Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Got to keep fit
 It is really important in these dark days, to keep fit. We have the exercise bike, and we have a garden large enough to run around. So we have no need to leave the house except for food. Today we made our weekly trip to Aldi up the road, and we got enough supplies to keep us going for at least another week.
David's little greenhouses
We have both been keeping busy, David has been in the garden, and I have been in the kitchen. So we should have a few veggies sprouting in a couple of months, and a good supply of ginger biscuits.

I have also penned a short poem, but in the main I have not wanted to put pen to paper, preferring the more mundane tasks, cooking, cleaning, and of course the knitting needles are out again. General concentration has gone out of the window, but I am trying to keep some semblance of sanity. The magnanimity of this crisis tends to come over me in waves, one day I'm OK, the next I'm on the verge of tears, but generally David and I are coping well with isolation.

As I write the number of deaths in the UK stands at 1,789 that is up 381 from yesterday. Most of these deaths are in London, but there have been a few (3) in Barnsley.

It is hard to look on the bright side, but my neighbours little girl popped a card through the letterbox which she had made to say, stay safe, and today a picture of a rainbow arrived to put in the window. And not only that, my daughter-in-law left strawberries and a small bottle of prosecco on the doorstep. That brought a smile.

So, as ever, my message to you is the same - Stay Safe! I'll be back next week with an update, meanwhile here is my poem, it's serious, but then so is this worldwide crisis.

Covid 19

The weeks go by and people die,
death has become a game of tag,
don’t let it touch you; dodge its hand,
outrun its pace, do what you can;
don’t let death be the catcher-man:

the catcher-man, the catcher-man,
he’s out to get you if he can.

Refuse to play death’s ugly game,
retire, retreat, re-map and plan,
don’t let death have the upper hand,
turn on the foe, make fast your stand;
don’t let death be the catcher-man:

the catcher-man, the catcher-man,
he’s out to get you if he can.

Outstep death’s shadow; slip its grip,
be clever, use your well honed wit,
don’t let death decimate our land,
humanity must make a stand;
don’t let death be the catcher-man:

the catcher-man, the catcher-man,
he’s out to get you if he can.

Be full of hope, the world is strong,
each person must now play a part,
don’t let death make undue demands,
heed every government command,
stay safe! Let's beat the catcher-man.

With love and lots of virtual hugs,
Jane x

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


It's been a strange week for everyone. As you can see from the above video, I indulged myself in a little entertainment to while away an hour or so. Aunt Martha is definitely out of the closet. And to cap it all she got an airing on BBC Radio Sheffield's Upload programme last Thursday night in the form of Aunt Martha's Lenten Quest.

Aunt Martha’s Lenten Quest 

Aunt Martha listened to Reverend Jon,
His sermon was all about Lent,
How you should give up something or other,
She thought she knew just what he meant.

She decided a just deprivation,
Would be bread, cakes, biscuits and scones,
And the money sh’d save in the process,
She’d donate towards the church funds.

That Sunday Aunt Martha invited us
Round - Aunt Polly, my mum and me -
To discuss what sacrifice we could make.
And of course, stay for Sunday tea.

I liked having tea at Aunt Martha’s house,
She always put on a fare spread,
So imagine the face I had on me,
To be given boiled ham but no bread!

I’d have brought you a loaf, said Aunt Polly,
If you’d let me know you were short,
‘I’m not short,’ said Aunt Martha, ‘abstaining,’
‘cos we’ve got a church to support.

She rattled a tin and put it beside
The ham, ‘there, that’s a start,’ she said,
That’s money I would’ve spent on a loaf,
Now it’s going to t’ church instead.

The next forty days proved disastrous,
As we gave up all we liked best,
Even mum got a little bit thinner,
In aide of Aunt Martha’s quest.

Aunt Polly saw Uncle Stanley in town,
He was outside Jo’s Caf. in Brook street,
‘Our Martha’s carrying this thing too far,
Half rations, it’s not flippin’ reet.

A man could starve wi’out biscuits and cakes,
She’s taken all t’ joy out o’ living,
All she does is rattle her blessed tin,
She insists, ‘All the joy’s in the givin’.’

‘There’s nowt in me packing but fruit,’ he moaned,
‘My tum’s getting thinner and thinner,
I’d love some roast beef and Yorkshire pud.,
I’m off into Jo’s for my dinner.’

After a week he was moping about,
He could hardly keep up his head,
‘Martha, I’m feeling reet hungry,’ he begged,
‘Please, gi’ us a slice o’ bread.’

Aunt Martha was shocked, but quite resolute,
Uncle Stanley’s request was ignored,
‘No,’ she said firmly, ‘it’s LENT, do wi’out,
And put all your faith in the Lord.’

The days went by, Uncle Stanley fell ill,
He took to his bed, moribund,
‘Tha ’s purged me soul lass, I’m off to my grave,
Here’s two and six for the fund.’

