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.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

New Carpet.

Who would have thought that I would be woken this morning by the sound of hail on the conservatory roof and open my eyes to see hail and sleet descending past the window? That brief shower gave way to bright sun for the rest of the morning. Only the bitterly cold north-easterly winds gave any hint to the series of wintry showers we were treated to in the late afternoon.
Those black clouds rumbled with the sounds of a thunderstorm. I didn't see any lightning but that was probably due to the fact that I was in the middle of my exercises. I only stopped to check Peter was unplugging the internet and to take a few photos. 
Fortunately it had been dry earlier when the carpet fitters came. Unlike the last time when there hadn't been enough carpet to do the stairs this time they brought along an enormous piece plus another smaller piece. As well as a few small pieces there is a piece measuring 3.10m x 3.95m left over. More than enough to do another bedroom. I rang the showroom to ask why I hadn't been made aware of this but the manager wasn't there and will ring back tomorrow. As free fitting and underlay were included in the price we might as well have another bedroom done even if it is all a bit beige. 
The hall and Peter's study look so much more civilised now without the fake rock effect on the walls and the grubby red carpet in the study. We still have to take off a small amount from the bottom of Peter's door, the red carpet was the kind with a thin layer of underlay stuck on making it so much thinner than the new carpet and underlay. It's not a 10 minute job and after hovering up all the bits from the new carpets and the stairs (I'm sure the men that did the sitting room cleaned up after themselves) we decided to wait until tomorrow.
Considering the amount of hail we've just had it's hard to believe that I spent most of the afternoon sitting outside with a book.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Goslings.

Grey and chilly today with a little sunshine in the afternoon. This morning I took the remaining carpet and underlay down to the dump. This time I went to the Ilfracombe dump, partly because it's countryside all the way and partly to avoid being caught at the hospital traffic lights/roadworks. There was a temporary one-way light just before I got to Ifracombe which was due to the side of the road having fallen down into the valley. I was the only car on the road and the light changed as I approached. About a mile further back on the road a stag had appeared in the hedge and run across the road as I slowed down. That's not a very usual sight in these parts.
I called in at the Tesco's there and got some minced turkey (cheaper than chicken) to tempt Squeaky with. She does like her sardines but they are too rich for her on their own and she wasn't so keen on them mixed with her tinned food. Then on my way back I stopped at a local farm to buy some fresh eggs. The farm is at the head of our valley and on a good day I can hear the cockerel crowing.
A chaffinch in our yard.
I was writing up my journal in the conservatory when Peter came to say we had some visitors in the garden. He distracted the cats with some milk while the parent geese decided our garden wasn't the best place to visit. Now that my journal is up to date AT LAST! I've started a system of making notes each time I blog so that I don't get behind. I find I function much better when I have a routine or system for those things which need doing as I am so easily distracted especially by outdoor activities.
Exploring by proxy- Vytas and Sally at Machu Picchu.  

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Weeding.

It's been another very pleasant day, not quite as sunny as yesterday but still a good day to be outside. Today I did some weeding in the golden marjoram bed. It was a bigger job than I originally thought as I kept finding strands of speedwell winding their way through the marjoram. It was very satisfying when I was able to prise out the long roots of the yarrow. It's one of those plants with a long tap root (up to 6") which have a fat bit at the end. Failure to get the whole thing out means it will grow back again but I wasn't going to dig up the whole bed. Hopefully it will take a long time for all the ones that broke when I pulled them to appear back at the surface. While I worked I got to thinking about the interesting common names of some of the weeds that grow in and around the garden; speedwell, ivy leaved toadflax, pineapple weed, scarlet pimpernel, cat's ears, dog violets, ramsons aka stinking lily and many others. They sound so very bucolic to me or maybe that was just because with not a sound from out neighbours it felt like a very sleepy Sunday afternoon.
Spring leaves are slowly creeping their way up the smaller of the beech trees and have reached about a third of the way up. No leaves yet on the big beech tree.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Sunny.

