Friday, 30 September 2016


Last week-end I had a cold - only a slight one but it left me with a bit of a throat.   Wednesday, as you know, was Poetry Day - the day when we choose our three poems and read them out to our friends.   This of course entails a bit of voice projection (I always practise mine so that they at least make sense to me before I read them.)

When I came home on Wednesday I had a bit of a sore throat but thought nothing of it until I got up yesterday morning completely voiceless.

This afternoon the Accountant has been to finalise our books for the last year (April to April) and as I do the book-keeping most of her questions were directed at me .   Luckily, unlike me, she is not hard of hearing - but even so she had a struggle with my answers to her questions.   This evening there is a slight improvement, so I think I am on the mend.

So after our monthly coffee morning tomorrow I shall endeavour to clean out another kitchen cupboard or two.   'Onward and Upward' is my motto!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Men of the Road.

Yesterday at our Poetry meeting I read several of T S Eliot's poems about cats.   They always fascinate me because most of his poetry is really serious stuff.   As one of the poetry friends suggested, she thinks he wrote the 'cats' poems purely for himself.   Maybe he was a lover of cats.  Does anyone know?

Before I read those though I read a poem which we learnt at school, as did several others in the group - the learning of poetry used to be such an important part of the curriculum in those days (and not a bad thing, because it trains the memory as well as helping with rhyming combinations and spelling).   That poem was John Keats's 'Meg Merrilies'.   It is about an old gypsy woman if you don't know it.

Thinking about it this morning, I thought of my mother when I was a child.   Gypsies were a common sight in our village in those days.   The women would come round from door to door selling ribbon, home-made clothes pegs and dyed 'chrysanthemums' made out of shaved wood.  My mother would always buy something although we were never all that well off for money (I suppose that is why they always called because they knew she was a 'soft touch'.)   My father used to tease her that she was of gypsy stock because her
 grandfather lived in a caravan in the Lincolnshire village where they lived - and Dad always said that he kept his meat under the caravan in a bucket, under a sod of grass until he cooked it. This was long before my time, but she used to get very cross when he said it (which he did frequently).

But the tramps (or men of the road as they used to be called) were a different matter entirely.   You never see one now - or at least I have never seen one in all my adult life.   Maybe this is something to do with Social Services or something, but when I was a child there were tramps who used to wander from village to village.   My mother had the greatest sympathy for these men - often drop outs from society for one reason or another.
And, again, I suppose the reputation that she was sympathetic meant they always called on us.   She would always have a space on the table just inside the wash house (a building attached to the end of the kitchen) and she would always give them a meal.  Although we were not well off by any means, she was a very good manager and also a good cook, so that there was usually a stock pot on the hearth so that soup could be rustled up quickly.   Also, as she made all her own bread and cake, that would add to the meal.   I have come home from school many a time to see a man of the road eating a meal in the wash house.   She would also save any old clothes of  my fathers for them, but after once finding an overcoat she had given to a tramp draped over the hedge further down the road, she always made them try the garments on before they went, to make sure they fitted.

I presume these men would sleep in barns and sheds - and Winters must have been long and hard for them.   But as a child (and still to some extent) I had such a romantic notion about them.  I think that is why I love 'Meg Merrilies' so much.   If you don't know it, do Google it and have a read.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


Poetry afternoon again today and all eleven of us were there.   With all the trouble in the world I cannot tell you of a more relaxing and soothing afternoon than ours - sitting around in W's conservatory reading out our specially chosen poems - three each.   Today many of them had a humorous flavour, which made for a lot of laughter.   We are a group who know one another well and there is nobody who doesn't fit in - and that makes all the difference.

It is actually two afternoons because the day before I think we all spend a lot of time searching for what we are going to read out and getting just as much enjoyment from that.

I got home to find that the farmer had actually put on the central heating for the first time (as we have an Aga in the kitchen it is always warm in there, but the rest of the house was cold so he decided it was time to switch on.)
Delightful and so cosy.   Come along Autumn - do your worst.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Are we being cowardly?

Friend W and I were discussing the situation in the world over our coffee this morning.  Both of us agree that we just can't bear to watch the News at the moment because of the situation on Aleppo in particular and the Middle East in general.

In addition, the Labour Party Conference doesn't exactly instill one with confidence about the state of Politics in this country.

So we switch off and do something else.   Are we being cowardly?   We both feel helpless and unable to do anything to help - so should we make ourselves watch it all just so that we are kept informed?   And then that begs the question, terrible though the situation is, are we being shown everything that is happening or is it an edited version - and if so, who is doing the editing?

In The Times at the week end Libby Purves, who always writes my language,  spoke about how we should be aware that things are not all getting worse in the world.   Folk tend to think of the 'good old days' and suggest that everything is going ' pear shaped', whereas there is actually much less starvation than there was, much less disease as many have been conquered, much less slavery - in all these cases (and the others which she mentioned) there are still pockets of course, and many of them large pockets - but the point she makes is that slowly, gradually much of what happens in the world is improving.

