Good morning my dear reader and welcome to a rainy Saturday in North Yorkshire. I hope I find you well and in good heart. All is serene here at Comb Towers - well, I say that but, although I have spent the week appearing to glide along like a graceful swan, in reality, beneath my serene exterior I have been paddling furiously just to keep up with life. I have been out and about placing my books for sale and trying to find new outlets. All well and good, but sometimes keeping all the balls in the air at home and on the novel writing front as well as marketing, gives me a little wobble from time to time. However, on the plus side, I have not left our picnic lunch behind this week, as has happened to me before, so three cheers and a big hurrah for that.
Some of the time, dear reader, I can be organised, but not all of the time. Sometimes, my scatty head takes over and then the wheels can come off the bus big time - especially when it involves food ... and Spouse. This is how it went a few year ago ... Our house sale in Scotland was dragging on and anxious to relocate to England, we bought a little house to renovate in Filey on the east coast of North Yorkshire. We had done quite a lot of work to it and then the plumber and electrician wanted to move in and take the place to bits for rewiring and replumbling all round. So, we decided to leave them to it and decamp back to Scotland for a couple of weeks and do some more packing up at that end. It was a good six hour journey to our old homestead and we usually stopped for a picnic lunch. On this occasion I had packed a lovely picnic of home-cooked chicken and stuffing rolls and a flask of tea.
We pulled into our favourite quiet layby and I went to get the picnic from the back of the car. Oh, my my, dear reader, there was no such thing. To my dismay I realised they must still be in the Filey kitchen. Spouse had got out of the car to stretch his legs and was walking back towards me, rubbing his hands and smiling in anticipation of his lunch. Well ... you can imagine, dear reader, the utter disappointment on his face when he was told the bad news. He had to make do with a cup of tea in a cardboard cup and a very soggy sandwich at a roadside chuck wagon. Safe to say I was not top of his favourite people list that day.
And as we drove along I wondered about those chicken rolls ... I really didn't want them sitting there for two weeks. They would be moving about with their own livestock by the time we returned. So, I telephoned my near neighbour, Jasmine and asked her to remove them to the bin. Poor Spouse's face as he listened in to this conversation - a picture of sadness as he imagined his favourite sandwiches going west. Only Jasmine didn't put them in the bin. The rolls were daisy fresh and she took them home for her and her husband's lunch. She told me later that they were delicious! I didn't pass this information on to Spouse; bit like rubbing salt into the wound I thought.
And then I did it again! Only sausage sandwiches this time - also one of Spouse's favourites and a rare treat. Only it wasn't, as I had left them behind. You know that look of sheer, utter disbelief someone can throw at you when you have been the most complete numpty ever - yep, I got a lot of those that day. Another trip, England to Scotland and another day of no decent lunch. I have no idea, my dear reader, how I managed it again, but I did. You have no idea of that horrible, sinking feeling, when you discover there is not even a crumb to drool over. A bit like Pooh discovering all his honey jars are empty. And Jasmine and husband enjoyed them again! But this week I triumphed. I wrote myself notes in very large letters and even left one by the front door to make it as idiot proof as I could and it worked. Peace and harmony has reigned and all is well in our world. Let's hope it stays that way!
Now you may wonder why I need to mention old slippers. I know, not the most noteworthy of subjects, but in some ways it is. I have mentioned many times that Spouse being a good and true Yorkshireman is much averse to parting with any of his clothes, no matter how dilapidated they may become. How often has the phrase echoed around Comb Towers, 'There's plenty of wear left in that/them yet.' And so it is the case with his slippers. They become downtrodden and develop holes, but still he fondly hangs on to them. However, last week and miracle of miracles, he actually enquired if there were any NEW slippers knocking around the house anywhere. I checked the sky ... no, it was not about to fall. That's O.K. then. 'New slippers are available', says I. 'Does that mean you are actually going to part with an old pair?' 'Mmm, think so,' says Spouse. Before he could change his mind I went to his wardrobe and fetched them downstairs. 'I only said "think so." I'm still mulling it over,' says he. Holy Mother, what does it take? And you know what it takes, dear reader. And so I did it. It takes a wife to go old-slipper stealing and throw them in the bin and then there's no "mulling" about it. Spouse is still going about muttering and mourning the loss of his old footwear, but I rejoice. No more sporting the down at heel look. A belated welcome to 2021 Spouse. Now ... I only need to persuade him to a new jacket and he might, just might, look slightly better dressed than the local tramp.