We've had a beautiful sunny day, perfect weather for a house viewing. Peter rang the estate agent this morning to check if the viewing had been confirmed and was told that they thought so but would confirm by email. No email arrived but the viewers did. (I haven't had any emails from the estate agents for a while so I wonder if they have mixed up the email address.)
If a house sale was based on how well you got on with the viewers then this would be a sale but of course you never know exactly what people want. We do know they haven't sold yet so this was just a preliminary look around. As we had to show the people around ourselves we decided it would be best if Peter showed the house and I showed them around the garden. (Mr Blackbird is up in his tree again, no sign of blackbird no 2.)
Today's viewers had come down from Bristol but as we chatted it turned out that the wife's family lives outside of St Ives and she knew the part of St Ives where my mother's gallery had been. (It was turned into holiday flats over 40 years ago.) Then she mentioned that her family lived in the village of Nancledra which I knew well as my mother's friends lived there and I spent a lot of time with them. This was in the days when a 4 year old could be put on a bus, kept an eye on by the bus conductor and then met at the bus stop by an adult.
I finished off my afternoon sitting outside in the sun with a book. I have also made notes of the first 3 months of this year prior to writing them up in my journal. If I am really organised I could write down key events as I write my blog and be ready to write up the journal at the end of each season. Perhaps I should try that.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Bird Stuff.

I looked in the fridge for my porridge this morning only to discover I had miscalculated again. (I make a double portion every other day as I found it hard to judge the quantities for a small single portion.) While I put a pan of porridge on to cook I thought I might as well use the time to walk up the hill to collect our recycling box. I had driven it up on Tuesday on my way to the hospital but with the Easter holiday collections were a day late so it wasn't ready to bring down on my way home. At the moment neither of us leaves the valley for days on end so the empty box was still up at the top of the hill and the recycling was piling up on the kitchen counter.
The day had started sunny and there was still blue sky with fluffy white clouds to the east but coming in from the west was the leading edge of a cloudbank. Things got a little cooler as the clouds blocked out the sun but so far there hasn't been any rain. My neighbour drove by as I was walking down and offered me a lift but I was quite happy strolling along in the fresh air.
I did some extra tidying up in the garden because the estate agent had rung asking if we could do a viewing tomorrow afternoon. Peter asked them to check if the prospective buyers were aware that this is quite an isolated property (if you've been used to living in a town) and so far we haven't had an email confirming the viewing.
Another sign of the approaching summer - the first swallows have arrived back. I was just thinking about them and wondering if I should get some big sheets of cardboard or newspaper to put on the floor below their nests when I heard their high pitched double t'wit, t'wit and there they were swooping overhead.
One advantage of the trees being leafless is that it is easier to watch the birds. For the last few weeks at least I have seen 2 male blackbirds perched about 3ft apart on the same branch. This morning as I lay on the floor doing my exercises I could see them in the big tree on the corner. First one would hop towards the other who would hop away along on the branch and then their roles would be reversed. I've been wondering if they were fledged in the same nest and maybe spent the winter together. Just now I looked out of the window and they were back on their usual branch but before I could take a photo they jumped up and had a mid-air fight falling down to the hedge below after which one took possession of the tree for a while.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Drizzle.

I woke this morning to the sound of rain pattering on the conservatory roof. It didn't last long and was more of a gentle drizzle that gave the big stones in the raised bed a good shine. A perfect day for sitting in the conservatory and working on my journal. First I had the usual check for small bodies brought in by my hunting cats. Sadly there was a very sweet baby rabbit and one small bird to be disposed off. The hunting nature of cats is the one drawback to having them as pets but the exact same thing ensures that mice etc. stay out of the house and the rats are kept under control. It's a bit unnerving but not so sad when I find a dead rat in the conservatory. I also believe that when we had our chickens the presence of the cats kept foxes away. Cats may be a lot smaller but foxes cannot afford to have cat inflicted injuries and are known to avoid cats. For most of the many years we had chickens they were not shut in the hen house at night and I did not lose any to the foxes that occasionally could be seen in the valley.
Having had a good journal session today I have only got the first 3 months of this year to do and it will completely up to date.
The first leaves are out on the lower branches of one of the garden beech trees and flower buds are forming on the azaleas.
The afternoon ended on a dry note so I did a little pottering around the small pond. With the recent dry weather the water level has dropped a bit but I could still see the tadpoles and water snails going about their business in the water.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Sunny.

