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.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Lots of Rain.

There was a hint of pink in the sky among the pale lavender clouds as I drove to work early this morning. It has been a day of sudden very heavy showers which only cleared up later in the afternoon.
I spent the day working with a Year 2 class, the very lively class, getting them to make sock puppets. On my initial scout around the stock cupboards this morning I found 30 small, new plastic flower pots which were perfect for putting inside the tops of the socks while the children stuck on googly eyes and felt shapes. I only hope that the glue hasn't stuck the socks to the pots! We had plenty of brightly coloured felt from which the children could cut out shapes, not so easy with the children's scissors so it took them quite a while. I also gave the children some printed sheets to draw their ideas for an adventure and a setting for their puppets. Not only did that stimulate the children's imaginations but it gave me a chance to work with smaller groups when it came to making the puppets.
At the end of the day I had 60 pieces of work to mark and stick into books before I was free to go. Then I dropped into town to change my library books and buy a belt for Peter as his every day trousers are getting a bit loose around the waist. 
I had a slow journey home behind a couple of tractors pulling large trailers loaded up high with giant bales of straw. I stopped on my way down the drive to take a few sky photos.

Thursday, 29 September 2016


It's been a sunny day with sudden sharp showers. I got up early this morning so that I could ring the doctor's surgery and make an appointment to see one of the nurses. This was to look at a blister on my toe which I was getting worried about. It started off as a 1 cm circle on the top of my big toe which I guessed was from a drop of hot water or even oil, in the kitchen. Next to it was a second tiny blister and I left them uncovered as I went to work in flip-flops. They stayed much the same for 4 or 5 days until Tuesday. Because of the wet weather I put on a pair of sheepskin boots and in case the blister burst I covered it with a plaster. When I took the plaster off that night the blister had increased to nearly triple the size. I didn't know if that was due to the boots or if it was getting infected so I covered it with a plaster and wore flip-flops again the next day. The blister didn't seem to get any bigger but I took the precaution of drawing a line around it to make sure. By evening it was stinging a bit which was why I made today's appointment. Imagine my embarrassment when the nurse told me it was just a big blister! She did lance it as I was concerned about the children at school stepping on my toes, which they often do and now all I have to do is to wait for it to heal. My trip wasn't wasted though because she offered me a flu jab which I was happy to have. It only seems like yesterday I had the last one but of course it was last year.
Then today there has been the saga of the fridge. Our current fridge even though it is making 'working' noises is not keeping food fresh and doesn't feel that cold. At one point recently it was icing up but now no amount of fiddling with the thermostat has any effect. It's only a basic under the counter larder fridge and looking on-line the best deal on a known make was Tesco Direct. I foolishly thought it would be easier to order while I was at Tesco's in town. The Tesco's nearest the surgery didn't do the ordering so I thought I'd go to the bigger Tesco's near the station. Yes they could order a fridge but they couldn't show me a picture of the model on their computer and the customer stand with a screen and on-line catalogue wasn't working so in the end I came home and ordered it from here. At least it comes with a free take away service and should be here in 5 days (delivery to be confirmed).
The other thing I was going to buy was a new cordless house phone with 2 handsets as the recent powercuts had resulted in one of our handsets not working. Thinking it would be quickest to pick up one at Tesco's I checked out their phones. We only wanted the basic model, no call blocking or additional answer phone needed but they only had one with a single handset or else the more elaborate ones. So I came home without a phone which was a good thing as Peter had taken the broken handset apart, given it a shake, put it back together and hey presto it worked.
One of the places I went to today looking for a plastic indoor *watering can to replace the one Peter broke bashing a bag of frozen veg, was Homebase. This used to be a bit more upmarket than the other DIY places but now it looks like a jumble sale. All round the place are goods in tatty brown cardboard boxes with hand written prices on crumpled card randomly stapled on. I spoke to the lady at the check-out and she told me that Homebase has been taken over by an Australian company who go for the basic warehouse layout. Out in the plant area were these tacky spray painted heathers - yuck.
* Native English speakers may not realise it but there is a set order for lists of adjectives. One more obstacle for people learning the language.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Low Cloud.

