Thursday, 31 March 2016


I had a bit of a scare with the farmer this morning when I found it impossible to wake him up.   He got up normally and brought me a drink to bed.   He said he didn't feel well enough to get breakfast so I began to get it and realised he had fallen asleep in the chair.   I tried to wake him and couldn't do so however hard I tried.

I phoned friend W who advised me to call emergency services, which I did.  They turned out in force.   First friend W came round (what a good friend in a time of need)., closely followed by the Paramedic, closely followed by the Ambulance.   As friend W came through the door Tess barked and the farmer opened his eyes but was very disorientated.   The emergency services completely checked him over and could find nothing untoward apart from a slow heart rate.   They gave us the option of either going to hospital or going to our local GP, where they would manage to get an immediate appointment - we chose the latter.

He got another good check up there and the GP is sure it is a bad dose of some kind of bug/flu.   He was also concerned that the farmer was not drinking enough.   So we are home, 
the farmer is drinking two litres of water a day (I am measuring it) and I must say that by this evening there is an improvement - although he is still not at all well and he is complaining also that his head is in a muddle (a sure sign of flu in my book).

At least he has had a jolly good check up.   The GP found that his heart rate had returned to normal, which is a good thing.   He has had a bit of a scare all round and realised that he cannot do what he used to do.   I am just hoping that things now settle down and he begins to shake off the malaise soon.

In the meantime thank you for your support.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Favourite afternoon.

Today was our Poetry afternoon and was just as enjoyable as ever.   Around eight to a dozen of us sit in friend W's conservatory and read three or four of our favourite poems. It is always an uplifting afternoon and we hear poetry we know and love and poetry which is new to us.   Just a minimum of information and maybe a little discussion afterwards - it is perhaps my favourite afternoon of the whole month.

The farmer is a little improved this evening and although not yet up to working, he is up, dressed and pottering about.   And he has taken Tess into the fields a couple of times today.   She was heartily sick of being taken down the lane on the lead by me, but the fields are so wet and uneven that I really dare not venture into them.

I have really appreciated your comments this week - what a boost they have been.   That is one of the really positive things about blogging I think, don't you ?   So thank you to you all.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


A progress report on the farmer - he is up and dressed today and has eaten a little at each meal, after yesterday when all he had was dry toast.   I have to report that now he is getting visibly better he is a very bad patient.   He wants to be outside in the fields, doing all the jobs that are crying out to be done.   And because he feels too weak to do them it is making him irritable.

He has decided to get a contractor in with good equipment, much larger than we have on the farm, to spread the manure = this is the next job and needs doing urgently.

Our resprayed car has been returned to us today - the garage kindly returning it for us as the farmer didn't feel up to driving the thirty or so miles to collect it - and he no longer likes me to drive in that sort of traffic.   Friend W very kindly offered to drive me to the garage so that I could pick up the car and drive it back - but there would still be the problem of the courtesy car, which was sitting in our garage.   Any way it is all sorted out now and we are more or less back to normal.

Apparently there is a sickness bug doing the rounds here, so perhaps that was what he had, but as his ears are still hurting he is keeping the doctor's appointment on Thursday just to be sure.

How kind it was of everyone to send good wishes to him - I have passed them on.   As to the ironing - I apologise to all those who tell me to throw the iron away - but I actually love ironing under normal circumstances - and however hard I try I just can't abide wearing a white shirt blouse for example, which has not been ironed into some sort of crispness.

Many years ago we had a neighbour, George, long dead now.   He went into hospital and was told that he only had a short time to live, so he asked to come home in the ambulance so that he could spend the last few weeks/months with his wife Elsa.   My then husband went round when he saw the ambulance arrive, to assist George (in his dressing gown and pyjamas) into the house.   Elsa told him to sit in an armchair and she would make him a cup of tea.   He replied that he would get dressed first (into a suit and shirt with matching tie, a 'uniform' he always wore) - saying ' think of the standards darling.'   It became a joking saying in our household if anything was left undone (e.g. the washing up).   Maybe I should apply that philosophy to ironing.  (I am joking).

I have walked off most of yesterday's stiffness (fourteen times up the stairs for a start) and hopefully should be back to normal by tomorrow.   Hope the farmer is too.   And again so  many thanks for all your good wishes - he really did appreciate them.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Short of time.

No time for a post today as the farmer is not well.  It came on quite suddenly last evening when he began to sweat heavily and to feel sick and very dizzy.   He went to bed but feels no better today if he tries to get out of bed.   He tried to eat scrambled egg on toast, but was immediately sick after a couple of forkfuls.

So long as he lies still he is quite chatty and I must say he looks a lot better today than he did last night.   I have managed to get him an appointment with the doctor on Thursday afternoon.   In the meantime I am making sure he drinks plenty.

I have been doing various farm jobs and am sad to say I am finding them quite difficult.   Things that I found easy and enjoyed doing a few years ago are suddenly very hard going.

