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, 21 August 2017


The day began with autumnal mists obscuring my view of the surrounding trees. By mid-morning it was warm and humid and the afternoon brought more heat and wonderful blue skies.
After the usual housework I loaded up my car with more stuff for the dump. This included some wooden tool boxes that had been made by Peter's father to keep his tools in. (He was a carpenter.) It was sad to be throwing them out but we really didn't have any use for them. At the dump, sorry recycling centre, one of the staff gave me a hand unloading the car and he put them on the ground by the skip for wood saying someone might want them. Sure enough the next person along, who looked like a young builder type, was already loading them into his van as I left. Nice to know that they will re-used rather than crushed or burnt, whatever they do with the old wood.
I was glad of the opportunity to go to the Ilfracombe Tesco's which is on the way to the dump, because I had noticed they had a loose change machine. You put in your copper coins and it gives you a receipt which presumably you can present at the till. I have a box of loose change which I sometimes used in school so I packed it in my shopping bag. I even thought my bag was quite heavy as I placed it in the trolley but it wasn't until I got home that I remembered about the coins -duh! 
Before I sat outside in the sun I photographed and catalogued the pictures I had brought down from the loft. That was a bit tricky as first I had to find a place with a neutral background and not create reflections in the glass. Then it was glasses on to measure each frame and picture and write down the details, glasses off to take the photo and glasses back on to write a label on masking tape. After all that I enjoyed some time in the hot sun reading my book while fending off flies and Speedy who was lying in my lap and wanting lots of cuddles. BTW I've been putting drops in Squeaky's ears to get rid of ear mites and there is a little improvement in her hearing.

Sunday, 20 August 2017


It's been raining heavily for most of the day and now the stream is running high. I think there may be a blockage at the culvert leading to the lake so if the rain dies down a little I may wade down the stream to investigate. It's also been correspondingly cold necessitating the wearing of sheepskin slippers and fingerless gloves.
This morning I occupied myself with one of my favourite activities - making lists in preparation for our move. My folder includes a current to do list, the contents of each room and where they are headed and anything else I can think of. Hopefully this will help prevent a major panic nearer to the actual move. I also find it reassuring to see what progress I have made. Even if this sale falls through most of the planning will be the same for any other property.
On my to do list was taking photos of some things I shall try and sell including this pine cupboard that came from my mother's house. I quite like it but I don't see it fitting in our future down-sized life.

Saturday, 19 August 2017


Our offer, slightly below the asking price was accepted so it's all systems go with fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly. Most house sales, apart from auctions, involve a chain of buyers and sellers with the exchange of contracts having to be co-ordinated so that everyone signs at the same moment.
It's been a day of strong winds, occasional showers and longer sunny spells. In the morning a friend dropped in for a cup of tea and a chat. We don't see him that often so there was lots to catch up on. He showed us a modern push mower that he had just bought and was taking to show his Dad. Peter tried it out and found it very easy to use. Apart from the advantage of not being restricted by an electric cable it also did a good job of cutting the wet grass something our electric rotary mower struggles with. As the front lawn at the new house is small it would probably take longer to get the electric mower from the garage block (a few minutes away) and up the steps than to actually cut the grass. Peter was so impressed with it that he says it would be easier to use the push mower on some of the sloping areas here so I think he will be buying one sooner rather than later.
During the afternoon I began the task of bringing down my mother's artwork form the loft. I brought down a number of pictures and gave the frames a clean. I'm going to try and be organised by taking photos of each picture and keeping a written record before each framed picture is carefully packaged in bubble wrap. Just need the postman to deliver the 100m roll I ordered.
The recent rain and strong winds haven't been kind to the butterflies though I suspect that the red admiral (above) and the meadow brown (below) have made narrow escapes from the many dragonflies and darters (below). 

