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.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Windy With Lots of Sun.

The day started in the most glorious fashion with lots of sun and a good drying wind. By the time the machine had finished the second wash the sheets on the line were dry enough for ironing. 
Today's outside jobs were to hand cut the grass along the bottom of the far heather bank followed by sweeping the front patio. Doing this with a hand brush gave me the opportunity to pull up any weeds growing between the paving slabs. Most of my sweeping up was of small brown ash? seeds with a scattering of rose petals and wisteria flowers. The fluffy wisps of the willow tree seeds have been falling for a while now. Usually they remind me of ethereal snow flakes as they drift down but being blown sideways in the strong wind didn't have quite the same effect.
Once I'd done my self-allocated jobs I settled down to read in the sun. As the wind and the sun were coming from the same direction it was a bit of a challenge to find a sheltered sunny spot but eventually I settled by the side of the conservatory. For once Peter came out to join me so it really did feel like we were on holiday. All too soon the clouds came rolling in and once the sun went it felt cold driving us both indoors. I got the ironing done and the second lot of washing is finishing off its drying over the rayburn. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Sunny.

It's been a lovely sunny day with a warm wind. A good day for getting things done outside. My first task was to cut back the beech hedge along the side of the garden. Judging by the size of some of the branches it didn't get done last year but my loppers came in useful. 
After a break round 2 was to climb down into the stream behind the hedge to do some cutting back from that side. There was no real need to do that apart from making it possible to walk up the little stream which I occasionally like to do. I also cut back the brambles on the far side and pulled up any that had established themselves under the hedge. Then I cut back the brambles leading from the plank bridge (now creaking ominously so not in use) to the corner of the fencing around the fields and woods.
After yet another break to cool down (I got rather hot wearing my bramble proof gardening coat), I climbed into the field for an explore. I haven't been in there for years though we do have permission from the owner. The open areas are very squelchy so it was more of a slow walk to look at the plants and creatures. I mainly kept to the higher ground near the trees as I didn't want to lose a boot in the mud.
I was able to follow the deer paths just visible with hoof prints in the soft ground. 
The picture doesn't show it too well but the speedwell in the foreground was prettily dotted with bright blue flowers.
This is where I climbed into the field contorting myself through the gap in the middle.
Then once I was through I swung the crossbar back into the loop of cord that I put there for that purpose. The lower bar is nailed at that angle and I'm pretty sure from the tracks that it's where the deer get through.
My last job of the day was to unpack and photograph the box of glasses brought down from the loft yesterday. I've put the green glasses aside as a quick search revealed that they were made in 1820/30s and quite valuable.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Showers.

Apologies for going into so much detail about my back yesterday. I remember well how tedious it was to listen to every single detail of my mother's state of health when she made her daily phone call. Let's just say that right now I'm focussing on making every effort to improve my health. We are lucky enough to have our free at point of use health system but it's not without its problems. The main one appears to be that although GPs are paid according to the number of patients they have on their books the hospitals aren't. The government keeps telling us they are increasing the amount of money allocated to the hospitals but that increase is only keeping up with inflation. No account has been made of the vastly increased numbers of patients needing hospital care and the system is at breaking point with simply no beds to put people in. Then there's the problem of greatly decreased funding to the local authorities to provide at home or residential care to our increasingly elderly population who can't be discharged from hospital to look after themselves. That's another reason why we try and follow the guidelines for a healthy old age. (Not that I consider myself old but it is creeping up.) Following the exercises set by the physio will hopefully restore me to a state where I can work on my fitness. Together with keeping my weight down and eating a healthy diet I should live to at least 200!
We've had sun today but an awful lot of showers as well. The osteospermums decided the light levels were too low and stayed shut all day. In spite of the rain I feel I've achieved my goals today. Firstly I put more sealant on the inside of the conservatory roof as it has been leaking a little in the recent very wet weather. Then in a dry spell I tidied up the area between the back of the house and the stream, weeding and removing leaves and twigs. Now it looks a lot more cared for.
Finally I went up into the loft to see how much more there is up there besides my mother's art works. I found a box of small glasses which I haven't unpacked yet and a large box of ceramics. This was so big and heavy I had to hand down each newspaper wrapped piece to Peter. These would all have been the things my mother found in local junk shops. In those days junk shops would mainly have been filled with items from house clearances most of which would have been junk and an occasional treasure. I pulled out a picture frame and a glass cake cover to keep but we haven't decided what to do with the rest. I'll check that the boys don't want any and then either sell some items or give the lot to one of the charity shops. They have specialists who make sure they value stuff properly and it would be going to a good cause. Have to think about that. 
I was really pleased to see this flowering clump of irises. Last year there were only about 6 buds and before they could open snails or slugs had eaten through the stems causing them to fall to the ground.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Windy.

