Friday 31 August 2018

The Good Samaritan.

My great grand daughter is coming on Sunday to stay overnight with her mum and dad.   She will be two in December and as they live in Glasgow I don't get to see her very often, so I am really looking forward to it and to preparing a lovely meal for us all to eat (there will be six of us as my son and his wife will of course be there too).  Lots of salads are the order of the day (they are all either vegetarian or pescatarian apart from me and my daughter in law.)  So I needed to go to our very good Friday market to stock up on fruit and salad stuff.  (When I buy victoria plums I need to be very strict with myself or I can eat them all before I get back home with them).

But first of all my son and I had an appointment at the bank in Northallerton - what a chore.   But that done we went into a coffee house and had a drink and then of course as the pedestrian crossing happened to be right outside Waterstones Book Shop we really had to go in there too.   I was like a kid in a toyshop it is so long since I actually handled a book when buying it rather than ordering it on line. 

Arriving home at lunch time I quickly did myself a jacket potato in the microwave, stuffed it with cheese and chives and good butter, ate it and then went into town to food shop.   Leaving my car in the Car Park I walked up to the market, bought my stuff there and then continued up to our Deli and bought a load of stuff there.   At the check out I told the lady I would have to leave my trolley, go back to the car park, collect my car, hope to find a parking spot near the shop and load the things I had bought there as I really can't carry two shopping bags when I already have to manage a handbag and a walking stick.

A young lady behind me in the queue who had only bought a few things and had put them into a rucksack on her back immediately insisted that she carry both bags to the car park for me as her car was parked there. We chatted as we walked, she came right to my car, loaded the two bags in my boot and cheerfully went off to find her own car.
I thanked her - I really was grateful - and it did me good to end a very tiring day by witnessing such a very kind act.   I sometimes think there is not much of it about these days but it restored my faith in humanity.   So here's another thank you to the anonymous young lady who helped me so kindly.
I am now going to make myself a cup of tea and rest for the remainder of the evening and start the book I bought (Ian McEwan's The Children Act - I always prefer reading the book rather than seeing the film which seems to be getting mixed reviews).

Thursday 30 August 2018

Busy today

Today has been one of those days when I have somehow felt harrassed all day.   Not sure why because this morning was the day of my perm and so I was sitting in a chair at the hairdressers for the best part of two and a half hours.   But as I have visitors at the week end I did quite a lot of grocery shopping before I went in to have my hair done.

Coming out I rushed home and just got there in time for friend W to pick me up and the pair of us to go out for lunch.  (surprise, surprise I hear you say).  Delicious as always.   I missed out the middle course and had first course and pud instead:  Smoked mackerel pate with toast (I have asked the chef for the recipe as it is so delicious) and a lime and passion fruit cheese cake with a raspberry sorbet.

Home to four phone calls in quick succession, all needing answers and all involving looking something up, or arranging something,  or organising something.   I felt quite worn out when I had finished by which time Tess was fixing me with one of her 'are we going out' looks. 

I had arranged for the decorator to call with a view to decorating my sitting room - he has arranged to do it at the end of October.   So that is another job sorted before the winter sets in.

 Looking round the garden later I saw, as John did on his post today, that all my violas have suddenly gone over the top and gone to seed.   Here and there amongst them a sneaky nettle has grown up and the whole bed could do with a good hoe.   Having fallen in the garden a few weeks ago I have no intention of doing anything there for  myself so have put it on my list for my gardener.

One more late evening walk with Tess and at nine o'clock I can now sit down and take it easy  - so nighty-night every one.   Sleep tight.

Tuesday 28 August 2018


I walked to see the farmer again today.   Tess loves the walk down the pasture and I have permission from the new owner to go down there, so off we went after lunch.   Lovely walk.

Tomorrow is our Poetry afternoon so when I came back I spent some time choosing my contribution.
I chose Burnt Norton (one of Eliot's Four Quartets), The Glory of the Garden by Kipling (very dated I think), Wendy Cope's Flowers and a
short poem by Edward Thomas which I love because it sums up the farm environment for me - makes me sad that I have left it for ever.

Tall Nettles.

Tall nettles cover up, as they have done
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone:
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.

This corner of the farmyard I like most:
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.


Monday 27 August 2018

Tom is cheating - take note!

Yes, he has managed it again.   He has jumped in first with his quote 'Season of mists and yellow fruitfulness'.   I had it all ready to put on on September 1st but he has beaten me to it and is also gloating about it!***

Well this afternoon Tess and I experienced the Autumnal feel in the air.   Sadly I forgot my camera so you will just have to imagine it.  I drove to the pasture which used to belong to the farmer and where his ashes are scattered by the wood and the beck.   Together we walked down to more or less where he is.   This year the pasture, which has  been grass certainly for the last twenty five years, was ploughed and sown with barley.   This has now been harvested for whole crop.   I don't mind.   The ploughing would probably scatter his ashes still further and he would like that.

