Thursday 30 April 2020


Is it just me or is everyone the same?   I never know what day it is.  I look at The Times in the morning - that's my marker.   But the trouble is the time floats by and by the time lunch time arrives I have forgotten again.  I take a Statin at bed time and they come in packs of seven with the day of the week stamped on the packaging.   I always start on the right day but by the time I get to the middle of the week I have somehow got it wrong.  I took Wednesday's tablet a couple of minutes ago.  And I know I haven't missed a night.

There is no doubt about it, lockdown has made us relax so much as we wander about at home, that we tend to lose all semblance of a time scale.   This morning I sat  and watched the lovely tributes to Captain (hon. Colonel) Tom and the Spitfire and Hurricane Flypast especially for him, I tidied the rooms, disposed of yesterday's papers and plastic etc., made the bed, put the dishwasher on and when my doorbell rang I went to the door in my dressing gown.   It was half past eleven and I still hadn't had my shower.   My mother would have been horrified.

I made a lunch in my Remoska - a sausage, bacon and tomato crumble basically.   I can't break copyright by putting the recipe on here but it was tasty and it did give me an idea for making it more tasty and that I can give you.   How you cook it depends upon what you usually cook your meals in.   Because I live alone I rarely put my oven on, preferring to make use of my microwave and my Remoska.   If you use kitchen scissors to cut good quality thick sausages into chunks and brown them in a pan for about ten minutes before adding a chopped up onion, several quartered tomatoes, a few slices of bacon cut into strips and some Bramley apples cut into chunks.   Continue cooking until things begin to be nice and brown.  Then tip into a dish and cover with a thickish layer of a mixture of equal quantities of Parmesan and Breadcrumbs and cook until everything is well cooked and the topping is crispy.  I would guess about twenty minutes in the oven.  You could of course cook it in the oven from the start, just not adding the cheese and crumb layer until  it is cooked more or less - the cheese and crumb layer cooks in no time at all and gets nice and crispy.  Serve with some good  gravy.   If you try it then do let me know how you like it - I just found my recipe today a good way of using up a lot of bits left in the bottom of the fridge.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday 29 April 2020

What to do?

How are you adapting to the lockdown?   Last evening I went out for the first time in five weeks - I got into my car, drove it the half mile into town, drove round the market place and drove home again.   I thought it really was time that I gave my Corsa a run round the block.   It took me all of five minutes.

So how do I feel after five weeks of isolation?   Well, I feel I have adapted so well to it that I am not sure how easy it will be to actually snap out of being a semi recluse.   I have photographed above how I pass my time.   Well first of all I read my Times.   It comes at eight in the morning.   I poke the outer page off as it lies on the mat, pick the rest up and take it on my trolley into the kitchen where I make my first cup of tea of the day.   Then I trundle tea and Times back into the sitting room for a blissful hour.   Two Weetabix and a banana eaten and my medication taken with my first cup of tea, I make a second cup and open The Times.   It is Wednesday today so start with Matthew Parris - one of my favourite writers (one of the reasons I take The Times is for the quality of its writers).  Then the Obits -  some of the people I know, some I don't but again the quality of writing makes for interesting reading.   Only then do I read the actual news.   Then of course my favourite - Times 2 and the mind games.   Whilst my morning mind is at its sharpest I sharpen it up with the Killer sudoku, the codeword, the quick crossword and the other bits and pieces.

Then it is shower and get dressed time and after that a tidy round and the vac and duster where needed.   I try to clean one room each day during the week but really only the bathroom and the kitchen take a lot of effort - after all there is only me here to make it dirty. 

And so to the third picture - my book/books.  Two more unread ones have come through the letter box today - one of the Carol Drinkwater series on The Olive Farm and one called 'Snowdrops' - I read about the author and the book sounded interesting so I sent for it.  Coincidentally I find that Rachel is reading it a the moment so it will be good to compare notes at the end when we have both finished it.   You will see that by the side of my present book (I am half way through and shall not start either of the two which came today until I finish this one) is the TV remote  and my seat on the settee.   From there I can choose any programme I wish to watch (and there is a huge variety to choose from with so many channels and iplayer).

What else to do?   My exercise programme set by my Physio which needs to be done every day unless I walk (I cannot manage both as they are both tiring ).   My lunch needs to be cooked (and eaten).   I speak to my son by telephone every day and occasionally he pops round (he only lives a mile away) and we chat through the window.   There are two or three other friends I speak to daily on the telephone.   I also keep an eye on my garden, making a quick note if i see anything which I need to mention to D who looks after my garden for me.

In addition there is washing and ironing - once a week sees that done = the completing of my fortnightly Tesco order and my weekly fruit and veg order.   And last but by no means least - the chatting to all of you, my dear blog friends.   We have most of us communicated in this way for some years now and I feel I know you all so well and really value your friendship greatly.   So thank you all for being part of my life during lockdown.   I am going to find it hard to return to 'normal' when it does finally happen.

Tuesday 28 April 2020


Two more days and we are into May.   What a strange April this has been - certainly like no other for any of us I would guess.   It is to the stage now when most of us know someone who has got 'it' or at least knows someone who knows someone who has got 'it'.   And there is no longer any need to speculate on what I mean by 'it'.   Other than my allowed fresh air quota each day (sometimes a walk, sometimes a bit of gardening, sometimes my exercises - and today none of these as I am tired and it is cold outside) I have been nowhere at all.

The days pass in a kind of blur.   I get up, breakfast, shower, do one cleaning job thoroughly - today was the bathroom - cook a lunch and then read, or watch a TV programme, or do something in the craft line, or garden.   I looked on Cro's veggie garden on his blog today and envied his ability to do that - there was a time when I could have done it but not any more.   The News consists of Covid 19 and nothing else - it is as though the world has stood still to try and deal with this, which in a way it has. 

As I write this rainspots appear on the window.   Not many, just odd ones here and there.   I hear from Derek  in Essex today that they have had a good downpour starting in the middle of the night and still going strong when he sent me an e mail a short while ago.   Up here we are desperate but it is obvious we are on the very edge of the rain front and it is going to pass us by.

