Friday 31 March 2023


 Are you a lover of 'greenery'?   I think we all are - surely few people are not aware of it in their everyday lives.   About three hundred yards from my sitting room window is a fairly youthful Silver Birch tree.   It is one of my dearest friends - it tells me whether it is blowing a gale (I am too deaf to hear the wind blowing) or whether there is a gentle breeze - or even when the air is still.  Its branches provide the perfect perch for a pair of pigeons at this time of the year.   I don't know how long pigeons live but each year there seems to be a couple of 'courting' pigeons and they always cuddle up together on the same branch and are there on and off throughout the day at this time of the year.  Also - I now begin to notice that the branches are not altogether the dark, bare branches of winter.  I am too far away to see exactly what is going on but I do know, from the experience of previous years, that what I am seeing is the very early suggestion of the leaves about to burst forth - and given two or three warm days (soon I hope)- there will be a distinct green here and there on the tree - and soon small green leaves will appear and it really will be Spring.

I know sometimes trees have to be felled - whether for safety reasons or for making way for build etc., but any indiscriminate felling is really sad.   Trees are living creatures, many of them several hundred years old and really the felling needs a lot of serious thought as to how necessary it is.

My front hedge is not quite a tree.   Given that my bungalow has been here for around forty years and my hedge is trimmed each year but is still a good six feet tall, apart from being attractive it provides two important things - it is a brilliant wind-break on a road which is East to West and my goodness, when that cruel East wind blows in Winter  the hedge is very welcome.   In addition it provides perfect nesting sites for two or three house sparrows each year - it is dense and deep enough to be fairly cat-proof.

So when my gardener D came last week and said to me, "What are we going to do about your front hedge?" I didn't know what he meant.   Then I went to the door and looked at it.   From one end to the other (maybe 10 feet), it appears to be completely dead.   The other side (the hedge separates me from my neighbour H) is perfectly green and looks just as it always has done.

I just think it might be the result of a very sharp frost we had about three weeks ago.   Last year the late frost struck a lovely Hebe bush in my back garden - it appeared to have been struck dead.   We decided to leave it a few weeks to see how it responded and lo and behold within a month tiny buds appeared here and there and by the Autumn it was in fine form again.

So my hedge is being given a second chance.   For a couple of months at least we intend to let the Spring sunshine attempt to wake it up again.   It, like every other living shrub, bush or tree should  not be done away with lightly.

After Winter, when greenery begins to show its head above ground every living plant should be looked at and welcomed.   The harbingers of Spring are so welcome.   As with every other year since I began blogging - I shall attempt to beat Tom by quoting one of my favourite poems - Houseman's Shropshire Lad:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

is  hung with bloom along the bough,

and stands about the woodland ride

wearing white for Eastertide.

So let's all welcome the return of greenery into our lives and let's appreciate just how much it does for our wellbeing.   See you tomorrow - the first of April.

Thursday 30 March 2023


 As a child, growing up in Lincolnshire, far from any theatre other than Lincoln Theatre where we used to go to the Pantomime every year, theatre productions were very excitig to me.   I used to often think about the future - would I ever go to a 'proper' theatre in a big city like London - and how very exciting it would be.  (now I am back in The Dales - a similar area, far from theatre life).

But luckily, moving when my son was six to Lichfield did put me within reach of the theatres in Birmingham - only fifteen miles away and with a good train service.

 The first theatre experience was to go and see a Janacek opera. The Cunning Little Vixen'.  I went with a group of friends and my husband too of course - we were all musicians and the opera was a wonderful experience.   But the thing i remember most and the thing we would talk about afterwards whenever we thought of it, was an incident in the Second Act, when the man in front of my husband suddenly jumped up and ran out of a nearby door.   My husband, being the man he was, jumped up and followed him out into the empty lobby, only to find him collapsed on the floor saying 'I think I am having a heart attack.'  My husband ran and got assistance and phoned for an ambulance and waited by the side of the man, holding his hand and trying to keep him as calm as he could until the ambulance arrived.   I didn't follow but of course until M returned I really couldn't concentrate at all as to what was happening   (together the two of us did go back to see the opera again several years later).

I was reminded of the experience this morning by a short piece in The Times about how theatre audiences behave badly these days.   Clive Davis, the writer of the piece, talks of how while watching 'A Street Car Names Desire', just at Blanche's 'emotional meltdown' a nearby man opened a bag of sweets and started munching them.   And how he once sat next to somebody who kept checking his mobile phone throughout the performance,   He also remembered that he was once at the theatre when a women in the audience started heckling the actors so much that the performance had to be paused.

I thought back to once going to Stratford to see 'Coriolanus' and one of the two friends I went with kept shouting 'Pardon?' when he couldn't hear what the actors were saying.  (I could have gone down a mousehole and hardly remember the play at all).

I once went alone to the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London to see and hear Andras Schiff play Bach's Goldberg Variations - the performance was absolutely wonderful but ruined for me by a woman about three rows in front who throughout moved her whole body in time to the music.   It was extremely annoying and when the performance ended the man actually sitting behind her gave her a right rollicking saying she had ruined his evening.

