Tuesday 31 July 2018

Roads not taken.

Two things set me thinking today.   First of all Thelma's post(North Stoke) about which age we would like to have lived in.   Then a sentence in Iris Murdoch's 'The Bell' which I happen to be reading at present.   I have tried to find it but of course I should have marked it and so I shall have to just give you the general idea.   She speaks of two countrymen standing in the vegetable garden, speaking desultorily and lapsing into silence which is companionable in the kind of way which only occurs with countrymen.

 I was born and brought up in the depths of the Lincolnshire fens and I know just what she means.
The same is true here - I witnessed it regularly with the farmer; he and another farmer could stand for ever looking out over the fields, speaking about some aspect now and again and then lapsing again into companionable silence as they contemplated things around them.    And I suspect it was ever thus. 

Living here in the Yorkshire Dales would it really have made a difference had we been born in a different age?    Yes of course it would.   Many of the villages around us have Viking names.For example Gunnar (a Viking name made up of words meaning 'war' and 'warrior' ) is most likely the origin of the name of the village of Gunnerside in Swaledale.   With a name like that it is hard to think of the countryside as being particularly peaceful when he was around.   But it was a stage in the development of the area and the true Dalesmen are no doubt descended from that time (there are still a few of them about, although obviously intermarried).   Would I have liked to
live then?   On reflection, no.   The cold, the unrest, the worry of Viking raids.    I could go on, so maybe it is the road which we have taken which is the one chosen for us.  (unless of course you believe in reincarnation).

Monday 30 July 2018


Oh dear - maybe it is because of our long, hot Summer - Autumn does seem to be arriving early this year.  Another day to go and it will be August and I have always said that up here in the North of England Autumn begins with August.

I have not seen a sign of a swift for the last week or so.   When it was hot the air was full of insects and the swifts were having a field day.   Then the torrential rain arrived and since then no sign.   If they have got any sense they will have begun to go South (although hot weather is forecast again for the end of the week. )

As I backed out of friend W's drive at lunch time I saw that the berries on her Rowan were already orange and as I drove home I couldn't help noticing that the grass verges had gone to seed.   I don't mind Autumn at all - it can be a long and beautiful season,  so let's hope it is like that this year.   I think because we had a long Winter which went on especially long with that deep snow in March we are all rather dreading what we might get this year. 

 I made an infrequent visit to the large supermarket this morning with a vague shopping list.   On the rare occasions I do this I always vow when I get home that I will never, under any circumstances, go again.   The school children are of course on holiday and a large number of them were in Tesco (the superstore is on the army garrison).   I never encounter children in large numbers like this without recalling what my mother used to say - 'God knew what he was doing when he decreed that only the young should have children.'   I arrived home punch drunk and it has taken me the rest of the day to recover, especially as I had to defrost my freezer and repack it with some of the food I had bought.

Later in the day we had another downpour after a pleasant sunny morning and early afternoon, but by this time I had done all I was doing so I was happy to settle down with my book.   I am re-reading Iris Murdoch, always on of my absolutely favourite authors.   I have started with 'The Bell' one of the ones I liked best.   She was such a good writer and also writes a lot of prose and not very much reported speech - now that's my kind of book.

Sunday 29 July 2018

Oh the beauty!

I have just watched the final stage of Le Tour de France - and thoroughly enjoyed it.   And one thing struck me forcibly.   What a beautiful city Paris is - particularly from the air.    It is many years since I went - and I don't suppose I shall go again - and I suppose seeing it from the air means that one gets a better idea of how the city is laid out.   But I must say - the race was exciting, I was delighted to see Geraint win (he seems such a nice chap) and my goodness me it must have done marvels for the Tourist Industry.   Who wouldn't wish to go to Paris after seeing it from the air?

Saturday 28 July 2018


Sorry there was no post yesterday.   On Thursday night, for the first time in this heat wave, the heat really got to me and I had only two hours sleep.   I got up and walked round, read a little, made a cup of tea - tried everything.   Finally I went back to bed and slept for two hours.   Consequently I grew more and more tired as Friday progressed.   When I finally got round to putting on a post - around 9pm (too early to get to bed) I was so tired that I found I kept writing gibberish and, finally, I fell asleep at the computer, just for a couple of seconds my head drooped, my finger rested on the keys and I wrote about two hundred full stops...   At that point I deleted the lot, switched off and went to bed.

Slept for ten hours and feel much more perky today.   Took Tess for her walk and then went out for a quick lunch (a platter of deep fried camembert, onion rings, salmon gougons, battered mushrooms served with a good salad and chips.) 
Since then Tess and I have been out again between the showers.   The gardens are so grateful for the rain and it is interesting to see that several plants I thought might have died have actually already begun to 'green up'.    They have good survival strategies - wish ours were as good.

It looks as though Geraint has won the Tour de France - lovely to see him so delighted today (and his wife too).   I believe tomorrow is only really a courtesy ride around Paris and providing he crosses the line that is it. 

And perhaps the best sports news of all this week-end --Congratulations to fifty three year old Australian Wendy Tuck, who has become the first female skipper to win the Clipper round-the-world yacht race.