The friends whose cattle we keep for winter came and fed up and bedded down this morning.   I dealt with the hens, feeding, watering and letting out into the fields.   I fed and watered the farm cats and fed the wild birds.   Then I took Tess for a morning walk.   During all this it was pouring with rain so I can't say I enjoyed it much.   Now I have one last load of ironing to do and things will be back to normal.

I am hoping that the farmer will be too by tomorrow.   He does have problems with shoulders, neck and ears and is awaiting an X ray and CT scan at the hospital, so I suspect this is somehow connected.   He looked dreadful last night - pale and wet with sweat.   Today he is back to his normal colour and as long as he lays in bed he says he feels fine - so we shall see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

A satisfying morning.

We have a courtesy car while our Body Work is being done - in fact our car is ready for collection but the garage is closed until Tuesday.   So we are not really venturing far.   In any case, after that glorious Spring day yesterday, today is windy, cloudy and cold.  Storm Katie is on its way and the wind has arrived already.   Spare a thought for Yorkshire Pudding (on my side bar) who should be crossing the Irish Sea from the Isle of Man this morning.  He will need his seasickness pills I think.

So, I have taken the opportunity this morning to do two jobs which have been bugging me for weeks, but which I have kept putting off (never a good idea).   The first was to balance the ledger.   It is our farm financial year end at the beginning of April and I like to send the ledgers to our accountant added up and balanced.   I have to be in the right mood to do this otherwise I can add it up a dozen times (and yes I do mean with a calculator) and get a different answer each time.   So this morning, after the usual household jobs, I sat down with the ledger, spoke firmly to it - and myself - and it balanced first time.   First job done.

Then the post came.  In the post was my Country Living Magazine (which my god-daughter buys me on subscription each year).  No, the temptation was to sit down and have a look over a coffee.   But another job was calling loudly.

Does everybody have a drawer somewhere into which they put things that haven't got a place anywhere else?   Things like paper clips, elastic bands (I wonder how much the Post Office spend on elastic bands - many of which come through our letter box with our morning mail), batteries for various things, spare bulbs for Christmas tree lights, - these are just a few of the things which needed sorting out.

Jumping in at the deep end I tipped the drawer out on to the kitchen table.   The paper clips were collected up and put where they should have been put in the first place - in the paper clip box in my desk.   The elastic bands were put into a plastic bag, same with the curtain hooks - and so on.   Now the drawer is tidy.   Two jobs done in one morning and now it is time to get the lunch - so I am feeling rather pleased with my morning's work.   What have you all been doing - something more exciting I hope.

Friday, 25 March 2016

No need for a door bell.

Sometimes our back door bell rings and sometimes it goes on strike, but as it is only into a Utility Room I always tell friends to come in anyway.

However, if the visitor is friend G then I have no need to do anything.   Tess knows the sound of her car;  Tess also loves a knee-cuddle from G and in fact demands one whenever G comes.

I knew G was coming so I had my camera all ready.   Tess was asleep in her basket (yes, I am sorry but she is a very pampered dog I am ashamed to say) and G came into the yard.   Immediately Tess sat bolt upright in her basket - and 'click' I managed to take this photograph of her after her cut.
I do agree with those of you who think (even if you haven't said so) that she is rather pampered for a dog.   My only excuse is that I do like to see her looking smart and clean.   Her hair comes out this time of the year and I always feel that she feels better herself when it is all cleanly cut.   And it does keep a lot of the hair off the edges of the chairs and stairs (her favourite place to sit, so that she can look out of the landing window).

She would like to be out all day with the farmer.   He takes her with him for an hour in the morning - again for a walk at lunch time - and an hour at tea time as he takes a final walk around the fields.   I wouldn't mind if he had her with him all day but he insists she stays with me for two reasons:  if he is busy he doesn't want to be always having to keep an eye on her in case she goes away, and also she is my dog and as such he feels she is good company for me, which is true.

I watched them in the fields this afternoon as they came up the Christmas Tree field after their early evening walk.   In the next field the sheep were going absolutely mad - charging down the pasture, along the top of the muck heap and off the other end.  Then a minute later they would return along the top of the muck heap again and rush back to the top of the pasture.   I rang him because he didn't appear to have noticed them and I wondered whether a dog was chasing them.   But no - he had seen them and, to use his expression, he said "It was just that Spring had got up their tails!"
Once the warmer weather arrives they are desperate to be back on to their hefted land on the tops of the Buttertubs Pass.

They will feel completely different tomorrow when storm Katie begins to arrive and the weather turns gradually to gales, rain and stormy conditions.   Such are the vagaries of the English Spring.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cut and blow-dry.

In a quarter of an hour the hairdresser from Scruffy Do Dog Grooming will arrive in her fully-equipped van and invite Tess in for a hair cut and a blow dry, an ear and eye cleaning and a claw cutting.   She goes in looking like a ragamuffin and comes out looking like a model (it doesn't last long, that look).  I have just taken some photographs of 'before' to compare with some 'after'.   It is never easy to photograph her.  I don't know whether she thinks that the camera is a weapon of chastisement, but the minute I point it at her she goes into submission mode.

