Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Theatre of the not absurd

I would like a posh one , but at present am not able to wield a saw , a plane  or even a hammer really. My theatre will do for me , cobbled in a corner of my backyard using bricks, bits of bricks and sitting resplendent atop an ageing coal bunker.

My start of the day  has an updated routine now
  • feel if I'm alive
  • take life prolonging meds 
  • do Lectio 365 
  • see if spouse is alive
  • make us both a cup of tea
  • do ablutions
  • collect daily washing ,start washing machine
  •  peg washing on line
  • make porridge for spouse
  • prepare breakfast for self
  • go to Wydale  or Filey Parish on Zoom (weekdays except Tuesdays)
Daughter no1, son in law, friend Liz  and I have been discussing the collecting and displaying of Primula auriculas.  Though recorded in Elizabethan times, and popular in the 19th C when specialist Flower Societies were formed , son in law tells me Geoff Hamilton popularised them , but for me Chelsea Physic Garden first brought a Theatre to my attention. 

An aside
Spouse and I love the Chelsea Physic Garden, we went every time we were in town , and in the days when members got in at the front door and had to sign a book, and the gardens were more or less free from the hoy palloy. Now its open most days, and spouse knows he might not be able to visit again. We will have to put the membership in my name. I think being there  without  spouse might be one of the hardest visits I will ever have to do.

I can appreciate why P. auriculas were popular with the working classes in Victorian times. They are easy to cultivate,  tolerant of afternoon shade and take up very little space , are mostly kept in pots and are just displayed once a year when they flower, April and May . 

In our last holiday together in 2019, and with family who are seasoned navigators and bargees, on the Staffordshire and Worcester canal  we passed a famous garden centre, Ashwood Nurseries, which I unashamedly recommend  for Primula Auriculas. I am going to buy only 4 new varieties a year, on the phone  of course, so that my delight doesn't become an obsession or I a frightful bore.
This year my favourite is called SVR. I had to ask the salesperson what that meant . Guess it !   *see bottom of post
When daughter No 2 next visits from East Sussex she is bringing me some more P. a's from the nursery she works in. They are all different again, not doubles but more 'edges'.

My readers will know that I love Echiums, as I have written about them several times.You may not know I also too love to grow Coleus from seed, just so that you know I have an eclectic taste. Daughter no 1 loves to grow onions. She has 82 on her allotment , and counts them every day. I grew Loofahs  last year,  but have decided I don't love them. I am growing lots of sweetcorn this year, of the coloured  heritage variety.  I'll let you know what I think in October.
Meanwhile enjoy my Coleus....

*SVR Severn Valley Railway

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Little Gidding, Pete Greig , and Mental Health


My friends all know that I love Poetry. 

We had a huge cull of books when we moved back into the cottage 10 years ago , and left a room which was furnished from floor to ceiling with bespoke  bookshelves made by the craftsman  Malcolm Johnson .Colin loaded up Mother's sholley with books several times a day and walked to the Charity Shops with the load until we were advised they could not receive any more. I kept all my Poetry books, most shelf space now after my Botany books.

Little Gidding is my Adlesdrop place, as I did pass through it unwontedly on the way to Yorkshire from London avoiding motorways. I always knew it had been  a religious community of the strict High Anglican sort , but not having ever read the Four Quartets  that pleasure was  to come.  Pete Greig always surprises me with his rhetoric , his writings and his vision,and I value his contribution to the stability of my mental health. He writes on 4th Jan


 Reading today's headlines, I'm reminded of a line from T.S. Eliot, who died on this day in 1965: ‘Christ is the still point of the turning world' .....

it has become my necessary daily practice simply to sit in silence and stillness each morning for a few minutes,......

But I believe that God’s quiet invitation to each one of us at the start of this year is this: ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ (Psalm 46:10). We know ‘of’ God through the bible but we actually know him through the practice of silence, stillness and solitude. Good doctrine is dead without doxology. This was something I experienced deeply and cumulatively during my three week solitary pilgrimage from Iona to Lindisfarne in October. ..............

in 'Little Gidding' - a poem named after a small monastic community - T.S. Eliot captures and conveys the spirit of precisely this kind of silent praying;
'You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid.
And prayer is more
Than an order of words,
the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind,
or the sound of the voice praying'

For two years now I have been doing LECTIO 365 , a free app on my mobile . I don't read it, I sit quietly after my initial quiet sit , and I listen. Since Colin has been more himself and able to listen , we have done the evening Lectio too , and listen together , like doing the Compline of the Daily Office.My friend Tara first told me of it, and my friend Pam further up my road, and I have told many friends of it.
Throughout lockdown and to this dayI have also been in a parallel world as reluctant carer to infirm beloved. THIS life is dominated by the truly boring tasks in life , and may be accompanied sometimes by the temptation to run away, to cry, to moan, to cook and eat ready meals, to wear the same clothes for a week, and to feel sorry for myself. I want to .. I want to.... and even if all the Art Galleries and days of sunshine, and Beautiful music and meals out were possible , I would still be completely out of my comfort zone , my head space would still be in need of still ness, balm and thankfulness. I now appreciate that Brother Lawrence worshipped during the washing of pots, and just how saintly are those who can truly live and not count the cost. For me I am with Pete Greig, and find stillness does wonders.The busiest of days need the stillness first for me.

