Thursday, 30 June 2016


I lead a busy but very well-organised life (some would say 'boring').  I tend to do the same things on the same day every week.

Today, Thursday, is 'Hair Day'.   We all spend our money on different things don't we - perhaps on essentials.   Well, I consider my weekly trip to the Hairdresser to be absolutely essential.   I have difficult hair in that it is fine and completely straight.   Today is 'perm' day, next week is 'colour' and then off we go again on simple blow dries for a few weeks.   I really would find it a nightmare to manage my own hair.   I sometimes envy the farmer, who is more or less completely bald and who follows the modern trend of having what little hair he has cut extremely short.   As he is also grey you really get the impression that he hasn't got any hair.

Another essential for me is to have a cleaner.   J has been coming to me for twenty two years and has never let me down once.   She is totally trustworthy and I don't know how I would manage without her.   Physically I just couldn't do the hard jobs myself - I just do things like cleaning the silver, washing the odd cushion cover etc.   It works well for both of us and again is money well-spent.

The farmer has semi-retired and lets off most of his land.   In the Winter he takes in in-calf cows into the loose housing and really enjoys looking after them (with the help of various pieces of machinery).   He has just grassed-over our vegetable garden; his neck and shoulders are bad and don't take kindly to gardening.   At present he is resisting getting in a gardener to help with our front walled garden, but the time will come I am sure.

A window cleaner cleans our outside windows (and often, like this week, it rains immediately), an engineer services our boiler and various pieces of equipment.

But don't let me give you the impression that either of us sits about doing nothing.   I meet friends almost everyday, lunch out often (I no longer report every time I lunch out, mainly because readers are apt to say "Not again!")   Tomorrow I am going with friend W to look round the things for sale on Saturday at our local Auction House - and when we have looked round them we shall have our lunch in the Restaurant there.

My reasoning is that for my working life I worked jolly hard in a job which was never going to be easy (Head of a Unit for pupils with learning difficulties, many of them associated with the fact that they were recent immigrants from the Punjab
and so had little language).   My colleagues were lovely and I am in touch with some of them still, but we would all agree that it was jolly hard work.

The farmer has worked on the farm since long before he left school.

So I think you will agree that we should be allowed to pamper ourselves a little.

Do you pamper yourself?   What things, if any, do you consider important when it comes to spending money?   I would be interested to hear.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Miscellaneous thoughts.

This afternoon is our Poetry afternoon; perhaps my favourite afternoon of the month.   Honestly, can you think of anything more pleasurable than to sit in a lovely conservatory and read one's favourite poems with a group of like-minded friends?

In view of the political turmoil which surrounds us (and which we have stopped listening to on the news as we can do absolutely nothing about it ((my son calls this 'burying my head in the sand - well so be it.)), I thought it would be a good idea to base all my readings this afternoon on the beauty of the English countryside.   Hence the following choice:
Alexander Pope -' Ode to Solitude' (suggested by The Solitary Walker.)
Kenneth Grahame - (this a prose passage from The Wind in the Willows) a reading from the chapter 'The Piper at the gates of dawn' in which Mole and Ratty search the river for a missing otter cub and encounter Pan, who has guided them to the cub with his pan pipes.( suggested by Derek of Letters from Sheppey).
John Betjamen - 'Winter Seascape.'
U A Fanthorpe - 'At Swarkestone'

Last evening the farmer went upstairs for his shower and from where I sit in the hall at the computer I can hear the shower running.   It went on for such a long time and suddenly I was aware the farmer was coming downstairs and yet the shower was still running!   It was not in fact the shower at all - it was absolutely teaming with rain, all the gutters were overflowing and the water was streaming down the landing window (and yes, the window cleaner did come yesterday!).  We had eleven millimetres of rain in under a quarter of an hour.   

We always keep one field to make hay (for old times sake says the farmer) - it is the paddock directly outside the kitchen window.   This morning the grass (which was very high) is absolutely flat in the field.  And it is raining again now.   At breakfast this morning I asked him how much of a catastrophe would this kind of happening have been in the days when they only made hay and then cut it with a scythe, and depended upon it for winter feed.   He explained that although it would have been bad, the grass would have been nothing like as high as the only fertiliser would probably have been 'muck', whereas now the fields are all fertilised with 20:10:10: to get a higher and better crop.

How farming has changed since those days and what would these old farmers think if they were to come back and see those changes.   I think of my father-in-law, who was well into his nineties when he died and who worked in a gentle kind of way up until his death, and how, at hay time, when all the hay had been gathered up, he would go round the hedge bottoms raking out the last vestiges of hay so that nothing was wasted.   Then the cows would be turned into the field to 'pike' , to eat all round the edges where the scythe couldn't reach.

