Sunday, 25 February 2018


This week my calendar is full- every day has something pleasant to do.   But the weather forecast promises doom and gloom from tomorrow onwards.   Yesterday - and particularly today - have been beautiful.   There has been unbroken sunshine, a chill wind but temperature of around three degrees.

It is suggested that from tomorrow it is all downhill - Polar winds, icy cold temperatures, possiblity of electricity cuts, heavy snow.   Hard to believe looking out of my window, but we shall see.    Tomorrow morning is my Book Club.   We meet in one another's houses and as this month's house is just round the corner from where I live that should be easy.  And I suppose it would also be sensible to nip into town and stock up on essential supplies.   Then, if all else fails, I can retire to bed and live on Kelloggs Fruit and Fibre - and maybe the odd slice of ham on good bread.

We shall all keep soldiering on.



Saturday, 24 February 2018


Rachel writes today about the dark net - something so sinister and something that many people (me included) know absolutely nothing about.   Yes, of course, I have read about it and about the recent cases she talks of.   Yes, of course, I am appalled by it.   I think the sentences handed out are about right - the damage done in the name of sex  - particularly to children and young people - is irrepairable.   Witness the men in their fifties and their grief, their broken spirit, in the recent trial of the football coach, also found guilty

What makes it all so hard, certainly for people of my generation, is that in our day life was relatively untroubled by such things.   I am sure I am right when I say that almost all of us (I am speaking of both sexes here) have at some time in our lives been subject to some form of sexual harrassment.   If we are lucky then it has been minor but some of us have experienced worse than that.  And we have had to live with it throughout our lives.   But this business of the dark net is something else, something I certainly find hard to take in.   And it is of course the downside of the advances made in such things as computers.

When I was a child our free time was on the whole (unless it was pouring with rain) spent out of doors, in the fields, climbing trees, searching for tadpoles, fishing, playing in the river.   In the winter we would have village magic lantern shows, threepenny 'hops' on Tuesday evenings in the village hall (all the boys stood at one end and all the girls at the other and only the bravest boys dare ask the girls for a dance!)   How innocent it all seems by today's standards, and yet I am sure that to a lesser extent these things went on because there always will be 'sad' individuals who get sexual kicks out of such behaviour.

Oh for an innocent world.   But then I don't suppose such a thing has ever existed and never will.   It is just that whereas once upon a time it was just individuals, now such people can reach thousands on this wretched dark net.

I can do absolutely nothing about it, so I shall try to ignore it.   Is that cowardly?   Maybe it is.   I am fully aware of it but in the days I have remaining in my life I shall try to concentrate on the good.  How it will be possible I don't know.   In addition to all I have written here there are the images of Syrian children, many of them babes in arms, covered in blood and being dug out of the rubble.   And what happened to the people in Yemen who have suddenly disappeared from being a news story after months of being in the headlines?   I don't suppose for an instant that their problems have gone away.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Update on previous post.

After writing the previous post I had a serious talk to myself and told myself not to be such a wuss.  Then I picked up the phone and phoned British Gas to discuss my account (deafness causes me to panic rather at this type of call.)   The young man I spoke to could not have been more helpful.  In a matter of minutes everything was sorted out, new smart meters were agreed on, direct debits were organised - I ended up very proud of my achievements and decided I had to pull my socks/ankle high tights up and get on with living.
Polar winter on its way next week they say - so I shall pile on extra layers, turn the heating up and go to earth until it is over.   Keep warm.

Another by-product of growing old.

Following on from yesterday's mention of growing old, there is another aspect of which I am very conscious.   Maybe it is just me - in fact I would love to know whether anyone else experiences the same feeling - but the older I get the more I find I have to stop myself losing my confidence.

I married young and had a very happy first marriage, bringing up one son and playing in an enthusiastic early music group - several of whom were professional musicians - and in addition holding down a responsible, fairly high up role in secondary education.   At the same time I managed to do a couple of degrees in my 'spare time', went off on music courses and generally filled every minute.

Then I had two years as a widow after nursing my first husband through cancer.   Meeting and marrying the farmer was more than I had ever expected to happen.   We had retired and moved to the countryside before my first husband died.   Now, suddenly, I was a farmer's wife - a completely different life, so different that there really was no point of comparison.   I had twenty three years of another very happy marriage - I now realise just how lucky it was that this could happen twice.