But I do still feel 'tell that to the women and children of Aleppo'.   Do you watch the news or, like us, do you bury your head in the sand at the moment?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Two day absence.

Yes, I have not posted for two days - and for that I apologise.  The fact is that I have had a sudden surge of energy which has led me to do various jobs around the house and that has taken up most of my time.

Cupboards have been cleaned out, drawers have been tidied, several recipes have been tried out (Tuna and vegetable pie - a Lyndsey Bareham recipe from the Times);in addition I have been getting on with the latest baby cardigan I am knitting for my forthcoming great grandchild.

I have been beavering away today today by cleaning out another kitchen cupboard and throwing away several things I haven't used for years.   One of these was a juicer that I have had at least thirty years (probably old-fashioned by today's standards).  It was bought for me by a cousin who, many years ago, used to spend Christmas with my previous husband and I.   It made the most marvellous fresh orange juice in a couple of minutes but unfortunately it then took about half an hour to wash up.

Similarly I threw out a juice dispenser which took up a huge amount of room in my fridge -    room which I could put to better use.

Yesterday the farmer and I tackled the large freezer, which was in urgent need of a defrost.
Everything was taken out and put either into the smaller freezer (not much room left in there after a bumper crop this year of raspberries), the cool box or the cool bag.  These were then put into our downstairs wet room, the window was opened wide and the whole lot were covered with layers of newspaper.   Now time was of the essence so we put bowls of very hot water into the freezer and changed them about every quarter of an hour.   In two hours the freezer was defrosted and all I had to do was wash and dry it out and switch it back on.   Soon everything was back in and - more importantly - on the correct shelf.   Does any one amongst you keep your freezer in absolute order at all times?   If so I would be interested to hear how you do it.

It may seem silly to some of you to have two freezers, but I would point out that we live a couple of miles from the nearest shop.   On- line shopping with Tesco helps but unexpected visitors really means that I must keep a fair supply of food available.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Silage in.

The weather here is nothing like as good as it was yesterday.  Although dry, it is fairly cloudy, quite cool and breezy.   But the farmer is concerned that it will rain shortly, so this afternoon the contractors are here rowing up, baling and wrapping the last of the grass.   The farmer has spent the morning tossing it up to get rid of as much moisture as he can.
We really can't wait any longer.

I walked up the lane with Tess for a little way to take a photograph of him tossing the grass in the last field.   Sorry it is a bad photograph but I was balancing myself with my stick, holding on to Tess with her lead and trying to take the photograph with one hand.   But hopefully you get the general idea.

On the verges the grasses are dying and on the hedgerows the hawthorn berries are now bright red and bead-like.   If only the birds would leave them until it is really cold weather - but I know they won't.   It is as though they are attracted to the bright red and really must eat them at the earliest  opportunity.

As I write the farmer is passing the window with the first load of fifteen wrapped bales to add to the stack.   He likes to get them in as quickly as possible, before the crows and the rabbits start to nibble away.   By this evening they will, hopefully, all be in and that will be the most important job for winter over and done with.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

To Kirby Lonsdale.

Never have the Yorkshire Dales looked more beautiful than they did today as we drove through them to meet our friends in Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria.   The sun was shining in an Autumnal way, there was a light breeze, the roads were almost clear and the scenery was spectacular.

Lunch in Avanti in Kirby was, as usual, brilliant.   Various pasta dishes and chicken dishes in our group of four, followed by a sweet enjoyed by three of us which was so easy I shall certainly try it at home - two or three scoops of Jersey Ice cream and at the last minute a shot of espresso coffee poured over them.   Friend W opted for Eton mess instead and said that was equally delicious.

On the way home we called at Country Harvest, a shop on the outskirts of Ingleton and bought quite a lot of food from their butchery - pork and apple pinwheels, pork tenderloin kebabs, Fellsman pies (those are for lunch tomorrow so will tell you how they were later) and friend W bought a delicious-looking sourdough loaf.

I took a selection of photographs as we drove over the tops and then as we came home through Wensleydale, so here they are for you to enjoy.

The village with the large village green is Bainbridge in Wensleydale.   The hold up of cars at Aysgarth falls is for a herd of cows going home to be milked - and finally we see them going into their field - nearly home.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Every picture tells a story.

Exercise class today.   There has been a long break for the summer and although the class started back last week I couldn't go as I was going with the farmer to see his Orthopaedic specialist.   So today was my first visit since I was ill, and by golly it showed.

Sitting for the upper body and brain exercises was pleasant and very enjoyable.   But the standing and balance exercises were pretty tough going and I needed to hold on to my chair throughout (I hope this will go over the next few weeks).   Now, at just after seven in the evening I am pretty tired and wonder whether I shall be able to stay awake through Bake-off.

