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, 30 June 2012

School Summer Fayre.

Another cold summer's day. It stayed dry for our school Summer Fayre but rained later on. As I had volunteered to help (like all the staff) I was assigned to serve at the bar for an hour. I kept having to go and make new jugs of Pimms to keep up with demand. I turn down the chance to spend 10 mins in the stocks having wet sponges thrown at me as I wasn't sure that it would be good for my back. (And that's my excuse.) The Fayre was well attended and it is nice to see how much ex-pupils have grown, both in stature and in confidence.
Peter drove Linas down to Plymouth this morning to collect the last of his belongings. Right now they are making sweet and sour pork balls in Linas' deep fat fryer. I'm not a fan of too much fried food and actually got rid of the deep fat fryer that was built into our kitchen when we first moved in.
First thing this morning I got on with my decorating and painting woodwork with sparkling white gloss paint. Then there was just time for more weeding before heading into town.

The garden is looking quite colourful at the moment with the roses coming into their best. I look forward to spending some relaxing days in the sun (I can dream can't I?)

Friday, 29 June 2012


After all that anticipation Linas did not get a job as a wine waiter. It was nothing to do with him, they said he had fitted in well and they could not fault his work. It was simply that the position was no longer vacant as the person who had been off work with personal problems had unexpectedly said that he would be returning to work. On a positive note the manager spoke personally to Linas to explain the situation and asked him to fill in an application form so that when another vacancy comes up they will have all his details. Naturally I was pretty disappointed but Linas has taken it well and is hoping there will be a vacancy soon. While Linas was being told the not so good news I stood out on the cliff path taking in the view. It is much colder today, 10C at home, and as the grey sky shows we have had a lot of showers. It is strange to think that 2 days ago I had been 'working' with 180 children on this patch of sand.
Even so it was nice to watch the sea and be refreshed by the lively breeze. There were a few people braving the cold water and one chap was kite surfing on the waves towed by a large sail.

This is a typical summer's day in Devon. We do occasionally have hot weather and then the beach can seem quite crowded though with 5 miles of sand and a network of dunes behind it is not hard to find a quiet spot.

As I stood waiting the sun broke through a hole in the clouds brightening everything up for a short while.

Back home I carried on with my decorating. I've now done all the tedious work of cleaning walls and filling cracks and tomorrow I can start painting the woodwork.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Monsoon Again.

Strong winds have been blowing up hot air giving us torrential rain with interludes of blistering sun. The afternoon was much drier but before collecting Linas from the train station (he had been back to Plymouth so his landlady could do an inventory), I got on with preparing a bedroom for redecorating because time is running out. I also need to work in the garden as I definitely will not be doing any bending for a few weeks after my op so I want to clear all the weeds. I spent a pleasant evening pulling up all the small weeds that were trying to grow between the paving slabs. After 20 years the slabs need repointing but that job will have to wait for another year.
The roses are at their best right now. I can't decide if I prefer the opulence of the fully opened blooms or the sculptural shapes of the half open buds. The scent of these old english roses is absolutely gorgeous.

A more modern scrambling rose, New Dawn which does not have such a strong scent.

The darters were busy flitting about the pond. The blue ones look like travelling neon lights but they were too flighty today for me to get a picture.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Beach Day.

Today we took the whole school down to Saunton Sands. Initially the clouds were low and we had the occasional drop of rain with a light shower at lunchtime. Then it cleared up and started getting very hot. I was glad that I had decided to throw my dignity to the winds and wear a pair of running shorts though I did have some joggers in my bag as back-up. Last year I chickened out at the last moment and then regretted being stuck in jeans for the day.
I would quite like to live in one of these houses up on the cliff but they have been gradually losing their gardens over the years so perhaps it is not the best spot.

The colourful beach huts brightened up what was rather a drab scene. Above, up on the cliff is the white facade of the Saunton Sands Hotel. Linas enjoyed his evening there and was busy serving wine for a big party for the Military Wives' Choir. That's another of those connecting strands that I always seem to be coming across in our small corner of North Devon. The mother of one of the children in the Year 2 class is in the choir. Because of this connection and the fact that they are based at Chivenor it was interesting to watch the progress of the choir on the television and the rise of their record in the charts. I did chat to this mum after school today but she said it was one event that she hadn't been able to attend much to her regret. Linas also found that another of the staff was one of his skateboarding friends from Barnstaple. It was late, 11.30, when I had to collect him last night but apart from being tired I do enjoy driving on the country roads at night. At the top of our drive I surprised a badger running along the verge. I didn't get to see much more than his muddy bottom but seeing live badgers is rare so I was quite excited.