Is anyone else watching 'Normal People' -an adaptation of Sally Rooney's book of the same name?   The first two episodes were on BBC1 and the rest is on iplayer (BBC THREE).   The acting is superb.   And having spent my teaching life in a Comprehensive school it is particularly poignant.
Until tomorrow....

Monday 27 April 2020


This photograph shows you the view if I stand in my hall, just inside the front door.   There is a grass verge, then the footpath and then a piece of waste ground.   All the flowers you see are, of course, dandelions.   There must be a thousand at least and at the moment I love looking at them.   Then I remind myself that each flower will eventually have a seed head and each seed head will contain maybe a couple of hundred seeds.   And where is the nearest lawn?   Yes, you have guessed correctly.  Mine.   And while dandelions look delightful they are classed as a weed and weeds and lawns do not go together comfortably.

I think of plants like Valerian, Rosebay Willowherb and to some extent the blue herbaceous geranium and how they originally began life in this country as rather 'precious' garden plants and are now considered 'weeds' - I certainly think it is fair to say that on the whole a gardener would not 'buy' a plant of these; he might allow it to stay if it decided to pay him a visit, the same is not true of the dandelion.   Once a weed, always a weed.   A pity really as close inspection reveals it to be a rather pretty flower.   But that of course is transferring the opposite way -- not garden flower to weed but weed to weed.   So out will have to come the weed killer as the chap who mows the grass verge only comes once a month.

I think every gardener in the country is hoping for rain this week.   We have had some lovely sunny days but after the wettest Autumn and Winter on record we have gone into the driest Spring.   How capricious the English weather is.  Now the ground is like sand here and the flower beds in my garden are full of dry cracks.  I tried sitting out in the sun after lunch (friend and neighbour H kindly lent me a garden chair as I just haven't got round to buying any until I have decided what to do with the last part of my garden (the part I intend to sit in)) but it is cooler today and as the afternoon has worn on the sky has got cloudier.   When I first went out the sky was deep blue and there were numerous beautiful puffy white clouds.   Now the sky is a rather angry dark grey.   Will it rain?   I do hope so.

Anyone who loves looking at the sky will be interested to know that today Chris Lintoft in The Times tells us that Venus 'high in the Western sky just after sunset' will be at its brightest tomorrow.  Knowing just how capricious the English weather can be - that is probably when we wont be able to see it because it will be raining.

Sunday 26 April 2020


Rachel recommended a television programme on canals  to me, so this morning, over a late breakfast I watched the first episode on iplayer.  How it brought back memories for me as it was about the section of the Trent and Mersey canal - in an area I know so very well.

For seven years, as my son was entering his teenage years, we lived in Lichfield.   Our neighbours B and J and their only daughter A, lived next door.   They became our dearest friends and I was godmother to A their only daughter.   B and J are now long gone and when A married I gave her away at her wedding.  B's passion was boats with a capital B.   And through him, for the years we lived next door, they became my then husband M's passion too.   First it was canoes, then a small sailing boat, then B built a houseboat in his garage - joined to our sitting room as all the bungalows in the cul de sac were linked.

We spent many happy hours together on the houseboat and then B built a steel-hulled narrow boat and he was really in business.   Every holiday was spent on it and often near enough for us to nip down in the car on a Sunday to see how they were enjoying life.   It coincided with the time when I was a mature student at West Midlands Training College in Walsall and he often gave me a life to college in a morning.   I always used to say that whatever we were chatting about when he drove out of his drive by the time we got to the bottom of the road the talk had turned to boats.

When 'at home' the boat was moored on the canal at Alrewas and today's episode of the canal series included Alrewas.   I have not been back since those days and what memories it brought back.

Throughout my life I have been blessed with good neighbours, all have become friends - what a difference good neighbours make. 

Saturday 25 April 2020


Today has been something of a non day, mainly because I slept so badly last night.   I sat up reading for a good part of the night and when I finally did drop off of course it meant that I slept in this morning and didn't wake until almost nine.  I was going to a virtual coffee morning at ten so it was all a bit rushed.   I might only be sitting on my computer chair but I could hardly attend in my P J's.
By the time I had cooked my lunch (lemon sole with Majorcan new potatoes, chantennay carrots and the rest of the spinach, followed by a baked apple stuffed with butter and honey and sat down with my cup of tea I dropped off again and woke up an hour later.   Just time to go out into the garden to water my sturdy hellebore seedlings.   I intend to transplant some of them into a pot so they need a good water so that I can do it tomorrow.   It is impossible to buy compost round here but luckily H, my neighbour - also a keen gardener - came round with a tub of her compost so I shall pot them on tomorrow.   They are so sturdy it seems a shame not to try to grow them on - some left in the garden by their 'mother' plant and some in a pot.

It has been another lovely day although the sun was slow to break through the cloud this morning and towards the end of the afternoon it clouded in again.   It is set to turn colder from the North and to get windy.   Typical gardening weather - just as my Pink Lady Iris is ready to bloom it is coming cold and the wind is going to increase.

I have just typed this while eating a bacon, brie and cranberry toastie - divine.   I shouldn't have had it really after that large lunch - but I just fancied it - and as the news about Covid 19 (we now have gone over the twenty thousand deaths)
was depressing news I decided to go ahead.    We have to try everything to keep cheerful don't we?

So keep calm and carry on seems to be the message today.   Take care everyone.


Friday 24 April 2020


When I have  run out of reading matter, have done the mind games in The Times - and read it from cover to cover- done the Crossword and done various jobs around the house/garden, there comes a point when I need something to do.   I make myself take a walk round the block even though I have probably already been on my feet too long so that the walk is painful to do.    This morning at half past eight my order from Tesco came.   The delivery driver unloaded it into plastic boxes in my garage and I spent the next two hours disinfecting it all and putting it all away.   I find this very tiring.

An hour's rest with my feet up and then lunch before that walk.  Sausages left from yesterday with wilted spinach, chantenay carrots and Majorcan new potatoes (delicious) followed by what was left of the rhubarb today served with evaporated milk.

