Saturday 30 September 2023

Join the queue!

 I have just been down to the Medical Centre for my Covid and Flu jabs.   My son took me down - only a five minute drive from home - my appointment was for 12,10.   He collected me from home at five minutes to twelve and I was back home done and dusted by 12.10.   Hardly felt a thing.  I had the jabs simultaneously - Covid right arm, flu left arm.  (Last time I had Shingles within ten days of having my Covid jab - there is evidence which suggests that a certain proportion of folk will get shingles after the Covid jab) so I decided to have the covid jab in my right arm as Shingles affected my left side.)

I told the nurse giving me the Covid one how I didn't I really feel the needle  break the skin and she said that the covid needle is extra slim.

Having a time to arrive makes everything work like clockwork.   It used to be that the surgery opened at 8.30am and you just queued - sometimes for half an hour, then trecked through the building - Enter at A and Exit at B.   Now just a steady stream by appointment - and no waiting at all - just straight in and out.

How lucky we are.   People complain about our Medical Centre.  Perhaps I have just been lucky but I have been going to the same medical practice for over thirty years and I don't have a single complaint.   The doctors are all pleasant, caring and helpful.   We have a succession of Junior Doctors passing through on their 6 month's attachment to General Practice and I have to say now I am almost housebound it is a special treat to have a handsome young man or a pretty young woman call in - like a breath of fresh air and the addition of a keenness and enthusiasm and without the slightly jaded attitude which inevitably tends to creep in with age in any profession.

My parents refused the Smallpox vaccination for me in childhood for some reason, and I was a child before the MMR vaccine was introduced (1988) so I had all three - Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German Measles), along with Chicken Pox and Whooping Cough.   I missed Scarlet Fever although several friends had it.   They were just the hazards of childhood.

But the real scourge that bedevilled the age in my childhood and adolescence was Tuberculosis.  Almost every family in the Lincolnshire village where I grew up was affected by the disease.  It was spoken of in hushed tones as "Consumption" and there is no doubt it was feared.   The nearby village of Bracebridge Heath had a large Sanatorium and patients would be confined to bed undercover but out of doors during the Summer months.

Then in 1943 Streptomycin - one of the first antibiotics- was developed and almost overnight it became a treatable disease.

My mother's answer to illness was to feed the person up with what she called 'good, wholesome food'.   And this she did with me.  And I escaped it.  Or did I?

When I had my medical examination on entering teaching the doctor asked me, "When did you have TB?"   I replied that I had never had TB and he informed me that my lungs on the X-Ray were covered in 'TB Scars' - so perhaps the good food had helped after all.

But let's be clear about things.   We in the Western World are incredibly lucky where illness is concerned.   No trecking across hundreds of miles, a very sick baby on one's back in the desperate search for medical help.   No awful tropical diseases - Malaria, Beri-beri, Cholera and the like (all of which appeared on the Medical Discharge certificate of my first husband, invalided out of the East Surreys after three years on The Death Railway).   We bask, unworried, safe in the knowledge that most trips to the doctor are treatable.

Here's to the future when hopefully the same will be able to be said for MND, Cancer, Dementia, Parkinsons and the other scourges of our age.

So Good Health everyone and if you haven't already done so, please pop down to the Surgery or to the Pharmacy and get your Winter jabs.  They don't always protect but they go a good way towards doing.

See you tomorrow.

Friday 29 September 2023


I just read, and commented on, Cro's post about what he liked for Breakfast.   Breakfast is taken literally by me as I never eat after five in the evening until seven the next morning so I feel I really am 'breaking my fast'.   (just the odd two finger Kit Kat now and again with a cuppa when I can't sleep).

But as I read it and thought about it, I realised just how lucky we are to be able to toy with the idea of 'what do I fancy for breakfast today?'   Bacon and egg, Mushrooms on toast,  Beans on toast, Omelette, Cereals, Kippers, the list is pretty endless.

Maybe we have to be retired to get to that stage as with folk going out to work time is usually pretty limited - no time to indulge.

But around the world thousands of folk don't have the privilege of speculating on which delicacy to choose - anything at all is a luxury.

I thought this yesterday when eating out (the wine list had bottles as much as £500+); looking through the menu, deciding which delicacy I fancied today.  Admittedly I don't do it very often so I don't feel guilty but it is good to remember that in spite of all our moans and complaints about the way things are with our Government at the moment (not sure they have earned a capital G) and despite the fact that there are food banks everywhere for folk who through no fault of their own have to resort to them   to keep their families fed, we are lucky to live in a peaceful, temperate climate and to never have to worry about where the next meal is coming from.

Food for thought wouldn't you agree? 

Thursday 28 September 2023

The Middle of the Night.

 Well 2 am!   Can't sleep.   I don't know why - I had a lovely day.   W and I met our friends from Grange over Sands at The Wensleydale Heifer for lunch.   And a lovely lunch it was too.

The Heifer is a high class mainly fish restaurant and  Boutique Hotel - always full  - today was no exception - Car Park full (of  large, expensive cars).  Sea Bream, Goujons (very large ones not the tiddly little things full of fish 'offcuts' which are the usual fare in cafes - these were huge and came with thrice cooked chunky chips and 'special' mushies (I think they were fresh green peas - lovely bright coloured green 'mush' with just a few whole peas) - tartare sauce - a delightful plateful (water, Black Sheep ale, Elderflower drunk).

I resisted the Eton Mess (which was huge and prettily decorated with spun sugar) and plumped for rice pudding with a crispy brown sugar topping, accompanied by coconut ice cream and a pile of preserved ginger (beautiful.) and decorated with a very pretty purple pansy.

We were  (as requested) in the bar - a tiny alcove with just room for a table for us four and another table for two.

I have nothing to eat since - too full.  

It is always slightly strange in the middle of the night when one can't sleep isn;t it?  Sitting here with a totally silent world outside.

I have to end of a very sad note. My little hedgehog who has been around for the whole week was this morning run over right outside my bungalow.   Why can't folk drive carefully.   Surely a hedgehog is worth slowing down for.

Off to bed for another try.  Night-night,

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Ornaments - or not?

I do so love it when John (Going Gently) buys a new picture or a new ornament - or somebody buys him one as a present.   All those pictures on his 'art wall', all those bits and bobs (not to mention the illuminated string of dinosaurs or something he has just bought).   And then there is his 'goat' he made for himself which I think stands on his mantelpiece.

Not everyone likes ornaments but I love them.   Whenever I have travelled I have always bought something to bring home to remind me of the visit.  Years ago - at least 35 years ago - my first husband and I bought a smallish brown pottery bowl decorated with pomegranates (I believe the area is famous for them) in Alma Ata.  Almaty, as it has been referred to by Google, stopped being the capital of Kazakhstan in 1997 so it was long before that when I went with my first husband, who died in 1991.   Years ago I dropped the bowl and broke it.   I 'repaired' it (by no means up to The Repair Shop standard) and an hour ago tipped a dozen Clementines into it and put them on the small table in the sitting room.   Then I just sat for a few minutes and thought about our visit there.   The bowl triggered that thought and just for a while I was back there.   As my first husband used to say 'A moment enjoyed is never wasted'.

But - daft as it may seem - on my hearth I have a bronze half-sized hare (my favourite as you know)  who sits up licking his front paws.   A present from my niece many years ago as we were walkng round Richmond ('our' Richmond - only ten miles from here.)  I adore him and have many one-sided converations with him. 

At the other end of the hearth in Summer (he is made of wood and has to fly back to his place on top of the high bookshelves once I need the fire on) sits a wooden half-sized Oyster-Catcher who is in a walking/nay stalking position of authority.  We bought him  -the farmer and I - at Minsmere maybe twelve years ago. He faces the hare across the hearth.

Last week end a friend bought me a bunch of Sedum from her garden and she moved the Oyster catcher to the middle of the hearth so that she could put the Sedum in his spot. When she had gone I sat looking at the hearth and smiled.   I figured the Oyster Catcher was just stalking over to his Summer mate to tell him that shortly he was migrating back to the top of the book case and would see him next Spring.

The electrician came a couple of days ago to give the fire a service.   This morning I saw that the bird was standing close by the hare.   The question is - did the electrician move the hare or did the bird think - here's my opportunity to have a chat with the old chap at last and wander over to the hare?

