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, 31 January 2015


We've had rain, hail and snow today but so far nothing has settled. It's due to get worse this evening and then clear up tomorrow but just to be safe I drove the Rav up the hill. The wind was so fierce it was really hard to get the cover over the windscreen with the hail stones stinging against my face. For my walk down the hill I pulled my hoody's drawstring tight leaving a little hole for my nose and a view of the road directly in front of me. Peter has cooked potatoes, sauerkraut and Polish sausage together for a hearty warming supper. He gets the sausages from a new Polish food shop which has opened in town to cater for the recent influx of Polish workers. There is a small Polish food section in Tesco's but dry goods only. Peter likes to recreate the food his mother cooked when he was a child and I've asked him to look out for Povidel, a rich plum jam/butter which I remember my mother buying. (Our families are from Lithuania which is next to Poland).
Between showers I did some weeding up at the scree garden and while the snow came down I swept up all the leaves that had been blown into the covered area. 
The postman brought me a parcel today which was a pair of Ugg boots that I had bought on eBay. Unfortunately although I can get them on they are too small. According to the Ugg label they are the same size as my worn black boots but maybe the sizes have got a bit smaller over the years. They'll have to go back on to eBay which is a shame and I now know I need the next size up. 

Friday, 30 January 2015


There were more sunny spells today and fewer wintry showers but it's still feeling quite cold. After not getting out at all yesterday I wrapped up well determined to get some fresh air. My first job was to give the garden furniture that is up under the shelter another coat of teak oil. Then I sawed up an old deck chair, kindling for the fire and another item cleared away. After that I was back on my knees finishing off brushing the front yard, the bit I hadn't done and all the new needles that had blown down. Then I had time to weed a flower bed at the side of the house before icy rain sent me indoors. 
The early daffodils on the bank behind the house add a splash of colour to the  winter drabness.
A cock pheasant in my neighbour's yard.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Wintry Showers.

It has been a day of wintry showers but nothing worse than a little hail or sleet. Unlike the north of the country or Scotland where snow is falling. I thought about working outside, briefly, and then decided I'd stay inside. No school for me today so there was plenty of time for schoolwork preparation, housework, sewing and baking. I had bought another long fluffy hooded nightgown thing, a grey one with pointed ears, like an owl? It had taken me nearly 2 weeks to unpick the heavily embroidered eyes. Today I shortened the length but kept it longer than the white fleece I altered. I also removed the ears because they just looked silly.  Then I baked 2 kinds of biscuits for Peter to take in to work tomorrow. I have a lovely book with all sorts of delicious recipes but as usual each recipe needed 1 or 2 ingredients that I didn't have. So I just made up the recipes. I put lemon zest and juice in one batch and honey and mixed spice in the other. The lemon I had in the freezer. When I had needed lemons for other recipes but not needed the zest I grated the zest off anyway, added some lemon juice and froze them in little silicone sweet cases. When they were frozen I popped them out of the cases and into a plastic bag in the freezer handy for when I might need them.
I was in the sitting room this morning when I heard a commotion in the kitchen. It was much louder than the usual crashing about when the cats try to raid the compost bin scrap tub. Sure enough when I went in the kitchen a whole container of air gun pellets had been knocked on to the floor. They are like giant ball bearings and had rolled everywhere. As I started picking them up muttering darkly I noticed some small feathers around the place too. I tracked Speedy down to the sitting room where he had a robin in his mouth. I eventually pried his teeth open but it was too late for the robin which died in my hand. I was so cross and made Speedy stay outside for the rest of the morning. The robin must have flown in through the half door in the back room which I leave open to let fresh air into the place.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Much Colder.

 I woke up this morning to the sound of a storm raging wildly outside. Looking out of the window I could see trees swaying and sheets of rain being blown across the garden. So I turned to a bit more sorting out until the rain stopped and the sun almost shone. There was time before going to work to get outside for a while. A conifer has been shedding long needles all over the front yard, not only do they make the yard look messy but when they get inside I have to pick them off the floor by hand as they are too long for the hoover. Awkward things those needles, the soft broom just went over them and they got stuck in the bristles of the hard yard broom. The only way to clear them up was by going down on my knees and using a brush and pan. I got most of the yard done before it was time to go to work.
It was my afternoon for working with the Year 1 classes. One of the children with special needs had a melt-down in class and I ended up having to physically restrain him to stop him lashing out at other children. Very wearing for us all. After school the staff meeting was all about how to run our phonics lessons now that it has been decreed that streaming is out and all the class, regardless of their current reading level will be taught at the highest level. I made a quick trip to the Co-op afterwards. When I came out it had begun to rain, icy rain which turned to hailstones as I drove home. Luckily by the time I reached our valley the hail had melted but we have been promised more cold weather for the next few days. 