Thursday 26 July 2018


It is hot here, and airless, and quite dangerous for the elderly 'they' say.   Certainly I am finding it all rather hard going and could happily spend the whole of the day doing absolutely nothing.   But I am making myself keep going, albeit at a slower rate.   Inactivity just makes me feel useless, so I am doing inside jobs which need doing (admin mainly) with the patio doors open and a breeze blowing through the bungalow.

Cramp is being a problem at night - mostly in my feet.   My mother suffered from it greatly and one of my memories of her when I was a child   is of her wandering up and down in the night to shake it off.   On my visit to the Physiotherapist on Tuesday I mentioned this to her and she suggestion Magnesium may well be the answer - that and making sure I drank enough to keep hydrated in this very hot weather.   So yesterday I called in to our excellent Pharmacist in our little town and discussed it with her.   After chatting about it and researching the effect of Magnesium tablets on the medication I already take she finally looked at which foods contained Magnesium - and we found that they are foods I eat plenty of anyway.   Salmon, broccoli, spinach, most green veg - and I eat a lot of all those things, preferring salmon to meat.   So she suggested just upping my intake of liquid - and lots of GOOD QUALITY Tonic Water.   Drank a couple of glasses yesterday - still had cramp but  can't expect miracles overnight.

Lunch out with friend W today.   My starter was a little work of art on a plate.   Some people suggest that fancying up food in the so called ' modern' way is ridiculous.   I just thought this was beautiful in both looks and taste and because it is so easy I shall certainly do it at home.   What do you think?   Salmon tartare.   Smoked salmon made into a small patty on a bed of dill sauce which was very 'dilly' and also quite sweet.   The surround is leaves of chicory with the same sauce and a dressing of pea shoots.   Yummy and perfect on a day like today when it gets hotter and more humid by the minute.

 Try it sometime.

Wednesday 25 July 2018


How quickly Poetry days come round.   We meet more or less once a month, always on Wednesdays and, thanks to her hospitality, always at friend W's.   Poetry day was today when nine of us met to read out some of our favourite poems.  We had Dylan Thomas, UA Fanthorpe, Charles Causley,
Wendy Cope, Longfellow, John Betjamen - and a few more as well.   And, as usual, it was delightful.

It coincided with friend S taking Tess for a walk and I took her on my way there.   The weather is almost unbearably hot so Tess only had a short walk.  I think we have now reached the stage when we are all desperate for some rain.   The field above my bungalow has been harvested in the past two days and is now just golden stubble. 
The ground beneath the stubble is full of deep cracks .

My son and his wife return from London today and I guess will not have a very pleasant journey back in the heat.   They were talking about coming back overnight when the roads would be quieter and everywhere would be cooler, but I haven't rung to find out whether they did this because if so they may well be asleep.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecast for places up the east side of the country over the next two days, so we must be prepared for that - if we get it it is then back to this heat again next week.  I am beginning to wish humans hibernated in hot weather because it no long suits me.

Keep cool.


Tuesday 24 July 2018


This heat wave, which seems to stretch throughout the Northern Hemisphere, has really become quite scary.   Greece is the place now to succumb to the terrible forest fires, which seem to have spread so quickly and with such ferocity that no-one escaped the flames - some jumping into the sea carrying their small children just to get out of the path.

We have had a couple of sharp showers - an hour's worth yesterday morning and a shorter one this morning, but just enough to moisten the atmosphere.  I didn't think it necessary to water my courgettes and when I came back from my visit to my Physiotherapist they were very droopy but with a drink revived quickly.

It's awful to even think about such things but wouldn't a week of inclement weather be lovely?
My son rang from London this morning saying it was very hot down there.   Driving back from the Physio this afternoon  it was 26 degrees here even though there is a sharp wind blowing.   Was there really a Summer like this in 1976?   If so I certainly don't remember it - how quickly these things fade from one's memory.

Keep cool in whatever way you can.   It will all end before too long (says she hopefully).


Monday 23 July 2018

Harvest and dog pooh.

I hazard a guess that nobody will come up with a better headline than that today!

First of all the dog pooh issue.   I was so heartened by this story I must tell you.   On the whole folk on our estate are very good at using pooh bags.   There are an awful lot of dogs - and dogs have helped me greatly in getting to know people.   The dogs stop to say 'hello' and the owners likewise. 
Yes there is the occasional person who ignores the rules but not many.

Yesterday evening I was wandering round the usual walk on the estate, thinking about goodness knows what, when Tess stopped to do what she 
had to do.  After a moment I realised and stopped too.  She was on a steep, grassy slope.   As usual I told her to sit while I cleaned it up - she is very good at this.   I couldn't find it.   I searched and searched.   Suddenly a voice from the footpath asked if I was alright.   Yes, I replied but I just couldn't find the pooh to clean it into my pooh bag.   At which point the  young lady (who had an enormous Labrador with her) came down the bank,  found it immediately, took the pooh bag off me and said she would put it in the bin.   I thanked her and as she walked off she called back 'you wouldn't lose it if you had a Labrador!'

That's another friend I have made!!

Now to the harvest.  Courgettes and Patty Pans are coming thick and fast.   Four of each this morning. I took some round to my neighbour H and some I grated raw on to my rice salad at lunch time - it was very good.   Lot of watering involved with gro bags but certainly a good crop so far.   Runner beans - two plants and also in gro-bags - are fully in flower now so hopefully some of those too before long.   A nice sharp heavy shower this morning means I don't need to water anything today thank goodness.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Sunday again.

