Mary's picture looking down the yard last evening ~ how quaint and cosy it looks !

A birthday card which Kate says could be their wacky shed !

Our Friendly Yard

Checked records and Guardian had NOT published the article about Mother's memories of the Bristol Blitz ~ with Remembrance Day coming up, I may try it with them again ~ her descriptions are so vivid and immediate.

9.30pm : have just watched the third and last HARVEST program ~ Tues/Wed/Thurs this week ~ absolutely fascinating, and amazing how many exotic or Mediterranean crops are now being grown in UK thanks to clever farming methods and up-to=date technology ~ the apple orchards in Somerset was pure delight with thousands of trees all heavy with fruit of (if I heard right) 500-odd varieties !    What a treat !

My wrists and ankles are a bit puffy these days, and cutting my toe nails Saul Black told me I should be drinking more water which sounds a contradiction but if the kidneys aren't getting sufficent liquid their performance shrinks and they can't get round to the extremities ~ or some such ~ will keep two bottles of water in fridge door and aim to drink both during the day ~ hope it won't mean up all night, back and forth to the loo !

Friday morning : my eyes are so poor I must ring Optician for appointment and hope stronger glasses will enable me to read and work on computer more easily.   Oh dear ~ falling apart !

Saturday 17th : up before 7am to be ready for Keith the plumber coming at 7.30 to turn stop tap fully on ~ when he was doing the work yesterday he failed to do this so it took me twenty minutes to run a bath 3" deep !    It only took him a moment and he was full of apologies but he had gone from putting new washer on kitchen tap out to shed to service boiler, so understandable slip-up but all working fine now.

I'm feeling too feeble to go down to Anderson's for Guardian but I've so much to read and eyesight poor.   Changed sheets ready for laundry on Monday.   Pretty chilly again ~ must go down and make pot of decent coffee . . . 

I think new neighbours moved in next door in the evening ~ can't imagine how couple with two children are going to cope in three rooms, though in years gone by cottages of that size would almost always be in multiple occupation with two families or one family and a lodger ~ and here I am swanning around with all this space, all to myself !

Sunday morning the 18th : Brother Stephen's birthday ~ he seems to have chosen to cut himself off from all of us which is sad ~ funny how these dates are fixed in our minds ~ important birthdays of friends and family from way back !   Ellen is back from Italy so that's good news ~ she said to welcome her home her Ozzie friends had very kindly prepared a lovely veggie meal for her in her own flat.   Barbara goes off to Fort William tomorrow ~ it's all coming and going.   Apart from briefly on Friday evening have not seen or heard anything of newcomers at number 5 ~ maybe they will move in properly tomorrow.

I'm reading another Anglo-Saxon novel : The Abbess of Whitby ~ a novel of Hild of Northumbria.   Again written by a local author, Jill Dalladay, a classicist, historian and former head teacher who pioneered the Cambridge Latin course.    I do find the names of the characters difficult to hold in my head ~ for the most part they bear no relation to modern names, and several men have names ending in A which nowadays usually signifies a female : Uscrea, Lilla, Cutha, etc while Hild does not have the familiar A at the end of her name ~ these names are all authentic, recorded in history, so of course they are used but to start with I did find this a problem ~ the story itself is brilliant and gripping.

Heard this week from Ken an engineer from Burniston ~ back in 1992 when I was struggling with DSS to be allowed benefit and the story was in all the national papers, Ken came over to ask me to edit a piece he'd written about a battle he was having with Scarborough Council ~ it was a matter of checking his grammar and spelling mostly, and typing it out neatly to fit exactly onto four sides of A4 ~ I seem to remember he paid me £60 which was wonderfully generous ~ and here he is again, suggesting he and his wife pop over to visit me after all this time ~ with his note he enclosed another diatribe against bureaucracy ~ a bit of a rant really.   At least he doesn't want any editing done on it.

One of the most useful items I invested in last spring was this radio controlled room thermostat ~ in the old days to switch the boiler on/off bypassing its clock meant going out to the shed, sometimes through ice and snow, often requiring a torch ~ but now I keep this little gadget up here in the study and can flick it on/off as required and it responds immediately ~ steam pouring out of the shed instantly !   It cost quite a bit ~ £250 including VAT but it has made a wonderful difference.

The radio controlled thermostat which is making such a difference especially now as it gets colder