Friday, 23 July 2021

Ominous?

 A lot of heavy, black clouds floating about as it begins to get dark (9.15pm) but no rain forecast for up here in the North - it is all destined to fall down there in the South where you have had plenty.   This intense heat has more or less finished my pots off by the front door - I cut the flowers right back yesterday, gave them a good watering and this morning I fed them.   I will give them a couple of weeks to recover and if they don't then the two large ones will have to be emptied and redone with something like pansies which will last over winter.   My pot of Gazanias and one of Pelargoniums are thriving - but then they love the hot weather.

I set out on a walk this morning.   There was a nice cool wind blowing and I thought it would be reasonable to walk in it.   But by the time I had gone a couple of hundred yards I knew it was going to be too hot.   M next door neighbour was gardening in the front garden so I chatted to her for ten minutes or so and then came in for my salad lunch.   And then I fell asleep.

I awoke to find friend S tapping on the front window.   She brought me my first 'boiling' of broad beans (always my mother's favourite summer vegetable) and some very pretty courgettes.   I had them for my tea - they were a taste of Summer - sheer delight.   How can some folk not like vegetables?

That is the sum total of the work I have done today.   It has just been too hot and I have been unable to summon up any energy.   Friend B, who used to live up here but moved down to Kent a few years ago, rang at tea time and we had a lovely chat.   How nice it is to chat with old friends.

So I have failed again to tot up six folk to speak to today - I have only managed J, my carer, M, my neighbour, S my friend who called in, B my friend who rang and D, my son who called and chatted through the window and collected half of S's vegetables to cook for their tea.   Well that's five so not too bad for this hot weather.

See you tomorrow.   Sleep well if you can on these hot nights.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Early in the morning.

 Surely the very best time of day when the weather is like this - everything smells and feels fresh and clean, there is a stillness in the air and a quietness - that feeling that 'all's right with the world'  - a feeling which gradually disappears as the sun gets hotter and the news filters through and you begin to realise that in fact very little is right with the world.  So I shall cling on to it until The Times pops through the letter box and I switch on Breakfast television.  Hairdressers today so my weekly trip into town and my taxi arriving at twenty past nine to take me there.  Masks not obligatory but I shall continue to wear one - Covid lurks.   A dear very old friend has died in the village - of pneumonia which started as Covid I understand.   So in the last ten days that is two old folk who have passed on - very hot weather does not suit the elderly does it - one was 102 and one 95.  Both 'ready to go' to use their own words. 

It has been exceedingly hot here today - far too hot to even think let alone do.   But needs must and my pots all needed a good watering and dead-heading.   So Priscilla and I set to work as soon as we returned from the hairdressers.  Hard work for me - I have an outside tap front and back and both have hoses permanently fixed, so it was out with the scissors to dead-head and then a gentle watering - I did it morning and again after lunch.   I could almost hear the plants saying  'thank-you'.

I forgot to watch Hemingway this week so I shall now go, pour myself a coffee and watch it on iplayer.   My large thermos flask is filled with freshly-made Lazy Sunday coffee each morning by my carer - and it is such a good idea.   Keep cool.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Gone forever

 I arose just after five this morning - it was hot and I knew I would not get back to sleep, so I came on to my computer and wrote an early post, ending by saying that if I thought of anything to add I would be back later.   Well, in The Times TMS an actor, the son of a Bishop, was talking about the Seven Wonders of the World.   When he was a small boy he heard his father preach on the text'Man does not live by bread alone' and he remembers thinking that man could very well live on just that if it was but toast.  He went on to say how he didn't think some of those seven were all they were cracked up to be - the one he particularly mentioned was The Great Pyramid, because it was now just situated in a very ordinary suburb of Cairo.

That set me thinking of what I would choose as a Wonder these days.   My subjects are English Literature and Music so all scientific subjects are above my thinking - the same goes for Mathematical things - so I chose the one thing that I know little about but which has had such an influence on my life.    I chose Machinery/Electricity.   As I sat here this morning  typing my post a machine was washing the breakfast dishes, a machine was doing the washing, another machine was drying a load.  On this very hot and humid day another electrical device was keeping my milk from going sour (this weather in my mother's day meant cream cheese for tea as the milk would have gone sour.)  A tractor and various trucks and machines were cutting the grass in the field behind the bungalow and carting it away.   I could go on.   Sufficient to say that my father, himself an engineer for the whole of his working life,  would not have believed the changes in the last fifty years - oh and add to that the two richest men in the world each chartered an space ship this week to take them to the edge of space.   What next?   What would you choose as a modern wonder?

That is all I shall write today having just spent an hour in the front garden dead-heading the plants in my tubs- they are getting past it.   A good feed in the morning and hopefully they will put on a spurt of new flowers.   sleep well.



Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Bright(ish) and early. - again

Oh dear.   This hot weather (the same temperature here yesterday as it was in Cro's garden) is not altogther to my liking.   I can do little.   I seem to spend most of my day sitting in the cool of the sitting room with a cold glass of something, reading, doing the Mind Games, watching Escape to the Country (I have done) or even (dare I say) dozing.   I only really come alive during the evening when the sun begins to lose its strength and even that is not happening at the moment.   At least I am wearing a T shirt, which never happened last year.

My carer is now having Tuesdays off.   It has always been her day off but since coming to me last November because she lives near she has made the exception and come to me each morning at 7.30  for an hour.   Yesterday was the first day when she didn't come (apart from some Sundays and that too is going to become a regular thing).   It does me no harm at all, in fact it is good for me to take more responsibility but things do take me a long time to complete.   I was rather pleased with myself because I managed to do a load of washing and tumble dry it - she will come this morning expecting to put the washer on and I have done it.  Before you tell me off for tumble drying when it is such lovely weather - how I would love to dry the clothes outside in the fresh air - but my balance is not good enough to peg the clothes on the clothes line.

An early start again I see from the time on my computer - 6.27am - and a grey sky.   But another scorcher is forecast for today before the weather is set to break from the South tomorrow.   Then I suspect there will be high jinks up there in the sky!  A nice break yesterday afternoon when friends T and S called and we sat in the shade in the back garden and had a coffee and a chat - spent a lovely hour.   They are such kind friends.   And S did a little job for me, she dead-headed E A Bowles, my perennial wallflower - she lives high up on the rockery and I cannot any longer get up there to do such gardening jobs.   Now I know that within a fortnight she will be flowering again - so thank you S.

I'll be back later if anything exciting happens, in the meantime I shall put on my dressing gown, open up blinds and the front door and watch Breakfast until my carer comes - she will be doubly welcome today.   I do hope she realises just how much I appreciate her. 

Priscilla and I walked round the estate early before the sun burned off the cloud and mist (now, a few hours later, it is a scorcher again.   )I always read the T M S in the Times and today an item made me smile so I thought I would share it with you.  Hugh Dennis, the actor, was thinking about the seven wonders of the world and how some of them at least were no longer to be considered as such.   He quoted The Great Pyramid of Egypt which is now just in any old suburb of Cairo.   Hugh  (the son of a Bishop) thought about what his wonders would be today.   His father preached once on Matthew 'Man shall not live by  alone' and he, a small boy at the time remembers thinking that man could if it was toast.   And I got to thinking what my seven wonders would be.   English Lit and Music being my subjects, all scientific and medical achievements have gone right over my head so all I am going to say is that for me all seven could be covered by the word Machinery.   I sit here typing - my dishes are being washed, my tumble drier is working, my clothes were washed yesterday, D came and mowed and strimmed my lawn, a machine is cuttting the silage in the field behind my house, Tesco will soon deliver my order.......my mother would not believe it all.   Oh and the richest man in the world went to the edge of space yesterday and parachuted back.   Tires me out thinking about it.

 

Wall to wall. for debate - is all lying wrong?

 Yes - another day of sunshine all the way.   Living as I do in a rather hilly area, this kind of weather always worries me in case it ends in storms and flooding.   Climate change is no doubt the culprit and I don't for one moment suggest it is a figment of imagination.   But when we have a rotten Summer, as we so often do - I do tend to hear people my age complaining that the Summers are not like they were when we were kids.   How every Summer was hot for weeks on end.  I suppose memory is a funny thing.

However, that is not what I wish to raise today.   I watched five minutes (on the News) of Dominic Cummings.   I shall not watch the whole thing on tonight's programme, I don't suppose we shall ever know the whole truth.   But it did set me thinking about lying.   I am not speaking here necessarily about 'important' lying, although that in itself is a matter for debate - isn't all lying wrong?