Daft question I know but when you get to 90 you are allowed to be daft,   If Beatrix Potter can write of 'a foxy-whiskered gentleman with black prick ears and sandy whiskers, seated on a tree stump reading a newspaper' then I can take the liberty of allowing my Oyster catcher to stalk over the hearth to say goodbye to his fastidious friend who spends all his time cleaning his feet. 

Monday 25 September 2023

Happy Landing

 3.86 billion miles - 7 years - and down to earth again - almost on  X marks the spot - Bennu sends us a present of 250g (looked it up on Google 8.81549oz) of gritty bits of Asteroid as a present (well actually we stole it didn't we - we weren't handed it on a plate).   Apparently a quarter of the rubble is going to be distributed around the world to 35 institutions (a few milligrams each), then a bit kept for Nasa and then a bit sealed away (this is the bit I like best of all) for future generations using:

"techniques not yet designed"

"technologies yet to be developed"

and best of all:

"using questions not yet thought of and answered". 

Am I getting old or what?   My immediate thought was 'do I really want to know or has my brain shut down?'

And I was transported back to the last century and the Moon Landing and my son D with his Mum and Dad - all running down the path and rushing in to my parents' house to see if they had landed on the moon, only to find Mum and Dad hadn't even got the TV on and were calmly sitting eating their lunch.

"Why would we have the telly on?   You don't want to be bothered with all that rubbish surely?"

Oh dear - am I getting old?   Surely not.   No - perk up old dear - read the article again (and then again) and try to make sense of it.   I am still part of the 21st century even if I would rather not be.


Sunday 24 September 2023

Sex Symbol

I don't recall them being called that.   In fact in a strict Methodist household I don't think the word 'sex' was in my vocabulary.   But (and this shows my age) my 'pin-up-boy' as we called such creatures was firmly fixed on Michael Rennie after seeing him as Harry Lime in the film 'The third man'.

I don't recall huge posters - or even small posters.   We girls just had to dream.

Now in today's world I see the latest sex symbol  is Gary Lineker - aged 62!  (I do wonder whether his salary as anchorman  at £1.35 million a year of 'Match of the Day' has anything to do with it).  With a salary like that it would only take a couple of month's salary to be in a position to bid for her late majesty Queen Elisabeth's Rolls Royce which is up for sale with a price tag of at least 'a little over 2 million'.

I can assure any of you men who may be wondering what 'an old dear' of 90 coming up to 91 is doing thinking about sex symbols - the feeling doesn't go away altogether with age you know.  Feeling and actions are not the same as anyone who has been sitting looking at a high privet hedge deciding whether to get up and go and cut it back  knows. What does transmogrify (if that is the right word) is what we fancy our 'pin up boys' for.   

As you will know if you read me regularly - Monty Don (but only in his working gear please) comes high on my list - not as a sex symbol I hasten to add but as someone who - standing on my patio - could transform my garden into perfection.

Then there's Sir Simon Rattle - still a commanding figure at 68 - his hair still a charming head of bubbles (remember him?) just white now, but join my club Sir Simon.  I can just imagine us, slippers on, perhaps Sir S in an elegant smoking jacket, me in a sumptious Kaftan and gold slippers while I listen to him reminiscing about 'orchestras I have worked with' of 'why I love Mahler's 9th').  But, hang on a minute - that sounds like an evening meeting and I am falling asleep by 9pm - and that's without the glass in hand (and it wouldn't be Prosecco - oh dear me no - Brandy at least) so make my falling asleep time 8pm.

Oh dear - my dream balloon is deflating sadly.  It looks like a toss up between Monty and D my existing gardener.  Thinking of money - I did entertain my gardener a couple of weeks ago in my black nightie (for black nightie don't think 'sexy' think' old lady' and 'keeping snug in bed') when, pressed for time he came to mow my front lawn at 8pm, after my night-time carer had been and got me ready for bed.   He needed paying.   I gave him a choice - come in while I write the cheque or come back in the morning.   He's known me twenty years so the answer was obvious.  He came in - 'knackered' to use his word - he'd been on the go since 8 that morning - behindhand because rain kept stopping work.   So no swet there.

But I could have a large poster of Monty on the wall (I/m sure such a thing exists).   The snag is my gardener gets a bit uppity at the mention of Monty.  When I told him last week that Monty had recommended cutting Alchemilla Mollis back to ground level to give it time to make a nice neat clump for Autumn, he smirked and said he knew that without having to ask Monty for advice.

And so it remains.   I am thinking I might have a pokerwork sign on my bedroom wall - "A Cat can look at a King". 

Saturday 23 September 2023

A Man of Few Words

 Do you dream?   I dream most nights (that I can remember) but it is said that we probably dream every night and mostly our dreams fade quickly.  But what I rarely do is dream about either of my very dear husbands - one gone thirty two years ago and one gone six years ago.

I used to write what I will loosely call 'Poetry'.   It fulfilled a need at the time I suppose.   But I enjoy reading or listening to poetry, have a lot of poetry books (many inherited from my father) and often read particular poets last thing before going to bed, especially if my mind is in a bit of a whirl and I feel I am not going to sleep well.

I stopped writing 'poetry' because I had to face up to the fact that I am not a poet.   I began to feel that what I was writing was so unsatisfactory (I was going to say 'rubbish' and then realised that it was the wrong word because it served its purpose at the time (ie to get me through a bad time).

For some reason I have signed myself out of my URL - don't know how -  must have accidentally pressed the wrong button and my computer will not allow me in in the normal way.   I got in in a roundabout route and came across a saved folder marked 'my poems'.   This was the first poem in the folder - about my farmer of course.

                    A Man of Few Words

No smile.

No word of greeting.

Just a raised finger

on the steering wheel.

No praise

or complaint.

Just tacit acceptance.

No eulogies.

No promise of undying love -

just a cuckoo flower

or a  hand of hazel-nuts

or a subtle tail-feather 

of the grey partridge

brought in the afternoon

and given with few words.

But saying more

than any gaudy bunch of roses.


I read it aloud as I sat at the computer.   I went to bed but I didn't sleep well.   The tears came and for a long time I wept quietly to myself.    Bottled up grief?   I don't know.   But this morning I feel clear headed and somehow different.

You who read my posts didn't know my farmer of course - most of us will never meet (but that doesn't mean we don't have a relationship with one another).   You only know him through what I have chosen to tell you.  So I am pleased you have read this 'poem' because now you will know my farmer a little better than you did before.

And when you have read it look again at my Header.   He took that photograph shortly before he died.   It is a photograph of Wensleydale - a Dale he called Home.

Friday 22 September 2023

What did you do when you were little Daddy?

 We must most of us have asked this question at some point in our childhood.   I am not thinking of the priviledged classes here but the good old Working Class - and there were a lot more of them in those days I guess, when "Social Climbing" had not been heard of.

My Dad was born in 1889.   The school leaving age became 12 in 1899 and when I think of what a well-read man he was and how he was always looking at the Atlas when countries were mentioned on the News, how he had a shelf full of Poetry and Travel books - many of the poems he knew off by heart, many of the places he was interested in he was knowledgeable about.   And his knowledge  of Natural History - wild flowers, birds, gardening, naming varieties of Tomato, Apple, Rose - he was a mine of information.   If I wanted to know about anything it was always, "Ask your Dad" and if he couldn't answer my question the answer would not be "I don't know" it would be "Let's look it up."   He had  passed the Scholarship at 11 but his future was already mapped out and sadly his parents couldn't afford to keep him at school.   No State help in those days - certainly not for the working class.

Sadly he didn't live long enough to see me as a mature student get my first University Degree but my goodness me he certainly left me with a thirst for knowledge (much of it pretty useless these days when you can look up virtually everything at the touch of a button.)

But what of today's teenagers - within say the next ten years likely to become Mums and Dads?   In my 'after lunch compulsory hour's rest' (made compulsory by me I hasten to add), while in a state of 'suspended animation' I watched four teenage boys and two teenage girls go past - not together - all individually.   They had one thing in common.   Can you guess what it was?