It's funny how although I normally don't open my eyes until around 7.30, today when my alarm was set for 6.00 I woke at 5.50. At least it stopped the jangling alarm clock from disturbing Peter. I took the above photo on my way to the hospital at about 7.45, the rest were taken this afternoon on my way home again.
After 8 weeks of physiotherapy I'm now noticing significant improvement with my back. From having 4-5 severe spasms each day I've only had one mild one this week and yesterday was the first time I was able to lie down on my back straight away without easing myself cautiously down. I did feel a little disappointed when my back began to ache this afternoon but that was after an hour in the physiotherapy gym, walking the length of the High Street and back and shopping. I guess it's going to take some time before everything settles down. When I got home I decided to give myself the afternoon off sitting outside to enjoy the fine weather and dramatic skies. Nice as it is to read outside I felt like I could easily nod off so instead I found myself some weeding to do where I could work from sitting down.
This morning as I drove out I noticed a second pair of geese in the field but it wasn't until I returned that I saw they too have 6 goslings. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Windy.

It's been dry and fairly sunny with a good breeze today. I got some washing out on the line and although there were a couple of moments when I thought it was going to rain it was nearly dry by the time I brought it back in. 
I spent the afternoon working in the garden. Initially I planned to clear the steps in the far corner as they were almost hidden by long grass. This was a hands and knees job (thank goodness for my soft strap on knee pads) using a pair of large dress making scissors. Although I could have used the long handled shears working on my knees made it easy to weed the bank on either side of the path at the same time. Also using scissors  means I have my other hand free to clear the grass away. Once I'd done the steps naturally I carried on working along the path but came to a halt when I got to the section of path full of plantain. That will have to wait for the next time I run the mower over the path.
One last bit I did do was to trim the grass along the sides of the rill that empties into the pond. Having tidy edges makes a difference even when the lawn itself needs mowing. Wildlife seen today were a newt found under a leaf in the rill and a toad walking in the nursery beds.


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Wet.

It rained all morning and then not only was the afternoon drier but it was also warmer. To occupy myself in the morning I had a thorough clear out of all my folders and files. That resulted in several bags of rubbish and more empty space in the sitting room. 
Each time I walk around the garden I see more weeds popping up and even worse- flowering so I took advantage of the dry afternoon to spend some time weeding. I think I got all the weeds in the propagating beds though no doubt a fresh lot will spring up over night.
Squeaky is getting to be very fussy in her old age. One day she'll eat boiled minced turkey, another cheese or sardines. This morning she turned up her nose at all of those options so I tried her with tinned cat food. She ate that with relish and this evening when I gave her turkey and cat food she ate all the cat food and left the turkey. She spends a lot of time yelling at me. Sometimes she wants to sit on my lap, other times she just wants to sit on my pc chair which is what I think she is waiting for right now.
This 'border' along the edge of the old hens' run has gone from a mass of brambles, stinging nettles and other weeds last year to what looks like an established bed full of perennials. I threw in spare plants from around the garden; day lilies, sisyrinchium, something with whorls of yellow flowers and ornamental grasses.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Wet.

It has rained all day long. This led to an extra long guitar session though the 6th string is proving a challenge to both fingers and brain. I also had a good sort out in one of the spare rooms that's currently being used to store empty boxes and things brought down from the loft. Knowing we would move eventually we kept all the boxes and packaging from more fragile items bought in the last few years. The end result of today's efforts was a much tidier room, a few things to give away and a bag of rubbish. Now I suppose I ought to get back up into the loft and bring down more of the things that have been up there for 23 years. In between doing other things I also backed up my photo files, something I had been a bit lax about recently.
I needed a waterproof coat just to go outside and take some photos. When I looked at the plant nursery I couldn't believe how many weeds there were, some of them a couple of inches high. I thought I'd been doing a good job with my constant hoeing but obviously it wasn't good enough. I carefully stashed my camera in the potting shed (aka ex hen house) and began hand weeding. It's only been a year since the main beds were a weed ridden plot so it isn't that surprising to find so many seedlings.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Wet.

Today has been cold, grey and frequently wet. I thought it would be a good opportunity to go through some of my stored clothes to see which could be passed on to the charity shops. As I've done this several times already I didn't find much to give away. There were a couple of classic straight dresses made of that crinkly, stretchy fabric which is so good for taking on holiday. Admittedly I would prefer to have a few less bulges before wearing them. The chances of losing the weight are a lot higher than of us going on holiday to somewhere nice and warm so really they should go. However while I have them I can persuade myself that there is more a case of when rather than if. I have got a couple of bags of stuff to take to the charity shop so that's something at least.
Peter came home from the doctors' with tales of an extremely long needle and having bravely watched at least part of the injection into his knee which would have been a lot more credible if I hadn't had exactly the same thing done recently. And I usually watch whatever is being done.
Even though I was stuck indoors for most of the day I was able to do some nature watching from the bedroom window. 
 A pregnant looking red deer doe.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Windy.