So - m y question today is 'have you ever lied?'   You obviously don't have to own up to it - in fact of course if you are an inveterate liar then you will obviously lie and say no.   So let's think about the question in a different way - theoretically speaking is it always wrong to lie?

There are white lies:   You are in a dress shop with your best friend and she comes out of the changing room to show you a dress she is contemplating buying:  "Does my bum look big in this?"  Bearing in mind that she hasn't yet bought the dress then I think it is kinder to say "Yes" if it does.   If on the other hand she has bought the dress, is wearing it for an important occasion then surely a white lie,a fib if you like, is surely kinder - "No - you look lovely in it" fits the bill and does nobody any harm.  I am sure we have all been guilty of this kind of fib at one time or another.

But many 'major' lies are not necessarily spoken anyway.   In the case of Cummings versus Johnson we are never going to know the truth.   Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between.

Oh dear.   I think I have opened up a can of worms here and I need to put the lid on quickly.   So just let's say - let he/she who has never ever lied under any circumstances - in words or in behaviour which amounts to the same thing - step forward and take the Gold Medal.


Monday, 19 July 2021

Good Morning!

These bright, light, early mornings are not conducive to 'sleeping in' - it is light, it is sunny, it is barely 6am but no longer can I snuggle down and have another hour.   So here I am at the computer and reading others who have the same feelings.    The Bike Shed set me off with thinking about our National Parks - and The Yorkshire Dales in particular -  living only two miles outside it it is the one I know best.   So I shall now put on my dressing gown,(this weather means that sleep of any kind is only possible wearing nothing but what I was born in and that is no longer a pretty sight in which to greet my carer (I like to think it was once upon a time when I spent hours sitting for my first husband to paint)) draw back the blinds and listen for her cheery 'Good Morning!' - she is always on time.   I will be back later having thought about what The Bike Shed has to say.

Living in a National Park.   Well living a couple of miles outside does make life easier when it comes to things like Building Regulations but that really would not concern me at my age anyway.   So I will dispense with that.   But there are things which affect me and everyone else up here - things which have a plus and a minus side.   Most villages within National Parks are full of picturesque cottages lining the narrow roads.   Some are second homes so that in Summer they are occupied - either by the owners or by holiday makers.   But the word that matters is 'occupied'.   Because they are car owners the question arises where do they park their car/cars?   The answer of course is the same as it is for all the residents of the village - on the side of the road (both sides of course) outside their property or as near as  possible.  Because of course most 'picturesque' cottages were built long before cars came along.   Driving through these villages, especially once everyone is home in the evening, is a nightmare.   The gap for moving cars is very narrow.

In our little town we have a more than adequate Car Park and out of the holiday/rambling season we can all park easily, especially on Market Day - also Cattle Market Day.   We have a lovely Market - as have many of the small towns within the National Parks - ours has an especially good Fish vehicle with fish fresh that day from Whitby.  But in order to find anywhere to put the car you have to be there before the Ramblers have parked up for the day and gone off on their walk.   And tourist coaches drop off loads of visitors on holiday - we are a good stop for coffee before travelling on to Hawes and lunch and a tour at the Wensleydale Creamery - and this of course is very good for our local coffee shops and tourist shops.   But it is not all plain sailing.

 

I n many ways we are so very lucky.   We live in the most wonderful scenery, the spirit of community is second to none, many families have been here for generations, farming is the local 'industry' and dominates many aspects of life - everyone knows when it is 'shearing time' or 'silaging time' or 'milking time' - all these aspects of life up here are enviable and reasons why so many people move up here.    But I am sure if I drove a tractor and huge silage truck through any of the villages up here I would try hard at silage time to get as many journeys done before everyone came home and parked up for the night.

The scenery in all the National Parks is wonderful - that is why they have been designated as such.   And we have the benefit of that all day and every day.   Do drop in if you are anywhere near - but be aware you might find parking a bit of a problem.

 

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Good Morning

Bright and early.   My dear God-daughter and her husband came yesterday - we had a lovely day doing nothing.   They had driven for two hours, directly across the country from Lancashire to Yorkshire and we just sat and chatted.   I  had a job to stay awake several times but they were good at keeping my eyes open (and my cup of tea level so that I didn't spill it).  They set off home just before the hour's catch up of Le Tour.   I watched that, sat in my chair and woke up well into the night - it was dark and when I put the light on it was in the early hours of the morning!  I managed to go round locking the doors and drawing the blinds before tumbling into bed and I have just woken up at almost seven o'clock.   I must go now and unlock ready for my carer - I'll be back later for the doings of today - not much I hope as I expect to be tired today - but it was worth it to see them both and to see them so happy together.

I hope Le Tour is on TV at 4pm ish - -  it doesn't show it in the Times but Rachel and my son both assure me it is on so I eagerly looking forward to it.   The last stage of all and hope that Mark Cavendish features somewhere in the results.   The scoring system is so complicated that I have yet to understand it but I have learnt a lot about it this year and will learn even more another year if I am still here.

It is another hot day but a lot more cloud today and a cooling breeze.   Priscilla and I went round early and watered the tubs using water from the water butt.   Surely it will soon be empty and then it will be harder unless of course we get more rain.

Tom talking about past holidays on his  post set me off think about the wonderful holidays I have had first with M for thirty nine years and then with D for twenty three years.   Which holiday was the best he asked?   Well all I can say is that there has never been a bad one either in this country or West or East.   Cockroaches in the bedroom in Mongolia was a bit scary but wouldn't have missed it for the world.The Blakeney Hotel  in  Norfolk took some beating in this country.   The hotel in Dallas, Texas was a dream.   As to the places - well everywhere new is fascinating isnt it?   Seeing Guernica - seeing The Night Watch- standing in S t Mark's Square in Venice, standing eating in the Square in Marrakech - every experience widens one's horizons.   Sadly it all dies with you.

See you in the morning.  Hope there are no mistakes above but I am very shaky today so I wouldn't bank on it.   Off to Paris now  (I wish) 

Friday, 16 July 2021

Drama

 The door locked and unlocked a dream.   This morning the lock slid open to let my carer in, then it locked easily when I went for an early morning walk round the block and unlocked easily,   Late morning H, my neighbour, brought me a love posy of deep purple sweet peas.   Luckily the window into the sitting room was open because the door wouldn't unlock.   Try as I may it was firmly locked and determined to stay that way.   Reluctantly I phoned the locksmith - he is a nice, genuine chap and  it is a hot afternoon and he lives in Northallerton, which is twenty two miles away.   He came immediately - it unlocked first twist.    I made him a cup of tea, he fiddled about with it and decided it was the heat (it is a very hot day and the door faces due South).   He is going to ring me on Monday to see how it has behaved over the week-end.   I made him a cup of tea, which he appreciated but he totally refused to accept any money for petrol for a forty odd mile journey.   I do feel guilty but it can't do anything other than express my appreciation.

It has been a really hot and humid day here and I struggled round and watered all my plug geraniums and all my pots.   I was surprised to find that they were not as dry as I expected them to be - the humidity in the air I expect.   The dreadful floods and loss of life in Europe  can, like so much extreme weather over the last few years, be traced to climate change and hopefully may bring about a co-operation between nations to do something about it.   Although I doubt it.

Le Tour finishes this week-end and I shall miss it.   Rachel and my son together have carried me through it and I am so looking forward to the final stage on the Champs Elysees  on Sunday afternoon. My fingers and toes are crossed for Mark Cavendish.  

Tomorrow dear friends for lunch.   I have just set the table - the speed at which I do things these days means I have got a half hour head start in the morning.   And they are coming specially early to help. 

See you after they've gone.

 

 


Thursday, 15 July 2021

Cats

 Rudyard Kipling knew cats well.   He must have done to write 'I am the cat that. walks by himself.  All places are alike to me'. I really think that very few people are indifferent to cats - we either  love them or we don't.   I have had cats for most of my life but then changed to dogs when I moved into the country and retired, giving me time to take my dog for a walk.   But we always had much loved farm cats - they always got well fed and of course being a dairy farm for some years they never went short of milk (they were not above helping themselves).   Ernest, a gentle but rather stand-offish tabby - lived to a ripe old age.   As he was originally a stray we didn't know his age but on the day he died the farmer came across him lying on the path in the garden, obviously very sick.    He came into the house looking for a box (Ernest never came in) so that he could put some sweet smelling hay into it and put him in the shade somewhere.   When he went back with the box there was no sign at all of Ernest.   The next morning the box had not been slept in but the farmer found Ernest, dead, under the shed.   He wished to die in his own way.

