Sunday, 29 March 2020

Life in one Lincolnshire Village

Owl Wood is top left

This aerial view shows almost the entire village. 

The houses and cottages back on to the village green, rather than the more usual arrangement, which is to have them facing it.  I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that some people have lived in the village for many years without even realising there is a village green - for the entrance is hidden, unless you know where to look.     The village hall is further along the road, so no clue there!

The only other village asset is the local pub, the white buildings, bottom left.

Of course even the pub has had to close for the duration of the restrictions.   They are still providing takeaway meals, with contactless payment and collection, delivery for those who cannot collect.  A useful service, but not one I use.   

Best of all, they have organised grocery shopping, along with fresh fruit and vegetables from their local suppliers, which is a wonderfully useful service.

I placed a small order last week, just to see how it would work out; it was quick and efficient and the fruit and vegetables were in perfect condition.   I am very grateful for their hard work in setting it all up, and so, I imagine, are a lot of other locals.    Thank you D & K.

Arnold, the old rubber tyre horse.

This peculiar creature is a rubber tyre horse, Arnold.  He lives in Owl Wood and belongs to my grandchildren. 

The other day I noticed that he seemed to have grown a beard - you can't see it on this shot.

I peered inside and found that the wrens have been busy building a nest, right at the back, where I hope they will be safe from cats, rats and squirrels.

Wrens nest, inside the 'horse's' head.

I wonder how many hours of work went into making this nest - lovingly lined with moss and feathers.

Blue tits have taken up residence in the boxes at the back of the house, but I am still not a hundred percent sure about whether the owl box has got squirrels or jackdaws inside, all I know for sure is that it is not owls.

We set up the wildlife camera last night, to monitor the squirrels nut bucket, we had a suspicion that they were not all going to the squirrels...

This is what the camera caught last night - a very large rat.

I told you the cats had been slacking in their duty.   In her younger days Sparky would have dealt with this one but I think she is too old and stiff to tackle it now and Millie doesn't really 'do' rodents, unless they are small and sweet.

The wind seems to have dropped now, so with luck I may be able to get this posted to the blog.   Our internet connection has been pretty dire for a few days, not that it is ever particularly good, but at least it worked.

Stay safe, well and happy.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Double Bed? Single Bed?

When I sat down to write this post it was supposed to be about life in one Lincolnshire village.  Tomorrow, perhaps.   My thoughts have been hijacked by Millie.

The cats have taken the new laws and regulations to heart. 

Normally they would be out and about, hunting, sunbathing, persecuting birds, mice, rats and rabbits.

Instead they are spending most of their time sleeping indoors.

Sometimes they curl up together for an hour or two, but that always ends in tears.

Millie, the small ginger cat, has decided to take up social distancing.

For the last few days she has ignored all her usual beds, cushions, and rugs.  This tiny basket has become her favourite retreat.

Talking of beds, the vegetable beds have been dug over now, including the two which were going to be removed this year.    I have decided that this is not the year to cut down on growing food!   The polytunnel is ready for action, the small greenhouse cleaned out.

Time for a rest.

Are you managing to keep busy and motivated?
Stay safe everyone.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Camp Granada "...I'd rather be at school..."

Found in my letter box today:

Letter from my granddaughter.

When I was a child there used to be lots of very amusing songs on the radio - I loved them and quickly learned the words, then probably drove my parents crazy with my frequent renditions of them. 

This letter from my granddaughter reminded me of Camp Granada - the novelty song about a letter which a boy who was away at summer camp is supposed to have written, begging his parents to take him home...  I'm sure you know the one.

To translate the letter:

To Gran
I hate what mum and dad think is a school day.   I'd rather be at school and I mean it!   It seems like paradise to be at school now.   Please rescue me soon, please, I beg you.   Please, please, please!!!

Her parents are teachers and have organised a few morning lessons for the two children.   Nothing too arduous, but they want to establish a bit of routine.    A couple of lessons, then the children are free to roam in Owl Wood and the gardens before lunch.

It does explain why my granddaughter called across the garden asking me to return her letter because she didn't mean it now.      Once I told her that I hadn't seen her letter (the truth at that time)  she went off perfectly happily.

I fully expect to find letters from her parents because I imagine they would rather spend a week at the rock face, teaching a class of 30 students, than an hour or two trying to teach their own.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Violets, Butterbur, and Letters from a Girl.

I wonder whether anyone else has noticed what a good year it is proving to be - for violets!   Scented violets in particular.   The byways,  lanes, fields and woodlands seem to have far more of these miniature beauties than I have managed to find previously.

