Covid-19 days

From tomorrow we in Scotland we will be able to meet up with one other household, outside and socially distanced – a maximum of eight people. That seems a bit excessive to me, I think it’s the eight people bit that scares me a wee bit. However I don’t think we’ll have to cope with that many visitors as our family members don’t live locally, and as we’ve been asked not to travel far – mainly because we shouldn’t be going into the house to use the loo – I think it’ll be quite some time before we are meeting up with our immediate family.

Speaking of loos – we had a bit of a domestic disaster about a month ago. While settling down to drink our 9 pm coffee and preparing to settle down to watch something on TV I discovered a puddle of water on the hall floor, while looking at it with puzzlement a drip splashed into it. I dreaded looking up at the ceiling, but it had to be done and it was even worse than I had feared. There were lots of bubbles in the plaster and in two places water had broken through it, it was even seeping down the walls. At first we couldn’t even figure out where the water was coming from but I tracked it down to the en suite shower room toilet cistern. It’s one of those supposedly water conserving push button efforts that must have been designed by an idiot as they have two holes in the cistern, accidents waiting to happen. The water was dripping straight down a pipe so showing no trace in the actual shower room. This is the second time one of them has malfunctioned here resulting in a soaked ceiling below. We couldn’t get a plumber into the house due to the lockdown and there was not enough space to fit a spanner in to fix it ourselves. After many views of You Tube videos and several trips to tool centres (wearing masks) and a DIY store which thankfully had just re-opened Jack managed to fix it. It took him about three weeks, I think he was determined it wasn’t going to beat him. I’m hoping we can fix the ceiling ourselves too, I’m quite good at that sort of thing.

We locked down a wee bit before we were told to by Nicola Sturgeon, it just seemed the sensible thing to do and after eleven weeks or so I’m well used to it, I’m amazed at how quickly the time has gone and also appalled that I don’t seem to be getting on with many of the things that have been getting put off for ages, they’re still being put off. I seem to be brilliant at dodging unappealing tasks! I have been reading a lot, especially in the early days of the lockdown, now gardening has taken over. Our weather has been scorching over the last few days and we haven’t had any rain to speak of for ages, the ground is like concrete. Actually our weather is a bit of a worry as it’s still only May and we’ve already had temperatures of 25 centigrade / 77 Fahrenheit. I think that’s a record for May, it’s definitely global warming.

Our jigsaw season is over I think. If I can get my hands on some fence paint I’ll be doing that instead, in common with half the country. I’m just so thankful that we have a garden to spend time in. When I think of some of the places we’ve lived in over the nearly 44 years we’ve been married (I know, I can hardly believe it) lockdown would have been absolutely hell in some of our early homes as they weren’t places we enjoyed living in, but were all we could afford at the time. I recall the first house we bought which was in the south of England which only had a plasterboard wall between us and the house next door, apparently absolutely legal in England! In those circumstances I might have been close to murder by now.

The only occasional strange thing that I have been experiencing is flashes of places coming into my mind when I least expect it, like picture postcards of places that I love visiting. They’re all rural scenic places, no shops involved. Hills, beaches, stone bridges, castles and riverbanks, but I’m in no great rush to visit any of them soon, just in case hundreds of other people are having the same idea. I have compiled a little list of new places that I want to visit – if life ever does get back to what we regarded as normal. What about you? Are you raring to go out and about or will you take it easy and be safe rather than sorry?

The photos of packed beaches in England horrified me – what are they thinking of?!

beach

New York – a jigsaw puzzle

We bought a big box of jigsaw puzzles which contained four puzzles of cities – Venice, Moscow, London and New York. We started the last of them, the New York puzzle, earlier in the week.

New York Jigsaw (Unfinished)

We finished it today and had a bit of a panic when it seemed that the last piece was missing. Jack got the torch to have a close look at the large Persian style rug, still the piece wasn’t found. Cushions, throws and such were shaken, no luck. Eventually he tipped a sofa back and there it was, how did it get under there? Anyway, I generously said that he could fit it in, but he insisted we each put a finger on a corner of it to slide it into place.