So what to read?  I am waiting for another of Carol Drinkwater's Olive Farm books to arrive so turned to my rereading of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons books.   They are easy reading and I love them.   So far Winter Holiday and We Didn't Mean to go to Sea.  Starting Swallows and Amazons it struck me just how life has changed for children (not that these were 'normal' children anyway).   Terribly middle class/boarding school educated - many children must have read these books over the years with a kind of envy.   I doubt many children had this kind of freedom, even in those days.   But they are escapist.

How did we play in those days?   Middle class I certainly wasn't.   Never went hungry - in fact always ate well - and always had enough clothes (and always a complete new outfit for Sunday School Anniversary) - had a new bike for my birthday when I was old enough to go off on it - always had pocket money.   That was our standard of living.   But of  course I came to the Arthur Ransome books as a mum, not as a child.   As a child, in the school holidays we went off together on our bikes, sandwiches (meat paste or jam) piece of cake and bottle of water, down to the beck a couple of miles from home with a jam jar and a fishing net to see what we could catch,or to paddle in the shallow water or just to laze on the bank  until time to return home for tea.  (always best to keep out of the way because parents could always find work for idle hands in the school holidays).

Of course there was little traffic on the roads in those days so cycling along with all that paraffinalia was quite safe.   Cossies might be taken if the weather was really hot (wasn't it always in those days?)

'Every dog has its day' they say and didn't we just.   There was no staying at home staring at a screen all day.    I really do think we had a wonderful childhood in those days, don't you?

Thursday 23 April 2020

Shortage of subject matter.

It is now almost five weeks since I went any further than just walking round the block.   I did start my car the other day and sit in it with the engine running for a few minutes.   One side effect of this though is that it is harder to come up with subject matter for my daily post.   The weather, the garden, friends phone calls, television - then I begin to run out.   When I was on the farm there would always be something regardless of Covid 19 because, let's face it, farm life doesn't stop for anything - calves and lambs are still being born, jobs are still being carried out on the fields, animals are still getting sick and needing the vet.

So - what to write about.   Well I passed a pleasant half hour in the far distant past after lunch today.   My son brought me round some rhubarb from his garden and left it on my doorstep.   I intended to make a rhubarb crumble but never got round to it.   I had plenty of milk so I made a pint of custard and then gently stewed the rhubarb.   Rhubarb and custard for pud today and it was delicious.   And, as I was eating it I suddenly thought of rhubarb and custard lollipops - can you still get them?   If not - are you old enough to remember when you could get them?   Lolly on a stick - half red transparent very sweetened rhubarb taste and the other half creamy custard looking.   Mmmmm

And that brought to mind other sweets we used to dash to the sweet shop with our pocket money for.  There is an old-fashioned sweet shop in Hawes, a little town further up Wensleydale from us - and our newspaper shop stocks a couple of shelves of big jars of the old fashioned varieties.   My late father in law only ever went out on Friday mornings when he put on his best suit, polished his shoes and went in to the Auction Mart.   He always went into the Newsagents to pay the paper bill and to buy a pound of boiled sweets (a few from every jar!) - they would last him until the next Friday.   He would empty them into a tin in the cupboard behind his chair and if he liked you he might offer you one - a peppermint humbug, a gob stopper, a pin cushion.   Tooth-destroyers all.

Now most 'sweets' seem to be chocolate-coated and wrapped but non the less bad for your teeth I suppose.   But weren't those old sweets good (or is it just the memory) - coconut mushrooms, buttered brazils (my mother's favourite), Pontefract cakes (you can still get these).   Did you have a faourite?  If so, can you still get them these days or are you just left with the memory?

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Night Sky

At the moment, with our lack of pollution and our clear weather, the night skies are better than I have ever seen them.   Venus, in the West, is so clear that it is as though someone up there is shining a very powerful light down here on us. Magic.

It was our Poetry afternoon - virtual today on Zoom.   We all managed one poem each - there were some amusing ones today - one about removal men bringing a piano downstairs which I found very funny.

There is so much to look at, so much to enjoy, let's all take every minute and live it to the full.   We none of us know what's round the corner so don't let's waste a precious moment.   Take care.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

What on earth is that noise?

I went for a walk round the block after lunch.   I didn't feel like it as my arthritis is very bad at the moment but I must keep going otherwise I shall sieze up.   When I came back I sat down with a cup of tea and dozed off (as I often do after lunch for a few minutes) and woke up to such a strange sound.   It is windy and the wind is blowing from the East so I persuaded myself it was the wind blowing down the chimney - until after several minutes I remembered I hadn't got a chimney!  Then the noise source passed the window - it was D, my gardener, strimming the edges prior to cutting my front lawn.   And not a moment too soon.   There were at least a hundred dandelions in full bloom and - yes - I know the bees like them, but nobody on the road has dandelions instead of grass and I am not brave enough to stand out in a crowd.

I am a very unpractical person (two very practical husbands has made it unnecessary) and had no idea where the stop tap was for my outside tap.   D found it in seconds, turned it on and watered the back garden where I had planted several new plants in the past week.   The soil in some places is hard and cracked and in other places just like sand.  Everything is starved of water, of that there is no doubt.   So D gave my new plants a good drink.   Just in time and saved me a job.

He then gave all my lawns a good feed so all I need now is a day of rain but don't we all?   Remember I told you I had bought a new iris called Pink Lady?   Well I was beginning to think it wasn't going to flower - today there are two fat buds on her so my camera is all ready  to take her portrait for you when she emerges.   And the twenty or so little seedlings which I have been saving because I didn't know whether they were weeds or plants worth saving have now been identified - they are indeed seedlings from a deep pink hellebore which was a picture last year and is a picture again this year.   I left it to seed on purpose because they are wonderful at cross pollinating and one never knows what will emerge.   Now I am in urgent need of a bag of good compost so that I can pot them on - but where to get compost in these closed down times.   When I go on line to add to my Tesco order in a while I shall just check in case they are selling it - that would be perfect as my delivery is booked for Friday morning.

