Friday 31 July 2020


It is a bright and breezy day here today - warm, almost hot, sun but quite a strong breeze so a good wash day.   I washed my bath and hand towel and face cloth, which are all 'raspberry' to quote Marks and Spencer, so need a separate wash.   But as my dressing gown is also broadly speaking raspberry in colour it was an opportunity to wash that too.   They are all now flapping gaily on the clothes line.   I rarely use the outside line as my balance is so bad - everything is dried in the tumble drier - but I couldn't resist a balancing act with these today and a walking stick handle makes a jolly good hook to capture the line.   A walk round the block with Percy made up the rest of my morning, leaving the Mind Games in the Times for early afternoon.   Now, at three o'clock I shall go and make a cup of tea before continuing with this post.

Friday is always a day I look forward to - because of course it is Gardeners' World tonight and it is a programme full of useful tips for the gardener (even if my gardening is now mostly second hand) and lovely gardens to visit.   And speaking of gardening, my gardener has been this week and given everywhere a good weed and going over to dead head.   It looks so much better apart from the one section of course which is still not cultivated - and that is the section heavily infested with Mare's Tail weed.   We have decided after I have done much reading and much discussing with various experts , that it will now have one more dousing with the specialist weed killer I bought and this will be applied after the plants have been given a really good thrashing with a stick to break the stems.   Then in September I shall plant it up.   I am having a major job done on the upper patio in September so it will be a good time to get the lot over with and then I can relax.   The prospect is quite exciting.

I'll be back again tomorrow - until then enjoy your evening.

Thursday 30 July 2020

Oh dear.

When you get to my age tiny changes loom large.   The change to a new blogger seemed to be going so well and I was quite proud of myself until today when I wanted to put on today's post and suddenly found that clicking on 'new post' was not enough to get me there.   I tried it a dozen times, to no avail, rang my son to ask him to come on 'at his end' and try talking me through it.   He was just cooking the evening meal and said he would ring me back after they had eaten.   I came back into my computer room determined to try one last time and lo and behold I spotted an orange blob in the bottom right hand corner.   When I hovered over it up came 'create a new blog' - I clicked on it and here I am.   So I feel rather pleased that I have done it myself, but it does rather beg the question - why do all these companies have to keep changing things when everything is running smoothly?   I sometimes think it is just to find something for somebody to do.   The last time was when e mails were completely changed and for about a fortnight I would come on to e mails wondering whether or not I was going to remember how to send one.   Now, of course, I can't remember the old format and am quite used to the new one.

It was a great surprise this morning to draw back the curtains and  see that it was pouring with rain.   The weather forecast had told me that the week was going to build up slowly until tomorrow, when it would be the hottest day so far this year.   Now, at half past seven in the evening, the sun is out and it is a gentle summer's evening.   So I shall wait and see what tomorrow brings.

My hair day meant an early trip to the Hairdresser in the pouring rain but I was able to park quite near, so only a short walk with my stick (I can't take Percy to help me because I can't lift him into my car).
Then it was down to the Medical Centre for my annual Cardiovascular tests - blood pressure, blood sample taken, short discussion with the practice nurse about the general state of my health.   Then it was home again - exhausted from two walks and the effort involved.   I cooked myself a bit of lunch (chicken stir fry with broccoli, spinach, mange tout and red pepper served with rice, which I managed to spill all over the kitchen floor - just the rice) and then put my feet up for a couple of hours.   Outside the Medical Centre I had a chat with a lady who had a Mobility Scooter - she was delighted with it and urged me to get one.   I am considering it but just think it would be the last ditch stand gone - I would have absolutely no need to walk anywhere outside and this would not be good for my limbs.

The news about Covid is quite worrying again isn't it as cases begin to increase again in some parts?   Sometimes I think this will be the shape of things to come for a long time yet.   I must say that on the whole people round here seem to be observing  social distance rules but as more and more folk come into the Dales for their annual holidays things might well change.   I am certainly trying to keep out of the town altogether apart from  going to the hairdressers and her salon in on the periphery of the town.

Well that's about all the news for today folks.  See you all tomorrow.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Temptation and the best laid plans.

Quick post as I want to watch Michael Portillo's new series at eight.   I had to have a rest after doing an hour's gardening - not easy for me these days.

Today is the day when my local fresh food comes - shopped for me by a lovely local lady.   I therefore intended to have a really healthy lunch of tuna. hard boiled egg, salad leaves, coleslaw, beetroot and cherry tomatoes.  Then on my morning walk with Percy I met a friend and we had a 'distanced' chat.   The conversation turned (as it does!) to oven chips and I said how I didn't really like them.   She said she never did them in the oven but shallow fried them in oil.   During the short distance to home I had decided to add that to my salad plate.   And she was quite correct - they were delicious.  So much for my healthy eating lunch!

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday 28 July 2020


Today I have cleaned my bookshelves as my major job - and a major job it turned out to be as one by one I had interruptions either phone or door bell.   Finally the door bell rang and it was a friend - she came in, we socially distanced and had a coffee - and I felt much less stressed afterwards.   Afternoon was no different, a friend brought my medication from the chemist, my Amazon book came, my son's computer came, I had a Zoom booked for 4.30 and had trouble getting on to the site.   I had already had a bad night's sleep so that has  not helped.   But cleaning out the books and putting them in some sort of
shelf order I came across a paper on which I had typed up this verse.   I don't know where I found it; I suspect someone else posted it on their blog (Thelma springs to mind) but it sums up things today so well that it is worth repeating:

Lines from an Anglo-Saxon poem 'The Wanderer'

All is troublesome
in this earthly kingdom.
The turn of events changes
the world under the heavens.
Here money is fleeting,
here friend is fleeting,
here man is fleeting,
here kinsman is fleeting.
All the foundations of this world
turn to waste.

Can't help thinking it was ever thus.