I Wrote in a previous post, the one that has had the most hits [ from the data] that Gardening had kept me sane. Five years on I still cling on to my sanctuary that is my allotment, but things have changed there too, as the fast daily walks to the mile away plot are no longer practical as my HIP is paining and I cant walk fast at all , so my cardio work out is missing from my routine. I cant be bothered to do sit ups or any other exercise, its as much as I can do to walk to the chemist for beloveds prescriptions. BUT I can take the car and I can still do my no dig gardening with joy and satisfaction and am planning my rotations and my potato order.
Last year I grew LOOFAHS and got seeds for the whole of Filey for this year seemingly. Our Christmas lunch at Kiaora included Red Cabbage from the plot cooked with apples and onions also from the plot. I am still picking Broccoli and Chard and my rare Echiums are still alive , just.

It warms my heart that I am not the only person to have heard of and employ 'no dig' and my joy will be complete when Mike and the rest of the Allotment association buy NO Peat compost for the site SHOP.

Some Sunshine please now O Creator of it!
May you all enjoy GOOD MENTAL HEALTH this year.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

The stones would shout aloud

 Walking slowly behind or ahead of beloved is an acquired skill, the factors change
  • Are we in a hurry?
  • Is the sun shining?
  • Is there a hazard ahead?
  • Is the path narrow or wide enough to pass ?
  • Are we on a well known path, road , car park, field or garden?
  • Is anyone coming towards us?
  • Is anyone wanting to overtake us?
  • Do we need to converse?
  • Have I got my Hearing aids in ?

We have had some spats when I’ve been talking and beloved has not heard as I walk ahead of the ‘who do you think you are talking to variety’ from him, to ‘I cant hear you ‘ from me ,when unable to lip read as have my Covid mask on and therefore no hearing devices. 

So it has been stress free here in Wydale on the holiday break I never thought we would ever manage again. The trial run of 2 nights in July has made way for 4 nights in September. We don’t have to talk as we walk in convoy of two ,carrying all the necessary equipment for the shortest even sojourn abroad ,in a Herons bag cleverly masquerading as shopping or a picnic. 
We are staying in the new ground floor Self - catering accommodation in the Emmaus Centre but having Full board. Geriatrica it certainly is not. We are the only guests needing to sit near the breakfast buffet . Other guests are walkers, dancers, artists and writers, groups of young looking men and women in clerical dress and/or jeans and piercings on Day courses, and occasionally men and women in purple , but not spitting in the street. 
Beloved and I are free to roam the paths until we find a quiet bench , then we may talk, or not .We mostly enjoy , a luxury for Beloved , a stop for a chat in front of the various shrubs , trees and annuals of interest. 
  • Is that a Cornus  or  a Viburnum?
  • Take a pic of the Monkey Puzzle tree for Alice
  • That’s a yellow Crab Apple
  • Ken’s done a good job on the Lavendar
  • The new Meadow Strip is a good idea, they’ll have to dig out the perennial weeds that have grown so quickly. Best put black membrane down until it’s seeded
  • Shall I give them a packet of Yellow Rattle
  • Don’t interfere
  • Take a pic of those 
  • Here’s Jasper
  • It’s all looking so good
And it is.For the last 20 months some people have discovered for the first time new pastimes. Never was the name pastime more apt. Never has an interest in gardening been such a lifeline in difficult times it seems. On this day when the government Furlough Scheme ends  some people 
  • will have had their lives radically changed as they can no longer afford their rents, 
  • might have to plough through paperwork and bureaucracy to get Universal Credit
  •  or a new job 
  • or come to terms with redundancy,
  •  or an inability to pay a mortgage.  
 Everything has changed or is about to . 

The Global Pandemic and its sister disaster Global Warming have marshalled I hope those of us in the west to start rethinking all our entrenched assumptions of the Good Life,  family life, life without Europe, the NHS and even our security , into hoping that we can have a Global reboot of everything that will turn us back to the  place where we can halt both toxic sisters.

Here in the place where I have had time to think about Covid and Global Warning, and plenty of leisure to walk slowly behind my beloved , and sit awhile on garden benches, and walk past stone walls with seedling trees and ferns bravely living in the crevices, I’m more drawn to the Lichen growing on branches, a sign of clean and pure air. The lichens give me joy, a God Given and amazing life form, not Fungus, not Algae but although the taxonomic  classification is Fungus it is a symbiotic relationship of the two. 

The joy of them does not end here. They can convert Carbon dioxide into Oxygen, fix Nitrogen and are the cheapest way to detect Pollution, and shout aloud from stones on which they live. 
The lines in the Morning Prayer liturgy used at Wydale include this couplet

If Christ’s disciples keep silent 
These stones would shout aloud

I get it .

*note to self , send email to audiology as have just lost yet another Hearing aid on the streets of Filey in the putting mask on quickly move .

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Lightening and Thunderbolt

Since my last post in May I have not been enjoying a deckchair in the garden , reading countless books of Detective fiction, baking Frangipane tarts , walking along the shoreline in bare feet or decorating the downstairs bathroom. I've had dozens of ideas of blogs to enthral . My spare time has of course led me to my Allotment plot a mile from my home here, where I can see the sea when I stand on the front step. 

For 5 years now I have had Dave's pristine (once) old plot as well as mine. I used to share my plot with Bernard, and I have his as well since he married Queenie in 2017. I am what John Siddle used to say was one who gardened in organized chaos. 

