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 October 2015

Happy Birthday Romas.

Romas is 26 today, his hair is shorter but he is still following his passion for drumming. He has played the drums for Matt Tyrer on his last 3 albums and they do a fair number of gigs around the country. He still works full-time in one of the potteries in Stoke so I don't have to worry about him being a starving musician. I'm looking forward to seeing him soon at his brother's wedding where he will be the Best Man.

It was a balmy 60F in the shade today. The sun shone all day and though most of the garden was in shade the surrounding trees glowed in their autumn glory. 
I had a late start due to a sinus headache but I still had a productive day outside. While the tall grasses in the middle of the drive made a handy under car cleaner I was concerned that they were blocking the gully down the middle.  
I used a combination of strimming, cutting and digging with a trowel to clear out the gully. Hopefully now should any water get past my little dams it will be diverted to the centre of the drive and not wash away the gravel. 
Peter's immune system has triggered severe pain in his wrist so I didn't call on him to help me put up the outdoor lights. Hopefully we'll do them tomorrow. The awkward part is going to be drilling into the uneven stonework to fix the lights to the house. If it all gets too hard I'll fix them to the wooden boards that run under the roof tiles. I did climb up and cut the tv aerial wire ready to take it and the supporting cable down but I need to move the ladder to do that.
This evening I glanced out of the window and saw a hint of a red sunset. By the time I was outside with my camera the intense red had faded and within minutes the colours had faded to purples and greys. Nature's fleeting beauty.

Friday, 30 October 2015

A Day Off.

Yesterday the forecast was for heavy rain in the morning  with a dry warm afternoon. As I watched the early news this morning rain was still promised and there were reports of flooding and some roads closed in Cornwall. Here it was dry outside with dark grey clouds overhead so I waited for the downpour, even putting boots and a coat in my car but the rain never arrived. They were right about the warmth though and this afternoon in town it did feel like the 17C they had talked about.
I've been out for the whole day, first of all meeting up with my friends at the garden centre for chat, coffee and cake. As usual we had a great time but we were all unimpressed by the change of decor and layout in the cafe area. They've installed a long banquette down the middle of the room so all the tables have to be pushed up to it on either side. ( I should have taken a photo but we were too busy talking.) The place now looks like an uninspiring airport waiting area. 
After several hours of catching up with plenty of laughter it was time to head into town proper. One of the things I had planned to do was to book a spray tan for my legs for the wedding. That's because in spite of spending the summer in shorts my legs are sadly pale and I don't want the bother of wearing tights. The spray stuff I have at home takes a day to get the colour so you can't tell how even it is but my friends told me that a lightly tanning moisturiser gives a good effect so that's what I've bought. For a pre-wedding, post-cake baking and decorating treat I have booked a full pedicure and polish for my toe nails. I won't do my finger nails because I don't like the tight feeling of the polish on them. I did some shopping including buying 2 outdoor lights which hopefully will go up this weekend. I also called in at one of the carpet places for a quote for the sitting room because they're offering a deal with free fitting and underlay. Because there's a bit sticking out at the door we would need a bigger piece of carpet but the extra metre would be just right for doing the stairs too. I've asked Peter to hurry up getting a quote from his mate or else I'll go ahead with this offer.
Yesterday the cookie recipe needed 1 egg and 1 yolk. I couldn't waste the spare egg white so I made so meringue cuite  which I made into tiny meringue shells. Waste not, want not.
It was already getting dark when I went out to take some photos this afternoon. A whole flock of pheasants must have been wandering around the back of the riding school because they kept flying across the garden in panic. Their wings make the oddest flapping whirring sound, a bit like opening an old sliding door. You can hear the sounds here , the Pheasant Flush is the flying sound and Pheasant 2 is the call we hear a lot especially when they are roosting in the evening.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Mixed Weather.

