Tuesday 31 March 2020

That great Inviter

Yes, you've guessed it.   The Sun!   Grey,bleak days and then suddenly the sun comes out and it is altogether a different day out there.   The patio could do with a good sweep and there are three herbaceous geraniums waiting there on the garage window sill to be planted but it is not inviting out there with a cold North wind blowing - but then the sun comes out - so maybe I will go out there when I have written my today's post.

The birds are definitely nesting in my garden hedge.    A dunnock keeps darting and out and further along a blackbird.   It's a good thick hedge with plenty of cover so I hope both succeed and that the babies emerge to a warmer world than today.

Shopping is becoming a problem because it is nigh on impossible to get a delivery slot from Tesco.   My last slot is on April 10th and after that there is nothing - I am told that the only way to secure a slot is to go on to the site at midnight, which is when they put their next day deliverly slots on - and they are snapped up rapidly.   I just can't face staying up until that time so I am having to rely on the kindness of friends and neighbours.

I haven't looked at the News at all today - I have become saturated with it all - without listening I am fully aware of the seriousness of the situation, I am grateful for the friendships which are keeping me going, I am grateful for my son and his wife who ring up daily to see if I need anything, and I am grateful to all my blogging friends - we are riding along on the crest of the wave of our bloggy friendships aren't we?   And long may it continue until all this is over and we can get back to normal.   Take care.

Monday 30 March 2020


What strange times we are living through. Nature carries on as though nothing is different - the leaves sprout on the hedges and trees;  I see that the mature ash tree I see from my window here is already showing a faint flush of green so it looks as though it will be the ash before the oak this year - implying that we shall be in for a soak over the Summer rather than just a Splash.   Nobody needs me to tell them that we definitely do not want that this Summer.   In only  four months it will be a year since we had the dreadful storm here in our town and neighbouring villages and some householders are still not back in their homes yet after the clear up.

It is another cold day with a sharp wind still from the North - just a little more sunshine today so we are on the up.   And next week we can expect much warmer weather so that is something to look forward to. 

 Life has suddenly become much simpler for those of us in self'isolation.   The highlight of my day has become something simple like a friend ringing for a chat, or a friend walking past with a dog and a friendly wave.   And even lunch (salmon and haddock fish pie with veggies) has become quite an event.   Now I no longer have my cleaning lady coming I am trying to do one job a day - today's was to strip and change the bed, wash the bedding, dry it and it is now sitting there inviting me to go and iron it.   My next job after the bed - now well aired - has been remade.   So -off to my chores folks - see you tomorrow.

Sunday 29 March 2020

British Summer Time.

You could have fooled me.   Insert Winter for Summer and you would be nearer the mark.   We all religiously put our clocks forward here in the UK last night but nobody told the weather.   There is a strong North wind blowing and there are flurries of snow now and again.   Even Spring would be an overstatement.

Being here in self isolation we are allowed one short walk each day.   I feel it is important to take advantage of that even though I don't always feel like it.   And, true to form, I put on hat, coat and gloves and ventured round the block with Percy.   And golly did I feel better for it.   Sadly I had a call from Australia whilst I was out and there is no way I can phone back because I don't know the number (or the time difference:  I don't wish to ring in the middle of the night).   J, who made the call, sent me an e mail instead. 

My God-daughter also rang and we had a lovely chat - it is things like this that keep the world turning in times of crisis.   I am sure it will all be over one day but at present that day seems a long way away.

I smiled to myself earlier this afternoon when I opened my wardrobe to take out my topcoat for my walk.   Usually at this time of the year - on or about the first day of Spring - I begin to look critically at my wardrobe and think about what I might buy for Spring and Summer (and try to resist buying most of it).   But this year - in self isolation - there is not a lot of point is there?   If there are to be no lunches out in the foreseeable future, no outings with friends, no call to get 'dressed up' then it would be a waste of time.   Is there anyone out there who would actually buy new Spring clothes just to wear at home on one's own.

Well, in spite of it all, on my walk I saw hazel catkins, the silver birch buds are beginning to burst and the hawthorn is coming into leaf.  All is going to be right with the world one day.  Oh! and I saw my first clump of Lenten roses too.

Saturday 28 March 2020


There is something very comforting about friends.  After more or less a week of warm, Spring-like weather, suddenly the wind has turned to the North and the sky has clouded over, so that intermittently we have a heavy shower.   It is not a nice day.   I was pleased to see my plants arrive by post (3 different Herbacious Geraniums) but they have gone into the garage for now;  no way am I planting them out in the cold and they are all reachable so no excuse for ringing my gardener and asking him if he would pop round and do it for me.

But my friend and neighbour rang me this morning to see if I was 'alright'?   She couldn't find my number so she rang another friend S for it.   So then S rang me to ask if I was 'alright' as my neighbour hadn't seen me.   This network of friends is very comforting when one lives alone.

I hope everyone is managing to 'keep their heads above water' during these worrying times.   I must say that to some extent my days pass rather aimlessly.   I have plenty of jobs to do - finishing the teddy I started making about three years ago,    sorting a book shelf out, cleaning the one or two bits of silver which haven't been cleaned since I moved in here. I could go on but one of my father's favourite sayings in such a situation was, "Don't keep doing your jobs twice - once is enough when you've got your duster in your hand."   Somehow the day passes without my doing much at all other than getting a mid day meal and keeping the place tidy.   Oh and chatting on the phone of course.

Someone says in today's Times that she thinks we should applaud at 8pm every Wednesday night for all those marvellous NHS Staff who are keeping things going in such difficult conditions.   What a brilliant idea.   Are we going to do it?   It is such a small thing to do for the huge sacrifice they are making.

