Monday 31 July 2023


In a place like The Yorkshire Dales, until maybe fifty years ago this was quite a closed commmunity - as were many fairly remote areas, especially in the North of the country.   These were mainly farming communities  where the farms were either tenanted from the 'big' landowners who still own large tracts of the (often)moorland around here, or small, family owned farms like that of 'my' farmer.   Many had a relatively small (maybe 50 to 100) number of    cows, milked and the milk collected daily by milk tanker from the dairies (and not all that long ago taken to the railway station in churns).  In addition those farms up in the tops of the dales would have a large flock of mostly Wensleydale and / or Swaledale sheep.   These would be hefted sheep brought down to over-winter often in 'spare' fields from the farmers in the lower part of the dale.   

The very word 'holiday' was not in their vocabulary.   In the first place money was never very plentiful but also most farmers loved their cows far too much to let others milk them and as far as sheep were concerned - what were the often expensive sheep dogs for?   To go round the flocks daily to see that all  was well.

Then, slowly at first, then more rapidly, things began to change.   Words like 'early-retirement' began to reverberate - especially in the South of the Country.   Folk who for years had spent their holidays rambling up here in The Yorkshire Dales and other such beautiful areas began to sell their houses 'down South', take 'early retirement' and come up here house hunting - knowing they could buy a beautiful cottage and 'do it up' to their liking and still have money to spare.

I remember the farmer sitting one evening and counting just how many people in the village were actually born there.   After a lot of searching through his memory he thought of eleven.

Those who weren't involved in farming tended to have service industry jobs - the bricklayers, the electricians, the plumbers, the stone wallers.   In other words it was a tightly knit community.   Many of the locals had perhaps a spare cottage - on the farm, left to them by a parent - and these were 'done up' and sold, or let off as holiday accommmodation.

And so the whole ethos began to change.  More money came into the area and more folk to whom a couple of weeks flying off to the sun somewhere was second nature. 

My dear farmer had only been on holiday once (he was fifty when we married) and that was to Majorca when he was in Young Farmers - he was in his late teens.

The first two years of our married life I holidayed alone - once to Marrakech and once to Siena.   Then at his suggestion he got a reliable man in to milk for him for a week and we flew to Toronto.   He loved it and so did I.   I was a seasoned traveller from the thirty nine years of my first marriage - he was a novice at it.   But travelling alone is not like going on holiday with someone you love, someone to share everything with.  We never looked back - and no harm came to his cows.   They didn't even tell him they were pleased to see him back.

Now the young round here shoot off for their week in the sun every year  - fly from the nearest airport by the economy airlines and soak up the sun.

But things are changing - or are they?  Airports, which used to be quite exciting places, are no longer like that.   Regulations, long queues, train delays getting there or high car parks cost if you have driven to the airport.  It is seven years since I flew now but looking at the television of the airport queues doesn't make me wish I could join them any more than the queues for the Dover ferry. 

And then there is Climate Change - I am sure many returning families from Rhodes have horror stories to tell just as families from other places hit by the very high temperatures -  too hot to lie in the sun, make sand pies on the sands, swim in the sea.   And who wishes to traipse round ancient sites in temperatures of forty plus? 

Are places like Blackpool, Morecambe, Skegness, Great Yarmouth going to have a rebirth?   They certainly need it - from what I hear from people who have been they are desperately in need of a make over.   Gone are the days of street upon street of 'Boarding Houses' where it was out after breakfast and only allowed back in an hour before evening meal.  Television, hearsay, blame what you like, we will never go back to those days.  "Sophistication" has reared its ugly head.   So where do we go from here? 

Sunday 30 July 2023

Too 'busy'

My readers must look at the heading and think 'what on earth is she doing that makes her busy?'   Well yes dear friends, busy is perhaps the wrong word.   But I am finding the Test Match absolutely enthralling, I am finding 'The Elephant Whisperer' by Lawrence Anthony enthralling, pansies need dead-heading every day to keep my pots by the front door in full flower for the rest of the summer, exercises must be done three times a day (Physio comes again on Wednesday) and it is Sunday when friends S and T come for an hour or two.   All that plus getting my Sunday lunch (out of the fridge and into the microwave I hasten to add) and I am afraid a topic for today has not popped into my mind.

But 'A Life in the Day' - always the last page in the Sunday Times magazine - is today about Ai-Da Humanoid Robot Artist 4  and has words of wisdom which of course we all of us know - but rarely think about.   "The world is unknowable and everyone's journey is unique." - 

And I thought of just a few of the characters in today's paper:   Kevin Spacey,  Yevhenlia Kolesnichenko  (a Ukranian widow who has chosen to work as a front line medic after her medic husband was killed), Sinead O'Connor, and then I thought of you - and me - and all those we love.   All came into the world in the same way - and we shall all go out - not in the same way but our time here on earth is a set time, and  our lives and our attitudes - all shaped by the circumstances of our birth.   And I thought of the Zulu tribesmen who work on the Thula Thula Reserve in South Africa in the book I am reading.

Yes Ai Da reminds us all of something we already know - each one of us is unique.   The circumstances of our birth, the pattern of our lives - each one by choice or by circumstance makes of life what they will (often with no choice but to do what is necessary.)

Too big a subject to even begin to think of writing about,   But sometimes it is good to stop for a moment and think about it.


Friday 28 July 2023

Being a bookworm.

One of the good things about having to move a lot of my books out of one bookcase in order for the electrician to get at the skirting board where he intended fitting a new double electric socket was that for the first time since I moved in  more than five years ago I had the opportunity to sort the books out again.  (being rather handicapped as far as movement is concerned I have tended to just put a book back where I can see a possible space).

Now they are all sorted at least in one book case - now housing Poetry, Biography, Wild Life and Natural History , Travel and Reference.  Fingers crossed that now I can find a book more easily. And an added 'perk' is that I have come across books I had forgotten about which are shouting out to be re-read; books which I don't ever remember buying or being given, or inheriting from my father's poetry collection.

Do you write your name (or have you a sticker) inside the front cover?   I used to but now I don't - one reason being that I have now discarded books which are really reference books (e.g. Oxford Companions to.......)    They are most likely to end up in the village red telephone box which has been moved to the village green and is used as a book swop.  I would rather anyone taking one of the books didn' t know where it had come from.   But some that I have written in bringback memories -

'The Sonnets of Shakespeare 'transcribed in the Sweet Roman Hand' by Tom Gourdie.  Inside I have written my name and underneath 'October 31st 1989 - from Doris and Ray.   Doris - a very dear friend, long passed on and I think of her every time I open the book. (I open it often as I am learning the sonnets as a mental exercise so far 'Shall I compare thee' and 'That time of year thou may'st in me behold'). Also several reference books which I have won as prizes for doing The Times Crossword or The Guardian Crossword (any of you who do the Guardian Crossword might remember the wonderful Araucaria- dead for many a year)  I have written inside.   Luckily I have kept those.  A timely reminder that I struggle with The Times now and rarely finish it.