Most excitingly, the same can be said of Owl Wood.   A couple of years ago there was just one tiny patch of scented violets, now they have spread far and wide, much to my delight.   There are also drifts of primroses running up and along the banks, under the trees and spreading beautifully through Owl Wood.

White violets are pretty, but lack scent; there are masses of them on the verge outside Parsonage Cottage.       It is the deep violet ones that have that wonderfully elusive scent, which gains strength when the flowers are brought indoors and gradually warm up to room temperature.

Letter from a Girl

My granddaughter continues to write her daily letters.   This is the one she wrote this morning, before heading off to school.

To Granny,
Friday is our last day of school because more than a hundred people have died of coronavirus.  The only people who are allowed to go to school are children of key workers, Mum and Dad are key workers.     *****'s going to Dad's school and I am going to Mum's.  Children who have special needs can go to school too!
Love from ******

As ever, there is no peace in this house, as I was trying to take a snap of the letter, Sparky tried to snatch it away.

Letter from a Girl Photobombed.

I walked Toby for an hour this morning,finishing up by the old watermill.

The old watermill
click to enlarge.

The Butterbur has grown surprisingly quickly; the flowers are now about nine or ten inches long, and look very different from those round, virus-like flowers of just a couple of days ago.

So that is life in my little corner of Lincolnshire.   As always, lots going on which doesn't make it on to the blog, but that is true for all of us.

Stay fit, keep busy.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Sad! Very Sad! Meloncoly!!! Letters from a Girl, 2

This morning's letter from my eight year old granddaughter.   😢

To Granny,
Parents evenings have been cancelled because of Coronavirus all all training clubs cancelled.   50 people have now died from corona.
I'm worried.

No need for me to play amateur psychologist here, the worry is plain to see.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Coronavirus on the Verge


I am happy to say that life, here in the sticks, pretty much goes on as normal, by which I mean that each morning I still take Toby-dog out for his three mile hike, whether he likes it or not.  Some dogs have a tough life.

This morning we headed off in the direction of the lovely old watermill and there I espied a very large coronavirus-like thing on the side of the lane.   


This weird looking plant starts off quite low to the ground but eventually opens up on a long stalk and the green leaves grow to look like four foot high rhubarb leaves. 

This is the first one of this years crop, soon the lane leading to the watermill will be smothered in them.   Until we moved here, about 14 years ago, I hadn't come across these strange flowers.    Their preferred habitat is wet meadows, damp ditches and riversides. 

A few years ago I did some research and found that Butterbur was one of the plants which they tried out as a cure for the Bubonic Plague.

These days extract of Butterbur is sold as a "herbal supplement used for pain, upset stomach, stomach ulcers, migraine and other headaches, ongoing cough, chills, anxiety, plague, fever, trouble sleeping (insomnia), whooping cough, asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), and for irritable bladder and urinary tract spasms."

I copied the uses from the internet, noting that 'plague' was also included!

Please do not rely on this to treat the current 'plague'.   It simply struck me as bearing a very similar shape to the coronavirus and the neat link to the plague made me smile.

Have a good weekend.  Stay safe.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Letters from a Girl

Letters from 5 generations
Do you remember how exciting it used to be when a bundle of letters plopped through the letterbox?

My mother was a prolific letter writer, so was my father.   They had friends and family scattered around the world, so it was a rare day when the postman didn't deliver a bundle of personal letters.

I have some small boxes of them, including one letter from my maternal great grandmother, grandma and her sister, my mother and her sister and lots which my father and mother wrote to each other.

Some of the letters were written by me, to my parents, along with those from my (young) children to my parents.   

Now I am able to add another layer, the first few of many, I hope.

My 8 year old granddaughter has been getting a bit worried about corona virus; too much talk at school, snippets she may see on the news, etc.   I decided that she needed a distraction.

Letter writing.   It sounds boring, but she has jumped straight in and is really enjoying herself.  Every day she writes a couple of letters to me, and I write back to her.   I use purple ink (her favourite colour) and make sure that I use pretty stationery, or attractive postcards.  Sometimes I use an envelope, other times I turn the letter into a self-folding envelope.   Little things, but it keeps it fresh.

I am very impressed with the way she has responded to it all, her letters are a delight to read and I have been told that she still gets a thrill out of every new letter I send her.

Do you still write letters by hand?