I seem to have adapted to this new way of living.   It is now a month since I went anywhere other than round the block with Percy and I can't say that I am missing anything.   Cooking my lunch, doing bits in the garden where I can, chatting to all of you on the internet, ringing and chatting to friends, reading,watching my favourite TV programmes and this morning having a virtual coffee morning with four friends - all seems enough to keep me happy.   Hope you are feeling the same.   We are all in this together and we will win in the end.   Take care everyone.

Monday 20 April 2020

Following Instructions.

Yes, in our little town it really does seem as though we are all following instructions to practice social distancing and go out for short walks for exercise and fresh air.   Well all of us humans that is.   But as I sit here and look out of the window into my garden it is obvious that the wild life hasn't got the message and I find it quite a comfort that they are not troubled by any of it.

I have a series of walls in my steep garden and I have noticed a small hole at the bottom of one of these walls.   Yesterday, pottering about in the garden, I happened to notice a little mouse going about its business in and out of the hole, presumably nurturing a little brood (I like to think so anyway).

And sitting here now there are a couple of blackbirds, several house sparrows, a couple of blue tits and a dunnock busy in the garden - scratching around looking for food - hopefully for babies.   Yes the breeding season has well and truly begun.   Everything is truly busy.

Strangely enough so am I, although if at the end of the day you asked me what I had done I would be hard pressed to make a list of useful things. I live alone, so although my cleaning lady isn't coming, nowhere gets really dirty.   A quick run over with the cleaner, a flick of the duster, the sink and bathroom sprayed each morning with cleaner, the sheets changed and washed, my week's clothes changed and washed (they hang on the line flapping in the breeze as I write this) and lunch cooked - that's it really.  This afternoon I sat down with my coffee after lunch and finished 'Winter Holiday' yes - I am ploughing through Arthur Ransome's books for children again.   Sheer escapism but I really got lost in the story.   Do we really need to read deep, hard stuff?   Can't we lose ourselves in something easy now and again, something that transports us to somewhere without making an effort?   Must leave the Lake District in a snowstorm and return to reality and gather in the washing from the clothes line.   Until tomorrow....

Sunday 19 April 2020


Not a good photograph - you can see my reflection  on the glass and it is not straight - it was difficult to take the photograph and the picture is too heavy for me to take down off the wall, so apologies.   But you get the general idea.

There is only so much one can write about endless days of isolation.   I am not minding them - in fact there is something pleasant about them, especially when the sun is shining as it is today.   But after listening to the appalling death figures from the virus coming out of Moscow it did set me thinking about my many trips there and throughout the area when it was still The Soviet Union.

My then husband, M, who sadly died in 1991, and I went many times to various parts - to Moscow, to Samarkand, Alma Ata, Tashkent, on the trans Siberian, and to St Petersburg (which was then of course called Leningrad).   We were travellers, had a limited amount of money to spend on travelling - and Russia needed Western currency so holidays there were cheap and good value. 

I thought I would share with you the story of my very dear friend A, who has been dead for many years now, who came originally from St Petersburg.   This painting, done of course by my husband, is of the Peter Paul Fortress seen across a frozen River Neva.   A and her friend both went to Medical School there to train as doctors but had only been there a short time when Germany invaded and overran the city.   Both of them were captured and taken to work in hospital in Germany where they spent the whole of the war.

After the war ended they didn't know where to go.   They were not sure about going back home.   The people there had suffered so terribly that they were unsure of how they would be received having worked in Germany throughout the war (albeit they had no alternative and would have been killed had they refused).   A's friend returned home and within a week was hanged.   A came to England instead, met another Russian refugee and they married and came to live quite near where we lived. 

The story for A does have a happy ending.   She had no way of contacting her parents, didn't know where they lived, whether they had survived the war even.   Then A became attached to an organisation associated with the British Council and was sent with a delegation to Leningrad - and one evening after dinner she went out and caught a bus to the place where her parents had last lived.  She walked up the path to the door,knocked on it - and her mother opened the door. 

In those days how many people there were who had suffered terrible privation and been displaced with no knowledge of what had happened to their families.   There is food for thought there as we struggle through this pandemic.   None of us are short of food, none of us are separated from our families, none of us live in fear and from what I see here in my little neck of the woods - all of us are coping well.   Let's keep it up.   Keep safe.

Saturday 18 April 2020


We seem to have all got used to this lockdown.   Here the streets are empty and few walkers venture out - and it is to be like this for at least another three weeks.   On the News at tea time we saw the situation in Moscow where the outbreak is very bad and where the line of ambulances waiting to get into the hospital with patients stretched so far back that there was a four hour wait to get in.   It all seems so surreal and yet bit by bit we are getting so used to it that it is becoming part of our lives.

One way for me to avoid  sitting thinking about it is to read one of my travel books - to get immersed in going over the Sahara with Michael Palin or reading of Shackleton's journey or of Carol Drinkwater's adventures on an Olive Farm - sheer escapism all but pleasant escapism.   And a short spell in the garden digging up the odd weed on a part of the garden I can reach safely.   And today is the day The Lady magazine with its two cryptic Ladygram puzzles arrives and I have spent part of my day doing those (1 and a half done - hopefully the rest tomorrow).   They really are splendid puzzles - I can really recommend them to anyone who is into Cryptic puzzles.

There was another virtual Coffee Morning with Zoom this morning but after ten minutes with my friends I lost it again - 'Server not found' however hard I tried.   Interestingly when I switched on again later in the day Firefox immediately took five minutes to update and I couldn't help wondering if that had something to do with it.   Has anyone any ideas?

The sun is going down - half past seven - perhaps another hour before it is totally dark.   Living alone and in isolation the days do seem to be long and I do feel ready for bed by this time but have to stay up unless I wish to wake at about four.   See you again tomorrow.

Friday 17 April 2020


As time goes by things get more and more surreal; silence has largely descended on the estate - vehicles are much fewer as many people seem to be working from home and only people out for their daily 'allowed' exercise period go past and almost all of them walking the required distance apart.   Today The Times printed a rainbow on the outside cover of the paper so I have cut it out and stuck it on my kitchen window over looking the road outside.   I think many are finding the thought of another three weeks of isolation a little daunting - it does seem to have gone on for ever doesn't it?  . But we are all in the same boat - the daily deaths have certainly not gone down at all this week so we do need to keep it up and hopefully soon see a downward curve.   I just hope it has made us all stop and think - perhaps the air will be cleaner, the waters will be clearer, the pollution from our cars on the road will be less - but somehow I doubt it.   We can't stop magically overnight.