Just a quick word on the silage.  As you know the farmer cut the last grass fields yesterday.   This afternoon it rained heavily for about half an hour so any drying that had happened so far has been undone.   The forecast is now for good weather until at least the beginning of the weekend, so the farmer is keeping his optimism going.

Tomorrow friend W and I have one of our periodical visits to Kirby Lonsdale to meet our friends in the Italian restaurant for lunch - I am, as usual, really looking forward to the journey, the company, the food and everything about the day.

Today I made three individual cottage pies with minced Hereford beef topped with a mixed mash of potato, swede, parsnip and carrot.  Two we ate for lunch - the third the farmer will eat tomorrow while I am out, so he will not go hungry.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Definitely the last.

The weather forecast for the North East is fairly good for the rest of this week so the farmer has taken the bull by the horns and made his last silage cut today.   Three meadows and the paddock are all down and the grass is lying in the fields.  Today has been sunny so we are just hoping this continues until the end of the week and we can get it baled and led in.

Several other jobs can't be done until after silaging has finished.   First of all - hedge trimming; we wait until the birds have finished nesting and then until the grass is cut (so that the hedge trimming contractor doesn't spoil the grass).

The other big task is to empty the loose housing shed of the deep layer of last year's straw bedding.  It has been rotting down 'in situ' since the cattle went out in late April;  once the bales have been led in it will be led into the field and piled up to rot down further - or sometimes the farmer decides to spread it directly onto the fields.   Much depends upon the weather and on the stock we have on the fields (we over-Winter sheep from up on 'the tops' and when they come depends entirely upon the amount of grass on the high ground (and that, of course, is dependent upon the weather).   Once the grass has gone they need to come down.

And so the farming year goes on.   It is the Autumn Equinox tomorrow (the first day of Autumn in my book too).   There are still a few of the last brood swallows flying around, strengthening their wings ready for their long flight to Africa.   And so far we have not seen a fieldfare or a redwing (our regular winter visitors).

There is a definite nip in the air morning and evening and it is almost dark by half past seven.   It is relentless isn't it?   Whether we like it or not the seasons pass and (as we say up here) 'winter draws on'  (no funny comments please Tom or YP - I shall not get mine out yet.)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Discriminatory or what?

 Some weeks ago we had a letter from our Electricity Provider to say that our contract was about to come to an end and that if we wished to renew it they would do so at only a small amhout more.  Foolishly we didn't bother to enquire what 'small amount' meant.

This morning the first bill came, split into two parts - up to 4th August and then 5th August to 13th September.   The true figure emerged - day units had gone up from 13.9 to 21.58 and night units from 7.71 to 11.96.

Now I know that this is entirely our own fault and we should have gone into it thoroughly at the time.   But the fact remains that we didn't.

However, the farmer picked up the phone this morning and spoke to someone about it.   Within  five minutes a new quotation had been secured - 15 something for day units and 9 something for night units.   Just like that - over the telephone.

Now I can't help feeling that this discriminates against people like the elderly who easily get muddled and so don't do anything about it (and yes we fell into this class until a bill actually came).   Really, how dare they just put the price up 'willy-nilly' at the drop of a hat?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Why blog?

Tom Stephenson on his post yesterday queried reasons for blogging and why some posts are more popular than others.   It is an interesting subject and I have been giving it a bit of thought since reading his post.

Why indeed do some of us blog?   I suppose we all have different reasons.   I blog because I have a need to write.  In my working days I wrote for various educational publications.   I would visit some site of interest - I lived in the Midlands then and there were lots of places to visit - and then write about it from an educational angle.   After retirement I would write for one or two magazines - mostly articles about foreign travel - China,  Russia, Samarkand for example.   But now I no longer go long distances and I no longer have that much interest in education, but I do still have an interest in writing and I don't want to let it moulder.

As to whose blogs I choose to read.   There are various reasons - I love to read about the American way of life so I have quite a few American and Canadian posts that I enjoy (the farmer loves it over there and always says that if he had been younger when we began to go to Canada he would have started farming over there).  I love Heather's posts (Ragged Old Blogger) because for many years I did a lot of handwork of various kinds and her work is exquisite- each book she makes and shows on her blog makes me green with envy.   I enjoy going round Derek's (Letters from Sheppey) because he walks round a reserve and I enjoy the wildlife he talks about.   I read Rachel's blog (Rachel in the Ukraine) because we have had our ups and downs but are pretty firmly fixed as virtual friends.

Cro (Magnon's Meanderings) puts some delicious recipes on his blog and I often try them.   John (Going Gently) takes me round his village or involves me in the doings of his various menagerie and provides me with a laugh most days.   Others - too numerous to mention but all on my side bar blog roll - take me on countryside journeys, or visit ancient churches or remains.

