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 March 2016


We had a hard frost this morning but the rest of the day has been a beautiful Spring day. Perfect for hanging out several loads of washing.
I split my day between the conservatory and the outbuildings. I can see an end in sight for the conservatory but I needed to properly clean out one area in the outbuildings so that I had somewhere to move all the bits of wood, or to be more accurate some wood and a lot of chipboard to. I also took up 2 of the big 4ft x 4ft panels that were used to make the gaming table. I could lift them but it was awkward on my back so I rolled them up the drive like giant square wheels which was a bit easier. There is still the original table but that is 2 pieces hinged together and I didn't want to try moving that. Neither of the boys came home this holiday so I'm getting on with things as best as I can.  All the boxes at the far end of the conservatory, apart from the angle grinder, contain miniature figures, paints and tools. Wargaming was a hobby shared by Peter and the boys and many happy hours were spent making and painstakingly painting the figures in preparation for long wargame battles fought with dice and complex rules. But enough is enough and we need to clear out all the surplus figures. I expect Peter will have time for wargaming when he retires and there is a big dragon that I intend to paint - one day.
As it was such a lovely day and we don't get those that often, I took time out to sit and read in the sun accompanied by cats, book, coffee and something to eat. I bought this Polish sourdough  rye bread with sunflower seeds yesterday in Tesco's and it was so full of flavour it was nice enough to eat on its own. It was even nicer with a bit of Polish plum jam.
For a while we the sun was hidden by bigger clouds which sent me back to my work in the conservatory but from late afternoon the sky was clear and right now there is not a cloud to be seen.
Looking at the hedge I'm beginning to come round to Peter's view that it would be better to get rid of it. The browning is due to the winter winds showing just how much protection even the leafless trees on the far boundary gave so the apple trees may suffer. However it will make that part of the garden look much bigger and allow the afternoon sun  to shine on the vegetable garden. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

A Bonfire.

Today's forecast was for sunshine and showers possibly with thunder and hail but we only had the sunshine and with the wind coming more from the south west it felt a lot warmer. (I think that might be part of one of those circumhorizontal halos in the photo above.) I painted another coat of black on the conservatory radiators before breakfast and then later, as it's only a cosmetic job finished off with some black spray paint. After breakfast I went into town first stopping outside one of the charity shops to unload the boxes of books and DVDs and then on to the dump to get rid of the 2 bikes. The frames got tangled up when I tried to get them out of the car and I ripped the side of my little finger which was rather painful. Luckily I had a clean tissue with which to stem the blood and I asked one of the workers at the dump to take the frames out for me. They always will help if you ask. Then I called in at Lidl's which surprisingly does not sell plasters but their Easter chocolates were half price. That cheered me up especially as I could stock up on the marzipan and chocolate logs which will not be available until Christmas and are my favourites. I think that having things only at certain seasons like many fruit used to be, makes you appreciate them more rather than the all year round availability we have now. I also stopped at Tesco's to wash my finger and then put on a plaster which I bought there. I'm such a wimp.
Back home, once I had rested up from my trip to town I got on with some outdoor work. I've moved my gardening tools and 2 crates of plant pots into the old hen house and hopefully will clear the rest of my accumulated gardening junk to the dump. I'm pushing on with clearing everything from the scree garden outbuildings and painting the range before the swallows return. 
Part of my clearing up included burning some very old unusable wood. I love having a bonfire and always stay close by ostensibly to make sure everything is safe but really I just like to watch the flames. Today the wind was blowing the heat safely away from the apple trees. While I watched I amused myself by flicking stones from the veg garden on to the path with my long handled hoe which is just right for rearranging the burning wood and I did some hoeing too.
Then I had fun taking photos of the flames.  
All that is left is a glowing pile of embers which tomorrow I'll rake into the soil. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


