Tuesday 28 February 2023

This and that

 Sorry about my absence but Rachel recommended a new author (new to me) - Olivia Manning.   I nipped over to Amazon and bought her 'The Levant Trilogy' and enjoyed every word.   I am ashamed to say that I had no idea where The Levant was and had to look it up in my Atlas.   It is the countries of the Eastern Mediterranian and the three books are about that region during the Second World War.  I have just e mailed Rachel to tell her how much I have enjoyed the books.

Now \(|it is the month end and I allow myself a set amount to spend each month on books and before you  ask what is wrong with the Library - I am housebound, the library only opens on certain days and is run by volunteers and  I would have to get a taxi to get there.   The taxi is expensive so nipping to Amazon Prime is not much more expensive and the book comes through my letter box the next day.)

I was intending to buy Olivia Manning's The Balkan Trilogy but having looked at my World Atlas to look at the area where the Levant book was set I realise just how out of date the Atlas is.   It still has Yugoslavia in it and of course the area around there was carved up a few years ago (with, as usual, many lives lost).   So now I have a problem - do I buy the Olivia Manning this month or do I replace my Atlas?


To other things.   Did anyone manage to catch a glimpse of last night's Northern Lights display?  As is usual here in North Yorkshire - whenever this is forecast we have dense cloud cover.  Interestingly there was an expert on Breakfast this morning saying that the wonderful Reds showing at the moment are nothing like as intense when viewed with the naked eye.   Apparently the camera enhances the redness.

Have any of you ever seen the Northern Lights?  I haven't and I have been above the Arctic Circle quite a few times.   It is on my Bucket List but there are quite a few things still on it and I presume I have not all that much time left.   (some days you could almost (but not quite yet) replace 'presume' with 'hope' but with Summer on the horizon and the garden looking inviting, it is more a case of 'hang on a minute'.   My pair of blackbirds are back - Mrs B is standing on the hedge top and Mr B on the fence is serenading her.

And, while on the subject of relationships (!) for want of a better word, my "lover" has gone (if you don;t know who I am talking about scroll back two or three posts and you will find a  photograph of him sitting on my knee) back home with his owners who have returned from Thailand.   I am waiting for my friend to let me know whether he was happy to see them or not.  I shall miss his visits.

Until tomorrow dear bloggie friends.

Saturday 25 February 2023


Many  years ago, before  the farmer and I were married but when we were 'skirting around each other' neither of us actually saying anything but both within ourselves thinking that perhaps we had something worth developing in our friendship, we both belonged to a walking group.   It fell upon me to organise the next walk so of course I had to do the walk to make sure I had it right - (nothing worse in a walking group, believe me, than getting lost when the leader for the day is supposed to have planned it down to the last blade of grass).   The farmer said he could come with me on the planning walk after the Sunday morning milking.   So off we set.

I undertook to make the picnic lunch and he said he had a rucksack he would bring to carry the sandwiches and the flasks.  ('Never have a dog and yet have to bark yourself' as my mother would have said).   Off we set - I had my map-reading skills well-oiled and the walk (and the picnic ) went off without a hitch.  

As we sat in the car (we had left it in the village car park) finishing off the flasks before returning home, I noticed we had  parked beside a red telephone box - not many of those around these days).   I pointed it out to the farmer saying that it was a long time since I had seen one.   He looked at me in astonishment, pointing out that there was still one in the village where we both lived.   

I was  sure he was wrong - I had never noticed it (these days we are almost all on our own phones so why should we need to notice one?)   So sure was I that I bet him the very largest bar there was of  Dairy milk Chocolate that I was was right.   We drove home and on the way to drop me off at my house we stopped in the village - at the red telephone box!!

I knew he loved dairy milk chocolate.   He put the bar on the window sill next to his chair.   It took him almost a year to eat it - one square at a time - now and again offering one square to his young nephew who always came on a Sunday.

I also love chocolate (what's not to like?) - I would have had a job to make that bar last a week.   Self control - that's what I lacked.   At Christmas this year I bought two boxes of chocs - one for me at home to offer to callers along with a sherry and one to give a particular friend if she called.   She didn't but by New Year's Day (when she did call) I had finished off both boxes single handed more or less.

