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 November 2013


The sun was back again today. First thing in the morning it shines into the kitchen lighting up the orchids and blue glass in the windows. For the rest of the day  I had to be content with looking at the sun on the hills around the garden.
Fred came around this morning to look at the chimney as the original builder is now working on his own place and isn't available. I spent most of the day working outside, weeding and tidying up the flower beds around the house. Peter went off rowing and then coaching in the afternoon. Right now we are about to go out to a gig club dinner and disco. The dress code is club colours if possible which as they are black with red and white is ideal for me as my favourite clothes are black.  For the red element I am wearing a pair of dark red fluffy earnings. Time to go .....

Friday, 29 November 2013


The sky was a watery grey today but it wasn't too cold and apart from a few drops it didn't rain. I spent some hours outside clearing all the leaves and twigs from  the gravel of the raised bed by the house. This little robin often watches me when I'm gardening and comes to within a few feet if he thinks that there is the chance of a fat worm or two. I found a couple for him today. 
As he was officially recuperating from yesterday Peter had today off as well. We both had a bit of a lie-in but he went off rowing in the afternoon. I thought I might make a start on cutting down some trees, or at least one, but then I realised how difficult it is with only a bow saw. So I left the tree I was trying to cut down and instead cut a big branch that was leaning out over the stream. As it involved balancing on a mossy trunk 6ft above a stream it would have been tricky to get to it with the chain saw. I'll just have to wait for a day when Peter's hands are good enough to use the chain saw.

Thursday, 28 November 2013


Peter was given a clean bill of heath at the hospital so his next check up will be in 3 years. Neither of us were especially worried beforehand but there is always a tiny bit of doubt. They have a monitor so that the patient gets to see the same as the doctor and Peter was surprised to see that he has a small internal tattoo which was put there when they removed a polyp last time. That's a really up close and personal tattoo!
It's still overcast and not too cold. After my visit to the loft yesterday I realised that I could probably fix the dripping overflow pipe which formed the icicle fall last year. I went back up this morning to try and bend the arm of the ball-cock downwards to lower the water level in the tank. Not quite as easy as I hoped. Apart from having to crawl around in the loft the end where the tank is does not have a screwed down solid floor. I was being very careful balancing on the oddments of chipboard resting on the rafters when the piece I was kneeling on snapped. Luckily I was able to move quickly so that I did not end up crashing through the bathroom ceiling. I found a solid plank to kneel on instead. It was quite hard to bend the metal rod downwards without damaging the inflow valve. I managed to bend it a bit and lowered the water level by about 1 cm. I didn't dare do any more.
I dropped Peter off at the hospital on my way to work, had another 'mud hut' afternoon and then left as soon as I could to pick Peter up.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


No sun today so it was much warmer. For the last few days the water tap in the kitchen is not running as well as usual. Yesterday I was instructed to reduce water usage to a minimum so I collected buckets of water from the stream to fill up the toilet cisterns and brought home tap water from school for drinking water. Today I had to crawl to the end of the loft to check the water level in the tank up there. That was fine and the water was flowing in normally. That at least ruled out the expensive possibility of having to replace the pump that brings water out of our bore hole and up to the pressure tank in one of the outbuildings. So that leaves a problem with the direct cold water feed into the kitchen. It''s still the same today so it can't have been an ice blockage but apparently there is a filter somewhere in the system that may need changing. 
Peter has been at home today because tomorrow he is having a routine follow-up colonoscopy. In the UK when you reach 60 you are offered non-invasive screening for bowel cancer. Then if anything shows up you are called in for a colonoscopy. This happened to Peter and they found a pre-cancerous growth which was removed right then. This is just the 18 month follow-up. Shockingly a significant proportion of people who are contacted after the initial screening do not show up for a colonoscopy. The early easily treatable stage of bowel cancer has NO SYMPTOMS. By the time symptoms do occur you are looking at serious surgery or worse. Today Peter has to drink copious amounts of medication to clear the system (say no more). 
I went to work in the afternoon.I have to say that the 10 min afternoon playtime is very stressful. We have to take the children up to a small area by the other classrooms. Not only do you have to watch out for certain children wandering right away but there are various railings and steps the children are not allowed on which draw some children like magnets. Then there are the children who cling to my legs or side like magnets, mainly because they are so determined to be first in the line when we clap for the end of playtime. I'm worn to a frazzle by the time we get back in class for a nice relaxing story. We didn't have a staff meeting after school today but we all worked to put up displays on the boards in the main corridor.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