We had rain at the start of the day which cleared by the middle of the morning. I used the time to make a batch of large chocolate chip cookies for Peter to take to work tomorrow. I tried a new recipe I found on line and although I didn't have the soft brown sugar the recipe called for they still tasted good. (I have to check them personally.) I also gave one in a bag to the postman. He's always cheery and never minds taking my letters to post. 
While each batch of cookies was baking I worked on Vytas and Sally's wedding card. (Only 4 weeks to go.) I've got a design to use and have drawn it out a few times. I usually just do pencil drawings but I think this will be better with colour so I'll have to experiment with watercolours or pencils. 
Housewifely work done I went outside. Initially I was going to sort out the 2 old outdoor lights that are hanging sadly from their wires but when I got the ladder up I thought as the wiring should still be okay why not buy 2 new lights. If I get the motion sensitive ones they would be really helpful when we come home on these dark nights. I was also going to cut the old tv cable that goes from the corner of the house, across the stream and up the hill inside the hedge to where we used to have a tv aerial. I'm 95% sure it's safe but I'll double check with Peter tonight before I  actually cut it. We don't use the terrestrial signal at all now and I think the aerial fell down (or was taken down) years ago. 
Instead I cut back some of the very big leylandii at the side of the yard and then cut and cleared all the grass growing over and into the channel that diverts any water coming down the drive into the stream away from our waste system. That was something that needed doing. It could still do with a bit of digging out but I had done enough for the day. 
It's still very warm so I'm pushing on with the outdoor jobs when I can. I could hear my neighbour or more likely his son, out on the big mower but I don't think I'll do any more mowing this year. Too many plants still to cut back and general tidying up to do.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Sun Returns.

The sun was shining this morning and my cold had taken a back seat. Naturally it was going to be a day spent working outside. My plan was do the autumn pruning of the climbers on the front of the house. This is a must-do job so I was thankful to have such a lovely day to do it in. Step 1 was to move the big pots out of the way. Then came the hardest part, bringing down the big ladders from where I had left them in the hens' run. I needed to bring them down anyway before I was tempted to do any more branch cutting. I was looking at one branch a few days ago but as it isn't essential to cut it down I shall leave it.
Then I took a break for breakfast before starting on cutting back the roses and wisteria that were threatening to take over the front of the house. This ladder is nice and long but it is heavy to move around. My biggest worry wasn't falling off the ladder but having it tip over as I tried to move it and smashing a window. That nearly happened right at the end when it got caught on a branch and started to twist. I managed to keep it away from the windows but I expect I'll have a couple of bruises from that incident. I was feeling so brave that where I could I extended the ladder right up to the top and cleaned out the gutters.
Once I had done all the pruning and cleared up I spent the rest of the day picking leaves, twigs and moss from the stones on top of the raised bed before moving the acers back. More leaves will fall as there are still plenty on the trees but it will be an easier job next time.  
The postman drove down in the afternoon bringing 2 parcels, dowels for the wedding cake and a Nessie ladle. I saw it on Facebook a while back and bought myself a cheap version. Fun for serving up those warming winter soups.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Here Comes The Rain.

I woke up this morning to rain, it wasn't too bad at first then down came the deluge. I had taken myself back up to bed with a cup of coffee and was watching the start of an episode of Doctors ( a light indulgence) when on screen was the same clock radio that was sitting on my bedside table. Not an amazing coincidence as it's from Argos but the time on both clocks was only 2 mins apart which was a bit of a coincidence. It was still pouring when I got up and the stream was running high so I wrapped up and went to double check on my dams and clear away any leaves.  The first thing I did this morning was to cook up a last batch of stewed apple. I'd picked the last of the apples off the trees and any usable windfalls yesterday. There's plenty of cooked apples in the freezer now.
For the last few weeks, I along with several colleagues have been suffering from a persistent cold that comes and goes, never getting too bad but never clearing up either. Today was a rough day with my throat feeling a bit sore and general grottiness. It should have been a day for curling up on the sofa but instead as I needed stamps and we were almost out of milk I headed off to Tesco's. For a change I went to the smaller one at Ilfracombe. It's slightly closer, the journey is all through the countryside and it's a change from my route to work. As I got to higher ground I could see some lightness in the sky to the south-west. Also as I got to the hill above Ilfracombe there were great views across the Bristol Channel to the misty Welsh hills.
I took a couple of detours on my way back to find some better views. Above is looking north across the sea with Wales just visible on the right-hand side. 
Looking south-wards from a different spot. The very warm conditions created a second low-level layer of clouds over the sea and up the estuary towards Barnstaple. 
Looking more to the south-west with a glimmer of sea and Hartland Point beyond.
I stopped again at Bowden Corner, not a tornado but probably a farmer burning .... something? 
At home there wasn't even any post to cheer me up so I did a lot of work for school. Just for once, hooray! I've been asked to do some work that I've already done with last year's classes so I had the main planning done. Usually I have to start from scratch as I get asked to do something new each half-term.