I cherish those words. John taught me English at my Grammar school ,Greatfield High school. Hull , in the 1960s. He came back into my life when he retired to Filey . On this day when grandchildren get English results, I don't sit here hoping I would manage my O level English Language again now; I don't need to imagine my old mentor is checking my participles , or my Latin master appreciating my understanding of the archaic language as informing my Botanical nomenclature, as I couldn't care less. Wen i text i say u and c and as long as it is understood it no longer worries me. I can't text quickly like my offspring and their offspring. I can't Word Process quickly either, I use 2 fingers. If I were back at my school I would not have taken Chemistry and PE, I would have sat in the Commercial class as it was called ,and learn to touch type to music as I used to hear them all doing, that is a skill indeed.

My organized CHAOS may be discerned by the no dig gardeners, the new  Ruth Stouts, and and present  Bob Flowerdews as an Allotment of the future times, even here in the land that time forgot, where Peat Free Compost is not sold in our allotment shop (yet ). Even here we No Dig gardeners need discernment, as the Peat Free Compost in our wonderful Reighton Nurseries is not all it seems either, as the ingredient replacing the peat is from China! 

I want to record in 2021 that even if I have to give up my plot I am trying to use Practice which though not completely in the school of Charles Dowding  is as good for the planet as I can manage . Here I put my hand up to Rat Bait in sheds,  occasional weed killer on the border with the Railway embankment, and use of Cardboard that is not always brown .

Paul Wilson , (Advanced trees and grounds) supplies me with woodchip for my paths, the grandsons are employed to barrow it up to the plot.

Firstly Im thankful for the supply of good , large pieces of cardboard brought to my plot by friends. Many days I arrive at the plot to find treasure outside the shed door as I arrive to the packaging from garden chairs, beds, flat packs and even coffee pods. Thank you all the Helens, Stuarts, Lisas  , Michaels for thinking of me,

Networking always pays off when in need of supplies for No Dig.  John and his wife in Irton used to sell me all their horse manure. They were the first of the interesting folk one meets only through cultivating the earth .

John would ring me and say he'd got a load , did I want it ? He had one old horse. The manure was straight from the field into sacks, and pure gold . It took a year to rot down and though I used to find it hard work barrowing even the sacks from the road to my plot , the two of us working together , it took half an hour , and worth it. I was upset when his old horse died and that supply ceased. Now my friend Ingrid whose daughter has a horse will bring me supplies , and if the bush telegraph works well on the site I get to hear when a free load has been dumped at the end of the road by my plot. 

That is how I met Therese and Stuart one February as we  spent a bitterly cold  morning helping ourselves to the contents of a winter  cow byre  . They are not only great suppliers of spare veg and cardboard but helpful and friendly, perfect allotmenteers. It was on that day that I met the young Syrian eye -surgeon refugee, who was waiting for his status to practice in this Country, From him I learned about the pale courgettes beloved of Syrians in their cuisine, which I now grow and pray for Syria as I tend them .

I tried to encourage my beloved to sit in my shed /greenhouse in the winter, cosy and warm next to my hotbeds , which I can get to 80F in January , February and March using straw , manure and urine and reading my book on Hotbeds , he won't, even though I have a sun lounger for him. 

The straw for my hot beds now comes from  friend Colin up above Hunmanby . He delivers straight to plot for me. I leave all the spare bales outdoor until October to get soaking wet and then it goes beautifully on top of the cardboard, with handfuls of chicken pellet fertiliser, and any donated horse manure. Colin also brings me horse manure from his field, let out to horses. This is fantastic stuff as it is already 3years rotted and  growing magic.

John Siddle might see some chaos on the plot , but it is very organised too. I let Borage and plantains seed all over as pollinators . The Borage can grow to 3feet tall in few weeks . I don't remove it, it will seed freely for next year, and is so easy to spot may always be pulled up if necessary. Chives are the first mass bed to attract the bees, after the Woad of April, the Cowslips, Primroses  and Violas of March and the Hyacinths and Daffodils of January and February. All summer long a favourite native plant Scarlet Pimpernel creeps and flowers, I rarely weed it out as I do all the Chickweed which goes to Pete for his budgies. I like the Groundsel and Sow thistles, and remove the Flowerdew way by just pulling and leaving to rot down on the soil's surface as mulch, as with the spurges and speedwells. I can always recognize them if I have to remove . The Couch Grass and Horsetails are another thing altogether, removed and incinerated as soon as spotted. This is easy with the Horsetails , as Bernard eradicated most of them , but the Couch Grass is so hard to get out , as every little bit of underground stem if left in the ground will thrive to produce new plants, and as for Bindweed , that gorgeous 'Grandma Grandma Pop out of bed ' plant that has to be removed if possible and its underground stems look like a tube map.. 

This year has been very hard for me to keep up with removing the pernicious 'weeds ', as I do not have time . They need an army of people who do not carry I am a carer card. 

 Tagetes minutii  did not germinate well this year. It is the companion plant that exudes a toxin which slows the growth of Couch grass,  so next years first challenge . It is a wonderful plant , growing up to 5'tall and I like to make windbreaks of it. I'm growing Tansy too amongst the raspberries , same use of companion planting. 

