Wednesday, 29 April 2015

What's not to like?

It was our Poetry afternoon.  Nine of us read our favourite poetry in the lovely warm conservatory at friend W's - the sun shining in and totally sheltered from the icy wind outside.   As usual a good selection of Poetry of all kinds - nobody chose the same poem (this does sometimes happen) and there were nice discussions after each, and lots of laughter.   What a lovely afternoon.
Then it was home to get the tea and then a chat to a friend who I have not seen for around 40 years.   Can you think of a nicer day
because I certainly can't.

I am trying to avoid the News as much as possible because I am totally sick of electioneering, false promises, media hype and all the rest.   But I do want to know how the rescue operation is getting on in a desperate Nepal; it does seem as though some aid is at last getting there.   The people must have almost given up hope.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Bizzare weather

The weather here in the Yorkshire Dales has been, I suppose, very 'Aprilish' these last few days.   This afternoon I had several errands in the car and noticed that the temperature on the dashboard indicated that outside in was just nine degrees.   Last week at this time it was nineteen.

There is bright sunshine and the leaves are bursting forth on the trees - everywhere is greening up nicely - but there is an icy wind blowing.   And living, as we do, in a hilly area, we can see showers coming from a long way away - and today many of them have been of horizontal hail.   Many of the peaks on the Pennines in the distance are snow-covered.

Yesterday the farmer rotovated the whole vegetable garden and then planted peas, broad beans, shallots and red onions; luckily he didn't put in the broad bean plants but left them under cover for the night because this morning  there was a covering of hail stones.

Today was not really a day for doing a lot on the farm so it was tidying up the shed (always plenty to do in there) and then, after lunch a trip with the tractor and trailer to buy a load of stakes so that he can begin mending fences tomorrow.

It is our Poetry group tomorrow, so I am now going to sit in a sunny window (while the sunshine lasts) and choose what I am going to read.   Enjoy your evening.

Monday, 27 April 2015

A Butterfly mind.

My family have always accused me of having a 'butterfly mind' - that is, I seem able to flit from one subject to another with little effort.  I am sure they are right.

I like to think of my mind as a huge filing cabinet in which is stored all the life experiences, all the information, everything I have ever
learned - all ready to be pulled out at a moment's notice.  The trouble is, it doesn't work like that.   I suppose everyone is the same.  Some things I remember (even if inaccurately) as though they happened yesterday and somethings I suspect I have forgotten, or they are buried so deep (or misfiled) in that filing cabinet that I cannot access them.

I came across another piece of useless information yesterday and I have filed it away - you never know when it might come in useful (in a Pub Quiz, a crossword or a conversation).   Did you know that the word 'electric' is the Greek word for amber? If you rub a piece of amber across your cheek several times it creates a tiny shock - so it was considered a good word to use.

Friend M and I were sitting reminiscing the other afternoon, talking about the old days - twenty five years or so ago - when she and her partner used to meet the same two couples every Friday and go out for lunch together.  We could remember all the names except that of one of the wives - and that escaped both of us, until the middle of the night on Saturday night, when I awoke quite suddenly and thought 'Dora' - and yes, that was her name.   Had my filing cabinet been sorting quietly on its own for several days, ordering and cataloguing until it suddenly popped up with the correct answer?   I like to think so.

The mind is indeed a marvellous thing.   An elderly Aunt of mine many years ago was quietly dying.   She was bedridden, and being no trouble (which was how she had been pretty much all her life) 
and when I called in to see her she said how pleased she was to see me and that she had just returned from a walk around the village (she had not lived there for at least fifty years) - she described various features and various people she had met.   I have always thought that that was just a marvellous way to go out of this world.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The best laid plans...

Today I had big plans.   I have nothing I necessarily have to do today and I knew that the farmer would be busy in the vegetable garden getting ready to hire a rotovator to give it a good going over.
So I planned to empty my wardrobe and clean it out, exchanging my winter clothes for my Summer ones which are all folded in the drawers in the spare bedroom.   Then I would wash all my jumpers and put them away with sweet-smelling lavender bags for the summer.

