The thing is, sometimes there really is just nothing to say! And dearest readers I really wouldn’t want to bore you anymore than what I do normally, hence the “Marpril” blog (but I really will have to get a blog done on time each month as May & June just cannot be combined safely: Mune? Ayne? Yun? No, it will just not work. ) In fact what really spurred me on to write the blog (apart from it’s the last day of April!) is that a lovely guest emailed to check that I was still on this mortal planet and had not moved on to a smoking cauldron or (the preferred!) a cloudy loft up high!
Anyway, the news is that Riley is no longer a hazard to the ladies of the surrounding area having being “de-nutted”. As usual he was all smiles and wags upon arriving at the vets that fateful day (no, Eamon wouldn’t allow me to save money and do a DIY version with a pair of nutcrackers and a staple gun) But upon leaving later that day he looked a little less than pleased…and even less pleased when I made him a makeshift anti-lick device to wear…
(which didn’t actually work but gave us hours of laughter seeing him look so silly!) Anyway, he’s now back on top form and proved it by chasing a hare the other day through the nest of some wild geese and straight into the neighbours’ pond!
Trotting through York last week I was marching past the famous Betty’s café when I saw this cake in the window…
Now, you and I both know what a Yorkshire Fat Rascal is but can you imagine what an overseas visitor may imagine it is? A slightly obese naughty pastry chef maybe? Or perhaps a heavily built cheeky chappie from the uplands of Wensleydale who all seem to be celebrating achieving their 30th birthdays?
So really I think Bettys should have put several of these nearby to explain to all to those poor confounded tourists what exactly a Fat Rascal is…
Work is hopefully soon to start on the decked area in the garden as lovely Andy is coming to measure up this week so fingers crossed for some fine weather so that it can be used during the summer evenings when the sun is in the west. The hens should love it as it will be right next to their enclosure and they love nothing more than insane banter with people (the hens do the insane bantering NOT the guests, you understand!)
We have had the most wonderful children staying on and off in the B&B over the last couple of months. They have all been so polite and entertaining at breakfast and Riley has had a ball with them. I have actually missed them when it’s been time for them to leave as the mad
banter with 6, 9, and 11 year olds is such good craic as they really don’t care what embarrassing stories they tell in front of their parents! How refreshing!
Was at a Welcome to Yorkshire Roadshow t’other day about Le Grand Depart (you know, when the Tour de France kicks off in June 2014 here in lovely Yorkshire) and learnt some interesting facts:
- 3,600kms (2236 miles for those of us who don’t do silly metric!) are covered by the riders over the 3 weeks of the tour
- 2,000 journalists from 35 different countries will be in attendance
- 121 different tv channels across the world show the race
- 15 million spectators line the route in a typical race
and my favourite…
- Haribo (a sponsor) gives away 1 million packets of sweets in the cavalcade before the riders come through.
Finally, the weather has to be mentioned (a blog staple!) as here we have had such strong winds (not just the son’s, for a change!) and it has blown the sandy land hither nither and wreaked havoc for the poor farmers who have sandy land and have just re-drilled it after the wet winter weather and semi failed germination of the initial crop
I can only imagine that it was a tiny bit like living in Kansas when we had the dust storms.
My lovely brother-in-law (who farms the land here) made me chuckle the other day as he said with all sincerity that we desperately need rain (?!?) …but then he would say that as he was buggering off to Portugal and blue skies for a week!!
Okay, I promise that I will do a May blog before the 1st June (unless the boiling cauldron or cloudy loft get me first!!)
So, after getting hysterically excited after a whole two days (consecutive days, no less!) of sunshine, there was no option but to tinker in the garden and even think about blowing the dust, cobwebs, and dead grass from 2012 off the lawnmower.
Secretly hoping that it wouldn’t work after a chilly winter being abandoned in the shed, I was most gutted to find that on second pull the engine coughed into life (grr!)