I have been nurturing a pot of Ginger  or Tumeric all year, but now realise it is Couch grass. Its beautiful though and could do well if was marketed as a conservatory plant and watered well. It would be cheap and easily divided to give away to friends as long as not planted out, then you would be as popular as if you had given them Japanese Knotweed. Would my friend who thought I went to Roedean please ignore this advice. I never should have said to her a we drove past the school on way to Newhaven , 'there my old school' because she believed me for years I later found out . If you are from Hull you will know that Greatfield High school in 1959 to 65 was rough, and girls like me had to get tough to cope with it. 

So Ive surrendered my Thunderbolt adapter now that Ive given away my Mac air, but bought a Lightening adapter for my ipad . I shall be showing my beloved his grandson  Reubens Blog, this blog and all my photos as soon as I have him as a captive audience in front  of the TV set, just as I've trained him on the input from the remote.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Aurora and No DIG

I've waited all my life it seems to see the Aurora. I've toyed for 30 years  with taking the Hurtigruten  transport to the north of Norway. It  doesn't guarantee the Northern Lights will perform and I am the mistress of procrastination . 
Many years ago , when Bill Bryson was newly on the literary stage , I was enthralled with his book Neither here nor there, published in 1991. His words have informed my search for the Aurora.

On my sixteenth day  in Hammerfest , it happened. I was returning from the headland after my morning walk and in an empty piece of sky above the the town there appeared translucent  cloud of many colours, pinks and greens and blues and pale purples.  It glimmered and seemed to swirl. Slowly it stretched across the sky.  It had an oddly oily quality about it, like the rainbows you see in a pool of petrol.  I stood transfixed.

For many years I've been able to take a picture as soon as something interesting needs recording, most of us are swelling the clouds second by second with the unnecessary jpegs of our lives. I thought once that it wont be long before we will be able to record everything , yes every thing we have seen, if a minute  automatic camera gadget was fixed to our face. We would get up , clean our teeth and at the same time recharge our gadget. Some folk already send so many photos to Instagram and vids to TikTok that I despair. Altruism is usually not the objective , but Egoism and the desire for status and monetary gain. I tick the Egoism box myself as a write this blog. I want to leave my mark , I want my children to read what I'm really like . I want to leave a footprint for posterity but not notoriety.  Bill Bryson left me a huge mark . For 30 years I've known that I could not stand at the end of Queen street for 16 days in the hope a seeing the Northern Lights. My app has been active with possibility for the last few days, I know that they have been seen form Carr Naze and Scarborough.  BUT now I am unable to respond to those wonderful yellow bars of possibility.

I'm more or less cottage bound  at present. I get out when I know beloved is safe or someone , mostly my lovely daughter is sitting with him. My other  priority is my allotment. I will have to give it up if I cant keep it ticking over, so I'm giving myself until the backend to see if my NO DIG method and copious use of straw and mulch  has silenced the march of the unwanted 
Horsetails and Twitching grass. They both shout at me the minute I arrive at my plot paradise.
My meadow strip is coming on beautifully, now in it 5th year and each year new species have seeded and the insect population increased. 

Hay meadow

You see I have no time to align my photos and explain anything further. Just be assured  readers I'm still around and enjoying my change of circumstances ,  especially now that beloved has discovered Talking Pictures TV channel and I have the benefit of my own little space upstairs, and know how much I can cram in to 1 hour on my plot. when the opportunity arises. AS for the Northern Lights, Im praying for the miracle that one day I'll just be looking out across the sea to the North from the loft window  and see them . 


Sugar snap peas

Squashes waiting 


Saturday, February 06, 2021

Deus ex machina

 I've been looking everywhere for my copy of 'The Monkey Wrench Gang' by Edward Abbey. It will come into one of seven categories.

  1. Placed on my Specials book shelf
  2. Placed on a shelf for novels
  3. In the loft maybe in a box, or on the floor in a tottering pile, waiting to go on a shelf or go to a Charity shop
  4. Already given to Grandchildren when they were smaller in the hope that when they are older they will read them
  5. Already given to Charity shop
  6. Misplaced ,to be found amongst the Botany section when I'm dead 

I've also been looking for my Picture book of  Archimboldo's  strange and mesmerizing portraits. I particularly want to look at these pictures again although Google Images will suffice for now. Even poorly reproduced art works are better on paper for me. They become well known friends, an ownership of imagination and a certainty of recognition and remembrance when the pages are turned again. 
No Catering vans have been seen much in Filey recently, and I do miss them, the ones with foodscapes that is !  Here Google is an acceptible substitute for paper, as I don't yet have a book of pictures of Catering Supply vans with foodscapes. I don't need one but I would like one. Here Mr Google has broadened my imagination and wetted my appetite for innovation , for the bizarre , for the clever takes and for the imagination of Graphic designers.  Years of trying to help young people to take their imaginations away form the small screen to designing their own huge screen in the mind have made me do the same. The small screen in front of me now will have to substitute for a paper copy, as I trawl Google images and find treasure that will do for now, but is not stored for future enjoyment except in my overloaded brain. I bookmark webpages , but rarely go back to them , whereas a book holds no overload. It may be replaced on a shelf or misplaced amongst the Botany section .

Oh! look at this one Ive just found! A Hokusai  wave, not a new idea , as I remember getting my Bridlington students to do them with Flamborough Light replacing Mount Fuji. I love it anyway. 

Why am I looking for my copy of The Monkey Wrench Gang ? 
Last night I was looking for my Achimboldo  and found Aunty Gwens copy of " The Typist Treasury  by Kate Stevens 1939, Over 600 helpful Points for those who type or Write, the frontispiece declares.  I found the words Deus ex machina and remembered that when I read the  Edward Abbey book in about 2011 I came across the Chapter with that title, and I could never work out what it meant. I even went up to a man in Leyburn  in 2016 ,bearing the words on a T shirt and asked him what the words meant and he didn't know.

