.   The roads and footpaths are still icy in places and with melting snow on the top are lethal, particularly for us ancients who fear breakages with every step we take.   A much faster thaw is forecast for tomorrow with temperatures up to twelve degrees - such is the contrariness of our weather here in the UK.

It was our Book Group meeting this morning - five of us meeting in one another's houses.   This month we had read and came ready to discuss Patrick Leigh Fermor's 'A Time of Gifts' -the first of a trilogy written when he was in his sixties about travels in his late teens and early twenties.   We had all enjoyed it - and if you haven't read the three books I can thoroughly recommend them.   Our next book is Benjamin Myers's 'The Gallows Pole', so I have just ordered that one.

Saying good-bye to snow like we have had for the last week, it is easy to think that it is good-bye to the snow for this winter.   Whilst I sincerely hope it is, it is far too early to even dare to think that.
What seems so exciting when one is young, nimble footed and keen to snowball, sledge, ski and the like becomes a nightmare when one is likely to fall over and break something vital.   Sorry to be so depressing, but I have lost yet another friend this weekend.   Friend D fell on Thursday and broke his wrist, went into hospital overnight while it was set and seen to and before he could come home on Friday had a heart attack and died.   The total of friends lost in the last year steadily rises - I fear it will reach a dozen before the first anniversary of the loss of the farmer.

No more glum and morose talk.  Let's celebrate the snow going away, the bulbs coming through, my amaryllis in full bloom, the birth of a new baby grandchild to my cleaning lady, friendship,
the delicious sea bass I cooked for myself at lunchtime.   I could go on.   Life isn't all bad - isn't all good either.   Just normal.

Sunday 21 January 2018

Braving the weather and other topics.

The weather forecast said sleet from eleven this morning at our level (600ft) and heavy snow at the level of The Golf Club where we have our lunch every Sunday (1,000ft).   Friend W, who has a 4 wheel drive, braved it.   We went early, had our lunch of salmon florentine with various veg, followed by chocolate pud and came home early.

This gave me an afternoon to read the Guardian in its new tabloid form.   I must say I like it.   There have been some complaints (aren't there always) but I find the whole paper much easier to handle. One of my many faults is to get any newspaper in a mess in two minutes flat.   Once I found my way round the various sections of the paper I felt very at home with it.

The article which caught my eye was one about children in German schools being put into sand filled jackets if they had been diagnosed with ADHD as it had been found to help them cope with the disorder.   Some parents had protested others had said their children found it helpful.
Often the schools concerned allow pupils to wear the jackets ever if they don't have ADHD so that no child feels discriminated against.   

Straightjackets anyone?   I don't know the rights and wrongs of the experiment.   I don't even know the real facts about the diagnosis of ADHD.   It is now over thirty years since I retired from teaching and in my day, on the whole, children were not labelled.   We might say a child in our class tended to be disruptive, or a child in our class had difficulty learning to read.   If we were good teachers - and yes there are some out there - we would spend hours in the evening devising ways to help these particular children.   And if we found a way we would exploit it to the best of our ability.

What I would like to know is - has the labelling of children helped in their education?   Does every child have the condition they have been diagnosed with - be it ADHD, Dyslexia, or whatever?   Sometimes the diagnosis seems a bit arbitrary to me.

I may be completely wrong.   Thank goodness I am no longer in teaching.   But it does seem to me that teachers, who by the way, are leaving the profession in droves after coping with the paper work for a year or two, are being given too many jobs to do instead of getting on with the job of just teaching children to the best of each child's ability.

Yes, there are many children with what may easily be seen as a disability - if you  give a so called disability a name then it tends to stick for life.
Dyslexia for example - many adults 
are dyslexic but they get by extremely well.  Surely saying one is dyslexic should not be seen as a handicap.   In my view it should be no more a labelling than saying 'I am left handed'.   We have to cope with the 'faults' in us as individuals which we happen to have been dealt.

By all means teachers, who are professionals and should know their job, should be given details of any treatments and techniques which may prove helpful  in helping children cope with whatever difficulty they have.   But there is a limit and I do
wonder whether sand-filled jackets might have gone beyond it.

