Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Bread

 

Oooooooh  ooooooh” 
It’s a two tone old ladies call.
They usually reserve it for calling to other old ladies across a garden fence or a shopping aisle
It’s for the most part accompanied by a floppy wave of the hand or a shake of the handkerchief
And delivered right, it can be somewhat piercing 
Ooooohhhh ooooooooo!”        
It came again, this time much louder.
The dogs jumped from their sleeping positions and thundered downstairs to see
Mrs Trellis was stood at the kitchen wall , and wasn’t one for being kept waiting
She was fanning the freshly baked sour dough bread I had left on the wall to cool 
“ I’ve just chased away a magpie !” She told me reproachfully 
Blue, her greyhound,  fidgeted in his blue coat by her side 
I offered her one of the loaves
She refused but pointed at the other 
“ I’ll take the other one “ she said “ Blue’s already licked it” 




 

Monday, 29 March 2021

Diverged

 



The Walking Dead has continued in a somewhat abridged and covid shortened self for the postponed last few episodes of season 10 

Most have been somewhat boring , but the latest , Diverged is a miniature masterclass of charismatic acting from the actress Melissa McBride. The fifty something heroine of the zombie apocalypse.

I won’t go too far into the plot. Suffice to say that old friends Carol and Daryl ( Norman Reedus) are finding their way in a uncertain world again, and like many old friends , their bonds are tested by fate and serendipity .

Carol is trying to cope with Daryl’s rejection and with the benign help of the the delightfully  sweet Jerry ( Cooper Andrews) she finds some order in the chaos 

Jerry, the lovely Cooper Andrews

I loved this gentle, meandering episode , which was a thoughtful character study of two lost people.
I hope the final season , season 11 is just as good 

It’s amazing , that I’ve followed this programme and these characters for over a decade now..carol and Daryl are flawed people...irritating and flawed and oh so human .....and we all know they are going to make up at the end 

They have to

Affection

 I have a proper affection for places.
I think we all do.
Our home towns, our favourite holiday destinations , places that mark significant milestones and times in our lives.
We all have love for a place.
New York City holds such affection from me, of course so does Trelawnyd, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, Sydney, Sitges in Spain and that grubby old dame of Yorkshire my beloved old home city of Sheffield all rank highly in in those places that have made me the person you see today.

As I was  driving into Llandudno this morning, the early morning Sun , made earlier by the clock’s change, lit up the Great Orme eastern face in a dazzling flash of golden warm light.
I stopped on the North Shore to take a photo of the peninsula and had a sudden rush of affection ( once termed SRAs) for the slightly fading but still valiant Victorian town.


The town is my place of work,
It’s Welsh but remains oh so different from Trelawnyd and indeed from its local hinterland,
And I regard it with some pride and like the Sun reflecting on the Orme, with a great deal of warmth.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

A Nothing Kind of Day


A strange day.
It’s stormy, and we have gales here today. 
I’ve done little , save for watching various eclectic stuff on iPad and tv.and didn’t leave my bed until midday.
The Bette Davis romp The Anniversary. Upstairs Downstairs ( the episode when the King came to dinner) and the delightful Canadian comedy show Kim’s Convenience was the order of the day.
By late afternoon , I became quite stir crazy and still in my nightmare the dogs and I picked up some mozzarella dippers and sat in the Car in the beach to share them .( 3.33 dippers each) 
I opened the window as far as I dare, and the rain which was falling almost horizontally refreshed us all .
I wasn’t the only single person sat in their cars overlooking the slate coloured sea. 
I’ve always felt sorry for single people sat in their cars before.
The wind and rain blew away the cobwebs and I’ve come home and lit the fire







Saturday, 27 March 2021

Ghosts

Something white at the window 


 I was sat in the office writing notes when a large morphing white figure slowly pressed itself to the frosted window immediately to my right. 
It was almost dark outside and there was a bang of something hard on the glass
I shat myself 
And let out an unmanly squeak 
I am the only person working at this part of the hospice.
Another white figure appeared .
Looking out of the dark

I opened the window very carefully.
Ten Kashmir goats, were happily grazing on the hospice gardens as gales started to lash the Orme

Friday, 26 March 2021

Painting By Zoom

 

My chickens


The last time I met up with my friend Nia was in a cooking video call, where she made supper and I made breakfast. 
This morning we were painting and chatting.
A relaxing way of spending an hour.
Talking and painting.
I plumped for a naive but colourful collection of chickens 
She was more abstract in her much loved colours of blue and white.
I can highly recommend it. 
The conversation has a different pace than if we were talking face to face