Kate Stevens 1939 knew 

'something providential that happens just in time to solve a difficulty. (Literally a god from the machinery , referring to gods shown in ancient theatre.) 

Saturday, November 21, 2020


I've just been to Iona . Its not  the Isle of North Harris but will do for now. 
My screensaver reminds and enthrals. The one on my main PC does a slideshow of all my picture files , and I particularly like the way it gets many windows out of one picture by zooming in to bits of one . So one seemingly ordinary picture of a field, when seen another way,  is a fascinating collection of random items; bent grass stems, patch of Butterbur, spoor and droppings of Canada geese, rainbow, stream , stile and clump of earth . I then remember that the picture was taken just after dawn when I was trying to see a Corncrake  , could hear one  , but not see one .This time . 
So I've revisited Iona where I've been 5 times for week visits. One has to go  for more than 2 days to ensure at least sunshine on one of them . I've been back to my favourite "Bay at the back of the ocean ", Ive imagined the sound of the spouting cave , and the smell of rotting seaweed , and the inconvenience of the accompanying flies. 

These last two months I've been in the Hebrides nearly every day as neighbour has lent me the Lewis trilogy by Peter May . I'm on the third one now ,The Chessmen . Unlike many trilogies , and I should know, as spouse has just read the Hilary Mantel one , which got heavier and heavier , literally and metaphorically , the Lewis ones tick all my boxes. They are Murder mysteries, can stand alone, but better read in order, are well written , are about the sort of landscapes I love , are in the DNA, speaking as one whose forbears came from Skye, whose detective is flawed but  interesting, and best of all for me, a cartophile,  can be enjoyed best with a map. 
So I'm in the Isle of Lewis in my head. I know more than is recounted in the books , as I have explored all the other interesting places on the island , the brochs . the archealogical sites, the cafes and distilleries , the peat bogs and the flora. I've had a holiday all of my own choosing from my home . 
I've had many vicarious holidays this year. I've been round Australia with Arthur Upfield, a holiday I do every 2 years , binge reading each novel with my new map .The last 2 Australia maps dropped to bits from over indulgence. I've been again to Monterey with Steinbeck and Sweet Thursday and all over the rest of California with same map with Sue Grafton's  Kinsey Millhome (read 6 books so far). I gave Peter Robinson another go as the March cosy reading season began, got through about 5 of those, yes I quite liked them , but totally unsatisfying as none of the places are true to a map. They are hybrid . I shall only read when there is a famine of who dun its.

I've also been on holiday with Susan Calman on Channel 5. I could watch her all day . She is so clever and funny . Yesterday she too went to Lewis and Harris , so now I've been to see Harris Tweed made , and saved money by not buying any as I would have done on realtime holiday,  and then put the material in my sewing box for 40 years like the piece I found with the trade mark ,still waiting to be made into a skirt .

Just incase you are wondering about my fantasy holidays , Yes! I've been all round Middle Earth too  with Journeys Of Frodo , The Atlas of Lord of the Rings , and I would  quite like Rivendell for a quiet few days . 



Monday, August 10, 2020

Waiting for Ikea

I can't remember what day of the week it is , or the month sometimes. When I started this blog in 2006, everyone was at it. I can't bring myself to do podcasts because I don't listen to them myself. I am still a reader . 

  • My home is full of books waiting to be read for the first time, donated by kind friends when the library was covid closed. 
  • My home is full of books I have had since 1947: my childhood storybooks, my Milly Molly Mandy , my Children of the New Forest, My What Katy Did , my Snowflake by Paul Gallico, My first Bible AV with Horace Knowles illustrations with love from Grandma.
  • My home is full of books I have had since 1960: the teenager years, Pocket Guide to Wild Flowers (now disintegrating)McLintock &Fitter, Sweet Thursday by Steinbeck, Palgraves Golden Treasury,The Observers book of Lichens,The Drunken Forest By Gerald Durrell, a hopeful copy of The Odyssey 
  • My home is full of books I have had in adulthood, all Jane Austen, all Thomas Hardy , all Arthur Upfield (ALL now OP), and shelves of Local Topography, Florae, Poetry , Bibles ,  Novels I might read again , biographies & works of interesting(to me) Christians (Brother Lawrence, St John of the Cross, Corrie Ten Boom, Floyd McLung , CS Lewis , David Watson , Pete Greig

This is all about to change, EPIPHANY is upon ME.
I have been through all my clothes and only kept those I have worn in the last 2 years. (Except for My Wedding Dress and my Bruce Tartan kilt) . Daughter in Sussex is delighted to receive the beautiful dress my mother wore to my wedding in 72. No one wants  5 other kilts. I have had a massive clear out . I decided my dozens of scarves took up no room , so on a grand and sunny windy day I washed the lot , Im keeping them .
The books are all going except a few of the above.
The family have been offered my Edwardian Chair, my barley twist Legged Dining table all in the Office . They will be given to St Catherine's Hospice when they start collecting again . Grandsons are going to dismantle to pine Double Bed too in the loft for removal .I hope they can get the Mattress down the  spiral stairs of this 18th C cottage.

