Friday, 27 February 2009

A vicious bite to the thumb

I am sat here typing away with just one finger as l am nursing a badly swollen right hand following a rather nasty nip on the thumb by that little gentleman in velvet clothing, the common or garden mole. My garden, especially the vegetable plot is under a full frontal attack by at least one if not two of these subterranean blighters, if they stayed out of my garden that would be well and truly wonderful, but they don't so l have to resort to using traps which l carefully place in their runs, or would have if l hadn't have put my hand straight onto Mr Mole who promptly took hold of my thumb, sinking his long front teeth in the fleshiest part only coming to a halt as they hit bone and then preceded to hang on for grim death, swing from side to side as l tried to shake him off. So now you have it, one swollen hand and copious amounts of yellow pus. In future l think perhaps l will use my elderly Purdey to halt the invasion, but then, no doubt, some do gooder or a concerned person worried about my mental capacity, will complain if they see me taking pot shots at the ground?

Fortunately, Morris-from-the-Bottom-of-the-Lane was hedge cutting in the next field, so he kindly picked me up & took me straight around to the local doctor's surgery which was an interesting experience l can tell you, especially as it would have been a good few years since l had last set foot in the practice, Dr McFadden was in charge then l seem to remember. The place now is awful, to put it bluntly, people sat on uncomfortable plastic chairs listening to some ear-shattering radio noise and wheezing all over everyone else. Not my idea of a healthy environment and as for the receptionists, l ended up having to rap on the glass with my good hand to attract their attention. I do detest having to speak to people's backs!

A couple of days ago my dear brother, Monks, popped in for a cup of tea, slice of battenburg and a chat as he was just passing by & thought he would do a quick check up to see how l was doing, and to laugh unmercifully at the state of my hand. No sympathy there l might add; isn't that just typical, if it had been HIS hand, l would have been expected to race around armed with my first aid kit and a bottle of dandelion wine!

Well, when he turns up at a non-major meal time, it normally means that he has something of great interest about himself to pass on to me, and this was to be no exception. A local monthly magazine, The Hoppington Journal, had run an article on rural encounters of a romantic nature, asking for eligible gentlemen to forward their details for a series of articles to be published over the summer along the theme 'Rural Gent wants a Wife'. Crash, l dropped my mug of Darjeeling with the shock, 'Are you that desperate?' l inquired, for as far as l was aware he had never admitted to a lack of success in that direction, certainly as a younger man with a fine head of hair he was a great one for the ladies, in fact he was know affectionately as 'Dreamboat'! 'Just seeing who is out there', was the rather sheepish reply, adding that he was due to be featured in a local newspaper's women's page next week. Men, l ask you & l dread to think what he has told them about himself and as to the woman of his dreams, my toes positively curl backwards at the thought!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Lost ancestors and rabbit holes

You will be pleased to note that l am feeling fully recovered from my slight incapacity of last week, Mrs De La Pole recommended her niece, Kylie who is a mobile beautician, to come and give me a thorough overhaul. I must say that l can thoroughly recommend her for not only did she massage all my aching limbs back into some sort of readiness, she also gave me a pedicure and manicure to boot, all in the price. So now l have matching finger & toe nails in the shade of purple grape. Please don't think that this is something of a regular occurrence as l believe my last 'do' would have been coming back from Brazil on the Queen Mary after a few months spent exploring the Amazon Basin with Sir David.

The village fortunately has suffered no more deaths though we have had a birth, the Blewwits have now a third grandchild, a boy who is to be christened Freddy. No news as yet as to when the christening will take place, but l am sure we will all be having a jolly good party afterwards. It is always the case an old one dies then in pops a new one!