Waste not want not was the maxim for most things in those days whereas (at least in the western world) this maxim seems to have been forgotten in all walks of life.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

More or less back on track.

Apologies for being rather incommunicado for the past few days, but I have been incredibly busy for some reason.   And for 'busy' read 'housework' which makes the excuse sound almost boring.  I suddenly saw my kitchen with the eyes of a visitor - the large welsh dresser, which is covered in things, needed a good clean;   the work tops also.   The fridge needed emptying and washing out before my this week's order from Tesco arrived at 8am.   It's all very boring stuff, so I won't go on.

This morning a dear old friend, who lives in Kent but was up this way for a few days, called in for coffee - what a delight it is to see old friends.   She was brought by a friend of hers who turned out to know my friend W very well - what a small world it is these days.

This afternoon I had to take Tess to the vet.   In spite of taking on board all your suggestions regarding cures for her hay allergy, after her cut and blow dry yesterday it revealedjust how much she had scratched and how irritated her skin was.  The only thing on the list you all contributed to which I hadn't tried, was the cortisone injection.  So I went to the vet to ask her advice.   She didn't advise it but gave me some tablets which are a fairly new treatment for the condition.   Tess had her first one, wrapped in a little ham parcel, at tea time.  We shall see.  I have to report back to the vet after a week whether I see any improvement.

All political talk is banned in our house until further notice (much to my son's annoyance).

Now all I have to do is to choose my poems to read at tomorrow's Poetry meeting.   I have already chosen one, which you can read on my nephew's (by marriage to my niece) post (The Solitary Walker) - Alexander Pope's 'Happy the Man' - to my mind a perfect antidote to all the talk of the referendum.

Sunday, 26 June 2016


Over the past few days I have had a mad cleaning period - window frames washed, curtains washed, book cases cleaned out and walls cobwebbed.   During this time I emptied my kitchen book shelves which contain all reference books I use for my crosswords etc., all books on Natural History, and a lot of cookery books.  In addition my current book is usually kept there and when I emptied the shelves and moved them so that I could clean behind them I found a paper back that I had obviously read some time ago.   It was the winner of the 2011 Booker Prize 'The Sense of an Ending' by Julian Barnes.   I have read it again - what a brilliant, thought-provoking book - do read it if you haven't done so already.

Its theme basically is memory and how it plays tricks on us - is what we remember exactly what really happened?

I also came across this photograph - apologies for the quality but it was taken in 1947, probably on an old box camera.   Do I really remember the circumstances?   Well, I think I do - at least they will be correct in part; in fact it is one of many happy memories I have of my childhood (I would be nine years old and as far as I remember we had gone to Skegness for the day on the train (only thirty miles from where we lived, so a fairly easy journey on the train, which actually stopped at our village station).   But this much is written on the back of the photograph 'Skegness 1947'.

In the photograph the ladies are - left to right - my mother (Maud), my Auntie Gert and my Auntie Ethel (always called Mary Ann for some reason).
Three sisters enjoying their day out.   Their husbands were around somewhere - one of them must have taken the photograph - my father, Jack,
and my Uncles Cecil and Walt.

They had come through the war unscathed (my brother was at Dunkirk but survived the war) and were now intent on enjoying themselves.   I love the photograph for many reasons - their sensible dresses and shoes - the fact that they all wore stockings - they all carried handbags - but above all, they all look so happy.

Of the actual day I remember nothing at all.   Where was I when the photograph was taken?  I can't remember.  A perfect example of a memory which is incomplete and which only remains because of this photograph - an instant in their lives.

Friday, 24 June 2016

The population has spoken.

Well, polling day is over, votes have been cast and it seems that the 'leave' have overwhelmingly won the day.   Now we have to live with that whether we like the way things are going or not.   We are a democratic country - even if the majority of us have no idea about the real facts of leave/stay.

I for one am not listening to any news bulletins today - I just can't bear all the inquests and all the politial pontificating.

If you want to read a sensible, reasoned- out view of the whole procedure then go to the bad hip perspective on my blog roll.   The writer lives in Sweden so has no real interest but she does write some sensible comments - do read them if you have time.  (I have no religious views so that is not a factor in my recommending you read it,)

Luckily we live way out in the country, in beautiful scenery, where there is always plenty going on in the fields - so I intend to immerse myself in that and in the love of friends for the next few months until things settle down.