We are making the Office into a Single Bedroom . I've watched so many adverts recently on Talking Pictures that it took me 3mins to buy a wonderful single mattress. It came 2 days later in a box , and inflated within minutes. 

It took me 15 mins to order and pay for a flat pack single bed from Ikea. It will be here on the 28th August . 
I will know that date, I've put reminders on all my devices.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

June came quickly

“The nights will soon be drawing in “. We used to be infuriated when spouse’s father used to declare this every 21st June . I have to keep consulting my Eric Ravilous calendar nearly every day to check the date .I need the date more than  I have for years. The calendar is more or less empty of appointments, our next memorable date is in August and that is for the MOT on the car . After that comes the Dentist in November . 

We have some dates in our mind that don’t need a calendar, 
  • Sisters 70th birthday in August is the most important 
  • Daughters birthday in July precedes that but just an ordinary birthday 
  • Wimbledon ,last week of June and Ist week in July CANCELLED
  • Harvest Festival Flower arranging CANCELLED FOR ME ,I’M NOT GOING IN CHURCH THIS YEAR
  • Spouse’s birthday 13th September coinciding with the day we pay for our Car Parking space in the local Pub Car Park 
I need a calendar because I’m now writing cheques again  .I need a calendar because I’m now writing letters again using my fountain pen .

My concept of time has taken a knocking . I explain in detail .

Eldest daughter and family have taken the small allotment next to mine. It is a quarter plot and was left in great condition by the last holder . My daughter has never grown anything before. She planted packets of seeds in the cold greenhouse in January and was delighted with the results.
Her melon seeds astounded me,I never thought they would germinate in the cold , but now she is expecting Watermelons . What were the size of golf balls are now the size of grapefruit. Her onions from seed are as good as mine from sets, and she has got a row of parsnips which none of us manage usually. 
She  works from the ancient booklet Be your own Vegetable Expert ,  Bible of the 70s.
She told me yesterday that she was going to grow Leeks now. I helpfully thought it would be better to drive up to Reighton Nurseries together and buy a pot of seedlings , “too late to plant says I “ my timing is quite out . Mr Hessayon has told her to plant for overwintering , in July. 
She is right  and I am wrong . July is soon ,I’m astounded , I’ve not put my Chrysanth plants in ( from cuttings). My Anxiety Level  is high at present , I’m getting strung up about completely unnecessary things. I don’t need Chrysanths, I’m not doing Harvest Festival . It doesn’t matter if my plot is covered in Scarlet Pimpernel . It is delightful , easily removed and deserves its nick name of Poor Mans Weatherglass.
I go to Morning Prayer on Zoom Or Facebook Live every day at present  . It is so good to leave our small town too.
 I find this town an insular and parochial place to live . It can be small town minded , always congratulating itself . If I hear another person say Yorkshire is Gods Own County I shall scream . Have people never lived anywhere else or smelled the spliffs at the end of their streets . The smell of Fish and Chips is back and there are socially distanced queues , but underlying anxiety  is simmering . We need to be  REAL.  Golden sands and the Country Park are not the key to successful coping, they are just tools in the life drawer. 

Back to Zoom Morning Prayer. It has been the biggest tool in my life drawer. Especially going to Wydale for it. By hearing 27 other people in places like York, Beverley,Winteringham, Bridlington , Scarborough and Kirby Misperton, Share and pray each day has raised my game. Wonderful though it is, my allotment  can’t completely satisfy. It’s ok not to be ok , and sharing in a trusted  and confidential environment and giving  everything to our Creator  has kept me on track as I stumble through the calendar months. 

Right now Rotherham gets my praise as a good place to live , as it has wilded its road verges and brought the bees to town .

Memorable date Longest Day 21st June 2020 R.I P Win 

Thursday, May 07, 2020

When is a weed not a weed?

Sowthistle , Filey roadside
I've missed the Lily of the Valley season completely . I did plant some on my allotment last year in a damp and partly shaded place , but its not established yet  or seen fit to have just one flower. I'm surprised by this as plants will flower if in distress for lack of water just because they need to produce seed to maintain the species. We in the land that time forgot OKA Filey had no rain during much of March and all of April until its showers started on 30th April .
We are not allowed to use hosepipes on our plots  but may fill all our receptacles, baths and posh containers looking like the  water towers of flat Holderness. 
I digress here for the sake of my family. 
Family anecdote
We Bruces grew up in the east Riding of Yorkshire and would often have an afternoon drive out to Hornsea  our nearest small resort. From the age of 3 , in 1950, I remember the drive well, first in Grandpa Bruces 1930 Alvis , and then  the 1960s  in our family Ford Prefect. I can't remembered what the reward actually was, might have been a penny or might have been a piece of mint rock from the sweet tin , but our father would always call out
'First one to see the Water Tower gets a .............'
Then would come the explanation of why the countryside here needed a water tower, and how they worked. Great Grandpa Bruce had been the Chief Waterworks engineer for Kingston upon Hull so perhaps that story was played out as well . Sister Christine and I worked out why the whole family except our Grandfather emigrated to to the USA in the 1890s as the Stoneferry Waterworks were decommissioned and he would have lost his house and much of his job .