My Sundays follow the same pattern week after week.   Once upon a time I would have hated this but now, as I live alone, this pattern has become an anchor to the week.

We always go to the same Restaurant - the four of us.   We are all widows, the oldest a spritely 97 and the youngest in her early 70's.   Because, like quite a few others, we have a permanent booking, we know quite a few other 'regulars'. 

We meet in the bar beforehand and all have the same drink - lime and soda - before sitting and chatting and discussing the excellent menu.   The chef - Thierry - is French and his cooking is wonderful.   There is a large selection of starters and an equally large selection of sweets.   The mains always include Beef, Pork, Lamb, Venison, 
Turkey, a choice of four Vegetarian dishes, and our favourite - Salmon Florentine.   This is salmon on a bed of Spinach, served with potatoes in various forms - roast, croquettes, mash etc.   Then come the vegetables (always at least three) in a separate dish.

After our lunch we go back to the bar for our Earl Grey tea and our chat.   Finally we arrive back home around three thirty and a large part of what could have been a lonely day has been used up.

Interestingly in these days when the importance of our five a day is stressed - our 97 year old, who is nimble and active, has never eaten a vegetable in her whole life apart from potatoes and fresh peas in the pod straight off the plant before they have been cooked.   Maybe the fact that her mother lived to be well over a hundred has more to do with it.

I will sign off now and go and get 'poshed up' ready to go!

Saturday 21 July 2018

To clap or not to clap.

Last week-end I watched the First Night of the Proms - and thoroughly enjoyed the first half.   Not so sure about the 'new' piece with lighting effects in the second half (but that's another story).
The performance of Holst's Planets Suite was superb;  I enjoyed every single minute of it - I was entranced.   It is a suite I know well and I also think that the conductor is probably the best in the world to conduct it as he also knows it well. 

The audience did rather irritate me because in the first two or three movements (which have an interval between) many of them applauded.   The conductor smiled.   The players waited for the applause to stop.   Then the suite continued.   I wondered what the players and the conductor thought to what I saw as interruptions.

Today there is an article by a player written in The Guardian in which she says that players often enjoy applause between movements.  It gives them time to collect themselves, it lightens the atmosphere, it shows how much they are enjoying it. 

Do you have an attitude to this?   If you go to a classical concert do you applaud between movements if you are enjoying it? Perhaps I shall have to rethink my attitude.

Friday 20 July 2018

1940 all over again.

Here is a question for you all today.    Once again - how quickly it comes round - it is the 1940's week-end in our little town this week-end.   Today is market day but as soon as market finishes at  4pm the road down the side of the market square will be closed to traffic and the whole town will transform itself into 1940 for the week-end.

Already much of the preliminary work has been done.   Most of the shop windows have been criss-crossed with sticky paper to make the glass more bomb-proof; red, white and blue bunting is festooned around the buildings;  Union Jacks are out in force (not all of them the right way up).   And as I drove home from our usual coffee morning I met lots of ancient army vehicles of one sort or another trundling their way up the High Street to park up until the square was ready for them to take up their positions.   One or two couples were already wandering around the place dressed in forties clothes - the ladies in hats and dresses, lisle stockings, skirts below the knee and tightly permed hair;  the men in army, navy or air force uniforms mostly - but never those of the lower ranks - and a smattering of WRVS, nurses and the like.   People take to it in a big way - it is serious stuff for those who are interested.

As I left our coffee shop I asked the owner whether it was a good week-end for him.   He said it would be one of the best in the year.   Most cafes are serving things like spam and eggs and other dishes from those days.

So here is my question.   Opinions are divided in the town about whether wartime is something we should celebrate.   Millions around the world suffered, starved to death, were persecuted.   Those of my age group and older can remember this vividly although, as my friend and I said this morning, our parents made sure that 'our' war as children was kept as free from worry and hardship as possible.   Of course for children who were Jewish, or who lived in occupied countries, this was not the case at all.   And here in the UK many cities were bombed and thousands died.   So is it right that we should now cash in on this and hark back to it every year as though it is really something to celebrate?   Or should we try to put it all behind us?   I would like to know your views.

Yes, we did win the war, but at what cost. 

Thursday 19 July 2018


One of the main reasons I try to blog every day is that as I get older I find it a very useful way of disciplining myself.   I have to switch the computer on and I have to think of something to write about.   Reading and answering other people's blogs is the easy bit; sometimes it is hard to think of anything to write about oneself though.

I have always written.   In my teaching days I used to write articles for educational publications and also the odd article for a magazine.   Once I retired I lost interest in doing this so it was really very refreshing for me to be able to pick up where I left off and think about something to write each day. 

I think we gather around us other bloggers who have similar interests and this helps to generate discussions (and disagreements) and makes us really think about issues.  I expect that like me you think of the bloggers you blog with and remember them for perhaps one thing.   John I always remember for his humour and his animal escapades and these articles he writes are often peppered with  days when we learn of his work with Samaritans or we learn stories of his old nursing life.   Cro puts on delicious recipes (with photographs) and tells us such a lot about living in France.   Tom writes (often tongue in cheek) about his working life in Bath.   At the moment Rachel, having already taken us through the World Cup, is taking the hard work out of us watching the Tour de France.   From Derek I learn interesting details about the life of a Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey and from Sue life in Suffolk, and the difficulties of living through the illness and death of a dearly beloved husband.   And so it goes on.

