Some Sunday Musings

Life has finally returned to normal after Christmas and New Year. I couldn’t be more pleased about that, as I find comfort in routine these days.

—————————————————————————————

What hasn’t returned to normal is the weather. After three days of bright sunshine, we got eighteen hours of torrential rain. With only one day below freezing, the mud hasn’t hardened, and dog-walking with Ollie is still unpleasant. The strange winter weather continues next week apparently, with temperatures climbing back up to over 10C, before falling again.

—————————————————————————————-

After five days on his new tablet medication, Ollie has stopped shaking his head, and is a lot calmer and more relaxed. His fur has yet to grow back, but on the plus side it does seem to have stopped falling out. Becuse he cannot have his arthritis tablets in conjunction with the steroids and antibiotics, his front legs have become stiff again, and he is not even contemplating chasing any deer or rabbits.

—————————————————————————————–

I still haven’t got around to having my car checked out, but I am encouraged by the fact it is running well, and there is no squeaky noise at all.
Now I have typed that, I am sure I have pushed my luck, and anticipate ‘The return of the squeak’ forthwith!

——————————————————————————————

Not much else has happened worth reporting. I see that as a very good thing.

——————————————————————————————

My Blog Name: A Clarification

Since it is new year, and I have a lot of new followers, I thought it was about time to explain my blog name once again.

My first name is Pete. (Well, Peter. But I prefer Pete.)

Beetley is a place, a village in Norfolk near the town of Dereham, in the east of England. Here is proof.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beetley

Beetley is not my surname.

It has nothing to do with beetle insects, Volkswagen Beetle cars, or the English band The Beatles.

It is derived from an ancient Anglo-Saxon word, ‘Betel'(also ‘Bietel’), meaning a wooden mallet or hammer. This area was known for the production of Oak hammers and mallets during the Anglo-Saxon period. (410AD until 1066AD)

So when I started this blog in 2012, I chose the name of where I live, and my first name, coming up with ‘Beetleypete’.

Not very exciting or inventive, but there you go.

“One Dead Bat”

Yesterday, I had a chimney sweep calling, to clean the wood burning stove and its large chimney that goes through the ceiling and out onto the roof. We don’t use the wood-burner that much, and mainly keep if for emergencies like power cuts. But then we discovered that it has to have an annual safety certificate, whether we have actually lit it, or not.

This is because of house insurance of course; yet more income-generation for tradesmen, and potential avoidance of any claims by the insurance company.

So I found a local chimney sweep who is a member of The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps (yes, there is such a guild) and arranged for him to come yesterday morning at nine. The name of his one-man company is ‘Norfolk Sooty’, quite a good name, I thought.

Things have changed a lot since Dick Van Dyke was dancing on rooftops twirling his brush, his face smeared with soot in the film ‘Mary Poppins’.

My sweep arrived on time, and proceeded to cover the hallway carpets with clean plastic sheets before he even attempted to come in. Then he brought more covers to spread around the floor at the base of the wood-burner, and began to use his industrial strength vacuum cleaner to remove anything from inside the chamber. Once he was happy with that, he put a small brush inside, then removed the grate and top plate, before securing a clear plastic hood around the stove with magnetic bars that held it in place.

The hood had two openings. One was for the tube of the vacuum cleaner to be inserted into, the second smaller one was for the lengths of tubing that attached to the brush. The brush was moved up and down inside the chimney many times, then attached to a power drill that spun the brush inside, for a thorough clean.

I watched from across the room, very impressed with his thoroughness, as well as his cleanliness. Not only did he vacuum all the floor covering he had put down, he also vacuumed his own clothing as he worked, to make sure no dirt fell onto the surrounding carpets when he stood up.

When the hood was removed from the stove, he had to admit it was one of the cleanest chimneys he had ever swept, a result of us hardly using it over the years. I asked if he had found much inside, and he shook his head. Opening his hand, he smiled.

“One dead bat”.

In his hand was a tiny mummified bat. As it was not charred or burned, we concluded that it must have died of starvation, after being trapped somewhere in the chimney.

I wrapped it in some soft tissue, and gently placed it into the rubbish bin.

Sunday Musings From Beetley

The first **snow** of this winter is falling outside. Luckily, the ground is so wet after 24 hours of torrential rain, it is not settling.
——————————————————————

It is almost December, and another year will soon be over. I think this past year will be remembered by me for watching Ollie age, and combat constant infections. Also for second dose of C-19 vaccine, then getting the booster that made me feel ill. On the plus side, it has been unusually warm until this week, (Global Warming probably) and we had a great holiday in September.


I have managed to keep my shorts on since late March, and was hoping to still be wearing them into December. But I fear that yesterday will have to be the last time for 2021, as I returned from the dog-walk chilled to the bone. As today is only 3C so far, and snowing a little, the shorts will have to go back into the wardrobe.

——————————————————————

After my recent fall in the bath, it was Julie’s turn a few days ago. She had gone next door to talk to our neighbour, then missed a step as she stood back after ringing their doorbell. That resulted in her falling flat on her back, with a painful rebound head injury as her head hit the pavement. For a few days, she didn’t feel so good, but fortunately is much improved this morning.