Quite frosty this morning. Last night when I heard how cold it was going to be I got out of bed and went outside to put a towel over the Rav's windscreen to save Peter the task of getting the ice off in the morning. I was rewarded for this by another clear night sky filled with stars. As I gazed up at the stars there was the bonus of a shooting star flashing across the sky. Then an owl started to hoot in a nearby tree, and it was really loud. We often hear owls but not usually that loud.
Due to once being a stray our cat Speedy attacks all food as if he hasn't eaten for a week (yes he is regularly wormed).  I mean what cat eats a worm tablet simply because it is in a bowl with a few bits of dry cat food? Last night at cat feeding time he was nowhere to be seen. That was most unusual and after about an hour I began to have visions of him flattened on the road. But then he came home and to say that he was bulging was understating the case. He had either eaten a very large rabbit, several trout or had got into a bag of cat or dog food over at the stables.
Even in that rotund state he was begging for food. He licked out the end of a cottage cheese tub, getting it jammed on his face in the process and then wolfed down the tiny portion of dry food that I gave him. He had to spend the night in the conservatory/outside because no way was I going to face the consequences of all that food in the house.
On the way to work this lunchtime I finally came across the road men actually working. They were pouring out new asphalt down by Okewill Cross and had 2 big lorries parked in the road. Only by bending my wing mirror in and jamming the micra against the hedge could I get through -very slowly, past the sticking out back of the lorry. There were only a few inches to spare but I made it. They've dug out a large section right across the road by the Lewis' so tomorrow I'll go the other way in to work.
I had a great 'mud hut' afternoon with the children. At one point they all started singing the songs from the Christmas play. It was so lovely. They only have a week and a half to rehearse so it will be quite intensive if the performance is to be up to its usual standard. After work I went to the Co-Op and picked up lots of fruit and veg reduced by 75%. I also got some pizzas and smoked salmon reduced by 50%. The freezer is now jam packed again.

Monday, 25 November 2013


This morning's blanket of cloud helped to warm things up a bit. I was a bit grouchy first thing as I don't usually have to get up at 6.30. I grumbled at Peter because he made our morning cuppa 10 mins later than usual, then I grumbled some more because he failed to telepathically note that I needed some clothes brought up from the kitchen (where they had been drying over the rayburn). 
I lost my bad mood on the way to work when as always I enjoyed a quick glimpse of the sea beyond the hills. I had a busy day in a Year 2 class. We are now at the time of year when small groups keep disappearing off for costume fittings or line rehearsals not to mention the children going out for extra work in small groups. I decided it would be sensible to use the afternoon to finish off the morning activities. With some children 'playing schools' on the carpet (actually working on division problems) and  other finishing off tasks, working on the pcs or playing in the role play area it must have looked a bit chaotic when the headteacher brought round some parents to view the school.
It was bright and sunny in the afternoon and the clear evening sky made for a pretty sunset on the way home. The roadworks continue and on some bits of the road you have to steer carefully to avoid dropping into the holes they have cut in the road surface.
I guess it will be a cold night tonight.
Coming down our bit of hill I noticed that the little holes have been filled in with new tarmac. Paul must have persuaded the workmen to sell him some of their left over tarmac. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013


Last night was clear and cold. I went outside for a while because even after nearly 20 years of living in the countryside the sight of the night sky filled with stars makes me go 'Wow!'.
Today was bright and cold but there was no wind so it wasn't as cold as yesterday. We took ourselves off for a walk around Morte Point to enjoy the sea air and glorious views. This time of year there are fewer people out and for most of the time it felt as if we were the only people there.
 The sea itself was as flat as a mill pond. 
No sign of any seals today. 
We stopped at our usual bench to have some coffee while watching the sea swirling around the rocks.
Back home I've been working on my lesson plans for tomorrow as I'm teaching all day. I am given the maths and literacy plans by the class teacher but I still need to go through them carefully so that I know what all the different groups pf children need to do. 

Saturday, 23 November 2013


The day started with a heavy frost. But the sun was shining and we were planning to go out for a walk when the sky turned grey and our plans were abandoned. By the time the weather improved Peter had discovered a rugby match on tv so I wrapped up and did some work in the scree garden instead.
Now that it is getting colder I really appreciate the kitchen being kept warm by the rayburn. It was especially nice with the sun shining through the window first thing though we do loses the sun quite quickly at this time of year. The sitting room, and the rest of the house on he other hand are fairly cold. Peter pointed out that he could see my breath as I sat at my pc. No wonder I feel so hot when I get to school. When I go to work I'm still wearing my summer tops with a fleece or cardigan which I usually take off. There has been more talk in the media of a very cold winter, "the worst in 60 years," but who knows what will happen. 
I cooked up a big saucepan of vegetable soup which is more like a stew which we're planning to have for supper. Peter is adding some bacon and cheese to his but I'll have mine without the extra calories. 
When my toes and fingers got too cold to stay outside I came in and made a few Christmas cards with the sea glass I picked up yesterday.