Where else could we have these sorts of conversations, giving support where we can, forming virtual friendships with people of like minds - and all from the comfort of our armchairs?

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Sad News

I think we are all sharing in John (Going Gently)'s
sad news today.   What an interesting but strange place Blogland is, isn't it?   We gather together over the years a group of like-minded individuals with whom we seem to share views, we correspond almost daily, we laugh and joke on line together and we get to the stage where we feel we know one another well.   And yet, in fact, we are highly unlikely to ever meet with a few exceptions.   I expect, like me, there have been one or two fellow-bloggers who you have met - and certainly in my case, none of them have disappointed.   All have turned out just as I expected them to.

I would hazard a guess that, of all John's followers, every one would love to meet him and spend time with him, laugh with him, share dog-walking with him, meet the villagers who we also feel we know well.   Thank goodness that he is surrounded by so much good will at a time like this.   He has his loving family with whom he already spends time, he has his dear friend in Ireland, where he loves to go to that exquisite cottage, he has all the villagers who I know will look out for him now, he has many friends - and he has us.   And together we shall see him through this.

Make no mistake about it - a parting like this, where one half of the partnership wants to stay together, is not all that different from a bereavement.   I suffered the loss of my dear farmer eighteen months ago, Sue in Suffolk lost her Col only a very short while ago and I know that I can speak for us both when I say - family, friends, blogging friends - every small smile, every small kindness, every quiet word in the right place at the right time - all helps us overcome.   And I know in the long run it will be the same for John.

Today he has over three hundred comments - that is the kind of support he has.   We are all behind you John.   Stand tall, remember we are all here.
And, by the way, those animals will do their bit too. 

Three cheers for Blogland and the good it can do at times like these.

Monday 16 July 2018


This morning North West England have brought in a hosepipe ban from August 6th.   Things are getting serious.   I have not hosed my garden here in North East England for the last week as I felt it was irresponsible.   One has only to look at the fields to see how serious the situation is - second crop silage was a very poor crop and since it was cut the grass has not greened up at all - the fields are golden.   Unless something gives soon the farmers will have to start feeding cattle which means that silage will then be short before winter is over.

Well that is how it was yesterday.   But have things changed overnight.   Well, let's put it this way, at eight o'clock last evening we had a tremendous thunder storm - a bigger one than I have seen here in a very long time.   It lasted a good hour and the rain came down in sheets.   Everything was soaked, the roads were flooded, my steep drive was like a waterfall and still the rain fell.   By the time I went to bed it had stopped and the air was fresh and clean.   This morning it has dried up but the sky is full of black clouds - there is still an ominous look to it all.   On Breakfast Television they have just said that in parts of North Yorkshire an inch of rain fell in an hour so no watering of plants with a heavy can needed today!

Oh, and if you are interested, I have not got my water butt fixed in yet, so no excess water saved for the next time.


Busy day today.   This morning is our monthly Book Group.   Luckily we meet in one another's houses and this month's house is a stone's throw from my bungalow so that I can happily walk there.   The book - ' The Leopard' by Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa'.   Translated from the Italian, it was first published in Italy in 1958 and this edition, published by Vintage Classics, was 2007.   I have really enjoyed reading it and considering that it is a translation I think the humour and the metaphor have translated very well indeed.   This morning's discussion should be interesting.

Then this afternoon an hour's ukulele practice with our group - always great fun.   So a busy day.   Already, at 9.30 I have whizzed round tidying the house (my cleaning lady is not coming this week) and taken Tess for a twenty minute walk.

Outside I see that the morning sky is so very different from how it has been for the past few weeks.   Let's say it is 'ominous' - big, black clouds are looming.    And yes, we are in desperate need of the wet stuff.   In the back of my car I have my water butt and my next job is to take it out and stand it on the back patio and then ring my gardener inviting him to come and fix it for me.
According to the weather man the rain will be fickle, falling where it wishes to fall and missing other places.   Well we were lucky on Friday so let's hope we are lucky again today.


Sunday 15 July 2018

The down side.

I have discovered the down side of growing courgettes in gro bags.   They drink very thirstily and they dry out very quickly, so I am having to carry water to them at least twice a day otherwise they droop.   Watering and feeding means they grow quickly and numerously, so I am already inundated.   Made ratatouille, gave some to my son tonight, intend to give my neighbour some tomorrow - and still they grow.   I also have two runner beans growing up a couple of evergreen trees so that now the trees look as though they are flowering.   Whether I get the odd runner bean remains to be seen.

The forecast extreme heat never really materialised here today because there has been a nice cooling breeze all day.   Lunch out was very pleasant - salmon goujons with salad and chips, followed by blackcurrant sorbet.   Tess was very pleased to see me home, although before I went I took her very early this morning down the farm lane for a nice long walk and when I returned I took her for another walk round the estate here.

Well the Wimbledon tennis is over, the World Cup is over, the Tour de France is progressing well - now tomorrow the Golf begins.    Before we know where we are it will be time for footie again!

Saturday 14 July 2018

The best laid plans.......