The moral (for me at any rate) is do not buy chocolate unless you want a spreading waist line.  I am weak-willed where chocolate is concerned.   I allow myself one cup of hot chocolate a day (made with water - just a touch of milk) - I buy one tin of the mixture each week on my Tesco order and when it has gone it has gone,   Too bad if I fancy another mug of hot choc.

A rather silly story about a rather silly addiction but believe me addiction is no laughing matter.   I have a friend of more than forty years who is addicted to alcohol.   I haven't seen him for a couple of years until this week.   To say he has gone down is an understatement.      My heart bleeds for him and the fact that things have obviously gone far too far and there is nothing left for him and he knows it.  I said nothing when we met - what is there to say.   When he went I cried = for a life governed by alcohol.   The alcohol had won - as it always does.


Wednesday 22 February 2023


 Yesterday was a bit of a Crisis day - nothing that wasn't laughable afterwards but I kept getting a bit 'flustered' shall we say.

First of all - last week I bought two new pairs of trousers.   Most of the day I sit in my chair (with forays to keep me mobile -even into the garden weather permitting).  I don't wear my 'best trousers' - they are kept for the rare occasions when I go out.  They arrived (I ordered them on line - Special Offer from 'Chums' - and the order went through easily, the trousers arrived promptly - they were just right and easy for me to manipulate when no carer is around (believe me this is vital - wearing 'nappy' type protection is horrible without going into detail) and they fitted to perfection.   I decided to order two more pairs in a different colour.  I went on line yesterday morning and it was one of my 'shaky days' as I call them (I have Benign Essential Tremor) and on such days it is hard to hit the right key.   When I got to the check-out I was ordering 8 pairs rather than 2!  So I decided to telephone my order,  I have to say I got through to an absolutely delightful salesman.   I explained I was 90 and very deaf.   He kindly steered me through - repeating everything as often as I requested and I had confirmation they will be on their way today.  I intend to e mail Chums after this post telling them how good he was.

In the afternoon one of the two lights in my kitchen went off.  My lack of electrical knowledge means I can't explain them but they are wonderful LED lamps and there are no visible bulbs - the whole unit has to be replaced.   I rang my electrical contractor who only lives at the end of the road - he came immediately, dismantled the whole thing, read and noted the code for replacement and went off, promising to return when the right parts arrived (he ordered on line).

Ten minutes after he left my evening carer arrived - she put out the recycling bags (kept in the garage) and then came into the sitting room to report that the garage door (up and over) wouldn't close! I rang the electrician again and he came immediately - it was the batteries in the  bottom of the door.   Luckily I had two left over from last time they went off and soon that was repaired too.

It was good to sit down with my corned beef, cheese and onion spread and mayo sandwiches and a cup of tea.

Still -silly little things which I would have dealt with in my stride ten years ago.   But all's well that ends well!

Have a good day.   The lady that cleans for me is here - we have had a good chat and now I can hear the cleaner buzzing away.  After lunch I shall have a stroll into the garden if the sun is still shining.

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Goodbye Jack.

My friend J took a photograph 

of my "lover" (I posted about him the other day) sitting on my knee.  I have managed  to put it on here.   J  has fostered Jack (a Border Terrier) for six months while his owners were in Thailand.   They are back and are collecting him next week - I shall miss seeing him.   J is bringing him to see me once more before he goes.

Monday 20 February 2023


 Memory - at least short-term memory - seems to go the older one gets - but I understand begins to fade around the age of sixty.   I will hazard a guess that all of you over sixty can relate to the idea of going into the kitchen, sitting room or somewhere and then standing in the doorway and thinking 'what have I come for?'    Yet the self-same people can usually recall events that happened in their childhood (but maybe not with the accuracy they think - if they ask another person involved in the same incident memories are often very different.)   We remember what we want to remember really - or what we particularly notice at the time.

I love clothes - always have done - and can remember outfits from very early in my childhood.