Monday, 26 October 2015

An Outside Day.

It's been quite grey today but with the winds blowing from the south it's been warm. I did hang some washing outside but there wasn't a lot of wind at ground level so the washing didn't really benefit from being on the line. For me on the other hand outside is always best. I'd rather wrap up and work or even read outside than stay indoors. Maybe it's because this house doesn't get a lot of light especially in the winter or perhaps it's just my love of being out in the fresh air. I've been watching a lot of house building/design programs recently and for all their eco-cred I couldn't live in a passive house. Windows and even doors are usually open here except in the coldest weather.
Every day I tell myself that I'm only going to do some light gardening and then each evening my body tells me I did too much - again. But if not me then who will keep the garden in a reasonable shape? Peter works full-time and his arthritis is far worse than mine so he can't help. I know I'm gardening partly because I love it but I've also got future buyers in mind too. Today I cut down the loosestrife by the back lawn, cleared out the little drainage channel that runs around the lawn and then stomped and raked down the grass cuttings I have been tipping onto the bank. My plan is to put all the scrambling hardy geranium that needs to be cleared out of the raised bed, on the bank along with some soil from just below the hedge onto the grass cuttings and let it romp away. 
After my gardening I sat outside for a while with my eyes closed and I could imagine myself by the sea. The wind in the trees sounded like waves, I could hear seagulls in the distance and the sun was shining on my face. With a bit of imagination the sound of the tractor could have been fishing boat engines while the strimmer next door was with an even bigger stretch a jet-ski. It was so nice that I took some mending outside, a good sheet that had a little tear. I even got out an embroidery hoop which I don't remember using before, you can do some really teeny stitches when using a hoop. I wasn't quite finished when I thought I felt some rain so I rescued the washing, hung some of it over the rayburn and ironed the sheet dry.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Clocks Go Back.

With the end of British Summer Time we got an extra hour in bed this morning though having darkness descend at 5.30 is not too wonderful. 
Peter is out on the river again. Yesterday he was just doing his cox training but today he is rowing as well as cox training. Apparently he's nearly ready to be signed off as a fully trained cox so he'll get more time out on the river even when he's not fit enough to row. I stayed at home and decided to do some light gardening. That consisted of first tidying up the santolina hedge by cutting back the flower spikes and picking off any fallen leaves. I love blue/grey foliage and the hedge will remain like this until I cut it back hard in the spring. Then I moved to weeding some of the flower beds including the new bed with ornamental grasses at the back of the house. I cleared all the fallen leaves so that I could remove any weed daring to grow there but I'll leave any more that fall as they'll cover the bare earth nicely. Also if I remember correctly from my uni days, beech leaves contain a toxin that prevents weed seeds from germinating hence the lovely bare ground in beech forests.
It's been quite a sunny day and I was tempted to sit and read outside but those weeds will just keep on growing.  

Saturday, 24 October 2015


After a wet morning the day brightened up enough for me to get outside for more weeding. 603 is the number of weeds I dug out of the middle lawn, mainly plantain with a few thistles and dandelions. The lawn is looking a bit sad now with so many muddy patches but should look better next year. 
The trees are looking very autumnal with their winter skeletons  gradually being revealed. When the sun shines through the golden leaves they look so pretty but as soon as the sun goes behind a cloud all is so drab and sad.
I haven't done much else today, just pottering around and a bit of tidying up.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Attachment Disorder Awareness Training.

