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, 19 October 2017


A damp, grey morning turned into a chilly, wet afternoon. I think Patch had the right idea sleeping pressed up against the warm rayburn. 
The first thing I had to do this morning was to phone the dentist. Yesterday evening a piece of filling came out while I was flossing my teeth. I've got an appointment but it's not until next Monday. Thankfully the missing filling is not causing any problems and I've got some dental wax which I'm using to fill the hole. The wax falls out when I eat but that gives me a chance to rinse with mouthwash.
While Peter went out, with instructions of where to pick up more cardboard boxes, I had a kitchen day. Alongside baking more chocolate cookies I set to work giving some of our baking dishes and oven trays a good clean. Although we have no need for a dishwasher I buy dishwasher tablets to use for soaking things with baked on grease. As Peter and I generally eat different food in the evenings we cook for ourselves. The washing up is not so delineated, whatever needs washing gets washed by either of us. This system works well apart from the matter of grease. Peter tend towards foods that have some sort of fat content while I don't use any fats apart from olive oil or when I'm baking. Because he places his food on baking parchment on a baking tray Peter feels that it's not that important to clean all the grease off the trays. I on the other hand have the view that if a tray or dish is stainless steel, as most of mine are, then it should be returned to its gleaming state every time, also the outside and bottoms of saucepans. I don't think we are ever going to agree on this so once in a while I scrub away muttering darkly under my breath. In return are mutterings about obsessive cleaning. After over 40 years together we're used to it.
It was too wet this afternoon to think about going out to take photos so it's just a contented Patch for today.
My all-time favourite fruit has got to be mangos. I know they're full of sugar but at least they are fruit and delicious with 0-fat plain yoghurt and I can kid myself they are a healthy treat. This week the usual green/red mangos have been replaced with red mangos. What a disappointment. The one I prepared first was a bit on the soft side, not too much a problem with the other ones but the red one was .... nasty. The other one which wasn't over-ripe didn't have much flavour. I think I'll wait until the usual ones are back in the shops.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017


It's been a grey day with light drizzle for most of it and some slight brightening up later in the afternoon. I was able to use my reclaimed pots from yesterday to plant up some more plants 'to go'. I had to dig up a double hardy geranium from the  flower bed as its position behind a miniature rose bush had made it hard to get to when I was digging up plants for the propagation beds. When it eventually flowered amongst a great mass of various h. geraniums I thought I'd have no difficulty in identifying it later on and didn't even put a cane next to it. Big mistake, apart from the scrambling geranium spreading everywhere I wasn't too sure which plant I should be digging up. I think I got the right one but possibly not. It would be a shame if I didn't as that particular variety came from a big plant show and isn't available at ordinary garden centres or nurseries though I know I've got the lighter purple one.
Peter went to town this morning and when he came back I was bemoaning the fact that I'd got to the front door just as a delivery van was driving off. The front door had been wide open and I would have heard if the bell had been rung or the man had called out. I had to stop my rant when Peter pointed out the parcel tucked neatly into the corner of the porch. 
For the last 2 years or so I've been keeping the packaging from any delicate stuff, mostly TVs and IT stuff. Today I began putting the boxes in the same room as the relevant items so that I can have a final clear out of the room I've been using for storage. Some more paperwork came today for us to sign but as nothing is fixed until the final day we can't get excited. Judging by the way our buyer acted over accepting our final price we fully expect him to pull out of the deal in the last few days to try and get us to drop the price. At least expecting the worst will make it easier to handle whichever way it goes. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017


It's been nice and sunny for most of the day. Right now there was a pretty pink and blue sunset sky which intensified briefly and is now fading away. I found out that yesterday's weird yellow light (and red sun when not covered by clouds) was due to the air being full of dust from the Sahara and smoke from forest fires in Spain filtering out the blue spectrum in the light.
This afternoon I filled up my car with more stuff for the dump including almost all of the old plaster. I also had a small box filled with unused white tiles. I was about to take them over to the resale area when I was told that not only did they not want them but there would be a charge if I wanted to dispose of them. Back in the car they went along with some large plastic plant pots I  helped myself to from the large plastics area. 
I called in at the Tesco's there and left a box of SF paperbacks at their 'Buy a second hand book for charity' shelf. I realised I hadn't picked the best time to do some shopping as the shop was full of parents and children dropping in after school. I noticed many children eating a piece of fruit from the free for children fruit selection which was nice to see. There were also a lot of people taking advantage of the highly reduced frozen items, mainly ice creams and lollies at about 80% off. I bought some boxes of peanut butter Magnums as a treat and some cheese, rice and bean Burritos for Peter. The bakery section also yielded up more reductions so it was a successful shopping trip. 