The top photograph is after and the bottom one is before the tidy.   I have grouped all the Poetry books together, all the Nature books toget sher and all the Travel Books together.   Most of the novels, cookery and art books are on my other set of shelves.   Alright it doesn't look all that different but at least I now know more or less where everything is (for the time being at least.)   Sorry about the fuzziness - due to my shake.

Monday 27 July 2020


Early morning.   Just popped on to read my e mails and to say that we have had at least three hours of good, steady rain - so good for the garden and it also means I don't need to water the pots today.   I'll be back later.

It is now early evening and I have a confession to make.   I really am ashamed and also I feel stupid but I shall face up to things and tell you.   I am fanatically clean and tidy - I can't bear things to be otherwise.   Usually I have a cleaning lady but since Lockdown she hasn't been coming and I have been keeping things going myself.   After all, there is only me here to make things dirty and I can space out my cleaning jobs so that I clean and hoover the floors and carpets one day, wipe and/or polish all surfaces another day, change the bed and wash the towels and bed linen another day, clean the kitchen another day and so on.   And it has worked very well - and done me no harm at all.   It makes me tired but that is all to the good.

But there is one job I just have not done.   I will tell you why.   I am rather afraid of gas.   I have never before had anything to do with it.  Previously I have cooked and had central heating via a Rayburn, electric under floor, hobs and oven,
and for the last twenty seven years an Aga.  (I miss it every day).   Now I have gas central heating, an electric oven and an electric fire and a gas hob.   Now for a moment let us concentrate on that hob.

I don't use it all that much.   If I am not using my slow cooker, my Remoska or my Microwave I tend to cook in my electric oven.    But I quite often brown something in a pan on the hob  - bacon, sausages etc. - and of course they spatter fat.   When that happens I wipe the top of the hob and clean it as best I can but I am a bit scared of the actual burners themselves and I get annoyed because they look so dirty.   It scares me because they are so loose and when touched they tend to wobble about and rattle.

This morning I had had enough.   I looked at them and they really looked such a mess.   Then, when I tried to light one (by just pushing down the button of course) it wouldn't light.   The last straw.   So I googled 'cleaning gas burners on a gas hob' only to find dear readers that that horrible wobbly, rattly top bit comes off for cleaning!   Result - I filled the bowl with very hot water, got out all my cleaning stuff and my rubber gloves and gave every single part a good scour.   Result - a sparkling hob - and when I press a button on any of the four burners they spring into life with alacrity!   My only excuse is that I never got over being scared of the Bunsen burner in Chemistry at school.

Sunday 26 July 2020

The virus

I have dear friends who are staying in their house in Spain and are due to return home on Tuesday.   Now they will have to self-isolate for fourteen days on their return.  How very unreal all this is during these days of such uncertainty.   In fact I think it is the uncertainty that is making this outbreak more and more stressful.   When lockdown first started another dear friend said he would send me a postcard each week while it lasted, that he had a book of twelve stamps but he didn't expect lockdown would last that long.   But of course it has now lasted much longer than that and the ugly threat of its return is never far away - and that is what is causing so many, including me, to have this awful feeling (which I don't think I have ever experienced before) that any minute, without any warning, the rug will be pulled from under my feet.  

My confidence - and that of many of my friends -   has also taken quite a beating.   I am still quite happy to drive into our little town each week to go to the Hairdressers.   But would I drive into our county town of Northallerton, which is only just over twenty miles away?   I am not sure - the need has not arisen.   But if it did then I would have to have a serious talk with myself before I set off.

Amongst ourselves we ask whether things will ever be the same again.   Perhaps a year from now we will look back and laugh at this feeling but at the moment it is hard to imagine things ever getting back to any kind of normal.   What happened with Spanish flu and the great pandemic of the 1917-20?    Did they find a vaccine for that or did the virus get weaker and weaker and just eventually die out?

Don't think on reading this that I feel depressed about it all.   I manage to keep myself happily occupied, I have a few chats with folk every day, I don't really miss the lunches out and I rather enjoy eating at home (today a ready meal of caramelised Vietnamese Pork (with ginger and chilli) which I served with egg fried rice and a mixture of cauliflower and broccoli.    This was one of the meals I bought from the farm shop I rave about.   It was tasty but not one that I shall buy again.

I must say that (as I usually do each year) I bought a few new clothes for summer on line and have been nowhere to wear  them (all  dressed up and nowhere to go as my Mother used to say).   At the rate things are going Winter will be upon us and they will still be sitting in my wadrobe.

Saturday 25 July 2020

A Blank Page

'The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on' - one of my father's favourite quotations ( from the Rubbaiyat of Omar Khayyam), and one which I recalled when I sat down here at my computer a couple of minutes ago, switched on and wondered what to write about.   Like most Saturdays it hasn't  exactly been an interesting day.   There was of course our ten o'clock Zoom coffee morning - only four of us today instead of the usual six.   We always find enough chat to fill the forty minutes - but having been friends for years now that is not difficult.

Sitting at my computer as the Zoom meeting ended I caught sight of something moving in my garden - it was my gardener.   He came and mowed my lawns and weeded the small square of evergreen shrubs I have planted just outside the gate.   When I saw him he was just assessing how much work there was to do in the back garden - weeding, cutting back plants which have finished flowering, dead heading and feeding my rose, dead heading and feeding my pinks,  pruning the viburnum and then painting  the handrails which were green at the start of the year but are now white.  Throughout the Spring and Summer they have been plagued by small wasps which seem to have been feeding on the green stain.   Can anyone explain this to me?

Chatting to my gardener another friend went past and stopped for a ten minute chat (socially distancing of course).   Looking through my e mails a friend told me that a mutual friend who lives just down the road from me had lost her dear old cat - sixteen years old and a real companion - who appeared to have been run over by a car and had crawled back into the garden.   So my next job was to walk down with Percy to say how sorry I was.   There was no-one in so I popped a letter through her letter box. 

