Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Technology, eh?

I have had problems formatting my header but Isaac is working on a solution for me. What would I do without him?

Technology, eh?

Yesterday, Liz and I were supposed to be going for a long walk but it was raining and chilly, and we opted instead to walk down the Trail for a mile and go to Hassop Station - where I have not been in 15 months. They now have a giant marquee outside. Here I am underneath it

attempting to order two coffees and two scones on my phone, as instructed by signs stuck up around the place. It's a good job there isn't a sound track to this photo as the payment app/gizmo that they are using wants to know your phone number, date of birth (!) etc, etc, and I was getting crosser and crosser, expecting the next question to be about the colour of my knickers. Finally I got to a yellow 'button' saying SAVE CARD, with a tick box above it asking you to tick if you wanted them to save your card for future transactions. Basically, the two options were the same. As I didn't want them to save my card, and I was so annoyed I was thinking of going home and making the scones myself, I stopped. 

Fortunately a waitress (am I allowed to say that now?) passed by and I asked her if there was any other way of getting an order, and she said "Oh yes, you can just go to the kiosk."

Thank God.

Liz and I stayed, and talked and talked, as if we haven't seen each other for six weeks. Then we walked back.

Photo by Liz

The grasses weighed down by the rain looked lovely:

Photo by Liz

So lovely I took a close up...

And as one or two of you have commented on loving to see the stiles round here, my brother Pete sent me this photo he once took of me tackling a stile in Wensleydale, that still remains though the fence has been removed.

And now, after an hour spent wrestling with Blogger I am going to get dressed and do something more fulfilling: paint.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Mixed bag

N.B. Blogger is behaving really oddly this morning and I cannot configure my header. I hope things will be resolved soon.

I've realised this morning that it's not just the continuing pandemic and its restrictions which get me down, it's also reading the daily news about the shambles of our shoddy and shabby 'government.' These two combined create in me an underlying low-level depression which I have to put energy into dealing with, by ignoring things I can do nothing about, and focussing on something else with everything I've got.

I did have a wonderful day on Wednesday, seeing two old friends for lunch (inside) and extended chat in the garden all afternoon. Having felt socially starved before I went, i came back sated, as if from a good, tasty, nourishing meal.

It's hard to keep it up, though. So this morning I got out Keep Moving by Maggie Smith and read a few pages, and I'd like to share them with you.

Trust that everything will be okay, but that doesn't mean that everything will be restored. Start making yourself at home in your life as it is. Look around and ahead. Keep moving.


All you need to do today is live the best you can. Even if in this difficult time your best doesn't feel like enough, it is enough. And trust that your best tomorrow will be even better than today's: that is healing. Keep moving.


Stop rewinding and replaying the past in your mind. Live here now. Give the present the gift of your full attention. Keep moving.

I like that sentence - Give the present the gift of your full attention.

This is a painting I finished yesterday. It's called 'Break in the clouds.'

Wishing you all a break in your clouds.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


The sun is shining today, thank goodness.

Sunshine makes such a difference to me and my mood. I know it shouldn't but it does. I've been feeling a bit low lately. There are family troubles, but it's not all about that. This never-never land of Covid seems to go on forever. Yes, we are free to go out and about and to go away (within reason - the USA won't let me in) but group gatherings indoors are not wise even if they were allowed, so it means we can't have a normal Quaker Meeting, and nothing social feels free and easy. I feel as if I am living in some kind of filmy cage, the barriers of which I am never sure about. A friend recently said 'It still feels like we are waiting, in hibernation/half life.' I feel that too.

Yesterday a man on the Trail asked me if the stepping stones were 'down there.' And could you walk on them? 

I said 'Yes, I've just been, do you want to see a photo?' 

I found one on my phone and he stood right next to me to see it, 

and afterwards as I cycled off I thought 'Should we have been standing side by side, so close? Neither of us had masks on because he was hiking and I was walking and cycling. He was my age so had probably been fully vaccinated, but on the other hand he could still be carrying the Delta variant, and anyway, he had an Australian accent so was he a visitor who had NOT been vaccinated? Next time I will ask the person to step away and I will hold my phone at arms length for them to see. All of this crap ran through my head. When will I stop thinking this kind of stuff? Next year? Ever?

At least I am free in my dreams. I dreamed about Mary and it was lovely. She was happy and smiling and we had three hugs just because we could. (It was rather weird, though - she had had her hair 'set', she was wearing a bra and a twin set, she had just pulled out the cooker to clean behind it, she had a double barrelled name, and she was cracking jokes in the Labour party meeting she was hosting at her house. You didn't know her so I need to explain that only ONE of these characteristics is anywhere near the truth. And even then it would have been the Green party.) She died six years ago and I still miss her a lot.

At least I got to Facetime my girls yesterday - both of them. Cece (Cecilia) has taught me how to use filters, and I took a photo of her in comic book mode which I really like:

This is her in monchrome:

 and this is the birthday card I painted for her:

Do you know what the notes say?