So, if you have time, and feel like an adventure without moving from your chair, you could do worse than scroll through my blog roll and read them all.   You may well find a few new virtual friends lying in wait there.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Three things never return.

My physio therapist and I were chatting during my treatment yesterday, as we usually do - chatting about this and that but mainly about personal relationships.

I have always been a seeker after knowledge - this from being a very small girl.   I always loved doing school essays, doing the research, writing the words and looking what sort of mark I got (usually a good one because I put in so much time on research).

This attitude did not leave me when I left school.   I left at sixteen -  because my parents, who were in their early forties when I was born, really could not afford to keep me on at Grammar School any longer.   Looking back now of course I know that I should have stayed on and gone on to further education.   But that view is with hindsight and also with the attitude of my generation.   I was the first child in our family to go to Grammar School and conditions for my parents were not easy.

But once I had left school and got a job (in the office of a family member who was a Building Contractor - where I stayed until I married) I happily continued to study - first O levels (they were just being introduced) and then A levels and then, when the Open University was started up, a Humanities Degree.   I absolutely loved the study, the essays and the marks I was getting.

After that came Teacher Training and a life in Teaching, rising through the ranks to a position of Senior Mistress in a Comprehensive School and taking charge of a Unit for English as a Second Language.   Another degree followed, taken in my spare time.

It was at this point that my Mother questioned why I was doing all this.   By this time she was a very old lady and she couldn't understand why I felt the need to keep pushing forward.    I said something to her which I have always regretted, when I told her it was because, unlike her, I wanted to be interested in more than just my children.

Talking to my Physio yesterday, we got on to this subject and I found that she had the same urge as I did in my young days - this urge to learn. this urge to keep pushing ahead.   We also found that both of us had been up against questioning as to its being necessary.

My warning was to say nothing which you might regret. Once said - it is there for ever, and however much you regret saying it, it cannot be unsaid.

My friend P, who may well be reading this, had a good saying for this and it  is a saying well worth bearing in mind as you go through life:

"Three things never return:  the spent arrow, the lost opportunity and the spoken word."

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Back to Indian Summer.

What a strange week it has been weather-wise.   After the incredible thunderstorms of Tuesday evening yesterday was just thick fog here all day.   Now today it has been another day of glorious Indian Summer - still, sunny and very warm.

But there was no sitting outside in the sun for me because Thursday is my hairdresser day - and today was colour day (you didn't really think my hair was still the colour it appears in the photograph I put on at the week end did you?  At my age you have to do all you can to help nature along if you want to feel positive about life ((well that's my view anyway)).

And straight after that I had to drive the fifteen miles to Crakehall to see my Physiotherapist for my monthly check over.  She manipulates my back (which often gives me problems - 'teacher's back she calls it -) and then works on my arthritic ankle - the one which causes me such immobility at times. 

But driving through the countryside was so pleasurable because everywhere looked to beautiful.   The heavy rain seems to have given a last flush of green to the leaves, so that apart from the Horse Chestnut trees (always the first to turn) everything looked amazingly 'summer-like'.  Quite a lot of the harvested fields had already been ploughed and were being sown with next year's crop.   And here and then 'muck-spreaders' were going full tilt up and down the stubble fields spreading a rich aroma which filtered into the car as I passed.

Now I am home again, the tea pots have been put in the dishwasher, the farmer is watching 'North News' and I am catching up in Blogland.   It is seven o'clock and by half past seven it will be almost dark - my how the nights are drawing in (as my father used to remark every year.)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


Today the farmer visits the specialist in hospital in Northallerton to hear the results of the scan on his shoulders and the verdict on whether or not he should risk an operation.

It is twenty five miles from here to Northallerton so not a very long journey - and mostly through open countryside.   So an early lunch is called for so that we can go at our leisure rather than rush to get there.

Lunch will be at twelve (brisket of beef with broccoli and carrots and potatoes - I am sure you will be happy with that Rachel as a conventional 'English' meal).

After that glorious late Summer day yesterday we had the most spectacular thunderstorm last evening.   It went round and round us - sheet lightning first in the West, then the North, then the East and then the West again; in the space of half an hour an inch of very heavy rain fell.   This morning it is quite warm and misty with heavy cloud, although the weather forecast is for clearing skies, so we live in hope.

As I sit here in the hall at my computer I can see two greater** spotted woodpeckers pecking at the trunk of a tree on the drive.   Much more pleasurable to watch than yesterday's wasps. 

An update on the farmer's health.   The specialist says that the tendon has torn away badly and will not heal itself.   The farmer could have keyhole surgery but would have his arm in a sling for a month and then be more or less unable to use his arm for another six months except for very gentle work.   There would be a lot of pain to live through during the healing process too.

