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, 30 June 2016


Although the skies were grey when I left home this morning it was dry. Going up the hill I drove straight into low cloud and then out again once I was down at the main road. In town it stayed dry and warm all day but when I got home I could see low clouds and signs that it had had been raining. There have been a couple of showers since I got home and it's raining heavily now.
School has been very busy with 2 separate groups of small children who will be starting in September visiting the class for the afternoon. Some had visited before with their playgroup leaders but for others it was their first visit. The parents left the children with me and 2 teaching assistants and then went into the hall for a talk and tea & coffee. Most of the children settled in well and only one child sobbed for most of the time sat on the teaching assistant's lap. The others tried different activities that we had in the classroom. There were a few requests to play outside (not today as we had parents coming and going and milling around in the playground) but generally they all seemed happy. 
After school I gave somebody a lift home and carried on to the Co-Op to do some shopping. I was planning to go tomorrow after school but I think that after an hour supervising the reception children's disco I'll just want to go home and collapse. Working all day with little children is not good for my back and I come home all bent over. I try and give my back a chance to straighten out by lying flat on the floor and doing some leg exercises but it takes some time before I can even lie flat. Just one more week to get through and then I'm back to my 3 afternoons.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016


It has rained for most of the day and is generally feeling cool and autumnal. I do hope this isn't the end of our summer. This morning at school the car park and playground were covered with leaves and twigs blown down by last night's gale. The rain eased off a bit in the afternoon but I couldn't face anymore PE so instead  we had a music session. I had some instruments for the children to play of the bang or shake kind and as I only let 5 children be musicians at any one time while the rest of the children sang "When you're feeling blue" and " When the rain came down"  (You can hear it here ) the children behaved well hoping to be picked. They didn't cotton on to the fact that I was simply working my way up their group lists which were on the wall next to us. To get through all the children we sang those songs 5 times but they are great favourites with the children. Part way through the afternoon the school secretary came in to tell the girls off because one of them had locked all the toilet doors by crawling under the partitions. She was deliberately very fierce (she isn't really) because some of the children are getting cheeky as we get to the end of the school year. We were pretty sure who the culprit was both by her face and previous behaviour not to mention that her name had been given by other children. She didn't admit it but I still gave her a stern telling off and here I have to confess that I can still remember doing exactly the same thing at my first school in Canada 55 years ago. I was seen doing the deed by a 'big girl' (I was only 5) and made to go back and unlock all the doors. As we are only an Infant School our toilet doors are low enough for an adult to reach over and open the doors.
Coming home there was a country traffic jam on the back road. I had followed this lorry carrying a tractor all the way from town so it had been a slow journey home. Just before I took this picture another tractor pulling a slurry tank had appeared coming towards us. Very luckily it was heading into the field and turned off the road. With cars behind me as well we might have been stuck while they worked out what to do. Towing something gives you right of way so we would all have had to reverse for a fair old distance.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016


The rain started at around 8.00 this morning, a little after I arrived at school. I did have to run across the playground a couple of times to the staffroom splashing through the puddles with my flip-flops. I taught one reception class in the morning and then back to my usual class in the afternoon. I've just about got all the morning class children's names in my head though as usual there are a couple of pairs of similar looking children that I tend to get mixed up. From their class we have to walk the length of the corridor to the hall for lunch and I've developed a wacky way of getting them to walk in absolute silence something that is generally hard for 27 5 year olds to do. I walk at the front of the children and they have to 'fool' me into thinking there are no children following me. To encourage them I chat away to myself saying things like "I wonder what's happened to all the children?" or "Hm, they must still be in the classroom." Anyone hearing me would think I was totally bonkers but it's worth it especially as we have to walk past the Headteacher's office. In the afternoon it was too wet to even think about going outside for PE and the hall was already in use so I made up some indoor PE games passing beanbags and balls around a circle then up and down lines. 
Since getting home the weather has worsened though right now the sun is shining but a real gale is blowing. Tree branches are swaying and lashing around in all directions which is a little worrying. The internet has slowed down to a crawl and it took about 10 minutes to load each photo, hence only 2 today.
The birds are busy helping themselves to the redcurrants.

Peter has just got home with news that major power lines are down. We're not affected - yet.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Sports Day.

