Thursday 28 February 2019


The temperature is more than ten degrees colder then it was yesterday.   It is six degrees here today, the mist has not cleared, the sun has not appeared,there is a cold wind blowing.   In other words it is typical late February weather.   I shall be glad to get all the blinds drawn and the central heating turned up full  - that is what I crave at the present moment.

I have a new book to recommend.  It only came  out in paperback at the weekend but I managed to get a good used copy from Amazon and am enjoying it so much.   It is Aminatta Forna's 'Happiness' and I really can't put it down.   Do give it a try and let me know what you think of  it.

What is it about the actual sun that makes us feel so much better?   Yesterday when I walked round with Tess early in morning all the birds were singing, even the Songthrush.   This morning only the robin was breaking the early morning silence.
Please Mr Sun come back soon - after what I can only describe as a Brexit winter I think we are all in need of some warm spring sunshine - and it will give us something else to think and talk about.

Wednesday 27 February 2019

High as an elephant's eye

s w
The sun I mean of course - and an appropriate quote as it is indeed another beautiful morning, the last I believe because March begins to remind us that Spring is not here yet.   But yes, the sun is quite high, high enough for me to draw back my louvre blind and sit on the settee facing South and read without the sun shining in my eyes - it is now higher than the top of the window.

And then, speaking of elephants, a mention in today's Times in Matthew Parris's 'My Week' gives food for thought.   He tells how an elephant died in the middle of the last century on a Showground in Bakewell in Derby shire.   Many people had never seen an elephant and as it lay dead hundreds of folk came to see it.   As they gathered round the corpse  there was a huge explosion of gas from the dead beast - in other words it farted - and there was panic as people fled in terror.

Anyway, let's get a bit more sensible shall we?   Today is my poetry day at friend W's - one of my favourite days in the month when about ten of us meet and read our chosen poems, and relax, and discuss them in a not too serious way and just have a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.   Tess likewise as friend S (who happens to live next door to our Poetry meeting) always takes Tess on a walk for me - so we are both set to enjoy our afternoon.

Tuesday 26 February 2019

That is the question

To iron or not to iron.   That is the question I am asking you today.   I can more or less predict who will answer that they never iron anything - modern-thinking women all of them.

Well. sorry to them from me, but I have to iron.   I don't always feel like standing at the ironing board and yes, it does often make my legs and arms ache.   But it is worth it.   Sheets - there is nothing in this world more wonderful than sliding between freshly laundered and ironed sheets when the bed has been changed - it makes the effort involved worthwhile.   Tea towels - opening the drawer to a neat pile of ironed tea towels - not much effort to iron but a great deal of pleasure to behold as you hang a clean, freshly ironed one on the hook.   Shirts - nobody will ever convince me that an ironed shirt doesn't look better on a man than one which has just been hung on a hanger to hang out before being worn.   Yes, I am old fashioned, yes I make work for myself, but the satisfaction I get from the results makes it worth it for me.

Another blissfully warm and sunny day.   I went into town to meet friend C for a hot chocolate in our favourite cafe - I went in just a sweater and trousers - no sign of a jacket.   I understand that it is beginning to go downhill from tomorrow onwards, so let's make the most of it. Now I shall take a gentle stroll round the estate with Madame - she needs the sun on her back too.

Monday 25 February 2019


It is one of those Spring days when the sun is out, there is no-one about and the quiet everywhere is so quiet that you can hear it.   Do you know what I mean?   Maybe it is the product of being profoundly deaf - I don't know.   But whatever the reason, sitting on the wall in my backgarden the warmth of the sun is bliss.   No doubt about it, today is the warmest day of the year so far here in North Yorkshire.

My cleaner, who comes on a Monday, is not able to come today.   Of course I hit the cleaning at full pelt (as I always do ) and after tidying everywhere,changing the bed, washing the bedding, drying it, ironing it and putting it in the airing cupboard, making the bed up with clean bedding, walking the dog twice so far, cleaning the kitchen units and floor and cooking myself a sausage, bean, mushroom and tomato lunch I am now, at twenty minutes to four in the afternoon, absolutely shattered and barely able to walk because my ankle is hurting so much.  I have just watered my outside pots and now I shall do no more today.