There were signs of Autumn.   Patches of quite juicy blackberries hidden in the hedge (I picked and ate a couple as we passed them) and then patches of hawthorn berries already a deep red.   As happens every year, by the time the really bad weather arrives the birds have stripped the berries.  Many lie uneaten on the ground (I am sure the mice will eat them later) - it seems that once a bird drops a berry it doesn't have the sense to fly down and pick it up.  (the same applies in Spring to the rooks and nesting stick material).

The pasture is large and was once three separate fields, each belonging to a different farmer.   As one came up for sale the farmer bought it.  The flimsy boundaries between the three fields remain in part and these 'boundaries' are almost all crab apple trees and as usual they are heavily laden.  Only rarely do the birds eat these, they usually remain until early Spring when the beast go out and have a crab apple feast.

The leaves on the hedgerows have not begun to turn yet but they are looking dried and sad.   The undergrowth is dying, thistle plants have the odd pretty purple flower but the foliage is dying.   All around there are signs that the die back has begun.
Today is quite a warm day were it not for a strong rather chilly wind.

I had a little chat with the farmer.   It is peaceful where he lies - up against the wood and the beck and close to where the marsh marigolds and the blue bells come out in early Spring.   It is the spot he would have chosen I am sure.

Friends T and S, out walking with a friend's dog, spotted my car by the gate and walked down to meet me.   And so the afternoon has passed and soon it will be time to watch Antiques Road Trip,  one of my favourite programmes - and I shall have got through another Bank Holiday weekend with the help of my friends.

***And watch out Tom Stephenson next year on September 1st - I shall be ready for you.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Luck and the rain.

Sounds as though for once the weather forecasters had it one hundred percent accurate and consequently the Wensleydale Show benefitted hugely.    Friends have pronounced it 'the best Show ever' and certainly, looking over my garden wall into the Show Car park, it was very well attended.

Now all the parafernalia has more or less disappeared from the show field and all that remains are the big tents which will , I presume, have to stay up until they dry out (a dry and much warmer day is forecast for tomorrow,with a breeze) - attention will switch to the little town of Reeth in Swaledale because tomorrow, Bank Holiday Monday, is Reeth Show.

Lunch out of course today, as it is every Sunday.  It was such a good idea to start this - the four of us, all widows, spending a large part of the middle of the day out together.   We almost always, in spite of the huge menu, end up having salmon Florentine with Hollandaise sauce and a variety of vegetables, and after yesterday's feast it was a nice light lunch today.   Just what the doctor ordered.

I met my new neighbour today.   The bungalow has been empty ever since I moved in ten months ago and now I am to have a very pleasant new neighbour.   It will be nice to have the place inhabited again.

The nights are drawing in (as my father would have said) and all the blinds are drawn at twenty minutes past eight.   It makes the nights very long.  I managed two walks with Tess as my twisted knee is beginning to heal and I have several jobs I want to do this evening - one of which is to vote in the Countryfile calendar competition.   Nice to always have something to do.   

Enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday.

Saturday 25 August 2018


and the Wensleydale Show is over.    The weather has held - cold, breezy but bright sunshine all day.
Judging from the number of cars in the carpark and the long queue of traffic waiting to get in when I went out to lunch at friend W's today it will have been a very good show in terms of numbers attending ( always pleasing as the show needs the revenue in order to keep going).

It is lovely to see people arriving - in their cars, on their bicycles, on foot with their dogs (there are always a goodly number of dogs at the Show) and it really is a jolly good day out.  With my problem of mobility the walking on uneven ground and the standing about looking at things are both impossible.   But I have been many times in the past. 

So instead I was invited to lunch at friend W's as her friends (and through association now my friends too) were there.   K, N and S come up every Bank Holiday and stay and because S adores certain food the lunch is always the same and we know exactly what to expect.   And because W cooks it often she is therefore well-practised and cooks it to perfection - roast ham with chips and/or new potatoes; baby corn, mange tout, green beans, multi coloured carrots.   This is followed by sticky toffee pudding, ice cream, fresh fruit salad with giant blackberries, blue berries, raspberries and the like.  Coffee finishes the meal** and then we sit in the conservatory to relax (and some of us have a short nap (no names but my fingers are quite perky on the keyboard because of my rest!)

Now I am home.  N took Tess for a nice long walk during the afternoon which was very helpful to me as during the night when I got up to use the bathroom I somehow twisted my knee getting out of bed and today am having a job to walk.

Sunday again tomorrow.   How the weeks fly by. 
**  Forgot the obligatory chocolate cake with the
coffee - sorry S)

Friday 24 August 2018

Friday lunch

Out to lunch today as we usually are on Fridays - just the two of us.   Today for a change we went to
Middlemoor,a restaurant between here and Richmond.    The ambience is excellent, the food  out of this world, the management are cheerful and helpful - what's not to like?- we peruse the menu long and hard, discussing the pros and cons of various dishes and then usually end up choosing the yorkshire Platter. 

