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 May 2012

Here Comes The Rain.

The rain returned this afternoon just as the children were going home. We are all keeping our fingers crossed for a dry tomorrow because having a Jubilee Pageant and picnic with 2 schools crammed into one hall will not be a lot of fun. I had another full teaching day. I organised a number of activities for my class to do and we were all surprised how the time flew by and it was suddenly lunchtime. Things went well because I had 2 teaching assistants so each activity had adult support. We had some excellent pictures drawn to complete half a line drawing of the Queen because the children kept being encouraged to check that their picture matched the printed side.
When I got home I popped outside to take a few rainy photos when something brown scuttled along a nearby flower bed. Then I saw it was not a rodent but a thrush and it had a slug. Normally this would have good news but I had to put down some slug pellets to protect the agapanthus I bought in the Scillies and the slug could have been toxic. When I tried to chase it off the bird did not fly away but ran around and eventually into a small conifer. I am wondering if it was a youngish bird because it did not look injured. I spent a while out in the rain trying to catch it so I could at least take it up to the fields away from my evil cats but so far have had no luck.

Wednesday 30 May 2012


It has been much greyer today and when we had the whole school out on the junior school's field for a rehearsal of our Jubilee pageant we felt some drops of rain but luckily that was all.
It has been one of those teaching days where everything was quite flexible as we didn't know how long the rehearsal (in the morning) and the visit to the junior school (in the afternoon) would take so although I had planned other activities for the 2 classes we let things flow rather than following our usual tight schedule. Things do get more relaxed at this time of the year especially once the Year 2 children have completed their SATs tests for literacy and numeracy. Those will be over in a few weeks time and we can get on with the fun of an arts week and then the end of year events such as sports day and hopefully a whole school day at the beach. I took my class over to the junior school in the afternoon to visit the Year 3 classes they will be in after the summer. Although they do not yet know who their teachers will be or which of the 2 classes they will be in (we mix up the children at this point), it is good for them to visit for an hour and read books with the older children. It was especially nice for me as half of the class I was in were my last year's children. They sometimes wave at me across the playground but I don't get much chance to have a chat with them. Some seem almost the same while others have grown emotionally, physically and academically. Next time the whole school will be moving up a class for the afternoon so I will stay behind to meet next year's Year 2s who I teach regularly anyway.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Swimming Day.

The afternoon brightened up to yet another scorcher. My teaching day was quite relaxed. Tuesday mornings we go to the Leisure Centre swimming pool where apart from some crowd control my main task is to keep an eye on the beginner swimmers when their instructor's attention is on just a few of them. That was with the Year 1 class and in the afternoon I moved to the Year 2 class who after the phonics lesson, were adding some gold finishing touches to the Jubilee mugs they have been decorating.Before leaving school I made and printed off some booklets so that the children can write up some poems they have been working on. Then it was home as quickly as possible to enjoy the afternoon sun once I had washed my hair. I was still sitting in the last patch of sun when Peter came home at 7.00.

Monday 28 May 2012

Garden Colours.

The weather has been much the same as yesterday, fairly warm but overcast. I've been teaching all day and will be teaching for the whole week but next week is our half-term holiday so I can catch up on house and garden work then. There are a lot of white flowers in the garden at the moment. May blossom on the trees, snow-in-summer, white bluebells, roses and a white hardy geranium.
The London Pride looks almost white with the fluff of trapped willow seeds.

I am quite particular about the colour palette in the different parts of the garden and for the most part it is cool mauves, pinks and white though as usual I have chosen the most vibrant shades for the hanging baskets by the front door.

I am waiting to see if the flag iris will throw up some white flowers again. I am going to try and be a bit more organised this year and label some of the plants, especially the hardy geraniums because I am beginning to forget what colour some of them are.

It is so nice to have a big window right by my PC. Right now I, and the cats, are watching a pair of blackbirds on the back lawn and listening to a bird tweeting in the trees.

I've just visited this blog http://abritintn.blogspot.com/ on a recommendation from a fellow blogger and it is well worth a visit for garden beauty, poetry, music and peacefulness.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Not So Hot.