We had a number of activities for the children to do on the beach but for most of the time they were happy to dig and create sandcastles. Even though we are only a few miles from a number of beaches some children don't get much chance to go to them. One little boy said that it was the best day of his life! The highlight of the day, for the children at least, was when we took the whole school down to paddle in the water. It was surprising the number of children that 'happened' to fall in the water though I don't think they were expecting it to be so cold. This was where I was grateful that I had short shorts on and could wade out to yell at the too adventurous kids. We had to be so strict because there is a big difference between watching a few of your own children swimming and surfing in the water and being responsible for 30 children.

After lunch it was back to digging. Some of the mums organised a game of rounders and a group of boys played football but most of my class were involved in a Who can dig the biggest/deepest hole? competion against another class with spies being sent over from the digging sites and traps being dug for the willing to fall into. Our hole was small but deep so we stationed an adult there in case of any emergency.

All too soon it was time to gather up our many belongings and trudge off the beach. The short coach trip back to school was unusually quiet, I think we finally manged to wear them out.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Today has been warm and very wet. At work all the talk has been about tomorrow's whole school trip to the the beach. The coaches are booked so we will go whatever the weather and there is no shelter at all. 180 children in the pouring rain is not an exciting thought but fortunately the forecast is for dry weather so we shall be keeping our fingers crossed. We had a lunchtime meeting to go through all the day's arrangements and the risk assessment form though the section about quicksand was probably a little extreme.

I only taught in the afternoon today. The children carried on painting their flower pots and I was better prepared for the activity. Because the children were using acrylic paints rather than good old poster paints it was more important to not have paint everywhere as once it dries it is very hard to get out. It wasn't until too late in the afternoon that I spotted a large smear of pink paint on the top of one child's head but I did notice the lad who for some reason had put the messy end of a paintbrush in his mouth. And of course it was a brush with black paint. A good wipe with paper towels got most of it off. Apart from that we managed to keep the place fairly clean. It has rained lightly but persistently for most of the day. Everywhere higher than Shirwell has been engulfed in clouds. After returning home with Linas, who had spent the afternoon in town, we had an hour before it was time to drive back into town so he could be at the pick-up point for the mini-bus to Saunton Sands Hotel. He wasn't quite sure what time he would be coming back so right now I am waiting for a phone call as of course Mum's taxi is back in business.

I took these photos from a lay by on the main road at Burridge at 6.15 this evening. The visibility nearer home was about 50m.

Monday, 25 June 2012


It has been quite sticky today with the afternoon turning hot but no real sunshine. I've been at work all day. I had the Year 2 class in the morning for some peaceful maths and literacy with the bonus surprise of a new boy starting in the morning. After lunch I moved to the Year 1 class where they were busy painting flowerpots to sell to their mums at the school Summer Fayre. We got half of them done and we shall be doing the other half tomorrow afternoon. Linas turned up at school at 3.30 having walked 8 miles from home. He said it was too nice a day to stay indoors so he decided to walk into town taking a longer more scenic route than just going down the main road. As I had a staff meeting on drawing which I was partially running he took his skateboard from my car and went off round town for an hour. On our way home we called in at the Co-Op as it was the right time to pick up the reduced bargains and we struck lucky as the reduced items were being reduced again. We got some cold meats and 3 more of the stuffed crust pizzas at half the price we paid last time. I'm not sure how the champagne truffles found their way into my basket, must have been fate.
Tonight Linas finally heard about the wine waiter's job. We had been waiting on tenterhooks all week-end but this evening he got a phone call and they are giving him a week's trial starting tomorrow. I only have to take him into Barnstaple as they run a mini-bus from their hotel there out to the Saunton Sands but it will be late pick-ups until he earns enough money to buy himself a motorbike.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Windy With Sunny Spells.