Clive Davis says how badly theatre audiences behave these days.   It is a long time since I went to the theatre but I did wonder if there is a correlation between how one dresses and how one behaves in the theatre,   In my theatre going days we 'dressed up' to go to the theatre and treated it as an 'occasion'; nowadays people seem to wander in wearing 'any old thing' - I wonder if this affects how they choose to behave.   Have packets of crisps and plastic buckets of pop corn become the norm?

I think I once read how Laurence Olivier stopped in the middle of the performance and addressed somebody in the audience about his behaviour.

What do you think if you are a theatre-goer?


Tuesday 28 March 2023

 Yesterday was the first day this year when one could say without anyone disagreeing around here at any rate that it was Spring.   My gardeners did a whole days work and now everywhere is spruced up.

Today is a different story - heavy black clouds lour everywhere.   I have the light on in my computer room as I write this and cars going past have their wipers on intermittent so I presume there is rain in the air - certainly the paths look damp.  I am too cosy and warm to actually open the front door and hold my hand out into the air to test for drizzle.  The radiator is right by my computer.   The boiler is set at twenty degrees and the radiator is hot.

So everyone will agree that two side by side days with such different temperatures and goings on are absolutely typical of English weather.

Do you like that?   If not then the only solution I think is to a) get used to it.  b)put up with it. c)complain about it constantly.

I think most of us adhere to c).  I think it is a characteristic of all British folk that the weather is one their main topics of conversation - at least it gives us something to talk about.

Would it be more pleasurable to live in the tropics - or at least a bit nearer to them I wonder?   My grandson, who lives and works in the South of China (and loves working there) was astonished to find when he looked at my Atlas to show me exactly where he worked, that the place he works in sits exactly on the dotted line of the Tropic of Cancer.  It does explain of course why he had to purchase a new anorak (a super one with a fur=edged hood) for his recent trip home (I wonder where he bought it - certainly not on his stop over on the flight home in Dubai).

I ask myself (and you) - would you rather live in a country on the edge of, or in, the Tropics? 

Well, for a start, the discussions about the weather would not be there would they?   If almost every day was sunny, hot and dry one really can't keep on saying 'lovely day isn't it?'   And when the rains do arrive they don't do drizzle or just damp - they really mean it.  Here we have snow, rain, drizzle, dampness in the air, gale force winds, fog (dense - gosh what a lot of mileage you can get out of a journey home on a foggy night if you are driving). You can keep the conversation going throughout supper, that's for sure.

And of course (I am not an expert on weather - I can't talk about the jet stream (especially as you can't see it anyway) or about any other of the climatic phenomena like tornadoes.   These days we get the images of such things - like the recent tornado in Mississippi State which absolutely destroyed a whole town and left the population devastated.  We are not experiencing them - we sit in our centrally heated homes and watch - appalled and with sympathy for the people who have died (almost thirty I believe) and those who now have to somehow rebuild their lives.  But we are not expecting a tornado to arrive here anytime soon.

And watching Michael Palin in Antarctica (where all those who work down there seem to spend a lot of their time inside great heated buildings eating Blueberry Muffins) doesn't make me wish for snow.

No,I think I'm glad to have been born in a country where in spite of having four clearly defined seasons!! we never really know what tomorrow will bring down on us.   We always need to keep a macintosh in a quickly available place -and the same goes for an umbrella.   And one thing is for sure - we never run out of things to talk about.

Monday 27 March 2023

A Red Letter Day.

Not for me but for my garden - my two gardeners are here and there is a buzz in the air - the buzz of the scarifier.   I don't know whether I told you but one morning last week I drew back the curtains and there - right uner the sitting room window - was a small pansy (my gardener says to call it a viola and then I will get no rude jokes - but I told him straight that my bloggy pals are not like that) that had seeded itself in my front lawn.   Purple and yellow - I can't tell you how it pleased me.   And now, seeing my delight at its appearance, my gardeners have gently trowelled it up and replanted it in back rockery.

So it's scarify, mow and weed and feed day!

I half expected them and had already looked in the biscuit tin and seen that there were three two finger Kit Kat bars so soon it will be time to brew the coffee.

Here there is a clear deep blue sky, a sharpish breeze and a temperature of only 3 but  with the sun fully out and the spring sunshine brightly shining it definitely shouts that Spring is officially here.

I am off to keep my eye on the gardeners - you never know what they can get up to behind my back.   There is a nice clump of Red Valerian under the hedge - last Autumn he said he had 'got all the wretched stuff up - it is an invasive weed' - it has defied his attack and will be in bloom given a few days sunshine so I need to stand guard.

Hopefully I will be back later.



Sunday 26 March 2023

Child Care

If you take time to look up 'care' in the Dictionary (I have gone through four such dictionaries in my long life) you will find a lot of definitions: provide for, look after, - the list of word and phrases fills a large space on page 236.   'I don't care', 'be careful', 'I am so careless'.   It is a much-used word and it means different things to different people.  

