Monthly Archives: April 2022

Tim’s Rock

Tim’s brother and sister-in-law are having a few days in East Angular and came to stay here last night. Lovely to see them, of course, we had a convivial evening. We went for a walk this morning, over the fields to Jonny’s farm, so they could buy some of his Baron Bigod cheese from the vending machine.

Tomorrow, I’m off to the Pembrokeshire caravan. I can’t pretend I’m looking forward to it, I think it will be lonely and emotional, but I can’t duck out of it. Joseph, who manages the site, has organised a gas safety check and service and I’m going to phone and ask him if he’ll kindly turn on the water, gas and heating on for me. i have instructions on how to do it, but I won’t arrive until the evening and I certainly don’t want to have to call for help if I get it wrong.

I’m catching up on various bits and pieces today and Wink and I just went to fill the chickens’ feed hopper. I realised that I was using the last bag of corn and I’ll get back over the bank holiday weekend, so I’ll have to go and buy more tomorrow before I leave, because 10 days is as long as a bag lasts. If I don’t have time, Wink can do it for me, but I’ll try to manage.

I’ve been putting off one task for as long as I could. I’d decided to take some of Tim’s ashes with me, to put on his favourite rock, which he loved to climb as a small boy. When I brought his casket home with me last autumn, I discovered that it wasn’t possible to lift the lid, the only way of opening it was to turn it upside down and undo six screws, then lift off the base. So I finally did it this afternoon. It was solemn, I have to admit and I felt quite tearful, though I didn’t cry. I found a small jar that used to contain herbs and have sealed it with additional sticky tape so that there’s no risk he’ll spill in my bag. I thought the ashes would be darker, but they’re pale grey. Once I’m home again, I’ll speak to the Rector about burying him in the churchyard. There’s room next to Russell, who is in a double depth grave, ready for me. I’ll leave it to my children to decide how to word the gravestone, in due course. I find that thought amusing.

I just had a WhatsApp from my business partner, who had a cataract operation this afternoon. I hadn’t realised that the eye patch you wear afterwards is clear, so he can see through the new lens. He says the sight in that eye is still a little blurred, but not out of focus. Isn’t it wonderful, how good the operation is now? He was in the clinic for a couple of hours, but the op itself only took ten minutes and they say he should be able to drive within ten days.

Unless things have changed since last August, internet reception at the caravan is poor, so I won’t blog much for a while. I have quite a lot to get ready before I go – there’s a duvet and pillows there, but we brought the bedding home to wash, so I’ll have to take it, as well as towels etc. Tim has a list, I must look it out. I really don’t want to go, but I suspect I’ll find it less of an ordeal than I anticipate. I always do my worrying in plenty of time, then I’m okay when the event arises.

Really me, as the Sage used to say

Wednesday already. I just go to bed when I’m tired nowadays and that rather cuts out blogging. I should blog earlier, of course.

Yesterday, I had to pick up papers from my solicitor to send on to the solicitor dealing with the sale of Tim’s house. There’s a reason I am not using the same firm for the latter and, obviously, I’m saying nothing about it. But it does complicate matters somewhat. I may still have to buy from the government website a copy of Tim and Viv’s marriage licence, dating from 1988.

In the afternoon, I went for a routine mammogram – this is the last for which i’ll receive a call. I’ll still be entitled to one in the future, but I’ll have to ask for it. Afterwards, i went to the garage to ask them to turn off the bloody child lock at the back. This has always been dangerous but, since children have been obliged to be put into car seats, it’s been pointless too. Yet it’s on and I haven’t been able to switch it off, nor has Phil. When I got to the garage, Rory couldn’t suss it either and nor could a mechanic to start with. But finally he discovered that the button that controls the rear windows also controls the rear doors. So why isn’t that in the manual? Really me, as Russell used to say.

I put the car to charge overnight and drove to Norwich this morning, but it hadn’t charged. This was no problem, I’d plenty of range, but the charger wasn’t working. I put it on the home circuit and it charged. So back to the garage. My cable worked, so it’s the charge point – “try turning it off and turning it on again.” Eh. Yes, that worked, until I tried again later and it’s playing up again. But no matter, I’ve got another string to my bow and, if that doesn’t do the trick, the guy who installed it will be phoned.

I’ve posted the papers and the car is charged and I’ve arranged to pick up Rose to take her to lunch tomorrow. And I’ve had a nice chat with Weeza and offered to look after their little dog while they go on holiday this summer. Tim’s brother and sister-in-law are coming to stay tomorrow night, which will be lovely. I’ll give myself a day in hand and then go off to Pembrokeshire.

While in Norwich, I bought a dress and a skirt from Hobbs. Couldn’t find shoes I liked, though. Where are the good shoes?