This morning saw all 3 of us down at the slipway for some gig rowing. Linas was there to have a taster session. Although he did well with the actual rowing he doesn't want to join the gig club because he found rowing a bit boring. He had quite a bit of experience of rowing and sailing when he was in the Sea cadets and prefers sailing. Never mind. There were a lot of people there for taster sessions including a friend who is a TA at school. She really enjoyed her row and I think she may well join the club. There were lot of branches & tree trunks floating in the river after all the stormy weather we have been having and the slipway had to be cleared of debris before the gigs could be launched. Every now and then a large tree trunk would float past showing how quickly the river was running. Barnstaple is a small town and part of my conversation with a lady who works up at the local 6th form college was about how our boys are getting on. It seems that the combination of unusual names, height and individuality (I wonder where they got that from?) makes them quite memorable. Another lady told us about her trip just this week to Iceland to celebrate her 50th birthday in the land where the sun doesn't set. I finally got a turn to row and initially was unnerved by not having a trainer sitting behind me telling me what to do. The first instruction from the cox, called down the length of the gig was to turn the blade of my oar the other way round. Oops. I think it is going to take me a little longer to get the hang of rowing but a few times I stayed in time with everyone else and the gig felt like it was flying along. Also although my back was beginning to ache with all the standing around once I started rowing it eased off or at least I didn't notice it and I haven't felt any further ill effects. Here the day has been windy with longer and longer sunny spells though the temperature has stayed 11-15C. I did get Linas to mow the lawns that weren't too wet and I was able to weed and tidy the whole of the path in the scree garden. That was after I bottled this year's elderflower champagne hoping that it will do better than last year's and baked a chocolate cake. Linas made another batch of flapjacks as he has worked his way through the last lot. Peter cooked roast lamb for supper and also fixed my PC which had lost the Internet connection. Something to do with the Home Hub and addresses?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Grey Day, Rainy Afternoon.

It hasn't been the brightest of days even though it is midsummer. Peter went off to row first thing this morning and once he returned we put on our glad rags to attend a wedding. This was the wedding of one of Peter's friends and the ceremony was held at the Civic Centre. I loved the outfits worn by Fred's daughters who were the bridesmaids, very alternative. The bride was dressed more conventionally in a red dress with a white stole and Fred wore a dark grey suit with a red tie. I haven't been to many weddings and they have mostly been church weddings but the ceremony was pleasant and there were no other wedding parties around which would be my worry with a civil ceremony.

The unconventionality continued with this wild choice of wedding limo, a restored fire engine. Fred, of course had arrived to the Civic Centre on his beloved Royal Enfield motorbike. The bike was entrusted to one of his mates to be ridden away safely.

From the Civic Centre we went to the reception being held in a local pub. We stayed for a couple of hours before heading home as it was a very informal affair and people would probably be partying until late in the evening.

Alongside the wedding cake was Fred's piece de resistance, a 3 tiered pork pie. Although Fred is a burly, bald, bike-riding builder he also likes cooking and experimenting with flavours. He and Peter often exchange sausage recipes. Although the pastry had not responded too well to being put in the freezer the pies were still delicious. One was pork & leek, another pork & pickle and the third pork & egg. As well as the pork pies there was a cold buffet with lots of plain party food and a chicken curry. Although the curry did smell good I was too full up after a piece of pie and some other cold nibbles to try any.
Now we are back home and once again it is pouring with rain. I foresee a quiet evening sans supper but with plenty of cups of tea.

Friday, 22 June 2012


The wind has been blowing a gale all day. It's a good thing this rose has the ability to hold onto its flowers through the strongest of winds. I've had a bit of an achy day so I haven't done very much except drive into town to buy some wine for a present for the wedding we are going to tomorrow. I had already bought the wine but then Peter found out that they don't like French wine so I exchanged it for the Chilean version instead.

This morning I tried to sort out my operation date as they had sent me a date which happened to clash with our summer plans. Unfortunately the next slot is not until the end of August as the surgeon will be away on his holidays for all of that time but then I would have to take time off work at the beginning of the new term. So we will just have to try and rearrange our plans or else cancel them.

Yesterday's heavy rain combined with a delivery van squashing my dirt diverter at the side of the road resulted in great gouges washed out of one side of the drive. Fortunately having Linas at home meant that he was able to do the hard work of raking it back up once more and topping it up with extra gravel dug out of the stream. Linas also washed out my collection of wine bottles and sterilised them as we are going to have a go at making elderflower champagne. I have made it successfully before but last year's batch went wrong, not quite sure why. We are going to cork them lightly with new corks and leave them in an outbuilding in case they do explode.