We stayed up late last night watching Eurovision last night and thoroughly enjoyable it was too.  The winning song wasn't my favourite but it was a good song and the backstory was touching.
Today has been sunny once more again with quite strong winds. Right now the sky has turned an ominous dark grey so we may be in for another wet night. Outside in the garden I did some tidying up of the heather banks, pulling out the long grass that was creeping in around the edges. Even though the flowers are looking a bit faded the air was filled with the buzzing of bees including lots of honey bees. I had to be careful not to get stung as I clipped back the heathers which had grown over the small access path. I don't mind the actual sting but over the years my body's reaction has gone from a small bump easily soothed with an ice cube to the whole of my upper arm swelling up. Whenever I've mentioned it in response to the 'Any allergies?' question in the hospital the doctors have looked bemused and it earned me a red wristband at the Nuffield Hospital. It's a shame as I would have liked to keep bees but I don't think it's worth the risk.
Naturally I took advantage of the sunshine to sit outside and read. There's something very soothing watching the dappled shade dancing to the wind.
I'm still working away at my teach-yourself guitar efforts. Having realised I needed to correct my finger placement I went right back to the start of the book and have just worked my way back up to the 6th string. It's a challenge but they do say that the way to keep your mind active is to learn new things. Something to do with making new pathways in the brain.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Strong Winds.

The views from our bedroom windows this morning were a good reflection of the day's weather. From one window I could see the sunlit green tree against the brightest of blue skies while from the other I could see black clouds against a backdrop of more grey clouds. Strong winds have been blowing clouds across the sky making it boiling hot one minute and grimly cold the next. The rain itself held off until just now (6 pm) when it looked like we were set for a deluge but suddenly it stopped.
We had another viewing at mid-day. Once again we showed the people round but didn't get much of a hint either way. We're thinking of changing estate agents soon as we haven't had much success with the current one. 
Walking around the pond mainly looking for dragonflies my attention was caught by a movement in the water. It was the thrashing tail of a newt which I now know was a male releasing scent to attract a female. I did see a second newt approaching across the water weed but it hid when it saw me.
It's the first year the wisteria has flowered around the kitchen windows and I can't get over how lovely it looks.
We only found out this morning that it's Eurovision tonight. Usually there's a bit of a build up on tv and radio but not surprisingly Brexit and the General Election have dominated the news. No doubt everyone in Europe hates the Brits so it will be null points once again but who cares? It's such fun to watch and we're making an occasion of it with some snacks - hummus with celery and baby tomatoes, lightly salted popcorn for me and olives for Peter.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Wet and Windy.

Unaccustomed as I am to getting up early 6.00 my attempt to turn off the alarm ended up with me scratching my forehead with my flailing hand. Now it looks like I have a futuristic bindi in between my eyebrows. At the class I tried a different exercise bike for the warm up and it was a lot easier. Apparently as well as the electronic controls on the other bike there is a manual dial to turn to change the resistance. The person who showed me said it took him 4 weeks to work that one out. The standing up and sitting down holding a football exercise was harder today because the football weighed about as much as a cannon ball. After the class I went on into town to meet up with a friend for chat, coffee and cheesecake. There was a new variety - chunky chocolate, which had lots of chocolate extras on top but in the end I had one of my favourites -raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake.
Walking through the market I passed by the olive stall with its enticing smelling open bowls of different kinds of olives (love the smell, don't like the taste) to find that they now also sell sweet things, Turkish delight and baklava. If I wasn't on a diet I think I might have succumbed to the Turkish delight.
There was another new stall selling these intricate pop up cards. They were so lovely I began trying to think of any special birthdays or occasions coming up but nothing has come to mind yet.
A close up showing some of the detail. There was a great red dragon which I didn't get in the picture. I had one disappointment when I went into the shop that sells expensive but lovely cards/ornaments/gifts etc. They have a range of very nice silver and glass jewellery and I'd had my eye on a particular necklace as a reward for losing a whole stone. You've guessed it, they didn't have the one I wanted. I did try on another one but it wasn't so special so I left it. They are getting more of that jewellery range in this week so I'll have another look next time I'm in town. 

It had been threatening to rain all day and had gone from very warm to rather cold when I did my food shopping at Tesco's. No thunder storms thank goodness but it's now wet and very windy outside.
The sheep in this field look like a job lot of all varieties and I expect they will go for meat once the lambs have grown. The fleeces don't fetch any money and it looks like the farmer is saving on the cost of shearing and just letting the winter wool fall off. The whole field is littered with clumps of wool. A shame really.