Monthly Archives: January 2020

Just another winter’s tale…

At least I know I haven’t told you today’s news, though some have picked it up from the hint the other day, Pictures to start with.

Perdita Hedera was born on 29th January; her due date being 23rd February so she’s slightly premature but not worryingly so. All the same, she’s been under a lamp to forestall jaundice and is being monitored for a couple of extra days before she and Dora go home. We hope that will be tomorrow.

It’s a good job I don’t sleep much. I’d had a nap for a couple of hours but I was awake when Ronan texted me at about quarter to two on Tuesday morning. Dora was in the early stages of labour and the hospital wanted her to come in. I didn’t wait to be asked, but got up and dressed and was over at their house in less than 45 minutes. We all thought that the 28th would be the birthday, but she hung on until late morning the next day. And she is adorable and perfect. She is my last grandchild and Tim’s first (that is, born since we married, when his family became mine and mine became his, though we were already together when Rufus was born, so I’m splitting the finest of hairs) and I love her dearly. Tim will meet her once they’re home.

Z has reasons to be cheerful

Nothing to share, I’m sorry. But maybe a touch of grumpiness for another reason altogether, but only for the record because I’m over it.

When someone wants something and you say no, and explain why, and a while later they want it again and you say no and explain why, you don’t really expect the matter to be raised again. But it has been and their explanation changes several times in the telling and I still said no and clearly, it hasn’t been accepted as NO. And techniques have been used to attempt to bring me in and make it my problem too (this has changed from the third person to the first) which I’m too old not to be aware of, and it’s still no because I’m not engaged with problems of other people if they are actually nothing to do with me, not any more. I don’t suppose I can do a rolling eye emoji here, but perhaps you can imagine it.

In fact, I’m quite cheerful tonight. And my hairdresser, who is my temporary hairdresser because Nikki is on maternity leave, is a very good alternative and she cut my hair today and I’m pleased with it. So then I toddled into three of the lovely food shops that are cheek by jowl with each other and I bought lots of fabulous food. The only reason I didn’t go into the fishmonger’s was that we already had fish. But now I have deli stuff and wholefood stuff and greengrocer stuff too, so that’s another reason to be cheerful. I also went into Crocks, which is a very nice gifty homey crafty sort of shop and I bought some things there, which never fails to please.

Z didn’t get much sleep last night

I’m getting hopeless at remembering what I’ve written here and what on Facebook. So I either say something twice or not at all. I told you about the real pot eggs a couple of weeks ago, I’m so sorry. I don’t think I’m senile. But how would anyone know? I’d get away with it for ages because they’re all used to me as I’ve always been and the difference is merely a matter of detail.

Anyway, hope to have good news for you tomorrow, but not yet, so I’m somewhat distracted. But at least I’ve read my daily book – sometimes, of late, this has been more a fortnightly book, so it feels a welcome return to normality, to have started and finished one in a day. I’ve still got 100 pages of the book I couldn’t find earlier (which was why I started another) to finish tonight. The more I read, the more calm I feel, which is a lesson relearned.

Eloise cat is being particularly loving at present. She actually does lie on my lap and gaze adoringly at me and it’s so sweet. Doesn’t stop her completely blanking me if she feels like it, of course, but I recognise that’s part of a cat’s nature. In other ways, cats remind me of toddlers with a short attention span combined, or perhaps alternated, with complete absorption in some random thing that might catch their eye. I find it hilarious. She does have an appreciable vocabulary; not just asking for food or purring, but a particular sound for a greeting – Rose came through for a chat earlier on and she used it to her, just as she does to us – and various others including, Tim says, swearing at him with a short, sharp f-you. She doesn’t do that with me, but then I clearly don’t deserve it.

I used to speak and understand pretty fluent dog, which includes use of lip and eyebrows, but I don’t have occasion to use it any more and I’m probably rusty. You can’t just do it with anydog, in case they are disconcerted. Like a shared glance between people who know each other well, it doesn’t necessarily work with those you don’t.

Happy Blogday to Z!!(!)

Two posts today because I just realised it is my fourteenth blogging anniversary. Here’s my very first blog post, when I had nothing to say and I just sat down and had a go. I thought I’d mostly use the blog to record the books I read, the music I listened to, the plays and films I saw. There’s been a bit of that but, mostly, it’s just been waffle.


I read in the paper the other day yet another article about how much food we waste – at home, that is, as well as what’s thrown away from shops and restaurants. It’s an alarming quantity, but surely the figures are guesswork? How does anyone know what food is thrown away if you bag up your rubbish? Or whether it’s really waste or simply inedible, in the sense of genuinely useless rather than gone bad because you didn’t use it up?