Friday, 22 November 2013


At last, Peter and I both had Friday off and the sun was shining. My plan to start cutting down one of the garden trees could wait for another day.
It was a good day for a walk down on the beach. It was quite cold but very invigorating. 
The tide was coming in and there was already a deep puddle across Barricane Beach. I went through with my new wellies but it was too deep for Peter's walking boots so we couldn't go far unless we went back up the cliff and down into the next beach. 
Every now and again surfers would run past us rushing to get to the waves which were forming good sets up at that end of the bay. 
I spent my time searching for sea glass and stones of the right shape for my hand made Christmas cards. That's a project for a rainy day.

Thursday, 21 November 2013


The trouble with hiding under a warm duvet in the mornings is that there is less time to get things done before going to work. I finally took down the tomato plants in the conservatory.  The tomatoes did taste better than the shop bought ones but it was a lot of work for just a couple of lbs of tomatoes. And it was a long hot summer. I don't think I'll bother next year. 
Driving out to work at lunchtime I caught sight of the road men working down at Bowden Corner so something is getting done. 
It was the mud huts again this afternoon much to the children's joy. A mum had asked to observe some lessons around the school (she's thinking of training to be a teacher) and I had volunteered for her to come and watch my DT afternoon. Naturally I didn't let her simply observe but put her to work with a group of children. That was handy because the student who has been helping in that class was needed elsewhere.
I dropped into town after work as Peter had asked me to get him some fleecy pj bottoms now that it is getting colder. They didn't have the black ones patterned with green dinosaurs wearing Santa hats in his size (he may not have liked them anyway) that I wanted so I bought him some staid blue/grey ones instead. 
Quite a dramatic sky on the way home.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


It was a wild, wet and windy morning so I washed my hair and did some ironing instead. I had a nice Skype chat with Vytas though once again I could see him but he couldn't see me. It is most likely due to our slow connection speed as I've checked the web cam setting several times and it's working fine. 
Naturally, I started to worry in the middle of one of the worst rainy squalls and went out to check on the dam. The wood and soil were doing their job across the road but the concrete block that I keep on the verge for emergencies had been moved, probably by the the kids who were playing up there on the weekend, and was blocking the run-off into the field. It didn't take long to move it out of the way and allow the water to pour back down the field.
All this week the Road Closed signs have remained in place at Bowden and Ashelford Corners cutting off our little bit of road but they finished the road repairs last week and there has been no sign of any workmen or equipment since. I almost feel like writing "What for?" on the signs but I won't.
It cleared up a bit in the afternoon and at school the children had a chance to run around outside to let off steam. I stayed on for the staff meeting though as it was about setting maths targets technically I didn't have to be there. But it's better to stay in the loop and be seen as part of the team than stick to just the hours I'm paid for. Afterwards I called in at the Co-Op and picked up a few bargains including these Golden Russet apples. In my mind these dry apples have the best taste of any variety and I look forward to their appearance each year.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


The sun was shining so it was lovely to be working outside this morning. It was quite cold with an icy wind blowing down from the north. Not to mention the hail that kept falling from big black clouds. Some rumbling inside one clouds sent me rushing indoors. Not for my own safety but to unplug the internet in case of a power surge.
My first job this morning was to cut back all of this year's growth from the 2 willow trees in the hen run. They must not have liked the long hot summer as one tree only had 12" shoots and the other averaged about 3ft when every other year the growth has been 6-8ft. It made my job easier. Then I cleared the big pile of leaves and hoed the veg plot. 3 jobs done in one morning. Very satisfying. Off to school for another afternoon of clay, hay and glue. I'm getting organised with these activities and though I didn't have any help everyone completed their jobs and the class was almost tidy by home time.
I came straight home and really enjoyed the evening sky which was filled with grey & lavender clouds tinged with pink and orange. 

I was in such a good mood when I got home that I hoovered the kitchen (black mat & ginger cat are not a good combination) and then went on to hoover all the upstairs too.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Some Rain.

