Friday, 29 July 2016

Longer delay

Sorry to say that I am still laid up and really no better, so still no blogs.   Hope everyone is well.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

A Short Delay

Sorry, there is a short delay in posting as I am feeling 'under the weather' - back shortly.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Lucky me.

Some days ago Valerie (acornmoon on my blog roll) did a post about a new book she has illustrated and said she had a 'give away' to anyone who answered her post and that a name would be drawn when all the comments were in.

Well, I am pleased to say that she let me know the other day that my name had come up and that I was to get a copy of this delightful little book.   It came on Saturday morning and it is exquisite.   I would give anything to be able to draw with her ability - her drawings are meticulously executed and perfect in every detail.

Adele Geras has written the charming rhymes about each square on a child's quilt and each square is illustrated with one of Valerie Greeley's delightful quilt pictures.

I am the proud owner of one of these lovely little books, so thank you so much Valerie.   Here is the book for all my readers to see:

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Perfect weather for it.

This week end it is the 1940's week-end in our little market town.   I can't understand what it is that persuades men (most of whom were not even a twinkle in their father's eye during the war years) to dress in the uniforms of army, navy, airforce, American and Polish forces, air raid wardens,  the French Resistance men, Policemen and then parade around the market square with a woman on their arm - and a woman dressed to the nines in a lovely summery dress and a smart hat and gloves (and yes, I can understand that bit!).   But they obviously enjoy it tremendously and by ten this morning the whole town was a-buzz.

In addition to various stands selling vintage clothes and uniforms, there were vintage tractors and steam rollers, fairground rides for children, food stalls,  music from the forties at one end of the market place and a man singing Frank Sinatra songs at the other.   There was a big space left for those who fancied a jive to the music and various activities were planned throughout the day and again tomorrow.

Most of our cafes have outside tables and they were already full so the cafes will undoubtedly do very well today, which is good for trade in the town.

Here is a selection of photographs.   They are not good.   I can't ask people to pose and there were so many folk about that it was nigh on impossible to take a shot without somebody walking in to the frame from the side.  But I hope they do give you a feel for the occasion.

You will see one of an Airedale Terrier.   I was speaking to his owner who told me that during the Battle of the Somme in the First World War they were put into slings on a zip wire and sent across enemy lines with messages.   Needless to say many were lost in battle.   This chap was a beauty and it made me sad to think that they were used in such a way.   Although when one thinks of the needless slaughter of thousands of men in that battle - they too had been sent to slaughter needlessly.

On this day after yet another tragedy unfolding in Munich it makes the whole idea of celebrating war of any kind somehow obscene doesn't it.

But enjoy the pictures - albeit rotten ones - of folk (mostly well past middle age) enjoying themselves.


Perfect weather for it.

Friday, 22 July 2016

The Birds have a new Table.

Our bird table was put up when we moved into the house twenty years ago from next door (my aged parents in law lived here until they died) so it has done very well.   But yesterday, after tilting to one side for about the last year, the roof began to come adrift and it looked in a sorry state.

Our Builders' Merchants only come here on Fridays (Market Day) so I sent them an e mail asking them to bring us a couple of new bird   tables, so that the farmer could choose one.

This afternoon he has been putting it up. The first job was to put an extra piece round each side because we get a lot of corvids - rooks, crows, jackdaws and magpies - and they are all partial to the odd mealworm.   And of course their huge beaks shovel them up leaving none for the blackbirds, tits and robins who also adore them.

I took the opportunity to thoroughly wash the various feeders - this in itself was hard because they are made of plastic and over the years the plastic tends to get brittle, but at least I finished up with them cleaner than when I began the job.

We feed 'our' birds all the year round - for purely selfish reasons really;  we love wild birds, the  table is just outside the kitchen window where we sit for our meals and we can watch them the whole time.   We get a good variety - blackbirds, robins, wrens, great tits, blue tits, coal tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, goldfinches, yellowhammers, lesser spotted woodpeckers, collared doves, wild pheasant, house sparrows, hedge sparrows and tree sparrows - and the odd other visitor like a siskin or a brambling.   Good value for money as far as we are concerned - and always a joy to watch.