March at the end of the week.   March can be a cruel month and I am afraid that February has lulled us into a sense that Spring is here.   On my walk at lunch time there were primroses, iris reticulata, all kinds of daffodils from tiny tete a tete to large ones, crocuses, helleborus, wallflowers, rosemary in bloom in gardens and on the grass verges plenty of lesser celandines and daisies.    Does the old heart good.   There was even a patch of coltsfoot - I love this weed and it really loves the sun - every flower was facing the sun full on with joy at our lovely weather.   Enjoy it while it is here everyone.

Sunday 24 February 2019


Outside the window the sun is shining brightly, there is no breath of wind and a stillness that only happens early in the morning (the one last thing at night  has a totally different air to it).   It is almost nine o'clock but the estate seems to be still fast asleep.

Tess has eaten her five Bonio biscuits.   She is very odd.   I put them on the rug by the sink and she carefully carries each one out into the hall, lays them one by one in a line and then goes out there and eats them.   If I only put four down she will come back to the biscuit cupboard and sit and wait there for the fifth before she starts eating any of them.   There is no accounting for what goes on in a dog's mind.  Cah she count up to five?   Wno knows.   Now she is sitting out in the back garden in the sun.

Today, as all my readers know by now, is our lunching day - The Golf Club (and no, we none of us play golf ) has an extensive menu.   Today I think I shall have prawn salad and chips but am contemplating having a starter because I need to have two courses and I have gone off puddings altogether - some of the starters are to die for.

If anything spectacular happens during the day I may well add to this tonight, but so far today this is all I intend to write.   So enjoy your day too and I hope the weather is a beautiful with you as it is here.  For sure everything here is being apricated well and truly - including me.

If anything it has been warmer than it was yesterday here.   For lunch I had poached salmon with mashed and roast potatoes and plenty of good vegetables.   I just don't feel like eating sweet puds any more so instead of a pud I had a camembert starter for my pud and it was delicious.   Then a lovely pot of tea in the bar afterwards and home again to take Tess for a walk before it got dark.

Saturday 23 February 2019

A New Word

I have learned a new word today from David Hambling in Weatherwatch in today's Guardian and that word is Apricity.   And my goodness does that word apply to today.   It is an Old English word and it means coming from the warmth of the sun on a Winter's Day.   Walking along with Tess this morning after the thick fog had cleared it was so warm.   I met friend M on my walk and she had a scarf and a winter coat on.   Her first words were 'I feel so overdressed'.   David Hambling goes on to say that to apricate means to freshen and disinfect by exposing to sunlight.

The sky is pale blue, there is still fog above the River Ure (I can't see it but I know it is in that dip in the middle distance) and there is not a breath of wind.   Compare it to this time last year and we get a perfect example of the vagiaries of British Weather.   This year there are reports of migrating birds already here in the South of England, so now we must hope that there isn't a sudden huge drop in temperature.

What to do on a Saturday?   Well how I wish I could go out into the garden with my hoe or my little hand fork and take up some of the weeds which are beginning to appear.   But after falling last year I have promised I will not be so stupid again.   My gardener will no doubt appear within the next week or so and he will take care of that. 

My plan today was to go through all my files and papers and make sure they were tidy and in order.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak - best left for a miserable wet day methinks. 

PS   I have just seen a butterfly and several bees in my garden!

Friday 22 February 2019


Today, here in the Yorkshire Dales, it is Spring.   It was cold yesterday and the forecast says it is not going to be all that warm tomorrow - but today there is little or no wind, the sun is shining and it is warm.   And it does the heart - and the soul - good.

As most folk here will know, today was a special day for an elderly man in Sheffield.  When he was a small child in 1944, he was walking his dog over the playing field when an American bomber flew over very low.   The men on board were waving - he thought possibly because there were children on the field - in fact they were hoping to crash land there but on seeing the children - and then a housing estate - they overshot both, landed in woodland and all were killed.  A memorial was built to them and he has tended it daily throughout his life.   Today, on the seventy fifth anniversary of that day, he was the guest of honour as US and British air force top brass, plus thousands of locals, plus the BBC Breakfast crew - all turned out and at 8.45 this morning there was a fly past over the site in their honour.   There was not a dry eye to be seen - it was a very moving time for everyone.

