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Monday, 29 June 2020

Kittens play in the...

 wood shavings of my grandfather’s workshop.  Closing my eyes, my brain recreates the smell, the sight, the sounds.  In a split second the clock has turned back in time.  I am there knee deep in the sawdust; the shavings move with wriggling new bodies of tabby fluff.  Smiling my grandfather scoops me up to look, look and look some more at the antics of puss-cats in progress.  Chisels and sharp implements are put safely away, whether for me or the kitties I am never quite sure?
We go in for tea, leaving the writhing mounds to heave happily having so much fun.  Reluctantly I allow myself to be lead away.  Standing on tiptoe in the scullery of the farmhouse I wash my podgy mitts.  The home made brawn twinkling like jewels in bright clear jelly is turned out of the tin pudding basin.  Carefully he slices into his wonderful creation, putting a slice each onto our plates.  On the tea table sits celery in a vase, accompanied by slices  of bread thick with butter, a tea table fIt for a king.
After tea I am allowed to ride the rocking horse standing patiently in the hall for me.
Of my grandmother I have no recollection, of my grandfather I have so many it is hard to know where to start.
He was a bank manager, that much I know.  He was eccentric that much I definitely know.  His hobby was wood carving, the examples of which surround me to this day.    I cherish the memories of a wonderful man, who wore formal morning dress on weekdays at work in the bank.  Beaten up old moleskin trousers to work his magic with wood.  On Saturday mornings he would appear on his motor cycle wearing a long Gannex mac, and a beret. An old wooden box on the back of his bike would be full to overflowing with fish heads for the cats.  His morning’s catch cadged from the local fishmonger. My memories of his much anticipated visits crystal clear in my mind’s eye, even then I knew he was a man who walked tall among other men, not out of the same mould... different.


Sidney Steward and Maggie his wife.  The frames are carved by him.


An example of his work.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

I’ve done some...

wacky things in my time. Not for a nano-second would I change the good, the bad and the darn right ugly.  I have had a ball.

I have had a far few proposals, I wouldn’t mind but for a plump butterball of a lass, I am hardly a femme fatale!?! The only fatal might be caused by the man in question, eyes like gobstoppers as I hove into view arms overstretched, as I envelope him in my matronly boozoom, never again to see the light of day.

I have called an HRH... me ole matey, as I told him where to hop off!

I have opened my mouth and put my size six EEEEEE wide fitting foot in it! Surprised?  No I didn’t think you would be!

I have met more so-called celebs/royals than you could shake a stick at.

I have in my fledgling daytime TV cooking career nearly poisoned a nation, of that another time!

I have joked my way through school, sweet-talked my way through interviews and generally like Boudicca taken no prisoners, alive or dead.

Talking of dead, I have had a fair few encounters, not personally obv., otherwise I wouldn’t be sat here now talking my usual twaddle.

In a nutshell I have enjoyed my life.




Me, on the wedding merry go round third and final time... 
South Bank, London
28 October, 2008

Saturday, 27 June 2020

The flames burnt

blue, green and aquamarine, sea-salt soaked and so they should.  They have surely earned this their final dying moment of glory.
The bounty of a good day’s work.
Driftwood burning merrily on the fire.
Oak beams from galleons of a bygone era lost to the might of the sea.  Timbers from croft cottages fallen into disrepair along with the lifeblood of crofters chased from their lands by greedy feudal landlords.  
The Highland Clearances.  

Thoughts sailing through my head as I stared deep into the flames, mesmerised by the salt encrusted dancing colours.  Transported back in time.  The stories the timbers could tell.
Railway sleepers lashed with rope and dragged up the cliffs.  Interesting tree roots, shattered pallets fallen from cargo ships. Timber of many different colours and hues from around the world, trees all with tales to tell of their journey from life to death and then their final voyage across the sea.  If flames could talk what sea-salty yarns they could spell.
Sitting in the soft firelight, the struggle, the puff, the pull, the strain, the pain was so worth it.
The journey back in time was the ticket price paid in full.
A self sufficient life well lived.