Then the adventure began! Riley was obviously on hand to savage the wheels at each turn (hates the lawnmower, but in a cowardly sort of way!) so that my “ up and down lines” on the lawn began to resemble a very drunken barber giving some unfortunate soul a close shave with the number 2 clippers. We then ran over the corpses of 2 very dead mice which were concealed by the long grass (I have never seen maggots splattered in such a satisfying manner!) Play was interrupted for the removal of a toad and then it was swiftly back on track (albeit wobbly ones!) to try and finish the job. Further discoveries occurred in the form of one very covertly laid hen’s egg (very rotten), a Champagne cork (how did that find it’s way to the very bottom of the garden?) and the skull of a long beaked bird. Luckily by this time Riley had got bored so decided to dig up the corner of the garden where the rabbits (see last months blog) seem to be hiding out. The chickens in the enclosure next door to that zone were most impressed by the somewhat sporadic arrival of worms (and soil!) flying through the air and so they promptly took advantage and settled down to a very tasty and impromptu lunch!
And talking of hens (which you weren’t of course but I am!) the two boys were taken to the Fur & Feather sale recently and did us proud by looking their finest so sold for the princely sum of £19! Their little Buff sister missed them to begin with but is now happy to hang around with the other girls all enjoying the odd dust bath together (probably a bit like a rugby players bath time after a match but a LOT less disgusting!)
Having a bit of spare time today we headed up to my sister and brother-in-law’s farm to catch up with what was happening in Thirsk and struck lucky as they are lambing at the moment. We were drafted in to bottle feed the pet lambs (triplets/orphans) and then were treated to the birth of a little lamb (the daughter stopped short of actually pulling it out which is a bit surprising as her party trick at primary school was to dissect dead mice on the wall outside the kitchen window!)
So here is the little fella…
And here are some equally gorgeous little lambs which are only about 4 days old…
There is always something so refreshing about this time of year when everything starts over again (well, not for the brother in law who has to do the night time midwifery shift!) The daughter now wants pet lambs but seeing that we have hens, a cat, a rabbit, a dog and mornings are not her thing I think “NO” is the obvious answer!
As the days get longer it brings us closer to the air show season and we are so lucky here in Crayke in that we have a close affinity with the last flying Vulcan bomber (the pilot is a local) This is crunch year for it to remain flying as it gets more costly each year so I guess the days will be numbered to actually see it in the air. We are lucky enough to have it fly over the village en route to air shows further north and it is the most amazing aircraft! The first time it flew overhead I threw myself to the ground thinking that there was a plane about to crash nearby ( I hadn’t seen it coming as it is so fast!) and it is soooo noisy: terrifying but exhilarating! (www.vulcantothesky.org)
If it flies over again this spring/summer I will try and dash outside to get some photos to show you (although by the time I get outside it will probably be at Sunderland!) as it is a real beauty.
The Galtres Festival (www.galtresfestival.org.uk) have found a new site for this August: Duncombe Park at Helmsley. It will be a perfect venue but alas too far for me to trot to and I will really miss it and all the excitement that goes with a marvelous festival on the doorstep. The Stranglers are one of the headline bands but it’s generally the smaller bands which make the whole festival as there is so much talent around and they interact with the crowds so much better generally…but at least the liver will not be complaining about the lack of Scrumpy cider!
Two amazing things I have learnt this month: in an emergency dial 112 from a mobile as the emergency services can pinpoint the callers location quicker than the traditional 999 number. AND Geocaching? Ever heard of it? Well, I hadn’t until just a few days ago. What an exciting activity it sounds! You have a GPS system and then follow co ordinates to discover hidden “treasure” (maybe things like pen tops.GPS coins, bottle tops etc) and apparently there are lots of sites around here.
Finally (i’ve waffled on enough now!) a word of warning: the son is now legally allowed to drive on the roads in a car so beware and has just passed an exam which allows him to inject certain animals with certain drugs so if anyone sees Riley, please bring him home as he’s done a runner!!!
The New Years Resolutions are well and truly blown so it must be near the end of January!! (although I did manage a whole 24 hours without chocolate, unlike a pal who only managed his New Years resolution for 15 hours so I feel quite smug in comparison!)
Even the snow has disappeared with more speed than Nick Clegg back pedaling about tuition fees. Went to bed one evening with heaps of the white stuff silently floating down and then a most beautiful sight the next morning of a snowy wonderland, only to find that the following morning normal soggy and muddy conditions were resumed. Crayke became (for one day at least) a veritable winter playground, with 3 slopes full of sledgers (one field being for the more adventurous with its large trees and barbed wire at the bottom for that added thrill!) and there were even skiers and snowboarders!