But one real delight is 'The Elephant Whisperer' - a paperback by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence.   First published in 2010 in paperback.  Where has it come from?   Somebody must have lent it to me  - one suspect is friend G - a very keen and knowledgeable friend who is deeply 'into' all forms of wildlife.   She has travelled many times to places like The Shetland Islands and Namibia and is just the person to have said 'Here - borrow this - you will adore it'.   Well G I can tell you that the book, having been sitting on the shelf for goodness knows how long, is absolutely brilliant.   I read it this morning for a couple of hours.   It is unputdownable and I shall now  go and have my lunch and guess what I shall be doing this afternoon!

Thursday 27 July 2023

Slow and steady wins the race.

 I don't suppose you need telling whether I am a hare or a tortoise.   Perhaps I could change to being a tortoise if I tried hard but I am too old to change, so I carry on wanting everything to be done yesterday.   The result of course is that the next day I suffer. 

I have aches in places where I didn't even know I had places let alone  muscles - but they are doing a pretty good job today at pointing themselves out.   Picking up books from the floor with one hand whilst holding on to my walker with the other hand to save falling over, carrying them on the trolley to the bookcase and reaching up to put each book on the appropriate shelf - i.e. bending and stretching - all good exercise I have no doubt.   But today I am paying for it and have strict instructions from my carer to "take it easy." 

So I am following orders.   I didn't feel like doing much anyway and after breakfast I did the Times Mind Games, read the paper and went for a stroll round the garden, dead-heading a few pansies on the way, went back indoors and fell asleep, waking just before lunch time.   After lunch I watched the News and then fell asleep again.   I have just - at half past three- woken up and washed up my lunch pots and wiped out the microwave and washed the plate. 

Looking out of the window I see it is a sunny, breezy day.   One thing is certain - looking at my pansies, which have been in flower for the past six weeks (with regular dead-heading) - next year I shall buy twice as many and get D my gardener (or more likely J his right-hand helper) to put three  in every   obvious space there is.   They are stunning -  yellow, apricot, purple and white ones - they hit you in the eye with their beauty.  The other beauties in the garden are the hardy geraniums - magenta, pink and blue and the fiery red clumps of crocosmia (used to be called montbretia in my Dad's day - his garden was full of it.)

I was thinking this morning during one of my quiet moments when I do nothing but think ('What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?' - W H Davies) about George Alagiah -  our BBC News Reader who has very sadly died this week of bowel cancer.   George has regularly appeared in my sitting-room at 6pm for some years and he has become like a friend - not unlike all of us who regularly blog with one another - but perhaps slightly more real by his actual presence.   But maybe this is balanced by the fact that we don't share his thoughts.   But I do know his death has quite upset me - certainly greatly saddened me.  I have thought about him a lot during the past few days.

Finally The Great British Sewing Bee is over and the worthy winner was Asmaa - an Iraqi Breast Cancer surgeon.   Her final effort - two dresses in one - where a dress  turned into a spectacular evening dress as the model walked down the catwalk -  left the viewer in no doubt that she was a very worthy winner.

Until tomorrow.


Wednesday 26 July 2023

Done and dusted

Well the lamp is up and running; the electrician took me through all the special features and now all I want is a bit of darkness so that I can adjust the beam and its density to suit my needs.   I am sure I shall get used to it.   I chose an all black affair and it is neat and unobtrusive - and I am confident it will be an asset.

My son came round and helped me to sort out the books before they went back on the shelves.   There is a whole shelf of space after I have sent the Oxford Companions, a spare large dictionary and thesaurus both Collins to the Charity Shop.   I have used good old faithful Chambers for years and shall not change now. 

Everything had to be moved for the operation.   I have my drugs/water/hand cream/tissues/bits and bobs trolley to my right and then my other trolley, which I need to walk, holds my daily Times newspaper on the bottom shelf and my breakfast/lunch/tea on the top layer.

Then on my left is my side table where sit my specs, my pot of pens/pencils for mind games, my hearing aids case and my magnifying glass.

I am well-organised so that once my carer goes everything is to hand.   Once every hour I walk through the bungalow for exercise and a couple of times a day I walk outside - in one garden gate, round the garden and out along the front. If the sun is out I often sit under my sitting room window for a hour - lots of folk chat as they pass, lots of dogs have a cheery tail wag.   Today a lovely Border Terrier and his mistress stopped for a chat.   I have been watching out over the last couple of days for them because I have a lovely book  on Borders which I gave them.   I shall sadly never have another and it leaves a gap on my shelf (as Tess's passing did on my heart).

It was a lovely sunny morning but as the afternoon wore on the sky clouded over.   Soon after my son went friend E called -a nice chat.   They go to Ireland at the week end on holiday - we chatted about that as the farmer and I had a week there some years ago - self-drive hire car round the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle peninsula.

My evening carer was back last evening - she and her husband P have been on holiday for a fortnight - 4 days in Dubai (much too hot she said) and then ten days in Phuket in Thailand - she is as brown as a chestnut. 

Have a pleasant evening.  Does the last Test Match begin on Thursday (tomorrow)?   I rather think it does.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Chaos reigns

Well, it has to be done so I must endure a day and night of chaos.    Much of it will be overnight and hopefully I shall be asleep.

I have bought a Serious Readers light on the advice of my Optician.   I have cataracts and at my age I just feel I cannot face the trauma - not the actual operation (I have plenty of friends who have had them removed and speak well of it) but the trauma at my age of the twenty-odd mile to the hospital, the wait, the return journey (travelling now really freaks me out) and then the routine eye drops - and then the repeat with the other eye.   My optician, who I count as a friend as I have been going to him for so many years, tells me many of his clients who are my age feel the same. 

Friends whose judgement I trust also have a light each and they too speak highly of it - so one now sits in the corner awaiting the electrician  who is coming in the morning at 9am to put in a new socket behind my chair and then to fit the light and (I hope) adjust it to suit my eyesight.

It means moving my largest bookcase and that, of course, means emptying it.    And while I am at it, sorting out the books.   I start out with all poetry books together,  all natural history, all travel - and so on - neatly filed but oh dear what a mess they have got into.