What is the Yorkshire platter I hear you ask?   Well I am sure I have described it before but it will merit being described again.   As usual there was far too much and I was completely unable to finish it.   Imagine a board.   Arranged on it in no particular order:
a colourful salad of leaves, beetroot, small tomatoes, coleslaw, red onion and the like.
three wedges of cheese - one Wensleydale, one Yorkshire blue, one Cheddar.
several slices (thick cut) of home cooked  ham.
a Yorkshire pork pie from a well-known butcher in
a warm roll and butter.

Believe me, by the time you have eaten this you have no feelings of animosity towards anyone (you are too sleepy to harbour them).

All this, followed by a  good cup of coffee and all
that is left to do is have a good sleep.   I am home again now and trying hard to fight sleep

The Wensleydale Show tents and the  bits of equipment are all in  place, various vans are whizzing around the site importantly.   My bungalow is over the wall and the back garden backs on the Car Park.   That is the nearest I shall get as my mobility doesn't allow me much more than a slow wander.

Typing this I keep falling asleep at the wheel so to speak.  I shall therefore go and sit in the sitting room and close my eyes - this will the signal for me to become fully awake!   See you tomorrow.

Thursday 23 August 2018

Do you remember?

Do you remember those hot, hot, hot days of Summer when it was really too hot to do anything, when all one felt like doing was eating salads for meals, lying in the chair, drinking plenty of cooling drinks and soaking up the sun/lying in the shade depending on one's point of view?

Well dear readers - they have gone and I guess never to return, at least not in 2018. Here in North Yorkshire today it is cold.   There is no other word for it.   No use beating about the bush and saying things like 'it's not too bad for the time of year' - however one looks at it it is very chilly and my hand will have to be firmly controlled this evening to avoid it altering the temperature control on my gas central heating.

Tess was suddenly ill yesterday and had me panicking and rushing off to the vets late in the afternoon. She had chronic diarrhoea and ended up by tea time passing blood.   As we are not sure whether or not she might the  have beginnings of cancer I was naturally very worried.   All seems to be well.   The vet gave her several injections and special food and said she thought Tess had eaten something while she was out on a walk somewhere.   Today everything is back to normal.
It did bring to mind something my son (who is not a dog-lover) said a while ago when he said one of  the reasons he didn't like dogs was that their owners always became obsessed with their dogs bowel movements.   I do begin to know what he means.

If you haven't already done so and if you are a fan of John (Going Gently on my side bar) then please do go to his blog.   He is doing a sponsored zip wire 'flight' for Samaritans (he is himself a volunteer for Samaritans) and is asking for sponsorship.   The response has been wonderful, but he can never have too much.

Well nobody can accuse me of not doing a varied blog today!   Weather looks set fair for our Wensleydale Show on Saturday but anyone going will probably need their Long Johns on.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Beaurocracy gone mad.

I am a widow, living alone just too far out of the town centre to walk in to do a bit of shopping.   There is a bus stop at the end of my road and the next stop for the bus is the Market Square.   Perfect I think.   Following instructions from friends I go into the Chemist and have my 'Bus Pass Photograph' taken.   It costs me five pounds for four photographs.   Stage one completed successfully.

'Bus passes are issued at the Library' say friends, so one day soon after I take said photographs up to the Library.   It is quite an uphill walk out of the town centre but I make it and have a sense of satisfaction at doing so.   Then I stand in the queue to speak to the lone Council assistant who shares the library for her office.  When it is my turn I sit down and state what I have come for.   Bus passes are issued by North Yorkshire County Council.  The lady at the desk works for Richmondshire Council so she can no longer deal with Bus Passes.   Stage Two unsuccessful.

This means that to get a Bus Pass I either have to catch a bus into Richmond (and pay the fare - it is ten miles away) and walk the half mile or so to the Library there where, according to the Lady I spoke to, they should do it for me.   The alternative is to do it on line.   I am elderly, I don't have a computer and I don't know anyone who does.  I am living on my Old Age Pension  So Stage Three is also unsuccessful and really things have for the moment come to a full stop.   Stage Three and out.

Luckily this is not me.   I came home determined to apply on line.   Things were going fine computer wise (after a few hiccups) until I came to having up scan and put on my application form my driving licence (to confirm my age and address) and a photograph.   Now I scan things regularly but I do not then crop them and upload them on to a form and the action defeated me completely.   Luckily my son lives a miles away and he came round immediately (it is school holidays so he has time) and did it for me.   He did not find it all that easy and he uses a computer for all kinds of things regularly.

I had an acknowledgement and information that my Bus Pass will arrive within ten days.   What, I ask , about all those people who are elderly, don't walk all that well, find getting out difficult, don't have a car and are consequently stuck at home and have no-one near at hand to apply for them?

Monday 20 August 2018

A Question.

Derek suggested I asked you all a question.    So  I shall ask it, although I have often thought about it in the past and don't think there is an answer really.

He asks - as we age are we in the position we expected to be in when we were young?    Have we fulfilled our expectations for ourselves and if not then in what way have we failed?    Are we in a better position, a worse position or just a different position from the one we envisaged ?  Or, I suppose, following on from the question I asked on here a few weeks ago, have we followed the road we expected and maybe do we now wish we had explored the road not taken?