——————————————————————-

Ollie’s fur continues to fall out, caused by those Paintbrush Lesions that I mentioned. There doesn’t seem much we can do, except to wait for it to grow back in due course. It seems not to concern him, and he is still enjoying his walks, and occasionally chasing a deer.

——————————————————————–

Government corruption and the buffoonery of our current Prime Minister continues unabated. When a party has such a huge majority in Parliament, it appears that makes them impervious to criticism, and immune from prosecution. The exploitation of foreign tax havens is blatant, and disgusting to behold.

———————————————————————

Black Friday came and went, as will Cyber Monday. I might sometimes be an old fool, but I am not fool enough to fall for that marketing hype and nonsense.

———————————————————————-

Still too early for me to talk about Christmas. I haven’t even written any cards yet.

———————————————————————-

The Return Of Brave Cat!

In 2019, I posted about Ollie’s encounters with some of the feline residents of Beetley. If you never saw that, here’s a link.

Ollie and The Yellow Cat

Since writing that post, ‘Hiding Cat’ has gone. I don’t think it was anything medical or sinister, just that the family sold the bungalow and moved away.

‘Yellow Cat’ is still very much around, usually running to hide under any conveniently parked car when he spots Ollie coming. In the absence of any cars, he climbs whatever fence is handy. Bulky Tortoiseshell from the house directly behind seems to have met his maker. The same family still live there, but there has been no sign of the large cat for almost two years now.

‘Alfie Cat’, who I call ‘Alfredo’, still lives next door, and he comes to see Ollie frequently, enjoying a belly rub from me into the bargain. If our door is open, he will even wander in and have a look around.

But not long after writing that post, ‘Brave Cat’, the cat who knows no fear, seemed to have disappeared. Though Ollie habitually checked the hedge up the road where BC used to lurk, there was never a sign of him.

Until today.

Walking back with Ollie this afternoon, he hesitated at the hedge, as he always does. After a tentaive sniff of the foliage, he began to move.

Then BAM! Brave cat appeared, running down the the short driveway to his house, rearing up at Ollie’s face with front paws raised like a prize-fighter. Just as well Ollie was on his lead by then, as he retreated so fast, he might have ended up in the road otherwise.

I have to say, I do admire that cat. It has guts, no denying that.

The Beetley Pigeon

On Saturday, Julie and I were talking about something in the living room, when we heard an almighty bang from the kitchen area. My first thought was that a bird had flown into the window glass, something that happens quite frequently. But when I went outside to check, there was no trace of any bird on the patio, or on the lawn nearby.

When I was making coffee on Sunday morning, I saw a large Wood Pigeon sitting on the lawn at the far end of the garden. From that distance, it appeared to be asleep, not something you see that often.

By the time I went out with Ollie a few hours later, it was still there. As I walked over to the shed to get Ollie’s lead, the bird began to run to my left. It was flapping its right wing, and the left wing was lying outsretched and useless at its side, obviously badly broken. It managed to hide under a large shrub, staying hard against the wooden fence.

I went out with Ollie, and that afternoon, Julie told me she had put a small container of bird seed on the ground for it, as it had been trying to fly up to the feeder. Checking the container, it was half-empty, so it seemed the injured bird had managed to walk over and get something to eat.

Not long after I went to bed last night, I could hear constant flapping sounds outside the bedroom window, and presumed that the distressed pigeon was trying to fly, or perhaps escaping a local predator, like next door’s cat.

This morning, I found the bird hiding under the garden table, and as I approached, it vecame very distressed. I decided to leave it alone, and put out a small plastic box full of water for it.

Thinking about what to do, I considered killing the bird as quickly and humanely as I could, to end its suffering. But it was looking directly at me, and if a bird can look terrified, that was the expression. I thought about catching it, putting it into a box, and taking it to the Vet in town to be put to sleep. But even trying to catch it not only made it flee in panic, it was also doing more damage to the badly-broken wing.

Wood Pigeons are considered to be a pest in the countryside. Farmers shoot hundreds of them every week, to stop them eating crops. Many are also killed by local birds of prey, and flattened by cars on the main roads when they don’t fly away in time.

But the pigeon in my garden is still a bird, and an injured bird that has affected me.

I don’t know what to do about it, except to keep it fed and give it water, until such time as it eventually dies.

A Busy Day In Beetley

I am not used to being busy. My life is usually unhurried, with a certain familiar routine that comforts me in my retirement. But when a holiday is on the horizon, there are things that need to be done.

So there was much activity chez beetleypete this morning, including a rare trip into the heart of Dereham. (Sounds impressive, but it’s a very small town)

Up early, in the bath, dressed and ready by the time I am usually contemplating my second cup of coffee. I left a glum-looking Ollie wondering why I was going out without him, and drove through the gloom and light drizzle. In town, I was very lucky to find a nice big free parking spot right opposite the bank, my first destination.

As I do not yet cooperate with ‘Internet Banking’, occasional trips into the branch are necessary. This time I had to transfer funds from a savings account into a current account to ensure there was enough to pay the bill on Saturday week. Then there was a standing order to increase, and a transfer payment into our joint account. Second stop was across the road, to ‘Abigail’s’. This is a privately-owned gift shop that also sells a range of greetings cards.