Every single one of them had their nose in their phone.   If there had been a rock mid-footpath they would have fallen over it.   I would also guess that not one of them would be looking up 'information'. I don't have a smart phone, just an old-fashioned phone, a push-button as my son calls it.   I can't be bothered to learn  the language.   My phone can call folk, text folk, that's about it.   It gets me by - I still have a dictionary and a thesaurus (both weigh a ton) and a lap top if I need to look something up.   I get by.

When I watch University Challenge on TV I am lucky to get 5 right answers and almost always they are about wild flowers, native birds, the countryside.   I can't help feeling that - like my passing teenagers today - the members of the quiz  yeams never bothered looking at what they were walking/riding through.  Never questioned what that patch of blue flowers was called, or that pretty colourful bird was.

Does it matter?   Life has moved on - as it does with every generation.   If you want to know anything now - press a button.

Do young folk talk amongst themselves still.   Do they have meaningful discussions - or even ordinary conversations?

I listen to my 7 year old great grand daughter asking questions, chatting to mum and dad, learning about the world every day and already beginning to questions things, beginning to develop the art of arguing the point.   There are still parents out there prepared to listen.   But most families are families where both parents work (and have to spend much of the evening working one way or another).

Are we at the begining of a time when discussing, arguing the point, observing what is going on around us, talking about what we see in a meaningful way are all going to become things of the past.   I sincerely hope not.   I shalln't be here to see how things turn out.   I read that some (Private and Public) schools are opting out of so called conventional exams and putting in their own.   Maths and English stay but everything else seems to be under discussion.   This might be a way forward.   But if it is then please don't let it be a generation where 'traditional' subjects like woodwork, cookery, metalwork and the like are left out of the equation so that we breed another generation where there is almost a national shortage of tradesmen - bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters -  things like this are still left out of things.   This is what happened with the abolition of Secondary Modern Schools for Comprehensive.   I was teaching when ROSLA came in.   When suddenly a generation of pupils in their teens had to stay on an extra year at school.   For what?   You may well ask.

Thursday 21 September 2023


 My mother, although the family had a limited income, always dressed well.   She always had an inferiority complex as my father's sisters (all four unmarried - men were in short supply after World War 1) all had good jobs - tailoresses, milliners.   So I was brought up in the same vein.   One of my mother's mantras was - 'it is important to make the best of yourself!'   And I have always followed that route.

Is it vain?   I don't know but I do know that it is probably in the same league as my tidiness - I just can't settle unless everywhere is tidy.

Yesterday D, who cleans for me once a month, didn't come because she wasn't well (she is coming next week).  One of this month's jobs was to sweep out the garage.   The farm books/ledgers have been stored in plastic boxes in the garage since I moved in.   They had to be kept until the company was completely wound up and ceased to exist (presumably for tax purposes).  At last the accountant has collected them to put through their 'industrial' shredder.   Oh the joyful feeling of their departure.

But their removal revealed masses of piles of fluff, cobwebs and detritus.   So yesterday muggins decided to do a bit of sweeping out of corners. Only a bit - working one-handed while holding tight to Priscilla with the brakes on is  neither easy nor really safe  for me!   So just one dustpan full and then the pan and brush washed and put away so J my carer needn't know.

I told my son who remarked that he was certain I had the tidiest garage on the estate already!

But back to myself.   Sadly as many of my readers will verify (all of you are on the downward slope even if only at the top of it) after a certain age everything moves South. I do my best to conceal such movement (hence the title today).   Wired bras are out (can't fasten the hooks at the back) and stomachs suddenly learn to refuse one's efforts to hold the tummy in.

I look at some of our actresses on the cat walk - women as old as me - who are so beautifully  dressed and who seem to have maintained a flat stomach.   Then I take comfort from dear Judi Dench who always dresses in the most beautiful 'flowing', loose fitting clothes and always looks divine (and oozes what my Dad always called 'oomph') and make a note to wear  clothes that cover a multitude of sins.   What hides under the loose fitting wine jersey I am wearing today with wine trousers and black ballet pumps is a secret for my eyes only.   Unfortunately chaps I am not sure how you hide your tums - but judging by the dog-walking chaps going past everyday - nobody seems to even try.

So yes - I a dmit to being vain.  I can't change a lifetimes habits and start wearing 'any old thing' any more than I can start leaving yesterday's Times on the settee rather than in the recycling box.

Wednesday 20 September 2023


 Not much time for a post today - it is nearly my bed time.

Today was our Newspaper, garden refuse and recycling day.   Usually my Carer puts the bins and boxes just outside the garage door (over a certain age and living alone means I get preferential treatment and don't have to get my bins to the bottom of the drive.)

But when my Carer went it was just too wet and windy so I said I would ask my evening Carer, W, to do it.    At tea time the weather was worse and what's more the wind was gale force and it was pouring with rain.   The bin, box and newspaper bag were all just inside the garage door so I said I would push them over the threshold when I got up this morning.

At 6.30am no improvement in the wind which was thrashing about so I left them just inside the garage hoping the bin men would co-operate.   And it was then - in the half light -  that I saw him (or could have been a 'her'. )   Toddling round the corner towards the bins came a half-grown hedgehog. The first one I have seen since coming to live here.   My neighbour M saw one but not me - I have always thought our gardens had too many steps.   I came back in, got a saucer and put some fish I had cooked on to it and took it back outside.   I reasoned that it was a mild enough source of food and as a half-grown with Autumn any day now any feeding up that could be done should help the build up of weight to survive hibernation.

I shall look tomorrow to see if the food has gone.

Alright, a simple, everyday story but it started my day off on a high note and I have managed to get various jobs done.   D, the lady who cleans through for me once a month, texted to say she was ill and couldn't come (she has Diabetes 1 as well as several other conditions).   She will come next week instead.

It is now after half past eight in the evening so shall start preparing for bed soon.   Sleep well - see you all tomorrow.

Tuesday 19 September 2023

'Sparks through the stubble'

 I am reading - well reading, stopping and thinking, looking up plants, looking up quotations, having moments of extreme sadness - Derek Jarman's 'Modern Nature'.

Jarman was born in 1942,  had a not very happy childhood,  became a painter, theatre designer, film maker, poet, writer - but above all a gardener.

He was gay and was one of the first 'famous' people to make his HIV status public.   We are talking of the eighties and nineties when such a state was more or less a certain death sentence.   His book, written in 1989 and 1990, is about the garden he made in the shingle around the fisherman's hut he bought in Dungeness.  He died at the age of 52 in 1994 after living with a death sentence - and years of awful illnesses - four years after finishing the book.

His mantra - which sums up his attitude to life so well was (loosely taken from The Song of Solomon) :

For our time is the passing of a shadow

and our lives will run like

sparks through the stubble.


           *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

This morning it was very wet - I suppose it has been wet all night.   It was certainly raining when I went to bed at ten and it was still at it when I got up at six.   Not just wet but the trees were still, everything looked thoroughly drenched, all the passing cars, which I watch over my breakfast every day, had their wipers going full pelt, all the dog walkers were swathed in waterproofs and many of the dogs were giving their winter waterproofs their first outing.  And I thought, with a moment's passing sadness, of my farmer who - like all farmers - put on his old waterproof jacket  (which got more and more decrepit until finally one Friday (Auction Mart Day) I would steer him in the direction of the farmers' shop in an old stable building in Golden Lion Yard and stand over him while he bought a new one that was  waterproof) - and set off round the fields with Tip his dog and Tess, my Border Terrier in all weathers to make sure that all was well.  No fancy waterproofs for either dog of course - they both had 'good thick coats that turn the weather'.   No farmer worth his salt would contemplate a coat for a dog - buying one for themselves meant a major effort! (I would put this as high on the list of reasons why every farmer should marry - way above cuddles (and more) in bed.)

Living as I do on the extreme Eastern edge of The Pennines we know all about water here.  Some major Dales take their names from the river which flows through them - Wharfe dale, Swale dale, Wensleydale ( used to be called Yoredale after its river - the Yore - later Ure but changed to Wensleydale around the time that the village of Wensley - which stands on the Ure - was almost wiped out by the plague.)

These rivers rise and fall with rapidity - often aided by the strength of the wind, and as the rain stopped this morning so the wind rose.   Now it is sunny (but still threatens rain) but the wind is very strong and blowing from the West thus blowing the water from all the becks updale down into the Ure.   Rain  is forecast so we can bet tomorrow the Ure will be 'banking' or even overflowing.