Well, soldier on everybody.   It will come to an end, although goodness knows when.   Keep smiling.

Thursday 26 March 2020


On the news at six it was suggested that we open our front door or a window and at 8pm applaud the National Health Service Workers and the Volunteers.   I opened the door at about two minutes to eight.   It is a still, very dark night and the sky is full of stars - very beautiful.   When eight o'clock came at first there was silence - then bit by bit the applause grew until it seemed that the whole of the town was applauding - the sort of night when sound carries and very little traffic about - it all helped.   For several minutes the wave of applause filled the air.   I found it very moving and without a doubt it brought a feeling of solidarity.   We are all in this together and together we will win.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

1984 and all that.

Yes, as so many who write in Blogland have said - the whole situation is nothing short or sureal.   It is as though we are onlookers to a strange situation going on outside our window.   Unfortunately, of course, this is not the case and it is remarkable how quickly many of us have adapted to it.   How I organise my time each day has changed dramatically - not necessarily for the worse - just different.   And I suspect that for me (should I be one of the ones to survive the pandemic) and many more of my age the difficulty may well be slotting back in to Society again.   In other words, I am beginning to rather like the seclusion, the narrowing of one's expectations each day, the reorganisation of one's priorities.   Apart from organising food supplies and essentials like toilet paper, soap and such like, life has suddenly become a lot simpler.   Now that (hopefully) my supply chain is more or less in place my day consists of deciding whether to do half an hour in the garden (the most I can manage at a stretch), cook a lunch, read my book, change the bedding on my bed or clean the kitchen units.   No way can I do that in one day - I have to choose one - or at the most two and stick to them.

It has been a blissfully Spring-like day here - blue sky, no wind, warm - but in typical English fashion it is set to turn very cold for the week end.
So, with that in mind I decided not to transfer the pinks plants I had intended to move - give them a few more days and hopefully a rain so that the ground is a bit more condusive to welcoming them to their new site.

Instead I decided to use that time slot to ring my old school friend in the village where we were both born in Lincolnshire.  We had a lovely long chat which did make me glad I hadnt gone back there to live.   My memories are of a sleepy village of around three hundred folk - we all knew one another (which meant you couldn#t do anything you shouldn't because sooner or later your Mum would get to know) and life looking back seemed blissful in spite of a lot of it being in wartime.  From our back garden we looked across the River Witham to a tiny, beautiful church in the village of Greetwell.   Now my friend tells me that a huge by pass is being built in that area - so the view will be destroyed forever (except in my mind of course).

Well dear friends it is almost time (5pm) for the daily update on the Virus.   Do I want to watch it or do I wait for the six o'clock news or even longer for tomorrow's Times?   Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday 24 March 2020


In this mad, mad world, where a lot of the population are obeying the rules and a crazy few are it seems taking delight in disobeying them it is so good to come across acts of kindness.   I had one today and I do hope he doesn't mind my sharing it with you.
Today friend W and I should have been going up over the top of the Pennines to Kirkby Lonsdale to meet our friends P and D who were coming over from Windermere.   We intended to lunch as we always do and catch up on any news.   But of course none of us could go and we were all disappointed.   But this morning I had a postcard from D.   I would like to tell you what he said.

Sorry the picture of the Ranunculus is on its side but it is a beautiful image of one of my favourite flowers.  He intends to send me a card from this collection from The Royal Horticultural Society each week for the next twelve weeks (he has twelve of these cards in a collection) during the self isolation period.   He says 'hopefully I will not be sending you the whole box'.   It is small acts of kindness like this that more than wipe out the images of the thoughtless and stupid behaviour of a minority.   It raised my spirits more than he will ever know.

Monday 23 March 2020

Is it Monday?

All the days are merging into one now that I have absolutely nothing going on to mark the days out.  I suspect most of us are the same.   At least the sun is shining even if the wind is cold - imagine if all this had coincided with that awful long spell of wet days we had and that terrible flooding (and spare a thought for all those people who were flooded not so long ago and must be coping with the virus and the cleaning up - what a dreadful few months it has been).

When I drew back the curtains in my bedroom this morning the sun was well up and a lone bumble bee was having a slow mosey round my garden - the hellebores, the wallflowers and then off to have a quick look at the Chindoxia before soaring up over the wall into the field.   There is a cold wind blowing but it was warm enough for a bee to be around and that did me good.

Now we are almost banned from going out except in certain special circumstances.   I think this is the right move because people can be so silly.   Up here at the moment food delivery is not easy - people are more than willing to help but in many cases there are just empty shelves.   I am well ahead with my food supplies so am not worried but it is another thing to have to worry about and I could certainly do without it.

I am still reading Michael Palin's 'Sahara' first published in 2002 and I guess probably to accompany a TV series (which I don't remember being on and certainly didn.t see) -and I am really enjoying it.   It is so well written and given my love of travel books (I sometimes think I am a better armchair traveller than a 'real' traveller) Palin makes every place he visits come alive with little pictures he paints of situations or characters.
Just about time for another chapter before bed I think - so until tomorrow.   Take care every one of you.

Sunday 22 March 2020


On a fine early Spring day the sun is shining even if there is a cold East wind off the North Sea.  I have walked round the estate with Percy and shall shortly to out into my back garden to see what is sprouting now that my gardener has tidied up for me.   I leave you with a photograph of my bungalow soaking up the sun.   Have a good Sunday.

Saturday 21 March 2020


The promised blue sky has not materialised and the East Wind, straight off the North Sea, is a little stronger than promised.   Other than that it would be a perfectly normal Saturday except my car remains stationary on the drive and hardly anyone passes.   But I am not downhearted.

