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.

Monday, 31 March 2014


Look what the postman brought me from Romas. By the time the postman arrived I was ready to relax after 4 hours sawing away at that tree. I'm at least halfway through so I'll save the final bit for Friday. It was very warm so I was working in a t-shirt and now my arm is bruised from leaning on one tree and my hands are sore too. I found a big branch to stand on to raise me up a bit but it was balanced on a trunk that leans out over a 6ft drop to the stream below and I was still cutting above me. Not a safe place to put a ladder especially as the tree will probably twist as it goes down so I need to be able to make a swift exit as soon as I hear it cracking. I worked slowly, sawing and resting thinking that each cut brought me a fraction of a millimetre closer to completion. All around the birds were singing and I watched a big bumble bee buzzing away and looking for nest sites. Eventually it found a soft spot under the leaves and with a wriggle its fat bottom disappeared into the ground. I watched for a while but didn't see it emerge but there it was again buzzing around. Or maybe that was another bumble bee?
The primroses are looking good right now. All from a couple of plants that I liberated from a hedgerow a mile away. 
Once I had decided to stop sawing I cleared a few more bags of rubbish from the outbuildings and took all the bags and the recycling box up to the road ready to be collected tomorrow morning. That's where I met the postman. Back home I had just started washing my hair when I heard a rumble of thunder from the black cloud overhead. Quickly wrapping my hair in a towel I turned off all the delicate items in the house and unscrewed the phone line. There were a few more rumbles and some heavy rain but hopefully we are all clear now.

Sunday, 30 March 2014


Mother's Day came with the most wonderful warm weather. So nice that the shorts and flip flops made their first appearance of the year. Romas phoned me this afternoon as he was walking home 7 miles from work due to something breaking off on his bike. Fortunately he can coast down the hills but can't pedal uphill. He didn't seem too worried. It was lovely to talk to him and I look forward to his card which is still in the post. Vytas is trekking in the jungle in Sri Lanka with Sally so I expect I'll hear from him when they are somewhere with a signal. I'm just content to know that my boys are well and happy.
The garden is full of flowers at the moment and the amaryllis flower has opened right up. It looks as if what I thought was a leaf is going to be another flower spike.  
I had planned to have a day off from gardening but with the weather being perfect for mowing I spent the day digging up weeds and then mowing all the grass. I didn't get all the weeds dug up, my poor back was beginning to ache but one more session should get the last patch done. 

Saturday, 29 March 2014


The southerly winds have brought us some welcome warm weather. I woke early this morning, decided it would be mean to wail plaintively for a cup of tea so went back to sleep for a couple of hours by which time Peter was awake and making tea. My cold isn't getting any worse but it isn't getting any better so that first cup of tea is very welcome. 
Once I was up and had done my morning jobs I went back to work on that tree. It is so stubborn but so am I. Using the bow saw had become very awkward so I went into beaver mode instead. It was satisfying to whack chips out of the wood using a wood chisel and mallet. But still it wouldn't fall. I was sure that I had cut and chopped my way through the whole trunk. It was only then that I looked up carefully and saw not that the tree was leaning on the next trunk but that they had grown together where a branch had grown across. Oh joy! Now I have to saw away up on my tip toes which is kind of exhausting. I reckon it will take the whole of Monday to do that little job. To cheer myself up I did some weeding in a flower bed and as it is time to start the year's mowing I made a start on hand weeding the worst offenders (dandelions, thistles and plantain) out of the lawns. That's a job I kept putting off all last year and promised myself I would do before the fist mow of the year.

Friday, 28 March 2014


The April showers have arrived a little early. I did get out this morning and have sawn nearly the whole way through the tree but it refuses to go down. Although there must be 30ft of trunk above my cut the branches are mostly at the top and are fairly upright. If I'm lucky we might have some strong winds and the tree will fall anyway. If not I'll have to keep on cutting tomorrow. I was at work in the afternoon and then braved the traffic chaos to go over the bridge to Tesco's after work. I don't know if it is this morning's hard work or my cold getting the better of me but I felt quite achey when I got home. Thank goodness it is the weekend.
Showery weather makes for interesting clouds so I stopped on the way home to take a few photos. 
Now I'm going to curl up with a large bowl of salad and watch some mindless tv. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014


