Monthly Archives: July 2022

Missing you already

The blog party has been and gone and it was lovely to see people again. The only newcomers were Zoe and Mike’s delightful Ukrainian guest, who coped splendidly with the company of ten cheerful strangers; and Rose’s beau John, who is really great company and the two of them looked very happy. I hope everyone else had fun, because I did.

Food had taken an afternoon and a morning to get ready, relaxedly. I kept it simple and tried not to overcater too much – and pretty well succeeded, in fact (apart from shedloads of drink of various sorts). Cold beef, salmon, salad Niçoise, egg mayonnaise, potato salad, other salads, roasted vegetables – I bore in mind those who couldn’t have gluten and/or dairy, who seem to be increasing in number. If you have a health problem and find that cutting out a food transforms your digestion, you won’t want to go back. I think stress plays a large part in triggering this – but anyway, I was careful and I hope everyone had a good choice.

Everyone looked wonderful and was pleased to see everyone else. I think this is the 11th year and 12th party. Next year, it will take place on a Tuesday, because then our good friend Vicus Scurra can come again – he and Mrs VS have unalterable weekend commitments. It will mean that Zoe and Mike can’t stay overnight, but they can come for a weekend at other times. Some other friends had other things on, so we’ll try harder next year to find a date to suit everyone.

Poor eCat, who can’t bear dogs, vanished rather than come into contact with Scout, who is somewhat nervous of cats. I carried her up to my bedroom last night and she scuttled through the upstairs rooms, curious to meet Alina. Scout was afraid to come upstairs, so I shut Eloise cat in with me. It’s so funny, neither of them would hurt the other. But she’s okay now that she rules the household again today.

I’ve cleared everything away and packed, ready to go to Ro’s house this evening and we’ll be off to Pembrokeshire tomorrow, leaving Wink in charge. After a weekend of champagne and chat, I’ll probably slump silently for the journey. But, though it rains most days at Wiseman’s Bridge, it rarely rains all day and I’m sure we’ll spend plenty of time on the beach. I’m sure the children will love it there, all children do.

“Missing you already,” called Mike, as they left. Me too, friends. Thank you for coming and thank you all for being your fabulous selves.

Z isn’t bored

I’ve done as much as I can for today, the rest is last-minute stuff. Or last morning, at any rate. I’m afraid I’ve prepared too much food, but that’s usual. I’ve remembered to pack my chequebook and some cash for Pembrokeshire – may not need them, but Joseph the caravan site manager doesn’t do internet anything and has no intention of starting. I have no idea how this goes down with younger caravan owners, but things won’t change this side of J’s retirement.

The weather forecast over there is iffy, but that’s normal. There’s a lot of rain, but it rarely lasts all day. Over here on the dry side of the country, it’s easy to forget that arid, parched land is not to be found everywhere else. Wince, my gardener, told me yesterday that his partner’s brother was responsible for one of the fires the other day, to his embarrassment. He was harvesting and had the cutter higher than usual, but a flint got caught in the blade and the spark set fire to the straw. In minutes, the field was ablaze. Wiser not to have been harvesting in the middle of the day, but he thought he’d taken precautions. It’s shockingly easy to start a fire, that gets out of hand in moments.

I called on my friend Lilian yesterday. She’s 94 now and is frailer than she was a few months ago. Her elder sister died a year and a half ago and Lilian misses her badly. They’d lived together for about 30 years, both having been widowed quite young. I can see that being Wink and me, if we ever move from here – not for 30 years, of course, we’re both too old for that. And we have no plans to move anyway, not for a long time yet. We like it here. It’s been a bit of an eye-opener for her, to find how much more work it is, compared to her town garden and way of life, but it’s more interesting. I’m not sociable any more, not like she is (notwithstanding the blog party, which is an exception) so being engaged with home things matters to me. I’d be awfully bored if I were not obliged to be busy. Not that it’s likely to be boring this weekend – anything but.