My dear old brother turned up just as l was about to have lunch yesterday, an annoying habit he has always had l might add, clutching some rather tatty looking documents that looked as though they had been the staple diet of a family of rodents. Spreading the papers wildly across my already groaning pine kitchen table, and first pulling one forward and then another, Monks started to babble something about lost treasure and heirlooms. Now my brother can be a bit of a card to put it mildly, but this was something else. For years, well ever since we were children, the family legend on my father's side, was of an ancestor who had to leave the village at very short notice bequeathing the family, on his death, land that he had acquired in South America during his life time. As is so often the case with stories of wealth there was just no documentation to bear this out. Previous generations had scoured bank vaults, searched behind the wainscot, dug up floor boards, all to absolutely no avail. So how come my dear brother had come to think, rightly or wrongly that he had found the key to untold wealth?

After what must have been his fourth cup of earl Grey, apparently he had been out with Jack his lakeland terrier, who had shot off down a rabbit hole at the far end of the garden near to his rhododendron collection, only to bring back not a bunny but a leather packet, the contents of which where now spread before me. Slowly and carefully with both of us wearing a pair of mother's old ball gloves which l brought down from the gown trunk in the attic, we began to inspect the tattered papers. Bills, shopping lists passed through our be gloved fingers, hunt ball programes, knitting patterns and recipes, but no will. the pile grew every larger, black edged death notices, obituaries and a baby shoe. But nothing that even resembled a last will and testament!

So that was that then, my table covered in dirty, vermin smelling papers that contained not even a hint of cash. Such is life but it was fun at the time searching and to see poor old Monk's face as the light slowly dawned that this most certainly was not the BIG ONE!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Sore feet and aching kidneys

I am tired. My feet ache and my kidneys seem to be somewhat tender today, I got up at my normal time, let Boy out then fell into the arm chair in front of the kitchen range, l haven't really moved much at all today. Yesterday had been rather a long one, I had been up and out by eight driving the old Royce to Bramley House to meet the Bloxhams who had kindly offered me a mount for a day's hunting with the Markley. The meet was at Bramley House and l must say that the hospitality was marvelous, hot sausage rolls and pork pies plus a good little number in the port field.

There was an excellent turn out for the day's 'hack' l do think that more people are enjoying a good day out on horse back since the hunting ban has been introduced, certainly when riding to hounds across country it is a marvelous feeling seeing no cars or people on foot. I must confess that l stayed out perhaps a little too long, enjoying the glorious sunshine and the comfort of a sturdy cob, you see gone are the days when l lead the field, leaping hedges and ditches in gay abandon! So there you are, l m now suffering for my old age folly, a good glass of sloe gin will no doubt help and perhaps next time l should stick to car following. Never such a fool as an old fool, as they say.

Spring must be coming now, the seed catalogues are starting to arrive through the post and l have rather a long list of vegetables that l hope to be growing this year in my vegetable garden, last year Morris-from-the-bottom-of-the-lane gave me a packet of wonderful seeds which produced lush plants, which on Morris's advice, l added to my carrot cakes, with the most amazing results. These cakes sold out in minutes at every monthly village produce sale, it was a little strange as most of these were bought by the younger members of our community, whilst Old Blaster said that on eating my carrot cake he felt as though he could soar like the buzzard who live in the wood! Very strange. Certainly l noticed that l became very jolly after a slice or two, must have been the freshness of the eggs.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

of funerals and fish and chip shops

This week has seen a spate of activity in the village church, St Botolf's, now that the snow has cleared & the ground has softened up. Enough, according to Mr Blewwitt the Sexton, to allow Spud Jones to commence grave digging again as there is rather a back log. Today sees the internment of Mrs Fidge at three pm then followed by Miss Page tomorrow at eleven and then the rest will be put to rest at the end of the week. Mrs Fidge's should be a good do as l am taking several bottles of fruit wine plus a selection of last year's vintage sloe gin range to add to the tea urn. I always feel that funerals are such a nice occasion to catch up on dear friends who have left the village and are only allowed out of the care homes for funeral services.

The snow drops, l noticed are starting to come into flower along the woodland walk which meanders along the edge of 100 acres of deer park surrounding Longshot Manor; l did take my binoculars just in case an unusual bird caught my eye. scanning the tree tops and across the parkland, nothing was out of the ordinary and the manor has not as yet welcomed its new inhabitants. The village awaits with much excitement as to whether the fish and chip shop will reopen in an effort to gain our support?