Looking at this question from my own point of view then I am not sure that I looked all that far ahead when I was young.   Maybe some young people plot out their lives - their possible career paths - their way through life.   But I dont think I did for a minute.   And surely things happen to us all which make us change course.   For example, my Grand daughter was teaching and was very enthusiastic and loved it.   Then she became pregnant, gave birth to a baby girl, absolutely loved motherhood and has never gone back to teaching but has stayed at home. A stay-at-home Mum, a rarity these days.
Did you plot your approximate way through life and if so did you stick to it, or were you side tracked?

Sunday 19 August 2018


Trawling through people's posts today I do find more and more mentions of 'seasons of mists and
mellow fruitfulness'.   Cobweb photographs with great beads of dew on them - morning mists over the fields and woods - plenty of that sort of thing.
The seasons go on and there is nothing we can do to stop them.   In fact I love Autumn; it is a kind of winding down time and some years Autumn colours are beautiful - let's hope this year is one of those years. 

A big reminder of this here in my part of the Dales is the Wensleydale Show.   Passing the site today on my way out for our usual Sunday lunch I passed the Show field and already the poles and guy ropes are up ready for the big marquees which will begin to go up on Monday  (the show is next Saturday). 

The Wensleydale Show is a sign that the Show season is coming to an end.   Locals take these events very seriously - the farmers for their livestock and the wives for the produce they grow or the cakes they bake.   Our farm was very close to the Showground and each year my farmer would walk up to the show and have his lunch there.   (Feed Merchants have large tents and provide a picnic lunch (Pork pies, sandwiches and cake) for those farmers who are their customers.  And as anyone will tell you it is a rare Yorkshireman who will not go for a free meal!

I have just watched an episode of 'Swallows and Amazons' on TV (Childrens).   My son loved the books when he was a boy and still has the complete set.   The children in the book are the same age as I would have been at that time - the books are contemporary to my childhood - and I watch the clothes, the hairstyles, the behaviour in amazement.   Did we really behave and dress like that?   Obviously we did - these costume dramas are nothing if not accurate but really they seem way before my childhood time.   I enjoyed it.


Saturday 18 August 2018

Done it!

Well - I have done it.   I almost did it yesterday but drew back at the last minute.   After all it is only 18th August and the sun is trying its best to shine here today.   But there is a strong wind blowing.   So what is 'it'?    I have put on my thermal vest.   And on top of that I have put on a thinnish polo-necked jumper.   It was either that or turn on the central heating.   Saturday is a day when I rarely do anything and apart from administrative jobs which I will probably do when I have eaten my Sea Bass with peas and the first of my runner beans I have nothing else to do.

Saturdays are the hardest day of the week to fill when one lives alone.   Sundays are fine as I go out with three friends for lunch.   Had today been a pleasant August day then Tess and I might have had a longish walk - but even with my thermals on no thank-you!

Friday 17 August 2018

Bank Holidays

Another one coming up next week-end.   Another opportunity to leave the house and join a traffic queue going to somewhere or other and taking hours to get there.   The traffic will be held up on and off all the way;   the sky will be threatening at the very least; when you get to your destination either there will be a queue to get in (if it is a stately home) or the cafe will have run out of scones and cake (again, if it is a stately home.  If your plan is to go to the seaside then be assured that by the time you get there the car park will be full and all the parking places on the side of the road will be full and should you just be intending to go for a scenic drive then a heavy mist  will descend over distant views and when you get to the pretty little church you planned to visit you will find the church tower cloaked in scaffolding and danger signs everywhere to keep you well away.  Such is life on a bank holiday.   You have been warned but I don't expect it will make any difference.   At the very least I shall expect to see you in a queue for an ice cream at a parlour somewhere near me.

Thursday 16 August 2018


W and I decided to head here for our lunch today - head in fact to the Three Horseshoes pub where the quiche is legendary.  Wensley is only about two miles from where we live, so no journey to speak of and, as we expected,  quiche, salad and chips was superb.

Wensley was once home to the only market in the Dale (the Dale is still called Wensleydale) and until 1563 it was the centrepoint of trade for the whole area.   Then the village was more or less wiped out by Plague and the emphasis for trade moved to either Leyburn or Hawes.   Both little towns still have cattle markets and sheep markets
(Hawes sheep market is one of the most important for the Swaledale sheep) and both towns still have a good market along the street (or in Leyburn's case in the Market Square).

Some parts of the church (it is no longer in use) date back as early as 1290 and it is a Grade 1 Listed Building but both the church itself and the churchyard are now redundant and have a sad, neglected air.   Inside the church there is that smell which you get nowhere else - easily recognisable.

The whole village is part of the Bolton Estate so that almost all the houses are of a certain period (there have been some private houses added on but all are sympathetically built).