It’s great news about Welcome to Yorkshire’s bid to bring Le Grand Depart to Yorkshire. Even though it won’t be passing by our door (most disgusted!) it will at least be starting from York for the 2nd stage of the tour on Sunday 6th June 2014 before it heads via Sheffield then ultimately to London and France. 200 lycra clad (?!?) cyclists will be passing through the lovely ancient streets of York and this in turn will be watched by an estimated 3.5 billion tv viewers worldwide which should be a massive boost to the UK and most definitely Yorkshire. Welcome to Yorkshire deserve a massive pat on the back for being successful with their bid (www.letour.yorkshire.com)
Eamon is now going to have to do some serious training if he wants to be in their tailwind! I’m actually trying to persuade him that we need to sample a bit of the lovely hospitality at divine Plas Dinas Country House (Four in a Bed www.plasdinas.co.uk ) again as Julian & Andy have a great 25% offer on at the moment which is too good to miss.
Looking out of the windows recently there has been an abundance of wildlife out and about: the cute hedgehog who trots by on an evening to snuffle out any tasty snacks, the woodpecker which visits my dad’s garden and his bird feeder, 3 deer down the fields the other day who were just stood stock still for about 5 minutes so that they resembled those nice classy whicker deer sculptures you see at National Trust properties, and this morning (what would have been an absolute coup in photography had I not been so noisy getting out my camera!) a stoat attacking a rabbit in the garden! I silently (or so I thought!) headed out into the garden with my little camera to get a photo of the action as I wrongly assumed they were both in their final death throes (stoat “trapped” underneath the body of the “dead” rabbit) Once I got there however, the stoat scarpered away so fast that I barely saw him move and the “dead” rabbit sat up a little looking totally shocked. I think he is one of the triplet bunnies who were living in the garden last summer (and who Riley now loves to chase everyday!) as his 2 little frantic brothers/sisters were manically running up and down the other side of the garden fence.
Anyway, here is the lucky chappie, still looking shocked after his escape…
It’s been a steady start back to work again but that is good as there are always plenty of jobs to be done. New lino is being put down in the cooking kitchen today, the garden needs to be tackled big time once the weather improves (probably next October then!) and the big stash of Christmas chocolate needs to be disposed of (although the extremely posh “The Chocolate” ones have been carefully, um, filed away by a responsible adult!)
Now excuse me while I undo this wrapper as it’s very difficult to type and eat…!
Novi-Cember 2012 (cheating again, I know!)
I was thinking that this month I would discuss light (not that we have seen much of that for the past eight months or so!)
Different kinds of light:
The stars on a night time walk and of late the fantastic silvery moon which has been partially shrouded in cloud but still bright enough to penetrate through so that a silvery glow is enough to walk by on a night trot with Riley.
Or maybe the recent Illuminating York festival which was meant to be an extravaganza of a magical wonderland in the beautiful Museum Gardens? Sadly it was just a load of utter tosh in reality! The “magical wonderland” was just a few plastic illuminated random shapes (from Blackpool!!) hidden amongst the trees and bushes and the “piece de resistance” (work by Vic Reeves projected onto the historical Yorkshire Museum) was just tiresome and an excuse for Reeves to monologue on about his “art”. So in comparison to last years amazing Illuminating York festival which was free and wildly wackily set to music against the fantastic Castle Museum, this years was a huge disappointment on a monumental scale.
But enough maudling and moaning!
On a recent little jollies to London I trotted up Bond Street and was blown away by the beautifully simple yet attractive and piercingly bright array of Christmas lights suspended over the street…it really was a beautiful sight and quite magical. I made a little trip to the Imperial War Museum whilst there and was so absorbed that when I emerged it was late afternoon (I’d been in there since noon!) but it was a real eye opener to me as to the atrocities of WW2 and the bravery of so many. London in my eyes is one of the most exciting cities in Europe, with it’s grand architecture and fascinating little streets, mews houses, and private wrought iron fenced garden squares, it must be one of the easiest cities to navigate on foot. It does make me chuckle though when asking for directions and blank faces abound, only to discover that the destination i’m searching for is just around the corner and less than a 3 minute walk away! A real treat to visit…but the train journey home is also one of the best!! Having said that, a few days later Eamon and I headed back down and decided to go walking on a proper 10 mile route which took us around the many Thames basins, canals, and little marinas and we stumbled across the Queen’s Jubilee barge which is beautiful and so ornate and was a real bonus to come across…it even took my mind off the blisters for a few minutes!