It was 15 degrees cooler today and fairly overcast. We had wondered if we were going to have thunderstorms but apart from a few drops of rain in the afternoon it has stayed dry. We took ourselves off for a walk around Morte Point. On our way out we saw a couple of heifers in one of the pony fields. Two of the stable girls had seen them too and by the time we got home they had gone, presumably chased back to where they came from. Originally we had planned to go down the little wooded valley the leads to Bennet's Mouth but now that it is the holiday season there is no parking allowed at all on the lighthouse road. The sheep are back out with fat lambs in tow. (Fat lamb is a farming term for these chunky sized chaps.)
Everywhere we looked there were sheep sprawled on the hillside enjoying the warmth. Yesterday must have been uncomfortable for them as it is too early in the year for shearing. Halfway through our walk I took off my body warmer and used my handy coat strap to carry it rolled up with the strap slung over my shoulders. I was wondering if I should patent my little invention but then there are probably not many people like me who hate being too hot but don't want to carry a big backpack or a coat in their arms. There were a fair number of people about especially in the village. We Brits are quite reserved and normally if you pass someone on the path a smile and a brief hello suffice. Today it was refreshing to be greeted by a young (20s) girl who struck up a conversation asking us about dolphins and whales, (very rare), and saying how beautiful it was. I do sometimes chat to people but it would be so nice if that wasn't seen as something unusual.

Every now and then the sun made an effort to shine but I fear that the hot spell is over for the time being. I did some gentle gardening in the afternoon and Peter prepared another barbecue, pork this time, which for a change we ate down by the back lawn.

PS The Russian grannies came second.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Even Hotter.

It has been even hotter today, 32C this afternoon. Luckily the cooling breeze has made life comfortable and I have managed to spend most of the day outside. There was a certain amount of sitting and reading but I also cut all the grass and weeded & swept the front paved area. It was the perfect day to put the tent up in the garden and give it a good spray with waterproofing stuff. This way it will be in good condition whatever we decide to do with it.
Peter was off rowing in the morning but this afternoon he prepared one of his special marinades and we had tasty lamb chops cooked on the barbecue with salad and new potatoes. This evening we are watching the Eurovision Song Contest (this is the voting interlude). It's a family tradition to watch this crazy contest with the pithy commentary and see if the usual voting alliances happen. We want the Russian grannies to win!

Friday 25 May 2012

Melting Hot.

It was an even hotter day today. We were melting at school but it was still delicious to be so warm especially as there was a breeze blowing. I walked into town at lunchtime so that I could get some books from the library and buy some oat bran from the health food shop where it is half the price of the supermarket packets. With the good weather comes grass cutting time as the farmers cut and transport great loads of grass to be made into silage. There is not much haymaking here because the weather is too unpredictable but the air is sweet with the smell of cut grass, a nice change from muck spreading.
The roadside verges are filled with flowers, they make my journey to work so enjoyable. My favourite is the white froth of the cow parsley, such a prosaic name- Queen Anne's Lace sounds so much prettier.

The path from town from school runs along the top of a high bank by a loop of a tidal stream that skirts a small park. Sometimes, when the tide is low, you can see big sea fish in there with their fins breaking the water but today there were just some ducks including this mother and her ducklings.

After work I drove over to the other side of town to buy plants for my hanging baskets. I had to go to 2 places to get the right colours of surfinias and at B&Q there was a blackbird sitting on a nest on one of the outside plant racks. I did try to get a photo but she didn't show up in the pictures and there was a sign asking people not to disturb her. I remember the same thing happening at BJ's Garden Centre a couple of years ago. When I got home I sat outside for a while recovering from my shopping expedition and then I got all the hanging baskets planted up. Once again I have surfinias and trailing lobelia in pink, purple and white and I am trying some trailing verbena as well. I did grow some trailing lobelia from seed but the cost of the seed was the same as buying well established plants so unless I can get cheaper seeds I shan't bother again.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Summer Snow.

