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.

Wednesday 31 December 2008

Images Of Barnstaple.

Just a few more photos taken in Barnstaple yesterday as I have spent the whole day in the kitchen. My only foray out into the crisp cold air was early in the morning to feed the hens and pour hot water over the ice in their water bowl. 

This bike rack almost looks like a piece of modern art.

Poor Pete has been ill for 3 days with a stomach bug and now one of our visitors has gone down with it as well. Not a nice thing to happen when you are on holiday. The rest of us are all wondering who will be next. Each twinge of indigestion could be the the start of the galloping lurgies. Hopefully I will be taking some of the youngsters into town for the New Year's celebrations in the Square- bands, fancy dress and fireworks. 

Tuesday 30 December 2008


It was an early start this morning as Kate's car was booked in at the garage for 8.00. There was quite an obvious petrol leak but it turned out that when it was serviced before she bought it 2 weeks ago they had failed to put a jubilee clip on the petrol hose to secure it. This potentially very dangerous fault was fixed for a minimum cost of £12.00. I just thank God that nothing serious had happened while the petrol was dripping out under the car. Being nice and early the supermarket was almost empty as I stocked up on food. After that I walked over the bridge into town for a meander round the shops.

There was a cool golden light over the river and lots of reflections in the still water.

An hour later the High Street was busy with 'Sales' shoppers. The low winter light was creating an interesting back-lit effect on the crowds.

On the way home I finally managed to get a Buzzard to sit still on a telegraph pole though it's a shame that the camera didn't focus properly on this and closer shots.

Monday 29 December 2008

Bursting At The Seams.

This morning a heavy frost lay on the ground and stayed for most of the day.

The morning was spent in a frantic rearranging of rooms  ready for our final guests. We have several spare bedrooms but they  been appropriated and turned into a study or a gun store or music/drum room. There was much agonised shouting (me), moving of equipment/pcs/clothes (youngsters)  followed by a quick hoover and tidy up.  Our friends arrived at lunchtime and now every room is occupied. Romas did ask if another friend could come and stay over for the week but as he would have to sleep on the sofa I didn't think that was too practical.
Milo, our friends' Jack Russell, in his favourite position underneath the (lit) woodburner

Sunday 28 December 2008

Taking Time Out.

Yesterday I took advantage of the sunshine and the relatively uncrowded streets to take some pictures of Barnstaple's side streets. It is quite an old town with bits dating back many hundreds of years. Originating by the river crossing it was first a sea port and then became the main market town for the region. Now it is a centre for commerce with some light industry but chiefly it is a hub for the tourism based on the seaside villages,the moors and the picturesque countryside. 

Today despite the sunshine I was not in a good mood even after we negotiated the icy roads and went to church in Ilfracombe. I've had a nasty sinus headache lurking which resurfaced when the boys started complaining because I had tidied up paints and stuff of theirs that had been left lying about  in the conservatory last summer even after I'd begged them to tidy it all up. I got so cross with their insistence that they have the right to leave their belongings scattered throughout the house that instead of really losing my temper I simply took myself (and the tv controller) up to our bedroom and had a tidy up of my own things and a bit of a rest.  In a house full of adults I do not see it as my job to be responsible for all their meals especially when they are going to be so argumentative . I've had an evening snack of Christmas cake and Stilton and have provided them with instructions on making toad-in-the-hole. Earlier in the afternoon the boys did a good job of clearing up in the yard so that there will be more room for the cars as tomorrow more friends will be arriving. 

Saturday 27 December 2008

Morte Point.

Some pictures from yesterday's walk. 
Today we have the same chill wind that is keeping the temperature down and the sky blue. Some parts of the garden were still frosted this evening. 
 I went into town to check out the sales but only bought a couple of pairs of trousers for work, (my usual clothes buying excuse). Vytas and Kate came in with me because there was a terrible screeching coming from the brakes of Kate's car but that turned out to be a stone caught in the mechanism. More worryingly Peter noticed a small petrol leak when she is reversing so we'll have to get that seen to asap. I'm still counting this as 'holiday' so I've resisted the temptation to look at my planning for the first week of term. This also means I'm being pretty relaxed about what I eat. Having resisited chocolate for so long I now find I'm very choosy over which kinds I will eat and it won't be such a wrench when I go back to eating healthily. I'm going to have to find a way of making my sit ups harder as last night I kept on going to 620! Vytas has shown me some back strengthening exercises to do as well. I get very excited by all this exercise simply because I'm such an unsporty person. I was useless at school sports and stuck to individual sports such as archery,  shooting, judo, ice skating - anything that didn't involve running around. In my 20s I worked with horses and ended up teaching disabled kids to ride as well as looking after other peoples horses. My excursion into road running a few years ago did wonders for my weight but sent my gammy knee into total decline hence the sit ups in this round of loosing weight and getting fit.

Friday 26 December 2008

Boxing Day.

........ and Christmas Day. 
Christmas started for us with a special Christmas Eve meal, no meat, followed by Midnight Sevice at the local village Church. Each year the numbers grow less which is sad to see. We spoke to a few people afterwards including a lady who used to cook the school dinners at the village primary school. (Only 2 classes for all the children.) She was quite impressed with the size the boys have grown to. I was not the only one coughing and spluttering away during the service and I had to drop all my singing an octave to be able to join in at all with the traditional carols. It is a lovely old Church and there are times when the 'old' traditional wording of the service is appropriate though our usual Church has no set form for the service and the worship is wonderfully enthusiastic.