Today the lock on my front door broke.   I had to ring the locksmith, who I have had several times before.   He is very good and came more or less straight away.  This time it was the expensive inner mechanism which had broken so that had to be replaced not repaired and it cost me £130.   But it had to be done.  After he had done we sat chatting and he told me about their stray.   I dare say many. many people could tell this, or a similar story = I have heard it so many times.

Several years ago a stray cat 'adopted' them.  After several weeks of hanging around the back door and deigning to eat some of the food which they put out for him (only that which he chose to eat) he came in - first j ust into the kitchen and then, as the weather got colder and they lit the logburner,  he would curl up in front of it and really make himself 'at home'.   That is until the onset of Winter last year when he disappeared one day and they never saw him again.   They worried about him on cold nights and left the shed window open and a box with a blanket in it and often food - but it was never interfered with and eventually they decided that he had probably died.   They had become fond of him and were quite sad.   A few weeks ago the locksmith saw him sitting in the kitchen window giving himself a good wash  .....of a house four doors away.   The woman was in the garden and he asked her if it was her cat.   She replied that he had just turned up one day last Autumn and made himself 'at home' and had been there ever since.    She remarked how 'picky' he was with his food - how he only liked the best, but how they had really grown fond of him.     

The locksmith didnt tell her where the cat had come from.

   Would you have claimed him as your own or would you have left him where had chosen to go?


Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Hot.

 At last the sun has arrived after a good downpour a couple of days ago.   So today was the day to plant my last few geranium plugs.   Because I was planting them they have all been planted right up against the edge of the patio wall - that is the only place I can reach and plant safely without the risk of falling over.   Already the soil is very warm and what was a good damp mixture has dried out on the top so is best left undisturbed.   How I wish I could clamber about like I used to in the garden, cutting back plants which have gone to seed, seeing where bits of Mare's Tail are poking through and cutting them off at ground level.   But I have to accept that I can't do it and that's that - at least when D, my gardener, has done it I can admire it and that gives me pleasure.

My God-daughter and her husband are coming to see me for the day on Saturday and I am trying to get everywhere shipshape (with the help of my carer) before they come.   I am constantly staggered by how much she can get done in her allotted hour - more than I can get done in a day.   She is so very thorough - wiping the skirting boards, dusting the walls and ceiling, washing the window and the patio doors, polishing the furniture.   Makes me tired to watch her.

As I sit here a very large, very fat pigeon is wandering about on my rockery pushing between the newly-planted rock plants.   Do I go to the patio door which is open and clap my hands to chase it off or do I allow it to do whatever it is doing, which appears to be pecking in the soil?   Is it finding pests and eating them?   I hope so.   In any case, if I go to the trouble of getting up, getting my frame and walking slowly to the patio door and clapping my hands the pigeon will fly a few yards away and sit on the wall until I disappear and then it will return to carry on doing what it was doing previously.

I shall be sad when Le Tour is over at the week-end (or should I say Le week-end?) I have enjoyed the round up at 7pm every night and my son and Rachel between them have kept me educated to a large extent.   It is a complicated scoring system and many seem to drop out before the end for one reason or another.   As Rachel says it took her some years to work it all out.   So I shall stick with it.   But I shall miss that TV hour.

But I shall watch the half hour programme which, if you are a Strictly fan, should be enjoyable.   Craig and Bruno are travelling around Britain - an Australian and an Italian respectively they know so little about their adoptive country and are hoping to find out a little more.   Cornwall tonight - so here they come.   It will be interesting to see a) how they dress and b) how they behave in such a different environment.   If you decide to watch it do let us know how you think it is going.

See you tomorrow.....

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Hello sun!

 At last - goodbye to the grey skies, the ground has had a good watering - we had eight hours of good solid rain yesterday- and as the day has progressed today so the clouds have rolled away and now it is all white puffy clouds and deep blue sky.   Beautiful.

From today my carer intends to miss coming on Tuesdays, which means I have to get myself up, washed, dressed, breakfasted and everywhere tidied round.   Takes me a long time.   By the time I was ready to have a walk it is mid afternoon and as soon as I set foot on the drive I realised I was too tired to go far.   So Priscilla and I walked to the top of the road, crossed and came back on the other side and that was plenty for the day.   I watched 'Escape to the Country' in the East Riding of Yorkshire (an area I know well from may days of living in Lincolnshire) and am now about to get a sandwich for my tea.   Then it is put out the recycling for morning and that is me done for the day.   As  is often the case these days - the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.The weather is never right for us gardeners is it, but I must say that there has been rain to some degree every day since last Friday morning when my new plants were put in, culminating in a good solid eight hours of pouring rain yesterday so the sunshine today is just what I wanted.   Now with a bit of good fortune all my new plants will flourish. There are some keen gardeners on this estate and all the front gardens are looking a picture.

I had a lovely present through the post this morning - The Royal Horticultural Society's Quiz Book on Garden Plants.   It came from my grand-daughter and will be perfect for the cold, snowy days of winter.

Tonight will be the third episode of the series on Ernest Hemingway on BBC Four.   It is an excellent programme and if you haven't been watching it I do urge you to give it a chance and catch up on previous episodes.   Searching about through the channels means that really it is rare for there to be nothing of note to watch.   Really these days we are bombarded with information aren't we?   I am not sure it make us any wiser at the end of it though.  In 'the old days' we had to find things out for ourselves - now it is handed to us on a plate without any effort on our part.   How times they are a'changing.

Until tomorrow dear friends......

Monday, 12 July 2021

Monday - another week.

 Grey but humid and no sign of the sun today - at least is giving my plants a little respite from the hot sun, and the odd shower to help them settle in.   Once the burning sun comes back they are on their own - there is no way I can get up there  to give them any help with watering.   What would I do if I didn't have the garden to worry about I sometimes wonder.  What a super hobby it is, even when you get to my stage of life when even the simplest weeding is almost beyond my efforts.

Well, football fever is - hopefully- beginning to abate.   What a pity it is that it has become so violent and abusive.   For many years, when I was a child, my father was President of our local village Football Club and in those days each club had a  number of tickets allocated and my father and my brother went to Wembley.  t hat is until one year when going to the ground my father and brother got off the train at King's Cross and my  father had absolutely no choice which way to go - he used to say his feet never touched the ground until they got to the Stadium.   He never went again.   I thought of this last evening and wondered what he would have thought of what he endured that day plus the violence, the abuse, the drunkeness - he would have been appalled.

We have now had a wet afternoon but at least all the tennis is over before the weather broke.   There is a lovely photograph of Prince George with his Mother and Father at the EuropeaFinal - he is looking up at his Dad and cheering like mad at the goal England scored.    The only thing is I do wish he had been in a football supporter's shirt rather than a suit and a shirt and ti.e.   This generation of the Royals has lightened up so much surely that would not have been a step too far for a little boy.

Until tomorrow, when hopefully I will be back to normal.  (whatever that is)

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Sport

  • Sport has been at the forefront of everything on the television for the last few weeks - Le Tour, Wimbledon, Football...........I have enjoyed some of it - Le Tour, which I have never watched before, has really grown on me and I have become really hooked on it, trying never to miss the round up at 7pm each evening at least.   Yesterday my friends P and D came over from Morecambe Bay for the day and together in the afternoon we watched the Ladies' Singles Tennis Final and I found that very exciting.   I think it needs to be watched with someone - watching it alone is not any good for me at any rate.   Today I had my friend and neighbour H round and we chatted all afternoon and when she had gone I switched on the television and the match was only just that moment over - it had lasted over three hours so obviously there had been quite a battle.   Tonight of course there is the Football Final - I could definitely not stand the strain of watching that.   But now maybe there will something else on as well as sport and that will almost make a welcome relief.
  • My week-end has been enjoyable but very busy with my dear friends coming.   They have not been for a long time because of Covid but the gap and now this week end and has made me realise that, sadly, my entertaining for the week-end days may be over.   A day is just about as long as I can manage before I am too tired to carry on.
  • It has been a dour sort of day here - thick dark clouds and the odd spot of rain - probably good for my newly planted plants who are having time to settle in in damp soil without a burning sun on them (I believe we are to expect that later in the week).   I am so relieved to have taken the decision to plant up my piece of garden that has MaresTail (thank you Derek for the encouragement).   From the patio (which is as high as I dare go now) I can't see any of the weed that my gardener misses so what the eye doesn't see etc.
  • I am off now to watch today's resume of Le Tour.   Back to normal tomorrow hopefully.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Friday

 How quickly Fridays come round - it always seems to be Friday, have you noticed?   I got off to a quick start today as I knew my gardener and his assistant had promised to come.   I have friends coming over from The Lakes tomorrow for lunch and they are keen gardeners.    It is three weeks since my lawn was cut - it was in flower with Birds' Foot Trefoil and it really did look very beautiful - but not in keeping with the rest of the road - where everyone looks after their front gardens and takes a pride in them.

