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.

Friday, 31 October 2014


Romas, my youngest, is 25 today. We haven't seen him this year as he has been busy working at one job as well as building ramps and things for his indoor skatepark. I do see the occasional skateboarding video of him on Facebook and from the latest photos I see that his long hair and minimal beard have gone. I suppose no news is good news. 

It's been incredibly warm today. I had a day off from my various tasks and started the day by meeting up with friends for coffee at the local garden centre. 
For once it wasn't raining so I stopped on Whitefield Hill to take photos of the views. One of my friends came past in her car and stopped thinking I had broken down down but no I was just taking photos again. 
I took my usual scenic route along the winding back roads one of which had grass growing down the middle. 
I also stopped in the village of Prixford to take a photo of the thatched roof with the thatch horse on the ridge that I mentioned before.
Just before driving down in to Ashford there were views across the estuary and out to sea. 
As usual it was great to see my friends. Although originally we all worked in the same school now only 3 of us are there others having retired or moved to new schools so there is always lots to catch up on. After a couple of hours nattering and laughing we slowly made our way out past all the lovely but expensive Christmas displays. You could spend a fortune in that shop which sells lots of gift type things as well as plants and garden equipment. I spent the rest of the afternoon in town and got lots of things done. It was so warm that I even left my fleece in the car and was walking around in a t-shirt. I picked up 6 white dinner plates that I had ordered at Wilkos to go with the white sideplates, pasta bowls and soup bowls we already have. All bought at different places but they go together well. I called into Tesco's and finally was able to have my flu jab. Good value at £9 as I'm not in an at-risk group so can't get it free at the doctors. I've never had an adverse reaction to a flu jab but you never know so I just had to buy a cake in case I felt poorly in the evening! It's been a lovely day.

Thursday, 30 October 2014


Another grey but even warmer day. The temperature, confirmed on the weather report, went up to 19C. One of my old English roses is suddenly sporting 2 new flowers.
I had planned for this to be a cooking day but as someone forgot to bring home a tray of free range eggs yesterday the Christmas cake will have to wait until the weekend. I did cook 2 red cabbages with bacon, apple and onions in vinegar and honey. Now I have 3 large (6 person) portions and 3 small portions stacked in the freezer. I had promised to make something for Peter to take to work for his team members but my options were limited by the lack of eggs. So I made some butter biscuits with chopped nuts in for them to have tomorrow. 
For most of the day I've been working outside. The cement did set even under the puddle that was still there today. In order to try and drain the raised bed there I used the wrecking bar to make holes down and into the subsoil. Unfortunately the subsoil is almost solid clay so even though the holes were 3-4ft deep I don't know how much effect they will  have. I also gave the honeysuckle that grows on the wall there a severe cutting back. That would have had to be done at some point and it made it easier for me to get to the back of the flower bed which now looks rather strange with all these holes in it. The soil is very wet there so I've got astilbes, primulas and ferns in there.
Later in the afternoon I did the slightly tedious but satisfying job of picking all the leaves, which were mainly from the acers, off the raised gravel and stone bed along the side of the house.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014


Warm and grey again but the morning's very light drizzle didn't put me off getting on with the cementing. 
I've done nearly all of this section but I ran into a bit of a problem with ground water. There was a permanent puddle in the far corner by the steps that I thought I should deal with. After a messy session with some silicone sealant topped with cement I managed to stop the flow of water through the wall. I wasn't too worried about the water getting through later on, I just wanted to be able to re-point the slabs and give the mortar time to set. All was fine until I turned around and saw a big puddle in the middle of the paving. That was on the first area I had done this morning so I don't know if  the mortar there will set or if I'll have to buy some underwater cement (yes, there is such a thing).
I was just washing off my tools wit the garden hose when rain started to fall. A hint that outdoor work was finished for the day. I retreated indoors and did some ironing instead.  

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


There was no rain forecast for today so I thought I'd take advantage of the light breeze and hang the sheets outside to dry. I needn't have bothered, the damp air cancelled out the breeze and the sheets were just as damp when I took them back in later in the day. Here goes another winter of drying everything over the rayburn. 
During my morning browsing I found out a bit more about the bra display. The details are  here (or here) which does explain things but I still think if my initial reaction was one of distaste then that might be the same for a lot of other people. Perhaps hanging up pink ribbons might have been better.
Although damp it has been a dry and warmish day  so I was back mixing cement in a bucket. I got a good section done and the old mortar pulled out from the next bit. I'm having to replace almost all the mortar but I am getting better at it. Just don't look too closely at the finish.
This morning I had a go at roasting the pumpkin seeds that I had taken out of yesterday's pumpkins. I roasted them in olive oil and smoked paprika but the first time I took them out of the oven (the rayburn is oh so slow these days), they tasted a bit too oily. I put them back and now they are crispy and I can only really taste the salt that I sprinkled on them. Not sure if I would bother doing that again.