The final topic on light that I’ll bore you with is this great sunset which the daughter took a photo of the other night and is stunning. And it’s one of those weird times in the year when you get up before the sun rises and have only just woken up by the time it is getting around to setting! Imagine how those poor inhabitants in the Arctic Circle must feel…it’s barely worth getting out of bed for probably 3 months of the year!
Had to buy bird food today as the little blighters are eating it faster than I can fill up the feeders…and of course Riley is always close at heel when there’s food of any description about! There is a Heron hanging around the pond next door which is lovely to see but I think he/she has it in for me as every time I am walking near there it flies off and promptly drops a massive poo within 10 feet of me so I think it’s trying to tell me something! But to compensate for the Heron-with-attitude there is also a pair of Buzzards locally who are really entertaining and soar above our heads, inevitably with a crowd of crows hot on their heels. You’d think that the law of nature states that thou shall not mess with thine creatures bigger than thyself…but not the crows! They must have a death wish or something as surely it’s utter stupidity to pick a fight with something that must be at least 5 times bigger then yourself!
(but then how many dead crows do you spot? Not many, so maybe they aren’t stupid after all!)
We are lucky enough to have the most exceptional guests come and stay here, whether it’s an amazing sense of humour, a kind and generous nature, or just folk who are the salt of the earth so thank you to you all for making my job THE BEST!
Finally, it just leaves me to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a really bright and cheery 2013 and beyond. Thank you so much to all of you who have stayed with us in the past and we look forward to welcoming you back in the future…if you have the stamina for it!
Mm, not quite sure what went awry with the September blog so have decided to combine September with October to make this Septober blog (yes, I know, cheating just a tad!)
Anyway, here we are having raced through a busy and damp summer to arrive at an equally busy and damp autumn…the only difference is that there are just slightly fewer severe weather warnings from the Met Office now it’s autumn!
But waking up the other morning and seeing the light peeping around the edges of the window blind there was an incentive to get out of bed…it wasn’t dark!! (always a good sign!) And this is what was beautiful about being up…
Riley is on full rabbit/hare/cat chasing duties at the moment and fortunately is pretty useless at it! The other morning he was out for a walk and picked up the scent of a rabbit so promptly found it and galumphed after it, only to have the terrible confusion of coming face to face with 2 deer who weren’t amused at being disturbed! So he then had the quandary of whether to leave the rabbit and chase the deer or to continue chasing the rabbit and miss out on the opportunity of larger game. Fortunately he came to his senses and realized that neither option was viable so trotted back out of puff, tongue hanging out, looking slightly disgusted!
The straw has finally been baled in the fields and removed so the tractors and ploughs will be moving in very shortly to begin the task of ploughing up and drilling the wheat to begin the cycle again. The daughter was most disappointed as this year we were unable to go corn surfing (a bit like sledging but not so cold and a lot more dusty!) as the wheat was removed from the sheds at record speed. The hens, however, benefitted enormously as they have found a way past their boundary fence and discovered a short cut to food heaven…the grain shed and the little bits of leftover wheat. And what are they doing about this extra little excitement in their lives? NOTHING! As in, no eggs!! (well, 3 eggs a day out of 12 hens! We are not amused!) But luckily I know a lovely farmer down the road where we can top up on extra eggs from extremely pampered hens who roam in an orchard all day long. But surely the point in having your own hens is that they lay you lovely fresh eggs every day! Am I wrong on this matter, maybe?!!
The Lovely “Norfolk Mafia” though thought they had a solution to the problem…
…but so far this doesn’t seem to have worked and the hens are maintaining the status quo of no eggs!
