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.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Very Wet.

We've had a lot of blustery showers today. It would be fine one minute and the next you could hardly see where you were going. Right now the wind and rain are battering at the window. Peter was all set to go rowing this afternoon when the row was called off because of the wind. I had all my Christmas post to take to the Post Office and instead of walking into town from Lidl's I drove a bit further to the Post Office at Sticklepath. They have space for a few cars and even if as today they are full you can park on the road. My bill for stamps was quite high because either the envelopes were about 1 cm too big to qualify as standard letters or the embellishments on the fancy cards made them too fat. A bit annoying but it's only once a year.
Before going home I went back to BJ's as they are the only place that still have daffodil bulbs. I really wanted the early big bright yellow ones but had to settle for some 2-tone daffodils and another bag of the little yellow narcissi.
This afternoon I made a start on my Christmas biscuits. I only had a couple of hiccups which is quite good for me. First of all I discovered that despite carefully writing out lists of ingredients before shopping yesterday I had forgotten to buy icing sugar which is needed for two of the recipes I'm using. Then  as the second batch of Lebkuchen  were in the oven I saw that I had 3 rather than 2 heart shaped cutters and had used the largest instead of the middle sized one. I made a few with the smallest cutter but as my family are hearty eaters made the rest bigger. So even bigger biscuits this year. Then I couldn't find my star shaped cutter which I planned to use for the gingerbread biscuits so used a cat shaped cutter instead. The kitchen is easy to work in but I stopped after two kinds of biscuits and they still need decorating.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Two Rainbows.


I may have just gained myself a reputation as a crazy lady amongst the neighbours. Not only do we not have net curtains or blinds on any of our windows but this evening as the dark began to fall I was cleaning out our wheelie bin in the parking area. This came about because today we had our fortnightly rubbish collection. I had tied up the bag inside the bin so that it would fall into the dust lorry. This evening I went to put in a new bin bag and found that not only was there still some rubbish at the bottom of the bin, the sides were dirty and the whole thing stank. Clad in bright yellow gloves I began cleaning it with bleach, water from a watering can and a kitchen scrubber fixed on the end of an old broom stick. I then decided that I didn't want to tip out the filthy water/bleach in my garden or even on the communal grass as the bleach might kill off the grass. So I dragged the bin, watering can, bleach and scrubbing stick over to the hardstand where people park their cars. I scrubbed and rinsed it out a couple of times and after letting the bin drain upside down for a while brought it back to the front garden. 
When I woke this morning one half of the window showed bright blue sky and the other half dark grey clouds. It wasn't long until the clouds had covered the whole view which was then improved by the sight of first one rainbow followed by a second.

Not only did we have the treat of a double rainbow but the end, and of course the pot of gold, was somewhere in the trees along the next road.
I had an appointment to see my doctor today. The skipped beats seem to be settling down but my blood pressure is a bit high so I shall be wearing a 24 hour monitor in January. I'd better keep up my exercise bike sessions and add in some high intensity work. After my appointment I did some shopping including the last of my Christmas shopping. There were a few showers and I was glad I was wearing my new waterproof jacket. As last year's hanging basket of winter flowering violas had lasted for so long I bought 6 pots which had been reduced to 50p to put in a hanging basket that is by the front door.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Sunny.

Today has been bright and sunny with enough wind to make it worth hanging washing out on the line. I've found why Fluffy Cat is always in our garden, he likes to sleep on top of a cupboard in the shed where the sun shines in and he is sheltered from the wind. Today he stood yowling at Patch until my presence made him turn tail. Speedy has already found the way around the row of houses so I can let him out of the front door and when he's had enough he comes through the cat flap from the back garden. Patch just waits by the front door until I let him back in again. 
First thing this morning I painted one last coat of paint on the back wall. In the afternoon the men from the Hospice shop came to collect the mirror which was in the garage. We took the opportunity to ask them to help us move the big pine cupboard from the garage into the house.  Peter bought a small trolley which is useful for moving stuff. While we were at the garage we put the round garden table on its side to take up less room. We also discovered that the garage roof leaks, not a lot but noticeable in a couple of places after the recent heavy rain. Luckily I had saved my old heavy plastic tablecloths which came in useful to cover up things for the moment. We were chatting to our neighbour whose garage is next to ours and they have a similar problem. The roof is made of wavy concrete asbestos boards and there may be something to paint/spray on to make it waterproof. 
Now that the cupboard is in place against a white wall it is beginning to feel a bit more like home. 
 Tonight's sunset from the back (above) and the front (below) of the house.


