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 30 June 2009

A Hot Day.

It's been another very hot and humid day. At school the coolest place was the main building which has lovely high ceilings. Most of the classrooms and the staffroom are in huts and they were horribly hot even with all the windows open. I don't know if it is just the heat but a lot of my class seem to be sickening and wailing. I sent 2 home today, one with either heat rash or chicken pox. The trouble is that as soon as you send one child home there is a group of ailing children who get mysteriously better when it is playtime. We had a successful whole class baking session in the morning though there was a bit of disappointment that they weren't going to eat the cakes. Tomorrow I've got some little ice lolly moulds which fit in nicely with our curriculum objective of investigating freezing and melting.

There was an interesting sky this morning, it has been overcast for most of the day and the forecast is the same for tomorrow with a 10 degree drop on Thursday.

I can't get over what an incredible year this has been for roses. This was idea I had in mind when I first designed the garden. I love designing gardens especially when there are challenges such as limited space (as in our London garden- 120 ft long but only 15 ft wide), or a complete lack of soil as in this current garden, and of course a limited budget. I'm pretty happy with this garden but it takes more time than I can give it when I am working full-time. I'm looking forward to giving it a good tidy up once the summer holidays start.

Monday 29 June 2009

Parents' Meetings.

Phew ! it was a long hot afternoon, nearly 4 hours non-stop talking to parents. And I'd had to stay in the classroom for most of my lunch hour before hand so I was quite exhausted by the time 4.45 came round. Same again on Wednesday though hopefully I'll get a lunch break. For tomorrow morning I decided it would be a nice idea if the whole class baked a couple of cakes as a thank you to the mums who come in every week to cook with a small group of children. As I'm only used to baking in the Rayburn I stayed behind on Friday to bake a cake in the new school oven. All went well and while I was waiting for the cake to cool enough to put in the car I amused myself by playing on the school piano in the hall. It might be in tune but it has a horrible tone. Today as soon as I had put my classroom to rights I gathered up Linas and Romas who were waiting for a lift and came straight home.

I only had time for a quick whizz around the garden to see what's new. These are still more of my hardy geraniums. They are doubles, tall but only a couple of cms across.

Sunday 28 June 2009

A Proper English Garden.

I finally got a phone call from Vytas to say they had arrived at Kentisbury but they were going to Tescos first to pick up food for the week. I drove into Barnstaple to collect Romas then we called in at Sommerfields to check out the late bargains before driving out to Kentisbury. The sudden downpour and the high temperatures caused small clouds to form dramatically in the Muddiford Valley and I managed to find a vantage point to photograph them and the evening landscapes.

I drive this way to work and every morning I see this wonderful view across Bideford Bay to Hartland Point.

The mist in the valley almost looked as if the hills were on fire.

The evening light gave a beautiful depth to the colours and dramatic shadows. As we stood on a slight rise enjoying the scenery and listening to the sound of birds and sheep we suddenly became aware of the sounds of live rock music drifting over the hills. Somebody was having a party on that lovely evening.

We headed off to Kentisbury Grange to wait for Vytas. I've been there a few times before but never further than the car park but the site warden came out and invited us to have a walk around while we waited. This is the main lawn where Vytas and his fellow karate club members will be doing Karate and Aikido (and meditation) for a whole week. He's been a keen member of the karate club since he started university 5 years ago and is now a brown belt. I remember on our initial visit to Leicester Uni, showing him all the clubs advertised in the student union building and suggesting that this was a good time to follow a new interest. When I went to uni I took up pistol shooting, it was something different, but I didn't keep it up despite Peter's interest in guns.