  The pond has even more frogspawn.
 Zoom in to the bottom of the photo for some froggy action.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


The day started dry and grey. I wanted to get on with weeding the pond path but first I brought in more wood and then the oil man came. It took 500 litres to top up the tank which is quite a lot considering the tank was topped up in December. That's because we used the central heating. All that left me with only enough time to get half of the remaining section of path done. However when I came home from work it was light enough for me to get in another hour of gardening before it got dark and the path is now done. The frogs have laid more frogspawn and this evening Patch was tucking in. I made sure he didn't come in the house after that.
When I got to school at lunchtime a robin was perched on the Secret Garden sign which I thought rather sweet. I was teaching the reception children and for some reason they found it really hard to sit still and focus on the lessons. This may have been because my teaching assistant was needed somewhere else but also there was great excitement because they had all brought toys in as part of their current topic.  
Last year's goose family are all grown up and spend the day grazing around the lake. I wonder if some of the young ones will breed this year? They all fly off to the west each evening so perhaps they meet up with other geese for the night.

Monday, 26 January 2015


It was dry and not too cold this morning. By the time I sat down for my breakfast at 9.00 I had put the bedding in the washing machine and hoovered the whole house as well as my usual jobs. That gave me time for another session of weeding the pond path. Only a 1/4 of the path to go. 
The warmer weather has fooled the frogs into thinking that Spring has arrived and not only are they croaking in the pond but the first frogspawn has been laid. We are due some colder weather this weekend (nothing like the major storms forecast for North America) and this frogspawn will probably get destroyed by the frost.
After school I went into town but it wasn't a terribly successful mission. I wanted some nappy pins to make badges for some kids at school but could only find ordinary safety pins. I have a feeling that I had to buy them on-line last time. Then I went into the shop that sells Ugg boots (and other expensive makes) to see if a size larger than the ones I have would be a better fit. Unfortunately they didn't do the larger women's sizes or any men's Ugg boots so that was no good. I'm still chasing boots on eBay but they seem quite popular and so far I've been outbid each time. For the moment my damaged boot is stuck together with superglue and I'm being very careful when I put it on or off.
Coming home the evening sky was washed with shades of pink, blue and lavender but my battery ran out and for once the spare was at home. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015


A bit warmer again today but the light drizzle turned into heavy drizzle making it too wet for outside work. Instead I carried on with my 'sorting out'. I don't have much problem sorting out stuff to give to various charity shops but I can't bring myself simply to throw stuff away. I even feel guilty for putting odd screws in the bin rather than in with the rest of the screws in the DIY boxes. I also got Peter to bring down a bag of books from his study. They will go to the Co-Op which has a stand of donated books and the money raised goes towards the neo-natal unit at the local hospital. Even just now I decided to go through some teaching ideas books and there's a satisfying stack of them to go. I've got folders full of worksheets and although it is so simple to make customised resources for each lesson sometimes it is handy to grab something already made. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015


We had a long sleep-in this morning catching up on all our missed sleep. Peter managed 13 hours only waking up 3 times with his various aches and pains. Feeling much refreshed my afternoon was spent working outside. I brought in several loads of wood for the fire some of which I split but mostly it was smaller logs. We've run short of kindling so I broke up some of the brushwood that is piled up at the corner of the garden and filled a dustbin and a large log tub with kindling ready to use. That was a bonus job because the garden will look tidier when the brushwood is cleared away. It was still light when I had done that so I strapped on my knee pads and weeded halfway around the little pond. Apart from fallen leaves and Beech mast weeds are beginning to grow again. The tiny (millimeters across) leaves show up well against the black gravel and when I pull them up inches of roots come up too. If it's dry again tomorrow I may be able to get the rest of the path done. 
A Blue Tit at the feeder over the stream.

Friday, 23 January 2015


At the moment the weather is swinging between sunny, dry and cold and cloudy, wet and warm. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. This morning it was pretty cold with a lot of ice on the cars. I'm a bit nervous about leaving the car engine running unattended so after scraping the windscreen I sat in the cat eating my bowl of porridge and wiping off the inside of the windscreen. Driving in early there were a few pale pink streaks in the sky as the sun began to rise and I caught a glimpse of deep red on my final turn down the hill into Pilton.
One bonus of being at work at this time of the year is the sheer warmth in all the classrooms. Far too warm to consider wearing a jumper and all the hoodies I wear have a long zip so I can take them off easily. Today I spent the whole day with a Year 2 class. After school they had a Year 2 disco in the hall (still in school uniform) which kept some of them a bit hyper all day. I had to stay with them in the hall until their class teacher arrived and then I escaped to go and mark their maths books before heading off home.

