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.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Birthday Romas.

Over a year has passed since I started this blog and once again it is Romas' birthday. 20 today, how time flies.I'm claiming a mother's prerogative and starting with this oh so cute picture of him as a very young member of the Sealed Knott. Nottingham 1992.
That's enough of the embarrassment, let's see what he got up to this year.

Exactly 1 year ago he was tucking into a 'loaf' of chocolate that he had persuaded me to make for him. Apparently the shape improved the taste.
This was the final year of his music course at North Devon College. We didn't see too much of him as he often spent the weekends down in Bude rehearsing with his fellow band members (and partying). As part of his assessed work he had to organise a gig for his band, organising everything from publicity to finding a venue. After a couple of not too successful gigs at venues in Barnstaple, the final gig with a new band in Bideford went well and the tutor assessing it said it was one of the best he had seen. Romas must have been putting in sufficient work because he finished the course with a triple distinction, top marks, which got him a place at Keele University where he is now studying music.

At Christmas he once again had the job of handing out the presents. (It is our family tradition that the youngest person ie Romas, gets to give out the presents.)

In July it was back to Sodyba for Scout camp. Despite not speaking Lithuanian , (bad parents), he was camp commandant and was able to run the flag up/ flag down ceremonies in Lithuanian. Vytas was also at camp but not for the whole week as he had other commitments.

Romas met up with Vytas at several Sealed Knott musters during the summer.

Romas has carried on the family tradition and become an enthusiastic pikeman in Earl Rivers Regiment. Also in the regiment are Vytas, Kate B, Kate B's brother and our close family friends Sam and Kate and their 2 daughters.

Most of his time in the summer was spent in Bude but here he is on a family trip to Putsborough. He and Vytas had just run several miles down to Woolacombe and back again.

Here he is with Linas, Kate B, Vytas and Alex at the end of their summer visit.

And finally at the end of September a proud mum took him up to Staffordshire to start his university life. The latest news from him is that he was at a Halloween Ball last night and is going to a house party tonight. ( Always plenty of parties to go to if your birthday is on 31st Oct.) I hope he doesn't have too much of a sore head tomorrow.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Bird Talk.

Despite the mild weather the cats have decided that it is time to lay claim to the warmest spots near the rayburn. I think Smudge and Squeaky look so sweet cuddled up together. Of course, once I'd hoovered the rug they had found other places to sleep. Elwen in particular is terrified of the hoover especially when I start using the nozzle to get into every corner. Smudge on the other hand doesn't care. The other day he lay plonked on the mat while I hoovered all around him. It was only when his tail almost went up the hoover that he took a swipe at it with his claws and then stalked off in a huff.
When I went outside there was a flock of Blue tits calling away in the trees. They sound like lots of chinking glasses with their high pitched whistles. It was hard to take pictures of them as they darted like shoals of fish from one tree to the next.

Up in the same hawthorn a blackbird was keeping an eye on me. Down at the lake the call ducks were carrying on with their maniacal laughter. I think there are only 2 call ducks left but they quack like hyenas and have been joined by a dozen wild ducks.

This is not a poor hen who has escaped the ravages of the fox, just an embarrassed fowl going through a moult, (she looked much worse last week with lots of bare skin with new quills poking through).

Her compatriots have not moulted yet and are looking rather superior at the moment.

This is Mrs HufflePuff, the only one of the ladies to have a name. She is the boss bird and often takes over the nest box when she decodes to go broody. She can aim quite a vicious peck when I slide my hand under her to remove the eggs. She also has a habit of wandering around outside with all her feathers puffed up at huffling at everyone, hence the name.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A Nothing Much Day.

The Purple Beech tree in the garden has turned a nice copper colour. Soon it will shed its leaves and there will be 6 months of bare branches. I've had to take it quietly again today . I have managed to list another 10 jobs to apply for. My web cam arrived today so I'll get Linas to set it up so that I can include my Skype details on my applications. I can only keep on trying.
I was looking for the address of Keele University (so I could send Romas a card), when I came across this aerial view of the campus. Romas tells me, via email, that he is working hard. When it is something he enjoys like his music he does put in 100% so hopefully he is making the best use of his time. I did manage to give the card to our postman when he came down to the house but as today is day 1 of another 3 days of postal strikes I'm not sure when it will arrive.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Taking Things Quietly.