Today we had an inset day on attachment and the implications for learning and behaviour. based on the book Inside I'm Hurting. It was well presented and gave us lots of practical ideas. The only thing was it was the whole day and after a few hours sitting on hard seats in a warm hall your concentration tends to wander. They did supply us with teas and coffee along with a vast quantity of doughnuts and Danish pastries. I did try and resist, for about 30 seconds then had a caramel doughnut with my coffee. We had to bring our own lunches and though I don't normally eat lunch I brought along a banana and some cheese. Then in came more trays of flap-jacks and cookies and yes I was tempted again and had a cookie. Fruit was also on offer but .....
The course was held at another local school and as there was no parking available I had parked at my usual school and walked across town. I had planned to use my return walk as a photo walk and take pictures of the interesting but slightly neglected town streets but after I took this one a group of friends caught up with me and then offered me a lift back to school. 
We'd had a shortened lunch break so the day finished quite early and I was home just after 3.00. That gave me some time to do a bit of weeding. Then Speedy turned up bulging suspiciously. I shut him outside while I fed Patch before letting him back into the conservatory to finish up the left overs. I'm sure if I had let him he would have managed to eat a full portion of cat food on top of whatever he has eaten. I'm guessing rabbit.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Frustrating Hospital Visit.

I was not a happy bunny when at the hospital today. I'd organised my day, arrived with 10 mins to spare, had a book to read and ice-cream to look forward to when I was told that the clinic had been cancelled. That was so annoying as the timing had been just perfect giving me 10 days to recover over the half-term. Now I have to wait another 3 weeks and I'll only have 4 days before going back at school where my main 'tool' is my voice. I suppose if the consultant is ill or having to deal with an emergency then that's how it is and at least I can assume that he'll know what he is doing. By the time I got home I had a headache and my jaw was aching. Luckily I do have a good supply of pain killers and my jaw has been more of an irritation than proper tooth-ache. (Or is it jaw-ache when there's no tooth?)
I worked in the morning, which could have been all day if it wasn't for my 'appointment' so I had the pleasure of setting off to work just as the sky was beginning to lighten. No pretty sunrise, just grey clouds and drizzle. Thankfully the fallen branch at Ashelford Corner had already been cleared away. By lunchtime it was brightening up which was handy as I had things to do in town. I did some shopping at Lidl's, called in at the library and checked out the charity shops. That's where I found this small handbag, about 8" square which matches the colour of my bolero top and most importantly is big enough for my chunky camera as well as some tissues - what else does one need at a wedding? I also called in at the cookware shop, bought 3 pots of red colour and booked the hire of a 12" round cake tin for the bottom of the wedding cake. 
There were still plenty of clouds around on my journey home brightened up by the odd patch of blue sky.  When I got home I checked the house phone as I'd been told at the hospital they had left 'lots' of messages but there were only 2 messages which is hardy lots. I'm also having to go on a training day tomorrow which I had said I couldn't make on account of the stitches I thought I would have. Can't use that excuse now.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Here Comes The Rain.

It was all change in the weather today. Last night's heavy rain continued to blow across the garden this morning making indoor jobs seem like the better choice. I changed some light bulbs then went around the edge of our bedroom ceiling with the mold killer spray. I've already done it once but I could just detect a faint greyness there. 
By the time I left for work the wind had died down and it felt quite warm but the cloud layer had dropped down to ground level here. I didn't emerge from under the clouds until just before Burridge. On the homeward journey when I took these photos, the clouds had dropped even lower.
At school my afternoon was again mainly spent sitting with children as they wrote the letter 'd'. I did have a TA so even though it was drizzling I asked her to be outside with  some of the children so they could use up some energy running around or riding the bikes.
At the end of the day the class teachers were in the hall for parents' evening so before I happily headed off home I made tea for those who wanted a cup. The back road seems to have been extra busy today. On my way in I had to pull over for the local bus which was a bit of a surprise as it normally goes up the main road towards Arlington. Whenever I've taken the bus home I've had to get off at the turning and walk the last few miles. The other main road is closed down at Muddiford  but I don't know why the bus was diverted. When I got to Ashelford Corner, just beyond the car in the above photo there was a large tree branch down blocking a third of of the road right on the bend. It's a good thing I waited behind the branch as a van came rushing down towards me taking up nearly all the road.
When I got home I made a batch of chocolate cup-cakes for Peter's work and that's been my day.