Wednesday 30 September 2020


Why is it that a sandwich tastes so much better out on a picnic than it does while sitting at the table?   My perfectly ordinary sandwich on my picnic yesterday (and a picnic in my car alone with the windows of the car open letting in the warm autumn air) tasted divine and it was only ham and coleslaw.   And that brings me to another covid thought.   Covid does seem to govern our lives these days - however hard one tries to get away from it it looms large.

One of my passions as I have got older is clothes.  Yes I know, please don't tell me that there is more to life than clothes, that with the world in the state it is clothes other than essentials are unnecessary, that there are much more important things to do with one's money.   I know this and I do have charities which I support and have done so for years.   But as my regular readers will know, pre Covid friend W and I, and various other friends, ate out regularly - always at least twice a week and it was not uncommon for it to be four times a week.   And that needed nice clothes, so I bought nice clothes.   This year, in early Spring,I bought a new pair of trousers, which I have had on once and three new tops - one I have worn once and the other two not at all.   Now the winter catalogues have arrived (I have been unable to buy clothes other than on line for years owing to my mobility) and there is no point in opening them.  I had a new winter coat last year and this year  - in the depths of winter - I shall sit in the window by the radiator and watch the world go by.   And the money I save?   I am sure I can find another charity to send it to.

And another question.   What is happening to poor Boris?   Is he losing his touch?   I often wonder when I see the top politicians on the television screen,   how on earth they keep it all together.   Life is so complicated.  Balancing the books, dealing with the outbreak, dealing with Brexit - all these things to balance - yesterday Boris really lost it when being asked a question about Covid restrictions in the North East (I live on the edge) and later had to apologise.   And then I read an interesting  article on Rishi Sunak (who is actually my constituency MP) - on his rise to power as Chancellor, on his ability, on his popularity.   And in the article was a recent picture of him.   He was striding up the stairs at number 10, red folder under his arm, past pictures of past Prime Ministers - one wonders - is it true that a picture is often worth a thousand words??

Tuesday 29 September 2020

A Perfect Day

 After a misty, Autumnal start during which I washed out the fridge ready for my Tesco order and then, when it came I packed it all away neatly.   Then I walked down to M's with three books to lend her (she lent me three earlier in the week).   By this time it was half past eleven and time to think about lunch.   I had cleaned out the veggie drawer in the fridge ready for today's arrivals and had managed to get the required weight of frozen sweet corn, celery, parsnip, carrot, potato - plus some good stock, a shaking of mixed herbs and sea salt and pepper.   Then I had an idea!   Outside it is a beautiful autumn day.   So I made roast ham and cole slaw sandwiches, put them in a bag with half a dozen cherry tomatoes and decided to drive to high ground and eat my lunch and read my book.

I was slightly put off because the road I intended to go on which goes over into Swaledale was under repair and the road was closed - so I went down Scarth Nick into Wensleydale instead.   I pulled into a lay by half way down Scarth Nick (a steep hill) and sat there in the sunshine with the car windows open and ate my sandwiches.  The views were not brilliant but there was a lot of traffic about with the road being closed.   So I just took two photographs out of the car window - one looking over Wensleydale towards Penn Hill on the horizon and the other just the view on the side of the road.

It made a pleasant change - my sandwiches were delicious, the fresh air was good, but when I got home I was pretty tired and had to have a snooze.   Now I shall go and sample the fridge bottom soup - time will tell what it tastes like - but there was some celery in it and that always perks it up.

Monday 28 September 2020


Bit of a disappointment after yesterday when it finally turned out to be warm and sunny.   Today there is a sharp wind blowing and it is chilly again.   I did go for a walk with Percy but we were both glad to get back home again and into the warm.    Now the sky is largely blue but it is that pale blue that signifies that there is not a lot of warmth in the sun.

We look set to go further and further into lockdown and I do begin again to feel sorry for those shop owners trying to make a living.   We have a charming independent Bookshop in Richmond - about ten miles away from here and easily accessible under normal circumstances.   But given the combination of my ankles and a semi lockdown going to Richmond is not on the cards for me.   Rachel last week on her post recommended 'Call me by your name' - I liked the sound of it and sent for it from Amazon.   I put my order in on the Sunday on line and the book came on Monday lunchtime.   Then she mentioned a sequel 'Find me' - I ordered that from Amazon on Saturday - they said it would be here on Tuesday - it dropped through my letter box today, Monday, at lunchtime.   With that kind of service you can hardly blame people for using them.

A friend called yesterday with three books for me to read so I am nicely topped up with reading material again.   And today was bed-changing day.   At eighty seven this is a pretty major operation but it is all completed - bed stripped, sheets and pillow cases washed, tumbled dried, folded and put to air and bed made up with clean clothes.   It will be lovely tonight stepping into a clean, sweet smelling bed - one of life's little pleasures.  Maybe this troubled time has made us all stop and think a bit more about what is important in our lives - if things end with there being a better world, however small the change, then at least some good will have come out of it all.  Stay safe


Sunday 27 September 2020


I had a walk round the top of the estate this morning - my winter coat on - it was very windy but I needed the fresh air.   Then, later in the afternoon, the clouds rolled away, the sun came out and it was almost Summer - the wind had dropped.   I took my camera and walked as far as the field.   Lots of folk I knew were sitting out in their gardenswith their books or the Sunday papers, so it took me a long time.