We've just returned from a wedding celebration in Pilton. We didn't stay too long as both of us were finding it hard to be standing as we chatted to people. However it was nice to be making contact with people from our new neighbourhood (hopefully). Fortuitously at the start of the evening we met the surveyor whom we had already asked to do the survey on the new house. He knows the area and those houses and we know him because our children went to the same village school and also he and his wife are fellow gig club members. We also talked to another of Peter's friends who will be happy to take down and clear away a dilapidated shed in the garden of the new house. I had visions of making many trips to the dump with bags of stuff to be disposed of but this sounds like a much better idea.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Heavy Showers.

9.00 am -The internet is back on once more but as it has worked briefly for the last few mornings then faded away I'm not yet dancing for joy.

We've finally accepted an offer for this place, lower than we hoped but we have to be realistic. However as a third of offers on property don't make it through to completion we're not getting excited. If things do go smoothly then I understand the whole process takes at least 8 weeks.

In the meantime we've started looking at properties in town. As we have limited the search area and one of our criteria is that the new property should be easy to sell on again several of the places we found on line (intermittent broadband is not helpful at the moment) have already been marked 'sold subject to contract'. That's not to say they might not reappear but we need to sort things quickly. We looked at one house yesterday which seemed hopeful with just a couple of niggles and today we are looking at another house 2 doors away. 

Here goes with trying to post this ......

Some hours later I'm back on line. Here are a few photos from the last couple of days.

 Peacock Butterflies.
 Small Tortoiseshell.
 Small Copper.
 Southern Hawker.
We're back from today's viewing and are waiting to hear if our offer (a little below asking price) has been accepted. Although yesterday's house had superficially better décor and an easier back garden we quite like the fact that there is some scope to improve the property and so add value. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that it all works out.
Today's weather has swung from bright sunshine to torrential downpours. This morning's forecast even mentioned hail and thunderstorms. Come to think of it there was a flash of lightning as we were leaving the viewing. Afterwards we carried on into town, dropped off more stuff at a charity shop and did some shopping at Lidl's and Tesco's. Right now I'm winnowing through my files once more. It's surprising how much there is that can be thrown out.

Overcast. (Thursday)

1.00pm We're still having problems with the broadband, on one moment and off the next. Even when it's working it's terribly slow. Although it's been the same problem for years BT wouldn't send out a line engineer for 72 hours after our latest report so apart from ringing up to ask if the broadband is working nothing seems to have been done yet.
It's warm and windy at the moment and looks as if we might get more heavy rain but I'm not too concerned as I got the last of the washing, drying and ironing done yesterday. 
There's a banana loaf baking in the oven as the cat got into the cupboard and stole the end of the last loaf much to Peter's annoyance. 
(Can't get photos up yet, will try again later.)

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Mainly Sunny.

Another enforced absence due to the Broadband dropping out Sunday morning followed later by the phone line as well. Much jubilation and excitement when it came back on this morning, limping along at the magnificent speed of 0.5MB only to have it falter once more. It's back on at the moment though for how long - who can tell? Will post more and even attempt photos later.
6.15pm No luck with the photos and anyway the broadband has gone again. We did get a phone call from a BT engineer asking how the line was - not long after I'd made a comment about BT on FaceBook.

So for a quick resume of the last few days-
After our barbecue we retired to the kitchen as things got a bit cooler. Apart from the kitchen being nice and warm from the rayburn our friends' young dog Sid is not house trained and not to be trusted on carpets. Our friends brought along a baby gate which fitted across the door into the hall so Sid was able to be free in the kitchen. Speedy the cat disgraced himself by launching himself at Sid and scratching poor Sid's ear which then bled copiously. Speedy had always been fine with Milo (a Jack Russell) but either he didn't like having an energetic dog in the house or maybe he has had a bad experience with one of the dogs next door. Who knows? We kept Speedy and Patch shut in the conservatory for the rest of the visit. Squeaky wasn't keen on Sid either and fluffed up to double her size as she hissed defiantly at him.

