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.

Monday 30 April 2012

A Welcome Change.

The storm finally blew itself out in the night. The day started gloomy & grey but a lot warmer than the last few days. It was still raining a little in the morning so I pottered about getting things organised for packing. I also rang the council to complain about the parking ticket machine. When I got through to someone at the district council she told me that the ticket machines were the responsibility of the local parish council and gave me their phone number. When I phoned the parish council I was told the ticket machines were the responsibility of the district council! However a very nice lady said she would take the matter up as she also thought it wasn't right. We'll see what happens. I had a hectic afternoon in school trying to get all 26 children to write blurbs and contents pages for the books they have been making about the Solar System. Normally I have a couple of college students to help on a Monday afternoon but none of them turned up today so I certainly earned my wages this afternoon. It took me an hour after school to collate all the books as each child had written & drawn/painted/collaged 10 pages. Driving home at 6.00, after doing some shopping, it was good to be under blue skies once more. To the south the sky was fully overcast but in the other direction there were patches of bright blue with lots of fluffy clouds. It seems I had just chanced upon a corridor of good weather. The news was full of trees and power lines down and a number of flood warnings out across the country. We are due a bit more rain then hopefully it will get better towards the end of the week.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Very Windy.

We woke this morning to hear the wind roaring through the trees. It wasn't raining too heavily but it was not a day to be working outside. We thought we would go down to the beach for a breath of fresh air and maybe some spectacular waves. However we forgot that as the wind was blowing from the north-east ie from the land, the sea would be sheltered. When we got there the wind was icy and it had started to rain properly. In April you have to pay to park on the beach road at week-ends. The fee for up to 30 mins is 40p which we felt would be enough for us but the machine would not accept my money. On closer inspection although the half-hour fee is clearly marked on the machine the minimum the machine will accept is £1 (for an hour). It makes me really cross when things are mis-advertised so we didn't pay anything at all but stayed close by on the cliff and kept an eye out for a traffic warden. I shall be ringing the council tomorrow to complain because you shouldn't show a half hour fee if people can't pay it.

I haven't felt like doing too much this afternoon but after watching 'The Piano' the other day, which I found strange but powerful, I wanted to have a go at learning the theme tune. I found and printed out the sheet music but I fear it will take me a long time to learn it. I could sight read it through very slowly but I couldn't hear the tune so it all sounded dire. I then listened to it on YouTube which gave me the tune and I have been working on the first half page of the melody trying to get the 'memory' into my hands rather than in my head. Poor Peter will have the melody running through his dreams the number of times he has had to listen to it.

Listening to news this evening there were over 140 trees down across roads in Devon alone, and that's only the reported ones. Here it has just been a lot of leaves on the road.

Saturday 28 April 2012


The day has been cold, grey and windy so I have spent my time hiding in the kitchen doing housewifely things. While Peter was out on a marathon rowing session I first made some pasta (tagliatelle) inspired by a free magazine. To go with the pasta I made a basic tomato, onion and garlic sauce and after a quick search of the freezer I found some pork which I have sliced thinly and put in a marinade ready to fry and add to the sauce. I also picked a bowl of purple sprouting broccoli to cook with the sauce. And finally to satisfy my sweet tooth I have made some chocolate and caramel shortbread. That's quite enough cooking for the moment.

Peter had a double row as the ladies' crew needed an extra member for their session. They were right out in the middle of the river when they got stranded on a sand bank. All 6 of the rowers had to jump out to push the gig off the sand bank. There were a few cyclists on the Tarka trail who were most surprised to see people walking about in the middle of the wide river.

Friday 27 April 2012

Not So Much A Post But A Tweet.

It rained in the morning but it dried up by lunchtime. I spent the morning doing general housework and some sewing.

I finally got around to making myself this handy strap to carry my gortex jacket when I don't need to wear it. The ex-naval jacket is totally waterproof and brilliant for torrential downpours or braving the open sea but it is a bit bulky to carry especially as I tend to throw my worldly goods into an over the shoulder bag rather than a backpack. It is just a shoulder strap with 2 cross pieces that close using velcro. That way I can roll up my coat and sling it over my shoulder along with my bag, binoculars and camera. (I've just read this through and it sounds as if I need to carry the coat at all times but really it's just when I'm out walking in this changeable weather of ours.) The stair window is an excellent bird watching spot. Today I saw first the goldfinch (red face) having a bath in the stream and then he/she was joined by a greenfinch. I really should try and climb up over the oil tank and clean that window.
I had thought this was Mrs Goldfinch or a youngster but not according to my bird book. At least as far as I can tell.
Later in the afternoon I heard Jack yelling at Neville and when I went to bring in my washing there was only one gosling left with the parents. Shame.

I thought I had spotted a couple of swallows the other day. I went to do some weeding this afternoon and even if I hadn't seen them swooping in and out of the outbuildings their distinctive double chirrups would have alerted me to their presence. All 3 nests have been refurbished with fresh mud so things will be busy up there. I did a quick check to make sure there was no way for the cats to get up onto the rafters so hopefully the swallows will be safe.

Also heard yesterday was the cawing of young jackdaws, up in the loft! They must have pulled out some of the wire netting that Romas put up there or found another way in. We'll leave them up there now and I'll ask Romas to have another try at blocking all the gaps in the autumn.

Now the only summer visitors we are waiting for are the pipistrelle bats. They don't migrate but have different winter and summer roosts and our loft is home for them in the summer. I've given up hoping that the house martins will come and build their nests under the eaves as we haven't seen them for a number of years.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Bad Neville.

I can finally say that the spring cleaning of our bedroom and bathroom is DONE. Well, I might put another coat of gloss on the door in the summer and I still have to sand & varnish the window sill but that is it for the moment. Today I cleaned the windows, finished off all the awkward corners in the shower and polished the antique desk and chair with sweet smelling beeswax. This afternoon I walked over to Sarah's to ask if she and Jack would come over to feed the cats and hens when we are away. While we were having coffee in her kitchen she spotted these red deer stags on the other side of the valley. Even though the stags saw me, and Paul was chainsawing down below them they were relaxed enough to lie down for a while before going off again.
The red deer roam the moor and farmland that makes up Exmoor but this is about as far west as they come as there are no more wild or wooded areas between here and the coast.

The geese on the lake have babies but unfortunately as I walked past the lake Neville came running up with the body of one gosling in his mouth and there was another one lying dead nearby. Sarah was really cross as they had got one the other day and she had to conduct a funeral as Jack was so upset. Alice the stable girl told both the dogs off and Fred the dalmation lay shivering in his basket while Neville being a terrier ran around unconcerned. The weather is not too cold but fairly wet with no change forecast for the rest of the week.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.

Yesterday's skip diving got me thinking about how green/thrifty I am in my lifestyle. Having come from a very poor background and then chosen to be a stay-at-home mum I may have had a head start on all those people who are now having to cut back due to the current economic climate. I'm not too good on the reduce part being such a hoarder and always thinking that things might come in useful but I think we come out reasonably well on the other 2 parts of the recycling slogan. Looking around our home I would say that most of the things in it come under those categories. Right now I am going to try and work on using stockpiled food (I got into the habit when we all thought the milleniun bug was going to reduce the world to chaos) we have in the cupboards and rehoming other items that I don't need. Take the sitting room for example, very little was bought new. All the wooden furniture came from my mother's home and she in her turn had bought it all from second hand shops. The sofas came from eBay, the woodburner was bought secondhand, the floor lamp was handed on from friends and the exercise bike from a charity shop. My PC was handed down from Peter and the boys (I'm the bottom of the techno chain in this house), the PC table came from a charity shop and my piano bought from a lady at church. We did buy new wood to make the bookshelves and new fabric to make the curtains which leaves only a few new items; the TV but not the cupboard below, that came with our previous secondhand tv and we simply cut the back off to accommodate the new tv, books & LPs and the light fittings which were bought new as the house had been stripped bare before we bought it. Even Speedy could be considered secondhand, he came from Fred who had taken him in as a stray. We're happy with our re-used & recycled home and I don't think that we would change things even if we did have the money.

And the prize for correctly identifying yesterday's sheep, from the 60 British breeds, as Cheviot sheep goes to Elora.

Photo from the web.

I do think there are some rabbit genes in there somewhere.

Tuesday 24 April 2012


It was a bit chilly at the start of the day but the sun began to make an appearance and by the time I went to work in the afternoon it was sunny and reasonably warm. I did a bit of tidying up and last bits of painting this morning. Before work I went to the wood merchants to buy some wood for the windowsill so that I can finally finish off the job. I went in clutching my piece of paper with my drawing of the sill and its measurements only to be told that the widest wood they sold was 8 1/2" while I needed an 11" plank. Barnstaple recycling centre (the dump) was just around the corner so I thought I would go and see if there was anything in there. They have 2 big containers for people to throw wood into but you can only get to stuff on the top and most of it was mdf or laminated chipboard. Then I struck lucky and found a solid beech blockwood worktop. At 4ft x 2 1/2 ft and nearly 2" thick it was more than ample so I heaved it into the back of the car and drove off happily.

Looking out towards Exmoor.
Coming home from school the sun was still shining. I have seen a few lambs around but not many yet up here in the hills.. We don't even see that many sheep around these days. Fleeces are worthless and although lamb is expensive to buy in the supermarket I don't think the farmers get a good price.

I don't know what breed of sheep these were but some of them seem to have remarkably long ears.

Back home I wrestled the wood through the circular saw and got a fairly good fit. There were a few surface scratches on the wood so I shall, at some point, sand the whole top down and then revarnish it. But it has made a good solid windowsill which cost me nothing.

Monday 23 April 2012

Chilly Day.

It has been cold and wet all day long. Not nice at all. I painted another coat of gloss on our bedroom door and this time I put on my reading glasses to make sure I got a good finish. That was a bit of an eye opener, literally. With my improved vision I could see that there were a lot of fibres and bits in each brush stroke. As I had started the job I carried on, after changing my brush - but no better. I tried to take off any 'bits' but I may have to give the door a rub down and a final coat from a fresh can of paint some time in the near future. The gloss I have got left can be used for painting outdoor woodwork.As the date for our holiday draws closer I am enjoying the planning stage. Soon I shall start making lists which I find very satisfying. Since we are limited to 2 bags each I am carefully planning the clothing I need to take. It would be lovely if we had a heat wave and all I needed were shorts, t-shirts, sun hat & sun screen but we are far more likely to have wet weather with occasional sun. I am planning a set of clothes that I can wear all at once in the worst weather and remove a layer at a time if the weather improves. To make a start I decided to get out our big, and I mean really big, holdalls to see which ones would be the best for the tent etc. I nearly went into a state of panic when I couldn't find the large army kit bag I was planning to use. I was almost at the stage of firing off e-mails to the boys demanding an immediate return of the bag when I found it at the back of an airing cupboard, where I had put it out of the boys' sight. These bags are so big you can fit a person inside or in Romas' case all the stands for a double drum kit. The folding camping chairs are still quite bulky but after many years of camping (with the Sealed Knot) I know the value of having a proper chair to sit on especially now we are both a bit creaky. Still think of all the room I am saving by having a collapsible kettle!

Sunday 22 April 2012

Dinning Out.

Peter and I gave ourselves the day off today and went out for a carvery lunch at the Blackmoor Gate, aka Station Inn. Peter was out rowing at 7.00 so he did have an early start but I had a lazy morning. I did get up to feed the hens and tidy the kitchen but then I went back to bed. As I am only comfortable lying flat on my back, as opposed to sitting up, my tendency is to fall asleep again but Peter woke me when he came home. It had been quite cold out on the water but they missed the rain which came down in time for the second crew's row. We had a gargantuan lunch at the Station Inn though the roast beef was not quite as tender as usual. We had roast beef (Peter had pork as well) along with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding (I pass on that), carrots, cauliflower and creamed swede. The vegetables are so tasty I would be happy with a plate of veg smothered in gravy. My eyes looked eagerly at some of the ice cream/creamy desserts going to other diners but I knew there was no way I could manage one after a roast dinner. By the time we had finished it had stopped raining once more so we went for stroll on Trentishoe Common, where Exmoor meets the sea.
Everything is looking a bit bare because the heathers are all summer flowering but it was good to be out in the open. It was very windy and we didn't walk too far because all that work on the rayburn has been bad for Peter's knees. We passed a group of older walkers who as well as proper walking clothes, were carrying rolled up golf umbrellas. Probably not a good idea because if they did try to use them they would have been flying off the cliff like a set of Mary Poppins.

The closest bay is Woody Bay, location of Hunters' Inn mentioned in Lorna Doone.

PS Elwen came home today minus one fang, (are they still canines even in cats?), as far as I can tell the whole tooth is missing. Knowing Elwen it is probably embedded in a rat. Though the smallest of our cats she is a fearsome hunter sometimes bringing home rats that are half her size.
PPS Trentishoe is pronounced Trent - tis- hoe.

PPS The rayburn is running much better now but Peter is still not happy with it so he is going to call in the expert. Thank goodness.

Saturday 21 April 2012

No Rain.

The expected rain did not arrive but it has been a blustery day. My plan was to make a windowsill for our bathroom. I had removed the tiles years ago but never got around to replacing them with wood. Unfortunately once I had cleaned up the window frame and made a paper template I couldn't find a piece of wood in our wood shed that was long enough to make a new sill from. So I can't finish that job yet until I buy some wood. As it was dry I spent the rest of the afternoon outside working in the scree garden digging out some of the runners of one of the ornamental grasses that was spreading too far. Peter has been battling with the rayburn again, aparently this particular model is notorious for being difficult to work on. Peter managed to speak to a certified rayburn engineer who gave him a few useful hints and if this latest attemt doesn't work we shall call this chap out. It's still quite cold so tonight we have a wood fire burning so we can watch a film in comfort.

Friday 20 April 2012

I Need Sun.

It's amazing how a little sunshine can lift my spirits. I came home from school feeling quite exhausted. It hadn't been a particularily hard day but instead of teaching for 2 afternoons this week I had taught for 3 afternoons and all day today. On the way home the clouds were gathering once more and it felt quite cold. The house too was cold and the downstairs rooms had lost the sun. I sat down to upload photos but I wasn't really happy with the cloudscapes I had taken so I decided to take a quick walk around the garden as I can usually find something new to photograph. By the time I was up at the scree garden the sun had reappeared and I could feel it warming me up. I took some pictures and by then I was feeling energetic enough to do some leaf and moss clearing amongst the stones. The robin and another small bird were singing loudly, I felt as if the warmth had woken me up and I only stopped when my back starting stinging. It's a shame we have a dire forecast for the rest of the week-end. (Heavy rain, thunderstorms etc.)
Peter says when he arrived at work this morning the car park was a sheet of hailstones.

Thursday 19 April 2012

A Rushed Morning.

I was quietly planning my day this morning when the phone rang - Could I come into work this afternoon? I never turn down the chance to work so I had to get on with my jobs a little faster this morning. I hadn't made up my mind what to do about the inside of my built-in wardrobe but in the end, as I knew I would, not only did I wipe everything down but it all got painted as well. I then painted the window sills and the radiator in the bathroom. There was just time to rake up the gravel that had been washed down the drive by the recent heavy rain and fetch more gravel from the stream. Somehow there never seems to be the same amount when I rake it back up and leaving ruts only accelerates the problem the next time it rains heavily. I had to laugh at myself, there I was carting gravel, peasant fashion, in a bucket inside a wheelbarrow because that's as much as I can manage while next door Paul is all mechanical with his JCB digging something out followed by a chainsaw session. I did cut back some hazel branches that were overhanging the stream but my tools were a bow saw and some secateurs. Then it was off to work for an afternoon of the children trying to draw each other's portraits.

Wednesday 18 April 2012


For me this is the true sign of spring. The first unfurling of the beech leaves. A couple of branches in the hedge have started to open their delicious lime green flags. The hawthorn trees have been greening up over the last 2 weeks but the countryside remains brown and dull until all the beech trees and hedges are clothed in green. I noticed that the trees in town have already put out their leaves but up here in the hills it is usually around the 1st May that the transformation happens.The weather today has been un-springlike, heavy showers and strong winds for most of the time. This morning I only had time to paint the cupboard that I had washed down before leaving early for a doctor's appointment. My regular GP is on sabbatical ( holiday?), so I saw a locum. I only threw one ailment at her, my sinuses have been playing up since last Sept, constant drippy nose & headaches and I was getting fed up. My GP had given me a spray but it wasn't very effective. This doctor showed me how to use it for best effect and also gave me a double dose of anti-histamines. I must say I do agree that it sounds more like a reaction rather than an infection and I had tried the anti-histamines but not enough & for long enough.

Then it was straight to school for a lunchtime staff meeting followed by teaching followed by a training session. That makes it a long afternoon. Peter has come home from work and gone out again for more rowing. At least the rain has eased up though I should think there will be some waves and strong winds to row against. I shall just sit here and watch the trees swaying in the wind.

Tuesday 17 April 2012


It has been very blustery today. It rained heavily in the night and all morning the wind was howling and whistling outside. When I got to school it was warm and sunny and many of the children playing on our sheltered south facing main playground, had taken off their sweatshirts. Then suddenly the rain came down once again. My children were ready to go out for a run around by the time it came to the afternoon playtime so even though it had started to rain I took them to join another class outside. Instead of having 'playground duties' each teacher decides when and if to take their class outside. By the time we walked round to the front playground the rain had turned to hail which fell, stopped, fell again, then heavier and so on. There are plenty of shelters in the playground but some children chose to stand out in the hail and get soaked. Well it was nearly hometime. Coming home the weather was still a mixture of sun and showers. In the morning I had been able to do more painting in our bedroom and dismantle and wipe down another cupboard. Once I got home after work I painted the back of the cupboard with anti-mould paint and replaced the rails and wardrobe curtains. This is a job that seems to go on and on. Now I'm wondering if I will need to paint a second coat on the room door and also if I am going to paint inside the top cupboards.

Monday 16 April 2012

A Busy Day.

It was an early start for us as Peter was back to work. School doesn't start until tomorrow but I still got up fairly early so that I could get on with my painting. I had a good session and painted the door, door frame, skirting board, wardrobe tops and a second coat on the cupboards. I would never be able to make a career as a decorator but it will do for us. All day I have been really careful going through our doorway but I still managed to brush against the frame and get gloss paint on my second favourite fluffy fleece. I cleaned it up with some white spirits and then I discovered that 2 sections of the door frame had fringes of brown fibres from the fleece. I've cleaned those all off, it was a good thing I noticed them before the paint had dried. It was sunny in the morning, clouding over more in the afternoon but as far as I'm concerned any day it doesn't rain is a good day. Many farmers in the country wouldn't agree with me as at least half the country has now been officially declared as having a drought. Apparently we have had significantly low rainfall for the last 2 years and rivers & reservoirs are low. Can't say that I've noticed. They keep telling us we will have a lot of rain this week so before I settled down to read a book outside I did some nettle clearing in the chickens' run and burnt up the many twigs and small bits of wood that had accumulated in there.
Apart from the constant birdsong I am sometimes entertained by listening to Jack as he roams the fields next door. This morning he was laughing merrily, in the way that only young children do and from his shouts I gathered that Neville had decided to go for a swim in the lake and then was refusing to come back from the tiny island in the middle of the lake. I have noticed that since the arrival of the crocodile there is only 1 Canada goose in residence. Perhaps the others have left due to an ancestral memory of crocs/alligators as predators.
The rayburn is currently holding its own. The temperature is not as high as we would expect but Peter is going to leave it for the time being and he has found out where to get a certified rayburn engineer if we do need someone. The last man we had in bent one of the pipes by forcing it into position which Peter is still very cross about but of course he didn't discover this until the next time he had to service it.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Chillin' In The Sun.

It has been another bright day, much nicer than yesterday. I had planned to paint some more of the wardrobe but lying in bed I noticed a few holes in the woodwork. So instead I filled those holes and then cleaned and filled all the gaps/dents in the door and frame.
Peter went off to row in the middle of the day so we didn't go out for our usual walk. By the time I was ready to go outside to relax and read the clouds had started to roll in and at times it was quite chilly. I compromised by dressing for both the cold and the sun, bare legs, flip-flops and a sun hat teamed with 2 fleeces and a body warmer. This unusual combination did the trick and I was able to enjoy the feel of the sun on my legs without getting cold. Although I was having an afternoon off I couldn't resist doing some weeding up in the scree garden, mainly of tree seedlings that were springing up all over the place. I'm going to try lots of cuttings directly into the veg plot but the forecast still says there is a possibility of frost so it is a little too early to do that.

Peter's battle with the rayburn continues, this is the longest it has ever taken but although it was alight and burning the temperature wasn't going up because somehow the burner wasn't totally level and the oil wasn't getting to all the wicks. What a stupid antiquated piece of junk it is. Actually this is a modern model but is known to be one of the hardest to maintain. (I've just been called in to look at the small spirit level balanced on top of the burner cage which shows it is not level. This is to prove that my suggestion to use a longer spirit level was useless. Oops.)

Saturday 14 April 2012

A Difficult Day.

It's been a bit of a frustrating day today. Peter turned the rayburn off yet again to reset everything but it is still not running properly. He thinks the problem is with the oil valve which regulates the flow of the oil into the feeder tube and then into the burner cage. The oil valve is incredibly temperamental and only needs the slightest touch to cause it to play up. If it is still no go by tomorrow then we will have to get an expert in but that could be a bill of hundreds. Ouch!

As part of my decorating I thought I should spruce up the cupboards/shelves that are part of our built in wardrobes. So today I assigned myself what I thought was the simple task of wiping down the shelves and painting the back of the cupboard. Hah! First everything had to come off the shelves - I wish I had the strength to dispose of most of the 'stuff' I have accumulated over the years. I mean do I really need to keep the wooden hairbrush I took to boarding school when I was 6? Some things have memories, others are in the 'might be useful one day' category and others are just things I like. The top 2 shelves where I keep my jewellery and where the kettle and morning tea making things are kept do get cleaned fairly regularly but the lower shelves which only house closed storage boxes seem to have been a bit neglected. So there was plenty of scrubbing to do, mostly of tea drip stains. Why are men so messy? Then I discovered I could take out the shelves so next the cupboard was half dismantled and every corner scrubbed to a pristine state. I painted the back wall with emulsion then it seemed silly not to paint the front frame with white gloss paint. Only then did I decide that I should paint all the internal woodwork as well. This involved leaning carefully past the bits I had already painted and trying not to get gloss paint on me. I don't think I organised myself too well today.
Outside it has been dry but cold so there was no major temptation to escape to the garden.

Friday 13 April 2012

Living The Dream.

As I stood at the kitchen sink this morning doing the washing up and gazing out of the window I thought of the pleasure I was getting from the view. In front of me was our garden stretching up to the fields. Speedy was meandering up the track until his attention, and mine was caught by one of the ponies in the field having a good roll. Such a change from the 25 years I spent as a city dweller always dreaming of the day I might return to living in the country or by the sea. I lived in central London and my world was bounded by buildings and noise, dirt and traffic. Once I was married I lived an alternative lifestyle, riding a bicycle, working on city farms, being involved in community gardens and riding & looking after people's horses but always there was the need to blot out the surrounding urban environment. Once we had children I gave up most of these activities and concentrated on the children and the garden and looked forward to the 3 weeks we would spend in a chalet set in the sand dunes by the sea. Almost 20 years ago we had the chance to move here where occasional traffic noises drift across the fields from a mile or so away and every view from the windows is of garden, fields and trees. And what a joy it is to stroll up the garden and then up the hill to talk to the ponies and take in the wonderful views. That is what I did this evening after a day spent painting - the back wall of one of the wardrobes and the cupboard doors, and mowing all the grass as we are due for some colder and wetter weather. Peter had to reset the burner again in the rayburn but finally it is burning well and the temperature gauge is creeping up.
By the time I got up to the road the first drops of rain were falling but it was only very light rain and I didn't get too wet by the time I had walked home.

Thursday 12 April 2012

A Working Day.

We've had much the same weather again today. Peter spent the day battling with the rayburn. Cleaning it out means dismantling all the parts of the oil burner and scraping off/out the solidified carbon that stops the oil flowing properly. He always ends up by gouging bits out of his hands and the whole process is not good for the joints in his hands. He looks forward to the day we have a 'normal' cooker which doesn't require this kind of maintenance. I painted another wall in the bedroom, twice, and painted the frame of a long mirror with white gloss paint. That gloss paint is a nuisance as it takes so long to even get to touch dry and as someone on a forum mentioned it can take weeks to harden off completely. Not very convenient when you are trying to live in a room at the same time. In the afternoon I gave in to a headache, took some tablets and sat reading in the garden. Because Peter was having difficulty getting the oil valve to flow properly I cooked pasta with cheese sauce on the hot plate served with some sprouting broccoli from the garden.

And now for some more photos from yesterday.....

PS The bleach and bicarb was not a magic solution to cleaning the grout between the bathroom tiles. The best results have been from lots of elbow grease applied with an old toothbrush.

Wednesday 11 April 2012


We woke to sun and quiet as we had forgotten that the electricity supply was going to be turned off (for repairs) today. Luckily that doesn't affect the rayburn so we still had hot water and could cook. Peter did have to delay his plan to clean out the rayburn as the hoover is essential for this job. Instead he finally cut down the small tree that was hanging too low over the stream. He even brought it down without landing on any of the clumps of newly emerging astilbes in the bog garden. It is surprising how much more open the area looks now even though it was only a few big branches.Once we had cleared away all the wood we moved our bed and I painted another wall in our bedroom. The weather was looking quite good, warm in the sun but icy cold when the many clouds were blown across in front of the sun. We headed down for another beach walk at Coombesgate and found when we got there almost unbroken blue skies. That's the drawback of living inland, we get the worst of the cloud cover.
There were many people at the beach taking advantage of the good weather so we turned (from this view south along Woolacombe towards Putsborough) and explored the rocks at the north end of the beach.

We noticed that the sand looked a bit higher and everything was generally messier after Monday's severe weather. It was very pleasant walking along and listening to the roar of the waves.

We ended our walk by sitting on a bench high on the cliff, looking out to Lundy and watching the waves. There were a few surfers but the waves weren't very good. Fine for the children out body boarding but not enough power in the waves to surf. Most of the surfers gave up after a while apart from 2 who just sat out at the back of the waves waiting for them to pick up. I used to spend hours sitting up on the cliff at Puts while Romas waited in the water and occasionally caught a good wave.

Reluctantly we left the setting sun and came home. Peter cooked some lamb steaks on the barbecue while I painted the skirting board of the wall behind our bed so that we wouldn't have to move the bed again.

The evening sun shone around the back of the house on to the newly cut logs. As the tree was on Paul's land they do belong to him. Next time I see him I shall mention that we have stacked them and hopefully he will say we can take them as he has thinned out a number of trees along one of the fields and has a lot of wood stacked there already.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

April Showers.

It has been a day of sunshine and April showers. I woke this morning to sun streaming through the window and over the field was a bright rainbow. (It had started to fade by the time I grabbed my camera and ran outside.)

In the morning I met a friend in town for coffee and cheesecake and a good chat. I also bought the magnolia paint I needed for the bedroom walls. Being the time of year when everyone has the urge to decorate there are all sorts of offers and B&Q were selling all paints on a 3 for 2 offer. So I took a chance and grabbed 2 more containers of paint for the spare bedrooms I intend to decorate next. When I got home I found I had managed to match the colours almost exactly.

I hung the second bathroom curtain up on the main washing line then snatched it back in again when we had a small shower. It has now been ironed almost dry and is finishing off over the rayburn. Then I spread out dust sheets in our bedroom and painted 1 wall and some extra bits. I couldn't carry on because I need the small paint spots on the dust sheets to dry before I cover up things on the other side of the room. I also mixed up some bicarb and thick bleach and brushed it on to some of the grout in the bathroom. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this cleaning method works.
Off now to put the bedroom to rights.