Thursday 21 February 2019


One never knows where and when pleasure is going to strike.   Today was a busy day - manicure at nine this morning, followed immediately by a wash and blow dry for my hair (can't let Tess upstage me) and then a dash over to near Bedale for my six weekly visit to my Physiotherapist.   I didn't arrive home for my lunch until twelve o'clock and I had said I would go to play for the Alzheimer's Group in Richmond to be there for 2pm (taken by friend W).   I was almost too tired to eat my lunch and wondered whether to say I wouldn't go, but I wasn't driving once I got to W's and I knew if I stayed at home I would just sit and go to sleep.   So I went.

And what a lovely meeting it was - the most there we had ever had - the room was full of patients and carers and we all had a good old sing of the old songs they all remember.   Everyone enjoyed it, many came alive whereas often they sit quietly and do nothing, or even fall asleep.   Today everyone was lively and interested.   I came home at 3.30pm feeling totally refreshed myself -much better than falling asleep on the sofa at home.   Now I can go to bed and sleep well - I hope.   So good night.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Cut and blow dry

Well the big day has come and Tess has had her cut and blow dry.   Top two photographs are the before of course and bottom two after.   Sorry they are not good photographs but time was short and how ever much I tried to get her to look at the camera I failed to catch her.   However, I am sure you get the general idea.   She certainly looks (and smells) one hundred percent better.   When S and T took her for a walk later this afternoon (in her smart jacket, which S bought for her sometime ago) she trotted along very proudly.

Tuesday 19 February 2019


She was a dear lady.   Born in 1927 she didn't have an easy life.   She left school early, as working class children all did in those days, and worked in various jobs, all of them hard work.    After marriage she had five children but in order to make ends meet she also took on various menial jobs - as anyone living in those days knows life was not easy.

Her two passions were singing and dancing - and she did one or both at every opportunity. Sadly her husband died quite young, but at least her children were grown up by this time.   She continued to work hard and after fifteen years or so she met J, and together they made a life for themselves, going abroad at every opportunity so that she grew to love her holidays - Australia, Europe - J says that as soon as she had unpacked her case she would say, 'where are we going next?'

I only knew her for the last couple of years when
she came with J to sing with us once a month at the Alzheimer's Society singalong to our ukuleles.
By golly, could she sing.   All the old favourites from the twenties, thirties and forties she sang - enjoying every minute.   She might not have been able to recognise and name her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren any more but she hadn't forgotten those songs.   For yes, she developed Alzheimers.

Today friend W and I, along with other friends from the Group of helpers, went to her funeral.  There was a good turnout.   She would have been pleased.   And I think we sang the two hymns well enough for her too.   Now she is at peace.   J will miss her - as will her family - but she has had a good life .  And gradually J will pick up the pieces and carry on, just as she would wish him too.
So rest in peace D - we shall remember you for the character you were.

Monday 18 February 2019

Nor any drop to drink.

Water is seeping into my garden and gathering on my patio.   It just about dries up, then it rains, then I have a pool again.   This morning my water insurance  (Home Serve) came and a nice young man looked into it carefully and pronounced it not drinking water but water draining off the field behind my bungalow.   He thinks there may be a land drain which has broken or is blocked.   And so a process has begun.   So far I have rung Yorkshire Water - step one.   Now I await Step two.   Hopefully it will not be an insurmountable problem but be assured I shall keep you up to date on proceedings - (a problem shared is a problem halved).

It is not until one lives alone that problems become PROBLEMS.   For most of my life, since first leaving home, I have had a practical man to take care of things like this.   And I am ashamed to say that I find it hard to deal with this kind of thing myself.   I blame old age but I suspect it would be just the same if I was thirty years younger.

 One thing is for sure.   I am a product of my generation.   The engineer who came to look at the problem had many tattoos on his arms.  I find it difficult not to be influenced by this - when I was young the only folk who had tattoos on the whole were ex-seamen.   Now it is almost all young men - and even a few young women.   Why should I complain?   It is their bodies and they do what they like with them.   But it is a barrier I have to cross when dealing with folk.   I am thoroughly ashamed in this case - a nicer, more efficient, friendlier, kinder man it would have been hard to find.   So I apologise for having to cross that barrier - it is time I pulled myself up into the twenty first century.