We have been building up to what feels like summer. This afternoon, 4.00, it was 26C in the sun and a balmy 21C in the shade. Those are my perfect temperatures. But finally, at my advanced age, I have learnt that in this country it is just an illusion. By next week we will probably be back to wet and grey. I have to steel myself against the memories of the last 2 Augusts which were also wet, grey and miserable. So I made sure that my morning at home was spent working outside and once I came home from an afternoon of teaching I sat outside with a cup of tea and a book. A quick trip inside to wash my hair and then back out into the warmth to dry my hair and finally finish off with more weeding. The willow trees are shedding their fluffy seeds which are floating and dancing through the air like a magical snowstorm. It's the sort of thing I never experienced in all those years of living in London so it still enchants me and makes me glad we live here. The warm weather has made the garden flourish. The wisteria and the climbing roses on the front of the house are flowering and the flower beds are full of self seeded aquilegias.

Wednesday 23 May 2012


...for the interruption to the daily blog. This was courtesy of BT, our Internet provider. Peter spent Sunday on the phone to them (mostly in India) to try and get an improvement on our fantastic speed of 125KB with the result that we got cut off altogether. Many more phone calls later he spoke to someone in the UK who said there had been a problem in our area, then surprise, surprise our Home Hub was now no longer working. Nothing to do with them of course so we would have to pay for a new one. Funny how that happened just when they started working on the local server. Luckily we did have a spare which is now up and running but we are looking into getting a satellite connection. Anyway .. Monday I went to Exeter to see my consultant again. I had gone with high hopes that I would get an actual date for my operation but it's only a promise for the end of July. I won't hold my breath but at least I have signed the consent forms. The private hospital wasn't as swish as I thought it would be but at least there was a (free) good quality coffee machine in the waiting room. I combined my visit with some shopping and ate my lunch on the cathedral green which until recently had been the site of a anti- big business protest camp. The weather was warm and sunny but with a cooling breeze. As I sat there the general hum of people chatting and a few children playing sounded just like being on the beach. Especially as there was not a single electronic sound, no radios etc. I find it so awful when some one plays a radio on the beach, it sounds so intrusive though conversely it has been magical when someone plays a guitar on the beach. Am I an old fuddy duddy?
This little park outside the city wall, the red structure behind the trees, has been closed uo to now for refurishment so as it is now open I walked in and up to the war memorial. After buying a couple of tops for work and having a splurge in the pound shop I took an earlier train back to Barnstaple. The train was full up including a group of older ladies. They were fun to listen to with their strong North Devon accents and lively humour. One got chatting to a young girl sitting opposite her and it turned out the girl was going on holiday to the same town in Tunisia that the older lady had been to recently and she told her all about her parascending behind a speedboat adventure. Another answered her phone by telling the caller twice that she was on the bus before realising she was actually on the train. That made us all laugh.
I am working a lot at the moment to cover for a younger member of staff who has hurt her back but it will soon be half-term. Here's hoping that the Internet stays up and running.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Last Sunday

The weather has been quite nice today. Peter's knee was squishy in the morning which is a sign that he needs to rest it so no rowing or walk today. Instead we enjoyed the sun at home.I woke this morning with a sinus headache, yet again, but instead of lying in bed and suffering. (Only knock out tablets seem to have much effect.) I got up and steamed my head before using the spray my GP has given me. As I was up I put some washing in the machine, fed the hens, had a walk around the garden, got distracted and did more weeding, then listened to The Archers and hey presto I had forgotten about my headache. Then I got dressed!

I got a lot of outside work done today. I tackled the weeds that have appeared on the rocky bank including digging out most of the bracken that had escaped my previous attacks. There are a few left to remove, including the one sticking out of some geraniums right in the middle of the picture, but that bank is nearly under control. It is quite steep and it gets difficult to spot the weeds when the geraniums are in their summer growth and covered with pink, purple & blue flowers. Next I got all the grass cut. Peter was unable to do it, as promised, because of his knee but instead he marinaded and barbecued some belly pork served with various salads.

Saturday 19 May 2012


I have just got home from the annual Nightwalk in aid of our local hospice and the Macmillan nurses. This year as well as the long routes from Torrington and Bideford to Barnstaple along the Tarka Trail they also offered the option of walking along the beach at Saunton Sands. I was really pleased when my friends from school all said they would prefer to walk along the beach. Also we decided to do the 5 mile walk though there was the option to walk 10 miles. Since I have had to stop taking anti-inflammatories my knees have been a lot worse and I thought that 10 miles would have been a bit much for me. I got there after 7.00 and was already regretting my decision not to bring my big camera, it usually goes everywhere with me but I thought we had too much cloud cover for a good sunset and only took my pocket Nikon.

