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 August 2015


Much rejoicing this morning when we woke to find the rayburn still burning properly. Peter's knees are not good not to mention the cuts on his hands from working in a confined space. No wonder our fancy model is the most disliked by rayburn engineers.
The day started with light rain so I read through the 9 attachments to a pre-term school email that arrived last week. One thing I spotted is that although I was told on the last afternoon that I would be doing the same as last year it is the same 3 afternoons but I'll be teaching a Year 1 class on Mondays and the same Reception class on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. I hope the music planning I did is still relevant.  I also used an anti-mold spray around the edges of our bedroom ceiling as I had noticed a slight greyness there due to damp.
Once things cleared up in the afternoon I was back in the hens' run. I took a chance and used a fork to speed up the  digging. I hope to reach the far corner of the run by the weekend, that's if it stays dry, and then I can start planting in that section.
 A Red Admiral butterfly on a white buddlia bush.

Sunday, 30 August 2015


I have discovered that carpet laying is yet another activity that is no good for people with bad backs. Still, it needed doing and I have taken action to prevent myself from seizing up by applying the 3-Cs treatment; co-codamol, coffee and cake (actually scones with cream).

It has taken me 10 days to get from a rather sad looking corridor (above) to a bright and tidy one instead (below). It took me quite a long time in the morning just sorting out the myriad of wires that were under the carpet. They are from the days when all the boys' bedrooms were networked together. The spare wires have been moved and then I trimmed the hardboard and taped the remaining wires in the spaces out of the way. There was a lull in the rain so I was able to lay out the new carpet on the patio and use the worn, old carpet as a template. I tend to cut a little large, just in case so I had to do some extra trimming once I got the carpet upstairs.
Peter hasn't sorted the non-working ceiling pendent because we woke to find the rayburn had gone out and that took priority. He has spent the whole day servicing the rayburn, taking it apart and cleaning off the baked soot but we still don't know if he has been successful. (It can take several tries to get it burning and burning evenly.) If not we'll have to call in the engineer which aside from having to pay him, means he doesn't level the burner precisely, (he's the best stove engineer here) and it doesn't last so long. Fingers crossed that it will burn correctly today.
We're going to have those pirogi for supper as they can be boiled on the hotplate. They are rather doughy and the meat tastes mainly of pepper. The ones I make are more like giant ravioli.
Update- It's not burning and it might be the oil valve which would mean serious money.

Saturday, 29 August 2015


It's been a warm day, overcast with very little wind. My first job was to give the corridor ceiling a final coat of paint and then because it looked so yellow against the newly painted door frame, I gave Peter's study door a coat of gloss. Although that section of the corridor was in an exceptionally poor state I can see that I'll be continuing to freshen up all the rest of the corridor as my next project. 
My afternoon was spent outside working in the hens' run. First I put in some plants in the tucked away corner beside the shed where the compost heap has been relocated too. I planted a vigorous, scrambling hardy geranium (above) as well as some Gardeners' Gaiters (a stripy grass) and some mind your own business
Then it was back to digging out nettle roots. I seem to have been stuck on a nasty patch for a while but hopefully tomorrow things will progress a bit faster. 
After gardening I had some time relaxing and reading. No wind today but it is surprising just how much noise 2 small streams make. 
 A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.
A Club-Tailed dragonfly.

Friday, 28 August 2015


I woke to a bright sunny day with a distinctly autumnal chill in the air. I rose full of energy and had painted the walls and ceiling of the corridor and done my daily household jobs by 9.00.  Then I headed into town to meet up with 2 friends for coffee and cheesecake at Lindsay's.  We had a great time catching up on all our summer news and generally putting the world to rights. And I was given this lovely bunch of flowers.

(On my way to Lindsay's from the High Street I took the lane by the church and inadvertently passed a gathering of people there for a funeral with the old fashioned hearse drawn by 2 black plumed horses.) 
I had parked in the all day car park again so was able to take my time checking out the charity shops and the ever present sales.
In the Oxfam shop I found this boho  dress which I bought for £9. Expensive but then Oxfam always is and at least the money is going to a good cause.
Vytas and Sally gave me a Middle Earth map last Christmas since when I have been keeping an eye out for a decent frame. I had only gone into Cargo to quickly check out their sale when I saw they had some frames. This was the only one marked down to £5 and behind it the same size frames were marked £15. I asked if the price was correct and was told it was. No it wasn't damaged but the ones behind had gold coloured frames instead of bronze coloured and their computer said it was only £5. Needless to say I bought it. 
After my town visit at home the grass was finally dry and I was able to get all the lawns cut. The beekeeper's veil came in  very handy keeping those horrible flies off my face.
Seeing as it was sunny after so many rainy days Peter and I decided to go to Barricane Beach for a Sri Lankan curry.  It was high tide so the beach was quite crowded but Peter managed to get a seat at one of the picnic tables. As ever the food was delicious. We shared our table for a while with a couple who had just returned from a holiday in Sri Lanka and they said the was as good as any they had had out there. We had a little walk on the sand and then chatted to the mother of one of the children I teach before heading back home. 
Just time to put another coat of paint on the corridor ceiling and that's a busy day over. Only half past eight and it's nearly dark. The nights are now drawing in and it's still August. How time flies.