Any ideas on the subject anyone?   Interestingly I read that Rory Bremner said that having ADHD was rather like having a mind like a pin ball machine.   That is the best description I have ever heard of the condition.    Note I said 'condition'
 not 'disability'.    I could be completely wrong on the whole thing, but I would like to hear your views.   Thankfully I didn't have a child with any of these conditions and if I had done so then my view might be completely different.   But I did teach for many years and those years were spent mainly with children who had some kind of learning/language difficulty.   Times have changed, teaching methods have changed, procedure in the classroom has changed, the amount of paperwork has changed - and I am sure that the methods of teacher training have changed

Friday 19 January 2018

Done it.

Well with a bit (a lot really) of back up from friend W, I have been and gone and bought a new television.   As I said, I have bought it from our local electrical shop.   I took Jonathan's advice and had the model which was on display.   He ordered it there and then and it will be here on Tuesday when he will come round and fix it up for me in the evening.   It is an all singing, all dancing model and I shall take a while to find my way round it but I take comfort from my Horoscope today which says (and I quote) 'An opportunity arises to exceed everyone's expectations and reshape how others see you.'

I shall put my existing small one in the kitchen (there is already a socket for it) so that I can sit at the table and eat my breakfast and watch Breakfast television.   So watch this space.

Today it is still cold and breezy but is slightly above freezing so that the snow is slowly but surely melting away.   The forecast says that it will warm up and that by Monday there will be heavy rain so that should get rid of any residue.   Yes, the snow is pretty but when, like me, you are not good on your feet, it does make for incarceration in the house and the constant feeling of cabin fever.   So I was pleased to go into town this morning for our usual cup of coffee.

I am in an enthusiastic mood for making soup so made tomato and onion for lunch today.   I have just frozen the residue and am now intent on making parsnip and apple and then leek and potato.   When I have frozen these it will mean that I have several to offer any guests and the freezer will be beginning to fill up again.   Last evening the Hairy Bikers made a super casserole with veal and green olives (you can substitute braising steak) and also a courgette gratin.   Both looked interesting, so my next task is to download those recipes, make them and freeze them.   Then I am ready for all comers.

My other major job today has been to book my car in for its first service.   I have done that too so I feel pleased with myself.   Now I need good weather on the day I have to drive to Northallerton to take it in - not just down the road, twenty odd miles away.

All these jobs seem like major efforts - jobs which were so effortless at one time.   But the compensation for this is that when one has done so there is a feeling of satisfaction.   One of the joys of getting old I suppose.


Thursday 18 January 2018


7am outside my front door!

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Advice needed.

Firstly, is anyone else experiencing problems with getting comments published on people's blogs?   I type the comment and click Publish and at the moment have to click on it on average ten times before suddenly it springs into action.   Very irritating.

Secondly - this is where any advice will be gratefully received.  I have only a small, very basic television.   The farmer and I rarely looked at TV because after the day out in the fresh air it usually sent him to sleep, so we played Rummikub or did a Jig saw instead.   But now that I am on my own I look through what is on offer and see quite a few programmes which look interesting.   Sometimes they are on at the same time but I have no facility to record.    Neither can I play DVD's, nor make use of IPlayer.    In fact I know little about any of these.

So how do I go about purchasing a 'better' television, more suited to filling these cold, dark evenings.   I live a long way from the large shops such as PC World.   My intention is to call at my local electrical shop, where I have bought all my appliances, as did the farmer, and ask for his advice.   But any you can give me would be appreciated.

Tuesday 16 January 2018


We are lucky in our little market town in that there is really quite a lot to do.   In addition we are also only five miles from a multi screen cinema and a very large Tesco, although our local shops are so good that really there is no need go any further.

We have quite a thriving University of the Third Age with plenty of courses to choose from (I began ukulele with a U3A course run by friend W).   We also have a good, thriving arts centre TOSH - stands for 'The Old School House'.   The building was, when I came to live up here, a Roman Catholic Primary School but when that closed the building remained and is now used for all kinds of activities.   There are exercise classes, yoga classes, Probus meets there, there is a Tuesday club where the over 65's meet for chats, activities etc. and then dominoes on Wednesday afternoons.   Fridays evenings there is always a film showing (Dunkirk this week) and often on a Saturday evening there will be a musical group, a folk group or a speaker on some subject.