Here are a few photographs of the farmer in demolition and building mode.   Note the blue baler band used to string up the fat balls - I did mention that something else might be an improvement but the suggestion was met with a stare - baler band is used for everything on the farm from improvising a dog leash to keeping up a pair or trousers and I suppose that at least blue is a slight improvement on the usual orange.

We feed fat balls, meal worms, nyger (for the goldfinches),mixed seed and peanuts.   In addition, in the Winter the birds get coconuts (in their shells and cut in half) and shredded suet.   And always there are some scraps from the table - crumbs - a piece of old cheese and things like that.  Incidentally, the chicken wire is round the fat balls again to stop the corvids.
The sparrows quickly worked out how to get inside, as did the tits.

Here are the photographs:

Thursday, 21 July 2016


 When we first began visiting James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough some years ago, we consulted our AA Road Map book to work out the best way to get there.   I don't suppose there is a household with a car in the whole country who haven't also got a road map.   We take maps foregranted.   I also have a World Atlas (I am fascinated by Geography) and if I read about a city or a country (particularly in Africa or in the Balkans area) and I just can't mentally place where it is - out comes the Atlas, which I keep by my chair.

I was thinking about this yesterday in the hospital.  In the main corridor of James Cook Hospital is a copy of the last eight feet of the Bayeux Tapestry.   This was beautifully embroidered in laid thread work by Jan Messent for Madeira Threads.   I never tire of looking at it.

Roughly speaking The Bayeux Tapestry   is 'the story' of the Norman Invasion of England, and the Battle of Hastings in 1066 - told for a population who, largely, couldn't read a written version.  It was only with the invention of various scientific instruments in the Sixteenth Century that our more sophisticated grid maps became widely available.  Before that time maps were largely Story Maps - maps where the local population told of the events which happened there; these were passed on from generation to generation and modified or extended by future happenings.   Remnants of Story Maps still exist in the countryside.

If I asked the Farmer for example 'How do I get to Finghall from here?', he would probably say 'turn left at Parson's Barn (which incidentally has not existed in his life time) and just keep going.

MacFarlane tells a wonderful story about how, in 1826 in the Arctic, a British Naval Officer met an Inuit Hunting group.   They couldn't of course speak the same language but the officer did wish to know where he was exactly and the Inuit sensed this.   And, to quote MacFarlane, the Inuit 'created a map on the beach, using sticks and pebbles'.

These days, when our journeys are calculated down to the last mile (and the cost of petrol is calculated!) are we in danger of losing our wonder about the land and our beautiful countryside?  MacFarlane suggests this to be the case.   Do you agree?

If you haven't already done so, do read the book:
'The Wild Places' by Robert MacFarlane (pub Granta, price £8.99) - or at the very least dip into it - because it is fascinating.

**Two points have occurred to me during the day as I have been around on various travels.   The first is that, of course, the population these days is constantly on the move, whereas in the days before the sixteenth century folk married from within their own village or at the very most the village next door - nobody travelled very far, so that Story Maps would be the easier option anyway.

The other is a memory from many years ago.   When my son was a teenager we used to go on holiday - a gang of us (remember P if you are reading this!) to the same cottage on a farm in the village of Verwig, near Cardigan in Wales.   There was a story there, told with amusement, of an old man who had not travelled much further than Cardigan throughout his life.   On fine evenings he used to stand at his front gate to watch the world go by - this is a very isolated country area.   One evening a couple in a car stopped and asked him the way to somewhere further up the coast.   There happened to be a full moon which was low in the sky - and his reply was 'go up to the moon and turn left there.'  

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

To hospital and back.

The farmer has had the M R I Scan done on his shoulder this morning at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough - getting on for fifty miles away.   His appointment was for ten fifteen so we had to leave here at half past eight.

A trouble-free journey had us there in good time for his appointment.   I went to Costa coffee with two daily newspapers (The Telegraph and The Guardian) and was told that the farmer would join me in about an hour.

Two hours later he still hadn't arrived so I decided to go back to the depart ment and look for him, just hoping that we didn't miss one another on the way.

We didn't and the reason for his lateness was that a priority case had come in and he was very late going in for his scan.

After a sandwich in the Costa coffee shop we came home and just got home before there was an absolute downpour as we caught the edge of a thunderstorm.  (thank goodness the hay was in).   Now the air is somewhat fresher- can't be a bad thing as it was almost unbearable.