Sorry, but she was even worse after her hair appointment and although she  looks lovely I have been totally unable to get her to 'pose' for a photograph.  Maybe I will try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Perfect Day for it.

It is cloudy, cool and still today - the perfect day for spreading slurry and every farmer in the neighbourhood, including this one, is doing just that.   For anyone who is unsure exactly what slurry is - it is a mixture of cattle poo and water mainly - from the milking parlours and the cattle sheds.   It all goes into a lagoon - usually a round tank - and when the tank is full it has to be emptied.

Today the ground is dry enough, so that's why everybody is at it.  The farmer is finished more or less, just tidying up with a few friends and neighbours with odd fields here and there.   Once they are all done then he will wash off the spreader and park it up.   Then he will wash off his waterproof jacket because something got stuck in the slurry pipe and at one point he managed to catch a shower of the stuff down the front of his jacket.   His perfume at lunch time was divine, but as every field for a mile around is plastered with the stuff it doesn't make a lot of difference.  The perfume was seeping through every orifice in the house anyway.
If this was 'smelly-vision' you would no doubt catch a whiff too.

Meantime, in a fit of enthusiasm, I have sorted out all my black and navy blue T shirts and washed, dried and ironed them all.  Now they hang on the airer looking pristine.  I just hope they don't pick up a hint of that perfume.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Enjoy each day.

Every Tuesday I meet friends for coffee in our little town and we always sit in the window looking across the market square.   Because we are such a small town we see many people we know - this morning friend W (who is 94) walked past and came in to join us for a drink too.

But sadly I saw another friend who I haven't seen for a long time.   I had heard that he was in the early stages of memory loss.   He got out of the car (his wife was driving) and went into the newspaper shop for his paper.  He was a shadow of his former self, seemed confused, could only shuffle along and was just generally a very sad figure.   And I came home and said to the farmer - just let us keep reminding ourselves that it is today we are here to enjoy, that there is no good to be had from planning too far ahead, we must make the most of every minute.

Sieze the moment - and if either of us is in danger of forgetting it, then it is important that the other one of us makes sure it is at the forefront of our minds again.   A moment enjoyed is never wasted.

Monday, 21 March 2016


This morning was the designated time for our car to go in to the Bodyshop for the work to be done on the back bumper (one side by me and the other by the farmer!).   We had to be there by half past eight, so it meant an early start for the thirty mile journey - and a courtesy car for the return journey.

Of course there was a lot of traffic and also a huge amount of road works on the A1 at Scotch Corner, where we join it.   Traffic cones, traffic lights, diversion signs - a real headache.

We had to leave the A1 at the Darlington turn off along the A66 link road.   Here the road, only a few miles long, runs through a sort of cutting.   The sides have been landscaped with silver birch trees and an absolute wealth of Spring flowers.   There were thousands of primroses out on it banks along the way and here and there drifts of daffodils waving in the breeze.

And what spoiled it all?   The rubbish.   The cigarette packets, the drinks cans, the take-away meals cartons - all thrown from the windows of passing cars.   Have these people no concept of beauty?
Do they not care what the countryside looks like?   Some of the silver birch trees were festooned with  strips of black or transparent plastic and here and there a whole bag of rubbish had been dumped.

There was a letter in our local paper at the week-end from someone complaining about dog owners who clean up after their dogs and then leave the offending black ''pooh bag' at the side of the path in some of our beauty spots.  This is the same sort of mentality and really I can't see any way of combatting it.

When I think that the people who have ruined the display of primroses with their rubbish are probably the same people who complain about the rise in Council Tax.   And all those primroses don't plant themselves, do they?   They have  been paid for by our local Councils in an effort to beautify a stretch of our roads which would otherwise be dull and uninteresting.

The words thoughtless, unimaginative and downright destructive are three words that spring to mind.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Sunday lunch

Dare I tell you that we have been out for lunch again today.   Because I had a win on the Premium Bonds this month I treated the farmer to lunch today in the CB Hotel in Arkengarthdale.

It was a lovely sunny morning and driving there really does make you realise just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful area.  We went up onto our grouse moor to start the journey through Swaledale and over to Arkengarthdale in the distance.
There is a deep gap between the foreground and the background in this shot - the foreground is still in Wensleydale, the River Swale flows through in the gap and the far side is Swaledale.   As I took this shot two grouse flew in front of me making their whirring noise.  There are so many grouse around this year - it must be a good year for them in spite of the wet weather.

We drove down off the moor, over the River Swale and up into the little town of Reeth - the only town in Swaledale (unless you are one of those who argue that Richmond is in Swaledale).   So many folk start their walks in Reeth that on Saturdays and Sundays the green is full of cars from early in the day.   It is a poor photograph, taken from the moving car.
Turning right here off the green and into Arkengarthdale, we go onto another grouse moor, this one even wilder than the last.   If we continued along this road we would eventually come to The Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in England.   But we weren't going that far.  A couple of miles through the moors, looking over to our right, lies the little hamlet of Booze.  (at one election a few years ago some crazy idiot from some fringe party decided to stand as a candidate against William Hague - at that time our M P - and I remember that he spent the whole of election day sitting out in Booze in an armchair.  (Why do elections always spawn some nuts?)
You see that there are only one or two houses there.