It’ll be fine…

I’m all out of kilter. I’m so tired in the evening that I go to bed early, so I wake for good earlier than I want to (I’m not fond of early rising) and get up, which makes me tired by the evening. Last night, I went to bed at 8.30, which is just ridiculous, especially in the summer, when it’s still light.

Still, all ready for the blog party, except for the actual food. I’ll shop and cook tomorrow and then only have the last-minute stuff for Saturday. Wink has offered to help, so it won’t be too strenuous.

Of course, I’m off to Pembrokeshire with Ro and the children on Monday, first thing, so I’ve got stuff to get ready for that too. I must find up the caravan notebook, where I’ve listed what I need to take – Tim always made notes, having learned from experience that you don’t remember from one trip to the next. I’m not sure which safe and sensible place I chose for the book, however. I know I need more towels and a single duvet would be easier than the double one that’s already there, for the sofa bed. I’m not going to fuss. It’ll be fine. Some rain is forecast there for next week – if only it would come here – but that’s usual. It rarely rains all day and the caravan is so close to the beach that we can go there whenever the weather suits. There’s something I can’t put my finger on about the attraction of the place. I understand why Tim loved it so much.

Happy birthday, dearest Ronan…

It’s been a lovely day, though I’ve been inept in several ways. Cakes that didn’t rise and so on. Still, we keep plugging on and turn disaster into triumph.

It’s been very hot and I’ve worked very hard and I’m exhausted. But I can stop now and clear up the kitchen tomorrow.

I wasn’t at all sure if the hedgehog would survive the night, but it did. It had also poo’ed in its water dish and eaten all the food. So I replenished both food and water and it ate some more, then slept and ate again. I’ve just put it out in the garden, with food and water to hand. I’ll have to keep on putting out food, I’ve got several dishes of water around the garden that I refill every day. It’s raining at present, after a very hot day.

Wink is safely home, Ronan is happy with his birthday presents, everyone had a good time and my daughter in law Dilly is the best. I’ve always loved her, mind you, from when I first knew her.

I will go and have a bath now and go to bed. I really am tired out. Full of vim tomorrow, of course. I have a blog party to get ready for.

Bustling. On and off

Although I had a nap this afternoon – siesta sounds so much better, but I can only claim a nap – I’ve got quite a lot done.

Today is the 36th anniversary of moving to this house. That’s over two-thirds of my life spent living here. The actual 2/3 anniversary must have been quite recent and I should work it out, yet it’s gone by unnoticed, so it’s quite possible that I won’t bother. Anyway, that means that tomorrow is Ronan’s birthday.

We had offered our buyers a week of vacant possession before completion day, which was 1st August. I refused to move on my little boy’s birthday, so it had to be the day before.

I’d tried to arrange a whole-family get-together tomorrow, but Gus has a friend staying and Weeza thinks they would like to just hang out, so they aren’t coming. Everyone else is, though. It wasn’t arranged until this morning. So I drove into Yagnub to the Co op to buy supplies that couldn’t be fetched in the independent shops, then came back to park and get the rest. The town was really busy. This is great news for local shops, but I couldn’t park and I had ice cream in the shopping bags. So I went home to put away the shopping and fetch my bike.

First surprise was, picking up the panniers from the floor, I found a hedgehog asleep in the porch. I put it in a box with food and water, hoping it will survive – it has eaten and slept again.

So I got the bike out, added the panniers, fetched my wallet, took them outside and locked the door … then felt the tyres. I unlocked the door, took the bike pump, pumped up the tyres, put away the pump, locked the door and was on my way.

There are two butchers in town. One has been there for about 40 years, but the proprietor died suddenly of an unsuspected aneurism about three years ago. Since then, another butcher has opened a shop in the middle of town and there are two excellent farm shops, ten minutes’ drive away, so there has to be less custom. I don’t use any butcher often, I don’t need to. John’s widow is about my age, so it’s not surprising that she has decided to close the shop for good, at the end of next week. I went in for some of their excellent sausages, but I didn’t see any staff I knew, so didn’t say anything. I went to the other shop for steak, I like to spread my custom where I can.