Afternoon brought two nice long phone calls from friends and early evening my son came round with some bananas for me.   He had been speaking to his son who teaches in China, as he does every week.   Isn't it wonderful that all these different methods of speaking are available around the world.   My grandson has lived and worked in China for four years now and  loves his life there.

This evening, as I do every Saturday evening, I watched 'This Farming Life' on BBC Four - my favourite programme as it brings back the many happy memories I have of our years on the farm.

Now that I have written down all that has happened today I see that I have had quite a busy day really.   And of course add to that cooking my lunch of a baked potato stuffed with smoked streaky bacon and served with tenderstem broccoli, followed by a baked apple and custard and you will understand that now, at half past nine in the evening I am ready to put my head on the pillow.   Sleep well all.

Friday 24 July 2020


Start off with an apology.    As Rachel and Tom both spotted and pointed out.   Yesterd ay my mother would have been 130, not 103 - I do apologise that I didn't spot the mistake myself on my proof read.

It is a lovely warm and sunny day today with just a light breeze.   I had a pleasant walk with Percy and a couple of nice chats on my way round.   One, with M who was wondering how to prune her Hebe when it finished flowering.   She doesn't have a computer so I came home and looked it up.   Then I wrote it out and took the instructions round to her. 

When I got home I rang the Newsagent to ask how much my paper bill was up to tomorrow.  Once I had the amount I made out the cheque, stamped the envelope and went out again just to cross the road to the Post Box before the postman got there.  So that was three walks, none of them very long but enough to wear me out -don't know about Percy I didn't ask him.

Time for lunch - delicious fresh Sea Bass fried in a mixture of oil and butter so that the skin was crisp then turned over for a couple of minutes just to lightly cook the other side.   Served with a small jacket potato and green beans it was absolutely scrumptious.  I tidied away, stacked the dishwasher and turned it on, took my coffee through to the sitting room   and fell asleep.   I awoke after three quarters of an hour - don't know whether Percy fell asleep in the garage.

Now it is tea time and the day has almost gone.   It is lovely that at last I have been able to have a day when the patio doors could be open all day.   I have some delicious Brie in the fridge so I shall have that for my tea with a tomato salad and that should finish the day on a high note.   A couple of hours and it will be time for Monty and Gardeners' World.    All's right with the world.


Thursday 23 July 2020


My mother would have been 130 today - yes both of my parents were born in July - both born under the sign of Cancer - father slap bang in the middle, mother on the cusp - if she had been born on the    24th she would have been a Leo.   As far as I know they had a happy marriage - it lasted well over fifty years.   I don't ever remember  them falling out.   My father used to complain sometimes about mother's cooking (mainly that she had not strained the green veg properly!) but she was a jolly good cook so there was little to complain about.   And one thing I do know is that they never lost their sense of humour either with one another or with the wider world.

I have most likely told this story before but it merits telling again.   It is one of my earliest memories - I can't have been more than four because we moved house when I was four and it was before we moved because we had a garden which was visible from the kitchen window.   My father grew vegetable marrows (mother made a delicious stuffed marrow - the recipe for which I still use) and any which were surplus at the end of the season were hung under the bottom pantry shelf in string bags, to be used in Winter.   Mother was checking them one day and saw that one had gone rotten.   She brought it out into the kitchen.   Father was working in the garden and she speculated on whether she could hit him with it if she threw it.   She did and she could - it hit him fair and square on the back of his neck as he bent down.   He came in with the rotten remnants, laid my mother on the kitchen table and covered her from head to toe in bits of rotten marrow.   I can still hear her shrieks to this day and I can remember jumping up and down and shouting.

So today in her honour I cooked for my lunch  what she so often cooked for me when - after I had left home- I popped in to see them.   Egg, chips and peas.   Sadly it was not as good.   The eggs were from our farm, where the people who bought it have a flock of hens and brought me some only laid yesterday (they were delicious);  the chips were oven chips - quite good but not like mothers which would be father's potatoes, chipped and friend in beef dripping, and peas - today Bird's Frozen Garden Peas - mother's would again have been father's or, when they had finished for the season they would have been dried peas, soaked and then cooked slowly in the side oven of the open fire grate.  No comparison - add to this that one's taste buds get feebler when old age sets in.   So pleasant lunch but no comparison - just happy memories of what it used to be.

And speaking of memories - not taste this time but smell.   I never ever smell Dettol without being reminded of walking into the Maternity Hospital heavily into labour with my son - the whole place smelt of Dettol.   That's two of my senses which seem to still be functioning properly.   What about you - have you any memories prompted by your senses?   If so - do tell.

Wednesday 22 July 2020


The ingenuity of wild things never ceases to amaze me - how clever they are.   I came across this photograph just now while trying to clear some old stuff from my laptop.   It was taken by the farmer when he was out with his walking group.   They stopped by an old barn to eat their sandwiches and he just happened to spot this hanging from a beam.   It is a long tailed tit's nest in an old pair of trousers.
Here is another 'nature' photograph I came across - this one taken from my computer room window early one misty moisty evening in November.

I couldn't think what to write about today (I am a bit tired after having visitors yesterday - a visit which I really enjoyed) so these are just to keep you going until I have more energy tomorrow.   It has just decided to rain here - not very enthusiastically - and we really do need it.

Monday 20 July 2020

Habit person or not?

I heard today of someone I know who has always been 'famous' for being in a mess.   She had, until she retired, a very responsible job which she did very well and her daughter is now training as a doctor - so she certainly didn't fail either as a Mother or in her job.   But at home it was always a different matter as she lived in what fanatically tidy people like me would call 'chaos'.   She is now retired and from what I hear there is a transformation in her life as she has used Lockdown to completely turn out her rooms, clean, re-organise and make ship shape.   Now, having done that she is taking long cycle rides and enjoying the freedom and fresh air.