And so the drive down into the village of Langthwaite - the entrance to Arkengarthdale (like all our dales it is named after the watercourse - in this case the Arkle Beck.)
Nearly there now, just up the hill and there is the CB Hotel at the top.   A table was booked for 12.30 and we were there in plenty of time.   Interestingly, directly opposite the hotel is the house where for many years before his death Sir Tommy Sopwith(of Sopwith Camel fame) lived. 

 Once inside the hotel our table was ready and we sat down to a lunch of honey roast ham with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, broccoli and carrots, followed by chocolate brownie and ice cream.

It really is the most attractive hotel.  I took a shot inside of our table and the farmer perusing the menu.
As we were waiting for our food to come a song thrush serenaded us from a tree just outside the window.   He sang all the way through the meal and was still singing joyfully as drove away.   Beautiful.Incidentally,  if you would like to see a wonderful video of a song thrush go to Midmarsh Jottings on my side bar (John)
because he has made the most superb video of one in his garden.

We are now home, don't need any tea, so settling down for the evening having had a lovely day.

Saturday, 19 March 2016


I'm sorry there was no post yesterday but after coming in at lunchtime from our coffee meeting and market shopping the hours flew past as I did various small jobs which needed doing.  And then two friends G and J called in for some eggs and we had a pleasant hour chatting - and then it was time to get ready to go out for our yearly meal with the shooting syndicate.

The venue moves around from year to year as the members of the syndicate live in different places.   This year we were lucky in that it took place at the pub about a mile down the road.  In fact we were very lucky because when the sheep came in earlier in the week for pedicures we found a sheep had got in amongst our sheep and it belonged to someone else.   During the pedicure was an easy time to separate it (can you imagine trying to do that out in the field?).  The farmer came to collect it at 7pm and the dinner was at 7.30pm.   But we were not the last to arrive = that dubious honour fell to the farmers who were in the middle of lambing.  (and they lived nearer to the venue than we did - literally just across the road).

What a pleasant evening we had.   It is always a chore showering and getting 'dressed up' to go out in the evening as far as I am concerned.   But we ate little during the day and were hungry.   The food was delicious.   I shall make your mouths water -
I had deep fried king prawns with an onion dip.
Chicken breast stuffed with mozarella and bacon strips (served with brocolli and carrots - and potatoes or chips of course)
Three way brulee - this is three small pots of creme brulee - one raspberry, one vanilla and one a deeply flavoured coffee (my favourite).
All this followed by coffee and an hour's chat - lovely evening.
Nothing much to do today but as I have to go out on Monday morning I am doing the weekly washing - well the machine is doing it and I am just listening to the whirring as the spin drier goes round!

Thursday, 17 March 2016


Spring is always late coming up here.   But today is St Patrick's Day and Spring is definitely in the air - pure, unbroken sunshine and not a breath of a breeze.   The daffodils, crocus and hyacinth are all out in the garden, the sheep have all had a pedicure, the one naughty one who belongs to someone else but who got in with ours weeks ago, has been sorted out, penned and is waiting for collection.

I have just been for my weekly hairdressing appointment and find that our little town is riddled with traffic lights whilst various bits and pieces are being done here and there.  Someone told me that it is all happening at present because Councils have to spend up by the end of the financial year (April 6th) when their new budgets are set and if they haven't spent up then they may get less from the public coffers next year.   They have to keep something back for 'emergencies' but now is the time to spend it.   This does make sense and I do know that something like that used to happen in schools in the past.

Is anyone else thoroughly bored with the Budget?   In the long run, unless you have thousands to invest does it make a lot of difference to you?   I stand corrected if it does but I really do almost die of boredom at M P's just sounding off against one another.

Does anyone write letters any more?   I have written to a friend this morning.   My handwriting is terrible now as I have a severe shake in my right hand, but I still enjoy sending and receiving 'real' letters - so much better than an e mail.   Finding one on the mat when the postman has been is such fun after the usual heap of junk mail.   I do urge everyone to keep up the old-fashioned practice for as long as we can.

On that note I shall close down for another day.   Hope the weather is like this tomorrow - the sight of the sun after the awful wet winter is a joy in itself.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016


Back from my exercise class and exhausted after an hour of concentrated jolly hard work.   I wish we could have it every day - then I might get fitter.   Yes, I know I could do the exercises at home but, dear reader, the flesh is weak.

Time to get tea ready and settle down for the evening.   For anyone who is watching the Farm Life programme on BBC 2 at 7pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening I am sure they are enjoying it.   It is excellent.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Take the slow train.

After a long, leisurely coffee with friends in town, (Ethiopian coffee since you ask, and delicious with it), it was home to a very quick lunch (home made vegetable soup which had had a noggin of old parmesan sitting in it since yesterday, which made it delicious) followed by fried sweet cure bacon, fried eggs and baked beans.   Then it was off the Richmond to the hearing aid clinic.