In the meantime spare a thought for the South East of the country where they seem to be suffering from a surfeit of rain.  Derek(Letters from Sheppey) speaks of awful wet weather on the reserve where he volunteers - that will surely mean an awful lot of young birds perishing in the poor conditions.

Spare a thought also for the refugees from Boko Haram in Nigeria, many of whom are dying from starvation as they flee their villages.

What is the world coming to?  It hardly bears thinking about.

Thursday, 23 June 2016


For the first time this year (and I hope not the only time) we have an absolutely perfect Summer's day.   The temperature is twenty-four degrees, there is a light wind and the sun is shining.   Every flowering plant seems to be covered in bees.

The farmer is busy helping with the silage, I am keeping in the cool, even Tess is keeping in the cool, and we have no intention of going to cast our referendum vote until later on this evening.

Yorkshire pudding has cast some doubt on the way the ballot paper is worded - can't say I think it will make much difference, but we shall never know I suppose. 

Do you have days when you don't feel like doing a lot and so sit around reading a novel or knitting or something?  Or is it just me?  And am I the only one who gets intense guilt feelings about it?


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Roll on the week-end.

By Friday morning the die will be cast, we will know the result of the Referendum and there will be no more pontificating on our television screens.   I don't know about anybody else but I am sick of the blanket coverage, sick of hearing the bigoted views of so many people that the reporters speak to on screen, in fact sick of the whole bandwagon.

Tomorrow evening the farmer and I will go round to the Polling Station in our village hall and put our cross where we wish to put it.   It is all we can do - the rest is in the lap of the gods.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Farm jobs.

At last a warm(ish) fine day with a light breeze and a reasonable amount of sunshine.   Yesterday started off wet, so that any grass which had been cut the previous day lay wet and soggy.

But today the grass has really dried and silaging has taken off in earnest - both forage silaging and round bale silaging are in full swing.

My hens will be delighted tomorrow when they can once more venture into the fields to scratch around for grubs.   The grass has been far too long for them and they have been confined to the yard and even going round next door to scratch around on the hard surface (our neighbours are Haulage Contractors with a fleet of lorries).   Their delight has been when a lorry returns from collecting grain at A and taking it to B - then when the driver washes out the lorry before going home for the night there is grain to pick up.   The fact that their  hut has grain scattered among the straw every morning is immaterial.   Stolen fruit is always the sweetest.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Birthday present as promised.

Here is the farmer's birthday present (along with a jig-saw puzzle of our little town) - a walking stick made by a local farmer.   The stick itself is holly and the top is stag's head.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Birthday lunch.

Tomorrow is the farmer's birthday.   As well as his present (I will put a picture on tomorrow when he has seen it) I am also taking him out to lunch today, so I sit here in my dressing gown at 9.15am, the sun is trying to break through thin cloud, and I shall go shortly for my shower.   I will finish the post this afternoon when I can tell you what we have eaten.   All I know is that I had a bowl of delicious salad for tea last evening and all I have had for breakfast is a nectarine and a banana, so I should be well ready to eat at lunch time.

This is the year of the salad for us, and I made one for tea yesterday which was given to me on my blog by Elizabeth in New York.  I can thoroughly recommend it; it takes only minutes to make but is best made a couple of hours in advance to give time for the flavours to meld.

Empty a can of chick peas, rinse well under cold water and drain.  Add a red onion chopped up small (or I used chopped up spring onions) and cubed, cooked beetroot (I use Tesco's sweet, spicy beetroot).   I added to this quartered cherry tomatoes and then a dressing of mixed herbs, lemon juice and olive oil.   Before I brought it to the table I garnished it with chopped parsley.

As Elizabeth says, her husband loves it because the beetroot turns the chick peas into a pretty pink.
We ate it with Scotch eggs which I halved and put on the top (sorry John). 

Very nice lunch as it always is at the Golf Club (we are not members as neither of us plays golf, but the restaurant is open to anyone and is jolly good value).   The farmer had beef broth, roast topside of beef with Yorkshire Puddings, roast parsnips, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, brocolli, green beans and carrots and finally lemon meringue pie with cream followed by a cup of tea.
I had garlic mushrooms and roast salmon in a white wine and tarragon sauce - and then just a cup of coffee.   Now we are both trying hard to keep awake, which is why I have come on my computer.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Food Festival.

Our little market town is hosting a Food Festival today and tomorrow.   There has been a food festival here for a few years but it folded after last year's.   Then someone had the idea of having a reduced event, using the market squares in the centre of the town.