Did I mention the word Summer?   Well of course our contrary climate here in the UK meant that after a week of glorious spring weather today has dawned damp, cloudy and cold, with North wind sweeping straight down from the Arctic.   I have even put my thermal vest back on.   And I abandoned my plan about T shirts versus jumpers.

Instead I took all the scarves and bags off the top shelf and sorted them out, throwing away handbags which are greatly out of date and which I have carted around from place to place for the last twenty years. Similarly with the scarves - I have far too many anyway, so they have gone off to the charity shop.

Then it was sort out shoes from the floor of the wardrobe, throwing away several pairs I no longer wear and which are well past their best anyway.

I am now sitting here feeling virtuous.   Somehow after doing this kind of job one's mind seems to be more in order.   Do you find the same?

On a different subject - is anyone else watching Gryf Rees-Jones in his programme on Africa?  I am finding it compulsive viewing and enjoying every single minute of it.   The people are so lovely - what a pity that in so many places in Africa there is such turmoil and so much killing and so many thousands desperately trying to get away. I heard on the News that many of the refugees who are being drowned daily in the Med are sub-Sarahan - what terrible journeys they have already had to reach the coast and what terrible fates await so many of them.   There are so many mothers with young children - one wonders what they have been led to expect.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Lovliest of trees.

My new header is our cherry tree - one of my favourite trees, not least because of the passage of Housman's in 'The Shropshire Lad', which begins - Lovliest of trees the cherry now.   When I read it as one of my chosen pieces for our last Poetry meeting, friend J reminded me that I read it every year at this time of the year!   I didn't know that but I shall no doubt read it again next year too.

This morning at our weekly coffee morning in the town, we were talking about the election (boring) and whether or not we could be bothered to go and vote.   We were all (all women) of one mind - women fought and died to get the vote and it is our duty to go to the Polling Station even if - in desperation - we spoil our Ballot Papers - we must exercise our democratic right to be able to vote.

Young people today seem so sophisticated compared with how we were when we were young.   How far the world has progressed in some areas.   Looking back we were so innocent and certainly in the country areas (where I was brought up in what was a carefree, happy environment, in spite of the world war being raged at the time) we really knew little or nothing about the real facts of life.

How different from now with the internet leaving nothing to the imagination.
Yet as we agreed this morning, young folk don't necessarily know how far women have come in that time.   Within our living memory there were many things women could not do without a husband's 'permission' and we really had little control over our own money and property.   It was virtually unheard of for a woman to keep her maiden name when she married - and unless one wished to be seen as a 'hussy' then living together in an unmarried state was not to be contemplated.

Are we there yet in Western Society - to a state where everyone is viewed equally regardless of sex, married state, sexual orientation?  I think not.   Maybe we are well on the way but if you are in any doubt about this read John's blog today (Going Gently on my side bar).

But, to reiterate - we have the vote, we can freely go into the Polling Booth and put our cross exactly where we like without anyone else knowing (my father could remember when you were expected to vote as your employer wished) - so we must do it, even if - when we get there - we are so disillusioned with all the parties that we spoil our ballot paper.

And incidentally, if you do wish to do that - just write across the top, taking care to miss all the boxes that you wish to vote for no-one.   The slightest mark inside any of the boxes and your vote will be counted.
Here is our other cherry tree, just as beautiful in its own way, although I prefer the perfection of the white one.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Tit for tat!

The car - which is only six weeks old - belongs to the farmer.   Although he insists on calling it 'our' car - he paid for it and I always think of myself as driving 'his' car'

Therefore I was a bit nonplussed last week when backing off the patio I caught the edge of one of my giant flowerpots and pulled a rubber bumper guard off the front of the car.   Luckily the farmer came and refixed it - knocking it in place with his fist - seems it had been put there for just such a happenening , so no permanent damage done (thank goodness).   However, he did tell me (quite rightly) that I tend to park too near the back door which does not leave room for manouvre.  (I can't dispute that - he is quite correct).

