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.

Sunday, 30 April 2017


If I had got up early this morning I would have been able to walk up the hill in lovely sunshine. As it was, by the time I was up and ready there was a steady drizzle in the air. Not to be beaten, at least not on the second day of my keep-fit-by-walking-up-the-hill regime I put on a waterproof and left my camera at home. Once I was up at the top I carried on along the brow of the hill this time to Bowden Corner. I even was able to do one of my core strengthening exercises as I walked along. (The 2 male blackbirds are back again but sitting in different trees.) Coming back it began to rain in earnest but my attention was diverted by watching someone, probably Andrew, putting out corn for the pheasants in the top field. He'd left his truck on the rough ground and I had to smile when I saw that the front wheel arch was tied on with baler twine, very neatly though.
This afternoon I dismantled the single bed in one of the spare bedrooms. The mattress will have to go to the dump but the pine frame can go to the Hospice furniture shop. As we had a spare I've even included an allen key with the screws and bolts.
The rain has died back to a drizzle but I wasn't tempted back out to the garden.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Late Sun.

Yesterday the estate agents rang booking a viewing for this afternoon. You can guess what happened today - Peter got an email cancelling the viewing. He didn't check his emails till later on as the internet is so slow so we had already got the house extra tidy and I was just giving the already gleaming kitchen a final wipe when he came down and told me. We'd even put the heating on as it was quite chilly outside. Still it's nice to have the whole house tidy. But was there really a viewing? We're never too sure.
Not wishing to waste my enthusiasm for getting fit I took myself for a walk up the hill to watch the lambs. These ones haven't quite reached the adventurous age when they form little gangs away from their mothers chasing each other around or looking through the gates. It's still sweet to see them with their mothers and waggling their tails as they feed. When I walked through the tunnel of trees at Ashelford Corner my ears were filled with the sound of the wind whooshing through the trees sounding just like the gentle murmur of waves on a stony beach.
I'm going to try and walk up the hill every day whatever the weather. The first bit between the ponies' fields is very steep and although I didn't have to stop half-way I could feel my heart pounding once I got to the top. It's a matter of finding the right balance between exertion and not doing too much to my knee which was twinging a bit by the time I got home. We've decided to go ahead and buy an exercise bike which will be helpful for both of us. We'd thought about getting one last year but I wanted to wait until we were sure we had enough space for one when we moved. As we don't know when that is going to happen we'll take a chance.
 Wild flowers are blooming in all the hedgerows.
Once back home I did more exercises and had a longer guitar session. After such a cloudy morning out came the sun which is shining still almost tempting me out again but that would be overdoing things.
Only a few more branches to green up on this tree but not a single leaf yet on the big beech tree.

Friday, 28 April 2017


Today I had my first gym session at the hospital. It started at 8.10 which made for a lot earlier start than usual. (I'm still catching up on a year's worth of poor sleep.) Not only was it cold and grey outside but the kitchen wasn't that warm as the rayburn had gone out! While it was being serviced the other day Peter had mentioned the importance of checking that the box on legs which holds the oil and wicks was perfectly level. You'd think that a metal object wouldn't change shape but because the legs are steel while the box is cast iron things happen when it is burning. End result the wicks burn unevenly and char and the system grinds to a halt. (You can see why everyone hates having to work on this particular model.) By the time I came back home the engineer was here and we have a working rayburn once more. This is the same engineer that Peter encouraged to join the gig club. When he left he gave us 2 dozen free range eggs. A family member has 30 hens and at the moment is getting 30 eggs a day and giving them away to everyone they know. I feel a baking session coming on.
I enjoyed my gym session today, all 90 minutes of it. There were 6 of us patients there and 2 physiotherapists so it was all very much on an individual level. Everyone starts with a 10 min warm-up on the exercise bikes. For me it was more of a boil-up as I got redder and redder and the sweat began to drip. I did try and keep my pulse level down but at one point the physio came over to check which difficulty level the bike was on. Slight humiliation when she said it was on the easiest setting. I'm definitely going to walk up and down the hill every day to improve my fitness level. We were all working on strengthening and flexing our core muscles so we sat on big gym balls wobbling this way and that, writing our names or waving arms and legs in the air. I also worked on a wobble board and several of us practised standing up and sitting  down correctly while holding a ball and moving it at the same time. Hopefully the 5 more weekly sessions will see a great deal of improvement. Of course I wore my snazzy new gym leggings which made me feel all sporty.
From the hospital I went on into town and bought myself a new hat. Not only did it fit, a rarity in itself, it was also on sale. I'm not so sure about the green string hanging off the back but that's nothing that a pair of scissors won't cure.  I also called in at the carpet place and yes they are going to fit the carpet at no extra charge apart from £10 for the gripper strips which that room doesn't have.
Today's gardening was even more minimal than usual. Just a bit of hoeing as the cold dry weather will speed the demise of weeds sliced off at ground level.

Thursday, 27 April 2017


It's been grey and cold today. So cold in fact that this evening I've turned on the central heating. I'm not too bad with the cold but it isn't good for Peter's arthritis. This morning I couldn't find Squeaky when I went downstairs. Peter had been down earlier and fed her (the cooked turkey mince is going down a treat) but she wasn't curled up by the rayburn or snoozing on a chair. At that point I thought the worst and began looking in any little corner she could have got into. It was only when I went upstairs to check that I found her sleeping in the airing cupboard. She would go in there during the winter when it was cold so I guess the kitchen wasn't warm enough for her today.
The first of the roses are out, Mme Alfred Carrier- one of the roses climbing up the front of the house and over the porch.
I still went out and did some gardening well wrapped up in a coat for the first time in a while. My daily gardening keeps me sane and helps keep the garden in a reasonable condition. Today I did some weeding in the scree garden, mainly bracken and ivy leaved toad flax.  The bracken looks very sweet when it is only a couple of cms tall but if left will grow several feet and be more difficult to remove. The scree garden is weed free for the moment though there are always leaves and moss to pick off the stones. Incidentally the people who came to view the house the other day loved it but it is at the top of their budget and they haven't sold their house yet.
I had a little walk up towards the ponies' fields and spotted the goose family. All 7 goslings are still there being guarded by the adult geese.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


Lots of sun today still with a cold wind. It's a good thing that the apple blossom hadn't opened when the weather took such a turn for the worse.  
I spoke to the carpet place this morning and first they tried to tell me there was so much left over because sometimes if there is only a small amount left on the roll the suppliers send the extra anyway. However I knew the amount that had been ordered ie the amount I've paid for and there would still have been 3m x 3m left over. A second phone call from them had an offer of free underlay but I would have to pay for the fitters - duh, no way. I said I'll call in on Friday after my back class and talk to the boss. I'm sure that they won't want to risk their reputation over the fitting of one carpet.
While I did a little weeding around the pond the cats were busy sleeping in the sun.  Later Peter and I worked together to cut a strip off the bottom of his study door using the jigsaw. We took it in turns as it was hard on the hands to keep the jigsaw  moving. The circular saw would have been over kill and it is only on a small stand which is fine for bits of wood but not for a whole door. We even got the door upstairs and screwed back into place. 2 old codgers + experience = job done, eventually.

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


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


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


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


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


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


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.