Well of course, Uncle Stanley didn’t die,
Easter Sunday brought out the best;
Aunt Martha was over the moon with joy
At her successful Lenten quest:

She took the money to Mr McGoo,
Who entered it into accruals,
Uncle Stanley had suffered for twenty-two pounds,
It went for repairs and renewals.

I suppose it's a silly question to ask what you have given up for Lent, as the population of Britain is in the process of giving up so much to try to combat this horrendous virus. It makes the little things seem pathetically insignificant, as we are all concentrating so hard on our survival. I'm not going to say anything else about this because I'm sure your up to your overgrown fringe with the gory details of Covid 19.

Let's be positive! I am getting creative in the kitchen to help eke out the food, and David has turned into a carpenter, and has built a little greenhouse out of some old windows. Life at home is quite enjoyable really. No rushing about to catch buses, no worrying we might be having visitors and the living room hasn't been polished for a week, no work, it's like being on holiday - well not quite.

As for exercise, we are sorted - the exercise bike is out of the shed.

And we've got our own coffee shop, well, maybe not always coffee.

No Stress!

I likes my cider!

So, week one of isolation was not too bad for us, and I hope it wasn't too bad for you either. Keep safe dear reader, wherever you are. The next few weeks are not going to be easy for anyone, we are all in this together, let's send this virus packing. Stay at home, and if you have to go out stay at least 2 meters (6ft) away from the next person. Here's a virtual hug, and if you are a key worker, here's an extra special hug and a big thank you for being on the front line.

I'll be back next week, God willing.

Lots of love to all,
Jane x

Monday, March 16, 2020


Hello dear reader,
I woke up this morning with a smile on my face due to the fact that I was singing the song, Happy Talk from the King and I. It was, I'm sure, a subconscious attempt to keep me thinking happy thoughts in the middle of all the doom and gloom of coronavirus.

Happy talk, keep talking happy talk
Talk about things you'd like to do.
You gotta have a dream
if you don't have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?
Of course I had my own words in my dream, which I don't remember now, but I realise the actual words to the first verse of this song are a great up-lifter. First of all we have all got to start talking about happy things. Our imagination is a wonderful thing and it can take us to all sorts of places. 'Talk about things you'd like to do' - well, the list is endless. And the bit about, 'if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true,' is spot on. Well, I'm dreaming about getting through this next three or four months (hopefully no longer) and, victorious, celebrating with the whole world a return to functioning society. Let's all dream the same dream. Don't forget: HAPPY TALK, KEEP TALKING HAPPY TALK!
David is over 70, and I'm almost there, so we have decided to self isolate as much as possible. We are lucky in the fact that we have a garden to enjoy the fresh air in. Our plan is to take a walk in the countryside most days, keeping a safe two meter distance from anyone else we may encounter. We know this is going to be a long few months.
I have food in for about two weeks, and toilet rolls (though the supermarket shelves are emptying fast after every delivery), and I did manage to get two handbag sized hand sanitisers, from the chemist. 
We have books earmarked to read, and I will be writing the odd poem or two, I should think. Speaking of which, some really happy news - BBC Radio Sheffield rang me today to say they were going to air my recording of Aunt Martha's Lenten Quest, on Thursday 19 March (this Thursday) on The Vibe, an arts programme, 7 - 9 p.m. So, a little success to brighten the day. Apparently they are going to interview me as well.
Meanwhile, Barnsley Writers, who I joined last week for the first time, have suspended meetings, but we shall be given writing tasks via their facebook page. I will not be short of things to do, that's for sure.
Who would have thought we would all have been in this situation? 'HAPPY TALK, KEEP TALKING HAPPY TALK' In the interest of comedy I have been working on a new monologue. Watch this space!
And while I'm pen in hand, David is busy trying to do up a couple of bicycles that were destined for the tip, and he's been tidying the garden - we've got some lovely daffodils.
It will all be over by Christmas! 

Keep Safe dear reader, I'll be back next week, God willing, with an update of isolation in Birdwell.
Love and Hugs,
Jane x 

Monday, March 9, 2020


So, March 2nd had been in my diary for over a month. Not least because in was the 45th anniversary of losing my wonderful mum, but it was also the eagerly awaited date of our first ballroom dancing class, in Barnsley.

Thinking ourselves perky pensioners to be braving the evening air (freezing air), David and I caught the 7.30 p.m. bus, in chirpy mood, with feet ready to at least try to waltz us around the floor.

We walked from the bus station the twenty minutes distance to the hall where we had been told to congregate, thinking the exercise would do us good, as indeed it did. But alas, when we arrived there was no sign of a dancing class, or any other sort of class, and banquet tables were being set up in the hall. Our attempt to join an evening activity had fallen flat. We walked back into town and filled the half hour before our bus home, laughing over a glass of beer, at our disappointing evening. 

