The first daffodil

The first daffodil

The first daffodils. One is flowering and one is almost. It seems extraordinary, as the snow has only gone in the last couple of days. Green bulb shoots are evident everywhere, popping up through mulched brown leaves and grass, but not a suggestion yet of a crocus or a snowdrop appearing.

And I posted a card – to the parents of a New Year’s Day new baby boy. My daughter-in-law has just come round to borrow my fairy cake tin for a home schooling maths lesson. My nephew has challenged the husband to Zoom chess at the weekend.

It’s getting dark and Jenny’s now curled up in her basket by the radiator. We all got muddy on our walk this afternoon and, once again I proved to myself, as I squelched and slid through mud and leaves, that I’m no mountain goat. Unlike the Capricornian husband.

Post  festive season viewing is very lean. We watched ‘Traces’ – ok but nothing special, gave up on ‘The Great’, about Catherine the Great, after two episodes – (disappointingly daft), and whiled away an hour or two with Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’. Somehow I missed that one the first time round. Mildly diverting but forgettable were the biopic ‘I am Woman’ about the life of Helen Reddy, about whom I knew absolutely zilch, and a silly 2010 crime caper with a good cast, including Bill Nighy and Emily Blunt – ‘Wild Target’.

What was more interesting than the two latter films was the google and Wikipedia fun afterwards, finding out more about Helen Reddy, and trawling through all the famous, and infamous, Blunts. Twenty years ago, a couple would have watched a film and all the ‘I wonders’ and ‘wasn’t that the guy who was in…’ would have remained just that. A few minutes of curiosity and random speculation with no probable satisfactory solution.

It’s the time of day when what-do-you-want-to-eat discussions happen and when I dread the turning on of TV or radio to hear the evening news – with the three constants – the pandemic/vaccine rollout/latest horrendous statistics, the next chapter in the unbelievable presidency election and election aftermath and the post-Brexit delays, glitches and hiccoughs. I  dread it all but find it compulsive.

Losing things and finding Jane again

Jane Austen is a regular preoccupation. Though not a complete Janiac, quotes and phrases from her novels do pop into my head quite regularly. And soothingly.

It is a truth probably universally acknowledged that a new sock and its mate will soon be parted. I recently received a thank you email from my brother-in-law for a pair of merino walking socks which we sent as a birthday offering. Unexciting, predictable but extremely postable. And he walks a lot, even more so since lockdown. My sister made the sock suggestion and we knew that merino wool would be appreciated. Unlike the husband, my brother-in-law’s also the kind of guy who doesn’t lose things.

With me, there’s a constant loss of pens, not socks. All guests arriving on the farm, whether to stay or to eat, have C-19 contact forms to fill in. Just before a Saturday pizza afternoon/evening,( the first at which guests were going to be able to eat their pizzas outside if they wanted to), the pen shortage had escalated into a mini-crisis. Orla lent me 10 of her store of writing implements, fully believing that she would be able to reclaim them. I’m afraid to say that only 7 remained at the end of the evening.

Early in lockdown I bought three or four packs of pens and stashed them in a top drawer in the farm office. I naively commented to my daughter – ‘that’ll keep us nicely stocked up for the summer’. All have gone without a trace.

A small delivery of wine arrived about two weeks ago (the first since February). With it came a rather smart pen bearing the logo of the local West Wales wine business. I claimed the pen as mine – not for sharing, not for folks to borrow. Of course it’s vanished too.

The last three weeks have been hard, exhausting in fact. Once the donks are in bed, the sheep are fed and we have eaten I have no energy left, especially mental energy. Talking to friends, blogging, reading – all are temporarily on hold. The pendulum has swung too far the other way, but it is as must be for now.

I return to Jane Austen…the other evening, I collapsed happily in front of the concoction that is ‘Becoming Jane’. I’d seen it before, probably twice. But it had a watchable cast and sufficient wit to sustain me until bedtime.

Lady Lindy and why does he call you Eeyore

Previously, I mentioned Charles Lindbergh. No-one tried to repeat his solo transatlantic crossing for five years. And then, the someone who did attempt it in 1932, was a woman – Amelia Earhart. Just as Lindbergh had done, she set off on May 20th. In bad weather she was blown off-course but she did make it to Ireland. Not to Paris, but still across the Atlantic.

What I didn’t realise is that she was selected for the role. There were other potential female candidates, but she had the right look, the right image. She even resembled Charles Lindbergh, and the media often referred to her as ‘Lady Lindy’.

There are two monuments in South Carmarthenshire to Earhart. These mark her crossing in 1928 as a passenger, (and keeper of the flight log), in a seaplane called ‘Friendship’. The records in 1928 were for the first female crossing of the Atlantic, not solo and not as pilot. There’s some controversy about the landing place. When this is over, I’m going to visit both Pwll and Burry Port, the two contenders.

The wearing of two hats, or more, is common in this part of the UK. It’s necessary for survival, for making a living, to be versatile and multi-facetted. We have many strings to our proverbial bows. To an extent, this place attracts diversity and eclecticism.

The lady who works at most of our weddings as our bar manager, is a very talented ceramic artist. Her friend is a sculptor and a teller of jokes.

I know how they work, with the pay-off and punchline. Some can remember and deliver jokes with aplomb. I can’t. Or I’ve never really tried. Pretty sure it wouldn’t be my forte anyway.

Apple decided it knew better when I tried to send the husband a text the other morning. I was in still in bed, answering emails and messages, and writing a haiku. It was about 8.30 and he was already in the barn, doing something usefully DIYish. I was trying to ask ‘have you fed the Eeyores?’ but predictive text insisted I was enquiring ‘have you fed the retirees?’ You know – the ones we keep locked in the barn…

Later, after I had explained this example of smartphone interference, my listener started on one of those man-and-mate-went-into-pub stories. The landlord – to clip short a rather unruly shaggy dog – asked, ‘why does he call you Eeyore?’

Man at the bar replied, ‘ I dunno…’ee yoreways calls me that.’

It’s how you tell them really. You needed to be there.

But isn’t it strange how alien a man-going-into-pub anecdote sounds after all this time?