Now we await the results about whether or not an operation is possible (the Consultant doubted it).

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Weather.

How everything in farming revolves around the weather.  Yesterday the farmer cut two lots of grass in the hopes of making hay.   Yesterday and today have been scorching hot (well for here, although not as hot as down South).   But already the humidity is building up in the air and it is becoming oppressive.   The barometer has fallen quite a long way since lunch time and things are beginning to look a bit dicy.

The forecast is for heavy and prolonged thunderstorms in some areas overnight and through tomorrow, with up to thirty millimetres of rain falling where a storm occurs, and where these storms happen is in the lap of the gods.

At lunch time the grass was just not quite dry enough to bale and as I left to go and see friend M for the afternoon the farmer was off to inspect it.   Now I have returned and he is out - whether he is baling the hay or not I shalln't know until he returns.  If not and there is a storm here (and it certainly feels as though there will be) then the crop will be virtually ruined and will have to stand until it dries out and then be made into silage.

Watch this space.***Made into hay this afternoon.   The farmer came in for his tea two hours late and has now gone to load it all on to his trailer and bring it home.  Looking at the weather forecast it seems that we will probably miss the bad weather tomorrow, but as the farmer has to go for an MRI scan at a hospital fifty miles away we shall be out all day and the hay will be better in one of our sheds even if it is still loaded on the trailer.

Monday, 18 July 2016

A Tranquil Drive.

On a Sunday afternoon when the news really doesn't get any better, we thought we would have a drive out through the Dales.

I have just finished reading Amanda Owen's A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess and the farmer (who is a true Dalesman) really wasn't sure where Ravenseat, her farm, was.

So we set off through Swaledale, into Arkengathdale and up to the Tan Hill pub (the highest pub in England) and then down back into Swaledale.   We failed to find it, but we passed quite near as I have found by Googling it this morning.

But what a lovely drive we had, stopping for an ice cream in Reeth on the way back.

I thought you would like to see one or two of the photographs I took.
Here we are driving along the roof of the Pennines, through Arkengarthdale towards the Tan Hill pub - a very popular pub both with walkers and drivers in the Summer months, but often snowed up during the winter time.    In the distance is the county of Durham.
I am sorry to say that I can't load any more pictures - nothing seems to work, so you will have to use your imagination until such time as things are working again.

In the meantime, it is interesting to note that all of the little Dales villages we drove through have the same problem - cars.   I am sure the same problem applies to many villages in beauty spots throughout the country.   These Dales cottages were built in local stone and were finished and inhabited long before the motor car was invented, so needless to say they had no garages (in any case, the original inhabitants of these cottages - lead miners, farm works, tradesmen and the like, would not have been able to afford a car).   Now the narrowness of the roads (no more than lanes really), coupled with the fact that almost every household has one or even two, cars means that it is usually single traffic with a lot of waiting and a lot of courtesy to get through.   But it is worth the wait.
Well, here's the Tan Hill pub - at least that has got one on.   Now I will try another.   Sorry hasn't worked.   More tomorrow.   Later I managed to get a shot of the narrow road in Gunnerside on to this post.   Sadly it arrived in the top spot and I don't intend to tempt fate and try to move it.   But is does give you some idea about the narrow roads.

Interesting name - Gunnerside - a viking name, as are any of the names around here.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Beauty of the Countryside.

  I refuse to be downhearted today.   When all the news is of killing and strife - about which I can do absolutely nothing - I shall concentrate instead on the beauty of our countryside and how lucky I am to be living in it rather than in the middle of some noisy city.

The hedges on our lane play host to countless beautiful flowers and the most beautiful of all at this time of the year is the wild rose, of which there are many in all colours from almost white to a very deep pink.

The other flower, which vies for first place in beauty at this time of the year, and which flowers up and down the lane, is the honeysuckle.   I suppose it has the edge over the rose
because it has a glorious scent.

Meadow sweet is also in flower - that creamy, lacy plant - again with a sweet smell.

So all in all it is a joy to walk in the lane and to  see the Summer flowers in all their glory.  I shall try to get pleasure from them in these troubled times.

Incidentally, of all the words in the English language 'honeysuckle' has got to be one of my favourites.   Have you a favourite (and no, John, you can't have Scotch eggs as yours).