This morning friend W and I went in for our usual cup of coffee and then had a walk round the stalls.
There were a lot of cake stalls - tray bakes and the like - all very tempting, with delicious flavours.   There were quite a few cheese stalls - what a huge
variety of different cheese you can buy these days.
Then a smattering of the rest - meats, fish (kippers smelt delicious,  smoked salmon samples tasted delicious, various drinks, honey, preserves - the square was not completely full but there were enough to make a visit worthwhile.

There was one stall where a young lady displayed her home made and decorated cakes (weddings, birthdays, special occasions).   They were really impressive.   Here are a few examples to make your mouth water:

Friday, 17 June 2016

A Short Post today.

I feel in no mood to post anything on my blog today other than to say Rest in Peace Jo Cox, MP, loving wife, adored mother and one of the honest, straightforward Members of Parliament genuinely working for the good of everyone regardless of race, colour or creed.

Thursday, 16 June 2016


Do you ever get frustration overload?   Today I had a long list of things I wanted to do:   Make an on-line  appointment at the doctors, arrange the farmer's birthday present and collect it while he wasn't around, print off my latest cryptic quiz sheet which I do periodically for Foxglove Covert L N R,  cook a proper lunch for the farmer (I left him a ready prepared one yesterday and it isn't the same), go to the hairdressers for my regular appointment, check my bank statement and balance my books (I am afraid I am one of those people who likes to know exactly how much there is in my bank account).

As usual I made a list of all these things so that I could tick them off as they were completed.   I get satisfaction from the ticking off and in any case if I don't write them down then I forget something.

Things began well - the on line appointment was at a convenient time and went off without a hitch.
The farmer's birthday present had to be collected from a friend's house (I will post a picture of it on Monday, his birthday) and I kept ringing her but she was out.I decided to leave printing the quiz until after I came back from the hairdressers.  Instead I cooked the lunch, while it was cooking balanced the books and then served up and ate the lunch (lamb leg steaks with garlic and onion gravy, with Lincolnshire potatoes, kale, peas and carrots.  (the farmer's sort of dinner, especially with mint sauce - and I must say it was good).

The hairdresser's appointment was not easy today.  My stylist has left and taken up a position in another salon.   She has done my hair for almost four years and I felt I had to go with her, but it did mean telling the owner that I wouldn#t be coming back.   I was not looking forward to it, but she was very nice about it, so that helped.

My friend was in and I called for the farmer's present (just in time to see England score the equalizer) and then went home to print off one hundred quiz sheets.   Everything that could go wrong went wrong.  First I couldn't find the master copy; when I found it and loaded the paper into the printer it got stuck and I had to almost dismantle the printer to get it out; then when I began to print the cover on the other side I did about a dozen before realising I was printing the reverse upside down.

I have given up, closed the printer down and will finish the job tomorrow.   Too many jobs one after the other are definitely not for me today.

Do you have days like this?

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Kirkby Lonsdale.

It is time for another outing to Kirkby Lonsdale with friend W today, to meet our friends P and D.
And then to have lunch in Avanti, a lovely little Italian restaurant where they allow dogs, so that W can take her Jack Russell terrier, Sophie with her.

We enjoy every little bit of the day.   The journey is lovely - over the top of the Pennines, past the Ribblehead Viaduct, down into Ingleton and then along the main road for five miles.  The company is first class (I have know P since he was twenty one and he is now sixty five) and we never run out of things to chat about, and the journey home by another route, round by Sedbergh, makes for variation in the scenery.

There is a very pretty bridge over the River Lune on the edge of the village.   It is a favourite spot for dare devils who like to jump off the bridge into the water below (depth can vary from two and a half metres to five metres during fairly normal conditions) and yet again a young man was badly injured on Sunday 'tombstoning'.  There is a by-law prohibiting it, but nobody takes a lot of notice of that in spite of the £500 fine.  In 2012 a young man died doing it and when others later on were told they just replied 'Yes, that's why we do it' - a rite of passage I suppose, but let's hope this young man recovers.

It is also a favourite spot for motor cyclists to gather on Sundays and there is a transport cafe which is very popular.   Luckily the spot is right on the edge of the town and far away from any of the amenities, so the crowds don't interfere with the town itself.

Here is the bridge - 14th century and very pretty.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016


We have reluctantly decided to completely do away with the vegetable garden (apart from the raspberry canes).   The farmer has very bad shoulders and neck - too bad to be made any better by an operation; a typical farming injury after years of moving cows about, carrying hay, straw and silage - and general farm work.   Last year he found it hard to keep the garden going.