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Stormy.

I woke before light this morning to hear the sound of a storm raging outside. The gusting wind and occasional clattering of bins being blown about made me appreciate how warm and cosy I felt under the duvet. Once it was light I could see our kerbside food caddy (for food recycling) was on its side halfway down the garden with the lid open. As I wrap up the food scraps in newspaper, using the free weekly paper, I thought I'd better go down and rescue the caddy before it got too wet inside. Surprisingly the Christmas wreath was still in place on a nail by the door. Very little of my anti-cat holly had been blown away either as I had pushed the stems into the soil. By mid-morning the wind had died down but the rain continued. This report mentions that the 'New' Bridge aka the Taw Bridge had gusts of nearly 75 mph while the rest of the country has had snow and ice with more to come.
I was up early so that I could put another coat of paint on the wall and have just painted a third coat. The rest of my day was devoted to writing my Christmas cards. There was a bit of a hold up when I discovered that one of the boxes of luxury cards I had bought last January came with silver envelopes. Very nice to look at but almost impossible to write on even with a permanent marker. After a protracted search I eventually found a roll of white labels on which I could write. Somehow that took all afternoon and to finish off I wrapped up 2! Christmas presents. It's a start.
Still looking streaky as the paint hasn't dried.
Latest weather forecast says -12C /10.4F for tonight.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Cold and Grey.

Today has been grey and cold without enough wind to dry any washing. While Peter was out rowing I used his PC to write up my Christmas letter. I don't have Office on my PC and since the school wouldn't let me keep my 9 year old lap top I have to rely on Peter's PC. Not that I have much need of Office anyway.
     Speedy and Fluffy Cat having a silent stare down. 
With the hope that we might bring the big dresser up from the garage soon this afternoon I shifted all the boxes around in the dining area and made a start on painting the last wall. I ended up using brute force to bend the floating shelves away from the wall so that I could unscrew the brackets from the wall. Actually I was multi-tasking, while waiting for the wall to dry after being washed down I mixed up a couple of banana loaves and while they were in the oven got on with the painting. My little paint roller is so much better than the big standard one. Not only does it reach right up to the ceiling without me having to stand on a chair but the smaller diameter of the roller makes it easier to get into corners and in general it is a lot easier to handle and clean afterwards.

The banana loaves weren't bad and it made a nice change to be able to control the temperature of the oven. I couldn't find my usual recipe, written on a scrap of paper so I got one on-line. I picked a BBC recipe so that I didn't need to convert the amounts but it is a bit too sweet for my taste, next time I'll reduce the amount of sugar.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Cold.

I woke very early this morning. As I lay watching the sky lighten I realised that the noises I could hear were from our house rather than the neighbours'. (We do hear things like front doors being closed but not too much.) Wondering if it might be a burglar, unlikely or a strange cat come in through the cat flap it turned out to have been the sound of 6 eggs hitting the marble floor after a determined effort on the cats' part to move the waste food caddy to the edge of the counter and thence onto the floor. Needless to say I was not amused.
At least being up so early gave me the chance to do my exercises and make porridge before a friend of Peter's came round to have a look at the garage door. Larry has been an engineer and knows about such things. He brought round some new pulley wires and explained how to fit them as well as how to close the door while it is still in its dilapidated state. 
I was not best pleased when I saw how the removal men had crammed stuff in the garage. No wonder they had reached a point where no more could fit. I think if they had taken a bit more time it would have been more sensibly stacked. Never mind, today I moved a lot of the stuff outside (I work better on my own when I'm trying to think of a plan as I go along) so that I could make some order out of the chaos. We had hoped that the big round garden table would go in the back garden on one of the decks but unfortunately it is a bit too big to manoeuver through the house. Once I had cleared out some stuff that should have gone to the dump in the first place and filled up a tall wooden cupboard with tools it was possible to stack the rest of the boxes and rearrange the odd shaped items so that things are accessible. There are still 3 pieces of furniture that need to come into the house when the walls are painted which will make even more room. We decided not to keep the antique overmantle mirror and the local hospice shop is coming to collect it next week which will give us a bit more space. Getting the garage sorted was a major job but as I had a car full of stuff I drove over to the dump to get rid of it all. 
It has been very cold today, mainly bright with the occasional shower. The sheets that I hung outside dried nicely in time for me to iron them. Peter feels the cold much more than me and while I still keep my study window open for the breeze he sits in his study wrapped up like a parcel. I haven't had the heart to point out that due to the staggered layout of the houses his room has 2 outside walls while the other rooms only have 1.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Turning Cold.