Friday, 15 July 2016


How easy it is to become unsettled - maybe easier as one ages.   I do like the status quo to be maintained and with all this business of Brexit, then Cameron's resignation, then the new Prime Minister and Cabinet, then all the Labour Party leadership problems, it seems that everything has shattered and is having to be rebuilt.

Now this morning I hear of yet another atrocity in France with many people killed and injured, and I ask myself why there should be such hatred in the world.   It seems to me (in my simple way of thinking, I suppose,) that killing never solved anything (wasn't it Winston Churchill who said 'jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war. war.war'?) and I ask myself why can't we all live together in peace and help one another?

Apart from religious differences (and I do realise that they play a huge part in many of the world's present problems) there is also the major problem of the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'.   I have just read a book lent to me by friend G about a British chap working for a year in a school on an Ashram for orphaned children in Poona.

It is a delightful book about the good humour and the thirst for learning that these children have.   Is it only when we become adult that we begin to think differently?

Maybe my whole mindset would be different if I was living on the bread line or even well below it.   As it is then I just want there to be peace in the world and a settled, ordered life within our own country.

But it seems it is all too much to ask.   Instead I think of the bereaved families in France this morning (some will be Muslim, some will be Christian and/or other religions I have no doubt) and I think of all those throughout the world who live well below (and I mean well below) the poverty line - and I despair.

Thursday, 14 July 2016


Great excitement over breakfast this morning - well great excitement for this little backwoods where nothing much happens out of the ordinary.

There we are, the farmer and I, eating our Weetabix, when suddenly he jumps up and says 'there's a herd of cows trotting past down the lane'.

And sure enough forty- odd cows were going down the lane at quite a gallop, udders swinging,  poo issuing forth from their rear ends with great gusto!

The farmer  dashed outside and quickly shut the farm gate so that they couldn't get into the yard.   Then he yelled at me to ring S (another local farmer).
After milking, his cows cross a couple of fields from his parlour, cross the lane and go into the pasture on the other side.   Looking out we could see that the first thirty or so cows had indeed gone where they should go, but then the rest had decided to have a little caper down the road.

  The farmer dashed round the back into next door's yard to stop them going round into there (imagine the mess) and meanwhile I rang and got hold of the farm.

Our neighbour's guard dog barked and stopped them in their tracks with the noise.   And at that moment a car came up the lane and the lot turned tail and legged it back to where they should be - obviously thinking it was safer to get back than to go on into unknown territory.

Later S and D, the farmer's wife and son, arrived with stiff brushes and big shovels to clean as much of the mess off the lane as they could.   By this time the farmer was mowing the front lawn, so they came into the garden to say thank-you.

There's always one cow - most likely the dominant one in the herd - who can lead the rest astray (a bit like humans, I suppose).

Anyway, we returned to rather mushy Weetabix, made a fresh cup of tea and resumed our morning paper reading - that's enough excitement for one day.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Owl or Lark?

The farmer has always risen at six o'clock in the morning.  This goes back to the days when he was a boy and there were milk cows on the farm.   The herd had to be milked and the milk put into churns in those days and carried on a cart, pulled by the farm horse, down to Leyburn Station for transportation to the milk depot.  And, although the farmer had to walk the couple of miles to school, he had to help in the dairy first.

This habit has stayed with him and he finds it impossible to stay in bed - six twenty is his time for rising and it never varies.   Even on holiday he is out and about by this time and often goes off for a walk before breakfast.

Because I taught for years and usually dropped my son off at his school on my way to work I would also get up early.  I liked to leave the house tidy, the bed made and  almost always the evening meal prepared, so my mornings started early too.   My then husband taught more than thirty miles away, so he had to be up and off at crack of dawn.

Our Aga has been under-performing for the last few months for no apparent reason we could see, so we called in an Aga engineer for today.   As we were having our breakfast, at about seven thirty, the phone rang and the engineer was asking directions to get here.   He arrived five minutes later and by nine had solved the problem and left.

I asked him  - was he always this early and he replied that if he had to go to a farm then he knew they would be up in time, so he could make them his first call of the day.    Old habits die hard.

Are you a lark, or are you (like my friend M if you are reading  this!) an owl?  I would argue that larks get the best part of the day but the I suppose owls would say that they get the best part of the night.