Monday, 27 October 2014


I drove in to town through heavy drizzle this morning which cleared up later on though we never saw any proper sun.
I had quite a few things to do so I parked at Lidls for the 2 hours free parking and walked over the bridge to the High Street. Coming up from the square I saw that Youings had scaffolding above the shop which was festooned with bright items. It was only as I got closer I saw that these were bras and the occasional g-string. I class myself as pretty liberal minded but I thought this was inappropriate. I even went in the shop and asked the girl behind the counter to tell her manager that I thought it was in bad taste. When I got home I rang the council to complain and was told it was in aid of a charity. Maybe I'm just an old fuddy duddy.
I got nearly all the things I wanted in town including some brightly coloured wallet folders for work. I have tried to be organised and had separate folders (from the school supply) for each of the year groups that I work with. Unfortunately  I managed to leave 2 of them somewhere in one of the classes and as everyone is using the same yellow folders I have failed to locate my folders. Hopefully I'll be less likely to leave my bright pink, purple and green folders behind at the end of the day.
Crossing the bridge back to the car I joined several people watching this shag make several attempts to get this flat fish into its mouth. Then I went to Tesco's where I booked myself a flu jab. The person to do it had gone to lunch but would be back at 2.00. I did my shopping, packed it in the car and returned in time for my 2.15 slot. Unfortunately I had forgotten to reset my watch when the clocks went back yesterday so I was an hour early! I cancelled my jab and will try again next time I'm in town.
At home I spent the afternoon chopping bacon, onions and pumpkin. Tesco's had lots of pumpkins this year so I searched through the massive box with pumpkins in and found 2 large ones for £3. Pumpkin soup is now cooking in my biggest saucepan and more pumpkin is in the oven for me to turn into pumpkin puree which can also be frozen. I've still got one pumpkin to cook but I ran out of time and pans today.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


Looking through the window this morning after an extra hour in bed due to the clocks going back an hour, it looked as if we were in for another grey and miserable day. But when I ventured outside although it was grey it felt fairly  warm and the light levels were high. Needles to say I've spent most of today working in the garden. The final clump of the big crocosmia has been cut back and the corner steps up the side of the bank are no longer a hazard. Not only was I trimming the very long grass but I cleared any weeds in the flower beds either side of the path. I had worked my way halfway along the path across the bank when I got side tracked into digging up weeds from the path itself. I'm not fanatical about weeds in the grassed parts of the garden but last summer I did have what I thought was a thorough clear out of the greater plantain which mainly grew in the path. But they were back again, some of them large plants so those had to be dug up. Everywhere I look there is weeding to be done but then again how long will I have left before it gets too cold to be mixing up cement? I think I had better have a few more re-pointing sessions on the paving at the side of the house. And fit in some weeding too.
There are a lot of pink flowers out in the garden at the moment. The fuchsia flowers are hanging like tiny pale lanterns and the pink garden lilies go well with the blue foliage of a buddlia bush. There still a dozen pale pink roses over the porch and the miniature rose is still blooming too. 

Saturday, 25 October 2014


It's been a mainly grey day with frequent showers. Peter went to work today as they were almost begging people to work overtime so I ended up spending most of the day working in the garden. I had on my old gardening coat and just worked through the light showers. Today's job was to hand cut all the long grass in the wildflower meadows. Thankfully that's a once a year job which has now been done. I weeded the bank of winter flowering heathers too and made a start on cutting the grass on the steps.
The ground in that corner of the garden is wet subsoil so trying to have a lawn or flower beds there would be almost impossible. The long grass provides a different habitat and although I didn't spot the orchid this year blue butterflies and darters took full advantage of the long grass. 