It's been bright and sunny for a lot of the day today. I didn't get to spend time in the garden as I was teaching for the whole day. We had five people being interviewed for a part-time teaching job. Each of them had to plan and teach a 30 mins maths lesson to 30 children which was observed by 6 people, take a guided reading group, level some written work, interpret data and then have a formal interview. I could not cope with the stress of such an interview procedure. A sandwich lunch was provided for the interviewees and all of  the rest of us which gave us a chance to chat informally in the staffroom. I broke my diet and had a couple of sandwiches so I shan't bother with any supper tonight.
There were plenty of interesting cloudscapes on the way home so I stopped up by the Lewis' farm. 
It was so peaceful with just the sound of a few birds and nothing else.  
I still enjoy being able to get a glimpse of the sea as I travel to and from work.  

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


It was still grey today but at least there was no rain. I was at home for the morning and had time to do some more work on the tree. It's in an awkward position so I'm nibbling away at it, cutting wedges from it to give myself easier access. That's not the most efficient method but I can't get at it to just cut straight through. Eventually it will go down. At school I worked with the younger children helping them to make crowns for the 'Easter Bonnet Parade' next week. This way we know it is the children's work rather than mum or granny's well meant efforts. We had a staff meeting after school to put together ideas for next term's topic which is South America/ The World Cup. I think carnivals will be featuring in most classes and possibly some tango or salsa.
On the way home I lazily took photos through the car window as I came down the hill. 
There were plenty of seagulls and rooks feeding on the creatures that live in the muck that had been spread on the fields. 
Then I spotted a pair of buzzards up in a tree and got some close ups. Though they are the biggest bird of prey here they live mainly on beetles and worms. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


I should have learn't my lesson by now and stopped being a patient patient. When I had my hydrotherapy last year, which was nice but not especially beneficial, I had asked the physiotherapist how I should go about getting an appointment with the doctor who had given me some injections that actually worked on my inflamed hips. She said she would refer me though it might take a few months as I wanted a specific doctor. So I waited a few months and then a few more until finally today I rang up to see what was happening. Nothing, that's what but apparently I'm on the open appointment list so that I can refer myself whenever I need. They've given me a date at the end of April but said they would ring me back with the time. Which they haven't, nor left a message on the answer machine so I'll  ring again tomorrow. I was in a pretty grumbly mood as I set off for school but my mood cheered right up when I saw the first lambs of the season.
School was fun this afternoon. As the children were going to be learning about Nelson Mandela I did a random discrimination activity with them. I split them according to those who were wearing jumpers or not and told them next week they would be taking part in a govt test to see which kind of schooling would be better. One group would be having no playtimes and work in silence at tables while the other group would have longer playtimes and spend the afternoons doing art and choosing activities. We had a good discussion about fairness though nobody volunteered to swap from the fun group to the boring group. 
We had a sudden shower just as I left school and heading home there was a rainbow behind the hills so I quickly stopped to take some photos. At one point in my journey home I was under the whole arch but then it was gone.

The field at the top of the hill must have been sprayed with something last week because the grass has turned a sickly yellow. Yesterday's muck spreading has made the field a magnet for the rooks as they scavenge for worms and grubs.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Grey and Cold.

I love having the whole day at home when there is time to take things easy get through the household jobs and some outside work. It was dry in the morning so I went out and cut all the smaller branches off the latest felled trees. I felt rather like a babushka as I carried armloads of branches across the garden with a warm scarf tied under my chin. Maybe the safety glasses were not quite in keeping but I don't fancy the idea of a twig in my eye. It's bad enough when the thin springy twigs slap me across the face. I even made a tiny start sawing the next tree. It's in an awkward spot so I think it will take a number of sessions before it goes down. The rooks are still making their racket and some of the chicks must have hatched because every now and again there is the most dreadful squealing from the nests as a adult arrives. Even if rain had not been predicted it would not have been a good day for hanging out washing as the muck spreader was out on Mr Lewis' field at the top of the hill. I may be a country girl at heart but I would not like to sleep on sheets perfumed with Eau de cow pat.
When the cold icy rain arrived this afternoon I got on with more housework and some school work too. In the kitchen this beautiful amaryllis is starting to flower. It was a present from a friend and it has been fascinating to watch the flower bud swell and slowly unfurl.