My electrician told me to leave everything and he would empty the shelves in the morning and after he had fitted the new socket he would put the bookcase back and we would sort them out together.   But of course - stupid me - I decided I would start today.   

I managed to find all the poetry books, take them out and stack them on the carpet; then I did the same with natural history and gardening.   Then I ran out of steam.  I am sending some books to the Charity Shop (eg I have the Oxford Companion to Music, to Literature and to Art.   They are large, unweildy books and these days such information is so easily found on the internet so I am unloading them.)   I put them on my trolley and took them into the kitchen to add to the disposal pile.   I spotted a very slow wasp crawling across the kitchen floor, put my foot on it and killed it, bent down to pick it up on a piece of kitchen paper and almost fell over!  That's it - no more can be done today.   So books all over, nothing I wish to see on television so write this, make a coffee, eat a Tesco individual Quiche Lorraine for me tea (and a 2 finger kit kat for 'pud'  and then it is off to bed. 



Monday 24 July 2023


 A day or two ago a friend lost a dear one.   I wanted to reply in a particular way but the word I wanted to use just wouldn't come.   I went away and had lunch, then returned to my computer and thought again.   I even rang my son, described what I wanted to say but how I couldn't land on the right word.  I don't think he really understood what I was getting at and he couldn't help.  Eventually, after searching through the dictionary I abandoned the whole thing.   Then of course, too late, in the middle of the night the word flashed into my mind.   'Construct'.   Since then I have given the word a lot of thought.   Today I am going to tell you my thinking and I hope you too will think - and respond.

Regular readers will remember that at the end of last October, days before my 90th birthday, I had a major Grand-mal epileptic fit and spent ten days in hospital and then over a period of weeks my whole medication was changed.

When I came out of hospital I explained on my blog that it felt as though my brain was a jig saw puzzle which I had finished but that the fit had shaken it up until it was all in pieces again.

Over the next couple of months my mind re-did the puzzle, neatened it all up and I finished with it all 'ship shape and Bristol fashion'.  It now feels sharper than it has been for some years - and family and friends all notice the same.

I have decided that I have' compartments' - I am a tidy person - everything has to be in its right place.  If things are awry then I can't settle to 'think' e.g. I do the mind games on The Times every morning but not until everything is tidy, my breakfast pots are washed and put away and I am neat and tidy for callers.  I think some might call me excessively so.

So to what I wished to say to my friend but couldn't find the right words: I don't know how others think- maybe we are all alike, maybe (as with tidiness in physical things) we all think differently.   But I would like you to think about this and tell me - is it just me or does everyone think along these lines.   And here I come to the word 'construct' - used as a noun, not as a verb although thinking about it I suppose used in both senses.

In this particular instance, thinking of bereavement, I have a construct (noun) in my mind of all those near and dear to me - my immediate family, my dearest friends -,  those special people who mean a lot to me.   When one of them passes away - as we all will eventually for sure - that construct  in my mind has a space in it. a space which I have to fill - not with someone else but with a completely thought- through memory of the person.  I suppose what I am thinking of is 'closure' a word I hate.

I have been widowed twice - once after 39 years and once after 23 years.   What I now have in my construct (noun) is two spaces  filled with memories if M and D - memories that are good and which are complete from A to Z and which are now settled there and can be pulled out and thought about whenever I like, almost (but not quite) as though they were still here.

Does everyone think like this do you think?   Or is this just a long-winded version of every day thinking?

**  Chamber's Dictionary -

Construct( verb)  'to build up;  to compose;  to compile.

Construct (noun) 'a thing constructed -especially in the  mind- an image or object of thought constructed from a number of sense impressions'.

Sunday 23 July 2023


Steel grey sky, strong wind which is not blowing from a friendly direction, water pouring down the window pane, and the BBC weather map showing  a SLOW MOVING batch of rain which I will swear is centred over my bungalow.   Central heating is on and set to come on at 21  and I just heard it click on.  What chance of cricket today - anyone like to hazard a guess?   Yes, I know the Test Match is not being played in my back garden but that slow-moving rain band was pretty wide.







Saturday 22 July 2023


 Ginnel, alley, passage-way, snicket, jitty - call it what you will - most towns have them - and some villages too although I suspect they are not such a problem in villages.   But these  'cut-throughs' from A to B can be such a magnet for tipping.   First somebody leaves an old fridge they no longer want - dumping it there after dark when there is nobody around;  then somebody, seeing the forlorn eyesore chucks their old chair there to join it.   And before you know it the alleyway is blocked by black plastic bags containing goodness knows what.   Nobody does anything about it, bags which have any food remnants in are soon smelt by the local rats  - and...  I don't need to go on do I.

Usually these thoroughfares are near to houses - often terrace houses or houses built quite close together.      It is altogether a horrible and all-too-common a situation.

But today there are two stories in the Times which I can't help but be cheered by - and I hope locals cotton-on to the idea and it spreads like a plague in reverse.

When a man moved into a house in Manchester the ginnel near his new home was used for fly-tipping and was a real eye sore in the neighbourhood.   But not any longer.   He has transformed it - as The Times puts it - where there were broken washing machines etc., there are now 'geraniums and bumblebees'.   At first he just put out the odd flower pot but then he admits to getting 'carried away'!    Now it is an oasis - so much so that estate agents showing prospective buyers around the area usually start by taking them to this obvious selling point.   What a fine example this man has set - would that all other such cut-throughs could have such a champion.

And later on in the same Times Ann Treneman speaks of a 'Ginnel Garden at the Tatton Park Flower Show.   This garden has fruit and veg and an old bathtub planted with flowers and also a green roof over the bin area.   There is also a tortoise feeding station.   One of the ladies involved spoke of how she lived nearby a ginnel and when walking past one day she noticed that someone had moved some of the black plastic rubbish bags and put a plant pot there.   Gradually others did the same until now the ginnel is more garden and less rubbish.

As Ann Treneman says this is a "small space with a big message".    As they say 'Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.'

  Let's hope it starts a fashion.

Friday 21 July 2023

Bedlam in Berlin

Yes and it made the front page in The Times when folk started reporting that they had seen a lioness wandering the streets in downtown Berlin.    The first sighting apparently was when someone saw it 'chasing a boar' down a street 'less than three miles'  from the capital.   Now they think it is hiding in a wood having had a good meal - the boar??


It set me thinking because the other day I had a conversation with my son about wild animals after he had had a conversation with someone over from the US who said how much he missed the wild animals when he was over here.