The farmer has decided to say no at present.   He now has stronger pain-killers from the doctor and really only feels the shoulder pain during the night so unless it gets worse he has decided to live with it.

**Thanks to Derek for pointing out that they were greater spotted woodpeckers in our trees - he is quite correct.   I have seen a lesser spotted one many years ago and they are very much smaller (and rarer too).

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

While the cat's away.

The farmer is leading the walking group on Sunday and although he knew roughly where he was taking them he hadn't done a recce.   Two of the regulars A and E, can't go on Sunday so today the three of them went up to the very top of Swaledale and did the walk just to make sure that on Sunday they take the right path.  The walk started in the village of Keld.

It turned out to be a splendid walk and went right along part of the Pennine Way and right through the farmyard of the farm where Amanda, the Shepherdess of TV and book fame, lives.

He took my camera and took some photographs for me.   I feel the ones of the house should not be put on my post because they are a bit intrusive, but this one is the view from the house and shows just what a beautiful setting it is in.   Also you can just see the top of the gypsy caravan which can be hired out and is often used overnight by walkers on the Pennine Way.   What a wonderful view they have too.

I intended to do so many jobs while the farmer was away, but it was a really beautiful day here with wall to wall sunshine and a clear blue sky.   I went down as usual for our Tuesday morning coffee and then friend W and I went the short distance to Wensley and the Wensley Tea Garden for a spot of lunch.

It was very pretty.   Sadly I  couldn't take a photograph for you as the farmer had the camera.  There were two pretty, very well maintained Summer houses, a small open sided marquee and various chairs and tables scattered about on the lawn.   We had toasted cheese baguettes with salad and crisps and a pot of Lady Grey tea.   It was a most civilised way to spend a couple of hours.   Unfortunately a hundred wasps thought so too but once we had eaten our food they went to 'chat' to other folk who had turned up.

I got home an hour before the farmer, just long enough to sort out my freezers. Does anyone have a system for keeping their freezer organised?   I start with good intentions but it always deteriorates into a case of 'stuff it wherever it will go'.   So I have switched on my second freezer and sorted everything out today into separate shelves and drawers.   Now I can see where everything is - for a while at least.

Monday, 12 September 2016


Back to earth this morning after the lovely day out yesterday.   This morning I added an extra photograph to yesterday's post about our day out because D, one of the friends, took a photo on his mobile phone and sent it to me this morning.   I thought you would like to see what we all looked like.   So if you want to see what the farmer and I look like when we are together, then scroll back one post to see us.

The eastern side of the country is all set to get a week's very warm Indian Summer - well it certainly hasn't been all that warm today and there have been several showers.   The sky is mostly cloudy and there is a strong, quite cool breeze.   Maybe it will begin tomorrow.

The farmer has had a bonfire today.   He always waits until the wind is in a favourable direction (i.e. to miss blowing the smoke back into the village which is very close over the fields, and to miss it blowing back towards the house and our neighbours).   Farmers have to have a licence in order to be able to light a bonfire but it certainly does mean that the yard can be kept much tidier.

I am now going to sew together my little knitted jacket for my forthcoming great grandchild (sex unknown as they don't wish to know in advance).  When it is all finished I will put it in a post to show you (the men needn't look that day unless they are themselves the knitting and embroidery type.)

And before you laugh at that let me tell you about my mother's brother, my Uncle Albert, who was a bachelor until he was in his fifties.   He was a plate layer on the railway and his hobby was embroidery.   Every niece or nephew who married (my mother was one of eight so there were plenty of them) was given a book of tablecloth patterns and chose one which Albert embroidered as the wedding present.   I still have mine sixty four years later - linen with coffee-coloured cut our work of oak leaves and acorns.   A work of art.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

A Day Out with the farmer.

Out for the day today with the farmer, to meet my god-daughter and her husband and our friends P and D at The King's Head in Ravenstonedale for Sunday lunch.

The lunch and the company were of course delightful and we had a most enjoyable time.   Tess came with us and the farmer took her for a walk on Wild Boar Fell on the way over and then down the side of the beck outside the hotel after our lunch.   And she loved meeting the people - as she always does;  she is a most sociable dog.

I took some photographs on the way there and again on the return journey as we travelled through Wensleydale and then turned up by The Moorcock Inn towards Kirby Stephen before turning up over Wild Boar Fell.   The roads were much more busy than usual, probably because today was the day of the Hawdraw Brass Band Festival, held in the picturesque setting of the village of Hawdraw.   Leyburn Band were playing there too.   Every year we mean to go and every year something stops us going. 

 I hope Leyburn did well.   No doubt my friend G will let me know (and also thank me for giving them a mention!)