Rachel - and others - suggested I listen to my body and maybe take more rest if it told me that was what I needed.   She may well be correct because I went to bed around ten last evening and I didn't wake until ten minutes past nine this morning.   I yawned, stretched, got out of bed, pulled back the curtains to be confronted by the gardener - on his knees hand weeding the back rockery.  Hearing the curtains being pulled back he looked up - to be confronted with me in my nightie and between us a line of my knickers which I had been too lazy to take in last evening, thinking it would do no harm to leave them out overnight as no rain was forcast.  We acknowledge one another, I drew the curtains, got dressed and then opened the patio door to speak to him (not wishing to go any nearer as I am self isolating).   Shortly afterwards I paid him and off he went.   So far that has been the 'highlight' of my day.

A late breakfast means that now in the early afternoon I do not feel like eating a lunch.   So I shall go now and find something light and tasty and eat it while reading The Times and just see how long I can resist starting doing The Ladygram which also came this morning.   I may add to this later if anything earth-shattering happens.

Oh just remembered - in November I took delivery of two new Ercol settees for my sitting room - they are lovely and just what I wanted.   I resolved never again to eat and drink in there.   In January I took a cup of coffee in and jogged my arm as I sat down and threw most of the coffee over the arm of one settee.  Luckily I like my coffee black so I sponged it down with warm water and hoped for the best.  Next morning the stain had completely gone.   Last evening (yes, I do know I am stupid) I carried my Horlicks into the sitting room to drink.   I have Benign Essential Tremor, which means my hands shake all the time, and I shot some of the Horlicks on the same arm of the same settee!   I got a bowl of warm water and a microfibre cloth and sponged it well and lo and behold this morning there is no sign of a stain.   I presume the material was treated with something which is anti stain before I got it - but my goodness I shall definitely not do this again - I promise.

Friday 20 March 2020

Spring arrived overnight.

Yesterday I didn't feel well at all and had a splitting headache - almost unknown to me.   Today I feel very sprightly - well as far as one can when using a walking stick.   Jobs done up to two in the afternoon - now - all the tidying, an hour in the garden, several things organised by phone,lunch cooked and eaten.   Paying the newspaper bill was a possible problem.   My daily Times is paid for by subscription but I have a fortnightly magazine and a Saturday paper which I pay for in the shop - and then there is delivery too.
I rang them and they had it sorted in a second and at the same time told me that if I wanted anything I must ring them.   Offers like that do make one feel good at a time like this when it is easy to feel helpless.

There are so many problems and everyone's are different.   I have just phoned our Sunday lunch venue and told them we four will not be going for the forseeable future ;  I suspect in any case that such places will be shut before long.   What a worry for them and for everyone else in a similar position.

There are similar problems everywhere.   Richard Morrison writing on the Arts page in The Times today speaks of the glorious Titian exhibition - 'his six great mythological 'poesy' paintings, brought together for the first time in nearly 400 years' as Morrison puts it  - at The National Gallery.   Th exhibition opened but the N G has now shut its doors until May 4th at the earliest and the Titian show is due to end  in mid June.   Many thousands will miss this great exhibition and the N G will lose out as a result.   He also points out the twist in the tale in that Titian himself died of plague in 1576.   Will things ever be the same again anywhere?

My son has phoned to say that his son in law in Glasgow has Coronavirus and is isolated for four weeks and also his friend in London is in the same situation.   Luckily although both of them have a high temperature and a bad dry cough neither is feeling particularly ill.

Thursday 19 March 2020


Thursday - well it could be any day really couldn't it?   My markers that  map out my week have now all disappeared - Monday the lady comes to clean my bungalow and Book Group meet once a month,  Tuesday coffee with friends (or Strugglers every third Tuesday) and lunch out on two Tuesdays in the month, Wednesday free but often out to lunch with a friend, Thursday hair appointment, Friday coffee with 'the gang' followed by lunch out, Saturday - various things, Sunday lunch with same three friends every week.   Now every one of those things is on hold.   I really have little need to open my front door apart from if the postman rings or an order is delivered.   Everything is stilled.

Not such a bad thing -  ( time to take stock.)   I speak  several times a day to my son about various things, speak to neighbours if I walk out with Percy (haven't been today) and phone friends in the same situation - or they phone me.   Today I have had a very bad headache, so took some Paracetamol and, after tidying round everywhere, I went back to bed and travelled the Sahara with Michael Palin!   I have read his book several times before but I could read about this part of the world over and over again because apart from Marrakech I have not visited it.   Now it is nine in the evening and I feel ready for bed again, so soon it will be Horlicks time.

It does seem as though 'total lockdown' may well be with us before long.   I am practising it already  - I can't see any point in not doing.   I feel I owe it to other people to not go about.   It doesn't appear that the virus has reached here yet but of course we don't know do we? 

So, as I keep saying, instead of looking for it let's all look for the spring flowers coming up in our gardens,  look out for anyone around who might need help with anything (our local very good grocers have started a home delivery service), keep soldiering on and hope it is all soon over.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

A new kid on the block.

I can't help feeling that now there are less people about and most here are self-isolating (almost everyone on my road, which is all bungalows) the number of cats has increased.   There is a lady just down the road who has seven.   One, a large tabby tom without a tail (lost it in an accident) disappeared some months ago but the other six were rarely seen.   Now they are all making a path through my garden in the morning, plus a black and white tom who comes every day and - this morning - a large ginger tom I haven't seen before.
I am pleased to see them.   Now that I have lost Tess I would get a cat.  The only thing that stops me is that the road is a very busy one and I couldn't bear it if the cat got run over. 

