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.

Friday 31 October 2008

Happy Birthday Romas .

Today is Romas' birthday.!
His brother gave him 30 bars of chocolate and by request I made 12 of them into a giant chocolate brick. He, Jake and Linas started on this for breakfast accompanied by chocolate icecream and coffee in various combinations. I can think of worse things a 19 year old could be doing. He has the rest of his band staying over, (they are doing a photo shoot with Gemma tomorrow), and they have spent the day shooting each other with air rifles. I cooked an enormous pasta bake, followed by a chocolate gateau which hopefully will have lined their stomachs for the drinking session I know they have planned for this evening outside in the barbecue area.
Gemma and I had fun looking through Romas' photo albums and I managed to narrow my selection down to just a few to share with all of you out there.

Aged 27 weeks, in our garden in London.

Not quite 2 years old out on Wanstead Flats with ...... Sprite?

2 years old and absolutely gorgeous.

3 and a half and full of mischief.

4 years old with little puppy Zulu.
I wonder how the front door got so muddy?

7 years old with Zulu.


16? looking a little exhausted after several hours surfing.

19 today!
All grown up into a handsome young man.

Thursday 30 October 2008

Guerilla Gardening.

First a couple of photos that I took in the garden. This waterfall has decreased in size over the years as the stream has gradually filled up with stones washed down from further up the valley. I thought this photo almost had an oil painting feel to it.

This osteospermum is definitely flowering out of season.

These are not guerrillas, just the boys all togged up for an airsoft session. The guerrilla is in fact me, there is a phenomenon in some cities of guerrilla gardening where concerned citizens creep out under the cover of darkness and plant up featureless traffic islands with something more inspiring than grass. Next to my garden is a piece of wasteland about 50' x 50' belonging to my neighbour. We have asked him several times , if we could buy it but the answer has always been no. Initially he wanted to keep the option open of access to a neighbouring field which he hoped to buy but that is now woodland. A massive bramble thicket grew up with trees on his field boundary that have grown 20' and 30' high. Bad for me because I like the view but good for prospective buyers who might prefer privacy. He then used this ground to dump heaps of rock and subsoil from some building work so I have taken advantage and used it as a bonfire site for brambles and branches. There is also a handy ditch which I have been filling with garden waste. In return I have cleared most of the brambles and whenever I am pruning or clearing garden plants I take the effort to plant them in the hope that some will grow. Naughty I know but it's so much nicer than a bank of brambles and bindweed. I also put in, just for fun, a thicket of raspberries which I'm sure the birds appreciate. And if he drives over it all with the digger then it won't matter anyway.

Part of the waste ground with 2 kinds of hardy geraniums, nasturtiums and garden lilies.
It was a grey windy day with the wind blowing from the east, .... down from Siberia? I fixed up a curtain over the inside porch door to stop the draughts, usually the new part of the house shelters the front door from the prevailing south westerlies and the front door is open most of the time. Gemma came down last night and the youngsters all went to have lunch at The Honeymoon, a local Chinese restaurant which does an all you can eat buffet lunch for £6. It's very nice food and with my boys' appetites it's excellent value. They did invite me along but as I'm watching what I eat it would have been too much temptation. I ventured into the garden to take some photos and then decided that it was time for the nasturtiums to go as they were looking rather wilted from the cold. Better now than when they go all slimy from the frost. The nasturtiums and as many seeds as I could collect went 'next door'.
Last night there was some freak weather at Ottery St Mary, just east of Exeter. They had 5ft of snow and hail as well as 4ft of flood water. Follow the link below for more details.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Cold Weather.

This is Birthday last night in his usual position, lying on Romas' lap on his back . Romas has kindly tucked a blanket over him for extra comfort. Pampered cat! He is so relaxed when he is at home and enjoys having his tummy stroked. And yet most of the time he lives out in the fields.

Last night it snowed in London, the last October snow was in 1934. It wasn't that cold here, just grey and miserable and it's now raining heavily.