The B&B is finally days away from being completely WiFi accessible instead of just being accessible in the parlour which should make life a bit easier for folk who want to check emails etc from the privacy of their bedrooms. Can’t believe how complicated such a simple thing can be though.
Seeing the blog is now updated, it’s time to think about what short breaks to offer this year but my theory is a bit like if it ain’t broke, don’t change it so maybe we’ll just offer the same good deals as last year. I do feel a little sorry for the poor Mosswood room though as it is now the third choice for guests to request due to it being smaller than the other 2 rooms and as I don’t want it to get upset about this issue I think I will have to offer a particularly good short winter break for this room. How does the saying go…”size isn’t everything”?!
After an absolutely amazing Galtres Festival this year (which gets bigger and better each year) the organizers have decided that it has to move venue which is a real shame as for 3 days it is the perfect place to head to for a few beers and to listen to some amazing bands and performers. No idea as to where it will move to yet but hopefully it will be within wobbly cycling distance!
Now, off to cajole those hens into laying eggs…with a large packet of Paxo!!
Oh my oh my, what an excitingly indulgent month (like I need that...NOT!!)
First it was birthday cake (not mine, but a very insane couple of guests!) A beautiful brandy laced fruit cake served with the finest Wensleydale cheese (naturally!) and baked by the birthday girl and overseen by “Lobster John”!
Then after cake, it was chocolate…of course! (a girl is never happier than when there’s cake AND chocolate on offer, albeit totally different days on this occasion!)
But not just ANY chocolate!! Oh no, this was pure unadulterated WOW!DIVINE!PURE!
It’s not everyday a Swarovski crystal box arrives in the sweaty palms of a landlady containing some exquisite 24carat gold enrobed chocolates. One bite and I was transported away to some exclusive yacht bobbing gently in the harbour of millionaires playground, Monte Carlo! (maybe not actually as I get seasick, but hey, it was a good thought!) So thanks to the lovely owners of www.the-chocolate.com for giving an old bird a moment of indulgence.
Then it was party time as Riley celebrated his first birthday. We went out for dinner on his behalf and he got to stay behind to terrorize the cat as a special birthday treat. It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since he was just a little roly poly black blob and now here he is as a stropping adolescent with big ideas…mainly about how to escape the garden so that he can accost guests at double quick speed! (and chase the poor cat, yet again)
Harvest has begun with a vengeance and this week there have been 3 combines throttling up and going flat out to beat the weather(yes, we can discuss it again as Mother Nature is off the naughty step, only just though, and I suspect that it won’t be long before she is dispatched there again!)
It’s an impressive sight as the dust and chaff spew out behind the combines and the trailers charge up the hill in a race as to who can tip first in the grain store (obviously the Fergies win every time over the John Deeres!)
But it’s the smells which really conjure up a real harvest night…that smell of grain lingering as the sun dips down, trapped in the cool damp air, the smell of diesel fumes from the hot engines, and the aroma of fresh bales of straw. And tonight as Riley and I returned from our walk there were those familiar smells plus the hooting of some owls down the fields which made me think that September is poking it’s head around the corner but are we really ready or wanting autumn just yet?
It’s just days away now until the Galtres Festival kicks off across the fields (www.galtresfestival.org.uk) which is a great festival of food, ales, fun, and family entertainment. I’m just hoping that this year it stays dry so that we aren’t rolling around in 2 feet of sloppy mud. So it’s a case of look out the wellies (just in case!) and the face paint as Adam Ant is one of the headliners.
Then after so much excitement and indulgence from the month of August, it’s all downhill careering into September (although a visit from the “Norfolk Mafia” should brighten things up considerably!)
In the words of the famous Miranda (you know, from the tv sitcom?) “What fun”?!
That is how the whole of June can be summed up after a ridiculously pathetic midsummer month! I know you’ve all had rain too but what has been going on?
Anyway, enough of dwelling on June, let’s march on into July and …oh yes, just more of the same ! In fact, let’s make a pact to not discuss the weird weather anymore until it pulls it’s socks up and begins to behave again and let’s see how it likes that, ha!
The BIG news this month is the hatching of Betty’s babies. She did really well and sat on the eggs for a whole month until the hatchings began…unfortunately though we didn’t realize that incubation times for hen, duck, and goose eggs was different so of course once Betty got her 2 chicks she abandoned the other eggs (as any sensible mother would, of course!)