You'd think at my age I'd have enough sense to get to sleep earlier when I have to get up early the next morning. But I didn't so there were a few groans when I had to get up early- IN THE DARK. That's just not right. It's been a busy day in school, trying to follow the teacher's plans, fit everything in and cope with a child whose co-operation has taken a sudden turn for the worse.
The school photographer came in the afternoon to take individual photos of all the children. After the mess that resulted from last week's spaghetti bolognaise the class teacher had left instructions that the children should not wear their school sweatshirts to lunch. So they were all looking fairly clean for their photos, that class at least. Now that everything is digital the photographers printed off the sample sheets straight away and we were given a pile to send home at the end of the day. Some children had 1 sheet, others 2 or 3 sheets. It was a bit frantic but we got all the photos given out and the children lined up ready to go dead on 3.30. Phew, we do have some parents who complain if we let the children out a few minutes late. But then a voice piped up "I haven't got my photo." There followed an even more frantic few minutes as we checked every child's photos but there was no sign of the missing photo. The children were as few minutes late going out of the classroom but that couldn't be helped. I rushed down to catch the photographer before she left and she assured me that all the photos had been given out. Rush, rush to the other classes but no joy. Back to the photographer but unfortunately when she tried to access my class' photos the disc wouldn't work in her lap top and her colleague had already gone. She promised that her colleague would call in tomorrow to print off the photos but what a lot of last minute rushing around.
I didn't stay late in school but drove across town to post some parcels and get petrol. Finally home for some exercises and baking a batch of flapjack. I was out in the garden, in the dark (as you do) and there was some loud cat growling. The sort that translates as "It's mine." I shone a torch at the source of the noise and found Patch munching on a decent sized trout. I left him to it but I might start keeping an eye out for any trout coming upstream that are big enough for the table..

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Grey Again.

It's been much the same weather, very grey but at least it wasn't raining. While Peter went off to the gig club for more training I got to work on the front patio clearing the leaves and weeding between the slabs. I hadn't quite finished by the time he got home but my energy was running out so I left one corner for another time. It looks a lot tidier now when I look out of the kitchen window. I also swept up a big pile of leaves at the scree garden so at least they are in the corner and not keeping the slabs all wet and nasty. Indoors I washed my hair and typed up my lesson plans for tomorrow and that has been it for today.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


It's very hard to get out of bed on a Saturday morning. It's so  warm, probably the warmest place in the house, and comfy lying on the memory foam mattress. I can't sit up comfortably in the mornings but I'm happy listening to R4. I have to force myself to get up especially as I know that the first thing I'm going to do is my morning exercises. 3 x 3 minutes of 'the plank' does make me feel I am toning up my tummy muscles which has got to be a good thing. (I do the same again in the evenings.)
It was a miserable looking grey day outside but I was determined to do some outside work, that is until I realised it was raining. A fine drizzle had me finding indoor jobs instead. Planning for school on Monday and then some sewing.
To make our bed cosier we have a fleece under-blanket under the bed-sheet. It's great but has to be tucked back in every day. Mainly I think because the memory foam mattress bulges at the sides. So today I cut up an old sheet and sewed strips onto the sides of the under-blanket so that there is more tucked under which will hopefully keep it in place. I did the sewing by hand as I thought it would be easier than manoeuvering the elasticated edges of a large item through the sewing machine.
Peter has been out rowing for most of the day. In order to get more sea-time they towed the gigs out to Appledore and rowed out to sea from there. Now we are looking forward to our usual evening of watching Strictly.

Friday, 15 November 2013


I'm having IT problems again.Only little things but yesterday at the end of the day I thought I would just check some powerpoints I had on my pen drive that I needed to use today. But although other things on my pen drive opened on the class laptop linked to the whiteboard  the powerpoints would not open . A good thing I checked so when I got home I emailed myself the links to those powerpoints. I was working all day, went in nice and early to get the classroom ready and then the whiteboard laptop refused to connect to the Internet even though some of the children's pcs would. Not good when my whole morning was planned around those powerpoints of Maasai villages. I did have some photos printed which I could have used but luckily the class teacher popped in before going out for the day and after turning off and on the access box she got the Internet back. And then just now, having carefully photoshopped out some children's faces, twice, my pc didn't save the new pictures of the children in their fancy dress for Children in Need Day. It normally works so I guess my pc is having a bad day.

Thursday, 14 November 2013


The wind was roaring through the trees last night with bursts of very heavy rain crashing down on the conservatory roof. This morning it was still windy but dry, just the kind of weather I like. I turned my usual routine upside down today and was up a ladder cutting back roses at 8.00. I got the job finished and then went back in the house to wash my hair and have breakfast. 
This week I've been having to take an alternative route to work as the workmen are patching up our country road and have closed the road. 
I've been driving along Whitefield Hill and down into the Muddiford valley.  
Cars tend to race along the top of the road and there are few places where you can stop safely but I pulled into a gateway and then climbed up on the gate to see over the high hedge. 
In the distance I could  see the trees growing along the main road at Shirwell.
The road drops steeply into the valley, the sides of which are too steep to farm. Instead there are lots of mature trees and for a short stretch it feels as if you are driving through a golden forest. My other Year 2 class had their first afternoon making mud huts etc which they also enjoyed. I stayed at school until 5.00 getting stuff ready for tomorrow. A quick visit to the Co-Op and home along dark roads. I come home the normal way because the road men have packed up and gone by 5.00. I just drive around the Road Closed signs and then try and avoid the bits they have chopped out of the road surface.