Jarman talks about such days, when in ailing health he sits them out in his fisherman's hut on the shingle.  The rain stops for a while and he walks - 'the sun, a puddled vein of molten silver in a vast amphitheatre of cloud'.   He writes like a painting - it is easy to see the scene in his beautiful word-pictures.


      *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The doorbell rings and a friend calls out which brings me down to earth quickly.   She has been to Ripon and while her hearing aids were being 'serviced' she had a wander round M & S - found two pots of Prawn cocktail reduced for a quick sale.  So she bought them  and on her way home called with one for me as a starter for my lunch today.   I wish I had the ability to write about them, to paint a word picture to match the book I am reading.

If you like such books, do please give it a try.   It is superb.

Monday 18 September 2023

Three legs risky but six 'legs' fantastic!

 It is forty years this month since I retired.   Forty years!    The largest part of my life if we divide it up into chunks.

Birth to 19 - at home with my parents.

19 to 58 - happily married to Husband Number One.  50 to 58 adjusting to early retirement.**

58 to 60 - adjusting to widowhood.

60 to 83 - happily married to Husband Number Two.

83 to almost 91 (one month to go) alone and adjusted. **

And my Mantra Daily is - 'Don't sit about thinking what might have been - it is what it is - get on with it, fill the time, enjoy it, find ways of not being alone all the time and of enjoying being alone when the occasion arises - which it undoubtedly will.

**And of course 'chapter two' also includes the birth and the bringing up of my son -now 65 and making me feel ancient, although having seen a lot of him  since he came to live up here he still looks about forty to me! Or to put it another way:

Four legs to two legs to three legs to six legs crawling to walking to needing a third leg (a walking stick) to walking around with Priscilla, four wheels plus my two legs.

Of course I am preaching to the converted aren't I - so no use getting on my soap box.   But anyone newly retired and wondering what to do with themselves could  do  worse than run down my side bar and just look at what is on offer:

John (Stargoose) going on amazing walks around where he lives and taking photographs as he walks and making everywhere look like Nirvana;  John (Going Gently) embarking at University part of each week on a new string to his bow in his early sixties;  Joanne (Cup on the Bus) beavering away at her loom (I can vouch for the efficacy with which she turns out beautiful tea towels); Si (Careering Through Nature) describing in detail how"good" he is at cricket and while ostensibly fielding taking fantastic butterly shots.

I could go on.   But by the sheer fact that they are all - and many more  - on my side bar we know they have all found plenty to be getting on with as my mother used to say.

My tips:

Feed the mind early - straight after breakfast if you can - wordle, crossword, sudoku, doesn't matter what just give the old brain cells an airing.

Contact people - they won't come to you if you don't keep in contact - that's what phones are for. Oh and keep a supply of Kit Kats, Biscuits, Fruit cake, cheese and bix - not all I hasten to add, but just something to put on the tray as well as the coffee cups.

Don't sit watching TV all day - libraries are there for readers, paperbacks are cheap enough, nothing beats a good book. (am into Derek Jarman at the moment).

Consider blogging!!  Not for everybody I know  but I count my blog friends as a huge part of my life.   They make me laugh (yes I mean you Tom), they make me think, they take pictures that bring me great pleasure and get me out into the countryside I can no longer visit every day (you know who you are), they let me share in their lives - their joys, their worries (a trouble shared is a trouble halved).  I almost feel that I am there in the room with them.

And by golly having to think what to put on my blog each day doesn't half make me think.  Heavy rain beating on the window as I type - so there's always the weather if one runs out of ideas.

Have a nice day rain or shine.

Sunday 17 September 2023

Seasons of what?

 The dull weather so early is a bit of a drag.   I keep telling myself that it is often nice weather around my birthday (Hallowe'en) and it is not necessarily the run down to winter yet.   But last night the street lights came on at ten minutes past seven.   And so far today the sun has been out for all of ten minutes.   My central heating temperature is set at fifteen and the radiators are not hot - but neither are they cold - they are just a dismal lukewarm which I hate.

What has happened to that 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'?   Was there ever such a thing?  Was there ever a time when the Four Seasons were clearly divided?   When we went from Snowdrops to Pelargoniums, to Michaelmas Daisies to 'When the grass stops growing on the lawn and it is sometimes white'?

Not a lot left in the way of colour in the garden apart fom swathes of Michaelmas daisies which have done particularly well this year and are flowering merrily as I write.      And looking out of the window as I write I see one or two huge clumps of rock rose which  were cut back about a month ago and from where I am sitting look as though they are covered in buds and might do Act II.  (am going to have my cataracts removed shortly so will hopefully be able to report with more certainty then!)   And I must also mention my gallardias - they have been splendid and are still in full flow.

And of course my Red Valerian marches along under the hedge half the length of the garden (b***** weed!!!! as my gardener calls it. )  With a bit of luck it will go the whole way next year.   I love it (and yes, I do know that I may live to regret it). 

The sneaky weed that has attached itself to the path edge, where it joins the bungalow, is in full pink flower.  Friends S and K have been over from the Isle of Man this week and staying locally means I have had two nice long visits from them.  S took a photograph of it and sent it to a friend who she thought might be able to identify - perhaps some kind of Polygonum (bistort of some kind?) she thought.   As I write this I have had a thought.   I have a few wild flower books but can't locate it in any of them - I think I might go now, make myself a new pot of tea (one I made earlier -unlike anything ever on BLue Peter- has gone cold on me) and get out the Keble Martin - maybe I need a drawing rather than a description.   I will let you know later if I am successful.

See you anon.

And D (my gardener) if you happen to read this - a weed is merely a plant growing in the wrong place.   This plant has chosen exactly the right place to drop a seed or two - for this year at least - would hate it to undermine the foundations.

Saturday 16 September 2023

Man's Best Friend

 Are you a dog lover?   Thinking of folk I know,  friends, neighbours - it seems equally divided - some are cat lovers, some are dog lovers, some have no wish to own either.   An exception is one of my carers,W, who has three Chihuahuas, three Bengal cats and an ancient German Shepherd quite close to the end of his life but, like so many pets, is kept in a decrepit (but painless seemingly) condition because neither she nor her husband can bear to 'let him go'.  They should be so lucky - we humans - supposedly the superior breed- have no choice in the matter - but that is another subject altogether.

The farmer had a succession of sheepdogs including (before my time) an Old English Sheepdog - much loved by everyone I understand.   One night he disappeared and they found him the next day in the farthest barn - he had gone away to die.   Similarly we had farm cats and one of them - a tabby called Ernest- became a family favourite.   Everyone loved Ernest.   One day the old chap lay in the middle of the path to the food hut, where the farm cats slept at the time.   The farmer stopped and stroked him but he made no attempt to get up, just raised his head for a stroke.   The farmer came in for a box and a blanket, knowing the old cat was ill, but when he went back Ernest had gone.   He left the box in the hut but next morning he found Ernest under the shed - he had gone there to die alone.

A couple of years before my first husband died, after we had at  last been able to move to the countryside, my husband suggested we get a dog.  I agreed and we bought a white English Bull Terrier, a breed (and colour) my husbnd had always admired.   We discussed getting the breed with our vet who said he strongly advised we get a bitch rather than a dog as we were new to owning a dog.  She was always a rather ''remote' dog - however hard we tried to make friends with her she always 'kept her distance' and - when she was six months old she bit my husband  as he bent  to put her food bowl down.  On the advice of our vet we had  her euthanized the same day.  My husband was desperately upset for a long time afterwards.  We found out that she was the 'runt' of a litter of 12 pups and had had to fight every day for her food.  We should have known better - new to dog ownership we should have looked into it much more carefully.

And so to so called "Designer Dogs".  Breeds come and go to take that spot.   At one time it was "handbag dogs" - women - fashionably dressed and with grossly expensive designer handbags and a similarly fashionable designer dog peeping out of it.

But now things have got much more frightening.  American XL Bully dogs have reared their ugly heads and gained popularity amongst a certain section of the community.   In one week  two people - a boy and a girl ended up in hospital after being chased and attacked by the bre ed and then on Thursday a man was attacked for twenty minutes while people tried to drive the dog away with sticks.  But sadly to no avail and the  man died of his injuries.