Sunday, 23 March 2014


Had a lazy morning catching up on The Archers. This afternoon I got on with tidying up the 2 trees I cut down yesterday. I made the mistake of taking a break after hanging up some washing and I'm afraid I didn't go back outside to finish the job. My only excuse is that I am suffering from the latest cold that is going around at work. Instead I sat and watched tv while brushing out a fluffy dressing gown that I washed in the week. I love fluffy fleeces but they do need to be brushed after washing to get the fluffiness back. I've got a circular bristle hairbrush that is perfect for the job.
Once again we had sunny spells but although the wind was strong it was not so icy as it was yesterday and there were no actual showers. 

Saturday, 22 March 2014


Went downstairs this morning to discover a cool kitchen and a rayburn which had GONE OUT! It was only yesterday that Peter had said it must be soon time to service it and change the wicks. Servicing the rayburn takes a toll on Pete's hands and knees at the best of times and right now there is now way that he could do it. He rang the engineer who said he might be able to come today, if not it would be Tuesday. Then we saw that we did not have enough replacement wick so Peter sent me rushing down to RGB, the only place you can get it locally. RGB were closing in 20 mins so I drove like the proverbial bat out of hell and got there 5 mins before they closed. But shock, horror they had run out of rayburn wick. I did call in at the Co-op and bought some blueberries to eat on the way home as well as some reduced bread and a few other things we needed. It was when I got home that I realised that the engineer would surely have ample wicks in his van - duh! Luckily he was able to make it this afternoon and the rayburn is now burning merrily away.
It's been a day of sunshine and wintry showers. I wrapped up well and spent the afternoon working on Project Sunshine, ie sawing down another tree. I got half-way through the tree and then kept waiting at a safe distance hoping that the strong wind would help the tree down. Which it did, eventually. It was quite cold and at one point I was pelted with hail. I took shelter by the side of one of the bigger trees and it was funny to see the hail stones bouncing on the grass like ping-pong balls. Some were bouncing up a good 12".
I got the big tree down and then I cut down the small trunk that looks as if it is growing straight up from the stump of the cut tree. Tomorrow I'll be tidying up all the branches from those 2 trees. At least we will have a good supply of beech wood for next winter. I've got a wood fire burning now as it has been a chilly day and Peter's arthritis is still bad.
PS Had a good time last night. Our team came 3rd out of 9 teams which was good as there were only 4 of us instead of 6. The point of the evening was to raise money for charity and it is nice to be out with friends.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Mainly Sunny.

Just the briefest of posts as I'm off out of the door in 5 mins for a charity quiz night with people from work.I won't be an asset to my team as I know nothing about sport, celebrities, current music or films. Too bad there aren't going to be any natural history or science questions. I nearly had a melt down over what to wear tonight as I needed something that I don't wear to work but is comfortable and reasonably smart. Most of the stuff I don't wear to work is more on the ultra casual/gardening side. Found one top to wear but it needed a wash. Threw it in the washing machine, went to iron option 2 only to find the moths or something have eaten a few holes. I'm back to an almost dry option 1 otherwise it would have been the black vest I wore to work all day today.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Wet and Windy.

The weather took a turn for the worse at lunchtime with the arrival of heavy rain and strong winds. Yet again I had my class work right through playtime though by that time most of them had finished their written work about Malala and were happily drawing while I worked with the last few children. I'm getting quick at sticking in sheets and I don't feel guilty about the minimal way I mark as it is what we have decided on as the school marking policy anyway. 
After work I drove across town to visit a few places. Town traffic is already at a halt even at 4.00 and it took 20 minutes to get across the bridge. Going from the bridge back into town and then on the return journey the road on my side was almost empty so I had an easy drive. I went into B&Q to order the plastic sheets for the shed roof only to find that if you order on line you get free delivery for orders over £50 but if you order in the store you only get free delivery for orders over £200.
Back home I could see the clouds rolling down the hills and blocking my views of Exmoor. 
Peter has taken a couple of holiday days from work as his arthritis attack was building up to a similar point where he ended up being taken by emergency ambulance to hospital a few years ago. He says a that a full day's rest is already making a difference.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


