Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


Street Legal?

Farmers often have to turn their hand to many trades; however I am not sure this plumbing was such a smart move.

I went to the filling station to fill up with diesel, whilst I was tipping barrels of the earths natural resources in to our Landrover, (the best part of £100 to fill the tank; my father would spin in his grave, (had we not cremated him,) at such an exorbitant cost.)  When a very battered 4×4 ‘utility’ vehicle pulled up at the next pump. It was driven by a  quintessential  local farmer type; he didn’t have the bit of orange polypropylene bailer twine tied round his waist but he was a fine specimen of the species, his battered old vehicle had the mandatory farm dogs ricocheting  around in the cab.

To fill up his vehicles fuel tank, he opened the front nearside door, ( inside a Jack Russell terrier was still bouncing up and down like a ping pong ball and a Border Collie was wagging its tail to and fro, in a more effective manner than the windscreen wipers of the shed of vehicle could ever manage.) The farmer then put the fuel hose from the pump in to the a large plastic drum that was wedged in the front foot well.

From the top of the drum were two hose that were threaded out of the passenger window and under the bonnet, I assume his fuel tank had ‘gone’ and this improvised plumbing was his attempt at  a running repair; (I have to say my father would probably have been rather impressed with this example of a ‘make do and mend’ attitude.)

It did however leave me wondering just what the vehicle brakes might be like; maybe the sole off an old Wellington boot as an improvised brake pad? I wonder if the owner would have been able to lay his hands on the MOT certificate? should anyone ask to see it.



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Fresher’s Week

Up and down the country students have descended on the hallowed hall of education and they are looking for a party.

As over excited as a bunch of seven year old at a birthday party, they will no doubt be acquiring a few headaches as well making them; Belfast Peeler tells it as it is (and wittily as always, praise be, Amen.) Student can be and always have been a pain in the posterior; It must be a nightmare having a house full of students in your street, that’s if you can get any sleep to have a nightmare in!

At the University of Florida they have a dramatic way of dealing with gobby students, who heckle;with a Taser read the article and see this video clip here; the ‘University Police Department’ seemed very well staffed, I imagine that most UK forces haven’t got that many officers on duty in a large city let alone one lecture theater. It opens up a huge debate on free speech and not one I set out to blog about this morning, I just got side tracked as ever!

Back to the British students; we have just waved goodbye to our friend, who in his mid thirties is about to embark of the course of his dreams; to do this he has left behind (temporarily) his cosy home and loving partner of seven years, to move in to flat in a halls of residence that he will share with with FOUR eighteen year olds. We thought he had conquered Everest in securing a place on this much sought after course, but in truth we can see he is just in the foothills, a sleep deprived slog to the summit awaits him, (although that maybe not such a bad thing; as he will be working 12 hour shifts and nights at the end of the course anyway.)

Now maybe my rant against students is a a pique of jealousy, the green eyed monster rearing its ugly head, I was never a student, well not so you would have noticed, not unless you count day release to a dodgy FE college on the less salubrious side of the ‘Dark City’ where the guys wore white suits and heavy gold jewellery and did a lot of posing in Ford Capri’s; well it was a certain era. But maybe I missed out on some fun.

On the other hand Mr UHDD did the ‘student thing’ he and his nine mates shared a house, they are still mates to this day, (now we have to rent a youth hostel to accommodate us all, what with husbands wives and children.)

Together they learnt many valuable life skills, for example how to make ‘spag bol’ and apple crumble for nine; Mr UHDD can still do this, (it is the candle lit dinner for two menu that perhaps need a little tweaking) Being of the same age they all celebrated significant birthdays this year, I can crow about this because I am three years younger (47 if you hadn’t worked it out already.) But then again I hardly walk up mountain’s that Mr UHDD can run up and down in two shakes of a lambs tail; so maybe it is fool hardy to be so smug.

One of his university house mates recently sent him a CD of photographs, from their college days; once the children had stopped laughing at Dad’s long hair, they wanted to know why there was photograph of him riding his Honda 50 motorbike along the corridor of the halls of residence; will mum allow mountain bike in the kitchen? NO! (the Honda 50 is still with us, it’s out in the barn and starts up first go.) and in the next photo (maybe I should have looked at them privately first) what’s that Dad got on his head? hadn’t we always told them not to put plastic bags on their heads; well it’s like this boys it’s not a plastic bag its a condom, Tom the eldest offer to explain all about them to his younger brother, big brothers do that sort of thing.