Good morning dear reader and welcome to Comb Towers on a pleasant and sunny Sunday morning. No complaints, as we seem to have got through October fairly well and had our share of sunny days. Soon the clocks will change and we will be back into the long dark evenings. I think the time has come for a foray into the loft for the fairy lights. November could be much cheered up with some twinkling lights about the house. I might even wind some around Ruth, my French garden statue, now residing in my den for the winter. She definitely needs some bright lights to cheer her up. She's many shades of grey, (although not fifty!) and she must get a bit chilly as she's only got a bit of a Grecian style frock on. Perhaps I should take pity on her and wrap her up in a nice warm coat.
We have had a very quiet week, dear reader. Well, I say quiet - it has been quiet in that we have not ventured far from the homestead as Spouse has had the grand daddy of all colds and the peace and quiet has been punctuated with bursts of sneezing and coughing. Not wishing to share his affliction with the general populace, he has skulked in his den most of the week, emerging at intervals for meals - well, let's face it, nothng, but nothing, is ever going to put Spouse off his tucker
By Saturday he was judged fit enough to be allowed out without endangering public health and made a brief visit to the supermarket. On his return, happy and beaming, he produced a bunch of green bananas, (not requested by yours truly) and said, 'When I see green bananas I think of you.' Stunned silence by me. Do I look like a green banana? I don't think so. 'So ... I remind you of a green banana do I?' Ignoring the dangerous glint in my eye he nodded and grinned. 'Well, I've always said with your long toes you could hang upside down in the trees, so I bought you some bananas ... ' 'Stop digging,' says I. 'Just jump in the hole and pull the lid down. You're gonna be very sorry about those bananas.'
And so he was, dear reader. By yesterday evening I was going down with his cold and in no mood to visit the kitchen. So the supper menu? A banana sandwich for Spouse and a hot toddy and bed for me. It was a very large bunch of bananas - he'll be swinging through the trees by the time he's eaten them all and won't want to see another banana for a long time to come.
I hope you have a good week, dear reader. I will go and nurse my cold now possibly with another dose of his best Irish Whisky. Almost makes feeling poorly worthwhile. See you next week and in better fettle I hope.
Good morning dear reader and welcome to an overcast morning in North Yorkshire. The birds are singing, the seagulls are screeching and the nearby cockerel is squawking and our fish are jumping in the pond, probably in the hope of attracting our attention and thereby getting a fishy breakfast. Dream on, fish, it's too early. Spouse is hopeful too, that he is making the final cut of the lawn and then the mower can be put away for the winter, to be replaced by the electric wood saws, as it is time to light the fires again. No rest for the wicked ... I make no comment on that! One thing I will comment on is that yesterday I received a letter and brochure from a company offering me an alternative to a traditional funeral and instead, opt for a fuss free pre-paid "Pure Cremation". Why they have lighted on me I do not know - I only hope Spouse doesn't know something that I don't know either - if you see what I mean and that he doesn't have any imminent plans for me up his sleeve. Although, come to think about it, he does talk about burying me in the garden, (that could be in an urn, couldn't it?) and putting lights around the spot and then he could talk to me when sitting out with his evening tipple. I may have to pursue this matter further when he comes in from mowing the lawn.
Whenever I see Spouse walking behind the lawnmower, up and down the lawn, I always think of George, our barmy Border Collie dog. I could never work out whether he loved or hated all machinery. He knew where he was with sheep and was in his element when allowed to round them up and us too when he got the chance. But machinery was another matter. If we were anywhere near a railway, he had to be kept on the lead. Even if it was a meandering path along a river bank, if there was a railway nearby, there was no free roaming for George, as at the merest hint of a train passing near, he would take off, barking madly and disappearing into the distance. Lord alone knows what went on in his Collie head.