Peter has just returned home from the eye clinic. The good news is that though it was quite a serious scratch it is healing up nicely. The not so good news is that he is developing cataracts but that is fairly normal for anyone over 65. On the up side he has been referred to the cataract clinic so hopefully will be on the way to having the cataracts dealt with. He's fine to drive and has driving glasses anyway. He had thought his sight difficulties were due to age related short sight and had been looking into lens replacement to deal with that problem.
Today has been colder and windier than of late with very low temperatures (snow, ice that sort of thing) predicted for much of the country. Well I remember the days of leaving Barnstaple looking green only to get up to Shirwell to find light snow blowing across the road. This morning I took a chance and got some washing out on the line. However I chickened out when it began to ran and brought the not quite dry washing back inside. The light rain soon blew away but I didn't bother taking the washing out again. Instead it is draped over a radiator in the kitchen. Yes we have a radiator in the kitchen but none in the bedrooms!
I spent a lot of my day outside in the front garden where for a time the sun was shining. I dug up the large clumps of woodrush replanting some by the side which I suspect will be a bit shady and dumped the rest. Then I was able to plant out some of the plants from Dingles. (I can't help thinking of it as home though I will probably never go there again.) I planted out 3 varieties of crocosmia along the side and then in the main bed amongst what looks like a holly plantation are 10 varieties of hardy geranium. That holly bush is turning out to be very useful.
My neighbour stopped to chat in the afternoon and to give us a Christmas card which I thought was very neighbourly. It turns out that her daughter and son both went to Pilton Infants' School and while they weren't in my class I may well have taught them at some point. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

More Gardening.

We had the cat confrontation this morning. Our two cats had walked through the open conservatory door while the tabby cat was at the top of the garden. Speedy spotted him, went up to investigate and bam, there was a hissing, spitting ball of fur as a cat fight began. Patch, in the meantime had quietly turned and walked back into the house even though he is dominant in the house. The fight lasted a few minutes and then the pair of them were in a stand off taking turns to yowl at each other. The other cat looked bigger and a bit more confident so I tipped the scales in Speedy's favour by stepping towards the door. That caused the tabby cat to turn tail and leave the garden so technically Speedy was the victor.
This morning I made my Christmas wreath using a 25p strand of tinsel from a charity shop and other bits from around the place. I have a proper over-the-door hangar which doesn't fit over our front door but there was a handy nail in the wall beside the door.
While the weather is still quite mild I did some more gardening in the front garden. The weeding is more or less done so I was able to put a few of my plants in, knautia macedonia in between two red fuchsias and a fluorescent purple buddleia and a couple of types of crocosmia up nearer the house. There were primroses/primulas scattered around the place so I relocated up some of them to under a hydrangea and the acer tree that grows in the middle of the lawn. I also planted the narcissi bulbs around the acer and in a couple of spots by the path. Fearing that the freshly dug soil might be tempting for cats I scattered holly branches around. The holly bush is looking a bit lopsided now.
The man from Sky came today as we had been offered a free upgrade to the Q Box. However it turns out that if we had it the TV in the bedroom wouldn't work unless we paid out more money for a third box. So off went the Sky man and we're sticking with the set up we already have which suits us.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Christmas is Coming.