The detritus of timber left by a long gone whaling station in the Artic. We never found  this amount of timber, sadly.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Collie wobbles...

 thoughts from a dog in Ludlow.
My breed is thought to be the most intelligent of mutts, rightly so to my mind.
The thing that foxes me, if you’ll pardon the expression is...
these humans are strange beings, they do the most extraordinary things, for example taking me up to town on the hottest day this year.  Alright it was early in the morning and they did hug the shade, but still?  They know being a collie I only really like wide open spaces and rounding up sheep, that’s what I do, that is firmly imprinted in my DNA.  They add insult to injury by putting a pink harness on me, this is they think to stop me pulling?  I try to lead the walk, it is for my benefit after all!  Herself insists she is the leader of the pack, he being a man is happy for a quiet life and lets the two bitches jockey for pole position.
The town I am getting a little more relaxed in, my tail only occasionally goes down and under my tum.  That is usually when I see someone on a strange contraption with two wheels, why they sit on this when they have two legs that do exactly the same get them from A - B is a mystery?
And another thing my folks fear other people because we have to Away and Come by whenever we see some coming in our direction.  This wasn’t always the case and not knowing what their anxiety is I can’t really help?
During this hot weather we sit in the garden.  I have a very nice des.res. that mum has grandly called Clematis Cottage, how pretentious is that?  She struggled  home with the grill, leant it against the wall for the clematis to grow up right where I have my place of safety in the garden.  I must say she was spot-on as it is cool and very bijou and through the greenery I can sit and view without myself being observed by them or anyone come to that!

These hot days we always go to the forest where I love to run, the other day I got to within a whisker of catching a squirrel, trouble with that is they will cheat and run up trees which I haven’t mastered yet.

On these walks if I get too hot I find a muddy puddle in the shade and sit in it.  Clearly this having a fur coat to wear all year is a design fault, you must agree?





Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Winkle picking...

When you are attempting to live a self sufficient life cash is king.
In order to get some cash to buy the essentials that we couldn’t make, gather or grow, I would spin, crochet and knit in order to sell to the holidaymakers in the summer.  I kept bees and the cash crop of wonderful cut comb heather honey was a welcome bonus.
Eggs from the hens and ducks I sold, I made crowdie from the goats milk.
In the winter, gathering winkles was a profitable occupation.  In the depths of the harshest winters and they were harsh then, the snow would ice over the rock pools and plunging your hands into the icy water wasn’t an experience to be recommended.
Picking winkles individually off the rocks is as you might imagine a time consuming task.  You are driven on by the thought of £18 per hundredweight.  That was the most I ever remember getting per bag.  The price reflected the time of year, the scarcity, as not many people were up to such an onerous task in the freezing conditions.

A vehicle came to pick up the bags gathered.  The trick was to leave them in the sea until the day they were due.  This way the winkles stayed plump, alive and fresh.  Oh and the water helped with the weight!

This is were the best winkles were to be found.  


The old man of Stoer.

It was just a matter of scrambling down the scree to reach the bonanza of handfuls of winkles trickling through your fingers like gold through Silas Marner’s.
The trickiest part of the whole exercise was climbing back up the steep gulleys with wet cold net bags of your watery prize on your back.  Wind with every gust tried to send you crashing to the bottom.  The walk across the uneven moorland to the van, then home, cold but fuelled with the thought of the cash coming your way.

It certainly was a good life, hard, but one I wouldn’t have changed for all the world.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

I got to thinking...

the world as we know it is changing.
No, no, not only what you think I am thinking.
But, grammaticals, or to put it more succinctly the use of words, the punctuation, the proliferation  of exclamation and questions marks: guilty, as charged me lud!  The no-no of things like, not too long a sentence, no repeating of the same word, which I actually love to do. Starting a sentence with And... ditto.  These blooming dots peppering prose like measles or better yet chicken pox, far more pus! Using words that don’t really exist, this I absolutely blooming love.  My thinking is folk get it, do they?  Maybe? Not sure?  If my complete ignorance of the finer points of words wandering across a page people don’t like, they can chose not to read it.
My head spins with things for my blog, I draw on past experiences,  funny things that happen on a daily basis.
The man looks at me strangely at times, well most times if I am being honest.  He’s been here experienced the same things, although through the prism of his eye, probably hasn’t seen the same set of circumstances as I have.

I am an only child, that may account for my living happily in my head, processing thoughts with a fish eye?