Friday, 6 March 2020

The Island Grocery Van

In this post I am doing a bit of time travelling - sneaking back to the 1960's - when I lived with my parents and younger brother in a very small village in the middle of a beautiful Hebridean island.    I say village, but it was simply a small collection of six or seven working croft houses ranged along the side of a road.   No shop, school, or church.   Plenty of lochs, sheep, midges and heather.

Once a week we would keep a look out for Iain Harry's little grocery van, waiting to see it bump its way down the quarter mile long drive to our little croft house.   

He would jump out and open up the back doors, which then released a wonderful smell -  difficult to describe,  but it was a mixture of raw bacon, muddy potatoes, baked goods and assorted groceries, not forgetting the soaps and detergents.  It probably sounds pretty vile, but the blend of aromas was very pleasing.     

It wasn't an especially large van, but it held a useful selection of groceries.  Just what you need when the nearest shop is ten miles away.    The only times he didn't turn up was those occasions when we had been snowed in, the deep drifts making it impossible for him to come down the big hill from Achmore.

Stretching the length of the van there was a long, deep, counter;  the walls were lined with racks which held assorted tins of beans, peas - garden and processed, soups, tinned pink salmon, tinned mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks and fruit cocktail, Ideal evaporated milk and tins of processed cream.   There were tins of Frey Bentos corned beef, Spam, beef stew, and tins of ham in jelly.  The counter top held the overflow of goods.

Packets of Sun Ray Tip tea leaves jostled with small tins of Nescafe coffee, Fry's Cocoa, and bottles of Camp Coffee.  Tins of Marvel milk, bottles of TipTree (or was it Tree Top?) orange squash, tubs of salt, bottles of vinegar,  HP Sauce.  Squeezed in among that lot there were bags of flour - plain and self raising - bags of sugar, cornflakes, Weetabix and Sugar Puffs.

He had ready sliced bacon, sold loose, not in packs, sausages, cooked ham, cheese, Scottish, as well as New Zealand butter, Blue Band margarine, Stork marge,  Cookeen lard, eggs, dried fruit, golden syrup, crisps, cakes, biscuits and Scotch Broth Mixture.   Supplies of fresh bread rolls, cottage loaves and milk bread, not to mention Penguins, Club Biscuits and lots of assorted sweeties and chocolate bars.

Beneath the counter there were slightly muddy 'old' potatoes, alongside the big weighing scales, onions, turnips, carrots, a few wizened apples, tomatoes and oranges, and that pretty much made up the fresh vegetable section!

There were household items - boxes of matches, washing up liquid, detergent, toilet rolls, candles and bleach.

So much was squeezed into that van! 

My mother had a little blue notebook in which she would write out her list, read it out to Iain Harry, he would find the items she requested, or suggest alternatives.     Then he would tot up the total.     This was, of course, back in pre-decimalisation days, so everything was pounds, shillings and pence.

He was very fast and very accurate.    I have one of those old order books and can see that she used to spend between £2 and £3 most weeks, though occasionally that would creep up to 90/-, £4.10s.0d - £4.50 these days.

I would help to carry the groceries inside and put them away.   There was a reason why I was so helpful, greedy piglet that I was  -  the reward was a thick slice of the fresh bread - the milk loaf was particularly good - generously spread with the fresh butter.   It was so good! No need for jam.   Then I would head across the fields to the next croft, to help old Marion with her cows, or Old John with his sheep, but more of that another time.

Sunday, 1 March 2020


My circle is small, my direct contacts limited.
No need to worry about Coronavirus here, then?

Certainly no need to panic, but we do need to be sensible.

We have our grandchildren in for breakfast and tea each school day (and often at the weekends, simply because they regard our home as their second home).

They attend different schools.  Total number of students - we'll ignore the teaching staff, TA's, etc - they come into contact with: >900.

Their parents are also teachers.   Each day they come into contact with > 1220 - again, we'll ignore the teaching staff, etc.

This means that every school day we are just one step away from contact with over 2,000 children.

So what?

Past experience has taught us to be careful - in the last few months we have had to watch out for nits, thread worms, impetigo and chicken pox, as well as the more usual coughs and colds, thanks to the contacts of our grandchildren and their parents!

So, we are taking precautions. 

We are being careful, not panicking. 
We are both 'elderly', yes, we have to face up to that fact! 
Husband also has underlying health issues. 
Life continues as normal, but with sensible lines of defence.

Extra hand washing, using anti-bacterial gel when necessary, extra cleaning of door handles, etc. 

Keep calm and carry on, but be sensible.

ps I am way behind on blog reading.   I will catch up, though it may take a day or two.