Monday, 16 October 2017


I woke up very early this morning. It was one of those times that I needed to get up and stretch my back but even by the time I had done my whole exercise routine it was still dark. If there had been any signs of a proper sunrise I may well have gone out for an early morning walk but sky simply went from black to dark grey and then mid-grey. I took the above photo at 11.00 when the sky was still grey with that peculiar yellow light I think of as storm light. Hurricane now down graded to Storm Ophelia seems to have hit the country north of us. It was fairly windy early in the day but then the wind died down and we had a couple of hours of sun. The sky began to darken later in the afternoon and right now it's getting windier with sudden gusts making the trees dance. We checked the surf-cam this morning but the wind was in the wrong direction for spectacular waves. One of these days we'll make it down to the beach when the big waves come blowing in.
Today I packed away the rest of the books from both sets of shelves in the sitting room and gave the shelves and the wall behind a good wash. The shelves were put up before the walls were plastered smoothly so behind the shelves is a reminder of how horrible the textured walls were. I've done my best to wipe them down but it's not an easy surface to clean. I hope the new people have lots of books or DVDs. No date set yet as their upcountry solicitors are still fussing about things that are perfectly normal to us country folk.  
I spotted this Red Admiral butterfly during the sunny spell. it was only when I looked closely at the photo that I noticed it only had one antenna.

Sunday, 15 October 2017


They were right about it being warm today. In the sun it was a pleasant 22C/ 71.5F. While I was trying hard to think of something worthwhile to do outside I did some hoeing of the propagation bed. It was then I realised that after all that digging up of plants to pot up, there was sufficient space for a small bonfire. Being one of those people who keep all their paper records I had a massive folder of bank statements going back to 2005. I'm not sure why I might need them in this technological era though we won't bank on-line for security reasons but I thought it was time to get rid of most of them. They're not the sort of thing you can put in with the household rubbish and I thought that burning would be easier and much more fun than putting them through the shredder. Just to be on the safe side I have kept my statements for the last five years. It was quite satisfying to crumple up each page and feed the fire. After that I swept up the large piles of leaves that have accumulated in the corners of the front patio. No doubt more will fall especially in the winds forecast for tomorrow but I will try and keep the garden as reasonably tidy as I can without straining my back.
Each morning as I play my guitar I have a lovely view of the stream through the full height window. I've found that I can rest my 'How to play' book on top of the basket of music books and use the front bar of the chair the basket sits on to rest my foot as I perch on the stool I use when I'm playing the piano.
'Scuse the fuzzy photo but I wasn't sure how close I could get before the bees got annoyed by my presence. Judging by the bright yellow on their legs they were finding plenty of pollen to build up their winter stocks.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Mainly Overcast.

It's a good thing I set my alarm to wake me this morning though possibly as a result I've felt sleepy all day long. Not that I had to be out that early but I've slipped easily into a living pattern tuned to the state of my body rather than the need to be in set places at set times. 
This morning I made a brief visit to the new house to check some measurements and was very pleasantly surprised to find that the living room really is 15ft x 11ft which at a pinch will fit both the sofas until we decide which one will suit better. I have already offered the large sofa to somebody so if it goes then that will be the decision taken out of my hands which I don't mind. There's quite a bit of level space outside in the back garden next to the cat flap so I shall start looking for a really large dog crate to put there.
Now that it's been getting colder at night I've been thinking about putting a couple of boxes in the conservatory so that the cats can be a bit warmer. As shown by Speedy above the cats will jump into any empty box. Before when I made them some closed boxes with their blankets inside and a hole at the front Patch tried sleeping on top of the box and fell right through. After my quick visit to the house I went over to BJ's, a general goods and garden store which sometimes has bargains. After passing by the twinkling Christmas decoration aisles I came across these soft cat houses. At just under £6 each I thought they were a good bargain and exactly the sort of thing I wanted. The soft cushion inside doesn't have a removable cover so when I got home I washed the cats' fleece blankets and after drying used them to make removable covers which can be popped in the washing machine. The cat houses are now in the conservatory and though Patch was a bit cautious at first he eventually tucked himself inside. I also think it will be good for the cats to have something familiar to retreat to when we move.
Later on Jack came over on his quad bike for the umbrella tree. He thought he might need to get the little trailer to put the tree in but as the pot itself is quite small we were able to lie it flat with the pot secured to the rack in front of the handlebars and the top of the tree to the rack at the back. I'm glad it's gone to a good home.