My schedule of a walk a day was done reluctantly today (no sign of the sun) but I shall continue to make myself do it.   Already, after only a few days, I can sense how quickly it would be possible to become 'institutionalised' if that is a word I can use without being in an institution.   I am sure John recognises the signs - I am not eager to get up in a morning when there is nowhere beckoning (no lunches out, no keep fit class, no coffee with friends);  it would be easy not to bother with cooking (jacket potato with streaky bacon and oriental greens and mashed carrot and parsnip today, followed by a nice, ripe pear); dozing could become a habit which must be avoided at all costs; so some sort of routine has been organised. 

Read The Times over breakfast, tidy round and stack the dishwasher, make the bed, shower, get dressed, have a coffee, read e mails and send any if necessary, phone son and daughter in law to bring one another up to date, decide what I am having for lunch and prepare it, eat it, tidy kitchen and then Percy and I walk.  This where I am now.
Blogging is good during self isolation - it is literally getting in touch with virtual friends and passing the time of day (and I love it).   Now I think it is time for an hour of Michael Palin's 'Sahara' which I am reading at present and jolly good it is too if you like travel books.  Oh if only my walking was good enough to go to Marrakesh again(he doesn't go in the book - doesn't know what he is missing).

I hope, as we near the first day of Spring, it suddenly begins to get a bit warmer (only eight degrees today but that doesn't stop the spring flowers).

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Pistols at Dawn.

Actually no - more like 'Crumpets at 2am'.   I slept badly last night, going to bed slightly hungry I just couldn't get off to sleep.    At 2am I got up to make myself a milky drink (Ovaltine) and was going to have a round of toast with it until I  remembered I had crumpets.   It felt very wicked sitting up in bed with my book, my Ovaltine and a buttered, toasted crumpet.   But I did eventually go to sleep.

This morning I had to be up, showered and dressed for eight o'clock because my Tesco order was scheduled to be delivered between eight and nine.   It came, as it usually does, at twenty to nine.   By the time I had washed out the fridge and put the food away either in the fridge, the cupboard or the freezer, it was almost ten o'clock before I had my Shredded Wheat and a banana. 

As so many of you have said - these are such strange times - nothing like this has happened in our lifetime.   Everything has been put on hold.  I am practising self isolation as much as I can -  going out for a walk with Percy every day when it is not too windy - I need to get fresh air and keep my legs working - and the odd foray to the Bank and maybe even to my exercise class tomorrow.  There are only half a dozen of us and it is a large room.   A lot will depend on whether the room has remained open - time will tell.

The virus doesn't seem to have reached us up here yet, seemingly centred around the big cities - but there is little doubt it will arrive - insidious as it is.
Wherever you are - stay safe.    John's village seem to all be pulling together  - I am so pleased he was able to stay there after the sad episode in his life - and so pleased to see his gradual recovery.

Monday 16 March 2020

More measures.

More measures to combat the virus come out daily at these News Conferences, which I think are conducted very well.   I have an order from Tesco coming in the morning and a well-stocked store cupboard so I should be alright for a few weeks to come.   I am used to being alone so dont see any great problem there either.   The important thing is to stay away from other people, both for one's own sake and for the sake of others.

I have been doing last minute jobs before battening down the hatches.   The lady who cleans for me is not coming for the foreseeable future after today.   Her husband is seriously ill and worries about catching the virus and we both think it sensible that at present she doesnt come.   I live alone so nowhere gets very dirty - I shall clean one room each day which I am sure I can manage.  After she had gone this morning I drove to the Medical Centre to stock up on hearing aid batteries and then called at the bank to stock up on a small amount of money (buying on line and not going out much means I shall not need much actual cash).   I had intended to go for a walk with Percy after lunch as it has been a lovely day here, but all the dashing about this morning meant that I was too tired to go out this afternoon.   So I was forced to watch another episode of Inspector Montelbano (thanks again Tom for putting me on to him).

Looks as though the highlight of my day tomorrow might well be getting the dustbin ready for the bin men on Wednesday morning.   I do usually go to a Strugglers meeting at half past ten on the third Tuesday, but am undecided whether to go or not in view of the ban on movement and gatherings.   Oh and my Tesco order will arrive between eight and nine in the morning so I shall have to be ready for that.    Sounds as though it will be 'all go tomorrow'! 

Everything, apart from the wretched virus, is carrying on as normal - Spring is springing, the birds are all nesting now - hopping about with beaks full of bits of this and that - haven't seen any lambs yet but then I haven't been very far from home.   Nice day forecast again for tomorrow so Percy and I might have a stroll.   Till then...

Sunday 15 March 2020

Self Isolation.

I am certainly going out much less than usual.   I have plenty of reading material, I have my computer and I have Percy - surely walking round the block alone (apart from Percy) and just saying hello to folk I meet is as good as self isolation - I certainly hope so.   My store cupboard is fairly full and I can, presumably, keep having Tesco Home Delivery Service to my back door once a week.  So if they do bring in Self Isolation for those above a certain age then it will be possible.    And in the event of us actually getting some warm, sunny weather I can even sit out in the back garden (only sat out once last year - it was never warm enough).

We are all four going out to our usual lunch today - but for how much longer?   I shall be sure to wash my hands after climbing the stairs holding on to the metal handrail.   A far as we know there are no cases up here yet (in spite of the fact that I go to lunch on the edge of the largest army garrison in Western Europe) - although there are supposedly these hidden cases, so who knows?