Another day of being 'busy doing nothing' here - luckily I am a tidy person and now that I live alone and clean up after myself as I go along, things don't get out of hand.  I certainly would not have time to do a thorough clean as my cleaning lady would do but of course in any case there is no one here to see it however untidy or dusty it gets.  Another virtual coffee morning in the morning which will pass a pleasant three quarters of an hour.

The only major job today has been to go out on to the front lawn and pick off the dandelion heads! It is not a week since my gardener came and cut the lawn and today I picked 54 dandelions in bloom off the grass.   I hated doing it.   They are really pretty flowers.   Like daisies I always think it is a shame we think of them as weeds.

On a sad  note, I was chatting to my neighbour H this afternoon (at the required distance) and she mentioned that she had found parts of a dead bird which she thinks might have been a blackbird in her garden.   At the same time I have not heard 'our' blackbird for a couple of days.   Is it him?   Or have his chicks been born and is he busy collecting food?  I hope the latter, but nature is cruel and it is always the survival of the fittest.  I suspect a cat was the original culprit but listening to H it is clear that the bones were picked clean by birds (pigeons?) too.

On that note I w ill say goodnight until tomorrow friends.

Thursday 16 April 2020


I have had a busy day doing nothing today.   In order to understand how I can do that you have to imagine how difficult it is for me to walk.   When the door bell rings I first of all have to get up from wherever I am sitting - for this I need my stick.   Then I have to walk to the front door and often by the time I  get there whoever rang the bell is at the bottom of the drive having decided I am not in.  This morning I had four different rings of the doorbell.

First came L, the lady who kindly does dribs and drabs of shopping for me between Tesco orders.  This is usually fruit and fresh veg and all needs washing in soapy water and rinsing - and this entails standing at the sink.   Then it needs putting away - today grapes, bananas and tomatoes.  The rest needed a wipe and putting into the fridge.

Then came a book a dear friend had ordered as a gift for me.   It is a delight - a poetry book which The Times describes as 'A collection of favourite half-remembered lines and phrases from school days'.   I am looking forward to having a real dib into it after tea tonight - there is enough to keep our Poetry Group going for years and every single one will be remembered by all of us from days past.

Then came a pair of shoes I had ordered (I do not find it easy to get shoes which I find easy to walk in these days).   After trying them on, deciding to keep them and disposing of all the packaging it was time to get my lunch and hardly had I finished that when the window cleaner came and I had to get up to put his money on the doorstep (observing social distancing).

Then round the block with Percy - didn't feel like it but the sun is shining and I need the fresh air.   Back home it is now four in the afternoon - so what have I done?   Nothing at all really but am pretty weary and ready for a cup of tea - so goodbye until tomorrow.   Take care.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

In the morning early.

I woke to go to the bathroom at half past four this morning and half an hour later it became clear that I was not going to go back to sleep.  I got up, made a cup of tea and opened the curtains.   'Our' blackbird was already at it in the hawthorn tree next door - singing his beak off.   I assume this means no chicks yet - otherwise he would be frantically searching for food with his wife.

There is something about dawn that makes it entirely different from dusk - not sure what it is - probably the quality of the light.   All was still and from my propped up position in bed I could see the odd cat walk through on its morning promenade.  A book was in order and I turned  to what I almost always turn to in these circumstances - 'Better than Fiction' - 32 True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers.  These are short pieces, very well written, and all about travel.   I am a keen 'armchair traveller' (just as my father was a keen 'armchair gardener').   I differ from my father in that in my mobile days I travelled - both husbands keen travellers too (the farmer had to be persuaded to start with but soon got the hang of it).    In the days before I could afford it then I travelled from the comfort of my armchair.   I have mentioned before - the first travel book I read while I was in my teens (and I read it many times) was 'Kurun around the World' by Maurice le Toumelin.  I was enraptured.

 I had two hours of travel accompanied by just a blackbird before I got up for my breakfast.   Then at ten o'clock I had a virtual coffee morning on Zoom with W,E,M and S - a lovely forty minute chat about this and that - interrupted yet again by my friend from down the road ringing my bell to tell me I hadn't taken the milk in and it was in the sun.   What it is to have good neighbours.

Now I shall go and prepare my lunch of the last of the soup I made followed by a tomato and marscapone pasta dish I want to try.   Then Percy will accompany me round the block in the lovely sunshine.   Stay safe.

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Tuesday 14th.

The warmth isn't back yet but the sun is and it is quite a lovely day.   After lunch I went for a walk with Percy and had several long distance chats, the first with a chap I often see out walking his dog.   He called to say he would carry on walking quicker than me so that we kept the required distance apart - at which point his collie decided on the perfect 'poo spot' and he had to stop, wait and then clean up.  We agreed that she had no idea of the current situation and neither had the blackbird who had been singing all morning in the hawthorn tree across the road from my bungalow. For animals and birds life goes on as normal thank goodness.

My home-made soup again for lunch today (leek and potato).   Why is it that all home-made soup tastes so much better on the second day?   Jacket potato stuffed with hummus and served with a salad after the soup and that was good too.

I was reading this morning in The Times about a doctor in New York - she was comparing this virus with the Twin Towers disaster in terms of numbers dying.  2753 people died in the Twin Towers; she speaks of how they had ambulances lined up and wards emptied for survivors within hours of the disaster - but there were no survivors.   Wth the virus they have already admitted over 2000 and they have no idea when it will end.   Troubled times indeed - good to be a blackbird methinks. 

This week marks the 250th Anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth - perhaps best known for his poem 'Daffodils'.   If you remember my friend D, who lives in The Lakes, is sending me a card each week while the lock down continues.   I so look forward to receiving them and this week's arrived this morning.   And what was it?  This week's card was a single daffodil - beautiful and very cheering.

