Wednesday 31 May 2023

Being an Observer

 I don't think I have ever had time to really look at people I don't know before.

I sit here thinking about what I have just written - goodness me, in all my teaching years and Parents' evenings of course I have.   People I don't know have arrived and sat down opposite me at a table to discuss  their child and his/her work/behaviour ( in the widest sense).   But then, of course, there has been an immediate connection - a common interest.   A brief 'friendship' usually emerges in these circumstances if one has developed the right technique for encouraging it - because parents' evenings are a two-way thing.   What the teacher learns about the parents - the way they look, the way they behave, their whole attitude - helps in every case to add to the teacher's knowledge of each individual child in his/her care.  If the evening is a success then they are not 'ships that pass in the night' but just another addition to the teacher's mental build-up of each individual child.

Now - at 90 - (sorry to keep reminding you of the fact but believe me I have to keep reminding myself)- I have through circumstances become just an observer for much of the time.

Two choices (I am cutting out TV here) - either I sit at my computer and observe either the screen or the garden through the window - maybe at some times of the year an animal (beef cattle, sheep) might pop its head over the stone wall but rarely, so it is observe garden and/or wildlife.   Or I sit in my nice new chair and look out of the window at the 'passing traffic'.   After living here now for over five years it  is amazing how familiar folk have become.

I can divide them into various groups (into my mind came the words 'Venn diagrams' - remember them from your school days?) - first and foremost  dog walkers - 7 - 8am and again after tea.   One soon learns who takes their pet for a short walk so that they poo away from their own doorstep and who is going for a 'proper' walk.   Past they go - at a fair speed (depending on the dog - plenty of different breeds from chihuahua to setter).  Those in the first category - back in a couple of minutes, poo bags swinging from which ever hand is not holding the lead) - the rest - some stroll back, others I don't see -they have a morning and evening route worked out and obviously return by a different way.    'By their dogs shall ye know them' has become my mantra with this group.

Mums with babies/toddlers pushing buggies pass later (do Mums still do as they did in my day - bath babies first thing, potty train, feed, dress, walk ) - I have no way of knowing.   All I can say of this group is by golly how quickly newborns become toddlers (different vehicles sameMum pushing) become      tiny tots on scooters, little bikes etc).

Ladies going shopping - middle aged walking briskly; only a mile into town so easy walking with a couple of shopping bags on market day.  Older ladies go past later at bus time (stop at the end of the road) and then return using the next bus.

And then there are the walkers - usually in at least pairs - dressed for the weather, sticks in hand, waterproofs in rucksack if they have listened to the weather forecast.

I get to know some of them a bit - if the day is warm enough I take Priscilla outside and sit by the front door ready to call over the front lawn to passers by.   Dog walkers are the best bet to elicit brief conversations (breed, behaviour, name etc) and some have become quite 'pally' - that goes for the dogs too. 

Plenty of folk pass in cars  - I am not interested in cars as long as they go) but that is only a brief glance.

But they are an interesting lot - dress varies enormously but only one thing stands out as worth mentioning.   Sorry but I do not like tattoos.   They might be 'fashionable' but now that the weather has warmed up a bit I do seem to be drawn to observing men in shorts, often fat tummies drooping over the waist line, and countless tattoos.  (I recall an elderly lady in the village stopping me when I was about to marry the farmer a couple of years after being widowed.   She remarked how lucky I was and said she would like to meet someone and remarry -( "but he must have his own teeth and he must keep his shoes clean.").   So I will end by saying - never in my whole life time could I marry a man whose body is covered in tattoos (but then I am sure they would all say, without exception "never in my whole life time could I marry a woman of 90, unable to walk and nosey enough to sit there observing me as I walk past"                                                                  

Tuesday 30 May 2023


Not everyone loves gardening.   I have always loved pottering in the garden and although I can no longer do anything but look, I still get such a lot from the experience.   It is the sense of tranquility I think; it is a space, however small, where I feel I can forget any worries           about the world and where it is heading - I get enough of that fron reading The Times each day (I do want to know what is happening everywhere but little of it these days fills me with a sense of pleasure).   But if you have the same kind of feelings that I have then please sit down with your morning cup of coffee and whatever you eat with it (kit-kat, tea cake, scone anyone?) and click on John's post today - I have just left it after wandering between the photographs as they increasingly filled me with the same feeling I get from my garden.   Go to 'By Stargoose and Hanglands' on my side bar and see if you agree -it has certainly been the high point of my day as it sit here recovering from Shingles. )

You may think of Red Valerian as a weed (my gardener certainly does) although I read somewhere the other day that it is an important medicinal plant - does anyone know what it is used for?   It is 'out' in my garden, standing up tall and strong against a background of an evergreen hedge and I love it.

And amongst a plethora of self-sown Aquelegia is a new - and very welcome - addition.   It is large flowered and is a very deep purply=blue and I welcome it with open arms and hope it seeds freely - it is the most beautiful colour.

The Alliums are bobbing about in the rather strong (and rather cold) East wind which is blowing in across the North York Moors from the North Sea and as it does so it dries up our soil even more at a time when everything is sorely needing a good drink of pure rain.  My gardener planted twenty three years ago.   Rather than seeding from their dark pink heads they seem to be disappearing (only ten this year) - I suspect field mice are the culprits - alliums are in the onion family so they possibly make good winter food for the Sunday dinner table.  I know where a family of field mice live in a hole in one of my stone walls - I see them now and again - and welcome them.   I don't begrudge them an allium or two (and when I see the alliums in the giant tent at Chelsea I can only think of mine as 'poor relations'.)