I had to go to South Molton this morning and then had 4 hours to fill before a doctor's appointment. I decided it wasn't worth going home for an hour and a half so first I took the scenic road back through Filleigh and Swimbridge instead of zooming down the Link Road at 60mph. There were some nice autumnal colours but nothing spectacular and the light was very flat and grey so I didn't take any pictures. I was listening to Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis which made the journey into an amazing experience. Good thing there was no traffic because I was in another zone. I then spent 2 hours mooching around all the shops in Barnstaple and ended up buying ...... 2 birthday cards. At least I know now that there isn't anything I want to buy in town. I also dropped into Tesco's where strangely a large black cat was sitting in the middle of the entrance and everybody had to manoeuver their trollies around it. I did stop and give it a stroke just to check if it was injured or something but it seemed quite content and was wearing a collar so perhaps it was just waiting for somebody.
I dropped the boys off in town so they could do their own shopping before heading off to the pub. They were trying to get the ingredients to make smoke bombs but luckily they weren't able to buy most of the things they wanted. ( Note to government censors reading this blog..... they are NOT making bombs.) Not a joke, the government has or will be getting the right to read everybody's emails as well as web searches. My cold is making me feel rough so that was all I did today

Tuesday 28 October 2008


I've got a streaming cold today so I wasn't up to doing a lot. We screwed the door of Linas' old room back onto the frame with even bigger screws so hopefully it won't come loose again. The morning started all bright and sunny but it soon turned grey and cold with frequent hail showers so we watched The Fellowship without Peter there to get cross as we joined in with the script. Tonight we've got a roaring fire going though I will have to go and pick Linas up from the train station at 10.00.
A few hailstones in the garden.

They had 6" of snow up in Scotland.

Monday 27 October 2008

Rainbows and Hailstones.

It's been a day of sunshine and showers. It was lovely and sunny in the morning when the BT engineer came to check the phone line. All weekend the phone quality had been dreadful, crackly and echoing and the broadband had been snail-like but once the rain cleared it all improved. So the line was tested, declared OK, no line replacement. We know the conduit is all smashed up but until the line fails completely we just have to put up with it. The rest of the morning was spent collecting Romas and his friend from Barnstaple with some food shopping at the same time. This afternoon my gardening kept getting interrupted by hail showers until I finally gave up. There were some good rainbows including a double rainbow over the house.

The second rainbow can just be seen in this photo.

There were brief sunny spells and dramatic cloudscapes between the showers.

Last week I was going to town in a t-shirt, today hailstones. Cold temperatures have been forecast for the rest of the week. I better send Romas to the woodshed to get more logs for the wood burner.

Sunday 26 October 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane.

It was pouring with rain this morning but there was the bonus of an extra hour in bed because of the clocks changing to winter time. ( Note that I've avoided the trap of trying to remember if the clocks are going back or forwards, it's the extra lie-in time that matters.) Probably because of the weather I had my usual nasty headache so once we came back from church I scheduled a quiet indoors afternoon going through my packets of negatives and trying to date them prior to scanning them with my handy gizmo thingy. The negatives only date back to 1993 so somewhere there is a folder of all the baby and toddler photos as well as holiday pictures from earlier days. Of course there were lots of photos to look at as well and ooh and aah over, especially cute kitten photos. It was amazing to see how much the garden has developed in the last 15 years. And of course seeing how the boys have changed though they were never keen to be photographed. I have so many albums for each of the boys as well as books for friends and family and the garden but it will be so much better to have all the pictures on the pc.
Later on a stroll around the garden I discovered that the 'sunset' filter on my camera gave me a more natural colour for the autumn colours of the leaves on the beech trees.