As I came up towards my bungalow I took a photograph of it in the sun. 

We really need a few weeks of this weather now although I doubt we shall get it.   On our estate the sun brings people out and it is a delight to walk round and chat - all carefully socially distanced of course.

Saturday 26 September 2020

The 'in' crowd.

It struck me forcibly on Friday morning when The Times came, that I have never been in the 'in' crowd.   As a teenager I lived out in the wilds of Lincolnshire and played the organ at the Methodist Chapel in what was a very Methodist village (I am speaking of during and just after the Second World War).  I had a large group of friends and we had village 'hops' organised by the vicar - we all danced to a three piece band made up of three slightly older chaps.   My friend and I were 'band followers' and went on Saturday nights one week to Lincoln to dance in the Co-op Hall and the next week we would go to a village called Wasp's Nest (I promise you that is its true name) in the wilds of Lincolnshire.   Here , with the local youth, we always felt we were really sophisticated compared with them!   But of course sophisticated is an easily misinterpreted word.

When I married my husband and I were both interested in classical music - we both played instruments - flute and piano respectively in the days before we got into Early Music.   So again 'pop' passed us by.   My son came along and by the time he was eight he was learning the Double Bass and it was obvious that he was destined for a life of music and he studied it (and got an A) at A level.   He read music  at University and when he was home he listened all the while to modern classical music.   When he was around sixteen he and I went together to the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London to see Stockhausen conduct the first performance of one of his pieces.   I know, because I asked him recently, that it was one of the highlights of his early life.

But then, when he left home, my husband and I got heavily involved in Early Music and together with friends formed an Early Music Group and went around the Midlands playing.   So now, in my eighties I watch programmes like Pointless and as well as knowing nothing at all about Football, which always features heavily, I also know nothing at all about pop music, who sang what, who had an album in which year - it is all gobbledegook to me.   And when, on Fridays in The Times Caitlin Moran does her top ten things about who is in the news, most of them concern somebody in the limelight for pop, modern culture, society and the like - I have never heard of any of them.   There is a whole section of society that has been left out of my life and it is a bit late now to do anything about it.--

Friday 25 September 2020


Yes, Winter has arrived early this year.   At least it is not pouring with rain today but there is a howling gale blowing and it is certainly not safe for Percy and I to walk out.   As with so many days lately I seem to have been really busy all day doing bits and pieces and now that evening has arrived I am hard-pressed to recall them.   Several bills paid, several files sorted out, one parcel of new trousers and sweater unpacked, tried on (such a chore) and hung in the wardrobe.   I knew that they would fit because they are the same as the ones I received last week end and they had to go back because they were too tight.   I put that down to eating during lockdown so am now on a much stricter regime and have already lost a couple of pounds.   My poor ankles just can't tolerate any increased weight.

My builder is coming shortly to repoint the eaves of my bungalow before the Winter and he called in first thing this morning with what I thought was a very reasonable quote so I have asked him to proceed as fast as possible before real Winter arrives.   Our road  runs directly East to West and we really catch the wind.  The back of my bungalow faces to the North but luckily my back garden is quite steeply sloped so I am more sheltered from the North.

It is almost time for Gardeners' World - as you know it is one of my favourite programmes (although I have a feeling it is sans Monty tonight).

Curry left from yesterday was just as good today for lunch - in fact maybe tastier.   Rather like stews and casseroles - they usually taste better the day after.   My soup-maker leek and potato soup was certainly easy to make because you basically shove everything in and  the machine gets on with it.    I have always made a lot of soup though and I think my own recipe is superior.  The reason being that the soup maker recipe includes double cream and really I think this is quite unnecessary.   In future I shall substitute semi skimmed milk - particularly considering my weight issue!

See you all tomorrow.  Sleep well.  Switch the blanket on early.

Thursday 24 September 2020


I wouldn't say that today is Autumnal I would almost say it is wintry.  I don;t know how you are feeling out there but the last few days for me have been incredibly busy but when I look back at what I have done it is all 'nothing'.   I had a stern talk to myself a few days ago because if we are likely to go into some kind of lockdown again, as seems quite likely, I think it is important - certainly for me at any rate - that I keep myself busy and occupied.   My mobility is poor, I walk slowly so that if the weather is bad, like it is today, I really can't go out for a walk with Percy, there is plenty of reading in The Times - and plenty of Mind Games too - and I do make sure I make nutritious meals for myself - but I need something else.   My hands are now too shaky to do any kind of craft work, although I am contemplating buying some sock wool, four needles and knitting myself some warm winter socks - my feet are permanently cold.

Today is my hairdresser so I spent half an hour down there early this morning but was back home by ten.   After my morning coffee my soup maker made me a jug full of Leek and Potato Soup for my lunch and I did something that I have not done before in my 87 years - I made a curry from scratch.  I have eaten plenty of curries in Restaurants but this time I made one from start to finish.   I found my Social Services trolley really useful as I was able to load all the spices and bits and bobs on it before I started.   I found the recipe on line and it was delicious.  The curry was 'Chicken/Butternut Squash Samla Curry' and the author of the recipe was Marie Rayner.   So thank you Marie - I shall come back for more recipes in the future.  I need to make more curries because, of course, I had to buy all kinds of spices in order to make this one and I don;t want a lot of tubs of spices mouldering away in the cupboard.