So now there are 2 cute little chirpy chicks trotting around, much to the annoyance of the other hens who have no idea where all the noise is coming from!
We had a very exciting visitor this last week…a Lotus 7, driven expertly by the lovely Steve & Anne. After kindly taking me for a spin around the lanes and avoiding the many potholes, it was hard to come to terms with the fact that I’m stuck with a little Citroen C1 (but at least I have more boot space than them…marginally!)
With all the rain we’ve had, the garden is flourishing and the foxgloves are taking over, the barley nearby is beginning to turn golden, and a woodpecker has begun to visit the garden in search of take-away grub instead of foraging himself…lazy tinker!
Just picked the very first strawberries from the garden tonight (although I don’t think that 6 strawberries will go very far at breakfast but it’s a start!) Also cut some rhubarb which will be gently stewed and added to some Greek yogurt (oh, we’re so cosmopolitan here in Crayke!!) So whilst the garden may be bearing fruits, the hens all think they’re on holiday/retired/putting their feet up for a long weekend. How useless? If they think that 5 eggs out of a total of 11 hens is serious production, they will have to think again…maybe I shall have to resort to scare tactics to up production and either a) put a stuffed fox outside their house b) leave a recipe book nearby open on the page where chicken pie is featured or c) get a radio plugged in and cranked up to max volume playing non stop Aerosmith/Metallica/Deep purple. However, we will leave Betty (blue eggs) out of this as she is very busy sitting on 3 hen eggs, 3 duck eggs, and 2 goose eggs at the moment and is doing a very fine job. She may be a bit confused though if they all hatch and she ends up with a right gaggle of offspring! All being well there should only be another 11 days of incubation so watch this space!
So another fine Bank Holiday weekend passed (well, not “fine” as in weather but “fine” as in good) The village was awash with a patriotic sea of red white & blue bunting and flags (and blue lips because of the sheer cold and damp on the Saturday!) but it was a great weekend of proper village community spirit. The road was closed off up the hill to the church and castle so that the children could run free whilst the adults huddled around the barbecues to snatch what heat there was! But on the Sunday when London was half drowned the weather picked up enough for everyone to trot back outside again and of course by Monday, summer had returned in time for the picnic in the park and the amazing treasure hunt through the fields and woods.
So now it’s the football to look forward to (oh yeah, joy of joy!) and of course the Olympics…but more importantly, the potential hatching of Betty’s babies!
So, winter progressed into spring, spring is about to progress into summer in another few short weeks, and at this rate the BBQ and homemade lemonade recipe will stay firmly tucked away until at least 2013! What is going on?! I cannot believe that we still have the heating on every morning & night, hailstones were raining down yesterday, and the cat has practically gone into hibernation instead of being out and about catching mice. But on the plus side the wheat is going crazy, the oil seed rape is beginning to resemble a field of triffids, and the cracks in the clay soil are hidden under puddles!
The cycle ride to Paris went well, although map reading skills are not as finely tuned as we had anticipated which resulted in some slight detours after discovering we were hopelessly lost (about 30 miles lost to be precise!) But the French were great and very helpful and we discovered the best chips outside of the UK in a little workmen’s café in a village in Normandy. Boris Johnson has to be congratulated for his pig headedness when it comes to making London cycle friendly as it was a dream to cycle there, and in true northern spirit the lovely Geordies who we met when lost on Wimbledon Common escorted to the right road for Portsmouth. Shame that when we were at Portsmouth Ferry Port waiting to board the ferry in pouring rain that we had to wait in the car queues for 50 minutes, slowly getting wetter and wetter with no explanation as to where the blinking ferry was! Anyway, the sore bum is but a distant memory but the bike is definitely staying put in the shed for a little (or maybe more truthfully!) a long time to come!
The Jubilee celebration plans in Crayke seem to be well underway and a great programme of events have been organized, from BBQ’s on the hill, to fancy dress parades and tea parties, and a celidh to get us all jigging. So if (if?!) the weather is kind to us we should all have a cracking weekend of sociable fun and the odd glass or three.
So wherever or whatever you find yourselves doing that long weekend, have fun doing it!