I was wondering what was our largest really wild animal.   I suppose it has to be a stag and yet deer never seemto be really wild here   We don't ever have to be wary  do we?    And I suppose the same applies to ponies in the Moors - Exmoor, Dartmoor and the New Forest.    Can we class them as wild or do they all belong to someone?

We don't ever have to be wary of any of our wild life do we - at least not in the sense that they might kill us? 

Having been to US and Canada many times I know well how common it is to see bears - in my case almost always my viewing was from inside a coach and even when out in the open it was with other folk.

I guess the dog fox is top of the chain with us.   Do you agree?   I have often come face to face with an old dog fox trotting along in the shelter of the hedgerow and we have looked at one another with respect - neither of us afraid- and carried on about our business.  Being accompanied by a dog/dogs makes the situation slightly different - wariness on both sides I would guess.

Badgers, beavers, squirrels both red and grey, none any threat and not particularly scared of us - they carry on doing what they were doing on the whole - and this applies also to stoats and weasels I think.  Hares are more wary and either race quickly away or sink down as low as they can to the ground and watch us with a scared eye, 

Then we get down to hedgehogs who don't seem at all afraid or even to take a lot of notice - they just go quietly about their business and if we get close they can always curl up into a ball.  I didn't think we would have hedgehogs in our steep gardens with their flights of steps but M, my neighbour found one stuck under the fence between our gardens.   My gardener helped her to dig it out and she left it food and water but sadly she found it dead later in the day.

I have field mice living in my garden - I know exactly where their nest is - entry is through a hole in the garden wall and sometimes I catch sight of one.  They are more than welcome.

I have a feeling that there are wild boars somewhere in the UK - if there are then I am sure someone will tell me.

But aren't we lucky with our wild life?  Wild flowers, wild birds, wild animals - all so beautiful and all there for us to enjoy.   But I maybe would not feel the same if I lived somewhere on Africa, where I had to keep a wary eye on my herd of cattle because there would also be a wild wary eye on their next meal not far away.   

Thursday 20 July 2023

Passing the time.

I have never been keen on sport - hated it at school - not easy in a 'posh' fee paying school to be a scholarship girl.   Winter it was hockey, net ball and rounders.   In Summer - tennis , net ball and rounders.  The cost of a hockey stick and/or a tennis racket made things prohibitive - it was the cheapest option - already uniform and books to pay for.

Neither husband had an interest in any sport other than M, my first husband, who loved the Boat Race.  So throughout my life sport passed me by.   My son has followed in our footsteps in that his only sporting love is Tour de France.  Love?    I would almost say 'obsession' - how he manages to keep so much information about times, speeds, positioning and the like in his head every day I cannot even begin to understand. (don't understand the rules in any case)

But now, in my dotage, more or less housebound, I have developed two loves - Cricket and Tennis.   I found Wimbledon compelling and now that that is over (with the spectacular  fall from grace of my hero, Novak (yes, I watched him so much over the Wimbledon fortnight that I feel justified in being on Christian name terms))** then my attention can return to the Test Match special.   For 7pm I am in my dressing gown waiting to see how we are doing.

I am not quite sure what will happen when the Test series ends.   I can't think of any other sport that might get me interested.   So it will have to be a return to my usual menu of EggHeads, University Challenge  and the programme before University Challenge chaired by Victoria Coren. (where my ambition is one day to complete the wall - yes it can be done.   Now and again one team finishes it before 'times up.')   And of course there is always good old Monty Don - every Friday night Gardeners' World-.   Yes he might slip away for a week now and again - but he faithfully returns.

Even The Sewing Bee  finishes next week, although I have been a bit disenchanted with this year's contest which I feel has presented the contestants with  ridiculous challenges.   Semi final last night - make a trench-coat for a man (remember left over right not right over left) in 5 hours.   A Trench Coat, five hours?   I couldn't make one in five years.

**  Had to be on Christian name terms because I am too lazy to nip over to Google to see how to spell his surname.

Wednesday 19 July 2023

Busy day, no time to blog.

 It has been a busy day.   I  decided to order my new high definition lamp.   This involved a phone call to the company and my lamp will arrive some time on Friday.    Then I had to contact my Electrician to put me in a new socket - he came and looked at the situation is is now coming on Wednesday of next week to instal it all.   Salad lunch eaten and just as I started my after lunch coffee my two Gardeners arrived to mow, weed, dead-head and tidy and come in for a coffee.   By this time it was half past four.  Time to get my tea before the Electrician came (5pm) and guess what I had for tea.   Talk about nostalgia setting in!

D, my gardener, brought me a plastic box of newly dug new potatoes from his garden - soil still clinging to them.    What bliss - I scrubbed them very gently to remove the loose soil, covered them with cold water, added sea salt and a sprig of mint.   I made a cup of tea and set my tray - plate of new potatoes covered in blobs of butter(!) and  sat down to a real feast such as I have not had since I said goodbye to my veg garden many moons ago.   I don't know the variety but they were perfect - the soil fell away and they were totally unblemished.  Whan I close down my computer I shall send D a text to say what a delight it was to have such a treat.

Quite soon after the gardeners went we had a heavy shower and now everywhere looks pristine - and colourful with it.   See you tomorrow.

Tuesday 18 July 2023


My carer and I stood chatting in the sitting room window this morning and commenting on the passers by.   We laughed that my mother always said that folk got to look like their dogs..   And I must say sometimes this is true - not facially but in the way they carry themselves.

One man in particular passes several times a day.   He must live quite near me because he always crosses the road by my lawn.   I hope to be out there one day so that I can speak to him because he has such a smart little dog and I do so want to know the breed.    It is certainly in the hound family I think - middle sized and nicely marked, white with large black patches.    It walks beautifully and is so well-trained.   His owner fits a similar description - walks smartly, dresses neatly however early in the morning I see him, has a shock of neatly-trimmed snow white hair.

The same goes for G, who lives a few doors away from me.   I mentioned when I was up at four watching the dawn, how G went past with Sammy, her Schitzu.   Neat little dogs aren't they?   Well neat describes G too.   Even at four in the morning she was obviously showered and dressed neatly - not ostentatiously - just trousers and top and cardigan but worn with care, hair nice and neat, poo bag in hand.

As J and I watched this morning we had several laughs (and adverse comments which luckily couldn't be heard by the subjects of our  hilarity. )

There is apparently a fashion this year for men to wear white calf-length socks with shorts.   Very "in" much to my carers horror ("no way am I letting 'M' (her partner) out of the house in calf-length white socks").