Thursday, 21 June 2012


The rain set in during the morning and has been pouring down ever since. Our sports' day would have been a real wash out. We had another lovely morning at school doing more art based on London's buildings. Today the children created a London skyline cutting buildings out of black paper and sticking them on to a 'sky' background and then added details with pens. Because it was an activity that I wanted them to complete in 1 morning they didn't use watercolours to create their sky but instead they had a selection of grey/blue/cream paper which they then shaded with pastels. The finished results looked really good and the children were justifiably proud of their work. When I started getting ready for the lesson I had a problem finding any black paper as our Headteacher has banned sugar paper and we are not allowed to order any. I agree that it isn't right for mounting work but for collage and tearing work there is nothing better. Instead we have some nicer coloured paper but the weight and surface are totally different. The only black we have is some card and rolls of nasty slightly textured plasticy backing paper which I avoid like the plague. This morning I was going to have to compromise by using black card which is harder for the children to cut but then I realised that the pages of the scrap books we have to stick the children's topic work into are black sugar paper ........... so now we have a couple less scrap books. I left work at lunch time but the last few days have left me so tired I have done nothing but yawn this afternoon. Even the flapjacks were baked by Linas under my instruction. That's me training him to be an all round cook.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Full Circle.

I've been teaching all day. We had a lively day with the children making models of some of London's bridges using various construction toys, sticks, straws, cardboard and lots of tape. It has been a very muggy day and the rain finally arrived about an hour ago. We had already cancelled tomorrow's sports' afternoon because even if the forecast hadn't been for rain the field was so sodden that many of the activities would have been quite hazardous.

After school I collected Linas from the train station. Then it was back home to unload his bags, a shower for him and off to the Saunton Sands Hotel for his interview for a job as a wine waiter. View from the hotel car park.

It looks as if the interview went well and although they will phone him first they have already asked him to come for an induction day next Monday! The initial contract will be for the summer season but then there is the chance of having that extended. If he does get the job it will be like going full circle. We first came to North Devon on family holidays to Saunton Sands, the first year when Linas was a toddler staying in a holiday flat just along from the hotel and then staying in chalets on the sand dunes below. We continued with our family holidays on the beach until we got the chance to live here 18 years ago. Now after 5 years down in Plymouth Linas may be back at Saunton once again. Even in this rain there were people out on the beach.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A Magical Evening.

I've had another full day at work. In the morning I took my class to the Leisure Centre for their swimming lessons. We had a bit of time before we went so some of the children were finding places on a map of the UK that were relevant to them such as where their relatives lived or where they had been on holiday. I was surprised to see one boy had labelled Birmingham and written 'God was born here'. He was quite sure that this statement was correct and it took me a while to realise that he was thinking of - Bethlehem. Starts with B, ends with M and is 3 syllables, an easy mistake to make. After lunch it was Shuffle Up Afternoon, with all the children moving up to their new classes including the very young children who will be starting in September and the Year 2 children going across to the junior school. It was my afternoon to be in the Year 2 class so I had a visiting class of Year 1 children who just happened to be the class I teach several times a week anyway. So at least we didn't have to get to know each other.
Peter came home from work and went straight out again. We had both been invited to a barbecue and watch the football evening but I had declined the offer as I am not that interested in football and when I am working full days I don't like to go out in the evening. Instead I washed my hair and had an early supper.

As I sat down at my PC I glanced through the window to see a deer in the wet meadow. It wasn't until I looked closely at the photo that I realised it was actually a unicorn. I also realised that it was a beautiful sunny evening, far too good to waste sitting indoors. Instead I grabbed my camera and some binoculars and went out for a long stroll.

Leaving the house, the garden was a cacophony of bird song. This died away as I walked up the hill, maybe because there are far less trees. Eventually all I could here was the occasional bird, the buzzing of bees and the wheezing of some cows on the other side of the 10ft hedge.

This is one of the things I love about living here, the fact that I can, on a whim, walk out of the door and go for a beautiful country walk. I have even been known to end up half-way up the hill in my pyjamas when a stroll up the garden gave me the desire for more fresh air and far reaching views.

Monday, 18 June 2012

A Special Visit.

Strange weather today, a bit of everything. I left home in bright sunshine but as I drove along the top of the hill I could see low clouds all around trailing wisps of swirling vapour towards the ground.
It was overcast in town until mid afternoon when the sun broke through. The temperature shot up and then to confuse us a very heavy shower fell just before it was time for the children to go home.