Listening to the forecast yesterday I thought today would be a good drying day so I washed one set of sheets last night ready to hang out first thing. Unfortunately the day has been grey and damp with occasional showers. I put the washing over the Rayburn and it is ready to iron but it wasn't worth putting on a second load. My back wasn't too good this morning so I took things easy until it was time to go to school. Naturally I had to take a PE lesson and I did some action songs with the children but I did get out of going to a meeting about (academic) target setting at another school. As I'll never be taking on the responsibilities of a class teacher it wouldn't be that relevant to me anyway.
I stopped at the layby  near Burridge and took some photos of a mini cloud, a phenomenon that always fascinates me.
As I approached Shirwell I could see the heavy clouds sitting down on the tops of the hills and I drove into the clouds as I drove past the Lewis' farm. From then on it was wet and white until I turned the corner of the drive by the ponies' field. Right now the cloud level has dropped down below the tops of the trees in the field next door and everything looks very wet.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Good Bye.

It was very grey and wet as we said our goodbyes to Laura and Romas this morning. Before they left Romas; fixed a wooden shelf that I hadn't been able to get the screws into, carried the garden table back up to the shelter by the scree garden (I helped for part of the way but then he found it easier to lift the table by himself) and made a valiant attempt to get Audacity (so we can convert our LPs to digital) to work on my PC. There he ran into the usual problems you get with Windows 10 ie things that were quite simple to do on XP now are hidden so deeply it takes forever to work them out (Romas uses a Mac himself) so in the end he had to leave it.
It was raining heavily as I drove to work but dried up sometime in the afternoon and turned into a lovely afternoon. I had an uneventful afternoon with the Reception children, no nose bleeds or throwing up and the toilet accidents were dealt with by the teaching assistant. Our staff meeting after school was first about the new risk assessment programme that needs to be filled in as well as the current risk assessment forms we already do. The consensus was never to go on any trips out of school - not really but sometimes you just wonder. Then we spent a bit of time looking at the new PE scheme we are following which is a bit hard to get used to. I dropped into the Co-Op on the way home before a sunny drive home through the countryside.
The skies above were lovely and blue but I could see a grey haze over to the east, mist perhaps? 

Monday, 26 September 2016


We were so lucky with yesterday's weather and I'm very glad that Romas did the gutters yesterday as this morning was so miserable and wet. In fact the whole day has been grey and wet. Conditions must have been bad somewhere in the region because we had a number of power cuts one after the other. At least this morning I didn't need to be up at the crack of dawn for another fun morning in school. Instead I got up at 8.00, made breakfast for the youngsters and went into work at lunchtime. Once again I was on my own with a class. One boy had a headache so I suggested he lay down on the cushions in the book corner. I had just spoken to the class teacher whom I had seen in the playground, and she went off to phone his mum, when the poor child threw up on his jumper, some cushions and the mat. I cleaned him up, rinsed out his school jumper and mopped up the worst of the rest and then gave the rest of the children a lesson on why you might throw up. Once his mum had turned up we went and did some PE in the hall. After school I had to go and buy coloured socks so that the children can make sock puppets on Friday. Romas and Laura went to Ilfracombe in the morning, called in to town to get cheese cake from Lindsay's and then went on to visit Lynton. 
As it was so grey today here are a few more photos from our trip to Lynmouth.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A Few Showers.