Sunday lunch

The day was as enjoyable as I’d hoped. I’m relieved that, being thoroughly out of practice, I can still coordinate a meal for 14 and have everything ready on time. I overslept, in fact – I am sleeping better than I have for decades, still – and didn’t wake up until 8.50, though in a brief wakeful period at 7 o’clock I considered getting up and sorting everything out early. But I thought another short nap would be nice.

So I got the lamb out of the fridge, chopped onions, put the lamb on the onions and some rosemary, studded it with garlic, oiled and seasoned it and made a mental note to put it in the oven at 10 o’clock. It was a big leg. I peeled whole lots of potatoes, parsnips and carrots, cut up broccoli, sliced courgettes and put them in a frying pan with garlic, butter and olive oil. Ronan and I picked mint and he made the mint sauce. I put chipolatas in a frying pan to cook later, parboiled the potatoes and tossed them in oil, as I did the ‘snips and carrots. I took the top off the red pepper, cooked the rice, cooked onion to go in the rice, made a tomato sauce, decided to add cheese to the rice and stuffed the pepper. I whipped the cream, put it in the profiteroles except some for the grandchild’s who doesn’t like cream (and it was lucky I’d cautiously decided to cook sausages because he wasn’t too keen on lamb either), put Wink’s in a bowl because she doesn’t like chocolate and she distributed the raspberries. I made the chocolate sauce.

When the children were little – my own children, that is – a popular game was a treasure hunt, with clues. As they got older, the clues became more cryptic. It’s lovely that Ronan now does the same thing with his children. He did them an Easter egg hunt, just tiny eggs wrapped in foil. He told Rufus that they’d be written clues now, as he can read. Alex remembered one of my clues – “In the water but not in the water” which I thought was good of him, after 30 years.

Alex offered to help and I asked him to put napkins on the table. He vanished for a while and, some time later, I went into the dining room with a bottle of wine, just as he was leaving. He’d folded all the napkins into waterlilies and I told him he’d made my day. Just a little kindness because it was something I used to do, he knew I’d be charmed.

The minor fly in the ointment was that the small tabletop oven really doesn’t get hot enough now – last summer, I had to give bread double the time it needs in the Aga and I don’t think it’s hot enough to cook it at all now – and I first thought of putting Pugsley’s red pepper to cook in Wink’s oven, but it was easier to give it a few minutes in the microwave and it was cooked in time. I put the grill on to finish off the parsnips and carrots because they weren’t going to be ready otherwise either. The meat had half an hour to rest and everything was on the table at 1 o’clock on the dot. I’m boasting, I’m afraid, but I haven’t done a big Sunday roast for the whole family for a long time – when we’ve been together over the last couple of years, it’s been cold meals outdoors.

Just remembered I’d turned the Aga up, because otherwise the oven loses heat when a lot is being cooked at the same time. Just as well I did all that shameful bragging, because I wouldn’t have remembered to turn it down otherwise.

Little Perdita now talks in full, fluent sentences. I can’t understand her, but I seemed to be appreciative enough because she smiled a lot. She’s a very good-natured little girl and enjoyed the matching game I fished out for them to play.

Happy Easter

The whole family is coming for lunch tomorrow, which is wonderful. We’ve had a few get-togethers, when lockdown restrictions permitted, over the last couple of years, but this will be the first time we’ve sat together at the same table. Tim will be very much missed, he loved being a part of the family. But I miss him all the time of course, so nothing is much different.

I have bought a leg of lamb, which is hogget I should think, as it’s too big for spring lamb. Pugsley is vegetarian, so I’m doing a red pepper stuffed with rice and so on (I’m still working on the sufficient protein element) to go with the vegetables, and I’ll do an onion gravy so that he can join in everything else. Then profiteroles with cream, raspberries and chocolate sauce. I don’t often make puddings nowadays and had a moment of panic when I wasn’t sure if I’d weighed the eggs right. I had to check the compost bin and count the eggshells.

Wink and I have booked a visit to London next month, to visit the Raphael exhibition at the National Gallery and meet my darling schoolfriend Lynn there. We’ll have supper together before returning in the evening. Thinking about how long Lynn and I have known each other brings home to me how old we are….

Having had another birthday, Wink is hell bent on bucking the family trend and reaching the age of 80. Quite a long way to go yet, but why not? We look after each other very well.

Birthday sister

My soup was so pretty. The description was cauliflower and truffle veloutĂ© with puffed potato and chives and it was as delicious as it was decorative. I’m not sure the picture does it justice, it really was lovely.

I had a dentist appointment at 9.30 this morning, which was a bit earlier than I’d really have liked, but it was the only time I could get it out of the way before Easter. It was fine, just a checkup and the dentist said that, as everything was stable, he wouldn’t need to see me until this time next year. Dentists are very pushed at present, there are simply not enough of them and I doubt he’s the only one who’s taking the pragmatic approach of cutting down on routine appointments. Of course, if I need to see him, I can book in at any time.