Well it is almost evening now.   I have just had a forty minute Zoom meeting with my Windermere friends and friend W from the village. It seems, the way things are going, that it will be a long time before we see them again in the flesh. 

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Wednesday morning early.

As I am sure you know by now, I live opposite a Post Box.   It is jolly useful.   All I have to do is write the letter, stamp it, then Percy and I wend our way down the drive, across the road and along the footpath   the other side back to the postbox.  This morning I needed to do this   before the postman came to empty the box for the day.   Gone are the days when there were two or even three deliveries a day (remember them? If you do then you must be of pensionable age at least).   It is a nice feeling to get a job completed.

But it has been raining hard all night, everywhere was saturated and the long grass on the piece of spare ground hung over the path.   And - what a sight.   I wish I had taken my camera with me but no way were Percy and I doing this journey twice on a morning like this.   The footpath was literally covered with small snails with pretty fawn and white swirly shells, all making their way across the foot path from one patch of grass to another.   Such a beautiful display.

Then a paragraph in today's Times caught my eye over my morning coffee.   Luckily it doesn't happen too often but it is not a unique happening - two last year - and so far only one this year.   But a very popular man - only in his fifties - from Richmond (our Richmond, only a few miles from here) was killed at the start of this week while walking his dogs.   He was walking on a footpath but through a field of cows with calves. (it is that time of year) and he was killed by the cows.   What a tragic loss of life and really nobody to blame.  Leaving behind him a distraught family and a whole lot of young people in the school where he was Deputy Head - just enjoying his walk - innocent cows only doing what any mother would do - protect its child.   Sometimes life is cruel. 

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill.

Directly opposite my sitting room window is a road - a cul de sac with not all that many houses on it.   It is called I'Anson Close.    Whenever I look at that sign I wonder just how many who pass it every day know anything about the significance of it.   In Leyburn there is a Paint shop and over the door is a date in the late eighteenth century and the initials I'A - the I'Ansons at some point lived here. There is no doubt that they were a local family of some note and one relative was a Baronet.   So what is their claim to fame?   Well all I can tell you is that the song: 'Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill' was written for Frances I'Anson - she was that sweet lass.   Born towards the end of the eighteenth century I know nothing about her other than that.But I do think it is rather nice that she is remembered in a pleasant cul-de-sac in our town.

In the days when I used to drive regularly into Northallerton, our county town, about twenty five miles away - as I entered the outskirts I used to pass a housing estate and the road of entry was called Aneurin Bevan close.   It used to make me smile because Aneurin Bevan was a prominent Labour politician not long after the Second World War.  I don't know what connection, if any, he had with the housing estate, but I know that some years ago it was re-christened.  I cant remember what it is called now but some daft name  like Meadow Lea - it always seems to me that when authorities can't decided what to call roads on new building plots they seem to resort to wild flower meadows in the countryside.

Tha naming of anything has its problems doesn't it?   It applies to babies as much as anything I suppose.   Some names seem so unsuitable at the time of christening and yet, somehow, people grow into their names don't they?


Monday 21 September 2020

Monday morning.

Monday morning, bright and early, delightful morning and threats on the television of dire weather to come.  So alarm bells ring - make the most of the next couple of days.   I tidy round quickly, don a waistcoat and set off round the block - the furthest I have been for quite a while.  One of the nicest things about walking slowly with Percy is that people in their front gardens want to chat as you go by - takes up time, but I have plenty of that.   A quarter of an hour's chat with H next door helped me on my way.   It was still quite early and there was hardly anyone around.  When I arrived home the milk bill was through the letter box, so I went straight back out again on another walk to put the cheque through the milkman's letter box - so I am pleased with my exercise today!

There is something different about the sunny weather this time of the year.   I suppose it is because we know winter is on its way and we all begin to feel nostalgic for the 'lost' summer, although this year has almost been a non-year in every way hasn't it?   And as things stand it  may well be another six months of similar restrictions before we ge back to anything like normality.  The photograph on the front of the paper this morning shows young people in Newcastle 'living it up' with no social distancing.   I hesitate to criticise because I don't how I would have behaved if I were that age at this time.   I am just really rather pleased I am not.

That's all today!   It is a glorious day and I am going into the garden to enjoy it (and admire the new patio) so 'see' you tomorrow.

Sunday 20 September 2020


 Sundays are quiet too now that I don't risk going out for Golf Club lunch.   In many ways I miss it - most of all the company, but also the luxury of not having to cook my own food.   But I kept another meal out of the freezer from my delivery - chicken and bacon in white wine sauce and I served it with a mixture  ofparsnip , runner beans and leeks - the last two from a friends' garden.    I have to say it was delicious.   I also had the longest walk with Percy that I have had in a long time an my ankles feel much better for it.

I was back home (I stopped for a long time to chat to friend M - we are both members of the Book Group and got talking about books. ) in time to watch the final three hours of Le Tour de France - and I must say it was all very exciting.  What incredible stamina those young men have and what a lovely speech the Irish lad who won the Green Jersey made.  It was also a joy to see the parents of the young man (the youngest for 111 years I believe) who won there to cheer him on.   They looked so proud of him.

Later this evening I watched the new three part play on BBC1 - it is called 'Us' and was a delight to watch I thought.   Did anyone else watch it?   If so do let me know what you think.