Today I had a check up at the dentist and no doubt thanks to my water pick my teeth were in excellent condition, apart that is from the tooth that needs a new crown. I want to check out Peter's insurance package from the union first as I may be able to get the £250 cost refunded. 
Afterwards I drove over to the dump and got rid of three bags of weeds, scooped up half a bag of leylandii cuttings as someone else was throwing them in and got rid of some broken pots that had been lurking in the garden. I wanted the leylandii for making a Christmas wreath to hang on the front door. That's for tomorrow.
I went over to BJ's for some gold spray paint and couldn't help smiling at these tinsel decked traffic cones. Inside, BJ's is a homage to Christmas. I don't intend to put up any indoor decorations this year which helped me resist the lure of buying more 'shiny stuff'. This 5ft high moving polar bear and cub took my eye though I wonder who would pay £2,600 for it?
After buying paint and some narcissi bulbs for the garden I stopped by this tree. I rather like these big, unlit glass lights. If they happen to be on sale after Christmas I might be tempted.
 Alternative Christmas Trees.
The tide was out as walked over the bridge to do a little shopping on the High Street. I bought one present and then treated myself to a new purple,light waterproof jacket in the Millets sale. My current jacket, also from Millets is a vivid pink and I chose it mainly for the fleece top that zips into it and there are times I would prefer not to be so conspicuous.  
Peter picked up his new prescriptions this morning and is getting relief from the anaesthetic drops. Hopefully on Thursday he'll get the all clear from the hospital or at least know his eye is on the road to recovery.

Monday, 4 December 2017

A Poke in the Eye.

While he was clearing up at the boat shed yesterday Peter managed to get poked in the eye by a small twig. He thought nothing of it at the time but later in the evening his eye was very sore and already too bloodshot for me to see anything. He didn't have a very good night though paracetamol helped and in the morning he rang the surgery. When he went there later in the day  the doctor said that he had scratched the cornea and gave him some antibiotic stuff to put in his eye until he could be seen by the eye clinic at the hospital. However when he got back home she rang again and said that after looking at the photo of his eye again she felt he needed stronger antibiotics and some anaesthetic drops to relieve the pain but they won't be ready until tomorrow morning. He's got an appointment on Thursday at the hospital which is now within walking distance.
Meanwhile as the weather was relatively mild I got on with weeding the front garden. For a town garden it's actually quite large and I'm already making a few plans. There are a couple of red fuchsias at the front along with a holly bush (great for using as a cat deterrent), an acer, a buddleia, two hydrangeas and a couple of unidentified shrubs.  
Having loaded three bags of weeds into the back of my car I took myself off for a short walk around the local streets. I got chatting to a young woman whose dog was barking and growling at me. I stood quietly and let it sniff my hand before patting it but every noise or movement set it off barking again. It was like a Weimaraner but more brown. She told me it was quite young and a rescue dog. Noticing she was carrying a horse blanket I surmised correctly that she had a horse which led to more chat. She had moved here from a farm a year ago and knew of our ex-neighbours' stables. I do try and make an effort to chat to people as we Brits are often too reserved.
The countryside begins on one side of the road next to ours. This is private land with Bradiford Water running through it but a bit further up is Manning's Pit, the water meadows through which there are public rights of way. That'll be the next place to explore. 
On the other side of the road are more houses similar to ours. I walked through the passageway to another green space that leads back to our turning. All the houses have large front gardens and it is interesting to see what people have done with their gardens. 
This fluffy cat has been coming into the garden recently and seems to be waiting to meet our two. They however take no notice even when the conservatory door was open and the visiting cat had come close to the house. Earlier in the day I had seen a robin sitting on the wall and as I worked in the front garden I could hear the wail of a solitary seagull which reminded me of my early days living in St Ives.
I'm now getting back into my exercise routine though I've toned down the weights I use for my arm exercises. The main set back has been with the stretches, not surprising considering how much heavy work I've been doing. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Mostly Grey.