Pink rock-roses are everywhere - if there is a rock they will find it and quickly cover it.   And I am not short of rocks - plenty of those apart from the dry stone wall at the top.   If you are familiar with The Yorkshire Dales you will know that dry stone walls abound - walls built over hundreds of years, built with stones dug out of the earth they surround, knocked down by sheep and built up again by dry-stone-wallers or the farmer.   I was talking to a retired farmer the other day who has a daughter who is a professional photographer.   He commented (with puzzlement I suspect) how she had hundreds of photographs she had taken of stones.   'Stones' he said with puzzlement in his voice - as much as to say -when you've seen one you've seen them all.   How differently we see things - the sheep looks at stones and sees a possible escape into the next field if there is a wobbly bit of wall (the grass  is always greener both to a sheep and metaphorically to a lot of humans); the farmer looks at stones weighing up which one fits best in the space in the wall he is rebuilding after the sheep has knocked it down; the photographer with a fascination for stones looks at a stone and sees the beauty in its colour, its shape, the bits of moss growing on it ---.   Perfect example of 'it takes all sorts'.

Don't forget to pop over to 'By Stargoose and Hanglands' will you?


Monday 29 May 2023


Short and personal post today as I have run out of time and my evening carer will be here in a minute.  Today - Royal Oak Day - the twenty-ninth of May - is, I believe, Heather's birthday.    We have been together in Blogland Heather through thick and thin - so just to wish you a Happy Birthday - and I am sure all other regulars will join in with good wishes.   Us Oldies have to stick together - have a lovely day. 

Sunday 28 May 2023

Farewell shingles??

 Well 'they' appear to be on their way out.   I am certainly in less pain and discomfort and the angriness of the blotches and blisters is paling a bit.   I don't feel one hundred percent yet but I am improving.

My dear friends T and S called with a jar of the very freshest honey only taken from the hive during the week-end - I shall sample it at tea time on a couple of crumpets.   They have been wrestling with swarms so are pretty worn out.

I do wish I could photograph my garden for you - it is awash with bearded iris,  osteospermum , pansies, rock roses and aquelegia.   I get such pleasure from it even if I can no longer do it myself.

Although I live on a housing estate, the site immediately opposite my bungalow is owned by the company who built the estate - they are a local firm and I have always presumed they intend it for their retirement.   Folk who call on me often remark that they wish there was a bungalow there and how they wouldn't wish to live opposite 'a bit of waste land'.   I love it.   It is hilly and the mounds are at present covered in Cow Parsley which glows white when dusk is falling.   The dandelions have finished - just the 'clocks' left to spread next years plants on my lawn and garden - and the surrounding ones too.   Here and there saplings of ash trees throw up new 'stalks' (they are 'culled' every couple of years) and they are now in full leaf - and all along the bottom of the site is a mixture of hazels (catkins are now finished and they are in leaf), a lovely silver birch and hawthorne bushes at present in full flower.   The May blossom smells wonderful.  I could be in the middle of the countryside in the front and AM in the countryside at the back as over my dry stone wall are the fields. (have just looked out and the old ash tree in the field is now in full leaf).

I am still a bit frail - shingles is not a nice illness - but it doesn't stop all the greenery around me burgeoning.   The sun isn't out today and it is a bit chilly - so no sitting outside for an hour but as you will have seen from my post today, Spring has really sprung.

I no longer use my oven or my hob.  My hob has a 'hood' with a 'chimney' to outside.   Sparrows have built where it comes out into the house wall.   Mum and Dad can be seen from the garage as they busily pop in and out with feed.   Babies can be heard clearly from my kitchen as they sound to have their nest inside.   Mr Blackbird has a rival Mr Blackbird - one sits on the apex of my roof, another on the roof next door.   I can't say they sing in Unison - quite a lot of discord and rivalry - you can have too much of a good thing.

Monday 22 May 2023


I have shingles.   Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Saturday 20 May 2023


 Do we all have them?   I really don't know about that.   I just know that I - from being quite a small child- have had them.   My first one - and one that has existed to this day, albeit changed to fit circumstances, is with Natural History in general - plants wild and garden, birds and (apart from hares) less so about our native wild animals.   Hares above all I adore - perhaps because in my childhood they were plentiful in Lincolnshire and seen around often.  Certainly it had nothing to do with my mother's love of jugged hare.  I could smell it cooking before I came through the gate and I never, ever touched it because it just brought to mind from a very young age the absolute freedom of a running hare in the flat Lincolnshire countryside.

I suppose I inherited the fascination from my Dad; we used to walk the lanes around the village - me with a wild flower book in my hand, he with a bird book.   He had a wonderful knack of finding birds' nests.   He would part the hedge and show me the nest - if the hen was sitting she would usually sit stock still, watching us carefully and he would quietly let the twigs in the hedge go back and we would move away only whispering what sort of bird she was when we got a bit further away from the nest (sometimes we would find one in the  bank on the side of a spring, in a tiny hole in the grass).

When we found a wildflower I would identify it from my book (I soon got to know what they were) and then I would pick just one flower (frowned on these days), put it into the damp paper I carried ready to be pressed and put into my book when I got home.  Then I would write a bit about it.   (How I wish I had those books now but they have disappeared in the mists of time).

These days of course I no longer walk in the countryside but my love of plants continues - wild or otherwise).   Today I see my neighbour's hawthorn tree is bursting into blossom - May blossom as we call it.  The smell of the blossom is so strong and so gorgeous.  Usually a blackbird sings from the topmost bow but at present I think Mrs B must be sitting on another clutch of eggs so he is busy on my front lawn looking for treats for her.   Instead a chaffinch has taken up pole position - a bit monotonous after Mr B.   I wonder what Mrs B thinks - her nest in my hedge is only a short distance away from the hawthorne.

As for flowers - my steep garden is coming into bloom again now that the Spting bulbs have largely finished apart from the Alliums which get less each year - I think the field mice like them as winter food.