As we drove down the hill I spotted this heron in the field, and as we came round the corner a sparrow hawk flew in front of us but my camera doesn't focus that quickly so no picture.
I had been hoping for a few days of lovely peace as Romas is down in Bude but he's phoned to say that several of them will be returning tomorrow. I can see lots of work time spent in the garden, the weather is set to turn very cold this week but that just means putting more layers on.
Last night's rain was so extreme that thousands of competitors in an tough fell race had to be rescued off the moors and about 750 are known to have spent the night out there.


Saturday 25 October 2008

Lundy, part 3 ..... scenery and wildlife.

Woke up this morning thinking, "It's Saturday, I can have a lie in!" Then I looked out of the window and saw a blue and red sunrise, started getting dressed to run up the hill and take photos, changed my mind as the colours faded and changed my mind again when the sky started to turn orange.
I'm experimenting with the different settings on the camera, might even look at the manual at some point, but the camera has a tendency to darken up sky pictures and if I use the 'sunset' setting, it puts an orange tinge on the picture.

Finally ..... Lundy, part 3.
I was looking for information about pirates on Lundy and I found this site giving Lundy's history. Check it out if you want to find out about the pirates.
This is the reason I had wanted to visit Lundy, the amazing scenery with spectacular granite rock formations.

The north end of the island looks fairly barren with just a thin layer of vegetation growing directly on the granite. The grey areas were covered in 1cm chips of granite that had fractured off the bedrock.

The end of the track that runs all the way along the island. There is another small lighthouse halfway down the cliff .
We saw the Soay sheep and ponies grazing all about the place. We also saw a lot of rabbit bones, apparently there had been an outbreak of myxomatosis the previous year which had almost decimated the vast rabbit population.

It was a very special day out and we will try to visit Lundy again, (it's about £40 each for the boat trip), so we'll have to save up. Some of our group, who did not enjoy the sea crossing , have said that once was enough.

Friday 24 October 2008

Lundy, part 2 .... Arrival and Buildings.

Another sunny day today, for most of the time. It was my afternoon with the reception class who are always lovely to teach. It was time for a music lesson, so every child had an instrument and 28 of us marched around the playground singing and making lots of music. It was fun but VERY noisy. In the morning I painted one side of the bedroom door with white gloss paint. A very satisfying job to do as it looks so new and clean. Tomorrow I will turn the door over and paint the other side. Then it will be a matter of rehanging it. Unlike the Victorian pine doors we had in our house in London the doors are not on rising butts and normal hinges have a tendency work loose from the door frame especially when there are teenagers around. The house is very quiet as Romas has gone down to Bude for a few days but next weekend everybody will be coming here for an airsoft weekend. Gemma and I plan to go off on some photography trips. Having such beautiful surroundings I have been only taking local photos on my way to work etc. Apart from the Lundy photos everything has been within 10 miles of home.

Now for ...... Lundy , part 2 ... Arrival and Buildings.

The island is 31/2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. It is a granite outcrop that forms a flat plateau above steep cliffs. The majority of the buildings are in a little settlement at one end of the plateau. Here you can see the church to the left and the Tavern and other farm buildings to the right. The path from the jetty climbs up through a gully in the cliff,(in the centre of the photo).

Looking towards the northern point of the island. The cliffs on the western side of the island are much steeper. The sea around the island is a maritime reserve and basking sharks are common though we didn't see any that day.

Looking down from half-way up the cliff at the landing stage and the Oldenburg. There are no cars on the island , just a couple of tractors for transporting goods and equipment.

Halfway up the gully is the 'owners house' which has much more protection from the weather than the buildings up on the top. This is now one of the many properties that can be rented as holiday accommodation. It is quite a long walk up from the landing stage to this point.

This is the church, all the buildings have a very Italianate, square cut look due to being built from granite quarried on the island. There are almost no trees on the island.

The main lighthouse in the windswept centre of the island. On a clear day it is possible to see, with binoculars, the silhouettes of the lighthouse and the church from Putsborough Beach.

The smaller fields nearer the settlement have granite walls which provide some protection from the constant wind.

