Showing posts from August, 2020

Stranger Danger

  Image by Lockie from Pixabay There's nobody to fear more than a stranger, or at least that's the message that can be drummed into us from birth. Indeed I clearly remember as a child being told constantly never to accept sweets from strangers. Chance would be a fine thing, how many people actually went round offering me sweets? That said, I do recall a confusing occasion when at about the age of 5 or 6, I was waiting at a bus stop with my mother when a creepy interloper tried to hand me a piece of toffee. Exemplary child that I was, I politely refused, only for my mother to dig me in the ribs and tell me to take it and thank the man. It emerged later that my mother too had considered the stranger very weird indeed and hadn't wanted to upset or anger him by refusing what was assumed to be a kind gesture. I guess it's never easy sticking to rules in every instance. Take this past week when the youngest has come back from London to visit. We haven't seen her since Ch

The Brassica Massacre

Cabbage White Butterfly Following on from yesterday's vegetable themed post, I am delivering another update from the garden. This time it hails from the Brussels sprouts' bed. You will recall that I treated my lofty plants to a foam party last month and, as promised, have been repeating the experience from time to time. I've also been giving them a wipe, assiduously removing the yellow eggs of  the cabbage white butterflies, laid in batches of thirty or more.    The Aftermath Unf ortunately over the weekend vast armies of cabbage white caterpillars carried out a blatant onslaught creating laced leaves where once there were full leafed stalks. Their yellow, green and black bodies provide effective camouflage in the dark but by day were no match for my keen sight. I moved in with the soap but, when that proved inadequate, had to resort to plucking them off by hand. What I hadn't accounted for, however, were the undercover operatives, the caterpillars of the small white

Know Your Onions

  The onions from the vegetable patch have been dug up and are currently hanging on hooks in the garage to dry out, although we do use the occasional one. They taste wonderful but I'm guessing the average size is perhaps two inches in diameter.   Imagine therefore our surprise when last week's delivery of organic vegetables included three onions, all putting mine to shame in the size stakes with one a whopping 4 inches across. Not heavy enough to use as a substitute for dumbbells, too large to eat in one sitting. It's brought me back to that wonderful phrase: "Know your onions," meaning, of course, to be knowledgeable about your subject. In the world of work, so many have an expertise and are renowned for it. Years of practice at honing skills. In retirement, there's more of a feeling of dabbling, of pottering; a lot of general wisdom on all kinds of subjects but, unless we are now spending our time pursuing a hobby or interest that's lasted a lifetime, ca

Time Travel

  In the passionate grip of my ancestral quest, Mister E and I visited Wensleydale today. I have no lineal connection with that particular dale but was keen to visit the Dales Countryside Museum telling the story as it does of life in neighbouring Swaledale as well. It's operated by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and is situated within the original station buildings at Hawes. Whilst it felt a little surreal wandering around a museum in a face mask, you are soon intrigued enough by some of the exhibits that you do forget about it after all and with staggered entry times at 15 minute intervals, there was certainly no need to think about social distancing from anybody. Full of farming and lead-mining implements from earlier periods, it was an immersive experience in the life of my forebearers. Although my direct family line were farmers, some of the women  inevitably married lead miners as Swaledale with its ore deposits went through a period of mass excavation.  Sadly fr

A Day Out At Last

  Following on from my last blog post, it can thunder and rain now, because today we had a successful rendezvous and day out. Yes the temperature reached over 30 degrees, rather hot for North Yorkshire, but we moderated our plans to suit and met at Staveley Nature Reserve administered by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.  It's 79 hectares of grassland, wetlands and ponds interspersed with bird hides to view a vast array of wading and other species. There are well marked footpaths and as it's all on the flat. It's a perfect spot for scorching conditions, although tree cover provided much needed shade in places. To top it all there was a lovely clean pub in the village serving food on the lawn at socially distanced tables. Forget the picnic wilting in the car boot, we "ate out to help out," surely earning good citizenship commendations in the process.   Strangely and despite the fact not a lot has been happening to either of us since we last met 6 months ago, there was


  I've been feeling the frustrations of life under Covid-19 restrictions of late. Maybe it's just been the heat, although here in the North we have certainly been spared the worst excesses of the thermometer. It started  10 days ago now, when, somewhat out of the blue, a friend, whom I had arranged to meet for the first time since lockdown was implemented, was caught by its reintroduction in her area. She lives miles from the virus hotspot,  but because these Northern lockdowns are based on local authority areas was caught by the announcement. Of course, at the time we didn't know how it would affect our plans as ludicrously it appeared that whilst we could work together in an office, wave at each other but not sit together in a pub, we could no longer visit the other's home or garden. It became clearer over the next few days that in fact,  not only could she still go on holiday (had she one arranged) but, with no desire to barbecue burgers together as our plan instead