On Saturday evening, Sally, Vytas and myself sat up by the scree garden (or rather lay back in the sun loungers) to watch the Perseid meteor shower. The sky had a slight haze but we were able to see a number of constellations and the Milky Way. We weren't out there for too long and while we didn't see the quantity of meteor streaks of some years the quality of most was the best I've ever seen. Great long broad tails with a distinct flash for the final burn up.

Sunday was a bittersweet day for me as our friends left after breakfast not long followed by Vytas and Sally. I love having everyone to stay and find it hard when they leave but they do have jobs to go to on Monday and homeward journeys of at least 3 hours. I kept busy in the afternoon putting the rooms back to a tidy state and starting on the piles of washing.

Monday the weather was quite wet so the washing had to dry over the rayburn. After a couple of late nights and early mornings we both needed to catch up on sleep. It's been much sunnier today with just the threat of showers as dark grey clouds loomed. I hung up the first lot of washing on the line and then stayed out to keep an eye on the weather as I weeded the propagating beds and cut back some of the hardy geraniums that had finished flowering. The garden was full of butterflies also taking advantage of the sunny weather. I've been ironing as each duvet cover etc. is dry enough and all that is left is one machine load which is ready to hang over the rayburn and a final load to wash first thing tomorrow.
(Now I can't update until the Broadband returns but I can do my jigsaw which I'd left open.)

9.30pm - broadband returns!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Family Time.

At home it was overcast and raining lightly, out at Putsborough 5 miles away it was a glorious day. Another reason to move to the coast.
Some of us went in the water with body boards while the rest of us walked and Sid the puppy found out that he doesn't like the sea. 
Back home Peter had prepared a barbecue for us all. We stayed outside until it got too cold. Right now we are setting the world to rights in the kitchen. Sky looks too cloudy for watching the Perseids, 3rd poor year in a row!.

Friday, 11 August 2017


It's been cold and drizzly all day long. That often happens when we have friends coming to stay. I've been busy moving things from one room to another so that people won't feel like they are sleeping in store rooms.
I also decorated the chocolate cake I made yesterday, with ganache and chocolate buttons. It would have been a little less wild if I had noticed that the buttons were extra large.  I guess the label 'Giant' on the packet should have been a clue. I've got a photo to show my whacky cake but right now I can't get it to load. I was only able to use the white buttons because the milk chocolate ones I also got must have got warm in the car and have those white marks. Nothing wrong with them apart from the look. I taste tested to make sure.
I also prepped all the vegetables for the beef stew Peter made. Apart from having a problem with his leg which he says is not the arthritis but to do with the mowing his arthritis has flared up in his hand and his finger is swollen and painful.
I did my pedalling early and now we are just waiting for a phone call to let us know that it's time to put the kettle on.

Thursday, 10 August 2017


All change today for a day of sunshine and fluffy white clouds. Not exactly hot but nice enough especially as the couple from yesterday returned for a second viewing. This time they wanted to know more about our water supply and the waste treatment. No problems there as all the servicing is up to date and I have a ring binder with all the invoices, guarantees and other technical stuff about the property including details and phone numbers of all the adjoining land owners. We always put these details out for people to look at when they come to view  and this morning I added labelled tabs to make it easier to turn to the relevant section. The estate agent came as well this morning and the feedback is still looking positive.
While the second viewing was going on I was out shopping. I didn't bother going to the High Street but got fresh salads, milk and cream etc. for the weekend. I also bought myself a sport crop top to wear while I'm pedalling on the exercise bike. Wearing it is a great incentive for me to keep up with the diet (not this weekend) and exercise as currently my middle is not a pleasant sight. 
I planned to spend the afternoon sitting outside and enjoying the sun but after baking a large chocolate cake and doing one or two other things there was just time for a short coffee break. The chickpeas are cooked and in a minute I shall whizz them up to make a couple of bowls of different humus.
Remember my ergo keyboard that had coffee spilled into it? I was about to put it outside with the pile of stuff for the recycling centre when I thought I might as well give it one more chance. I plugged it in and hey presto it worked. That was a nice surprise. 
A Speckled Wood Butterfly.
(Tuesday's was a Ringlet not a Speckled Wood.)
While I was pedalling away on the bike there was a ring of the big doorbell and there was my neighbour's son with a friend asking for Peter. They like to come over to look at the fancy air rifle and today Peter decided to give it to Jack as we don't have much use for it apart from occasionally popping at the rooks. Peter asked Jack if his mum would mind and was assured she wouldn't but Peter rang her anyway. I bet Jack is glad he dropped round today.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Rainy Morning.