Many of the blooms out now are either pink, blue or purple,   Sadly I can't get up into the steep  garden and have to watch from the patio - irritating because many of them I can no longer identify, they are too far away.   But I can still look and enjoy.

Other fascinations?   Words.   But I'll leave that for another day.

Thursday 18 May 2023

Nuclear families.

 Usually the snippets in the first page of Times 2 tend to really irritate me (but provide good 'blog-fodder'.)  But  today Deborah Ross has provided me with a lot of food for thought in her designated number of  words  on 'The Nuclear Family'.

Apparently Danny Kruger MP (at The National Conservatism conference) has said he wants to see 'an end to the narcissism of the me generation'.   And he hopes this would engender a return to 'family values'.

This is a topic which I regularly discuss/argue with my son about.   It puts up our phone bills but we shall never agree so it really is a waste of money, as are most arguments on the telephone or not.   Give me an instance where an argument has ever changed anyone's views.   We get our views entrenched - right or wrong - and it takes a rude awakening to change them.

You could write a long list as to why the situation is as it is now.   Why do folk chop and change partners - in some cases, it seems to me as an outsider- like they change what is their favourite meal?

I would suggest that the following are some of the reasons:

We have more money (yes, I know many folk have rotten salaries/wages but still more money than the previous generations in real terms.)

Because household bills are high, both parties have to work thus much more opportunity for both sexes to 'view the field' and find greener grass (they think - often mistakenly).

These days the car has become as essential a part of family expenditure as a hot dinner - two people working so often 2 cars.   You can spread your wings a lot with petrol in your tank.

And  - all the above reasons mean that there is now rarely a situation where Grandma and Grandad, Aunts and Uncles, old Uncle Tom Cobley and all live within a stone's throw of one another so that baby sitting, providing meals, knowing one another's affairs - all that has largely disappeared and a visit to see Grandma and Grandad involves a three hour car journey and of your life they know nothing.

I don't think there is a single issue that has become entrenched in our society today that can go back to a previous way of looking at things.   We evolve and that is how it has always been and always will be.

And it is 'oldies' like me who look back and think that the old way of thinking was the best way.   I try hard to not think like that because I know it is a pointless exercise.  What life is like now is what is and it has to evolve at its own pace - a forward pace.

Watching old Michael Palin reruns on TV - it is not unusual to see some 'remote' tribal chief whip out his mobile phone - things are moving forward for good or ill.   Like it or lump it.



Wednesday 17 May 2023

0ld age anyone?

 That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.

I don't think anyone has ever put it better than Shakespeare in these first four lines of sonnet number 73.

I love the sonnets and have always loved them.   These four lines have resonated more and more as the years have rolled by. For, let's face it,. we don't really contemplate old age when we are dashing about through teenage frolics,  then marriage and babies, then middle age when (if we are lucky) 'our'sweet birds' have flown the nest - suddenly( again, if we are lucky)we have a bit more money and can do things we have always wanted to do -travel in my case.

But now at ninety I don't think I am quite to the stage of no birds singing.    In fact today's Times 2  has Martha Stewart the cover star - in a swimsuit - and she is 81.   Don't panic I am not about to put on a photo of myself in such a garment.   In fact I don't expect to ever wear one again, although I   daresay a daily swim might do my muscles a world of good.

But the caption on the photo says'Is 80 the new sixty?'   Well I go along with that and shall update it a bit and say 'Is 90 the new 70?' 

Give or take a bit of osteoarthritis and a couple of non existent knee ligaments (which do make it essential to hold on tightly to Priscilla on any jaunts) there are still a few birds singing.   Probably old crows rather than perky wrens but thanks to Priscilla still able to fly.


Tuesday 16 May 2023

Keep the mind going!

Thelma mentions this on her post today and so I thought I would take the topic as my 'thought for today'.

I am very much a creature of habit and since becoming more or less housebound I have made myself be so even more because once one could spend all day sitting in your chair doing next to nothing (I live alone but have Carers) it is easy to fall into the trap and thus (in my mind) sink lower and lower into a state of atrophy.

I know there are many folk who when they retire think how good it is to no longer have a strict routine - everyone chooses their own path through retirement- for some reason Robert Frost's Road not Taken  springs to mind here- but I have to have routine in my life, and neatness, and tidiness and also a clear mental path as to where I am going.   And since my horrible attack last October my whole drug regime has been changed (and has resulted in a much clearer mind as all my family and friends agree) and mentally I feel 'ready to go' whereas before there was always a bit of fog on the road ahead.

So here is how my day goes:

The Times usually arrives just as my morning Carer goes (she is with me 7am to 8am) - so it's News Headlines on Breakfast TV and then read the Times.   Then I turn to Times 2 and the Mind Games which take me about an hour and a half.   Some days I sail through them with no trouble - some days the less said about them the better. (today was a good day) Then it is coffee and a snack (packet of Crisps; 2 finger Kit-Kat, toasted crumpet - or anything I fancy - please note 1 of these only not all of them!)

Then it is Blogtime. Read your posts and comment when I can - Si loved your cricket post today and the photographs which suggest a perfect English Spring day but your site would not allow me to comment for some reason.  Then read what you said about my yesterday's post and leave a reply to some.   And by this time all the day's input into my brain usually ignites my own thoughts for the day.

After lunch there is my walk along my patio looking at  what's out, pulling out the odd weed I can reach, watching any bird life *have yet to see a Robin this year* - and then it is out along the footpath (using my neighbour's drive as it is not as steep as mine)with Priscilla - how far depends on state of legs, knees and ankles, strength of the wind and whether there is a suggestion of rain.

Then a nice long afternoon and evening stretches out in front of me.   Almost every day one or other of my friends calls for a chat and a cuppa (plus 2finger Kit Kat - almost my addiction along with Crisps)  or my gardener calls to mow and weed, or the Lifeline lady calls in to check my buzzer is in working order, or - if I manage to sit in the front garden some dog walker passes and we have a short doggy session.   Either side neighbour pops round or J or E who live further down the road.