The two of them came around eleven o'clock.   D mowed the two lawns and J weeded the back garden.  I sat out on the patio with J and had a list of jobs which she did one by one - dead heading the roses, cutting off the lupin seed heads, that kind of thing.   While she was doing it we had a lovely chat - her best friend is J, my carer, so we had plenty to talk about.   When D had finished the lawns he too came into the back garden and planted the seven new plants sitting waiting to go into the unplanted part which is over run with mare's tail.   We have decided to plant it up.   It has had over two hundred bulbs in it and they have looked beautiful.   Now it is covered in tall, self-seeded poppies ina mixture of pink and purple and they too look beautiful.

They went after a couple of hours and the whole garden looks lovely I am pleased to say.   I am always sad that I can't be doing it myself but I suppose I must be grateful that I can afford to pay somebody to do it for me otherwise it would look such a mess.

 i caught up on today's stage of Le Tour.   There was a horrendous crash which has put two or three people out of the race for good.   Mark Cavendish again won the sprint section - such a joy for him.

I did intend to write something newsy but I find I am just too tired.   My job this morning with the gardeners was to get Priscilla to go back and forth to the water butt with the can and take the filled can over for the gardener to water in the new plants.Now we could do with a good rain to really welcome them in.   Showers are forecast so I am hoping a few of them fall on us.

Until tomorrow dear friends.......

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Grass

 It is just about a week here since the end of weeks with no rain (sorry those of you lower down the country who had weeks of the stuff).   We had showers and then one really wet day and the grass responded immediately in kind.   After a fortnight of not being cut it has grown at such a rate of knots over the last week that it is long and fully in flower with Birds' Foot Trefoil - such a pretty little flower.

Sitting in the Hairdressers this morning the road outside the window had a long procession of huge silage wagons passing - I counted ten in the space of five minutes (we have some very large farms up here now that the small Dales farms (like ours) have been sold off).    Yes, doubtless second silage is well underway and farmers with huge herds will at last be beginning to be assured that they will not be short of feed when the cattle are in over Winter.  They will hopefully get Third Silage and  even a smaller Fourth.   Nothing lives up to the nutrition available for the cattle in First Silage but the more the better as the Winter progresses.

When my taxi came to collect me and bring me home we were chatting - they keep horses(his wife rides for pleasure)- last week their oldest horse - late in his twenties  and ailing for a while - sadly had to be put to sleep (they were both very upset).  They loved him dearly and have had him for some years.   They couldn't bear to have him shot so the Vet came and gently put him to sleep with an injection - they stayed with him until he died and went down and then they brought their other two horses back into their field before the old chap was taken away to be cremated.      A pony and another elderly horse walked up to the body and sniffed him all over, then walked away and into the next field and started eating grass.   The owners went before the body was pulled into the lorry - they couldn't bear to watch that.   Now they have his ashes back and will eventually scatter them on 'his' field.   In the meantime the other two -although they sniffed him all over and appeared to have accepted his death - will not go back into that field, preferring to stay in the adjoining field although the grass is now new and lush.  The gate has been left open from the field they are in so that the new grass can tempt them whenever they wish to go - but they have not gone.  Who knows what goes on in an animals mind.   The ashes of their beloved old chap will stay in the container in his stable until such time as the other two seem to have accepted it all.

And how lucky these elderly horses are to have such loving owners when one thinks of the terrible fate so many animals suffer.  I have been to Marrakech a few times and walked in the High Atlas Mountains.   On Market Days the men from the high villages come down to Market on their mules and I have always thought that the majority of the mules look very well cared for (there is always the exception as there is with animals here in this country) and are very much part of the community in which they live.   I once picked up a mule shoe off the track and put it in my pocket.   It has for years sat on my kitchen window sill and reminds me daily of those times.

Sorry I have gone on a bit and perhaps strayed away from work on the farm - but that is the way my old mind works - has always worked I'm afraid.( and I apoogise for over-using the dash - I don't know what I would do without it).   At school my English teacher, Miss Ryder, had two nicknames for me 'blotter' and 'dasher'.   Remember I was at school long before biros were available and we all had pen nibs and inkwells and. tidy as I am, I blotted constantly to avoid inky smudges.   As for 'dasher' well pretty self-explanatory I would expect.

Lovely day here in spite of Covid lurking around.   And wasn't it lovely to see England win - we really needed something to lift our spirits didn't we?  


Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Times 2

 Sometimed, apart from The Mind Games, there is nothing I wish to read in Times 2 - Friday for example, apart from the one Arts article I have never heard of any of the 'modern' set.   But on other days it is a bit hit and miss.   After all they have to cater for all their readers and we all have different tastes and interests.   Today every article is interesting to me and also it is a 'moderate' day with the Mind Games which (as long as I can take my time) I can do.

But an article on the first page, by Robert Crampton, really set me thinking.   So thank you Robert.  The article's heading is 'Female of the Silver Fox Species'.   In it he argues that any word which applies to the ageing of women should be 'consigned to the linguistic dustbin of history. It made me think back to my childhood and how the ladies 'of a certain age' dressed and were referred to.    And then I thought of other countries I had visited and how widows and ladies over fifty dressed.   In country areas in Greece for example - in the thirties - ladies over forty dressed in black and melted into the background (and so did the men).   Even here anybody in our village who tried to stay young by the way they dressed was universally looked upon as 'mutton dressed as lamb'.   But not so the men.   I remember hearing my father talk of certain men as 'natty dressers'.   It was the ladies who had to become discreet and melt into the background (although I clearly remember my father putting up a real fight to be made to discard his collar stud and loose collars for fitted collars and short sleeves).

But it is a fact that there are certain words in our language, as Robert Crampton sugge sts, which are used in a derogatory way to describe ageing ladies - he cites 'ageing gracefully' which is always applied to women as a term which he says, along with words like shrew, harridan and nag should be consigned to 'the linguistic dustbin of history'.

Elderly ladies here have rebelled (and I am definitely one).   We dress and behave as we wish to do.   And when I look at people like Judi Dench, who - give or take a couple of years - is my age - I see a glamorous, attractive woman who dresses and behaves exactly as she pleases and makes absolutely no concessions at all to age, I am full of admiration.   Getting old is no fun - and you don't realise the fact until you get there - so please gents, give us the freedom to dress and behave as we wish.   As Crampton says, the nearest equivalent for a man is for him to be called 'a silver fox' and any man over sixty would take that as a compliment.

Monday, 5 July 2021

Busy

 Believe me, when you reach your eighties, life can get very tiring.   Today has been one of those days and yet, when I think of what I have done it is next to nothing.   However, it has been very enjoyable even though I feel 'on my last legs'.   I got up at the usual time, my carer came and we had our nice morning's chat and usual jobs done for Monday.   Then it was Book Group and at present we hold it here because otherwise I would be unable to attend as I no longer have transport.   There were only five of us (at present 6 is the maximum).   All I had to do was set the trolley for five, put on the crockery and the biscuits and set the coffee on.   All five arrived and we had a lovely quarter of an hour chat with our coffee and biscuits before getting down to the job in hand - that of discussing this month's book.   And here, for the first time, I fell down in that I had only read a third of the book.

Why?   The book had almost nine hundred pages.   The print was small so that I could only read it with a magnifying glass and it was so heavy that I had to lay it on the Dining Room table because when I held it any other way my hand shook so much that I could not read it.   I got to Page 354 before giving up on it but it was fascinating listening to the other four, who had read it and enjoyed it.   What was it?  It was 'The Count of Monte Cristo' - I think I have read it before but a long time ago.

After lunch I needed to tie up some plants in the garden as strong winds are forecast.   I can only manage the plants at ground level but that is better than nothing but it is a performance getting out Priscilla and getting her down into the back garden.  By the time I got back in it was almost time for our fortnightly Zoom with friends P and D and that has just finished and that too was very enjoyable.

We have not had rain today despite some being forecast but we did have a good rain yesterday and I am hoping my gardener soon arrives to mow the lawn and put in my new plants.   So you will see that although there has been little effort on my part I am ready for a sit down,  a cup of tea and a sandwich.   Tuna I think.