On our Durham Dales smallholding we had a petrol driven John Deere mower, a noisy fiery beast and boy did that turn up the temperature for George. Our front garden sloped away to a dry stone wall that separated it from the fields beyond. We had created two tiers of lawn and Spouse enjoyed mowing it and creating the stripes. He would have enjoyed it a lot more if George hadn't been chasing him up and down, barking his head off. I think he enjoyed the mayhem (George, not Spouse). Running up and down the newly mown grass, he acquired green legs and looked a very strange sight indeed. After some time of this racket, I would take pity on Spouse and bring George indoors. After all, a man can only take so much of a barking mad dog. Unfortunately for me, I was then very much in the bad books with George. Never tell me, dear reader, that dogs don't have emotions or can't express themselves. Judging by the dark looks of utter contempt and disgust that George threw at me when made to come indoors, I was the lowest of the low. Having given me his best dog scowl he would then curl up in a black and white ball, tuck his head under his tail and that was that. No more communicating with me thank you very much, spoilsport that I was.
Another nice memory of this potty sheepdog was his complete inability to catch rabbits. The fields were full of them and our retriever dog had no problem in chasing and very often catching them - look away now dear reader if you're squeamish - and scoffing them down in two bites before anyone could take his catch away from him. I don't think George ever quite got the end bit about chasing rabbits. He loved to chase them - they were just something fun moving across the landscape that weren't sheep. But once, just once, he caught up with one and threw a complete wobbler when he got up to it! 'Aargh! Now what!' emanated from every bit of his frame, as stood frozen and barking madly at his cornered prey. Not cornered enough. Bunnykins took full advantage of George's hesitation and dived down a convenient hole. That was the best bit. George looked at the hole and then looked across to us in puzzlement. 'Where did he go?' Poor old George looked everywhere and just couldn't accept his playmate wasn't coming out again any time soon.
So, if two oddball dogs weren't enough, throw in a slightly oddball Spouse to go with them. I can say this with some certainty after many years of marriage, but really, dear reader, how oddball is this? We were goig to put up a conservatory on the front of the house, to take advantage of the magnificent views over the dale and so Spouse set to and very carefully, bit by bit, dismantled the existing stone built porch. The lovely old stone was set aside to face the outside of the new low wall of the conservatory and the windows were taken out to be recycled into a new workshop he was going to build. All that was left was the footprint of the old porch - three sides of a low wall, but most importantly, the old outer door was still standing in its frame.
Come Sunday morning and we were ready to go to church. We came out of the front door to the house and locked it and then dear reader, mark this. Spouse opened the old outer door standing only in its frame and ushered me through it. He followed me out, turned round and locked it behind him. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, I stepped back over the low wall and said, 'I can't believe you've just locked that door; don't you think a prospective burglar might do this?' and I stepped back out again. Mmm, my dear reader, not too sure that I was Mrs Popular at that moment, but I still chuckle about it now - a door into nothing - soundly locked!
Well, it's time to go, my dear reader. The lawn is mown and no doubt Spouse thinks a hot cup of coffee will have his name on it soon. Have a good week and if I haven't had a "Pure Cremation" by next week, we shall meet again. (I wonder if there is an "Impure Cremation" and what that would involve?).
Good morning dear reader and welcome to Comb Towers. It is a lovely sunny morning and so far, fingers crossed, all is well in my world. I am very grateful for this state of affairs as we have had a few hairy moments this week.
At the beginning of the week Spouse managed to mislay his bank debit card. He thought he might have left it at the petrol station but that was not the case - there was no trace of it there. I'm sure, my dear reader that we have all been there. That awful sinking feeling when you realise you have lost track of the wretched card and it is not to be found anywhere and you retrace your steps and ask in every shop you have been into since you think you last were in possession of it, then search all bags and clothing in desperation.