Everything seemed a bit damp this morning but with the promise of a dry day plans went ahead for the Spots Day which is really a Sports afternoon. In the end we had a bright afternoon with a cooling breeze. All went fairly well, I didn't loose anybody and apart from one child who did his best to have a wailing tantrum lying on the grass everybody behaved. The tantrum was because he wanted to keep on at the long jump so that he could get 3 points for jumping over the furthest line. Luckily his mother was there and we simply took one hand each and walked him along with the rest of the children to the next activity. Eventually he joined in with the last activity and didn't try to run off which was my concern especially as I was keep an eye on my team of 14 children.
After work I walked into town with 7 small parcels to post. That done I meandered slowly back down the High Street occasionally dropping into a  shop for a quick browse. I nearly bought another flowy vest top but then realised it was a bit too see-through for work. A visit to the Co-Op was more fruitful, literally. I went in for some cottage cheese and came out with cottage cheese, celery, pears and doughnut peaches, all reduced.
At home I found that Peter had managed to get the rayburn running at a better temperature as yesterday the control had been accidentally knocked (by an exploding tin of peas, don't ask) and it had gone out. It still isn't quite right so he's going to have the people who serviced it come out again. The morning's viewing seemed to be on the positive side. Better still if the people do like it their house is already under offer. I had a bit of planning to do for tomorrow and now I can relax with my usual salad.

Sunday, 26 June 2016


Yesterday evening I thought we had lost Squeaky, in the metaphorical sense of the word, as I hadn't seen her for the whole day. I thought she had holed up the the hall airing cupboard which is one of her spots when it it a bit colder but I began to get worried when she didn't appear for her food. I walked up the stairs sadly convinced that I would find her gone when I heard a miaowing from one of the spare bedrooms. She must have snuck in there during the viewing and been hidden under the bed when I closed up all the spare rooms afterwards. Peter had been in his study next door with his noisy game and I had been in the sitting room watching Glastonbury. Squeaky gave me such a telling off with a constant stream of cross noises! I couldn't even give her extra food as too much in one go makes her throw up. 
Today a morning of drizzle soon turned into steady rain so apart from a brief photo walk my day has been spent indoors. 
It is now so cool that I need to wear my sheepskin boot slippers which meant one more repair session to stitch the soles back on. I'm teaching for the whole of next week and part of the day has been spent making sure I'm properly organised. The work has already been planned by the 2 reception teachers so that's the main part of the job done but I still needed to make sure I know what I'm doing, which children I'm working with at any time and all the other minutia of class life. 
My final job of parcelling up some items which have done quite well on eBay is half done and I'll get it finished this evening so I can pop to the Post Office tomorrow after school. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Glastonbury at home.

I didn't get a good night's sleep last night so I had to make a bit of an effort to drag myself out of bed this morning. No chance of a lie-in today as we had people coming to view the house and I needed to do my usual extra tidy and clean up. 
4 cars make the yard start to look a bit  crowded so I drove my car up the drive and left it by one of the fields. Across the hills I could see some low cloud rolling in from the sea but the day felt pleasantly warm. As usual Peter and I sat in his car keeping out of the way while the estate agent showed the couple plus mother around. They are looking to establish 2 households, there's certainly enough room here or the stone outbuildings by the scree garden could be converted. They seemed nice people but we haven't found out yet what they thought.
After the viewing I walked up to collect the car and as it was so nice I carried on for a walk. At the top of the drive I met Sarah with a group of lead-rein riders out for a gentle hack. We had a chat and then I walked up to Bowden Corner. The concrete block is where the farmers used to leave the milk churns to be collected. Up on the top of the hill the wind felt quite cool and I was glad I had a fleece on. 
In this part of the world many junctions have their own names which does make it easier when giving people directions. Sat-navs don't seem to find places on Exmoor so you have to use a map (which no-one possesses these days) or follow directions. Walking down the drive I could hear the song of a sky-lark singing high up above me.
Coming home I hung out some washing and had a long weeding session in the hens run. Now I've got Glastonbury playing on the tv with the sound bar turned up to max for my yearly music-festival-at-home. I have done some school work at the same time writing out labels for Sports Day and for the playgroup children who will be visiting the class on Thursday. Lovely smells are wafting in from the barbecue where Peter is grilling some lamb koftas for our meal. Now to go and immerse myself in music and maybe have a bit of a dance.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Britain Votes to Leave the EU.