It's funny but sometimes those days when one has little or nothing planned turn out to be really enjoyable.   Such a day was today.

First of all, after weeks of drought we had a couple of hours of good, steady rain on Friday.   Nothing like enough for our thirsty gardens, but a start.   It set me off thinking about how useful a water butt would be on my patio.   So this morning, early, I rang my gardener and on his way to do a nearby garden he called in with his tape measure.   There is just room for a 100litre butt between my bedroom window and the down pipe.
So off Tess and I tootled to the garden shop and bought a smart, black plastic butt with a lid  and a tap.   There are fittings to connect it to the downpipe too but my gardener will do that - my practical skills in that department stop at hoeing up a weed.

Then my son rang to say that he and his wife were going (as they often do) to the National Trust property, Acorn Bank, in Cumbria.   Did I want to go with them? So I took Tess for her second walk of the day, made sure that her water bowl was filled and off the three of us went.

 I knew nothing about the place and when I asked my son who had lived in the house he said 'the Acorn-Banks's presumably' so it was obvious that he knew nothing either.   I am sure he only goes for the magnificent drive there through the most spectacular scenery (from the road through the top Dales there is a clear view of The Howgills and of Nine Standards Rigg), and the N T Tea room which does serve rather good cake.

My daughter in law is quite handicapped and only walks with crutches or travels in her wheelchair.  I am not exactly nimble any longer.   But we did enjoy the walled garden - although past its best because of lack of water there was a faded splendour to it all,   The herb garden smelled divine, the orchards were brimming with fruit, especially apples, oh and did I mention the good cake in the tea shop? 

Reading the N T Book I see that the house belonged to the war poet Dorothy Una Ratcliffe.
She left it to the National Trust some time in the fifties, and - as with all their properties - it has been kept up to perfection. 

Here are three photographs of the garden.   They don't do it justice really but it gives you some idea.

The first two pictures are of the walled garden and the third of inside the greenhouses.   Newts and water lilies abound in the pond.

Friday 13 July 2018


No post yesterday.   Sorry, just too tired after lots of dashing about basically.   They have been resurfacing the roads around here for the past few weeks, which means if you want to go anywhere you are likely to quite suddenly come across a 'Road Closed' sign and have to turn round, go back and try another way.   This meant that when going to play ukuleles for the elderly yesterday in the village of Bainbridge in Wensleydale I had to take the long route.  Today we have played for an Alzheimer's Group in a Day Centre - I think they enjoyed us.

Other news is that  -joy of joys - it has rained quite heavily for a couple of hours today and is still cloudy - so there might even be more.  What a difference the rain has made to the garden.   Everything looks so much brighter.   The forecast for the weekend is for hot weather again (with a possibility of rain next week) but this weather will have done some good and will negate the need to water the gardens and pots for a couple of days at least.

Courgettes and Patty pans are coming thick and fast now.   I still have Ratatouille left to eat up so shall have to begin giving them away.   My gardening job for the week-end is to investigate local suppliers of water butts to see if anyone has a square one.   This would fit neatly against the wall and seems to me to be a much better idea than a round one.   If I can't locate one then I shall have to buy on line - but I always like to use local suppliers where possible.

I must say that President Trump's visit does seem farcical - and the amount of entourage in the form of security that he has brought with him is mind-boggling.   I wish I could make out more about the man.   I have been in Trump Tower in New York.   It is all gold plate and gloss walls.    All show in other words.   I do wish I could make my mind up exactly what the man was like - but then we hardly know what our neighbour is like do we, so how can we know about folk further afield.   As my father used to say -"Everybody's queer except me and thee and thee's a bit peculiar".


Wednesday 11 July 2018


The weather is back to being hot and humid again today so that it is draining.  I read that Hurricane Harriet is on its way - can't come soon enough as it may well bring much needed rain.   I half-heartedly pulled up a few thistles, nettles and dandelions from my garden this afternoon but the effort was just too much and I gave up in despair
but I was comforted to find that the soil was slightly damp under the top so the watering has done a bit of good.   I am contemplating getting a water butt for the back garden.   Looking on line it seems that it is possible to get square ones, which would fit into the space more easily.   At present the downpipe from the roof guttering goes directly into the ground - presumably into the drain.   So can somebody out there please tell me how I get the water to drain into the butt instead.   Any helpful hints and suggestions will be gratefully accepted.

I hate to admit it but there is a sort of frisson in the air before the Football Match tonight.   No, I am not a football fan, but they are young men on a mission and they are trying their very hardest and I wish them all the luck in the world.  I think they have already got further than anyone expected so now it is in the lap of the gods.  Out government is in such disarray that we do need something to take our minds off all the to do.

When we had the referendum I voted to Remain.  I thought about it a lot beforehand and decided a) that staying in the European Union was of more benefit to Farming (at the time I was the wife of a farmer) and b) I have always felt European since the advent of the EU and I really didn't wish to go back to just feeling British.   But once the die was cast then the majority had had their way and it was vital that we all pull together.   Somehow that just hasn't happened.   Do I remember rightly in saying that at the time David Cameron said he would stay whichever side the vote came down on?   But he didn't - he resigned within hours.   I guess the difficulties of leaving are so complex that none of us can understand any of it.  But now we get Mrs May saying that after exhaustive talks her whole cabinet were agreed on the way forward and yet less than twenty four hours later two senior figures have resigned saying they don't agree with that way.   It all goes right over my head.   I almost wish I was interested in footie and tennis - then I would have plenty to think about over the next week or so.

