Sunday, 3 January 2021

How was it for you?


Highlights of 2020

Normally at this time of year I would review the year.  However, given the year we’ve all just had, I’ll gloss over 2020 with a few highlights before moving onwards and upwards to things I hope to accomplish in 2021.


As 2020 draws to a close, just a few things to ponder

1. 2019 Stay away from negative people. 2020 Stay away from people

2. The world has turned upside down. Old people are sneaking out of the house and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors.

3. This morning I saw a neighbour talking to her dog. It was obvious she thought her dog understood her.

I came to my house and told the cat ....we had a good laugh

4. Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pyjamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom.

5. Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands?

6. I never thought the comment “I wouldn’t touch them with a 6-foot barge pole” would become a national policy but here we are!

7. I really need to practice social distancing...... from the fridge

8. I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to the garden.

I am tired of the living room

9. Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank clerk with a mask on and ask for money.

On to 2021

Although I participated in many Zoom meetings with family for celebrations and festivals and with the various groups and societies in which I am involved, it doesn’t replace face-to-face contact and hugs and kisses.  I am so looking forward to meeting and greeting people in person,

Last year taught me how kind and creative the human race can be.  I hope this continues post pandemic.

I will continue to appreciate my garden and living in beautiful Yorkshire

Some other things I missed out on and hope to experience this year:

Celebrating with friends and family

Visiting the Himalayan Gardens near Ripon, in Yorkshire

Lunching with the ladies

I’m ending this post on a positive note with a well know song (Lyrics by John Mercer)

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

So, how was it/will it be for you?





Friday, 18 December 2020

Scary Stories


This story is in response to the regular call for shared storytelling  on the blog 100 words for advent from Loren Eaton.

The blog is described “as a place for people who like stories in general and genre fiction in particular. It's a place for folks who prefer to read and write fantasy and horror, science fiction and crime fiction”.

So here is my 100 word story:

The Poison Garden

Visiting the Poison Garden was her idea.   

Hundreds of species of poisonous plants from rhubarb to hemlock were attractively arranged, interspersed with culinary and medicinal herbs.

Hurrying my wife past warnings on the information board, I actively encouraged rubbing leaves to release the aroma of various plants lining our route.  Surely she would encounter a poisonous one.

“Help! Quick. Look at this rash!”

Pretending not to hear and willing myself not to look back, I waited until she fell silent before shouting for assistance. 

The Coroner reported her death wasn’t from the irritant, Ruta graveolens, but from a heart attack.

 - 0 -

To read more scary stories, check out I Saw Lightning Fall


Saturday, 12 December 2020

Six on Saturday mid-December

So here we are in mid-December and almost at the point in the year when the days become longer.  Can’t wait!  I check for signs of new growth every day.

Here are my six:

Some roses are still hanging on

The evergreen fern, Polystichum polyblepharum, looks good

Garlic planted late November developing nicely

The cheerful colour of the Winter Jasmine is a welcome sight at the front door

I like to plant up a pot of Bellis which will flower through until late Spring

This basket, which currently contains Cyclamen, will be substituted for pots of other plants according to the season

The Propagator generously hosts Six on Saturday.  Click on the link to his blog to see what he and his followers are growing and doing in their gardens this week.  Perhaps you feel you could add your own six too.

Stay well everyone.


Thursday, 26 November 2020

Libraries and their evolution


Since being a small child when I would regularly walk the two mile return journey to my local library, I have always valued and enjoyed visiting these institutions even though I and they have changed over the decades.  I still miss those catalogues of index cards housed in wooden drawers and the cardboard tickets with the pocket.  Am I the only one who envied the librarian as she stamped the date on the books?  School libraries, both as a pupil and a teacher, have represented a peaceful haven from the tumult of the surroundings.

During the pandemic, reading and procuring reading material has been top of my list so, while my usual sources such as friends and charity shops have not been readily available, I have had to find others.  A bit like an addict, I always need a stash of reading matter.

Little libraries

Fortunately, we have two Little Libraries literally on my doorstep.  Local residents stock the libraries and borrow from as and when.  So far, I have only scanned the titles and deposited books there as opposed to borrowing, but I feel secure in the knowledge that reading matter is accessible 24/7 should I need it.  The only people who may miss out on this opportunity are the writers but perhaps it allows them allow to reach a wider audience.