Today, after our Strugglers' meeting (a once a month meeting where we have interesting discussions), we all walked along to Tosh because it is the day they cook a lunch for people who wish to drop in.   We had a lovely, chatty lunch of shepherd's pie, followed by steamed ginger pudding and custard, a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit - all for £5.   I haven't eaten at home this week yet! 

There are also Probus clubs, Luncheon Clubs,  plenty of activites going on at various other venues - we are quite spoilt for choice.   Don't let anyone ever tell you that life in the country is dull.

Monday 15 January 2018

Filling time

There is a very fine line between filling one's time pleasantly when one is retired (I mean old   really) and overdoing it.   I cross that line several times each week at present and seem to be chasing my tail.   What is the answer?   I don't wish to be sitting here on my own twiddling my thumbs or knitting jumpers for my great grandchildren all day, I wish to be out amongst people, chatting, learning, having fun.    But just sometimes it all gets just a bit too much.

Today has rather been a case in point.    The lady who cleans for me comes each Monday morning at 9am.    I was late up and usually she takes Tess for her morning walk for me.   But when she came this morning it was absolutely sheeting down with rain.

So when she had gone I had to walk Tess for a quarter of an hour.   Then I had to go into town to fulfil a long list of things on my list.   Things like banking, shopping for food, all mundane but necessary jobs.   By this time it was mid-day and I  was due to be collected by friend W to go and play ukuleles at half past one.   So I slipped into my favourite cafe and treated myself to their scampi, chips and peas. (delicious).

Then it was home to take Tess for her midday walk (remember my ankles are bad and in wet weather particularly bad, so I only walk slowly and with a stick).   Then I had a long phone call and while I was on the phone friend W called to take me to ukuleles.    What followed was a very enjoyable hour - about ten of us (one new member) playing stuff we like playing, having a
laugh - a perfect hour.   Then it was home again and take Tess for another walk.   Then feed her and get my tea and finally sit down just in time for  Antiques Road Trip after I had gone next door to collect a parcel that the delivery man had left there.

It is now 7.30-   I shall watch University Challenge at 8.30 and possibly Silent Witness for an hour if I can keep awake that long.   Rather less busy tomorrow thank goodness.   But I do wonder which is better - flying about chasing one's tail or sitting about doing little or nothing.   Getting old is no joke  but the alternative's worse!

Sunday 14 January 2018

Nice evening.

My son and his wife came round last evening and we had take away pizzas with chips and salad.   No, I wouldn't want it every day but now and again it is fun.    The pizza I had was vegetarian and had tomatoes, jalapenos, olives and cheese.   The salad was varied and good and the chips were crisp and hot.   No complaints really except the jalapenos were a bit on the hot side!  It passed a
nice Saturday evening.

Today has dawned cloudy and very cold as forecast.   No sign of any sun.   Sunday is always my day out to lunch with friends so no need to think about what's for lunch.   I have just about time to iron yesterday's washing before my friend calls to take me so shall close my post and may add to it later.   Incidentally - do you iron the clothes?   My friend W doesn't even possess an iron - I iron everything.   Yesterday I bought a new duvet cover in the sale and brought it home and unpacked and ironed it - it was very creased.  When my son called he said he thought my generation equated untidiness and lack of ironing as signs of poverty and that was why we still kept everything so tidy and ironed even the dusters.   Do you agree?



Saturday 13 January 2018

Blank screens

Sitting before a blank screen on a dismal afternoon is not very inspiring ergo I am feeling most uninspired.   The weather is bitterly cold here today as a sharp breeze has got up and the sky has been consistenly grey all day.   In other words, the second Saturday in  January has got very little going for it.

Jenny Joseph (When I am old I shall wear purple and a red hat that doesn't go) has died this week at the age of eighty five.    Most people loved that poem and it was an inspiration to a lot of elderly people I think.    I don't think I have quite reached that stage yet but I always bear it in mind for when I do.