It was still quite light when we set off having been issued with wrist labels, a banana and a bottle of water.

That's Paula's mum in the bright pink wig. I'm not sure why everyone is laughing at that point but there was plenty of laughter along the way.

It was a lovely 2 1/2 miles along the beach and then we turned and walked back. The setting sun turned the wet sand pink and we kept stopping to take photos and jump on sea urchin shells which had been washed up.

On our return to the car park the path was lined with candle lanterns. Earlier as we had been walking along the beach one of the marshals sent up one of those paper balloons with a light inside.

It didn't get dark until the very end of our walk so all our glow stick adornments didn't show up that well. Janet did best with some battery operated Christmas lights though my flashing shoe laces looked quite good once it was dark. At the end of the walk, once we had given in our numbers, we were given a certificate and a pen and then a cup of coffee and a bacon roll. A better end than last year when the heavens opened and we got soaked. I took the precaution of putting plasters on some of my toes as my feet are rather wide and used to being in wellies, crocs or flip flops but I have still got a big blister all down the side of my big toe because I decided to wear a pair of old trainers instead of my walking boots. I think I am going to have to try and find somewhere that does wide fitting trainers because I either have to have slightly cramped toes or trainers that are far to long for me. I LOVE CROCS.

Friday 18 May 2012

Golden Time

I had the chance for another lie-in this morning as I wasn't working till the afternoon. It has been dry today but not sunny so I did some assessments for one of my classes. I'm so glad that I have very little 'paperwork' to do. Teachers can and do work many hours in the evenings keeping up with all the extra work required of them. Friday afternoons at school are quite relaxed and I only had 9 children to work with on a specific painting task. Being me I got out lots more paints for 'Golden Time' and there were only 2 instructions, write your name and don't make a mess. The children loved having a chance to do some free painting. The warm weather has brought out more flowers in the garden. I only wish that the aquilegias hadn't all reverted to pink.
The first azelea flowers on the yellow bushes have opened. I look forward to smelling their heady scent when I go up to feed the chickens. Also by the chicken's run the green fruit have appeared on the redcurrant bushes. I might net them this year so that I have a chance to eat them before the birds get to them.


Thursday 17 May 2012

A Quiet Day.

It's so good to have all the trees green again even if the sun isn't shining that much today. I've had a whole day at home which has given me time to take things nice and easy. I have spent the day quietly cleaning the kitchen and generally tidying up. The only outside job I've done was to put some string around canes supporting some of the floppier hardy geraniums but I have spent time sitting outside and enjoying the warm breeze before the gentle rain started.


Wednesday 16 May 2012

IOS Birds.

Finally, puffins! For 2 years we had looked for them in vain on Lundy but at last we got to see some when we went out on a boat to Annet. They only come ashore between May and August and once on shore they are hidden in their burrows so even when they are there it is hard to see them.

The special thing about the birds in the IOS was not so much the variety of species but the numbers of birds and their tameness.

The camp followers tended to be blackbirds, thrushes and sparrows while in the evenings we heard cuckoos, wood pigeons and collared doves. The dawn chorus was pretty loud too!

Only a common sparrow but I like the way he is posing on this impressive flower spike.

Again just another sparrow but look at the flowers around him.

This golden pheasant in the gardens on Tresco positively glowed in the sunlight.

And this was the bold chap who shared my lunch and even jumped on my knee.

I had a very good teaching day in school but it was just my luck that our visitor and his entourage came into the classroom late in the morning. All the children had worked hard on information writing as the outcome for a literacy teaching sequence but we had just put all their work away and were about to call some children for individual reading. It must have looked as if I wasn't doing anything with the children. I couldn't even go over and say hello because I had to deal with a crying child who had sore eyes. I expect that will all add to my boss' views on my lack of ability. At least the weather has been lovely today. Everyone was feeling tense today so at lunchtime I walked up to the High Street to buy some seeds and peanuts for my bird feeders. I haven't been to the High Street for a little while and a friend found me looking very bemused trying to work out where Evans had gone (I sometimes buy wide fitting shoes there). I'll have to look in the branch in Exeter when I go up on Monday.