My evening carer comes at either 5 or 7 and helps me get ready for bed. There's plenty to do - wash up the few tea and visitor cups and saucers, watch the odd TV (couldn't answer a single question on last night's University Challenge (getting near the end of Jeremy Paxman's reign sadly), read whatever I have got on the go, learn a bit of poetry (a recent addition to my mind-training regime) - at the moment it is Robert Herrick's 'Gather ye Rosebuds' and by golly the Feminist movement would shoot him down in flames these days) and that's it - bedtime.   All tablets which reside in a weekly 'tower' pot which is a great help and is one of my Sarurday jobs, have been taken - switch off the bedside light and hope that sleep creeps up fairly quickly and I have sweet dreams.

Monday 15 May 2023

Is it me?

Or is it everyone else?

Chelsea 1  Man U 0!!

Sam Kerr scored the goal and once again gave Chelsea the cup in the WOMEN'S F A CUP FINAL.  My Dad , who died fifty years ago and is buried in Lincolnshire - in Washingborough Churchyard- (the village where I grew up),  would be 'turning in his grave' at this stunning piece of News.

Whan I was a child in the nineteen thirties and forties my Dad was Secretary of the Washingborough Football Club and faithfully followed them about to their Saturday matches.   Home games were played on the football pitch at the top of Church Hill, and the field was sacrosanct.**  Kept in perfect condition, the pitch for home games would invite a small audience almost if not exclusively male.   Football was a 'man's game'.   Football for girls?   Rubbish - boys play football, girls play hockey and netball.   Firm divisions between the sexes in those days.   Well,  well done to the Ladies I say (and so say all of us).

So how far have we come ladies in the last ninety years?  Let's look at a few issues:

Marriage and Divorce.  I believe marriage is almost on its way out as couples who are married and those who choose not to marry but still have a nuclear family (albeit often only a temporary one as Dads do tend to move around a bit (up here at any rate) are almost equal in their popularity.

Abortion.   Babies born 'out of wedlock' is a term rarely used these days - in fact said 'babies' often turn up as bridesmaids at Mum and Dad's wedding years hence.   In my young days such babies were often brought up thinking Granny was Mum to save embarrassment and 'disgrace' (for the female not the male!) -the term 'swept under the carpet' was a term often used).

Paternal rights.  This is almost a bit of a laugh these days.   How many Patriarchs are there about these days - was your father Head of the family?   My Dad might have thought he was - he was certainly the Breadwinner but handed his wage packet over to my Mother once he had extracted his 'pocket money'.   Mother definitely kept the family together by being in charge of the purse strings.  Now that both parents usually work (they have to to pay the bills) only rarely is this idea of Head of the Family thought about.

Now to the more mundane things.   It is difficult for me to centre on any things which I think have improved my lot.  In the mixture that was called Infant School boys sat at one side of the room and girls at the other; at playtime girls played in one playground, usually huddled in friendship groups and playing skipping or tig or just chatting.   Boys kicked a ball about and maybe had a bit of cricket thrown in  in Summer.   Sometimes the boys had fights - the cane was usually in evidence on such occasions.

 Our Senior Schools were segregated so through puberty, unless we had brothers or sisters, anything we learned was by hearsay ("my mum and dad definitely never did that!").

Result - almost always innocence at 14.  No mobiles, no porn, no TV churning out 'near to the knuckle' programmes.

Wolf whistles, bottom pinches and the like were everywhere - we ignored them largely.  In fact - I hardly dare say it - we began to be almost flattered by such things as we moved into teenage years.

Of course women have made major strides in such things as job equality, plenty of entrepreneurs are women; women have risen through the ranks in the Church; there are enough women M.P's in Parliament to make protests unnecessary.   I am sure I have missed some things out but if so I am sure some of you will point them out.  Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Mary Robinson, Nicola Sturgeon - pop into my mind (not to mention Liz Truss!!)

All I can say as I reach my final years is that when I see woman in the middle east flitting about the streets in their Burkhas and when I see programmes about tribes in places like The Sahara and other parts of Africa where fgm is obligatory and read of girls in Afghanistan deprived of basic education because of their sex, I know conditions for women here are good.   Many people will say we still have a long way to go.   But seeing places deep in the Himalayas on recent Michael Palin programmes (I have seen them all before but they are enthralling and I never tire of them)where huge festivals are held and there isn't a woman in sight, I would say the world has a huge way to go.   But we can't tackle the whole world - mighty oaks from little acorns grow.  Any ideas on the subject anyone?

**It is now a Housing Estate. 

Sunday 14 May 2023

Am I an anachronism?

Thank you Camilla Long in today's Sunday Times for making me feel I should be behaving as an 'old lady' should; for making me feel I am on a scrap heap of over-seventies who should 'put up and shut up'.

I had my Covid jab on Thursday and for the last couple of days I have felt just slightly 'under the weather'  and have not posted.   But having read her 'Comment' this morning I am in a state of 'mini fury' which (on the plus side) has made me feel much better physically (and has also made  feel that feeling out of sorts after my jab was also 'all in the mind').

I would like her to know that I might be 90 when you see me walking along the footpath with my walker but inside my head I am determied to stay up to date as much as I can in my thinking.   And if I see anything wearable that I fancy, then (funds permitting) I shall jolly well buy it.   And if she likes to see me as  'mutton dressed as lamb' then that is her personal choice - but please don't plaster it all over the newspaper.

Her headline (she is writing about The Coronation) is 'Charlie's looking gnarly') and goes on to suggest that the Prince of Wales should already be 'pushing for an abdication date'.  

Editors, I assume, read what is going into their newspaper - and if this is so then I include him in my complaint.