Unless anything exciting happens between now and bedtime see you tomorrow.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Wet Sunday Afternnoon

 It is lovely out there - raining steadily for the last few hours, warm, good growing weather as my father used to say (although sadly for weeds as well as for plants).

Sunday is never my favourite day as nothing seems to happen.   But today has been pleasant - this and that has happened and the day has passed quickly.  I took a short walk after my carer had gone - haven't had one for a day or two as I haven't felt up to it, but enjoyed it this morning.   I came in and had a coffee, put my feet up for half and hour and read a bit more of Hemingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea'.   H from next door came round to retrieve some garden canes for me  - it entailed going up steps to the second level and I dare no longer do that.   Strong winds are forecast and one or two tall plants at ground level need staking before the winds arrive - I can do that as Priscilla is quite helpful when I am at ground level.   H and I had a nice chat as we often do - I am so very lucky with my neighbours.  

After lunch I went out into the garden with my secateurs (and Priscilla of course).   It is so frustrating after being a keen gardener all my life to not be able to do the simplest things like dead-heading, or pulling up a clump of couch grass but it happens to us all and it has to be accepted.

Feet up again when I came in and shortly afterwards old school friend J from Lincolnshire rang for a chat for half an hour.   Pleasant to reminisce.   Now, at almost News time(and Le Tour time) I shall depart to make a sandwich of something for my tea and a cup of tea.   Enjoy your Sunday evening.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Rain

At last, for an hour, it rained.   I awoke to thick fog, I opened the front door ready for my carer and after a few nice warm days it was cold.   As the morning wore on it rained but only gentle rain - just enough to wet the top of the soil.   After an hour it stopped.   Now it is just chilly and grey but no more rain.  If you have ever been a gardener it is difficult not to become obsessed by the rain - the soil is either too wet or too dry.   Conditions are never perfect.

So Andy has been knocked out of Wimbledon - sad but younger players are coming along and he has been out of the game for a while.   Maybe he should have had the sense to stop while he was at the top of his game - I don't know.   Let's hope that England win against Ukraine tonight. It really is such a plethora of sport at the moment -  if you are not a sports fan life via the television is pretty boring.   Covid has broken out quite badly here - we have always missed it until now - so there is little or nothing to do.   At the moment until all these sporting events are over, if you are not a sports fan then it will have to be out with the Monopoly and Ludo and the Jig Saws I'm afraid.

Sad to see today that Michael Gove and his wife are to divorce amicably.   Up here is a small town where everybody knows everyone else's business it seems to me that amongst the younger people (under fifties)so few couples seem to be with their original partners.   Why have things changed so much.   When I was a child in the forties there were only two divorced couples in our village and everybody knew all the details.   Why is it so different - is it that money is easier to come by - apart from both couples usually working there are social services to help sort out family finances in these situations - and yes I do know that in the case of much publicised cases usually both members of the family are usually pretty well off.   And maybe because divorce is so prevalent the effect on the children is not so severe.   I don't know - and it is certainly less harmful than  together in a toxic household which I know is sometimes the case- but I know that for many people of my age group we feel that life has changed  beyond all recognition and we no longer understand it.

End of moan - sorry.   The sun is trying hard to break through - just about giving it time to burn off the surface water that has fallen today.   So until tomorrow folks - enjoy your evening if you are watching THE MATCH give them a cheer so loud that they can hear it in Rome.

 

 

Sorry about that moan. 

Friday, 2 July 2021

Grey sky

 Does this mean that we are going to see rain today - I do hope so.   Friday is market da y here in our little town and it is the one thing I really do miss - driving down into town, parking and in the old days walking with my shopping trolley and going to the greengrocers on the market and buying beautiful fresh fruit and veg.   I know it comes to us all (if we live long eno ugh) that we are no longer capable of doing this.   Even before those days it is also market day at our Cattle Market and the Farmer and I would drive down, he would park there and I would walk the short distance into town, do my shopping, have my morning coffee with friends, walk back to his car and sit and wait.   He always went, even if he had nothing to buy or sell - good to chat with all the other farmers and get to know the lie of the land.   When we got home I would get the Friday lunch (almost always a stir-fry from our really good butchers served with a salad) while he looked at The Darlington and Stockton Times, our local paper.   The first page was always Births, Deaths and Marriages - he liked to know whether any  locals had died.

My carer is back today doing an hour's cleaning for me and today it is the sitting room.   She has just come in to say that she has taken the cushion out of my 'special' chair and has found a pair of spectacles.   They are not mine but I don't think anyone else has ever sat in my specially built up chair.   I don't recognise the specs.   Have I had a pair from the Optician and forgotten about them?   I can see very well through them.   The plot thickens.  Having had them on for five minutes now I am sure they are not mine - I can only see for a very limited time before life is blurred,

I am still enjoying watching Le Tour.   Mark Cavendish won a speed section last night - he is doing very well (It is not called a speed section but I am sure if she reads this Rachel will put us right.   It is all complicated.)

I have just been reading in the Times about a young man in his twenties, who with his    friend harrassed Professor Chris Whitty.  In spite of apologising and saying he only wanted a selfie to show his mother the young man has lost his job as a trainee Estate Agent.   The two young men had been on an anti-vaccination march and spotted Professor Whitty in the Park.   No official complaints has been made and it was obvious from viewing the footage on television that Professor Whitty is a shy and quiet person who would not take kindly to such treatment (I wouldn't either, don't know about you) but I am not sure that they are 'despicable thugs' which Boris Johnson called them.  Any thoughts?



Thursday, 1 July 2021

Pot pourri

 Fairly late on this Thursday evening before I get round to putting on a post.   I can't think why because once I returned from my weekly hairdressing I haven't done much really - it has again been too warm and I have decided the sensible thing to do is 'go with it' not to walk round the estate, to drink plenty of water and take it easy.   I can't say I have noticed any difference in how I feel yet - but it is early days.   I did go round all my plants in pots and make sure they were not thirsty and the weather man this evening  suggests we might get some of the South's rain up here over the next few days.   The sky is looking suitably black at the moment - so I live in hope.

Covid has become a bit of a problem up here over the last week or two.   I think the vaccination programme is going very well but there are suddenly thirty cases in the village next to where I live - I don't think anyone is desperately ill with it but it is still worrying.

Following watching the first installment of 'Hemingway' on television last week (it got five star reviews) and realising I had never read any of his books I sent for a couple and am now absolutely hooked on reading A Farewell to Arms, find it almost 'unputdownable'.   If you haven't read it I do urge you to give it a go.

Another thing which has concerned me this week has been the state of Centre Court at Wimbledon.  I have forgotten just how much that roof cost but  know it wasn't put on for peanuts.   So I can't help wondering why so many of the players are slipping about and in the case of Serena Williams I believe she had to withdraw (I'm sure somebody will correct me if I am wrong).  I watched the Andy Murray match and he slipped and appeared to badly twist his knee.   Luckily he seems to have recovered.   (Go for it Andy)

Well sorry to have bitted and bobbed about tonight but it is the state my mind is in at present.   Derek tells me to keep putting controversial posts on as he enjoys them.   I do too, I love to get a good response that makes me want to gather you all in a nice room somewhere and have a good chat over a drink (yes there will be coffee available for anyone who doesn't want anything stronger) but my brain has got to be in gear to think of the right thing.

Oh and before I go I see they have located the woman who flapped the piece of cardboard in front of a rider in Le Tour (I think it said something like 'hello grandma and grandad'- in French of course) causing a huge crash.

See you tomorrow when I hope I shall be in a more calm and collected state of mind.

 

 

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Tired

 Just a short post tonight because I am tired.   Tired because I have had a lovely day - perhaps the first 'normal' day since I broken my hip back in Otober.   Yes my dear carer said last week that today she would collect me at lunch time and take me (masked of course) to a Garden Centre.   It is not really a good time to put in plants as we need a good rain but the part of my garden where Mare's Tail rules needs planting up before the bulb leaves all disappear so that my gardener can place the plants carefully.   So I went and chose another seven to put in.

Then my carer took me back to her house, invited a mutual friend (who brought a plate of home made drop scones) and we sat over a coffee for a couple of hours - it is a long time since I had such a pleasant afternoon.   My carer brought me home and then unloaded my plants for me into the shade. I may well leave them in their pots for a day or two in the hopes that it might rain - I shall see what he says.

Until tomorrow........