Friday, 13 October 2017


Today has been overcast but very mild. It's set to get even warmer over the next two days with London and the South-East possibly reaching 24C/ 75F. Then it's all change as Hurricane Ophelia swings towards Ireland and the UK where the strong winds will hit the west coasts. So far it looks as if it will affect the North more than down here. 
I did some more cleaning up in the outbuildings in the morning before retiring indoors. The old exercise book in which I have been writing down all the contents of the packed boxes and details of the art work is starting to fall apart so I have begun writing everything out again, neatly this time, in a more sturdy notebook.
Later in the afternoon I went over to the stables. Last night I had been given the sad news that another of our neighbours had passed away on Wednesday. The friend who rang asked me if I would go over and tell Paul and Sarah. Being a rural community although we might not be in each other's pockets people do look out for each other and help whenever we are asked. When I walked over to the stables Paul was hammering some metal roofing panels on to the barn which is almost repaired. To reach the top of the barn he was in/on a platform that was raised up by the fork lift truck operated by his son. While I was there I offered them this rather tall dwarf umbrella tree which is trying to escape from the conservatory as their club house has a high ceiling and I think their house has a 2 storey hall. (I always go in through the kitchen door.) They accepted so I guess Jack will be round sometime with the quad bike and trailer. I only bought the tree to cover up the back of the tv when people came to view. A delivery van drove up to the stables when I was there, he had a parcel for Paul and one for us so I was able to save him the extra time to go down to our place.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Sunny Afternoon.

The day started off grey and gloomy but drier than yesterday with an occasional tinge of blue between the clouds. I went out again late in the afternoon and there was hardly a cloud to be seen in the blue sky though by that time the garden was mostly in shade.
Peter went into town in my car as I had noticed an alarming clunk when I set off on my travels yesterday. Luckily it was just the handbrake cable sticking and Alec at the garage squirted some stuff into it and now it's fine. Knowing what a worrier I am Peter got him to check out the main brakes as well and they are fine too. One reason Peter went into town was to collect this 5L bottle of genuine first press olive oil. One of his friends has family in Spain who have olive trees, (is that orchard, grove or farm?) and brings this oil back when he goes to visit them. As I have salad almost every day with my own made vinaigrette I get through a fair amount of olive oil and this will be tastier than the shop bought olive oil.
This afternoon I went through my mother's art folders making sure they are in a suitable state to be moved and stored. A whole lot of sketches were in an open wooden tray like a drawer for which I made a cardboard carton using a large box and lots of packing tape.
It was still warm enough outside for the bumble bees to be out collecting pollen and looking out of the kitchen window I caught sight of a large dragonfly patrolling his patch.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


The day has been grey, windy and mostly wet. Too wet to venture out of the porch to take any photos. I was tempted to stop and take some atmospheric pictures on my way back from town but the Muddiford road is still closed so there is an unprecedented amount of traffic along our back road. Drivers who have been used to speeding along the 'main' road which has a dotted line down the centre allowing for two way traffic are now going too fast along our very muddy one and a half car wide winding back road. So far there haven't been any serious accidents. The other day Peter was in a queue of a dozen cars and farm vehicles in one direction and a similar queue in the other direction all trying to get through when there wasn't the space. Because the larger vehicles are going on to the verges the soft ground there has made such deep ruts that I daren't risk going off the road and dropping my little car into a hole.
I planned a town visit for today as I had arranged to call in at the new house to take some measurements especially in the kitchen, so I can be sure that things will fit. Not to mention that the agent's details say the sitting room is 11ft x 15ft (wish it was) and it clearly isn't. I think the electronic measurer must have gone across the hall. All the rooms are small which is normal for UK houses so fitting in our furniture will be a challenge. The kitchen too is tiny so I need to check the space for things like the fridge freezer and washing machine. However this visit has been postponed until the weekend. As I'd already packed things into my car for the Oxfam shop I thought I'd go in to town anyway and do some supermarket shopping. 
The town roads were very crowded today, maybe because there were numerous roadworks closing off parts of the real main roads. Waiting in various traffic queues I saw that some people still continue the local good road manners and let out one car out of the side roads even though they don't have right of way. That way the traffic keeps moving and nobody is held up for too long. Regrettably there were some rude people who just drove straight across not letting anyone out.
In Tesco's as always I went up to check out the sale rails in the clothing section. I was looking for a loose sports vest to wear over my crop top when I join the Pilates class after we move. Not only did I find exactly what I was looking for but it had been reduced several times and from an original price of £8 was only £1. I did try on another loose sports vest which I liked but the slogan across the front said When in doubt, RUN it out. which as I will never be able to run because of my knee seemed a bit pointless.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017