Sunday 17 February 2019


Following on from yesterday's post I have been thinking about plastics and rubbish.   Our little market town is generally free from rubbish - give or take the odd coke can, the odd plastic sandwich pack -and the odd heap of dog poo some irresponsible dog walker fails to pick up.

I can't really speak for other places in this country - these days I don't go all that far afield - but I think we would all be in agreement about the bits of plastic in the sea and how they are killing and torturing our wildlife; and the dog poo which walkers seem to think doesn't need picking up in the fields, although it can cause serious harm to cattle.

But I have been watching programmes where Chris Tarrant has been making railway journeys of interest.   Last week he was in Vietnam and I was keen to watch it because my grandson works in China and has recently been to Vietnam for a week's holiday.   He went from the North of the country to the South on what is called the 'Reunification Railway'.   I was stunned by the amount of rubbish strewn absolutely everywhere.
It was as though nobody ever picked up anything but just dropped it where they stood - plastic boxes, cardboard and paper wrappers, drinks cans and bottles - they were just everywhere. 

Should it worry us ?   I think so.   Shouldn't every country have a programme to educate people about the need to recycle?   It seems to me we are a long way off reaching any kind of solution.

Saturday 16 February 2019

Signs of the times.

I see that Rachel does not really believe in climate change.   I really don't know enough about it to make an educated comment, but there is no doubt that glaciers are melting and that there are signs of change everywhere - but whether permanent or just  a passing phase - we can all argue about that I suppose.

But it is interesting that many young people have decided to do something about it and protest with their strikes yesterday.   I can't discover whether our local comprehensive took part.   It would be interesting to question some of the young people individually to see what they know about it and how well informed they are or whether they are just 'jumping on the bandwagon'.

But there is an interesting article in today's Guardian which is certainly food for thought.  It really does seem at present that the protesting school children are putting our politicians to shame.   Dominic Grieve (the former Attorney General) quite rightly in my opinion, suggests that all this business of threatening to leave without an agreement is tantamount to a 'three year old threatening to hold  his breath if he doesn't get the toy he wants'.   And in the same article (by Jonathan Freedland) Nancy Pelosi (Democrat House Speaker) suggests that Donald Trump's behaviour over 'the wall' at present in nothing more than a Temper Tantrum.   I love the way she describes it saying that as a mother of five and a grandmother of nine she recognises one when she sees one.

What times we live in - if you believe in climate change - when the young are protesting about what in the future may well be seen as the most important thing in our generation while politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are indulging in such childish behaviour.

Friday 15 February 2019


Well it is Friday again.   My two grandsons, who have been here in the village staying with their Dad (my son) have moved on to Glasgow to stay with their sister.   I have so enjoyed their company and enjoyed talking to D, the grandson who lives and works in China.   He returns on Tuesday and yesterday I took them both to the station.   Only after the train had left and i had returned home did I find D's mobile on the floor of my car.    What to do?   He needs it before he returns to China.   The problem was solved today when I got a text to ask if I would  post it to his brother's back in West Yorkshire.    So this morning I swathed it in bubble wrap and several Amazon bags and then a Post Office bag, took it to the Post Office and sent it Registered post.   It should hopefully arrive in time for him to take it back with him.   But tell me this - why do young people always have to have their mobile phones out to fiddle with them?   We were only going the twenty or so miles to the station - it could easily have been kept in his pocket.  I don't think I will ever understand the young - but then I think it was ever thus.

Thursday 14 February 2019


Today has been a Spring day until around half past two when it suddenly became a late Winter's day as the sun began to go down and the blue sky paled.   Still, it has been a lovely day and everywhere I look the snowdrops and the crocuses are out.  It does make one feel hopeful that it won#t be all that long before it really is Spring even if we do get a bit more winter yet.

I had to take my two grandsons into Northallerton this morning so that they could catch the train up to Glasgow to stay with their sister there for a few days before my grandson returns to China.   He has not seen his niece since she was a few weeks old and now she is almost three so he is looking forward to that. 

I came home, had a healthy salad lunch and have done little since.   It was a Petpals day for Tess so she had a nice long walk in the sun and has come back tired out.  Then a friend called and we had a nice chat.   Now it is my favourite antiques programme in half an hour, so I shall settle down to watch that. 

