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.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Strike Day.

It has been a wet and watery day today. School was closed to the children because of the strike but as I cannot afford to lose the pay I went in to work for the morning though I sympathise with those who have gone out on strike. Every day it seems there is yet another measure to save money in this time of recession but somehow the wealthy are never affected. Today's strike is about pensions for those of us working in the public sector. As I (and many others) won't have worked for 30 years full-time my pension will be zilch anyway. Retirement age is being moved to 67, the amount of pension is being reduced, wages continue to be frozen and pension contributions will be increased. To add insult to all this the extra money from the increased pension contributions will not be going into the pension fund but will be siphoned off for other uses. Needless to say the banks, even those who were rescued with public money continue to award themselves bonuses in the millions and I'm sure there is no talk of reducing their generous pensions. In the private sector pensions are being phased out or down but only for the workers. Yet again company directors and such like are still doing very well nicely. In the last year top company directors' (self awarded) pay increased by 50%. No wonder ordinary people are disgusted with those in power. For the many people who have to rely on the state pension they can take satisfaction that this country has the 3rd lowest state pension in the whole of Europe. The people of this country are being brought to their knees by the greed of big business and the clinging to power by the wealthy.

Rant over!

For the last week a light coloured buzzard has been sitting on the fence or in the field up by the road so today I thought I would try and catch him unawares. I parked my car around the corner and crept around the hedge. Naturally the buzzard wasn't there, only a flock of sheep hanging around the gateway who ran off as soon as they saw me.

Then stopped at a safe distance to see what I was up to.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Christmas Chaos.

Today has been very wet. I've been at work for the whole day and already things are becoming manic in the run up to Christmas. There were children in and out of the class all day for different activities, half the classroom was taken up with an 8ft x 4ft painting the children have started with a visiting artist and there were several different creative projects on the go. Being Christmas you have to make sure that everyone makes all the different things they will be taking home. Luckily I also had 2 teaching students and a third student on work experience who were all able to work with groups of children and help with the tricky bits.

Yesterday I got home and found that I had left my handbag with camera and purse in, under a chair in the classroom. I was able to phone the school administrator and she rescued them and kept them in the school safe until today.

This was the lovely, but limited, patch of sunshine as I worked out in the bog garden.
And the rose that climbs the house walls is still sporting flowers.

Monday, 28 November 2011

One Week To Go.

I had a quiet morning at home. It was dry so I went out and cleared the gutter at the back of the house and then I stayed and pulled weeds at the back and around the stream in the only patch of sun.At school there is only one week to rehearse the dances for our Christmas production so it is all a bit frantic. Plus we have members of staff away for illness and family reasons. I got lots of exercise this afternoon running through the dances and trying to get a bit more movement from the children.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Walking Again.

Today was so much sunnier and very windy. What a shame it wasn't like this yesterday. Peter got up at the crack of dawn, literally - they were putting the gigs into the river as the sun rose. The wind and the waves apparently made for a very exciting row and the women's crew had to turn back early as they were making no headway into the wind. We couldn't let the fine weather go to waste so later in the morning we headed out for a walk up at Mortehoe. Morthoe was teeming so we took the quieter path that drops down into the valley and out to Bennet's Mouth.
The valley had been sheltered but once we got out to the coast the wind was strong and the waves were big and choppy.

Bull Point Lighthouse now works automatically and the various buildings have been converted into holiday cottages. Not a bad place to stay but not as special as Lundy.

Then we walked back along the track looking over the cliff tops and shortly after a lot more cloud rolled in so we had timed our walk just right.

Back home a whiff in the conservatory lead me to a piece of fox skin that one of the cats must have brought home. Yesterday as we left home we saw some hunt members with their horse boxes up at the top of our road so they must have killed a fox locally. Words cannot express how much I despise these people who get pleasure from killing an animal.

Saturday, 26 November 2011


Today we drove 2 hours up the M5 to meet up with our friends at the small village of Priddy. It was sobering to pass the place where the recent tragic accident occured and see the flowers that had been left tied to the bridges that cross the motorway. Priddy is a small village in Somerset that dates back to neolithic times and today we met up with our friends in the welcoming pub, The Queen Victoria. The wood fires, stone floors and gleaming brasses all add to the ambiance of the old stone building. The food was excellent too, Peter and I both had braised beef in Stilton gravy, Sam had lamb stew with home-made bread and Kate had a grilled goat's cheese salad. We were much too full to consider a dessert so after lunch we headed off for a walk in the fresh air.

It was the usual overcast day but it was good to be out in the fresh air striding over the hills up a rough muddy track.

