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Saturday, 19 April 2014

A visit to old haunts.

While I’ve been here in Yorkshire, CB and I have taken runs out in the car – mine.  I wouldn’t let him drive till he got his stitches(staples) taken out which happened last week, so on the Thursday afternoon we took a run out in his new vehicle, a cross between a van and a bus, I guess!  Well, instead of going the direct route up Swaledale, we had to take a long route round as part of the dale road was closed for repairs.  I bet it was at a point called Gatehouse Corner which is notorious for the road subsiding – well, in the days I was living up the dale it was!

Anyway we drove up the A1, and at Scotch Corner turned off on the A66 that connects east with west, the northern road across the Pennine hills, the backbone of England.  The road to Reeth, the main village in Upper Swaledale, leaves the A66 to go south over the hill, through the (much depleted) Stang forest, and down into Arkengarthdale, then left again to finish the run down to Reeth.   However, at the CB hotel in Arkengarthdale  - CB for a long ago leadmine owner called Charles Bathhurst -  where I worked for a couple of years, we turned right, and followed the moor road, past Cocker House, where an old friend used to live, across Surrender Bridge and left again passing the old ruined Surrender lead smelting mill across the beck/stream, and on through a ford, locally called the Watersplash  and famous for its appearance in the opening sequence of the James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small TV programme from the late 1970s.  (To think I actually watched some of the filming for that programme in the early 80s!).  The last part of the road took us past Park Hall Farm and Thiernswood Hall,past the spot where I used to pick primroses on my birthday,  across Barney Beck Bridge and into Swaledale at Healaugh.  You can call it HEElaw  or its vernacular name of HEE-le ( le as in the French word for the), and it’s where I lived for several years in the 1980s. 

Manor House and barnWe parked on the Green, beside what has become a Bed & Breakfast house, and the old barn (left of photo) that is now a house, and took a walk along the village.

south ViewI was amazed to see so many properties for sale in the village, including my old house, left, and the cottage next door, Kay’s house across the road and the old post office ( a PO before my time).  Martins Cottage

Even the new cottage built recently on the other side of my house was up for sale!   I’d love to see inside!  It looks fabulous!Well, I’d like to see inside my old house too.  Annette bought it from me and must have sold it to a holiday let company and now they are selling it.  I don’t think it has changed much inside, from the estate agent’s info online: a new kitchen and a revamped bathroom, that’s about all I can see.P1070704  I took various photos in the village, like the one below of the horse troughs, at the corner, so come for a walk with us.  P1070697This road goes up the hill and round to the back of the village.  the old school and slack houseInstead we walked past Slack House, and the old school,  which was a barn in my day, and is lock heathernow a house,turned right into the square at Lock Heather.  This was where Mrs N used to live.  She laid a small piece of carpet sample on the floor of the telephone kiosk to make a long telephone call in winter warmer on the feet and used to put a small jar of flowers on the shelf  to pretty the place up!  There were lots of little notes from folk who used the phone thanking “whoever kept the phone box looking so attractive”.  Some even left a few pennies for charity.  I forgot to look to see if the custom has continued!  Fancy me not remembering!  We walked up the unfinished road behind Lock Heather, passing my elderly friend GH’s house on the right (I didn’t take its photo as there was someone working in the garden)  and as we headed uphill, the gate of Hallgarth , B’s old home, up to the top of the villlage pastthe more modern house that was EB’s.  back cottagesHer uncle AB used to live in one of the cottages at the top (and her brother LB in a house on the main road.)  They were pretty dilapidated 25+ years ago, but have now been renovated and the woodwork painted, so that they look very desirable.  They must have a beautiful view of the other side of the dale.  To finish our walk around the village we crossed in front of the cottages and on to join the uphill road (the only portrait orientated photo above). Shoregill2

Colin is standing outside A&E’s house in the shadow.  The little lean-to behind him was the tiny post office in my time in Healaugh, and I spent a lot of time there sending letters to penpals and enjoying the craic with E.  I think they live in his parents’ farmhouse now.  It’s on the main road next to my old house – well, the new cottage separates our two buildings now. The post office is gone now – you have to go to Reeth to post letters to penfriends these days – and I expect most of the villagers I knew have died or moved away.  There were only a few youngsters here and even the smallest of them will be well grown up, probably have their own families now too! 