I noticed this morning when I walked round with Tess first thing that the blackbirds are singing along with the robins and the hazel catkins are beginning to look as though they are at least thinking about bursting.   It all does the soul good even if last year we did have that nasty shock of a spell of snow very late - things like that do make one wary of predicting what might happen over the next few weeks.   But we have got as far as St Valentine's Day without too much bad weather this year.

The farmer didn#t have a lot of time for Valentine's Day - thought it was all a bit false - but that didnt mean he wasn't a romantic at heart.   His flowers that he brought me would mostly be from the farm as he was walking round - bluebells from the wood, a tiny bunch of cowslips from the hedgeback, a handful of haselnuts or a handful of field mushrooms.    How I miss all these things.

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Contrary weather

Today is quite contrary.   The weather forecast has told us that this week there will be a real taste of Spring in the air as warm air sweeps up from the Mediterranean..   It is indeed nine degrees and rising and yet, having just been on a walk round with Tess on her after lunch walk, it feels really cold in the sharpish wind.   Yes, I know it is still February and we have another six weeks or so to go before we can think about Spring - but there is no feeling of Spring in the air today despite the forecast.

My grandson is here on his visit home from China where he teaches English.   It is only two years since I saw him, but standing next to him in my hall as he prepared to go back to his Dad's last evening he seemed to have grown about six inches since I saw him last.   As he is thirty then I am sure he will not have grown in the last two years, which leads me to but one conclusion - I have shrunk!   I come up to about his chest and felt like a little old lady.  I am taking them all out for a meal tonight so I shall smarten myself up in an effort to look a bit younger (or maybe it is better to say a little less old). 

We are only going a couple of miles down the road for our meal - to a pub which has an extensive menu and is by no means at the posh end of the market.   It has a giant woodburner, it has stone floors,  it is a real, old fashioned country pub and there should be something on the menu for each of us one who will eat more or less anything, one who chooses carefully what she eats, one vegetarian, one vegan/vegetarian and one who has eaten Chinese food for the past two years.
Quite a tall order to fulfil - I shall report back tomorrow.

Monday 11 February 2019

Up with the lark.

It was up with the lark this morning because I had to be in Northallerton before nine o'clock to take my car in for its annual service.   H next door very kindly took Tess for her morning walk - I was very grateful and what is more H took her about four times as far as I am able to walk.

My car was brought back to the door of the showrooms - it has been cleaned and polished and looked very smart and what it more the engine seemed so much more perky on the return journey.
It is a good job done and another job to cross off my list.

Shortly after returning, the lady who cleans came to clean through the bungalow for me.   She is such a practical person - she puts me to shame.   I have now had my cordless vacuum cleaner for about six weeks and she decided that today was the day to wash the filters once she had vacuumed through.  They are now drying on the draining board and I had a demonstration on how to replace them in the machine before she went home.   Having worked for me for at least twenty five years she has got my measure perfectly.   What I would give to have a practical brain.

My grandson is home on a fortnight's holiday over Chinese New Year (he teaches in China) so I am really looking forward to seeing him.   He is spending four days with his father and should have arrived this afternoon.   It is two years since I saw him - two very eventful years for him I suspect.

No more post today - I have a very sore shoulder and typing is irritating it somewhat.   See you tomorrow.

Sunday 10 February 2019


It is almost ten in the evening before I get a chance to read down my side bar, read yesterday's comments, write a response and then, finally, get round to posting something today.   I always do it in this order as a matter of habit - I love reading your comments - they are often so helpful and so enlightening.   Thank you for them all.

I went out for a look at my tulips coming up this morning - I would guess about half of them have been very neatly excavated and eaten.   I refuse to be cross or disappointed.   Something is staying alive by eating them and I shall put something else in the border as the year goes on.

My electrical work is finished as is the bathroom ceiling - now it is just the car service and then I can relax for a while.   During relaxation I shall be thinking about a little patch of lawn just outside the fence but in my front garden (which at present is  grass but I wish to change to make a bit of interest).   The space is only about ten feet square and I would like to put  just a few dwarf shrubs in.
I have two conical shaped dwarf box bushes which at present are in terra cotta pots - but they have blown over so many times over the winter that the pots are now smashed to smithereens - so they will go in for a start.   Any suggestions anyone - I probably only  need about three more.