I went into town to complete one or two jobs this morning and walking past our favourite Friday haunt decided to go in and treat myself to a toased teacake and a cafatiere of Columbian coffee (with hot milk).   The cafe was almost empty, in fact the town was too, like a ghost town on a dismal Saturday morning.   As I sat drinking my coffee and reading my Guardian I smiled to myself and imagined my dear farmer looking down on me.   He would have  thought spending money on coffee and a teacake when I only live half a mile away would have been a gross waste of money.   (He wasn't a Yorkshire man for nothing you know).   But I raised my cup to him nevertheless because he never begrudged me doing just that as long as I didn't ask him to join me (or expect him to pay for it!)

Friday 12 January 2018

Pet Pals

Tess has just returned from her Pet Pals walk which she does each Thursday and Friday.   Each day costs me £10 and for this she gets a walk of around three quarters of an hour - on Thursday she is the only dog and on Friday she is one of three.
She shares the walk with Rio and Cosmo - a Dalmation and a Labradoodle. Usually friend S takes her for a walk on Wednesdays - this means that on three days a week she gets good walks.
Occasionally another friend J calls and takes her.
On the other days I take her for three walks - early morning, noon and just before it is dark (unless it is icy) so, considering she is ten in a couple of weeks she doesn't do too badly. 

Of course, as you all predicted, I was right in keeping her after I moved.   The bungalow would be a very lonely place without her and we have both managed to adapt our life style to the changes forced on us. 

We are settled in; there are many advantages, not least people and vehicles going past all day.   I thought you might like to see photographs of my sitting room (taken from both ends as it is a large room) and my kitchen.   More another day.

You will see that I have opened the louvred blind in the kitchen.   Anyone old enough to have seen 'The Day of the Triffids' will realise I had two choices - give my amaryllis more light or let it burst through the ceiling.   You will be pleased to hear that the bud is now opening.  Apple Blossom is the variety - and another bud is just pushing through at the side.

Until tomorrow. 

Thursday 11 January 2018

Nursing Homes.

Several of us playing ukulele this afternoon at a Nursing Home for the elderly in a nearby village.   The particular home has a very good reputation and the inmates seem quite happy - all of them in their eighties or nineties I would guess.   They have varying degrees of mobility - some much worse than me, some better.  Whenever I go I ask myself the same question.   Could I live here?
The answer is always no,but I think that is because I manage well living alone - but it may not always be so. 

Here I have the freedom to drive where I wish to drive, to call upon who I wish to call upon, to tootle off for an afternoon, to ring a friend and ask them out for lunch. All that would be denied to me in such circumstances.

The residents enjoyed our sing song.   One elderly lady came up to me afterwards, saying how much she had enjoyed it because we had sung all the old songs they knew and they could join in Daisy, Cockles and Mussels, Pack up your Troubles,
all the old favourites.

Coming home friend W and I were talking about getting old and loneliness.   I would say that, if you have had a partner at some time in your life, it is more or less impossible when one of you is left alone, to not feel lonely some of the time.   What to do?   Giving in to it is, I am sure, not the answer.   Possibly the way to fight it is to have plenty to do, lots of interests, plenty of friends and maybe some kind of voluntary work if one is fit enough. 

All I know for sure is that I have no desire to enter any kind of rest home/nursing home/care home.   For as long as I possibly can I wish to remain in my own home, with all my possessions around me, master of my own fate and totally independent.

The day may well come, but I am not there yet.

Wednesday 10 January 2018


One of the things I like best about my new home is that it is on an estate of houses and bungalows.   For the last twenty four years I have lived down a Lane (a beautiful one I might add) and really enjoyed it, because the farmer was always around somewhere, either working in the surrounding fields or in the yard.   Once he had gone it was a very lonely place to live, especially in the evenings.

Now, suddenly, I am surrounded by people, there are constantly cars going past and there are people knocking on the door.   And I like it.

When I am out on one of my walks with Tess I speak to everyone, even if it is only to say 'Good morning' (most people answer, a smile works wonders) and occasionally I meet a kindred spirit and we stand and chat for a while.   This happened today.

I met an elderly gentleman walking along the road.  We smiled and, simultaneously, remarked that we were sure we had met before.   Sure enough we had.   For the past years he has walked every day, regardless of the weather, on a round circuit, taking in this estate, across the fields and then up the lane past the farm (I have only, literally, moved across two fields) and back here.   Many times I have been walking Tess and have spoken to him.   It is these sort of encounters that make life interesting.

