Friday, 26 May 2017

First name terms.

The two men who organise the tip and I are almost on first name terms, I have been so often over the past few weeks.  My golden rule is to visit the tip once a day and pack at least two boxes each day.  Yesterday I excelled myself by doing even better.
When we bought our Aga cooker new twenty five years ago a whole lot of baking tins came with it.
After all this time they are beginning to look a bit worse for wear, but I do want to leave them where possible, so I set to work to give them a special do.

Armed with Brillo pads, rubber gloves and plenty of hot water I was busily scrubbing the Aga cake baker at twenty minutes to eleven last night!   It definitely thought it was having a birthday and is glowing this morning.

Today - our coffee morning with friends - I didn't get in until eleven o'clock but set to immediately and gathered together another car boot load for the tip - old items of farming clothing (milking smocks, woolly hats and gloves for winter milking mornings), a couple of old casserole dishes, a couple of roasting tins I no longer want and two outside folding chairs long past their sell-by date.)
Each load taken brings about a kind of cleansing.

It is very hot here but luckily there is a cooling breeze blowing, so on the way back Tess and I did our lane walk.   Now we are home; we have both had a drink and after one more cup of tea I shall do my next job - pack and label a couple more boxes.   The job is endless but I am clearing out such a lot of things I no longer want - the charity shop is taking it happily - and one day it will all be finished.   Won't it?

Thursday, 25 May 2017


It is good for me to be busy but you can have too much of a good thing and really, when it comes to bed-time I drop asleep the moment my head touches the pillow.

I am surrounded by boxes - my hairdresser dropped off around fifty this morning - and I try to fill at least a couple a day.   I also try to go to either the tip or the charity shop each day.   This is my one opportunity to seriously thin out my possessions.   When I pop my clogs somebody else will have to do it, so it is best for me to do it now.  Today it was the turn of the charity shop to receive three bags full of things to sell.

Today was my first ukulele concert - and it went off alright.   The one piece which I felt was too difficult for me - I was able to air strum large parts of it, only actually strumming the C and G chords - and hopefully nobody noticed.   The concert was at the Annual General Meeting of the University of the Third Age, which is very popular up here and has a good following.   There is a whole range of activities on offer - I enrolled in the book group, which meets once a month on a Monday (a good day for me) and the lady who runs it is going to e mail this month's book title to me.

Nothing is settled yet - I am in limbo - but I am keeping busy; there is such a lot to do.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Overdone things.

I have overdone things a bit today and am now very tired.   This morning a friend C and I drove into a town twelve miles away for knitting wool.   The shop was closed so I drove on into Northallerton and bought some there but that is further away - fifty mile round trip.

I came in, ate a quick lunch, fell asleep in the chair and woke up just in time to go to Ukulele practice- not getting home until almost four this afternoon.
Poor Tess has had just two fairly short walks today - and I feel guilty,   But I really am too tired to take her out again,  so I shall now go and sit down and watch the Chelsea flower show on television.

The Queen has just arrived to look round.   My goodness - she is walking round at ninety - I feel guilty complaining of being tired.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Lunch out.

Well, that's nothing new is it?   Today it was with three friends - L,C and W - set for one o'clock and delicious it was too.   L and C both had roast beef, W had roast pork and I had macaroni cheese (I was going to have salmon but by the time we ordered there was no salmon left; but there is a good veggie menu so I was happy to tuck into that.)
Afterwards it was coffee and a chat in the bar.   There were quite a lot of people there that we knew so the atmosphere was friendly.   Up here there is none of that crossing the road rather than asking how you are a few weeks after one has lost one's life partner, it is straight down the middle - tell it as it is, and all the better for it.

Friend L (Lavinia but Win for short) is ninety six years young and as we are all knocking on a bit we got to talking about lavs at the bottom of the garden and jerries under the bed in the night - and of houses with no bathrooms.   We came to the joint conclusion that today's youngsters don't know the half of it.

Then it was home to walk Tess, who was very pleased to see me.   I do feel guilty leaving her alone, but I try to walk her three times a day as far as I can with at least one of the three walks off the lead so that she can chase the rabbits (they are quite safe and they know it).   I need to get out as much as possible.

Tomorrow I go with friend C to buy more knitting wool in the morning and then in the afternoon there is ukulele practice.    I am not very good yet but I am making progress - and that is pleasing.  Playing with the rest of the group makes me keep up and improves my playing no end each week.  When I get a bit better I might put a clip on U Tube!!!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Our Favourite Walk

But a short distance from the farm is a Lane; it is a Public Foothpath through the beautiful woodland called Givendale.   It is our favourite walk because it is safe for Tess to be off the lead (she has little or no road sense) and we rarely see another person - occasionally deer, often rabbits, sometimes a brown hare but rarely a human.

I was up with the lark this morning, having gone to bed quite early, and so off on our walk by half past eight.   I can make it a round trip - in this case call at The Lane for a walk (about half a mile there and back), drive on into town, collect a Guardian news paper (my choice on Saturdays),  drive up to the tip (itself a scenic journey through fields full of lambs) with my latest load of old clothes, dishes I no longer want etc., and then back home.

In addition to my newspaper I bought myself an indulgent small chocolate bar and when I got home I made a pot of coffee, ate my bar, drank my coffee and read the paper.

The next time I looked at the clock it was almost midday and time to cook my Jersey Royals with carrots, broccoli and mange tout and two quickly fried fillets of sea bass for lunch.