In lockdown I find my ability to converse one to one with passing 
2 metre neighbours has diminished.
Never one for small talk, I now find myself happier talking twaddle on my blog.


Ellie this morning.


Saturday, 20 June 2020

I’m bored...

two blog posts in a day show you the extent of my 
B O R E D O M !

We have wandered up to town with Ellie doing town training, she is improving.  Getting home I got all dynamical, (not to be recommended in my weaken state!) thinking about our second kitchen, alright Ellie’s bedroom and how it would be.  We pulled her princess and the pea bed out and investigated the cupboard.  What a buggers muddle this cottage is.  It could oh so easily be renamed 
‘Cock Up Cottage.’  Everything we uncover is a bodge, the kitchen lights are on the blink and buzzing, an electrician cometh! 
In the nick of time because we have unearthed this vipers nest of wires and boxes!


The fireplace is in a state of collopse, the stairs are, well just creaking steps with a wool carpet that hides the homes of millions of moth larvae.  The stains of the aforesaid string vest that passes as carpet rival my wall map of the canals of England and far more interesting... sorry Ian!


While the husband snoozes in the chair I climb the walls, well I would do if the flaking lathe and plaster could take my weight?
My mind whirls with ideas, his with dreams!

Oh the joys of life in lockdown.

I don’t know whether....

I am coming or going?

After the mouldy old dough bread debacle, I made two loaves out of the same quantity of dough.  The idea was to freeze one making a total mockery of ‘fresh’ bread!
I stored the other in a bread bag and hung it on the dark cool cupboard door.  All good?
Or was it?  We have now scoffed the first one; weekend brekkie we grant ourselves two slices of toast each, weekdays one.  As I trog up the garden to get the second one out of the freezer, is the faff of making two worth it I idly wonder?

Last night, turning on the light in the Wrenery to put the dog out for her last minute expellations. 
We noticed that the lid of the hedgehog feeding station was lifting slightly.  On closer inspection we could see there 
were two inside.  No, no, it wasn’t what I first thought, although I did wonder whether they might bring the family along one night? 
Ellie strolls past without a second glance.  Yesterday a robin popped in to the Orangery to check us out,  watching it from her bed she was totally unconcerned.

The hedgehogs come to visit each night at the same time, I must say I have never seen a hedgehog wearing a watch, have you?

The question that is troubling me is how do hedgehogs tell the time?


 Hedgehog snoozing in my greenhouse in Goudhurst.  

Friday, 19 June 2020

She looked at me...

I looked at her, in her eyes I saw the same thought...
Who is this old dear? 
When did the transformation take place?  
She was as baffled as me, that I could clearly see!

I thought of my mum, whose words are with me today...
‘I am happy at the age I am!’
In answer to my saying, I’m glad I’m not old like you!
Looking back she must have been in her early to middle thirties.
Just as well she was content with herself as she died suddenly at the grand old age of forty eight.


Pity is, you don’t get a
Haynes Service and Repair Manual for Humans.
Or better yet the Glass’s Guide for clapped out old bangers...
at least my lovely mum never got to this sorry pass.


Thursday, 18 June 2020

*Breaking news...

a possible breakthrough 
in Ludlow?*


A housewife, we use the term loosely, has stumbled on a new strain of buggeroonies that could give the Coronavirus a run for its money.


Top scientists the world over are winding down their premium rate number helplines.  Even the top men in the UK are deserting Boris at speed, grumbling under their breath...
‘He only chose to cherry pick our advice that at the time, suited his political needs... now where’s this new source of a world breaking, money making organic chemical warfare agent?’

The top Home Office mandarins have tipped us off that this woman in Ludlow makes Priti look a positive pussy cat.  

We proceed with caution...






Tuesday, 16 June 2020

As battles go it was...

a humdinger!
The Prince of Wales check was pitted against Harris Tweed.