As I said the other day, we’re pretty good about using up food. If I’m preparing vegetables for a casserole, for example, I keep suitable peelings and make stock at the same time, with any meat trimmings or bones etc and this gets used at once or frozen. After that, they go to the chickens or on the compost heap (which the chickens pick over anyway) and only bare bones go in the bin. So is that counted as thrown away food or is only stuff that’s gone bad counted, I wonder – and again, how do they think they know?

Where food is wasted is in too much being served at restaurants, I think. At the lunch club I go to monthly, a big bowl of vegetables and another of potatoes is always put on each table and at least half of them are left uneaten. They may be able to use the potatoes, I suppose, but the other veg are certainly thrown away, as are uneaten bread rolls etc. And if ever you’re served chips anywhere, there are always too many and the same with a burger bun, which is always huge and discarded at once, most of it.

Russell always used to clear our plates when we ate out. Not to eat the leftovers but to secrete them in a paper napkin and feed them to the chickens later. I was usually expected to keep the package in my handbag, which wasn’t any great joy, frankly, so I haven’t been doing that since he died – but I think it’s time I started. I’ll try to remember to take a bag with me. I know one can ask for a doggybag but it rather depends where you are, especially if you specify you want the vegetables and potato; if you are sensitive to funny looks.

Talking of the chickens, I wonder if one of the young girls is getting broody. She seems to have become a fixture in her nest box – I haven’t checked during the day for a few days, but she’s there morning and evening and she swears at me, using language that such a young hen should not know, when I reach under her. Thing is, she hasn’t laid an egg for a few days either. She is sitting on two, but they’re pot eggs. That is, they’re decoys, to kid your chickens that you haven’t stolen all their own eggs, so that they don’t lay away to hide them. They are real bought eggs – I’ve tried several sorts of fake ones but they know perfectly well that’s what they are. So I’ve drawn black crosses on the bought eggs and don’t pick them up.

I’ve looked on the skip hire website and they don’t specify glass, either to be put in or not, but they do mention it in their recycling information. So if that’s possible, it would be ideal. Still no hurry though, it can certainly wait until summer and not necessarily this summer…..

Catching up

Regular posting and reading of blogs has slipped over the past week. Not entirely sure why, but I may be back on track now.

Jonny came over the other day to talk about the new fence down the drive, which I hope will take shape soon. Tim and I have also been talking about the chicken’s greenhouse, which is looking more and more scruffy. We think it will have to come down and be replaced by a mostly wire run – the main problem is the removal and disposal of the glass. I am not at all sure how that is done. The tip doesn’t take panes of glass, let alone broken panes and there is an awful lot of it. I’m going to have to make enquiries but I think it’ll be very expensive. I don’t think I may even put it in a skip, though that’s the obvious solution if it’s allowed. It isn’t urgent but it would be good to deal with it in the next year. The greenhouse isn’t really unsound but the glass is old and we lose a few panes every year and have to cover the gaps with wire or plastic mesh and it doesn’t look great.

Dora has started her maternity leave, baby being due in four weeks’ time. We’re hoping everyone can come over here for lunch before then – obviously, the baby might scupper plans but she might be along any time in the next six weeks, come to that. I hope she isn’t late – Dora is so petite that carrying a whole lot of baby is quite uncomfortable.

Left over for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…

Tim made his famous leek quiche yesterday, which we had for dinner with some cavolo nero from the garden. And we thought we’d have some more for lunch today and freeze the rest. However, it turned out that Rose and a friend were invited in for a drink, which became lunchtime, so I made a salad too. So we felt pretty good that we’d got a ready-made, home cooked meal all ready for an impromptu lunch party.

I don’t have the full store cupboard that I used to have, but I’m still pretty sure that I could feed a dozen with half an hour’s notice, at any time. Probably with spaghetti and tomato sauce, to tell the truth, but it could be varied. We certainly have stuff we’ve frozen that could do with being used up. It’s like a long forgotten savings account that doesn’t pay much interest but is bound to come in handy one of these days.

I made the hare into a casserole – it was an enormous one. The thing is, a bigger than usual animal means an older one, which means it requires more cooking. Six hours, it took. And it’s certainly tasty, but we’ve had it twice and there’s enough for four more helpings. So I’m sure we’ll freeze it. But when will we then eat it?

I made yoghurt yesterday and have surplus whey, which will go into the bread I need to make tomorrow. It never stops, does it? Trying hard to waste no food, I am imaginative with leftovers. But it does seem to create quite a bit more work and there are only two of us, who don’t have big appetites. This is no complaint, just an observation with no solution.