However, I couldn't help being rather smugly pleased this morning when he was mowing the lawns in the vegetable garden with his ride-on mower and he accidentally went a bit too far and cut off a clump of my white lilies (yes, I know it is a veggie garden) making sure they will have no flowers on this year.

At least it shows that we can both make mistakes.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

That pudding.

Well, there you are!   Here is the rhubarb and apple betty I promised the farmer for lunch today - it was Lyndsey Bareham's recipe in The Times yesterday.

I did a very small first course (beans on toast with a poached egg on top) followed by this pud with custard.   I am afraid it was far too rich for me.   I have trained myself not to eat sweet food and this was sweet - also it has quite a bit of butter in it.  The farmer loved it, so there is plenty left for him for the next two days.   But, as I am sure you will agree, it certainly looks good.

Maybe I worked a bit of my helping off at our exercise class this afternoon - our tutor S took us out into the garden after the class and we all had a cup of tea sitting in the sun.   There were two sorts of biscuits (the lady who usually makes lovely small cakes is quite poorly at the moment - we all sent her best wishes for a speedy recovery) and I am pleased to say that I even resisted the biscuits.

Tess was left with the run of the house yesterday afternoon when I went to see friend M for the afternoon.   When I returned she greeted me very effusively - calling, wailing and crawling along on her stomach (most unusual) and I quickly found out the reason why.   She had weed a large patch on the hall carpet.   I attacked it immediately but I fear it will have left a stain.   I had taken her for a walk before I went and had seen her do lots of wees - so I presume it was maybe the stress of being left alone (I quite often leave her when I go shopping etc).  Whatever the reason, it now means I shall have to put her in her 'cage' when I go out without her.  I take her whenever I can but there has to be a limit.  I feel sorry for her because she is so ashamed.   Has anyone any ideas about why she should suddenly do such a thing?

The air is full of the sounds of bird calls - curlews in the fields and cock pheasants in the garden are the loudest - but I can tell you that breeding is in full swing here.

A question.

Arty Dales Lady - thank you for replying to my post.   I went to your site but can't comment.   I would love to know where in the Dales you live.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

What a day.

As a nation we British do tend to go a bit crazy if there is a lovely day - and today has been just that.  Pure wall to wall sunshine, no breeze, warm sun.   All of this has meant that the leaves on the trees and hedges have all come out at a fantastic rate and the tulips in our front garden have opened.

It is not going to last of course - two more days and the weather man is predicting a drop in temperature and rain clouds but that's the price we pay for living on an island at this latitude.  So the moral is to enjoy each day knowing that tomorrow might be a wet day.

As Heather (Ragged old blogger on my side bar) says - there do seem to be more butterflies this year.   I went to see friend M this afternoon and as I left we walked through her lovely front garden and there were butterflies galore.

There have also been wonderfully clear night skies with plenty of stars and a chance to see the crescent moon and Jupiter close together.

Tomorrow I am breaking my rule about 'no puddings' at lunch time, because Lindsey Bareham's recipe for 'Rhubarb and apple betty' in today's Times sounds so good.  So I shall make it in the morning and will report whether it tastes as good as it sounds.   Exercise class tomorrow afternoon means I shall (in theory) work off the extra calories!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Getting on.

The farm jobs are disappearing one by one.  Every year I worry that it will not all get done.   The farmer carries on in his easy-going way, never gets ruffled and says it will get done - and it does.

All the 'muck' has now been spread and harrowed in, although three fields have to be done again to break it all up a bit more.  Quite a lot of the wet spots have been drained - those being done this week could easily be left but the farmer is enjoying using his new digger and so is carrying on with them for the time being.

Two jobs left to do.   All the fields now need rolling.   I always think this is quite a boring job - just riding up and down the fields but it needs doing and what is more it needs doing before the ground-nesting birds begin laying.

Then there are fences to mend.   This year's stakes and rails were delivered last Friday so they will take several days to put in in the places where the sheep and lambs are soon due to arrive.   If there is a weak spot anywhere then a sheep will find it - and if Mum can't squeeze through then baby will (and then spend hours on the 'wrong' side of the fence calling out and trying to get back.)