Who is to blame?   We can say the dog should not have been off his leash.  But whatever we say - the fact remains the dogs on the whole behave as they are trained to behave.   And training of this particular breed - and other similar breeds for they are not the only culprits - probably needs professional advice.   I look at the big German Shepherd dogs owned by the police - two live quite close to where I live - they are beautiful dogs and I have no doubt their trainer/handler is very fond of them (and they of him).   But make no mistake they know what they can and can't do and their obedience is 100% ALWAYS.

Apparently folk in the know say it will be hard to ban them - to some extent because of cross-breeding.   Where does one stop?   A thorny problem.  But no dog is worth a human life or a child badly injured and most likely terrified of dogs for many years to come.

Friday 15 September 2023

'They f*** you up your mum and dad'

Ah yes - Phillip Larkin had a point there didn't he?

I would like to bet that most of us have at least one point of complaint about the way we were brought up.   Some of us would no doubt have a long list.   But most parents want to do their best for their children.   I think they perhaps look back to things in their own childhood that they wish their parents had done differently and vow not to make that same mistake again.    But you can be pretty sure that they will perhaps make different mistakes - because we are only human aren't we.

Fashions change.   I remember I had to be on my best behaviour if we had friends and or relations to tea. (large tin of peaches, large evaporated  milk ('Libby's as my Mum called it) and large tin of red salmon always kept in the kitchen  cupboard  for just such emergencies when someone would call and be asked to stay for tea.   There was always 'stuff' in the garden and greenhouse for salads and my mother made her own bread and cakes so a good 'spread' would be guaranteed.   But one thing was always made clear - I did not join in the adult conversation - to use my mother's favourite quotation (not original) 'children should be seen and not heard.'

My great grand children were here for a while a couple of weeks ago.   They were a delight but it was a treat to hear my 7 year old, U, expressing her opinion on everything.   Her vocabulary was wide, her confidence in putting her point of view was to be admired and I marvelled to think just how well-equipped she would be in life.

Yes times have indeed changed.   And for the better as far as that aspect is concerned.   But according to the front page of today's Times 'the importance of children doing as they are told has plummeted in the past thirty years. '   My two step grandchildren call sometimes (they live near) and their behaviour when they call with their parents is impeccable.   They sit quietly and like little mice - saying not a word unless they are addressed. Almost too good although when I told their mother this she laughed and said I should see them at home where they certainly 'made up for it'.  She said they had been taught to behave when out in other folks' houses.

The importance of children being obedient has fallen from 42% in 1990 to 12%!!

My parents were good to me - especially as they had thought that 'bringing up a family'  was no longer on the cards (mother well into her forties, my sister 22 years older, my brother 11 years older and me a surprise after only around 7 months pregnancy - arriving unexpectedly and weighing only just over three pounds and in an incubator for a month).

But in one area they failed I think.   They are both long dead now so I can say it.   Their main complaint was that I 'never shut up'.    I gained a reputation in the wider family for being able to 'talk the hind leg off a donkey'.   This bedevilled me well into adulthood and really only disappeared for good when I went as a mature student to Teacher Training College and later to University and realised the importance of being able to join in discussions and put one's own point of view.

But one thing is for certain - I didn't make that mistake in my son's upbringing.   But another thing is equally certain - between us my husband and I made plenty of other mistakes.    I am sure it is impossible not to make mistakes in the way we bring up our children.   Hopefully we don't make the same mistakes as our parents but for sure we will discover some different ones. 

Thursday 14 September 2023


 Does everyone have days when they could almost (but not quite) pick their computer/lap top up and throw it out of the window (if it didn't mean getting/finding a glazier (are they still called that these days?) and forking out the dosh for a new pane of glass?

Well today has been such a day.

An e mail arrived in my in-box this morning telling me I only had until the end of the month to spend my vouchers for £15.   Didn't know I had vouchers so that is why I hadn't spent them.   Anyone who reads me regularly knows I find clothes hard to resist and I soon persuaded myself I really did need another jumper for Winter and if I could deduct £15 it was quite affordable.

That was the easy bit.   First of all I copied down the voucher number - then went to the site (won't reveal the company because they have been good to me over the years and I am sure it was more my fault than theirs.)   Found jumper a) - started the order then noticed that my size was out of stock.   So went back and scrolled through jumpers again.  Chose another one.   Jumper b) was available in my size so started procedure again.   Got to check-out, copied in voucher number - rejected.  No such number existed.   Switched off computer, made a pot of proper coffee (my all-time soother in times of stress) and decided they could keep their vouchers.

After lunch and while waiting for my mobile hairdresser to arrive, scissors at the ready (cut day) I had simmered down so tried again.   But by the time I got to my second choice of jumper they were by now out of my size.

Start again.   Look through jumpers again and find one I like better than jumper b) in any case - so begin again.   Get along fine until I typed in voucher number - rejected again.    Then I noticed - in minute print - that it was a voucher to be used 'in store'!!  An even smaller print informed me I could change the voucher to an on-line store - did it and tried again but somehow I hadn't done it right so was again rejected (and me dejected too).

In desperation I sent an e mail to the company saying 'help'.   Lo and behold, within 5 minutes they sent me an e mail saying they had ordered it for me and deducted  the £15 worth of vouchers and said jumper was on its way.   < relief was palpable.

It is worth saying that earlier in the year I bought a jacket from them and then the next day saw that they were - for one day only - (the day after I placed my order) deducting  £50 off everything.  I sent off an e mail saying I was a bit aggrieved to miss that by one day.   They sent an e mail by return saying they had moved my order forward by one day and were creditting my account with £50. 

So now I await delivery of my denim blue long jumper.   And I have got my frustration off my chest (blogs are a brilliant place to do just this).   

See you tomorrow when, hopefully, my post will not be quite so mundane.

*might have spelt 'creditting' wrong - can't find right spelling and carer just arrived, so if it has only one t then sorry (I am sure Derek will point it out if I am wrong)..

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Memories - and memory.

In 2010 I kept a diary for the whole year.   I wrote it in A5 hardback notebooks and took regular photographs.   I took the four books down from the book shelf earlier this morning - looking for inspiration for today's post.

Going back thirteen years was a bitter/sweet affair.   Yes I agree that it is "better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" but reading of all the things we did when I was only 78, and of all the folk I mention who have either died or faded from my memory and all the things the farmer and I did together, was a pleasurable but often difficult to read journey.

I can't put on the photographs - my computer skills don't include doing so - but here is a typical September few days:

Sept  9th.   We went yesterday D,K and I to the Annual Art Exhibition in Ripon Cathedral.   When I arrived home there was an e mail from W inviting me to go to Thorpe Perrow gardens with her tomorrow.   So of course I said yes and so at 11am this morning she collected me.

There is a splendid bog garden with nicely placed rotting tree trunks covered in moss and lichen - lovely mix of the dark 'mossy' green and the grey/green of the lichen.   The lake is pretty - swans, various ducks and a couple of coots lazily enjoying it.   Autumn colours are beginning to show - the Acer grove is just coming to its full glory, some leaves were falling from both Ash and Silver Birch.

After a good hour and a half's walk around we went into the cafe and had a bacon roll and a coffee.   When I arrive home G has taken Tess round the fields.

Next morning  five of us meet as usual in The Golden Lion for coffee.   I find that the chap behind the bar knows George Szirtes the poet whose poems in The Poetry Bus I liked so much.

On arriving home Tess and I walk to Forty Acre wood - much bird life in the hedges where the berries are red and look inviting.   I hope they leave plenty for winter.

Arrive home to learn that my farmer has borrowed Mike S's Huge muck spreader and tomorrow is to be called 'Giant Muck-Spreading Day'.  Curiously I rather like the smell.   Good thing that I do - because it will fill the air whether I like it or not.  

Tuesday 12 September 2023


 Rescue/search teams are at last getting through to the remote villages in the High Atlas above Marrakech.   So now, for a few short days before something else "exciting" takes the very expensive cameras and operatives away we can see (not 'witness' - we are seeing 'chosen' scenes) the terrible damage the earthquake has wreaked.