The gaps are not awkward, 
They were filled with brush strokes and giggles and lots of I don’t know what I am doing
But like doing someone else’s jigsaw, or colouring in, or doodling 
The painting was strangely therapeutic and relaxing

Nia’s work

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Long Legged, Thin Lipped

Waiting outside the vets


My Hitchcock lecture tonight was the most disappointing of the eight I’d signed up for. It felt very cobbled together so I left after an hour and listened to the end of the David Sidaris essay on radio 4, which was more stimulating but somewhat sadder.
In retrospect I hadn’t then realised that I was in no mood for Hitchcock . I had just spent an unsatisfactory hour and a half or so at the vets, being gently bullshitted by well intentioned young vet about Mary’s recurrent ear infection. 
I was polite enough, recognising the way she covered what she didn’t know but when she commented that the old surgery on Mary’s ear was heavy handed then asked where I had the surgery done, my lips went thin and I hardened my tone and stare .
“ The operation was done here !” I reminded her.
My tone and lips became even thinner after I was kept waiting twice for a discussion then for meds which had been labelled incorrectly. 
“This has not been a good consultation “ I told the vet, something she didn’t follow up
I guess that the Hitchcock lecture just irritated me more 

Today’s good news is that I have picked the colour of my bedroom walls.
Given the fact I have a gently vaulted bedroom ceiling which will be painted a brilliant white, the room can take a dark tone of wall colour.
So this will be the palate I will use.....a deep dark blue


Oh.....and Thank you all for your painting advice . I have found the exploration really interesting and somewhat challenging as now I will have to change my bedroom curtains too. 
Expensively glorious Curtains that my husband and I bought together from Laura Ashley 
Our very first purchase for a shared home.
I think “lobster orange”;may be a good choice , lined of course 

I thought it was Wednesday today and am somewhat disappointed that it is  Thursday . 

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Bedroom

 With the new bookcase up and running, it’s time to change my bedroom’s colour.
This is where I need some help.
I am working around two very large Art Deco posters which will dominate the room.
It’s taken me an age to pick the ones I want but these are my final choices



I need suggestions of wall colour
I’m thinking chimney breast one colour the rest of the room the other 
I have a vaulted ceiling and a wooden floor of ancient varnished floorboards
The lobster needs a contrasting wall colour 
Ideas anyone ?

Chatter


Just for Lizzy here is a photo of my shrimp vase.  
It’s the biggest vase I own and always has pride of place in the kitchen lane window, where it looks at its best. I always have fresh flowers in this window and in the living room window and have kept the tradition of flowers in the house ever since I bought my first home in 1989.
I note here that I’m not the only one that always has flowers in their windows, it’s a tradition Affable Despot Jason’s wife Claire adheres to
Which is nice
Yesterday I cleaned an old shelving unit and spray painted it.
With the addition of some cheap primulas, hyacinth and herbs like sage and parsley it’s brightened up the patio which still needs it’s cottage walls painting. 
I need some consistently dryer weather to do that .

The choir met last night on zoom.
It was a year to the day since we had our first on line meeting and our conductor Jamie and his 1940s moustache ( but with non regulation overlong hair) has kept us going more socially that musically . 
Mary delights to sit on my knee during out chit chat , watching the zoom boxes and activity through one eye, and she remains so still that several of the choristers shout “ she’s a puppet “ when they see her.

Before choir I pottered. The lane was muddy and noisy as ty newydd farm ( New House farm) was transporting turnips in vast containers from the fields down the lane back through the village, and so most of my pottering was inside. 
However, Mrs K did stop to talk. Her husband has been poorly and she has a habit of telling you  of what many would think as too personal information .
I think she’s frightened and needs to share.
Anyway in between her, and the tractor trailers loaded with turnips a sparrow hawk landed in the lane like a spitfire. She had a collared pigeon in her grasp and started to rip at its breast meat before the unfortunate bird was dead. She must have been hungry for I snapped two shots of the drama before another tractor thundered around the corner and she took flight into the churchyard with the pigeon swinging from one talon. 
The crows from the trees by the pond suddenly appeared calling loudly as did a trio of magpies and I watched the sparrow hawk land heavily amid the gravestones as clouds of white feathers burst along the lane like snowflakes.
  



My DIY bookcase arrived this morning , so I need to channel my inner testosterone in order to put it together. I was only contemplating this with a bucket of coffee when I spied Gentleman farmer Ralph’s wife pulling up at the gate.
She dropped off  my soup container and a few orders of service for me and the other locals.
She looked brave.



Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Talents

 

Books of all descriptions seem to be lying in untidy heaps on the floor. 
They have got on my tits, even though I like the  intellectual look I think they afford to a living space.
I am shallow enough to have enjoyed this...

This year seems to be a year of the book. I’ve been collecting them this morning and have dusted them off 
A new bookcase will be arriving soon for the bedroom , so very soon order will be restored. 

It’s clean and tidy and modern and it was so easy to buy on Amazon 
My plan today was to pop up to the garden centre to buy pockets of colour for the garden and patio, which now thanks to my sister look lovely but the jungle telegraph from the Trelawnyd Whats app group tells me that the queues at Jackson’s are far too big! 
So I will content myself in the meantime with buying some paint to refurbish another old  wooden bookcase from my office, where I will park more flotsam of my 58 years.

This morning I have already dug deep within my testosterone maleness and successfully changed both of Bluebell’s windscreen wipers !!!!!!
I could have beaten my chest and bellowed a Tarzan call down the lane so happy I was with the result! 
When I walked back to the cottage with my chest bursting I then realised that the whole  back of the cottage needs whitewashing too......
There are not enough hours in the day I think......I’ve always found that during home holidays ....my new bargain buy from Aldi ( five blank canvases for 6£ ) are also eyeing me from atop the kitchen cabinets ...I have a zoom painting meeting with my Australian friend planned for this week......
Is there NO end to this old poof’s talents?




Monday, 22 March 2021

Supermarket Flowers


I heard this for the first time recently 
This and other similar experiences I witness everyday are why I need a holiday this week
I’ve booked holidays from work every 8 to 12 weeks or so 
Prudent me thinks

Milk Bottle


I’m on holiday for most of this week. I promised I’d work an extra 12 hour shift on Saturday to cover a colleague’s birthday, but that seems an age away now. I need a break from death and dying this week.

Today I’ve shopped and got all giddy in the supermarket as we in Wales can now buy things that are not essential 
What did I buy? I heard you all ask
Six painting canvases, eight pairs of underpants and a packet of bird nuts
I’m a mad bitch

I’ve done laundry and washed duvet sets, and towels and blankets and hung them on the field gate and picked daffodils from the field border, placing them in an old fashioned milk bottle given to me by my dear cousin from a local dairy. 

I’ve only seen Animal Helper Pat today. She was dragging a canvas bag of garden detritus to the field bonfire for burning. 


Sunday, 21 March 2021

Mindfulness

I’m sat at my desk at work
Cup of tea in hand ( no coffee...I treated myself to a large one from McDonalds )
I’m early ...I don’t start work for another half hour.
But it’s Sunday and the roads were clear.
The talk radio subject on the way to work today was
What has lockdown taught you?

I thought of when I met Chic Eleanor for a walk on Friday
We each had a trendy sandwich wrapped in pristine green bread proof paper and a takeaway cup of tea and we sat on opposite ends of a wooden bench taking in the view and the smells and the feelings of where we were.
Without talking
She’s teaching me mindfulness .
And it seems to be working 


The view from our bench

Saturday, 20 March 2021

“SPOILER ALERT: We all die in the end.”

 Oh I couldn’t possibly live next to a graveyard

How many times have I heard this phrase over the years?
I heard it just yesterday, a conversation with a walker who was looking for local properties to buy
I don’t like the thought of seeing gravestones everyday, I really couldn’t 
Arnt you frightened ?

I’ve been in Trelawnyd fifteen years
And I’ve known a few people who are in the graveyard now.
Sylvia the flower show matriarch, Bob the Chicken who taught me to kill chickens humanely. The Red Faced Welsh Farmer, John,animal helper Pat’s husband, Olwenna and Her friend Gwyneth from Pen Y Cefn Isa, Flower Show stalwarts Meirion H and Mrs Lewis , I could go on 
Friends and acquaintances 

I can walk around the cemetery at night without being fazed 
And do,so,regularly 
What is there to be possibly frightened of?
Just old friends 


A painting of the church and churchyard by Hattie

Friday, 19 March 2021

The Funeral

 The hearse turned the corner by Pen Y Cefn Isa Farm around twenty five past eleven. I could just see it above the hawthorn hedge of my field. 
It was moving at a slow walking pace, with Ralph’s closest walking behind.
Already a fair , socially distanced crowd had gathered outside the church and the workmen builders cementing bricks around the new build behind my cottage had quieted their radio and had laid down their tools as requested.
Sailor John and I stood on the lawn of our respective gardens and waited. 
It wasn’t long before the funeral cars appeared.
One of the younger women in the party carried Ralph’s shepherd’s crook which was a nice touch I thought.
Sailor John and I bowed our heads to Lywenna who was sat stiffly in the second car.
We have waved to her so many times as she passed through the lane over the years.