Out to lunch today with friend D - posh fish and chips - and jolly good it was too.   Home now, walked the dog again and at 3.36 thinking about making myself a cup of tea and settling down with the crossword.

Tuesday 9 January 2018

I took this photograph of an ash tree at the farm in 2001 and I suddenly remembered it when I awoke this morning to  fog.   There is a difference of course because here, on the left of the picture the
sky is already brightening up.   No such luck today here in the town.

Although the car dashboard showed a temperature three degrees above freezing, because it was damp and foggy it somehow felt much colder.   The tree I can see from my garden is an ash, but there the similarity ends because today I just can't see it.

The weather today here in North Yorkshire is cold, damp, foggy and has nothing at all going for it.   The best thing is to hunker down, keep warm and hope it is better tomorrow.

Monday 8 January 2018

No news is good news???

Have you noticed just how selective the News is on the television?  We sit, mesmerised by what is going on on the screen, only half taking most of it in.   But, when we stop to think, in spite of the fact that we live in a 'free' country where we can say and think exactly what we like, the News seems to be censored heavily.

It is mostly gloom and doom.   Wouldn't it be good if now and then there was an item of news which lifted the spirits? 

Some pieces of news miss being reported altogether.   For example, an Iranian oil tanker collided with a cargo ship off the coast of China.   I have yet to see it reported.   I may well have missed a bulletin it was on - but surely it should have had headline reporting for at least one day.
Sometimes, the news on the headlines all sounds so very dreadful that I switch if off before the story comes on in full. Is this cowardly?   I think not because the way it is reported is usually only one view and not necessarily a true version.

Local news is even worse in terms of content.  Only very rarely is it that the headline is not a murder or a burglary.  Only very rarely is the headline something good, something pleasant, an achievement to be proud of.
All this doom and gloom leads us to believe that the world is a wicked place, that things are getting worse by  the day and that nothing has improved.
To counteract this is will just give you an instance from the weekly article in The Times today about things that have improved:   Global economy grew by three percent last year, global poverty is at its lowest level (yes there is still a long way to go to eradicate this, but an improvement is surely something to feel good about),  there are few airline crashes (1 crash for every 16million flights)
making flying the safest it has ever been.   Matthew  Syed, the writer of this weekly article, is particularly pleased about his last statistic - interracial marriages soar - he himself is the product of such a marriage but, my goodness, how times have changed since the late sixties when his mother, out with his older brother in the pram, was spat upon in the street.

We must be optimistic about the future, we must not always expect the worst.   This is the only world we have to live in - let's make the most of it in the spirit of optimism as we go into 2018.

Sunday 7 January 2018


We awoke this morning to a sharp frost and a rather white world - very beautiful, but icy pavements are a no-go for Tess and me.   In fact we didn't venture out for our morning walk until after eleven when the sun had melted the frost on the footpaths.

We went to our usual Golf Club for lunch - four of us today and, as always, it was delicious.   Much quieter today too after the Christmas rush.   I must say it struck me as I sat there eating a Sunday dinner among quite a lot of local people, just how lucky we all are to be able to afford to go out every Sunday, to get someone else to cook our food for us, and never have to worry about where the next meal is coming from.   If only people everywhere were in the same position.   If only there weren't children dying for want of food.   I know us stopping eating our lunch out wouldn't make the slightest difference - but I still felt guilty.
And what can we do?   There is so very little in a world torn apart by conflicts, a world where equality is a word unheard of by millions, a world where people are born, live their lives and die all in abject poverty. 

Coming home was an ordeal as the beautiful sun was directly in my eyes most of the way and it was already beginning to freeze hard.   I drove at 40mph and impatient drivers kept passing me.  Why this impatience?   Surely it is better to be safe than to risk one's life (and that of others) on such road conditions?

Now there is a beautiful sunset - the whole sky is red.   No snow forecast so we shall all keep our fingers crossed.

Saturday 6 January 2018

Watching Breakfast Television over my Shredded Wheat and Banana this morning, I was struck by the thousands who, in the US, had queued since midnight in huge queues in order to buy the latest book on Donald Trump.   Why would any one need to do this I ask?
I can see a need by journalists, political pundits and the like, but for ordinary people, surely they could wait until today; or if copies ran out (which I doubt as publishers would have expected a huge rush) next week or month.   And I wonder just how many of the people in that queue would actually read, digest and finish the book anyway. 