Robert Crampton talks about it yesterday in his usual back page article in the Saturday Times.   He talks about taking his grown-up daughter phoning to say she thought she might have broken an ankle - could they pick her up and take her hospital for an XRay?   The answer was of course. yes!

At the end of the page he says - and I quote -"Childcare start with their first breath and ends with your last".   A philosophy I tend to agree with.  Although these days I don't think everyone falls into that bracket.

But I myself think that a subtle change creeps in - maybe when one is about eighty-ish.   Suddenly the emphasis changes round and the child/parent relationship tends to swap sides.   I don't know what you think - and maybe it applies more when like me you only have one child - but suddenly I begin to realise that I have to ask "who is caring for who?"

This certainly was the case last week when I had a scam.   My computer skills are basic.   What I do every day on the computer I can do well.   But veer away from the everyday things and I have to come clean and say I have absolutely no idea how the wretched thing 'thinks'.  My gut instinct is to ring my son and call "help" (the reverse of daughter calling Dad above and calling 'help' over a sprained ankle).

When I said to my son that I was thinking about getting a smart phone instead of carrying on with my 'old fashioned push-button antiquity' he visibly paled and said no - you stay as you are.   I think a whole lot of images passed through his head in a short time of some of the difficulties I would face and what I would do with them!!


Friday 24 March 2023


 Hello everyone - it is nice to be back after the horrible, intrusive scam - without my dear son who has - hopefully -sorted it out for me with the help of a brilliant BT, I think I would abandoned my computer for ever.

I have had several quiet days (as I am still in the process of gradually changing my drugs) because I was afraid of another attack.

Looking round my sitting room the other day I thought about just how tidy I am.   This may be a fault or an asset, depending upon your point of view.  I have been like this as far back as I can remember.   My mother was the same.   So is my tidiness learned behaviour?

My principal carer, J, is exactly the same, so that when she leaves after her morning hour my bungalow is exactly as I like it to be.  Should I worry about this almost obsessive behaviour on my part I wonder?   I am only happy when everything is in its right place (even on my trolley/walking aid)!

My dear son, who has been wonderful helping me and sorting everything out on my computer this week, came yesterday.   It was pouring with rain (we are having sunshine interrupted by frequent heavy, thundery showers).   He came dashing in as he always does, conscious of not leaving his invalid wife longer than necessary.  He came into the sitting room with his tablet, plonking his wellies on the carpet by a bookshelf.   I (aware of the fact that they might be wet/muddy underneath) waited until he was absorbed with a phone call (he is still working through things to do with my scam) then got out of my chair, put the said wellies on my trolley and wheeled them into the bathroom where there is an easily wiped floor!).  He didn't realise what I had done until he was ready to go when he began wondering where he had put them as they were not where he thought.   We had a good laugh about it (you will realise from this that he has not really inherited my 'tidiness' habit).

So what is it that makes some of us like this and others not at all like it?   I am truly aware that it is almost an obsession but I am afraid at 90 I am unlikely to change.  The fact that J is the same is something of a comfort (she and her partner live in an open plan flat).

So where do you fit in this conundrum?   Are you obsessively tidy or are you happy with things  'out of their usual place in the scheme of things' or are you indeed obsessively untidy?   I know it doesn't matter in the giant scheme of life.  All that really matters is that we are comfortable and happy with the way we live.  And when I look at how people are having to live in war-torn Ukraine at the moment, I feel almost ashamed at how I feel.  I would love to know what you think.

Wednesday 22 March 2023


 Sorry everyone but I was scammed on Monday and it has shaken me up a bit.   Will return shortly.

Saturday 18 March 2023

Thoughtful mode.

 I am in 'thoughtful mode' today and really find it  difficult to put into words what I have been thinking  about; and reading all your replies to yesterday's post about farming octopus - all so interesting - have not made it any easier to write today;s entry.   So I am leaving it here for now and off to eat my lovely salad lunch left by my dear carer.   It is mid day and hopefully my mind will be a bit more in order when I return to Blogger.   See you soon.

Back after lunch bloggers and I have to say my son called in and we had one of our 'deep' conversations (well 'deep' for me at any rate, )and when he went, having talked about the subject matter for my today's post, I am deeper in the mire than I was before.   He brought with him Michael Rosen's book  'Getting Better' in which he details his recovery from Covid.   I intend to read that before embarking on my topic for today as he assured me that it might clear the air of my thinking.

So, what to say today on the spur of the moment?  It is a 'warmish' day of spells of warm sunshine and then heavy cloud which cools the air a bit.   But there is no doubt we are on the cusp of Spring - the  spring flowers are all telling us we are almost there and there is no doubt many of the garden birds are well on the way with nesting.   In fact Mr Blackbird is spending most of the day poking about in my front lawn which leads me to wonder whether or not there might be nestlings (or is he just taking tasty morsels for Mrs B?).   Many more purple crocus have appeared and they are now much easier to spot than lone ones.   And dwarf daffodils (tete a tete) have appeared so we are looking quite festive.   Once I have written this I intend to go out and look at them and especially see what is happening in the side garden which I can't see from my window

So -return my reference books to my reading trolley and sit and read 'Getting Better' seems to be the order of the day.   Until tomorrow...