This is my view - and I' m sticking to it.   The post-Coronation photo shewing nothing but oldies I agree would have been 'better' with a few of the younger generation perhaps sitting on the steps.   The three children of the Prince and Princess of Wales would have livened it up a bit.(especially if the youngest had been pulling one of his fantastic faces - only the very young can do it and get away with it.)

Yes, I agree the Coronation service itself was longish but there is such a word as 'tradition' - it had been slimmed down a bit but I for one, and I can't surely be the only one, like to hear the words that have been traditionally passed down through the years of the late Queen's reign.   And surely most viewers - and those sitting though the whole thing in the Abbey- must have been moved by Vivat Regina and Zadok the Priest and the whole occasion.  To call it 'truly bizarre, once-in-a-liftime circus of swords and royal girdles' and to suggest that the most thrilling part of the whole thing was when Prince Harry 'the unacceptable wing of the family' strolled into church, to me suggests writing as so many journalists do these days for sensationalism.

Please don't knock a 75 year old King who is doing his best to up-date the Monarchy.  Who went up the Mall to chat to the crowds camping out, shaking hands, smiling, chatting at a time when he surely would have felt like putting his feet up and having a whisky - or whatever his favourite tipple is.   Yes us oldies do get tired, and HM looked more and more tired as the proceedings went on, but to suggest that he looked like a man 'who might pass out when he got up' is, I think, insulting and unnecessary.

I am not particularly Monarchist - at my age I don't really care - in fact I really don't know what kind of regime is 'best' - but looking at Trump as President or Macron with the protests over pension age (they should be so lucky compared with here in the UK) I can't think of an alternative. 

As every good teacher knows - one word of praise does more good to a pupil (and let's face it our new King is a pupil in his new job)than all the complaining about behaviour does.   Everyone needs to feel needed and spurred on by the attitude of others and none moreso than a 75 year old Monarch who has come late to a role which I am sure he would have been happier not to have, but to potter about in the garden he loves, to sit on the patio with the woman he loves and - like most 75 year olds- take it easy.

The Price of Wales got it right at Sunday night's concert (and with the kiss he gave his father when he pledged his allegiance)when he said 'Pa, we are all proud of you'.


Thursday 11 May 2023

A Day Out.

Today was the day for my Covid booster and the nearest one I could get was in Hawes at the Pharmacy.   Friends S and T took me.  Parking was difficult as it always is unless one can park and walk down countless steps to the Main Street.

The highlight for me was the journey with so much greenery out - all the hedges full of hawthorne leaves (no May blossom yet), almost every tree (except the Ash, always tardy) in full leaf.   Most fields had lambs.   The weather was - shall we say - interesting.    We started off in sunlight but as we got underway enormous, inky-black clouds obscured any sign of the sun and huge drops of rain began to fall - a real thunder shower without the thunder.   So a dramatic journey for my first sally into Wensleydale since last October.

We eventually found a parking space near to the Pharmacy and the Pharmacist - as he did the last two doses - came out, hypodermic in hand, I stuck my arm out of T's car window and he did the job.   I have to say - as with the previous two - I never felt the  needle at all - he is brilliant at his job. 

As a thank you for taking me I wanted to take them out to lunch.   They kept the destination a secret.  It was lovely.   The village of Carperby in Wensleydale hold an open lunch once a month and we went to that as S and T have friends who are involved.   Was it good?   All I can say is Home cooked Shepherds' Pie with carrots and cabbage, followed by Rhubarb Crumble certainly fitted my brief perfectly - it was all delicious.  The conversation was lively and I met a retired farmer who had known my farmer well.

T kindly removed the poor dead baby blackbird from the patio.   RIP little one - such a short life in this beautiful part of the world.

Now I am home - a cup of tea, the mind games and an e mail to The Times now.   I heard from them that they had sorted out my subscription problem and had posted my subscription booklet - I had the letter a week ago but so far no booklet is forthcoming.

I don't think we have had the downpour here -  everywhere seems dry.



Wednesday 10 May 2023

This and that.

 A sad story to begin with   'My' baby blackbird, who seems to be the only nestling unless I have missed any others, is dead.   I walked the patio yesterday several times, slowly, looking at the garden and what was happening(what seem like dozens of self-sown aquelegia have shot up overnight).   There he lay on the patio - wing feathers already black and well -developed, body still that fluffy speckled yellow/brown.   There was not a mark on him and earlier in the day a bird hit my window - hard.   I hope that was what killed him - I don't like to think of him tormented by a  cat.  Mum and Dad don't seem concerned - but here's me trying to put human feelings into the mind of a bird-brain.

As to the garden, last year my gardeners had a policy at flowering time of pulling up any flowering aquelegia which didn't merit a place in the garden.   We let them flower and then pulled them up before they seeded.  We shall shortly see what this year's plants produce in the way of colour.   I doubt that we made a lot of difference.   My favourite one - one I bought from Claire Austin, is dark pink and bright  yellow but it doesn't seed freely and I know from experience that if left to their own devices they eventually revert to their 'chosen' colour - dark blue.   The plants at present have taken over one plot and quite a few other plants seem to have been crowded out.   But I guess they are still there and once the aquelegia have flowered and been pulled up they will be there waiting their turn.

There are still a few Union Jacks flapping in today's breeze - the last remnants of Coronation displays.  Interestingly our road, which is at the top of the estate, has - I understand - much more in the way of Patriotic Displays than the rest of the estate.   As we are all bungalows (inhabitants 65 to about 95) can we make a general assumption that it is the young who are disinterested in The Royal Family?

Tomorrow the Covid Jab.   Friends S and T are kindly taking me to the chemist in Hawes - who happily comes out - hypodermic syringe in hand - requests you open the car window  and put your arm -divested of any clothing- out, sticks in the needle and Bob's your Uncle'.   Then there is the quarter of an hour wait for any adverse reaction before we are free to go.