Yes, there are questions over his ability to be in charge of the US. particularly at this time, when there is such a lot of unrest in the world (but then isn't that always so?) and yes, I would also guess that many of the citizens who voted him into office are beginning to question whether or not they made the right decision at the time of the election.   But standing all night in a queue - in what for many has been the coldest night for a long, long time (witness the deep, deep snow along that East coast for example)- for a book which will not be an easy read and will defeat many before they get to the end? You have to ask yourself whether they wish to put it on their coffee tables to show that they are politically aware, or are they really going to sit all week-end and read it from cover to cover?   I suspect it will make depressing if not scary reading.

If you are one of my readers in the States then  you have my sympathy.    You do not have the monopoly on making wrong or ill-informed choices at election times.   Here in the UK we do it all the time.   And, if it is any consolation to us all, in the long run things usually turn out alright.

Looking at footage of the snow down that East coast of the US tonight - twenty feet in some places - Central Park in New York looked particularly beautiful, as did parts of Boston- makes me hope it doesn't eventually end up here.   So often, after there is a cold spell in the US it crosses the Atlantic and arrives in a lesser form here.   You in the US seem to cope very well with your snow.   Here, an inch on the railway lines is often enough to bring the whole country to a standstill. 

I have been back to ukuleles today and some really rather good (and not too difficult) stuff to take us into the New Year.   How good it is to make music with a group of like-minded people.

Keep warm, whether you are in the US or in the UK - hot water bottles and electric blankets are the order of the day I suggest (or rather the order of the night).

Friday 5 January 2018

Going ga-ga?

My printer has been playing me up for the last couple of weeks, refusing to print anything for me and not even presenting m e with a good blank page on which to type. 

I didn't think there was much wrong with my printer, I suspected that the fault (dear Brutus) lay with me.   As to what that fault was I had no idea.   So, I called in an expert (my son, who is good at solving most fairly minor problems.)

A couple of weeks ago I put in a new black cartridge - a job I have done many times before but not recently as I haven't printed much lately.

It didn't take him long to locate the problem.   When I had inserted the new cartridge I had forgotten to pull off the plastic tab, so the ink was unable to 'get out'.   Two minutes and the problem was solved.   As to not presenting me with a new blank page, I had just forgotten how to perform the operation.

I suppose it is like everything else, if one doesn't do something on the computer regularly then one forgets how to do it.   I think, basically, I am still just a little bit in awe of the machine - and it knows it and takes advantage of me.   So there you have it.   I am already giving it a personality - I shall be christening it with a name next.  I would do so now except I can't decide whether it is is a he or a she!

Thursday 4 January 2018

Wading through treacle.

Why is it that some days I sail through things and everything falls into place whereas on other days I feel that for the whole day I am wading through treacle to get from A to B.   Everything I do seems to take twice as long;  the computer is slow and e mails often disappear when I have got to the last word (and Cntrl/z doesn't make the whole thing reappear).   I go into town to do a few jobs and each job takes three times as long to do.  Nothing
 works as it should.   It is all most frustrating.  Today has been such a day. 

At last I am home, the chiropodist has just been so I feel to be walking on air, Tess has been fed so there are no little eyes fixing me with a stare; my lunch of slow-braised beef with roasted root veg and herbed dumplings (delicious, courtesy of Tennants cafe in our little town) has filled me up for the day and I have shut out the pouring rain which has not stopped since daybreak.

There is the Christmas Special University Challenge to look forward to tonight.   In this
teams who went to these Universities some years ago compete with one another.   They are very learned but they are not so quick on the draw.   In other words - they might know the answer, but they are too slow when it comes to pressing the button.   The whole programme makes me feel much better about my own shortcomings.

Onward and upward.   Tomorrow is already January 5th - how quickly the new year is speeding by.   In another two and a half months it will be a year since the farmer left me.   Life goes on and I am settled into my new bungalow.   He would, I hope, be pleased to see that I am coping well.