Yesterday the heavy rain hit us in the late evening. At times it was crashing down so loudly that I began to wonder if the dam might need reinforcing. Luckily the heavy spells didn't last too long. However when thunder boomed overhead I ran downstairs to disconnect the router. 
This morning it continued to rain including during the viewing which was a shame. This time the estate agent came out to show the people around so we sat in Peter's car. The feedback was fairly positive so you never know. Speedy decided it was a morning for warming his toes against the rayburn. 
The rain died out by the afternoon and when I walked up the hill to retrieve my car I thought I might stretch my legs and walk up to Ashelford Corner. It felt quite warm though I was wearing trousers, a fleece and a raincoat so not exactly summer weather. 
Going along the road the air was filled with the scent of the Himalayan Balsam and the sound of white tailed bumble bees visiting the flowers. The pods were mainly too wet to pop but I tried anyway and got one to explode when I touched it.

 Exmoor in the distance.
It felt good to be out but any longer and I would have been soaked by the next short shower. 
Back home I made another batch of  biscuits. This time I mainly followed a recipe for spiced Christmas biscuits. They are supposed to be made with golden syrup but as I didn't have much left I also used honey and dark sugar. Instead of neatly covering half of each biscuit with the white chocolate I opted for a more carefree drizzled effect. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Sunny Afternoon.

We had a whole afternoon of sunshine which made a nice change. I had taken a chance in the morning and put some washing in the machine. I had more to do but there was an amber alert for heavy rain and I didn't want to be left with a lot of damp washing in the kitchen. In the end we only had a few fat drops of rain literally as Peter finished all the mowing. There still a lot of dark grey clouds up above so we may still get the heavy rain later on.
I've had a busy day and got a lot of things done. First was to do a bit of painting in the conservatory and then use the hoover to remove all the cobwebs and dead insects. Then the spare bedrooms needed putting in order for the viewing, just tidying away the bedding etc. as best as I could. After that I had a major sort out in the smallest of the bedrooms which is being used as a store room. Having shifted things around to get at the spare duvets I had left it all higgledy piggledy. Many of the boxes are empty waiting for the time when we have to pack things up and I was able to stack them a bit better so that the room doesn't  look so full.
In the garden I removed the grass growing up through the heathers and clipped the grass access path which had been looking very overgrown before dead heading the buddleias.  Finally I combined baking chocolate cookies with ironing the washing. I've still got a few more things to bake before I'm ready for our visitors most of whom have hearty appetites.
A gatekeeper butterfly (top) and a Ringlet butterfly (bottom) were amongst the many butterflies flitting around the garden.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Briefly Sunny.

11.00 am, the internet was down again this morning but returned just as suddenly. Who knows how long it we'll stay on-line? 
It rained all night and the early morning light drizzle is getting heavier. Hopefully I'll continue this post at the end of the day.
6.45 pm. The internet is still working and the sun came out for a couple of hours in the afternoon warming things up very nicely. My toes had felt so cold in the morning that I'd abandoned my Scholls and reverted to my sheepskin slippers. 
Today I cleaned the spare rooms making sure to remove any traces of spiders as both my friend and her daughter are scared of spiders. Although I keep one room ready with clean bed linen I had to put fresh bedding in 2 more bedrooms. I decided not to actually make up the beds ( a sofa bed and an air bed) in case we had a sudden viewing and guess what? We've got a viewing on Wednesday morning. One thing I did do was to pump up a double airbed. (Still have no clue where the single airbed is.) I had the choice of a bicycle pump or the tyre pump from my car. Neither of them had the correct fitting for the airbed so I came up with this idea - an empty biro case pushed into the nozzle of the foot pump. I secured it with some gaffer tape and the pointed end fitted the air bed valve perfectly. A good thing too as my attempt to simply blow up the air bed had me quickly feeling dizzy. It still took some effort with the foot pump so I shall keep the air bed inflated during the viewing.
When the sun came out the garden was filled with butterflies and bees busy searching for food after several wet days. Above is a Meadow Brown and below a Peacock and a Red Admiral share the buddleia flowers. 
The honey bees were working the golden marjoram and the purple loosestrife. Once they had settled into their roof space I stopped being able to hear them but every now and again I go and check from the outside and they are still there. 
While Peter was out doing yet more clay pigeon shooting I made a lemon drizzle cake for the weekend. I didn't want to make a second cake but used some of the mixture for a few cup cakes for us to eat during the week.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