 **At the top are two items from the bygone age of milking cows; both are in our kitchen, one on the dresser and the other over the door:  the yoke from the days when two buckets could be carried on the shoulders and the brass strip which was round the top of a milk churn which would wait for collection on the Station Platform each more.  The wording reads:

**  The Aga engineer found the problem with the Aga immediately - the pipe from the oil tank to the cooker was clogged up with fragments of detritus.   He had it cleared in no time after a complete service and the Aga is now back to normal.   The moral of this story is that it is always best to get the right man for the job.

***Following on from yesterday's hay/silage saga - I have to report that at lunch time today, after several showers, the farmer decided that the crop was definitely far too heavy to ever make hay before the rain came (the weather is not all that settled) and called in the silage men.   Now nineteen bales of wrapped silage are stacked in the silage store and there will be no hay from our fields again this year. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Hay or .....

.....silage?  That is the burning question of the moment.

Today the farmer has cut the grass in the paddock and has decided that the crop is so very heavy that it is unlikely that it will be dry enough to make into hay before the rain is promised for the week-end.
Each year he cuts this field, next to the farm house, intending to make it into hay.   Sometimes he is successful, sometimes he has to make it into silage at the last minute because rain is forecast.
But I must say that when friend W and I came back from our Tuesday morning coffee in town with friend C the scent of newly-mown hay was beautiful.

After lunch he gave it the first of what will be many shake-ups over the next couple of days as the does his best to get it dry.   There is no rain about much and there is a light breeze, but sadly sunshine is in short supply and it is so necessary to get that crispness.
The hens were delighted to see the field cut.   For weeks they have avoided going into it as the grass was too long.   Today they are in it in force scratching their way around and looking for grubs.

Well, by the week-end we shall know which it is going to be.   I hope it will be hay and I know the farmer does too - for old times sake really, although he is a softie over the two farm cats (they like to sleep in the warmth of the hay barn in winter) and he likes to think that hedgehogs have a snug place to hibernate.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Field Barns.

Cro suggested last week that perhaps I could do a post on field barns in the Yorkshire Dales.

Yesterday we went up the dale (Wensleydale) for Sunday lunch and I took my camera, intending to persuade the farmer to stop at one or two barns for me to take a few photographs.   No two barns are alike on the outside, although they are more or less the same inside.

Unfortunately there was a massive time trial cycle race using the road through the dale at the same time, so there was quite enough disruption to the traffic without us causing more.

So this lunchtime we took Tess for a walk as far as one of our field barns and I thought this one would have to do to explain the principle.

This barn stands in the corner of one of our fields.  The wall alongside used to have a corrugated shed fixed to it and was used as a hay store.  This blew down years ago and was never replaced.

We tried to get planning consent to  convert it into a bungalow for the farmer and me in our retirement, but it was not allowed unless we  agreed to just one bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom, all opening off one room.  So now it falls into a sad state of disrepair.

These barns date back to the days when milking was done by hand.   This particular barn housed six cows in the winter - two to each stall - and they would be chained up all day.   Twice a day they would be let out to drink.   There is a well in one corner of the field.   If it ran dry (which it did on occasions) then the cows would be driven down to the beck, two fields away, and then driven back.
Twice a day - early morning and early evening (remember there was no electricity)- somebody would walk across the field, milking stool on their back, bucket in hand and hand milk all six cows.

The farmer's father, born in 1900, did this for years from his early teens - it was the accepted way of doing things before the advent of the tractor for transport and the automatic milking machine.   Often he would milk before he went to school in a morning.  (no wonder many of these farm boys fell asleep during lessons).

If you look in the right hand back corner of the picture you will see that there is an open door.   The 'corridor' at the back of the wooden stalls was where the feed - usually hay in those days - was kept and it would be brought to that door by horse and cart and unloaded into the passage.

Nowadays, as you can see from the mess everywhere, it is unused - apart from a barn owl who uses it as a roost every night (hence the owl pellets - see the one the farmer is holding).

There are two blackbirds' nests along the beams in the roof; and one Sunday a few years ago, when I looked in as I walked past with my dog, I saw what I thought was a dead body on the floor in one of the stalls.   I ran and fetched the farmer and we returned to the barn to find that it was a drunk who had been taking a short cut across the footpath from the pub and just couldn't keep awake any longer!