I've had a very quiet day today as my back has not been good. I don't think that yesterday's walk was the problem, probably the exercises, (given by the physio to loosen my upper back muscles,) weren't the right thing to do at the moment. So today I've had to take things very easy and all I've managed to get done is some marking of books. Talking of physios, I had a phone message from the hospital saying that my guy wanted to refer me to someone else. Either he's got fed up with me or he realises he's out of his depth. Before I phoned the hospital back I checked with a friend who also did not have a good experience at the physio dept. She has severe lower back pain and for 6 months the physio never did any manipulations, just berated her for her posture and gave her exercises to do. When my friend explained that the exercises were putting her in a lot of pain she was told she just had to work through the pain! Eventually my friend gave up and now pays to go to a chiropractor who is horrified that she was being told to do things that caused her so much pain. Unfortunately this was the same physio that I was being offered but luckily when I phoned the hospital and said ever so politely could I see someone else there was no problem and now I'm booked in with someone else.
In an brief moment of sunshine I walked round the garden to admire the many flowers that are still blooming. The baskets round the front door are on their last legs but still have too many flowers to be emptied out. Sometimes I put in winter flowering pansies but they don't usually live up to their name and die back for most of the winter. I'll probably go for the bare look and put the baskets away until spring. In the flower beds quite a few of the hardy geraniums are still in flower adding a dash of pink and purple to the autumn palette.

These garden lilies are also still doing well, I planted the red variety at the top of the slope so that the sun shines through the flowers making them light right up. Oh , and we've still got the nice warm weather though the forecast is that it will turn cold by the weekend.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

A Gentle Walk.

For the last couple of days we've had warm winds blowing up from the Mediterranean. We've had to turn off the central heating as it was getting far too hot and during the day the temperatures have been up to 17C. I decided that as I needed to loosen up my back and it wasn't actually raining I'd go off for a gentle walk in the local lanes. The first part was along the roads , nice easy walking. From Ashelford Corner I followed a fairly boring track between tall hedges.

The only time you can get a view is at the gateways.

Eventually the track leads into a field. I don't think this is a right of way though I have ridden along it often when I used to ride so maybe it is a bridleway. It was a bit harder to walk here as the ground was very wet and quite muddy.

The track leads along the crest of the hill and when you get to the corner of the field the walk starts to get more interesting.

This lady rider was very formally dressed, hacking jacket, shirt & tie. We exchanged greetings but for one horrible moment I thought it might be hunt day (Wednesday) which would have caused my rant mode to go into overload. Maybe she just likes to wear ' proper attire'. In the far off days when I did dressage and we had to wear correct clothing even for lessons I managed to find a light blue hairnet to complement my royal blue hard hat. Ever the rebel.

Back to the walk. From the corner of the field the track turns and goes steeply down into the valley. This is my favourite part of the walk with its sudden views and wild landscape.

Once down at the bottom of the valley there is a pretty stream, the same one that flows at the back of the house. If my neighbour wasn't tetchy about people walking on his land it would be possible to cross the stream here and walk back along the valley to the stables and then our house.
Instead I had to turn and retrace my steps back up the track.

On the homeward stretch back on the lanes a group of young riders from the stables passed me on their way down to Churchill, or possibly they were going to cut through the fields at Ashelford Farm.

I carried on up onto the road that I travel on every day to and from work. The reason that the hedges are full-sized trees are that both these fields are owned by individuals. (Farmers who are having to make a living from the land keep the hedges cut square to maximise land usage efficiency.) The field on the left used to be owned by the local hunt master for his daughter's horses. It now belongs to a chap and his partner who I discovered , on the snowy day several years ago when I had been in 2 vehicles that had slid off the road, is the brother of one of the teachers at my school. They very kindly gave me a lift right into school which was great as I had been worried about getting to work. The field on the right belonged to a mystery owner until it was sold to some one who put a caravan on it hoping to get planning permission to build a house - fat chance here on the edge of Exmoor. He even threatened to bring down more travellers and turn it into a gypsy site but he still didn't get his permission and it stands forever empty.

And finally blue skies as I headed down our drive. It soon clouded over though I did manage to do a little weeding and tidying up in the garden.

Monday, 26 October 2009

It's All Phantom Pain!

