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.

Thursday, 31 July 2014


It was my car's turn to go to the garage so I planned to spend the morning in town while the water pump and cam belt were being replaced/fixed. I met up with my friend for coffee and cheesecake at our usual place. We both tried the new cherry cheesecake which was nice but I still prefer the mango and passion fruit one. Then as my car wouldn't be ready for several hours I had a very leisurely stroll around the shops though first I ambled over the bridge to Lidl's for some chocolate and on the healthy side, blueberries and tinned herrings. It was much cooler today which was better for shopping and I had packed my pack-a-mac just in case. I met another friend from work in Boots and we stood there an had a good old natter. I checked out all the charity shops and found a belt, something I had been looking for as some of my trousers need a belt but most of the ones I have at home are too big. (I think I should give those to the charity shop.) I also bought a t-shirt in a sale, it's ummm ... yet another black vest but it is long and fits really well and it does have silver studs on the front which sounds tacky but is okay really. At least it passed my Would I wear it to work tomorrow? test. By the time I got back to the garage I felt rather tired so when I got home I sat outside with a coffee and a new library book. I was wearing a fleece but the wind was warm so eventually I closed my eyes and just relaxed. I could hear Paul on his tractor mower cutting the grass, Keith on his tractor up on Little Knoll (the top of the small hill behind the house) and above me the swallows chittering away. So peaceful.
I had a lovely rest and then I went over to the wild meadow part of the garden to see what there was to photograph. 
Lots of these blue darters were hanging on to the grasses. Luckily they stay put for a long time so I was able to play around with the camera's manual settings and get a decent photo. 
Then I got excited to see some of these small Common Blue butterflies which do not stay in the same place for more than a few seconds. They like the yellow trefoil that grows in the long grass and don't visit the buddlia or ice plants that so many other butterflies like. My boys used to tease me by calling out they had seen a blue butterfly when they hadn't at all.
Hidden in the middle of this photo is a brown Ringlet butterfly which hardly ever stops fluttering about.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Where There's A Will .....

Still windy with sunny spells but an increasing amount of cool moments too. It looks as if we are in for some rain soon. 
When the postman arrived today he must have thought I was bonkers when he saw me hoovering the raised flower bed at the side of the front patio. But this was my solution to all the leaves that had fallen due to the hot weather. My usual method of kneeling down to pick out the leaves makes my back ache at the best of times and I did think it would be a bit silly to try that. My next thought was the garden vac but that is bulky and heavy to use. Then I thought - Why not try the hoover, or rather my trusty Vax? Such an easy solution and I shall carry on doing this when the leaves are dry. Wet leaves probably still have to picked up by hand. 
This morning I heard an unusual bird cry outside. When I spotted the bird up in the tree I wasn't sure what it was. It was the size of a wood pigeon but with a large head, fluffy brown feathers and sitting upright like a parrot. It was only when a couple more similar birds and an adult joined it that I saw it was a young Greater Spotted Woodpecker. The adults are fairly frequent visitors to the bird feeder but I've never seen the juveniles before. Another new sight this evening was a hen pheasant followed by 3 small fluffy chicks. Pheasants are usually captive bred in pens and released into the countryside so that stupid rich men with guns can then shoot them. 
Apart from hoovering up leaves I've had a quiet day, did the usual jobs, got on with some knitting and made a batch of flapjacks for Peter. 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014


Photos from yesterday.
This morning it looked as if we were going to have another blazing hot day but it wasn't long before the clouds rolled in along with a good breeze. It was still dry so I was able to hot water weed the rest of the paving around the scree garden while doing biceps curls as I walked up and, taking multitasking one step onwards, each time I waited for the kettle to fill I worked on my knitted cosy first working out how many stitches I would need and then unraveling my test piece. That's efficiency for you.
Then I cut down the flowering grass that forms the 'fountain' in the middle of the circle of Sedum Autumn Joy. If left any longer the plantlets would fall and start rooting amongst the stones. I also did some dead heading and tidying up of the stone wall. I can now appreciate how good it is to have plants growing in and on a wall when bending is a problem. 
Another job on my list was to phone the dentist to make an appointment. I'm not sure if the evil pain in my jaw is tooth, gums or sinus related, probably sinuses, but I thought I should start with the dentist. At least they can take x-rays and say if there's a problem with my teeth though a number of times they've treated my teeth or removed them and when the pain persists they say it's my sinuses. Whatever it is it's not very nice. 
I have a pumpkin, small and fuzzy but  it will get bigger. Patch strolled into the kitchen yesterday morning looking rather as if he had swallowed a pumpkin. I went to check the conservatory in case he had brought home a big rabbit or other creature but when I got there I saw the reason for his fat tummy. Peter had forgotten to put the lid back on the cat food bin so Speedy and Patch had enjoyed an all-you-can-eat night. Very short rations for the pair of them last night and tonight. 
Here's the test piece for my knitted cosy. I've started on the real thing now which shouldn't take long to knit. Though it was a bit difficult to knit with a cat on my lap chewing on the end of the knitting needle and trying to tangle up the wool.
Loud cries of great joy = I just checked my external hard drive and I had backed up my 2 word folders, all my school stuff and other bits I wanted to keep. So all I've lost are 2 weeks of photos and those documents with the URL's of my favourite sites. What a relief!!!