So all over the country students are getting up and down to all sorts of pranks, it’s nothing new but were the students of yesteryear as anti social as the ones described by Belfast Peeler? I don’t know; what do you think.

Mind you I didn’t mention our friend who tried to clear a blocked toilet in his student house, with an explosive charge, but then again he was a medical student and they are in a different league all together.

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Safe as Houses

Feeling safe and secure in your own home, every one deserves that, don’t they?

A change from my planned post, Kingmagic’s post, on his Purple Plus blog; touched a nerve for me, in fact it made me furious (not him, just the topic and the links) it is how impotent the punishment for offenders seems to be; it reminded me of this encounter………

I spent a while with a lovely elderly lady the other day; she really wasn’t very well she had a ‘bit of a funny turn’ whilst out shopping, the lady was very agitated about being a nuisance; ‘Oh just rub me out and start again, I am such a nuisance ’ she kept repeating. She really wasn’t being a nuisance and it really wasn’t any trouble to be with her till help arrived. How sad she felt she needed to be ‘rubbed out’ obliterated erased; how sad but not uncommon for an elderly person to feel like that.

I thought I would try and distract her from her predicament and get her to talk about something else. I asked her if she had always lived in our village ‘Oh no I come from ‘Far Away Mill Town.’ Goodness that town is like Royston Vasey, people, NEVER leave.

She told me she used to work in a bakers shop, that did it; we were away then on a nostalgic trip to the bakers, custard tarts, flecked with nutmeg freckles,

vanilla slices with soft white icing that stuck to the roof of your mouth, Eccles cakes (‘flies graveyards’ why did any one ever eat them) elephants feet, lava like heaps of choux pastry, cream filled and coffee iced. The shop with rows and shelves of ‘bread orders’ all lined up wrapped in white tissue, secured with no more than deft twists of the paper.

I can see that shop, I can smell it; as a distraction it worked, for me at least!

When the ambulance arrived her friend confided in me that her friend ‘Hasn’t really been that well of late, not since her house was broken in to; that’s why she has come to live in this village to be near her daughter; she didn’t want to she would rather have stayed at home, in ‘Far Away Mill Town’’ This strikes me as being very sad.

When everything was sorted out I drove home and it was lunch time, I felt the need for cake, I called in at Tesco’s, first stop the ‘bakery department’, what a disappointment, flaccid donuts, ‘cookies’ shrink wrapped and adulterated till there shelf life stretches into the next decade (and bizarrely they still sell Eccles cakes, so some one, some where must be eating them) this selection comes no where near what I want, a bit of nostalgia, and a good portion of comfort food.

I go home, and bake a cake with extra vanilla essence. The kitchen smells wonderful, just like a bakers shop……………………..

We would do well to be more mindful of what the world is like for the elderly and how vulnerable they feel, because its worth remembering, unless some one has a recipe for immortality; were next up.

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Strong Spirit

The body is weak but the spirit is strong,

A warm early autumn afternoon, I a doing a little gardening for my mum, well more sort of ‘window dressing’ really; my Mum and Dad (Dad died 10 years ago) have always taken great pride in their garden. After Dad retired he lavished his time and energy on his and other peoples gardens; green fingered in the extreme he never failed to propagate and cultivate.

So my, half hour sessions never really deliver what mum wants, that is the garden back to it pristine glory, Mum is now very disabled and housebound but thanks to the swift and efficient services of the local council (yes you read right, and credit where credits due) who installed a stair lift and walk-in shower she still manages to live in the family home of 42 years tenancy.

She likes to supervise my gardening efforts, although I know they frustrate her. ‘Cut that buddleia back; it taps on the window when its windy’ ‘Just move that planter the leaves behind need brushing out.’ She instructs; she desperately wants to be doing the garden herself.

A motor bike came whizzing down the road, big flash and ‘dragonfly blue’ its rider resplendent in carefully chosen coordinating leathers, (I have written my thoughts on bike leathers before) Tom my eldest son, would tell you the bikes model, make, engine CC, MPG and RRP, I just think it is a nice colour; the bike shot off with a throaty roar of its powerful engine for a cruise of the ‘wild and savage roads’ in the evening sunshine.