Thursday, 22 January 2015


I found it a bit hard to wake up first thing this morning. It's partly my own fault as even though we go to bed around 10.00 I read or do Sudoku until midnight and still spend a couple of hours trying to get to sleep. I should put my head down earlier but it's so nice to read  and I know it will still take hours of listening to the radio (and Peter's snoring) before I get to sleep.
I was worried about getting to work this morning because on TV they kept saying there could be icy patches anywhere but when we went outside it had warmed up and the road was merely wet. I had a good morning in a Year 1 class, stayed on for an hour adding to our class RE books and then headed into town. I drove around the convoluted inner streets so that I could pull up outside one of the charity shops to unload a few bulkier items that I had in the car. Then I went over and parked by Lidl's and had an amble around town. I got a couple of library books and bought a few reduced Christmas items. I waved my Ugg boot at the repair man hoping that he could stitch it together again but apparently the leather is ripping rather than the stitching coming apart. I've had very good wear out of them wearing them to school all through 3 or 4 winters and now they are scuffed, worn down and falling to pieces. I bought them from eBay and that's where I'm now searching as I'm not too keen on paying £150 which is the price of a new pair. Having very wide feet I struggle to find comfortable footwear.
I drove home in some welcome sunshine before getting caught once more under grey clouds.

 The dress that arrived yesterday.
(It looks better on.)
The new necklace.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


It has warmed up quite a bit and we're back to the usual greyish days. I walked up the hill in the morning to get the car and the sun managed to break through at times making the day feel spring-like.
This girl on her horse passed me as I was walking up so rather than drive right behind her I carried on walking.  
The top field is full of some sort of fodder beets so being the person I am my thoughts turned to a survivalist scenario. They wouldn't be that tasty but those beets would provide us with enough food for at least a year. The root part of most of them was around 2ft long and the leaves would provide a good source of iron.  
In the afternoon I was back at school teaching the Year 1 classes. That was followed by a staff meeting about literacy, sorry it's now called writing. I feel for the class teachers who have to stick even more work into the children's books; photographs, photocopies and all the bits of writing the children do during independent learning. This is to provide evidence to the Ofsted inspectors that the children are doing all the activities we plan for them. A teacher's word counts for nothing these days, there has to be evidence.
When I got home I had a nice surprise, 2 parcels waiting for me. One was the Per Una dress I had bought on eBay to wear to a wedding in June and the other was a lovely necklace. I was getting Peter's opinion of a selection of dresses I was watching on eBay and there was this ornate necklace which matched one of the dresses. That dress was a no, we both agreed it was too old but Peter offered to buy me the necklace as an early Valentine's Day present. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


Yesterday evening I got caught out by the weather (sort off). The weather forecast had been ambiguous and as the road was dry when I came home I waited until Peter got home to make the decision about leaving the car up the hill. Unfortunately by the time Peter got home the road was already too icy for me to drive up and Peter had left his Rav up by the field. This morning Peter declared it still to icy to try driving my car up the hill so I walked up with him and he drove me into town. That left me with a long wait after school before he could pick me up but that wasn't a problem as I had to mark and write notes in 60 books from the morning classes. By the time I had done that and made a quick PowerPoint for tomorrow afternoon it was after 5.30 anyway. I'm not working until tomorrow afternoon but being doubly cautious I drove my car up the hill followed by Peter who then drove me back down in his Rav which can tackle icier conditions should it get really cold again tonight.
IT problems and a full on morning in Year 2 kept me on my toes all morning and then it was back down to the reception children for the afternoon. Unfortunately I didn't prepare everything properly at lunchtime. At the end of the afternoon the reading folder had been moved and I didn't spot the list of children I needed and read with some others instead. Not very professional and now I've messed up the teacher's guided reading groups for the week.
From yesterday.

Monday, 19 January 2015


There was a hard frost this morning after what was the coldest night of the winter so far. Where the sun shone in the garden the frost sparkles made it look magical. 
The Frosted Curls grass really was frosted. 
There is a sprinkling of white in the garden but I was still surprised to see snow up on Exmoor when I went into work at lunchtime. Today in school I taught the Reception children a little about bones using a 3ft plastic skeleton and a floppy doll puppet. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015


It was bright and sunny this morning and not too cold. Yesterday evening in spite of a roaring fire in the woodburner I had to put the central heating on for a while to warm the rest of the house as the cold really affects Peter's arthritis.
It was too nice a day to stay indoors so after Peter and I had levered the spring back into place in the windscreen wiper I wrapped up for an afternoon of outside work. I had a try at cleaning the window above the stairs. Outside it is in an awkward position with the oil tank underneath it which makes it difficult to reach from either of the ladders leaning against the back wall. I improvised and used the kitchen floor mop to wash the window and then an old cloth wrapped around my garden hoe to dry it off. I haven't done a perfect job but the window looks a bit better (if you don't look in the corners). After that I tried out my new-strap on gel knee pads. They proved ideal for working in the scree garden protecting my knees as I crawled over the stones getting rid of fallen leaves, moss and the occasional weed.