So the question I am asking you today on this bright and breezy Monday morning is - are you a creature of habit  or do you just 'go with the flow'?
Do you have a policy of 'a place for everything and everything in its place' or do you just relax and take things as they come?

Maybe sadly I fall into the first category.   Because I had a full time, responsible job which needed a lot of preparation I always kept the whole place neat and tidy, I always knew where things were (apart from my car keys, always my bete noir), I always washed and ironed on the same day each week,  meals were planned and shopped for.  It had to be like that because life was too rushed to be otherwise. And then after losing my first husband and marrying the farmer then I automatically fell into the life of having to have meals on the table at a certain time to fit in with milking or whatever farm job was being done.

Now I live alone and there is absolutely no need to follow a pattern as day follows day.   But I do.   I like everywhere to be neat and tidy.   I like the sink to be clear of dishes.   I like the washing and ironing to be done, the fridge to be neat and tidy,  the garden to be as weed free as it can be within the bounds of my lack of mobility (and my gardener knows this).   My habits of a life term just can't be changed

Not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing - it is just me and I make no excuses for it.  What category do you fit into?

And, changing the subject entirely, did you see the wonderful lady of 104 on Breakfast television this morning who has raised eleven thousand pounds for the British Heart Foundation by walking up and down the hill outside her Care Home four times each day.   Hearing  her speak and listening to her philosophy of life was an inspiration.

Saturday 18 July 2020

Nothing day today.

Really today has been a sort of 'nothing day'.   We did have a nice 40 minute Zoom chat this morning which was a good start to the day.   Then I had a list of things to do.   These days I never get to the end of my list and today was no exception.   First of all I soaked and disinfected all my coffee mugs.   As with all my 'washing up' everything goes through the dishwasher, but because I don't take milk in my tea the mugs do tend to stain inside - living alone means I dont have my dishwasher on every day.   So I soaked all of them in a weak Domestos and water for half an hour and then gave them a good wash in hot soapy water.   And while they were in soak I gave the cupboard a good wipe out.    One job ticked off.

Job two was also a kitchen job and one I seem to do quite often.   I emptied my 'everyday' cutlery drawer into hot soapy water and wiped out the drawer well and left it half an hour to dry.   Then I washed and drained all the cutlery and dried it and put it all back.    Job two ticked off and both made such an improvement.

Job three was to go through the bungalow with the vacuum cleaner.   And here I came completely unstuck because after I had done the sitting room I ran out of electricity and the machine needed a recharge.   So job three was not ticked off and instead I watered a few pots in the garden.

Salmon and cod fish pie with a mixture of carrots, peas, cauli and broccoli for my lunch and then a couple of hours with my feet up and that was my day done.

Sorry it was so boring.   I shall go now and read The Times.   Hopefully something a bit more exciting will happen tomorrow.

Friday 17 July 2020


My kitchen taps came loose - for the second time - and as the Plumber lives just round the corner I asked him to slip in and tighten them for me.   This morning at around half past ten two young men turned up.   One has worked for the Plumber for several years and has been before - a nice young man.   The other was a much younger lad, maybe around seventeen, who just watched.   (Both were masked and we all three sanitised before they went).   The older of the two is no longer an apprentice, having worked for the same plumber for some years he is now fully qualified.   The younger has just begun his training to become a Plumber and is loving it.   We had a laugh because the one in charge left me a tiny spanner so that in future I could tighten them myself (this particular type is prone to working loose because of the action of turning on the tap).   He showed me how to work the thing and started to explain about which way to turn the thing.  At this point I told him he needn't explain because several years ago, when speaking about tightening and loosening my friend W said she always remembered by the phrase 'lefty loosy, righty tighty' - and this has since become my mantra.
We laughed as the younger lad blushed and said he still couldn't remember which way to turn a spanner or a screw driver so we told him to remember the phrase.

It was refreshing to see a young man going into a trade like this.   I am sure somebody will tell me why and when it stopped being the thing to take on an official Apprentice.   But it is good to see it coming back into fashion.   They used to be Indentured - not sure that that is back but looks as though it is a start.   Does anybody know.

It does call to mind my teaching life - I was teaching at the change-over from Secondary Modern to Comprehensive Education in the early seventies and was in fact appointed as a Head of Department in a new Comprehensive School which incorporated two girls' Secondary Modern and two boys' Secondary Modern.   Many of the staff at the time bemoaned the fact that subjects like Woodwork, Metalwork, Cookery (Domestic Science) and Needlework seemed to be downgraded as though they were of little importance compared with subjects which would lead to University.    And what followed was a difficulty in finding good, qualified workers in the Building Trade - joiners, electricians, bricklayers and the like.   Perhaps the wheel has turned full circle.   Perhaps somebody who has more recently been in Education can enlighten me.   After all I have now been retired since 1984.

Thursday 16 July 2020


I have now been in Lockdown for four months.   I can't say I have hated it.   I have had plenty of contacts - through the window, on the telephone, Zooms, postcards, letters - but of course I have rarely left the premises physically apart from walks with Percy round the block.   Once a week I have driven into town and back just to give my car engine a little treat (I am still half full with petrol).   Now, of course I can add to this going into the Hairdresser every Thursday morning at 9.30 - in fact I go in at 9 and sit in the car and do the Mind Games in The Times.   Going in at that time ensures a parking place near to the shop.   I can only walk a short distance - and that very slowly - without Percy.   So here I am this morning - an improvement on the last photograph  I think.