What a surprise to wake this morning to the news that the majority of those who voted want Britain to leave the EU. From the vitriol on Facebook you would think that all the 'out' voters were racist bigots wanting  to relive a fantasy golden age of the British Empire. As a child of refuge immigrants those are the very antithesis of my views. I have heard some very reasonable arguments from ordinary folk who are also concerned about the move to a centralised federal government even more removed from the views of the population or who wonder just how when Britain can't sort out its own economic problems how things will work including struggling nations such as Spain and Greece not to mention those countries who are hoping to join the EU in an attempt to solve their even worse economies. Anyway enough of politics and back to everyday life.
I drove into rain on my way to school this morning and there  was one mighty rumble of thunder at about 8.30. After that the weather improved until we were back to sunny skies with a cooling breeze. In the afternoon the teaching assistant that should have been with me was off sick but luckily I had a young student helping. Of course it would be under such circumstances that one child wet himself and then another had a bit more of a serious toilet mishap. Normally the teaching assistant would deal with these incidents but today they were my responsibility. Thank goodness for latex gloves. 
After school I went into town to post a couple of parcels and have a little browse in a few shops on the way. Cargo shops are being phased out prior to rebranding so they had big signs up with everything at 70% off. There wasn't much left in the shop but as I looked at the duvet sets I realised they had super-king size sets which you don't often see. I was tempted to get some patterned covers but ended up with 2 sets of plain white covers and pillow cases. They will do for a few years more. I came home ready to mow the last 2 lawns only to find that it had rained heavily in the afternoon and the grass was too wet to cut. 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Referendum Day.

Today is the day the people get a say in whether Britain remains in the EU or leaves. Each side has appealed to the basest instincts and come up with blatant scaremongering not to mention outright lies that it would be embarrassing to align with the leaders of either campaign. That said we've made up our minds based on a more fundamental reasons and we'll just have to see what happens. I went to vote at 5.00 and they had nearly 70% turn out with 5 more hours to go. That's how strongly people feel about the issue. Which ever way the vote goes the UK is going to go into recession and the 'losing' side will yell loudly that they predicted it. I've been teaching all day and went to cast my vote on the way home. I took these photos driving down the lane from Okewill Cross on what is barely more than a farm track.
The road is so narrow that the long grasses were brushing my tiny car on both sides. Not only was this road very steep but in common with most of the country lanes round here it twisted and turned so you could never tell what might be approaching. 
I didn't mind driving slowly and enjoying the view. I had originally planned to stay on the main road going down Zig-Zag  and turning off at the bottom to East Down. However they are replacing the surface of the main road and all the way from Shirwell it was loose chippings. Having recently paid £90 towards a windscreen cracked by a stone I followed the instructions on the signs and stayed below 20 mph. By the time I got to my usual turn off there was also a sign saying Road Closed Ahead so I decided to take the slightly longer route.
There's a saying that we are all connected by 6 degrees of separation but round here I reckon it's more like 2 degrees of separation if that. When I got to the village hall to cast my vote instead of the couple I was expecting there were 2 strangers. But not for long, When they ticked my name off the list they asked if I worked at Pilton Infants because their daughter is also teaching there. Not only that but she is the teacher whose class I have on a Monday. We then had a long chat about school and our moving plans and there were so many people and places we had in common. They might even be interested in looking at our house as they are planning to combine several generations and households in one larger property. I also chatted to another couple who came in to vote. They are the people who were going to be worst affected by the wind turbine and spearheaded our successful campaign to have planning permission refused.
When I got home there was a message from the estate agents about another viewing on Saturday morning, that's good. I cut half the lawns this evening and will do the rest tomorrow rather than trying to do them all tomorrow after a full day of teaching.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Mostly Drizzle.

The day started very wet. Later the rain eased off but then drizzled on and off for the rest of the day. I did more clearing up today including sorting out the stuff  'temporarily' stacked by a cupboard in the upstairs corridor. I'm trying to keep the storage of random items and packing boxes all in one room. Hoovering the corridor then lead to a general hoovering of the rooms upstairs. 
As I walk up and down the stairs I am kept amused by the birds on the feeder. They can get through a whole feeder of peanuts in a day if I fill it right up. 
This family of coal tits spend most of the day at this all-you-can-eat buffet. 
This blue tit must have eggs or chicks in the nest as there is only ever one blue tit at the feeder. In between outbreaks of drizzle I did some weeding and trimming of lawn edges. I've also been spending more time at the piano. I enjoying working on Einaudi pieces, mainly because I like the tunes but also because looking at his concerts he really seems to be enjoying himself. I recently ordered a book of his 'Easiest original pieces'. Primavera which I already know is in there but I don't consider something with 5 flats to be easy. I never found sight reading easy anyway. Fortunately I recently downloaded the sheet music for  In un'altra vita which is C and am having fun plodding my way through it.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Fiery Sky.