A large, fat elderly man walked past.    Shorts to knee length, off-white T shirt tucked into shorts in places, large, flabby tummy hanging down over the waist band of his shorts - but we decided someone must have been reading the fashioned pages because his outfit was completed by the addition of calf-length snow- white socks.   Dog, poor thing, was equally badly put together - over weight and slow with it.

My carer went off to her next client - I sat to speculate.   Does it matter what we wear?  Those, like me, who    live alone - we are not dressing for anyone but ourselves (did I ever dress to please my    husband?  apart from nighties(!) - I do admit to that. In my working days I dressed for work - I don't know how it is nowadays for teachers but certainly in my day we were expected to dress smartly and appropriately.  (I do remember in my very earliest teaching days,  working for a spinster head (plenty of those about in those days) who sent for the needlework teacher and told her bluntly not to come to school in her 'faded finery'!   Can you imagine that happening today - it would call for a mass walk out or something.

But I love clothes and still dress as well as I can, even if I am not going anywhere - I dress for me.  I have a penchant for leather jackets and have recently bought myself a navy leather 'biker' jacket (biker jacket??? at ninety?   I hear you say).   Yes - I shall wear it with pride in the Autumn on the rare occasions I go out.   Folk might poke fun at 'that old dear' hobbling along with her mate Priscilla and wearing a biker jacket.   But I don't care.   I shall still feel 'a million dollars' - it's all in the mind.

Monday 17 July 2023

On a chilly, breezy Monday morning - thoughts.

 One of my carers - W has jetted off with her husband P - first for four days in Dubai (temperature yesterday 45 and sunny (ladies must keep shoulders covered at all times) and then on to Phuket for another ten days (not noted in Times weather, but   Bangkok which can't be all that far away - 32 and bright).  So I think we can safely say no wet weather gear or cardis needed.

Another of my carers, C, has driven up with her husband to Blackpool for the weekend (darts) - temperature (Liverpool - near enough- 17 and misty).   Rain gear and cardies near at hand I would say.

My main carer has stayed at home with partner M - she came breezing in this morning in a bright Tee shirt - as she closed the front door a blast of chilly North Yorkshire air followed her in.   It was blowing a gale - trees literally bending  with the West Wind - sky blue in parts and plenty of big clouds, puffy white with black, angry-looking patches.  Temperature?   Well no more than 20 I would hazard a guess; yesterday only 5 places in the UK clocked up 20 - Isle of Wight, Leuchars, Margate,Shoreham and Southend.   London reached a scorching 21!   Two were cloudy and three were PC(?) - partially cloudy.  London was cloudy too.

Oh the glorious days of my childhood and youth when Winters were 'proper'  with  loads of snow, village littered with snow men (snow people I suppose these days although it has been known up here for a strategic carrot to denote the sex of said snowman.)  Sledges out, homework put on the back-burner and off straight after tea to the hills and hollows for sledging races.

And Summers started just aroud the time we broke up from school for the six week holiday.   The sun always shone, the sky was that deep 'Summer Blue', everywhere the scent of honeysuckle and climbing roses.  Jam sandwiches packed - bottle of 'pop' - somebody's Mum would have baked a cake.   Off we would go, daylight to sundown fishing nets and jam jars in saddle bags in case a spot of fishing was fancied, cossies and towel to hand.   Day after day - all Summer long.

Springs and Autumns?   True to form.   Spring - the first aconites, snowdrops, hazel catkins, lambs, May blossom.   Autumn - leaves changing colour, nights 'drawing in', board games and jig saws got out of the cupboard under the stairs where they had languished since earlier in the year,

Holidays?   Skeggie on the train which stopped, literally, about a hundred yards from the bottom of our garden - no air port queues, no delays, just a friendly 'chuff-chuff' down the line the thirty miles to the YMCA holiday camp and a week of planned activities - familiar - no serious thinking or planning needed on our part.

How wonderful to be old and have a selective memory.

Friday 14 July 2023

A Snippet and musings.

 The view of my "wild garden" from the sitting room window has made a dramatic change as my favourite view  of the waste land was strimmed yesterday.   Gone the long waving grass - in its place a neatly strimmed patch.   The owner sends someone to strim it every year.   It takes more or less a whole day.   The strimmed grass is left and lies there to rot down; the human strimmer goes home with a (I guess) bad back.   The slim black cat was having a mooch round looking at things, especially under the ash saplings where who knows what might lurk.  I look at my finished flowering but drying seeding foxgloves - some  left to seed themselves all over my garden and some, I hope, to add colour to the patch opposite.   Now we need a couple of weeks of hot, dry weather to dry off the seed heads in my garden and rot down the grass on the wild bit - then D my gardener can scatter a few handfuls of foxgloves over the road to seed where they will - as Vita Sackville West said - why is it that self seeding plants always choose places to flower that you would never have thought of but are always better than the ones you chose.   I thought I saw a couple of baby rabbits peeping out of the long grass the other day but the strimmer (human not mechanical) saw not a sign so perhaps wishful thinking on my part.   But in any case he always leaves the bottom corner.

Now to things that go bump in the night!   Not strictly true.   Luckily there was no bump there but certainly restlessness in the extreme.   Have you noticed how much worse things seem at the midnight hour than they really are in broad daylight?   That bill that needs paying - an almost insurmountable amount that two days later you have completely forgotten about once you have paid it; that cold one's small child has that in the small hours seems certain to turn to pneumonia - a worry quickly dissipated when they wake you at six the next morning charging up and down the landing with their latest game.

My Physiotherapist diagnosed my problems, manipulated various areas of my back and then wrote out some exercises for me to do.   I did them three times yesterday as instructed, and by evening - very tired I might add- when I went to bed I felt that already my problems with walking were improving. At midnight my 'commode call' woke me - the flip side of my bedtime drink.  I threw back the covers to get out of bed and 'wham!' a violent pain shot along my right groin - so painful that I shouted out loud.   It also made me jerk into a difficult position.   A position that certainly was not concomitant with making a quick exit from my bed to the commode, which sits by the bedside.

I floundered about on the duvet like a beached whale, shouting out in pain every now and then.   In short I could neither reach for the 'fence' down the side of the bed or push myself up with my hands.   After several tries I resorted to a woman's reaction - I cried.   I envisaged never again being able to walk, to having to go into care because I couldn't manage in my home alone.  Then the voice of reaso kicked in - I lay still for five minutes and then very carefully sat up.   I was still intact, I sat up gingerly and climbed out of bed using my 'fence' for support and reached the commode  in time.  But I hurt - by golly I hurt.   And what is more I dare not climb back into bed for fear of not being able to get out next time.   Instead I struggled into my dressing gown and using my walker dragged myself into the sitting room.   I spent the rest of my night in my chair.   This morning I felt wretched and was totally unable to use my right leg (this has been a problem for the last week).