It shows up my wrinkles more because I obviously held the camera nearer to my face - and it does show my scar under my nose, where I fell down the asphalt path outside our back door when I was about ten.   I should have  had a stitch in it I suppose but our family doctor came in his Austin 7 and just cleaned it up for me and left it at that.   And I am sorry I am not smiling more but concentrating on holding the camera straight when you have a shake is not condusive to  smiling'

Coming out I noticed a lovely pot of Canna Lilies in the window and upon enquiry found out that they had been bought at a local garden centre.   So, still wearing a mask of course, I set off through the town, found the plant and also another one I have been looking for for the garden (Heuchera Black Knight), negotiated the one way system, paid and drove home.   I must say I was pretty exhausted by the time I got home - I am so unused to doing anything.   Here they are in my Sitting Room.   Aren't they lovely?

By this time I was ready for a sit down before getting my lunch.  But I just couldnt resist taking one more photograph when this enormous lorry drew up outside my bungalow.   I wondered what on earth could be in such a vehicle.   It wasn't long before I discovered what was inside.   Somebody was getting a new car!
I am Zooming at 4pm with friend W and our friends from Windermere.   It is now after three and I am desperate for a cup of tea.   But before I go did anyone else see that Heart-rending TV programme about Bears in Laos last evening?   It had me in tears one minute and then smiling at the kindness of some people a minute later. 

Until tomorrow

Wednesday 15 July 2020

This and that.

I have just taken this photograph of myself with my old digital camera (I don't have a smart phone) - not very flattering but not bad for eighty seven I suppose.   Anyways I am stuck with what I've got.
'O would some power the giftie gi us - or something like that said the poet.   I must say I was hoping I looked more the like gardening expert Carol Klein - my only excuse is that I have slept on my hair all week and it is due for 'renewal' in the morning.

It is 227 years this week since that wonderful poet of the English Countryside, John Clare, was born.  What a miserable life he had - what privations - and yet what inspirational poetry he produced.   Maybe it was a blessing that he spent a large part of his life in a madhouse, not really knowing who he was.  On the day of his birth the young William Wordsworth watched from the Isle of Wight as the British Fleet gathered in The Solent preparing to fight the French.

I must say it does get one thinking about Time and its passing.   227 years since Clare was born.   As I said yesterday 130 years since my own father was born and now here am I at 87 in the photograph - the passage of time,  so many 'improvements' in the way of life, so much scientific achievement - and here we are - stopped in our tracks
 by Covid 19.   Sometimes I think we do too much thinking about it all.
It is what has become seen as a 'typical July day' 
here - and St Swithin's Day at that - not very warm, cloudy with no sign of a sun, a slight drizzle falling - not enough to amount to anything but just enough to make it feel 'unSummery'.   I have spent the morning doing various jobs which needed doing, cooked a light lunch, and now after putting on today's post I shall top up my week end Tesco order.   Then I intend to put my feet up.   I saw last week that 'The Thirty-nine Steps' was on television one evening.   I might go on to iplayer and see if I can find it.   It is years since I saw it and it might be a totally relaxed couple of hours.   I had a poor night's sleep so that might just do me good.  Enjoy the rest of your day.

Tuesday 14 July 2020


My lawn is growing at quite a pace and just when I thought it was getting too long for comfort I hear my Gardener here strimming the edges and then he will be mowing the lawn.   I was talking to my neighbour in the front garden after my walk this afternoon when my Gardener passed on his way somewhere.   He wound down the window of his van - I presumed to tell me when he was coming
to mow the grass.   But no - he called out 'Like your hair!!' (I have at last managed to have it cut as I reported the other day).  That's the sort of Gardener I like.

It has been yet another cloudy, breezy quite chilly day here.   Oh for some warm July weather.  Surely Summers used to be better than this when we were young.   Didn't they?   Or is it all in our imagination.   This week sees my father's birthday - he was born 130 years ago.   I wonder what he would think of the world today - the man who could remember seeing cars preceded by a man with a red flag.  It seems no time at all since he went although it is in fact fifty years.

Such a strange thing time.   As we get older it seems much easier to remember things that happened fifty years ago than it is to remember where I put my walking stick five minutes ago.  And often I am talking with friends and we try to recall a name, or a place and none of us can remember.   It usually comes to me about four o'clock in the morning.   And if I think it begins with a certain letter of the alphabet it is almost certainly not that letter at all.

Well, we are still more or less in semi lock down and I see in today's Times that scientists are anticipating 120,000 deaths in this country over the winter from Covid 19 if we have no vaccine and it is a very cold winter, so no let up of things for a while yet it seems.

On that jolly note I will leave you until tomorrow.

Monday 13 July 2020

Another week begins.

I have been retired for thirty-seven years, so long in fact that I have almost forgotten what it is like to actually go to work.   I took early  retirement at fifty because my then husband was ten years older than me and was retiring from the Civil Service at sixty.   It was good that I did because we had six good years together before he died.   But for me the week still begins on a Monday morning - a new beginning.   The new beginning this week is much like last week - cloudy, windy and not all that warm.   Joggers, runners, dog-walkers and the like pass my bungalow as the morning goes on and they are all in shorts and shirt sleeves.   I had my walk round with my anorak on and I can't say I was too warm.

Did anyone else watch the amazing Kanneh-Masons - a family where all seven of the children are  brilliant musicians(the oldest, Sheku, played at Harry and Meghan's wedding).   They were all holed up together in Nottingham for lockdown together with Sheku's room mate who came from Brazil and (for obvious reasons) had no wish to go back and spend lockdown there.  It was a one-hour uplifting programme, lovely, good natured children - they played in their street on NHS Clapping night giving their neighbours a concert.   Bechstein have even lent them two grand pianos for lockdown.   It just made me realise how lockdown has changed so many of us in so many ways.

Percy and I have had a stroll round the estate in quite a sharp wind.   We didn#t see a soul.   Now it is almost tea time- cheese and pickle sandwich with a beetroot  salad, followed by a banana.  I always have my main meal at lunch time - mainly because I am too lazy at tea time to cook a proper meal.   Today I had for my lunch what I would call a 'wash day' lunch - the kind of thing my mother would cook in the middle of doing the washing the hard way.   Cold meat left from yesterday, friend potatoes (mash fried so that there was a nice crispy bottom to them) and a mix of broccoli, cauli, carrots and peas also left from yesterday and heated in the microwave.  I had some Branston Pickle with my lunch - my mother would have had home made green tomato chutney - and my mouth waters at the very thought of it.   No comparison.