Let me tell you a story a sad tale.  As a girl I went with my parents to visit my Great Auntie Gertie who lived on the cliffs overlooking Teignmouth.
Looking at the photograph I must have been about 13 or 14.  For my new holiday clothes my mother had a suit made for me out of ‘lightweight’ wool Prince of Wales check fabric.
The jacket I quite liked, the skirt was yards and yards of fabric made in to box pleats.  
Box pleats... wool?
Not a marriage made in heaven and it was a nightmare to wear... the weight of fabric!
Auntie Gertie was a matriarch of the Victorian kind, you know the sort, humourless with starch in her drawers.  Ironing board down her stays to keep her upright, that sort of a woman.  She took one look at me in that ruddy suit and said in tones that reverberated down the cliffs, across the railway that ran along the front, then carried on the wind out to sea.  Her voice boomed far better than the 
Teignmouth foghorn.
‘That girl needs to go on a diet!’
I eyeballed her with daggers for optics.
‘I’m not blooming surprised I look fat in this yurt of a skirt, you try it for size in your itchy old dears’ Harris Tweed!’
I thought kindly!

On arrival home for weeks after the holiday, mum took me every Friday afternoon to the local chemist to be weighed, if I lost a couple of pounds we would retire across the road to the teashop by way of a reward!?!

All my life since then I have been on a diet.  I lay the blame squarely at her door high on the cliffs of Devon.
The Harris Tweed suit won hands down over the Prince of Wales check ensemble.

Interestingly enough dad would tell the tale of how on her visits to them.  Auntie Gertie would thrill the assembled company by singing opera to the accompaniment of her brother, my grandfather on the piano.  Meanwhile the kids, Dad, Auntie Margarine and Gertie’s son whose name I have forgotten (probably never knew?) would hang the cat out of an upstairs window in the tied off bottoms of my grandfather’s suit trousers.  The cat’s caterwauling was drowned out by the screeching of Auntie Grace’s trills!

The old dragon to this day is still winning, never in all these rounds having managed the killer blow... the diet goes on...


Monday, 15 June 2020

BPPV & Visual migraine...

this is the extent of my year, so far!

Seven episodes sprinkled with a little stardust of zig-zagging sight that is my world to date this year...
visual migraine.

What a pain, whichever way you look at it and with this as a constant I try so hard not to look, or at least move my eyes, my head, bend over, twist, reach, you name it!  Zombie-like I move through the days, himself I see looking, watching, waiting.

After a telephone consultation on Friday the doctor said I think we had better see you.  
‘I feel a fraud using up your time for something as piffling as this!’
He batted away my waving the get out of jail free card.
This afternoon sees me creeping up the hill to the surgery.
How the blooming mighty have fallen!




Sunday, 14 June 2020

Yapping rat and other...

tales... tales, I said not tails!
We have a neighbour, well most folk do LL.  I know, I know!
We, their neighbour ie us and they our neighbour ie them acquired a dog at roughly the same time.  Not at all to keep up with the Joneses, you understand?  Completely unbeknown to each other.  This was in the days last year, pre lockdown... remember that?
Difference being, we got ours Ellie from a rescue centre.  They got a puppy.  Although I can see why people would want a puppy, who wouldn’t when they are so kissable and adorable?  Overlooking the piddling on the floor, crapping on the carpet capers.  I do get it, I really do.  The problem I have is there are so many unloved dogs in the world why would you want a fresh off the press puppy, who may or may not have come from god knows where?  Alright a rescue has lots of inherent problems from a past skirmish with the human race, I agree.  With Ellie, I will be the first to admit we did have problems overcoming her many fears.  With love and patience she has come through and we have a super companion.

Now back to next door’s dog.
Let me explain, it is a brown
chihuahua not unlike a mobile turd.  All okay, so far, until it found its voice or rather its yap.
It drives us nuts, if a leaf rustles it barks, if a car comes down our sleepy road, ditto, if a dog three counties away farts, it barks. our neighbours the other side, like us are beside themselves with the yapping rat.
Husband, who I ought to say is the most moderate of men said to them we feel we can’t even sit in our garden without the accompaniment of your dog’s yaps.

I do appreciate these sort of dogs do have a tendency to bark incessantly, however having it from a puppy, surely it isn’t outside the realms of possibility to train it not to?

Luckily Ellie is far too chilled to join in the chorus.  She I ought to say had a shock collar fitted in her past awful life, so I suppose she was in the old days afraid to bark.  Now she just barks occasionally when the postman arrives.  She hasn’t an aggressive bone in her body, surprising when you think of her life’s experiences until coming to Ludlow?




Saturday, 13 June 2020

In these strange times he...

has a new love.
Not content with one, but two!