My cleaner, D, a lovely lady, was coming this afternoon and to that end I wobbled about in the sitting room with a damp cloth on my trolley, wiping the six pieces on the mantelshelf - all precious (not in monetary terms but to me) so I like to clean them myself.  (I would hate her to break one and feel guilty).   She has just rung to say she can't come until next week.  (sorry buddha, Spanish bull, cloisonne duck, naughty spirit (sorry US readers I have asked you before what he is called but have forgotten) and clock - but that's your wash for this month and you've had it a week early - no hard feelings.

I have just noticed, looking out of the window, that about a dozen allium buds on long stalks are waving in the breeze.   Something (field mice?) is eating the bulbs I fear because I put fifty in.   And I have a long diagonal line of fully fledged mushrooms marching across the lawn.   I daren't eat them because I don't know whether they are eatable or not (some years we had wonderful crops of field mushrooms at the farm - fresh from our early morning walk taking the cows back to pasture after milking we would fry them with eggs and bacon for breakfast. )  Nothing like a mushroom freshly picked from the field before a cow has had time to tread on it - or worse).

See you tomorrow post Covid jab.

Tuesday 9 May 2023


 Looking at the "important" ladies as they arrived at The Abbey on Saturday (the rest had been seated since 9am) two thoughts - could they stand up now and again to avoid ' numb bum' and how does one go all that time without needing a loo?) the cameras were firmly on them so that we could see what they were wearing.  They could have all gone to the same Fashion House (yes we're talking Fashion house not shop here).  Pastel blues, creams, pinks - not a floral print that I noticed anyway, matching shoes, hats and bags - the cumulative total spent must have run into thousands.   Large hats, small neat hats and I have a feeling that Madame Macron was possibly not wearing a hat at all - however I thought she won in the elegance stakes. (as French women usually do).

Large - and in some cases very large-hats obscuring the sneaky view everyone wanted of Harry, nobody stepped out of line with their dress.

It was easy  for men of course - they all had single breasted dark suits, all had a tie, well-polished expensive footwear - not at all memorable because nobody was looking at them - they got their kudos from what 'their' ladies were wearing.

And I speculated - had a man (however 'important') turned up in jeans (however expensive) and a really expensive shirt from a top fashion house, would there have been somebody in the doorway of The Abbey to turn him away as improperly dressed?  After all, we did later on see HM in his shirt didn't we?

It would have been good for the cameras to run up and down the lines of pews so that we could see what people were wearing - especially the men as so many were from countries where the men wear different dress.   We did get a glimpse of two smartly dressed Arab men in their splendid robes- which always look snow white. Their headwear too looked splendidly laundered.   But that's all - no uniforms - although I am sure there would have been some there (unless they were all too busy with the huge parade outside.)

It did strike me how, even if we don't intend to, we do strictly follow fashion rules don't we?  The young go mad - witness the turn out at the Saturday concert - plenty of variety there both on and off the stage.  Two of the ladies who sang had exquisite ball gowns - one black, one a deep green - very full skirted sweeping the ground- but scanty above the waist as I am sure any man would notice.  So scanty in fact that I became quite obsessed as they moved around with how on earth the fronts stayed up and whether or not we might see more than we should (in front of the king!)   How do they keep these backless - and nearly frontless as well - dresses anchored? - sticky tape springs to mind.

Then we have Marlene Schiappa -one time protegee of President Macron and now, aged 40 holding the social and solidarity portfolio in his government- posing on the front cover of Playboy magazine much to the horror of half of the people in France (I suspect we are speaking of the female half here).   As for the male half they were all dashing out to buy one of the extra 100,000 copies sold.

Marlene's reaction?   "Not only have I not lost the support of the population but I've gained it".   So you ladies among my blog readers - you now have a choice (say the Feminist Movement) to 'do what you like with your body'.

Well we have had our fill of bodies and what ladies choose to wear (when money is no object) when the men are paying because their 'standing' in part these days seems to rely on whoever is hanging on to their arm and what she is wearing.

Me?   I thoroughly enjoyed the whole week-end and now I am sitting here in my thermal vest and 2 sweaters, my obligatory elastic stockings and a handy shawl in case I feel chilly round the shoulders.   There is something quite comforting thinking that I don't ever go to any function where I think 'What am I going to wear?'

*my blog reading friends from IOM who have popped in to see me twice over the last fortnight - S took several photos of me with a view to changing the photo on my blog progile.  As soon as I work out how to Copy and Paste it into the right place it will appear.

Sunday 7 May 2023

A Day to remember

A day indeed.   I watched it from twenty past ten in the morning until the Red Arrows swept across the sky.   I thought the parades were spectacular, the coaches were fabulous and the service itself sublime.   Nothing appeared to go wrong - I expect it did but if so it was well-covered up.

Everyone behaved with decorum - Harry, smartly dressed, slipped in almost unnoticed (and slipped out and off home again in the blink of an eye), Andrew came along on one of his rare visits, duly supported by his daughters and their spouses- who appear to stood by him nobly through his downfall. The King looked increasingly tired as the proceedings went on - I should think so.   A visit the night before to the crowds on the Mall and - presumably hosting a meal for all the visiting dignitaries- I guess he might have started the day pretty worn out.   But he bore up splendidly even with all that Royal Regalia on - and the sight of him in just his shirt and trousers before he donned it all was a humbling moment as I am sure it was intended to be.

I admired his fortitude and that of Queen Camilla.  You could almost feel the support she was giving a time when he surely needed it.

And now to presumably  go to the concert tonight - for me that would definitely be the last straw that broke the camel's back after the sublime rendering of the music yesterday.