Salmon on spinach with a Hollandaise sauce I think today with lovely veggies and roast potatoes and parsnips.  Eleven am now - off for a shower - may be back later in the day if there is anything to report. 

Yes, delicious lunch as usual and for me followed by cheese and biscuits with celery, grapes and apple slices.   Finally a cup of tea as the four of us sat in the bar.    Far fewer people there than usual today - the coronavirus is beginning to bite up here now I think.   I feel sad for the people who own the restaurant where we had lunch - lovely people hope they will be able to withstand the trials and tribulations of the next few months.

Saturday 14 March 2020

There are certainly less people about in our little town than there usually are - places to park in the Market Square, fewer folk in the shops and cafes;  but it is not an especially pleasant day so who knows or can guess the reason?   Whole News bulletins are now taken up by the Coronavirus as though nothing else of importance is happening in the world.

It is therefore pleasant to step outside the front door and find that the rooks are nesting, the tete a tete daffodils are bursting into flower and some of the trees around the estate have big buds waiting to open.   And slowly the temperature rises - ten degrees when I drove down to the hairdresser at mid day today (perm, that is why the day and time have changed).

Putting on my trousers this morning I somehow twisted my hip on my bad leg (ankle) so that I am walking with even more difficulty today and can only go at snail's pace with my stick - but I am determined to keep going.   The idea of giving up driving and being unable to go out because of lack of mobility does not appeal to me one little bit. Certainly for tomorrow at least I shall go out with my friends for lunch, making sure that I don't go too near anyone else and also making sure that when I reach to top of the stairs I go straight into the Ladies and wash my hands because I can't climb the stairs without holding on to the handrails.

Looking round the shops and cafes in our town this morning I couldn't help wondering just how many of them will survive this year.   Most of them rely heavily on tourism - walkers to The Dales, families who rent the holiday cottages and - probably more importantly - the coach loads of tourists who just stop for an hour on a tour of the area - just long enough for a coffee in one of the cafes and a mooch round the gift shops - some of which are very good indeed.  I suspect that this year the life of many of these shops hangs by a thread.

Friday 13 March 2020

Delicious lunch.

I went in to our local Co-op although I am having my order from Tesco by home delivery this week - our Post Office is located at the back of the Co-op.  Wandering round the fruit and veg looking for bananas (can't bear a day without and I have run out) I saw my very favourite stir fry - Oriental greens with mango and chilli.  It is supposed to be for two and there is quite a lot of it - but I adore it.  I took a pack and then, wandering round, speculated on what protein I could stir fry with it.  Passed the bacon lardons - perfect.   That was my lunch sorted.   Got home, started the lardons off in the pan until the fat was running, added the greens and turned the heat up high.   Stirred continuously for three minutes, tipped on to a hot plate, shook soy sauce over it and ate it.   It was simply delicious and I ate the lot.

So, although it is Friday, I didn't buy fish from our lovely fish stall.   No, instead I bought a dressed crab and intend to have crab and mustard and cress sandwiches for my tea.   How's that for a day of deliciousness?

I watched the News Conference on Corvid 19 last evening.   I thought it was a very comprehensive look at the state of things - I am rarely impressed by Boris, but I thought he came out of it very well.
I just hope that everyone abides by the suggestion to constantly wash one's hands although it is not easy.  I brought home a bag this morning with just half a dozen things in it - my prescription from the chemist (in a paper bag), my dressed crab (in a plastic bag from the fishmonger) and four items from the supermarket - oranges in a box, bananas in a fairtrade plastic bag, stirfry veg in a plastic box and lardons in a plastic box.  When I came in I washed my hands, then unpacked the items, then washed my hands again, then put them all away, then washed my hands again, if  the virus was on any of the items is it now in the fridge and/or the fruit bowl?   At just what point can one stop washing one's hands?

It is almost a Spring day today - flowers are springing up in everyone's gardens, the wind has almost dropped to a light breeze (in the Post Office a six foot man - no lightweight either - told me that yesterday the wind blew him over in our Market Square) and I have just had a stroll round the estate with my Rollator.   Now ready for a sit down with a cup of tea.   Until tomorrow...

Thursday 12 March 2020


These are strange times aren't they?   My Book Group book for this month is a book about The Black Death (black pustules and all!) - not a book I particularly wish to read at the moment so am putting it to one side for a couple of weeks - see how things go.

My hair appointment has been put off until Saturday as it is 'perm week' so a free day.   This is never a good idea because I get up for my breakfast in my dressing gown and it then becomes difficult to get dressed.   It is now twenty past ten and I am still in my dressing gown and am finding various things to do to hinder my actually getting dressed.   A friend is coming this afternoon to retune my television for me (BBC retunes today) so I really shall have to get under the shower before long.   If I were younger and working from home I would be one of those slovenly ones who work all day in PJs - and it does not make one feel good - it just makes me feel slovenly. 

A friend e mailed me this morning.   She went to the Dentist yesterday and waiting to see her dentist seven people came into the waiting room as she sat there.   Not one of them used the Hand Sanitiser prominently displayed.   What will it take up here in The Dales before anyone takes things seriously enough to at least take the sensible precautions the Government advises?

There was a light covering of snow when I drew back the curtains this morning and there was a sharp wind blowing.  The combination was enough to persuade me not to go in to town today.  I shall stay in - the sun shines directly into my sitting room and that makes it feel like Spring.  And sitting here at the computer, browsing, I have found a delightful jumper on the Seasalt site and have ordered it  - so that is something to look forward to.   Something to look forward to is always good for my state of mind.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

The trouble wih March.......