Monday, 28 July 2014

IT Disaster.

It finally happened, my poor old PC gave up the ghost, is no more etc and even worse it's taken all my files because the only stuff I had saved on my external hard drive were my photos at least up to 2 weeks ago. Peter has tried varies ways to retrieve the files but the hard drive is corrupted. So now I have to decide if I want to pay out lots of cash to try and get back those missing files. I am a little annoyed with Peter as he has been promising to swap my PC for months but I am even more cross with myself because although I backed up most of my photos all I had done with my word documents was to sort them into 2 folders which I was going to but didn't move onto my external hard drive. I was saving that for the time when all the downloads for this PC were finished and we were ready to change everything over. Luckily this PC was ready to work, sort of but it's been a hassle trying to get back onto pages which were saved as favourites. Would you believe I even created some word documents onto which I had copied the URL of the favourites I wanted to keep, but they're gone along with everything else.
Up until this disaster hit I had quite a good day. It was pouring with rain all morning long but the sun came out at lunchtime. I've found I can do most of my usual jobs but I'm making sure that I rest in between spurts of activity. My main gardening job was to hot-water weed half of the paving around the scree garden. As I walked up the drive with a heavy kettle in my hand I thought I could multitask and do some arm exercises slowly lifting up the kettle and then lowering it, sort of a biceps curl but not so extreme. 20 of those up to the scree garden each time swapping arms each trip. I do want to try and keep up some sort of exercise even if it is only for my arms at the moment. I did some deadheading of the buddlias too keeping clear of all the bees. I also made a start on one of my convalescence projects, knitting a cosy for my cafetiere. That was where the PC problem started because the page with the pattern I'm basing my cosy on started acting weird. I thought I had downloaded a virus and when my PC refused to turn off I held the button in and pulled the plug out of the wall which I have now been told was the wrong thing to do. Anyway I've knitted a sample section and can start on the cosy tomorrow. (Maybe I'll be able to put my photos on this PC then.)

Sunday, 27 July 2014


It has been very windy today and noticeably cooler. In the morning I got on with some 'gardening' ie pouring boiling water along all the joints between the paving slabs of the patio around the house. Wellington boots were needed for this job as the hot water tended to splatter. I didn't need to keep on boiling the water as the water from the hot water tap was very hot. It's probably a good thing that I used up some of the water from the hot water tank. Hot water is the one thing we never lack in this place, it's such a shame that the washing machine only uses cold water so we're paying extra to heat up the water once it is in the washing machine.
I have to walk carefully around the buddlia bushes as a whole hive of bees seems to be busy collecting nectar. Although bee stings don't worry me I have found over the years that I've reacted a bit more strongly each time I got stung to the point where my ankle swelled up for several days. I do declare this mild allergy whenever I've had an operation. At the private hospital I got a red wrist band because of this while at the NHS hospitals just a standard white wrist band. 
This afternoon I had my first shower since the operation (as per orders), such a good feeling to have a shower rather than washing at the sink, and Peter took off the dressing. The surgical tape they stick over the wound is still there but I'll just wait until  it unsticks itself. The cut this time is only half of the first one hence the rapid recovery. I had a look at my notes and this time it was a micro-decompression while last time it was a decompression. (No more operation details now, I promise.)
Collecting the washing from the line this afternoon I picked the first of the mange tout, they tasted so sweet.
BTW - Peter did call in at Homebase last Monday and bought the last 4 of the white side plates on sale. Now I shall keep my eyes open for some plain white bone china dinner plates on sale to complete our mix and match crockery.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Still Warm.