When we are on holiday, it is our wedding anniversary on the Friday, so I had to make sure I had a card to take.

Back in the car, and less than a mile to the nearest supermarket. It has a petrol station attached, and I wanted to fill my car to the brim with diesel, ready for the longer than usual drive coming up. After waiting behind two cars, I was frustrated to discover that the diesel pump in that lane was ‘Out of Service’. Not wanting to drive around again to a different lane of pumps, I drove just over a mile to a much bigger supermarket where I was able to fill up immediately with no issues.

(*Worth noting here that the fuel prices have increased dramatically. The cost to fill my car has gone up from £55 to £63 today, in a matter of weeks)

Time to go back home. A very early lunch, followed by Ollie’s dog walk. (In light drizzly rain of course) After that, I had to fill the garden waste bin with hedge cuttings, so it can be left out for collection while we are away. I also sorted the regular waste bins while I was at it.

The time was now fast-approaching 4pm, and my next task was to iron the clothes I am taking on holiday. With chilly weather and occasional showers forecast for next week, it was an easy decision to take thicker shirts, and warm tops. I also washed a warm coat and thick fleecy cardigan, as I presume both will be needed.

It is now 5:15pm, and I am getting hungry. I think that is partly because of the early start, but also because it is decidedly cold for August, at barely 15C. Too early for starting dinner just yet, so I came in here to check blog posts and emails. (I also had been doing that between jobs, and when the iron was heating up)

For those of you with genuinely busy lives, my day might well seem like a holiday, I get that.

But I predict an early night for me!

Tea For Two

I sent some strong English tea bags to Cheryl Oreglia, all the way from Beetley to California. I was hoping she would enjoy trying them, and it seems they exceeded my expectations.

Living in the Gap

Today I’m doing a mini-post as I have been traveling and haven’t had the proper time to write but wanted to briefly share a recent experience with you all because although I’ve been accused of being verbose (using more words than necessary), I’m quite reticent naturally. Bahaha.

Not that you asked, but the history of tea is quite extraordinary, and the way it spreads across multiple cultures over the span of thousands of years is the same as it spreads today. It is introduced by tea lovers to their friends and neighbors as an extraordinary beverage of choice, something that will enhance one’s experience of living, and transform an ordinary day into a sacred ritual.

What’s not to like?

Most of you probably already know that tea originated in southwest China, likely the Yunnan region during the Shang dynasty as a medicinal drink, because as I found out on Monday…

View original post 1,216 more words

A Non-Lockdown Saturday In Beetley

It wasn’t that long ago that I was posting about lockdown life in Beetley. To be honest, it wasn’t that different to life before lockdown, at least for me.

Now it has been almost a week since ‘Freedom Day’, and not much has changed around here. On Monday, I collected an Indian takeaway meal from a restaurant we use. Staff were still wearing masks and face shields, and the screens were in place between tables. But the diners were not wearing masks of course, so I kept mine on as I waited for the meal to be prepared.

I went into Dereham on Tuesday, and did the ‘big shop’ at a huge supermarket. Around two-thirds of the customers were weaing masks, and all the staff I saw were wearing them too. They had an announcement playing over loudspeakers suggesting masks should be retained, and that shoppers should still try to social distance where possible.

I saw some maskless shoppers grinning at that, and all of those not wearing masks were quite obviously younger than forty.

Out walking with Ollie, fellow dog-walkers are still keeping a reasonable distance if they stop to chat, and we are standing at the side of narrow paths to allow others to walk by without having to be in close proximity. But the youngsters and teenagers playing around in the river or basketball court are behaving as if Covid doesn’t exist any longer, with close physical contact, and not a mask in sight.

Where Julie works at out local Doctor’s, most people are complying with the mask rule, which is still in force for medical sites. Only a couple of people refused to wear one this week, and they were not allowed into the building. In one case, a woman became abusive and aggressive, and the manager had to be called down to make her leave.

Next weekend, there is a big family party in the Watford area, in Hertfordshire. I wasn’t going anyway, because of leaving Ollie. But Julie was looking forward to attending the 50th birthday party, and seeing many of her extended family. However, that area has shown an alarming spike in Covid infection during the last week, so attending a party inside has become a worrying prospect. Wearing a mask in that situation is not much fun, so she will likely cancel her long-awaited trip.

This all goes to show that despite ‘Freedom Day’, the virus is still around, infections are still increasing, and many of those who didn’t want to wear masks are taking full opportunity of the relaxation of rules.

In many ways, nothing has changed at all, so we carry on as before here in Beetley.

Monday: A Late Message

Beetley was hit by an unexpected power cut today. From 14:56 until 21:38, we had no electricity at all.

So it was a cold sandwich for my dinner, and an exceptionally boring evening with no computer, Tablet, or TV.

I will do my best to get to all your posts and comments sometime tomorrow.

So much for modern living! Power cables ‘affected by trees’. The trees were there decades before power cables, so you think the power company might have known. 🙂

Country living!

Best wishes to everyone, Pete.