They say you should never go back somewhere where you were happy, so although tempted I didn’t make appointments with estate agents to look round the for sale properties.  I’ll keep my memories, look at my old photos and just remember the place as it was!

to the riverfrom the riverpath






Talk again soon.                  

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Book number 9?

Scotland badge

I think this is my 9th book for Peggy’s Read Scotland 2014 challenge!  lifeand death2It is the updated version of The Life and Death of St Kilda, by Tom Steel – yes, yet another book about that little group of rocky islands 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides.  After thousands of years of inhabitation, the harsh  life on St Kilda eventually became unsustainable  in the early 20th century, to the extent that the few remaining inhabitants asked the British Government to evacuate them to the mainland.  Tom SteelThe last time I read this book many years ago, it was obviously the previous version I read, as there was a chapter describing the day in 1930 when the villagers left their homes and embarked on the ship that was to take them to their new homes on the mainland.  In the updated version of the same title this description has been left out.

Tom Steel, sadly no longer with us, did a lot of research for this book and the Bibliography contains lists as long as your arm of the books, histories, letters, and documents he read.  A lot of the story concerns the history and prehistory of Hirta, the main island, some of which was familiar to me as the details came from some of the same sources that I have read, but much of the book describes more modern times of the late 19th, and early 20th centuries when things started to go wrong for the St Kildans, and the subsequent resettlement of the population and what happened next on St Kilda.  It isn’t a happily-ever-after ending for most of the evacuees, sadly.  Indeed some, disillusioned with life on the mainland,  even wanted to return home, but having spent a vast amount on the evacuation, the government were not prepared to let this happen. 

Talk again soon.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The last few days

I came down here to Yorkshire last week as my friend, CB, had to  go into hospital for a splenectomy.  His op was on Monday and by Thursday he was home.  He actually asked me to take this picture when he was in HDU, attached to all his tubes and drips!P1070586 (2)

He had keyhole surgery, which left him with three tiny wounds, each about an inch long and neatly “stitched” with three staples!  It’s amazing what they can do now!.  Anyway, so far the op seems to have fixed the problem he had with a low count of platelets in his blood.  The count has gone from between 9 and about 50 to over 150, which is excellent news!  The platelets are what makes the blood clot, when you cut yourself, for example, so obviously having a good supply of them is fairly vital!  It seems that the spleen can actually kill off platelets.  At least it was doing that in CB’s case!

So the last few days we really haven’t done very much, though we had a trip through to Northallerton to get some groceries in, and I trailed him round charity and cook shops (He bought himself a couple of books from one charity shop).  He had an appointment with the haemotology department at the Northallerton hospital today so we were back there again and while CB went to the check up, I went to Argos to buy a new crockpot!  I had decided that my slow cooker would be the most useful of my kitchen implements to bring with me, but, having cooked one meal in it on Friday, on Saturday I transferred the ceramic dish of leftovers to the cooker to heat them up quickly!  Suddenly CRACK! followed by the sound of sizzling liquid on a hot electric plate.  Oops!!  Yes, I knackered the cooking pot!  Darn!!!

The meal was rescued, revealing the large crack along the bottom  of the pot, which of course had to be thrown out.  Actually it might make a good flower pot! 240px-Northallerton_High_Street_ I got a few wee alpine plants in Northallerton market on Saturday, (not my photo.  It’s from Wikipedia) and a few more from the garden centre where CB is to be found most days when he’s well!  Two or three of those would make quite a nice wee display in the crockpot!

So back to the new crockpot – I looked up the internet and found that the Argos store had a nice looking unit, same size as the old one; good reviews online and  - what was best of all  -  cheap, and there was a branch of Argos in Northallerton!!  So that was sorted!