I have spotted Little Libraries all over including this one in a tiny, Yorkshire village:

Virtual Libraries

 In my opinion, not as good as holding a book in your hand, virtual libraries have their place.  My Kindle app allows me to carry about with me hundreds of books which are readily accessible while travelling or queuing.  The downside is making sure the devices are charged and the difficulty of recalling the title of my current read when the front cover and writer’s name isn’t always on show.

While the municipal libraries have been closed, the facility to borrow ebooks and audiobooks have been added to their services using the app Borrowbox enabling borrowing and at the click of a button.  This has enabled me to virtually borrow quite a few books from my to-read list and to try out audiobooks using my new earbuds.  I have to admit that I am not a fan audiobooks, particularly when it involves multiple characters, the reader’s voice is not appropriate or you want to re-read bits.

Other Library Services

While the libraries have been closed for pandemic of 2020, they will be sorely missed by those who use the wide range of services they provide; reading rooms, Wifi hotspots and, especially in the case those village libraries taken over by volunteers, venues for talks, table tennis and toddler groups.

I have previously blogged about various other libraries at Third Age: Libraries ( so I won’t repeat myself.

Please do comment on your preferred reading sources or books to recommend. 

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Six on Saturday

Luckily, I picked these from the garden yesterday as there is no way I’m venturing out in this cold, wet weather.


Cotinus, Artemisia, Persicaria, Abelia, Sedum Autumn Joy

Last of the bulbs.  How do you remember where existing bulbs are planted before digging to insert new ones?

The Propagator generously hosts Six on Saturday.  Click on the link to his blog to see what he and his followers are growing and doing in their gardens this week.  Perhaps you feel you could add your own six too.

Stay well everyone.


Saturday, 26 September 2020

An Autumn break in Northumberland

Northumberland is beautiful in any season, but our preferred time to visit is in Autumn.  

Membership of the Historic Houses Association entitled us to visit many castles for free.

We visited Alnwick Gardens a few years ago, so this time we explored Alnwick Castle.  This impressive castle has been home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys for more than 700 years and is now notorious for being the  location  of the filming of Harry Potter.

View from the castle

Then on to Alnmouth Village Golf Club where we had a drink at the clubhouse.  The club was established in 1869 and is the oldest 9-hole links in England with good views of the bay and Coquet Island. 

We spent the next day on a mini road trip road visiting some old haunts and finding new ones.

First stop was the small working harbour of Amble.  Over the years it has reinvented itself from a fishing village, sandstone quarry and transporter of coal to a marina with trendy boutiques, bistros and a state-of-the-art fish market.

The uninhabited Coquet Island owned by the Duke of Northumberland and managed as a bird reserve by the  RSPB
On to Seahouses via Boulmer and Embleton, where we stopped for lunch at the Bamburgh Castle Hotel which gives a clear view of the Farne Islands.   
Next, Bamburgh Castle. 

Bamburgh Castle is an imposing building which looks over a beautiful beach.  The artefacts are fascinating and well curated.

On our last day the weather took a turn for the worse so we took advantage of  a browse round Barter Books at Alnwick an amazing second hand bookshop covering every subject imaginable.  It has cosy reading rooms with open fires and a toy railway runs on a circuit above the shelves.

 Going inland, our last stop was Chillingham Castle which is advertised as being the most haunted Castle in the UK and is complete with torture dungeons.  The present owner and resident of this medieval castle, Sir Edward Humphry, inherited the property as a shell.  An antique dealer by trade, he has since filled the building with a variety of interesting artefacts from tennis racquets to typewriters.  

For more details of the places mentioned, the keyword Northumberland will bring up past posts.


Friday, 28 August 2020

A Stone for Srebrenica -25 years on

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, our local group of Nisa Nashim (Muslim and Jewish women) joined Big Ideas in painting stones.  The stones will be a permanent reminder of the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust and all other victims of Nazi persecution and to those murdered in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The stones from across the United Kingdom will be placed within the foundations of the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London. Each painted stone is a commitment to remember the past and to build a future free from all forms of prejudice, discrimination and hatred.

My stone includes a heart, the Hebrew word Chai and flowers to represent Love, Life and Regeneration:

Pictures of other stones and more information can be found at

Sadly, we haven't learnt from the horrors of the past and persecution still continues today. 

In the words of Eli Wiesel, holocaust survivor: We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

How was it for you?

  Highlights of 2020 Normally at this time of year I would review the year.   However, given the year we’ve all just had, I’ll gloss over ...