So apart from my walk and cooking my lunch I have really had a very lazy day with far too much  television in it.   I fear with the advent of the darker nights this may be the pattern of things to come.  When I think of the craft work I used to do - the beading, the quilting, the knitting and crochet, the machine embroidery - none of which I can do now because of my shakes - I am sad.  It's called 'getting old' and you have to fight it tooth and nail!!

Saturday 19 September 2020


 Saturdays are never my favourite days, although at least today the sun is shining through the sitting room window and it is cheerful.   We had a Zoom at 10am, six of us,  - a good 40 minute chat and laugh together and that started the day off well.   Then I had my half-hour walk round the estate, it is really quite cold and breezy so didn't try to go any further than my usual circuit.  Then it was back for a coffee and then a chat ;  I chatted with my next door neighbour's daught er who is moving to the edge of the North York Moors. Then  I went out into the garden with secateurs  to begin cutting back some of the herbaceous growth but it was too cold.   So I made a cup of coffee and switched on the television to watch (and catch up) This Farming Life - I do so enjoy it - it brings all the fun, the hard work, the heartache when things go wrong - everything comes back as though it was yesterday rather than three years since my dear farmer left me.   Let's hope we have a few weeks of good weather now to build us all up for the winter here.  There is enough doom and gloom without bad weather setting in early isn't there.

Have a good week end.   The way things seem to be going it might be the last one before we get locked down again!   This business of going into lockdown in various places 'next Tuesday' or somesuch date rather than 'now, this instant'  it seems is something to do with it having to 'go through parliament' or something- or that is how I understood it when a government minister was explaining it this morning.  What usually happens is that folk then 'live it up' in the last week end of 'freedom' - or am I just being cynical?  

Friday 18 September 2020

This and that

Lovely that the patio is finished.   I apologise if the script is a different size again.   It is entirely my fault - at present my hand is very shaky and try as I might I can't always hit the right place.   Anyway, hopefully here is a picture of my finished patio:

The shadow in the bottom right hand corner is the shadow of the handrail.   I am very happy with it and it is so nice and light after the very dark concrete and when the sun is shining it glitters here and there with quartz.

 The next job to be tackled by my gardener is the removal of those two lopped evergreen trees - they are neither use nor ornament.  Beyond them is the patch not yet planted which has been infested with Mares Tail weed.   It has now had four lots of specialised week killer and in line with the instructions which came with the weedkiller I shall now plant it up with low growing rockery plants which cover quickly and my gardener will keep cutting back the Mares Tail next year as it grows through - hopefully weakening it.  It has been so satisfying to get this major job done - and to look out of the patio and computer room windows on to a pleasant scene at last.

Puss has been around again and given everywhere a thorough inspection and is now sitting on the wall watching me.   I know if I stand up she will go away quickly.   Like Rachel with her 'stray' kitten I know that this cat has me weighed up perfectly.   Not a stray at all, she is just passing through on her daily prowl.   But hopefully she sees it as part of her job to keep my garden vermin-free.

 It has been a pleasant day here today albeit cooler and more Autumnal - but dry and with hazy sunshine for most of the day.  It is set to stay like this for most of the week ahead I believe.   I look at the dreadful fires in America- how do they bear to live with the threat of this sort of thing hanging over them I wonder?

Thursday 17 September 2020

Another Lovely Day

Just the very best sort of day for finishing the patio at the back of my bungalow  - no breeze, not too hot and plenty of Autumn sunshine.   It was important for there to be no breeze because laying weed suppressant in windy conditions is not easy.   The two D's came at eight o'clock and the eight tons of gravel came at a quarter past eight and they got stuck in.  I just had time to move my car off the drive before the gravel lorry came and tipped it all on my drive in a heap.  (hairdresser's appointment.

By four this afternoon they had finished, tidied away, swilled down the bottom patio and all the paths and left everywhere neat and tidy.   They have done a super job.   

In addition the electrician came back and fitted my new fire lights - and we put the shiny coal back into the grate.   Then at four o'clock the gas man came and serviced my gas boiler for winter.   He tells me that it is eight years old (I have lived here three years) and in very good condition.

The tabby cat from down the road, who often visits me, called into inspect my new patio - treading all over it gingerly and sniffing here and there.   I think he approved because eventually he sat down and gave himself a thorough wash and brush up.  Whenever I see him I think I should get a cat - I love both cats and dogs and wouldn't need to take a cat for a walk;  but then I look out of the window at the busy road and I look at my furniture  -  and think of claw sharpening (I had Siamese cats for years) and think I would be letting myself in for a lot of problems.   And I couldn't bear it if I had a cat and it got run over.

There is a real Autumnal nip in the air once it gets to half past six in the evening.   I am sitting here in my computer room looking out on my new patio, the sun is going down and I shall soon be drawing the blinds and closing the curtains to shut out the cool air.   Covid has returned with a vengeance to the North East of the country and new restrictions come into force.   They don't affect us here in The Dales but they are getting uncomfortably close and as always it is important that we follow the rules.  I have today been able to book an appointment for my flu vaccination for Winter, which  have every year.   This is nothing to do with Covid of course as we still dont have a vaccine for that but we can at least protect ourselves from other kinds of flu in so far as is possible.

Sleep well.   See you tomorrow. 

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Washing Coal.