Now that we're into December some of my neighbours have begun to put up Christmas decorations. Our next door neighbour has some sort of laser projector that sends green and red sparkles dancing all over the back garden which was certainly eye catching. Across the way I can see some lights around a porch, one Christmas wreath and an indoor tree bedecked with purple lights. The lights weren't the only thing to see last night. I heard some bangs outside and being ever nosey curious, I looked out of the window to see quite a large fireworks display coming from either Chivenor or somewhere towards Braunton. I've had a look on line and in the local free paper where I didn't find any mention of fireworks but Braunton was holding a Christmas market yesterday from 3 -11pm so that might be the explanation.
Taken at 4.00.
A bit less rain today and even a hint of blue sky in the afternoon. While Peter went down to the boat shed for a 'yard tidy' I got on with painting another coat of paint in the dining room. Yesterday's efforts didn't look that bad once the paint had dried but the second coat of paint still looks messy. I just wanted to get the walls to a reasonable state and then tidy up the room as best as I could.
The handyman has just been round to look at the work we want doing so that's the sitting room and the loft in progress.
Off now to make some supper before settling down to an evening of Strictly.


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Grey.

One good thing today - Peter worked his IT magic and I'm now able to get back on to FaceBook. There was a lovely picture of Sally dressed as a wizard at a Terry Pratchett exhibition.
We've had a damp grey day with a slight rise in temperature. I can't say I've had a very constructive day. I really would like to get the dinning room and conservatory sorted but it's all a matter of logistics which seem to go round and round. Half of the remaining boxes there should be stored in the garage but can't be until 1- we get someone to check on the garage door and 2- until there is room in the garage which there would be if the big pine sideboard came out of the garage and back to the dinning room. Then the rest of the boxes can be unloaded into the cupboard. But we need to wait until the wall has been painted white before bringing in the cupboard and filling it back up. So, as I had a tub of white paint and Peter had bought me a paint roller and tray I thought I would work around the boxes and at least paint the back wall. However there's the question of how to remove the two floating shelves which are a bit wobbly anyway. Looking at the fittings and consulting Google gave me no clue as to how to undo the fittings. There's a nut which looks as if it is the key but they need two flat spanners which ............ you've guessed, are in the garage. Instead I painted the other three walls but not very successfully. I had a brush to do the edges but my tiny roller designed to do behind radiators would have been much better. The walls were grey so will need at least one more coat. Speaking of radiators I did solve one small problem. There is a radiator tucked behind the wall on the right and when I hoovered before painting I saw that it was full of dust. I couldn't get the nozzle of the hoover down between the metal folds and when I tried poking the dust out with a stick it stayed where it was. Then I remembered a tiny bottle brush that I keep for cleaning jobs. Taped on to the stick it proved to be ideal for getting the dust out.
It was awkward fitting around the furniture and I'll have to do another coat tomorrow. A handyman friend of Peter's is coming round tomorrow to look at the work he'll hopefully be doing; taking down the built out wall and putting up our largest mirror in the sitting room as well as boarding out the loft. Maybe he'll know how to take down those shelves.
The cats spent their afternoon sleeping in the sitting room. Remember those cat houses? Even though they are by the radiator in the dinning room the cats don't sleep in them. Patch sleeps on one of the chairs and Speedy finds a cosy spot on top of the boxes.
On his travels today Peter collected a set of shelves he had bought from a charity shop. They were new but flat packed so I was called in to help with the final assembly. As usual there was only a picture but no instructions to make the lean-against-the wall ladder style shelves. They wouldn't have been my choice but there you go.


Friday, 1 December 2017

Sunny.

Another crisp and cold day. There was a good drying wind but I didn't have anything to wash. The cats are getting more adventurous and spending some time outside. They both can come in through the cat flap but I don't know if they are using it to go out yet. With it being so cold they stick their noses outside when I open the front or back door and then retreat into the warmth.
The man from the window company came around this afternoon with a contract for me to sign and to measure up all the windows. He must have been a bit surprised to see a baking tray and the grills from the top of the cooker soaking in the bath. They are too big to fit in our circular kitchen sink and although I had successfully  soaked the inside of the tray last night the sides and bottom needed doing too.
 The view from the back garden.
The last owners built out one of the sitting room walls  hiding the radiator behind wooden planks. It all looked very neat but surely can't have been efficient in terms of heating. It was only after I had removed the wood using hammer, extra large screwdriver and brute force that I discovered the planks had been screwed on. In my defence the tops of the screws had been covered with filler before being painted and looked like nails. The sitting room already feels a lot warmer.
Something has gone awry with our internet network as I haven't been able to log on to FaceBook for the last two days. It was intermittent the day before and at first Peter put it down to my not responding to update notices (which I hadn't had had) but even after updates and a full scan the situation hadn't changed. It's not my PC as Peter couldn't get FaceBook either on his PC but could on his phone. It's annoying as FaceBook is my main means of communicating with friends and family.
Sunset.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Grey.