I hardly get a look in.
He fusses, he cossets, he prepares their food with so much care.  I stand forlorn, overlooked, knowing full well my place at maybe, just maybe fourth down the list Ellie a whisker ahead of me!

Nose in the instruction books, the occasional phone call to a helpline (he does so love a helpline)  
‘Phone them up’
he is often heard to say if I merely touch on a problem...
‘They must have a help line!’

The correct diet is the key, I am reliably informed as carefully he chops, gathers the ingredients with all the panache of a latter day Keith Floyd, glass of wine in hand!
Cordon bleu cheffette me is much amused.
‘Go with the flow, just wang it in!  I say in my best 
That’ll do School of Cookery voice!
The cottage reverberates to the sound of chopping, slicing, mincing.  
I can’t cope!
‘If I got half the love, I’d be happy!’  I snifferly huff!
Unashamed he carries on.

‘Ooh, the babies are escaping, what shall I do?’

‘Just wang another level on!’
I say in a totally disinterested voice, being unloved makes you like that!
Consulting the book which doesn’t include my pithy advice he does exactly that and all is quiet in his love nest.  Peace reigns.
One is going great guns and is responding to all the fuss, hence the babies. 


The other is as sad, sullen and unmoved as I am. 


Difference being it is at least getting the attention I am most definitely NOT!

Friday, 12 June 2020

How does mother nature...

do it? 
That’s what I want to know?


This huge seed head I have just scrumped from the waste ground beside the river at the bottom of the road and mighty fine it is too! 
Do I stand over the patch I want to encourage it to grow in and blow... 
you know the sort of thing...
One o clock
Two o clock
etc.
Or do I carefully like a proper gardener collect the seeds and pop into a brown paper bag and save until exactly when?
And then what do I do?
Mother Nature has it sussed, the seeds have it sussed.  I love the fact they just pop up where the fancy takes them, oh and the conditions are just right for their needs.
I have earmarked a few others that are just about to open their clock faces.  In the meantime a little light research is required... I wonder if she has a web site or better yet a helpline?


Thursday, 11 June 2020

‘I know what we will...

do as it such a lovely blowy day let’s take our White Knight tumble drier out for a spin to the top of Clee Hill. 


While we are out and about enjoying the countryside should we  take the kiddies rubbish as well?


Maybe we could take a picnic?  Make a special occasion of it because it isn’t every day you take white goods out for a ride!  On second thoughts, what with social distancing wouldn’t it be best to go after dark?’


Clee Hill is where we love to go.
It is 2942 feet high.  The road up
winds through the sheep happily grazing, past homes nestling in the hillside enjoying the glorious views over the undulating Shropshire countryside,  Wales winks in the distance

No out of the way lay-by suits the likes of morons like this.  Driving up through the fading light what were their thoughts...

‘Let’s bugger up our beautiful countryside’
seems to fit the bill!





F.T. rides to...

the rescue.

I have even left it open with the crossword for them to crap on.

1. down... bird poo (alright sea birds, but still!)= (5)

1. across... their favourite food = (5)

After months of cleaning the top of their table, I suddenly had a fit with my leg in the air.
With the stock markets across the world as flat as a witches tit.  Tits came to mind, robins, wrens and the ubiquitous sparrow.
What better use for the husband’s paper of choice than a trading floor for birds.  It’s no blooming good at the moment for much else.


How long would it be before the new flooring would be accepted, I idly wondered?

Seconds went by, the robin, who is by far the tamest was first out of the blocks, followed by the sparrows.  Were they fazed?
Not a bit of it!
Now let’s see how they get on with the crossword?


Wednesday, 10 June 2020

My days meld...

I am lost in the embrace of a man.
‘Oh no she’s off again I hear you cry!’

No, not this time George of the Clooney, nor yet...
Pierce of the Brosnan...
but Thomas of the Cromwell.

Days slip by, as my loved up old bod, my overtaxed brain with every one of its 26 neurons strains to experience a little light travel back in time.

Only for a short time you understand and with a return ticket naturally!

I think I’m definitely, unequivocally (like that word)
in love.  If there is one thing that makes me go weak at the knees it’s strong, decisive intelligent men.  Hope the husband doesn’t read this?

This is the reason.





Monday, 8 June 2020

Pigeon post...