But memories are precious aren't they - even if they are not altogether accurate - and especially precious if the people involved are no longer with us.   They may not be altogether accurate but they are like mental photographs and do recall precious    moments.   Here are a few of mine - many only perhaps a couple of seconds long.

My mother:   always slightly in awe of her inlaws, her father in law (my Grandad Smithson) died and his funeral service and burial took place in our village.   I was too young to go to the funeral so stayed with a neighbour and she provided me with a stool so that I could stand by the window and watch the funeral procession go by.   The coffin with the flowers all round went past on the hearse and then came the mourners in the funeral cars.   As the car carrying my parents passed my mother looked out of the back window of the car.   I waved frantically - she gave me a very disapproving look.   I can still remember that look.

My father:    Loved poetry and knew a lot of it by heart having gone to school in the days when it was 'fashionable' to learn poems by heart.    One of his favourites was Robert Southey's 'The Battle of Blenheim' and I can still clearly hear his voice saying ''tis some poor fellows skull said he, who died in the great victory."

My sister:  twenty two years older than me (same parents) lived in the same village.   Even at a very young age I played the piano.   I remember sitting at her piano in the sitting room one day.   My favourite fruit in those days (sound, healthy teeth of course) was apples and their Cox's Orange Pippin tree in their newly planted orchard had fruited (8 apples) for the first time that year.  All eight sat in an orange Shelley bowl on the small table by the piano.   As I played away I also ate my way through all eight apples, leaving just the cores in the bowl.   I was not popular.

My brother:   For a time my brother and I worked for the same company in different offices but easily contacted by phone.   One day, when my first husband and I had been married for five years , he rang me from his office to say that the family had been talking and that he had been asked to ring me on their behalf to suggest that they thought it was time we 'produced a family'.  I was already pregnant at the time but had no thought of telling him until we were ready to do so.   From then on he always assumed that his 'pep talk' had produced results.

My first husband.   One of our favourite places to visit and not all that far from our home in Wolverhampton for many years, was Stokesay Castle in Shropshire.   On one visit we admired a plant in full flower in the small but perfectly formed garden.   My husband asked the curator what it was but he didn't know.   When we got home my husband looked it up in one of our many gardening books - it was Osteospermum and I wrote a postcard telling him.   Several years later we visited the Castle again and my husband asked him if he had got the postcard - he was delighted to at last know who had sent it.   Since then I always have an Osteospermum in my garden - it reminds me of the occasion.

The farmer.   One very bad winter when there had been a lot of snow we went round the fields one afternoon, walking along the side of the stone walls a feature of The Yorkshire Dales, to see if any of our sheep had been sheltering during the snowstorm and had got buried where the snow had drifted against the wall.   We didn't find any but as we walked along, close to the wall, we saw a stoat - not its usual brown colour but the pure white - ermine - the colour a stoat's coat changes to during very snowy weather.   It was the first - and indeed - the only time the farmer had ever experienced this and he never forgot it.

Just a few snippets of memories - can you recall any to share with us?


Sunday 19 February 2023


 Sometines when I read something in the paper memories come flooding back as they did the other day when I read of disgraceful breaking of the laws governing wildlife protection and the breaking of them by folk who should know better.

There was The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981

The Hunting with Dogs Act of 2004

and even earlier The Protection of Wild Birds Act of 1954 and yet still crimes against the countryside persist. 


The local hunt came over our farm land every season for as long as my farmer could remember but they rarely caught anything - even when it was legal to do so - and then of course the rules changed and they did trail hunting.

We did have an old dog fox.   I don't know how long foxes live but he must have had the life of Riley because once the worst of myxymatosis had passed our land had a good crop of rabbits.  He didn't know the rules and I suspect he had a nice rabbit supper most nights.   We often used to see him going 'home' at dusk, keeping largely to the hedgerow and only crossing the field where necessary.   Our farm cats (Blackie and Creamy) never needed feeding during the rabbit breeding season - each morning the farmer just needed to clear the barn floor of baby rabbit skins (only the skins were left - the rest was eaten, bones and all).  The farm dogs (including Tess) used to chase them but I never saw them catch one and on the rare occasion that myxy struck again, the farmer would quickly despatch any rabbits with it - they were all too easy to catch and it was necessary to put them out of their misery (a terrible disease).