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Hot

 Hot weather and arthritis are not good bedmates.   It is very hot here again today in spite of the weather lady telling me this morning that this part of the country would not be more than 17.   With hindsight I should not have gone for my walk -  as soon as I had done The Times Mind Games - but it was too hot and I had a difficult job in getting back home and had to rest for the remained of the morning.   After lunch I took the plunge and washed a long cardigan for the first time - then stretched it out on a towel on the pebbles in the back garden.   It has washed perfectly so that is a plus.

Since then I had mostly sat with my feet up and now, at five in the afternoon, it is cooling down and hopefully I shall find enough energy to water my tubs again after my sardines on toast.

There is a programme on Ernest Hemmingway starting this evening and I want to watch that - plus the resume of Le Tour.   So hopefully In can have a restful evening.   My brain is barely in gear today so can't think of anything controversial to put on.

I watched Andy Murray yesterday and really enjoyed.   I was so glad he won - I thought his age was beginning to show but he perked up a bit towards the end.   And as for Le Tour - finishing with a dislocated shoulder.   My goodness they are tough.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Food for thought.

 Two things to do with politics I suppose and I have vowed never to debate the issue on my posts but these two things - very different and with wider implications than politics - interest me.   I didn't do a post yesterday.   Friends came in the afternoon, it was my carer's day off (only once each month), I like to watch Le Tour round up and also Antiques Road Show and by the time I came to putting fingers on the keys of my laptop my fingers were everywhere but where they should be and my brain was addled.   So I gave up and left it until this morning.   Now I have done today's Mind Games in The Times, walked round the block on a warm, sunny Monday morning, my lunch is waiting in the microwave so here goes.   Please don't criticise me for being political with a small p - and do join in to the discussion because both questions (very different both in content and importance) really interest me.

Firstly the Matt Hancock affair (in both senses of the word).   I am thinking of the wife and children - I presume there are children, I think I read of them somewhere.   If there are, the surely the wise and loving parent does his or her level best to make the whole thing as smooth and easy as possible for the children.   To have the Dad you adore and who is half the centre of your life suddenly splashed all over the tabloids in pictures which leave little to the imagination is going to take some getting over whatever the outcome.   Am I old fashioned?   Don't these things matter any more?   If you are in a position of huge responsibility don't you owe it to both yourself, your family and everyone else to conduct yourself in a better way than this whatever you do and however you behave in private?

And the other thing concerns a Politician I greatly admire who shall be nameless.   The reason I admire her is that she often appears on Breakfast television early in the morning (I always watch for my day's news before my carer comes).  When she is asked a straight question she always manages to give a straight answer - sometimes a 'Yes'or 'No' - she never goes 'all round the houses and deliberately avoids giving an answer.'   A few days ago she was on the programme and in the space of five minutes she made the same, glaring grammatical error half a dozen times.   As a long-time teacher of English each time it hit me hard.   Should it have made any difference?   I rather think we have maybe got so used to these 'boys from Eton' that any slip up is easily noticed.   I thought back to Aneurin Bevan and Ernie Bevin, both from very working class backgrounds who had absolutely no airs and graces, both absolute heroes of my Father.   Why should I be influenced by that.   If it came to a General Election and she was standing in my Constituency would it make any difference to how I voted?   I sincerely hope not but subliminally these days I have a horrible feeling we all aspire to be middle class, nhs or not.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Le Tour

 I am following Rachel and my son, both avid Le Tour followers.   I watched for a while this morning and now, in a quarter of an hour I shall watch the highlights in the hour's programme on Channel 25.   My son rang me a while ago to say I must not miss it as it was dramatic and will be talked about for years.   This means a short post this evening so that I can go now and get ready for the drama which will unfold as I have just watched what happens in a short clip on the news.   See you all tomorrow.

Friday, 25 June 2021

Forgiveness

 Various things this week - mostly to do with what I have read - have made me give some thought to the word 'Forgiveness' - what it actually means and how we view it.

What started me off is that I have run out of new books to read and so have turned to an old favourite which I have read many times.  It is the first of a trilogy by Patrick Leigh Fermor 'A Time of Gifts'.   He was an amazing man - an absolute pain at school but in later life a war hero (he won the DSO for leading an operation in Crete to kidnap a German General).   At eighteen he set off to walk from London to Constantinople as it was then called and this first book is about that adventure - he didn't write it until towards the end of his life - the third book being finished by his Literary Executors after his death.

So of course he lived through and fought in the Second World  and saw the devastation it caused, saw the rise and final defeat of Fascism and recalled in this book what things were like in the thirties, when Fascism was just coming to the fore but before the terrible things that happened both to people and to buildings.

Alongside this I have been watching Michael Portillo travelling through Germany and Austria by train and seeing the rebuilding of cities - the reconstruction of beautiful old buildings and communities.  There has been much food for thought.

Then in Wednesday's Times  Matthew Parris in his weekly Notebook wrote a paragraph headed 'Bomb Damage' in which he talks about The Bennerley Viaduct which The Kaiser tried to bomb from  Zeppelin in the First World War  (he missed).   He tells of a tour to see the viaduct a century later when the tour guide tells of this and of the shrapnel damage caused.   A German couple on the tour took it all in good humour and as they were leaving they gave the guide twenty pounds telling him to accept the money as war reparations.   When the Guide asked where they were from they said Dresden.

A city absolutely flattened in the Second World War.   I was old enough to remember (I was 13 when the war finished) the bombing of Dresden and also of Hamburg.   Surrounded as we were in Lincolnshire by airfields hundreds of planes went over in the evening ontheir way to bomb Germany - already in retreat and obviously losing the war.  I could detect the rise in spirits of everyone as it became obvious that we were winning.

How do people forgive?  It is I think such an individual thing - some can, some never can.  My first husband was the youngest serving soldier to work as a prisoner on The Death Railway - he never forgave.   He talked about it rarely but would never buy a Japanese camera or a Japanese car and although we travelled to the Far East a few times on holiday he would never go to Japan.

The man who he believed had saved his life was an Army Chaplain called Paul Miller, who used to make him drink a glass of Communion wine every time they had any and who would find extra food for him and care for him when he was ill.   We visited him after the war when he was a Vicar for a time somewhere near Derby - to find that he had a Japanese Curate.

Forgiveness as I say is a personal thing - you can let the hatred linger on in the soul or you can start again.   But unless we have been individually involved, who are we to judge?

Leigh Fermor talked of the hospitality of German and Austrian families, of the tradition of always offering a bed to a stranger - many people he met in inns when he was eating his bread and cheese (he seemed to exist on that between the huge hospitality he experienced) would insist he went home with them for the night in a warm bed rather than in the barn he intended to sleep in - and insist he share their food.   These same people who would maybe less than ten years later would become our enemy.

Yes, forgiveness is a strange thing. It can eat at the soul or it can form the basis for a new beginning.  It has been good to read the book and see modern Germany and Austria through Michael Portillo's eyes.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Tired

 I have made a real effort this week to work my muscles more and try to improve my core strength.   Today, after my usual hairdressing appointment, I intended to just have a walk round with Priscilla and then to take it easy.   Alas it was not to be.

I returned from the hairdressers, had a coffee (my carer always leaves me a large flask of coffee and it comes in so useful during the day) and a round of toast and then Priscilla and I did our usual walk.   We stopped  to talk to a lady who was gardening and had a nice ten minute chat (that always brightens up my day) about plants.   By the time I got back home it was time for lunch (scampi which I gently fried in butter) with salad and coleslaw, followed by a yoghourt).   I watered my tubs - quite a job when one has to walk with either a frame or a trolley- and was just about to go in and put my feet up when my garden order from Thompson and Morgan came.   It took me a long time to unpack the plants, separate them from the packaging, water them and put them somewhere in the sun and out of the wind.

Here I must stop.  When I ordered the plants - 30 plug Geraniums - I put something about it on here and quite a lot of you said you had had plants from Thompson and Morgan and they had been a disaster, arriving dead or dying.   I said I would report back - I am doing so here and now.   The packaging was excellent - sturdy, plenty of This way up instructions, plenty of air holes in the box. Upon opening the whole package of thirty plug plants was securely enclosed in green netting to keep the plants secure.   The plants themselves were sturdy and in absolutely excellent first class condition - I couldn't fault anything.   So very well done to Thompson and Morgan - I can thoroughly recommend them.

The plants are sitting in a sheltered position.   I can see them from where I am sitting.   The day has been very warm but now at half past six in the evening ominous huge black clouds are rolling in and hopefully we shall have rain - we certainly need it.

Until tomorrow....