Do you ever have those days when it’s just perfect? I hope you do.
My “perfect” moment came tonight whilst mad Riley and I headed off down the fields just at twilight. The moon was high in the sky, a massive silver orb with that lovely frosty ring around it and just a few sparkly stars were emerging…although I suspect one was a satellite which was trying desperately hard to be a star! The night sky was utterly still, barely a whisper to be heard save for the occasional chatter of a bird and the odd noise of a car in the far distance. And as I breathed in the cool night air, face upturned to the moon (I wasn’t howling like a werewolf so don’t worry!) my perfect moment slapped me right in the face! How lucky we are to live in such a great place. I certainly wouldn’t swap it for the Caribbean, the south of France, or anywhere else…although I’m sure that it’s VERY nice in the Caribbean & the south of France!!
Like the rest of the UK we have been really spoilt recently with the glorious weather and there’s something about the Brits and sunshine! It certainly brings out the best in us and suddenly everyone wants to say “hello” as we pass in the street, instead of head down and walking past. It’s great! Crayke is no exception. Although we only have a population of under 400 and most people would know each other, or at the least recognize folk, last week in the sunshine it was like Piccadilly Circus on a bank holiday! A quick stroll up there turned in to a very long sociable afternoon as we bumped in to people out weeding their gardens, walking their dogs, sitting out on the front door step, cycling by, and just generally being visible. If only summer weather went on for at least 8 months of the year! Think of the amount of ice cream you could eat too!!
The latest addition to the mouse family is Hefty Henrietta (see below). She is a real beauty and a real eye catcher with her razzle dazzle pink coat and bright eyes. Her place is in the window watching the driveway as unfortunately there is no space on the radiator with the dining room mouse family but relations between the two are extremely good. She’s from Norfolk so is used to the rural way of life and has impeccable breeding. I suspect however that she will lead the dining room mouse family astray as she has that cheeky twinkle in her eye!
We look forward to welcoming lots of international guests in the next few weeks as visitors from France, Australia, Germany, and the US come to visit. So breakfast time should be a real journey around the world as I hear tales from far off places and maybe find out about exciting corners of Europe worthy of visiting in the future. But in the meantime, sunshine please return so that the smiles that we Brits hide away under woolly hats in winter can flourish once more.
T’is certainly the season for the “Mad March Hare” as I look out of the window and see them cavorting crazily across the fields, zig zagging randomly in all directions with only one aim…to find a mate before the others find her first!
They are beautiful creatures and so fascinating to see and because the wheat is not yet tall they stand out against the backdrop of green like huge Wererabbits! Riley loves to be on the trail of one when we walk down the fields but as he is intellectually challenged it takes him a mad dash across 2 fields before he realizes that there is absolutely no remote chance of him ever catching one!
The garden furniture has had the dust blown off it and has emerged from winter hibernation (too premature, do you think?) and just as well as last week the weather was almost tropical (for a day at least!!) and guests were sat outside on the terrace enjoying coffee and cake under bright blue skies. Of course, later that same week we were back to frosts at night but at least as Brits we can never moan that we don’t get weather of all descriptions!
My bicycle has returned from the “bike fix it man” who has oiled it, put new slicks on, and changed the brake pads (phew!) so now there is no excuse to avoid a few trips out on an evening to clock up a few miles in preparation for the cycle ride from Paris to London later this spring. I’m only going for the bread and wine but I think Eamon thinks we’re doing it for the fun…yeah, right!!
It will be great when the clocks change though for British Summer Time as it’s great to have longer days and not to be snuggled up in front of the fire from 4pm onwards every day like in winter. But of course the disadvantage is that Sunday morning when they do change and you have to get up an hour earlier and you can almost guarantee that someone will request an early breakfast that day…grr!
It’s hard to believe that Easter will soon be upon us (I think we’ve just about polished off the last of the Christmas chocolate…oh, okay then, you’re right! That was wishful thinking, it was actually finished by the beginning of January!) and it’s a real turning point of the year as lambs are plentiful in the fields, blossom is beginning to bloom, and the coat can sometimes be left at home when we go out. But I won’t be watering the garden this year in anticipation of the drought which we’re all meant to be having this summer. We’ll just have to use the bathwater like we did the summer of 2006 when we used to lower it out of the bathroom window in an old bucket attached to a piece of baler twine…until the twine broke and I got soaked in dirty (but lovely bubbly!) bathwater!