Yesterday the farmer mowed all the front lawns - in the front garden, under the Scots pines and across the Lane.   Sometime this week he will go down to the vegetable garden and mow the lawns and paths down there too.

No more swallows yet - the weather is not all that warm, but it is dry and quite sunny.   My job today of washing, drying and ironing is almost finished (last lot in the drier) - I am a traditionalist and still do the major part of the laundry on a Monday - air it overnight  on my Sheila Maid - and put it away on a Tuesday morning.   I so hate to see it hanging around all week.

Pheasants are beginning to lay their eggs.   Each morning the hen pheasants and the (hopeful) cock pheasants congregate round the base of our bird table, waiting for the corn the farmer scatters for them.  Then once the hens are ready to mate they allow the cock near them then off they go to lay an egg somewhere.   Last year we had one rear a whole brood in our front garden.   This year a hen has laid one solitary egg under out sitting room window on the path - not sure what to make of that!

Three of my favourite Spring flowers are out in the garden - mysotis (forget-me-not - I shake the flowers when they go to seed so that I now have them all over the garden -) pulmonaria (lungwort) and grape hyacinths.  I have also photographed the egg - something has moved it since yesterday - still under the bay window, but round the other side.

Sunday, 19 April 2015



Reading through Simon's post this morning (Careering through Nature on my side bar) took me back to my childhood, which was spent in rural Lincolnshire.   One of the things that made his post so interesting was that he walked by the side of the infant River Witham.

I grew up within sight of the River Witham, in a village which had only three hundred inhabitants and was only three miles from the City of Lincoln itself.   Everyone in the village was known to me.   I had a habit of pushing my doll's pram around the village and calling on everyone - this sort of thing just would not be envisaged these days.   I knew everyone' name, the name of their house, and everything they would tell me about themselves.   It was that kind of place.(and I got nice cakes and drinks as well!)

Along with my friends we all learned to swim in the Witham - much further down stream than where Simon was walking, so quite a lot wider, although it never becomes a really wide river as it winds its way into the Wash.   At Boston it becomes tidal and each year for some years we would travel down the Witham from Washingborough to Boston on my brother-in-law's motor boat, mooring up each night at some little hamlet.   This means that I also got to know places like Bardney (my mother's home village), Woodhall Spa, Tattershall (with its impressive Castle) and various little hamlets way out in the countryside.

Many of these places have hardly changed, but Washingborough has.   I don't know the current population, but it is thousands as more and more housing estates have been built on farmland.   I went back several years ago and I hardly recognised the place; every open space, where I had played, or where someone I knew had a garden, or kept a donkey or something, now had a house built on it.  I wished I had kept the memory unsullied.

But it was a joy this morning to read of places where things do appear to be unchanged - villages which time seems to have passed by on the infant stretches of the Witham.  Of course it hasn't really passed by - the houses will no doubt contain televisions, broadband and the like.   But the outward appearance seemed to be very much the same - and it took me back seventy years to a blissful childhood.   So thank you Simon for that. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The arrival of Spring?

Well, maybe that is a little too optimistic but at least some things are advertising the season.   I took Tess for a walk down the Lane after lunch, taking my camera too in the hopes of photographing evidence of its arrival.

But have you ever tried negotiating walking with a stick, a camera and an investigating dog on a lead?   Not a good combination.  The first delightful thing I saw was a lovely tortoiseshell butterfly.   I took my camera out of its case, encouraged Tess to sit on the grass, focussed and - guess what - the butterfly flew!  The only other things I saw on my walk - in profusion - were young healthy nettles.   Last year I persuaded the farmer to collect me a bag full and I made nettle soup.  If you have never made it - please don't bother to try - it is absolutely awful both in colour and taste.

Back in the garden, along the hedgeside by the Scots pines the first cowslip was in flower - I love cowslips - and several patches of primroses - such a simple, almost perfect sign of Spring.   Bluebells and violets are on their way, but today there is a bitterly cold East wind blowing so that although it is sunny it is not really Springlike.

This morning friend W and I sat in the bay window of our favourite cafe and had a couple of cappucinos each and watched the world go by - various friends and acquaintances, several interesting dogs - always something to look at.

