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.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

A Quiet House.

The lad with the wonky arm had actually broken it in 2 places. His mum said that even at the hospital everyone was amazed at how calm he was. He's back in school with an open plaster cast on it and is as full of beans as ever. I didn't dare take a chance on letting out to play so he was confined to quarters with a friend to keep him company. As it was the pair of them were running around the library making paper aeroplanes. Fortunately for me everything was done correctly at school and the parents are not demanding to know why 'I let this child's arm get broken'. There are some people who always feel that somebody must be to blame for everything that happens and demand a full enquiry into every mishap that occurs. It's been a fairly relaxed day at school. The role play corner in my classroom is 'a campsite' with a tent made from some material thrown over 2 bits of play furniture. When it falls down I simply tell them that part of camping is learning how to put your tent up when it falls down. I've put baby blankets and pillows inside and it's been so funny to see children all tucked up in the tent ready to go to sleep. Another very popular activity this week is the tuf spot ,(a builders' tray) filled with dry compost and diggers etc. I don't think the cleaners are all that pleased with the mess on the floor even after the children have swept up but we're planting lots of seeds at the moment and it seemed to be an appropriate activity.
When I went to my car this evening I found this cherry blossom on the sun roof on a reflection of the clouds.
A quick stroll around the garden to see the progress of the spring flowers. The aubretia is flowering almost the whole way around its formal circle.

I like the colour contrast between the ajuga and the London Pride.
The house is quiet as Romas is down in Bude again and as well as whole day PPA tomorrow we've got the long Bank Holiday weekend to look forward to. I hoping for good weather on Monday which will bring everybody out for the carboot sale.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Rain Sets In.

The weather has reversed itself today, dry during the day but turning to a soft rain by the time I got home. A couple of my class were away today and I have a horrible feeling the tummy bug is appearing again. I had to send for one of my children's mum as I suspected he had broken his arm! He'd fallen heavily on his wrist in the playground, he could still move his fingers but was in some pain and suffering from shock and most tellingly that arm was a different shape to the other. We haven't heard yet how he is yet.
It was too grey to take pictures today so here are some cheery violas in the hanging basket from the other day.
Yesterday's free range pigs were very contented and this little chap was quite happy to demonstrate to the children how pigs like their tummies scratched. The whole place was the essence of glorious Devon countryside with animals being kept in optimum conditions.
I've just been watching Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk through Yorkshire and Cumbria. It's a breathtakingly beautiful programme and will be available on BBCiplayer for the next week. Well worth looking at if you like dales and moorland.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Little Comfort Farm.

We were so lucky with the weather today. After yesterday's downpours we were rather worried about our trip to Little Comfort and West Hill Farms at West Down. We went prepared for rain but had the most wonderful sunny but breezy day.

The farms are 2 small organic farms with dairy cattle, free range hens, pigs and sheep.

The children got to feed the hens and collect eggs. One little girl in my group was terrified of the hens and clung to me in terror every time a hen got anywhere near us.

We had a lovely walk down the hill between the 2 farms. This little lad decided to take up a stunt man career and tipped himself head over heels at least 6 times before I decided that either he or his glasses were in danger of getting damaged and made him walk for a while holding my hands. Most of us agreed that the tractor trailer rides were the best part of the day.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Weather Warning.

The morning started with a severe weather warning for heavy rain and that's exactly what we got- torrential rain. By midday it had almost stopped and once again the late afternoon enjoyed bright sunshine.
The neatly squared off hedges are all sprouting patches of bright green and soon the whole countryside will be green again. A blue haze is appearing on the verge at the right hand side of this hill. In a week it will be covered with bluebells. Even though you are not supposed to I always stop and pick bunches of bluebells from here because they look so lovely in the kitchen.

As well as the bluebells there are these little dog violets. I let them grow in my scree garden until I realised they were mostly leaves and spreading rapidly. Now I weed them out.

Back at school this telegraph pole in the playground is softened by clematis flowers.
Linas went back to Plymouth today but hopes to return this weekend for an airsoft game. Romas is desperately trying to work out how to get by train/coach to next weekend's muster near Wareham. So far it looks to be 5-6 hrs on the train and no way of getting back home on Bank Holiday Monday evening. It's not so far but the journey involves 3 trains each way.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Shirts Done.

Completed the 2 shirts for Romas, after an emergency dash to town to get some more white sewing thread, and also made one of the wardrobe curtains. I'm not a natural seamstress so I was quite pleased with myself. The other curtain will have to be washed first before I remake it with the new muslin. On the way to town a large hare ran ahead of the car for a while before turning into a field. Linas wasn't quite quick enough with the camera even though the hare stopped and looked at us for a moment.
It is so good to see the trees start to turn green. Compare this to the same tree last Sunday, not a leaf in sight.
We had some very heavy rain showers and I managed to catch that beautiful yellow light that sometimes happens just before the deluge.