Anyway - here are a few photographs.   Please understand that the farmer does not slow down for photographers (there was too much traffic anyway) and the road was very bumpy in places.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Another coffee morning this morning in a neighbouring village.   We feel it is important to go and support these occasions as one or two people have put a lot of work into the preparation.   However, this one, as usual, was very poorly attended - maybe a dozen at the most.   But the food and the setting were superb.

The village hall was completely refurbished with a grant some years ago, so it is spick and span;  one end is shelves on which are donated books.   There is a basket in which to put a donation if you wish to buy one (I bought a Ruth Rendell I hadn't read).
The tables are set with white cloths (plastic luckily as my cafatiere decided to spray coffee everywhere);  there used to be white embroidered cloths which had been donated but everyone found them such a chore to wash and iron.   Each table today had a pretty vase of statis on it and pretty flowered china.

The selection of food was lovely - hot buttered toast or toasted tea cake, half a dozen different cakes and all laid out on a smart table.   All that was lacking was villagers to come in the door (or passers by; it is by a fairly main road through the Dales and there was a notice board on the main road.)   I felt sorry that so much effort had been put in by a few ladies and yet so little support.

I sat next to a charming lady who had come over here to live from Germany in 1948, speaking little or no English when she arrived.   Her English now is impeccable with only the slightest foreign inflexion and it was so interesting talking to her about how she learned to speak English (the best way - i.e. being thrown in at the deep end).

Friend W and I, who have both had experience with people who came in from the Punjab many years ago, found it interesting to compare this with our experiences there, where so many of the ladies who were mothers when they arrived and are  now elderly ladies and yet still speak little or no English because they have stayed within their community.   It is, of course, a question of culture
but  we feel sad that maybe these ladies have missed out on a lot of the pleasures of living in our country.  They seem instead to have made little enclaves of their own.   Is this a good thing or a bad thing?   I really don't know the answer - do they miss out or does their isolation perhaps mean that their own culture has been enriched for them?   And does it matter?   After all, their children learned English and became native speakers - and now their children see England as their home.

Learning a language unless one is thrown in at the deep end is difficult.   After six years of Grammar school French I still could not hold a conversation on my first independent visit to the country.   Oh yes, I had a pretty good vocabulary but using it to actually formulate a sentence I ran the risk of making some really embarrassing mistakes.  (I could always fall back on 'my postilion has been struck by lightning' I suppose (this being one of the phrases I remember from one of my French vocab books)).

Well folks, I seem to have wandered away from my starting point somewhat,  but I would be interested to know what you think - that is if you can wade through my rambling and actually find the question I asked!

Friday, 9 September 2016

The saga of silaging continued

By about half past three yesterday afternoon the cut grass had dried out and the silage contractors returned to finish their work.   The baler had only gone once round the field before a bearing went and he was broken down again!    I was pretty frantic but the farmer (who after sixty years at the job is pretty used to everything to do with farming) took it in his stride and said it couldn't be helped.

They said they would return this morning by ten-thirty, although the farmer was doubtful that he would get it mended by then.   However, it was a windy night so no dew and by nine this morning the grass was dry and by nine thirty the contractors turned up.   Now it is all baled and wrapped, the contractors have gone and the farmer is leading the bales back to the store in the yard.   He likes to get them in quickly because the crows and the rabbits both like to open up the plastic wrap to get at the contents, then he has to stick tape over the holes.

In the process of stacking them he has lost his penknife - an essential piece of farmer's hardware - so it is down to the Friday's only farm shop (market and cattle market day) to buy a new one.

He found time to take me down for our coffee meeting at The Post Horn and then - for the first time since I was ill- I took my shopping trolley and did my own shopping (up until this week the farmer has done the week-end shop with my list - I do have a major on line shop earlier in the week.)
I found the walking much easier than I anticipated and came home quite elated.

Last night's Buffet supper and talk by the author Gervaise Phynn was a most enjoyable night out - about one hundred and sixty people at a local pub - pleasant buffet meal and then a very amusing after-dinner speaker who kept us laughing non-stop for half an hour.   And friend W took me and another friend E there in her new car, only collected a couple of hours earlier.   Very posh.

Lunch today was fried bacon,tomatoes,eggs. sausage left over from yesterday's lunch and beans.   More like breakfast really but at the end the farmer said 'I really enjoyed that!' - praise indeed from a man who is not all that forthcoming with praise (but then what Yorkshireman is?)

Thursday, 8 September 2016


First of all the silaging.   The best laid plans and all that - listening to the long-range forecast on Sunday evening on Country File, it was good weather through to the end of Friday.    So the grass was cut and was drying nicely, although the weather was humid.   Then, suddenly, the forecast changed and today we had rain rushing in from the West.   We awoke to mist and a clear blue sky and humidity, but within an hour it was windy, cooler and raining.