The other good news is that my sweet peas are looking healthier than they have in years. This is just one wigwam of three:

Right... now I am going to get showered and dressed and head to the garden centre because my cosmos seedlings are ready to be planted out and I need some sharp grit to protect them from slugs.

And the sun is still shining. I hope it is for you too, and that you have a lovely day.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Breaking news and riverside walk

I live such a quiet life these days that this is the only news from Hepworth Towers: after 35 years I have given up on Neighbours.

I have told you about why I liked this soapy soap on the blog before - here, for example.

It was 20 minutes of the day - usually late afternoon -  when I could switch off and relax. But I can't relax with it any more because there are so many characters I find so irritating I want to throw things at the screen, the plots are so circular and repetitive and boring, and the dastardly antics of the resident villain Paul Robinson (my favourite character) have been reduced to petty family meddling. Or has it always been like that and I have finally, at 71, grown up - culture wise?

I realised I needed something to fill the gap and turned to watching Last Tango in Halifax again on BBCiplayer. I intended to watch it in 20 minute bursts, but it is so good that yesterday it slipped into a whole hour-long episode. And last night I dreamed I was acting in it and discussing with a fellow actor why the script felt so natural - was it because it was written by a northern writer and set in the north? 

This quote creased me up yesterday...

[Alan and Gillian are looking at one of Alan's old school photographs]

[wistfully] He's dead... And he's dead... She died... He went down south.

Anyway, that is the news.

But so many of you commented on the photo walk I put on the blog last post that I did another.

And if you want to do it too, cycle up the Monsal Trail from Bakewell or Hassop to Miller's Dale Station. Or you could drive and park at Miller's Dale station. Head north east along the Trail towards Buxton and stop at the first bridge over the river you come to. Lock up your bike and head down the steps to the river.

Turn right at the bottom of the steps. You could turn left - and it's lovely - but the path only goes for half a mile in that direction till you get to the road. 

So, turn right and walk as far as you like. It's best to do it when there has not been torrential rain because in some places that makes the path dicey or even impassable. 

Because I have already ridden there and don't want to be out all day I don't go far before I stop.

I stop at the first bridge

and sit on the bridge and drink my coffee.

This has been my magic place this week where nothing can touch me. 


Tuesday, June 15, 2021



I've been thinking that if you have just one person who knows you and loves you for who you are, it is such a comfort. And if you have more than one then how blessed you are.

Yesterday I didn't have much zip so I went on a shortened version of my favourite local walk. 

Here is some of it...

When you have nothing to say
just drive
for a day all around the peninsula ...
Seamus Heaney

Saturday, June 12, 2021


I have just finished a free one-week online painting course with the talented abstract landscape painter Louise Fletcher. She is a great teacher, and her main mission seems to be to instil confidence in students so they can find joy in painting by following what they feel they want to do and ignoring what other people say.

One of the exercises she set us was to paint something without using the tools we normally use - in my case, brushes.

I painted the corner of the bedroom using a dishcloth,  a palette knife, and cotton buds. It was huge fun and very quick and I loved the result.

For a couple of weeks I have been struggling with a self portrait and yesterday I finally gave up because I was so fed up with trying and failing to get it right. Here it is, a good attempt but not good enough:

Now I am having fun trying to paint this:

because I find the bright early morning sunshine so beautiful. The dress hanging up on a picture is there because having found it in the back of the wardrobe I can't bear to put it away again. It's a dress I wore when I was pregnant with Isaac 48 years ago and is now in fashion again. It's made of fabulously thick cotton and I love it.

It escaped the fire because it wasn't packed away when we moved - oddly -  unlike my beloved three pairs of dungarees in turquoise, emerald and yellow.

And because I haven't posted a video on here for some time, I cycled up the hill behind our house yesterday and took this for you: 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Country living

It was time to cut down the daffodil leaves under the front wall, so Dave got out his scythe.

and found a nest.

The eggs were large and I thought they might belong to the annoying pheasants that frequent our lane. They're annoying because of the noise they make. Don't you find that noise annoying?

I wasn't sure about the eggs so I asked my big sister, who texted back: 'Partridge or pheasant. There would normally be 8-12 in a clutch I think.'  I guess next door's cat had scared off the hen mid-lay.

Dave brought them inside and washed them and left them on the worktop by the butter dish.

'Are you going to blow these eggs?' I asked.


'What are you going to do with them then? Eat them?'

'No. And I'm not going to hatch them like the girl in Fly Away Home, either. They were cold when I found them. Next thing you know I'd be dressed like a pheasant and flying over Matlock.'

Two photos I took on my blog break were through the bedroom windows - east and south, on May 17th. 

Just three weeks later most of the trees are fully out, and the verges on the lanes round here are high with cow parsley.

This is just round the corner from our house.

And this is the next lane, the one where I clear the blocked gullies in the winter -

And I took this walking home to our house last evening...

Heavenly, isn't it?