The good thing about a bike is that you can stop pretty well anywhere. I parked three times for four shops. I bought two massive steaks, 1.5 kilos in all, which i’ll cook on the barbecue tomorrow and slice up. I’ve bought salad and fruit, only easy stuff. Then I slowly cycled home. I’m going to buy an electric bike, I’m just too lazy for this and need a more appealing option. Driving is too tempting, but I should use my legs.

By the time I got home, it was lunchtime but I was knackered. I rested for a bit, made some lunch and ate it on the lawn and then had my nap. Then I pottered around, getting quite a lot sorted out and finally realised it was after 7 o’clock. So I fed the cats and chickens, got a loaf of sourdough bread on the way, fed the starter, marinaded the steaks, made a batch of lemonade and a batch of tea for icing and got dinner under way. I took my meal out to the table on the lawn and found that a hover fly wasn’t looking very well. It moved around, turned over, waved its legs, slowly died over the course of the next hour. I probably should have squashed it at the start, yet I don’t know if it was actually suffering.

The dough is now in a tin and will rise overnight. I’ve bottled the lemonade, removed the teabags from the other and put both bottles in the fridge. My back hurts, but that’s because I took cat food down to their barn in the wheelbarrow and wheelbarrow handles are too low, even for a short person. I was supporting a heavy weight with a bent back and that’s not good. I have filled a wheelie bin with cardboard, the other wheelie bin is half full of bottles and other recyclable stuff. I’m frankly wiped out and feeling my age. This would have been normal, with room to spare, a few years ago. I should make more effort and get fitter.

Greenhouse 101

I’ve ordered new rat traps. The problem is worse than it’s ever been and I don’t know what else to do about it. The traps are within a box that the chickens shouldn’t be able to access, but I’ve got a couple of milk crates that I can put them in too, for added safety. I could use a pipe otherwise. I’ve also ordered a new, supposedly rat-proof feeder, because the one I have, which is useful because it takes a whole bag of corn, is sold as rat-proof but absolutely isn’t. I sometimes go in the hen run during the day and find rats, standing up to touch the bar and then eating the food that drops out. Let’s face it, rats are smarter than chickens and of course they’ve learned. The new one relies on chickens being heavier than rats – we’ll see. The chooks will have to learn to use it for a start. I never leave any food out overnight, but they’re too bold to wait now. The feral cats have more sense than to tackle full grown ones and they’re not like Rummy, Rose’s cat, who loved ratting. They only kill for food, not sport and apparently rats don’t taste great.

I went to lock the door before going to bed, but managed to trap my skirt in the hinge, so had to unlock and open it again. That alerted Eloise cat, who wanted to go out. So now I have to wait for her. That is, I am waiting politely for her so that she doesn’t have to walk around the house to her cat flap. Ho hum.

End of term

Two grandsons, cousins, are leaving primary school this week. “No more school runs,’ chortled Dilly and Al. Weeza still will sometimes take her two, if possible, to high school as the pick-up point for the school bus is at its furthest point from the school, so it’s a long and boring journey to be picked up first. But whether she can fetch them again at the end of the day depends on her future plans. At present, she can leave work at 3 pm to fetch one or both children, but she may opt for a change in career before long.

Next year will be Squiffany’s last at high school. Time is running away with my grandchildren’s childhoods but I’m drifting, mostly alone. I’m not good with too much company. Fine if someone comes here or I go out to see a friend or a group of friends, but I avoid social occasions in general. There’s a concert on in Yagnub on Saturday, which looks really good and I’d enjoy, normally, but I’ve lost my social nerve. I manage to go to Nadfas, pass the time of day with a few people sometimes, but that’s about it. I was invited to the belated 100th anniversary of the WI I used to belong to and, because I had a personal invitation, I went, but I felt quite awkward, though friends looked out for me and had saved a seat.