The silage contractors got here about half an hour before it began to rain and had actually been once around the field before it began (four wrapped bales) - fortuitously the advent of rain coincided with the belt snapping on the baler.   So the contractor went home and all three of them (rower, baler and wrapper ) will return.    By twelve o'clock the rain had stopped, now it is much fresher, there is a strong breeze blowing and the sun is out, so the grass should be drying well.

Secondly, my vow to have a Mediterranean lunch at least one day a week meant that today I concocted a dish of squash, sweet potato, orange and red peppers, red onions, chorizo and sausage with sweet chilli sauce from a local butcher - chopped them all fairly small and roasted them in tossed olive oil.   We ate it with green beans and the result was delicious.
Last , but by no means least as far as I am concerned, we are about to be invaded (according to The Times) by 200 billion Crane Flies (Daddy Long Legs) as last Winter was a very good breeding season.   The same apparently goes for wasps, hornets, stag beetles and ladybirds.

Now I must say that poor old daddy long legs does no harm really.  As it says in the newspaper - if he flies into you it will hurt him more than it hurts you.   Nevertheless, I don't care for those long legs.   Also I only ever see them clinging in the corners of my windows, where they seem to stay for days on end, doing nothing.  I have had one in the corner of my landing window for the last four or five days;  I went outside half an hour ago to photograph it, only to find it had gone about its business.   Just shows they must have some purpose in life.

I am going out with four friends tonight to a local hotel where we are to have a buffet supper followed by a talk by Gervaise Phinn - a retired schools' inspector and author.  Will report back on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Second cut silage.

A farming post today as once again farming takes a front seat.   Our first crop of grass was sold as 'standing grass', bought by our neighbour and baled and wrapped by him.   Now the silage fields have long grass again and they are ready for their second cut.

This one the farmer keeps for himself.   You may remember that, although he is retired, in winter he houses the in-calf heifers belonging to our friend and neighbour - he also looks after them.   So he needs the silage for daily feed.

The weather is good here, although a little humid, so yesterday he cut four of the silage fields and today, once the heavy dew had been burnt off by the warm sun, he has used his hay bob to shake it up well.  Tomorrow morning, once the dew has gone, our silage contractors will move in to bale and wrap it - then the farmer will lead it all back to the farm yard to stack it for winter.   Rather like getting in the logs for the stove this is another preparation for winter that gives one a satisfactory feeling once it is done.   There are still another four fields to do, but he wants the grass to grow a little bit more before he tackles them.  Also, it doesn't do to cut too much with our contrary weather.

Harvesting has begun down the bottom of the lane.   The fields opposite were cut a couple of weeks ago but they were for fodder.   The crops down the bottom of the lane are for selling, so had to be ripe.   I am sure this week's hot weather has helped them greatly.

After all my efforts yesterday I really was on my feet too much and my arthritis has been bad today.  But this afternoon I spent a couple of hours at the hairdresser, which was a nice restful time.   Now the farmer is just off for his shower and then we shall be watching Bake Off.   I wonder who will leave this week John.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Wants or needs?

Yes, there is a difference.   I am in clear out mode once again and this time it is the large cupboard in the kitchen which houses all manner of things and which has got very untidy.
Today was the day I resolved.

First of all I went into town to meet friends W and C for our usual Tuesday morning coffee.  After that I went to the shop next door but two - 'House and Home' - a brilliant household shop which has absolutely everything under the sun that you could possibly need.

What I needed was first of all a new feather duster.   Mine has begun to moult pale blue feathers every time it is used to dust the picture rails.   I chose a more expensive but obviously better choice of a lambswool one.   The other thing I wanted was some storage baskets - I have bought them from there before and they do categorise ones bits and pieces of 'householdery' ideally.

I got chatting to a chap who had some piece of 'man stuff' in his hand and was looking at it longingly.   As I passed him I said, "Do you really need that or is it that you just want it"He laughed - "The latter" he said and put it back on the shelf.   We had a little chat about how easy it is in that kind of shop to collect stuff.

Then I crossed the road and went into our general store - Milners.   Here are ladies' clothes, handbags, haberdashery, and upstairs carpets, curtains and the like.   All I wanted was half a dozen buttons for a baby jacket I am knitting - but that meant walking through the clothing department - and what gorgeous things there were.   Almost everything I wanted.   But did I need it?   What I needed was to go home and assess what I needed to top up my winter wardrobe.   Resisting temptation I came home and got the lunch (yesterday's Times recipe 'Pasta a la Norma' - delicious and easy to make.)

Then I tackled the cupboard.   Getting out my first storage basket I got out all the spice jars.   Oh dear, many of them were out of date (by a long way).  Have you checked yours lately?   You might get a nasty surprise.