It's been a day of mixed weather starting with some very heavy rain followed by sunshine and showers then just as I was thinking it was getting colder the next downpour was of hail along with some thunder. That sent me off to unplug the hub and phone line and then of course we were thunder-free for the rest of the day though we've just had more hail.
Looking at the sitting room radiators (before - above, after - below) I decided that 2 coats of paint were enough. Then as I carried on working in the conservatory I thought why not do something about the rusty wall heaters in there. As we have never used them and the conservatory has been used as a woodwork space I will advise that they be cleaned before trying to turn them on but painting them with black metal paint will make them look a bit neater. 
I'm finding it a struggle to motivate myself to clear the conservatory as I'm now having to tackle stuff in there that I used to ignore such as the circular saw in its stand or the chainsaw and accessories that are by their nature dusty/oily or the stacks of boxes of figures and paints. However it needs doing so I cleared out the chainsaw bag putting all the extra tools in a tray for Peter to sort. The conservatory looks in a big mess at the moment as everything is in the middle so that I could hoover up all the dust, paint the heaters and wash the stonework but I'm guessing it will eventually look better.
When I  had enough of the conservatory I went up and started dismantling the bikes so that I could load them into my car. It wasn't until I had carried 2 heavy frames down from the outbuildings that I realised it would be a lot easier to wheel the bikes down to the yard first. This I did with the third bike but that will have to wait for another day as it wouldn't fit in the back of my car. It seems such a shame to be throwing out the bikes especially Romas' trail bike but they are very rusty and there are better ones in the re-sale section of the dump so I guess nobody would want it. I've also loaded up boxes of books and DVDs to drop in to the charity shop on my way to the dump tomorrow.
(A garden tea light holder.)
Yesterday evening I was a bit concerned that Speedy and Patch weren't interested in their food. I wondered if there was something wrong with the bag of dried food especially as there were still biscuits left this morning. However this evening I noticed that the pair of them were looking somewhat rotund. Linking that with the current excess of rabbits explains why they weren't very hungry.

Monday, 28 March 2016


Storm Katie has passed  us by with nothing more than a windy night. The clouds have been flying by showing that there were strong winds in the upper atmosphere but down on the ground it has just been another slightly windy day. There have been occasional heavy showers which didn't last too long.
After giving the radiators another coat of paint I returned to working in the conservatory. Now that all the windows and frames have been washed I think I can see the end of the job. I'm at the stage of sorting out the last few things in there and today I washed out most of the plastic trays. These came originally from school when the children's trays were being replaced and are perfect for plant trays or even catching drips. As the roof has been fixed hopefully I won't need so many drip trays. I've also started washing the stone work on the inside.
After spending the afternoon in the conservatory I decided to reward myself with a spot of gardening. I got togged up and down came the rain which lasted long enough to make me abandon my gardening plans.  

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Happy Easter.

I didn't mind the weather today, sudden heavy showers interspersed with bright spells.  
As it's Easter I've tried to make it a non-working day but I couldn't resist painting the first coat of white paint on the radiators. They look so much better already and with 1 or possibly 2 more coats will look almost new. I spent a while backing up my photos on to my external hard drive and also bringing back all my documents files from the external hard drive on to my PC now that I have Office installed. I find it more reliable to transfer my photo files individually so while that was going on I did some more checking of the bookshelves to winnow out redundant books. I also brought down 2 boxes of Peter's books and Hooray! most of those are now in the 'give away' pile. Along with lots of DVD's I've got a good car load to take to the charity shop. Giving stuff away is GOOD.
The bank by the drive is almost covered with primroses.  Amazing to think they all started from a few plants I liberated from a roadside not too far away and planted under the trees.
Shadows on the pond.

PS Roadkill bunny tasted okay this morning. 