Now alone again - a son nearby - lots of wonderful friends - lots of interests - still able to drive - why should my confidence begin to waver?   I can only put it down to age (and I have met others who feel the same).   Perhaps it is the fading of physical strength, or hearing, or a general slowing down.   I don't know.   As I said yesterday - I am no Luddite.   I do keep abreast of current affairs.   But increasingly I need to remind myself who I am and what I am capable of 'off my own bat' lest I fall by the wayside.

Do others feel the same?   Yes, I know we all begin to age from the moment we are born, but eighty is a bit of a milestone whatever anyone might tell you about eighty being the new sixty.
Perhaps I need to snap out of it and buy myself one of the new 'must have' jump suits.   Might even do that if someone can tell me how one can go to the loo quickly if one is taken short (another side effect of getting older!)



Thursday, 22 February 2018


Bright, sunny, getting colder - this about sums up today here in North Yorkshire.   Over the tops of the houses of the estate where I now live I can see the Fells and the Grouse Moors and I see that today they are beginning to burn the heather.   Plumes of white smoke rise here and there - this burning is very much controlled and only done when the weather is right.   Grouse feed on heather and it is done to rejuvenate the plants so that they grow strong and healthy.

Just when we all felt that it was March next week and we were coming to the end of what has been a cold winter here, the weather forecast tells of Polar weather next week (they are not sure which parts of the country will be worst affected) and advises 'the elderly' to stay indoors and keep warm.  The weather map showed the deep blue of very cold weather all across Russia and Siberia and then sweeping down through the whole of Europe.

So, I ask myself, 'am I classed as elderly'?   Well, I am in my eighties; the girls on the checkouts in the supermarket regularly ask me if I want them to pack my bag; people hold doors open for me.  I presume this means I must look elderly (and I do walk with a stick) but the trouble is that I do not feel elderly.   Alright, I have an arthritic ankle which makes me a little unsteady in my walking (although friends tell me I walk much better now) and I am certainly not short of wrinkles but I try to keep abreast of things -the news, the newspaper, the computer.   On the whole I do not see myself as a Luddite.   But, nevertheless, if the weather really does become Polar I may well take to my
bed with a flask of Horlicks! 

I just paused to watch the headlines of the six o'clock news - the news and the pictures from Syria are terrible - I could hardly bear to look.   The United Nations Security Council are meeting later tonight in an effort to get a ceasefire so that aid can get in to help those trapped and injured and get some of them out.  On the one hand there was slightly heartening news last week when North Korea decided to join in the Winter Olympics and so one felt there might be a chink of light in World affairs.   Now that chink has gone and indeed darkness is worse than it was before.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A Jolly Jaunt.

Tess and I had a lovely jaunt out today - one of the most enjoyable days for a long time.    We went up over the top of the Pennines, down the other side and ended up in the little town of Sedbergh to meet my God daughter for lunch at Three Hares.

On the way we stopped at Cotter Force (Force is a local word for a waterfall) - one of Tess's favourite spots.  There was no one but us there so early in the morning apart from Mr and Mrs Mallard swimming serenely up Cotter Beck - they made a gigantic fuss when they saw us and flew off, quacking loudly.
I parked where my God daughter works so that I could leave Tess in the shade and then walked the quarter of a mile to the Three Hares.   Lunch was delicious - I had sweet potato and rosemary soup and a smoke salmon and mayo sandwich.   Then together we walked back to the car.

I stopped on the way back to photograph the Howgill Fells - so very different from the rocks of the Dales - I always think they look like green velvet and they are a wonderful backdrop to the little town of Sedbergh.
It was such a lovely day that, much to Tess's delight we stopped on the way back and walked up to Cotter Force again.   It really is such a pretty place.   This time I saw just one couple with an elderly labrador who had a pleasant conversation with Tess before we walked back to the car and began our journey home.   Such a lovely day.

When I was walking into town from where I parked my car I had to pass Sedbergh church.   Here  is the churchyard.   Why is it I wonder that so many churchyards have such brilliant displays of snowdrops?

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Gas Man Cometh.

Alright, I admit it.  I am just a little bit frightened of gas.   This is probably because I have never had it before - for the last twenty odd years my heating and cooking have been done with oil and before that with electricity.    So, when a fortnight ago my gas central heating boiler began to switch itself off at will and the blue light began to flash on and off, I began to panic a little, although pressing the reset button brought it back on again.

This morning the chap came to service the boiler and to reassure me that there is nothing to be scared of with gas.   Having just come in and found the bungalow warm and cosy and the heating chugging along nicely, I feel much better about things.