Also much of it (as you will see from the shadows) misses the warmth of the sun; it is a cold garden and can also be a damp garden.   We have never been able to grow winter vegetables in it.

We have an excellent market with very good stalls of vegetables and fruit, so a final decision was made by the farmer to grass it over.   He has a ride-on mower so can easily keep the grass mown.

For the last few weeks he has been gradually preparing the soil between the grass paths and today he decided the weather was just right for sowing the grass seed.   He did this before lunch and then after lunch he cleverly fastened the roller behind the ride-on mower and gave the whole garden a roll to (hopefully) settle the seed in nicely.   Rain is forecast for tomorrow so hopefully the grass will start to germinate quickly before the birds get it all!

Thought you might like to see the work in progress.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Barn Owls.

At the top of the lane we often see a barn owl - or to be more correct, the farmer often sees it when he goes early in the morning to collect the daily papers.   And we know that a barn owl roosts in one of our barns.  It may not of course be the same bird but there is no doubt that one roosts there (there is no nest) because it leaves plenty of evidence in the form of owl pellets.

Friend G, who is a volunteer at Foxglove Nature Reserve on Catterick Garrison,  collects them now and again and a few weeks ago got quite a haul of very large ones for a class in disecting them.  This happened last week and it was most successful.   One pellet contained something like the following:
skulls and bones of seven voles, five shrews and two mice.  No wonder the barn owl looks such a healthy specimen.

If you want to know more about the Nature Reserve then have a look at Foxglove Covert LNR Blog - there is always a lot of interesting information there.   For example, this morning my friend G told me that volunteers have made two rafts to float on one of the ponds, and each morning the rafts are covered in chopped-up apple.  Yesterday - only a couple of days after the rafts were floated - they were able to photograph water voles eating on the rafts.

Sunday, 12 June 2016


The whole issue of leaving or staying in the European Union has brought to the forefront of my mind the issue of Britishness.  I believe we have been in the EU for forty years or thereabouts.   So for a moment I ask myself, do I feel British or do I feel European?

Then, yesterday, I saw Trooping the Colour with HM The Queen and Prince Philip, both still incredibly gracious and upstanding at such advanced ages.  I always find the whole ceremony impressive.   I don't consider myself to be a monarchist particularly, but then I look at the alternatives.   I hardly need to mention surely, Donald Trump and the possibility that he might get into the White House.   Or the harsh regimes of some other countries - would they be a better alternative?  I come to the conclusion that we are a Democracy here in the UK with a wonderful figurehead.   Surely this is the best of all possible options?

Then I switch on the late news on the television and see the dreadful football spectator violence.   They spared no punches in the filming of it on BBC - hitting one another with chairs, kicking people on the head once they had been floored, throwing unconscious young men into the river.  Much of the violence  was orchestrated I understand.  I wonder what I would have thought had I had a son of an age to be there and to be involved.   I certainly was not proud to be English after that display of violence.

And so the scales still waver.   Is it better to be a European or is it preferable to be British again?  We are not given any facts by all the so-called politicians pontificating across the country at the moment.   If they are asked a question then, with the usual cleverness of a politician, they manage to never give a straight answer.

All I know is that after the spectacle of Trooping the Colour followed by the crowds as the Royal Family appeared on the balcony for the fly past I felt I was lucky to live in such a civilised country.  Then the football violence certainly did not make me proud - it just made me sick.   

What is the answer?   Is it just me, or does the whole country feel like this?

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Sumer is icumen in...

....well, three days of it at least.   We had three perfect June days last week before the weather began to go downhill.   Now it is still warm but also damp and misty with a lot of cloud.

As Caitlin Moran suggests in today's Times, we have our Summer clothes out so rarely here in the UK that we have forgotten where we left them at the end of last Summer.
This for me is the real taste of Summer.   I look forward so much to the day when I go down to the Friday market and see that the peaches, nectarines and apricots are back.   I can't get enough of them and, of course, we don't grow any of them in the UK - at least not seriously.   But it is good to see that people like Sue and Dawn with their polytunnels are making a stab at growing such things.

It has not rained today; the weather is far from perfect, no sun has emerged but it is fine and warm.   Our local church is holding a Flower Festival to celebrate the Queen's Official Birthday and at lunch time were holding a Hog Roast.  Friends have gone but I am not  a lover of pork and also have no desire to see a whole pig roasting (which I assumed was what I would see).   I admit to being a rather squeamish meat eater at the best of times.