It was too cloudy last night for a sighting of the Solstice strawberry moon  but for a brief moment we had a burning sky. One of the advantages of living in this valley is being able to walk up the drive in pyjamas, I won't be able to do that in town.
I was teaching all day and my early morning drive to work was through heavy rain which cleared before the children came to school. The children practised more Sports Day events and it was noticeable that the girls picked up the ball race quickly while the boys were still very confused. I had split them into girls and boys so that I could note the hares and tortoises for the flat races but the teams for everything except the flat races on Sports Day will be mixed.
At school the weather had swung between warm and hot but at home it was more between warm and cool. The ground was quite wet so I wonder if it had been raining here.
On the way home I had to stop at the top of the drive to collect the recycling box. For once it was utterly peaceful, a slight rustling of the leaves on the trees but the loudest thing was a lone fly. I couldn't even hear any birds (they're all down here singing away) not even the skylarks that I usually hear over the fields.

Monday, 20 June 2016

A Wet Solstice.

When we woke this morning it was still raining. It may be the longest day of the year but it has been a gloomy and miserable day and I don't think there's much chance of seeing the full moon tonight. 
The rain had begun to ease up when I set off for town but the clouds were waiting at the top of the hill. I didn't get out from the clouds until I was almost in town. The rest of the afternoon at work was humid and when the sun broke through while we were out at play it was roasting. However when I got home Peter said it had been raining all afternoon. That's what happens when you live up in the hills.
Before I went to work I had to go for a mammogram as it's 3 years since the last one. The big trailer was parked in Wickes car park and the 2 ladies in there have it so well organised that I was in and out in about 5 minutes. That gave me enough time to pop into the Tesco's there and pick up some oat bran for my morning porridge, as they don't sell it at the Co-Op. I still walked into town after my afternoon's teaching to visit the library. I also bought a new permanent marker for my plant labels as the last one I used is already washing off. I tried W H Smiths but the assistant there couldn't say if their permanent marker would be good enough though she did recall that they used to sell a permanent marker for the garden but not any more. Then I went to Ryman's where I was sold an expensive write-4-all permanent marker and was assured people bought it for use in the garden. I've just been out and re-written a few plant markers so I'll see how good this pen is.
Hardy Geranium Ann Folkard.
Another one to be propagated.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Very Wet.

It has been raining all day long and not very warm either. That's the British summer for you. 
I sorted out my schoolwork as I've been asked to do the planning for Tuesday when I shall be teaching for the whole day. It's the reception class, their topic has been all about staying healthy and luckily I still have a whole set of pictures of food on cards that I made last year . I so very nearly threw those cards out last week when I was having a clear out.
I also went through yet another box brought down from the loft. It was marked ceramics and ornaments and was mainly treasures my mother and I had bought in junk shops. There was the usual (for a Lithuanian household) plethora of amber and random beads and broken jewellery but what got me excited were these pieces of broken pottery. I'm pretty sure they are ancient Roman or ancient Greek which my mother had 'found' on her travels. She spent some summers in Tuscany, another on Paros and when we went to Turkey she went off to Ephesus for a few days. One day I'll take then along with an intact amphora which is probably just an 'aged' souvenir to a museum to be identified. I find it really exciting to hold an item that was used by somebody hundreds or thousands of years ago. 
I put some things on eBay just to see what will happen and packed up more for the charity shop. 

The rain continues.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Garden Day.

I had some urgent outdoor jobs to do today so I was grateful for a dry day even if it wasn't that sunny to start with. The jobs were; cutting down a 10 ft ash sapling that  was growing in the middle of a bush, cutting back some exuberant roses that were growing over an upstairs window, putting in some stakes and string around the 2 big clumps of the giant crocosmia and mowing all the grass.

When I began mowing the grass the sun had came out. By the time I finished the mowing I was ready for a rest. 
After all that work it was good to get into holiday mode relaxing on the sun lounger with my book and a cup of tea and some grapes to hand. I had about an hour before the clouds made it feel a bit chilly. 
When I took the vegetable peel up to the compost heap I got distracted and thinned out the apples forming on the 2 apple trees. I usually forget to do this and with our short summer we end up with  a lot of very small apples. Hopefully by thinning them the remaining apples will grow to a better size.