Jigsaw, New York

I’m not sure if we’ll get any more puzzles to do, obviously they would have to be bought online at the moment.

Jigsaw puzzle – London

The lastest 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that we’ve completed in these strange pandemic times is one of London which I really enjoyed doing.

London jigsaw puzzle

There’s a lot of reflection here but you can probably see that it’s the Thames, embankment and the Houses of Parliament and St Stephen’s Tower. Now we’re doing the New York puzzle, so far so good but we’re just completing the edges. I may have to resort to the internet for more puzzles as this one is the last one we have to complete. When I bought them I thought they would do nicely to pass the time on cold and dreary winter days, but obviously then I had no idea we would all be in lockdown and stuck at home. I’m so glad I bought them as there’s only so much reading and TV watching that you can do in any one day.

London jigsaw puzzle

Apple Blossom in my garden

This year I took some photos of the apple tree in my garden as it blossomed. It begins a deep pink colour but opens to pale pink and then mainly white. This is the only plant that was in the garden when we bought this house. I’ve since planted another apple tree but it is a later variety.

apple blossom
We had some hail today, our weather has gone really crazy, but it shouldn’t affect the apples as they haven’t budded yet, so my fingers are crossed as we didn’t get any apples last year because of a late frost.
apple blossom, my garden

apple blossom, my garden

apple blossom, my garden

It was so hot last week when I took the last photo, and until then I hadn’t realised that apple blossom actually had a scent, the heat really brought it out and I’m surprised that no perfumiers have tried to capture it as it’s really lovely, or maybe they have tried, I’m not a great one for perfume in fact I think a lot of them smell really horrible and a whiff of some of them leave me with a three day migraine. I hold my breath when going through the perfume department of any department store – remember those places? They were becoming an endangered species in recent times and I think that Covid-19 might do most of them in completely, but I suppose that’s the least of our worries at the moment. The delicate looking blossom survives though.
apple blossom, my garden

Vegetable Biscuits

I was lucky enough to be given an unusual tin of biscuits on Mother’s Day.

Vegetable Biscuits

Biscuits and Tin

They’re my idea of the perfect ‘vegetable’ biscuits, beautifully iced and almost too pretty to eat.

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2020 will be a happy, healthy and peaceful year for us all.

Meanwhile, if you’re in need of something to cheer you up, why not have a look at the short You Tube video below featuring some scenic railway journeys. I’ve been on the steam train journey and apart from the gorgeous scenery it’s also fun to wave back at all the people along the way who stop to admire and wave at the train.

I heard on the radio during the week that Scotland is still the destination that most people want to visit. It makes me realise how lucky I am to live here!

My garden in August

I took these three photos of my garden in August, that time when the plants take a bit of a breather before maybe deciding to give us a second flush of blooms. The first one was taken looking towards the house from the so called summer house, otherwise an oddly shaped shed which I must say has become more of a potting shed than anything else.

August Garden

Those pink everlasting sweet peas climbing on the left hand side of the wooden archway have become a bit of a menace though – and they don’t even have any scent! That’s one plant I should definitely have avoided at the supermarket.

August Garden

Despite the fact that we’re very nearly in November now and have had frost and some ice, the flowers in the old chimney pot in the photo below are still blooming away. Osteospermums and lobelia, they’ve been great this year.
August Garden

I’ve taken some photos of the garden in autumn, but I’ll leave them for next week.

Rye, East Sussex – again

The Landgate, Rye dates from around 1339 when the powers that were in Rye decided that they need a gate and walls to protect Rye from the sporadic invasions from the French, who managed to burn the whole place down, with only a few stone buildings remaining. We were there early before the shops opened to get this photo sans traffic.

Rye Gates, East Sussex

But as you can see there were still plenty of cars about. Rye seems to have been captured by the French and settled by them several times. We’re all a bunch of mongrels on these British Isles between the Viking invasions and the Norman, Saxon and Angles too, there’s really no such thing as a ‘foreigner’. Not that you would believe that if you witnessed how many times we had to repeat ourselves whilst in England, despite not having strong accents – which is more than could be said for many of the people questioning us! It reminded us of why we only stuck it out in the south of England for a couple of years. I must say that I’ve never NOT been able to understand any accent if the person is speaking English – even if they originate on the other side of the world, so it puzzles me how anyone can be so insular.