Coffee out with friend W this morning and out to lunch with three friends tomorrow while the farmer walks with his walking group.   Can't be bad, can it?

I am going out into the garden now to sow my hardy annuals now that the weather is a little more damp.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Hints on growing young.

One thing is certain in this life - we begin to get older the day we are born.   Rich or poor makes no difference, we get older by the day and then one day we realise that people see us as old.

I took early retirement from teaching at 50, so have now been retired for almost thirty four years.   Very difficult to realise I can tell you.

My mobility is not brilliant.   I tell you this because yesterday's post chronicled how I fell on the path in the front garden (when I told the farmer that I had gone down with a real bang, his reaction was to say he was not surprised because when I fell I always went down like a bag of muck) (and yes, I do love him dearly in spite of his choice of words).

I have a badly arthritic ankle on my right leg and ditto knee on my left leg.   Other than that I am reasonably fit for my age I believe.

My advice for staying young, for what it is worth:-

1.   Never, never, never sit around doing nothing, or reading all day, or being alone.
2.   Take an interest in everything that is going on in the world, in your town/village, in your street.
3.   Build up a large circle of friends and meet them regularly - for coffee, for afternoon tea, for outings to various places, anywhere so long as it involves GOING OUT.   Staying in the house day after day is soul-destroying.
4.   You might find your old hobbies become harder to do, or you might lose interest in them.  This happened to me with my music.   For some years in my 'previous life' I was a semi-professional keyboard player (piano, organ, harpsichord) and accompanied , took part in shows, occasionally actually putting them together (Variety shows in the large school where I worked), taking leading parts in the Gilbert and Sullivan productions of The Pirates of Penzance (Ruth) and HMS Pinafore (Buttercup) then after retirement playing early music in concerts around the Midlands where I lived.   When I came up here and my musical husband died I gradually lost interest in piano and the other early instruments I played.   Eventually I gave my piano to my son (it was a much better one than his), who teaches music.
That doesn't mean I didn't fill my time with other things - like this blog for instance.
5.  Have some friends from younger age groups - they help to keep you young and to put a different slant on your way of looking at things.
6.   Above all - get involved.
Don't moulder away into old age and antiquity while you have your faculties.   The time may come when they begin to leave you both mentally and physically.   So while you have them, make full use of every minute.

Reading through this a couple of hours later I think I might have suggested that reading was not an activity for the elderly.   Far from it.   In fact I myself read at least three books a week.   The thing is that reading in isolation is not making contact with others, so I feel it is better to discuss with others what you have read.  A lot of my friends belong book groups, I go to a poetry group.

There are so many activities to get involved in these days.   U3A (University of the third age) is big news up here - possibily because it is an area a lot of people retire to.   I have friends more active than I who walk a lot - the farmer (ten years younger than me) walks every other Sunday with a walking group (I go out to lunch with a group of friends on those days).   I know a lot of folk who garden enthusiastically, who keep bees, who sing in choirs.   My friend W is a fantastic ukulele player and plays with several groups.   The point I am making all the time is to keep involved and not become inward-looking.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Accidents will happen.

This morning I decided to attack the study window - wash down the paintwork and wash the window.   I did the bathroom window last week so this week it was the study's turn. (I do have a cleaner who comes each week, so these are just extra jobs I like to do to keep things smart).

The farmer took the steps upstairs for me - they are jolly safe ones with a platform on the top.   I spent about an hour on the window and was very pleased with the result - very satisfying.

I came downstairs, had a coffee and did the crossword in The Times, as I usually do mid morning.   Then I thought I would just have a stroll round the front garden to note which was the next spot to be tackled (couch grass or ground elder anyone?).

I walked down the concrete path to the front gate, Tess at my side, and then I tripped over my own shadow and fell heavily on to my left side on the concrete!

Nothing broken, just a hard bang to my elbow (I think - but time and bruises will tell).  Shaken up, I lay for a few minutes and then came the major job.   I had to get up again.

If you are over seventy and can still get up easily from a prone position on the ground then please, please, please keep practising the manoeuvre because if you don't then sure as eggs are eggs you will lose the ability.

Slowly but surely I rolled over and got into a crawling position, watched quizzically by Tess throughout, but then came the problem.   Concrete is very hard and I was quite a long way from the front door.   The only option was to crawl there slowly (I have a bad arthritic knee) 

I did this.  There are two big steps into the house.   I managed to get an elbow on the higher of the two by going round the side, and, using a concrete tub holding a rose bush as a lever, I managed to get to my feet.