All a far cry from the days of my childhood when it was all too common to see a string of all the gamekeepers had caught strung up for all to see: moles, rats, mice, stoats,  weasels, rabbits, crows, raptors - all dead and strung up:  awful.

And amongst my earliest memories are those of the annual Rook Shoot which took place in the Rookery opposite the house I grew up in in a Lincolnshire village.  Rooks often fell dead in our gardens and when I was around three my mother caught me sitting on the lawn sucking the beak of a dead rook! (maybe that accounts for my love of them now!)

And to end - still on the subject of wildlife - when my carer made my bed the other morning she moved the pillows and underneath the bottom one was a gigantic spider (from the way her hands indicated it I suspect she was exaggerating its size!.)  In horror I asked what she had done with it (hoping she would say she had used what Ronald Blythe called the 'glass and postcard method) she said she had used the toilet paper and loo flush method.

My mothed used to say

'If you want to live and thrive, 

Let all spiders run alive.'

But I must say in this instance I was relieved that it had completely disappeared from under my pillow when I went to bed the next night.  The only spiders I am happy to live with are what we used to call 'money spiders'  I haven't seen one for years but then they are so small I suspect my eyesight isn't good enough any more to see them.      

Saturday 18 February 2023


Although feeling a little better each day I still don't feel up to posting so am just having a trip through your posts.  Back soon!

Thursday 16 February 2023

I am in love!!

I am in love.   I am sure almost all of you know the feeling.   I just can't stop thinking about him.  He is considerably younger than me (I would guess thirty years* or so but seems very loving and attentive.)

Sadly it will be a short lived affair of the heart as he is soon to move away but it is lovely while it lasts.   His name is Jack and he lives around six doors away.   He has gingery/brown hair and wonderful dark eyes which he uses to great effect - looking at me as though I  am the only person in the world. 

Yes, Iexpect you have guessed it by now and I think I have spoken about him before.   He is a male Border Terrier, being fostered by a friend while his owners are in Thailand.   They are due to arrive back in England in early March, when he will return to them. 

I am sure many of you will remember my darling Tess - also a Border Terrier - who had to be put to sleep about eighteen months ago after a stroke sent her blind.   I miss her so but all the dog lovers amongst you will agree that if one has dogs then one has to accept that they do not have our life span and that sooner or later our vet will tell us the bad news. 

I think I told  you the other week that Jack blotted his copy book a couple of weeks ago while out with J, his carer, by chasing sheep.   Since then J has been counting the days to his departure.   Would that I could have him but my lack of mobility makes it impossible.

When he called to see me earlier in the week I expressed my shock and horror at his misbehaviour.   His response was to jump up and settle down on my knee for a huge cuddle.  (brought tears to my eyes).

I shall have to get my animal 'treats' from watching Noel Fitzpatrick the vet back on Channel Four later this week and this time, instead of dogs, cats and the occasional parrot he is dealing with elephants, rhinos and big cats while out on safari!

If anyone is interested my horrible virus is gradually subsiding - as is Rachels.   Not a nice visitor - would rather have Jack any day! 

*this is allowing 7 human years for every doggy  one.  (think I have my maths wrong here but it is almost nine at night and I have a virus!)

Monday 13 February 2023


First of all to say that it is a lovely day here and snowdrops, crocus, Christmas Roses and wallflowers out in the sunshine and obviously enjoying  it.   They really come into their own on really sunny days like today  -otherwise they just sulk in the undergrowth.

Well - attitudes to women. I began to think about it when I watched Shammima Begum on her interview on BBC2 the other evening.    And I felt so lucky that here in the UK I have honestly never felt inferior or been discriminated against for being a woman.   Perhaps being in the teaching profession all my working life helped.  One is just as likely to find a woman Head Teacher as a man.   And the same can be said of Heads of Departments.   This was certainly true until I retired at 50 - forty years ago.   I am assuming that nothing has changed (and hoping too).