Tuesday 15 May 2012


I can't say, Now for the rest of Tresco, because we only walked a small portion of the coast but what we saw was utterly beautiful. No wonder it is the sea side getaway for the rich. The one shop is known for its excessively high prices, even by island standards. There is a smart hotel and many expensive holiday homes for rent and of course its own heliport. We arrived on the boat from St Mary's just over a mile away in the background.
Yes, the sea really was that colour. It's very shallow over the drowned lands and at low tide you can walk between some of the islands. There are good, wide concrete paths around Tresco used by tractors pulling big trailers with seats in to transport the helicopter passengers to and from their holiday accommodation. The signposts had, not distances but walking times marked on them.

Looking across the water we could see the island of Bryher. While we were in the gardens I overheard a guide talking about the local schools. There is a primary school on Tresco with about 25 children (4-10yrs) from Tresco and Bryher. When they are 11 they move to the secondary school on St Mary's and although it is only a short distance away they have to stay as boarders on St Mary's during the week. For college they then go over to the mainland.

As we walked round the rain kept threatening and not long after we had a full blown thunderstorm. We sheltered from the storm and then went to the local pub for a coffee.

Half an hour later the storm had blown over and the sun was out in full force.

We had landed at a jetty close to the gardens but our return trip was from New Grimsby. The pub we called in at was the building in the middle with the white walls. Nearly all of the other houses were holiday cottages. I would love to return and fully explore all the beaches of this remote island.

I have been at school for the whole day again. I took one class swimming in the morning and in the afternoon I moved to a Year 2 class. I stayed very late in school putting up a display as we have some big wig coming to have a look around. He'll probably only stick his head in the door for 5 mins and be gone again.

Monday 14 May 2012

The Abbey Gardens, Tresco.

When Peter first suggested going to The Scilly Isles I immediately said that I must visit the gardens on Tresco. The IOS have a unique climate in that although they are lashed by Atlantic storms, (one of our group spoke of watching storm waves breaking over the harbour wall and the 2 storey Mermaid pub to knock the police landrover over), they rarely have frosts due to sitting in the Gulf Stream. Goodness knows what will happen with global warming because the Gulf Stream is already beginning to make its predicted move and if it leaves altogether the IOS and the UK will be very much colder. Peter and I had both taken extra time off work so we were able to spend the whole of Monday on Tresco. We had thought about doing a 3 islands in one day trip but I think I would have cried if I had got there and only had an hour to explore these wonderful gardens.
The gardens were full of enormous succulents and many tender plants in flower including different varieties of proteus.

At almost every step I was oohing and aahing and finally went into total burble overload with the camera in constant use. (Expect plenty of individual flowers to appear at the bottom of future blogs.)

A lot of the garden was on a slope so there were frequent views across the sea to the neighbouring islands.

There was also a good collection of different kinds of palms and tree ferns. There were quite a number of modern sculptures scattered around the gardens but my eye was mainly drawn to the plants.

There were a number of fancy gold and silver pheasants roaming around. We didn't see the hen with a number of fluffy chicks that someone told us about but when we sat to eat our sandwiches, (the cafe was rather pricey), we were visited by a silver cock pheasant who had no qualms about taking food from my hand. Indeed he even jumped up on my knee at which point I hid my sandwich inside my jacket. There was also a group of sparrows, thrushes and blackbirds around our feet waiting for food. The funniest thing was that when a member of staff strode across the lawn the pheasant ran off into the bushes like a naughty boy caught doing something he shouldn't and then reappeared when she had gone. In general we found all the 'wild' birds very tame and at the camp site they would soon appear if we sat at the tables to eat. There were surprisingly few seagulls about, perhaps it is too far from the mainland. I recall the constant cry of gulls when I lived in St Ives and they are notorious for stealing ice creams and pasties from unsuspecting tourists. Maybe they have shot them all on IOS.

For me the gardens on Tresco were definitely the highlight of the trip. I was very good and refrained from 'pruning' mainly because they were mostly tender plants which would not survive here. I did buy some blue & white agapanthus on St Mary's which I have put in pots. It was too early for them to be flowering but you could see great clumps of them in every body's gardens.

I have been at work all day today. It was pouring with rain in the morning but brightened up in the afternoon and now I am looking at the sparkling lime green leaves of the beech trees dancing in the wind.