I must say that my mobility and my agility do improve with exercise.  If I sit about then I have trouble getting up from my chair when the doorbell rings.   But today I have been busy doing 'this and that' all day and now, late afternoon, I am moving about much more freely.   First of all it is my day for using my new soup-maker, which makes enough soup for four helpings - one today and one tomorrow and another two frozen for later in the week.  Today I made sweet potato and red pepper soup, with an onion, a dash of tabasco and a little bottle of white wine to add a bit of flavour.   It was delicious and very filling so that the ham and mushroom quiche I intended to afters with a salad was too much and I put half of it back in the fridge for tomorrow.


After lunch I really had to water the violas I planted last week.   There has been no rain and two really hot days(not hot today - cloudy and cooling down) and after that the electrician came to take the two bulbs out of my electric fire so that he could fix replacements - they had gone about a week ago.  And so I took the opportunity indicated by the title of today's piece - my fire has artificial coal (I hate it but it was there when I moved in and is a perfectly good fire) - he scooped the 'coal' out on to newspaper and carried it into the kitchen for me and I put it into hot soapy water.   So now, when he returns with the new bulbs the coal will go back all bright and shiny.

Tomorrow is another busy day for me - hairdresser (including a cut tomorrow),, the men are arriving to finish my patio they say (eight tons of gravel are set to arrive first thing in the morning) and in the afternoon the gas man is coming to service my gas boiler for Winter. I love busy days.

We had a scare because we thought we had Covid in the village where my son lives but it transpires that a family had to quarantine for a fortnight but no one has developed it.  My son, who lives in the village,is relieved about this.   Things do seem to be a bit chaotic at present with people having to go miles to be tested.


Tuesday 15 September 2020

The trials (and comedies) of a shake.

 I have a condition called 'Benign  Essential Tremor' - it is inherited - my father and sister both had it and mine has been developing over the last ten years or so.   It is not dangerous.   It is, I believe, a brain condition and it is quite common.   The actress Katherine Hepburn (for those old enough to remember her) had it.   Hers affected her head and if you watch her in an old film now that you know you will see that she has difficulty in keeping her head still.   Mine affects my hands - my handwriting, my eating, my preparation of food - so many things.   But it is not painful - just a nuisance.   This morning is a perfect example.   Once a fortnight I have a Tesco order delivery on a Tuesday morning early.   I order it on line bit by bit over the fortnight as and whenI remember something I need.

It came at nine this morning - delivered by a nice young man - there seemed rather a lot of it.   When he had gone I began to unload it - I had intended to order a pack of 9 Andrex toilet rolls.   Instead of ordering 1 pack I had ordered 4 packs - so I now have 36 toilet rolls stacked in the garage!!

And speaking of Tesco orders - during lockdown they have changed their packaging several times.   First of all it was heavy duty plastic carrier bags which as far as I am concerned were useless to me so once a fortnight I rolled them up, tied them with string and put them out for recycling.   Then some time later they changed to lightweight plastic bags but, let's face it there's a limit to how many of these you need.   So once again - out for recycling.   Now this morning they have changed again - each big blue plastic box (the things they used before lockdown) is lined with a plastic liner and we are asked to return them the next time the driver calls.

And still on the subject of Tesco (and other superstores) if I sat in my window all day and counted the number of deliveries which passed each day it would be 'a lot'.   Good time to buy shares in the supermarkets!

And back to my shakes - it affects my typing skills so although I do proof read you need to excuse any mistakes I miss!!


Monday 14 September 2020


 Monday has come round again and with it an absolutely beautiful sunny warm day.   All our really lovely days this Summer have been Mondays - good for anyone still pegging their washing out!

Frankly not a day for me to do very much.   I made a list last evening of all the jobs I wanted to do today and they are now all ticked off apart from ironing two jerseys and a pair of trousers and I intend to leave those until it cools down somewhat.   When I finish this post I intend to take my chair out on the patio and sit in the sun for a couple of hours and soak up a bit of vitamin D.It struck me earlier that in all my childhood I don;t think I ever remember seeing my parents sitting out in the sun.  We did have a lawn at the bottom of the garden and I remember that at one end of it there was a little bench - one of those benches with room for three small children - desks with holes for inkwells and a lift up lid to keep your books in.  I have no idea where it came from.

At the other end of the lawn there was an Ellison's Orange Pippin eating apple tree - in my memory it was always laden and they were delicious - but I don't suppose it was always like that - memory is very selective.

Friends S and T called - the only people who actually come into my bungalow and then we observe the social distancing rules.   We looked round the garden, noticed that one of my helebore seedlings had been attacked by a slug.   S lifted up a leaf to reveal a huge fat slug.  T removed and and threw it over the hedge into the field.   If it does return at least it will take it several days to get back.

Well friends it is now 3.50 and my lunch pots have still not been put into the dishwasher so I had better go and get everywhere shipshape.   Have a good evening.

Sunday 13 September 2020

Sunday morning early

 Well earlyish and I am really doing everything I can to put off getting dressed after my shower.   Sitting here at the computer in my dressing gown, the reason being that I sent for new trousers and sweater for winter and they need trying on urgently (they came on Friday).  Taking clothes on and off is such a chore at my age believe me.   For instance I love getting up in the mornings and I love going to bed at night but the process of getting dressed and undressed is hard work.