Z has a pressing problem

I’ve been letting the ironing build up for the last few weeks. I had nearly all the tablecloths and four duvets to iron, for a start. Today was the day. Eloise cat thought so too and came to help.

I went and washed the leeks for Tim’s quiche. She’d moved slightly when I came back, so I had room for napkins on the ironing board. It took quite some time for her to be bored enough to move, but I did get the ironing done and I feel very self-satisfied. So does Tim, his quiche having proved to be as delicious as it always is. It was the first thing that he cooked for me, as I have said many times.

And yes, she’s a fat cat. I don’t think we overfeed her and we don’t leave dry food down for her any more, but she doesn’t move a huge amount. She potters about in the garden, unlike Rummy who’s a lean hunter. Rose gets presents from him, which we don’t, luckily. She’s completely recovered from her operation last spring and doesn’t limp at all, thank goodness. I don’t from my broken foot in July, either, but I can still feel it. The doctor said that it would take at least eight months to recover completely, so I suppose I’m on track. I’ve a horrid feeling that wearing heels will be an occasional event in future, though. Such a pity. I’ve never been one for extreme heels but I do like a bit of lift. Downhill all the way, in all respects, it seems.

Animal crackers

We were sitting having a peaceful cup of tea when Rose knocked on the window. The cattle were out! I hastened into boots and coats and fetched a stick, but it was less trouble than it looked. When the single bullock saw me, he jumped the fence back in with his mates.

We spent a while mending the fence.

By the time everyone comes to the blog party this summer, there will be a new fence. Probably a wooden picket fence, or rather, a series of them between the brick pillars. Jonny Farmer is going to come and talk to me about it on Sunday.

Sadly, one of our young hens has been taken by a fox – probably. A few afternoons ago, I shut the hen house when they’d all gone to roost and was taken aback the next morning, when I went to feed the cats, to find the smallest white pullet in the dutch barn with the cats. She returned to the other chickens when I opened their shed, but she didn’t roost with them that night either. I’m afraid that she thought she was being clever, but she wasn’t. I haven’t seen her since. I suspect that she came down from wherever she’d roosted at first light, when foxes were still about.

This means that I only have one pullet from Scrabble’s brood, which is a pity. I feel anxious when letting them out, but they’re so much happier being out and about in the garden. They’re really happy little chickens and we love to see them pottering around.

Their greenhouse needed some running repairs the other day. When I shut the chickens in their shed, I noticed a broken pane of glass. The next day, I realised there were two broken panes and that the gate through to the field was open. Evidently, one of the bullocks – probably the same enterprising chap who fetched up in the drive this afternoon – had managed to open the gate, come through, found his way barred and kicked about a bit before returning. So LT and I put wire netting up and Wince has done more maintenance too since then. And we’ve wired the gate so that they can’t tease it open.

Z muses. One of these days, Z might amuse, but baby steps…..

In the last two or three years, there has been a movement to take small children and babies into care homes, so that the old people can have the pleasure of interacting with tiny tots and the children enjoy the experience too. They’re too young to mind if the elderly people have hairy chins or say the same thing a few times and everyone enjoys the visit, including the parents who realise how much love there is between the generations. A few young friends of mine have taken their babies along and enthused about it.

I used to take Meals on Wheels to a nice old man who lived in the village. After his wife died, he’d had a long relationship with another woman, a widow, who kept her own home but spent a lot of time at his. This is not at all unusual now, at whatever age, but was then. But then she died and he was quite lonely, not for company but for touch. I got that, I knew that when he wanted a big, enveloping hug, he wasn’t behaving inappropriately but showing a need – in fact, once, I remember him muttering “oh, that’s what I need, that’s what I need.”

We used to be quite reticent in this country and it’s one of the big changes in society, that we all hug and kiss each other nowadays – just socially, as they do in some Continental societies. I say “all” but that’s not really the case. Some people are quite uncomfortable with it and feel that kissing should be reserved for spouses and children, but even those less tactile ones go along with it if they have to. I generally go by instinct, whether someone will welcome a hug or not – body language, I suppose.

There is, of course, the social hug/kiss and the warm one and the loving one and probably a few more nuances – like the intergenerational one I started with. I remember once impulsively kissing the cheek of an old lady I didn’t know all that well but was fond of, and she just blossomed. She was surprised and so pleased.

I’m not going anywhere with this really except to say, touch matters and hugs matter. If one is really non-tactile then that may not be possible, but there are a lot of people who simply crave a moment of warmth with someone friendly. Even when Eloise cat cuddles up to me, I feel soothed and cheered. I never mind her waking me in the night, because we both feel happier for the contact.