Thursday 4 May 2023


According to today's Times 2 Loneliness is almost reaching epidemic proportions in this country and is very detrimental to the overall health of the nation.  So here are the ways in which I combat it.   At ninety and more or less housebound it would be very easy to feel lonely, but I never do.   I know my ways are not possible for everyone but they can spark off ideas. e,g, the situation of my bungalow is perfect for anyone who might feel lonely.   I probably would have felt lonely if I still lived on the farm, which was more or less in the middle of nowhere.   So - here is my list of the ways in which I combat loneliness:

1.    I take a daily paper every day - and because I have taken the same paper for years when it pops through the letter box (often before I get up and I am an early riser) it is like an old friend calling.  I don't care what their political views are - I can agree or disagree - my views are not going to change the world.   Have  a bash at the Miind Games (my pens and sharpened pencils sit on the small table next to my chair.)   The mind games are the first  thing I do after breakfast.   Some days I sail through them and get them all right.   Other days I struggle, put them down,  have a read of the paper then pick them up again and find them more to my liking. I get some wrong - so what - I am not doing them to win a prize, I am doing them to sharpen my wits.

2.   Lucky me.   I have a large picture window exactly opposite my chair so can see what is going on.   Plenty of vehicles early in the day as folk go off to work - I get to recognise them - one has a van with "cleaner windows" on the side, another is a Police car with a dog in the back, another has a rack for ladders on the roof and building equipment in back - a van that one.   Over the years I clock up what kind of jobs folk have.   And then there are the dogs - all on leads and thank goodness all owners seem to have dog poo bags at the ready.  Later, if it is nice weather, I might have a short slow walk with Priscilla and then if I see one of the regulars and I don't know their chosen breed of dog asking them is a good reason to stop.   All dog owners I find (especially the men) like to discuss their dogs.

3.   When out on my 'amble' I speak to everyone I meet without exception.  Amblers will chat about their dogs, their gardens, their grandchildren, anything.   Don't hog the conversation - let them do the talking and you will soon have a friend for life! 

4.   Make friends with regular callers.   I am best buddies with our Post lady.   She will take my letters to post if it's a wet day.  We talk a lot about our shared osteoarthritis, replacement joints and the like.   But it is conversation.   The Tesco delivery men are fantastically helpful and help me unpack and put the things where I can reach them and put them away.   Any frozen food for the freezer today?   They know my freezer is in the attached garage and are only too happy to put my bread loaf, my crumpets and my McCains jackets in the freezer for me.   One day the Tesco man caught me struggling to get my machine load to the tumble drier (also in the garage and he did the job for me.

5.   Use the telephone, text friends.

6.  Last but should be first - have a blog and make lots of virtual friends (I have clocked up at least 12 virtuals who I have met either here or abroad and who are now firm friends.)  But really I count them all as friends (Gayle, Tom, Cro, John (both Going Gently and Stargoose), Rachel, Heather - the list is endless).

So the time when I could be lonely is very small.  I just do not have any spare time.   Yes, I have times when I miss my farmer dreadfully (there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a little weep now and again to relieve the feelings) but feeling lonely is soul destroying and reading books, however good they are, is no substitute for combatting that feeling of not being first with anyone (one's children have wives/husbands, children, jobs - you by necessity begin to get lower in their list of who comes firt - that is the way Nature intends to keep the world going round. 

S. a blog friend who is over here on holiday from the Isle of Man and who, with her husband, called for a cup of tea last week, has just rung to ask if they can come and see me on Sunday morning before they go back.  And as they are going to my favourite Deli before they go she asks if she can do a bit of shopping there for me!  Yes please.   It is ages since I was able to go in myself so my next job is to make a list of a few things which will definitely brighten up my Sunday tea -pate anyone?

***S if you read this please ring me. I can't find your e mail address and I don't want to miss my goodies when you come on Sunday morning!

Wednesday 3 May 2023


I admit to being a compulsive reader.   I do not like to sit and contemplate.   Maybe it is something to do with my upbringing - sit for more than a minute 'staring into space' and my mother would find a job for me to do (peel the potatoes for lunch, weed round the edge of the patio, take the next door's dog for a walk) - anything to stop me doing 'nothing'.   Contemplation was not a word my mother understood.

Alright - on a nice, warm, sunny day (looks like being one such today) Priscilla, with me on her seat, and I might 'sit' on the patio and metaphorically replant my rockeries - knowing that it will never happen.   But usually I read - The Times,   Country Living Magazine, novels, poetry - anything to do with words.  If there is nothing near at hand and I can't be bothered to get up, then even the list of ingredients on the side of the HP Sauce bottle is better than nothing. (as a child I read them so often - HP sauce used to be good on the cold meat and bubble and squeak Monday lunch).   I used to know them off by heart. 

I think of all the things I spend money on and The Times would be the last thing I would stop.   Yes I skim over the News - however depressing it is at the moment - but what I like best are the 'articles' in Times 2, the obituaries in Times 1 - they are always so beautifully written (often they have been hanging about - now and then updated - for years waiting for said person to pop their clogs).  I have my favourite writers - Matthew Parris writes a good comment article every Wednesday in Times 1 and Libby Purves too.  Giles Coren is another chap good with words, and Robert Crampton.  Jeremy Clarkson, who if I knew him personally I feel I might actively dislike, has a way with words which I admire. As for Times 2 it depends on which day of the week it is but I always read them.

Today Carol Midgley writes on The Coronation and her hatred of 'Street Parties' and I have to say I found her column condescending and quite unpleasant.

Whether or not you are a Royalist or would prefer there not to be a Royal Family at all I think to lambast street parties is quite unnecessary.

She writes that 7000 community events and street parties have been carefully planned up and down the country.   I would hazard a guess that it is more than that.   She says she personally doesn't know of a single one.   I would like her to know that our road is having one, just as they did at the Jubilee.  I have been invited - whether or not I go will depend on what I feel like on the day (next Monday) but thank you for inviting me and telling me that because of my age I am not expected to contribute any food.  And the nearby village is having one in the village hall.  Everyone will enjoy it and get to chat to neighbours who they have not seen all winter.  Why not have it on Coronation Day?   Because everyone wants to watch the Ceremony on Television.