As I did my walk with Percy at lunchtime I passed so many windows with rainbows stuck to them - presumably done by children home from school. And by the time I got home again the mixture of bird song, rainbows and the distance chats I had have put me in a really good frame of mind.   I hope you all feel the same too.  Keep smiling.

Monday 13 April 2020

The vagiaries of English weather.

Two absolutely lovely April days - sun, light breeze and warm enough to sit out.   Then this morning- cloud, a sharp breeze from the North and get that top coat out again!   Typical April weather as we British know only too well.   Except, as we also know, this is by no means a 'typical April' - it is an April like no other.   I find it surreal and I suppose that many people feel the same.   I have a long mental list of things I could do - cleaning jobs, the teddy which needs stitching up and finishing, odd weeding jobs on bits of the garden I can reach safely, exercises which should be done every day (I have done them today and I ache as a result).  But what ever is on our mental list all we really want to do is wait for it all to go away.   Or wait until we can all join the queue for a jab in our arms which will/might miraculously give us some kind of protection.

A friend J, who a few days ago left me a cottage pie, has just left me a tin with four scones on the front doorstep - 2 cheese, 2 fruit.   I immersed the tin in warm soapy water and left it to dry on the draining board - the still-hot scones inside.   We are all trying to be super-careful.

We are all wondering about John's health and hoping it is a false alarm and that he is on the road to recovery.   Presumably we should know by the end of the week.

How's this for a bit of nostalgia.   1948 while on holiday at the YMCA Holiday Camp in Skegness (I probably took the snap) and sorry it is a bit blurred.    Six friends who went there for years in the Lincoln 'Trip Week' (last week in July) - my Mum and Dad are second and third from the left - father with his collar and tie on and his Daily Herald in his hand! and Mrs Applewhite (I never knew her first name) in her best hat.   Those were the days!

Sunday 12 April 2020

Easter Day

A very strange Easter Day, unlike any other there has ever been.   It is so very quiet here on the estate - just the odd person passing on their allowed exercise and maybe half a dozen cars and that's all.   I had a short walk round the block with Percy:  I didn't feel at all like it but I know if I don't struggle round, a couple of weeks and I shalln't be able to.

I had a stroll out into my garden.   Things seem to be visibly growing every day.   The place where I am badly infected with Mares Tail weed has been absolutely full of early bulbs and they have been beautiful.   The weed has not poked through yet - but it will and then, when it has grown to the required length (20cms) it will get one more weed kill.   I don't expect it to do any good but my gardener and I have decided to plant the area with shrubs in the Autumn and just keep hoeing the weed off as it appears next year.

As the day has gone on the sky has clouded and a sharp wind has risen - tomorrow will be

chillier.   But there is still a feeling of Spring in the air and let's cling on to that  - we need a bit of hope.   Take care everyone.

Saturday 11 April 2020

Easter Saturday

One way to  help pass the Easter week end enjoyably is to give yourself a bit of TLC.   We can't help the lockdown but we can plan how we spend it - especially if , like me ,  you live alone.   I have decided that throughout this 'crisis' I intend to look after myself and give myself little treats.   Today's treat was a special lunch and for that I have to thank Cro, who put an interesting pasta recipe on his post the other day.   Today I made it for my lunch.   It needed a 'splash' of red wine - a good excuse to open a bottle and have a glass with my lunch!   It was a good lunch - so thank you Cro.

When I have finished my post I shall take a couple of magazines outside and sit in the sun and get my daily dose of Vitamin D.   And after tea I shall look what TV has to offer and if there is nothing to my liking I shall watch another episode of Inspector Montelbano on iplayer (thank you to Tom for putting me on to him).

Each time I go out into the garden I notice something else is in flower.   The good old sun brings the plants out - sun, daylight and a drop of rain now and again (we had a shower here overnight).   But before I switch off I shall pop over to my favourite shoe site and buy myself a pair of shoes - has anyone else noticed that self isolation does mean one does not spend money on meals out two or three times a week???

Friday 10 April 2020

What a morning!

My Tesco delivery came at a quarter to nine this morning.Since then I have taken everything out of the fridge and washed the fridge.   Then I have gradually unpacked the bags of my order, disinfected everything one by one and put it away.   It took me until half past twelve because I walk so slowly.   By the time I had cooked my lunch (jacket potato stuffed with cheese and streaky bacon and eaten with two fried tomatoes and a handful of sprouts (the cleanings out of my fridge!) I was very tired.    But I needed a dose of fresh air and it is just not quite warm enough to sit out for half an hour (for me at any rate).  So I had a gentle stroll round the block with Percy (two socially distanced chats in the way round), watered my two tubs by the front door and am now in and intend to do nothing else all day. I am 'leg tired' and I don't think that does me any harm at all.

Now that I am back home of course (sod's law) the sun is out and the weather is beautiful.   Although my gardener cut my front and side lawns yesterday already three dandelions and eight celandines have declared an interest in it again.  And. speaking of my front lawn, most people do not care for starlings and I must say they are not my favourite bird but two of them, who must surely be nesting somewhere near, spend a great deal of their time with their beaks deep into my front lawn searching for - and obviously finding - some tasty morsels.   I suspect they are doing my lawn a lot of good.   My gardener is intendending to scarify it again shortly.   It is on a steep slope and you would imagine it would be well-drained, but every Winter it gathers moss.

Enough for one day dear blog friends.   I shall make a cuppa, put my feet up and have a look at a couple of magazines friend W has just dropped off on my doorstep.   Happy Easter to you all.

Thursday 9 April 2020

This and thatu

Yet another good deed as J, who lives about ten doors away from me called with this Cottage Pie for my lunch today - minced beef, onions, carrots and peas with a topping of a mixture of potato and sweet potato and pieces of cheese.    I had it for my lunch and it was delicious.

Sitting doing The Times crossword this morning, still in my PJ's at ten thirty (not difficult when you have nowhere to go but a very slovenly habit I am in danger of developing) I heard a familiar sound and realised that my gardener was outside mowing the lawn - I needed other jobs doing, so I opened the door and from a distance asked him to move some pinks I had ordered last Autumn (9 different varieties, all of which have done well over Winter) then dashed and had my shower and dressed so that I was a bit more presentable!