We had a sunny start but the occasional heavy showers made us abandon our plan of walking around Morte Point and instead we drove out to Lynmouth. After a scenic drive through Exmoor we took in the sights of the pretty seaside village, visiting the the Memorial Hall filled with information about the dreadful flood of 1952,
 and watching the cliff railway ascending the steep hill to Lynton.
We stopped in one of the many cafes for hot pasties. We all chose beef and Stilton, a slight divergence from the traditional pasty filling but very tasty. 
As we walked along we were treated  to the sight of a rainbow over the sea.
We also visited some of the many shops, mostly filled with very nice but expensive things. Laura bought some pink piggy sheepskin mittens for her niece while I stood there stroking one of the sheepskin rugs piled up on a table. Laura and Romas were also very taken with the paintings and prints by Maurice Bishop in the gallery made up of many linked rooms. Mr Bishop runs the place and while they fell in love with one of his original paintings the price tag of £550 was a bit out of their range and they bought 2 small prints instead. Very commercial work but rather romantic and appealing.

When we got back home Romas got out the roof ladders and cleaned out the gutters around the front of the house. I also climbed up the ladders and cut back the roses and honeysuckle growing over the windows. That's a job I hadn't been looking forward to. After a supper of sausage and mash we ended the evening with a  cosy fire in the woodburner. I've finally heard that I don't need to teach tomorrow morning so I don't have to get up early tomorrow.

Saturday, 24 September 2016


 We've returned to grey skies but the wind is quite warm. 
My main job of the day has been to switch my Vax over to carpet washing mode and wash the carpet in the back room. I haven't bothered to replace that carpet because there are several large cupboards in there with all our DIY tools, paints etc as well as a big chest freezer. Today I only washed the bits of carpet I could see (very slack housework !) but it does look a lot better. One bonus was that a big dark patch which I had mistakenly believed to be a paint stain has gone completely. I also did a bit of weeding outside as the weeds have shot up while I've been at school full-time. I'm still not exactly sure when I go back to part-time as I offered to continue next week until something could be sorted out. That's me being helpful.
There has been much excitement in the house today as we wait for Romas and Laura to arrive for a week-end visit. originally they were going to make a very early start to avoid the traffic but now they should be arriving some time soon. (It's 4.30) 
A rather blurry shot of Patch with a milky chin.

Friday, 23 September 2016


We've had even more sun and warmth today not that I've had much chance to enjoy it. I managed to oversleep this morning and didn't wake up until 6.45, nearly an hour later than my usual time. I don't know if I switched off the alarm as soon as it began to ring or (more likely) forgot to turn it on last night. Instead of waking up with a cup of tea I had to jump straight out of bed. Luckily my porridge was already made and it didn't take long to make some fresh coffee in my 1 cup cafetiere. My teaching day didn't go too badly considering that I didn't have a teaching assistant for any part of the day. I changed the lesson plans to make them manageable and went for a divide and conquer approach to the behaviour issues. I let a small number of children do activities in the playground outside the classroom, a privilege which had to be earned by 'sensible' behaviour. At one point I looked through the window to see every single unifix (counting) cube scattered across the playground and the culprit throwing a cube at another child. Immediate banishment to the classroom ensued much to the chagrin of the miscreant, the cubes were collected and the general behaviour improved. Later, in the afternoon a different group of children were outside and they worked together to make a cube chain stretching almost the whole way across the playground a distance of about 20 feet. I stayed at school until 5.00 printing out photos of the new School Council members to put up on a display which I'm ashamed to say has stayed the same for the last 2 years. On a positive note I have made my feelings clear about working full-time ie it's affecting my back badly and it looks as though I won't need to be doing so many hours. Due to a lack of suitable/ known supply teachers I was asked if I could do any extra hours at all and I have agreed to teach that class all day on Fridays. That would mean only one early morning and I would have all of Thursdays free. Even though I am a morning person I find it hard if I've not got to sleep until the early hours of the morning or have woken up several times in the night. 
 I picked up my car after work and did some stocking up at the Co-Op before coming home.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Autumn Equinox.