Tess has had her Wednesday walk with friend S and is now stretched out on the kitchen floor exhausted by the heat.   Oh to be a dog - nothing goes on in their heads other than food, walkies, numerous pees, the odd poo and a half-hearted bark when anyone rings the doorbell.   In other words nothing that takes any effort.

Tuesday 10 July 2018


Lunch out today as tomorrow, Thursday and Friday are all impossible.   Tomato and basil
salad followed by mackerel with potatoes and aubergine and samphire in a Hollandaise sauce.

What started out today as a cool, breezy, rather cloudy day with the promise of a shower, has turned into a hot, sultry and quite exhausting day.
I swear that however long this weather lasts I shall never, ever get used to it.   I find it totally draining.

Going out to lunch meant that I missed the Fly past up The Mall - so I shall now watch it on the six o'clock News.  There are so many Headline stories today  - finally getting all the boys out of the caves in Thailand, the Boris and David saga (set to continue), the Fly Past,  Tennis, the run up to the  semi-final (surely I don't need to say which sport) - all will be vying for Headline space.  I
wonder which one will gain it.

Tess and I walked after lunch down the Lane in the shade - still too hot for both of us.   Even my brain is becoming addled in the heat and I can think of no more to say today.   See you tomorrow.

I apologise for the odd paragraphing.   I have just gone back to edit only to find that it is perfectly paragraphed here - so there is a gremlin somewhere.

Monday 9 July 2018


Yes, I admit to being biased.   I am still a Lincolnshire lass at heart.    But the Lincoln potatoes are 'in' so let's celebrate the most tasty potato on the planet.   This used to be the case with the Jersey Royals, but no longer.   They seem pretty tasteless to me.   I read somewhere that the reason is that they no longer use seaweed as a fertiliser.  But when the Lincolnshire ones come on to our market stalls then things look up.

I buy the first lot, bring them home and have them for tea with mint and butter - nothing else.   The taste is sublime.   Now, after a fortnight of eating them I use them every which way - some which are left over any minute now will be put into the frying pan with a tiny bit of butter and olive oil and fried to a crisp.   Eaten with a tuna salad today!

But I am always reminded of the old days and this was brought to mind this morning by an article in this morning's Times.   John-Paul Flintoff headed off to the strawberry fields near Oxford to see what it was like picking strawberries.   Here the team of pickers come from Bulgaria and Rumania
(large farms often have as many as a thousand seasonal workers).   John-Paul picked for a day and at the end of it had done very poorly compared with the expert pickers and was also absolutely shattered and ached in  every joint.

This brought to mind my childhood, when there were no fancy machines to pick potatoes on the vast Lincolnshire potato fields.   The farmer went round with his tractor and some antiquated (by today's standards) digger-upper, flinging potatoes on to the surface of the soil.   Gangs trailed behind him picking up the potatoes and putting them into baskets.   On Saturdays schoolchildren could go and earn a few bob.   I was desperate to go.

My Mum and Dad pointed out that I got adequate pocket-money, I didn't need to go and I wouldn't like it.   I wittered and wittered and pleaded to go until finally they gave in and said I could go one Saturday.   We began early and after an hour I wanted to go home.    But I was stuck there all day.   Every single muscle in my body ached.   I couldn't stand without being in pain, I couldn't sit without being in pain, every time I moved an inch I was in agony.   At the end of the day I got my 'wages' - I think it was about five shillings.

I never went again - never ever suggested it.   But I still love those first Lincolns.   If you haven't done so already - try them.

Now I am off out into my garden to cut my first courgettes from my grow bags.   After lunch I shall make a ratatouille and I know it will taste so much better because one of the ingredients will be home grown.

Saturday 7 July 2018


I just don't know how anyone could manage without a daily newspaper.   Alright, there is the television news - and I always watch News at 6pm.   But it is here and then gone.   With a newspaper you can go back to the beginning and read the whole thing again if you don't quite understand what is being said.

The trouble with any news though is that it is manufactured with some political bias depending upon from which paper one is reading it.   I take The Times during the week (as opposed to The Mirror, The Telegraph or The Mail) and on a Saturday I take The Guardian.   It has a bit of a sit on the fence attitude which I find irritating but on Saturdays it has all sorts of bits and bobs which are interesting.   First of these is the Review.

Each week The Review has an Interview and this week it is with the writer  Marilynne Robinson.
She speaks of her wonder at just being alive and of
her friendship with Obama, who says she has 'fundamentally changed him for the better'. She
condemns cynicism as 'slick, unrelenting and inducing a state of helplessness.'

She has a face which is devoid of any kind of cynicism, she loves her own company and says the world would be a better place if we loved it more.
It is such an uplifting article.   Do try and read it.
She has written 'Housekeeping,' Gilead' and, more recently, 'What are we doing here?'    Has anyone out there read any of her work?   If so I would like to hear what you think of it please.