Yesterday l received a lovely post card from Humph posted in Luxor 2 weeks ago. He briefly informed me that they were making good progress, only occasionally hampered by the overeager tourist. Now Humph and l go way, way back. We first met whilst Monks was still at school, he used to come and stay with us during school holidays, spending most of his time with my brother shooting at anything that moved, certainly we never went short of rabbit whilst he was there!

Oh dear, l must be getting old, l am starting to sound just like an old woman thinking about the past, as long as l don't raise a tear in my eye l will be fine, not much chance of that l can quiet safely say. Now, in about 1936 l think it was, Humph and myself armed with pretty basic camping equipment and elderly map, headed across the channel, boarded the sleeper heading down to Narbonne, and from here armed with our pretty basic kit which did include a compass, headed off across country, with the aim of following the route to Santiago de Compostela. Now, that was one hell of an adventure, sleeping under the stars, toasting croissant in front of the camp fire and hearing that he had just become engaged to the Honorable Caroline Beachamp-Smyth. We did finish the walk but the atmosphere seemed to have changed and l did not see Humph again until after the war by which time much water had passed under the bridge.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Snow shoes and dog galoshes

It has snowed all week here, the lanes are blocked and my house has a good 2 feet of snow on my roof, if the snow stays off this afternoon l think l had better get the step ladder out and sweep the stuff off.

Listening to the wireless, l hear that schools and businesses closed due this inclement weather. I can't remember this happening in 1947, everything ran, not always on time, but ran none the less, l wonder if this is a different sort of snow perhaps to that of the 1940's? It is with some luck that l have manged to get out and about with reasonable ease. In my youth l enjoyed skiing in the alps, visiting Wengen on an annual basis, staying in a chalet not far from the railway station. I can't really remember the Swiss infrastructure grinding to a halt back then due to heavy snow fall? No, l haven't had my old skis out but 2nd husband's father had been on an expedition to Antarctica in the early part of the last century and along with his body, preserved in brandy, also returned to his family was a nearly new set of snowshoes, large tennis racket-styled footwear, and dog galoshes, so you see Boy and myself have been walking in the countryside in relative ease.

It was on our walk yesterday that l noticed and pointed out to Boy that there was a string of flapping yellow planning notifications attached to not only the gatehouse of Longshort Manor but also to the gates themselves. I did notice in a comment from that very nice sounding young lady in the South of France warning me about electric gates and such like, well, l did get a little radgy at the thought of hideous monster of a gate, so on my return to the cottage l put my newly found internet skills into use to checkout the county's planning application website.

The yellow notices have not gone unnoticed in the village either, over hot chocolate and sloe gin this morning in the post office we all sat around the gloriously warm stove and discussed the manor and its new owners. We all agreed that no one had as yet moved in but the web site did reveal the plans that were being laid for the Manor's development. Planning applications had been received, l informed everyone, for a large barn which would included stabling for 60 horses and indoor arena suitable for polo, applications included helicopter pad, and change of use from agricultural land to that of amenity land. I can tell you that as we all sipped our steaming hot drinks in silence cogitating. It was interesting when eventually we all found our voices, Old Blaster thought it a good idea as there might be a job available for him, especially as he used to be a horse lad before the war, Monks just sucked on his pipe and shook his head. Mixed opinions then, l suppose that we will just have to wait and see what happens next then.

Village life despite the blanketing of snow has continued pretty much the same, we had another death this week, on Monday old Mrs Fidge died whilst visiting the outside privy during the night, apparently her neighbour, Miss Knox, found her sitting, frozen upright on the lavatory reading a back issue of Peoples Friend. The undertakers had a difficult job getting her into the hearse. I was relieved to hear that, after the postmortem, it was discovered that she had died following a massive heart attack and would not have suffered. Zap and she was gone. I think it would have been truly awful to think that she might have died after becoming frozen to the toilet seat her cries for help falling on deaf ears.