My next door neighbour has been re-shaping his lake. He's got rid of the wet ground where the moorhens nested and made the banks much steeper. Instead he's made a small island which will keep the nests safe from marauding cats. Bad cats ! On the good side, one of my gang left a large (dead) rat on the doorstep this morning. Yuk!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

New Shirts For Romas.

Lots of heavy showers today so I've got the sewing machine out and have almost completed two shirts for Romas to wear for the Sealed Knot. When those are done I've got the fabric for sorting out our wardrobe curtains. I might even make some shopping bags. I saw some nice ones yesterday but I wouldn't pay over £10 for them.
Meanwhile here are some more interesting architectural views from yesterday.

Yet another shopping mall, not so interesting inside, more like a standard high street mall.

I loved these giant stone balls.

An original regency shopping arcade, look at those lovely windows above the shops. I was politely told that I wasn't allowed to take photos so I apologised and left.

This ruined church sits in a small park, not far from the canal.

Down by the canal it's a scene of urban ugliness which reminded me a bit of my days running around Stepney, riding horses round building sites and even swimming (fully clothed) in the canals). While I was having my coffee & cake the 2 ladies next to me were talking about the shopping centre at Canary Wharf in Docklands, (that's the big one with the pyramid on top) and I felt like butting into their conversation and telling them how I rode horses round those streets when all the redevelopment was going on.

A Day In Bristol.

It was a good day and a not-so-good day yesterday. First the not-so-good. When the consultant looked at my tooth he said it was too far gone for a root filling and I had to have the tooth pulled out. He wouldn't say if the tooth might have been saved if I had had the treatment a year ago so I will always wonder. I've have toothache in that area for some years but each time the x-rays have shown nothing and the dentist has said the pain was due to my persistent sinus infection. So probably the tooth was decaying away for all that time. The consultant was very kind and as I only have a problem with drills the extraction was fine. He had to warn me of all the possible problems such as having to drill out the jaw bone, or there being a hole between the root bed and the sinus but luckily none of these occured and it was all very straight forward.
I went up by train and the first stage to Exeter was so beautiful. The early morning sun was burning the mist off the water meadows through which the shallow river meandered. (The photos below were taken in the fading evening light on the way home). It was such a tranquil rural scene.

As always I kept my eyes open for otters, this is Tarka country, but all I saw were ducks, a heron flying along and small groups of sheep & lambs, cattle and horses and some proud geese with one gosling. That particular house also had a Gloucester Old Spot in the next field.

It is a beautiful valley with not many buildings even at the train stations, until you get nearer to Exeter. I've been mastering my mp4 player and I was able to listen to music, while refraining from singing along as I do at home! on the way which helped drown out the clatter of the very rickety train which as well as a having peculiar side-to-side corkscrewing motion also shuddered a lot at slow speeds. My reserved seat in the train to Bristol was in the quiet carriage so I was able to listen to an audio book, once I'd worked out how to stop the mp4 playing random selections. Unfortunately on the return journey I couldn't turn the thing on so I resorted to sudoku. Quiet carriages are a very good idea with not even the sound of loud conversations which can be so annoying.

My last trip to to Bristol had begun badly with the most awful 20 min walk by a 6 lane main road surrounded by anonymous corporate buildings. All the things I hate most about cities, noise, dirt & ugliness. I decided to be more enterprising and found a bus to take me to the centre. It was only my 3rd trip to Bristol but I had a picture of where things were in my head and managed to navigate myself with no problems.

I made my way to the brand new Cabot Centre. Here the streets have been pedestrianised and covered with interesting glass canopies. A lot of the shops are high end clothing stores with marble floors and beautiful decor and are aimed at the younger market with lots of cash. It was nice being able to have a leisurely wander but most weren't my type of clothes at all.

There was also a very good selection of food places. Normally my frugal nature keeps me away from cafes etc and I might buy a sandwich or a treat to take away. I decided that as I was going to the Dental Hospital I would splash out first and have something special. It was so hard to choose, should I have a wholesome jacket potato or sit down on a squashy leather sofa in the Chocolate Hotel with a bowl of drinking chocolate ? Should I choose Mexican or Spanish,visit the creperie or try a Starbucks ? In the end fate decided, I found Patisserie Valerie - when I was a small child a VERY big treat would be to have a pastry from Patisserie Valerie in West Kensington.

So after some deliberation I settled down with a latte and piece of cheese cake even lighter than the one I used to make for parties. Expensive but worth it for once.

One of the shops I really enjoyed was an Asian run shop selling thousands of pieces of cheap jewellery, bindis etc. It was like being let loose in a sweet shop. With the Bollywood music playing it took me back to the days of living in East London where a walk down Green Street would transport you to a different continent with the people, languages, spices, music, food, jewellery and clothing shops of Asia all around.