I watched the outdoor service from my field. Village Elder Islwyn and the gravedigger stood to one side in their yellow workmen coats and in the far corners of the Churchyard , little knots of people stood to attention as a Welsh Minister took the service, his thickly accented baritone catching the faint breeze to where I stood allowing me to hear the odd phrase or word above the caws of the Crows in the trees surrounding the village pond and the far screams of seagulls flying over the fields to the West.


Amazing Piano Duet


This mini film is worth wasting four minutes on
It’s quite touching 

Thursday, 18 March 2021

KFC

 I used a lull in my workload at teatime  to collect a KFC 
It was for one of my patients who loves a takeaway 
Food remains a huge pleasure for him, which is often a rare occurrence in palliative care and so like a couple of schoolboys this afternoon we whispered the long KFC menu and he put in his order.
I treated a few of the nurses who weren’t watching their figures too 
For logistical reasons we had only been offered sandwiches from our usually robust canteen.
The patient tucked in to his zinger burger with some gusto and my vicarious pleasure in his pleasure was immeasurable . 
It was funny but as I was sat in the drive in queue I remembered a visit to the same local takeaway three years ago. It was a summers evening and I was with my husband.
We had just been to a particularly harrowing relate appointment and I was feeling bruised and battered and vulnerable.
We stopped because we were hungry 
And I remember feeling rather odd 
Lost in those wonderfully indulgent eight spices
The chicken cushioning  me from all of the hurt. 

Let’s leave things on a lighter note
Taskmaster tonight
My new guilty crush
The comedian Mike Wosniak 

What a tash!!!!



Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The New York Met emails me weekly
 
It doesn’t bother me much unless it’s selling it’s Christmas Decorations 
I bought many of those when I’ve visited New York 

Last night the “ Met “ offered me my own Ruth Bader Ginsburg Action figure and how could I possibly refuse?
So on a whim ...I’ve bought her within seconds of the offer

An elderly Jewish woman action figure of intelligence and humour 
How gay is that...? 
She will be my next so alternative Christmas dec 


Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Maddie


 Yesterday, I did indeed clean the patio of it’s dirt and winter grime. The old rabbit hutch which had doubled as a wood store was dismantled and added to the field bonfire and as I was returning to the cottage, I spied a squared off stone peeping from behind a large tussock of grass.
It was a headstone of the only dog of mine that was buried on the field.
It was Maddie’s headstone.
I sat and remembered her for a little while
My eyes closed and my face turned to the sun

Maddie was a Scottish Terrier.
She was my second dog, and was grumpy, taciturn and aloof.
A mirror image of Finlay, my welsh terrier who loved the entire World with an open heart.
Maddie loved her masters with all of her heart but showed her affection with all the distance of a 1970 s parent.She would lie next to you, rather than on you and would arrroooo at you rather than lick your face but like a maiden aunt who was dressed for mourning, she was fierce and proud and only had eyes for her nephews who she watched with careful eyes of shiny obsidian. 



Maddie chasing Meg and Finlay

Maddie was never showy 
Never demanding 
And never overly demonstrative 
She enjoyed her quiet life following the others and following you
And after years of not thinking about her, I remembered her quirks and ill temper and loyalty until my eyes stung just a little.

On impulse I lifted her headstone out of the ground and cleaned away the mud and the dirt.
I placed it against the wall on the patio and will soften it’s look with potted primulas and violas 

I thought it would be nice, for passing walkers to read her name out loud when they saw the headstone
And wonder who Maddie was as they did so.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

A Little Kindness

 
Village Elder, Islwyn looked busy this afternoon.
I spied him in my field , dragging branches to the ever growing bonfire mound.
He had been pottering around the graveyard,
The graveyard he has unofficially manicured for well over a decade.

He waved.
We talked about Gentleman Farmer Ralph 
He and Islwyn had been good friends.
“ The family said that they can almost see Ralph’s graveyard plot from his farm “ Islwyn said and I nodded looking across the valley to Ralph’s farmhouse standing proud to the South West “Pity  for them there was not a hole in the hedge“ he added.

I noted that the branches in his hands were the size of a small new hole in the graveyard hedge.