Friday 6 July 2018

Market Days

On Summer Fridays when it is sunny weather our little town turns into a completely different place.   If you want a place in the car park (the market square is, of course, full of market stalls) then you have to be down town by nine in the morning, otherwise if is too late.   The square is buzzing - two very good, very well stocked fruit and vegetable stalls, a fish van with every kind of fish you can imagine (we are near enough to the fishing port of Whitby to get good stuff), home made bread, clothing stalls, handbags, household, - there is every kind of product you can imagine and every stall has people waiting.   We are lucky indeed.

My ability to carry stuff to the car is limited so I have to drive round and park briefly to load up with anything I have bought, but I find people very patient.   Somehow there is always a spirit of goodwill on Fridays. 

Our little gang was diminished a bit this morning.  W had gone on a ukulele week-end in the Lakes and M has fallen and broken a rib (get well soon M if you are reading this).   Our main topic of conversation was the boys trapped in a cave in Thailand - how brave they all seem.   Reading in The Times this morning it seems their coach, who is with them, used to be a Buddhist monk and is a very calming influence on the boys.   I must say that they all look remarkably calm during what must be a terrible ordeal for them.   I think we are all agreed that they need to get out before the next rain deluge - hope to God they do.   The alternative just doesn't bear thinking about.

Thursday 5 July 2018

Can't sleep

It is six thirty in the morning and having been awake since four I finally got up and put on my computer.   The sun is up of course (only a fortnight since the longest day but we shall soon begin the notice the days shortening) but the main thing - and I always notice it when I get up really early - is how very fresh and clean everything smells.   I am sitting here looking out on my Gro-bag courgettes.   The leaves seem to have doubled in size overnight - they are a bit like Triffids (remember them?) - they look about to take over the garden.   I'll be back later with a resume of today's events but just thought I would say 'Good morning world.'

Thank you.

Thank you Mother Nature for giving us a day off today, for giving us a break from the very hot, draining weather to a cloudy and cooler day with a cool breeze.   Reading the forecast it is going to be hot again from tomorrow but the respite today has been very welcome.

Because friend W is away on a course for the week-end we had our Friday lunch today instead.   And delicious it was too.   Smoked mackerel pate with watercress followed by Tagliatelle with sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies and pea shoots for me and for W the same starter followed by Sea trout.
I had this last week and it was also delicious .

How very lucky we are to have such a super restaurant (Tennants Auction House) in our little town.   It has really put us on the map and is seen by many as the Christies of the North.

In the garden my round courgettes are doing very well.   I already have three on the plant and the largest of the three will be cut to eat on Saturday when I have folk round for a meal in the evening.
The more I cut them the more they will produce I am told. Two very small Patty pans will also be cut to chop into the salad.   It is so many years since I grew my own produce that I am finding it quite exciting.

Another week bites the dust tomorrow - how quickly the weeks go past.  It is almost sixteen months since my dear farmer died.   I miss him still but have many happy memories to call upon.
Also I am sure I have learned to be much more self-reliant.   There is no-one there to call on to do jobs I shy away from so I have to get on and either do it myself or call in an expert.   I am learning.   Slowly.

Tennis.   Football.   Very little else on our TV at the moment.   Because of England's success at football England flags for fixing on cars have sprung up in the shops and are selling like hot cakes according to the shop-keeper I spoke to this morning.   One of the bungalows opposite me has suddenly raised a Union Jack in his garden.   Pity it is upside down.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

'Town Life'

Although I have in theory moved into town, it is only a very small town and at present I live on the very edge of it (I believe there are plans to build further behind where I live).  If I climbed over the wall (highly unlikely) I would only have to cross three fields to be back on the farm and my post code has only changed one letter.   But the wild life is interesting.

When my friends from Holland were here we were regularly serenaded by a beautiful Song Thrush each morning as we ate breakfast.   And - joy of joys - last evening when I shut and locked the patio doors before going to bed I was entranced by bats flying up and down across my garden.   They were obviously after insects - their speed and dexterity never cease to amaze me.  And, as I watched, a Barn Owl swooped down over the wall.   The sky still had the glow of sunset and seeing these in such a setting was magic.

I had watched a programme on Orkney - it made me want to go there.   The scale of the excavations is enormous and they are gradually uncovering clues, all of which point to the structures predating Stonehenge and all of which suggest that Orkney was once perhaps the most important place in Britain.   One thing was really interesting.  Some of the stones weighed a ton or more and they were experimenting as to how these stones were moved from a to b (often a long way).   They came to the conclusion, after trying various methods, that perhaps the best - or at least the easiest - method seemed to be by pulling them along the ground which had a bed of slippery seaweed.

My gardener has just been (and obviously, because I am not doing anything much today found me still in my dressing gown reading The Times) and watered my garden for me and is coming back to do it again this evening.   As he was doing it a young man from Yorkshire Water came to test my water supply.   He says Yorkshire is probably the best place in the country for water at the moment - so maybe it will not be a hose pipe ban next week!

Tuesday 3 July 2018


Oh dear, I have to admit to being a turncoat.   I am not at all interested in football - the thought of watching a match from beginning to end never enters my head.   But I have a confession to make before I go to bed for the night.   I switched on the television expecting to just see who had won.   It was a Penalty Shoot-out.   I watched it.   It was nail-bitingly exciting - I could hardly bear to watch.   And when England won I was so pleased for them - they seemed so young and they looked so surprised to have made it through to the quarter finals.   So well done England.