It's been another sunny but cool day and each day I see more green leaves on the beech hedge. Nothing yet on the full grown trees but it shouldn't be too long. Apart from adding to the general greenness of spring once the trees on the far side of the bog garden and stream leaf up they will screen our neighbour's workshops and yard where he keeps some of his farm vehicles. The last people who came to view the place did voice concerns about the noise from there when they looked up in that direction.
After yesterday's gallivanting around my morning included catching up on sleep and taking things easy. In the afternoon I pottered around the garden pulling up the worst of the weeds and working out which area to work on next.
Yesterday, after assuring the public that there wouldn't be a snap election our prime minister called a general election for the beginning of June. Just another instance of politicians saying one thing and doing another which in my book is lying. The problem is who to support as most of them seem to be as bad as each other. We'll just have to see what the local candidates say and then try and work out which bits are truthful.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Queuing.

More sun again today along with a cool wind. Peter got up early as the man was coming to service the rayburn. Peter feels bad that he isn't able to do the service himself but I just am grateful for all the years he did do the servicing and saved us such a lot of money.
It feels like I have done a lot of queueing today. I left in plenty of time for my physiotherapy appointment this morning but after crawling along the road behind a tractor pulling a slurry tank the line at the traffic lights/road works was so long it took me 10 minutes to get through the lights and I still had to walk fast to get to my appointment on time. I've made enough progress with my exercises that I've been promoted to the back exercise class. Once a week on Fridays at 8.10 in the morning! That will be a bit of a shock to the system as I'm often still catching up on my sleep at that time.
After my appointment I drove across to the dump to get rid of the hall carpet which was tied up in rolls in the back of my car. They used to have a separate container for carpets but that's gone and I had to queue up with all the cars waiting to unload into the non-recyclables container. Then I did some shopping at Lidl's where you often have to wait in line for a checkout as they don't have many staff. I passed on going to the High Street but drove to Tesco's for the rest of my shopping. Even there I had to wait in line to try on yet one more sports crop top which I then decided wouldn't do. At least I didn't have to queue to check out there as I had scanned my shopping as I went along and all the self service tills were free.
I had also gone to BJ's as they had sent me vouchers for a free gro-bag and a free box of plants. It's a good way to get people into their garden centre but I would have gone there anyway. I decided to buy the plants for my hanging baskets (surfinia petunias and trailing lobelia) while they had the colours I wanted in stock. For the moment they are in the conservatory while there is still a danger of frost.
Once I got home I was quite worn out and spent the rest of the afternoon siting outside with a book and some coffee.



Monday, 17 April 2017

Sunny.

There was a bit more sun today so we thought we'd try a gentle walk up to Bowden Corner.  
 The verges and hedgerows are full of all sorts of wild flowers.
We walked on to the start of Rookabear Lane. I feel like adding an extra note to the signpost - If you're looking for Dingles Farm your satnav has gone wrong. Because this is where putting our postcode into a satnav will get you and we often end up getting phone calls from lost delivery people. The lane drops down very steeply to Muddiford and is definitely not suitable for ordinary vehicles. On our way back we had a chat with a lady I know who was working in her garden.
 Looking across Bideford Bay to Clovelly and Hartland Point. 
Squeaky is getting very fussy over her food and is yelling at me now because she's only got tinned cat food with crushed cat treats sprinkled on top (the other 2 cats would love this special diet). She has tinned rather than dry food because her teeth are not good but the vet agreed with me that she is too old for the general anaesthetic needed to descale her teeth. She eats the food if it is straight from the tin but won't if it has been in the fridge so then I warm it up by putting it in the rayburn warmer for a bit. However I found that she will munch through tinned salmon (which I had last night) and crème fraiche straight from the fridge is also acceptable. So also is cooked chicken breast! Still she is 17 so I spoil her a bit.
I won't be hearing from Vytas for a while as they are now trekking to Machu Picchu, lucky them. However yesterday Sally attempted to order a hot chocolate in Spanish but the waiter brought her some corn on the cob and a slice of cheese. Perhaps an old fashioned phrase book would have been helpful.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter Greetings.

