Monday, 26 September 2016

Two day absence.

Yes, I have not posted for two days - and for that I apologise.  The fact is that I have had a sudden surge of energy which has led me to do various jobs around the house and that has taken up most of my time.

Cupboards have been cleaned out, drawers have been tidied, several recipes have been tried out (Tuna and vegetable pie - a Lyndsey Bareham recipe from the Times);in addition I have been getting on with the latest baby cardigan I am knitting for my forthcoming great grandchild.

I have been beavering away today today by cleaning out another kitchen cupboard and throwing away several things I haven't used for years.   One of these was a juicer that I have had at least thirty years (probably old-fashioned by today's standards).  It was bought for me by a cousin who, many years ago, used to spend Christmas with my previous husband and I.   It made the most marvellous fresh orange juice in a couple of minutes but unfortunately it then took about half an hour to wash up.

Similarly I threw out a juice dispenser which took up a huge amount of room in my fridge -    room which I could put to better use.

Yesterday the farmer and I tackled the large freezer, which was in urgent need of a defrost.
Everything was taken out and put either into the smaller freezer (not much room left in there after a bumper crop this year of raspberries), the cool box or the cool bag.  These were then put into our downstairs wet room, the window was opened wide and the whole lot were covered with layers of newspaper.   Now time was of the essence so we put bowls of very hot water into the freezer and changed them about every quarter of an hour.   In two hours the freezer was defrosted and all I had to do was wash and dry it out and switch it back on.   Soon everything was back in and - more importantly - on the correct shelf.   Does any one amongst you keep your freezer in absolute order at all times?   If so I would be interested to hear how you do it.

It may seem silly to some of you to have two freezers, but I would point out that we live a couple of miles from the nearest shop.   On- line shopping with Tesco helps but unexpected visitors really means that I must keep a fair supply of food available.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Silage in.

The weather here is nothing like as good as it was yesterday.  Although dry, it is fairly cloudy, quite cool and breezy.   But the farmer is concerned that it will rain shortly, so this afternoon the contractors are here rowing up, baling and wrapping the last of the grass.   The farmer has spent the morning tossing it up to get rid of as much moisture as he can.
We really can't wait any longer.

I walked up the lane with Tess for a little way to take a photograph of him tossing the grass in the last field.   Sorry it is a bad photograph but I was balancing myself with my stick, holding on to Tess with her lead and trying to take the photograph with one hand.   But hopefully you get the general idea.

On the verges the grasses are dying and on the hedgerows the hawthorn berries are now bright red and bead-like.   If only the birds would leave them until it is really cold weather - but I know they won't.   It is as though they are attracted to the bright red and really must eat them at the earliest  opportunity.

As I write the farmer is passing the window with the first load of fifteen wrapped bales to add to the stack.   He likes to get them in as quickly as possible, before the crows and the rabbits start to nibble away.   By this evening they will, hopefully, all be in and that will be the most important job for winter over and done with.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

To Kirby Lonsdale.

Never have the Yorkshire Dales looked more beautiful than they did today as we drove through them to meet our friends in Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria.   The sun was shining in an Autumnal way, there was a light breeze, the roads were almost clear and the scenery was spectacular.

Lunch in Avanti in Kirby was, as usual, brilliant.   Various pasta dishes and chicken dishes in our group of four, followed by a sweet enjoyed by three of us which was so easy I shall certainly try it at home - two or three scoops of Jersey Ice cream and at the last minute a shot of espresso coffee poured over them.   Friend W opted for Eton mess instead and said that was equally delicious.

On the way home we called at Country Harvest, a shop on the outskirts of Ingleton and bought quite a lot of food from their butchery - pork and apple pinwheels, pork tenderloin kebabs, Fellsman pies (those are for lunch tomorrow so will tell you how they were later) and friend W bought a delicious-looking sourdough loaf.

I took a selection of photographs as we drove over the tops and then as we came home through Wensleydale, so here they are for you to enjoy.

The village with the large village green is Bainbridge in Wensleydale.   The hold up of cars at Aysgarth falls is for a herd of cows going home to be milked - and finally we see them going into their field - nearly home.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Every picture tells a story.

Exercise class today.   There has been a long break for the summer and although the class started back last week I couldn't go as I was going with the farmer to see his Orthopaedic specialist.   So today was my first visit since I was ill, and by golly it showed.

Sitting for the upper body and brain exercises was pleasant and very enjoyable.   But the standing and balance exercises were pretty tough going and I needed to hold on to my chair throughout (I hope this will go over the next few weeks).   Now, at just after seven in the evening I am pretty tired and wonder whether I shall be able to stay awake through Bake-off.

Just a quick word on the silage.  As you know the farmer cut the last grass fields yesterday.   This afternoon it rained heavily for about half an hour so any drying that had happened so far has been undone.   The forecast is now for good weather until at least the beginning of the weekend, so the farmer is keeping his optimism going.