For lunch I did lamb koftas on a bed of rice with a potato salad made with new potatoes and sliced, seeded cucumber tossed in a
mixture of Greek yoghourt, creme fraiche, lemon juice, garlic and chopped mint- all served lukewarm.  When I asked the farmer if he had enjoyed it he said it was 'alright'.  When I ventured to suggest that perhaps he would have preferred the koftas with ordinary plain boiled new potatoes and a vegetable - he agreed that he would!   What shall I do with him ladies?    Shall I give in to his preferences and not serve the salad again (I absolutely loved it) or shall I serve it now and again?    (Men please feel free to answer too!) 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Stone arrives.

Up with the larks this morning to welcome a load of stone chippings.   Luckily our neighbours are Haulage Contractors, so just a step next door last evening meant that this morning, before one of the drivers started on the road works they usually work on, he nipped up to the local quarry and collected a load of small stones for the farmer.

By a quarter past six it was in a heap at the bottom of the yard, which means that after our morning at The Auction Mart (the farmer) and Penley's for coffee (me) the farmer will set off across the fields on his little digger to put some small stones into the holes he has dug before he fills them in.   This will aid the drainage.

Another beautiful Spring day has dawned.   There was mist first thing (at six o'clock) across the fields - the bushes and hawthorn trees were sticking up out of the top of it and the sun was just coming up.  My coffee and the morning paper was more inviting than walking to the bottom of the yard to photograph it for you, so sadly you will have to imagine it.  Poor Linda in Colorado is enduring snow again - it makes me feel almost mean basking in the warm sun.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

One of my favourites.

The marsh marigolds are out on the beck and there are celandine everywhere, but today there was no time to walk down to the beck.   However, I did know where there was a new patch of my other favourite Spring wildflower, so after lunch Tess and I went to photograph the patch.

It is coltsfoot -the name comes from the pattern on the stems I believe.   It is a real harbinger of Spring and produces flowers long before the leaves appear.   If people give it a quick glance they often mistake the flowers for small dandelions, but actually they bear no resemblance to dandelions at all.

They love waste ground and clay soil and there is a patch on the lane which comes every April.   I love to see them arrive.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Friend W and I have been to our Exercise Class this afternoon - a class for the over sixties where we exercise our bodies (and our brains)  to music.   Our teacher, S, puts us through our paces and we are at various stages of decrepitude.   Perhaps the most agile of all is our 94 year old W - who skips along like a two-year-old.   W and I have missed three weeks of the class - one because it was our Poetry afternoon and two because of the end of term.   It is good to get back into the routine but by golly all my muscles know about it.

On the farm the farmer has had a break today from his hole-digging
in an effort to complete the second harrowing - I think he has still a few fields left to do.  Then it will be rolling next.

The farmer who rent most of our land intends to let his milking herd out shortly on to our top fields,which fortunately are quite well-drained.   I love to see them on their first foray out, when they kick their heels in joy as they caper about the place, regardless of their age.   They really are the most ungainly creatures, but of course they don't know that do they? 

In the holly hedge around the vegetable garden one or two blackbirds are foraging for worms - a sure sign that the first bird babies are being born.   Now is the time to keep putting out more bird food - the least work the parent birds have to do the more time they have to conserve their energies.   The next few weeks really are a testing time for the bird world.

It is galling to hear that the temperature in London is something like twenty-four degrees today, whereas up here it just about reaches double figures.   There really is a North/South divide today.
But last night was the first night we managed without lighting our wood-burner, so Summer must be on its way.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Triumph of hope over experience.

Once more into the breach as I drive this afternoon to our local Garden Centre to buy this year's seeds and vegetable plants for our veggie  garden.

Our garden is not in a very productive part of the farmyard and weather conditions play a large part in the success of the growing.
The South side is bordered by our implement shed which - except when the sun is very high in the sky - shades the top third.  It is heavy soil and also very wet.

But the farmer stoically plants it up every year and then gets pleasure harvesting the peas, podding them and giving them to me to blanch and freeze; same goes for the broad beans and eventually for the runner beans. Other things like parsley, turnips, beetroot etc. depend from year to year on weather conditions.

I would give up doing it entirely if it were left to me.   It always needs doing at times when there is a lot to do on the farm itself and good green grocers these days have good fresh vegetables (I know I shall get one or two keen gardeners telling me that fresh is best (Cro yes, I mean you).

But off we go again -  leek plants into the cold frame to harden off, along with some broad bean plants and a tray of sweet pea plants.  The rest into the garden shed to wait for time to be put into the ground.  

As I say at the beginning - as usual a triumph of hope over experience.  Good luck this year I hope.

Monday, 13 April 2015

A New Toy

The farmer has bought himself a new toy and as I write he is out 'playing' with it.   Many of our fields suffer from drainage problems and although he has a digging unit which fits on the front of his tractor he finds getting up and down from the tractor is harder as he gets older.   So he has acquired a natty small digger which does the job very efficiently.   He has dug one hole and freed one drain this morning and went back to do the same with another damp spot this afternoon.   Hopefully soon that will be another lot of jobs he can tick on his long list.

Sunday, 12 April 2015


How the weather can change at the drop of a hat here in the UK.   After a week of almost perfect weather, suddenly today it is ten degrees colder, windy and wet and the barometer has gone from one side to the other quite rapidly.   I understand it will creep up again come tomorrow morning - we watch County File tonight and that gives us a good intimation.

I was unable to get on to my computer this morning so I rang my son, who came round, moved the hub about two inches - and all was alright again.  So now I have put my grocery order on, read all your blogs and am putting this one on.   And all the time the Chinese Grand Prix  can be heard in the background as the farmer watches it from start to finish without feeling guilty (can't get on the land in the rain .)

After going round the Supermarket to do my shopping last week (instead of ordering it on line) I can only say that I have absolutely no desire to go there again.   I hated it.
 However, I did go off on Friday afternoon to M and S at Teeside Park with friend W - and we did have a jolly afternoon - we both tried on and bought trousers and then we had a scone and a coffee - all very civilised.   The only thing uncivilised was the coming home and coming up behind tailbacks of traffic which were horrendous.   We were happy to sit and wait - there is really no point in getting in a state.   But at the last traffic island a lorry driver wanted to go immediately left and the double-lane traffic was blocking his way for all of two minutes until the lights changed.   Then he surged through giving us all a two-finger salute out of his cab window.  As I know the owner of the haulage firm involved I was tempted to tell him but decided it was really beneath contempt.

Another week begins tomorrow, the weather is set to improve, the farmer and I intend to find time during the week to go and buy our veggie seed and our onion sets (ours is a very cold garden and it is pointless putting anything in too early - we have learned this by bitter experience.)

Friday, 10 April 2015


Why is it that the male of the species gets randy at this time of the year?   I thought it was only the animal kingdom, but when I think about it our little town is full of men displaying their top halves with rippling muscles and tattoos(hate them).   It is almost as though it is a vital part of evolution - and I suppose it is.

Pheasants here are in their full breeding plumage - as are all the other cock birds and they are fighting one another like mad.   It is not unusual to have to stop on the lane for two cock pheasants having a go at each other.

One has just stalked down to our bird table - cock of the walk he thinks he is.   If only he could see himself.  During a fight (I guess)
his tail feathers have got broken and hang down dejectedly.    I sneaked out in my bright red dressing gown (and yes it is 8.30am John) to take his photograph.  He saw me and quickly stalked away.   I am putting on the photo - a very bad shot - in the hopes that you can see what I mean.   Off to market in a minute (after getting dressed and having a shower!)

  Sorry - he's not very clear, although I think you can see those tail feathers better in the top picture where he is behind the chicken wire.  Incidentally, the wire is there to stop the pheasants (and the jackdaws) getting at the fat balls.  (the tits and other small birds quickly learn how to negotiate the wire and get at them).

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Another hard working day...

...while the weather holds.

The farmer has hired the giant 'muck' spreader from his friend and farmer M and as I write is whizzing up and down the lane and covering the hay meadows in a deep layer.   Rain is forecast for the weekend and that should wash it in well.

Now that all the stock have gone from the fields the concentration is on getting them all in tip top condition so that the grass grows well before the cattle are let out and the sheep and lambs come at the end of April.   And so the years go on - farming is a never-ending cycle.

 Meanwhile it is the financial year end and I am sitting at the table, surrounded by ledgers, invoices, receipts, bank statements and the like, trying to make head and tail of everything that has happened during the year.   So far I have only had one major hiccup and I am hoping that the farmer can sort that out when he comes in for his tea.

I rather envy Tess today - she has followed the sun around the house - the sitting room, the landing, the bedroom - laying in the patch of sunlight blissfully unaware of all that there is to be done.   Lucky dog.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

What a difference the weather makes.

I think we have all had quite enough of the Winter this year, whichever side of the Atlantic we live on, so the fine, warm weather at last makes us all feel so much better.   It needed to because I never got round to ordering my groceries on line this week because of a house full of friends and family.   This meant that this afternoon I had to go to our Supermarket and shop.   Various people said that it would be nice for me to look round and see a few different things.   Well let me tell you one and all - it was not nice to look round, I didn't see anything I particularly wanted to buy and I hastened round and got back home as soon as possible.   And I have no desire to repeat the experience - henceforth it will be on line ordering for me.

In the fields the farmer is whizzing up and down on his new fertiliser spreader.   Field after field is being done and he is hoping to get it all done today, then he can tick another job off his very long list.   Meanwhile he reports to me that the marsh marigolds are out on the beck and that the fields are full of those little miniature suns - the celandine - brought out by two or three days of sunshine.
Hopefully I shall get down to the beck tomorrow to photograph them - they are two of my favourite flowers.

In the Supermarket I met one or two very, very large young women - I would say they were clinically obese.   They each had small children with them and they were all finding it difficult to move around because of their size.   Their trolleys appeared to be full of the most unsuitable foods and I felt saddened that this kind of thing becomes a self-perpetuating life style for some young people.   They were so obese that I felt sure they could not be happy with their size - all were I would guess under thirty.   Am I making snap judgements here?   Have I any right at all to judge?  Who am I to dictate what anyone should or shouldn't eat?  I really would be interested to know how you view people you meet who fall into this category.

Monday, 6 April 2015

A Good Easter for a change.

How long is it since we had an Easter when the weather was really lovely?   Certainly it is a few years.  It is really Spring-like - warm, sunny, cloudless, windless and daffodils opening before your eyes.
How good it makes us all feel.

The farmer has resumed work today in spite of it being Easter Monday.   He has so much to do and at last it is dry enough for him to get on the land.   Today he has collected all the piles of sticks and put them ready on the bonfire so the fields are now ready for whatever treatment he intends to give them - fertilising, manuring, finishing harrowing.

One day this week the sheep are going back on to the top of the Buttertubs Pass.   They are hefted sheep and spend their winters with us and their summers up there on the high pastures.  They know exactly where their pastures are and don't stray far away.

Their going will leave all our fields empty and give the grass a chance to grow ready for the meadows to be made into silage and the pastures to received the milking cows once they are let out.

We have had friends staying all week end, friends from The Lakes.   They have just gone off on their return journey home - and what a delightful journey it will be through the sunny villages and  high Pennines. There has been no time to blog, but we have all had a jolly time with lots of laughs and lots of good food - diet starts  tomorrow.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Womens' Lib.

In the Spring a young man's fancy
lightly turns to things he's been
thinking about all Winter.

to misquote the poet.

A perfect instance, witnessed by the farmer, occurred today just outside the kitchen window.   We feed the pheasants on poultry wheat and, as usual there were about a dozen hen pheasants and just one cock pheasant, feeding there this morning.

Suddenly the cock jumped at one of the hens and grabbed her by the back of the neck, obviously intent upon mating with her.  She  squawked loudly and immediately two of her hen friends jumped at the cock and fought him off.   He ran off up the grass quick as a flash.   A perfect example of female solidarity I thought and a sign that womens' lib has spread to the bird world.