All the same, I should be positive. Rose asked me out to lunch today and it was lovely and we’re as close as ever. I’m going out to lunch tomorrow with old friends too – which rather gives the lie to my statement about not being sociable. It’s Ro’s birthday at the weekend, so I’ll see him, if only to give him his present. I’ve seen clients and that’s gone well. I know it’s good for me if I’m not reclusive, so I make an effort. Tempting to just drift, though.


Officially the hottest day ever in this country. Gosh. Yet some people are still bleating that it’s ‘just summer.”

I raided the freezer for some chicken-friendly food, to cool them down and have veggie ice lollies, which they enjoyed. I also put an old sheet on Wink’s chickens’ run (which is shaded, but also plastic and that’s never good news) and wetted it from the hose. Stupid Louise bantam was determinedly sitting, beak open and panting with the heat, so I left her with a bowl of water. Later, she looked more comfortable.

A dear friend phoned this afternoon to tell me that she’s agreed to have her husband’s life support switched off tomorrow. It’s not unexpected, he has multiple organ failure. We’d spoken on the phone for a long time yesterday and afterwards, as they’re Christians, I went down to the church, said the Nunc Dimittis and played the organ for quite a long time. It’s their 31st wedding anniversary tomorrow, to make things worse, though she’s managing to take the viewpoint that it’s rounding off their life together.

I’m not doing much at present, still drinking a lot of iced tea and lemonade and reading the books I buy quicker than I read. It used to be the other way round. I’d buy two paperbacks a week, because that was all I could afford with three young children, and read them by the next day. I had to slow down my reading but now I wish I was still in the speed-reading habit. So many books, less ability to multi-task. I used to have a book at the foot of the stairs so that I didn’t waste time as I walked up.

Lunch with Rose tomorrow, but first I’ll have to check my reservation with the restaurant. Without European staff, a lot of places can’t open all week and this one is shut on Mondays and Tuesdays, so my email hasn’t been answered yet.

When the greengrocer sells you lemons…


2 lemons, 100g sugar, 500ml boiling water.

Thinly peel the lemons. I use a potato peeler. Put the peel in a jug with 100g sugar (the original recipe was 4 oz sugar, but this is too sweet and 3 oz is too tart, I think), add the boiling water. Stir, cover and leave to cool. Squeeze the lemons, add the juice and pulp, strain into a bottle and refrigerate. Dilute as much as you like.

A splash added to iced (milkless, of course) tea is lovely too.

Cool house

There’s an article in the paper today about how houses are designed to lock in heat over here, nowadays, not to keep it out and, as the climate heats up, that should change.

No human-driven climate change in the 1500s, but the builders had already got it right. Larder on the north side of the house, windows on the west and east, thick walls, relatively small windows. The article pointed out that a lot of houses and almost all offices have a huge amount of glass which then requires air conditioning to be bearable.

In hot weather, this house is lovely. Al and family called in the afternoon. I’d been eating lunch in the garden, under a parasol and we went indoors for home-made lemonade. The cool hit us very pleasantly, it was a comfortable temperature without the sudden chill of air con.

I’ve been drinking a lot, which isn’t my usual habit, but the heatwave is pressing in at last, so I drank a big glass of iced tea for breakfast, had lemonade for elevenses and lunch and again at teatime with the family, and a can of lager tonight. That’s vast amounts more than usual, I think there was a glass of water in there too, somewhere. I can’t be doing with the thing of carrying round a bottle of water. I do get it if you’re in a sealed, centrally heated or air conditioned building and I certainly drink constantly when I’m in a meeting (cue hot air jokes) but rarely otherwise. Anyway, it was the fact that the lemonade was home-made that made me want to drink it. It’s so delicious and not as sweet as anything bought.