Saturday, 17 January 2015


Woke up this morning to a white garden. It wasn't snow but a thick covering of hail that had fallen in the night. What better way to spend the morning but under a warm duvet listening to the radio. We've had a few sleety showers during the day but mostly it has been rain.

By the time I did make it outside most of the hail had melted away. A good thing too as Peter had to drive in to town to look for a replacement spring for one of his windscreen wipers. None of the car parts places sold suitable springs and at the Toyota dealer he could only order a whole wiper arm costing over £50. Checking on the internet he had found that all the Japanese manufacturers get their springs from the same source. Off he went to the car breakers and found the exact spring on a Mazda. Total cost £2 and sore hands as he had to remove it himself. We'll fit it tomorrow as it's really a 2 person job. Meanwhile back home I had a good workout splitting logs and replenishing the pile next to the woodburner. I felt it was the right day for a hearty soup so I've cooked up some carrots and a parsnip together with tomatoes and onions with a chopped up Polish sausage and then added pumpkin puree from the freezer. Seasoned with pepper and cumin it tastes delicious.

Friday, 16 January 2015


Yesterday's wintry showers brought a lot of thunder in the afternoon which sent me rushing to unplug the internet. I didn't get back on line until 9.30 when I checked the planning I had been sent for today's teaching and discovered that I needed to plan the maths lesson. That took up the rest of the evening hence no blog yesterday.
Although it was a day of rain, hail and thunder yesterday was a good day because I GOT THINGS DONE. I had the whole day at home and decided to do something about a sturdy office desk that needed to go. I had unsuccessfully offered it to friends and as it was too big to fit in either of our cars the only solution was to take it to pieces. Unscrewing every screw that I could reach got the drawers and top off but the metal frame needed to be cut into pieces. First I tried a couple of low-tech approaches, hitting it with an axe only dented it and filing through the metal worked but would have taken a very long time. So with trepidation I got out the angle grinder which I had never used before. With safety glasses on and my face covered I heaved up the heavy angle grinder and with great showers of sparks cut the frame up in no time. I loaded up my car with as much stuff as I could find around the place and took it down to the dump at Ilfracombe. I called in at Tesco's afterwards and it was so windy that a shopping bag was whipped out of the boot of the car and blown right across the car park. I went and got it back from the hedge and then had to fight the wind to get back to the car. Back home I split some more wood in between showers.
Today I was asked to work all day which did mean driving to work in the cold and dark but I soon warmed up at work and had a good day with a Year 2 class. We ended the day with another fun session of country/line dancing. During Literacy in the morning the children were writing similes about the bad wolf and one child wrote Its eyes were as fierce as Mrs M.....'s eyes. Obviously my teacher's stare does get noticed!
Coming home the clouds to the east reflected the setting sun. 
 That final grey hill is Dartmoor.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Much Colder.

We had a couple of thunderstorms yesterday evening, the first one out to sea and the next rather closer. Sometime in the night a lot of hail fell leaving the garden sprinkled with white. 
I walked up the hill first thing to bring the car back and the wind was quite icy. When I drove in to work at lunchtime a lot of the fields had hail on them but everything below Shirwell was green. There is another weather warning out for tonight but this time it is for strong winds up to gale force 10 and rain. We had a long staff meting after school talking about assessing literacy and maths. Along with a new curriculum this year for the Year 1 children the old assessment levels have been thrown out with vague end of year statements instead but we are still required to document progress throughout the year.
PS No sign of the kitchen cupboard mouse yet in the live trap.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


It looks as if we might finally be in for some snow tonight. It is due to get very cold tonight and even if we don't have snow the wet road down our hill may well be covered in the dreaded black ice tomorrow. In between  hail showers this morning I split and brought in several loads of logs. I'm one of those people who likes to be prepared.
In the afternoon I was 'doing' teeth again in Reception. I showed the children a BBC clip about wobbly teeth which also looked at sharks' teeth. Behind the presenter was an aquarium in which  a large shark was swimming. As I looked at my class I noticed a lad watching with a horrified look on his face so I called across to him asking if he was okay. He nodded a yes and later when I spoke to him it turns out he really likes sharks so I guess he was simply savouring the terror. I left school fairly promptly going to the Co-Op first to get more milk and a few other items.
It was still light as I drove home but once I got to higher ground I was caught under a slushy snow shower. It was too cold and wet to get out of the car so I took some photos through the windows.
I drove right down to the house so that I could unload the shopping then changed into full waterproof clothing before driving the car back up the hill. It's in full ice-alert mode - cloth over the windscreen and a can of de-icer behind the front tyre. Probably a bit over the top as I'm not going to work until lunchtime tomorrow but I'd rather not be worrying about getting to work.