Tomorrow friend W and I have one of our periodical visits to Kirby Lonsdale to meet our friends in the Italian restaurant for lunch - I am, as usual, really looking forward to the journey, the company, the food and everything about the day.

Today I made three individual cottage pies with minced Hereford beef topped with a mixed mash of potato, swede, parsnip and carrot.  Two we ate for lunch - the third the farmer will eat tomorrow while I am out, so he will not go hungry.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Definitely the last.

The weather forecast for the North East is fairly good for the rest of this week so the farmer has taken the bull by the horns and made his last silage cut today.   Three meadows and the paddock are all down and the grass is lying in the fields.  Today has been sunny so we are just hoping this continues until the end of the week and we can get it baled and led in.

Several other jobs can't be done until after silaging has finished.   First of all - hedge trimming; we wait until the birds have finished nesting and then until the grass is cut (so that the hedge trimming contractor doesn't spoil the grass).

The other big task is to empty the loose housing shed of the deep layer of last year's straw bedding.  It has been rotting down 'in situ' since the cattle went out in late April;  once the bales have been led in it will be led into the field and piled up to rot down further - or sometimes the farmer decides to spread it directly onto the fields.   Much depends upon the weather and on the stock we have on the fields (we over-Winter sheep from up on 'the tops' and when they come depends entirely upon the amount of grass on the high ground (and that, of course, is dependent upon the weather).   Once the grass has gone they need to come down.

And so the farming year goes on.   It is the Autumn Equinox tomorrow (the first day of Autumn in my book too).   There are still a few of the last brood swallows flying around, strengthening their wings ready for their long flight to Africa.   And so far we have not seen a fieldfare or a redwing (our regular winter visitors).

There is a definite nip in the air morning and evening and it is almost dark by half past seven.   It is relentless isn't it?   Whether we like it or not the seasons pass and (as we say up here) 'winter draws on'  (no funny comments please Tom or YP - I shall not get mine out yet.)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Discriminatory or what?

 Some weeks ago we had a letter from our Electricity Provider to say that our contract was about to come to an end and that if we wished to renew it they would do so at only a small amhout more.  Foolishly we didn't bother to enquire what 'small amount' meant.

This morning the first bill came, split into two parts - up to 4th August and then 5th August to 13th September.   The true figure emerged - day units had gone up from 13.9 to 21.58 and night units from 7.71 to 11.96.

Now I know that this is entirely our own fault and we should have gone into it thoroughly at the time.   But the fact remains that we didn't.

However, the farmer picked up the phone this morning and spoke to someone about it.   Within  five minutes a new quotation had been secured - 15 something for day units and 9 something for night units.   Just like that - over the telephone.

Now I can't help feeling that this discriminates against people like the elderly who easily get muddled and so don't do anything about it (and yes we fell into this class until a bill actually came).   Really, how dare they just put the price up 'willy-nilly' at the drop of a hat?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Why blog?

Tom Stephenson on his post yesterday queried reasons for blogging and why some posts are more popular than others.   It is an interesting subject and I have been giving it a bit of thought since reading his post.

Why indeed do some of us blog?   I suppose we all have different reasons.   I blog because I have a need to write.  In my working days I wrote for various educational publications.   I would visit some site of interest - I lived in the Midlands then and there were lots of places to visit - and then write about it from an educational angle.   After retirement I would write for one or two magazines - mostly articles about foreign travel - China,  Russia, Samarkand for example.   But now I no longer go long distances and I no longer have that much interest in education, but I do still have an interest in writing and I don't want to let it moulder.

As to whose blogs I choose to read.   There are various reasons - I love to read about the American way of life so I have quite a few American and Canadian posts that I enjoy (the farmer loves it over there and always says that if he had been younger when we began to go to Canada he would have started farming over there).  I love Heather's posts (Ragged Old Blogger) because for many years I did a lot of handwork of various kinds and her work is exquisite- each book she makes and shows on her blog makes me green with envy.   I enjoy going round Derek's (Letters from Sheppey) because he walks round a reserve and I enjoy the wildlife he talks about.   I read Rachel's blog (Rachel in the Ukraine) because we have had our ups and downs but are pretty firmly fixed as virtual friends.

Cro (Magnon's Meanderings) puts some delicious recipes on his blog and I often try them.   John (Going Gently) takes me round his village or involves me in the doings of his various menagerie and provides me with a laugh most days.   Others - too numerous to mention but all on my side bar blog roll - take me on countryside journeys, or visit ancient churches or remains.

So, if you have time, and feel like an adventure without moving from your chair, you could do worse than scroll through my blog roll and read them all.   You may well find a few new virtual friends lying in wait there.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Three things never return.

My physio therapist and I were chatting during my treatment yesterday, as we usually do - chatting about this and that but mainly about personal relationships.