It was a beautiful sunny day and I had been out walking for an hour or so and came home to find Spouse, torch in hand, forensically examining the car for any trace of his card. Apparently he had turned the vehicle inside out several times and all to no avail. He had turned his den upside down searching for it, (mind you, how he would ever find anything in there I don't know) and he had been back to the petrol station and walked the grounds, eyes glued to the tarmac in hope. Anxiety and tension oozed from his every pore. This man needed help and quick.
And now, dear reader, just for once in my life I enter the smug zone. Actually, I can't take the credit, it belongs to Saint Anthony of Padua, patron saint of all things lost. I could not count the number of times in my life that Saint Anthony has saved my bacon and directed me towards my lost items. He has never failed me when I ask him to help me find mislaid items. He is a great and much revered saint and my constant companion, as I am always losing things. So ... of course I turned to Saint Anthony, dear reader and offered up a prayer to ask his help to find the card. Then I went and sat in the passenger seat of the car and looked about me. A small cubby hole in the centre of the dashboard caught my attention. Some of my small notebooks were in it. I picked them out and low and behold the card was at the bottom of the pile. Spouse had gone into the house to fetch a more powerful torch for his search. When he returned to the car I held out the card, huge grin on my face. He stared at it in disbelief. 'Where did you find it?' I pointed to the cubbyhole. 'In there, underneath my notebooks.' 'But I looked in there!' 'Not well enough it would seem,' says I smugly. 'You should have prayed to Saint Anthony first off,' says I. 'I did and he came up trumps like he always does. You owe him big time and I think a big thank you is in order.' Spouse agreed and heartily thanked Saint Anthony.
Ah, but that old proverb pride goes before a fall kicked in a couple of days later. My reign in the smug zone did not last. Oh, dear reader, how do I do it? Fall over my own feet yet again. It's not as if I have enormous feet, I don't! And yet I can trip myself up with ease, which is what I did when mopping the kitchen floor. I think we've been here before, dear reader; tsumanis of water flowing from bowls and buckets. Last time I managed to confine myself to the kitchen floor, but this time as I was mopping the utility room floor, I fell over my own feet and upskittled the bucket, sending soapy water flowing into the hall, into the sitting room and into the kitchen. How did all that water know to turn right into the sitting room and into the kitchen? Why didn't it just keep on going in a straight line throughout the hall? One of life's little mysteries. There are rugs in the hall and in the sitting room and you can imagine the soggy mess they were left in! It was Spouse's turn to shake his head and help with the mopping up operations - keeping me well away from the bucket this time! Fortunately we were going away the next day to celebrate our wedding anniversary and so we rigged up the drying racks in the conservatory and draped the rugs over them, hopefully to dry whilst we were away. Luckily, the sun must have shone in our absence as they had dried out on our return.
We enjoyed our trip to Northumberland. It was wet, wild and windy a lot of the time but still great fun and best of all, no catastrophes befell us. And now, back home in North Yorkshire, the weather is glorious. The library garden is winter ready and our own is getting there. I hope you enjoy this wonderful October sunshine, dear reader. We have to make the most of it whilst it lasts. Have a good week and I'll see you soon.
Good morning dear reader and welcome to a very sunny and windy morning in North Yorkshire. Autumn is well and truly here and oh boy, we have had our share of rain. I was staring out of the window watching it hurling down yesterday, the large raindrops bouncing heavily into our pond. I couldn't help but smile to myself thinking of how our fish were probably loving it. I know that sounds a bit strange, but possibly a lot of pondfish find water bouncing all around them fairly entertaining. Our fish are fortunate in that they are in a very large pond with plenty of plants both underwater and on the surface to negotiate, so I hope that keeps life interesting for them. I can imagine life getting a bit dull for fish in a small pond. Life must be rather dull when swimming around the same small space every day. I'm not too sure about fishy psychology but I do know that when we switch the fountain on, our fish absolutely love it - especially when the fountain head is removed so that the water can flow fast and free. It's a brilliant watch. They treat it rather like a water slide and love to swim close in to the fast flowing water only to get hurled away by it at speed - and then come back for more! So I'm guessing that heavy rain might be fun for them too - a bit like trampolining for fish, as they get tossed and bounced around in the water.