It is hotter here today.   That cool North Easterly breeze from the North Sea no longer seems to be reaching as far inland as the Yorkshire Dales.  
All the plants in the garden are beginning to look seriously short of a drink - watering them is just not the same as them growing in a humid environment.   I start off the day feeling quite perky, have a walk with Tess in the 'clean' early morning environment and from then on I gradually wilt. (Pretty much like the plants in my garden I suppose).

Bank, early morning essential shopping, then back home for half an hour before back into town for lunch at our Tuesday spot.   We are lucky to have a building called TOSH, which stands for 'The Old School House' in our little town.   It was once a small R C  Primary School and is now used for various activities and is such a useful amenity for the town.   We are very lucky.

A lot of the U3A classes are held there, many of the local organisations like Probus use it for their meetings Venue, and various classes - Yoga, Tai-chi and the like make use of it too.   Every Friday evening there is also a Film shown - all of them are really up to the minute films.   There are various clubs for the over sixties where folk meet and have speakers or play things like Dominoes - there is usually something going on.   Every other Tuesday A and her friend cook and serve a meal and around a dozen of us usually go.   There is lively conversation and A is an excellent cook.   Today it was quiche with delicious new potatoes and salad, followed by mixed fruit (apple, rhubarb and red currant) crumble and ice cream. And all for the magnificent sum of five pounds.  You can see that we really are a thriving, buzzing little town.

Monday 2 July 2018


Another day of blue sky and unbroken sunshine here in the Dales, except that as we are on the Eastern  side of the Pennines there is quite a sharp wind blowing off the North Sea and the temperature is not quite as hot as on the other side of the country.  This can only be good.

Wimbledon begins today and traditionally it is a time of sunshine and showers interrupting play.   But according to the long-range forecast the fortnight of Wimbledon will remain good weather throughout.   However my Times today suggests thunderstorms may be creeping Northwards by Thursday of this week - rain would be so good for my garden.

The coming week-end is my son's village Open Gardens and Scarecrow competition.   They enter both and as my son's wife is handicapped she does have difficulty in getting about and doing jobs in the garden.   But I am sure it will look splended, as it always does.

This afternoon has been a one hour ukulele practice - very enjoyable - but quite long enough for me.   Tess was pleased to see me home.   I feel sure she is mortally offended each time I leave her alone.   She loves to be outdoors and yet, although the patio doors are wide open she will only stay out in the garden if I am there.

Cougettes in my garden gro-bags are really flourishing in this hot, sunny weather.   One patty pan on one plant, three round courgettes on another and another one full of flowers but no courgettes yet.  Watch this space.


Sunday 1 July 2018

Another sunny day.

Another sunny day here on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.   In the distance, as I stand in my sitting room window early on a Sunday morning, I cannot see my usual view of The Fell - it is wreathed in a thick early morning mist.   But by ten o'clock the mist has cleared and the sun is out.

Yesterday was to have been a totally empty day for me.   Saturdays for anyone who lives alone are perhaps the hardest day of the week.   Sundays would be too except that four of us always lunch
out and that takes up a large part of the day.   But at lunchtime friend W rang - 'let's go and have an ice cream' - so off we went.   Everywhere was beginning to look very parched.   The fields were not greening up, the leaves on the trees by the roadside no longer had that fresh, green look they wore in Spring, the flowers on the roadsides were faded and dying.

The bikers were out in force.   We get droves of bikers up here from April to September.   They have just as much right to be on the road as we do and they are, for a large part, very good drivers. 
Because the machines they drive are very swish models the drivers tend to be middle aged men (presumably they are middle aged with grown up children before most of them can afford such models) and, sadly, over the Summer there are  quite a few accidents - often fatal or life-changing.
Because of the fashion these days to leave flowers at the scene of accidents these deaths can often be marked for years by the sides of the road.   One such, just a few miles from here, occurred when a tractor and trailer were driving into a field when a motor cyclist came round the corner at speed and hit the trailer.   Nobody's fault really but a tragic death.   Flowers by the side of the road still - somebody remembers.

On a lighter note - the bikers were out in force at the Ice Cream Parlour too.   Just before we arrived a party of about twenty of them arrived and swelled the queue!  As we sat licking our ice cream cones at a table (like five year olds) two middle-aged bikers came and sat at the next table.   Both had large ice creams (and tummies to match) and one had a black T shirt on.   Across his chest was written:  'My biker grandad.  Like other grandads but cooler'.   When I told my son that later on he said he had driven behind a biker and on the back of his T shirt was the message 'if you can read this then my wife has fallen off the pillion seat!'

Tess and I have had our morning walk in the cool.  In a couple of hours I shall go and collect W en route for our lunch date.  In the meantime I think water the courgettes and patty pans and the tubs in the sunshine of the front garden and then have a cooling shower.

On a totally different note again.   I have just read an interesting article on Seamus Heaney in yesterday's Guardian.  It mentioned a particularly poignant poem and I have just looked it up and run it off and printed it to read at our next Poetry group.   It is sad but it is beautifully written.   Do look at it on Wikipedia.   It is called 'Mid term break' and is about the death of Heaney's young brother.  How much a poem can manage to put in so few words.