Easter greetings to those of you who celebrate Easter.
It seemed like quite a promising day this morning with plenty of blue in the sky and light winds as I walked up to say hello to the ponies. Peter went out for an early morning row, just a half session with the social rowers as he is recovering from his latest bout of arthritis.  Although I'm on a diet I allowed myself some chocolate this morning because it's Easter (I know that's not a good reason and yes I was 'off diet' last weekend too).
I took advantage of the wind to get more washing on the line and later when it was much greyer and colder I did all the ironing while watching a film - It's a wonderful afterlife, a British/Indian comedy.
One of the sparrows that nest by our bedroom window.
Earlier I had been pottering around the scree garden with a blackbird singing away in a nearby tree. I attempted to increase his wide and varied repertoire by teaching him Peter's phone ring tone but he was more interested in a singing match with another blackbird somewhere down the valley. I've spotted 2 pampas grass seedlings in the scree garden which I shall move near to the big pampas grass stand which I fear is on its last legs. 
The latest photo from Vytas in Cusco. Last night's R4 Brain of Britain quiz had the question - Which country is the city of Cusco in? One of the few that I got right.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Frtost Warning.

 I was listening to the shipping forecast in the bedroom as I did my exercises only to hear a gale warning but fortunately, for us at least, it was for somewhere in the far north of Scotland. In the normal forecast was a warning for widespread frosts next week. All the garden centres are full of tempting bedding and hanging basket plants but I shall hold out a bit longer until the danger of frost has passed. I still can't believe how well the blue violas that I planted last autumn are doing. Only now are they beginning to look a bit bedraggled.
My morning was brightened up by hearing from Vytas via FB. They arrived in Cusco last night and have a few days to get used to the time difference and the altitude. Can't wait to see their photos when they get back.
Here the weather has swung between sunny warmth and chill clouds. I was tempted to sit and write in the warm conservatory again but the sun enticed me outside for some gentle weeding in the scree garden.
Through the trees I could see a large group of children going out for a ride. The stables next door don't cater for casual rides but focus mainly on lessons and competition riding with the occasional hack for a change of scene. This is the same as the stables I used to ride at in London where we would sometimes go out onto Hackney marshes (they built an ice rink there for the London Olympics). There were certain spots where we would spread out for a mad gallop and woe betide the rider caught unprepared. Peter was learning to ride at that time when his group of novice riders were taken out onto the marshes. He hung on but apparently there were bodies flying left and right. One lady returned covered in mud from head to toe having fallen off a number of times each time into a muddy patch.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Some Rain.

A much warmer wind was blowing this morning so I hung out a load of washing only to have ominous grey clouds appear. I was doing a little hoeing trying to decide if I should bring the washing in or not when Peter assured me that it wasn't going to rain today. It's a good thing that I was sitting in the conservatory writing and heard the pitter patter of fairly heavy rain. I didn't even bother to change out of my slippers but ran up to rescue the washing which now sits festooned over the rayburn guarded by 3 cats who always know where the warmest place is.
If I hadn't been alerted by the raucous squawking of jackdaw chicks in the old loft to the fact that there is at least 1 jackdaw's nest up there it would have taken me a bit longer to work out why there was a handful of horse hair on the ground behind my car. It's quite funny hearing their racket from inside the house but if you shout at them it all goes very quiet.
Today's the first time this year that I've seen ponies out in the fields by the drive, another sign of spring. It doesn't feel very spring-like at the moment as it has turned quite cold.