Wednesday, 23 June 2021

My Estate

 I left the farm when my dear farmer died four years ago and I moved the short distance into our little Yorkshire Dales market town - only a mile away or over two fields as the rooks fly.   So everything was familiar and it hardly felt like moving house except for the fact that I was moving to a very much smaller house - or rather from a fairly old farmhouse with high ceilings, bit rooms, a big Aga heated farm kitchen and a big vegetable garden to a small bungalow on last estate before you leave the town - then over two fields and you are at my farmhouse.

At my age of course it was a sensible move and now, after four years, I am used to living amongst people again (the farmhouse was quite isolated) and I am very happy.   It is a lovely estate - a mixture of semi detached and detached houses and bungalows, one or two small modern terraces, several three storey properties - all set at differing angles and at differing distances from the road or from each other.   Trees have been planted and, as a friend pointed out, it rather has the feeling of a separate village to it.    Every one has a garden of some kind - mine is larger than most because I live in a detached bungalow with a garage tacked on the side and a footpath all round and the back garden stretches the full length of the property.   But I used to be a keen gardener and I have a nice gardener now.

There is only one road 'into' the estate and I live on that road so that early in the morning and again at tea time there is traffic going out and coming home. I used to have my dog, Tess, and we walked three times a day every day so that I know a very large number of people on the estate - those who are also dog lovers and walk their dogs daily - usually past my house.   We chat and pass the time of day - so there is always something to look at.   No vehicle goes out into the big wide world without passing me if you like to put it that way!

Today a quite different happening took place just outside my window - for the first time I can ever remember.  A class of children either from the top end of the primary school or the lower end of the Comprehensive have been having Road Safety lessons.   They cycled from my bungalow to the Main Road, round the Traffic Island, back to the road opposite my window, where they turned right (remembering to look right, look left, look right again before turning with the appropriate hand signal).   They cycled out of sight and then a couple of minutes later appeared again.   They were all kitted out in shiny green jackets and helmets.   And the bikes were identical, suggesting that maybe they belonged to the school and that lessons were starting, maybe during P E lessons.  I really enjoyed watching and when Priscilla and I began our walk, after thinking about it I decided to go the same way that I always do - so that I was seen as a hazard to be avoided, and they all did so without being told to do so.

Well that's about all that has happened.   So far the sun is out and it is warm as long as you keep out of the brisk wind.   Priscilla and I did our walk and encountered a piece of hedging with a pink wild rose in bloom.   I smelled it before I saw it - exquisite.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Another Day Bites the Dust

 How speedily the days fly by (especially when you're having fun) - it is not as though I do anything much these days - just living is about as much as I can manage.   It was my Tesco order day- due to come between nine and ten this morning.   It came at a couple of minutes past nine, just as I was managing to push Priscilla along the front path with my newly-potted Gazania (I brought it in last night as there is a threat of a frost (yes at mid-summer) here at present.

The sun was already out and within five minutes the one flower was out (they go in and out with the sun) - it is called 'Tiger Lily' and the flower  is exquisite).  I came back in, washed out the fridge and put the food away, taking some things out into the garage.   Standing in the garage I realised just how long it must be since I had cleaned the garage and so I started.   Bear in mind I can only walk with the aid of Priscilla and have to be constantly on my guard against falling over.   I cleaned out all the cupboards in the old sideboard, throwing away bits and pieces which have been there since I moved in four years ago (it is a good day to do it as it is bin day tomorrow).  I washed down the window sill and the top of the sideboard.   How much better it looked.   You know that feeling of satisfaction you get at a job well done?   Well I got it even if it did take me three hours rather than the half hour it would have taken me in my mobile days.

Since then I have done more or less nothing - just sat in the chair with my feet up and read the paper.  At tea time I took Priscilla round again to the front door and brought in my Gazania.   Already the sun was going in and it was chilly - after a pleasant, warm, sunny day.  Picking up the plant pot it radiated damp warmth - wonderful growing conditions - long may they continue - but oh how we do need rain.

Legs very wobbly tonight after too much mobility but nothing a good night's sleep won't put right.

Monday, 21 June 2021

A New Week begins.

 Everywhere down South of a line from Birmingham to the Wash as they used to say when they divided the country into sections,  is desperate for the rain to cease,   Here in the North our gardens are sadly in need of a decent downpour but none is forthcoming.   Today is cold, cloudy and breezy.   I have added two more layers as the day has gone on.  But it is quite tempting to put on the central heating - on the Solstice.

Our fortnightly chat on Zoom with friends in Cumbria told a similar story of the weather over there.   These regular fortnightly chats, like visits to the hairdresser, my other Zoom with friends, Book Group and suchlike all mean that the days pass by quickly and it seems to be always the week end again.

In just the same way one of the things which makes the individual day pass quickly is my daily walk 'round the block'.   It takes me about three quarters of an hour, plus another quarter of an hour preparation and that is quite a large chunk out of the day.

So, what have I done today apart from the Zoom with friends P and D?   Well this morning friends S and T called for a quick visit and then called after lunch when T oiled a door for me and S kindly potted on the Gazania she bought me as a present towards the end of last week.   Now when the weather warms up again (towards the end of the week according to the weatherman) the pot can take up its spot by the front door where - in the full sun - it will open its yellow and brown striped face every time the sun shines on its flowers.

That's about the extent of today's news so I shall now go and watch Michael Portillo in his fancy attire riding a train somewhere or other.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Another day

 Well a nice full week-end - a change after months of Covid induced solitude and I have really enjoyed it.  Friend D came this afternoon and spent the afternoon here.   She brought two individual apple pies with her so I went without a pud and we enjoyed them over a cup of tea while putting the world to rights.   She didn't go until half past five and as I always watch Country File and Antiques Road Show that meant that I just had time to do my walk round the block before the News and an evening's viewing.   One long phone call since and it is really time for bed so just a short post this evening.   It has been a fine day again here although the patio was damp when I drew back the blinds this morning - but nothing to speak of.  To sum the weather up - sunny in parts, quite a breeze blowing and when the sun went in chilly.   See you all tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Saturday

Saturday, as I am sure you know, is my least favourite day of the week.   Nothing spectacular happens, nobody comes, it is a non-day.   Today has been a little different and it has made a lot of difference.

I had my walk with Priscilla early, soon after my carer had gone.   I was a little way down the slope when I was overtaken by a man with Priscilla's double - the only difference being that she is red and his was blue. As he sailed past he called out 'mine's faster than yours in a jolly voice'.   On the spur of the moment I couldn't think of a reply other than a rather feeble laugh - later I thought of various things I could have said but of course it was too late.  'Mine's only a Ford - yours is more of a Mercedes' for example - or 'you obviously keep yours better oiled'.   Any ideas?

Since home before ten o'clock I have had several nice surprises.   The first is that my son and his wife are  coming round for a pizza which my son will order to be delivered here.   It must be early as my daughter in law has to be back home for eight for her medication.   But it will break the evening up nicely.   Then friends S and T called - they had bought me a Gazania from the Garden Centre to fill a blank spot in my side border where I lost a plant to frost earlier in the year.   It is now almost four in the afternoon and I have been busy most of the time.  My lunch (scampi, sweet potato chips - cooked in the Remoska and then eaten with a lovely salad) was, as usual left for me by my carer.

And so the days go on - they rarely drag because people are so good - they keep me going.

I spotted an advert in today's Times - Thompson and Morgan the seed/plant people were offering Geraniums very cheaply - presumably surplus stock - so I have ordered one batch of twenty - goodness knows where I shall put them all as I really only need about half a dozen but my son and daughter in law garden as well as both side neighbours so we should all be glowing red as the summer wears on.   It is the Solstice on Monday and it is all downhill after that.   It reminds me that one year the farmer and I spent midnight on the Solstice listening to a concert in Tromso cathedral.   The sky was clear, there were children playing in the street and the outdoor cafes were full of people drinking coffee - there was no suggestion that it was likely to get dark anytime soon.   Happy days.   It would have been his birthday early next week.

Friday, 18 June 2021

A Complaint

I know I have written on this topic before several times so at risk of repeating myself here goes - I am writing about it again.

Since I fell and broke my hip in late October I have not been into our little town at all.   I always go to the Hairdresser each Thursday morning but my Salon is this side of the town so I don't go into the centre at all.   But this week, because their next Client had a Doctor's appointment the taxi had to collect me ten minutes early and instead of asking them to drop me at the Salon I asked to be dropped off at the Newsagent's in town so that I could peruse and finally buy a Gardening magazine.   I then walking gently back with Priscilla and arrived just on time for my appointment - important as the number of clients allowed in at once is limited by Covid regulations.