Friday 17 March 2023

Octopus for lunch anyone?

 Did you know that the octopus has about 500 million neurons - the same as the average dog and twice as many as a cat?   Well if you read The Times you will know because that is where I got the information as there is an article on  the fact that someone intends to open an Octopus Farm  in the Canary Islands, to breed them solely for the  Food Market (Calamari anyone?)

But it did set me thinking.    Do you like Calamari?   I have seen it often on the menu in various parts of the World.   I have never tried it.   I love Crab, Lobster, prawns and I would almost kill for a good bowl of Moules Mariniere(so if there is anyone you wish to bump off I'm your woman - except of course these days I suspect even a tortoise would be able to run away from me).  And while I think about it - reading the article about how intelligent octopuses (?) are - I wonder if Sir David Attenborough is a vegetarian?

A Spanish Company is thinking of setting up a 'farm' on the Canary Islands with the sole purpose of breeding them for the table, and animal rights groups are saying it is cruel because they are "intelligent, creative and solitary creatures".   Reading about them this morning has made me realise just what incredible creatures they are.   For a start they have three hearts pumping blood to their 'arms' and each of their arms has a 'mini brain' - they often beat those hunting them at their own game and some can even walk on land to find food.   If all that doesn't put you off ordering Calamari then I don't know what will.  Eating mare (unknowingly until after I had eaten it and it was delicious) was horrifying - almost as though I had eaten my dear little Tess - my Border Terrier.

My first husband was a Japanese Prisoner of War on the Death Railway and they were mostly at starving point.   One day the Japanese offered them dog and they turned it down - so the Japanese soldiers ate it.

But reading this did make me think in a wider sense about the brain and how clever some animals are - presumably reading that the dog has twice as many neurons as the cat makes me wonder just how many we have (I am now expecting one of you to tell me as I am too lazy to research it on Google).

The working of the brain has always interested  me- being a teacher and especially for some years a teacher of the least able pupils- means that the problem is always at the forefront of one's mind in preparations for lessons and in the general day to day activities.

Now retired - and more recently diagnosed with Epilepsy- has sharpened my interest somewhat.

Every morning I go through the same order of things.   I get up, open the blinds, get my breakfast on my trolley and into the Living Room before my carer comes.   After my carer has washed and helped me dress for the day ahead, and put my Times on the trolley I immediately do the Mind Games to keep my mind sharp while I am fresh to it and my brain has not begun to fill up with the day's rubbish.   Some days (today is an example) I sail through the Killer, SetSquare, Polygon, Crossword and Codeword at speed and get them all correct.  On another day (yesterday for example) I struggled - finally abandoning the killer (although it was only marked 'gentle') and the crossword only half done.

Why, I ask you?   What makes my brain work better some days than others?   Do you have the same experience or am I a one off?   The same goes for my specs and my hearing aids.   This morning I listened to the seven o'clock News without hearing aids in - next time I know I will need them.   Why?

Thursday 16 March 2023


 It is 71 years today since I married my first dearly loved husband, Malcolm.   I was 19 and he was 26 and we had 39 years of happiness together with our shared interests in art, music, walking, travelling abroad to slightly way-out places (Samarkand, Bukhara, Khabarovsk Trans Siberian) and, of course, bringing up our only child  - our son, Dominic.  Malcolm  died in 1991 of kidney cancer.

I sat this morning thinking about him and thinking about getting old.   Not morbid thoughts - just normal thoughts one has - mulling it all over in my mind.  Thinking how very lucky I was to have found another partner in my dear farmer who was known to Malcolm and with whom I had another happy marriage for almost twenty four years    Totally different interests and I think that is what made it so successful second time around..

My thinking led on to old age.   I can't say I felt old when my farmer passed away (which will be six years ago next week) and I have come to the conclusion that old age creeps up on one in such a way that you really don't notice it until one day - wham! - it pulls you up short when you suddenly struggle to do some silly little thing and think 'last time I did that it was easy!'

As some poet said - .you are born to die (or something like that).  It's not as though we don't know it is coming - we know we are not immortal.   But as somebody else said - old age is not for cissies.

I suppose for some people it arrives with a flash and a bang - a sudden stroke, a bad accident or something like that.   But I guess for the most part folk are like me.   It creeps up - an arthritic knee here, a deaf aid there, then a rather suspect short term memory, which in my case often means going to the front door two or three times during the evening to make sure I did lock it and put the chain on when the carer left.

What is important is how to deal with it.   In my case this is where my blog comes in.   I would find it hard to fill my time usefully without posting almost every day.   It means firstly I have to think of something to say - here reading The Times is a help as it often gives me an idea.   Times 2 has different columnists writing articles (how on earth do they think of two or three short pieces on some days - all well-written and topical?)   

Yes, I get great pleasure from waiting for my flowers to come out (especially the early ones as I have often forgotten exactly where to expect things like a clump of purple crocus) but that only supplies a sentence unless I look up the origin of the name, when they were first introduced into the country and by whom.   And the same goes for writing about garden birds (who, now that mating time has arrived are around as usual - and also the neighbourhood bird-catching champion cat who is again on patrol.)