The rest of my day has been spent trying to unblock my shredder which has blocked with bits of paper.   Using a knitting needle I have unblocked it all but one place and I just cannot get one piece of paper out.   I have emptied it, cleaned up the carpet, oiled it and left it for now and will try again another day.   In the meantime my shredder tray fills daily.  This is the second time it has happened and yet I am very careful how I use it - any advice anybody?

It hasn't been such a nice day here today - the sun has not put in an appearance, it has been a grey day and for much of the day it was not possible to see East Witton Fell.   Typical 'arrival of Easter' weather.   Happy Easter everyone - yes life will return to normal eventually and don't forget to go to the door at eight tonight and applaud our wonderful NHS Staff.

Wednesday 8 April 2020


Sadly my camera seems to have stopped working
as far as transferring to my computer is concerned.   The last three photographs I have taken seem to have gone into something called 'camera roll' and have not appeared in my picture file.   If anyone out there can tell me what this means I would be grateful.

But I have been greatly cheered by small acts of kindness - the first sent me by friend W this morning - a U Tube of two workmen rescuing ducklings from down a drain while mother watches anxiously on the footpath.   Flat on his stomach in the gutter one man rescues the ducklings one by one - the other man carrying them gently and putting them  down by mother duck, who shepherds them into the grass at the side of the road   When all seven or eight are rescued, all, including mother, are put into a plastic sack and carried to the side of water - mother duck is ushered on and then the ducklings follow. It is a joy to watch.

In another act of kindness friend W rang and asked if I was alright for cash.   At the moment we are urged not to deal in cash - but people like the window cleaner and the gardener need cash and I am slowly running out.   I am ashamed to  say that I have never used a cash machine.   Friend W has offered (and the offer has been accepted) to go down during the evening when there will be few about, and get me some money from the machine.
That's what I call being a good friend.

Another friend, who lives just a few doors away, had gone into town this morning and seen my bottle of milk on the doorstep in the sun.   When she came back it was still there and when she got home she rang me to tell me.   It was warm when I brought it indoors but I hope I was in time.

Now to something really lovely that happened when the postman came - and for which I wanted a photograph.
And which, lo and behold has worked this time.  My Grand-daughter, who lives in Glasgow, sketches in her spare time and sketched this birch tree as it was coming into leaf.   She sent me a photograph.   I admired it and this morning she sent me the page from her sketch book.   Also in the parcel was a little bundle of twigs from the tree and a short piece of prose from her tree book:  'Birch has a long tradition of being used to ward off evil....   The birch brings love, beauty and the hope of  new beginning into your life'.   Also in the parcel was a drawing from my three year old Great Grand daughter which I shall now try to photograph.  (will try again later).   On these dark days such acts as these bring great cheer to our lives don't they.

The weather today is really beautiful - warm, sunny with barely a breeze.   It is difficult to imagine the deadly bug lurking out there - we can't see it.   But sadly the roads will become choked with cars again, the air will become polluted again and once the threat has gone and a vaccine has been made - life will go back to normal.   Of course we all wish for the latter but I don't expect for one moment that it will have made the world in general think in terms of climate change and the way we continue to pollute the atmosphere.

I forgot my own good deed so am putting it on later.   Sorry I still can't post my great grand daughter's painting because my pictures icon seems to have disappeared from my tool bar.   However - to my good deed:   All winter long a butterfly (tortoiseshell I think) has overwintered with me.   For a long time it was 'asleep' at the top of the curtains on my patio doors.   Then when it was very warm in the dining room when we were eating one night it awoke and started fluttering round the room.   My son caught it for me using the glass and card method and put it out into the garage.   This morning I went to the freezer (scampi for lunch) and there it was, fluttering up and down the garage window.  Using glass and card method I took it into the front garden and let it go - it flew off into the sunshine.   I felt really good.   Don't know how long it will survive - but at least it felt the Spring sunshine on its wings.

Thank you to those who told me about finding the photograph in Camera Roll - you will see I found it and it appears at the top of my post - a drawing by my three year old Grand daughter Ula of the bird in the sky, me, her grand dad (my son) and Tess in her basket (she hasn't been to see me since Tess died).

Tuesday 7 April 2020


A lovely Spring day - not all that warm, but dry, breezy and very sunny - it will suit me.   I had a coffee morning Zoom invite for ten this morning with friends W,S,C and M - I got there happily at just before ten and had ten minutes chat before I suddenly left and found it impossible to get back again.   Sad because we were having a nice chat but a couple of minutes after I had signed off I had a phone call that was important and I would have had to answer it anyway so not quite as bad as it might have been.   Instead I did my walk round the block with Percy - didn't see a soul and really enjoyed the fresh air.   On my return after a quarter of an hour my neighbour M was in her front garden and we distance-chatted for five minutes before I put Percy away and came in.

How pretty the gardens are looking - literally hundreds of daffodils and tulips are out and a fair smattering of grape hyacinths,  primroses, polyanthus, pansies and tulips as well.   They are all flowering well in spite of the wretched virus.  Sitting here typing this with the occasional look out of the window I have seen at least half a dozen butterflies and numerous bumble bees.  Everything goes on as it always has done except that things are not the same and now the our Prime Minister has himself gone into Intensive Care has, I think, brought it home to us all how very serious it all is.

The back patio beckons.   I have been 'threatening'
to sweep it seriously for the past week or two - today's the day.   I don't know whether I can manage it all in one go - time will tell.   Take great care one and all.

Monday 6 April 2020

Another week begins.

Another week begins - Monday again and with the Post came my Tax Return for the year.   I have never been able to put things like this to one side for another day so, after putting lunch in the oven and a rice pud in my slow cooker I settled down to organising everything to send to my accountant.   There will come a day when my tax return is simple and I can do it myself but at present, until the farmer's affairs are settled, I prefer to let someone else do the job for me.

Then it was a walk across to the Post Box with all the information.   Just putting the envelope in the box was enough to take my mind off the whole thing.    Before I went back into the house I had a quick walk round the back garden - a couple of days of sun and a couple of showers overnight and the garden is a different place.    Two more weeks of Springlike weather and we shall really get going.