There was, of course, a day when we didn't see such things, when we probably never heard of it happening, when people suffered and died and we just read about it in the paper (if we could afford a paper and if we could read).   Now it is 'in your face' twenty four hours a day.   For perhaps the next day or two we get 'close-ups' of grieving elderly ladies, men frantically moving rocks where their houses once stood - looking for their buried families, straining to hear the faintest sound to indicate that someone might still be alive, and now, after a day or two smelling the awful smell of the dead that tells them what awaits them when the debris is finally cleared.   We get the aftermath in its entirety.   The aid, the food, the medical team, the rescuers haven't got there yet - but the cameras have got through.

That we can see what is going on around the world is a good thing.   Of course it is.   But sometimes I question it, especially in times of tragedy.   We saw the earthquake aftermath in Turkey/Syria for a few days.   Most folk have forgotten about it now - but the desolation, the poverty, the suffering is still there - just not news any more.   So is the astronomical expense of getting all the journalists and their equipment there for a week or so worth it?   Or would it have been better to spend that money on aid, on medical help - on flying out an extra medical team or two?

When does letting the world know end and sensationalism begin?

After watching the Laura Kuenssberg programme last evening and hearing of the machinations of  politicians and government officials - of the men (and a few women) who ostensibly 'keep us on the right path', this morning I have lost all faith in everything.   There is no doubt that, as Lord Acton said in the nineteenth century 'Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely'.

This attitude it seems to me extends to everything.  Have we somehow lost something important - not just here in this country but throughout the world.  So far I think the Moroccan Government have only let the chosen few rescue teams in.  Why?   Is it for political rather than humanitarian reasons?

The world is not in a good place these days.

Sorry to unload it on you all.   But it has got it off my chest - so maybe I will sleep tonight.

Monday 11 September 2023


I can't put a title because I can't think of a single thing to say at the moment.   I blame this on the weather (we English can blame the weather for almost anything - after all we have had plenty of practise.)   The fact is, like many others on or about this Latitude, the humidity, coupled with a still quite strong sun, has made 'proper' sleeping almost impossible.   I had what I thought of at about half past ten last evening as a clever idea.   My evening carer always turns the sheet and duvet well down the bed so that I can get into bed easily.   Looking at this I had an idea.   I could  turn the duvet back vertically so that it just covered half of the bed (lengthwise). making half the bed just a sheet for cover and the other half double-duvet.   Not really a good idea (well I had had quite a busy  -though very enjoyable-day and was pretty tired) as I realised as the night progressed.   For most of the next six hours I was alternately either too hot (two thicknesses of duvet) or too cold (one sheet) as I shuffled across the mattress in and out of the two areas.   I did laugh at one point because it rather reminded me of the Grand Old Duke of York in  a horizontal rather than a vertical rendering.

So, having not 'cut a long story short' you will realise that I am suffering from lack of sleep.

But I did have such a pleasant day.   First if all the bell rang and I called 'come in'.   I didn't recognise the voice which called 'hello'  but a second or two later in walked dear S a blog friend from I O M.   A minute later in walked K, her husband (he had been taking his shoes off in the hall and apologised for treading talc down the hall carpet )- a fact which highly amused my carer this morning.  Apparently putting talc in one's shoes or socks is not a Yorkshire habit (well not 'splashing the cash' is after all a serious factor in the life of a Yorkshireman).

They stayed for a lovely couple of hours chat and a cold drink.    They had only been gone a short while when my usual Sunday callers S and T came, hot and tired from walking round the Hunton Steam Gathering - a yearly event in the local calendar.   T put the kettle on as they came through the door and S made the three of us a cup of tea.  (no Kit Kats as they had only recently had lunch.)

As they drove out of the road after staying an hour (T fell asleep, S and I chatted), my son drove in and he stayed an hour during which we caught up on the week's happenings and did a bit of reminiscing.

All that plus 'Antiques Road Show' - if you watched it you would see the elderly (late eighties) Ralph Steadman - the celebrated cartoonist -come to the table to sign a print of one of his cartoons - and I was well ready for bed.

There is a long list of programmes I want to watch on TV tonight (if I can stay awake ) so it wont be an early night but I have just had to put on a cardigan as I was chilly so that's a good sign for beddy-byes.

See you tomorrow. 

Sunday 10 September 2023

Sunday morning early.

 Sunday morning early.   Bright sunshine but slightly fresher air.   According to my carer we have had storms all round us - Thirsk, Coverdale - without anything other than flashes of lightning lighting up the sky and distant rumbles of thunder  for us to bother about.

Now just a still, sunny, warm morning with a patchy sky.  Sitting here in the window of the computer room with the window wide open, nothing to disturb but the constant sound of rooks - caw, caw - in the field behind my garden.

I am constantly fascinated by the behaviour of birds.   Rooks are one of my favourites.   As regular readers will be aware, I look forward once the days get shorter to watching them fly over every morning at dawn in their thousands - and then return at dusk to gather in the huge ash tree in the field and on the grass beneath it - their roost before flying off to bed.

But they have begun to spend their whole day in and around the field behind my bungalow - not all of them of course but perhaps a  couple of hundred.  They seem to spend their whole day poking about in  the grass for food, flying round making a noise,sitting around in the ash tree and generally making a bit of a nuisance of themselves.  You can go off people you know but me and rooks have a bond which can't be broken even if they do drive me mad if I sit out on the patio.

And looking out over the dale to East Witton Fell while eating my breakfast I watched a group of about a dozen birds (too far away to say what they were) fly round and round, maybe half a dozen times in a sort of loop.   Questions come to mind:  they stay together as they fly round the same course for about ten minutes - all turning at the same time, all flying at the same speed.  What are they doing?  What is motivating them to do that and why?   When I think of the Red Arrows Team, they spend their lives practising their skills and earn huge respect throughout the world for their ability.   Birds do it naturally.   And we think we are clever.

Already skeins of geese are flying over in their accurate V formation - heading West as they pass my window- changing 'leader' now and again I understand.  We have been clever enough to know where they are going now but do we know how they know?   What metaphorical 'clock' tells them 'come on chaps, time to move before that horrible British winter weather arrives'.   And do they just 'follow their beaks'?  Or do they know exactly where they are going and how to get there?

That swallow (or eventually son of swallow and grandson of swallow) that arrived every year at the farm, around the middle of April, to sit on the wire by the barn and wait for his missus to arrive and join him in repairing and re-lining last years nest in the far corner of the barn, above where the sheepdog slept.   Have they stayed together all year as Mr and Mrs?   If so, why didn't they arrive together?  Did she stop off somewhere to visit distant relatives?

I've not taken particular interest before, I have just accepted that it was how it was.   But now as  I have plenty of time to 'Stand and Stare' as WH Davies would have us believe he did (sit and stare in my case) I am hungry for information.

All I can say is - why do we think we are so clever, why we think we are superior to all over living things -  and what gives us the right to mistreat animals and birds - to enslave them into working for us - camels,mules, elephants (not always treated well), to keep birds in cages to 'prettify our dwellings' or to carry around in cages so that we can hear them sing? (although what many of them have to sing about I really do wonder).

Am I going dotty in my antiquity or do others feel the same?   We speak disparagingly of folk being 'bird-brained' - sometimes I think we ought to take that as a complinent when|I see the behaviour of some of my own species.

Saturday 9 September 2023

One of y favourite days of the year.

According to today's Weather Lady this is the climax of this Hot Spell - from late today onwards the great god thunder is set to make his presence felt as he makes his majestic way Northwards.  "Some places" will experience him to excess and experience 'localised flooding' - I do hope he misses us.   Flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder I enjoy but when he decides to be directly overhead - not so good.   The little adjoining village is subject to flooding - the beck (which gathers strength, becoming the River Em when it reaches Bedale and flowing into the Swale - which flows into the Ouse and then out into the mighty Humber Estuary - wonderful viewed from the air when flying Tees-side airport to Amsterdam -). My son and his wife live directly in its path.

All North facing windows are wide open,  everywhere is neat and tidy, cold lunch today - chorizo, cole slaw, sugarbelle baby tomatoes, good bread and butter  and if I am still hungry ice cream and fruit to follow.   The stage is set.