No, my method of trying hard to stay young:

Make sure your friends are always welcome whenever they call.   Friends are so important - they provide good conversation (there is only so long when you can talk to yourself).   I love all my friends, they are always welcome and I hope they all know how much I value their visits.

Always have a good book on the go.  Here I can thank Blogger so often - Rachel recommended Olivia Manning's Balkan and Levant Trilogies and they have been a really good read.   Derek sent me 'Mother's Boy' - a novel roughly based on the life of the poet Charles Causley.   He had acquired it and read it and as he knew he wouldn't read it again has kindly sent it to me.   I finished it this morning - most interesting and well-written.   So thank you blog-friends Rachel and Derek.

Keep active - I can only walk with aids but I make sure I walk up and down the bungalow every hour (at present it is too cold and possibly icy to walk outside).

If you are lucky enough to have children, grandchildren or great grandchildren (I have four of the latter) - take pleasure in their achievements even if you only hear of them from e mails, photographs, phonecalls.   If they don't live locally then you can't expect to be top of their list for visits - these days everyone is just too busy.

And when your time is up my philosophy is to give in gracefully not to fight.  I don't subscribe to Dylan Thomas's "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" - no, for me when my time is up it's up and I just hope it turns out like that!

Hopefully I'll see you tomorrow!

Monday 13 March 2023


 When I worked in school full time I had to be up with the lark, showered, breakfasted and off to work to be there as long as possible before the pupils came - to get my 'stall set out' so to speak.  However I felt when I awoke I had to get going.

Now, of course, long retired (forty years) I am free to do as I please.   Some mornings I am eager to get up and get going - other mornings I keep looking at the clock and thinking 'I'll just have another five minutes'.   The danger with this is the tendency to 'drop off' (bears no relation to how well or otherwise I have slept).  If I get into a really deep sleep my carer has to gain entry via my key safe (this happens only rarely).

But what does happen is that if I get up like this I find it hard to snap out of it and get anything done.   I can sit for an hour doing the Mind Games in The Times, then I can decide to read the paper from cover to cover.   Then perhaps I think I will just finish whatever book I happen to be reading.   When I look at the clock it is lunch time.

After lunch I always watch the One O'clock News on BBC1 - well I switch it on but on the kind of day I am talking about (an indolent day) I usually drop off and wake up in the middle of that rather silly (inane) Doctors.

Why am I telling you this (apart from the fact that  I have had that sort of day today) - well I sure sure it would be the regular pattern if it became necessary for me to go into full time care.   I would join that brigade of oldies, sitting round the edge of the room, heads on chests, dozing all day.   Heaven forbid it should ever come to that.   Unless that is, some handsome ninety something year old should come through the door looking for a spritely lover - then maybe, just maybe I might rise to the occasion.  (and I want no rude jokes here John or Tom).

Sadly the weather has not made things easier today.   Although the sun has shone on and off it has mostly at the same time been pouring with rain.  But my goodness me, how the snow and now the rain has brought out the purple and white crocus.  I could see no sign of them among their golden cousins, but this morning they are peppered all over the garden and they look majestic.

Yes, Spring is just around the corner  and I must be firm with myself and when the clock says SIX there must be no snuggling down again under the duvet - it must be up, up, up and away, scooting with my trolley into the kitchen to put Flahavans Organic Jumbo Oats and milk into the microwave for their four minute twirl so that by half past six I am sitting watching Today on BBC1,

See you tomorrow.

Sunday 12 March 2023

Goodbye to the snow.....

 ....for now.   There is some talk of it returning for one last time this winter but it has disappeared 'as if by magic' today and Mr and Mrs Blackbird are 'at it' again and the garden is awash with snowdrops, crocus and hellebores.    What a joy to see their appearance in tip top condition as though the snow had never happened.

Not a lot has happened because of the bad weather everything has been at a standstill.   Hopefully I will be back tomorrow with more news.   My friends S and T have been as usual on a Sunday and have just gone.   Any minute now my evening carer will be here.   It will be a relief carer as, sadly, my usual carer has had a bereavement in her close family.   She came this morning but is having the evening off.   See you tomorrow.

Friday 10 March 2023


 ..and in March too.   Six inches of the stuff when I got up this morning and a very hard frost.    Roads like the A66 cross-country were closed and there were long delays on the A1 motorway.    It is half past two in the afternoon and The Times still hasn't come.   My relief carer's chiwawa ran out into it when she opened the back door and she totally disappeared!   Now there is a sharp wind blowing but the sky is an unbroken blue and it is beautifully sunny, so that indoors it is quite warm and my central heating has switched itself off.   When I got up and opened the blinds I couldn't see out as all the windows were covered in snow and when I opened the front door to collect the milk  from the step a large pile of snow fell into the hall.   I got the fish slice and a cereal bowl and had it all cleaned up before it even thought of melting.  And it doesn't seem to have stopped Mr and Mrs Blackbird courting on the hedge.   