My carer came to find me a trembling heap - in tears again the moment she spoke.   By the time she went an hour later I was more or less back to normal and cheerful with it.  Now- two hours later- I know that the pains in my leg and groin will go and the probable cause of my  demise is that I did far too much exercise yeterday ( read her instructions wrong and did three times as much as I should have done.)

So now I am away to try and get a couple of hour's sleep - I keep falling asleep writing this.  (e and oa)

Wednesday 12 July 2023


I have had a busy few days but now a rest for a while.   Yesterday P and D came over from Grange over Sands for the day and friend W joined us for lunch - a buffet.   Would you believe I asked my carer to make me a salad and then - when I set out the buffet on the worktop in the kitchen I forgot to put the salad out (decided to leave it in the fridge until almost time!)  I only found it after they had gone home.  This morning I wanted to give my carer £10 for making it but she refused to take it.

We live in a Horse Racing area - Middleham is only two or three miles away and the little town is full of jockeys,horses and racing stables.   Outside there are Gallops and the streets are always full of jockeys riding out on training.   Catterick Racecourse is only a few miles away.   My Carer's partner loves the horses so often they go to the race days.   Today was one so I jokingly told my carer to put the £10 on a horse for me.   She chose 2 horses and put £5 on each.   She has just gone after getting me ready to bed.   She came with £27.50 I had won!   Don't worry, I am not going to start the betting on the horses game.   I do know that the only people who get rich are the Bookies.

Today was the day my Physiotherapist was coming to help me with my back/hip/leg problem which is causing me a lot of pain and lack of sleep and just will not go away.   It was good to see her - she hasn't changed a bit and as I expected she  diagnosed the problem in 5 minutes.

She thinks that when I had my major Grand mal epileptic fit back last October I fell awkwardly on my hip and damaged the tendons and the ligament (she wrote down a lot of long words which I intend to look up on the good old internet tomorrow!) and that is what is causing the problem.   It made sense.  She massaged my hip bursa to disperse some of the fluid which had gathered (a bit painful but bearable) and then gave me three simple exercises to do three times a day.   Also advised me on short, gentle walks too.

I feel much better already - she says probably because her massage dispersal of some of the fluid would release the pressure.  So I know I am on the road to recovery.   I have been going to her for years and she has never failed me yet.

So a good day all round.   Off to watch tonight's Sewing Bee now.   I will see you tomorrow.


Sunday 9 July 2023


 I hate this word.  I hate it when it is applied to people.   Having read Jeremy Clarkson in Sunday's Times I see he uses it - along the lines that there are always going to be some children who are 'thick'. 

My whole teaching career was with children who had some difficulty - many because they had come to England from Pakistan and English had to be learned quickly before they could begin to take part in lessons.   Later of course as their parents began to speak English this problem got less and less.

Many children - dyslexic for example- struggle to learn to read, autistic children often have multiple difficulties and have difficulty in making themselves understood.

But I can assure Clarkson - and anyone else who feels as he does- that using the word 'thick' in that context is a)hurtful to the child who is trying his/her best, b) hurtful to parents.   I have taught children with Down's Syndrome who often display a great amount of skill in areas where it is least expected.

One instance I remember particularly when the Head was out of school and suddenly the class came to a standstill because the iron went off - the plug fused or something (my knowledge of anything electrical is nil).  There were two teachers in the room with a class of less able children - it was a sewing class and the iron was needed.   I was the teacher in charge of the iron (for safety reasons of course) and the other teacher was teaching sewing (not my strong point either).   We stood looking at the iron in consternation until Michael - a Down's boy of about 16 - got up,walked across, picked up the iron, unplugged it and mended it.   And boy was he pleased. 

The Head came back as he was doing it and everyone was clustered round watching (including the other teacher and me).   I have never forgotten her words -"Thank you so much Michael".   And to the two of us -"Two grown women and neither of you can as much as change a plug."  And I have never forgotten the smile of pride that lit up Michael's face.

I still wouldn't know what to do in such circumstances I am ashamed to say.   But the point I am making Mr Clarkson is that there is more to life that the three R's,   Everyone has something to contribute apart from the severely disabled.*   Often you have to dig deep and work at it to find what that is.   But of one thing I am absolutely sure - calling him 'thick' helps no one - in fact it is an insult.   He turned out to be a 'dab hand' at all kinds of little jobs.   He grew in stature by the day and became a real mainstay of the school ('fetch Michael - he'll know what's wrong with it') became a catchphrase.

Calling anyone 'thick' is a crime in my eyes.

*Even someone severely disabled mentally can often light up a room when given a word of praise.

I shall not read Mr Clarkson's column again.   Not that he will mind.   Columnists are I suppose there to be controversial, to set the cat amongst the pigeons.   Otherwise their columns would be boring and wasted.   But I, for one, wish to put across my point in the strongest possible terms.   One word of praise is worth a thousand words of criticism and the smile you get in return will make your day.

Friday 7 July 2023


 Oracy - a word I suspect is soon going to be brought into common usage - especially if  Sir Keir Starmer has anything to do with it.   I looked it up in Chambers and I must say the definition is a perfect example of what he has in mind.   "Oracy - skill in self expression and ability to communicate freely with others by word of mouth".   If only all children could do this. 

I look back to my childhood.     My parents were in their mid forties when I was born.   A 'mistake'?   I'll say.   I was born two months premature and weighed three pounds and was in an incubator for several weeks.  My mother didn't know she was pregnant; she had a violent fit and was put into an ambulance - as the ambulance man put her in he said to my father something along the lines of 'we are taking her to the Maternity Hospital but I doubt we shall be able to save both of them - which do you want us to save?'    My father said she's not pregnant - to which the man replied - she is in labour,!!(a little aside here which my father over the years used to relate to anyone who hadn't heard it before - when he (yes men did push prams sometimes in 1932) was walking through the village with me when I was out of the incubator and home, the village gossip called across the road - 'what have you been doing Mr Smithson?'   My father replied as he kept walking 'Same as you only we got caught out!'

Was I 'oral' as a child.    I was - no doubt about that.  My parents and my two siblings (boy 11 years older, girl (woman) twenty two years older) were always telling me to shut up.   When I was in my early teens I asked for an autograph book for my birthday - I was thrilled to get one but I asked all my family to write in it (it was the custom in those days) because we weren't even aware of 'celebrities'.  The only entry I remember was my father's - "Silence is golden, speech is silvern".   All other family entries followed the same pattern.   I was mortified and never showed the book to anyone or asked for their autograph.