 A knock on the door announced the arrival of friend G, who lives at the other end of this estate and who likes to walk round it regularly on her exercise.   She had responded to my post the other day saying she sometimes passed but never saw me and I suggested she knocked on the door.   Ten minutes distance chat followed - lovely - and she took my photograph (she is trying to take one every day over the lockdown).

Right outside my computer room window is an Iris which I bought last year.    In the catalogue it looked so beautiful.   Over the last few weeks I have watched it grow - it is sturdy and healthy.   Will it produce flower heads?   I wonder - I do hope so and if it does then you shall have a photograph.   I will leave you to guess the colour it will be if it does but here's a clue - it is called 'Pink Lady'.

Sunday 5 April 2020

What a help.

I must say I am quite happy with my own company, having poor mobility I am used to being alone for much of the day, so in many ways things are not all that different.   In one way.   But in another way they are totally different.   It is one thing choosing to stay in and 'do one's own thing' and quite another having to do so.   And this is where blogging plays such an important part in my day.

Most of the folk I blog with have been 'friends' for many years, so what it amounts to is tha t I have a conversation with perhaps a dozen or more   every day in addition to local friends who ring or stand outside the window at the moment and chat through the glass.   And this morning even a call from Joany in Western Australia (who sounded as though she was in the next room)who tells me the virus is just as bad there and similar restrictions have been placed on their behaviour.

Everyone has the same question - will it ever end?  And when it ends, will things ever be the same again?   And, of course, we can none of us answer these questions.    It is these uncertainties that make it hard I think. 

And outside, where there was one celandine in the grass yesterday there are dozens today - their little faces (themselves miniature suns) turned towards the sun.   Nothing like a good old day of sunshine to make us all - flowers and humans alike - feel better about the whole thing.   So fingers crossed for a whole week of sunshine to look forward to.

Saturday 4 April 2020


With the help of friend W and my son I am trying to set up a Zoom connection and W and I , together with other friends were to have our first virtual coffee morning    but I failed miserably in my efforts to join up.   Hopefully later  in the day we shall have a post mortem and things will be resolved.   I am not all that computer literate and at times like this it shows.

The same thing happened with my Supermarket orders (luckily I have other sources) but my son sat up until midnight last night and managed to book me another slot towards the end of the month - so I now have two slots this month and that will do me nicely.   It is things like fresh fruit and vegetables that I run out of. 

The weather is set to turn warmer tomorrow and I just can't wait, don't know about you?   My garden seems to be anticipating the sunshine because this morning there is a definite perking up of plants - so much so that I think after lunch I may well go out and give the patio a good sweep.

Thelma (North Stoke) speaks today of finding happiness in small things and I do agree.   Life seems to have been pared down to essentials.  I thought this when my son rang this morning before I had showered.   I stood in the window chatting to him in my dressing gown.   A man from higher up the road passed with his Labradoodle, looked up and waved.   I don't think we have ever spoken before but there was something very pleasing about making a simple contact.

It is three weeks today since I went anywhere other than a walk round the block with Percy (and that only on still days as Percy does not care for the wind) -most of the time I am just not missing going out - I begin to think that it  will be difficult to pick up where I left off.   Time will tell.

Thursday 2 April 2020

Computer speak.

I have spent the morning, with the help of my son, trying to get organised with Zoom.   With did this on the telephone I hasten to add - no face-to-face contact.   At the end of half an hour I was pretty worn out and, so it seems, was he.   He speaks in Computer Speak whereas my following of instructions takes the form of instructions like 'that little plus sign somewhere near the top left of your screen'.   I was surprised to find that, after half an hour, when we agreed to leave it until tomorrow for both our sakes, and I switched off to get lunch, a Zoom icon had appeared on my computer.   So we have made progress and we are certainly part way there.   We will see what tomorrow brings.

In these days of isolation it will be good to chat to my grandchildren and great grandchildren and to chat to friends for a while. 

Looking out of the window the sky is blue and  the sun is shining but still there is a stiff, cold wind blowing which means that Percy is not all that steady in the wind and I am best staying indoors; it is even too strong to walk in the garden.   I understand warmer weather is forecast soon - and it can't come soon enough.

I feel that spirits are being kept up well in Blogland and I do thank people like John (going gently) who is in the thick of it and yet manages to keep us all cheerful as well as his patients.   I hope we shall all remember to applaud again at 8pm tonight to show our appreciation to all medical staff everywhere.   Keep smiling.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Stop the World....

...I want to get off.   I can't help feeling a bit like that as at present nothing seems to be happening does it?   Here in The Dales most people seem to have self-isolated apart from those who are keeping us going - delivering newspapers, groceries, milk and the like.   I have not been out since a fortnight last Saturday apart from once or twice round the block with Percy when the weather has been especially pleasant.   Other days I have made do with a bit of gardening.   Today I have planted up three herbaceous geranium plants I sent for and watered them in.    When I think of all the rain we have had over the Winter the ground is especially dry.

Nothing is happening, things (apart from the virus of course) seem to have come to a standstill and one is forced to fall back on one's thoughts.   This happened this morning when reading Matthew Parris in today's Times.   He is my favourite columnist - I very much admire his writing and his subject matter is always food for thought.   Today he writes of his beloved Mother, who died on Monday aged 93 after a long and happy life.   In a moving tribute to her he quotes Thomas Traherne and it is worth thinking about:   'you never enjoy the world aright. til the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars:  and perceive yourself  to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you.'

His mother was a great believer in reincarnation  (which he is not and nor am I) and also loved robins dearly.   This morning while speaking to his brother on the telephone he saw a robin regarding him calmly from a bush outside the window.   A sign?   Most likely not - but I know from my own experience the comfort one can get in the early stages of bereavement from small happenings like this.   I still get them occasionally - a glimpse of the farmer out of the corner of my eye  in a familiar place or a familiar pose.   Or something is said that he would have said.   And for a moment it is as though he is saying it.   None of it any kind of proof about life after death - all just happy memories of times ingrained on one's brain.