I got a clean bill of health at the doctor's this morning. At least so far as blood pressure and ECG readings were concerned. The surgery had rung me in the morning to let me know that the 'blood' nurse had to cancel her appointments but I hadn't recognised our new phone ring and thought it was the neighbours' phone. As I was already at the surgery the nurse who did the ECG also took some blood. I've got good veins so it's relatively simple to take my blood. I'm still following the research that found watching the needle go in leads to less perceived pain and it does work for me.
Today has seen even more stuff leave this house. Not only did I take a large bag of things to the charity shop, two bags of weeds to the dump and got rid of my food processor but the people from the furniture charity came and took the fridge, a room sized rug that I had bought to cover the bare concrete floor of the conservatory at Dingles and a large feather filled bolster. Unfortunately they were half-way down the stairs with the mattress when they realised it didn't have a fire safety label so they couldn't take it. I was out at the time so it ended back up in Peter's study. I would have pleaded with them to take it in their van and drop it off at the dump, only 5 mins from their store, as being a sprung mattress it will be difficult if not impossible to jam it into my car. 
With the fridge gone an unpleasant hole was left under the kitchen counter with a bare concrete floor and tatty back wall. At least with the two basket trolleys pushed under there it doesn't look so bad but the sooner we organise proper units under there the better as far as I am concerned.
Even though the loft is only partially boarded we put some things up there just to get them out of the way. That was quite tiring so I planned to take the rest of the day easy but then I got drawn outside again. This time to the back garden where I weeded a narrow raised bed and found more of the dreaded bindweed roots. Once that was done I placed some of my trays of pots over the fresh soil to protect it from the cats, and trimmed back the ivy growing on the garden fence. And then I had a rest.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Sunny.

It's starting to get really cold but there was enough wind today to get another lot of washing dry. Once again I was tempted out to the front garden and was able to weed all the paved area. I also made a start on the flower bed by the paving. The main culprit there is one I've been pulling up for years but did not know its name, Herb bennet, until now. There is some sort of ornamental rush, possibly Greater woodrush, growing in there which I might not keep. 
While I worked out in the front garden apart from the sound of somebody using a strimmer or similar mechanical device and the odd seagull the main sound filling the air was the bleating of sheep out on the hillside. Not a cacophony but enough to make me feel closer to the countryside. Yesterday evening I could hear the occasional sound of bell ringing practice at the nearby Pilton Church (St Mary's). 
The Hurricanes were flying in and then out of Chivenor again this afternoon, this time in pairs. It's either training flights or gearing up for a mission. 
Peter was out rowing this afternoon after which he went over to B&Q to buy me a roller, tray and paintbrush so that I can make a start on some painting. The irritating thing is that most of our tools are in the garage and currently inaccessible. That's because the door is wonky and Peter isn't sure if we will be able to lock it again. So far he's not heard back from the garage door man as he's very busy but a friend of Peter's is a good friend of the garage door man's wife and will have a word to see if we could at least have a temporary fix until we get a new door.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Cold.

This morning was bright and breezy and also very cold. It was dustbin day so I duly wheeled the bin down the garden path with its four steps and around to where the other bins from this side of the grass were. It was so nice and sunny out at the front that I thought I might do some gardening there. I donned my gardening clothes and got on with a familiar task, prising out weeds growing between paving slabs. Although there is more to do in the paving under the sitting room window I did get the whole path done and continued along the outside of the garden wall. 

I got one load of washing done and hung up outside. I kept an eye on the weather as I played my piano and was able to quickly bring the washing in when hailstones and then rain came down from one of the passing black clouds. Fortunately the duvet cover and pillow cases were dry enough to iron.
From the upstairs windows I can see the weather moving across the vastness of the sky. 
 The best picture I could get of a small 'cloud rainbow'.
All afternoon Hurricane transport planes have been landing every 15 mins at Chivenor so I guess the marines are off abroad soon.  
Sunset.