Welcome to family, friends and visitors. Here you will find interesting (hopefully) pictures of my part of the world, news of our household and probably, long ramblings about anything that catches my interest.

Friday, 23 June 2017


It has been overcast all day with strong but not too cold winds blowing. Squeaky was back at her usual spot warmed by the hot water pipes where she can keep an eye on the bird feeder, still being rapidly emptied by the woodpecker,  and get stroked every time one of us goes up or down the stairs.
Outside the wind is creating showers of rose petals though the bright pink rose, Morning Jewel has always proved highly resistant to the strong winds we get here. 

I've spent the afternoon tidying up the stone walls by the scree garden. Up till now I've turned a blind eye to the speedwell and ivy-leaved toadflax as they are quite pretty in themselves but now they're covering over the small sedums planted between the stones and it's time for them to go. It was still pleasantly warm with the wind roaring in the trees until a brief shower sent me back indoors. The flock of about 15 dispossessed jackdaws which has been searching for a new home since the fire seems to have settled down. Yesterday they kept getting chased off by the rooks that live in the tall trees by the lake.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Mostly Grey.

It looks as if summer is over, at least for the moment. The morning was overcast with quite strong cool winds and the garden thermometer reading 16C/61F. The sun eventually made a half-hearted appearance later in the afternoon which did warm things up a bit.
I got some weeding of one of the stone walls done in the morning and then my afternoon was spent in town.

This time I was successful in getting a number of things done in one trip; filling up with petrol, changing my book at the library, checking out the cards at Clinton's which is having a £1 sale on Saturday, dropping a bag of clothes off at the Hospice shop and 2 boxes of stuff to the cancer research shop, some shopping at Lidl's and getting my ear syringed at the doctors'. It was a junior nurse who did the syringing though she did call in a more senior nurse to check my ear at the end. I mentioned to her at the time that I was feeling quite dizzy and even now 3 hours later I still feel dizzy. I had a quick look on line and the BMJ says the water should be at body temperature otherwise it can cause dizziness and/or vertigo and guess what the water she used felt cold in my ear. I'm tempted to ring the surgery tomorrow, not to get the nurse in trouble but so that she is reminded about the correct water temperature for future patients.
At home I had another go with the hula-hoop. I wasn't so successful today but I persuaded Peter to take some photos.
When I woke up this morning I found myself paying the price for wearing my swimsuit while gardening. I hadn't overdone it with the sun though in this erratic climate we do tend to soak up the sun when it makes an appearance. Nope, I'd been bitten by horse flies, 2 bites on one hip and 4! bites on the other. I'm one of those unfortunate people who get bitten and those bites itch like mad. I am leaving them alone after dabbing on some anti-inflammatory ointment and took an anti-histamine tablet but they are driving me mad.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Hottest Day.

It seems fitting that the summer solstice should be the hottest day of the year, in fact we've had the hottest June day in 40 years. We celebrated the solstice with a barbeque though already the sky had begun to haze over. The darkness has fallen earlier than expected due to the sudden lowering of the clouds filling the valley with grey fog. The forecasters may well be right about rain tonight.
I woke early but the balmy warmth soon sent me back to sleep once I'd taken my tablets and poured olive oil into my ear. Our bedroom has stayed at around 84F all day which makes a nice change to our usual cool grey summers.
I needed to make a trip out of the valley so I tried to combine 3 tasks in the one journey. First I stopped by the farm at the top of the valley which sells eggs by the road. I didn't strike lucky there as there was only one box of eggs and they had a post-it with somebody's name on so all I could do was leave the 6 empty egg boxes I'd brought from home (I can't bear to throw away things that can be re-used). Then on to the re-cycling/dump at Ilfracombe to get rid of some old suitcases, an extremely heavy metal thing which has been outside for years and Pyrex casseroles which I put in the sale area. Finally on to Tesco's for milk and fresh fruit. Walking in there the cool air felt most refreshing. With only a handful of really hot days each year it's only the big supermarkets that have air conditioning. At home we just open all the windows and doors for the light breeze to blow through.
It was getting cooler when we ate our barbeque up by the scree garden. Peter had barbequed a couple of courgettes for me and I also went wild and had a beef burger. It seems I am unwittingly following an eating trend and can be described as a flexitarian. Basically it means that mainly I eat fruit and vegetables with meat occasionally, which for me at the moment is probably once a month if that. I'm quite happy to get my protein from cheese, mainly cottage cheese, and milk and once in while tinned fish.
My hula-hoop arrived today and I surprised myself by being able to hula-hoop for a reasonable length of time. All those core strengthening exercises must be working.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Very Hot.