We followed a footpath that took us to a small nature reserve that contains groups of stones put there by neolithic people and this year also contained a herd of Exmoor ponies.

From the highest point we could see Brent Knoll and out to the west the sea.

After our walk we drove half a mile down into Cheddar Gorge where we stopped to brew up a cup of tea (& coffee) amongst the grandeur of the deepest gorge in the UK.

We have been to the area several times but it has only been for a quick tea break or a slow drive through. We really must go there one day and take the time to walk along the length of this beautiful place.

I had the task of driving home though the dark and now we are settling down to our usual Saturday night's viewing.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Cosmic Ball.

A much more mundane day today. After an early start, even saw the stars twinkling in the night sky when I let the cats into the kitchen, I had quite a hectic morning in school. I had been asked to help the children make some little bugs involving batteries, wires and bulbs. The task was very fiddly and most of them didn't work as the bulbs kept coming loose from the tops of the batteries where they were stuck in place with Blu-tack. I turned the lesson round by getting the children to talk about why the bugs didn't work. Luckily I had brought in my cosmic ball - looks like a ping-pong ball with a pair of contacts but inside is a power source, flashing light and weird buzzer. It is great for demonstrating that a circuit (in our case human) needs to be complete before you can make things work. I let the children build their own circuits using a selection of equipment and we also found out that AA batteries can get hot and burn fingers and even give off smoke! A good example of 'Lets break the circuit by pulling these wires apart.' Even funnier, after the event, was when there was a loud wailing from the carpet. There sat one child who had put a crocodile clip on his finger and not worked out how to open it. The TA and I both tried to get to him but we were hampered by children, chairs and a big box all in our way. By the time we extricated ourselves the child had taken off the clip but how silly can you get? especially when this was the second time in a week this 6 year old had done that.
After my morning's teaching I had to make trip to town to visit the Post Office and to buy some Christmas presents. Combined with a visit to the supermarket that was my afternoon taken care of.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


It was dry and not too cold today and there was even a tiny bit of blue in the sky so after a morning of teaching the youngest ones at school I decided to forget about housework and take myself on a nice long walk along the beach.From work I drove 4 miles to the coast to Saunton Sands Beach. This was where we used to come on holiday when we were still living in London. But when I got down to the car park I was annoyed to find that they are still charging even though it is out of season. On a point of principle I turned around and headed off further along the coast. The narrow twisting road took me through the picturesque villages of Croyde and Georgeham with their stone built cottages quite a few of which have thatched roofs. The journey brought back happy memories of driving the boys to the beach in our large Landrover.
I parked , for free, at Woolacombe, put on my wellies and jacket and set off for a brisk walk along the 3 mile beach to Putsborough.

It was exhilarating, battling against the wind and listening to the roar of the surf. I was grateful for my silvered safety glasses which kept the wind out of my eyes. It was completely cloudy by then and my normal black sunglasses would have been a little over the top. The beach was almost deserted apart from a few seagulls and curlews.

Having got to the end of the beach I treated myself to a cappuccino sitting outside and watching the surfers. How very civilised.

Then I walked back to Woolacombe assisted by the wind at my back. The thing I like about walking on flat sand is that I can stride along without thinking where I am putting my feet. I felt most refreshed by the end of my walk even if the sun had hidden behind the clouds.

PS Last night , as I was about to feed the cats I heard a crunching on the stairs, investigating I found Patch, the fat cat, eating a small trout that he had just caught in the stream.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Time For The Glitter.

We had watery winter sunshine this morning though it was surprisingly warm. Everything is lush and very wet. Ideal conditions for pulling out weeds but not so good for walking on the grass and definitely not for mowing. Maybe this year I will finally achieve my ambition to weed the whole garden before spring. My excuses last year were that I was teaching full-time (with all the extra work that entails) and the ground was frozen hard for a lot of the time. I wonder what excuses I'll manage to find this year?
In the afternoon I was back at school working with the Year 2 children. After the usual phonics it was the mad chaos of all sorts of creative activities as the children worked on collages of the different seasons that they will be taking home. Finally the glitter is making an appearance even though we are not doing Christmas for another week. Then I subjected myself to more dancing after school as I went through the 2 dances with that class's teaching assistant so that she can carry on rehearsing the children. Her daughter dropped into the classroom and her only comment was "What ARE you doing?" That was after she stopped laughing at us. The sun made an appearance in the afternoon but the clouds rolled in and there wasn't a sunset to enjoy on my drive home. Just a view of the back of a trailer full of feed swedes being pulled by a tractor at 10 mph.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Happy Feet.