Thursday, 27 August 2015


After a few heavy showers in the morning it has been a bright and breezy day. First of all I applied one more coat of stain stop and washed down the walls in the corridor. I don't know if I really could see the watermark anymore or if I was imagining it but I gave it one more coat just in case. Once the rain had stopped I was back out grubbing about in the soil digging out those horrible nettle roots. Once I find one of those big roots I can't leave it even if we hope to be gone in a year or so  but I have to dig down and follow it right to the fence. If it wasn't for the shade of the trees that lovely deep soil would now be perfect for growing vegetables.
 A Red Admiral.
I stopped my muddy work half-way through the afternoon and actually took some time to sit out and read in the sun. The sound of the wind blowing through the trees is so soothing. However there was still work to do so back inside I went and painted the first coat of paint on the corridor walls and ceiling. I so don't like those artexed walls, not only do they look tacky but they are dust traps and a pain to paint. Hopefully they will only need one more coat as they were already painted white.
 A Gatekeeper.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Windy and Sunny.

Much sunnier today and quite breezy. We must have had a major downpour some time in the night because when I went outside I found the drive had nasty deep ruts and a lot of gravel had washed down into the yard. When I checked the dams I found that the run offs were full of fine road gravel and once they were blocked the water would have run straight down the drive washing out the gravel. I cleared out the run offs and tried to discretely extend them to make them more effective. Then it was time to repair the drive. I did so in a very cross mood because although the work is not that hard I know that shoveling gravel, pushing a wheelbarrow and raking the drive all damage my back and I suffer later. Thank goodness for strong painkillers. At least the small pond is now full of water.
Having repaired the drive and had a bit of a rest I went back to clearing the ground in the hens' run. Fortunately I was able to do that on my knees but I probably spent too long out there. I was mostly digging out stinging nettle roots, see below, and yes those great big thick roots that look like tree roots really are nettle roots. I had started by forking over the top layer of soil but once I found the bigger roots I had to dig down to get rid of them completely. 
I worked on until nearly 6.00 when I tottered back indoors, slapped some more paint on the water stains and called it a day. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


Another day that began with heavy rain. It didn't take long to go over the water stains in the corridor so I busied myself going through my school folders seeing what else could be thrown away. We are back to work next week but so far all I know is I may be teaching music to the Year 1 children.  
In between showers I went out and did some cutting back of the alchemilla which was wet and had flopped down over the paving, and dead headed the buddlias. After a break for lunch I put on my old waterproof coat and went to work  in the hens' run. I pretended it wasn't raining and only went back inside when some soil flicked into my eye. A change into dry clothing and my eye seen to I was back out in the mud grubbing up roots. I achieved my main objective which was to remove all the unwanted saplings. I've nearly finished moving shrubs to the boundary fence and as I worked I planned which other plants I shall be moving there. I just want to fill up the space so I'll be choosing plants that grow quickly and don't need special care.
The next heavy shower sent me back indoors where I continued with sorting out my paperwork before painting a second coat of stain stop. 
A Large White butterfly.
Taking a break in the sitting room I could hear the wind whistling round the corners and down the chimney. Very autumnal.

Monday, 24 August 2015


Another wet and windy day. I had an early appointment at the dentists', yet another fitting for my plate. Afterwards I drove over to B&Q for a tin of stain stop paint and also called in at Tesco's. There I bought some autumn flowering violas and pansies, reduced of course. The surfinias in the hanging baskets are beginning to be past their best and the pink ones in particular are almost over. I threw out any of the pink surfinias that were done and squeezed in the white and purple violas and pansies. I was very tempted by the cheery yellow ones but they would have clashed horribly with the rest of the surfinias. Then I called in at the carpet remnant place and managed to find a carpet piece to replace the frankly dilapidated and dangerous carpet in the upstairs corridor. It was almost the same colour and big enough that I can do the steps up from the landing all in the same piece. For those 2 steps I had to get a 6ft 6ins wide piece instead of a 3ft wide piece. 
During the afternoon the florist turned up with a beautiful bouquet of blue and yellow flowers from Vytas. They cheered the kitchen up on what was quite a gloomy day. 
I used up the last of my gloss paint on the woodwork upstairs and painted 2 coats of stain-stop on the water stains on the ceiling and wall. It was too wet to work outside so I did some sewing of the tops that I am altering.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Sunny Afternoon.

I woke this morning to find this beautiful orchid plus chocolates and other birthday presents from Peter. And after many years of unsuccessful hints there was a birthday cake as well, white chocolate and strawberry.
For lunch we went up to the Station Inn at Blackmoor Gate where we were joined by Rachel and Ray who are staying in Lynton on a long weekend break. It's Rachel's birthday in 2 days as well as her sister's tomorrow so we have often celebrated all 3 birthdays together. The carvery meal was excellent as usual. The place was packed with holidaymakers and locals but we had booked ahead to make sure we got a window table. It was great to get to know Ray having only met him before at their wedding in June. It had been pouring with rain all morning but while we were eating the sun broke through. We spent most of the afternoon outside chatting and then moved back inside when it got a little cooler.
We didn't get home until early evening. Almost as soon as we walked in Romas rang wondering where we had been all day. The signal at Blackmoor Gate is poor so it wouldn't have helped if my mobile phone had been switched on. 
I did get another coat of paint on the woodwork upstairs and now I'm now ready for a cup of tea and a slice of birthday cake.