So you see I love nothing more than working out how to irrigate my plot , and cover my baths to satisfy SBC who own the land.
I'm really grateful for the  running water even though I'm as far as possible from the taps and my hosepipes are fixed to the fence of my neighbour  to lead to my plot . The Allotments in the Fulham Palace road don't even have running water. Filling my baths takes an hour as I have 3 and 2 water barrels. I prefer rain in my water butts however as its pure and better for my wildlife ponds (4 washing up bowls sunk into ground).This year I've managed to get tadpoles from 2 friends to mix the gene-pool so to speak . I'm trying to get as many frogs as possible as slug control . The nasty huge continental slugs are beginning to invade Filey . I have to resort to massacre at present .
I'm waiting now for the appearance  of my favourite wild plants ;
  •  Poor Mans Weather glass (Scarlet Pimpernel)
  •  Quaking grass
  • Mullein 
  • Chickweed (for Petes budgies)
  • Hop Trefoil 
and for my worst weeds
  • Horsetail
  • Bindweed 
  • Couch Grass
  • and was going to say Sow Thistle , but read to end of post 
The person on the allotment next to me is pleased with her Peppers, sown in February . She has really looked after them , pinched out the tops and potted them on . I watered for her yesterday in her absence and wondered how I was going to tell her that she was growing Common Orache , though may be eaten like spinach, is in my mind a weed.

I did my Dissertation on WEEDS in 1967. 

I was amused to hear that a friend in Sussex had been during this lockdown  watching a beautiful plant , now in full flower growing in her garden . So she googled it and found it was my enemy Sow Thistle.

What then is a weed, it is a plant growing where you don't want it , simple as that .

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

What to do with Spanish onions

I have a few old Recipe books which have been handed down to me: 

Last outing to Waitrose*
My grandmothers "Mrs Beeton",
the handwritten "receipts" of the Misses Hair, circa 1893 which includes the fascinating recipes entitled "What to do with Spanish Onions", and  "How to wait at table single handed" which ascertains in its opening sentence that any "intelligent person can be taught the art", 
and a couple of the recipe books belonging to my Mother , Margaret Viola Bruce nee Holding .

Interesting to me is the wedding present from her next door neighbours in  her home in Birkenhead . It is entitled "Advanced Cookery Recipes". She had just completed a cookery course on her engagement , or had maybe just bought the book, of the renowned Liverpudlian,  Fanny Calder , for it was "Recipes from the Calder School of Cookery "or some such title, I can't find the book .
My mother brought to her marriage , in 1946, to Yorkshireman Harold Gower Bruce always known as Bengy, a scant and basic knowledge of the culinary arts. She had of course watched her mother cook , and so knew perfectly how to order meat and cook it to perfection . 
I recall all she taught me too on buying meat . We have a great Butchers in Filey , whose meat is locally sourced and the producer named . 
Mother  loved a good butcher, and could talk Beasts kidney , skirt , feathering ,Aitch Bone and undercut to me well into her last months  . Beef of course was the flesh of choice , legs of lamb appeared on our Sunday Table occasionally in the Spring , Pork rarely , bacon every day , Black pudding often , and a a real treat would be a chicken , but these always came from our neighbour Mr Baston who was an egg producer. Our Butcher was Mr Hickey , whose van came up to our house a couple of times a week , or we would go to the village for mince or stewing beef. 
Mother had a limited range of "dinners"and all included meat  or fish .Cauliflower Cheese and Macaroni cheese did feature occasionally as meals.
We had

  • a wonderful joint of meat or a fowl on a Sunday
  • reheated meat and gravy on Monday (Daddy hated this)
  • Minced meat on Tuesday if any joint left
  • Braised steak -her favourite for visitors, served with Yorkshire Pudding , as was mince
  • Corned beef hash occasionally
  • Hash on Ash Wednesday (about 4 oz beef in a huge stew with potatoes and carrots and swede, not thickened, eaten in bowl with Brown or Worcester sauce to make it palatable)
  • Fish often , Fish pie, or Smoked Haddock with an egg on top, Fried fish often , lots fish caught by Daddy in season (and when he actually came home with some), which had to be eaten immediately as we had no fridge  , Trout or Grayling fried whole .
Sunday lunches were mother's triumph . We three girls will never forget them , or our childhood Sundays. Church in village with Daddy , drink at Church Mount afterwards , Sunday lunch , sometimes with rows about how  Daddy carved, and a pudding a crumble or a pie.  After the washing-up a walk up the lane to Fewlass' farm ,watching the Skylarks and Yellow hammers as Mummy had a quiet sit at home . Obligatory and awful Sunday School fitted in too , but not sure when in the afternoon that came.

AS a header on this post is a treasure for me on this day when Mummy would have been 100 years old  . Typical Mummy literacy , she had Dyslexia we now realise, as could not spell well, lots of underlinings, her characteristically stylish and bold handwriting and the recipes she wrote in the note section of  her wedding present  book,  her Mothers recipe for Fudge or Tablet as its called in Scotland . I can't make any today girls, as I'm not going to Spar for non essential Condensed milk , but we may all think about it !!

*been thinking about Michael Gove on TV the other day , talking to Jo Public about supermarkets with Waitrose as his example. Mr Gove, most people DO NOT GO TO WAITROSE 

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

I will refuse ...


