Originally from Essex, Rosemary Green has been a member of All Saints’ congregation for many years and is a pastoral assistant and worship leader. She and her husband Jim are farmers up in the hills near Newton Stewart.
The trip to Glasgow last Friday was not very productive. I was measured and chose some splints that wrap round and fasten with velcro. The other sort are supposed to be more supportive, but are the devil (and painful) to get on and off and I thought they would probably come off for the washing up after breakfast and not go on again. I have to go back again in late January to have them fitted. Of course there was no chance of getting that done when I have to go up for nerve conduction tests on 3rd.
The falling off the road thing continues. On the way home in the dark I met the dustcart on our narrow road, all lit up like a Christmas tree. We both sat there for a few moments. I knew I should back up as I had a big passing place not too far back, but there was also a narrow bridge with solid stone walls before I got there. The dustcart started to back and went straight off the road into the trees, so I started to back away slowly. The dust cart extricated itself and came forwards, only to go off the road in the same place going forwards. I slowly moved into the passing place and waited and a man got out of the dust cart, fell flat in the mud and came running up the road to me to ask if I was all right. I think I was more all right than they were. It’s funny how much more of an undertaking backing seems in the dark.
Jim has been worrying excessively about the roads now it is snowy or frosty. I was able to leave for church on Sunday before he got up so got away without a big argument (and home without damaging the car or myself). We dosed the sheep on Saturday and moved them to a new field, which made them very happy, the new grass, not the dosing. I was all set to do the dosing to save Jim sheep wrestling, but he insisted he could do it and I wasn’t strong enough and of course he hurt himself and made his wound bleed. He has pulled at it so many times that he has a lump of excess granulation there now, which is being treated with silver nitrate.
He insisted on coming shopping with me on Tuesday. As I had done the big weekly shop on Thursday rather than Friday the previous week there were a few things we were running low on and I was looking forward to a rake round the charity shops. He also wanted to go to Tarff Valley so I said leave me in Newton Stewart and come back when you’ve been there, but no, he wanted to do everything together, which meant rushed shopping, no charity shops and off to Tarff Valley as fast as possible. Tarff at Glenluce didn’t have what he wanted and so we had to go to Castle Kennedy, then he fancied the hill road to New Luce. At New Luce I reminded him that he had asked me never to let him go on the New Luce to Barrhill road again as the windfarm traffic had wrecked it. We speculated on whether it had been repaired, but Jim didn’t want to risk it so we went across the Honey Pig road to Whitecairn as he didn’t fancy the one from New Luce to Tarff Bridge. As we sped up the road from Whitecairn Jim said “There’s a kestrel” and put one wheel in the ditch. Fortunately the speed and hitting the accelerator not the brake meant we shot out again and skidded all over the road. After that we agreed that I would look at the birds and he could look at the road. This incident has only served to make him more sure that me finishing up in a ditch is inevitable. I tell him I haven’t gone in a ditch since a wasp got inside my glasses and stung my eyelid back in the early 1990s, but it makes no difference.
After watching lots of weather forecasts Jim was most insistent that I went with him yesterday to shop while he got his wound dressed again at the Health Centre. I have been doing our big weekly shop every Friday for years and know exactly how to do it. I write the list with stuff from Sainsburys on one side of the page with things in the order they are displayed in the shop, and things from other places on the other side grouped for butcher, chemist, etc. Jim will keep adding afterthoughts in the wrong places. I have five shopping bags for different purposes or shops – the pvc one with fruit is for going down the town and three of the others are folded up inside the biggest and strongest, with the linen one reserved for the food bank stuff, so I just reach into the cupboard and grab the rope handles and the pvc handles without even having to look. Jim will keep taking them out of the big bag and hanging them all up separately, which means I have to look to make sure I’ve got what I need. I arrange the stuff on the counter in the order that I want to pack them and all the regular items have a particular place in a particular bag. When Jim is there he bundles things out onto the counter in a jumble and stuffs them into any bag, soft light things under heavy things. The bags fit perfectly into the back of the car if they are put in front to back. On Tuesday Jim forced them in side by side so that when we got home the plastic milk bottle had split and poured milk all over the bag and rest of the shopping. Maybe I do make a little fuss over Jim interfering in my organisation of the shopping, but it works, it has been honed over years and splilt milk, missing items and squashed tomatoes show that being unsystematic doesn’t. He calls me OCD which is not true. I’m only a control freak.
All this gadding about has meant that I didn’t get as much done as I had intended this week, but have got the Chrsitmas cakes done now so the whole house smells of cake. I used to make lots of Christmas cakes as I sent one to London for the boss when we worked for the Trust and did cakes for lots of single male neighbours, now all gone. So now I just make one for us, one for the monks at Pluscarden and a little one for a friend. I was making a cake for our monk friend’s father for years, but I discovered he was giving it to Ian when he made his Christmas visit so now it goes straight to the abbey. This morning I bit the bullet and cleaned the oven with vinegar and scrubbed all the shelves.
Felix is very excited about the snow and frost. He was rolling in a puddle when he came up to the post box with us this lunchtime. He only has to see a door to want to go through it, so the house resounds to calls of OWW OWW OWW. He spent a long time this morning hexing something in the heather, but knows from experience that leaping into a big bush of springy heather means bouncing straight out again. When he is indoors what he really wants is to go into the drawing room, but as he has been known to eat the plants and pull them over, try to pee in the plant pots, throw up on the carpet and scratch the furniture he isn’t allowed in there on his own. Reading that list I wonder why we are so fond of him. There are lots of spiders indoor now and Felix will snap the poor things up and eat them. I keep putting a handful outside but they reappear almost as soon as they are put out. I must try marking them to see if we have an endless supply of spiders or whether the same ones are coming back indoors.
Good news, as well as the kestrel that Jim thought he saw, but was a sparrowhawk, he has seen two hen harriers over the farm, or the same one twice and we did see three kestrels on that trip. We also saw a small male sparrowhawk trying to catch a much bigger jay on Tuesday. The jay got away only because we drove round the corner and put off the sparrowhawk in mid attack.
It is snowing away now and the sky looks full of it. Should we have a policy about cancelling services in bad weather and a system for notifying people? Just a thought, don’t want anybody hurt.