Wandering aroung the grounds at Kentisbury are various fowl, this magnificent leghorn was escorting a couple of pretty hens. Usually the peacocks stand right infront of the cars but I didn't catch sight of them. We finally caught up with Vytas and arrived home for a roast dinner 2 hours later than planned, Peter was not pleased. We watched some of Glastonbury on the tv. One of the children from my class has gone there with his dad so I kept looking for them in the crowd shots. I'm quite jealous that a 5 year old gets to go and I've never had the chance. The peace and quiet of our valley was disturbed until the small hours by a disco being held in the barn right next to our house. I can understand that we weren't invited as it was for the local hunt and Sarah knows my views on hunting but I would have thought a courtesy call to say it was on would have been in order. Even with the windows shut, (on a really hot night) we could hear the music through the double glazing. It was still going strong at 1.00 but my knockout tablets sent me to sleep then.
Today we've been over to a colleague's house to celebrate her Ruby wedding anniversary. She has an immaculate garden with the most wonderful views to the sea and across to Wales.

Can you imagine having a view like this from your sitting room windows ?

It doesn't show up on this picture but the Gower Peninsula is clearly visible on the horizon. The garden is spotless, not a weed in sight, with beautiful roses everywhere. I'm really ashamed of my own garden, there are so many areas that need tidying up. Lots of colleagues came, with children and 2 tiny babies, the food was wonderful, lots of excellent nibbles. Champagne, strawberries and cake completed the refreshments. It was just a shame that there was light rain for part of the time. The children didn't mind and spent most of their time running around the vast garden.

Now that's a proper English garden. I was going to go out and do some late weeding but Linas and Romas are out there target shooting (airsoft) so instead I'm going to watch Status Quo at Glastonbury with the volume right up.

Saturday 27 June 2009

Free Strawberies.

I went into town early today for a gentle shop before the crowds filled the streets and the car park. I bought several summer tops as we are due more hot weather. The Met office has put out an official Heat health warning for next week saying temperatures may go up to 30 C and not drop below 18 C at night. They haven't specified where this will be and I doubt if it will be so hot here on the west coast. It has been hot today interspersed with dark clouds and now it is finally raining. In the High street, for the first time in my memory, there was a stall giving away strawberries and clotted cream. A lovely idea but it wasn't easy to see the purpose as there were just a few leaflets about the Pannier market on the stall. In terms of publicising the market there should have been some signs rather than leaving it to the girl handing out the strawberries to say that strawberries could be bought in the market. Still they did taste very nice.
At home the garden is now filled with flowers, (and a few weeds). I don't like formal rose gardens but I do enjoy having sprawling bushes covered with scented roses. I did some weeding when it was really hot and then I altered one of the tops I bought. It was a little too young for me and unflattering around the hips so I removed the bottom layer and am happy with the result. I'm very specific about the clothes I wear and while I'm not the world's greatest seamstress I'm happy to alter hems or even take out sleeves to end up with something that is to my taste and shape.

The honeysuckle is all in flower. One side of the house is covered with a honeysuckle and the scent by the front door is delicious.

I haven't yet heard from Vytas. It is about 4 hours drive down from Leicester providing there are no hold ups on the motorway. The campsite they go to at Kentisbury is only 8 mins drive away and the roast beef is all on the go. I also have to collect Romas from town at 7.00 as he missed the earlier bus. He phoned to say his battery was out so I can't check on his progress and Vytas' phone also seems to be out of action. That's my boys.

Friday 26 June 2009

Reports Are OK.

Hooray ! My reports are finished and been passed. And all the photos done. That's a big hassle over with.
This evening I sat in my outdoor office (surrounded by the sound of birdsong) and wrote in all the children's comments about the past term/year. Now I just have to collate the profile printouts with the comments documents and the photographic record pages and then all will be ready for the parent interviews next week. After that we have to send data to a central collection point and photocopy the reports once the parents have returned them with their comment sections filled in. Oh and then we send the reports home again and file all the copies in the office. A teacher's work is never done.

I couldn't resist a walk up the hill to say hello to the horses and to try and take some pictures of the sunset. Every now and again there was the beautiful scent of the wild honeysuckle growing in the hedge. I got back from my walk just before 10.00 while it was still quite light. Even once the light had gone there were still birds singing loudly.