An entrance to one of the barns.

The Marisco Tavern and hotel with the church behind. Originally they brewed their own beer but there isn't a good supply of water on the island and now beer is shipped in on the Oldenburg. It is very cosy in the tavern with shelves of paperbacks and board games as well as a 'wildlife sighting' book for the divers, birdwatchers and other visitors to record the wildlife they have seen. I can imagine that after the day trippers have left it must be a special atmosphere with just the people renting the holiday cottages, visiting sailors and some campers (mostly climbers) and the island workers in the tavern.
Next time ..... amazing scenery and some wildlife.

Our Trip To Lundy Part 1.

Had to wait till this morning to post as last night the internet was so slow. That's what happens when there are 3 pcs on the internet at the same time and somebody! is downloading stuff. I taught all day at school going from class to class as the permanent staff had 'performance management' review meetings. Another bit of bureaucratic time wasting. Still it's another day's pay for me. Next week is the half-term holiday - hooray!
Two and a half years ago we went on a family day trip to the island of Lundy, an island just off the coast, ( which can be seen in the banner photo), that is now owned and maintained by the National Trust as a nature reserve with some camping facilities and holiday cottages. http://www.lundyisland.co.uk/ Before we went I read an interesting book about life on the island when it was still privately owned. My Life on Lundy by Felix Gade.
Unless you have your own boat the only way to Lundy is on the Oldenburg which usually sails from Bideford, or you can fly in by helicopter .
This was the boarding queue very early in the morning at Bideford. Because you have to go over sand bars at the mouth of the river, sailings are dependent on tide times. We were lucky to have a full day on Lundy, sometimes you only get 4 hours.

Romas (behind the hat) , Pete and Vytas ( before the beard and the long hair). We thought we had found a good spot at the bow of the boat until a crew member pointed out that there might be some spray coming over the bows. Fortunately we moved further back because we had an exciting trip out with waves crashing over the bows and the stern corkscrewing dramatically. Great fun! On the way back we sat in the same place and had a boring trip with the sea being as flat as a millpond.

Looking back up the River Torrige at Bideford, the old bridge in the distance and the very high new bridge that always made me nervous driving over it in the landrover. That sunny morning there were people out sailing, fishing and water skiing.

At the mouth of the river is the village of Appledore originally favoured by artists because of the good light.

We were just on the sand bars, (on the return journey we waited nearly an hour here for the tide to turn), looking at Crow Point with Saunton Sands going off to the left, the River Taw goes through Barnstaple and flows down into the sea at this point.

Our first view of Lundy. ....... part 2 coming soon.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Lynmouth Revisited..

More very heavy showers today with bright sunshine. I spent the morning putting things back in the spare room as well as repairing and cleaning the door before I paint it. I've even taken it off the hinges so I can paint it flat as you're supposed to. Went to work in the afternoon.
I thought I'd show some pictures of the Lyn River and Lynmouth, taken a few months ago when we went to the Folk Festival there. The river runs through a steep gorge and there are spectacular walks on both sides of the river up to Watersmeet.

56 years ago there was a dreadful flood with massive boulders crashing down the river and destroying houses. This is the reason for the concrete flood defenses at the river mouth. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/august/16/newsid_2960000/2960180.stm
36 people lost their lives on that dreadful day.

It was a beautiful day when we were there.

I thought these tree roots looked like the gates to Moria.

A few photos of the harbour, looking across the Bristol Channel towards Wales. There was an experimental wave /electricity generator out in the sea but sadly they have decided not to develop it into a commercial power plant though I did hear that there is going to be one up off Scotland.

The (ex) fishing village of Lynmouth lies at the foot of the cliffs and up above is the much bigger village of Lynton. About 30 years ago we stayed at the youth hostel there for the first night of our 'Two Moors ' walk from coast to coast.

The old light house with an old WW2 mine in front being used as a giant collecting box. I remember there being one on the harbour in St Ives when I was little.