There has been no mention of trying again tonight, neither David nor I want a repeat performance of last Monday evening. And it's cold outside.

I spent the most of last week both reading and writing. Aunt Martha has reared her head again, this time in the form of a monologue. As to what I was reading, well Harry Potter, The Philosopher's Stone has been polished off, and a short novel by Muriel Spark, The Driving Seat - a very strange story about a murder. That's all I'm going to say, because I don't want to spoil the plot if you haven't read it. My only advice is, do not read the introduction first, because it gives away the plot - not good. I did enjoy the read though.

This week I have been taking a look at Characterisation, and how I can improve my technique in that direction. My next read is, The Uncanny, Sigmund Freud - just a bit of light reading (I doubt), but I am sure to learn something.

Our son arrived for a surprise visit, which was lovely, and we spent an evening of chat. I'm glad the weather was fine and not too windy, because he turned up on the scooter he has been doing up. I should have taken a photo when he arrived in the daylight, but the night-time picture gives him a certain nightriderness.

Oh, and here is the video of me tossing a pancake (I know, thrilling) I missed getting on last week.

Nightrider Sharp

Add caption

As for world news, it's all a bit grim at the moment with this Coronavirus spreading all over the place. People are stocking up on provisions and the supermarket's are running out of stuff like toilet rolls - though the shelves are being restocked pretty quickly. I did take the last tin of Morrisons Drinking chocolate, yesterday (yes blame me). The fear is a mass lockdown, which has to be considered as Lombardy in Italy has been completely locked down, as well as other parts of Italy.

The latest statistic for people with the virus in Britain, is 319, two reported in Barnsley. This is expected to rise drastically over the next week and the Government is expected to announce measures for enforced isolation of anybody who is showing the symptoms, which are fever, cough, respiratory problems. Yes, it is a bit worrying!

So, trying to think of something more cheery, the full moon tonight may herald a change and happy days ahead. The daffodils are out in our garden, together with a few snowdrops, and Spring is in the air.

Keep safe, keep washing your hands, and keep reading my blog for weekly updates. And if you want to stock up on reading matter, there is always Jane Sharp, Amazon. And now it's time for tea.

Love and hugs,
Jane x 

Sunday, March 1, 2020


O Happy Week! Pancake day on Tuesday mid all the turmoil of decorating the front room. Nothing stops tradition! I do have a small video of me flipping a pancake, but unfortunately it's on David's phone and I haven't worked out how to get it on this blog. Maybe next time. Rest assured every one of my 8 pancakes was well and truly flipped.

And look who was in the shed this week. Yes, our Barnsley Bard, Mr Ian MacMillan as painted by me. We actually ran out of alcohol this Friday, so finished off the Christmas mulled wine and then abandoned the shed for warmer surroundings, i.e. our front room. Desperate measures!
And in the Art House this week, Ian MacMillan

English/Greek flags 

Art work - Empty Cans!

A hint of blue
 And after a week of painting and decorating we have our new look living room. 
Reading room

The Music Corner

David's Mum

New curtains

It's been a busy week but we are pleased with the result. I'm not a natural paper hanger, and I'm glad I wasn't doing the whole room with wallpaper, but it's a half decent job for a pensioner. David pasted and I applied, we're a good team. The bedroom next - but not tomorrow.

Well, the news is full of Corona Virus and how it is spreading across the world. It is a wee bit disconcerting, but what will be, will be, we can't stop living. We can however be vigilant and do all we can to prevent the spread - washing hands well after travelling on the buses etc. The TV reports from China and South Korea are distressing, and our Government is making plans in case there is an epidemic here in England. So far about 20 cases, but people are dying, mainly over 70 with health problems already. I'm thinking of starting a little food-bank in case I have to stay in the house for days on end. 

The good news! Boris, our Prime Minister is to be a father again. And he has popped the question so a wedding is on the cards. Always good for the press of the world.

Floods everywhere are causing havoc but according to the weather forecast, there are dryer days ahead, just cold. It's been the wettest February on record. There is a lot to be said for living on a hill.  Our garden is fairly sodden though.

I have entered my short story into the Barnsley Writers' competition. I honestly don't expect to win (call me negative) but it has been submitted.

We are to have another open mic in Elsecar, at the Milton pub, in May (details to follow). Something to look forward to.

It's St David's Day today, so I suppose if we were in Greece it would be David's name day. Do I make him a cake? I think I will.

So, that's my week, I think I'll have a cupa now before cleaning the bathroom (David has just been up there trimming his beard) - woman's work and all that.

I wish you a very good week ahead, keep healthy and happy. I'll be back next week with an update of my comparatively boring life. 

Love and Hugs,
Jane x

Tears From The Sun - The Story