It has been warm and sunny(ish) today.  I took my car in for its MOT this morning. It failed as it needs some welding underneath. (It's probably the dried on mud that's holding it all together.) Because Peter didn't hear the phone the garage didn't do the work today. It will be done tomorrow so that will be my car legal for another year. From the sound of things it doesn't seem that the people who came to view the house this morning will be making an offer. Never mind, it will happen one day.
School went quite well today though there is a group of very lively/ challenging children who keep me on my toes. In the afternoon I let the children make more shadow puppets while I worked with a couple of children at a time going over the morning's maths. When you think about it teaching 30 children for an hour means they can have 2 minutes attention each or if there has been half an hour of whole class work using whiteboards or equipment on the carpet, just 1 minute of individual attention. Not very much especially when some children fail to listen to or join in with the preparatory work. No wonder I'm frazzled. At the end of the day I caught up with sticking in all the photos and maths lesson objectives from this week though I still need to go back and actually mark if they achieved the objectives.
On the way home I stopped to look at the sun shining through the clouds onto the sea.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Pretty Violas.

We had a dry morning and some showers in the afternoon. I had another split day working with the Year 2 class in the morning and back down to Reception in the afternoon. The Year 2 teacher has been signed off until half-term which is 4 more weeks after this one but I'm not really sure that I can keep on working full-time for as long as that. I just don't have time to recover and I'm getting spasms in my back in the evenings. I think I'll have to warn my Headteacher that I may not be able to continue in the Year 2 class for much longer. Much as I want to help the school out and this class in particular needs continuity I do have to think about my health. That said I had a good day even with PE in the morning and then sitting on the floor with the little children doing actions to songs such as Row, row, your boat. After school I had a session sticking photos in books before heading across town to do a bit of shopping. I went to BJ's first to buy some violas to brighten up the hanging baskets, then to Lidl's, Tesco's and the petrol station. I planted up the violas when I got home but haven't had time to do anything else.
This morning's viewing sounds quite optimistic though with the usual English reserve you can never really tell. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A Lovely Surprise.

No rain at all today with a lovely sunny afternoon as a bonus. The photos below were taken on my journey home.
When I arrived home today after a long day at school including a staff meeting I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only had Peter mown all the grass but he'd hoovered the whole house, cleaned the bathroom & his study and swept the back patio. That left me free to sweep the front patio, tidy away my emergency dams and do a little weeding so now the the place is looking neat and tidy for tomorrow and Thursday's viewings. 
At school things were so much easier with teaching assistants working with my classes in the morning and the afternoon. However I was on my own with the Year 2 children in the morning reading them one of Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes when suddenly one of the children had a nosebleed. There then followed an impromptu lesson on 1- How to behave when something unusual happens, 2 - Why we have nosebleeds, 3-  How to treat a nosebleed and 4 - How to remove blood stains from a carpet. By which time all was sorted and was time for the children to go out to play. We have head bump slips in the medical room which we give to any child that has had a bump but I've taken to carrying some on my clipboard which came in handy today as I needed to hand out 5 during the day for all the various collisions that happened. Our kids seem to be terribly accident prone. I must remember to fill in the accident book tomorrow as I was just too busy today.

Monday, 19 September 2016


Despite the prediction (on somebody's phone at work) of a 2% probability of rain it has rained all day long. Sometimes heavier, sometimes lighter but always wet.  
It's been the usual hectic day at work which at least makes the day pass quickly. Due to sickness and other things we are a bit short staffed so I was on my own with both the morning and afternoon classes for most of the time. I had just finished listening to a group of 8 children in a guided reading session in the classroom with the rest of the class reading quietly (sort of) at their tables (normally we hear guided reading in a separate room) when a lady I didn't know walked into the classroom. I knew one child was waiting for his mum to bring in a replacement hearing aid so I told him to go over the the woman. She however had come in to give the children their French language lesson which nobody had told me about. No wonder the poor boy was looking confused. That did at least give me a bit of time to breathe. 
When I got home from school I got the rest of the apples chopped and cooking and while I was doing that the estate agents rang booking another viewing for Wednesday morn. Nothing for weeks then 2 appointments in 2 days. I hope the rain clears by then.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Handy Handles.