What to write about today?   Well for a start my son is 65 today and nothing makes you feel old like that kind of statement.   It seems like only yesterday him being born.

Crufts is on the TV again.   Like I am sure most of you, I do object to the selective breeding of dogs (for example the 'pug-nosed- breeds )  to make them fit in with people's idea of what the breed should look like, at the expense of the health of the breed.  (I had a lovely pug - Algy (of Rupert Bear fame)- he was a lovely dog and we loved him dearly and I must say he never had breathing problems and lived to a ripe old age.   But my carer this morning when we were talking about it, said 

pugs now cost around £1500 each.   While pedigree dogs cost this much (and a whole lot more) there are always going to be unscrupulous people who exploit dogs and run puppy farms and such like.   .


Money breeds this sort of behaviour, sadly.

But I do love to watch the beautifully turned out dogs - many of whom are obviously dearly loved pets.   Last night it was the turn of the gun dogs and the choosing of the one to go into the final on Sunday.   The dog chosen (can anyone watching tell me the breed - my hearing is not brilliant and I just couldn't catch the name) was absolutely beautiful and obviously much loved by his two dads.

I expect some of your replies will chastise me for watching it - and you are entitled to do so - but I do so love watching dogs and I do so miss my much adored Tess.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

International Women's Day

 Today is that day (is there an International Men's Day?) and Caitlin Moran (she who does not mince her words) talks about the book '100 Women who made History' - or as she puts it 'the bold, the brave, the outlying, the trailblazers'.  I love the way she says 'we'll know feminism has finally done its job .....when women can be awful, dim, lacklustre, nuts' - in other words' as thoroughly average as men'.

She says that in this year girls need not someone they can look up to especially but someone they can look sideways at and still admire.

One such is my Chief Carer, J - a wonder woman if ever there was one.   She comes every morning (except on her every other Sat/Sun when it is her well-deserved week=end off) at 7am for an hour.   Not at five to seven, not at five past seven - but on the dot of seven.   And in that hour that follows, chatting away cheerfully as she goes, she empties my commode and disinfects it, strips and remakes my bed (I am a restless sleeper - she does occasionally question who I have in it when she is not here but I reply 'no such luck'), washes/showers me and helps me dress, wipes down all kitchen surfaces, and all bathroom surfaces, takes out all recycling and dustbin rubbish and puts out appropriate bins on the right day (Wednesday), puts my washing in the washer ready to put into the drier when she, or another carer, can do so at night.  She then takes home anything which needs ironing and does it with her own ironing. In addition she gets my breakfast and does the washing up.   She also cooks my mid day meal at home with her own and puts it in my microwave so that all I need to do is switch it on and in four minutes my lunch is ready.**  She brings The Times from the letter box and puts it by my chair - and then she is off, with a cheery goodbye, to her next client.   All in one hour.   My house is always clean and tidy and given a thorough going over once a month by D, my cleaner.

That is the kind of unsung heroine who gains my total admiration and thanks.   So thanks J  for being my nomination for international woman of the year - and I am sure there are thousands like her - doing magnificent jobs for not enough pay.

**  Her partner also deserves a mention as he always cooks their Sundaay lunch and makes the best gravy I have ever tasted.  I even wonder whether I could put any left (she brings it in a little jar) in a glass, top it up with something like Cinzano Bianco and drink it with my lunch!)

Monday 6 March 2023

Getting old....

 ...and arriving there suddenly.

In my early eighties I didn't feel old at all.   The farmer was still here, we still had our daily walks round the fields with the dogs, we still had our holidays abroad - mainly to the US and Canada,- one almost imagines this will go on for ever, will never end.   But of course it does.

Our last holiday was a river cruise from Amsterdam to Antwerp at tulip time (and back through the Zuider Zee) meeting Dutch friends for a walk through the tulips - magnificent.  And then the farmer's disastrous  brain tumour and it was all over.

Since then I have got progressively less agile and without doubt a lot older.    Inevitable.  But I soldier on - as does everyone - we don't have a choice in the matter.

What goes first as old age arrives tends to be one's extremeties!   Ears, eyes, feet, hands - that kind of thing.   I was reminded of this this morning when the chiropodist paid her six-weekly visit= toe nails, soles, heels, toe tops (taking in tiny would be corns (if she didn't come regularly)then a brief massage and a cream.   Now I am walking on air for about five weeks until walking reminds me that she is soon due again.

Eyes - my sight is not brilliant and I have to wait for my next visit until my complete tablet change is over.     (about another month I think) - then it will be down there again to have my specs updated.  In the meantime my carer has bought me an illuminated magnifying glass for my codeword/crossword/sudoku hour each morning.

Ears mean a longer trip to Ripon, about twenty miles away - and at the moment I don't feel up to that.   But my hearing aids work well - just need a service.

Otherwise, so far, so good.   I can sit at my computer and look out on to a gradually waking up garden and - joy of joys - the gradual return of the garden birds I have missed all Winter - Mr and Mrs Blackbird doing their pre=nuptual courting, a blue tit this morning viewing possible nesting sites.  No robin yet - but I am full of hope for his arrival.