But  I watched the interview - she was cold and appeared to me to have no feelings whatsoever.   But for the purposes of this post what pulled me up sharply was when they briefly showed an interview with her husband - in prison - not sure where.   The way he spoke about Shammima - they married after 'knowing' one another for a couple of hours.   She said he was loving at first but quickly became abusive.   He wouldn't let her go out alone.   They asked her if she would like them to be together.   She said a blunt 'no'.   When he was asked he said of course - 'she is my wife' - rather like indicating possession.

I thought back to my parents - did my father ever think of my mother in that way?   Of course not - they always seemed to be equal to me. In the same way that both my husbands were.   They took care of the bits they were good at and I did the same.   Neither husband was brilliant at 'keeping the books' so I dealt with the money side of things.   Once when I was very busy at school I complaineed to my husband that I really had too much to do.   He said he would take over the household finance.   I always paid all the bills on the last Friday in the month - when he hadn't done at the end of the first month he said he would do it the next week=end.     That was the end of that arrangement!   We had many a laugh about it afterwards.

And then I saw some women in burkas.   Burkas, which cover the whole of the body have to be worn when going outside -only the eyes are showing.   I understand that rich men buy their wives Designer clothes to wear underneath - but they are for their husband's eyes only.   Of course these women have grown up in this kind of society and accept - just as in many a country women of a very young age accept arranged marriage.

There are still so many places where women are discriminated against in some way (Afghanistan is a perfect example at the moment when education for girls has stopped.

I read where some States in the US would like to stop abortion - most people here I think would consider that a retrograde step.

I really would like to hear your views on this and on the idea of women in many countries being treated as second class citizens.   I would like to be filled in in the gaps in my knowledge. I think women got the vote fully here in the UK in 1928 - not a hundred years yet.   We still have a little way to go here but my goodnes, when we look at some other countries, how lucky we are.

Sunday 12 February 2023

Sorry I have been missing for a couple of days.   Friends have called and nice long chats with them have intervened.   There are only some times during the day when putting a post on is possible.   First thing in a morning my carer calls and helps me dress and gets my breakfast.   When she has gone it is News time and The Times has arrived so it is Mind Games and reading the news.   At the moment the earthquake makes compulsive reading - such a terrible tragedy.   I have been to Antakya many years ago now with my first husband when we had been on an exhausting holiday of ancient sites and stayed in Antakya in a lovely hotel to recuperate before flying home.  It is all so dreadful - families torn apart, children who  now have no parents and parents who wait by the ruins in the freezing cold nights in the almost certain vain hope of the rescuers finding their children alive.   And on the Syrian side of the border an even worse situation we cannot possibly imagine.

Then there are all the weird objects flying about in the sky and being hunted and shot down.    We just .can't imagine where the world is heading.

My 'evening' carer comes for an hour at 4pm (it will get later as the nights get lighter) and by the time I have eaten my tea my mind is really past being in the right frame to think if posting.

So here I am at eleven o'clock in the morning.   Friends almost always call on Sunday afternoons.   Iwas intending to write about the role of women and discrimination.   But I think it is too late to begin now and you will have read enough - so I shall stop, finish the codeword and leave women until tomorrow.   See you then. 

Thursday 9 February 2023

What did you have for breakfast?

I am not being nosy?   Most of you live alone so in that case you have just what you feel like having - porridge, cereal, crumpets, toast and marmalade - your choic e - to suit yourself.   If you are still 'two of you' then by now you will probably have reached a consensus or will each get your own and I imagine you sitting companionably in a favourite place and relaxing and chatting or watching the News.  And I think of John (Going Gently) with his 'bucket of coffee' - no problem.

Today's Times Two says that most heart attacks occur in the morning.   Writers today speak of the stress of getting children off to school - and even getting them up.   And the fiddle of getting breakfast when children all want something different.

And it immediately called to mind my breakfast as a child.   My Dad had already gone off to work when I got up.   I had to catch the half past eight bus into Lincoln, so got up at about 7am.   Just one call from the bottom of the stairs - no having to chivvy about getting me up.   Then it would be wash (in the bowl in my bedroom - no bathroom in those far off days), dress and go down stairs for my breakfast.   The table would already be laid - cereals(always Cornflakes and porridge in winter) and the toast rack full of toast and a pot of home made marmalade and butter.   A mug of tea completed the scene.   I ate it and got my satchel (packed the night before with my homework) and went for the bus- giving my mum a quick kiss on the way out.

