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.

Thursday 31 December 2009

Fishing Cat.

Another grey day today with no sign of the sun. All night a Force 6 gale was blowing outside causing the windchimes to ring melodiously. Very peaceful when lying tucked up under a warm duvet.
I looked out of a window to see Patch, the fattest of our cats, walking across the lawn with a trout in his mouth. He had appeared from the stream next to the house so we presume that is where he caught it. He was so wary of anyone coming near to steal his catch that we had to settle for a long distance shot of him happily crunching away under a bush.

When he had finished, and come waddling in with a fat stomach, the boys found he had eaten all of the trout apart from the tail fin.
Some of our guests left today and the youngsters will be off tomorrow. We are planning to go into town to the New Year's celebrations in The Square,( bands and fireworks), but I'm not sure how many will be going as the girls prefer to stay drawing and discussing the plots of the anime comics that they are making.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Blowing Away The Cobwebs.

It's been a pretty grey and miserable day but finally I managed to persuade some of our party that we needed a breath of fresh air down at the coast. It was already getting dark when we got there but the wind blew away some of the cobwebs that were wrapping my mind in a miasma of housewifely duties. (Yep, I've had another hot toddy to clear the cough while watching Alien V Predator 3?). The shark on the beach sign is an addition by a local graffiti artist who we may be buying some art work from.

There were some very large waves rolling in and the tide was very high.

We drove via Morthoe where we dropped the active members of our group, Sam and the boys, off to hike right around the headland while we drove down and parked by Barricane Beach. They tend to specialise in striding out faster and faster in macho competitiveness which is far too fast and not enjoyable for amblers like myself. Instead we had a gentle stroll down to the beach watching other people getting out of the way of the waves and one happy dog, a bearded collie, getting extremely wet.

A post script to yesterday's post, apparently only the chariot was painted by Vytas and the skeletons are Romas' . Must get the facts right.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

A Rainy Day.

This post may not make sense today. I got so fed up of my dreadful sore throat that I gave in and made myself a hot whiskey toddy. Very soothing for the throat but when you are almost teetotal it goes straight to your head. I do feel a lot better but somewhat under the influence. it has been raining for most of the day. Too much to contemplate going down to the coast once the shopping party returned from town. Peter had to go into to work today so it was a very early start this morning. My day has been spent pottering about in the kitchen while others read, drew , painted or built models.
Vytas and Romas are currently fighting a wargame with Vytas' well painted skeleton army,

and Romas' not fully painted Warriors of Chaos army. More painting and modelling is going on as I type and we await a beef curry which is simmering away. For dessert we shall try some of the barfi (sweet) selection that Vytas and Kate bought me for Christmas. Leicester has the biggest Asian community in the UK and I have been pointing out to them that they are lucky to be able to participate in different cultures, taking part in big celebrations such as Diwali and of course enjoying different types of food. It has been a long time since I went to wedding parties with my Asian friends.

Monday 28 December 2009

A Full House.

We managed to get the place respectable in time for all our visitors this afternoon. Linas and I had gone into town in the morning, got rid of more stuff at the dump , did a little shopping (more glass drops for the tree and some new lights) in the sales and bought a carpet offcut for Romas' room. Linas wouldn't let me buy the bright pink carpet that caught my eye and we settled for a light brown carpet that cost me £64. The room is now totally transformed and very acceptable. When everyone arrived we had a second grand present opening with much hilarity.

Vytas was dismayed to realise that he had left his favourite extra large tea mug in Salisbury but luckily we had a suitable replacement.

Milo joined in enthusiastically as he delighted in destroying every piece of wrapping paper almost before it was off the presents.

I think Kate E liked her clinking present.

And Alex was definitely overjoyed with this pink molepig (anime character) from Vytas and Kate B.

Romas had washed his hair earlier and managed to get both Alex and Kate B helping out with the replaiting. Even I had started on the task earlier. Apparently not only his girlfriend but the other girls in his corridoor at uni enjoy doing this for him.
After a roast dinner we all decided to measure ourselves , some had grown and some of us have shrunk. Oh the weight of advancing years.

Vytas is still the tallest at 6'3 1/2" and Milo is the shortest at 2'6".

Sunday 27 December 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice And Men.....

Or in this case harassed working mothers ........ go all squit when the weather traps you at home for 5 days. It was a tight schedule but I thought I had it worked out for a stress free holiday, ha, b....y ha! Step 1 - bin or box up everything in Romas' room ready for his arrival on Saturday - done. Step 2 - Romas to clear everything out of his room & take out carpet - done. Step 3 - take stuff to dump/charity shop, buy paint & carpet - held up by snow. Step 4- paint walls, lay carpet, move stuff back into room (before Christmas) - half done. Step 5 - use the 2 days after Christmas to tidy spare rooms and make beds for 5 people - currently in progress. Guests are arriving tomorrow afternoon and I still have to go and get the carpet and make another trip to the dump. A bit of a tight schedule. Thank goodness Peter is cooking tomorrow or we would be living on booze and chocolates. The boys did get their act together and rake up the drive which had started to wash away in last night's heavy rain.
Out in the countryside you would hardly know we have just had an official white Christmas.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Free At Last.

There was plenty of rain in the night which helped to clear a lot of the ice. The only bit remaining this morning was the whole of our drive which had thick ice in the ruts. Romas and I managed to hack through and clear the ice making it possible for Peter to get the car out. Peter's joints are too susceptible to any injury for us to let him join us in such work.
Rant warning!
Boxing Day is normally a day for lazing around but I did get into cleaning mode and tackled the bathrooms. Give me a pair of rubber gloves, plenty of hot water and a bottle of cleaning gel and I fly through the cleaning. Mind you why do men, who are basically have the ability to aim and point still manage to ...... well..... splatter? I'm sure if they had to do the cleaning that problem would not occur. Oh well it's the holiday season so end of rant.

Unfortunately the dump and the carpet place aren't open but Peter is buying wall filler and paint today so Romas can at least paint his room and be ready for a new carpet on Monday. It has been good to have not too much to do today and there is no school planning to occupy my mind. Next term I'll just be following different teachers' planning and I can put more energy into work at home.


Friday 25 December 2009

Christmas Day.


We've had a lovely relaxed Christmas Day. A good lie-in listening to the radio including some one saying that by now the turkey was in the oven and the vegetables all prepared! Buying a frozen turducken and goose fat roast potatoes was a sensible move knowing how difficult it is to cook in a rayburn with its small oven and poor temperature control. They cooked beautifully while I prepared all the other vegetables, red cabbage, parsnips, Brussels sprouts plus stuffing and pigs in blankets. We are all happily bloated and preparing for a lazy evening in front of a roaring wood fire. Being not posh we open our presents in the morning hence the mess in the sitting room. As we haven't been able to get into town for last minute shopping the presents were a little more restrained which wasn't a bad thing. There is still a mountain of chocolate and other goodies, more than enough for any one family. Luckily I'm feeling a lot better today so I could enjoy the Christmas goodies.

Both boys have been helpful with Romas doing a grand job keeping the fire supplied. He also helped me out when I couldn't make it up to the hens (see amusing clip and hear the sound of the mad call duck on Paul's lake).

The sun has been shining today but unfortunately just enough to melt some of the snow which then freezes into even more treacherous ice sheets. I couldn't even walk around the garden to take photos. Luckily yesterday I had cleared the ice from the path in the yard so that anyone, ie me, going to the bins , doesn't break their neck in the process.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Sipping And Sliding.

Despite this valiant effort by my boys to clear the road so that I would be able to drive into town today, nature defeated us by spreading a layer of ice over all their work. I had a message from a neighbour up at Bowden Corner that the postman had left our , and Paul and Sarah's post, at her house so I cautiously walked up to collect the post. It is always a pleasure to visit her house, she is an amazing artist and crafts person and her home is filled with her beautiful craft work. I was also most entranced by a tropical aquarium with some fish and many different sorts of living corals. Outside, her husband who is a joiner has built some impressive aviaries which house finches and orange canaries?

The view from Bowden Corner looking towards the coast.
Same view, interesting sky.

Bowden Corner itself showing how much ice there was on the road.

Back down at Paul and Sarah's a lot of the lake was iced over. Paul was making another trip into Tescos so Peter went with him to buy fresh vegetables and other stuff that I hadn't been able to carry home yesterday. Apparently going up and down the hill on the quad bike was a bit of a white knuckle ride as it slipped and slithered on the ice.
Back at home the boys cut the top off one of the leylandii and it has made an adequate Christmas tree, I've gone for the restrained bling look this year . I haven't had a brilliant day today as I suffered with nausea all night and didn't get to sleep until 5.30 and I still feel pretty rough today. A bit disappointing at this time of special meals and plenty of chocolate. I think it is that tummy bug that has been floating round school for a while. Never mind. Peter got me some peppermint tea and that has been very soothing. We had our special Christmas Eve meal with lots of fish dishes and I couldn't resist some smoked salmon and dill herrings with a little black bread.
The poor state of the roads has meant that for the first time in 15 years we haven't been able to go to the village church for midnight service.Instead I watched Midnight Mass on tv. It was at Westminster Cathedral and brought back many memories for me as I used to go to mass there with my mother, I even sang in the lay choir for a little while. It has been a very long time since I was at a full Latin mass but you never forget. But personally I connect better with God in less ceremonial circumstances.

It's nearly 2.00 in the morning so now I can say





Wednesday 23 December 2009

Ruta's Travels.

It's still here! However, when I went out to feed the hens it wasn't the soft crunch of powdery snow underfoot but the sharper crunching that immediately tells you that you are walking over a treacherous sheet of ice. With the road being completely iced over there was no way we were going to get the cars out. As I had to get in for my hospital appointment I took up my neighbour's offer of a lift into town. First it was up the hill on the quad bike (see yesterday's picture), then by landrover into town and finally a couple of hours on foot in town. It was quite pleasant to wander around the charity shops looking for extra gifts. Originally I shopped in charity shops because we had little money, now I still like to be thrifty but also I prefer to support the charities and 'recycle' items. Then it was time to make my way to the hospital. As it was pouring with rain I took the bus rather than walk. Then came a VERY long wait for my injection. 3 1/4 hours after my scheduled time I was wheeled into the operating theatre for a 10min procedure. Thank goodness I had been to the library,( I read a whole book while I was waiting) as there was no tv, radio or magazines in my room. Not even a clock to show just how long I had to wait. Just wait until I get my 'customer satisfaction' form that they send out to all patients. It was too dark to contemplate hitching by the time I got out, and I would have had to concoct some sort of story before they would have signed me out so I let them call me a cab. The cab took me along the main road but when he saw the ice on the back roads he declined to go any further and I hadn't expected him to go on anyway. It would have been a lovely walk, no wind and stars shinning in the moonlit sky but I had to go carefully as for a lot of the time the road was iced right over. It was hard to tell which bit of the road was ice or clear and at one point I carefully stepped over the shadow of a tree in the hedge. It took me 1 1/2 hours to walk the 3 miles. I was so hungry when I got home as I hadn't eaten since breakfast. Luckily there was a lovely meal waiting for me when I got home.
Oh, and they told me to take it easy for a couple of days !

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Snow For Christmas ?

It was definitely snowing here this morning. Looking at the news a lot of the country seems to be in chaos, 2,000 cars abandoned on the ring road around Basingstoke, people sleeping in the bed section of a department store etc and there are all those people whose journeys were disrupted by the Channel Tunnel being closed after 5 trains broke down. I'm glad we're not planning to travel anywhere though Peter may not be able to get to work tomorrow and I've got a hospital appointment. At the very worst I'll do what I did before, walk and hitch but my neighbour has left his Landrover at the top of the hill as he needs to go in to get his son's Christmas present. As long as I can get in I'm not too worried about the return journey. Today of course I had to go out for a walk as it might all be gone by tomorrow.

This was how my neighbour got up the hill to his car. We are never actually trapped down here in the valley as Paul also has a tractor, not sure how it would manage the hill, and we are only 6 miles from town with plenty of neighbours around but it is fun to start thinking in survival mode (only fun when it isn't serious). As long as we have power, life goes on fairly normally. In the rare case of loosing power we do have to abandon our hi-tech entertainment which is a bit of a wrench for the boys and life does seem a bit boring but generally power cuts never last more than a few hours. Here's hoping the road is passable tomorrow as Romas is desperate to get his new carpet and repaint his room before moving out of the spare room.

Monday 21 December 2009

Home Baking Day.

There was quite a lot more of the white stuff on the ground this morning. This robin and his mate were waiting for me to go so they could join in with the hens' breakfast of mixed corn.Though I don't know if you could call it snow, it was more like pellets of hail. Which ever way, it had left a nice thick layer of ice on the road.

I walked over to my neighbours' to deliver a card and a present. After a coffee and a chat I walked to the top of the hill. It was very peaceful with just faint sounds coming from the farms around- a cockerel crowing, a dog barking and the very occasional vehicle.

I could see snow up on Dartmoor to the south,

and more on the Exmoor hills to the north.

It was strange how some fields were white and others not, it didn't seem to correlate to which way the field was facing, maybe it's something to do with the length of the grass or if the field has recently had muck spread on it.

And this was the state of the road, no wonder nobody was driving along it.
The rest of my day was spent in the kitchen, I baked a Christmas cake, I had used spiced rum to soak the fruit because we didn't have any brandy so once the cake was done I fed it generously with more rum. Hopefully it will taste good. I didn't have such success with my biscuit making, I don't think my scales help as you can weigh the same thing 3 times and each time it will show a different weight with up to 4oz difference. Not too good when you are trying to weigh out flour and sugar. A second batch of spicy Cornish Farings did better until I forgot the last lot in the oven and they ended up rather well done! It's normally only at Christmas that I bake biscuits as I like to give my friendly postman a bag of home baked biscuits when he turns up in his little red van. With the 2 boys hanging around the kitchen at least half the first lot of biscuits got eaten on a 'just need to see how they taste' basis.

Sunday 20 December 2009

A Little More Snow.

There was a sprinkling of snow on the ground this morning and the road out of the valley had a lethal skim of black ice. Romas made a big fry up for breakfast. He is so excited by the freezer full of food that he keeps offering to cook for us. I will certainly take him up on the offer while the enthusiasm is still there.
We managed to drive out in the afternoon, the back road was a little icy and in the distance Exmoor was very white but once we were down in Barnstaple there was not a sign of snow or ice. We were going to get the tyre on Peter's car changed but there were so many cars in the garage he will try again tomorrow. The High Street was full of shoppers looking for those last minute presents. Hopefully I only need to make one more trip in for fresh food nearer to Christmas.

On our way home the sun was shining dramatically through the clouds

And most of the ice has gone from the road. Metcheck still has a severe weather warning but has changed the prediction of 12 hours of snow showers to only 3 hours of snow showers tomorrow morning. If the road is clear I'll be able to take Romas' old carpet to the dump and get a new one for him. He and Linas have cleared the nasty old carpet and are removing the Laura Ashley border and repairing the walls so that the room can have a coat of paint as well. Result!

Saturday 19 December 2009

Romas Finally Home.

We woke this morning to a fine dusting of snow on the ground. This disappeared during the day but the temperature has stayed low and I've spent the day indoors doing more tidying up.
There were some tiny patches of blue sky today but mostly it has been very grey with the occasional sleet and snow shower. I went to collect Romas this evening from the train station and the road at the the top is already becoming icy. He had a long journey due to various cancellations and had to stand all the way. He did have a seat reservation for the longest section but didn't have the heart to ask an old lady to move. His journey from Exeter was enlivened (not) by a large chav girl? with 4 kids and loud and colourful language. When we got home I could see that his hair has been put into many small plaits, an acceptable alternative to dreadlocks. Right now he is moving his stuff into a spare bedroom so we can get on with ripping out the horrible old carpet in his room and replacing it before Christmas - thank goodness. Peter is cooking up a big Chinese meal and then it's the finals of Strictly, though we can't get so excited after last week's results.