We had an early start to the day as Peter had to be out on the river at 6.30. It was a lovely morning, if a little cooler than recently so I didn't mind being up early too. Once Peter had left I went downstairs and did all of my usual jobs apart from the hoovering. I'm still so grateful that this time I had a smaller incision and have made a much quicker recovery than the first time. I am being careful but that didn't stop me from picking half a bowl of blackcurrants yesterday while the birds tutted at me for picking their berries. Today I put on some gardening gloves and pulled up some of the weeds by the apple trees. As some of the nettles were 5ft tall that didn't involve any bending but I needed to be careful as I was wearing shorts and a bikini top.
It is still very warm so I have spent quite a lot of time sitting outside and reading in between short bursts of housework or gardening. One indoor job I have been doing is brushing the fur on our large  'teddy bear' fleece throw which was washed the other day. 2 sides of a 7ft x 7ft throw makes for an awful lot of brushing but today I have fluffed up over half of one side.  
The garden is full of butterflies at the moment and as one buddlia bush is by the conservatory door every now and again there are butterflies in the house. It's mostly Peacock butterflies with the occasional Painted Lady and a lot of Meadow Browns and Small Skippers which literally do skip all over the place making it hard to take photos. We get a lot of moths at the bathroom window in the night including some white ones that look a bit scary with their eyes shining red from the reflected light. Occasionally a big brown moth gets into the room and literally crashes around the place banging into things until we catch it or shoo it out of the window.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Hot, Hot, Hot.

Dare I say it but I think we having a hot summer. Everything feels so good at the moment, lovely weather, almost pain free back, ice-cream in the freezer and a ton of fruit in the fridge. And I'm under orders to take things easy.
Peter was skeptical about the accuracy of my garden thermometer  so I brought out a thermometer from the house which confirmed that things were pretty hot today. It would have been unbearable if it weren't for the cooling breeze that blew gently for most of the day. I alternated between sitting out on the sun and walking around doing some small jobs. Yesterday as I sat on the sun lounger I thought it would be good to have some shade over my head rather than wear a sun hat. My thoughts turned to those parasols we used to fix to baby buggies and today I managed to prop a large golf umbrella into the back of the chair which gave me the required shade. When I retired to the cool of the house both my pc and piano were in direct line of the breeze that was blowing from the back room through into the sitting room. So far I have played the piano every day which has been one of my summer goals. 
Peter took my car to the garage this morning but it turns out there are a few more things wrong with it so I've booked it in for next Thursday. After he brought my car back home he had to go out again for a union meeting. He hates the injustice he can see happening at his work and he is working hard to make life better for his fellow workers. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014


It's been yet another hot day tempered by a cooling breeze. I've been following instructions, mainly, and taking things easy while moving from one chair to another and even having an afternoon snooze on the recliner. 
I've got quite prehensile toes and can pick up things from the floor without having to bend which is handy. I was able to water all the hanging baskets and pots and got most of the dead heading done too. I always buy the trailing 'Surfinia' petunias which make a good show but have to be dead headed every day. I have in the past wondered how they keep the many hanging baskets in town looking so good, surely the watering men don't stand there painstakingly snipping off the drooping flowers? Looking at the hanging basket that I bought from Homebase I now wonder if they are planting a different variety of trailing petunia as that basket needs less attention yet is flowering more profusely than my main baskets. If I get a chance I'll see if I can find out any further details as it might be worth buying that variety next year even if I have to order them on line.
Peter has been looking after me well, bringing me cups of coffee and checking if I need anything else. I'll enjoy it now because he'll have to be back at work next week. Luckily he had some holiday days that he could use now. Actually I'm able to get about very well but I'm trying to be sensible and pace myself. I haven't started my 'convalescence jobs apart from a long session on the piano yesterday evening. ' 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