Once again it's been a swelteringly hot day. Plenty of vehicles and sounds of activity from next door. After he'd been to town Peter dropped in on them to see how things were. Paul, with his arms fully bandaged was working away against medical advice and the pleadings of family and friends. People have rallied round to help with the clear up. A lot of horse tack was lost in the fire but the local saddlery has almost been emptied by friends/riders buying replacement tack to give to Paul and Sarah. Sadly the horse that was burned had to be put down in the night, not because of its burns but its lungs had been affected by the smoke.
I have been working outside being careful with the time I spent in the sun and applying sun-cream to the bits of me that have had enough sun ie. face, neck and the backs of my hands. In order to even up my old-lady tan where I have big white areas from my t-shirts, I allowed myself some gardening time in a low backed swimsuit. Yesterday (this was before the fire) I waited until the postman had been before changing into my swimsuit. Imagine my surprise when a van parked at the top of the drive and a young man got out. I would be perfectly happy wearing my plain black swimsuit on the beach but it seems different in the garden. I stood up clutching my basket of weeds to my middle which made me feel a bit less exposed. At first I thought he had come to take down the old estate agent's sign which is still there but no he was from a broadband company. It didn't sound like our broadband company but I know that BT has recently split into 2 separate companies and yes we're always having problems with our broadband. I blurted out that I would call my husband and raced into the house to change into shorts and t-shirt, a somewhat more respectable outfit. It turned out that he had been called in for next door so off he went.
Another thing I did yesterday was to sort out the garden table. My plan to use up the last of the boiled linseed oil on the table was an epic fail, as they say. The linseed oil had been for sealing the beech wood work surfaces in the kitchen so I thought it couldn't be too different to the teak oil I buy for the garden furniture. Well it was, the oil didn't soak into the wood but formed a tacky surface. I tried wiping it off with methylated spirits and even acetone but they  had no effect. I thought I might have to resort to scraping it off with a sharp knife but luckily when I tried using wire wool with water and detergent that did the job. Now I'll have to buy some more teak oil to restore the table.
It sounds like this hot weather may last another day before reverting to rain and/or thunderstorms. Last night I was jolted awake by several flashes of lightning that lit up the sky. There was no rain or thunder but I still went down to disconnect the phone line and the broadband hub.

Monday, 19 June 2017

A Lucky Escape.

First let me say that apart from my neighbour who has badly burnt arms and a stable girl with burns to her hand everybody else is safe and sound and all the horses too though one has some burns. I can only be thankful that things didn't escalate in what must be every horse owners' nightmare - a stable fire. 
Let me start at the beginning. This afternoon while I was working outside near the conservatory I was aware of a steady clattering noise which I thought was normal farm machinery noise. Then I heard a large vehicle coming down the hill and when I looked up it was a fire engine with lights going but no sirens. I walked over to the washing lines to see what was happening only to see and hear flames and a great cloud of black smoke leaping into the sky from one of the big farm buildings next door. A second fire engine appeared as I quickly took in the clothes I had airing on the line and at that point I wondered how much danger we were in. Our house is made of stone but if fire got into the roof spaces that would be it. By that time I had run into the house yelling for Peter. He was about to ring 999 when I told him the fire engines were already there. He then went straight over to our neighbours while I closed all the windows to stop the smoke from getting into the house. By the time I went over 2 more fire engines appeared and a bit later more fire vehicles including a water bowser arrived. Luckily the firemen could draw water from the lake. We stayed for a short while to offer our help in any way but there were a number of able bodied people already there so we came back home. There is a large barn between us and the burnt barn but if the fire had spread to that or into the trees things could have so much worse. The stable barn is made from concrete up to about 7 ft. from the ground and the loose box walls were all made of concrete, one reason it was possible to get the horses out, but everything above that is destroyed. From what Paul was saying it only took minutes for the fire to spread uncontrollably not surprising with today's extreme heat. Their house, wooden stable block, wooden club house and indoor school all seem to be untouched but there will be an awful lot of work to do to repair the stable barn. Paul's arms are badly burnt and although he was insisting he was fine I presume he went off in the ambulance that eventually arrived along with the stable girl whose hands had been burnt opening the metal stable bolts.
Awful things seem to be happening all around. Yesterday evening somebody (a white man) deliberately drove at a group Muslim people leaving their mosque, a number of people injured and one person sadly lost his life.
Update- Our neighbour's son has just driven over on the quad bike to collect some water. The fire started in something to do with their solar panels and they lost their electricity. They've managed to isolate the power supply to the burned barn but their water pump needs some water putting in to get it started. Paul did go off in the ambulance and is already making plans to do the repairs himself. The vet came down to the horse that was burnt but it is just a few smallish patches on its face. Things you can replace, people you can't.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