…there’s something attractive about half dead and slightly shriveled garden plants anyway!
Finally, some proper seasonal views from the windows! The snow has arrived, all dry and crisp and twinkling under the clear blue sunny sky. Everything is looking fresh and now we can tell exactly what has been skulking around the garden on a night time whilst we sleep by investigating the tracks in the morning! The main culprit is of course Riley (the Lab) who has been churning up all the virgin snow and to be quite honest, has made a right old mess of it!
The unofficial hotel inspectors, J&H, have just departed after giving their verdict on the new Hazelwood room. After casting a critical eye over it and testing everything for 2 days, it was a resounding “perfect”…phew! We’re just waiting to get some great photos of it from Lovely Lizzie and then they will be uploaded. The goose down mattress topper should finally be here this week.
Billy Bragg is to play this years Galtres Festival, a couple of fields away. It’s always a highlight of the social calendar and so well attended by great local bands and artistes, and of course lots of local brewers keen to show off their quirky named ales and ciders. Let’s hope that this year the sun shines and the wet weather and mud is saved just for the likes of Glastonbury!
New Year 2012
A Happy New Year to you all and I hope that 2012 is a great year for you.
I was thinking i'd be able to upload pretty photos of virgin snow glistening under a wintry sky by now but alas no so it's very disappointing...but no doubt that will be May or Junes blog the way our seasons are nowadays!
Chris, the lovely builder, starts any day now in the B&B to make the Hazelwood room more grown up. So down comes the wall on to the landing and my lovely laundry cupboard and up goes a new one, swallowing up the newly created space to make one 50% bigger bedroom. But the problem is, where does all the junk from the laundry cupboard go? Simple: in to the shoe cupboard of course! Mm, but then where do the shoes go? Oh, I give up!! And then wonderful Charlie (the published poet) but who also doubles as our painter & decorator will follow on behind to spruce everywhere up with a fresh lick of paint and the most interesting conversations over coffee and roll ups!
The mouse “infestation” has increased again with the Christmas arrival of the stunning Hester (centre) She really is a beauty and has settled in to her new adoptive family well. She is showing artistic tendencies so we have high hopes for her eventually exhibiting in a gallery in London.
And talking of animals, Riley the lovely Lab is turning from cute puppy to teenager with attitude! He adores all the guests although does get a little too boisterous sometimes and has sent the odd child or two flying!
So, time to get on and start thinking about hitting the shops to buy…a new bed, chairs/sofa, wallpaper , carpet etc…yawn! I’m sure we chicks are far better at shopping for clothes, shoes, bags, make-up etc, and not boring beds and goose down toppers but so be it. But the best thing about being closed in January amongst all the muck & dust & plaster is…31 lie-ins!! Whoo hoo!!
The recent stunning late summer weather has resulted in the terrace being used to it’s full potential with guests sitting out late under the vast starry sky enjoying much chat and laughter.
Riley, the gorgeous doe eyed new member of the family, is settling in well and is really enjoying meeting guests but is a lot more interested in what they may have left on their breakfast plates, but needless to say, being a greedy Labrador, he doesn’t get even a scrap of any leftovers! But at least there’s always the spilt rabbit food, dirty old shoes, and chunks of wood for the boiler to eat instead!
…and talking of new additions, we are proud to announce that Harry & Doris (our lovely dining room mice!) are the new parents to twins, John & Heather. They arrived one sunny morning last week and we hope that they have a long and happy life together as a new family, overseeing breakfast service!
Any day now, the tractors will be arriving to plough up and drill the fields ready for next years wheat harvest and the air for those few days will be fragranced with freshly turned earth and diesel fumes…what a combination!!
Finally, what a fantastic weekend we had recently when we escaped away for a couple of days to Plas Dinas in North Wales, home of the scrummy Julian & Andy (fellow contestants from “Four in a Bed”) They looked after us so well that we were utterly spoilt and it was a wrench to come back home but every good experience has to come to an end at some time!