A hot sunny day today. The garden thermometer, which admittedly has been in the sun all day is reading 42C. After a good long sleep this morning I too was out in the sun, first eating porridge lovingly prepared by Peter and then just reading. It got so hot that I had to change from my sweaty t-shirt to a bikini top. 
I really am finding things so much easier this time with my back. I just have to remember not to bend or twist but walking around is fine and I'm okay sitting in a chair. If I want something that is out of my reach I either pick it up with my toes or do a graceful knee bend keeping my back vertical. Peter does tend to look on the worst side of things and has been fussing over leaving me alone for a couple of hours while he takes the car for its MOT. What if SOMETHING happens and he can't get back? I can't imagine what might happen but I could always phone Sarah next door. Peter has been very helpful otherwise, he did my usual morning hoovering of the kitchen, corridoor and back room and then came and hoovered upstairs as well. He mowed all the lawns yesterday and then did the strimming this morning. I know it sounds ungrateful but I wish he wouldn't fuss quite so much. After all I'm mobile, can get in and out of bed easily and am not in some medicated haze. But that's his nature and it's good that he wants to look after me.  

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My Hospital Stay.

I'm back home after my op and all seems to have gone well.
For those not familiar with the UK health system - Like the majority of people in the UK I'm a National Health Service patient so all my treatment is free at the point of use. (If you are working Prescription medication has to be paid for either per prescription or on a 12 or 6 month 'all you need' ticket which works out at £8 a month.) Because of the long delays for my first op the NHS paid for my consultant to do the op at a neighbouring private hospital and the same this time.
I would say that, hopefully, the medical care in the NHS and private sectors is the same but the big difference is in staffing levels and the care and time the staff spend with you in the private hospital. You are not left for long periods of time waiting for the next thing to happen indeed at times it seemed like an endless set of people knocking at the door. Also everybody is in their own en-suite room and the food is excellent.
I'm lucky that I've never had a bad response to the anesthetic though this time I didn't have the chance to count back from 10 as they put an oxygen mask on me. For me that was it and a few moments later I was back in my room. The consultant told me that he had taken off a bony lump that had the nerve caught underneath it. Hopefully now he has removed a source of future discomfort/pain. Also the incision is smaller and higher up that the last op so should be less painful. On the question of pain I did tell everyone how much pain I had been in last time when I got home and I've come home with Tramadol which I can take as well as my co-codamols. 
The whole country is having a heatwave at the moment and it was hot in the city. Luckily I was given a large fan which blew a cooling breeze my way. I also had the window open which let in all the city sounds, it's a long time since I heard them but the whirr of the fan made it sound as if I was on a ship. I did say a prayer for whoever was being brought to the RDE by the air ambulance and also for their family. The staff who treated me were really friendly and I had a long chat with my nurse yesterday evening. Even though she is a country girl she shares my views on fox hunting even to the point of going on demos which I haven't done. She had also seen the drama I was watching on tv about a class of Glasgow teenagers who involved the local community and successfully stopped the immigration authorities arresting families in the night and saved their classmates from deportation. I watched a couple of programmes on tv but mainly I listened to Radio 4. 
Yesterday evening I had a 'light' supper of smoked salmon salad sandwich, more salmon than bread, which came with lots of extra salad and a fruit platter of sliced kiwi, satsuma and pineapple and grapes. This morning I had another fruit platter with my 2 wheetabix and I treated myself to some freshly baked Danish pastries which I had later on with my mid-morning coffee. As Peter wasn't coming until 1.00 I had lunch as well, Caesar salad with chicken and a very naughty sticky date pudding with toffee sauce. No wonder I'm not hungry this evening, some fresh cherries have been more than enough.
Peter bought me this lovely orchid today as well as cherries and blueberries and he has been most attentive.

Yesterday when we arrived at the hospital Peter saw from her name tag that the smart receptionist who took us up to my room was Lithuanian so he gaily chatted to her in Lithuanian. I was able to follow the conversation but couldn't really join in as my language skills are not very good. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014


It's been another overcast but warm day. I'm off to hospital tomorrow so today I've been doing lots of housework including a thorough clean of our bedroom and bathroom. That's not so much because I fear germs but more to make the room nice especially if I'll be spending some extra time in bed. My favourite bedding is freshly ironed and on the bed and I even picked some miniature roses to put on the window sill. I had thought the garden was fairly under control but when I went up to the scree garden I saw that the magical spring snow which was really thousands of fluffy seeds had resulted in said seeds sprouting between all the paving especially where it lacks mortar. First I gave the scree garden itself a thorough weed and then I pulled up the worst of the weeds in the paving. The rest will get the hot water treatment. The only thing I regret not having done is picking more blackcurrants but I just ran out of time. Peter was out on the river for most of the day helping with the taster sessions for people who had shown an interest at the Gig Club stand yesterday.
More pictures from the Green Man Festival.
 The Flea Circus.