7pm and The Last Night of the Proms.   My seat is reserved, the sherry is waiting, suitably chilled, a couple of two finger kit kats await  - I shall soak myself in the music, the atmosphere and the wonderful cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason without putting on glad rags and making the long journey to the Royal Albert Hall. I can't wait so shall go and eat my lunch, then find a shady corner to repot a hydrangea and that's it for today.

See you tomorrow, 

Friday 8 September 2023

Hot, hot, hot.

 Somehow I feel different on very hot days.   Does everybody?   Exhilarated when I am standing, early in the morning, looking out at a world that is only just waking up, when the air is still and it is barely light.   But then, as  it gets lighter, as dogs and their walkers go past, as workers pass in their cars - some to hot stuffy offices, some to building sites, farms, the outdoor types who could take their shirts off except that standing out and working in this heat would lead to intense sunburn, a feeling of lethargy begins to creep in.

My strategy yesterday of opening all North-facing windows wide and closing all South-facing ones and drawing the blinds, had to be 'put on hold' as I was out to lunch in the pretty village of Carperby in the Dales - to the village hall where a group of ladies provide lunches once a month for villagers.  I am lucky that my dear friends T and S have friends there and so they are invited and have also managed to get the invitation extended to me too.

Once a lover of clothes, always a lover of clothes.   Well for me at least.   I know some folk don't agree and sink into  an 'anything that relaxes me and makes me feel at ease' mode, but I am not like that.  It immediately made me think of something I have not thought of for years.   My neighbours in Wolverhampton were a dear couple and we got very friendly with them.   Both had been Heads of Department in the local Grammar School and had married late.   Now elderly G went into hospital and was given the sad news that he had only a short time to live.   He chose to be taken home again "to die".   E, his wife, asked if we would go round and help him into the house when the ambulance arrived.   And this we did.

G stepped out of the ambulance - unaided - in pyjamas and dressing gown - hair neatly combed, smart slippers, immaculate as always.   We walked with him until he was inside when E suggested we all have a cup of tea.   G insisted on putting on his usual suit for such occasions (complete with his old school tie) and his usual well-polished shoes before returning to the sitting room for his cup of tea.   When E said to him that he needn't have bothered to get dressed he replied , "Think of the standards darling". My thoughts exactly - hope I can keep it up.

And so it was that I sallied forth in my new 'Sea Salt' 100% Organic Cotton top - loose, deep blue and covered in white peonies.   I bought it in March on a dismal wet day (on line of course) and there has not been an occasion when the weather was right until yesterday for me to wear it.   So wear it I did.  Felt good in all senses - cool, light, cheerful - and refusing to either dress or behave as though I am in my dotage!

Lovely meal (with sherry - we drank to several people in the village who had sadly died over the Summer Break), especially the huge helping of plum and apple crumble (fruits picked from somebody's trees in the village), lovely conversation - so much so that lost in political discussion with a chap from the village I didn't realise that almost everyone had gone and friends S and T were patiently waiting, along with Priscilla. I must be more aware of others in future.

(Didn't have any tea - in fact nothing until bedtime when I succumbed to a two-finger Kit Kat with my bedtime drink.)

Lovely day.   Off to open North facing windows now.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Heat wave

Heat waves and  me are not good bedfellows.   That is why my favourite Seasons are Spring and Autumn. This year I am suffering more than ever.  It would seem that because of my age my sweat glands are either not working or not working as well as they should do.

Yesterday my legs, which have been brilliant for the last couple of months, swelled very badly and made life very uncomfortable.   In addition the creases at my elbows were red and swollen and various bright red patches appeared on my arms.   I felt very well in myself, as I usually do, but I was really worried.   After reading Google and then having a discussion about it with my son I decided to sleep on it.   This morning after a reasonably good night's sleep legs and arms were back to normal when I awoke so I am assuming my suppositions were correct.

Today I have drawn the Venetian Blinds on my South-facing windows, opened all windows wide on my North-facing windows and done very little other than the Mind Games.  I am re-reading "The Diary of a Bookseller" by Shaun  Blythell.   It is a while since I read it and it is very amusing and a good book to pick up and put down if folk are calling.

I have just had an e mail from my Accountant to say that she will call shortly.   The business was finally all finished with  and she promised she would call and collect the farmbooks to put through their industrial-sized shredder, so I assume she is at long last calling in for them.   They have been sitting in my garage for the last three years so I shall be delighted to say good-bye to them.   I do like a nice tidy garage.

I understand the heat wave is set to continue for a day or two yet.   Tomorrow I am out to lunch again as the village lunches I went to with friends T and S begin anew for the Winter session.

See you tomorrow.   Sleep well in this humidity. 

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Another blue-sky day dawns

It is half  past eight on a super morning.   Most doggie-walkers have disappeared by now.   The sun is shining and it is not too hot.   I am going to walk round the longer of the two blocks right now with Priscilla.   I hope I have not set my sights on going too far,   Time will tell.   I shall go slow, take frequent stops to look at gardens and hopefully have some kind of 'adventure', garden, doggie-chat to write about on my return.   Hopefully see you soon.  Mind games will have to wait for my return - it could even be that the fresh air sharpens my wits enough to get the 'Moderate' Killer right today.

I didn't get far.   My neighbour and her daughter were standing in the front garden and I| stood talking to them.   They were expecting a new fridge and freezer any minute.  I stood chatting until the van came - twenty minutes or so.  I don't 'do' standing very well - I find it too tiring.   So consequently I ended up just walking to the end of the road, crossing over and coming back on the other side footpath,   so I didn't see anyone to speak to  or any dogs to have a conversation with.   But I did a bit of thinking - and here it is:

One positive comment early in the morning can make your whole day when you live alone.   One negative comment can spoil your day.   If you can go to whoever you live with (maybe if it is only a dog or cat) and talk over a negative comment ,then you can get it out of your system.   But if you live alone it can 'rankle' (Chambers says 'vex, 'irritate', 'embitter') in your brain all day, making a day you can enjoy to the full into one which is flawed.   I have decided in future if I can't say something good I shall say nothing at all.

The good comments this morning were just little things ' en passant' but it meant  that I left that chat with my neighbour and her daughter and I was smiling.   First of all S, her daughter, who I had not met before said, "I love your hair" (short, cut every six weeks by a hairdresser who comes to the bungalow every fortnight to shampoo (£10) and each third visit to cut also (£20),  and white (with old age).   Then when the two men came with the new fridge and freezer I left and went to cross the road.   One of the men stood in the road and when I began to cross and asked him if there was anything coming before I stepped out from behind the van, he replied, "Don't worry love - I'm a big lad.  Nobody's going to knock me down" - before helping me up the kerb the other side.

Both simple, ordinary statements but they started me off on the right foot today.


Monday 4 September 2023

A Country Girl at Heart.

I am a Country Girl at heart.  I lived the first twenty years or so in the Lincolnshire countryside but then moved eventually into the delightful semi-country feel of Lichfield - a cathedral city and a sort of 'half way house' before my baptism of fire - Wolverhampton, where we lived for almost twenty years.

Now I have lived here in North Yorkshire for more than thirty years - until my farmer died really out in the countryside but since then right on the edge of a small country Dales town.   And I mean 'on the edge' - climb over my back garden wall, walk over three fields and you would arrive at our old farm - now split into two and quite unrecognisable.

But although I have my garden, live opposite a piece of ground - a building plot but undeveloped so that it is a lovely space, cared for by the owner, so strimmed regularly and every couple of years the three or four trees are cut back into 'shrubs' - it is not quite the same as 'proper' country.

Imagine my pleasure when yesterday my dear friends rang to say they would come and take me for a drive.   If you read me regularly you may remember they did the same in the Spring - just as the Hawthorn (May) Blossom was coming out and the lambs were gambolling in the Dales fields.   I was for that hour of the drive in a totally different (Blissful) world.   And so it was yesterday.

The opposite end of the year.   Trees still in leaf but looking weary .   No lambs now but fields full of fully grown sheep (about to be 'tupped' anytime soon.)   The grass, after a very wet month, green and lush (and third crop silage finished).