After that, I went in to Norwich as I needed to go to the bank. I checked the market on the way past and, as I hoped, saw there was some new season Norfolk asparagus. The jovial young bank teller asked me how my day was, so far? I said I’d been to the dentist, but all was well and I was going to buy some asparagus, so it was going exceptionally well so far, how about his day? He said that he’s started work really early, but he rather liked that as it was motivating. And I suggested that meant that he’d finish early for the bank holiday weekend too? Yes, indeed. So we both felt cheerful for our brief conversation.

I bought flowers as well, pink lilies for Wink and anemones for me. I bought tulips and roses yesterday, I’m pigging out on flowers at present as they keep up my spirits. Quite some while ago, I told our then Rector, when he asked how I was coping after my mother’s death, I said that I gauged my stress level by the number of candles I lit when I was in the bath. Some nights it was five. He incorporated this, not mentioning me, into his sermon – on coping, I suppose – that Sunday and afterwards said he hoped I didn’t mind being used for inspiration. I only sometimes have one candle at present, but flowers seem to be the substitute.

Anyway, after our very nice lunch, we just had asparagus with a poached egg for supper, followed by Dutch strawberries. They aren’t as good as the local ones will be in a few weeks, but there. It still felt like a treat. And then peppermint tea. I’ve promised to take Wink to the theatre when we find something we’d like to see, I haven’t bought her a present as such.

I woke up in the night with hiccups, which was such a nuisance. It kept me awake. Then I slept a bit, woke again, hiccuped again, dammit, and gave up for a couple of hours. Of course, then I overslept and had to hurry to leave on time. Luckily Wink had already said she’d feed the chickens and cats. When she took the anti-rat defences away and the lid off the feeder, two chickens had managed to get inside, which made her jump. I suspect they jumped on the cover which tipped, they fell in and it swung back on top of them. So they’d had a very good breakfast, albeit in the dark. Wince kindly filled the feeder up for me, I’d not felt quite like lifting a 20 kilo bag from the grain bin yesterday and had just taken a couple of scoops out. He’s a very kind man and a good friend.


According to the app on my phone, I slept for 8 hours and 5 minutes last night.

Wink is safely home and I’ve booked a table for lunch tomorrow at a really nice restaurant, to celebrate her birthday.

Pillock and the girls are doing fine.

All the other bantams are fine too.

Rose came for lunch, I made a soufflé and we had a lovely time.

I gave my cousin a dozen eggs and she gave me a chocolate orange cake, still warm from the oven. I had a slice for tea, it was absolutely delicious.

The sun shone.

Pillock is content

I went out to visit the chickens and gave them some cheese rinds. It was quite easy to pick up one of them, the darker girl in the foreground, though she protested as I carried her the 100 metres or so to where Pillock’s run is. He was thrilled. I went back and picked up another, who is a friendly and gentle little bird, who didn’t protest. The video I took of him picking up grains of corn and dropping them, then chirping to encourage them to feed, was charming but too big to post here. All was well, I hope they’ll be happy together. I might put another chicken in with them, I’ll see what Wink says when she comes home tomorrow.

I have to keep the cover on the run so that there’s no risk from wild birds – I don’t think there is likely to be, but restrictions are still in place while there’s avian flu in the country. But they have grass and fresh air, they’re all right.

Pillock’s neck feathers are starting to grow back. The four remaining cockerels are edgy together, so I hope there are no more fights. There’s plenty of room and plenty of wives for all of them, if only they’d relax. But it’s not in their nature. Still, at least this has gone well today.

Wink will be home tomorrow and Rose is coming over for lunch. So it’ll be another good day.

Z stares at the writing and doesn’t make sense of it. Which may or may not mean that there is sense to be made.

My age is showing. I can’t work out how to turn off the connection to my phone on my car. That is, it won’t not connect, even if the phone isn’t plugged in and it still tries to connect, even if the phone isn’t in the car. I’ve brought the infotainment (sorry) manual in and I can’t find how to just use the car’s own system. I expect it’s there, but the jargon makes my brain glaze over. I’m going to have to ask a younger person.

Or maybe RTFM again tomorrow, if I can be bothered.

I’ve just remembered I’ve a wannabe loaf of bread rising in the kitchen. I must knock it into shape. Back soon (22.12)

22.17. That didn’t take long. I floured a cloth, shaped the dough onto it and put it back into the bowl, then covered it over. In the morning, I’ll put the cast iron casserole into the oven and leave it while I look after the chickens and the cats, then put the dough into that and bake it, half the time with the lid on and half uncovered. It makes good, effortless bread, though I have yet to manage the texture that sourdough bread should have. I think I’d have to stretch and fold it many more times than I can be bothered to do.