 Local Crafts.

I was tempted have a henna design on my hand but I don't think it would have gone down too well at the hospital. Next year maybe.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Green Man Day.

 You see some funny sights on Green Man Day. 
Earlier in the day Peter and I had been assisting the police (no, not with their inquiries) as marshals while the Green Man Pageant paraded through the town. 
I was positioned at the end of a quiet street and only stopped one car while Peter was at the traffic lights at the next junction and had stopped a line of about 20 vehicles.

Our civic duties over we joined the crowds thronging Pilton Street and Rotary Gardens.  I heard the announcer say that there were over 138,00 people at the festival this year. The festival is a great community event with a flavour of its own combining the medieval theme, music on 4 stages and community groups with the usual sprinkling of commercial stalls mainly selling tat, jewellery or food. 
Apart from a raffle ticket to win a car and a pencil that looks like a dragon on a stick my spending was all on food from the fund raising stalls; a lentil roll from the Green Party stall and home baked cakes from other stalls raising money for worthy causes. I did get rather fed up with the man from the UKIP stand who was pestering me to take one of his leaflets. Did he really think that would change my views? 
As usual I saw a lot of familiar faces mainly from school. Not surprising as the school is in the next road. It was handy knowing the gate code and being able to park in the school car park as all the parking spaces in the surrounding streets were taken.
I wandered around looking at all the stalls and taking lots of photos (more tomorrow) while Peter did his stint at the Gig Club display. We then went back down to the stage at the bottom end and listened to a band playing Blues music before the 5 hours of being in town took its toll on my feet and we headed back home. It had been quite hot at the festival so I thankfully drank several mugs of tea sitting in the peace of our garden.

Friday, 18 July 2014


At last, school's out for summer. 16 of the parents in my reception class had clubbed together and bought each of the adults in class a lovely bouquet. Flowers are always my favourite though I'll enjoy the chocolates I was given by another parent too. It has been an extra hectic end to the academic year with teachers swapping classrooms and year groups. Most of the teachers will be in school next week to move furniture and equipment. There's also going to be some major decorating and refurbishment so it will be very different when we start school again next September. There were so many extra things to give out at the end of the day that I forgot to give out the pencils that 12 of my children had been given for not missing a day since last Easter so they'll have to get them at the beginning of next term. Things were so busy in the school office that nobody came to tell me that the garage had rung asking me to call in and confirm that I was happy to go ahead with the work on the car, they do this if the bill will be more than a small amount. I happily walked to the garage after school to pick up the car only to find that the work hadn't been done. That makes it quite awkward as I don't expect to feel up to coming into town for a few weeks after my op on Monday but it's not the end of the world.  
I walked into town after work to change a library book and buy some bendy straws, very useful when you are lying in bed.
I'm glad I made all my storm preparations yesterday as we had thunderstorms until 2.00 in the morning. It has been quite a hot day today and more storms are expected tonight.
PS We were going to show the children 'Frozen' this afternoon but had to change it to 'Nemo' as 'Frozen' is PG rated and we would have to had permission from the parents to show it to their 5 year old children.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Apparently it has been the hottest day of the year so far. It was overcast this morning and very humid here. I had planned to have a day of gentle weeding but when I heard something about heavy rain on the morning forecast I thought I ought to give the channel that runs down the middle of the drive a thorough clear out which involved strimming and then digging out with a trowel. I also cleared the section that runs through the yard out to the stream. After that I went up and cut back the grasses growing into the channel running through the field. It was hard work but I'm glad I did it because this evening there is a weather warning out for heavy rain and thunderstorms tonight and more severe storms tomorrow night.
Eventually I did get round to finishing weeding all the paving around the house. It was so good to have an early shower after which I sat outside reading for a while. By that time the sun had appeared and a warm wind made conditions very pleasant.
I also covered my new academic diary with a print of one of my garden photos. I'm one of those people who has to personalise everything and at least I never get my diary mixed up with anybody else's work diary. A couple of years ago the teachers were issued with A4 diaries with only the TA's getting the A5 diaries. A4 is great if you have lots to put in but as my work can be different each week I need to have a diary that fits in my handbag so after buying my own diary the first year I now get issued with the smaller one.