Gardens were pretty - one in particular, obviously that of a very keen gardener, was perfection with such colour in spite of being small.   Have a wander round and get the feel of a delightful little place.   The River Ure flows through just below the church - well it is normally the River Ure but at present not much more than a dry river bed.

The very prettily situated village hall is totally green and is a wonderful addition to the village and its amenities.   I hope you enjoyed your walk round it.

Wednesday 15 August 2018


When I read of large cities - and even smaller towns - there are always photographs of the downtrodden areas with their poor and the homeless and the people sleeping in the streets.
It all paints a very depressing picture.   It does seem that our homeless population is getting no smaller and many people are living miserable lives. 

Out here in areas like The Dales we see little of this.   I do know that problems like drugs exist and there are social problems.   Our local supermarkets  have foodbanks and most people put something in the collection points when they are doing their shopping.   But in all the time I have lived up here I have only encountered two homeless people - one man lived in an old disused caravan on our lane and used to get his drinking water from the tap in our yard.   He was also very anti social but if my mother in law saw him she would give him a meal and a cake she had baked.
Eventually Social Services took him away  (against his will I might add). 

The other was a middle aged woman who for a time lived in her car, sometimes on our lane and at other times elsewhere in the area.   Eventually Social Services took her in too. 

But that there is a huge problem with homeless people is in no doubt. There always was.   Some are young people who have fallen on hard times but many are older people who have withdrawn from society for one reason or another.   And when I was a child there seemed always to be what we called 'tramps' in the countryside where they had their 'rounds'.   They walked (tramped) between the villages and called at 'safe' houses on the way.

My mother always kept a place set in our wash house in case a tramp called and she could always put together some sort of meal for him to eat.   If she had any old clothes of my father's then she would also keep them and offer them to the tramp.
They were, if my memory serves me correctly, almost always men. 

The exception was Pyewipe Liz (Pyewipe being a small village on the banks of the River Witham not too far from our village).   Liz would come round about once a month with her daughter - a pretty little girl of about four - and she would eat anything that was offered to her and also beg any clothes for her little girl.   She became an almost 'loved' character in the village and I have often wondered over the years what eventually happened to her.   I expect that nowadays her daughter would have been taken into care because clearly she was not really in a fit state to care for her.

These characters from my childhood almost eighty years ago stick in my memory.   Things have improved in so many ways but I suppose there will always be people who wish to withdraw from society for one reason or another and in spite of
help on offer there will always be people who chose not to take it.

Are there people in your area like this?

Tuesday 14 August 2018


The saying usually is that if you want something doing then you ask a busy person and they will fit it in.   Well sometimes this misfires.   Friend W and I are so busy - writers' circle, book group, circle dancing, singing for the brain, ukulele practices and concerts, friends coming to stay - the list goes on.   We are busy - and I assure you we both want to be - while we can do things we intend to do them.   You are a long time dead.

But the upshot is that there is no time during September when we can find a few days when we are both free and commitments are commitments.  So our few days away may have to be in October.   In my teaching days I always looked forward to the October half term, which usually fell on my birthday and the weather was almost always beautiful - Autumn leaves, pleasant weather - a perfect time of the year. 

So we are relaxed about when we can take a break - the time will come even if it is later rather than sooner.  

In the meantime jobs pile up.   My courgettes are moving apace;  my runner beans are in full bloom but no beans large enough to eat yet - must not be impatient.   Party for my grand daughter, husband and my great grand daughter before long, when they pass through - I am already thinking of buffet menus for one vegetarian, two pescatarians and a couple of us who eat more or less anything.

Outside grey skies predominate today and a slight light rain is falling most of the time - not enough to dampen the ground but enough to make one aware that rain is never far away.

So it is back to the drawing board as far as a break is concerned - but we will get there one of these days.

Monday 13 August 2018


After a day of sunshine, heat and threatening black clouds it has at last rained heavily for the last hour.   This means I do not have to water my courgettes today - it is a chore I would rather do without.

At lunchtime friend S called and took Tess for an extra walk - she was delighted (so was I).   It is so good to have rain regularly again - not so good if you are holidaying up here but for anyone farming or gardening then it is a great relief. 

For the past four weeks I have been watching Ed Balls in 'Trumpland' and I must say that the programme has been very interesting and so has Ed Balls's presentation of it.   Each time I see him on television he goes up in my estimation.   If you are a UK reader of my blog and didn't see the programmes then I do recommend you look at them.

Our local church, St Matthew's, has a 'Soup and a Pud' day each Monday when you can go, have home made soup and a home made pudding and a cup of coffee - for a donation.   Most people seem to make the donation five pounds and the meal today was very good.   Soup choices of courgette soup and/or tomato soup and a pud of homemade trifle. In our little town there really is no need to be lonely providing one is reasonably mobile because there is always plenty to do.

Friend W and I are thinking of having a short holiday in the Lakes at the beginning of September and have begun searching for spa hotels where we can really relax for a couple of days.   If anyone has any suggestions then please do let us know.

