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Showing posts from July, 2020

Wax Attack

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We shall shortly be coming to the end of another Plastic Free July. Certainly since retiring we have become astute at avoiding single use plastic and are very much conscious of looking at other options when purchasing anything, be it a dishwashing brush or a full blown kitchen appliance. It's impossible to avoid, but we try our best and, of course, July is always an opportunity to refresh the philosophy and up the motivation. A few years ago I started to use beeswax wraps instead of cling film. Compared to cling film, they are expensive but of course they are reusable. Waking in a creative frame of mind this morning, I finally decided to have a go at making my own wraps. It really isn't so difficult. You cut cotton fabric to size; place it on baking parchment on a tray; sprinkle it liberally with beeswax pellets; place in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes; remove and brush the melted wax around to ensure an even covering; lift with tongs and shake to cool; hang up to set. Nothing mu

No Rain Mask Day

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  The use of face coverings in shops and other enclosed public spaces became mandatory in England today, having only previously been required on public transport. Although I've been out and about, meeting friends for a socially distanced glass of prosecco in a sunny garden this afternoon and also driving my mother to the local hospital earlier, I didn't need to wear one. It was however interesting listening to a debate raging on the radio as I returned home at lunchtime. We really do have any number of crackpots living in this country who think their civil liberties are being infringed by a requirement to cover their nose and mouth. Come on guys; this pandemic isn't a hoax and you really don't have to enter those places, if you don't want to comply with the rules. I thought that even in Medieval times it was considered that masks could provide some protection against pestilence and plague. Didn't the doctor in the 1600’s use a mask with a bird-lik

An Ancestral Trail

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T he weather finally smiled kindly upon us on Sunday and so with benign conditions forecast for the whole day, Mister E and I set off for Swaledale. We had plotted our route out in advance and planned to drive beyond Reeth,  cross the beck and then make our way up Slei Gill and from there across the moor to those parts where my ancestors frolicked in the late 18th/early 19th centuries. It wasn't necessarily the shortest route but it avoided some longer steeper climbs. Of course, we hadn't reckoned on the footbridge across the beck being washed away with the flooding over the last 12 months. Unfortunately there was no advance notice so we wasted time walking down to it through the hamlet of Arkle Town. A chap had managed to negotiate his way across via the one long strut that remained. Whilst it might have been an easy crossing for a trained tightrope walker, the squeals of consternation from his partner, who had been endeavouring to shuffle her way across on her bottom u

A Trip Up't Dale

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Our county library has proved its worth during the pandemic by negotiating online access  to both the Find My Past and Ancestry genealogy websites for residents from their homes . I already subscribe to Ancestry personally but North Yorkshire's own parish register archives have been uploaded to Find My Past and I thought I might give it a browse. All those hours painstakingly spent perusing microfiche copies of handwritten baptism, marriage and burial records in the County Records Office are now behind me. Not only have those records been uploaded but they have also been transcribed making both reading and searching them a doddle. Talk about information overload; the details that have eluded me came flowing in thick and fast. So much so, that I had to pause and take stock. Several years ago, going back to before retirement, I had traced one branch of my family back to Swaledale (only a few miles from where we live now) but had hit an impasse with an illegitimate grandfath

Caveat Emptor

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Back in the 1970's I picked up a battered copy of The Dice Man by  Luke Rhinehart (a nom de plume for George Cockcroft) from a second hand bookstall. I recall it had a black cover and the words "This Novel Changes Lives," were emblazoned across the front.  Whether I could actually imagine living my own life by the roll of a die I'm unsure, but the tale captivated me sufficiently that I was never tempted to skip to the end of the book to glance at the ending, as I confess I am wont to do with many novels. That was probably a big mistake because when I reached the final page, it was only to discover that the previous owner had removed it! Still at least the advertising claim on the front proved its truth, because I have never since bought a second hand book without first inspecting it carefully to ensure the presence of all pages. I was reminded of this during lockdown when Mister E and I watched the whole of The Sopranos, all 86 episodes, which, despit

Squeaky Clean

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Image by Carola68 Die Welt ist bunt...... from Pixabay I detest housework with a vengeance but hate dirt almost as much. I'm by no means houseproud and resent every hour spent cleaning. By the same token, there's nothing to beat the satisfaction of restoring order and hygiene to a sullied and grubby item. I confess that like so many working women, I was accustomed to enjoying the benefit of a home help. Mister E viewed her as a disruption to his tranquility (well she did sing rather loudly), so when we retired we decided to go mopping alone.  To begin with I honestly couldn't believe how ineffective I was at domestic chores. To my mind, if you are going to do a job then not only is it necessary to achieve the proper result but the process to get there should be efficient and proportionate to the value derived. Needless to say, I seriously struggled. However, and over time, I have steadily got this cleaning thing down to a fine art, embraced the use of natu

Independence and Inaction

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  Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay Billed as England's own Independence Day, July 4th was supposed to be a big occasion. As I understand it a few pubs got served with closure notices for failing to adhere to the requirements and a few more have closed subsequently because (surprise, surprise) Track and Trace has identified that people, who have since tested positive, were drinking in them. In reality it seems that regaining our liberty has all been a bit of a damp squid with most people locally still preferring to stay at home, or venture out only with a mask on which, of course, makes socialising and patronising restaurants and public houses a little difficult. The Government's coronavirus dashboard suggests that transmission in our district, which was always relatively low, has been pretty much non-existent for a few weeks now and it is, of course, easy to get suckered in to the idea that life is resuming as normal. Easy too to forget your guard

All's Well

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I don't know why, other than that they make me smile , but it has become something of a convention for me to grow sunflowers at the back of my vegetable plot. Just over a week ago they began to bloom: the harbingers of summer .   It really is hard to look at them without feeling happy . Apparently they symbolise adoration, loyalty, longevity, good luck and even wisdom. Well if that doesn't bring you joy in retirement then I don't know what will. For me they signify that all is well, or at least they would if the slugs hadn't attacked this one!  

An Element of Surprise

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Image by congerdesign from Pixabay One of the great joys of retirement for me has been to avoid, so far as possible, routine, revelling in flexibility and the potential for impetuosity and the opportunities that brings. Sadly, coronavirus and especially the restraints of lockdown have very much brought that previous way of living to a close, at least temporarily. Somehow, routines have now crept into daily life and, a little like my days in the office, it's once again coffee at 11am and tea at 4pm. Mornings begin with a rigorous trawl of the newspapers online and then a Pilates session  to a YouTube video before pottering in the garden and, every evening, time is devoted to watering plants and shutting up the greenhouse for the night. Obviously there have been unexpected diversions with telephone conversations, walks through and around the village and the excitement of watching seedlings grow, flower and, as now, begin to bear fruit or rather vegetables. However,

Freedom

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  Image by bidvine from Pixabay In the midst of the pandemic, the tenants at our rental property decided to flit back to their home country. Obviously it was probably a sensible decision from their point of view but as they left within a matter of hours of booking last minute flights, to say they left the house in an awful state would be an understatement.  Needless to say it was several weeks before the managing agent could arrange for it to be cleared of the tenants' abandoned possessions and rotting food, as well as given a superficial clean. With the clear lockdown message to Stay at Home, there was little that we could do to assist. Fortuitously, a month ago, new tenants were found and last week I spent my time between home and Nottingham where the property is located, redecorating and repairing as well as removing several layers of grease from the kitchen. Up and down step ladders, stretching and bending, even my Fitbit was impressed by the effort, especially