It was a bit grey and chilly this morning which suited me as I really needed to make a start on report I had been asked to do for school. I am the Art and Design coordinator which is only a small role (thank goodness) in these days of the all defining SAT's and the over-riding importance of reading, writing and maths. We do have several Arts' Weeks each year but the ideas and planning originate in staff meetings where we share all our ideas. And there are plenty of ideas from everybody. I just have to write the occasional report or lead a staff meeting. 
Out in the garden there are many signs of the approaching spring. When I first went outside this morning it was strangely and peacefully quiet.  Not a sound from those pesky rooks. But if I listened carefully I could hear them very faintly in the distance towards East Down. Sure enough when I got home this evening they were back making the usual racket. 
 I had a nice afternoon teaching the Reception children and only once did I have to insist on the correct shoes being put back on my little friend. The staff meeting after school was to discuss and update our marking policy so that it is consistent and easy to implement. We had a quick diary dates meeting at lunchtime but the rest of the break was spent in great hilarity thinking of and asking each other pub quiz type questions as a number of us are going to a quiz night on Friday which is being held in support of Macmillan cancer relief.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


It has been a day of blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a strong wind. I've been at school again for the whole day which has confused my poor little mind and I kept thinking it was Wednesday. That's what happens when I change my routine. I kept thinking I was going to stay for a staff meeting this evening but that is tomorrow. On the other hand I really thought it was Mothering Sunday this weekend and was surprised to hear it is not until the 30th of March.
I taught the other Reception class this morning which I had been a little worried about as I've only been in there twice but somehow I remembered a lot of the children's names. They were also making wolf proof houses in groups but we had proper flat paint brushes which made the job easier. One group of 3 boys who couldn't decide if they wanted red or blue paint came to a compromise and said they were going to paint a pattern. In practice anyone with a red brush painted as much as they could including anything painted blue and vice versa. We had to have a discussion about that or they would have ended up with a splodgy purple house.
In the afternoon I was back with the Year 2s looking at the life of Malala Yousafzai and comparing her life in Pakistan with their lives. Many of the boys got very enthusiastic when  we came to a picture of some Taliban  with guns and even more enthusiastic about the fact that men tell women what to do. It took some annoyed comments from the girls before they agreed that maybe that wasn't a good thing. One thing they picked up on was that if boys and girls can't mix then how do you get a boyfriend? That seemed to be quite important to them. On Tuesday afternoons we end up with the whole school singing in the hall. That's good fun but as I sat and marked/stuck work in books after school I couldn't get one little tune, Somebody's waking up, sniff snuff. out of my head and I sang it most of the way home as well.
Vytas and Sally are now in Koh Tal, Thailand and about to start a PADI (diving) course. It's a hard life for some.

Monday, 17 March 2014


There was a touch of blue in the sky this evening but for the rest of the day it was more grey - I think. I say I think because I've been working with the reception children all day and I can truly say that it has been non-stop from start to finish. One challenging little lad spent the whole day relentlessly trying to acquire a pair of trainers from other children's pe kits or even from other children's feet. He just did not want to wear his own trainers which have special supportive insoles which he needs to wear. We ended up having to use the high up bolt on the door to keep him in class. At the same time we were working with groups of children who were painting large boxes, with enthusiasm, to make wolf-proof houses for the 3 Little Pigs. In spite of painting aprons I was still wiping paint from children's faces, hair, legs, shoes and clothing and had to rinse out one brand new dress at lunch time. And we were one adult short today as a student helper had called in sick. Needless to say my day flew by.
I was able to leave school by 4.15 so I had time to buy fresh fruit and veg and then have a stroll around the garden once I got home. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014


The day started off nice and sunny, then in a blink low clouds started rolling in and stayed with us for the rest of the day.
I finally got round to finishing off a power-point about Malala Yousefzai for school. It got me thinking about the amazing resources we have at the click of a mouse. When I first started teaching we didn't even have access to a photocopier. The occasional purple splodged letters home were done by the school secretary on a Banda machine. How things have changed in the last 35 years.
When I did get out into the garden I was well wrapped up against the creeping damp as I picked beech leaves out of the heathers. That's quite a satisfying job as the large copper leaves are easy to spot and removing them makes a noticeable difference. The heathers are coming into their own now making a good splash of colour on the hillside. I appreciate them even more when I think how they are growing in pure clay, conditions which would defeat most plants. One thing I did not appreciate today was the incessant clamour from the rooks in the trees overlooking the lake. So far there are 18 nests but if nothing is done to discourage them in a few years there will be hundreds of rooks in those trees. 
It was even foggier/cloudier when I drove up to the road to leave the bin bags for the dustmen.