Saturday, 26 March 2016


As promised the rain has set in. We had light drizzle in the morning which continued on getting heavier as the day went on. At least it's a good test of my conservatory roof repair and so far not a drop has got through. Whenever it rains I get tempted not to do anything at all but I had some indoor jobs scheduled and after a slow start I did get round to them. Before having yet another washing down session inside the conservatory I made a start refurbishing the radiator in the hall. It had some flaking paint and rust along the bottom which didn't look very good. Today I scraped off all the loose paint and then sanded the rust away. That done I painted the bare metal with some white metal primer. I have bought some proper white radiator paint (in the bedrooms we just painted the radiators with the wall paint) and I'll paint the sitting room radiators with it too as they are looking rather yellow. Naturally I had cleaned and put away my paintbrush before discovering some big chips of paint knocked off the radiator that usually has a small table in front of it. If I was going to be using the metal primer again I decided that I should also treat the flaky paint and rust along the bottom of our cheap microwave. It's now sanded and ready for a quick spot of primer before we go to bed.

Friday, 25 March 2016


The weather has been lovely today, blue skies and sunshine all the way with enough of a breeze to make it worth hanging out some washing. Unfortunately the forecast for the rest of the weekend is not so good. That's why, despite my sore back (from yesterday) I was determined to work outside. I got the whole of the outside of the conservatory scrubbed and wiped down. Because of the damp weather green algae and a nasty pink alga tend to grow on the white plastic especially on the side nearest the stream. It looks so much better, all clean and white.
I also picked up all the twigs from the back lawn and dug out the weeds, mainly thistles and dandelions. Now it's ready for its first mow of the season when I get round to it.
After all that work I did have a pleasant rest sitting outside in the sunshine.
When I went up to collect the washing I took the opportunity to hoe under the apple trees as a few seedlings were beginning to appear. Then in case we get heavy rain I tidied up the dams across the road. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Return of the Rain.

The rain is back, just in time for the holiday weekend. It rained lightly on and off during the morning but by the time I came out of Tesco's in the afternoon heavy rain set in and continues still.
I have to admit to not being over keen on the idea of a day (or at least 5 hours) of PE especially starting at 8.30 but on the whole it was a useful day. Our previous PE scheme which while being helpful for those of us not fully into the PE curriculum, was so dry and often boring or impractical that we frequently ended up doing our own thing. This new PE (find out more here) was much more flexible and fun with the children being given the opportunity to chose to work at different levels. We were also shown how we could build in other skills such as helping others, self assessment or being supportive spectators. Now if I'm asked to take PE lessons I'll be able to fit into the overall scheme.
We finished quite early so having loaded up my car with an old bike and bike parts yesterday, I went on to the dump to get rid of that lot. There are still 3 more old bikes to dispose of but I'll have to take them apart to fit them in the back of my car.
After the dump I went to Lidl's to buy fresh fruit and veg and a replacement of the roadkill bunny. Then as it is nearby, I called in at Tesco's. There was a vegetable promotion stand just inside the door with a member of staff to greet customers. I did buy carrots and some sweet potatoes and was given a free jute shopping bag as a thank you. I was also given a card and asked to go on line to fill out a feedback form and be entered in a draw. I don't mind helping an employee to get a bonus or whatever so I have just filled out the form but not before I did a bit of research. All the produce on the stand was in bags marked Redmere Farm which as can be seen here is a marketing ploy to get customers to think they are buying British or even local produce. Tesco's is also well know for sharp business practices so when I had the chance to say how it could help the local community I had a good rant. I listed 4 points including not trying to trick customers with fake names. Maybe if enough people put forward such views they might rethink some of their practices - possibly. I only use Tesco's for items I can't get elsewhere for a reasonable price and I put that on the form too.
One of the things I did buy at Tesco's were some profiteroles, reduced of course, to celebrate the end of term. I was just sitting down with some in a bowl and a cup of tea for a bit of relaxing TV when I looked away, Speedy jumped up, snatched a profiterole and ran under the coffee table with it in his mouth. Just as speedily I hauled him out by his tail, removed the profiterole and put Speedy in the conservatory. A waste of a treat.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Gutter Clearing.