Our clinic, in the Friary hospital, has a system where you queue until one o'clock and then are given a card with a number on it.  (I was there early and was number three).  There is such a nice friendly atmosphere and everyone chats away freely - as folk tend to do in times of adversity - ie waiting interminably to be seen.

Driving home, instead of coming the usual short way I decided to come home via the entrance to Swaledale, although it is a dismal day with poor visibility.   It was lovely; there were various blossom trees out, mostly hanging over garden walls into the roadside.   There were primroses and daffodils on the roadside and everywhere was peaceful.   I really enjoyed the drive = three miles further, but who cares about a little distance like that?

I used to write  poetry (well, more correctly an apology for poetry, which is why I finally stopped kidding myself it was any good and stopped writing it.)   But yesterday I came across a poem I wrote on a theme which fits this choice of long way round journey, so I make no apology for printing it again here.   Call it self-indulgence.

Take the slow train.

Take the slow train,
let it wander
through the meadows;
count the buttercups;
watch the river
as it glides
under bridges, 
over fields;
see the sunlight
on the water
dappling patterns
through the trees.
And listen - in the station -
to the birdsong
in the silence.
You'll arrive there
just the same -
only later.   And 
your head will be full of
nothing more
than the pleasant country scene.

Take the fast train,
the express -
as it hurtles
through the fields,
over bridges and through stations,
empty platforms,
'til it shudders
to a halt
at its final destination.

Then you step out in a whirl
to a crowd of busy people,
all intent on getting somewhere
in the very shortest time.

I'm a slow-train person.
I need time to stand and stare.
When it comes to travelling quickly
I'm not going anywhere.

Monday, 14 March 2016


Yes, you can smell it in the air today.   Alright, there is a chill breeze blowing but the sky is blue, the sun is shining and everything is beginning to wake up.

I decided that the weather was good enough for me to take Tess for her lunch time short walk.   We went up the lane and down the pasture.   This 'cam' (a local word which means a hedge which because of various tree falls etc. has just become a line suggesting where there might have been a hedge at one time) cuts across the pasture.   It was once three small fields but is now one large one delineated by these ancient cams.  This one is a mixture of old hawthorns, an ash tree and a couple of crab apples.

I stopped when we got to the large manure heap put there last week when the farmer cleaned out the over-wintering in-calf cattle.   It will stay there now 'maturing' until the land is dry enough for it to be spread.   I must say that judging by the state of the grass today (very wet and muddy) it will not be any time soon.

In the distance the village lies over the fields, perhaps a mile round by the road but only three fields away - or a very short distance as the crow flies.  (and there are plenty of them about).
By the back door the primroses definitely think it is Spring.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Quiz answers

I know that some of you have attempted the cryptic quiz I posted last Sunday.   I promised the answers today, so here they are:

1.  The Frenchman eats all of this.   Mangetout.
2.  Nomads enjoy this fruit.   Damson.
3.  Donkeys bray longer for one of these.  Loganberry.
4.  Sounds like there are two.   Pear.
5.  Look among the clue.   Mango.
6.  Harvest in the triangle by candlelight.  Rhubarb.  *
7.  One is seen, and felt, on the ear!  Cauliflower.
8.  Could also be a lemon.   Melon.
9.  Go near for a juicy treat.   Orange.
10.Scandinavian vegetable.   Swede.
11.Quiet plea for a mix-up.   Apple.
12.Purple egg plant.   Aubergine.
13.Sounds like a taxi when you get old.  Cabbage.
14.This card turner grows on a bush.   Redcurrant.
15.June 14th 2015.   Date
16.The little monkey loves this.   Lemon
17.Is this veg always in a hurry?   Runner bean.
18.Sounds as though the tap's dripping.   Leek.
19.Take the scissors to your golf standard.   Parsnip.
20.Noah took nothing back to the ark.  Okra.
21.Mack's beginning to take up archery.   Marrow.
22.A sugary addition to Pat too.   Sweet potato.
24.May also be called this.   Yam
25.Had a poor innings at the cricket match.  Spring onion. *
26.A Chinese gooseberry.   Kiwi fruit.
27.Nectar in every flower holds this.   Nectarine.
28.How Popeye kept strong.   Spinach.
29.Strangely not a cheap fruit.   Peach.
30.It's shy when you meet at the fair.   Coconut.
31.Amperage not organised.   Pomegranate.
32.She has a little sister in her song.   Clementine.
33.A sweet card game.   Sugar snap.
34.Hallowe'en plant.   Pumpkin.
35.The sound of disapproval.   Raspberry.
36.Does it move a mile?   Lime.
37,Sal's  'ify' about accepting this.   Salsify.
38.A letter of the alphabet ob my vegetable patch.   Garden pea.

Several of these for American readers may be unusual - the two with an asterisk for example.    Rhubarb - a lot of our early rhubarb is grown in what is called the triangle - an area of Yorkshire.   Spring onion - I rather think they are called scallions in the US.