Friday, 8 July 2016

Friday again

and market day.   At a quarter past nine, regular as clockwork, the farmer will appear at the door, put my shopping trolley on the back seat of the car and we will drive down - he to the Auction Mart after first dropping me off to meet my friends for coffee.   One of my favourite mornings of the whole week.

This jig-saw was one of the presents the farmer got on his recent birthday.   We finished it last evening and I am showing it to you (I couldn't get any further away without standing on a chair) although the edges are missing, because it shows five interesting views of The Dales.
Starting at the top left we have a photograph taken from The Shawl in Leyburn.   This is a walk with views which stretch right over Wensleydale.  The sheep is of course a Swaledale sheep - the most common breed around here.
Below is a picture of Cauldron Falls in West Burton, a village in Wensleydale and a much visited beauty spot.

Next along is one of the protected wild flower meadows at Muker in Swaledale.   These meadows cannot be cut for hay before the middle of July in order to give the profusion of flowers time to set their seed.   They really are a sight to behold.

The top right hand picture is of one of the little back streets in Middleham - a couple of miles away and one of the foremost racing villages in the country with into the teens of racing stables and a carefully constructed 'gallops' up on the moor.   Whatever time of the day you drive through you are likely to see racehorses somewhere.

The oval in the centre holds a snapshot of St Matthew's church in Leyburn.

It has been enjoyable to do because it has been like doing five separate puzzles.   By far the most difficult was the wild flower meadow.

In the time it has taken me to type this the sunny morning has deteriorated into a dark, dull rainy morning with rain clouds.
Certainly this is not hay making weather.

Thursday, 7 July 2016


Three appointments in one day is just not a sensible idea; my own fault as I made all three but by tea time I am beginning to wilt.

A trip to the Physiotherapist for my six-weekly 'going over' this morning.   Three quarters of an hour later I came out shattered as usual, but knowing that the manipulation of all my  bits and pieces would be helped along for another six weeks.

Then it was back home for a rapid lunch (only half an hour or so to prepare and eat it) of bacon, egg, beans and tomatoes.  Incidentally for the tomatoes I tipped some Piccolo cherry tomatoes I had into a basin and microwaved them for a couple of minutes and they were delicious.

Then it was off to the hairdressers.  Today was for a colour (yes, I am grey and yes, I do have it coloured more or less to the colour I was in my younger days - and the colour of my eyebrows to this day!) and back home just in time for the visit of the Chiropodist.   By the time she had gone it was time to have a nice sit down, so I made myself a whole pot of coffee (Taylors of Harrogate 'Lazy Sunday', my favourite blend), sat down with my book and indulged myself for an hour.

Having read Cro's post today about the glorious weather in France where he lives - temperatures of thirty degrees, I rather despair of the weather here which struggles to reach twenty degrees.   But at least it has been largely dry.   And, by the way, Cro's lovely weather is accompanied by clouds of flies.  We can do without them can't we?

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Stolen fruit

I am going out to lunch today with friend S, who is collecting me at 12.30 - it is a while since we met so there is bound to be plenty to catch up on.

Now to the stolen fruit.   My physiotherapist advised me to lose a stone in weight in order to help my arthritic knee and arthritic ankle (not on the same leg to complicate matters), so for the last couple of months I have eaten no potatoes, no bread, no cake and almost no fried food.   And I have achieved the weight loss.   And unless the weather is damp there is definitely an improvement in my mobility.

But this morning after clearing the breakfast things, loading the dishwasher, making the bed and generally tidying round, it was still only eight thirty and I felt like a sit down by the Aga.   I also felt like a round of Aga toast with butter and marmalade - correction - I craved a round of Aga toast with butter and marmalade.

So I made myself a whole pot of 'proper' coffee (Taylor's Lazy Sunday, my preferred blend), popped the Aga toaster under the lid and made myself a round of toast, spread it thickly with butter and marmalade, sat in the chair with the Times crossword and indulged myself.   I don't think toast has ever tasted so good.

Do you have secret indulgences (the farmer was down the fields so I knew I wouldn't be caught out)?   If so I would love to hear what they are (and John, you needn't tell us about yours - I think the whole world now knows that Scotch eggs were created entirely to tempt you). 

