Monday 31 December 2018

The year is ending.

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

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

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

Sunday 30 December 2018

The Year's End.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 28 December 2018

Posh fare

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

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

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

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Christmas Day

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

Monday 24 December 2018

Christmas eve.

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

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

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

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


Sunday 23 December 2018

Once a year.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 21 December 2018

Christmas cards.

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

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

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

Happy Christmas to you all.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Grey day

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

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

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

Wednesday 19 December 2018


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

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

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

Monday 17 December 2018


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

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

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

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

Sunday 16 December 2018


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

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

Saturday 15 December 2018


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

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

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

Friday 14 December 2018

A Day Out

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

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

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

Thursday 13 December 2018


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

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

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

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

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Farce or what?

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

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

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


Tuesday 11 December 2018


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

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

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

Monday 10 December 2018


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

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

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

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

Saturday 8 December 2018

Troubled times.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 6 December 2018


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

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

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

Tuesday 4 December 2018


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

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

Monday 3 December 2018

Back to normal.

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

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

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