It was grey but dry first thing so I had a morning of clearing out gutters. The ones at the back of the house were mainly filled with twigs from the recent storms and the one around the conservatory just had very dry leaves. The gutters at the front of the house are too high up for me to tackle so hopefully when one of the boys come down we can get those ones done. I also had a good start on tidying up the area at the back of the house, pulling up weeds and clearing leaves and twigs.
I came across this video of Manning's Pit. I've never been there but I pass a footpath to it on my journeys to work. It's sad to think that it will probably end up as just another expensive housing estate. All the children in the video are 'our' kids and I recognised some of the parents too plus there are a couple of good examples of the true North Devon accent.
At school, having thought that today was the end of term for me I suddenly realised that tomorrow is an inset training day which means me too. We have to be in school for 8.30 in suitable clothing for a day of PE. I had better take my pain relief gel along. I've loaded up my car with old bikes and parts to take to the dump after we finish at school.
Our noisy neighbours, the rooks.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Finally ....

It's only taken 3 1/2 years but at last the pipe carrying some defunct telephone cables across the stream has gone. We had 2 visits this year by BT men who came armed with a hacksaw, took one look at the steel pipe and left saying it needed a heavy duty cutter. Today 3 men in a van arrived all the way from Exeter (60 miles away) and yes they had an angle grinder. But no sooner had they started cutting than work came to a halt. Although an engineer had been down earlier in the year and cut the telephone cable they could see a large cable inside the metal pipe. Frantic phone calls to their boss, a bit more cutting and they realised it wasn't a big cable but a smaller plastic pipe. This they broke with a hammer and eventually decided the wire inside was just another useless phone cable. The cutting of the 6" steel pipe was quite a wet job and as the stream had filled up to the level of the pipe they had difficulty getting to the underside of the pipe. At last the pipe was removed and the holes on either side filled with cement. Apart from looking tidier without the pipe across the stream there won't be sticks catching on the pipe blocking the flow of the stream.
Once the men left there wasn't a lot of time for me to get on with my jobs around the place but I did hang the windchimes back up around the front door and have a sort out of the wood, mostly bits of chipboard, in the conservatory. 
At school I was asked to do my own thing with the children so I showed them a short clip about Easter and Easter eggs and then gave them some sheets printed with Easter eggs to colour. After work I walked to the library to get some books. When I got there the machine informed me I had a reserved book waiting for me, somehow their manual system of sending an email to say a reserved book is  in hadn't worked. When I reserve the next books I'll have to check again that they have the correct email address. Last time they had missed a letter out but that was corrected so I don't know what happened this time.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Lots of Sun.

We had sun from the very start of the day which made everything so cheerful. It had been a cold night as there was quite a frost on the ground and 2 deer were warming themselves up grazing in a sunny patch in the field. I started my day's work by painting the brackets over the front door with some metal paint. Then into the conservatory I went to put another layer of silicone on the ceiling after which it was washing and more washing inside the conservatory. 
Then off to school to teach my Year 1 classes about Easter. One little girl who does go to church was very knowledgeable about Easter but I had to hold her back a little and include the other children. One boy talked about Easter eggs and the Easter bunny but then said he wasn't too sure if the Easter bunny was real. I think the plethora of Easter eggs in the shops might have lead to that conclusion. 
I was out of school quickly (no waiting for delayed parents) and got home in time to paint a second coat of paint on the brackets and then do some more digging up of the spreading ornamental grasses. That's quite hard work so it's good to do it in small doses.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Late Sun.

It took until 5.00 for the sun to come out. Up till then the day had been grey and gloomy. After painting a final coat on the porch woodwork I got on with the conservatory spring clean. Lots of buckets of hot soapy water and plenty of elbow grease today. I got all of the roof wiped down and a lot of the rest of the inside. I also tried Peter's suggestion of using the tube of translucent silicone to close up the leak along one of the roof panels. It would be nice not have trays underneath to catch the drips. That and some preparation for school has been my day.