Did any of you watch The Last Night of the Proms?   I did.   I don;t usually because I watch music programmes for the music not for all the razzamataz and it spoils it for me  - hence last night's programme really pleased me.   Yes the orchestra was greatly reduced as were the singers but the music was beautiful.  'The Lark Ascending' was nothing short of sublime, the Mozart was wonderful and the soprano had an incredible voice.   It was good to see a new composition too - as the mother of a son who composes and has done all his life I feel it is very important to encourage new music whether we understand it or not.  Also we should be reminded that in 1913 people booed and walked out of the first performance of Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring' although my son reminds me that he - and many others - thinks what the audience were booing and walking out of was not the music but Nijinsky's choreography.

Lower down the country it may well be warming up and people might be walking the hills today in their shirt sleeves.   Here it is cloudy, chilly and blowing and 'almost' gale.   Have a nice day.

Saturday 12 September 2020

At last a nice day.

 At last there is a reasonably nice day and the weather is set to improve further over the next few days for an Indian Summer.   My bones really need it - crave it in fact.   I would really love to go for a walk with Percy this afternoon, but I have been so busy over this morning that I don't think I have the energy left.  It was our usual Zoom at ten this morning but I just couldn't stay on - my laptop kept telling me that my internet connection was weak and twice I faded out completely and had to reconnect so in the end  I  gave up.  S in the Zoom group suggested I take my laptop nearer to my modem - I shall try it that way next time because it is good to meet up with a group of friends.

After that I did two loads of washing.    One load went in the tumble drier and the second lot I put out (with difficulty) on the washing line.  I have to put the things I wish to hang out into my clothes basket, open the patio doors, return with my clothes basket on my wheeled tea trolley.  Then, standing in the dining room doorway I have to use the stick handle to hook the line near enough to peg things out one by one.   I am too unsteady on my legs to do it any other way but when it is such a lovely day and there are items which will not go in the tumble drier it is worth the effort.   Another hour and two jumpers, one pair of trousers and a winter fleece (yes it is that time of year coming round again) will be dry.   Better than them hanging about in the kitchen for a couple of days.

Now, having cooked and eaten lunch I just feel like making a coffee (real, not out of a jar) and sitting down with The Times.   What have I got to lo ok forward to today.   Well, it is Last Night of the Proms (yes I know it wont be the same but I think I shall watch anyway) and there is Michael Palin on BBC Four going Pole to Pole.    I have seen it before but so far I have been to most of the places he has visited and it is good to see them again - and he is such a nice man anyway. And if all else fails I can always watch another Inspector Montalbano - I have seen them all twice and am on the third viewing - this time round I can actually remember bits of each story although I can rarely remember whodun it.

Have a good week-end everyone.   And if the weather is good where you are then make the most of it - half way through September this week - Winter draws on.

Friday 11 September 2020

Yet another book

 .My gardener is here starting to get things going on the patio again.   It is beginning to take shape.   This morning he is putting a wooden enclosure around each bush - an enclosure which will project above the pebbles.   I hadn't envisaged it like this but he has persuaded me that it will stop the soil and the pebbles mixing around the base of the bushes and will make for a neater finish.   I am not persuaded fully but he is a good gardener and does know what he is doing so I shall go along with his idea.   I am relieved he has come because the shrubs were ready for a good watering and I can't climb the steps up on to the patio.

It is cloudy and cool and very Autumnal here this morning but the weather forecast is that next week we shall be in for a week of hot weather so maybe we are going to get an Indian Summer.

It was our Book Group on Monday and the book for this month (which Amazon delivered yesterday) is 'Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim' by David Sedaris.   It is a series of seriously hilarious essays - some only a couple of pages long - about family life.   I have so far read the first three and have decided it is definitely not the book to read on public transport unless you are not embarrassed by making a noise.   It is impossible not to laugh out loud at his turn of phrase and at the pictures he paints.   His every synonym and every metaphor are just so right and just so funny.   Do try to get hold of a copy it is a brilliant choice for Book Group and will be a hard act to follow.

I have nothing planned for today, The Times still hasn't come (it is 10am) so - if it ever arrives - I still have all the Mind Games to do.  I have rung the Newsagent and it just has not come yet.

Have a good day.

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Just another busy day

What should have been an ordinary day turned out to be such a busy day that when I finally got in again I sat down for five minutes before getting my lunch and fell asleep.   A caller ringing my door bell woke me.  

It was important to get that extra plant for my patio today.   If the men come they will not be able to do the next stage unless the plant is in place.   All I wanted was a prostrate evergreen so I expected to be able to get one locally.  No such luck.   I had to drive the twelve miles or so to my usual nursery and there I found a juniper and also a nice grey Santolina which adds another colour to the mix (also makes me back to an even number again!)

I didn't get back home until half past  one and was so tired that I had to have a sit down before lunch and as I said above, fell asleep.   Now, three hours later I have unloaded the plants from the car and carried them round the back of the bungalow, put away the empty containers for papers, tins and plastics (it is recycling collection day), wheeled my green bin round the back.   Just sat down again when the door bell rang and it was the local builder to look at the eaves of my bungalow which need pointing - I am going to have some tiles put along the edges - he is coming to do it next week.   It is four minutes to six and I am dying for a cup of tea.