.....is that we get one nice, Spring-like day and then a succession of chilly, Wintry days.   Hopefully the former get more and the latter less towards the end of the month - but not much of a sign yet.   Today it is cold, wet and windy and a giant black cloud hangs above my window. Spring flowers get more and more in the gardens but the weather doesn't encourage them - it is more likely to be the daylight hours.

I have had a busy day today - I like it like that but am pleased now to be in, the central heating turned up again and everywhere cosy and warm.   This morning the lady from Physiotherapy came to take my blood pressure (up slightly) and discuss exercises to help my balance (she is now going to come once a month to do the exercises and to give me a diary to record each day when I do them).   After that I went with friend W to a half hour of quiet at the Quaker Meeting House - very therapeutic - and then out to lunch (broccoli quiche with new potatoes and salad) followed by an hour's Keep Fit for the over sixties.   Took friend W home, came home, turned up the central heating and am now going to settle down for the evening.

Are we in for a surge in Coronavirus cases here in the UK?   Probably.   Who knows.   All I know is that we must follow Department of Health guidelines, wash our hands, not get too near people and not shake hands.  There is nothing else we can do short of shutting ourselves away from civilisation.   I suppose I fall into that age group 'at risk' - (ie being over eighty) but there is not a lot I can do about that is there.

Life seems to be going on as normal up here, but then there has been no reported case up here yet - I suspect things might change if or when that happens.   In the meantime the cafe where we had our lunch was as full as usual (and the food just as good) and we all keep soldiering on.   Take care.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

The Passage of Time.

It is three years this  month since my dear farmer died - the time has gone so quickly and yet in another sense he seems to have been gone for so long.

In the days (1993) when I was a widow living in a nearby village and he was a bachelor farming just a footpath away, I used to walk with Algy, my black pug, over the footpath each day.   If we met in his fields we would stand and chat for a while and it he happened to be getting his cows in to milk in the summer I would help him move the electric fence and walk down to the farm with him behind his herd.   They were happy days after the sadness of losing my first husband.   If I didn't see the farmer I would pick a few wild flowers, tie them together with a  blade of grass and hang them on the electric fence so that he knew I had been past.   This afternoon, tidying a bookshelf, I came across this poem I had written at the time.  I  thought I would post it for you to read in memory of him.

Message on a wire.

There is a stillness in your field.
Not a silence,
(for the mistle thrush sings
on the topmost bough of the hawthorne).
(And the beck finds its voice 
as it slips over the stones
in the South meadow).
But a stillness
from long ago,
when the grass was sown 
and peppered with wild flowers
in their season.

One day in July
the stillness would be broken.
The grass would be mown,
tossed, dried in the sun, smelt,
and carted away to the stack.
Then the stillness would return.

Men who care for fields
feel that stillness,
soak it into their bones,
become that stillness,
protected, cocooned
within the confines
of their walls.

I walked across your field today.
I could leave you a message on your phone.
Or I could leave
two buttercups, a herb robert,
and a cuckoo flower, tied
with a strand of grass and
hanging on the fence.
Either way you will know. 

Rest in peace my dear farmer.
feel that stillness,

Monday 9 March 2020

Opening the door to strangers.

Following on from yesterday's post regarding the man on the doorstep selling his drawings.   When my cleaning lady came this morning she listened to my story and told me that there had been something on Facebook yesterday about these people selling drawings - apparently there was a woman in the next village going round at the same time.   So it was not genuine and it was indeed some sort of scam.   Hopefully somebody will have phoned the Police in the area.  Also I had an e mail from friend S saying the man had been there and that she too had felt sympathy for his situation - so that made me feel better.

It is worth pointing out to you that I have a chain on my front door so that the door opens only a fraction and no-one could enter.   Also I always keep my Patio door locked and my kitchen door opens into my garage which is always locked, so I do feel fairly safe.   Nevertheless, it is quite unnerving when this kind of thing happens.

Anyway enough of that.   Today, after a pleasant, sunny start, it is now grey,  breezy and cold.   I had to go into town to post a letter (yes, I have a post box directly opposite my bungalow, but I had no stamps left) and to call at my Solicitors.   But I came back home and made myself lunch and since
then have done very little other than read the paper and open my mail when it came.   One of the things which came was my replacement Blue Disabled Badge for my car - it said to allow six weeks for renewal - I did so and it has come back almost by return - very impresive.

Another thing which impressed me today was that last week the wind blew over my green garden waste bin.   I e mailed our local council asking if I could buy a replacement and this morning had a lovely e mail from them telling me not to worry they would call within the next week and either repair or replace it free of charge.   So now I am sitting here thinking - the world is not such a bad place after all.

Keep well and virus free.  See you tomorrow.

Sunday 8 March 2020

Sunday the 8th

A dilemma today and one, I suspect which in one form or another most of you will have experienced.    I went out for lunch with my three friends as usual and got back home about half past three.   As I drove down the road I saw there was a young man going from door to door so I wasn't surprised when the doorbell rang shortly after I came in.   On the step stood a young man with a folder under his arm and a card in his hand.   He handed the card to me and it told me that he was Polish, had come to this country with his wife and two children and that he was totally deaf.   In the folder were his drawings  and the card asked if I would like to look at them and perhaps buy one.