As T drove along the country roads - well you could almost call them lanes - plenty of polite driving letting the other fellow go first sort of stuff, very little in the way of flowers on the verges except patches of yellow rattle here and there (that plant so hated and despised by farmers (with good reason) but so beloved - even craved - by the grass rivulet moth) the thing which gave me the most pleasure - and something I haven't seen for a few years was the turning of the hawthorn berries.

In some sheltered places hawthorn trees in the undulating grassland fields were covered in bright red berries.  In other places - in more open land - the hawthorn trees showed brown - berries 'on the turn'.

Here and there bright rose hips told of the beautiful wild English rose earlier in the year. (and always reminds me of 'Rose Hip Syrup' - I remember giving a spoonful to my son when he was a young child.)  Not sure that it exists these days.

We called to see a friend and sat in the garden for a while in the sun.  A Victoria plum tree was dropping its fruit onto the grass (they were ripe and absolutely delicious (I ate 6).   Word had got around because every Red Admiral butterfly in the neighbourhood was there for a 'plumfest'. 

I was returned home replete with Victoria sandwich topped with strawberries and cream (and those plums of course)- and with memories of our glorious Dales countryside.  Nowhere else on earth more beautiful.   Thank you T and S. 

This morning, for only the second time this year - I walked round a short circuit of the estate.  An ash tree I passed was dropping its leaves on the grass and on the footpath.   Yes it is Autumn (meterologically speaking) - and September has obliged us by giving us a few days of glorious  weather.   Enjoy it. 

Sunday 3 September 2023

Fortune favours the prepared mind.

 Yes indeed it does - I have an example of it most days.

Today I have a story to tell you!

Wandering about in the kitchen getting my tea yesterday I felt something land on my hair. I ruffled it with my hand and out flew a WASP.  Luckily it didn't sting me but flew lazily to the window.  I opened the nearest draw, grabbed a wooden salad server (the first thing I saw) and killed the wasp with it (and then washed the murder weapon!)

I then got a piece of kitchen paper and flushed the (hopefully) dead insect down the toilet.   But it didn't go down - instead it started 'swimming' round the toilet bowl.   Grabbing my toilet-cleaning cloth which lives on the toilet cistern, I hastily tried to shake it out of the bathroom window.   It was of course half-dead and it just wouldn't leave the towelling cloth.   In desperation I just threw the cloth out of the window quickly and shut it.

It is a super day here today (phone interruption) - friends are coming to collect me after I have unloaded my Tesco order (12 to 1 it is coming) and we are going to Dalton (near Darlington) to see a friend.

I went into the garden this morning to retrieve the cloth from the patio and noticed that my window cills were festooned with cobwebs. (this side of the bungalow faces due North).   My window cleaner always cleans the cills but he only comes once a month.

There was the damp cloth in my hand - Priscilla was willing to coast along, taking her time- so I wiped the cills  with the still damp cloth.   But here is the interesting thing - there was not a spider to be seen but the  webs were absolutely full of half eaten crane flies (Daddy Long Legs).  The spiders must be having a beanfeast - for September read "Daddy Long Legs Time" - it must be written and asterisked on every spider's calendar.

It prompted me to go to good old Google and look him up (don't know whether they were he's or she's but as they are Daddies lets assume males).

So here is everything you need to know about them. Apparently some folk mistake them for a form of mosquito but it you look closely at the proboscis (NO THANK YOU) but didn't go down that road.

The reason so many of them arrive on our cills, or if the window is open in our rooms, is that they are attracted to light.   They spend 95% of their lives in the larval stage and are important for the soil, for recycling and decomposition.   They eat leaves, plants and bits of organic material in the soil or water bodies where they live,

Do larvae have legs to move about and mouths to eat - sorry chaps can't imagine this.  

So there you are.   All these words just for the sake of a dead wasp.   I hope you all feel you know a little bit more about the much-maligned Daddy LL.  All their dead bits, along with spiders' webs now repose in my dustbin.  Spiders of course are far too clever to be caught in a damp red toilet cloth.

Have a good day.   I am off to put on my glad rags.

Saturday 2 September 2023

Beautiful Day

E, a friend who lives only a few doors away, just called early on this beautiful, clear, blue skied sunny day, to bring me more tomatoes from their greenhouse.   They are delicious - they now reside in a deep blue plate I bought from a wayside stall in the High Atlas Mountains in Marrakesh.  I eat them like cherries as I pass the plate on my kitchen worktop.

She tells me she is going to O's wedding.   I taught O as an evening tutor when I first came to live up here.  He is marrying today.   She tells me he is 43 which makes me feel very old.   In the intervening years I have only seen him twice.   But  I remember him well.

He is marrying at Jervaulx Abbey - a serene and beautiful ruin only maybe five miles from here.  He and his future wife have an absolutely perfect day for it.   The forecast is good, the sky is blue with white fluffy clouds, there is a light breeze and the week-end altogether is set fair.  Perfect.

John (Going Gently) has posted a beautiful post today about crossing The Rainbow Bridge.   Reading that put me in a perfect mood.  Now followed by this news of O's marriage and the superb setting for it this afternoon has enhanced my mood further.   I see out of the window that the morning sun has brought forth a good crop of Michaelmas Daisy flowers.   I shall sally forth with Priscilla to have a closer look.

Three things to put me in a good frame of mind today.   Let's hope I am not tempting fate.

I could be back later maybe. 

Friday 1 September 2023

Memories, memories

 Poking about in a rarely-used drawer yesterday, looking for something I had mislaid, I came across a smallish, rectangular silver box.   I picked it up, wondering what on earth it was; it was just not familiar.   'Not familar???' I thought when I held it in my hand.   It was a slender 6 x 4cm box about 1cm deep.   Any guesses girls?  (men don't even try).   Here's a major clue which will give the game away imediately.   It had one word printed on the top - CLINIQUE.   Guessed it?   Yes, it was blusher.   A box I had held in my hand every day when I was a working girl - a new box every year, each year possibly a slightly different shade (because in an effort to tempt you these firms change the names in just the same way that emulsion paint firms change yellow to daffodil to celandine to sunshine - but all really the same colour give or take a couple of spoonsful of whatever the product is made from.) What shade it was I have no idea.   The label on the underside had long since worn away.

I looked again in the drawer and there was a small bottle - again men don't attempt to guess  - although whatever some of my readers might say we (or maybe I should say I here) did in all honesty wear this product at the very least to leave behind us when we moved on to chat to someone else a slight suggestion that perhaps you might remember we had been there if only for a minute or two.   This bottle had Givenchy in small letters on the label.   Any ideas girls?   'Je Reviens' my favourite perfume - long empty but couldn't bear to throw away.   Just a memory.

I retired in, I think, 1983.   Forty years ago.   Goodness me, how very lucky I have been to have such a long and happy life. 

I can honestly say that in those forty years I don't think I have ever worn blusher.   Yes,   I did wear Je Reviens until the bottle was empty but it is not exactly cheap  (won't give any prices here as any male readers might need the smelling salts)and once the farmer and I married I never wore it again.   The farmer was not a man to like expensive perfume (I don't think it was anything to do with the price!!!!!) he just didn't care for the smell - said he preferred the smell of good, old-fashioned skin.   He even used to joke that if we had had a bull rather than relying on A I the smell would have driven the bull crazy so that was why farmers' wives never wore perfume.

I asked my carer (in her early fifties) if she ever wore make-up.   'Of course' she replied, ' if I am going out somewhere'.   The full works apparently - blusher, lipstick (the redder the better these days) eye shadow, mascara, even false eyelashes sometimes in 'posh' hotels when she was on holiday.   I must add that she is petite, very attractive, wears nose studs, has her Bengal cats tattooed on her arms and has myriad ear piercings.

Oh dear lady-bloggers (at least those within 'spitting distance' of my age) how life has passed us by and moved on apace.

Am I envious?   No, not at all.   I can't think of a single friend who wears make up  - I think we all gave up on it when we retired.  I have only two beauty routines  now apart from good old-fashioned soap  and water, body wash, shower gel and the like.    Please men do look away now, I don't wish to reveal secrets of the boudoir.   Ponds Cold Cream (which I have used on my face since the year dot) and keep the old tweezers handy.

So come on ladies - do any of you wear the full make up?   You can even tell me anonymously if you wish -   if you don't wish to reveal secrets.