Saturday 9 February 2019


T, the decorator, nipped round this afternoon (he only lives in the next road) just to sand down the holes where the down lights had been in the bathroom.   He had called and filled them in yesterday.   Now in the morning he will come round and give the whole bathroom ceiling a coat of emulsion and it will all be done.   I shall wash both bath mats to spruce the whole place up and then everything will be shipshape again.

Now all that remains is my car to be serviced on Monday - then all jobs at present are finished.   This is just as well as my grandson, D, who lives and works in China, is home for Chinese New Year and will be spending four days up here next week with his father (and me too of course).   It is more than two years since I saw him and I can't wait - I am so looking forward to it.   At my age going two years without seeing a grandchild is far too long but I know how happy he is working out there and that makes it all worthwhile.

We have had some very heavy rain here over the past few days - mostly overnight I am glad to say, but my decorator, who drove through the Dales and over into Lancashire today, tells me that in many places the roads were almost flooded with standing water.   Not for nothing is February known as 'February Fill Dyke'.   But hopefully next week has a forecast of dry, mostly sunny weather so hopefully everywhere will dry up apace.

I shall now go and look if there is anything on television to watch.   Saturday evenings are always non starters as far as I am concerned, so thank heaven for iplayer I say.   See you tomorrow.

Friday 8 February 2019

Goodbye Joe.

At last Joe, my electrician, has finally packed away all his spanners, screwdrivers, flashing lights, all the things that made Tess a nervous wreck, and gone - finished, job completed, check list for a complete overhaul of my electrical system done.   His work has been exemplary - I
can't speak too highly of him.   For a week his van has been poorly and in being repaired at the garage so he has not been able to come.   But he popped in for a couple of hours yesterday to do a job which was urgent and then he came back today to tie up all the loose ends and finish. 

The urgent job yesterday was to remove the down lights in the bathroom at my request and fit me an ordinary bathroom light - it is absolutely lovely and the light it gives out (LED) is such a pleasant, soft light.   The job needed doing yesterday because the decorator had arranged to come in the evening to fill in the downlight holes and plaster over them.  Now the decorator is coming again tomorrow afternoon to give the four 'holes' a quick emulsion paint so that when he comes on Sunday morning to emulsion the whole ceiling it will be all done.   Why anyone wishes to have downlights escapes me - maybe they were all the rage at one time. 

Our usual lunch out today was, as always, delicious.  W had beef and stilton pie with roasted roots and a glass of red wine ;  I had fish pie with crispy kale and a glass of white wine.   Coffee afterwards and then home before Petpals arrived to take Tess for her afternoon walk.    As I write this she is fast asleep in her basket and has not moved out of it to go and eat her tea.   Seems to me a well-loved dog's life is a brilliant life.

Thursday 7 February 2019


Sunshine and February are not words which necessarily go together in the same sentence.   But they are doing today.   And, what is more, there is just a hint of warmth in the sun in spite of a cold wind.   The weathermen tell us that there is probably more snow to come before we are finished with Winter but every day like today lifts my spirits.   I had a couple of weeks when I felt very low and on the verge of sinking into depression.   This rather scared me.   But several days when the sun has shone through the sitting room windows have lifted my spirits considerably and all is well again.

But it got me thinking about the labels we put on things these days.   Maybe I have been a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) sufferer,but if so does it help me to have a label, or does it make things worse?   I am really not sure.    The same goes for so many things these days - children are hyperactive - some have always been so as any teacher will tell you - does it help us to put a name to it? 

This is not in any way meant as a criticism - scientists and others who know what they are talking about have identified symptoms and have labelled the people with these symptoms as suffering from certain conditions.    Does it help to have a label?   I really would like more information on this.   It may well be that to say that I have been 'down' for a few days because there has not been a sign of the sun is an insult to anyone suffering from SAD - I certainly don't mean it in that way.  I really would like to know the answer the my question - does it help a sufferer from any condition like this to have a name - a label - does it mean that you know you are not alone, that there are other sufferers?

Changing the subject and returning to the problem with my tulip bulbs and their disappearance - they are still disappearing - there is no sign of any part of the bulb, just a hole in the ground where the bulb has been.   A friend I meet each morning on my dog walk tells me that she and her husband (he a keen gardener before his death) had the same problem one year, set traps and caught almost forty mice and voles.   Oh dear.   Now I have another problem - I have no desire whatsoever to kill outdoor mice and/or voles.   If they are the culprits - then let them keep eating the tulips if it means they stay alive through the last days of winter.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Staying in.