A Scorcher.

Another day of wall to wall sunshine. I did one machine load but then ran out of things to wash. Instead I hung up the contents of one of my clothes storage boxes to air. It was all sleeveless t-shirts and tops ( not going to admit how many) but I have taken out one to give to the charity shop.  
I was having a cool down indoors sitting at my pc when I heard an almighty crash from the kitchen. When I went to investigate I found a cafetiere smashed on the floor and the culprit - Speedy making his way out of the door. At first I thought it had fallen when Speedy tried to find a space on the small shelf by the rayburn, something he tries to do even though he knows it's not allowed. But that didn't seem very likely as the cafetiere sits at the back of the shelf and had at least 10 inches to the edge of the shelf. I could only assume that Speedy had deliberately knocked it down. Due to his fixation with food he will knock any sealed container off the counters as he knows that sometimes the lid will fall off so he can get at the contents. I'm surprised though as both cafetieres, the standard size one now broken and a single cup one which I use each morning, have been kept on that shelf for quite a while. Because the knitted cosy was on the cafetiere most of the glass stayed inside and was easy to clean up. I've kept the metal parts as I may be able to get just the glass container. Afterwards Speedy lay outside looking as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.
Peter went off to help with the rowing taster sessions while I put on a swimsuit (to catch the sun) and cut back the now finished flowering stalks of the London Pride on the bank. That would have been relatively easy but there was quite a lot of grass and other weeds to remove at the same time.
That still left us with time to relax sitting outside listening to the birdsong and watching a buzzard lazily circling in the sky. The rooks are quiet at the moment, probably out foraging in the fields.

Saturday, 17 June 2017


Summer is with us once more with the heat being tempered by a light breeze. Tempting as it was to spend all day relaxing outside had I done so I would probably have burnt myself to a frazzle and there were still things to be done.
We were up early as Peter had hours of driving ahead to go and collect the exercise bike. Meanwhile at home I had the washing machine working hard getting wash after wash done. Not only the bedding but some vintage linen for the charity shop (didn't want to give them musty goods) and the under blanket/fleece we have on our bed. It was so hot that as soon as one wash was done the washing out on the line was dry and ready to bring in. I even put our duvet out to air in the sun.
Although there is plenty of room in the first half of the sitting room I didn't want the exercise bike to dominate the room especially when people come to view. Luckily it fitted neatly by the sofa with a good view of the television.
Out in the garden I used the shears and the scissors to trim the long grass on the bank under and around the azaleas. That was hot work and I was glad to have a rest and a read sitting in the sun lounger looking over the neatly cut lawns. I was back out in the sun a bit later on with the excuse of drying my hair in the sun after a shower. By that time we had lost the sun down by the house so I took an old wicker chair up to the sunny washing lines where the upturned laundry basket made a handy table for my cup of tea. I just fancied a change from sitting by the scree garden which was, and still is as sunny.