I stopped to look at The Repair Shop on television only to see the face of Boris talking about the dangers of the increase of Covid again.   I suppose it was inevitable that complacency would set it and that the young in particular would revert to type during the warmer weather.  We have all been there, done that, got the T shirt.  We have all gone through that age when we think we are invincible.  The friend who came yesterday has had Covid and has recovered.   She had it early on in the outbreak. And as somebody writing in The Times today says - if the elderly don't die of Covid they may very well die of loneliness.   As I said on here a few days back - my confidence has been shattered.   I am just beginning to get it back but am by no means back to normal.   Am I and thousands like me going to have to take a few steps back and go through it all again?   I do hope not.

On that cheery note - have a good evening.   See you tomorrow.


Tuesday 8 September 2020

Pleasureable afternoon.

I have had a   very pleasant afternoon.   Friend S came - she had travelled quite a long way in these Covid days because she lives the other side of Richmond.   We had several hours of chat and covered a lot of ground - what we had done with our lives, where we had lived, how we are spending our retirement, what we have been reading, gardening, (we inspected the patio and agreed that it was coming along nicely).   It wasn't warm enough to sit in the garden but my sitting room is just big enough to social distance and I always keep my bathroom supplied with hand sanitiser and a special personal hand towel for anyone who comes.   Tea and choccy bikkies was the order of the day - a treat indeed for me.   I don;t usually buy them because I can't resist them so best not to have any in the tin.


I have just booked my Tesco delivery spot for next week  and after downloading an interesting curry recipe I have ordered all the  ingredients so that I can try it out later next week.   The recipe is from Marie Rayner's site and is for Chicken Samla Curry so watch this space to see how it turns out next week.   This week's soup in my soupmaker tomorrow is another batch of tomato and basil because I enjoyed it so much.  The only other thing on the calendar for tomorrow is to visit the Garden Centre and buy a prostrate conifer of some kind for my patio because I have now got an even number of plantings and we can't have that can we after we all agreed that the planting must be an odd number?



Monday 7 September 2020

Monday evening.

Not a bad sort of day as things have been going lately.   In spite of the fact that we have had several absolutely torrential downpours (which have washed the front windows nicely) and the temperature is on the low side (now in the evening the central heating has come on) it has been a good day for me.   It was our Book Group - there are eight of us - and only three could make it at the last minute.   In spite of this we had a really pleasant discussion session on 'A Gentleman in Moscow'; we all three absolutely loved it and I am sure we could have gone on longer than our hour and a half talking about it.

I had enough lunch left from yesterday to heat in the microwave - cottage pie with a mixture of roasted carrot, sweet potato and celery (surprisingly good) followed by three delicious Victoria plums (it is a shame to stew them they are so very good just as they come off the tree).   After half an hour with The Times and my feet up I gave a vacuum through the bungalow, followed by a polish - Monday is the day when - in normal times - my cleaner used to come so I like to keep up tradition.   At five o'clock when the town was  less busy I put on my mask and ventured into our Deli in town for one or two things.There was a perfect parking spot just outside the store.  Toast and honey for tea and then the only downside of the day.   I watched the News at Six.

The horror of it all.   First of all a man stabbed to death and seven others injured in Birmingham and then a schoolboy in Ipswich shot by another school boy on their way to school.   It is just all so very sad that these things should happen.   One feels so helpless.   But I must not end on such a sad note.  It is already getting dark at 7.15 and I shall go round now and draw all the blinds and shut out  the night - the sky has not cleared - it is still heavily clouded.   Tomorrow is forecast to be the best day of the week - weather wise it couldn;t be much worse than today.   If it is of any interest to you - I went to Book Group in my winter fur-lined boots this morning because my feet were so cold.

Saturday 5 September 2020


Is it good to protest and does it make a difference?   I ask this because today Extinction Rebellion have staged a protest and have blocked the roads to various print works so that today's daily papers have been greatly disrupt ed.  My newspaper, which usuallycomes at eight in the morning has just popped through my letter box at 2.57pm.   I am so pleased that it has arrived.   It is my source of relaxation and my source of news.   I rely on it to tell me whether there is anything worth watching on TV or whether I should get out a book.


I was not pleased by this.   I dobelieve that it is important to protest about anything one feels strongly about.   Protests at Greenham Common about the Nuclear Threat were important and were close to my heart.   Had I not had a small child and a husband who needed looking after (only just over ten years earlier he had been onthe Death Railway) I may well have joined the protestors - but we all have to get our priorities right.   But I am old, not mobile and just ask for a quiet life and I  do weigh this up against a protest against climate change and ask myself which is more important.   I have to come down on the side  of Climate Change of course but I have been a bit irritable all morning (you could argue that this in itself makes me think along the right lines).


My Zoom on the computer has gone haywire and my son, after chatting to me for an hour about it and trying to rectify the fault, has decided to completely remove it and reinstall it in the hopes it will  perform better next time.   What with lack of a paper and then no Zoom coffee morning I was becoming a bit miffed.   Then my patio man arrived andin a short space of time filled the drainage trench with pebbles and dug holes for the plants I am putting in.   We have decided I need one more so it will be off to buy it tomorrow.


Wish I wasn't past going round exhibitions - I see there is one opening at The Royal Academy until the middle of October - Gaugin and the Impressionists - right up my street but the effort is all too much - I can only dream.   Anyone in or near London - lucky you - get booking.