Luckily it didn't shut me up.

Sir Keir Starmer is quite right though.   These days the curriculum has to be followed strictly and it leaves little or no time to discuss things.   It is forty years since I retired; I hope things have got better in that respect - but I doubt it.

Children should talk freely, children should learn how to discuss things and come to their own conclusion in arguments. In some families such skills are taught (almost without thinking about it).  Children should, from starting with da-da or mummy, always be listened to , they should be able to give their opinion, be able to ask questions (and get answers).    That is what language is for.

But I see families all the time passing my window - Dad with the dog lead,Mum looking at her i phone, offspring trailing behind maybe chatting amongst them selves.   Yes - they may not be silent but you don't automatically learn  to discuss, to form an opinion - to communicate beyond 'what's for dinner?' you have to be guided, the right questions have to be asked in order to elicit the 'right' answers - i.e. your opinion on the subject. 

I see my great grandchildren rarely but hear about them often.   They are lucky to have been born to two intelligent parents who talk to them all the time.   Last time they came (U was six) I gave her a sketch book and some crayons and she spent the whole afternoon going into the garden, drawing a flower, coming in and colouring it, and then asking us to guess which flower it was.   We would ask how tall it was, does it smell nice, all kinds of questions which you would ask an adult in a similar situation.   Then she would ask how to spell it and we would say slowly a n t i r r i n h u m  or whatever and she would write it and dash out to do the same again with another flower or leaf.

Children have to be taught how to listen to another fellow's point of view, weigh up the pros and cons, think about it and then state their views.

Wouldn't one way be to build into the timetable a 'Debate' period every week.   Set a topic (hopefully the children would soon decide what they wanted to discuss) and learn to put forth an argument and listen to the replies?   Make them feel important when it was their turn to lead the discussion, make them think carefully about a subject, make them able to form an argument and express what they feel.  Get them thinking.

Hopefully they won't listen (or worse still watch) Prime Minister's Question time!

Wednesday 5 July 2023


Good morning again!   It is good to 'clock in' and get the old brain working.   Sometimes it takes a bit of waking up these days.   At least it isn't blowing a gale outside, like it has been doing for a few days here; not much like Summer.    And yesterday's rain at Wimbledon was horrendous for the organisational staff there - but my plants would have been delighted if it had been so up here - but never a drop.

Bursitis has descended on my right hip.    Not serious but very annoying as bedtime has become a problem.   Upright I can carry on but lying down is a different matter.   The Physiotherapist is paying me a home visit next Wednesday.   In the meantime I have to take pain killers and grin and bear it.   Hopefully what I have been thinking was 'restless legs' will disappear with her treatment.

There is a 'tongue in cheek' article in Times 2 today (a lot of the stuff in this daily addition to the 'proper' Times is written in a 'tongue in cheek'  manner).   But before I read the article I thought about the title - 'The seven rules to save a marriage'.  How strange words are aren't they?  I thought about the word 'save'.  And I thought about my piggy bank as a child - pocket money was meagre in those far off days but I was always encouraged by my parents to put one penny of my weekly amount into piggy 'for a rainy  day'.  Rainy days didn't come but if I wanted something like a book or a special cardigan or dress then out would come piggy, a knife from a knife drawer, tip piggy upside down and rattle the knife about 'til the coins fell out on the table.   Sometimes my Uncle Tom  (always considered the family blacksheep because of his propensity to dance on the bar table in The Bull after a few pints) would slip me a   half  crown (remember them?) and if I dearly wanted something and was saving up then among the farthings, ha'pennies and pennies the odd silver coin would rattle on the table. Oh the thrill of counting it and piling up the coins on the table.   Then 'save' became an exciting word -the opposite of 'spend'!

 But 'save' a marriage?   Surely you want to 'spend' a marriage - enjoy it, keep it full of exciting things that you enjoy doing as a family.

Then I read the article - about some 'celebrity' I had never heard of who briefly left his wife for a different model and then returned home 'to the fold'..

Then the article - three more 'celebrities' wrote their 7 rules to put in their 'piggy banks' to 'save' a marriage..   Hannah Betts - don't leave the lavatory seat up when you have been to the bathroom, or  Michael Odell - 'crushes' might be inevitable but stop rushing to the door when the 'hot young Amazon delivery person ' rings the bell.   Or Stuart Heritage - split domestic chores neatly down the middle (except mowing the lawn which neither partner will do until the neoghbours complain again').

I tried to think of minor irritations in either of my marriages - couldn't think of one.   But they do say 'distance makes the heart grow fonder'.   My marriages ended a long time ago (first one in 1991 with M's death from Kidney cancer) and (second one in 2017 from Brain Glioblastoma)).   Such events especially as both are now distant memories certainly sit in my mental piggy, often shaken out and looked at - but not spent - just put back for another day.  And the knife kept handy in the knife drawer. 

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Showing emotion.

 My mother brought all three of us up to never show emotion in public.   I'm not sure why.    Just as she brought us up never to argue.   All three of us adhered to her rules.   She was a good Mum and I would say 'a stoic'.

Emotions she used to say are for your own private viewing.   I am not sure I agree and as I have aged it does become harder not to cry at the daftest things.

But I must say I don't like to see others showing tears in what I consider inappropriate moments.    This can probably seem to be a fault on my part.

Funerals - there are still a lot of what is fast becoming 'old-fashioned' funerals - are a case in point.   I didn't cry openly at the funerals of either of my two dearly loved husbands.   Before and after in private I cried - of course I did - but in public I thought 'be strong, hold up for his sake'.

This brings me to a point about the TV Show 'The Repair Shop'.   I love it.   The way those incredibly clever men and women can work their skills on badly damaged articles and with the right tools and the right care bring them back from the brink is so very clever.   But I find the reponse of the owners when they return to collect their treasures very hard to stomach.   It almost makes me want to   not watch the programme,

Some folk bring in a very badly damaged - and neglected - item, come to collect it after the team have worked on it and then burst into tears at the sight of the object looking how it used to look.  I always wonder why they haven't kept it in good condition if they loved the owner that much.

I am very much afraid I belong to the stiff upper lip brigade - although when I see scenes of poverty, deprivation or downright cruelty on TV News programmes I find it very hard to contain myself.   For if there was one place where there is so much to cry about it is undoubtedly here on the only earth we know.