For thirty nine years I was married to a painter and my walls are hung with oils, water-colours and drawings - there is not an inch of space available.   But the real question is about buying from anyone standing on the doorstep.   We are advised not to buy at the doorstep by the Police, and most of us have a sticker in the window asking for no doorstep callers so the answer obviously should be 'no',   But - if the story was true - and I have no reason to suspect that it was not, should I not at least have looked at his drawings?   I just shook my head and he smiled sadly and walked on to my neighbours.   Then I felt so sad - there had been photographs of his two children on the card he gave me to read - was he desperately in need of money ?   After all he wasn't begging - just asking me to look at his drawings and maybe buy one.  I closed the door and went into the sitting room and took five pounds out of my purse intending to call to him and give him the five pounds.   Then I realised that if he really was totally deaf (as the card said he was) then he wouldn't hear me anyway and when I looked out of the door he had got quite a long way down the road - obviously everyone was turning him away.   And in any case - would it be patronising of me to give him five pounds?

I have felt vaguely unhappy about the situation all  night and wish it hadn't happened and if the story was true then unhappy about the whole thing.   I would be interested to know your views and what you would have done.

Saturday 7 March 2020

Another Saturday

Saturdays seem to come round with increasing speed these days - maybe it is because I manage to fill my time easily and have little spare.   As I have mentioned numerous times before, Saturdays are the one day in the week when I am often at a loose end and the day seems to drag - but not so today.   After several pleasant and still days the wind has risen as the day has gone on and although the temperature has risen the wind has made it feel cold.   It was the first Saturday in the month and as such it was our village Coffee Morning - I always go although I no longer live in the village.   There were less there than usual although it was fairly well attended.   Whether this was due to the Coronavirus or to various coughs and colds I have no idea.   Friend W and I both bought our Turkey and Lentil Lasagnes from A who makes them specially for the day.   They are in individual packs for one and are delicious.  I like to keep two or three in my freezer.   I usually have one of the ones I buy for lunch on the Saturday but today W and I had decided to go out for lunch so both packs bought today were frozen straight away.

Then it was out to lunch - Panninis - bacon, chorizo and sweet chilli sauce with salad and sweet potato chips for me and chicken and sweet chilli for W - and they were, as always, so tasty.   Friend M is shortly moving house into Leyburn and has had various jobs done on her new bungalow, so we called in to see how she was getting along - it is all coming along nicely.    She will be living quite near to where I live so perhaps once the weather gets a bit more summery I might be able to walk there with Percy (he has a seat so that I can sit down on the way for a rest if it is too far).

After a few years of not taking The Lady magazine (in my education days I used to write articles which were often published in it) I have started taking it again.   It is now a fortnightly magazine and my main reason for taking it is to do the quite difficult and highly enjoyable Ladygrams (2 of them) - cryptic crossword type puzzles which occupy my mind for a large part of the week end and at the same time keep my old mind active.   Walking and my exercise class for my body, Ladygrams for my mind and good food for my digestive system - hopefully I am on the right track.

Like Tom I am enjoying the Inspector Montalbano series on iplayer and for the last two nights have watched an episode.   Last night, for the first time in a fortnight, my son called in so it was quite late before I started watching and this meant I didn't get to bed until half past midnight - hence a day today when I have felt tired all day.   So it is early to bed tonight.   Have a good Saturday evening.   See you tomorrow.

Friday 6 March 2020

March 6th

Another  lovely sunny day here although a slight breeze makes it necessary to have a coat on.   I had my usual trip into town this morning, to collect my prescription from the Chemists, to choose fish for my lunch (haddock today, but not a patch on the sea bass I had last week) and then to go into the cafe to meet friends for coffee.   As usual we all had a good chat and I didn't leave until after eleven when friend H and I went home together in my car.   By the time I had done the Times 'Mind Games' (which I do every day) it was time to give my haddock a quick fry in butter while the sprouts were cooking.   A quick squeeze of lemon juice and it was all ready to eat.

After lunch it would have been easy to persuade myself that I had walked round town this morning and didn't need another walk but I must keep up my resolve to walk every day.   So I put on my coat and Percy and I did a different walk round the estate, stopping to chat here and there to various men busy tidying up their gardens - how the sun brings them out with a sweeping brush for the paths and a bucket for the weeds.   The sun had brought out every crocus on the estate - purple, yellow, white, purple striped - such a brilliant display.   And I saw my first patch of coltsfoot - yes I do know it is a weed but it is a plant I love - the flowers burst forth before the leaves and what a pretty sight they are.

Now it is almost four in the afternoon - the days fly by - and by the time I have finished this it will be time for tea - I need to eat up my sweet and sour chicken with rice so that will only take a minute to get ready.   At the moment there is nothing on television that  has the slightest appeal so I shall probably watch another episode of Inspector Montelbano from iplayer (thank you Tom for suggesting it  - it is just my cup of tea).  And I think there are about another thirty episodes to go - I even enjoy the subtitles.   My hearing is not brilliant and I don't have to listen I can just relax and read what they are saying.

The first Saturday in the month tomorrow which means Church Coffee morning - it will seem very strange going along without my darling Tess who always went with me.

Thursday 5 March 2020


Today is the first day when it has really felt like Spring.   For a start there is not a breath of wind and the sky up to half an hour ago was cloudless (now there are  clouds gathering and it is not quite as warm as it was)    My hair appointment is at nine thirty each Thursday so I was down in town in time for that and also to call at the Bank.   Then I intended to treat myself to a coffee, met a friend and together we each had a bacon bap with our coffee.  It felt very wicked; at 87 a good feeling to have I can assure you.

Back home I did the Times puzzles, which I do every day to keep my brain going and read the paper.   Then I decided to do a walk round the estate - much too nice to sit at home although I felt rather tired after going round town earlier.   One morning of warm sun and I saw - celandine, daisy, purple primroses, tiny iris, hellebore, wallflowers, crocus, snowdrops (almost over), tete a tete daffodils, heather and in one garden even one or two pinks out on a plant.  In spite of all the worry over the coronavirus it did the old heart good to see how spring will out.   Percy is certainly making a difference to my mobility.