Actually very little damage done apart from a few bruises, a bit of stiffness, a slight feeling of being a bit shaken up and maybe a bit of hurt pride (although does it really matter - I am still here and I didn't break anything) but the moral of the story
is to take my walking stick when I go outside and to jolly well look where I am going.

Actually Tess quickly lost interest once I started to crawl up the path.   So much for her telling me each evening at feed time just how much she loves me!

I have just noticed that this is my 2,523 post - I can't believe I have found that many things to write about.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Exercise Class.

On Wednesday afternoons I go to an Exercise Class.   Most, but not all, of the members are sixty or over.   There is one man who is wheel-chair bound but very lively and the rest of us - average age about seventy -are in various stages of decrepitude.

Today, our oldest member, Win, had a surprise in store for her.   Next Monday she is ninety five.   I would say that she is by far the fittest of us all.   On Monday evening she goes to friend W's Circle Dancing group and dances every dance.

Our exercise tutor had arranged a little party after the class, setting up stickers, balloons and a cake in the adjoining room to our class.  We engineered that Win would be the last to enter the room and we all sang 'Happy Birthday' - she was quite overcome.   It was a lovely occasion for this wonderful lady who not long ago flew to Florida for a fortnight's holiday.

John (Going Gently) asked a day or two ago when was the last time we cried.   Well John, I have to admit that I cried a little when we sang Happy Birthday.   Congratulations to a really lovely lady. Here she is looking at her cake:

Tuesday, 7 June 2016


All afternoon thunder has been rumbling and lightning has been flashing all round the horizon, but never actually getting to us.   It is now much cooler (it was up to 28 degrees at lunch time) but everywhere is dry and it would have been nice to have a downpour.   I have several packets of hardy annuals (candytuft, night scented stocks) to sow in a particular place but I need a good rain first.

But I shouldn't complain; we have had three glorious days when the countryside has really looked its very best.

The farmer and I have been to Northallerton this  afternoon to our local hospital so that the farmer could see the Specialist about his neck and shoulders.   They are in very poor condition (a condition which applies to many farmers after years of heaving heavy bales of straw about) - in fact the surgeon thinks they are probably too bad for an operation.   In any case the particular operation is not always successful, so there is considerable risk.

The farmer seems very philosophical about it all (but that is another thing about farmers - they seem to take this attitude to many things.)

On the subject of farming - none of the sheep around here have been sheared yet (should that be 'shorn'?) and this week, in the hot weather, they have really looked so hot and worn out.   As with most years,
the day the shearers come usually signals the day the weather turns a bit chilly.   But that's farming for you.

Monday, 6 June 2016

A small excitement.

When the farmer went to collect our papers at half past six this morning, guess what was eating on the grass verge by the gate?   A young male deer.

It is ages since we saw one, although we know there is a small herd around.

Later on we went down to our feed merchant and as we drove down the lane a deer crossed the lane in front of us.   It was almost certainly the same one - a young male again.

The weather here is perfect - not too hot but sunny and warm.   The air is full of the sound of bees and the scent of rowan trees and may (hawthorn) blossom - an almondy smell which I love.

The washing is drying on the line.  (I really cannot justify drying it in the drier on a day like today), I have already ironed one lot - and it is time to prepare lunch.  So that is all for now.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Out for lunch.

At last we have a Summer's day here with a temperature in the low twenties and with wall-to-wall sunshine and no wind.  On the strength of that the farmer and I thought we would have a drive out to Hawes and to our friend's restaurant 'The Pantry'.

It is a big, straightforward restaurant where the food is all put straight on to your plate, gravy added and it is put in front of you, so it doesn't suit everyone (although they always do at least a hundred plates each Sunday regardless of the time of the year.)   But the big plus (they are farmers too) is that it is their own meat and there is always a choice of roast beef, lamb or pork.   I had lamb and the farmer had beef (he likes the Yorkshire Pudding!)

Hawes is always full of people winter and summer - I think one big draw is the Wensleydale Creamery, where they make the now World Famous Wensleydale Cheese.  You are able to go round and watch the process and coach loads of visitors arrive to do just that.

One draw back with the little town is that it is a mecca for motor cyclists in Summer.   This is the view at the doorway of our friend's restaurant today:

After our lovely lunch I persuaded the farmer to drive over the Buttertubs Pass and back through Swaledale in the lovely weather.

Climbing up towards the Buttertubs gives spectacular views above the tree line.  As you go up, the first thing to be passed is the hotel and restaurant where Jeremy Clarkson had the famous fracas which resulted in him leaving Top Gear and the BBC.
Then it is on and up to the top and the watershed where the road drops down into Swaledale.