**Back from lunch - a delicious ham and cheese wrap with salad.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016


Tuesday for me usually follows the same pattern - my weekly order is delivered by Tesco sometime between 8am and 9am.   But every now and then I decide to drive to Tesco and have a look what is on offer.   It is easy when having a weekly order on line to get into the habit of always having the same things, and I do like to change what we eat so that we get the maximum nutrition from our food.

Tuesday morning is always taken up with meeting friends for coffee and a toasted tea cake (delicious), so that meant that the Tesco run was after lunch.   Very few people in the store today; it is a large store on the Garrison at Catterick and it has interesting food in that in caters for all nationalities (there are always ghurkas here for example).

Mundane jobs ended the afternoon - washing out the fridge before putting the fresh food away, packing all the food away into fridge, freezer and cupboard.   Then after tea (strawberries and cream) the farmer had his shower and is now sitting at the jig saw I bought him on his birthday.

It is interesting how we approach jig saws - our approaches are so different.   I can't put in a single piece without the picture in my hand.   He looks entirely at the shape and never bothers with the picture at all.

I am resisting the temptation to switch on the television to find out who has been eliminated from the Tory party leadership contest.   I find the whole business far too depressing.   Yes, we are a democracy - and I thank God for that.   But I personally find the vote to Leave a hard and bitter pill to swallow and am trying to ignore it as much as I can.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Cutting week?

This time of the year, which many years ago would have been hay time and nothing else , the weather is really vital, so the weather forecast (which of course is much more sophisticated these days) is listened to avidly.   Our forefathers went by their years of experience and the wealth of folklore sayings to help them along the way.   On the whole this folklore and the sayings that go with it is still pretty accurate.   Red sky at night does usually  mean a fine day and similarly red sky in the morning often means it is likely to rain later in the day.

The long-range forecast yesterday suggested that after today (when rain is forecast later) the weather would improve and we might possibly get three or four days of nice weather.

We have one field - the paddock - in which the farmer always likes to make hay (for old times sake really) and I see he has just gone past the kitchen window with the cutter on the back of the tractor.   Is he going to cut the paddock even though rain is forecast later - I do hope not.   But of course if he does he can always change his mind about the hay and make it into silage.

The cats will not be pleased as they like to use the hay barn as their winter home - sleeping amongst the snuggly bales while the hedgehogs hibernate behind the bales at the bottom of the heap.  And several friends rely on the hay for their horses in the winter months.

Should haymaking ensue, I will post photographs of progress as the week goes on!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Alexandre Girault

Alexandre Girault was an American entomologist who specialised in the study of chaicid wasps and later on all kinds of creepy-crawlies.   He was also a great eccentric.

He once went into his hotel room in Cincinnati and discovered it was crawling with bed bugs.   He left the lights on and tried to sleep across the bed without getting under the covers.   Each time he woke all the bugs which were feeding on him scurried off.  Afterwards he published a paper on his fascinating night!

Sadly, his wife died of T B and he sank into a state of paranoia from which he barely recovered.   He died in 1941 and was buried in an unmarked grave.

But his name lives on - on our Calf House wall, where the rampant rambler rose named after him rockets up the wall and across the roof every year.
It only flowers once a year but by golly does it flower.   Sadly, almost every year its flowers arrive at the same time as blustery, showery weather, and no sooner are the cheerful flowers out than they are dashed by heavy rain.   

But he does have his moment of glory and for that I like to remember this rather strange man who had a sad life.

Friday, 1 July 2016


Out for coffee with my usual group of friends and then out to lunch with friend W and a look round the items which will be for sale in our local sale rooms - Tennants - tomorrow.   It is always rather sad I find to look round old things which have been collected over the years by various people and then, suddenly, nobody wants them anymore and they are put into a sale.   There were lots of boxes of objects, lots of very dusty clocks, some very beautiful pieces of furniture, some pretty rugs.

I came home and have been very lazy since.   Now, after tea, I am sitting at my computer.   Outside the sun is shining and at the same time it is pouring with rain.   Bound to be a rainbow somewhere.   Shall go and look for it and hope it is a sign that politics and everything to do with the present mess soon disappears from our screens.

If you don't care to know about politics, don't particularly care for football, and don't follow tennis then there is really no point in switching on the television for the next fortnight is there?