I had another very early wake up this morning. I think it was more to do with sleeping in yesterday morning than anything else. I waited until 6.00 to do my exercises then went downstairs for coffee at the pc until I heard Peter walking about. 
By the time it was light the clouds had dropped down to ground level. Even when they rose steady rain fell making me postpone my plans for another dump run. The rain eventually dried up and now we have wind, lots of wind. Instead of going to the dump I emptied the cupboard above my wardrobe. The downside to having lots of storage space is that you end up storing everything. Today's cupboard wasn't too bad as I've been gradually taking out things to be rehomed or thrown away. I had several straw hats, (I can't take the sun on my head), but they have gone in the empty drawers of the only chest of drawers we will be taking with us. After giving the cupboard a wash down I freshened up the inside with a lick of paint. My next job was to wipe down the lids of the plastic storage boxes under the bed and then because I was in super cleaning mode I lay on my stomach and hoovered under the bed as far as the hoover could reach. By the time I had given our bathroom a thorough clean I felt that I had done a good day's work.
Winter Flowering Jasmine.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Sunny Afternoon.

After a dismal wet morning the sun came out making it pleasantly warm at least in the sun. I spent the afternoon clearing part of the outbuildings including sawing up an old door. Then armed with rubber gloves, washing up liquid and a scrubbing brush I used the hose by the scree garden to clean up some old plastic boxes and buckets. The good thing about plastic is that it generally cleans up well and even though I'll probably be putting garden tools etc. back into those boxes it's so much better not to be handling stuff covered with dust, cobwebs and swallow droppings.
Things are back on track with the house move. It turns out that the chap we're buying from, we only met his wife, is one of the plasterers who came to plaster the upstairs corridor. Just one more link in the cobweb of connections we have made living and working in the same place for 25 years.  

Sunday, 8 October 2017


We've had a pleasantly warm and sunny day. I woke very early and as I started my exercises I heard the first morning birds. Not a proper dawn chorus but the lone buzzard was soon joined by a few other birds twittering away.
I dug up a few more of the hardy geraniums including Roxanne (above). Just 4 more to go and that will be  my collection ready to move.
It was such a lovely day that I decided to go for a walk up the hill. Two of the ponies in the field were fast asleep with their muzzles touching the grass though by the time I had walked past them they stirred enough to lift their heads and look at me. There were clouds in the sky which I hoped didn't mean I would get caught in a shower. I was only wearing a vest top and shorts which as they are my decent-enough-to-be-seen-in ones (instead of my several-sizes-too-large-old shorts that I wear at home) I didn't have any pockets. So in case it did rain I rolled up a small plastic bag, for my camera, and used an elastic band to attach it to the camera strap. With no other place to carry a spare camera battery I put it down the side of my sock which worked well. (Anyone remember the Elouise stories?) 
It was so peaceful as I walked, although I could hear a faint hum of vehicles out on the Whitefield Hill road the loudest sounds were the bird noises. A couple of rooks chattering as they flew together, a solitary singer that might have been a skylark though it wasn't quite the same as the summer song and the whirr of pheasants setting off in fright. There was still a strong scent of the Himalayan Balsam from the remaining flowers. Naturally I had to set off some of the explosive seed pods. A gentle touch and the seed capsule bursts open with an audible pop.
Instead of turning towards Ashelford Corner I headed down to Bowden Corner just for a change. 