It was a grey morning so I was quite happy to be indoors making phone calls and getting on with some paperwork. Then it was off to school for the afternoon. We start every afternoon with a phonics session and I was due to have mine observed by 2 colleagues today. My confidence was severely hit at the end of last term and although I feel I am a good teacher I find being scrutinised stressful, even to the point of dreaming about the stupid thing. So I was quite relieved to be getting it over and done with today. All started well, (we mix the children up from different classes for phonics), and I got the children started on an initial activity. No one arrived, I carried on, and on to the end of the lesson - no observation. Apparently something had come up so now we have to make it another time. Bother! The rest of the afternoon was spent very energetically teaching the line dance and our surf/Hawaiian dance. The children took turns to dance or be the audience but I danced every dance so felt a bit worn out by the end of it. It was another pretty sunset tonight. First picture taken from the lay-by where I stopped to post a letter.
And these views across the sea were taken from higher up in the hills.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Garden Day.

Yesterday I had a phone call cancelling my afternoon's teaching so I had a bonus day at home. Determined not to let the day go to waste I was outside relatively early and my day has been spent weeding, pruning and finishing the stone path that runs through the scree garden. The sky has been an unremitting grey but it has been fairly warm so it was a good day to be outside. Normally I'm quite happy to work silently, listening to the birds and the breeze with my own thoughts running through my head but today I livened things up by listening to most of The Hobbit on my MP4 player. Never even having had a Walkman these things are all a little mysterious to me. I'm still not exactly sure how to turn it off, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I think it might be a 'press & hold' but on which side of the rocker switch? Even studying the minuscule print in the manual doesn't make that clearer though for most actions you seem to have to press once and then do a 'double click'. I am not a technophobe, it's simply lack of experience and hey, Peter has to ask me every time what the proportions of rice and water are when he cooks rice.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


There are days such as today when I feel like doing nothing more than laze around, read a book and do some cooking. Today I had to remake the flapjacks because I got 2 recipes mixed up and used the wrong amounts of ingredients. It was only when the flapjacks were cooling that I realised I had used too much golden syrup which was resulting in soggy flapjacks. A quick remix with extra oats, back in the oven and job done. I don't like making flapjacks simply because I find them too tempting but they are the only sweet item that Peter asks for so how can I refuse. He doesn't eat cakes or any desserts which keeps those temptations out of the house but he does like a slice of flapjack either to take to work or to have at bedtime.
I finally motivated myself to get out into the garden which is silly because it is always much nicer outside than it is indoors at this time of year.

No sun in the garden but above were some lovely skyscapes. Most of the time my attention was on the ground searching for strands of moss in the stones so it was a surprise to look up and see that the sky was turning pink.

I grabbed my camera and rushed up the hill to try and get a better perspective,

only to have my battery run out after a few shots. Now at 5.00 it is pitch dark, hopefully the pink sky foretold a good day tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A Spot Of Sun.

Out in the garden the roses are still hanging on. New Dawn, a modern climber, is sprinkled with pale pink flowers and although the Old English roses only have a few blooms they still have the most wonderful scent. I've spent most of the day out in the garden, still working on the path in the scree garden. One last section to do and the moss will be cleared from there at least.

The day had been overcast to start with but later I suddenly realised that the sun had made an appearance. Not in my garden of course but I could see it shining across the fields.

Peter has spent the day working on the woodburner, a job which seems to be getting more complicated as the weeks go by. Because it had the wrong shaped fitting at the back the condensation has caused the flue to rust and there are some problems with the fitting of the main flue. Hopefully we should have it sorted before we actually need to use it. We don't have a lot of wood so really we will only be using it when we have guests. We can always turn on the central heating if it gets too cold. Right now the rayburn keeps the kitchen warm and it has been so warm in general that we hardly need the electric radiator in our room.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Fixed !

The BT (Internet) men came and found the missing telephone junction box buried under a lawn. They have replaced wires and done stuff and now we have Internet at the dizzy speed of 1.3MG. And the phone line is clear. It's only taken about 10 years as the BT (phone) men always used to say the line was clear. They obviously have different equipment. Now we shall put the soil back and try and remember the location of the box if there are any future problems. I had to leave the men to go for a physio session so when I returned I was glad to see that they had kept things tidy and put the soil in a wheelbarrow as I had asked.

The physiotherapist is pleased with my progress and it will be 2 weeks before I see him again. The exercises at home are such hard work. I have to lie on my back with a rolled up towel under my spine and then with it at the side. Last night I fell asleep in the middle of my 'exercises'.
As I was already there I carried on into town. The Christmas Tree is up in the square and the staging ready for the switch on ceremony on Sunday. Amy Winehouse's Goddaughter, Dionne Bromfield will be singing at the event and switching on the lights.
Back home, I spent the rest of the afternoon picking out moss and leaves from the path in the scree garden.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A Solution At Last ?