 ‘Do come and look Portia, she has kindly decorated our new home!’

‘Ooh coo, I am not sure that the glitter is to my liking Plato?’

‘This allowing estate agents to open hasn’t really helped with our quest to find a new home. I flew by our local branch and this huge tree seems to be the best bet.  The landlady reminds me of a female Rachman.  She seems to be going out of her way to be difficult!  Although the rent is cheep, talking of which if we don’t get on with our nest building all my sitting on the roof displaying my tail feathers will be in vain.  I know you think I only have sex on mind however the thought of your broody hot bum has got me all of a flutter Portia!’


Lettice  1  Pigeons  0

Lettice speaking...

All quiet after this morning’s 
capers... maybe they have got the message?

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Can anyone tell me...

the thinking behind owning a leaf blower?  What is that all about?
The  saying...
‘Don’t crap on your own doorstep!?! seems to fit nicely!

My father jointly owned a cottage on the Ouse in York with a lady friend, she lived there permanently, he just visited!?!  Obviously as it was that close to the river it was high risk.  Very often the water would come up over the footpath to the garden wall between them and the river.  On these occasions Margaret would take the opportunity to lob over the wall any rubbish she had.
She just didn’t get it that her rubbish would finish up further down the Ouse outside some other poor bugger’s house, in the sea or even worse a passing whales tummy!

Fly tipping of an upmarket kind, she obviously thought as she gaily waved away the crud she had been waiting to pay someone to collect and take away!



Are leaf blowers for suckers, I idly wonder?

Saturday, 6 June 2020

I need some...

 help here... can anyone advise?

We have a room which we call Ellie’s bedroom.  It is a thoroughfare to upstairs and was called the dining room by the previous owners.  Which in anyone’s imagination was a 
s t r e t c h!  It is quite dark, it has a collapsed blocked off fireplace, which when investigated revealed... zilch, just a Heath Robinson bricked up hole. 


 The rickety-rackerty stairs ascend in one corner, underneath which there is a do nothing sort of sized cupboard. 


 As resident designer and bossy-boots I have decided the room would make a lovely snug cum library cum occasional dining room.  The most important feature I have on purpose completely forgotten to mention.  And here is the rub... it is an ugly wall hung central heating boiler, you may be able to spy it lurking shyly behind the palm?
  

Even with my world renown artistical expertise (that bit plainly isn’t true!) I am stumped as to how to replace it with a thing of beauty that will do the job of warming the house and the hot water.
Having in a past life driven the likes of humongous Agas, their poor relation Rayburns and their even poorer distant cousin the Sandyford, I thought that would be the way forward... wrong!  The obvious place would be in the fireplace... easy.  Trouble with that bright idea is not only has the chimney been blocked off it has been dismantled halfway through the house.  Next place... an outside wall... yesss!  Trouble with that idea is for a gas fired stove it will need a space somewhere in the house for a hot water cylinder.  If we incorporated that close to the stove the little room would resemble the size of a dog kennel.
Are we destined for it to always be Ellie’s bedroom I idly wonder, or... maybe you can come up with a bright idea?

Friday, 5 June 2020

As I tip-toed...

through the...
no, no no, not tulips... the hedgehog crap, I got to thinking...
I’m a feeder.  All my life I have loved cooking: sharing food with friends is a joy.
My wicked dil has always said 
LL never under-caters!
She is right.

The Wrenery is carpeted by the aforesaid hedgehog’s business cards and munched up bits of seeds, fat balls and mealworms.
Ellie has finished off her mince, carrot, celery, pasta and swede 
brekkie.  As it is Friday today I will cook her a casserole of fish, pasta and veggies, this will last her a couple of days and then I will decide whether she should have chicken or shin.  Now before you think I am over indulging her, I buy from my newest fav shop Aldi, her food comes from their freezer cabinet.  She has a side of kibble to nibble and her coat is a shiny testament to her diet... just wish  the same could be said of me and my derrière!?!  The birds get the same level of cordon bleu care.
My days of major dinner parties are long gone, mainly because the cuff of my jumper could no longer hold up to my pulling it over my hand and dusting the table prior to the visitors arrival!



Life on the

allotment.  A flavour…   Ludlow town wall stands guard    No Dig is the way forward Charles Dowding