Another kitchen implement I would like to buy for my paleo cooking is a spiraliser, with which you can turn veg and fruit into spirals, rings or spaghetti-like noodles.  Spaghetti squashes are not readily available in our part of the UK, so as I can't have pasta made with flour, I have to try something else and veggie pasta sounds good instead.  My mincer doesn't really do the job, so the spiraliser will be my next purchase, at a later date!  Have you tried spaghetti squash ?  spag squashSpaghetti_Squash_PreparedThe insides come out like strings when cooked and make a good substitute for pasta.  Obviously it doesn't taste the same but that's one of the exciting things I've found about going paleo.  What was once ordinary food tastes different when you are using different ingredients and it’s better for you!  I’ve bought some spaghetti squash seeds for my garden so hopefully I can try them out one day soon!

I took a walk round Paddock Farm's water gardens the other day.  They are several small gardens, each in its own theme, and each having a pond or water feature.  I love looking at the gardens, so here are a few photos I took. 

What do you think of the rickety old wooden hut!  Wish I had one like it, all done up as a holiday cottage, and located in some beautiful spot, on the coast in the western highlands of Scotland, perhaps! 

Then there's the Mediterranean garden which in the summer is sizzling with bright red geraniums!

Come to think about it, the old ruined church garden hasn't got a water feature at all, and neither has the bamboo garden.bamboo garden  There are ornaments here instead, like the Easter Island style head, and the griffin sitting on the top of the ruined wall.griffin

I like the hand giving the "ok" sign.  You'd never know that the little finger got broken off at some point.ok hand




This is the Japanese garden with the koi carp rescue pond!  japanese gardenMost of the koi swimming around here maybe grew too large for their own ponds or were being attacked by mink or herons.  Some are here through being left behind when a couple moved house.  They couldn’t take the fish with them and the new owners didn’t want them.  It’s nice to know they have a good home here, with Buddha overlooking them from the red pavilion. waterfall wild gdn

This is a pretty little bit of woodland garden.  Usually there’s a little waterfall cascading over the rocks behind the pond, but it’s not switched on today!water pot


Another water feature not switched on yet was the fountain in the large pot!  Such a relaxing sound to listen to in the garden. 

Where there’s a pond you’ll likely find frogs, and there are loads of them scattered around the ponds.  About eight of them hopped across the path through the rose arbour when I was heading for the tearoom.  I managed to pick one up for a closer look, and he obliged me by not jumping off , and by sitting in my hand till I put him on the ground again.  frog pairThere’s something about frogs…….frog on path


frog in waterThis is frog-resting-in-water position, back legs stretched to the sides  frog restingThey have a lot of power in these back legs.  Even the tiniest frog can scoot a good distance through water with one kick!  So, just a few flower photos to finish off, and to take your mind off frogs – if you don’t care for them too much!plum2plumcurrant


Plum and cherry blossom and a flowering currant!I love spring!

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Losing weight

paleolifestyle-300x287I have battled with my weight since forever, losing pounds then putting them back on and more to boot – yo-yo dieting they call it, and I know all about it.  Eventually a few years ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but even that didn’t phase me as it would a lot of other folk.  For long enough I ignored it, still eating all the wrong things, and the weight still crept on.  Then I had a bit of a breakthrough, giving up sweets, desserts, biscuits, cakes and scones, and through playing too much with my laptop, forgetting to eat (not good) I actually lost about a stone (14lbs) over a longish period of time, without really noticing it.

I have often thought I might have an intolerance to gluten, as pasta and pastry always made me feel bloated, and unwell,  and in looking that up on the internet I discovered Paleo!  Paleolithic, I thought to myself, and I was actually right!  This method of eating is very much based on the sort of foods cavemen (hunter gatherers) would have eaten!  You can have meat – red meat too -  fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, veggies and fruit, but no grains, no dairy, no legumes and definitely no sugar or anything processed.  Hmm!  This looked interesting. Real food!  I read some more about it, watched videos, gopaleolooked up websites and browsed recipes.  Mmm!  Very interesting!  Interesting enough for me to say I want some of that!  Wouldn’t you, if you saw all the delicious looking recipes.  Eating loads of real food and losing weight too!  Yes please!