Is it so unreasonable to wish for warm sunny weather in August? Instead it's been a windy and overcast day looking as if rain would fall at any moment.  It felt a little cooler as well today as if autumn is on its way.
Today I cleared out as much of the big flag iris as I could from the small pond. The 6-7ft high leaves grow from large tubers as fat as my arm. Depending on which direction I pulled they either broke off at the base or eventually came up with nasty sludge covered tubers. As most of the pond is deeper than my boots (to provide winter shelter for the pond inhabitants) I couldn't always pull in the right direction. There were a few close calls but I managed to avoid ending up falling over in the water, I'm sure it will happen one day. Having pulled out what I could I took a break inside to hide from the flies - and because I needed a rest, before clearing away all the iris plants. 
The pond looks a bit battle worn at the moment but at least now the water lilies have some room to spread out even if the flower did get a bit speckled with mud. I also collected plenty of mud splashes so I had an early shower and my gardening fleece is in the washing machine.
We had a trial run of the bacon buns from the freezer this morning. I put 2 in the oven, one straight on the tray and one in kitchen foil. Both were good with the one not in foil crisping up a little but not too much so I'll do that as the easier option next week-end.

Saturday, 5 August 2017


It is very frustrating to find that a couple of active days affect my back. I know it's a cliché but the age you feel in your head often isn't a reflection of reality. With only one shower in the middle of the day it would have been a good gardening day but I resisted and did 45 minutes on the exercise bike instead. I also baked 2 banana loaves and yet again restrung Peter's shark tooth necklace while he was out rowing on the river. He returned tired but happy as they had been rowing out against the tide and strong winds. At least it was easier for them coming back up the river.
I had prepared my evening salad and was taking the scraps up to the compost heap when I heard the sound of heavy vehicles coming down the hill. Peering through the trees I could see several tractors followed by more tractors in what seemed an unending stream. I had my camera with me and took photos of the tractors as they drove into the stable car park and on down the valley towards Princess Gate. A quick search on line confirmed it was a tractor run starting from Viveham Farm, Muddiford, up Rookabear Lane, down this side of the hill and eventually back again presumably via East Down. Tractor runs are quite common in this area and are a chance for enthusiasts to show off their vintage tractors or even their everyday tractors.
Looking at the tractor run details reminded me of a family tale. Many years ago when we were first down here Peter was part of the skittles team based at the Muddiford Inn.  He was at the Inn playing skittles when the word went out that there was an emergency at Viveham Farm, some hay in a barn had spontaneously combusted. The farmer and his wife had for the very first time left the farm in the hands of their grown up sons while they had a weekend away. What a thing to happen. The farm is part way up Rookabear Lane which is track part of which is only passible by tractors or sturdy 4WDs. At the time we had a Landrover so Peter was involved in ferrying people up to the farm and helping to move equipment out of the way. Thankfully in the end there wasn't too much damage. Incidentally the top end of Rookabear Lane is where a SatNav takes anyone trying to find us using modern technology.
Many of today's tractors had passengers either in trailers or in boxes attached to the rear of the tractors. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves.