Sunday, 30 August 2015

Wensleydale Show 2.

I love the bantams - I used to keep them and in those days they were not part of the Show so I never got to enter any.

Runner beans are particularly good I think.   Ours should begin to be ready by Monday as they have really grown well over the last week, but they for sure will not be as straight as the ones in the shot.

Thanks to the farmer for taking the trouble to give everyone (including me) a taste of the Show.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Wensleydale Show.

One of the most important agricultural shows in the County of Yorkshire, it was the Wensleydale Show today - and it kept fine apart from one short, sharp shower.

I no long go as I can't walk round without really holding the farmer up.   So he goes on his own, but he takes my camera - here is a taste of the show from his photographs.   Hope you enjoy them. 

The top picture shows the champion beef bull.   Although he is a black and white chap he is, in fact, a Belgian Blue.  The second picture is of Pedigree Limousins and the one below of Pedigreen Holstein milking cows.   The two trotting horses were very smartly turned out.   The brown horse won the class.   Then after various breeds of sheep there is one photograph of the Bedale Hunt just after they entered the ring.

More photographs tomorrow of the produce tent.

Friday, 28 August 2015

That time of year.

I will not mention ****** because my son said to me the other day,
'you haven't mentioned ****** yet Mum, what's happened, you have usually mentioned it by now!'.

But I have just been for a walk down the lane with Tess - a very short walk I might add as it began to rain after we had gone a hundred yards or so.   Two things struck me.   The first is that the air is full of the noise of crows - mostly rooks I suspect.   They are beginning to congregate together as they do every year once the breeding season is past.   The field opposite had whole crop barley in it and has been cut.   As I went out of the gate it was black over with rooks but when I pointed my camera at them they rose as one before I had time to click.  It is always good to see them there as as well as picking up any corn that has been left their sharp beaks also dig deep for crane fly larva.

The other sight was of swallows gathered on the line in the yard.  It has not been a good year here for swallows.   We usually  have a dozen or more nests and this year we have had only three.   How many babies have been reared it is difficult to say but certainly the numbers gathering on the wires is far less than other years.  I understand also that because this is a poor year for voles (this happens every four years or so) not many barn owl chicks have survived.

The good news is that the farmer is away baling up that hay as I write.   It is not first (or even second) class stuff having been rained on every day for almost a fortnight, but it has to be baled in order to move it off the grass before the grass grows through it.   The bad news is that on the last row of rowing up his hay bob broke beyond repair, cracking straight down the middle.   Luckily this is his last lot of haymaking this year so he doesn't have to think about a replacement for now - particular so when I think of the state of his knee and his hip, both candidates for replacement soon.

 It is our August Bank Holiday week-end in the UK and today is a lovely day with just the occasional shower.    As it is our Wensleydale Show tomorrow (just up the road from the farm) we are keeping our fingers crossed that it will be a good day too.

I don't any longer attend as I am not mobile enough to walk all that way, but I have persuaded the farmer to take my camera, so watch this space.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

How important is music in your life?

My son (made out of words on my side bar) has written a piece this morning which includes a paragraph on practising Haydn and it set me thinking on the role of music in peoples' lives.

These days with all the modern ways of getting at recorded music almost everyone listens to music all the time.   Not me because my hearing problem is such that music is distorted and I prefer not to listen.

But how different things would have been a hundred years ago.  Harvest is much on my mind ( we still have not been able to bale our hay and it is more or less ruined) and enhanced by Thelma's (North Stoke) picture of the Eric Ravilious harvest scene I thought of the days when the field would have been full of farm workers scything the wheat, stacking it, threshing it, and all the other jobs harvest time entailed.   Nowadays one chap on a tractor more or less does it all, music playing in his tractor cab.   But what sort of music would the harvesters then have had?   Maybe the church bells - although probably some of them would have been bell ringers themselves and they couldn't be in two places at once.

That leaves us with just two places (I am not speaking of course of town dwellers who had opportunities to go to concerts if they could afford it) - making music at home or church.

In the thirties we had a piano at home which I played a lot.   I also sang a lot while playing it, and in the church choir on Sundays.   I played the organ and we would go round the villages singing various Cantatas - The Creation and The Messiah were always popular around Easter and Christmas times.   The churches would be full of people who wanted to hear live music.

We would listen to music on the radio - Bing Crosby, Vera Lynn, 
gradually ways of listening to music increased until now there are so many ways that it has almost become part of the background.

Is music important in your life?


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Scots Pines

On the West side of our farmhouse we have a dozen or so Scots Pine trees which have been there since the house was built at the beginning of the twentieth century.   They are higher than our roof and really make a good windbreak as our prevailing wind is from the west.   They also shelter the drive from the rain very nicely.  In Winter they make a splendid roost for pheasant and we usually have twenty or so who fly up into them every night to escape any
marauding foxes.   They congregate on the garden wall each night at dusk and are lovely to watch.

They have one great drawback - and that is Pine Needles.   At this time of the year on a windy day like today the air rains pin needles as they fly off the trees and cover the lawns, the footpaths, the patio, the gutters around the house.   They get everywhere.   You can go out with a brush and sweep them away from the back door and go out again ten minutes later and it will be as bad.

Does anyone know a use for pine needles?   I wonder if the monks at nearby Jervaulx Abbey stuffed their palliases with them or something.   Even on the compost heap they take ages to rot down.  So they go on to the bonfire.

The first whole day without rain (although it is looking a bit cloudy at present) so the farmer went to shake up his hay.   He says it is looking 'a bit sad' to use his words.   But he is still hopeful that he will eventually be able to get some bales out of it.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Today's News

Today, as so often happens, I had finished all my library books so I trawled along my shelves to look for something to read.   Often I choose one of my travel books; now that I can't travel so far I enjoy reading about other people doing it; second-hand travel is better than no travel at all.

But today I chose that other good old standby - one of the many books I possess written by Ronald Blythe.   I am a great admirer of this Suffolk /Essex border writer, whose books are a mixture of notes about natural history, religious writing, interesting facts about all kinds of things.  Although I am not at all religious I even get pleasure from reading these bits as he does throw new light on the topic.I only read for about half an hour but long enough to give me food for thought.

He talks about depressing news every day on radio and television; about wars and rumours of wars; about immigrants; about fatal accidents; about drugs; about murders (these being the topics covered on the 6pm television news this evening).   And he suggests that these things are nothing new - things have always been thus but only in the days since the Second World War has 
communication been such that we all know about it.

Imagine the news on television at the time of the Crusades (,there was plenty of cruelty in the name of religion there), or the mass exodus of people in the days of King Herod.  Or imagine seeing the beheading of Anne Boleyn played out on television or the Charge of the Light Brigade.

But of course, what has also changed is the ferocity of the weapons used, the mass killing power, the air power, the atomic weapons.
Nevertheless, it is a point worth thinking about.

And taking this time thing from another angle, he also speaks of how much further we travel these days and how communication has changed out of all recognition.    Even a hundred years ago
ordinary folk usually lived in close proximity to other members of their family (apart from the brave souls who set out for the New World).   Anyone who lived 'away' could bank on rarely seeing their relatives.It did become easier with the arrival of the train.

Blythe suggests we read W H Auden's 'There is no change of place'
(not easy to understand but then poetry is never easy is it?).   As Fuller says in the crit the poem is based on the paradox that improved communications have brought about a state whereby we all find it easier to communicate at a distance.   As I am sure you know by now, I am a poetry lover.   I have just downloaded the poem from the internet and shall sit and read it a few times in an effort to understand what Auden is saying.   Then I shall read it at our Poetry afternoon tomorrow.   A good poem says a lot in few words.

Finally, if you want a treat, go to Thelma's (North Stoke on my sidebar) site to see Eric Ravillious's beautiful harvest painting.   For, like poetry, art says a lot in no words at all, and his painting of harvest in the early part of the twentieth century says so much - how harvesting has changed, what beauty there is to be seen in a simple country scene, and above all the tragedy of a young life cut short by war (Ravillious was killed in 1942).   The image of such a peaceful harvest scene contrasted with the image one conjures up of an artist cut short in his prime is worth a thousand words.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Laziness kicks in sometimes.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny, breezy day - just right for drying the hay and we had high hopes.   Then around seven o'clock the dark clouds appeared, the lightning flashed around the sky as it did the night before and it began to pour with rain.   By this morning there had been well over an inch of the stuff - our hay lying in the field must be floating.

Me - the novice as far as hay is concerned - pleaded with the farmer to go round by the field on our way back from our celebration Wedding Anniversary lunch.   I just wanted him to look how it was getting on after such a lovely day.

He said it was best to just leave it alone.   And how right he was.   Had he shaken it up it would have been even worse.   He told me that one year when he was a child they had hay lying for three weeks before it was dry enough to collect in.   And it was some of the best hay they had ever had.   And that in the days when hay was really vital to winter feed.

Best to leave it to the professionals.

As my heading suggests - I slept badly and am now thinking of getting tea ready.   Laziness has kicked in and I shall blog no more today.   Have a nice evening.   Incidentally, after a reasonable day today black clouds are gathering - maybe a repeat performance?

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Food for free.

Yesterday morning the farmer picked a pound of field mushrooms - beautiful young ones because left for long and they become full of maggots.   We had them for lunch cooked in butter with garlic and parsley and then made into omelettes.  With them we had peas picked straight from the vegetable garden.   Our own eggs, parsley and mushrooms - only the garlic had been bought in) - and some of the peas - I have frozen many bags for future use.  Only the garlic was bought; we have tried growing it but I fear we are too far North for it to be a great success.  There is a certain feeling of satisfaction at food for free (money that is, not hard work).  I had some nectarines which were obviously not going to ripen so I stewed them gently with a little sugar and we ate them with creme fraiche - delicious lunch.  Each to his own taste, looking at the photo below!

We were not the only ones to have food for free.   A female sparrow hawk swooped over the hedge opposite our kitchen window and snatched a collared dove.  Within a couple of minutes it had dragged it under the holly bush and proceeded to eat it.  Half an hour later it was still there and when something disturbed it it flew off for about ten minutes then returned to finish off its meal.  Gory and grotesque it might have been but then nature is cruel and the hawk has to eat. 

My son did not run in the veteran's race.   From early yesterday evening it was continuous sheet lightning all around us and there were occasional heavy showers.   The fell race takes place up Penn Hill and the ground would be wet and slippery - broken ankles are a real possibility.   By the time for Burning of Bartle the weather had improved somewhat - so I presume they went to see that - I shall no doubt find out later.

Lovely day here today.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

All friends together for a jolly night out with a friend who has moved away and had come back for the week-end. (second from end on right in stripey cardi).  Sadly it happened on our Wedding Anniversary, so the farmer and I are going out for Sunday lunch instead.

Today (and for the foreseeable future) is going to be heavy rain and thunder - goodness knows about the grass down for hay.   It really does look as though the crop will be lost.  Luckily it is only a small part of the field and not a huge crop, so the situation could be a lot worse.

Today is the West Witton Village Show, West Witton being a village about three miles away from the farm.   The farmer has been a judge there for some years and will be leaving shortly to judge flowers, fruit, vegetables and hay (don't expect there will be much of that this year).

The weather is not important as the whole show is held in the Village Hall and is followed by a Fell Race up the nearby Penn Hill (my son usually runs in the Veterans' Race) and then tonight by the Burning of Bartle - a ceremony which dates back into antiquity in which a figure is paraded through the village while everyone chants a rhyme and the figure is then burnt on the slopes of Penn Hill.   It is all a bit macabre but at least the tradition is kept going.

The rain has just started to fall (9.30am) and the sky is black.  Pity anyone up here on holiday.

Have a good week-end.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

The perils of the weather.

Is anyone asking where has the English Summer gone?   Or is this a typical Summer, so there's no point in asking?

The farmer has only one more lot of haymaking to do - for a nice lady who has four horses.   The weather was pleasant - sunny and breezy, perfect for the job - on Monday so he cut her field. Quite a few people around us did the same thing.

Since then it has rained almost non-stop.   Tuesday was just a damp foggy day with intermittent showers - 5mm all day.   Yesterday it rained more or less all day - another 7mm.   Overnight it was damp and misty.   Today it is warm, occasionally sunny and with a slight breeze, but not enough to dry the grass.   Tomorrow the forecast is similar and then there are two wet days forecast again.

It is difficult not to keep weather-watching and it must be even more difficult for the lady concerned, with four horses to feed over the winter.

Farming is never easy.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A busy day.

First of all John asks if I can post a few pictures of our house for you to see, so I thought I might post one room at a time, now and again.   Furnishings are so idiosyncratic aren't they?

I am a hoarder and have so many things which have been given to me over the years and which I am loath to part with.  So be prepared for it to be cluttered.   I also have hundreds of books which take up all the shelves.

These pictures are
of our living room, where we spend most evenings, especially in Winter when the wood burner is going full steam ahead.   It faces due North but gets nice and cosy in Winter.

My Buddha over the stove is one of my most treasured possessions - I have had him for fifty five years.   The fairy lights which stay up all year round were put up when I survived my first major fit six years ago and I put them up to celebrate my survival.

This morning we drove to Northallerton, the County town of the North Riding of Yorkshire, for the farmer to have X Rays on hip and knee.   Excellent service - only a quarter of an hour from parking to leaving.   Immediately after lunch our sheep went back home to be spained (lambs separated from their mothers).   Anyone who has anything to do with sheep knows that they smell absolutely awful - the smell seems to be clinging to me now - and all  I was doing was watching.

Finally I just noticed my Crocosmia Lucifer and my Golden Rod, both in flower in the front garden next to one another.   Not two colours one would think  of putting adjacent, but don't they look splendid?

Sorry - the pictures are out of order but have no time to sort them out.   They are pretty self-explanatory though.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Hitting the window.

Our kitchen window faces due West so that we get sunsets beautifully.   But for some reason the birds are always hitting the glass.   Last week a collared dove hit the window head on with such a crack.

I went outside to look and there was no sign of it, so it must have flown off - even if it did have a headache.

Yesterday we noticed in the fading sunlight that there was a perfect imprint of the collared dove on the window.  Not a perfect photograph of it, sadly, as the sun was reflected.   But nevertheless quite an interesting image.   I thought you might like to see it.

Monday, 17 August 2015

An outing.

Friend W and I to Kirby Lonsdale today through the most beautiful countryside in the UK on the most beautiful day of the year.   Everywhere looked wonderful and we agreed that we were very lucky to live up here in such a beautiful place.  As we passed the hill of Addlebrough in Wensleydale we were chatting about the fact that there was once an Iceni tribe living on the summit.  How much or how little will the surrounding countryside have changed?   Of course the field systems would not have been there, and there would no doubt have been far more woodland but the view would no doubt have been just as stupendous.

Meeting our friends P and D we walked to our favourite Italian restaurant for our favourite lunches.   We have been going for so long now that we know exactly what we want before we read the menu.  Their Caesar salad is excellent, as are all their pasta dishes.

Ingleborough looked magnificent in the clear sky.  It is not often we see it in all its glory; so often the top is obscured by cloud.

We arrived home at around four o'clock having had a lovely day out and feeling we didn't need any more to eat until tomorrow.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Ladies who lunch.

Yet another Ladies who Lunch day.    The farmer has been off walking with his group and I have been out with four friends for a Sunday lunch.   We do so enjoy our lunches together -all good fun, lots of laughs, passes a few hours in the middle of what for those who live alone is the loneliest day of the week - and now at four o'clock I am home again and thinking about getting tea for the farmer who had chicken sandwiches, crisps and a banana for his lunch on his walk.  My lunch was seafood tagliatelle and strawberry knickerbocker glory, followed by coffee and a home made chocolate.

There will be nothing more for me  until lunch time tomorrow when, dare I say it, I am going out again to lunch with friend W - this time over to meet our friends in Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria.   We always look forward to such a lovely journey through such beautiful countryside.

Lovely weather has returned again after a rather wet day a couple of days ago.   Summer has been an almost non event up here in the North of England, although I understand the South has fared rather better.

One of the nicest things about living out in the country in a rural area is that whenever one goes out to lunch there is always somebody else there known to one or the other of us. It all adds to the fun of the occasion.

Enjoy your Sunday evening.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

A lovely walk.

Yesterday was a pouring-wet day here - very miserable for anyone up here on holiday.   Today it is cooler, fresher and sunny.   A lovely day in fact.

After lunch the farmer and I walked down the pasture and then up the Christmas tree field.   It is a long time since I did this walk as I am not altogether steady on my feet on uneven ground and really need somebody near at hand (apart from Tess who would be pretty useless if I fell.)

 It was lovely.   Both fields were empty of stock.   Sheep and/or cattle can only be left in a field for so long before it is eaten off or the grass becomes uneatable.   This made the going easy.  We picked several mushrooms (better picked early morning, but we did check for maggots and discarded one or two)|.

Plenty of crane flies (Daddy long legs) around - a sure sign of Autumn on its way - and a distinct lack of butterflies.   The crab apple trees are covered in tiny green apples (the cattle like them later on when they fall to the ground) and the hawthorn berries, although still green, have a hint of the red to come.

It was good to see the Christmas trees thriving well.   The farmer has an uphill job to keep out the rabbits (the field is absolutely riddled with them) but so far he has kept on top of them.

The icing on the cake would have been to see either a kingfisher or a heron on the beck, but sadly neither, although we know they are both resident.   Each time I get down there the wood grows taller and denser and at this time of year it is dark underneath and all the early wild flowers (daffodils, blue and white bells, primroses) have long since finished for another year.

The morning was spent in town having coffee and a scone at The Old School House where there was a Summer Fayre.   Lots of friends there so nice chats and a lovely atmosphere.  Then home for sausage and mash with our own peas and onion gravy.  The farmer's favourite.

I am pleased to say that he is back to normal today.   One day's rest of that hip and it seems alright again thank goodness.

Whatever you are thinking of doing, have a good weekend.

Friday, 14 August 2015

What is it about farmers?

What is it about farmers and retirement?

Almost all the farmers we know are still working, albeit as they get older their work load diminishes.   I believe the average age of a farmer is late fifties or something like that.

My farmer is over seventy (just) and any mention of retirement fills him (and me actually) with horror.   Because farming is not just a job, it is a way of life.   It is a twenty-four hour way of life.   If you have livestock - for example cows - they are just as likely to calve in the middle of the night in an awkward place as they are to calve in  the straw in the barn.  Many is the time when we had a dairy herd  I have gone down the field with him at about two o'clock in the morning to see how a particular cow was faring.  It was a job I enjoyed as much as he did.

Now we have no livestock of our own.   So has he cut down?   Well yes, maybe a little.   But he has just bought himself a little mechanical digger so that he can do little jobs for neighbouring farmers; he still enjoys a spot of haymaking for various folk around who own single fields; he still enjoys being 'on the go' throughout the day.

Well yesterday it was brought home to him that he is not as young as he thought he was.   Four solid days of sitting on a tractor looking over his right shoulder while haymaking, making sure the cutter, then the turner, then the rower and finally the baler were in the correct place, and this morning his right hip was very painful.   Getting out of the car after going into town to collect the morning papers at 7am, he somehow twisted his hip further.

The upshot is that he was in agony, very white-faced, sweating heavily and totally unable to function.   Now in the middle of the afternoon the pain has eased (good painkillers have kicked in) and he is sitting in his chair reading the newspaper.   But walking is quite out of the question at present.

Will he learn from the experience?  I doubt it.   But at least he is going for a hip X ray next week.   A slight break through methinks.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


Creeping, creeping up the country the torrential rain, the flooding, the thunderstorms.   It began to cloud in here mid morning and has now completely clouded over with dampness in the air.

The farmer has got all his hay but one field and that is not quite ready, so this afternoon he cut losses and persuaded the owner of the field to have it silaged and baled instead.   The alternative was to leave it for another day to dry a bit more.   Too big a risk.

As usual with the English weather, three fine days in a row is about as much as we can manage.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

More like it.

Today is a real 'hay day' - blue sky, light breeze, hot sun and very dry atmosphere.   Two fields are baled and ready for leading in.   The third field, which was cut a day later, will not be ready until morning so we are hoping the weather holds.   Thunder storms are set to creep up the country from the South.  It is difficult not to become weather obsessed at haytime.

We have had so few summery days this year, but it is one today.  On these days  it is quiet and yet there is a buzz in the air difficult to explain but there all the same.

Tess has spent most of the day lying on the stone floor in the utility room with her back legs splayed back so that her tummy is in contact with the cool stone.  (feel a bit like doing that myself).

I am gradually getting used to my new telephone - slowly but surely.  Not completely there yet though.

Does anyone out there know Steinbeck's 'Travels with Charley'?  It is one of those books I reread when I am short of reading matter.   Each time I read it I find more in it and this time has been no exception.   When I read about the anti Negro feeling in the deep South in the book I can't help wondering what Steinbeck would have said to America having a black president almost fifty years after he died.  Certainly unimagineable in Steinbeck's day.

I shall now go and make some sandwiches for the farmer's tea.  Ice cream for 'afters' I think.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

All stations go.

A loud noise just after breakfast time - a noise of machinery - which I just couldn't identify.   I wandered round the farm yard trying to find the direction from which it  came.   And then I saw it.   The farmer opposite had started to combine his field of wheat.

I couldn't believe my eyes as it seemed to me to be nowhere near ripe enough.   But as the farmer came down the lane with Tess on return from their morning walk, he enlightened me.

These days, if the field of wheat/barley is intended to be used for whole crop (more of that in a minute) then it doesn't want to be ripe, it still needs to be soft.

Up here in The Dales there are no arable farms.   In the old days most farms were small (80 acres or thereabouts) but as they have been sold off so they have been amalgamated into larger units and round us there are now two or three really large farms.   But none of them are arable farms.   The usual 'crop' up here is either a milking herd (for how much longer with the falling price of milk?), a beef herd, or a flock of sheep.

Silage is made in huge quantities (grass which, if put into a clamp rather than into round bales, is left to 'pickle'.)
  This wheat or barley which is harvested early - whole crop - is chopped up, loaded into large trailers and tipped into the silage clamps along with the grass.  These layers form the basis of winter feed for milking and beef hers.   Our cattle are inside for at least six months of the year.

Just occasionally a field is harvested in the conventional way (usually winter barley up here) and when this happens the crop is mostly sold to local feed merchants who either roll it or chop it to mix in with other things to make cattle feed/cake for winter.

What with harvesting, silaging and the like, trying to get anywhere by road is quite a job - getting past these great trailers and tractors on our narrow winding roads (plus all the holiday traffic which clogs them in August anyway) makes movement from A to B a bit of a trial.    But farming must go on while the weather holds.

Speaking of which, today has not been as good as promised and whilst it has not actually rained there is a large amount of cloud and very little breeze, so at present the farmer has three fields lying waiting to be baled into hay and it is too soft.   I asked him what would happen if he baled it while it was soft and apparently it just heats up and becomes dangerous.

So fingers crossed for another fine day tomorrow.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Teething Problems.

Our old landline was beginning to be faint on the sound even when fully turned up.   It was time to invest in a new telephone.   Friend W went with me to choose one and we chose a BT 8500, which seemed relatively easy to use.

Oh dear.   Teething problems have caused severe frustration over the last few days.   I must point out that these problems have absolutely nothing to do with BT8500 and everything to do with my lack of technical ability/tendency not to read instructions carefully.

After a lot of careful reading (finally) I have my list of phone numbers plumbed in and the various modes set.   It is lovely to be able to hear people properly again (I am quite deaf).   I have still to set up the answer phone which is incorporated in the device and I still have to set up a caller display (one of the reasons I wanted this model).   Then I should be up and running smoothly (fingers crossed).

My poor son has had to come round several times to sort me out after I have pressed the wrong button.  I must say he has remained calm throughout.

A friend tells me that her husband bought a new mobile at the week end, put it in his pocket and while doing various jobs accidentally dialled 999 - first he knew was when a squad car arrived.  Glad it is not just me.

Farmer is haymaking in earnest.   He has just gone up the lane to shake up the crop laying in the field; he has been followed up the lane by a big, black cloud.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Sunday lunch.

Alternate sundays the farmer walks with his walking group and I go out to lunch with my lunching group.   Today is not one of those days, so I had to come up with something for the two of us.   Added to this, I do really run out of ideas.

However, I attempted something a little 'way out' (by the farmer's standards of tradition) and for once it was a huge success (unlike my augbergines the other day!)   Pork steaks with mushrooms picked this morning from the pasture; roasted butternut squash; roasted whole onion; green beans; potatoes and apple sauce.  It was delicious.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

A New Experience.

I am of the opinion that one is never too old to have a new experience; in fact constant new things is really important in the process of keeping the brain active.

So this morning friend W and I tried out a new experience.   We went to a Car Boot Sale.   Now before you all gasp and say, "you've never been to a car boot sale??" let me point out that some of us have lead sheltered lives (in some areas but not in others).

We arrived there along with several hundred others (this is a popular local cbs which occurs every saturday morning.   We walked round for about half an hour and came to the same conclusion: we shall not repeat the experience.   It was our first car boot sale.   It will also be our last car boot sale.   It was absolutely awful.   Every stall was full of rubbish stuff (apart from the stalls selling tools for men (why is it that these stalls everywhere are always full of really good, interesting stuff (if you are a man))?

We came out, crossed the road and went into a cafe for our usual Saturday morning coffee and scone (cherry and almond).  Even that, although enjoyable, was not in the same class as the ones at our usual Saturday morning hang out.

On the way there we had noticed various orange signs stuck in the sides of the road, each sign bearing a large white arrow.   On our return to the lane we found out what they were.   There was a huge cycle tour going on which took in our lane.   There were cyclists as we returned and W had to dawdle behind them the last couple of miles to home (gave us plenty of time to view rather interesting lycra clad buttocks of young, middle aged and elderly men).   Cyclists were still passing our farm an hour later, so there must have been hundreds in the tour.   Good healthy hobby I always think.

Delicious produce from the garden for lunch.   Broad beans and peas, and fresh raspberries for pud.  Nothing tastes quite as good as vegetables straight from the plot.

Enjoy your week-end.   I keep wondering how John's Trelawnydd Flower and Produce Show is going.   I hope it is as good a day as it is here and that all those Photographs of rather rude vegetables are creating a few laughs.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Times have changed

but, alas, I have not completely changed with them.

As you know I have recently bought a new landline telephone.  The setting up of it has been painful to say the least.  Various teething problems were ironed out quickly (without the handbook I might add) by my son.   And yesterday I felt rather proud that I had managed to plumb in sixty or so contacts and actually ring one of them back so that I knew I had done that right.

My next job is to get the answer phone bit up and working.   I have just read the instruction booklet twice and decided that to avoid a nervous breakdown or a crisis of confidence I shall have to call on my son to help me there to.

But it did set me thinking about the days when life was so much easier.   Does anyone else remember the old red telephone coin boxes where you put twopence in slot A and if there was no reply then you pressed button B and got your twopence back?

In our Lincolnshire village the parson had a phone, the doctor had a phone, and maybe a smattering of villagers had a phone.   But other than that everyone used the public telephone box.  That box was about half a mile from our house, but there we went in the unlikely event that we wanted to communicate by phone.  Nobody we knew had a phone so it was usually only to call the doctor.

Urgent messages came by telegram, sent through by telephone to the village post office, written out by hand by the village postmaster and then brought round on his bike.

We kids spent out long summer holidays out on our bikes, sandwiches in our bike bags, not expected home between breakfast and tea, free to go as far as we cared to bike.   We never thought about hanging around over screens of some sort all day - television, i-pads, mobiles and the like.   Texting was something we had never heard of.

Gosh, wasn't life simple and uncomplicated?

Thursday, 6 August 2015


A couple of hectic days have made for difficulty in fitting in blogging.   They have been necessary but boring jobs (going through last year's books with the accountant was not exactly my favourite way of spending a morning).   The farmer and I have bought a new all singing, all dancing landline telephone - and I have spent quite a few frustrating hours plumbing various facilities into it.   Add to this the farmer is himself frustrated as he is desperate to begin haymaking but there needs to be at least four consecutive fine (hopefully sunny and breezy) days to do this.   Today is now breezy, sunny and fine - so he is waiting for the weather forecast in a few minutes with bated breath.

When I was a child I used to love harvest time on my uncle's farm.  He farmed in the old-fashioned way with horses and binders; stacking the crop in stooks to be carted away to the farmyard for threshing later on.  But my favourite thing of all was looking around for wild flowers; I was a great wild-flower collector, noting them all down in little note books.

One of the most common in corn fields was the scarlet pimpernel, which these days seems to have completely disappeared from our fields and verges.   But today I saw one!

I had gone to our Medical Centre to pick up my prescription and as I was getting back into my car, there at my feet, growing at the foot of a rowan tree was a tiny scarlet pimpernel.  I was so pleased to see my old friend that I got out of the car and photographed it.  Several people gave me funny looks - after all they probably considered it to be a weed.  But to me it was a lovely reminder of a
very happy childhood.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Our own produce,

Anyone who blogs with Cro Magnon will, like me, be green with envy at the wonderful variety and quality of the vegetables and fruit he grows in Haddocks.

Well, at last, today we have begun to harvest some of the produce from our own, rather Northerly, garden.   In fact today's lunch consisted of everything we had grown ourselves (apart from the milk, and there was a time when that would have been home-produced too).

We had field mushrooms from the pasture in an omelette, using our own eggs.   With it we had young broad beans with parsley sauce (both beans and parsley from the garden) and followed it with fresh raspberries (our own) and cream.   Not only was there great satisfaction in the eating of it but also in the fact that all the farmer's hard work had at last come to fruition.

Now there is a huge quantity of peas to pod and freeze!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Illegal Immigrants

No doubt like many other people, I find the whole business at Calais (and also in those boats crossing the Med) distressing, degrading and very disturbing.

The issues of immigration are complex and it is easy to say that we just don't want them here and that the whole problem should go away.

This morning there is an excellent - and interesting - article in Times 2 about Dominique Mollard who paid hundreds of dollars to get on to a 14m dinghy with 38 African migrants in order to film the experience.   The results I understand are terrifying (at least 1721 people died in the first four months of this year attempting the crossing).

The mix of people is itself interesting - a widow with a five month old baby, a graduate who just wants a job.  The voyage doesn't go well and what should have lasted for five days meant twelve days at sea with only a bucket for toilet facilities and sea sickness as well.

Many people don't expect to make the journey alive and most of them know that they will get a rough reception if they do.   But they are desperate.

He did manage to find out that one African mother and her baby did succeed and the mother got a job as nanny for a Spanish family in Morocco (the journey across the Med was not successful) and now lives in Spain with her daughter now eight years old and doing well.

When you see the immigrants at the Channel Tunnel you see just how young they are  and also how desperate.  You see how they are disrupting the traffic and making these huge illegal camps.   

We are all protective of our own territory.   I too do not like folk encroaching on my own personal space - none of us do.   I don't know what the answer is.   What I do know is that if I was an African mum of a graduate son I would be proud of his achievement and if he decided to chance his arm although I wouldn't want him to I would back his attempt, even though I knew I would probably never see him again.

Mollard suggests the answer lies in providing more help of the right kind in Africa.  Any money which rich countries put in should be carefully monitored for building factories, small companies and spending any money wisely.

When we see this distressing scene night after night on our TV News Screen we know that somehow, sooner or later, a solution has to be found.   He reminds us that a few generations ago folk were leaving the UK to go to America, so the problem is not new.

Please don't think I am condoning any of it - I just find the whole thing distressing, the conditions squalid, the horror of mothers and tiny babies so desperate that they will take to these awful boats.

What is the answer?

Sunday, 2 August 2015


Signs of Autumn are arriving early here in the Dales - even earlier than usual, as we have had no Summer to speak of.   In fact I worry that it has been impossible to get in the hay and even second crop silage is far behind.  The farmer does not seem to worry; he has seen it all before and never failed to get everything 'safely gathered in' finally.

Today he brought in the first of the wild field mushrooms - just five of them, new and in pristine condition.   After his walking group he came back to bacon,  tomato, fried potatoes, mushrooms and egg for his tea.  I can't remember ever finding mushrooms this early before.

On the wires the swallows are beginning to gather in long lines, although almost every nest still has second brood babies in it.   This year's first brood are practising flying around like mad to strengthen their wings for the long journey back to Africa.  (via Malta where they are terribly persecuted).

In the hedgerows the rowan berries are beginning to turn orange and the hawthorn berries have a faint tinge of red.  And the predominant colour of the roadside verges in the purple of the various thistles.

Today five of us went out for lunch and I think we all of us overate.
My favourite course was the starter, which for me was a salmon-stuffed pancake served  with a lemony Hollandaisse sauce.  Delicious.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Nostalgia for the past.

I think people who live in the countryside have far more nostalgia for the past than 'townies' - after all there is far more to be nostalgic about.

And yesterday, as we drove up the lane to go to Hawes, we had a perfect example when we stopped to allow this to go past.  What a glorious way to travel about the countryside in the sunshine.

Today is Yorkshire Day.   Three cheers for the old North Riding.