See you anon.

Sunday 5 March 2023

An article in the Sunday Times  magazine today suggests reading Philip Larkin's  'The Mower'.   I have just read it - it is only short but beautiful, simple and food for thought (as I think all poetry should be).   It fits in nicely with what I intended to write about today.   Do read it on Google.

Tha article was about the loss of a loved one.   Most of us - in fact I could almost say all of us - have had that experience - a parent, a husband/partner/wife/child.   We learn to live with the experience, to deal with it, to try and live on - for the sake of our remaining loved ones as much as for ourselves.   But the sense of loss doesn't go - it fades, it stays in the background getting fainter and fainter - my first dearly loved husband died thirty two years ago - it seems a lifetime; my farmer died six years ago in a couple of weeks.

It's marsh marigold time = the most poignant reminder for me of my farmer.   I shalln't see them this year - I can no longer get to the beck where they grow - but Thelma reminded me of them in a recent post.

My first husband was a painter and some of his paintings hang on my walls, along with other paintings by friends and also a nicely framed print of Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Ear-ring' which he bought me for my twenty-first  birthday and which hangs in my hall where I look at it every day. (we always called it 'Girl in a Yellow Turban' and I still think of it as that).  But thirty odd yeas seems a lifetime - almost another life.

But six years is no time at all.   My memories of my second marriage are much nearer and very different.    Getting into bed - laying on our backs and going over the day and its happenings, thn turning on to our left sides for a cuddle, then over on to our right  sides to go to sleep.  Odd now that - after my new hip - I can't do, as I have to sleep on my back.

My computer table used to be in a cubby hole at the bottom of the stairs,  in the front hall.   I used to do the farm business (accounts, Cattle Movement Service and such like) on my lap top often while he was showering.   When he came downstairs after his shower he would always stop and pop a kiss on the top of my head.   I miss that still (don't miss the CMS - fiddly chore as I am sure all farmers would agree.)

But some things are common to both marriages:

Have you seen my glasses?

Could we have a night when we don't watch the News?

Where shall we go on holiday this year?

What's for dinner?

I could go on, but I won't - we all have a list in our heads don't we?

But I know one or two which would crop up now were either of them still with me.   Top of the list would be

Please do not speak of Prince Harry again.  (he is in our Newspapers again, baring his soul again - does he not realise that 'grown ups' have internalised their childhood traumas (both of my husbands had them but did they talk about them? no -they had largely learned to live with them.

The last 'verse' of Larkin's 'The Mower' says it all.

"We should be careful of each other, we should be kind , while there is still time".

If we can say we have done this then we can live with our memories and enjoy them. 

Friday 3 March 2023

Are you trendy?

 Do you read the Fashion Magazines, or the weekly 'Fashion' day in your newspaper?   What about furniture?   Do you follow the latest trends  - for example it does seem as though'Three Piece Suites' (remember them?) are now more or less de trop.When I was growing up (1940s and 1950s) everyone 'needed' a three piece suite - a settee and two armchairs.   My parents had one in their 'front room'.   I can see it now - covered in a sort of bronzy-coloured, velvety material- not particularly comfortable.   It 'sat' in our front room, along with our 'radiogram' and as far as I can remember the two records they possessed,   (One was 'We are the Queen's Navy' - can't remember what the other one was but it was of the same ilk) and my piano.  I spent hours playing the piano even though it was always freezing cold in there.

We only went in the Front Room on Christmas Day and New Year's Day and if someone 'special' was paying a visit.   The curtains were kept semi-drawn to stop the sun fading the suite.   (when I married the farmer in 1993 his parents had the same kind of front room except for piano read china cabinet with glass front and best china only used when 'important people' visited.)

Does anyone live like this any more?

And what about Fashion?   My mother favoured what she called the costume.   By the time I came along it became 'the suit'.   For any special occasion it was necessary to have a new suit.   I have photographs of her and my father when they were on a week's holiday - staying in a Boarding House in Llandudno.   My mother is sitting in some kind of summer house/hut half way up the Great Orme - she is wearing a suit!   And similarly my mother and two of her sisters sitting in deck chairs on the sands - in suits!

I do remember following Fashion when the mini came in for the first time (early seventies for a guess) and I had a gorgeous yellow mini skirt which I wore with a navy blue silk shirt blouse with the top two buttons open and the sleeves rolled up almost to the elbow.  (very daring).   But compared with today's mini skirts it would have been considered almost long.

Now if I see some chair I like I would buy it - making sure the cover didn't clash fiercely with any other piece of furniture I owned.

But as for clothes - I look (probably with the astonishment - or even horror) at today's fashionistas and think 'never in a million years would I wear that'.   Apart from anything else - I used to have good legs - I am 5ft 9in (in old money) and my legs were worth looking at boys.   But now my arthritic knees are best kept under wraps, seen only by me and by my carers.   It is trousers all the time - I no longer possess a skirt apart from a full length woollen plaid skirt I can't bear to take to the Charity Shop - I love it too much (and yes it would hide my knees but I can no longer fasten it at the waist!)