No such things as 'sleep overs' in my day but I remember staying the night at my friends.   I can't remember why but I do remember that at breakfast (set in a similar way to mine) her cereal was Shredded Wheat and I adored it.   When I got home I asked my mother if I could have ShreddedWheat instead of Cornflakes.   I remember her telling me she was sure I wouldn't like it but when I said I had had it at M's for breakfast and she listened to me singing it praises, thought a bit and then said she would buy a box on her next order but I had to eat it all even if I didn't like it.   I promised and the next week a box appeared - I loved it and have done so ever since.

Now there is such a wide choice.    There were no Supermarkets, choice was limited to what was available in the co-op.   Sugar came in large sacks and two pounds was weighed out and then put into blue paper which Mr Clipsham, the manager, cleverly crafted in to a bag.

We ate well within the bounds of what was available (and affordable - we were never well off)- and we ate what was put in front of us.   My mother knew I didn't like fat meat so she always put my fat meat on her plate.  At tea time once a week she would use up all the bits of cheese, an onion and any tomatoes that were available (Dad grew them in his greenhouse).   She would grate the cheese, chop up the onion and the tomatoes - cook those gently until cooked, add the cheese and let it quickly melt.   Then she would break an egg into the pan and then off the heat beat the mixture until the egg was cooked and the whole became a paste.  My mouth waters to think of it.   It would appear on the table with a plate of home-baked bread and a dish of butter,   No need for anything else - by the end of tea the cheese paste would have disappeared.   The same goes for when she made a jar of lemon curd in the double boiler and it appeared with usually a few lemon curd tarts as well.

Now I think with the large Supermarkets and with mums taking the children with her often when she does the food shopping there is a lot of food bought on a whim and not used up.   In my teaching days when I went in for school dinners I used to notice how picky children were and how many of them just had chips.

Really there is little wonder that breakfast has become such a frantic meal - especially in a home where there are several children.

Especially - as the writer of the article says -  the children do eventually appear at the breakfast table -"underfed, underdressed but remarkably well made-up the girls eventually leave the house at T plus 40 in the sure knowledge they miss the bus and get a 'late' and parents adrenalin takes a while to subside.

Oh dear Miss Cleave (my old Headmistress) will be turning in her grave.


Tuesday 7 February 2023

Have you decided?

 My question today relates to our bodies.   I don't think anyone still believes that once we die we need our earthly body any more.   Some like to be buried and some choose cremation.   But now the Church of England is studying another idea.   That of 'terramation' where the body is put into a capsule which is reusable and then surrounded with all kinds of suitable material - woodchips, sawdust, straw and alfalfa to speed up decomposition.   And amazingly this speeds up the whole process so that in around 60 days microbes have reduced the body into enought 'soil' to fill two wheelbarrows.   Then it can be returned to the family who can spread it on their garden as compost - because the temperatures reached in the  process have been high enough to kill all pathogens.

The C of E are also considering resomation.   Here the body is put into a biodegradable coffin which is then put i nto a water cremator.  Hot water and alkali are added to reduce the corpse and the whole process after four hours leaves just ash and water.   The ash can then be given to the family and the fluid drained away.

The remains of Archbishop Desmond Tutu chose resomation for the disposal of his body.  They were laid to rest in Capetown.

We have to accept that ground for us all is running out.  So a couple of interesting alternatives look likely to be introduced.

There is something very reassuring about burial isn't there?   I suppose it is the idea of being able to visit.   My parents and my sister and her husband, along with three of their babies who died shortly after birth (they were what used to be called 'blue babies' I believe - before the discovery of a way of dealing with it.)  They are all buried in the family plot and have graves  and   have stones.   But none of us live anywhere near now and it is all so long ago.

My first husband died over thirty years ago but I have remarried since then so I no longer wish to be buried with him although there is a plot purchased  for the purpose.  And my farmer's ashes were scattered by the side of the beck in his favourite pasture on the farm near to the marsh marigolds he so loved.