The Landgate, Rye, East Sussex

From there it’s a fairly short walk, albeit uphill to Ypres Tower which is nothing to do with the battle in France in WW1. This was used as a prison until the middle of the 1800s for both men and women. Only in comparatively recent times were the sexes separated. The mind boggles at that!

Ypres Tower, Rye, East Sussex

The view in the photo below is the side which would have been nearest the sea.

Ypres Tower, Rye, East Sussex

People who didn’t ‘deserve’ to be imprisoned might just be stuck in the stocks for a length of time where they might be targeted by people who weren’t so unlucky. They wouldn’t have been throwing tomatoes at them I’m sure.

Ypres Tower , (stocks), Rye, East Sussex

From the top of Ypres Tower you can see one of the local rivers which will lead to the sea, eventually. The sea has receded about two miles since Roman times I believe.

view from Ypres Tower, Rye, East Sussex

I think that the presence of three rivers in Rye probably goes some way to explaining how popular the town is as so many people love messing about in wee boats on rivers.

view from Ypres Tower , Rye, East Sussex

The tower in the photo below is what was the women’s prison when they were eventually separated from the men. It’s not very big so I hope there weren’t that many of them.

view from Ypres Tower (Women's prison), Rye, East Sussex

A narrow lane from the castle/tower takes you to The Castle Inn which no doubt supplied plenty of beer to the prisoners over the years. Smugglers who were due to be hanged were taken there for their last two flagons of beer.

Ypres Castle Inn, Rye, East Sussex

Recent trip – Gladstone’s Library and Rye

Over the last week or so I’ve been gallivanting around parts of the UK, specifically spending three nights at Gladstone’s Library at Hawarden in north Wales. Then on to the south of England – Rye in East Sussex for a couple of nights before going on to Ashby de la Zouch in Staffordshire which is around about the English midlands. Lastly one night in Gateshead in the north of England to visit friends. I enjoyed being away and having a change of scene but it’s lovely to be back home again. Of course, books were bought, but I’ll tell you about those later.

I must admit that I had never even heard of Gladstone’s Library when I was given the mini break as a 60th birthday treat, but since then it seems to be popping up everywhere, even being on TV’s Flog It apparently. Our bedroom decor leaned towards the spartan and the rooms don’t have a TV but they do have a radio if you can’t stand not knowing what’s going on in the news. However as a resident you do get access to the books in the library. I was disappointed when I realised that about 80% of the books are on theology – not a favourite subject for me. However as it turned out there were a few books about the sedition trials of 1794 so I was able to do some interesting research on William Skirving, that distant ancestor of mine who was transported to Australia. As a bookworm it was quite a thrill to be given my own key to the library which is locked at 5 o’clock and when I was in there after hours I was the only one there! Most of the other guests were acquainted with each other and seem to have been church groups or choirs. In the blurb on the place it says that clergymen get a discount. I wonder how much as it’s quite a lot more expensive than places of a similar standard accommodation wise.

I’ve wanted to go to Rye for years as I love E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia books and Rye is the setting although in the books it’s called Tilling, named after the River Tillingham which flows through Rye. The town is as quaint as you could wish and it’s easy to imagine the place being awash with smugglers as it was in times past. The American writer Henry James loved the town and eventually managed to buy Lamb House which had been the home of the mayors up until he bought it. He lived there for 25 years and when he died E.F. Benson leased the house from the James family until his death. So the house has been frequented by hordes of writers over the years as they each had friends who also wrote. Lamb House now belongs to the National Trust and the house and garden are definitely worth a visit.

Photos of Gladstone’s Library and Rye will be forthcoming – when I get organised.

Duncan and Alex’s Wedding

Way back in February Duncan our eldest son got married to Alex and since then I’ve intended to put my favourite photos of the day on ‘Pining’ but haven’t got around to it – yet. A few days ago Duncan wrote a lovely blogpost about his own memories of the day, illustrated with photos, so if you are interested you can have a look at it here.