We had an exciting visitor this morning in school - one of the Olympic torch bearers, along with a man from West Country TV (must record the news). Rick was chosen to carry the torch because of the charity work he has done for the local children's hospice, Little Bridge House. His little boy Kieran, came to our school when he was well enough but sadly passed away. Since then Rick has worked hard to fund raise for this amazing hospice which provides care for both the terminally ill children and their families. At school we have a tree and a friendship bench in memory of Kieran.
Rick talked to the children about the torch and then let them all hold the torch. Group photos were also taken of the children with the torch. We thought that parents could buy the photos as a fund raiser for the hospice.

I'm not that into any competitive sports and I wasn't too fussed about missing the torch relay through Barnstaple, (that was the day I had an appointment in Exeter), but I still took the chance to have a photo taken with the torch. This is the most sporty I get.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

No Rain.

It has not rained today, not one single drop. And we even had sunshine in the morning! It was lovely to have breakfast basking in the sun and unexpected heat. Yesterday we were back in winter clothes with 2 fleeces but today it was up to 15C. Not exactly a scorcher but very welcome nonetheless. After sitting out in the sun doing some planning for school it was time for a bit of gardening. The small pond needed some attention and I waded in and pulled out a lot of the grass that was taking over the small patch of water. Then it was time to mow once again. Peter was out rowing with the gig club, helping with local hospice floating bye ceremony http://www.northdevonhospice.org.uk/event/event/floating-bye2.ashx . They had to use the gigs to tow a raft of commemorative flowers up the river ready to be sent off to sea at sunset.

Correction - we had a light shower at 6.00.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Drip, Drip.

Another day of rain, rain and yet more rain. The dreaded inertia set in as soon as my eyes registered the grey sky and lashing rain. Logically I know that not being able to go outside does not affect my ability to work inside the house but there is this trip switch in my brain which doesn't turn on without the sun. Fortunately backache drove me from my bed - see there are some advantages to my bad back, and once I had given myself a stern lecture I decided to blitz the sitting room. Armed with my high tech equipment, a bucket of soapy water and cloth and the hoover, I set to work and now the room is sparkling. A bit of a once over for the rest of the downstairs and my need to 'have done something' has been assuaged. Peter was set to go rowing this afternoon but the high wind made the river conditions too rough to get the gigs out and rowing was cancelled for today.

For supper tonight we are having a cheese stuffed crust pizza with a salad. Take-away pizzas are tasty but expensive and full of salt and additives so we never have them. Shop bought pizzas are still pretty expensive and with 3 hungry boys at home I always made my own but now there are just the 2 of us I sometimes buy them if reduced. Cheese stuffed crust is my very favourite so when I saw some half-price in the Co-Op I couldn't resist. An added bonus was that they were on a 3 for 2 offer which was still in effect even though they were reduced so I bought all 3 and the other 2 are now in the freezer.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Gig Club Evening.

It's official, there will be no summer. The weather for the next few months is forecast to be dismal with the possibility of sunny weather returning in September, but don't hold your breath. So I shall try and ignore the grey wet days and take advantage of even the briefest of sunny spells.
This evening we were down in Pilton for the gig club's photo night at Pilton Hall, home of all community events in Pilton. It was great to relive our trip to the Isles of Scilly by watching a well put together slide show, with amusing captions, on a full-sized film screen. There were also several video clips and once more we were back at the Wolf & Bishop joining in with our enthusiastic rendition of old sea shanties. At the end there were joke awards given out eg The Construction Award (a tent peg) given to someone whose tent fell down. There were fines as well and Peter had to pay up for breaking a pin in a race (he wasn't the only one) and he also had to pay up for having the most clothes on before a race on and nearly delaying the start when he had to take off his jacket.

Pilton Street looking down towards town (Barnstaple) which is hidden behind the trees.

The top end of Pilton is a maze of little lanes cut into the top of the hill. I tend not to use this road to get to work as it's a long way to reverse back if you meet someone coming up the hill at you.

It was so chilly this morning that I had to put the heating on in the classroom. Just for a short time to take the chill off. The children had yet more SATs in the morning and then it got so wet they had to spend most of the day in the classroom. It has been a busy teaching week for me and I will be teaching for most of next week as well. So I shall make sure that I try to have a relaxing weekend.