The silicone cover wasn’t big enough, last time and it slipped to the side, so the top hardened a bit (it’s turned upside down to be baked, so top becomes bottom) and the dough didn’t rise as much as it should have, so the last loaf was a bit solid. I might quietly give what’s left to the chickens. They love soaked bread and they don’t get it very often.

Poor Pillock looks very disconsolate. I might catch chickens to keep him company tomorrow, rather than wait for Wink. She was due back tomorrow but has been invited to stay an extra night with her friends.


I heard Andrew, who delivers the papers, arriving a little after 7 o’clock this morning and remembered I hadn’t put out his cheque. I thought of calling out of the window and running down to find it, but decided it could wait another day. I’d written the cheque and torn out the vouchers, so went to look for them later. Nowhere to be found.

Usually, I get it all ready and put the envelope on the inside doorstep, so I’ll notice when I go upstairs and put it out last thing, but I hadn’t done that. I tried to remember what I had done. I drank more coffee. Nothing. Then I had a vivid mental picture, an actual picture in my mind. I had put a sliver of wood, then the cheque and vouchers, no envelope, then weighed them down with a small log.

Once I’d seen that, I could remember what I’d done. On Thursday, it had rained hard. I have a small table with a tray on it in the front porch, for the papers and the mail, but the driving rain had left a puddle. Andrew hadn’t noticed and the newspapers were wet on Friday morning. So I carefully protected the payment.

It’s hard to tell how my memory is, compared to how it used to be. I’m not as good at learning as I was, I know that. I’m better at some things, because I make more effort. I rarely put a key down casually and am so much better at remembering names, even of casual callers, that I impress myself. Like Matt, who came to check on the broadband connection the other week. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have risked addressing him by name (he phoned to check he’d got the right place, from the end of the drive) but I still know it now. If you knew me well enough, you’d be as astonished as I am. But anyway, in this instance it was as if I’d looked at a photo and that triggered the memory of the event.

I don’t know that I have a particularly visual memory. I see words, if I’m looking in a book or newspaper for something, I know where on the page, how far in, left or right page, it is. I can feel, my fingers remember what they’ve learnt. I’m hopeless at finding my way by memory. My sister can look at a map and, the next day, drive straight to her destination. I can drive a route 20 times and still forget a turning. It was dreadful when Russell, a superb navigator, lost his ability to find his way anywhere. We got hopelessly lost a couple of times because I assumed he knew what he was doing, until I cottoned on and had to become the navigator – that simply means we relied on the satnav, of course. Although, where I do know my way about, I see the map in my mind.

Since Tim died, I’ve had to navigate my way round Reading. He was used to telling me every single turning, even if I actually did know it – we both agreed that we’d rather be told something we knew than get it wrong because the other assumed we did – but now I’m developing a bump of direction and a sense of place. It’ll be wasted once his house is sold, I don’t suppose I’ll visit much; though i do hope to keep in touch with our friends there.

Last night, according to my app, I slept for 8 hours and 42 minutes, having spent 9 hours and 17 minutes in bed – I read for a while after turning it on. This is fantastic. I’ve slept supremely well for 5 out of 7 nights and adequately for another. I make no assumptions for the future, I’m grateful for what I have and hope to learn how to maintain this, but there are bound to be setbacks. I can’t help but be encouraged, though.

Pillock blames Z

Pillock wasn’t willing to be picked up but he didn’t protest when I cornered him. It’s a lovely run, he has fresh grass and is protected from the wind, but he’s quite anxious. I haven’t caught pullets to go in with him yet, which is my fault entirely. I can catch them when they’re happily eating treats, but that seems to be mean and taking advantage. I’m convincing myself – or nearly, anyway – that it’ll be good if Wink can choose the bantams she wants, when she gets home next week. There are a few who spend a lot of time sitting and they would be easy to catch, but that seems mean too. I’d be useless as a farmer.

I was given a good supply of wild garlic today, so I’ve made pesto – of course I have the other ingredients in stock because this is me. Three batches are in the freezer, a half batch went into tonight’s dinner and there is still a handful of leaves left for part of another meal or two. I don’t happen to have wild garlic in the garden, which is a pity. In my newsletter from the Drainage Board, I was asked to notify them if I have Himalayan Balsam along the river – I know it’s a nuisance, but it’s so pretty and I’m fond of it. All the same, if I find some, I’ll pull it out. It’s easy to destroy but the seeds do spread widely, I recognise that it’s a problem. And I can legally pick wild garlic as long as I don’t destroy the plant, but I may not dig up a patch of it, even if it’s to enable it to spread on my undisturbed land. Ho hum. I do appreciate the careful balance that the environment people have to manage.

It’s been a busy week. I’m tired and I should read, listen to music, watch casual television and have an early night. I’ll spend the evening simply missing Tim, though, whatever else I do. Eh. Deleted the next two sentences. This is a good space, not a sad one.