There was an absolute mountain of presents under the Christmas tree. That's what happens when there are 7 adults in the house, ( and there were presents for other people as well). 
Once every one was up we gathered in the sitting room with cups of tea to start the distribution of presents. 
Vytas and Kate sitting amidst the growing heap of wrapping paper.

After an enormous dinner , slightly late because the Rayburn was burning very low due to the wind direction, we crashed out in the sitting room in front of a roaring fire and watched TV. Vytas had a very old Jackie Chan film, Wheels on Meals, that was so bad it was funny. Vytas has been doing karate seriously since he went up to university, discussed technical details of the fight scenes with Pete who did karate in his youth. I have to admit to falling asleep occasionally, waking up in time to watch Strictly and the very funny new Wallace and Gromit animation - A Matter of Loaf and Death. It's amazing how much expression plasticine models can have. 

Today Peter and I went for a walk along the cliffs at Mortehoe
A Band of Morris Men were dancing in the village as we arrived. They are the Pilton dancers who put on a big display for the Green Man Festival in Pilton in the summer.

In contrast to the grey weather of the last few days a chill north-westerly had blown all the clouds away and the sun was shinning in a bright blue sky. ( True to form the Rayburn is now burning efficiently with a decent temperature in the oven).

The cold wind was chopping up the waves and at times made it hard to stand near the cliff edge. We managed to see one fat seal just bobbing about close to the rocks.

Vytas, Kate and Romas drove to Putsborough and ran the 2 mile length of the beach to Woolacombe, (just seen in this picture) and back again. There were a few surfers out but Romas decided not to take a chance as he still has this cold that is affecting most of us. I'm about to do my sit-ups, in between sneezing, and then hopefully we'll settle down in front of a roaring fire and some easy viewing.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Christmas Day.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

I'd love it if any readers would say Hi today in the comments section, I'm assuming that somebody out there is reading this blog.

Christmas Eve.

The house is full of family, noise and muddy boots. Vytas and Kate arrived at lunchtime in Kate's new car. The yard is getting full with 4 cars in it and a 5th arriving on Monday. I couldn't persuade anyone to come for a walk on the cliffs and as my car was blocked in I decided to go for a gentle stroll up the hill and along the lanes. I chatted with some neighbours who were passing in their car and said hello to a young lass who was out running. As she went on she called out a cheery 'Merry Christmas' and it reminded me how just a simple greeting can make you smile. 

Everything was rather grey and misty with little contrast.
Secret signs in the trees.
I'm quite pleased with this bare Beech hedge shot.
Back home Gemma took some portrait pictures of moi which she is going to photoshop to clear away the wrinkles etc. This was a fun shot of me and my twin (in the mirror). She's just shown me one and it looks amazing, she's wiped off 30 years.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

All Wrapped Up.

Everyone at home is suffering from this horrible cold with aches and pains and sore throats. We even cough and splutter in harmony. Yesterday I did my main final food shopping and then moped around groaning piteously. Thankfully most of my presents have been organised for some time. I also made another trip to the dump at Barnstaple with sacks of rotten roofing from the shed which I am paying Linas to take down. Today I went into town for a final leisurely swing round the shops, got myself a top in sale, and did a top up shop of the things I had forgotten yesterday. I treated myself to an armload of easy reading from the library for all those spare moments! I'll have during the holiday. Later we took  a car load of computer junk to the Ilfracombe dump and did a top up of ou top up shopping at Tescos. I'm so hoping that tomorrow will be calm enough for us all to get out for a walk on the cliffs in the afternoon as Vytas and Kate are arriving at mid-day. For the first time I've managed to wrap all my presents in advance including the 73 small items for everyone's Christmas stockings. Usually I end up wrapping those fiddly little presents at 1 in the morning when we have got back from Midnight Service. 

Grey skies in the afternoon with just a hint of blue.

On the way to Ilfracombe was a farm selling swedes (50p each) by the side of the road. It's pretty unusual to see an honesty box here though there were plenty when we were in Guernsey 25 years ago.
As we left 2 farm dogs came out to bark at us, perhaps they were checking that we had paid the right amount.
Romas practicing for the day when he is a famous rock star and has to avoid the paparazzi.

Sunday 21 December 2008

A Stroll In Ilfracombe.

After several weeks of not going to church,( illness, icy roads & Pete's clay shoot) we got down to Ilfracombe in good time to find the Church locked up and although there is probably a carol service tonight there were no notices. As we live some miles away and haven't been able to take part in many of the midweek activities we do feel on the periphery of our Church even though we have been going there for 15 years. It's only in the last year or so when illness and work pressures have intruded that we have missed many Sunday services. Last year when Pete was ill for 4 months, including one emergency ambulance trip to the hospital, there were no phone calls to see why we weren't around. Basically they are good people but most of them live close to the church and I think we are seen more in the role of visitors and we've not formed any strong friendships. We are still happy to worship there which has to be the main purpose of meeting together for services. Socialisation is an extra which we know that we have been stepping back from.

Instead we went for a stroll down by the sea. To be seen were grey seas, a grey sky, grey sand and grey rocks. It was very windy which I always find exhilarating.

A bit of colour in this grey town!

I've seen this man before. He has 10 Border Collies under complete control. They sit in front of him, he throws a ball and then tells them which dog can go after the ball. It is quite amazing to watch.
I still can't find the glass drops for the tree but I put even more decorations on it, still colour co-ordinated, and moved the led lights from the kitchen into the sitting room as they were looking rather tacky strung up on their own around the mirror. DON'T LOOK at the state of the conservatory, the boys have been using it for a workshop/games room and it's in a horrible mess.

I think this photo taken without flash looks better, well prettier anyway.
Just a few decorations in the kitchen with family cards on the dresser.