I have had to stay at home all day today because I ordered a new bookcase from The Cotswold Company and it was scheduled to come today.   They let me know that it would arrive between five and eight this evening but as friend S was coming to take Tess out I stayed at home.  T also came and before they went he very kindly cleared up a lot of cardboard and packing from my last Cotswold purchase - it was in the garage.   He took it all away and will take it to the tip for me tomorrow.   Now the garage is full again - this time from the excellent packaging round the bookcase.

I must ask whether my readers in the UK watched Don McCullin on BBC Four on Monday evening.   He is a photographer and he retraced his footsteps (he is now 83) from some of his past.   Both the images he photographed and the commentary he gave as he went round were very good.   If you didn't see it = I really recommend it.
Some (but not many) programmes stay with you and this is one of those for me at any rate.

It is now twenty minutes to eleven and I am more than ready for bed.   The electrician is coming to finish off tomorrow and the decorator is coming in the evening to fill in the holes where my down lights have been taken out in the bathroom.   I shall be happy to say good -bye to them.

Good night and sleep well.


Tuesday 5 February 2019


Anyone who reads my blog regularly may remember that I had a fence built in Autumn and a narrow b order of garden in front of it.   My son and I between us planted just under three hundred tulips in the border and they are just beginning to poke through the soil.   Well something has decided to start digging them up.    There are holes in the soil where I presume the bulb has been and there is no sign of a bulb.   My daughter in law says she thinks it is the birds - she may well be correct.   But whatever it is I do wish they would leave them there to flower in May.

All the snow has gone and has been replaced today by horrible fog and a damp cold.   This is set to disappear tomorrow as the wind rises and we may even get a sunny day.   Tess hopes so of course as it is the day when friend S takes her for a walk.

I have to stay  in to take delivery of a new bookcase I have ordered.   At last I shall have an opportunity to really sort my books out into categories and then into alphabetical order (fingers crossed).   This may sound a bit optimistic but I am going to give it a try because I can search for an hour for a book and not find it and then, as I am casually passing the shelves I see it there.   I don't suppose I am alone in doing this.

The gas boiler has been serviced today so that is another job done.  I can tick it off my list of things outstanding to be done - I hate lists like this - things have to be done quickly for me.

Everyone in our Book Group really enjoyed 'Days without End' by Sebastian Barry.   It generated such a lot of discussion.   Our next book is 'Killing Floor' by  Lee Child - can't get much more different than that I guess.   But I really believe that one should read all kinds of books - just because one is retired doesn't necessarily mean one should give up on page five if one is not enjoying the reading.   What do the rest of you think?   Should you be able to say that  now you are retired you need only read books you enjoy or should you still be prepared to tackle books outside your field of enjoyment?

Sunday 3 February 2019

Sunday morning

This is positively the last time I shall write this post - I got to the last sentence last evening, pressed the wrong key and, despite having saved each paragraph, lost  the lot.  (my son this morning tells me that cntrl/undo on a right click might have got it back, so shall try in future).   I have a condition called Benign Essential Tremor, which is inherited but, although something in the brain, is quite harmless except it means drinking a full cup of tea can be quite an effort.   My hands shake and it gets worse if I am under any kind of pressure or in any case towards evening.   It can occur anywhere - in my case hands.   Interestingly the actress Katharine Hepburn - for any of you old enough to remember her - had it in her head and neck from a very young age.   If you see old films of her you will see that she always had slight difficulty in keeping her head still.

I have just typed it all again this morning, pressed the wrong key right at the end again and lost it again.   So here goes with once more into the breach. 