The rain seems to have subsided so I shall close down this miscellany and, while there is a break in the weather, take madam for her evening walk.   Back tomorrow.

Sunday 12 August 2018


Sunday and out to lunch day.   I have just eaten breakfast and thought I would look at my e mails before having a shower.   Outside is a grey day and a long line of raindrops along the washing line - long time since I saw that.   I will return later in the day with an update on the day's events.

It has been very humid here all day - much warmer outside than it is inside - and on and off there have been showers.   I must say that it is a relief to have the drought behind us.

As usual lunch was delicious - we met the usual folk we meet there and the four of us sat and chatted until almost four o'clock thus passing a goodly part of the day.   Salmon featured highly on our menu as it usually does - a nice light meal and easily digested.

Tomorrow another week begins - I wonder what it will bring.

Saturday 11 August 2018

Living alone

Living alone is an art to be learned and it can only be learned when it happens - there is no practise.
This morning there was a coffee morning in a neighbouring village where W and I have friends and we had promised to go.   As usual it was lovely - toasted tea cakes and coffee on a sunny Saturday morning and a couple of hours chat with other people.   I had a particularly nice chat with a chap who used to be a farmer before he retired and who knew my farmer well.   I went home full of happy memories of the old days. 

But, of course, I went into an empty house (apart from my dear old dog who as usual was pleased to see me).   However hard one tries to get on with life Saturdays are the worst of all days.   Families are together and you are alone and the spectre of loneliness lurks.   I had plenty to do and I had bought two books on the second hand book stall so I would also have reading this evening but cutting out negative thoughts is never easy.   As my friend said, however hard you try the plain fact remains that 'the bed is too big'.   I thought this such a good analogy - in a happy marriage the end of the day usually brings a quick cuddle before lights out and once you are alone you are not first in anyone's life any more.   Everyone has, by necessity, someone who is more important to them.

The sun helps and today is still a lovely sunny day albeit considerably less warm. My courgettes and my runner beans are growing apace - I have just had cornish new potatoes and my own courgette
(gently fried in a mixture of oil and butter) with broccoli for my lunch.  Now I shall empty the dishwasher, re stock it with the lunch things and take Tess for a walk - in that order.   That will no doubt put me in a much better frame of mind.   Sorry for the moan.

Friday 10 August 2018


Today saw friend W and me going over to Kirby Lonsdale to meet our friends from the Lakes for lunch in the Italian restaurant.   Each time I go I intend to have the same thing and each time I change my mind at the last minute.   Today I had it and it was absolutely superb.  Try it at home sometime when you really want a treat.   It can't be all that difficult to make.

I had Seafood Pasta in a white wine sauce.
 In other words - King Prawns, Mussels and Salmon with Tagliatelli in a really rich white wine sauce.   It was really delicious.

Friend W is looking after a friend's Border Terrier, Meg, who knows Tess quite well, so both dogs came with us.   The restaurant takes dogs quite happily and I must say that both of ours were impeccably behaved both in the restaurant and in the car. (far more so than a group of small children in the restaurant who ran around uncontrolled, shouted loudly, didn't eat their food and were a general nuisance.   I have the view that children need training to behave in restaurants from an early age and certainly well before they are let loose in such places).

We travelled through several downpours and each time the sun came out again.   The rain seemed to clear the air which was crystal clear over Wensleydale and over the Lune Valley.   Beautiful journey.   As we remarked on our journey - how lucky we are to live here.

Thursday 9 August 2018

Window cleaning.

He must be telepathic.  This morning the sun shone on my sitting room window - it was filthy.   I have lived in my bungalow for nine months now and in that time the window cleaner has only been twice.   Unfortunately he has had two road accidents quite close together (he is a keen cyclist) and been quite incapacitated.   But he now has a nephew who has joined him in the business and the young man turned up today ready to get stuck in.   There is, of course, a plus side to the windows being so filthy - when they have been cleaned you can certainly see the difference!

I thought back to window cleaning when I was a child.   Our house had sash windows.   My mother cleaned our windows.   She always bought a good quality wash leather, deeming it very important.   She had a bucket of warm water with a good application of vinegar in it, and to clean the upstairs windows she pushed the bottom sash window up, sat on the window sill and then pulled the window down to 'trap' her there while she cleaned the glass.   I always found it very scary.
Downstairs she used a step ladder to reach each window.   The work took most of the afternoon.  (The fact that it then usually rained the next day was always noted).   Each window was dried off with a pristine yellow duster.

Now, the window cleaner comes with his van and his vat of clear water.   He has a hosed brush, switches the whole thing on and goes round the windows at breakneck speed, leaving water pouring down the glass.   No leathering it off.   The windows dry clean and clear and the whole job is finished in around ten minutes.   And does it rain the next day?   Well we shall see tomorrow shalln't we.  As he has been so rarely I really can't remember, but as he has now promised to call once a month they should be glowing whatever the weather.