The weather has been much the same as yesterday; bright and warm in the morning with more clouds and a bit cooler in the afternoon. Before breakfast I re-used the door handles that had been on the front door as tool hooks in my gardening shed. I came up with the idea a little while back as it seemed a shame simply to throw them out to be re-cycled but hadn't got round to doing it until now.  
The rest of the time in the garden I've been tidying up the bits that can be seen when you come down the drive including cutting back the big crocosmia that were hanging over the drive making the entrance look narrow. The rest need to be cut back too but I'll wait until after Thursday when we have some people coming to look at the house. I also weeded the stone steps up to the pond and the lower bed by the back lawn as the weeds had begun to take over. Much as I would have liked to push on with the gardening I forced myself to do a section, stop for an hour and then return to the garden. 
This weekend I have found time to do a little piano and guitar practise. I can now play tunes on 3 strings of the guitar though whenever Peter listens he asks if I'm playing Bird on a Wire. Huh, let him try. I need to find a way to have a light by the piano that doesn't involve wires trailing over the place because even with the room lights on I can't really see the music once the evening starts to draw in.
I was up by the scree garden wondering if the swallows had left us for Africa when I looked up and saw a solitary swallow up above. Once they've all gone I feel that summer is truely over.

Saturday, 17 September 2016


It's been sunny and a little cool but generally a very pleasant day. After getting up early all week it felt like a major lie-in not to wake up till 8.00. I'm trying to take things a bit easier this weekend so I refrained from doing too much gardening. My first job was to put a handle on the rayburn's warmer oven door. We've always managed with a single bolt-like fitting sticking out but I thought it would look better with a full complement of handles. I bought a replacement handle in the summer but it arrived without 2 tiny but vital nuts. They weren't the standard size ones I have plenty of so I had to contact the supplier. Instead of sending me the missing nuts I had to send the whole thing back and they sent me a handle with the full compliment of fittings.
My next job was to collect up the windfall apples which was quickly done and then wash and cut them up for stewing which was a much longer job. I filled up my biggest saucepan and will still have to cook up another lot tomorrow. Right now the stewed apples are cooling off before I fill up plastic containers to go in the freezer. Stewed apple makes a very nice addition to my my daily bowl of porridge. Out in the garden I got out the long handled shears and tidied up some of the lawn edges. Peter has been mowing and strimming but he hasn't quite got the hang of the edges. 
I went into the conservatory to feed the cats and found this tiny toad. He didn't want to be rescued and tried to hop away into the sitting room but has now been relocated to the front garden where hopefully he will feast on slugs.

Friday, 16 September 2016


It's Friday and I don't care that it's turned cold. I've got a whole 2 days to be at home and then shhh... there's one more week to do before I'm back to my normal routine. It hasn't been too stressful in school but I did arrive before the gates were opened this morning and didn't leave until 4.45.  At lunchtime I found 5 minutes to walk round to the garage and book my car in for its MOT next week. I try and co-ordinate work on the car with the days that I'm in school all day so that there is time for any extra work that needs doing. 
One of the pleasures of having a commute through country roads is the varied wildlife to be seen. This morning just after a pair of wood pigeons did their usual kamikaze thing of  sitting on the road in front of you until the very last moment I saw a sparrowhawk sitting very still by the side of the road which was quite unusual. The other morning I had to brake sharply to avoid squashing a squirrel which was running in circles on the road in a panic. That same morning I had to drive slowly behind a dozen hen pheasants most of whom didn't have the sense to move sideways and were scurrying up the road in front of me. I had to laugh when I saw that leading this mini stampede was the cock pheasant.
The recent wind has brought down a lot of the apples so I guess I better collect them and make some stewed apples for the freezer.