Wednesday 3 January 2018

A Good Tidy Up.

Today was the day to tidy up.   Not the usual sort of tidy with a vacuum cleaner and a dustpan and brush - no, my tidy was sorting my mind out after the long loll about over Christmas, sorting out the great pile of papers which lay by the side of the computer, ticking off the e mails and phone calls I needed to make.

Well reader, I have done it.   There are no papers by the side of the computer.   Several letters have been written, stamped and posted (it is really handy living opposite a post box), several bills have been paid.   I am up to date.   There is just one more file to sort and make two new files from it.   I just might do that after tea if I feel like it, otherwise it will wait until the morrow.  Enjoy your evening.

Tuesday 2 January 2018


So, China is no longer going to take a large percentage of our plastic waste.   Can you begin to imagine the huge ships taking the waste all that way; the manpower in loading it; the fuel used to get it there; the sheer waste of resources?

I can't help myself.   Each time the subject of plastic and waste comes up I find myself asking -
why does everything have to be encased in plastic these days?  Plastic, large quantities of which seem to end up dumped around the countryside or
 floating around in the sea, or littering our beaches?  Is it really necessary?   Can anyone give me a good argument in favour of plastic for every conceivable commodity?

If I go on to our market on a Friday, I can approach the Fruit and Vegetable stall and with a few exceptions (mainly soft fruit, which damages easily) everything is there piled up so that I can get a bag (yes, you've guessed it, plastic - but then we can't have everything) and fill it with pears or apples or sprouts.

If, instead, I cross the road and go into one of our stores, everything has a fancy plastic case.   Four 'ready to eat' pears have a plastic container with four pear-shaped dents in it - the four pears lie there and are covered with a clear plastic lid.   Apricots, hard as bullets at this time of the year, sit in a plastic container and again have a clear plastic lid.   If they were piled on the floor and you drove your trolley over them they would still remain like pebbles.

Every sweet and sickly drink ever invented has its own bottle, the gaudier the better, easier to attract the eye of a passing child or a teenager.   Many of these used to end up down the lane where I lived until quite recently - thrown from car windows I would guess.   Once a week I would take a bag (oh yes, it would be plastic) with me on my morning walk, pick up the plastic waste and put it into our recycling bin.   What is it about folk that makes them throw their plastic (and fish a chip cartons (yes, plastic or polystyrene too) ) out of the car window?

One of the problems of old age is that it is really hard not to think that some things were better in 'the old days.'   Well I won't go down that avenue, but something has to be done about plastic, about recycling, about stopping the pollution of our seas, our beaches, infact every place there is to pollute.

Is there an answer?   There has got to be before much of our wildlife is destroyed for ever.    And surely, now that China has put its foot down, we have a good place to start taking this problem seriously.  .I don't just mean governments. I mean individuals.  I mean you and me.   I mean every school in the country.   Education.   And it starts here and now.


Monday 1 January 2018

New Year

And so the New Year comes in - quietly - this is the first time for many, many years that I have not catered for a house full and stayed up long enough to sing Auld Land Syne.   But gradually, over the years, one after the other, friends have died.   Starting with my dear farmer in March, I have lost six friends this year.   Put it down to old age.   And, speaking of old age, this year for the first time I just did not feel like sitting up and seeing in the New Year.   And this morning, when I got up and drew back the curtains, the New Year had arrived without any help from me, the sun was shining and apart from showers on and off all day, the sun has continued to shine.

I had a succession of callers and/phone calls, which was very nice.   Friend A, who lives just down the road, stopped to wish me a Happy New Year.   Then I walked the dog and shortly after I returned friend and neighbour H arrived - with a piece of coal to see in the New Year.   She stayed a while for a coffee and chat and then it was time for cooking my lunch  and the second walk of the day for Tess.

After a break I intend to return to Ukulele playing tomorrow evening, so after tea a practise will be in order. 

My bed has been stripped, aired, changed and remade.   This is no mean feat at my age as it involves a lot of physical exertion.   But it is done, the sheets are washed and are drying as I write and I have got a feeling of satisfaction that I have done it on my own without asking for help.

So as someone else said on a post I have just read - 'onward and upward' everyone.   2018 will not be a year for sissies - but then is any year?