Realising that the jars were recycleable but not the contents, I got a bag and began to empty the jars into it.   I was reminded of the John Masefield poem 'Cargoes'   Quinquireme of Nineveh with its cargo of 'sandalwood, cedarwood and sweet white wine' - the smell was glorious - cinnamon, ginger, cumin,
paprika, caraway seeds - they all went into the bag.   Then the jars went into the recycle box.   I was also reminded of Mr Colman of Colman's Mustard who said that he made his money from what  people left on their plate.

Now the whole cupboard is neat and tidy.   It is actually I believe a linen press but it really does make a very useful cupboard for my kitchen.

Next I shall go and look through my wardrobe and persuade myself that I really do need one or two items I saw in that shop rather than just that I want them.   I shall try hard to forget the difference because clothes are one of my passions.

Monday, 5 September 2016

All Systems Go.

This was to have been a normal Monday with my cleaner coming at nine o'clock as usual to clean through the house.   Then, yesterday, the chimney sweep rang to say could he come at eight thirty this morning to sweep the wood burner chimney - I didn't like to put him off.   After all, we never know now when we are going to get a cold spell of weather which demands the wood burner being lit.   So that added the chimney sweep to the morning.   He came on time, my cleaner came early as she had a dental appointment, but they managed to work around one another.  Shortly afterwards, the window cleaner arrived.   Now, after
lunch, all is done.   The room is back to normal and everything has been washed and dusted and put back in its rightful place.

It is a bit of a fiddly job sweeping a woodburner chimney because the stove and the part of the chimney which is visible in the room has to be removed so that the brush will go straight up the chimney.   This means that the seal round the chimney has to be broken.   Then, after it is all put together again, a new seal has to be formed using the appropriate fire cement.   But that is the farmer's department so I leave it all to him, just nipping in and taking a photograph at the right moment.

So the photographs show before, during and after.   No photo of the sweep - you saw him (and the brush) last year.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

September rain.

It is seventy-seven years today since the outbreak of the Second World War.   I remember the day vividly - after the eleven o'clock announcement by Neville Chamberlain on what was then called the 'Home Service' on the radio, almost everyone is our village went out and stood at their gate.   I just remember this silence, and all the villagers, and this feeling (I was six) that something momentous had just happened.   Now of course less and less people remember it.

Here in our village today it was the first Coffee morning of the Autumn, after the summer break.   Unfortunately this coincided with an absolute downpour so that turnout was lower than usual.   But it was still a lovely occasion - the one time in the month when I see many of the villagers and enjoy a chat.   Now, at three o'clock in the afternoon, it is still pouring with rain.   It will make the grass grow and as the farmer is just about to begin second cut silaging and hot weather is forecast for the forthcoming week, the rain has just come at the right time.

When I got home from the Coffee Morning this lunch time I could not find my handbag so had to turn the car around and go back and there it was, exactly where I had left it, on the table where I had been sitting with a group of friends.   But I needn't have been worried - as I joked with one of the organisers - nobody would steal a handbag at a Coffee Morning organised by the Church would they?

Friday, 2 September 2016


Inspiration is totally lacking today.   I had a bad night's sleep last night (doesn't happen often) and my mind is more or less a complete blank today.  I went down town with the usual group of friends for our Friday coffee; one, E, was recently back from France so we listened to her account, particularly of the journey by Eurostar, which seems to have been a nightmare from the moment she left our 'local' station.   But perhaps with hindsight it will become more like an adventure.

Because that is what happens isn't it?
Events often seem like nightmares at the time, but after the telling a few times they take on an excitement, get enhanced by embroidery and become stories of adventure.   Distance and time also helps with this I think.

So there we are - no inspiration today - knitting to do (a restful pastime when one has a great-grandchild due; baby clothes don't take long to knit, so become satisfying).

Summer seems to have departed here and Autumn arrived.   And the hurricane season picks up in the US and I understand we are set to get the dregs over here afterwards.   So time to get the woodburner chimney swept too.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Small town life.

One of the nicest things about living in or near to a small town, like we do, is that you rarely go into town without seeing someone you know.

Before coming up here I lived in Wolverhampton and going into town was a major operation - negotiating various traffic islands, getting stuck on the ring road, finding a space in the multi storey car park;  you were pretty worn out before you arrived at your reason for actually going.

Here it is just a case of getting in the car, driving the mile (you may or may not see any traffic) into town and just looking for a parking space.   If all else fails you can always  go to the car park, but it is rarely necessary - usually somebody backs out and leaves a space just as you get there.

And then, because the streets are never crowded it is actually quite unusual not to see one or two folk you know.   Today I met friends  S and N = it is sometime since I saw them - who are shortly off on the Hurtigruten
up the inside passage of Norway and round to the Russian border.   This is a holiday the farmer and I did some years ago - how I envy them setting off on their adventure.

Then it was hairdressers and back home again, all in the space of half an hour - time to put on this post and then it will be time to think about tea.
Where does the day  go?