There is something quite comforting about gravestones isn't there?   When my son lived in London many years ago he took me to Highgate Cemetery to see the grave of Karl Marx.   Such an impressive tombstone.   And, of course, when I visited Beijing I walked past the preserved 'remains' of Chairman MaoTsetung.   Very impressive (especially for someone who had never seen him 'in the flesh'.)

And I remember vividly visiting the family plot in Old Bennington, Vermont where one of my favourite poets - Robert Frost - is buried along with generations of his family.   I can still remember Old Bennington as a beautiful, peaceful 'village' with many trees and lots of green spaces.  And the very large cemetery with so many tombstones.   The farmer and I separated and searched different areas because we knew his resting place would be hard to find,   The farmer found it - a large plot - and he called me over.   I stood there and remembered my favourite poem 'The Road not taken'.   It was a moment I have never forgotten.

So there we have it.   It looks as though we have more choices coming up.   Does it matter?   It is only our body.   We are no longer there.   If you are a believer in the survival of our spirit then maybe it matters to you.   To me (a Humanist) I just hope those dear to me remember me - that's all.

Monday 6 February 2023

Being old.

Being old is what you make it.   Remember that all you youngsters of 70.  I never have a dull moment.   90+ is what you make  of it just as much as 20+  (apart from the lovers - thin on the ground at my age - in fact non-existent and in any case not fanciable any more than I am).

I never have to feel guilty about not cleaning (have a cleaner), not doing the garden (can;t get up my garden steps so have a gardener - who happens to make delicious crumbles and brings me one sometimes, not cleaning the windows (have a window cleaner(Colin cleans the outside once a month), not eating 'proper meals' (have a carer who brings my lunch every day and makes sure I am going to have a nourishing tea when she has gone. after her second visit).

Lots of friends call - sometimes just for ten minutes,sometimes for a couple of hours.   And I can read all the books I like, have a snooze when I like (yesterday I was asleep when my Sunday friends called - they looked through the window only to see me asleep in my chair - they knew I was fast asleep because my mouth was open!!) - popped down the road to see another friend and came back a bit later.

And - my new fad - I have become an avid 'weather watcher'; a perfect hobby for anyone who can't go out much and not at all in Winter when it just might be slippery.

What you need first of all is a good, South-facing, big window. A few trees within reasonable distance - I have two or three silver birch and a hazel about a hundred yards away- and the resolution to get up early (my carer comes at 7).

So, living as I do on the very Eastern edge of the Pennine Chain up the middle of the North of the Country, I can easily spot any weather coming in from the West.  (much of our weather comes from the West - much happier than when it comes in from the East (my computer room) when it is invariably colder, darker skies and signs that something a bit fiercer is coming.

The Silver Birches tell me whether it is windy or not.   The Hazels have catkins that appear early in the year and make their presence felt by waving in the breeze.   Between them they more or less indicate wind speed.

This morning, as it has been for the past week, the dawn was spectacular - pale apricot and moving slightly further round each week so that now, rather than rising at seven thirty just behind P's bungalow a short way up the road on the opposite side to me, it is now rising further into the East and if I draw back my blind when I get out of bed I see the first streaks.   By the time I get through to the sitting room and pull back the curtains - there it is just coming into view.   And this morning - another sunny one with enough breeze to blow those golden catkins about - for the first time the sun is going high enough to not shine into my eyes when I try to do the Mind Games in The Times (we can almost say the sun is 'high in the sky' at last.)

This morning I did see the rooks - but only just.   They were just coming over when I drew back the curtains.   They are much better weather watchers than me, living as they do in the tree tops and - at the first streak of dawn in the sky they are up, up and away.  By the end of this week they'll be away before I rise.

Sunset, at the other side of my window (and a little later every night) was a spectacular deep red for about five minutes last night (you have to catch it  quickly because it only gives you a treat for a short time).

So  plenty to look at.   And added to that - today my golden crocus are out = about two dozen of them.   What a joyful sight.

Enjoy your day.