 A couple of days of incarceration because of the snow and I have a severe case of cabin fever.   There is no doubt about it I need to see and talk to other people.   Luckily I do live where there is plenty going on just outside the window - dogs being walked, friends walking past, plenty of cars - so it is not like living at the farm where I saw no one unless they made a particular effort to come.
So yesterday I got out - thanks to friend W, who has a four wheel drive vehicle and came down my road to collect Tess and I for the village coffee morning.   Tess always enjoys it because she gets a plain biscuit (never chocolate) from the biscuit plate on each table and then various 'doggy ' people there have treats in their pockets and she soon susses them out.   I enjoy it for two reasons.   First of all I meet the villagers who I rarely see these days as I now live in the nearby town - many are newcomers to the village and it is nice to meet them.   Secondly, A, who helps to run the coffee morning, makes and sells delicious turkey lasagne and always saves me two indiviual trays which I can then freeze when I get home.   It is always delicious and each tray makes a nice lunch for me.

As W and I had missed our usual Friday lunch out we decided that we would go to our usual Friday restaurant (Tennants Auction House in Leyburn) for lunch (sausage and musard seed mash and a glass of red wine) - very enjoyable as it always is.
Home again friend H next door came round for a cup of tea and then, just before the hard frost came down again, Tess and I took a careful, short walk round the estate.   So all in all I met and chatted to plenty of folk yesterday.   Today of course it is our usual Sunday lunch - all four of us - salmon for me I think.

My son and his wife were all set to go off last evening to their monthly poetry and music evening in Richmond, where poets and musicians who enjoy performing their own music play and read for one another.   The roads were icy and pretty treacherous and I worried that they might have problems - but he rang me to say the roads were well-treated and they had arrived safely.  If you would like to read the poem he wrote and read go to his post.   It is on my side bar (made out of words) and you can read it there.

Today it is out to our usual Sunday lunch venue with the usual three friends - C is fully recovered from her spell in hospital I am pleased to say.  Salmon for me today methinks.   Well, it is now 9.15 - so I think shower, warm coat, walk Tess and then do the Guardian crossword and it will be time to go out.   The sun is up and the snow is set to go as there is no frost forecast for tonight - it should be around three degrees here, so that is a relief.   Still time for much more wintry weather before Spring of course but at least a little respite.   Pansies in the front tubs, where they face South, are already back to normal as the sun has quickly cleared away the frost and snow but the polyanthus in the back garden still lay under four inches of snow.   It is supposed to be keeping them warm but I shall be happy for confirmation that they have survived the onslaught.

Friday 1 February 2019


Friday the first of February - White rabbits!- slight covering of snow but now a lovely sunny day - sun pouring in through my sitting room window and Tess stretched out full length in it after having ten minutes out in the well-fenced garden whether she liked it or not.

So - no Brexit, no weather - let's have a change of topic today.

A few years ago, when the farmer and I still lived on the farm, I posted a photograph on this blog.   It was of a 4000 year old axe head which my father in law had picked up somewhere in one of the fields.   We had it looked at by a museum expert in York and he said the stone had come from the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District and had probably been discarded because it was no longer of any use - it had been used too much.

People travelled around all that time ago - not just from West to East in this country - but much further afield.   And as the centuries have passed so has man's desire to 'know what is out there' increased - and of course the ultimate has always been wars, sadly, when thousands of men have been transported away round the world for much more terrible reasons.

This morning in TheTimes which I read much more thoroughly than usual over my breakfast (I usually keep the thorough read for the evening when there is nothing to watch on the television) there are two stories which caught my attention and which I thought I would share with you.

One is of a Bronze Age locket - a bulla - found in the Shropshire Marches - and one of only two found in this country to date.   Who lost it?  Where had he/she come from - it would most likely be a 'local' but still a wonderful find.

But the other, and much more fascinating story I think is of a snowdrop.   Ann Treneman in her 'Notebook' today talks of a lady called Anna Pavord, who - when she moved to Devon- found a
distinct and 'different' snowdrop in her garden.   Intrigued, she sent it to a snowdrop expert (John Sales) and he told her that she was quite right - it was different.   He thought it was a wild snowdrop and maybe from the Caucasus.   How then did it get to her Devon garden?   He suggested that it might have come in the pocket of a soldier fighting in the Crimean war  (there was a local regiment who had indeed been there).

So folks, lets forget all about Westminster and its problems, the M1 and its snowy gridlocks - let's think instead of all these wonderful things that lie beneath our feet and which tell us so much about the movements and interests of our ancestors.

Have a nice day.

As I type here two hours later it is snowing again.  And in the meantime a good kelching (Lincolnshire word = no other will do) of healthy fym has been spread right up to my garden wall.   It is like being back on the farm again!