I have always been a seeker after knowledge - this from being a very small girl.   I always loved doing school essays, doing the research, writing the words and looking what sort of mark I got (usually a good one because I put in so much time on research).

This attitude did not leave me when I left school.   I left at sixteen -  because my parents, who were in their early forties when I was born, really could not afford to keep me on at Grammar School any longer.   Looking back now of course I know that I should have stayed on and gone on to further education.   But that view is with hindsight and also with the attitude of my generation.   I was the first child in our family to go to Grammar School and conditions for my parents were not easy.

But once I had left school and got a job (in the office of a family member who was a Building Contractor - where I stayed until I married) I happily continued to study - first O levels (they were just being introduced) and then A levels and then, when the Open University was started up, a Humanities Degree.   I absolutely loved the study, the essays and the marks I was getting.

After that came Teacher Training and a life in Teaching, rising through the ranks to a position of Senior Mistress in a Comprehensive School and taking charge of a Unit for English as a Second Language.   Another degree followed, taken in my spare time.

It was at this point that my Mother questioned why I was doing all this.   By this time she was a very old lady and she couldn't understand why I felt the need to keep pushing forward.    I said something to her which I have always regretted, when I told her it was because, unlike her, I wanted to be interested in more than just my children.

Talking to my Physio yesterday, we got on to this subject and I found that she had the same urge as I did in my young days - this urge to learn. this urge to keep pushing ahead.   We also found that both of us had been up against questioning as to its being necessary.

My warning was to say nothing which you might regret. Once said - it is there for ever, and however much you regret saying it, it cannot be unsaid.

My friend P, who may well be reading this, had a good saying for this and it  is a saying well worth bearing in mind as you go through life:

"Three things never return:  the spent arrow, the lost opportunity and the spoken word."

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Back to Indian Summer.

What a strange week it has been weather-wise.   After the incredible thunderstorms of Tuesday evening yesterday was just thick fog here all day.   Now today it has been another day of glorious Indian Summer - still, sunny and very warm.

But there was no sitting outside in the sun for me because Thursday is my hairdresser day - and today was colour day (you didn't really think my hair was still the colour it appears in the photograph I put on at the week end did you?  At my age you have to do all you can to help nature along if you want to feel positive about life ((well that's my view anyway)).

And straight after that I had to drive the fifteen miles to Crakehall to see my Physiotherapist for my monthly check over.  She manipulates my back (which often gives me problems - 'teacher's back she calls it -) and then works on my arthritic ankle - the one which causes me such immobility at times. 

But driving through the countryside was so pleasurable because everywhere looked to beautiful.   The heavy rain seems to have given a last flush of green to the leaves, so that apart from the Horse Chestnut trees (always the first to turn) everything looked amazingly 'summer-like'.  Quite a lot of the harvested fields had already been ploughed and were being sown with next year's crop.   And here and then 'muck-spreaders' were going full tilt up and down the stubble fields spreading a rich aroma which filtered into the car as I passed.

Now I am home again, the tea pots have been put in the dishwasher, the farmer is watching 'North News' and I am catching up in Blogland.   It is seven o'clock and by half past seven it will be almost dark - my how the nights are drawing in (as my father used to remark every year.)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


Today the farmer visits the specialist in hospital in Northallerton to hear the results of the scan on his shoulders and the verdict on whether or not he should risk an operation.

It is twenty five miles from here to Northallerton so not a very long journey - and mostly through open countryside.   So an early lunch is called for so that we can go at our leisure rather than rush to get there.

Lunch will be at twelve (brisket of beef with broccoli and carrots and potatoes - I am sure you will be happy with that Rachel as a conventional 'English' meal).

After that glorious late Summer day yesterday we had the most spectacular thunderstorm last evening.   It went round and round us - sheet lightning first in the West, then the North, then the East and then the West again; in the space of half an hour an inch of very heavy rain fell.   This morning it is quite warm and misty with heavy cloud, although the weather forecast is for clearing skies, so we live in hope.

As I sit here in the hall at my computer I can see two greater** spotted woodpeckers pecking at the trunk of a tree on the drive.   Much more pleasurable to watch than yesterday's wasps. 

An update on the farmer's health.   The specialist says that the tendon has torn away badly and will not heal itself.   The farmer could have keyhole surgery but would have his arm in a sling for a month and then be more or less unable to use his arm for another six months except for very gentle work.   There would be a lot of pain to live through during the healing process too.

The farmer has decided to say no at present.   He now has stronger pain-killers from the doctor and really only feels the shoulder pain during the night so unless it gets worse he has decided to live with it.

**Thanks to Derek for pointing out that they were greater spotted woodpeckers in our trees - he is quite correct.   I have seen a lesser spotted one many years ago and they are very much smaller (and rarer too).