Until tomorrow.   Off to watch The Repair Shop.

Sunday 12 July 2020


It has been a slightly better day today with quite a lot of sunshine and hardly any breeze.   So I went on a slightly longer walk with Percy than usual.   Because of the wind over the past few days I have not been walking as Percy doesn't manouvre well on windy days so I am rather out of condition and my goodness it showed.  By the timeI got back home I was very tired indeed.   I quickly got some lunch and then sat and read my book for a couple of hours.

My son rang for his chat late afternoon and shortly afterwards my God daughter also rang so I had two really nice long chats.   B ut I am still very tired so  I have decided the sensible thing to do is to have an early night.   I watched a wonderful programme about the musical family who live in Nottingham and have all been living at home during lockdown (one of the sons played at Harry and Meghan's wedding).   As there are seven of them and they also had another young man living with them - and all play an instrument - and play to a professional standard for the most part - it was a very lively household.   Amazingly Bechstein had lent them two grand pianos for lockdown!
 This was followed by my weekly dose of CountryFile, which I always watch and also Antiques Road Show which I try not to miss - I have had my fill of television for today.

Back to fighting fit tomorrow I hope.

Saturday 11 July 2020

Yum Yum

Saturday is usually my pasta day.   I almost always have a Zoom Coffee Morning with friends which finishes about a quarter to eleven and it is rather nice to then not to have to think too much about what to have for lunch.   I have tried various pasta sauce recipes (I have never enjoyed one out of a jar or a tin) and they rarely come up to my expectations.   So today I thought I would try one posted on her blog by Sue (The Cottage at the end of a Lane) for an Aubergine Sauce.   It was delicious and I shall certainly put it on my list to have again.   It is vegetarian but would not come amiss with either chopped streaky bacon or chorizo as a garnish.
It is marginally better weather in that it isn't raining, but there is still a sharp wind blowing.   But I fear I shall have to brave the weather and go out with Percy - it is almost a week since I went.   Yesterday I got all togged up to go and the heavens opened and it poured for a quarter of an hour so I daren't go in case it happened again.

Last evening there was a bewitching programme on the television about the East Anglian Fens - I blog with two people who live close by - Rachel and Sue.   I think (hope) most of us love the area in which we live.   But I must say the wildlife in those wetlands was amazing.   I am not a great television watcher - I hate soaps and sitcoms - but there is another programme I wouldn't miss and that is the one on BBC Four every Saturday evening - This Farming Life.   How my farmer would have loved it.   I was chatting to one of the two farmers who bought our farm (it was separated in two when we sold it) the other day and he too said he would never miss it.   If you don't already watch it (it is about farming in Scotland) do give it a try.

Well, it's not July weather out there although the Weatherman assures us that it is on its way (sadly he is always talking about London and speaks about  'up here' as though it is beyond redemption) but Percy and I must gird our loins and go for a perambulate.   See you on Sunday unless anything exciting happens to bring me back on here later in the day.

Friday 10 July 2020


Just another day like the ones that have gone before it this week weather-wise.   This photograph sums it up nicely, taken about five minutes ago from the window next to where I am sitting at the computer.
(sorry about the washing line stretching across).  One minute the sky is blue and the hot sun is shining, then pretty white fluffy clouds drift across, then comes the angry black cloud and a heavy shower.

I really went out to take a few photographs in the garden (and to show my new hairstyle to my friend and neighbour who was in her garage.   Pink/red seem to be the dominant colours at the moment.
But one of my favourites, which (as long as you keep deadheading) stays out all Summer long, is the Gallardia.   Nothing subtle about it - a really 'in your face' plant but certainly a bright and cheerful plant on a dismal day - I have it in various parts of the garden.

I have to say that gardening (well doing what I can and asking my lovely gardener to do the steep bits), blogging, Zooming with three different groups of people, friends and my nightly chat with my son (and trying to keep off politics) have carried me through Covid so far.   And frankly, according to the World Health Organisation we have not reached the peak yet, I can't see things changing all that much in the near future.

Oh and don't forget reading.   Several people in Blogland recommended The Red Hill (thank you Sue for one) and I sent for it.   It came yesterday and it is delightful.   I am determined to make it last and am limiting myself to one chapter a day.   I could easily sit up and read it through the night but am not going to do so.   In all likelihood my Book Group will meet again next month - there are plans afoot - and we are all asked to take one book we have read over the break (!!) which we have enjoyed.   I have enjoyed quite a few but this will definitely be my choice.

Well my washing machine has just finised its cycle so I must go and empty it.   It is quite windy today and so I dare not put my washing on the line - I am too unsteady on my feet to cope with pegging out washing and a stiff wind blowing.   So next job will be to put on the tumble drier.   The door bell rang to advertise the delivery of my seven ready meals (order six and get one free) - they are brilliant, go straight in the freezer and are a good standby.   It has kept one catering firm going throughout the Pandemic - and it is a top notch catering firm too with a really good restaurant- and she told me when I rang to re order that they have done so well with this that they intend to keep going with delivering ready meals when the restaurant reopens.   Good to hear of some success.

Enjoy the cheery Gallardia which chose to come out blatantly at the top of my post for today!True to form - likes the limelight.

Thursday 9 July 2020


Dear Readers if only you could see - before you is a New Woman.   The trip to the Hairdresser has produced a completely new and much more modern style.   I have had my hair dyed for years but she insists that what is there now is my own colour and it is a light grey.   The cut makes my hair quite manageable (touch wood) and frames my face nicely.   My Hairdresser is a genius and I have told her so.

It is cold and dismal with a mizzly rain now and again and I have just switched on the central heating.   It might be July but I have no intention of being cold.   The forecast is for better weather over the week-end so I am hopeful.   This afternoon W and I had a Zoom meeting with our friends P and D from Windermere and had a very pleasant forty minute chat about this and that.   The one thing we were all agreed on was that things are now so confusing that we really don't know what we can and can't do during the Covid restrictions.   Common sense seems to be the order of the day and I must say that up here in our town people do seem to be obeying instructions by and large.   The shops that are open have large notices on the windows giving instructions about entry, lamp posts have notices telling us to obey social distancing - and people seem to be doing just that.  I parked outside a pub and I noticed that they had one door for entry and the other door for exit.

I am finding the new Blogger a little confusing at times, so I am just hoping that having now finished today's posting I can find out how to post it!   See you tomorrow.

Wednesday 8 July 2020


The large tabby has just trotted through my garden.   Because my garden is steep it has been terraced and has several walls topped with slabs which make a perfect runway for any local cat to go across - and they do - one and all.   Some, like the big ginger one, linger but most just come in at one side, trot across and go through the hedge at the other end and out goodness knows where.   What mysterious creatures they are.   Whoever it was who said 'I am the cat who walks alone. All places are alike to me' knew cats well, just as whoever it was who said ' Cats are superior, Dogs are inferior, Pigs is equal'.   After talking on here the other day about tramps in the old days leaving marks on gateposts to tell other tramps that this was a friendly house I now find that a cat is leaving a not such a pleasant mark (s***) not to put too fine a point on it right at the foot of my front door step.   I am not sure exactly what this is supposed to signify.

It has been a fairly insignificant sort of day here both incident wise and weather wise.   It has been trying to whip up enthusiasm to rain all day but never quite succeeded.   Just dampish.   My son called,my neighbour was gardening and the three of us conducted a three way social distance chat for a while.   I gathered together the bits and pieces needed for my red letter visit in the morning to the hairdresser - mobile, hand sanitiser, face mask, bank card - all ready and to hand.   I  am hoping to come back transformed.   Then in the afternoon a Zoom with Windermere friends and friend W.   In social terms these days quite a busy day.

My poor rose has taken quite a battering in the wind over the past week and I suddenly noticed just how sad it looked.   I have snipped off all but one of its blooms (they were all past their best) and given it a good feed today so I am hoping it will recover well.   A little mouse lives in the wall right behind it and I am always conscious of it when I work just there.

Last night there was the most beautiful sunset.   I had my back to it but just happened to turn around at the right time to catch it.   These things are so fleeting.

Until tomorrow.....

Tuesday 7 July 2020

A Question.

I really think that in many ways I have eaten better during lockdown than I usually do.   Yes, I know I haven't eaten out but I have certainly eaten a more varied diet of vegetables and with more time on my hands I have fiddled about with recipes to make life interesting.   I have bought the very best ready meals and added my own variety of vegetables.   On my last Tesco order I bought some gnocchi.   I have been thinking about it for a while.   I have had it in the past in Italy (as a change from pasta usually).    I must say if I am honest that whatever pasta dish I make (and I have several Italian cook books) the results are never as good as in Italy.   Something to do with the ambience I think.   So how did today's dish turn out?   Well I found a few recipes on the internet but after reading them decided to adapt two or three and add more veg.   Here it is - sorry if the photograph is the wrong way round but have forgotten how to turn it.
I must say it was good but I couldn't help thinking it would have been better with crispy fried potatoes rather than gnocchi!

Speaking to my son about the recipe he asked whether I still made Potato Cakes - I had completely forgotten them!   Mashed potatoes, lardons, parmesan, parsley and good seasoning all bound together with a beaten egg and made into 'cakes' are absolutely delicious and it is years since I made them.   So that's another thing on my lockdown list!!

Night, night.   See you in the morning

Monday 6 July 2020


I have just been reading about Ocean (what a lovely name) - the East Anglian Gypsy woman who wandered around Norfolk and Suffolk the whole of her life until she died in her early nineties.   I wonder if you have heard of her Rachel?

These 'characters' don't seem to exist any more do they whereas at one time every country area seemed to have one or two.   We certainly did on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens.    Our female 'woman of the road' was Pyewipe Liz, who used to wander through the villages with her daughter who, looking back, must have been of school age but never seemed to go to school.   I must be talking of the years just before the Second World War - maybe 1935 - 1939 (I was born in 1932).  I remember her well - she always called at our house because she knew my mother was friendly.    She would give Liz any clothes I had grown out of, give them both some kind of meal and send them on their way.   She was called Pyewipe Liz because she came from Pyewipe, about a couple of miles the other side of Lincoln.
Pyewipe is a small settlement on The Fossedyke, the 'canal' - dug by the Romans I think - which links Brayford Pool in Lincoln (the River Witham runs into that) with the River Trent at Newark.  And as for the odd name 'Pyewipe' for a settlement (too small to be called a village) - Pyewipe is a colloquial word in the area for a Peewit or Lapwing.

We also in those days had 'Men of the Road' - my mother would never have them called 'Tramps'.   Many of them were 'casualties' of the First World War - not wanting to live indoors they wandered about the villages, sleeping in barns, picking up a few days work as and when they could.   As was the custom in those days, our gate post had some kind of sign on it, put there by the men, indicating that this was a safe house to call at.   There was always a place set in our wash house in case a tramp called and he would always be given food - a hot meal if it was the right time, or maybe something as simple as bread (my mother baked her own) butter, cheese and a few pickled onions (she also pickled her own) but always something.   And if there were any old clothes of my father's she would make them try them on  in the wash house and if they fitted give them to them (my Dad would burn the old ones on the bonfire) but if they didn't fit she would keep them for the next 'caller'.