Autumn colours are starting to be seen on the trees both in town and in the countryside. The predominant colours are yellows and oranges. (We don't have the bright sunny days followed by cold nights that encourages the production of sugars in the leaves that results in bright red foliage. ) This was up by the hospital where I was going for a physio session. The physio was not that impressed by my GP and consultant's views that my shoulder pain is caused by neck problems. I left feeling annoyed and upset over his pronouncement that the pain is phantom nerve pain and that I must have a very low pain threshold. I know he is talking cobblers but I can't help the feeling that I am making a fuss over nothing. He also suggested that I need to find some form of exercise to keep everything mobile - good idea, but he was hung up on insisting I go swimming. I HATE swimming (body boarding yes but not pool swimming), for a start it gives me dreadful pain in the sinuses and I don't have the time to traipse over to the other side of town several times a week. He did give me some exercises to loosen up my back but he wasn't happy about my refusal to go to the pool. After the hospital I did some shopping in town and treated myself to a handful of books from the library. I also finally sorted out my phone and got the sim card moved from one phone to another. The previous salesman had mistakenly told me that all my details would be transferred but instead it was just a blank sim card. The nice man in the shop sorted it all out and I've got a spare sim card in my old phone. This was after I'd seen the CarPhone Warehouse sign on the wall, gone into the phone shop, explained my woes and been told by a very polite young lady that actually this was the Orange Shop and I needed to go next door, Woops. It started raining when I was in town and has been raining gently all day.
Even in the rain the garden is gently glowing with a golden haze over many of the plants.

The azaleas and the purple beech tree add a few shades of dark red to the garden.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Wave Watching.

We really enjoyed having a lie in this morning especially as the clocks went back giving us an extra hour. It was still very windy and as neither of us was 100% fit we decided to drive down to Woolacombe. We hadn't realised just how crowded it would be due to the half-term holiday. We weren't going to pay £4 to use the main car park so we drove along the road where it is free to park at this time of year - if you can find a place. It wasn't until we were right out by Coombesgate beach that we found a spot. A good happenstance as though we had driven past before we had never been down on that beach. The headland in the background is Morte Point , our favourite walking spot.

There are 100 steps to get down to the beach but it is worth it.
I wouldn't mind living in one of those houses. Unfortunately most of them are holiday lets or hotels and there is a massive premium for having such wonderful views.

The waves were very messy and although there was the usual flock of 'seals' (surfers) in the water at Woolacombe it didn't look like anyone was catching any waves. There were a couple of people kite surfing quite far out.
We had a good stroll on the beach. Peter got his revenge on my continual stopping to take photos by not mentioning that the waves were coming dangerously close and all of a sudden I was surrounded by water and had a very wet foot, I ran before the other one got soaked. Back up on the cliff we sat on one of the many benches and watched the crashing waves and the darkening sky. It was overcast for the rest of the day and so I have got most of my planning done. I just need to add in the phonics for each day and then that job is done. Linas has cooked a Chinese stir-fry so I'm off to enjoy my supper.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Wild, Wet And Windy.

It's been a wild, wet and windy day but surprisingly warm. I've spent the day pottering about and tidying in the kitchen as my back is a little sore from yesterday. If the weather conditions keep up we might go to the coast tomorrow to do a bit of wave watching. I've also made some inroads into my school work.
There have been a few brief sunny spells and I ventured out to look for some autumn colour.

This white snapdragon is a self sown seedling originating from some pink and white snapdragons I grew from seed at least 10 years ago. It has been quiet at home as Linas has gone out for an airsoft day at MAI and Peter had to take his car in for a service. I don't hear from Vytas and Romas unless I bombard them with e-mails and phone messages but I do know they have gone to a Sealed Knot muster at Edgehill. I hope they don't get too wet and muddy both on the battlefield or on the walk to the beer tent.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Friday At Last.

I'm in love, well not really but I left the hospital almost bouncing with optimism after my appointment with my new orthopaedic consultant. This guy really knows what he is talking about, explains everything and is pretty funny. Just right for me. He encouraged me to go through the whole history of all my aches and pains and did some comprehensive tests. Already I'm booked in for an MRI scan and day surgery (a guided injection) on my hip which will help pinpoint the cause of my hip pain. He thinks the shoulder could be spinal as well but surgery would be far too risky so physio is the way to go on that. At last I feel I'm getting somewhere. As promised a different view today. It was overcast as I drove home, rather flat photographic conditions not helped by the general lack of colour we get in the autumn.

The bare trees and hedges will be dominating the landscape for the next 6 months.

On the roadside verges there is still the odd splash of colour.

But mostly the flowers have been replaced by brown or white seed heads.
I've had to bring home work from school but hopefully I'll get some work done on the house as well during the half-term holiday. When I got home this evening the drive was almost impassable, so much of the gravel had been washed down into the yard after last night's torrential rains. Linas didn't want to rake it back up again as he had only just done that yesterday after the last lot of heavy rain. It is a job which can't be left so I had to go out and do a lot of back breaking work before Linas eventually joined me. I haven't done my back much good and will not be doing that again. I know my limits.