Wednesday 8 August 2018


The day that Tess is taken for a walk by friend S.   I swear Tess knows when it is Wednesday and so this morning was very put out when I went out shortly before lunch time and left her behind.   But I was going out to lunch with friend D (brie and cranberry panini with salad and chunky chips!)

Oh my return however I took Tess straight up for her walk.   S was busy making pickling vinegar (it smelt divine) for beetroot.   It brought back memories of my childhood when my mother pickled onions and beetroot and made picallili each year.   The smell of pickling vinegar would greet me at the gate on my return from school.   Scent is such a very strong memory jogger don't 
 you think?   Certainly for me it is the strongest of all the senses.

And speaking of senses.   Yesterday I made myself go to the hearing clinic in Richmond (around ten miles from where I live) because my hearing aid seemed to have become defective.   I found that it was more or  less blocked I am ashamed to say (although the technician said it was the main cause of people visiting the clinic).   Today all sound is absolutely deafening:  I can almost hear a pin drop.

The Good Life

There is an interesting article about happiness in today's Times 2.   At Yale Professor Laurie Santos was astonished to find that over one thousand students had signed up for her course 'Psychology and the Good Life'.  In the course she intended to teach the science of happiness and also to give pointers as to how behaviour could be changed to
achieve it. 

It got me thinking.   My first husband (we had thirty nine years together before he died in 1991)
used to always say 'what makes you think you were put on this earth to be happy?'   As he had been on the Death Railway in Thailand as a very young soldier I think he probably knew what he was talking about.

My farmer (married to D for twenty three years before he died in 2017) would not have known what the question meant!   What he saw as happiness was what I would think of as contentment.   He was one of the most even tempered, contented men I ever came across.  He took whatever came his way - and this applies to most farmers, who have years of coping with good seasons and bad seasons.

We can't be 'happy ' all the time (whatever happiness means).   There are ups and downs, highs and lows in every life.   But we can work at contentment - and that is what I try to do.   Losing a loved one is a great blow, but all the distress in the world is not going to bring them back.  We do need to work at contentment and I would love to have been able to sit in on some of her classes to see what pointers she gave to attaining this.

Money doesn't necessarily bring it.     Mindwandering is not as good for us as living in the present moment.   Mobile phones are nothing like as good as human face to face contact.   These are roughly some of the things she says. 

So - I ask you - is happiness important to your wellbeing - or contentment if you prefer.  And if you haven't reached that state are you doing anything to help yourself?   She suggests keeping a note of what you do -  meditate, do random acts of kindness,  connect with others, get plenty of sleep.   I think we all know these things, but whether we carry them out in our own lives is another matter,   I am going to buy a notebook the next time I go into town so that I can try this.  It is Summer, the days are warm and they are long.   But come the Winter and the cold and the dark nights, those of us who live alone find the whole thing about contentment much harder to come by.

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Ragwort (senecio jacobaea)

Do you have this in your garden or on the verges near where you live.   If so be aware that it is a killer of equines.   My dear friend W lost both of her donkeys to ragwort poisoning.  Pulling it up and/or handling it is not good for humans as it can be absorbed through the skin and does affect the kidneys eventually.  

The answer, if you see any, is to either dig it up with a special fork (a ragfork - readily available)
or to spray it with a good weedkiller. 

Remember that every plant you spray means about a thousand less next year as you are, of course, killing the seeds and it is an annual.   Around here, because we are so near to fields, it easily floats into our gardens and we have to be vigilant.   But make no mistake - it is a killer.   Please help by
keeping a watchful eye.

Oh, and by the way - bees love ragwort but ragwort honey is very bitter.   So, if you are a bee keeper that is another reason for destroying it.

Monday 6 August 2018


It seems as though this hot weather is coming to an end at last.   Looking at the weather map on the television news a great yellow mass is creeping gradually Eastwards - today enveloping parts of West Ireland and then relentlessly moving on.    Here there is hazy sun and a cool breeze - pleasant weather indeed.

The British are always said to be preoccupied with the weather but I suspect that this year every country has been preoccupied, particularly those whose livelihood depends on it.   Farmers everywhere are concerned about poor yields of crops and poor Winter feed for their animals.   And Derek (Letters from Sheppey) speaks about the worries at the wild life reserve where the water table has never really recovered from last year.   But I expect we shall only have a couple of weeks of our usual weather before we are complaining again and wishing our Summer weather back.

Nothing much to say today - ukulele practise this afternoon and now I am very tired, so see you tomorrow.

Sunday 5 August 2018

Being a widow

Or a widower for that matter
After many years of being a couple, thinking like a couple, preparing meals for two, washing for two - everything that married couples do together - and in one's spare time (not much of that on a farm) using it to do things that you enjoy together - in our case this was travelling the world, before my lack of mobility walking the country lanes, naming the wildflowers and the birds, looking for early mushrooms and blackberries, thinking almost as one.   Suddenly one is alone.

And it is not easy, as anyone who has gone through it will attest.   But you need to get one thing clearly  in your head immediately.   Your
partner is gone.   He/she will not return.
Then surely the next thing you need to get into your head is that you owe it to them to cope, to get on with life, to grin and bear it.   All the moping in the world will not bring them back, it will just make life harder.