Saturday, 12 March 2016


After a very bad night's sleep (I sat by the Aga reading 'Under the Tuscan Sun' by Frances Mayes most of the night) this morning friend W and I went out to lunch.

The bad news is that I forgot my camera, so you will have to rely on my verbal description.   We needed to avoid going into our little market town as there was a big funeral at the church, which meant  that everywhere was crowded.  So we went over our Moor and into Arkengarthdale - in Spring sunshine.  The route is grouse moor
and here and there in the distance they were burning the heather.  I actually saw five grouse, which is quite unusual as they do tend to hide in the heather when there is anybody about.

We went to the CB (short for Charles Bathurst) Inn for lunch and it was delicious.   As I am on a stringent diet to lose some weight for the sake of my bad ankle I have had no potatoes for the last three weeks.   I ignored the rule today and we both had Whitby crab cakes with salad and chips.   It was delicious.

We went and bought a new television this afternoon but we can't get it to work any better than the last one!   My son, who is very technically minded, has just been round and he can't get it to work either and thinks that the trouble might well be with the aerial and the other television might well still work! So at the moment it is stalemate.  

The farmer has been on his walk today in pleasant weather.   There were eighteen people on the walk - seven miles or so - and he came back in time to go and get the television before tea.

It will be quite nice to have an ordinary, quiet day tomorrow after the rush of today - so see you then.

Friday, 11 March 2016


Now and again today we have seen the sun and I must say it is beginning to get a little bit of warmth in it.   Then, just when you are beginning to get used to it, it disappears behind a cloud and a mist descends -and that is cold.

However, a trip to our Feed Merchants in Masham this afternoon, in the warm car, was pleasant.   How long the snowdrops have lasted this year.   They were out in early January and they are still out two months later, although at last beginning to fade.   I love the way they are scattered on the grass verges around here - often in the middle of nowhere (where people have thrown garden rubbish into the hedge-bottom I hazard a guess).

Daffodils are beginning to come out but are always slow up here.

On the way to Masham we always pass a tiny Roman Catholic Church which is most attractive and always reminds me of France - it has such a French look about it rather than an English look.  I'm sorry about the wire across the top of the picture but the farmer just slowed down for me to take it and to take a perfect shot he would have had to stop and I would have had to climb a fence into the field.  But you get the general idea!

Now home again, Tess has been walked, the woodburner has been stoked up, the farmer is just going down the yard to shut up the hens (6.45 and just dark) and then we are cosy for the night.   As you will see from the photograph, Tess has already chosen her place.

About an hour ago, while we were watching 'Pointless' our television gave up the ghost.   So there will be no viewing tonight and as the farmer is walking tomorrow, there will be no viewing over the week-end.   Hope we don't get too used to it or we shalln't bother to replace it - it is usually last on our list of things to do anyway.   And the News is always so depressing I sometimes think it is better not to watch it - in any case we take The Times and The Yorkshire Post - that tells us all we need to know (and more besides).


Thursday, 10 March 2016


Tess is home again.   She had the tartar removed from her teeth and also had four teeth removed.  (as dogs have forty-seven teeth the vet says four should make no difference).

At present she has half wet/half dry food but the vet recommends all dry from now on.   She wont like it but will no doubt get used to it in a day or two.   She has also given her some capsules to sprinkle on her food to combat the skin condition she gets every year, when she scratches a lot, has very dry skin and licks her feet continually.

The vet is concerned about her teeth as they came out so easily.   I had a thought last evening.   I am ashamed to say that every bedtime, when my husband is having his two Rich Tea biscuits with his Ovaltine, he also gives Tess a Rich Tea.   I wonder if the sugar content is responsible for the teeth problem, so he will eat his two biscuits in the kitchen while he is getting the bedtime drink in future so that she doesn't get any.

She was very sleepy when she came home, but ate the tiny bit of recommended wet food and also (a friend recommended this) a bowl of slightly warm skimmed milk (she thoroughly enjoyed this and it has a lot of calcium in it).

This morning she still hasn't forgiven us, but she has been on her morning walk, but on the lead this time.  I feel sure that by this evening she will be back to normal.

After a day yesterday when it never stopped raining, today has heavy cloud and it is still cold.   Better, warmer weather is forecast, so I live in hopes.   It is the farmer's walk on Saturday and friend W and I are going out for lunch.   So many places to choose from - so the big problem is where to go.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

A house is not a home......

Tess has gone to the vets this morning to have the tartar cleaned off her teeth.   It involves an anaesthetic so she had to be there at half past eight.  I have to collect her at tea time.

The house without her is just not home.   It is too quiet.   Not that she ever makes a noise, as she is usually asleep in her basket - but somehow there is a different atmosphere and an hour later I am missing her already.   Roll on tea time.

On the way home from the vets I saw the lapwings.   We always have these beautiful birds flying over - and what a perfect name for them as they really do 'lap' their wings. They are a very common bird round here - we usually call them 'peewits', and in some parts of Lincolnshire (where I come from) they are still called Tyrrwhitts (there is even a pub called The Tyrrwhitt Arms).   Their 'real' name of course is the Plover.