And why not?   The sight of immaculately turned out members of the armed forces, the military bands who have practised their contribution for hours, the horses - mostly so well=behaved and such a splendid sight; and the Abbey in all its architectural glory, gleaming to perfection, and the ancient artefacts - the orb, the sceptre, the crown jewels - all on display.   The ceremony itself, unchanged and honed to perfection and the choir - those beautiful voices echoing throught the ancient building.   You don't have to be a Royalist necessarily to admire and enjoy the sight.

I still remember the spectacle of HM Queen's coronation - perfectly timed to fit in with the mass arrival of TV sets in the corner of countless living rooms.

So yes, I shall watch it from the comfort of my arm chair, might even have a glass of wine or a sherry (and in a cut glass glass - must keep up the standards).

I shalln't drape the house in bunting or have a cut out of HM Charles III standing by the front door but I don't begrudge anyone who wishes to do that. Each to his own I say and I don't suppose Charles and Camilla are looking forward to it all that much.   But like any other Royal event they will present a stiff upper lip and hope to get through it without a slip-up. 

So whatever you choose to do on Saturday Carol - please don't knock all those (mostly) ladies who choose to spend all day Friday preparing for their street party. 

Tuesday 2 May 2023

The Sun?

 As I sit here typing I can 'sense' that the sun is trying to get through - bit by bit the pebbles on my top patio begin to get a bit lighter and the light reflects on my keybooard (I am sitting by a North-facing window).

We have had several days of cloud and mist and no sign at all of the sun - now and then a faint 'drizzle'  in the air.   I have had no incentive to venture out and consequently I have begun to stiffen up again.   Now this morning both the milk bill and the newspaper delivery bill have arrived so as soon as I have had my lunch I must cross the road and post the two cheques.  I think somebody once said necessity was the mother of invention - well that means that providing the sun gets out, as I have to get Priscilla out I shall persuade her that together we need to go a little further so I wonder where my feet and her wheels might go today.   Wherever it is it will not be far.   But, with luck it might bring forth a bit of conversation.

Yesterday friend W called for an hour in the afternoon - that brightened up what was a rather dull Bank Holiday.

My confidence as a ninety year old was boosted somewhat when we were talking of the slow disappearance of short term memory as one ages.  Several times a day I find myself doing something like switching off a light while thinking of something else (what sort of dog is that being taken for a walk?)   I sit down with the coffee I have just made for myself (Lazy Sunday), take my first sip and think, Did I switch off that light?   So I have to go and check.  (I hope my care in switching off lights shows up on my end of year electricity bill).

My friend told me how she ordered something and waited for its delivery.   When it hadn't come after a couple of weeks she rang the company and complained that the goods had not arrived.   They informed her that the parcel had been delivered on such and such a date and she said it certainly had not been delivered to her.   By return she received a photograph taken of her receiving the goods from the delivery chap.   She recognised herself in the photograph, went to the wardrobe and found she had unpacked the goods and put them away!  She had then forgotten about them completely.   So it was profuse apologies all round (luckily to a sympathetic ear).   It is called short term memory recall and happens when you reach our advanced age (unless you are lucky).    But it is nice to feel one is not alone in these things.

Now I shall go and have my delicious lunch - roast pork, Yorkshire pud, roast parsnip and roast potato, cauliflower in cheese sauce. broccoli and carrots and mashed potatoes (on Monday and Tuesday my carer always brings me a plated version of their Sunday lunch to heat in the microwave - yesterday plate one was delicious - now to attack plate two)!

Monday 1 May 2023

May Day!

Or on this particular May Day I can't help almost thinking of it as M'aide (sorry but no 'acute' on my keyboard).   We really have had a couple of hard years haven't we - the Pandemic, which really did wreak havoc in every country in the world (even if some of those countries refused to admit it) has been pretty awful and is still lurking waiting to strike when it gets a chance.   I am still waiting for my top-up jab but hopefully it won't be too long).   There are so many bugs going around here - sore throats, colds, runny noses, just feeling 'off-colour. ' Friend T was not well last week -nothing specific but just feeling under the weather and not helped by the miserable dull weather we have had up here.  I hear he has gritted his teeth and carried on - sheds for men should be compulsory; they are such wonderful places in which to 'hide' and gently tinker about with bits of wood.  He also has his beloved (elderly) chickens which if they had belonged to me my farmer would have humanely despatched and replaced with younger versions, only telling me after the deed was done.   In addition there are his equally beloved bees - at this time of the year buzzing off for the gorse and any rape flowers which happen to be out. (I read recently that although dandelions are ubiquitous here on every verge and every grass field not visited by a farmer with means of keeping them at bay, have really little or nothing for the bees except the attraction of their colour).  I heard yesterday that thank goodness he is more or less back to normal.

And to pandemic add cost of living crisis, striking millions for extra pay (mostly well deserved especially when for example nurses (thousands of vacancies - few applicants) have many of them to go to food banks in order to make ends meet.

And then there is Climate Change - always on the Agenda and I fully expect it to make its case known again this Summer with forest fires, melting glaciers, searing heat waves and a host of other things it might throw at us.

I won't go on - too depressing, especially on a Bank Holiday.   Three in one month this May - today May Day, next Monday as a celebration of Saturday's Coronation and then Spring Bank Holiday at the end of the month.

Perhaps this is the 'beginning of the end of doom and gloom' and a month to herald in a return to normality - although I am sure this thought will not occur to the people of Ukraine or now indeed Sudan.

Power and Money - two words which have a lot to answer for. don't you agree?