Too late to go to my usual Strugglers meeting, I decided to go and do a bit of shopping before our trip out tomorrow.  A friend rang and together we went out for a bit of lunch at the Golf Club.   As usual it was delicious.   She had mince with herby dumplings and nice veg andI had my usual Taste Platter (deep friend salmon goujons, camembert, mushrooms, onion rings and chicken - all served with chips and salad.   A glass of soda and lime before and coffee afterwards - and friend G lent me four good books to read, so I have come home replete in all senses of the word.

Twice round the block with Tess, now  I shall feed her and then watch Antiques Road Trip.   More about the books I have borrowed another day.

Monday, 19 February 2018


As Rachel pointed out on her post this morning, it has been a damp sort of day and yet not unpleasant - and as Si pointed out on his post, the bird song seems to be increasing each day - doesn' t it do the soul good?

One thing I appreciate greatly, living, as I now do, on a housing estate - and living alone - is that now I have left the farm, down its lonely lane (albeit a beautiful one) I see, and speak to, so many more people.   I cannot be lonely.  Having a dog also helps.   I am so glad I didn't pass her on to new owners because there are so many dog owners on this estate and it is so very easy to speak to one another when we meet as we walk our dogs.

I try to do three walks each day - morning, lunch time and just before dark - each one around the various footpaths which divide up the houses and bungalows.   It keeps Tess in trim (and me to some extent) and it is also good for my arthritis.   I still need my walking stick but I am much more active.

This afternoon was a ukulele afternoon - just six of us, but such fun playing and singing for an hour.   Alexander's Ragtime Band went down a treat after half a dozen practice runs.  Oh yes, we play all the latest tunes!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Sunday morning.

Just a quick post before I go off to collect friend W and then on to our usual Sunday lunch.

It is a lovely day here.   It is warmer, the sun is shining, there is little or no wind and - more importantly - the birds are going mad.   As I walked round with Tess I saw a dozen blackbirds, all scratching about in the undergrowth for food; a tree full of great and blue tits at the feeders and some making such a racket - 'tee-cher', 'tee-cher'.
Everyone seemed more cheerful , calling across the road to one another - all the same thing -
'Spring seems to be coming this morning'.   Oh my goodness, are we ready for it this year. 

It is now half past four and I am back from lunch out with my friends (cod loin in Hollandaise sauce
with mashed and roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots and diced swede in a very nice sauce , followed by a very light chocolate pudding and custard.    we sat in the bar for an hour with a cup of tea - lovely).   I came in and took Tess for a walk, turned the central heating up and am now just updating my post before settling down with a cup of tea.

How different the day has turned out to be.   From that lovely sunny start it has developed into a foggy day (and very cold fog at that) and there is nothing spring-like about it.   Going out just now I was struck by the silence - not a bird singing and I can't say I blame them.

Back tomorrow.

Saturday, 17 February 2018


A lot of us are writing about education today - I don't know why.   My post is prompted by an article in today's Guardian by Peter Bradshaw - 'I can't do my times tables and I don't care.'

I agree with him, and with Rachel, Gwil and Cro, all of whom say similar things about education in different ways.

Bradshaw argues that times tables are completely useless and that number bonds (i.e. ways of making ten - e.g. 7+3 or 8+2) are more important.

How I feel having taught in Comprehensive schools for all my working life, is that much of what we learn is pretty useless unless we happen to be about to make a career in the particular subject.
For example - a student who wishes to be a doctor needs (presumably) science subjects across the board, whereas someone who intends to become a
Librarian needs a very good grounding in English.

But what we all need, without a shadow of doubt, is to learn how to learn, to be given a grounding in developing an enquiring mind and given the 'tools' to take it further.  

From all my schooling I have always thought that times tables and number bonds were perhaps the most useful things I learnt, alongside the urge to be constantly learning, using the skills I was given.

Many is the time when, out with my friends, times tables crop up when working something out (dare I say often dividing up the lunch bill!!) and somebody usually says - good job I know my tables.

Are they still taught in school or are they one of the things that has fallen by the wayside? I know there was a time in Junior schools when if something interesting cropped up a good teacher was able (becoming aware of how the children were all so fascinated by it) to drop her planned lessons and concentrate wholly on the thing that had caught their imagination, working maths, english, history, geography, outdoor skills, art - the lot - all into a 'project'.   I doubt this is possible any more.   And I really wonder whether children do chant their tables until they know them

What is your view on tables and number bonds - are they essential or have you managed without them.   I know a lot of students who left school with minimum qualifications in these skills and then would turn up on the check out at Tesco a few months after they left when I went to do my shopping.