We picked a sunny morning earlier in the week to do our stint at our local library garden. We are still cutting back the shrubs, many of which have become rather shaggy after their summer growth. This particular morning Spouse and I were working in the border at the front of the building which faces directly on to the supermarket car park. It's just as well there is a post and rail fence between us and the cars, or I wouldn't fancy our chances with some of the more erratic drivers. But that is by the by. This part of the garden only needs attention in Spring and Autumn as the shrubs are planted into a thick liner and the ground is covered in gravel, so thankfully very little weeding is required. So ... not being in this vicinity very often we don't get to see and hear the supermarket customers coming and going about their business. But when we do, it is fascinating. All the overheard snatches of conversations ... I pause with secateurs in hand and wonder what came before and what was coming next!
'Well, it's the cat, really. That's why I'm being a bit cautious.' Was it a rescue cat? Cautious with the cat? Cautious about leaving the cat/letting friends in to see the cat? A feral wildcat? Mmn, I'd like to know.
'He's decided he's not going anyway. I think she's going to have to go on her own.' Two friends chatting as they walked past me. I wonder why "he" doesn't want to go? I hope it's not on holiday or to a wedding or a party. And will she go without him? Have they fallen out of friends with eachother? I hope he changes his mind. Or maybe she'll be glad to go on her own ...
'I fancy a bit of fish for tea ... But then again, he's not so fussed on it. Maybe I should get him a meat pie.' I was just mentally fancying the fish when her friend said, 'Give him the fish. Oily fish ... it's meant to be so good for you' 'No,' said the lady decisively. 'I'll get him a pie. I give him them Omega 3 capsules every day. He doesn't know, 'cos he doesn't like taking pills, so I put them in food. What he doesn't know ...' And away they went and I couldn't catch any more. Fancy that. How on earth do you disguise Omega 3 in food? Maybe his taste buds are not as clever as they used to be!
'Yes, it were a right going on. She stood him up at the altar. Can you imagaine that? Aye, our Paul were very upset at the time, but I don't know know so much now. I haven't said it to him, direct like, but I think he had a lucky escape ... she were no better than she should be and that wasn't much to start with. But what could I say? It were his choice ... I couldn't really say she were a bit of a lass, now could I? Been around the block a few times I would say.' The elderly gentleman's companion tutted and shook her head sympathetically. 'Any road up, he's got a right nice lass now, even if she is a wrestler.' Oh, come back! I wanted to shout. Don't leave it there. A lady wrestler - how intriguing is that.
'When I got borned, Mummy, Daddy said I came out of your tummy.' Mmm, this is a good one, thinks I and I turned around to see what would happen next. A young Mother was leading her small son along the edge of the car park. 'Yes,' she replied cautiously. 'How did I get in there, Mummy?' Daddy said I was a seed. Was I a seed, Mummy? Did you eat seeds and then I grew in your tummy?' Smart boy this, thinks I; making connections. Maybe not the right ones but he's having a go. How is poor Mummy going to deal with this one, early on a Tuesday morning? 'Yes, Georgie, you were a little seed. Now, come along, we need to go and buy a cake to take to Grandma. Let's go and choose something nice.' Ha ha, clever Mummy, great distraction technique. Let's hope little Georgie leaves that subject alone for a little while and doesn't bring it up again at Grandma's!
'I think he thought he was Superman. He might have done a better job if he'd had tights on and knickers outside of 'em. Well, the whole bloody wall came down on him didn't it. Bet he doesn't wear that T shirt again for a while.' Oh my, dear reader, I was right there in the scene and felt a twinge of sympathy for poor Superman and his failed efforts. The two elderly ladies went on their way, cackling with laughter at some poor man's plight.
But, of course, I shouldn't have been eavesdropping in the first place, so I could hardly chase after them all for the follow up story. However, come Springtime, I might be loitering with intent in the front garden for a little while again. It's great fun, almost as good as the conversations to be listened to in cafés and on buses, only in the garden I just get snippets.
I hope you have a good week, dear reader and all will stay well in your world. Pity we'll be round the back of the library garden next week. There's only a few cross seagulls to listen to there. I may just have to talk to myself!