Just before one o'clock another mobility aid arrived and it looks to be a very useful one at that.
The trays are detachable so it will be useful for serving coffee and cake when friends call.

And while we are on the subject of photographs, friend W took some photographs of me the other day, ostensibly for my application for the renewal of my blue Disability Parking Card.   I thought you might like to see one of them she took - I am not smiling because one is supposed to be solemn in this sort of photograph!
Oh dear folks - the camera doesn't lie!!

Wednesday 4 March 2020


I was just preparing to go for my morning walk with Percy on a lovely, still, sunny Spring morning, but in the time it took me to get my coat and boots on an enormous black cloud came over and now the sun has disappeared.   As I am hoping to go to an exercise class this afternoon I shall forego the walk - I do not wish to get wet.

In my bid to make one recipe a week from the slow cooker recipe book bought for me by friends S and T I have amassed all the ingredients necessary to make Sweet and Sour Chicken which I shall do when I return from the class - it will need six hours on low so I should be able to cook it this evening before I go to bed and it will be ready for eating tomorrow.

This seems to be the week for filling in forms - and how I hate it - alright so I can do it on the computer but sometimes the questions are so ambiguous or the web site goes awry.   I noticed yesterday that my Free TV Licence ex pired on the twenty ninth of February so this morning I went on line to update it (still free until May 31st when the Government decide whether they are going to start charging the over 75 s again.)   All went well until I typed in my Post Code and address when the site told me they didn't match.   After doing it three times it decided on the last time that they did match (and no I hadn't typed it in wrongly, I checked very carefully).

Yesterday it was renewing my Blue Disabled Badge (you need to allow six weeks for it to be renewed - goodness knows why).   And the day before it was renewing my Driving Licence - I am now hoping that is the end of Form Filling for a while. 

On a cheerful note - my garden is suddenly full of birds.   I would love to feed them but a) there are such a lot of cats who trek through my garden on their daily walk, taking exactly the same route each day (and marking the same bushes on their way through!) and b) there are days when my ankle is just not up to going out and replenishing the seeds and it is bad to start and then discontinue.   But for now I enjoying the blackbirds, the little wren almost always scratching under the hedge, the thrush that sings each morning on my neighbours bush - and not forgetting the rooks of course.

Exercise class soon.    I can only do the sitting down ones - but that's better than nothing - and it is going out and meeting people.


Tuesday 3 March 2020


One of the things I try to do each day now that I live alone is to aim to speak to at least three or four people each day - it is so easy to become isolated.   There may come a day when I can't get out (I am not very mobile already) so I really have to make the most of things while I can.   I have had a successful day at chatting today - just as I did yesterday.

I always do my weekly shop on Tuesday mornings when there is just me here (if I have visitors coming I tend to have  an order delivered from Tesco).   Then I meet a friend for coffee before going back home.   This was one of the Tuesdays when there is a lunch at TOSH - cooked by volunteers and about a dozen of us go - all friends now so there is plenty of chat.  Then it was home and, while the weather wa s reasonably pleasant (much less wind than there has been for weeks) I decided to walk round the estate with Percy again.
On the way back I called in on a lady whose Mother died last week - I hadn't seen her for a few weeks since Tess died (we used to meet dog-walking each morning) and I called to offer my condolences.  We chatted for an hour. 

Then I went home - thinking I would put off the job I had intended to do but then told myself not to be a wimp and to get on with it.   The job was to renew by Blue (disabled) badge permit on line as it will shortly run out.   Took me a while - scanning my passport, a council tax bill to prove my address and loading a photograph (which friend W kindly took for me at lunch time).   Then I decided to also put the farmer's In Memoriam into our local  paper as I do each year - it is easy to do on line.   It will be three years on the 22nd of this month since I lost him.   I miss him every single day.   A funny old thing - life.

Monday 2 March 2020

March at last!

Book Group this morning discussion Elizabeth Strouts ' Olive Kitteridge' which most of us thought was an excellent read.   It did beg the question (we all agreed) what do we look for in a book?    Do we look for a) a superb standard of writing or b) a good story?   Opinions were divided.   Obviously ideally we should have both but what I am asking is which is more important to you personally?

After lunch I made myself go for a walk with Percy.   The sun was shining and there was a strong, cold wind blowing but I managed to go the long way round, meeting a couple of friends to stop and chat to on the way.   I took this photograph on the edge of the estate, about a couple of hundred yards from my bungalow:    but by the time I got home twenty minutes later the sky was pretty black and within five minutes we had a snow storm.   So Winter has not finished with us yet. 

Sunday 1 March 2020

March 1st

And don't try telling me it is the first day of Spring - that is March 21st in my book.   But March has certainly 'come in like a lion' so let's hope that at the end of the month it 'goes out like a lamb'.  Storm Jorge is fading now and the wind has dropped considerably but there are snow showers every few minutes and it is by no means warm.

Sunday lunch out as usual today along with plenty of others - our restaurant was packed solid and the smell of roast beef and Yorkshire puds filled the air (I had salmon followed by Stilton and biscuits).  Now I am home again through a sleet storm and the central heating has been turned up a couple of  notches and I intend sitting down to make notes on 'Olive Kitteridge' for tomorrow morning when Book Group meets at my house.   It is a first class book, I can thoroughly recommend it - by Elizabeth Strout.

It's lovely to meet for an hour and a half with a group of friends to discuss something like this.   They are all lovely people and we share a common love of books.   What could be better?