And how depressing was the walk from the Newsagent's to the Salon?   I arrived totally disillusioned and, in fact, horrified.   First of all our lovely shop, Serendipity, which sold a wonderful variety of quality goods - Handbags, jewellery, china, cards, candles, furniture, bedlinen and a variey of other things - and was a real Mecca for tourist traffic (many stop here for a coffee stop on their way for lunch at The Wensleydale Creamery) has closed.   Yesterday I saw that Costa Coffee, which was housed in what once  was our HSBC Branch and had fairly recently been totally refurbished before it closed, had also closed.   Its windows were filthy, rubbish was piled up in the doorway and weeds grew all along the path edge.   It was disgraceful.

Two major shops in the town closed.   It is only a small town and the shops are distributed round the Market Square and quite unmissable.   What kind of impression does it all give to visiting tourists and what kind of welcome to the few thousand inhabitants?   Very poor I would guess.

Yes - I admit it.   I am old fashioned.   But I have spoken before about Joe Hardy who, when I was at Primary School in the village eighty years ago, was what we called the village'Road Man '.   His tools?  A long handled, stiff sweeping brush a shovel and a wheel barrow.   Our Lincolnshire village never had a scrap of rubbish anywhere.   If it did then when you passed Mr Hardy working away at his own pace, you told him.

Now we have a fancy brush on a lorry - it goes along the gutter, sweeping it clean.   It doesn't pull up any weeds in the gutter and, of course, it can't get into doorways.   Is it not possible that a couple of men could be found for this, and many more small towns and villages, and employed as modern 'road men'?

The added advantage of Mr Hardy as far as we kids were concerned was that on wash days (always Mondays) Mr Hardy's smalls were hung on the line by Mrs Hardy and small they most certainly were not because he wore what I think were called 'combinations' - a kind of sleeved vest and long underpants in one, with a large hole at 'bottom level' for obvious reasons I presume.   And on a windy day (no pun intended) they flapped amazingly in the breeze!

And, by golly, dare to drop a sweet paper in his sight and you got what for. 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Swearing

 Is it just me or does anyone else feel the same.   At school we were always taught that if we couldn't think of a better word to use than a 'swear word' then we needed to work on our vocabulary.   I never heard my father swear other then perhaps the occasional 'damn' if he hit his thumb with the hammer or something like that.   Neither did I ever hear my brother swear.    Later, when I married, I never heard my first husband swear - and I am sure he knew a few approopriate words having been in the army (and a prisoner of war) and when I married the farmer, early in our marriage I said to him,'I have never heard you swear David.   Do you swear?' and his immediate reply was, 'not in front of ladies'.   Have I just been lucky or were we old fasioned?

I ask these questions in the light of revelations in today's Times about e mails between politicians (I really don't think at the the moment they deserve capital letters) in which every other word is the 'f word' - and I ask whether the use of the f word as an adjective adds anything use ful.   Surely all it does is to 'soil' the question and belittle the questioner.  I wonder how such communications will be viewed in future generations.

Do you have a view on this?   Is there a time and a place for such language?   I think not but then, maybe I am just old-fashioned.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

This and that

First of all,   - what memories I seemed to have stirred up yesterday - we don't forget our childhoods do we?   You all remembered teddies, dolls in their prams, bikes, lego, dolls' houses - so many treasures and the litle things like scraps, card dolls with outfits -I'm sure we were all transported back a good few years.    As I have said before - a moment enjoyed is never wasted.

And so to today.   The weather here gets closer by the minute.   After the catastrophic floods around our towntthree years ago I think we are probably all a bit apprehensive about the next day or two when severe thunderstorms are forecast.   We have to take whatever is thrown at us but we are hoping for the best.

My garden is in severe need of a drink.   Friend S arrived a short time ago with two plants from her garden which needed splitting up.   They are now sitting in the shade on my patio in a bucket with damp soil in the bottom and I have left a message on my gardener's phone asking him to call in and help.

Things 'go over' so quickly in this weather.   They seem to be only in flower for a couple of days before their flowering period is over and they are dying back.   But I have found in the past that cutting off the flower heads and then waiting for a good rain quite often produces a second crop of flowers.

My telephone has been out of order - my landline.   Paul, the engineer, came at eight o'clock this morning and said he had mended it but it still has no dialling tone so I am waiting for my son to finish his day's teaching before I get him to sort it out for me again. 

We have reached that time of year when there is little to watch on television unless one is an ardent sports fan - football, racing and tennis are the order of the day today - none of which I am remotely interested in.    But are you watching The Great British Sewing Bee?   If so then you will know that it is the final tonight.   Do you have a favourite to win?   I certainly think that the Frenchman is the most talented, but all three finalists are so talented and such 'fun' people that I shall just sit back and enjoy it. 

Until tomorrow dear old friends. 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Toys

I watched 'The Bidding Room' on television this afternoon.   I have not had a brilliant day and have felt very tired.   Apart from usually watching 'Escape to the Country' during my three o'clock siesta I hardly ever watch television during the day.   But today I did my usual walk although I felt tired and it was something I should not have done.   The last half of the walk is uphill and I had difficulty getting home.  So after lunch I rested and watch The Bidding Room.   On it were two Face Screens - not particularly valuable (£65) but very pretty and they brought back memories for me.

If you don't know what Face Screens are they look a bit like hand-held mirrors, made of papier mache with pretty handles.   They were used in the pre central heating days to screen one's face from the heat of the open fire.   (In Jane Austen's time)

They were beautifully decorated with scraps.   I had completely forgotten scraps.   Are you old enough  to remember them?   I have no idea when they went out of fashion but when I was a child in the thirties we used to save up our pocket money to buy books of scraps - small sticky backed pictures which you peeled off and then stuck in books you were making.   I particularly remember buying scraps of wild flowers and birds and sticking them in special books.   I haven't seen any for years and years.

In fact I don't think children have 'toys' like this any more - everything to 'play'  with seems to be in one way or another related to the smart phone.

I tried to think of other toys I had but really I could only remember one or two.   I did have a doll's pram and I did have a succession of bikes as I grew. I expect children still have pocket money (no doubt much more in proportion than we had when money was less plentiful).   Maybe dolls' houses and toy trains were both still 'in fashion 'but I can't remember much else.

Can you recall any of your toys? 

Monday, 14 June 2021

Reverie

 Reverie is a state I spend a lot of time in these days - now I have a carer who also brings me meals and cleans for me there is little else for me to do.   I have a long (for me) walk each day and then potter.   Yesterday I got to thinking about 'time'.

It is forty-five years this September since my son left home to go to University in Manchester to read Music.  Forty-five years - he now has children and one grandchild and another on the way.   Where has the time gone and how can he possibly be sixty three when his childhood seems like yesterday?

It is sixty nine years since my first marriage - a very happy one which lasted thirty nine years and after two and a half years of widowhood I married my farmer and it is now four years since he died - and it seems like yesterday.   Where has time gone?

It no longer seems possible that so much time has elapsed.   And I certainly don't wish I was young and just starting out on life now - but I expect that is how every generation feels.

What has prompted me to write along these lines?   Well each day during schol term time a bus which takes Primary School children from outlying areas to the Primary School parks down a road just opposite my sitting room window.   As I set out this morning on my walk round the driver got out and I stopped to speak to him for the first time.   At 84 he is still driving and has no intention of retiring.   He insisted on doing the whole of my walk with me, going the long way round to his own house.   The company was very nice and we both enjoyed the chat (he too lives alone).   And we got talking about time and what a strange concept it was.

Somehow I think the older one gets the more one thinks about 'the old days';  not a day goes past when I don't think of some incident in my childhood, my school days, my childhood friends, escapades,  they all seem to float to the surface of my thinking.

Changing topics completely - my landline is out of order and BT are coming to look at it on Wednesday morning.    In the meantime the appointment I had this afternoon with The Falls Team has fallen by the wayside.   They always ring before they arrive just to make certain I am in.   I rang them but only got an answer phone, I left a message but obviously they haven't received it as the time has long passed for their visit and nobody has come.   All I can say is that it is a good job I walked round with my bus driver friend this morning otherwise I would still be waiting for them without having had my walk.

Are we to have a hold up in release from the final stages of Lockdown?   It would seem so - we shall know later today and as distressing as it may be we must abide by what the experts say, especially now we have got this far.   It does look as though we must grit our teeth and carry on.

In the meantime I must look seriously into buying three or four low growing shrubs for my rockery which is plagued by the Mares Tail weed.   Preferably they should be evergreen.   Any suggestions anyone?