At that point I turned and headed back home. It was good to stretch my legs and have a change of scenery.
Now for an evening of Strictly though we don't think a professional ballerina should have been included in the contestants.

Saturday, 7 October 2017


WE had a very wet morning. So wet that my morning views from the bedroom windows were mostly of raindrops on the glass. It stopped raining by the afternoon with a few splashes of blue sky visible between the clouds if you looked hard enough. The trees are now beginning to look bare as the leaves succumb to the strong winds.
I haven't physically done a lot today apart from bag up stuff for the charity shops but it has felt quite stressful. That's because I've been trying to plan which boxes/items will go where. Storage space is quite a bit more expensive than we originally thought though there are a variety of size spaces available at the place we intend to use. I've been making scale plans of the spaces, house rooms and garage and shuffling more bits of paper to represent our possessions to see how to fit things in. Reluctantly I've come to the conclusion that one of our two sofas will have to go. In our new downsized lives having two sofas as well as a large armchair is excessive. All in all not a very productive day. 

Friday, 6 October 2017


It's been a dry day with a fair amount of sunshine. I remembered that I needed to check two tents we have before I donate them to the charity shop. They've been packed away for years plus there are 2 extra tent  pole sections which might belong to either or neither of them. I put the first of the tents up today and it is in perfect order, just a few mud marks on the inner tent. 
This afternoon I emptied out a large wooden chest  to sort and pack the contents. I've obviously inherited my mother's trait of keeping all documents, photographs etc. As well as many photographs and notebooks to do with her art my mother had kept stuff going back to her school days. All the more surprising when you consider that she left home and country as a teenager to become a displaced person/ refugee travelling across Europe and eventually on to Canada before coming to the UK. There were tiny photos of her classmates as well as other photos from the war years. Needless to say looking through all these things took up the whole afternoon but now they are safely boxed up. 
There were also things of mine in that chest; a whole school photo of my convent boarding school when I was about 8 years old and another similar school photo of my secondary school when I was a rebellious 16 year old. There was a collection of childhood toys and keepsakes including a piece of twisted wood about 6" long which sort of resembles a rabbit which I'm sure I found in Corsica during a summer spent there when I was 6 years old. (Should have taken a photo but now it's packed away.) All these things bring back so many memories which makes them worth keeping.

Thursday, 5 October 2017


We've had a sunny day with colder winds blowing in from the north. Early in the morning the winds were whistling around the place which made lying tucked up in a warm bed feel very cosy. 
We had a visit from the electrician who put in the electrics for the filtration system. He came to deal with the paperwork so we can have certification for that work to give to our buyers. I suppose in safety terms it's good that all electrical work has to be done by a qualified electrician but where do you draw the line? With plugs being sealed onto electrical leads I don't think many people even know how to change a plug. 
The acers are losing their battle against the elements with many of the once glorious red leaves lying withered on the ground. I dug up some more of my plants this morning. That's something I have to do in small doses as digging doesn't do my back any good. So far I've got 9 varieties of hardy geranium potted and ready to go. For the rest of the day I carried on packing and sorting. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


Nothing terribly exciting to report today. The weather has been mostly overcast with occasional moments of sun but also some spattering of rain.
I've carried on with my packing and am getting to the point where I'm running out of boxes. I took a load of stuff out to the dump today, it's such a good feeling to clear stuff away wherever it goes. Today I made a start on emptying a bag of old plaster that has been in the outbuildings for a long time. It's far too heavy to contemplate taking it as a whole so instead I've been decanting it into some of the strong bags that the compost came in. That way it's not too heavy to carry. As there's a Tesco's on my way I was able to get some sugar for my cookie baking which I did when I got home. Surprisingly for Tesco's I was able to pick up some good reductions. Everything was still fine even the celery which had almost 90% off. Other items in my haul included baby plum tomatoes, blueberries, fresh figs, humus and garlic& coriander naans. Because Ilfracombe is still a holiday town it must be harder for the shop to predict customer numbers which might explain the decent reductions. It's hard to find more than 10% off during the day in any the Barnstaple Tescos.
As well as baking some chocolate cookies this afternoon I've made a vegetable soup (onions, tomatoes, celery, white cabbage and mushrooms) spiced up with a helping of last night's lamb tagine.
It's getting cold enough in the evenings to need the central heating on for a while and some hot soup will be good.