The sun was shining brightly this morning but underfoot it was very wet. As I drove up the hill Paul was strimming the grass verges, I've given up on mowing this year as the grass is always wet.

A couple of days ago a small piece broke off one of my teeth so I was off to the dentist to get that sorted. Luckily this time it was only a matter of patching up the hole unlike last time when I ended up with a mouthful of needles. As it was nearly time for my check-up he did that as well and there were no problems. So that saves me another visit to the dentist. The rest of the day has been spent with a BT engineer trying to sort out our currently dreadful Internet. As we have known for years the problem is with the last bit of cable that runs down to the house. Not so easy to solve as somehow we have lost a junction box. At the last identifiable box set in the junction of the drive by the ponies' field there is one type of cable and where it emerges by the house there is another type of cable. Unfortunately I have no knowledge of any other box along the drive or in the garden. It has probably been buried somewhere in the yard. The engineer is coming back tomorrow with his boss and more equipment so they can look for this junction box and replace the cable - at last. He did also find water inside the other junction box and in a fitting that hadn't been tightened up properly and has dealt with that. Currently even when Broadband is working we are paying for 8MG but are lucky to get 0.3MG. We know we are too far from the servers but it would be nice if our costs were reduced commensurately.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bye-Bye Puzzle.

It started raining this afternoon while the children were out at play, it was so heavy that we had to beat a hasty retreat, and it has been raining heavily ever since. I was at home for the morning and got some tidying up done before leaving earlier than usual for our midweek lunchtime staff meeting. We also have a weekly after school staff meeting which alternates between Mondays and Thursdays so I only go to the Monday one. That's quite enough for me. Going through the diary it was a little shocking to realise we only have 2 weeks to practise the dances etc for the Christmas production. Despite the edict that we do not start ANY Christmas activities until the week after next we have had to start rehearsing for; The Christmas play, the Nativity and Christingle Service, The Carol Service and Singing carols in the old folk's home. And most classes make Christmas cards, a calender and a present/ decoration to take home. Oh my!
I finally decided to dismantle my giant jigsaw puzzle. I had done over half of it but at 4ft wide it was the same width as the board I was working on and it was too easy for the edges to slip off. Also I'm too easily seduced by the smaller on-line puzzles (jigid) especially as I have a favourite puzzle designer who puts new puzzles up every day. I did come across a big, but not giant, puzzle in a cupboard so I shall start that one in the conservatory. Once I've done it I can give that one to the charity shop as well.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sunrise, Sunset.

I had an early start this morning, off to school as the sun rose to teach the youngest children for the morning.The outlook was much nicer today as the blue sky was filled with all types of clouds making interesting shapes. After a fun morning with the Reception class making clay pots my afternoon with the Year 2 class was also peaceful as they had to design a Christmas card for a school fund raiser. I was assisted by 2 teaching students who had also been down in Reception earlier observing my phonics lesson and seeing what the younger children do.
I stopped on the way home to take another picture from the same spot as the sunrise pictures.

The sunset itself wasn't overly spectacular but pretty enough.

Monday, 14 November 2011

All Quiet.

It has been a quiet grey day today. Overcast but dry and beginning to get a bit colder. My morning was spent doing housework and then to school for the afternoon. The only exciting moment was when a grey squirrel ran in front of my car as I drove out of the valley. Luckily I was going slowly enough to avoid squashing it. The Internet is still very hit and miss and an engineer is coming out on Thursday.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Saturday And Sunday.

The Internet fell down again yesterday and is only just hanging on by its fingernails. It will be touch and go if I manage to get this post out.

We have had lovely weather this week-end. Hard to believe that we are half-way through November. So yesterday we took ourselves off for a nice long walk around Morte Point.
It was so warm that by the time we got to Rockham Bay we had to take off our coats. I was quite comfortable in just a sleeveless t-shirt (& jeans of course) for the rest of the walk. It was the kind of sunny day that we would have been happy with in the summer.
The waves looked superb, coming in strong and clean at about 6ft and in regular sets.

Even though it was windy we stopped right at the Point for our coffee break. We are so lucky to have all this on our doorstep.


More good weather. Peter went off early to row. This time they were rowing out of Instow and were out in the sea. He did say the waves were quite bouncy and they had a bit of a hairy moment when they were turning and the gig was broadside on to the waves. If I ever row in the sea rather than the river I will make sure that I wear a life jacket. They do have them in each gig but no-one wears them. As my swimming abilities are rather limited I wouldn't take any chances. My day has been spent gardening and then eating a curry which had been simmering since yesterday.

X marks the spot.