As I tried to find the bus back to the station I came across signs for a ferry to the station. That sounded like fun so I made my way down to the industrial canals and waited in the sunshine for the ferry. I spent my time sitting crossed legged on a bench eating soft chocolates from Thornton's looking like an ageing free spirit.

Here's the guy driving the ferry, he does this all year round and they also go right down to the Clifton Bridge. If I ever go back to Bristol I'll have to give that a go. The landing stage where I waited for the ferry is just behind him.

It was less than 10 mins to the station but was cheaper than the bus and there were lots of photo opportunities as we went past house boats moored by new and refurbished corporate buildings. I was thrilled to have found this exciting way to travel.

The old industrial area of Bristol has been undergoing a lot of refurbishment with elegant walkways which I presume are well used by the office walkers. This was the landing stage at the station, all limestone blocks and slate very well designed. I can just imagine throngs of commuters jumping on the ferry to get to work.

More photos of Bristol's architecture later.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Sunny Afternoons.

We seem to be getting a few hours of glorious sunshine every afternoon but once again I'm looking out of the window at a grey sky. All this warm weather is encouraging the flowers in the garden and along the hedgerows.

On the apple trees the blossom is almost ready to open.

A few bluebells which seem to have found their way into the garden.

Today was the first day I noticed the blossom on this spirea.

Yet another view of the bog garden.

I planted these daffodils last autumn in the tidied up drive edge. I wasn't sure if they would come up as they were a very cheap end of season bargain but I seem to have been lucky. The grasses that I planted in very cold weather have also survived the winter and should soon cover up those unsightly breeze blocks.
I'm off to Bristol tomorrow. Let's hope they don't decide that the tooth has to come out after all and that it only takes a couple of visits. At least it's the consultant doing the root canal filling and not the students.
Linas is home for the weekend. He rang early this morning to ask for a lift back from Barnstaple after work. It is hard to think that in only a few weeks he will have finnished his degree but he did do the first 2 years at the local college so he hasn't been away that long.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Flooding Risk.

The cloud finally cleared this afternoon to give several hours of warm sunshine but by the time I got home the clouds were rolling in again.
At home I am concerned to see that our neighbour has made an earth roadway over the stream that flows a few feet from the back of the house, through the bog garden and then about 20ft before flowing into his small lake.
He has put in 2 pipes , about 2ft diameter each but in the winter storms lots of branches get washed down the stream and it wouldn't take too many to block the pipes. It's been a problem just having a wire fence across the stream at the boundary which gets clogged up quite easily.
My concern is that even though he has a gate at the end of the field next to the stables, he has put at least 4 ft of soil over the pipes creating a potential dam so that he can drive his tractor in from either end. I think the level of the soil is as high as the lawn by the house which is already a foot higher than the house , not good if the stream was to flood. It often covers the whole of the bog garden and the path but has always been able to flow down into the lake so hasn't been a worry. The other problem is that our neighbour is not always approachable and is quite precious about his land. Peter thinks the level is just below our garden level but I have asked him to check with the waterways authorities if some sort of flood risk assessment should have been made before we talk to our neighbour. The problem could be resolved if our neighbour would make a dip of a couple of feet over the stream to allow flood water to escape over it. Perhaps we'll just wait and if flooding looks like it is about to happen we'll go over and dig a channel through the top of his dam.

The bog garden itself is looking full of promise at the moment with lots of astilbes and the arum lilies just beginning to show.

A view of the garden from down by the stream.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Cold Again.

After 2 days of glorious sunshine we are back to grey skies and a chill mist up here in the hills. We've got a wood fire burning now to take the chill off in the sitting room. The cats are all camped out around the rayburn. They like their creature comforts. Nothing else to report today.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Back To Work.

It's been gloriously sunny today and in the school grounds are many blossoming trees. The heating has been switched off and it was noticeably warmer out in the playground than in the classrooms. I did have to clear the ice off the windscreen this morning but seeing all that blue sky and the flowers in the hedgerows got me to work in a good mood. Sadly there has already been some vandalism in the Secret Garden. Bird tables broken, names carved into the wooden table and other things broken or thrown around. The junior school has recently built a Forest Schools area with a bender, (a circular wooden frame with a tarpaulin over it) , seats and a fire pit , and that has obviously been used and damaged by youngsters during the holidays.

On the way home I managed to sneak up behind that buzzard and get a couple of photos before he flew away.

And at last - the beech trees are breaking bud. Over the last few weeks the hedges have been turning green as the brambles and the hawthorn put out spring growth. I always look forward to the fresh lime green of the new beech leaves. Now everything will be green for the next 6 months - hooray!

I hadn't noticed before how hairy beech leaves are.