Friday, 3 April 2015

New Season's Produce

Isn't it wonderful at last that the new season's vegetables are coming into the markets?   I am no longer interested in the tired old parsnips, carrots, potatoes and red cabbages which have turned up week after week and now look rather sad.

Today - a damp, misty day with fine rain falling - heralded the advent of asparagus, Majorcan and early Jersey potatoes, tender stem broccoli which looked as though it had been picked this morning it was so fresh (we had some for lunch with steak and ale pie and it was every bit as good as it looked), and the new season's oranges.  I love these navel oranges, always a bit of a nuisance to peel but well worth the effort as they taste so new and delicious.

Anyone who has ever been to a country where oranges grow (Morocco for example) will know that the taste they give out when they are first picked bears no relation to the taste when they arrive here after their journey.   But these in the photograph almost did - two have gone already - full of juice and as sweet as honey.

Thank you.

A happy and joyous Eastertide to everyone who reads my blog.
A special thank-you to Margaret and Simon for their Easter card - beautiful cathedral choir singing on it too.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Today has been warm, sunny and free of the awful wind that has blighted us all week - a lovely Springlike day.   Long may it last, although the forecasters predict it will be shortlived and I can almost count on one hand the number of decent Easter holiday week-ends we have had over the last few years.

Our little market town, only a mile away from the farm, is full today as it always is on holiday week-ends.   Already there are caravans being pulled through as people arrive in the Dales for Easter.   We have a small site for 5 caravans just down the Lane from the farm and no doubt it will be full by this evening and then there will be no more activity there until the holiday ends.

Once on to the main road then the worst 'culprits' are the motor cyclists - and yes, I know, they have paid their road taxes and are perfectly right to be there and in fact almost all of them are good, steady drivers (one reason being that these flash bikes cost so much that young men with small families just haven't the money to buy them; it is middle-aged bikers on the whole. )  But sadly every year a few are killed in the Dales on the narrow roads, often where there is also farm traffic.  And every motor cycle death is a tragedy both for the biker's family and also for the family of the vehicle which kills the biker. Today when I was in town there were streams of bikers passing through.

But in addition we have a lot of holiday cottages around here and there are families on holiday.   Many of them bring their dogs so it is not at all unusual to meet the most delightful dogs with their owners - all kinds of breeds.   Today I have seen an Airedale terrier (one of my favourite breeds) a couple of Labradoodles (poodle crossed with Labrador) and a beautiful soft grey whippet with lovely gentle eyes.

Naturally, because of the holiday influx, our town has plenty of tea houses (usually full this time of year) and plenty of shops selling the kind of goods suitable for people looking for a present to take back home for someone.

There are drawbacks to all this - for example finding a parking spot becomes difficult, shopping takes longer but on the whole I find it rather nice when the whole town comes alive with visitors.  I just hope the weather stays kind to them all.


Wednesday, 1 April 2015


Well the weather is not very Aprilish  - sunshine one minute and a heavy downpour the next.  The farmer is very frustrated;  his neck is better (almost) and he is raring to get on with so many jobs on the farm, but the heavy showers have meant that the land is just too wet to get on to.   So lesser jobs have taken over and one of these is to sweep out the barn where we keep the chicken and wild bird feed.   We also keep the cat food in a cupboard there and I am afraid to say that Mr and Mrs Rat had taken up residence.   Well they would wouldn't they - so near to a permanent source of food.
Well one of them is no more - caught in a trap and quickly despatched.  One down, one to go. 

Today should have been our exercise for the over sixties class but it is half term, so two friends from the class came round for a cup of tea and a biscuit.   We had a lovely chatty afternoon and I am afraid to say spent it also eating choccy bikkies and a Ferraro Rocher egg which friend M brought.   I think it is best to draw a veil over the effect on our health compared with an hour's strenuous exercise to music.

The weather is set to improve slightly for Easter weekend and two friends are joining us on Easter Sunday for lunch and then spending the night here, so I am planning a rare breed beef pot roast for Sunday lunch.   If it turns out well I will post a photograph.