Friday, 24 October 2014


I had a moment of sadness this morning when I opened our bedroom door where very often Elwen would be waiting to greet me with a trill and then stand in front of me until I picked her up and held her against my shoulder. But life goes on and I had to go in to work  The children started their half term holiday yesterday but us teachers had to come in for a day of discussing and working with the new curriculum while the teaching assistants got on with classroom jobs and a general tidy up. Lunch, in the form of tasty locally made sandwiches & crisps was provided for us which was a treat. There had been chocolate bars in the morning but I was 'good' and resisted those.
As I drove in to work there was a lot of water on the roads from the night's rainfall and the cloud level was very low. It is quite interesting to see the bottom of the clouds not far above the road. It seemed to rain on and off during the day though we were too busy in all our meetings to take much notice. Coming home I saw a small patch of blue sky above me and part of my journey was in sunshine.
I stopped at the turn-off from the main road to take a few photos. To the west was the patch of blue sky......... 
while to the east the clouds had come down low over Bratton Flemming. 
Looking due south the rain clouds had dropped down over the main road that I had just driven up. 
Then I drove up the hill to the Lewis' farm and looked back down the road. 
Then gingerly, because I was wearing crocs, I walked into a gateway to look south across the bay to Hartland. I hope the weather improves a bit during the half term holiday.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Poor Elwen.

Elwen, our tiny cat (half the size of her brother Patch), has been getting thinner and looking more scraggy recently. Yesterday she didn't want to eat her food and this morning she just sat on the floor with her head down. Even a little milk couldn't tempt her so I knew things were pretty serious. I was at work all day so at lunchtime I made an appointment at the vets' for after school. For their computer I saw that she was 12 years old, I had thought it was less but then we tended to think of her and Patch as 'The Kittens'. When I got home Elwen had gone upstairs to her favourite spot by the bathroom door and as soon as she saw me she started to cry. A bad sign indeed. I drove her to the vets' with the open cat basket next to me so that I could keep stroking her for most of the journey. The vet was sure that her kidneys had failed so there was only one kind option which I knew anyway. I sat her on her fleece blanket and stroked her chin while the vet used the smallest needle to inject her with an overdose of anesthetic.  I'm a natural weeper and made use of the large box of tissues the vet had handy. A gulp at the desk while I paid the £50 bill brought me back to reality, a good thing before driving home. At home it was quite therapeutic digging a hole through tree roots in a quiet corner of the garden. She wasn't the most affectionate of cats though she came for a cuddle some evenings while we watched TV. And poor Squeaky was afraid of her due to Elwen's habit of hiding behind the door to ambush her. It is sad to lose her but that is the price of owning pets
I've got this photo of Elwen and Patch when they were little kittens and the same size. Elwen is the one at the front.
My day at school was busy but not stressful as I was teaching one of the Year 2 classes and all the work and resources had been prepared beforehand. The weather has been much the same as yesterday, grey with light rain at times.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Yesterday's winds have died down and today has been mostly grey. There were some blue-ish patches of sky in the morning and right now (6.00) the light is very yellow and the sky an odd brownish grey. It felt colder this morning so for the first time this autumn I put away my shorts and found some joggers to wear around the house. I'm trying to keep off my feet at the moment to give my toes a chance to heal, the blister looks like a big cranberry on the side of my toe and my little toe is still painful from taking a chunk out of it by walking into a spare car battery, so I spent the morning writing up my journal. I had thought I would get that up to date over the summer but somehow it didn't happen.
I had a good afternoon in the 2 Year 1 classes. It takes some preparation beforehand but most of the children know what I'm expecting them to do in our phonics sessions and I can focus on the more disruptive children in the room. There is a new boy in one of the classes who shares the name Tyler with another boy in the class. Their surnames begin with the same initial so we'll have to call them by their full names. And yes there is a Tyler in the other class too. At least they all look different while some of the girls with similar names resemble each other which confused me even more. I'm just about there knowing the names of the 150 different children I teach on a fairly regular basis.
There was no staff meeting today as there was a parents' evening instead. That's nearly 3 hours of back to back parent conversations for the class teachers. I made tea and coffee for the teachers before I left to do some shopping. I went over to Lidl's to stock up on chocolates and marzipan for Christmas and a birthday. Hopefully I won't break into the Christmas stash early.
On the way home I stopped near Ashelford Corner where the trailer was yesterday. The horse was still in its field though it was friendly enough and came up to the gate so I could stroke its muzzle.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014


It's been blowing a right gale today with sudden squalls and sunny spells. My poor acer trees which looked so spectacular yesterday have almost been denuded even though they are in a sheltered spot.
It didn't stay dry long enough for any outdoor work this morning so I pottered around and did a bit of mending. 
Driving in to work I had to wait a bit while a man tried to load the horse that lives in the field at Ashelford Corner, into a small trailer. When I pulled up the horse's front feet were on the ramp but no way was going to step up with his hind legs. Eventually the man led the horse back into the field and I went on my way. The horse was still in the field when I drove past this evening so I guess the man gave up in the end.
After more 'music' with my reception class I stayed on at school to put up some photos for the School Council display which is now my responsibility. Coming home I got caught in another squall and the wind was so fierce that going past a row of trees the clattering of twigs hitting the windscreen sounded like machine gun fire. And I have to admit to speeding right up to get past the very large Scots Pine at Burridge that was swaying alarmingly.