Any time now they will be pairing up and making a nest on the ground.   Reading Derwent May in today's Times, he says that the female will lay four speckled eggs and lay them in a circle with their pointed ends to the centre of the nest.  I just hope they find dry enough places this year - it is pouring with rain again today so that any drying up which has taken place over the last few days has all but vanished in yet another downpour.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016


I have just been reading Rachel's blog and she mentions how she grew up  knowing she had to be seen and not heard.    It is true to say that we all have some memories of our childhood which we are sure have shaped our adult lives - and she felt this was one in her case.

I have a hurtful memory - I am sure it was quite unintentional, but it did hurt at the time.   I was a chatterer; always asking questions; always wanting to know about something or other.   My mother was in her forties when I was born, so she would get tired by evening and I learnt that I could help by doing little jobs about the place.  My sister was twenty two years older than me and my brother was eleven years older than me, so that by the time I came along they were grown up - in fact my sister was married.

When I was at Junior School the fashion was to have an autograph book and to collect as many sayings, poems and the like as one could.  There was fierce competition. I desperately wanted one and asked for one for my birthday.   I duly got one to my delight and thought I would start straight away by asking  my father, sister and brother to write in it as they were all there for my birthday tea.   What they each wrote is still fresh in my mind all these years later.

Give thy thoughts no tongue.

Silence is golden. Speech is silvern.

A wise old owl sat in an oak.   The more he heard the less he spoke.
The less he spoke the more he heard.   I wish some folk were like that bird.

I was upset but would rather have died than show it.   I never took the autograph book to school, I never showed it to anyone and it languished in a drawer for years until I threw it away.


Monday, 7 March 2016


What opportunists birds are.   I never cease to be amazed by their antics.

If there is road-kill then you can guarantee that a member of the corvid family will be there while the corpse is still warm - no messing about.   They seem to appear out of thin air.

The same goes for the seagulls when a field is being ploughed.   They are mostly white or light grey birds, so easy to see.   But if you look around when the farmer begins with his plough you will hardly see a seagull, yet but by the time he gets to the far side of the field there will be a hundred - or two - following him.

And I noticed today, on my drive to the supermarket, that they have a new pastime.   We have had so much rain this winter that almost every field (and large front garden) has anything from a puddle to a small lake of water waiting to drain off.   And every one which I passed on my drive has been colonised by seagulls - floating about and really enjoying it.

When I was a child we rarely saw a seagull, and if we did we would say that there was going to be a storm at sea and they had all come inland to escape the worst of it.   Now they nest on our moor and there are always hundreds around.

At this time of the year the cock pheasants are building up their harems and rather than tolerating one another at our bird table, one - obviously the dominant one - has taken over.   So far he has four 'ladies' and he guards them jealously.    And one of them (I know it is always the same one as she has a distinctive white flash on her head) is obviously going to nest in our garden when the time is right.   In the meantime she spends her day between the bird feeders (there is always plenty of food for them there as the farmer scatters corn), and the walled garden.   She is taking no chances.

Sunday, 6 March 2016


I regularly compile quizzes for Foxglove Covert, our local nature reserve.  They are sold for funds.   I am not mobile enough to help as a volunteer, so this is one way of helping out.

The quizzes are faintly cryptic in content - but they are still fairly easy because our object is to sell the copies at £1 a time and if I made them too hard nobody would buy them and it would defeat the object.

Several folk have asked on my blog if I could post a quiz for them to have a go at.  Obviously I can't post the latest one, which I have printed off today (otherwise nobody would spend a pound on it when they could download it for nothing).

So here is one on fruit and vegetables, which I did some time in 2015.   See how you get on with it.   I will post the answers next week-end.

The answer to each question is either a fruit or a vegetable.   Not all
the questions are cryptic.

1.   The Fremchman eats all of this.9
2.   Nomads enjoy this fruit.6
3.   Donkeys bray longer for one of these.10
4.  Sounds like there are two.4
5.  Look among the clue!5
6.  Harvested in the triangle by moonlight.7
7.  One is seen (and felt) on the ear.11
8.  Could also be a lemon.5
9.  Go near for a juicy treat.6
10.Scandinavian vetgetable?5
11.Quiet plea for a mixup.5
12.Purple egg plant.9
13.Sounds like a taxi when you get old.7
14.This card turner grows on a bush.10
15.June 14th 2015.4
16.The little monkey loves this.5
17.Is this veg always in a hurry?6,4
18.Sounds as though the tap's dripping.4
19.Take the scissors to your golf standard.7
20.Noah took nothing back to the ark.4
21.Mack's beginning to take up archery6.
22A sugary addition to Pat too. 5 6

24.May also be called this.3
25.Had a poor innings at thecricket match .6 5
26.A chinese gooseberry.4 5
27;Nectar in every flower holds this.9
28.How Popeye kept strong.7
29. Strangely not a cheap fruit.5
30.It is shy when you meet at the fair.7
31.Amperage not organised.11
32.She has a little sister in the song.10
33.Hallowe'en plant7
34.The sound of disapproval. 9
35.Does it move a mile4
36.Sal's ify about accepting this.7
37,A letter of the alphabet on my vegetable patch.6 3

Hope you enjoy having a go.  