Saturday, 22 August 2015


Since the forecast was for a rainy day I didn't go with Peter to Appledore where he was rowing in a regatta as I had planned. As it turned out it has been a sunny day with just a sprinkling of rain. But staying at home gave me the chance to do more work on the corridor. I started with the dusty task of sanding down the woodwork, first by hand and then with my handy electric sander. Once that was done and I'd hoovered up the dust I was able to give all the woodwork a coat of gloss paint. 
Then I was able to get outside to carry on clearing the ground by the old chicken house. That included sawing down some overhanging branches and digging up one sapling. By that time Peter came home and I decided to call it a day. I put away my tools and had just sat down with a book when rain started to fall. It's sunny again now but we might still get thunderstorms so I'm blogging earlier than usual.

Friday, 21 August 2015


More rain today. Not as heavy as yesterday and it stopped for an hour or so in the afternoon but generally a grey and dismal day. It has been unusually hot these last few days and listening to the radio there was talk of tornadoes due to the clashing cold and hot weather systems. 
While not an actual pet Fido the spider has been living in the downstairs toilet all summer. He/she sometimes sits right out on the lino but more often stays by the gap in the cupboard, often only a pair of legs can be seen. I don't care for flies so Fido is welcome to live there.
Today's house job was to mix tub after tub of filler and fill all the holes and cracks in the corridor. That's where the part of the house that is mere decades old meets the part that is centuries old and that combined with the poor workmanship of the previous owners' builders took me nearly all day to get everything done. After that I felt in need of some fresh air and went and moved the contents of the compost bin which was on the concrete slab in the chickens' run round to the side of the sheds. That was hard going and I must have sweated off another few pounds doing it. (One can always live in hope.)

Thursday, 20 August 2015


Today has been a mixture of light rain and heavy rain. Not a good day to work outside. Instead I made a start on the second 'house' job I had planned for this summer. That is to refurbish the corridor outside Peter's study. Some years back there was a leaking pipe in the old attic above resulting in a stained and damaged ceiling and the light stopped working. I sealed off the corridor with plastic sheeting taped to the walls to contain the dust and managed to scrape off about 2/3s of the artex from the ceiling. It was a hard and extremely hot job. I felt like I was in a sauna and the sweat was pouring off my back! Unfortunately the last third of the ceiling seems to have had the artex done over wallpaper and doesn't come off so I think I'll have to leave that bit textured. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


And we're back to rain again as promised. I didn't mind because the shrubs I moved could do with watering and anyway I had a town day planned.
For once I paid for all day parking in one of the outer car parks as I didn't want to be worrying about getting back within 2 hours which is what you get at the Lidl's car park. With the wet weather it seemed that everyone in North Devon had also decided to spend the day in town and the roads were just about grid locked. On the way home it took me 10 mins just to get out of Tesco's car park and up to the new bridge. Fortunately there were still some people driving with Devon courtesy ie not sticking to the right of way but allowing 1 car out at each junction. That way the traffic keeps moving. Needless to say there were plenty of drivers who didn't bother to let anyone out.
The main reason for going in today was after over 3 months of waiting, to have my self-designed (okay inspired by elven armour) neck tattoo. For me it symbolises my nature loving rebellious spirit. Tom had just started work and we were talking about how some people find it very painful when yikes! it really hurt. I think he was doing the first small curl on the left hand side which does look red in the photo. I was thinking I was going to have to eat my words about it being no worse than a bramble scratch when he moved to a new section and from then on it wasn't too bad. In fact when he got to where there are a number of midge bites which I had valiantly  not been scratching it actually felt good. Peter has got home from work, told me how bad the traffic still is and then gone off to check his emails without even asking to see the tattoo. I despair at times.
One bonus was that as it was a relatively simple design it didn't take too long, about 45 mins I think, and the initial deposit covered the cost. We had a good chat while Tom was doing the tattoo. I imagine it to be a bit like chatting to your hairdresser not that I ever go to a hairdresser. 
Afterwards I had a very relaxed amble through town, splashing through the puddles in my wellies (the posh ones) going in to every charity shop and a lot of clothes shops too. I bought some tops on sale which will do for work after a few alterations. I could have done without going to Tesco's but we needed some food items and while I was there I found these melamine trays on sale at 75% off so I bought 2.
One nice story from my trip. - In 2 of the shops I called in to I noticed a very elderly gentleman having a conversation with members of staff. It sounded like this was quite a regular occurrence and at the end of each conversation he gave the member of staff a sweet from a paper bag he was holding. It was lovely in this modern time when shop people are often labelled as uninterested or rude, to see this gentleman greeted by name and treated courteously. Maybe this was his way of overcoming the loneliness that so many older people suffer from.