 Sooner or later we are all in the same boat and there is little or no point in rocking it.  We need to
fill our days, go out with friends, find new hobbies.   If we are young enough and mobile enough (as I was when I lost my first husband) find some job helping others in  some capacity.
If you are old like me, and pretty immobile, then
concentrate on getting about - not sitting at home moping.

Of course I miss my dear old farmer every single day - but the world at large won't be and I have to live in that.   Come on girls - we must be strong and stick together.

Saturday 4 August 2018

Power of Nature.

As regular readers of my posts will know, I have had to create a new garden since I moved into my bungalow.   The skeleton of building levels had been done but the people who had lived here since it was built (forty five years ago) were not gardeners and there was nothing much in the garden excepting mares tail weed (which is proving a problem to overcome with a specialised weed killer) and my gardener and I will manage to overcome it sooner or later, even if we just resort to planting ground cover to hide it all (suggested by some authorities).

Of course I had hardly started planting - bottom layer herbaceous planting, middle layer rockery and top layer shrubs - when we had this very hot, very dry Summer.   Watering is beyond me and so it only got watered now and again (and I didn't wish to waste water in any case).   Many of the plants - especially on the rock section - appeared to be dead.   A fortnight ago we had a torrential downpour and almost overnight things recovered and now it is back to normal and I am beginning to be heartened by how it looks.   See what you think.   Courgettes and Patty pans are in grow bags.   I shall not grow them again - there is a lot of watering (up steps) and most of the produce I am giving away as there is far too much for me to eat.   But after reading Cro's post today I shall make a similar feast for my lunch.

Thursday 2 August 2018

Power of the internet.

The world wide power of the internet never ceases to amaze me.   About two years ago a lady in Australia (JL) wrote to our Parish council asking if there were still people living in the village with her maiden name.   The answer was that yes there were and after gaining her permission they passed her letter on to me (it was the farmer's surname).

Since that day we have sporadically texted and she has kept up with my blog.   She wrote to me when the farmer died and then about a couple of months ago e mailed to say that she and her daughter were coming to Britain to look into Family History amongst other things.   And so it is that this week (and for the past two weeks) they are here.   Today they have been visiting our little market town (there are plenty of family members in our village churchyard) and this afternoon they arrived on my doorstep to see me (I had been texted in advance).

It was a delight to see them, they are such interesting characters and we had two or three hours together.   Pre computer days I doubt this would have happened but as it was we now have a lasting connection so three cheers for the old computer.


Wednesday 1 August 2018

Animal feed.

I know I have posted similar posts to this one before, but there is obviously still such a lot of confusion about the subject that it does no harm to bring it up again.

Sitting watching Breakfast over my breakfast a few minutes ago the same old thing came up, as it does every year.    There is a very serious shortage of grass this year because of the hot weather.   All farmers managed to get their first crop silage in alright, but then the rain stopped and the grass grew only slowly which meant that second crop was sparse and not very productive.   And after that cut the grass just has not grown again as anyone who has passed acre after acre of brown, seemingly dead, grass will tell you.   So there is no likelihood of a third  crop unless there is a drastic change in the weather over the first few weeks of this month.

This morning a reporter was standing in front of what was obviously  a silage clamp and showing how the farmer was breaking in to it to feed his dairy cows.    But he called it 'straw'.   So here, once again, is the information.

1.   Straw.   Straw is brittle, shortish stalks left over when corn crops (barley, wheat, oats etc) are harvested.   The stalks this year will be shorter than usual because corn crops generally are yielding poorly, again due to dry weather.   Straw is baled (at one time it was burnt on the field), stored and used for winter bedding and also for food for cattle in winter.

2.  Hay.   Before the 'invention' of silage all grass fields were harvested for hay.   At one time one crop a year was all that farmers got - now fields are cut, fertilised intensively, cut again.   Many farmers no longer make hay, preferring to put all grass down as silage.  Anyone with horses needs hay for feed so some farmers who live in 'horsey' areas tend to make hay to sell in winter.   My farmer always made a bit of hay 'for old times sake' and a few local horse owners would buy it off him in winter. It is usually baled in small bales which are easier to handle and stored in barns.

3.  Silage.    These days this is the main crop for almost all farmers.   Round here there are still a lot of dairy farmers as we do not live in arable farm country.   Silage is usually stored in one of two ways.   The grass can be cut, gathered up quite quickly (you will see the forage wagons in the field as the machine picks up the cut grass and 'blows' it into the wagon) and then put into a clamp, covered over with plastic (often weighted down with old tyres) and left to ferment.   Alternatively it can also be cut, left to dry out and then baled and wrapped in plastic to be stored in piles - usually pale green or black plastic.

I think I have got all that right but Rachel, who, coming from a farming background is much more knowledgeable than I am (I only married into farming twenty five years ago although from a country background - I can remember back to when they made hay stacks from hay) will put us right.