Saturday 4 February 2023

New Potatoes anyone?

 February has arrived and with it quite a lot of sunshine, mild weather and the days a little longer.  And the vegetable gardeners amongst you will be standing looking out of the window at the garden.   Did you manage  to get it dug over in the late Autumn to let the frost and the winter rains get at it?  Or did you decide to wait and dig it over now?   And is it in a fit state to be dug or are you wishing you had done it in the Autumn?

My Dad was a veg man - as were all the men in the village.   No self-respecting housewife would expect to have to buy her vegetables in Summer - it was the husband's job to bring in the fresh veg every day.  In fact I would go so far as suggest that a man in the village would be judged by the state of the veg he showed at the Annual Flower and Veg show in the village (usually a bit of soft fruit - strawberries, black currants and maybe early plums thrown in for good measure but never as important as the veg).

Perhaps the most important veg of all when it came to the Show was the Potato.   Usually King Edwards - none of the fancy varieties they have now.   Good old fashioned King Edwards - often chitted from a few good ones from last year;s crop.

And that first digging!  One root, dug up about 6pm by my Dad (two roots  if necessary but if so then there would be a serious discussion over what had gone wrong)   The potatoes put in the metal bucket kept for the purpose.   The bucket dipped into the water butt by the wash house door and then the water stirred vigorously with the copper stick by my Dad until the small, white, evenly sized jewels shone in the earthy water.  Rinsed and put into a saucepan, salt  added (no scare-mongering about salt in our diet in those days even though it was just as bad for us then) and a couple of sprigs of fresh mint from the herb garden.  We would sit at the table - knives and forks  ready - they would be strained through the colander and put into the same dish every year - white with flowers round the rim picked up at the junk shop - George Walker's in the village when my Mother took up his Sunday dinner one week (he lived alone).   Then a large knob of tub butter weighed out and patted into an oblong at the Friday butter market in Lincoln would be plopped on the top to melt and we would dive in.   Silence would reign supreme while we tucked in and there would never be a single potato left.   And I would defy anyone to come up with a better, more sublime taste.  Except perhaps a pot of fresh brown shrimps from the shrimp stall on the prom at Morecambe Bay.


Friday 3 February 2023


 A short post today as I have had quite a few visitors.   I have just put on my computer to order my medication so thought I would pop by to say hello before I settle down for the evening and get snug.

My carer has just gone so I am in my dressing gown and slippers and all ready for bed although it is only   7pm.   But we were having a chat and she told me that her son and his partner, who live in a flat in her house, had just today lost their pet and were very upset.   When I asked what their pet was (expecting the answer to be either cat or dog) I was astonished to be told that it was a Lizard called Gerald!  Apparently they had buried it in the garden and put flowers on its grave.

When I expressed astonishment she told me that she had once cared for a lady who had a pet Iguana.  It seems that again I am old fashioned.   I can't imagine having loving feelings for a reptile.  I have loved all my dogs and cats over the years and been very upset at the passing.   

When we had Foot and Mouth disease and our whole herd of cows had to be destroyed (and then burnt in our paddock) I think both the farmer and I cried (the vet who lived with us for a fortnight made us go to the burning (it took the team a whole day to build the burning site with layers of wood, coal and various things before laying the cows and sheep on top (in a very  sympathetic way I must say).   The vet and the burning team stood round as the fire was lit and we all stood quietly (fortified by a glass of whisky each - which the vet provided,  ) Our favourite cow was number 55 (all cows are numbered and registered by the Cattle Movement Service in the UK) a very maternal cow who in Summer when cows calved - often overnight in the field - would try her level best to steal the calf and tempt the calf away.   If we saw the cow had calved when we fetched them in for milking and if she was distressed and calling for her calf we would quickly search the field to find 55 and there would be the calf.   She wouldn't make a fuss when the farmer picked up the calf and carried it back to its Mum.  We made sure at the burning that we did not stand by 55.

But a Lizard called Gerald?   Not sure how I feel about that.   Have any of you got strange pets?   I rather  think I remember John (Going Gently) having a pet hen.  (and of course plenty of parrots and cockatoos around.