Monday 3 July 2023

Going Out

 I am rapidly coming to the time when I no longer wish to 'go out' .   Going out is a major issue for me.   It entails putting on clothes other than my everyday wear ( I know, many of you will say it doesn't matter, but it does to me.   I have always loved clothes and if I am 'going out' I want to wear them).   It involves arranging transport (it is not until one gets 'past driving' and sells one's car that it bites).   Ordering a taxi is not as easy as it sounds.   Most of the taxi services here are involved in school runs so that starting and leaving times are out.   Friends are brilliant.   T and S  offer to take me out all the time but I don't like to put on them except in an emergency.

Today just such an emergency arose.   The Optician.  His surgery is only about a mile from my bungalow.   He is a pleasant man and I have put my eyes in his care ever since I came to live up here so he knows them well.   I have cataracts in both eyes but getting them 'seen to' is really a major operation involving a twenty-five mile drive, finding a place in the hospital car park, waiting - as I say a major operation with all the paraffinalia it entails - Priscilla, Zimmer,lots of planning.

Anyway we have decided to give them a miss this time and he is just going to change my reading glasses so that doing the Mind Games in The Times is sharpened up a bit.

As one ages eyes, ears, teeth, knees, all these usually tell you they are getting old and need constant care and attention.

All done and back home only just before my carer comes and then I settle down to watch Venus Williams (forty something) entering Wimbledon I believe on a wild card this year.   The crowd greeted her with a cheer.   She had one knee tightly strapped and before long she fell awkwardly on the grass which I guess could have been slippery as there had been rain.  When I switched off to get something to eat I thought she looked very tired - I wondered if she would hold out throughout the match - time will tell.    Every dog has his day as I said the other day.

This dog is off to eat a tea cake with some cheese and drink a cup of coffee and then take it easy.   Another bad night with leg trouble has prompted me to leave a message on my Physio's answer phone to ask if she has a vacancy to just see me.   Whether or not I can climb on to her couch/table I don't know but she is so good that even a chat will lead I am sure to her putting her thumb on exactly the spot that is giving me trouble.   She is so good -that is why finding a space is so difficult.   However, sufficient unto the day.   See you tomorrow.

Sunday 2 July 2023


 There is a sort of scale of feelings I think - it goes from absolute hatred through to absolute adoration with many  offshoots in between.   I have been lucky with two marriages which were both very happy;  I suppose over the years there were  bumps in the line, blips which quite rapidly disappeared.   So I always found it hard to understand divorce really - how can one really deeply love someone only for that feeling to dissipate?   Of course I know this is a stupid view, that some folk take a while for their real self to appear - yes there are many, many reasons for divorce and as I have never been in that situation I really don't know what I am talking about.

But with other folk, with people on television, on radio, in the papers, on the News, for reasons I have never come to terms with (Harry and Megan, the Kardashans (sorry if the spelling is wrong - wouldn't be surprised if it did turn up in Chambers a few years hence) we all mentally have a like/dislike scale otherwise we wouldn't dash home to catch a certain programme or  press the on/off switch.

Such is my feeling for Jeremy Clarkson - some weeks, like today, he writes so much better than I ever will-  when I agree totally with his premise that the very rich shouldn't strut about displaying their wealth to the world when half of it is suffering/starving/persecuted/enslaved.   So on the like/dislike scale I have constructed let's say my button has shot up rapidly towards the 'like' end.

Skin cream 'starter set' @ £495 anyone?   If the answer is 'yes' then you obviously don't have to consult your last bank statement to weigh up whether or not you can afford it.   I am pretty sure that if you had two twenty somethings or forty somethings (the latter being the probable, gullible set they were aiming the ad at (or perhaps sixty somethings) if you slapped the new skin cream on one and Nivea or Ponds on the other there would not be that much difference  in the outcome after a month.  And adjusting your diet would probably be more effective.   And in any case what is wrong with an ageing skin - it's things like that that save us oldies from having to carry a placard displaying our age ("you've only got to look at her to see she's getting on a bit").   My answer to that is that 'every dog has its day'). 

As he says in the heading - and I quote

"Minted?  Then keep shtoom* about your £500 lotions and your Bugattis".

*thanks Jeremy and The Times for the spelling of shtoom - I would have had to look that up in my Chambers.

An afterthought :  I read somewhere that 'proper' money - eg 2ps, 10ps, ten pound notes and the like will eventually completely disappear and everyone will pay at the checkout electronically.   Sigh!  Remember the penny in the slot machines on lav doors in public toilets and public telephone boxes (bright red - we still have one in our village - it is the village swop shop for paperbacks we've read and won't read again) where you put in twopence and pressed button A.   If nobody answered you pressed button B and got your money back?

If there is anybody up there and my annual Humanist subscription has been wasted for years, please don't let the sans money come into force until I have popped my clogs.

Saturday 1 July 2023

Nothing to say today

It has been a nothing sort of day today - does everyone have days like this?   Apart from it being my 'drugs day' - that is the day when I sort my drugs out for the coming week and put them all in the correct compartments in the weekly 'pill boxes', I watched the Ladies Tennis Final at (I think Eastbourne )- please correct me if I have the wrong venue.  The favourite won.

It has not been a particularly nice day - not very warm, mostly cloudy and a strong West wind blowing.

My neighbour came round to tell me she is going away for a few days.   It is no good saying I am envious - I like my 'nest' here with friends calling, my son keeping me in order and a smattering of outings.   I can't even say that I miss my car.   I am a firm believer that driving licences for everyone should stop at ninety.   I had already surrendered mine before my Epilepsy was diagnosed.

Now, any minute my favourite Carer will be here to help me prepare for bed.   She has promised me an omelette (made in the Omelette Maker she bought me for Christmas) - I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who loves omelettes (try a scattering of snipped-up and crisply fried smoked streaky bacon and a handful of chopped-up chestnut mushrooms (unless you have access to field mushrooms - we had them galore at the farm).  Fry the bacon snippets, saute the mushrooms in butter, add them to the two lightly-whisked eggs - pour into a lightly oiled omellete maker which you have switched on for a few minutes so that it is nicely warm - put down the lid and leave for around 5 minutes.   Switch off, open the lid and there will lie a perfectly formed and nicely browned omelette (the maker is easy to clean if you have remembered to lightly oil it).   I like a nice scattering of mustard and cress to garnish - it looks so pretty.

Once J has gone I shall either watch the Channel 5 programme on Highgrove (King Charles and Queen Camilla's private house where he has done wonders with the carefully planned garden)  or finish Elizabeth Strout's book 'Lucy by the Sea' (the first book I have read which is specifically about the Pandemic ).   She is an excellent writer.

Wimbledon on Monday!!