In January, Morag and I decided to weigh ourselves every Sunday – before tea – she doing her choice of diet and me mine.  I loved the Paleo way of eating and discovered ways of substituting flour and dairy into delicious recipes.  I actually began to cook again (a slow cooker/crockpot is a boon here too), something some of you will remember I used to hate with a passion.83245cd9e510751298751bc159bd9f53 

I love to try out some of the sweet recipes as occasional treats - using almond flour ( finely ground almonds ), coconut and almond milk, honey or even maple syrup for sweetening, nuts – almonds, cashews, macadamias, brazils, etc. – almond buttercashew butterhazelnut butterand nut butters, everything unprocessed, without all the rubbish ingredients.  Going totally organic is often difficult but I go to the market or our local High Street butcher for meat, and our new greengrocer in town for fruit and veggies and eggs.  A trip to Galashiels is sometimes called for so I can peruse the shelves of Holland and Barrett, as it’s there I can pick up some of the more unusual ingredients, coconut oillike cold pressed coconut oil to cook in – (yes, among the allowed oils) it gives fried eggs and omelettes a delicious subtle flavour.  

I cook  bacon and eggs with fried tomatoes and mushrooms for breakfast some mornings , but usually a couple of eggs in an omelette or scrambled does me, and often I will whizz up a smoothie with veggies and fruit, coconut or almond milk.  Yummy.  I don’t miss dairy produce (except maybe cheese) or cereals,cc2aa66693a4596a469da32ec7ab7b7f as I can make Paleo bread if I really want some.  Believe it or not grated cauliflower is a great substitute for rice – do it in a food processor rather than by hand with the cheese grater – and you can even make a substitute pastry or pizza base with it too.  Veggie-Noodle-savorylotus.com_Noodles can be made with veggies such as carrots, courgettes, squashes etc. and basically just blanched in boiling water to heat up!  I use my old mincer, but a spiraliser looks like fun!

Anyway you can look up websites for yourself for recipes, and info on the diet (way of life), but here’s my good news….. After a week I had shed 6lbs, followed by losses of 2lbs each week for a bit.  Some weeks I have stayed the same or maybe lost just one pound but since we started on 6 January I have lost 21lbs – a stone and a half – and I am thrilled!  I feel better, no more bloating or stomach cramps, and have more energy.  My achy knees and hips are much better too.  It’s marvellous.  So you can guess I am going to continue with this eating pattern!

Here are some of the websites I have looked at, though it was http://paleoaholic.com/ that got me started, with its meal plans, short articles and recipes.   http://fatburningman.com/ is another site I follow regularly, along with http://www.youngandraw.com/  They do the raw thing but it all sounds lovely – says she who hated salads!  They have an iPad app for a 14 day juice challenge, but with loads of juicer recipes.  Enjoying that!



There are tons of websites you could investigate.  I hope I am not obsessing over this way of eating!  I do cheat from time to time but try to stick as close to it as possible when I go out, though it’s quite hard when everything includes potatoes (not allowed really, though sweet potatoes are!), focacchia, ciabatta and crusty bread, or the entire menu is paninis, sandwiches, toasted or not, baked potatoes, etc.  I would probably opt for a potato but then what to fill it with?  Not cheese, sadly!  I love Coronation chicken, and perhaps would opt for that.  I think it’s reasonably ok!  Chicken, mayo, spices…..?  Anyway the odd cheat is understandable, and what I like is that I find it dead easy to get back to Paleo afterwards!

The downside of losing weight?  Having to keep buying new clothes – I go to the charity shops – and having to get rid of old favourites.  down 21lbsI have this favourite pair of trousers that is now way too big, but I can’t pass them on to the charity shop!  I just can’t!  I think I’ll just have to do some alterations.  They’re pretty straightforward, so perhaps I could adjust the seams!  Maybe I’ll find a seamstress who would do it properly though!  I am also fitting into some tops that I bought “hopefully, without trying them on” last year, but found were too tight, so that’s another upside! The best upside of all though, is that I feel so much better – and thinner!

Talk again soon.