Not a Hokusai wave , but a Reuben Ronnie W. wave. I just love this doodle done in a trice by grandson 2 , using my ipad when they were staying here with us at the cottage as Mum and Dad were at a birthday party . I have to watch boys these days in a way so different from the way I minded them when they were small.  As capable , bright , well mannered teenagers they now quite enjoy chillin' out with the OLDS. ( I think ).That is because they are tired at the weekend. They leave for school every day before 7.30am , return after 4.30pm, and have parents who get them out in the fresh air for a walk  of some miles every day . So a weekend slob with the over 70s is just the thing occasionally , they watch unspeakable stuff on the TV , Catchphrase, Red Dwarf , Room 101and a cartoon so rude I blushed to watch it , though Zak did say the episode I  watched was very very rude. When they have gone home there is a trail to remember them by ;
  •  files and downloads on all my devices, 
  • cocoa powder under the microwave
  • sweet papers on the floor
  • nothing in the wastebin in their loft bedroom
  • the chairs moved around in the office
  • BEST OF ALL  the beds so carefully made up and aired have been unused and the spare beds slept in , and the carefully folded clean linen for making up slept over. I'm monitoring this now along with ensuring they have washed , and not slept in their clothes

Watching the news yesterday young people were talking about Smartphones and how all over 10s had them these days. I am remembering when spouse and I looked after the 2year old Reuben for 1 day a week . I was so tired by the afternoon I always responded positively to the plea 'puter Grandma' long before ipads and tablets , but small boy happily found  the then free Poisson Rouge * and scrolled around happily. So agreeing with the young people on the News yesterday , they cannot really function these days without the internet , sad but realistic. I simply can't remember the  last time I  used an Encylopaedia . The boys don't even type a search into a dialogue box , they just speak and ask Google .
Im living in a house where one fossil of the two refuses to have an email, asks the other but much younger fossil to repeat to him all the Whats App interaction on the family groups, All the family, Mum and children, Three sisters, Imogen , Alice, Benjamin . 

I'm repeatedly asked if I will just look something up, message someone on Facebook, check the name of the actress we've just seen on Talking Pictures to see if she's dead, and get him something on Amazon Prime .

I am about to refuse to do this. I'm not a PA .

* Just found this 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

RED JULES @redjules

I cant think of a better post for any of you ! I have blogrolled Jules Middletons blog for many years , and Gods timing is NOW 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

That Delphic Sibyl and other well muscled models

 Cumaean Sybil
Picture here is of the Cumaean Sybil  of Michaelangelo rather than the more well known Delphic Sybil of Michaelangelo; she looks as if she has been to the gym and lifting weights. I wonder just how many  real arms the Artist had actually studied or whose arms were used for  the model here . Michaelangelo he might have been , but my teenagers had a few words for this photo here. 
I've been to Holy Trinity Hull oka Hull Minster to see the exhibition of the photographs of all the paintings in the Sistine Chapel . I went twice actually , once alone with Hull sister and friend and then with Beloved and teenage Grandsons;
  • a  deliberate act to ensure that they will remember that the cultural expeditions with Grandma to Kingston upon Hull covered more than the Artwork of the 21st Century
  • to show them that an interior of an ancient and historic church may lend itself to an update in space management
  • to introduce them to Trinity Market next to the Minster
I was glad that I knew the layout , ambience and logististics of the free but ticketed Exhibition before visiting a second time , as the first time was a confusing journey amongst scores of people in the way with their Audio Guides , inaccessible places for wheelchairs, and a Funeral Service being prepared so that punters had to get round quickly .
I have seen the real thing , the Sistine Chapel  in 1974 visiting Uncle Edgar (who worked at FAO) and Aunty Kay . Rome was then just like a huge GIFT SHOP , religious souvenirs on every corner , and I got weary of the endless Etruscan Vases and glass cases with bits of the original Cross , the SISTINE  chapel was lost  on me too . So I welcomed chance to see the photos showing close up detail , or maybe I'm more interested in Renaissance paintings now and not just waiting for the next birra.

The second visit was much easier, and the volunteers much more used to their best help techniques, new routes for wheelchairs were now in place and a much better arrangement for the display of the famous bits, the Creation of Adam and Adam and Eve . Much better too now  the Sanctuary , showing the photo of the   huge Last Judgement . I loved this, especially the portrayal of the  flayed skin of St Bartholomew with the face of Michaelangelo himself - I missed that in La Roma. 

Here I not only applaud the Minster staff and volunteers, but the easily spotted Turquoise Hull Volunteers trained for the 2017 City of Culture events and now one of the most successful legacies of that year and the follow on years . I hope the POD in Paragon Station will remain .
Here are Audrey and Sue earning a welcome sit down after a mornings work in the Minster refectory, and still  happy to chat Hull  . 
 I have known Holy Trinity all my life, my mother used to take me as a teenager so Youth Services in the 60s , and more recently ordinations, & the Morning Service on Sunday mornings when we stay at the nearby Premier In.

Guess the LP
We had a very successful visit to Trinity Market , and Oh! how different from the covered market of my own teenage years, when coffee was Milk and a dash, and I learned how to buy a crab to dress at home . I would get back to Sutton hoping that I'd remembered to get a Male, and that it wasn't too wet in the cart . I have loved Crab ever since, glad that here in Filey they are readily available nearly every day at our wet fish shop Lovetts. Beloved and I had a long sit , he with an italian Arancino, and me with a Lowenbrau , as the boys hunted for Vinyl records and a lunch fit for a teenage boy -
Pepper Chips. The Street food on offer in Trinity Market was varied and authentic, we loved it !

And just when the day couldn't get any better , beloved bought a  Cycad in the Station Florist  and a huge Opuntia  for our grandson who is collecting and tending Cacti .