Here are some photographs of the Lane so that you can enjoy the walk too.   The first part is open to fields either side and then it is lined by Givendale Wood.   If we could walk far enough (for 'we' read 'I') we could carry on across the fields and eventually arrive back at the farm.

There are patches of pink campion - such a delightful pink - and patches of Lady's Mantle (alchemilla); the trees are coming into leaf and the birds were in full throttle this  morning; sadly no cuckoo (although both my son and my daughter in law have heard one this year.)

Friday, 19 May 2017

Tracking things down.

As you know I shall fairly shortly (all being well) be leaving the farm for the last time and moving into a bungalow.   This will be a wrench as this is the longest I have ever lived anywhere (twenty four years), but it is inevitable and in any case this house is far too large for one person to live in.

One of the things I shall be sad to leave behind is my Aga cooker, which has served me well.   We bought it new twenty four years ago.   It has kept us well-fed, kept the kitchen and the fabric of the house warm and kept the water very hot.   Now I shall be leaving all that behind.

There is one difficulty with Agas - it is almost impossible to clean them when they are 'on' (which is all the time).   The surface of the cooker is so hot that anything you try to clean it with dries before it has any impact.  So it is best to give the whole cooker a good going over when you switch it off for its six monthly service.

But one thing remains which has been troubling me.   There is a solid shelf, sometimes called the 'cold plain shelf' or the 'cooling shelf'.   I have used it constantly throughout the life of the Aga.   It started out 'silver' but is now black and no amount of elbow grease will get it back to its original newness.

I have written to Aga and to various suppliers and been totally unable to get a replacement.   I am useless at such things.   My daughter in law heard of my plight and in about half an hour had located one only ten miles away at an Aga supplier.  Brand new, it cost only fifteen pounds and this afternoon we drove over and bought it.   Job done.

As a thank you, on the way back, we called in a lovely new cafe which has opened and I treated us to  tea for me, coffee for her and two delicious cakes (Danish with raspberry jam for me and lemon merigue pie with ice cream for her).   So, a successful afternoon all round wouldn't you agree?

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Early Morning.....

.....the best time for spotting rabbits!

Tess and I walked down the pasture this morning at half past eight.   The birds were singing and the sun was shining but there was a chilly wind blowing.

Tess was in ecstasy at the number of rabbits there were everywhere and I had already noticed that they are busy trying to dig holes in the grass verges of the lane.   There was every size from teeny tiny ones up to old grandfathers.

Without looking it up (and I have no time as I go to the hairdresser at twelve today) I don't know what the gestation period of the rabbit is (no doubt one of you will look it up for me)  but I daresay that young rabbits are kicked out of the nest to fend for themselves at a very young age.

They really are so very pretty.  But, when the pasture is there for milk cows to graze, one can't afford to be sentimental.  I read somewhere that ten rabbits each as much grass a day as one cow.   Well I saw more than fifty this morning and I am sure that was only the tip of the iceberg.

We have three kinds of rabbit-catchers who come round - the man with a gun, the man with ferrets and the fox.   Don't know who will step in here, but I am sure that the fox will have such easy pickings from the rabbits that he will let my hens alone - unless of course he/she fancies a change of menu.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


I had my first ever massage today.   To say it was soporific is an understatement - I went to sleep.

I think it is the first time I have truly relaxed in the last eight weeks and I am sure it did me immense good.   In fact I was so relaxed when I came out that I was apprehensive about driving the ten miles or so home - but so soon got going again once I got on the road.

When I got home the little boy next day, who is seven, had drawn me a picture and left it on the kitchen table for me to find.   It was a lovely surprise and it is now on the wall.
Simple things can give so much pleasure can't they?

As I put the car away in the garage I noticed how busy the swallows were, in and out of the space at the top of the barn door.   Yesterday was a wet day so there will at last be mud for them to put together their nests.   Flying all the way from Africa then building a nest and raising at least one brood, often two - what amazing birds they are.  What a wonderful thing Nature is - and how we notice it at this time of the year.

My Clematis Montana Rubens, which for years has just grown on an old tree trunk, has decided this year that it will meander along the washing line.  It looks splendid.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Much-needed rain.

It rained here all day yesterday and this morning I awoke to rain.   But my goodness how very pleased the fields and gardens were to welcome it.   Already the grass has greened-up and everything looks fresh and new again.

Now, at seven in the evening, there is a sharp breeze blowing but the sun is shining and it is warm.   The accountant has been here all afternoon going through the farm accounts for last year so poor Tess has been in for most of the day.

This morning was the 'Strugglers' meeting I go to - a group of us meet and have a quiet morning talking about things which are interesting us, or worrying us.   Such a productive and satisfying time I find it.   Afterwards we went and had lunch in The Posthorn in our little town.

So I have just walked down 'our' lane with Tess.   I didn't feel like it but I really enjoyed it once I got going and I feel much less tired than I did before I started out.   Tess enjoyed the doggy smells and I enjoyed the Spring smells - can't be bad.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Last Resting Place

Yesterday afternoon in warm sunshine we buried the farmer's ashes at the bottom of the pasture by the beck (just behind the fence) and the wood.   All the bluebells were out in the wood, the blackbirds were singing and he was laid to rest on the fields he loved.   May he rest in peace.

A stick marks the spot if you want to see exactly where we put them.