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Final update!!!

This morning was our monthly coffee morning in the Village Hall - and it is there that I (I live well out of the village) get the bulk of my information about the goings on.

It seems that the gentleman involved may well have slipped on the bathroom floor - or indeed got stuck in the bath and needed the Fire Brigade to get him out - two versions circulating freely.   But whatever is the true version it does seem that he was home by evening and on the mend.

However, the ladder business was indeed true, because there were two accidents in the village on the same day.   A window-fitter's ladder slipped and he fell and broke his leg badly.   That is all the information I have on that story, but I do hope it is not too awful.  I assume that he will certainly be out of action for some time.

Home again after the coffee, wood burner lit, and we are ready to sit by it.   A friend at the coffee morning always bakes the most super turkey lasagnas and I like to get there early enough to buy two for our Saturday lunch - they are delicious.   If you don't get there soon after the ten o'clock start they have all disappeared, so I was there well on time.  One individual one each with lightly steamed broccoli.   Delicious.

I mentioned that I did Cryptic Quizzes  (note the correct spelling after Yorkshire Pudding told me I spelt it cyptic!!) and someone has said they would like it posting on line.   This is difficult as the quiz sheet costs £1 for Nature Reserve Funds and it would be a way of getting the questions for nothing and so I can't really do that.   Sorry though.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Friday update

One of the down sides of village life is that rumour abounds and I doubt you could get away with much without everyone knowing all about it.   Providing everything you do is 'above board' and you don't care about folk knowing, then this is fine.

This morning I have heard two more versions of the reason for the Air Ambulance calling.   The victim's name has remained the same - I heard yesterday that he had fallen from a ladder (as he is over eighty this is most unlikely), this morning at coffee I heard that he had fallen down stairs and the farmer came in from the Auction Mart to say that a farmer there (and a neighbour of the victim) said he had fallen in the bathroom.   Whichever version is correct all can be serious at that age and the good news is that he was home again by the evening.   So hopefully no real damage done this time.

We awoke to a  thick covering of wet snow this morning and a cold North easterly wind blowing.   It is very cold and wintry and although the snow has gone now, washed away by three or four heavy sleet showers during the morning, it is still very wintry and a day for sitting by the log burner, which we are doing.

I invent cyptic quizzes for our Local Nature Reserve (Foxglove Covert LNR if you wish to look at their web site) on the Catterick Military Garrison.  They are sold at £1 a copy for their funds and I 
have promised one for Easter, so I am busy compiling one, this time on colours.   It is proving quite difficult, but is good for the old brain.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Village Life

The news is going round the village today that there has been an accident.   The farmer, working in the fields this morning, saw the Air Ambulance hover and land.   Because we are so far from a major hospital (forty miles) the Air Ambulance is vital.

It seems that someone, somewhere in the village, has fallen from a ladder and has been taken to hospital.   I shall no doubt hear more in the morning when I meet 'the gang' for coffee.   This is not village nosiness in my opinion, but just an important part of village life in that we look out for one another.  I just hope the person has not been seriously injured.

The farmer continues with his 'muck spreading' today as the sun has been shining and a strong wind overnight means that the ground has dried up a bit again.   Drainage work on our own land should be possible next week if the weather holds.

Suddenly the rabbits seem to have multiplied.   For weeks I have hardly seen one and this afternoon as I drove up the lane on my way to the hairdresser, at least a dozen ran across the lane in front of me.   And so the cycle of life on the farm continues.

How different village life is from the city life I led for twenty years in the middle of my life.   Give me the country life every time.   Do you come down on the city side or the country side?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

This and that.

Apologies for no post yesterday but it was quite a busy day.   In the morning we all met for coffee as usual - and this meant I wasn't home until time to get the lunch.

After lunch we made the journey to Darlington (about twenty-five miles away).   About six months ago the farmer backed into a wall with our almost new car and made a nasty dent and broke the back light.   On Thursday I did exactly the same on the other side.   Yesterday we went back to the Body Shop of the garage where we bought our car to ask them to replace the back bumper, supply and fit two new lights and put in censors so that it didn't happen again.
That took up the whole afternoon.   In the evening I did various jobs and there was no time left.

This morning we awoke to a covering of snow and a bitterly cold wind.  This afternoon should have been my exercise for the over sixties class but the tutor rang to say that she was stuck in a snow drift all of ten miles South of here.  By lunch time our snow had disappeared, so I presume that the same is true for her.   But the class had already been cancelled, so I visited friend M and we had a lovely afternoon chat.

I had just got back into the house when the phone rang and it was the owner of the two dogs to say that they had been found.   So the worry of that is over, thank goodness. 

The farmer is despondent because after a week of drying weather the fields were just beginning to dry up enough to get on to (he wants to do some draining in the very wet spots);  now - after rain and then snow - the fields are wet and 'claggy' again and we are back to square one.   Such is the nature of farming.