When I first came home I went up to the bedroom to find a swallow frantically flying around our bathroom. I did toy with the thought of getting my camera but I thought it was stressed enough and I opened the window so it could fly out

I've got lots to look forward to this weekend. Tomorrow Vytas will be coming over for supper. ( He's down for his annual Karate club camp which happens to be only 8 mins drive from here.) and on Sunday we're invited to a fellow teacher's house to celebrate her Ruby Wedding with strawberries and cake in her lovely garden overlooking the sea at Coombe Martin.

I took this picture of a perfect rose, (ignore the blackspot on the leaves), yesterday morning.

Thursday 25 June 2009

Printer Causes Staff Meltdown.

Today has been humid and hot. This evening an overhead thunderstorm , which rattled the kitchen window, caused several brief power cuts. Power cuts are frequent when we have storms but it's a nuisance having to go around and reset all the electric clocks on the radios.
It's been stressful at work in terms of finishing off the reports and getting them printed. That staffroom printer has been the cause of so much stress amongst all the staff. I've heard a few choice words said when once more it's failed to print or become jammed again ! And there's still those photos to finish. I've just spent about an hour going through my photo files looking for some specific photos of kids who are not in school at the moment. It's all getting a bit silly.
So I'm posting a few more pretty flower photos taken yesterday.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

White Flowers.

It's been another fine day. This afternoon was 'shuffle up afternoon' with all the children moving up to their new classes for the afternoon. This included the Year 2s going over to the Junior school, across the playing field. Everything went well and we repeat the whole process next week. It's a good way for the children to meet their new teachers before the actual change in September.
Back home there was another barbecue waiting when I got home though I did do my sit ups first.
Today's floral offerings seem to have taken a bit of a white theme.

This is one of several English Bush roses that all have a wonderful scent.

Arum lilies seed themselves around the damp areas of the garden but they are often badly damaged by the disgusting slugs.

Down by the pond the white water iris have started to flower.

The individual flowers don't last very long but the clump has grown well since I planted it about 5 years ago and there are lots of buds waiting to open.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

A Lovely Day.

The sun has been shinning all day and it has been hot, hot, hot. Blazing hot out in the playground but lovely in the dappled shade and breeze in the Secret Garden which is where we took our children for this afternoon's playtime. Even first thing this morning it was nice and warm out in the garden. I was also in a good mood because my sore throat is much better today. One less ache and pain to grumble about.
Before work I had to drop the micra in for its MOT. I was a bit worried because a colleague at work has exactly the same car, even the same colour, we just have different stickers. Her micra had to have an MOT last week and the cost of the work needed was £1,000 so that's the end of her micra. I knew the exhaust was falling off my micra so for the last few days I've been driving Pete's car. Luckily the cost of a new exhaust plus the MOT and some welding came to just over £200 so my micra lives for another year.
As I walked into the school grounds a couple of squirrels were playing in The Secret Garden. We have a squirrel on the school logo so it was nice to see them around the place.

Here he /she? is thinking about leaping to the next tree.

This shot would probably be quite good if I lightened it with photoshop.
It was still warm this evening so it was another barbecue which we ate up by the scree garden which catches the last of the sunshine. I can't believe that we've passed the summer solstice and that the nights are now getting longer. In my mind summer doesn't begin until we break up for the school summer holiday which is 3 1/2 weeks away.

Monday 22 June 2009

I'm An Old Crumbly.

It's been a strange day weather wise. One minute it was overcast and chilly, the next the skies were blue and the temperature was up in the high 20s. It was a relief after playtime to get back into the cool of the classroom. After school I was back at the doctor's. The x-ray on my knee shows the beginning of arthritis, disappointing but expected. The blood test shows no inflammation so I'm no nearer to finding out what is wrong with my hips and the arm is still a mystery. I'm down to see the physio at the hospital and the doctor's referring me to the rheumatology and orthopedic consultants. Between them they might be able to come up with a diagnosis for my arm and my hips. All this sounds as if I'm crumbling away but really it's just wear and tear of living. Last time I was picking up some medicine at the pharmacy a lady was in there collecting 400mg of morphine for her mother and that made me realise that my aches are such trivia. The sunshine is helping the redcurrants to ripen.
After the doctors we (Pete, Linas & self), drove down to Tiverton College to see Gemma's end of course exhibition. She has taken some very strong b&w shots, mainly portraits. We had a look round at all the photography and the graphics exhibition. There was some interesting work but I didn't feel that I should photograph other people's original work. We drove to Tiverton by the scenic back road, so many interesting little lanes that invited you to explore and find out where they led. On the way back we came straight down the Link road and I took a shots of the interesting cloudscape through Peter's rather dirty car windows.

Sunday 21 June 2009

A Gang of Wrens.

I got up early this morning, 5.30, as I needed a cuppa for my throat. The sun was shinning brightly when I fed the hens at 6.30 so after doing a few chores and catching up on my weekend blogs I went out for a walk at 7.30. By that time the clouds were beginning to appear and by the time I got home an hour and a half later it was completely overcast and rather chilly. The wild honeysuckle can be seen in some of the hedges.
As I walked along the road I could hear a gang of small birds in a tree. There were quite a few birds making a lot of noise twittering and chattering. When I zoomed in with the camera I saw that they were wrens, the smallest of our native birds.

On my way back they had moved along to the next tree. I stood very still and eventually I saw 2 of the wrens in clear view on a branch. It wasn't until I looked at the picture on the pc that I saw the third wren.

In one of the fields a group of calves were waiting for their breakfast.

The sun was shining through these common dock flowers making them look very pretty.

A stately group of foxgloves by Ashelford corner.

Back home the washing was ready to be hung out in the hen run/ orchard. While my back was turned several of the hens squeezed round the gate and out into the garden. The had a good old scratch around on the lawn. Luckily my hens come when they are called, especially when bread is involved, and it was easy to get them back into the hen run. The rest of the day was spent doing school work,sit ups, weeding and reading out in the garden. My throat has been so sore I finally gave in this evening and had some ice cream. It does the job beautifully but the soothing effect is only temporary. The rest of the time I've been drinking lots of hot drinks, starting with earl grey first thing, then several cups of coffee and for the rest of the day aromatic chai.

Saturday 20 June 2009

Sleepy Saturday.

Hooray, it's Saturday. I've got a sore throat and a muzzy head so it was great to be able to turn over and go back to sleep this morning when I woke at my customary time of 5.45. Still, I've got those heavy duty pain killers if it gets bad in the evenings so I know I'll be able to get off to sleep. The painkillers are working on my shoulder and I am at last able to sleep properly at night though I don't feel there was any diagnosis. I'm back to see the other doctor on Monday re the knee x-ray so I'll question him about my shoulder as well. My regular GP (who is off with a broken leg) will only allow you the standard 10 mins and if you start to talk about a second problem she stops you and says you have to make another appointment. I usually book a double appointment to avoid this happening as it is a bother having to go to the doctor in the first place.
I spent several hours this morning filling an online form for NZ but came to halt as Pete needs to find some documents so I can fill in his section. It took such a long time because every section took ages to load and there are lots of sections and reference documents to look at.
It's been overcast with the sun trying to break through so I gave myself some time off outside with a book! (not schoolwork), and then worked until 7.30 weeding and tidying up at the scree garden.
A little plantain flower in one of the unmown parts of the garden.
These alien looking sedum flowers are only a few inches high.

The pampas grass is flowering for the first time. Our old flat-coat retriever is buried underneath the pampas grass in a corner of the scree garden.

This is the reason I try not to use slug pellets. I spotted this female blackbird outside the kitchen window pecking away at one of the many slugs that inhabit the garden. The slug slime on her beak kept causing rose petals to stick to her beak but she persevered in her attack on the nasty beast. If the slug had eaten slug pellets the bird would also have been poisoned.

Her mate came down to join her, I wish more birds would come along and eat those slugs which gather round disgustingly when it's damp. Sometimes I put on rubber gloves and put them in a bucket and then throw them into the stream hopefully for the ducks in the lake to eat.