Friday 4 September 2020


How quickly Fridays come round - or any other day for that matter - and I suppose, like a lot of you, a calendar is vital to establish what day it is anyway.


I have just been reading about The Pilgrim Fathers.If you think we are having it tough under Covid conditions it makes tough reading.    It is 400 years next month since 102 of them set sail from Plymouth on the Mayflower, intending to set up a 'Spiritual Jerusalem' in North America - hopefully in Virginia.   Because the drinking water on board was so bad they were each allocated a gallon of beer a day  throughout the trip (6 percent alcohol) so it is hardly surprising that they actually ended up at  Cape Cod about 500 miles from their intended destination.   And to add to their troubles, within just over fifty years they had fought a fierce battle with the indigenous population in which they lost more than were lost in the American Civil War (per capita).   What dreadful trials and tribulations they must have gone through - makes our troubles seem light by comparison.   Each generation seems to have it easier (covid notwithstanding) - when I think what I have to do compared with my mother's generation and how I take things like my own car, a computer, dishwasher, washer, drier, fridge and freezer as essentials I am almost ashamed to own them.   My mother worked so hard and accepted it as her lot.   And I have no doubt our children will have it easier - relaxing behind the wheel of a self drive car before long I have no doubt.


The weather has deteriorated as the day has progressed.   I woke to a pleasant sunny morning with a light breeze but now it is cloudy and windy and chilly - and I have gone into winter-woollies. I have a Zoom with three friends in a couple of hours so I intend to go and put my feet up for that break in between - after several really good nights I had a bad night again last night and am feeling in need of sleep.   Have a good day and see you tomorrow.








Thursday 3 September 2020


Two more achievements to tick off on my list today.   It is a quarter to three in the afternoon and I am pretty exhausted, but nothing than an hour on the settee watching 'Escape to the Country' shortly won't cure.    First it was Hairdresser at 9.30 as usual, going half an hour early to get a nearby parking place and sitting doing Mind Games in The Times until time for my hair appointment.   Then it was home again.   Lunch and then my two achievements for today.   The first was to get filled up with petrol - the first time since Lockdown began (well I haven't been anywhere to use any petrol until this week have I?) - try doing it with mask, hearing aids and specs, handbag and stick.   No easy matter but achieveable.   Job one done.


Then it was up to the Council Tip with a plethora of cardboard boxes which had been cluttering my garage for weeks.   The young men were unable to help me at all so I had (with all the accoutrements as above) to empty the boot and the front passenger seat and carry them to the appropriate skip my self.One young man took pity on me and did open the passenger side door and take the largest box.

I drove home exhausted by the effort but well-pleased with my day's work.   Tomorrow is another day and there is (hopefully) a good night's sleep i between.


Wednesday 2 September 2020

Bright and early.

 The sun is still shining but the clouds are building ominously - rain is forecast for later.  Still, I have a gloriously free day - yesterday was taken up with stocking up with plants for my 'new' patio and at last I have managed to get them all round the back of the bungalow with the help of Percy.  He is not brilliant on steps but once he is down them he performs well.   I need to reorganise where they are before the rain and strong wind arrives later in the day.


It is 'soup making day' - I plan to make a batch in the middle of the week, eat it for two days and freeze the rest in portions ready eat it.   This week I shall try a chunky vegetable soup in my new soup maker.   At present I am sticking to the recipe book until I get the hang of things, then I can branch out into rather more outlandish things. Celery, carrots, potatoes, spinach, onions, sweet potatoes and various herbs lie on the work top waiting for me to finish this, shower and get dressed.

I am reading an excellent 'unputdownable' book - 'The Moment' by Douglas Kennedy, an author new to me.   Isn't it good to have a good book on the go?   And this morning I have managed to do all the Times mind games over my breakfast so my brain is in gear and I must take advantage of it - it is not always like this.  Sorry about the change of font but can't see how to change it - so back to normal next time I hope.   Have a good day.


Tuesday 1 September 2020


 One thing which has happened, certainly to me and also to a lot of my friends and colleagues, during lockdown which has now gone on for almost six months, is that as well as  being cut off from the world, we have also suffered mentally.   A case in point was yesterday when I ventured forth to the Garden Centre.  Braithwaite's is by far the most professional garden centre around and also one where one can get help and advice.  Bedale is around fifteen miles away and a road I know well, so I decided to go and consult Mr Braithwaite about what plants to buy for my patio project.   I did not enjoy the journey.   I was nervous in the car and felt as though I had never driven before.   I was so lacking in confidence that when I got home I thought about stopping driving - I know the day will come.

After thinking about the plants I decided that    two were wrong and needed changing so what did I do? There was no alternative to getting in the car and going back this morning.   Bear in mind I can only walk with sticks and then not at all well.   So I bit the bullet and set off apprehensively but I had not gone far before I realised that my nervousness of yesterday had disappeared and much of my confidence had been regained.   Lockdown has affected us all in so many ways and it will be a long time before we can be back to normal.

Now all my plants sit here waiting for the patio to be finished - hopefully it will not be long before they can go in.   I started out with seven conifers but now I have sent two back and in their place I have chosen a group of three different coloured grasses to be planted together as a group and an evergreen flowering Hebe.  I have also added a euonymous with a variegated leaf - the whole should giv e a much more cheerful effect.  Tomorrow is another day so onward and upward I say.