Mum tut’s and sigh’s; I am braced for a rant about ‘drivers today’, but no, all she says, very wistfully is, ‘I wish I was on the back of that bike, your dad and I traveled miles and miles on his bike.’

So I am guilty as charged, I am only seeing the elderly disabled lady she is today, not the adventurous spirit she was and for that matter still is.


Weather Report

It’s a bit nippy; last night temperatures plummeted and we had our first frost of the autumn.

It rained heavily yesterday evening so the effects of the frost were enhanced, of course scraping the ice from the car is an added complication to the usual hustle and bustle of the school run.


Every where looked so pretty, a ribbon of inversion fog lay down the valley, pretty much along the railway line, so early commuters to the ‘Dark City’ will not have got much of a view. But the rising sun spirited it away and by 08:30 all that was left were stalagmites of mist rising from the reservoir.

Pockets of frost still remain, in hollows and the shade of the trees


Making this thistle look even more menacing than usual.

Now I shall have to go and shampoo the dog, she has rolled in something very smelly, gross.

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Do You Want Jam On It?

My idea of heaven is white bread toast, spread with butter and bramble jelly and a freshly brewed mug of tea,

 Good enough any day of the week, but it is essential fodder, if by chance you happen to have over indulged in the fruits of the vine the night before! Time to get the jam pan out from the depths of the kitchen cupboard.


Picking blackberries is a traditional  late summer task for Joe and I, we are on a mission, we know where are best patches are; (there is wide a variation in the fruit as there are over two thousand mirco-species of this common plant, not all blackberries are equal.)



But the blackberries aren’t very inspiring this year, they seem to lack there normal  iridescence, we missed the first ‘flush’ which was ripe just as we set off to go to Fort William. Joe and I usually have several assaults on the blackberry thickets, (for optimum pleasure, when picking blackberries, the sun should be on your back and the fruit warm in your hand,) But this year Joe soon tired of the task, and I found it an effort to get enough for one batch of jam; normally there would be some for the freezer, a few blackberry and apple crumble’s, (but our cooking apple crop is the pits this year, it has been a very strange season) and maybe a bottle of blackberry gin, to drink with good company at new year. But unless we get some warm days to plump up the fruit I don’t think I shall pick any more this year.


I love the  colour of the juice, it so rich and opulent, I enjoy making bramble jelly and eating it, and luckily for me the rest of the household aren’t that keen on it so, I have enough to keep me going for a while.


Following on to my chocolate chip courgette post, I don’t want you running away with the idea I am Mrs Beaton meets Delia Smith (and there is definitely no Nigela) there are all sorts of past there sell by date foods, lurking in the fridge, not to mention some very flaccid looking vegetables and in the freezer there are some unidentifiable packages, that I must do something with some time soon; but picking hedgerow fruits seems to bring out the ‘hunter gatherer’ in me nearly as much as seeing a nice log pile, have I told you how much I like like logs? It’s a bit sad really. I’ll tell you about it another day.

My promised ‘chicken post’ is still at the embryonic  stage; so here is another chicken before the egg, to be going on with.




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The Verdict

Well, it wasn’t too scary, getting my hair cut in a different salon, after 20+ years of loyalty to one place. It was a busy well managed salon, and my fears about explaining what I wanted were quelled by the fact my hair is very dictatorial! It curls the way it wants, there aren’t I suppose that many options.

The cut was not that far off the usual, but it was styled a little differently, with a nifty bit of work on my fringe it being swept from one side, hardly drastic, but a little trendier maybe?

But I had yet to face my fiercest critics, the boys,

‘Mum, what have you doe to your hair?’ asked Tom (12yr)

‘I’ve had it cut’ I replied, ‘what do you think?’

‘It is SCARY, can’t you rough it up a bit!!!’

Joe (10yr) came out in support of his brother ‘He’s right mum it is scary’

‘Tom continued ‘It looks like you’ve got a comb over’

Well thank you! I hate to worry you boys, but my Grandmother had bright purple hair and red glasses right in to her 80’s and if you think I am going to, gently in to ‘maturity’ you have another thing coming!

But the next morning showered and dried in my normal way, (head upside down frantic waving of hairdryer,) and my hair is pretty much back to normal, after all you can’t fight nature, I just haven’t the time!

On the subject of comb overs, here is the original! She is one of our new chuck’s; I will tell you more about her in my next post and sadly return to the subject of foot and mouth. Got to go now, back to the day job today.


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