These characters seemed to disappear with the onset of the Second World War - or was it with the beginning of the so-called 'Welfare State' - and of course that is as it should be.   There is something romantic about it all, and something to look back on with nostalgia but in the cold, clear light of day - there is nothing at all romantic about it all, is there.

Sunday 5 July 2020


The weather is abysmal - very strong wind, pouring with rain as I write, cold and cheerless.   Very few people have passed my window today - just one or two stalwarts with dogs (and the dogs look more reluctant than the owners on the whole).   Nothing at all going on and so far I have not spoken to anyone at all.   The Ladygram in the Lady Magazine and the Cryptic crossword in The Times have kept me going and I did cook myself a salmon and cod fish pie with mixed Mediterranean vegetables followed by Strawberries and Cream for my lunch.

I didn't put a Post on yesterday because it too was a 'nothing day' - luckily I did have a pleasant afternoon sitting chatting to H, my neighbour, over a cup of tea.    Nice to be able to just go into a house for a cup of tea - keeping social distance of course.   The social distancing seems to have worked on the whole in pubs and restaurants but outside in the street afterwards it all seems to have broken down.   It will be so sad if it all breaks down again after so long in lockdown.

My hair is for the chop and style on Thursday.  I am not altogether happy about having it done but really I look so shaggy that something has to be done before I become identifiable as The Wild Woman of Leyburn.

What a funny year it has been so far.   We were saying yesterday - most of us (women I am meaning here) buy maybe a couple of new oufits in Spring to see us through to Autumn - even if it is only jeans and a T shirt.    But this year my two outfits (2prs jeans, a twin set and a cotton sweater) have yet to be worn - I have been nowhere to wear them and really I can see them still hanging in my wardrobe unworn when Winter sets in.   And then it will be the time (it comes round every year) when I have to fight hard to resist the temptation to buy myself another leather jacket. 

Keep warm and don't be afraid to switch the blanket on for half an hour at bedtime if it is as chilly with you as it is here.

Friday 3 July 2020

Human contact

It is actual 'face to face' contact that I miss - don't know about anybody else.    I have just had a forty minute Zoom meeting with P and D from Windermere and W my local friend.   We swopped information, laughed a bit, discussed one or two things, decided that we would meet again before long and that was it.   Better than nothing but not the same as actually meeting and chatting informally - still you can't have it all.

For once it is actually pouring with rain in Windermere and not raining here - cold, breezy, bits of blue sky, bits of black cloud, the odd few minutes of sunshine - but not actually not raining.
Similar weather forecast for the whole of the week-end.   But tomorrow I have another \zoom meeting in the morning and a chat with my friend and neighbour in the afternoon.   The high light of Sunday will be the delivery, unpacking, sterilising and putting away of my Tesco order.   After that I shall probably be too tired to do much else.

Tonight's highlight will be Monty Don on Gardeners' World and maybe a Talking Head if there is one on.   How our 'pleasures' have crystallised over the last few lockdown months.  And how much longer will it all go on we ask ourselves - and will it all come back with the Winter?   Best not to ask - sufficient unto the day and all that.

Thursday 2 July 2020


Another morning of rain when I drew back the curtains.   We really have had quite enough rain here - certainly the farmers want a couple of weeks of dry weather to get second crop silage in.  The grass is growing at quite a rate.   Judging by my lawn - once a week is no longer enough for mowing, it is more like five days.

Whereas Derek, who lives on the Isle of Sheppey and is a volunteer warden on a Nature Reserve speaks of drought and its effect on the crops.   He tells of speaking to local farmers who say that although the wheat  is changing colour and looks to be ripening well and getting ready to harvest, in fact the actual grains are poor in size and therefore the crop will be a poor one.   We are not a large country and yet our weather patterns are so different.

My Grand daughter lives in Glasgow - I always look for Glasgow on the TV weather map.   Invariably it is raining.   My friends live in Windermere and frequently the weatherman speaks of rain in The Lake District - but quite often it totally misses them.   No wonder we become preoccupied with the weather - especially if we garden.

Now in the later afternoon the rain has stopped.   It is a still, very cloudy, chilly day - certainly not at all like July.   Any minute now my central heating will come on (I feel the cold greatly) and I shall settle down for the night with a new book to start, Talking Heads on the television (aren't they brilliant?) and a rug over my knees.  Just like I would in the middle of Winter!

Wednesday 1 July 2020


Do you practise meditation?   I, like so many people, live alone.  And particularly now that Tess has gone the house is so quiet for most of the day - there is little or no sound at all.   If it is warm and I have the patio doors open then there is usually the sound of bird song, or a distant tap tapping as somebody makes something or mends something.   But on the whole there is a silence for most of the time - and it is a silence that you can almost hear.   But it is not a meditative silence.

I have no Christian beliefs - I am, if anything, a Humanist.   But if I step into a church or any other place of worship, the silence that greets me there is a different silence from the one I meet when I open the door at home.

Matthew Henry - a 16th century non-conformist minister, said that in meditation  'we converse with ourselves' whereas in  contemplation 'we converse with God'.   I have friends who meditate as a matter of course every day.   It has become part of their daily routine.   I often consciously sit quietly and think - trying to keep my brain  on a single thought line - but I don't find it easy.   I am brilliant at deviating.   And I confess to finding it easier in a spiritual place.   Perhaps that says something about me.

As children this 'state of quietness' was definitely not encouraged; it was seen as 'daydreaming' and tended to result in one's mother saying she would find me something to do.   A child seen to wander about doing nothing in particular was always seen as destined to have a life which would never amount to much.   Just thinking was never encouraged - at least not in my growing up household.

These days episodes of 'Flog it' and such programmes are happily held  inside places of worship such as the large cathedrals. And even small country churches hold events justifying this by saying that in Biblical times churches were used for all sorts of activities.   I wonder, does this destroy the 'different silence' or does it return once all the activity has departed?