Saturday, 19 March 2016


It's been one of those days when the sky was almost white and the easterly wind was bitterly cold. No wonder the cats preferred to cosy up to the rayburn. (One of them was snoring as I took this photo. I think it was Patch though Speedy snores as well.)
I've done a lot of painting, no mishaps this time. My first task was to paint another coat of gloss on the porch soffits. By the time I had finished my poor fingers were frozen as I hadn't realised just how cold it was. I was quite glad to spend the rest of the day working in the conservatory out of the wind. While it is fairly obvious that the conservatory needs a total overhaul I can at least make it look a little more inviting by getting rid of the cobwebs and generally cleaning up. My Vax, back in hoovering mode was especially handy for reaching up to the ceiling to remove the old cobwebs and bits of insects caught up there. The 2 beams were painted with the black tile paint that is like molasses it's so thick. I had already decided to clear out one of the white wicker chairs but it wasn't until I was half-way through washing and painting the other 2 that I decided it was probably time to re-home them as well. 
In order to reduce the food in our freezer we've been making an effort to use up stuff on the weekends. I would be content to carry on with my salads every day but as part of our Saturday Scavenge I took out a packet of frozen shortcrust pastry and made an onion and bacon flan. I used the pastry trimmings to make some cheese straws but we ate them before I thought about taking a photo. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Painting Day.

We've had frost for the last few mornings which has taken away my guilt at not starting mowing yet. The wind has been cold but for most of the day we had bright sunshine.
Today I planned to do some painting; touching up a few places in the bedrooms, going over a stained patch in the sitting room and then seeing what else needed doing. All was going well until while holding the paint in one hand I tried to catch something that was falling with the other and I ended up with the OPEN paint tin upside down on the NEW sitting room carpet. YIKES! does not exactly describe what I said at that point. I scooped up the white paint then as luckily it was a water based painted I washed off the worst with a cloth before getting out my trusty Vax. The reason I love my Vax so much is that it takes only a few minutes to convert it from a hoover into a carpet washer. In no time at all the carpet was clean and just as importantly almost dry. Having got over that drama I sanded and washed the woodwork around the porch. While that was drying I washed and treated the beams in the conservatory. Then I was back outside painting a first coat of gloss on the porch woodwork. 
After all that work I decided to take a break sitting out in the sun with a cup of coffee and for a change some sweet potato crisps made in the microwave without any fat. They were quite nice sprinkled with a little salt. 
It started to feel a bit cold but the sun was shining so I put on my gardening coat and cut back a clump of honeysuckle that was threatening to take over a nearby rose bush. I finished off with some weeding down in the bog garden. I don't think it's going to be flooded again this spring so it's time to scrape off the layer of silt from the path and have a general tidy up.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Poor Bunny.

It was a good drying day so first thing I got the washing machine going and waited until I could hang the bedding out on the line before going into town. While I was waiting for the washing I tidied up the pink bedroom so that I could take photographs. It's really hard to squish yourself into the corner to get as much of the room as possible in shot and the photos with the window in came out too dark because of the all the light pouring through the window. I'll have to try them again under different conditions. As I was about to go out the oil man drove down. We don't have to be in for them to fill up the oil tank which is round the back of the house but the tanker was blocking me in.
My first stop in town was to the dump to drop off yet more stuff. Then over to Lidl's to do some shopping and then I walked over the bridge into town. Unfortunately the car got so hot in the sun that the chocolate Easter bunny melted and now looks like roadkill. I guess that'll have to be my Easter treat. The lamb's ear also melted but the rest of it is okay. 
In town I delivered a large bag of stuff to a charity shop, went to the library, printed off some wedding photos at Boot's and went to the Post Office. I did some shopping at Tesco's and bought paint at B&Q before getting home around 3.00. I had a little sit down in the sun before starting on the ironing which took up the rest of the afternoon. 
On the way home I stopped in Shirwell by the old gates to Youlston Park as I could see that another tree had fallen down in the recent winds.