Dropping down into Swaledale with its protected Hay Meadows, which cannot be mown until after July 15th (to give time for the seed of the abundant wild flowers to  set for next year's show), the buttercups were spectacular, as was the May Blossom.   There are fields alive with mountain pansies, but they are well away from the road.

By the time we got home Tess was ready for her walk and I had a few pots of plants to water - then a well-earned rest.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Busy morning.

yIt was our church monthly coffee morning this morning and, as usual, I went along and met friend W there (and her dog Sophie too of course).

It was very well attended.  I think the extra people was probably the result of a Memorial Service immediately afterwards.    A gentleman in the village sadly took his own life a few weeks ago.   He lived alone.  Today the village is holding a memorial service for him and this is followed by a Bring and Share lunch in the village hall.   Many people attending the coffee morning were bringing their contributions for later.

My friend brought a beetroot salad and, because I had expressed an interest in it (I am trying to build up a few recipes for salads) she brought me a sample, which we intend to have for our tea.

There is always a food stall at our coffee mornings and A always makes individual Turkey Lasagnes - they are delicious and I bought two for lunch, along with a cheese and onion quiche made by K.

I thought you might be interested in a salad recipe I make.   It is adapted from an original Rosemary Shrager:

Cook 200g Quinoa in accordance with the instructions on the packet and set to one side.  Pour olive oil into a pan (not too much).
Chop garlic cloves to taste, a red onion chopped small and a few slices of bacon thinly sliced (or lardons) and fry until the bacon is crispy and the onion cooked.  Turn down the heat and add about a dozen ready to eat prunes which have been sliced thinly and then half a teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and mixed spice.  If the mixture looks a little dry add a couple of tablespoons of water and cook until it has evaporated.
Sprinkle on lemon juice, a dozen or so cherry tomatoes quartered, a good couple of tablespoons of finely chopped parsley and salt and pepper.  Add the quinoa.
 Finally mix all well together with a couple of forks to separate the quinoa and then add a garnish of a few chopped tomatoes, a sprinkling of parsley and some feta crumbled over the top.   Delicious.   I added some toasted pine nuts I happened to have - they added the nutty taste.

This recipe is especially for Rachel - I promised to post it for her.   Enjoy Rachel.


Thursday, 2 June 2016

A Plea.

Does any one else have a dog who is allergic to grass?   Each year, once the grass begins to grow, Tess begins to scratch.   Each year I take her to the vet and each year we try something different.   Nothing seems to make any difference.  Poor thing, as soon as she gets warm she begins - it is upsetting to watch her.

This year we are trying a new treatment - capsules called Nutramega.   One each day, squeezed onto her food and mixed in.  The blurb says we should notice a difference after a month, so we have a long way to go (only started yesterday).

The trouble is that she and the farmer walk the fields each morning and evening and these two walks are the highlight of her day so we just can't deprive her of this and just walk on the lane.

Any suggestions anyone -  please?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Flaming June

The poor farmer is not feeling at all well today; he thought he was completely over his long illness but it is back this morning and so he is sitting in the chair, keeping warm and dozing.   I had to go into town to do various jobs but the farmer didn't feel like eating dinner (which was going to be salmon, Jersey Royals and green beans), so I have done very  little since my return.

Sadly there seems to be yet another failure of Social Services and a tiny two year old is killed by his mother.
What a dreadful raw deal some children get in this world.   And how very lucky those children are who are born into loving families and a safe environment.

My grand-daughter is twelve weeks pregnant and yesterday she sent me a photograph of her baby in the womb, from her 12 week scan.   The wonders of modern technology.

The perpetrators of the terrible crime against the little boy will receive their sentences in July.  One thing is for sure - both the mother and her civil partner will receive prison sentences.   They will serve them separately.   They will no doubt be persecuted by other prison inmates, who don't tolerate things like child cruelty.  So that will be two other lives completely destroyed.

Derek seems to read into this that I don't want the very worst punishment for the perpetrators of this crime.   Please don't think this is so.   The whole episode from beginning to end is so appalling that it is totally beyond comprehension that anyone could do such a thing.

What is the answer?   Anyone who has not read Nick Danziger's 'Britain - A Journey to the Edge' should do so.   It doesn't make easy reading and it doesn't leave one with a feeling of pleasure, or joy at our country.   But it is, as The Independent says, ' A book so important that every one of us should read it and weep.'