If you are someone like the gorgeous Dame Judi Dench (almost as old as me) you can develop your own fashion.    She cuts a dash in the same kind of clothes always - and I am sure she has many outfits.  They always look divine on her.

As a final parting shot - I think the mini had been 'in' earlier than that.   My sister who was 22 years older than me (same parents) always liked to dress fashionably.   When I was in my early teens and played the organ at the Methodist Chapel  my family attended, my sister asked who the preacher was one Sunday morning just as I was setting off to play.   When I said his name she gave a roar of laughter - he was by this time a Bank Manager in Lincoln - and she related how once she and her friend were walking down the street in Lincoln (they would be in their mid teens) and he, with a group of young pals, had shouted across the road, "Look at Vera Smithson lads - she's got legs right up to her bum!"

I never saw that preacher in the same light again!

See you tomorrow.

Thursday 2 March 2023

Credit where it is undoubtedly due.

 People do complain a lot about our NHS and I am sure a lot of the complaints are well justified.  Nurses are striking because they are not paid (or appreciated enough) for their caring and often exhausting work.   Ditto Ambulance Drivers and Junior Doctors;  waiting list are too long; operations are often postponed at the last minute.   I could go on.   But I won't. 

Last night I watched a programme on BBC2 - past my usually early bedtime - and how pleased I was to have watched it.   It restored my faith in Human Nature and showed me all that is still Good with a capital G in our NHS.

The Hospital was Leeds General Infirmary and the patient was Jamie - an early middle-aged man I would guess.   He was remarkably good-natured and up beat and - a single dad whose Mum seemed to look after his two delightful little girls - was obviously adored by all three.   He had lost both hands and both legs in an Industrial accident and was suddenly presented with two new hands donated by some kind and thoughtful man who had left his body to be used where possible when he no longer needed it.  Obviously time was of the essence and he was called in urgently.

What followed was (for me at any rate) an hour long programme devoted to the operation - with explanations here and there as to why other operations had to be postponed (two lovely young boys with cystic fibrosis - the first op took much longer than anticipated and the second boy had to be sent back home with a promised date a month later - both he and his dad took the explanation without complaint.)

But the compelling part was the ten hour operation - which had a team of 40 staff - to give Jamie new hands.   The operation was done by a charming and obviously deeply caring man (he even popped back to see Jamie mid-way through his six week holiday period to check on his progress and make sure things were going well ("I was worrying about him.  I'm a bit clingy to my patients").   His name was Professor Simon  Kay.   An ordinary looking chap - the kind you pass in the street every day and without a second glance.   Here, in his working environment, where those 40 folk working with him knew - and indeed saw - precisely what a fully remarkable man he was I would hazard a guess he was viewed almost with awe -and rightly so.

At the end of the hour we saw Jamie, after six weeks, going back home and greeted by his Mum and his two daughters 'squealing with delight' and jumping off the trampoline in their back garden (a safety one I hasten to  add) and he able to hold their hands and hug them.

Truly awe inspiring from beginning to end.   All I can say really is good luck to Jamie in the future.   As to Professor Kay - there are no words I can think of to express my admiration for this truly remarkable man.


Wednesday 1 March 2023

Oprimist or Pessimist

 Let's look out of the window here in The Yorkshire Dales on the first Day of March - the first day of Meteorological Spring.   Sounds good doesn't it, but most of us - in the UK at any rate - think of the first day of Spring as March 21st and judging by the weather outside the said window it doesn't look much like Spring.   It is either a bright sunny day with frequent heavy showers, or it is a very wet day with now and again a burst of bright sunshine.  which ever way you look at it - if I had to  go out today I would have to get my M and S Duvet coat out of its hibernation bag on the wardrobe shelf and wear it, detachable hood and all.  It would be the first time it had seen the light of day this winter.   And it is forecast to get much colder next week.

 And the hundred or so crocuses I can see as I sit here - I think they are optimists too.   Do they snuggle down in the soil waiting for a warm day?  Do they pussyfoot!   They say (or they would if they could talk) - 'to hell with the weather, it's the first of March so come on lads and lasses, let's get going, let's show that lot out there above ground that come what may we think it's Spring, so they had better pull up their socks and get going.

We all know folk who will always search for some 'doom and gloom' side to every story/event, just as there are those who will latch on to some glimmer of hope, pleasure or happiness and broadcast it.   And I know - and so do you I am sure - which type makes us feel happier (even if it turns out not to happen).   Some King (may have been George V) is reputed to have said, 'I am feeling a little better today' on the morning he died.  And I bet for a while he made everyone feel optimistic.

So - the Weather is set to be much colder here in the UK next week.   Let's all be Optimists - let's not say  - get out your wooly hats and gloves, put the snow shovel by the garage door and fill the coal bunker.   Let's all shout - (all together now) - in four week's time it will be glorious April.

Have a happy March - it hasn't come in like a lamb but neither has it come in like a lion.   It will be totally at the whim of the Jet Stream - and long may it remain so.