Monday, 20 October 2014


More stormy weather is heading our way with strong winds and rain during the day and worse to come tonight. I was back at school this morning as yet another teacher succumbed to the tummy bug that is going around both children and teachers. So my morning was spent with a Year 2 class who were off on another trip, walking across town to Barnstaple Museum. We  had plenty of helpers and the children had a treasure hunt style sheet with photos of details of some of the many and varied exhibits so my job was to make sure we got there and back safely. The museum had a well presented collection of items mainly relating to local history and wildlife including a life sized model of the front half of a 12ft high prehistoric elephant whose remains have been found in Barnstaple. There were lots of buttons to press and doors to open to satisfy the children's need to be 'doing' so I think the children enjoyed their visit. It began to rain as we left the museum for the half hour walk back to school but luckily the rain soon eased up. The wind was so strong that I thought some of the smaller children might be blown off their feet as we walked by the river and I got a good whack in the face by a nut or seed case blown down from the trees. At least that distracted the children from the somewhat strange sight of a dead cock pheasant lying on the pavement on the other side of the road.
In the afternoon I was back down in Reception where I worked with 2 groups of children exploring the sounds made by our motley collection of  instruments and then playing them while watching We're going on a Bear Hunt on the whiteboard.
After work I went across to Tesco's for some shopping and to fill up with petrol before heading for home feeling a bit tired as my cold caught up with me once more.
I did take some photos in the garden before the evening started but they weren't too exciting so I thought I'd post Vytas' current work/holiday trip in Mexico. First week was for a conference and he and Sally are being tourists for the second week. A lot more interesting than rainy Devon.

Sunday, 19 October 2014


It has been much windier today as the edge of the weather system that gave rise to Hurricane Gonzalo hit our shores. Nothing too dramatic but the trees have been swaying and wind chimes clanging. It was bright and sunny in the morning while I chopped up yesterdays apple harvest and as soon as I set foot outside it rained. But not for too long as the wind blew the clouds away once more.
I've also successfully stretched one of my Ugg boots. I've been wearing them for work all through the last 2 winters and was hoping to get at least another year out of them. But after a few recent wearings I noticed the most horrendous blister between my big toe and the next one. I was at a loss to think how my feet had got wider this year and not in previous years. But then I remembered that last spring my boots got soaked a couple of times so maybe they molded themselves back to the size they were before I had one stretched at the shoe menders. I thought I'd try stretching them myself so choosing some stones from my large collection of egg-shaped pebbles I was able to find the right ones to put inside the boot which I had made wet at the toe and hey presto after the boot had dried it was nice and roomy again. I'll stick to my crocs until the blister has gone down but I'm so glad I don't have to start the hunt for something to wear in the winter that doesn't cramp my extra wide toes. I'd rather have difficulty in finding shoes than difficulty in walking on squashed toes when I'm older.
I was able to make a start on my plant propagation and have split and replanted 8 different varieties of hardy geranium. I may have to check my photos to locate some more of my favourites especially the more uncommon varieties. Over the years each time I went to a garden centre or show I would look for new varieties to add to my collection as they are slug-proof and so easy to grow. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Grey, Mild and Damp.

After the bliss of not being woken at 6.00 for an early start I spent what was left of the morning doing housework, hoovering all the bits I don't do on a daily basis etc. I then decided that I should spend the afternoon outside. The garden has been a bit neglected with all my re-pointing so today I did a thorough  weeding of the 2 veg plots. The next step is to split some of the hardy geraniums to create new plants.
The recent winds had brought down the last of the apples so I filled up one last container. The raspberries which seem to be both spring and autumn fruiting yielded a a small dish of fruit as well. 
Before I started on mt gardening I raked the drive smooth as a few hollows had started to develop. And I removed a slightly flattened rat that was lying in the drive. That's a bit of a mystery as it definitely was flatter than it should be but not flat enough to have been driven over. Perhaps one of the cats left it there after Peter had driven off to do a bit of PR work for the gig club.