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 31 December 2013


I made sure I was up at a reasonable hour this morning so that I could say good-bye to Alex who was catching the train down to Plymouth. While Sam and Kate drove her to the station I whizzed around with the hoover and did some tidying up. It was a sunny day so I was also able to spend some time picking up leaves and moss (surprise, surprise), from the scree garden.
Later we took advantage of the sunny day and went for a walk. Milo is quite elderly and hadn't realised that no one was holding his lead. 
We walked to Bowden Corner and down to Rookbear Lane to take advantage of the hazy views out to sea. 

We shall be having a quiet evening in, no gallivanting around Barnstaple watching the fireworks with crowds of merrymakers in fancy dress welcoming in the New Year. Maybe next year.

Monday 30 December 2013


Vytas rang us today to tell us that he proposed to Sally while they were hiking up a mountain and now they are officially engaged. That's a good end to the year. 
After the excitement of us all shouting our congratulations at the pc things settled into the usual holiday mode. Sam painting figures, Kate reading and Alex buried in her lap top. I made a start on planning the history I shall be doing with my Year 2's next term (kings and queens and other famous people) and Peter was sorting out his pc and shooting the opposition at the same time.  
We had some rain in the morning but when I did finally get outside it felt quite mild. Sam took Milo out for a walk but the rest of us stayed indoors. 

Sunday 29 December 2013


As we head into deepest winter it seems colder each morning with more hail hiding in the hollows and a proper frost on the grass. As we have friends coming to stay my day was spent in a final tidy up. Now everything is ready, Peter is putting the final touches to the dinner, cottage pie and vegetables (I did all the veg) and the big teapot is out once more. It has been dry all day but the forecast is for rainy weather for the next few days. So we'll all have to wrap up if we want to go for some walks. Peter was out rowing again this afternoon but then there's no more rowing for a while as the tides and lack of light do restrict rowing during the winter.

Saturday 28 December 2013


Woke this morning to see white stuff on the ground but it was only hail stones. The day itself has been a mix of heavy rain and bright sun. Peter had a long rowing session out on the river but it had stopped raining by then.

Going in to town this morning I took the precaution of wearing wellies. I had to go to the bank and then had a quick look at the sales. But if there were too many people in the shops or the queues were too long I didn't bother. I really don't need any more clothes and I've still got cards and wrapping paper so there wasn't much to interest me. I did buy myself a small pocket diary to keep a record of my daily photos. At home I got 2 bedrooms ready for our friends who are coming to stay tomorrow and did some general housework. 

Friday 27 December 2013


Not a drop of rain but gale force winds blew all night long. I lay awake listening to the wind roaring through the trees. The touch lamp on Peter's side of the bed kept turning itself on and one of us would turn it off only to have it light up again. This has happened before, I think it's the damp causing a connection so I've taken the bulb out, blown away any dust and left it by the rayburn for a thorough dry out. I did hear one thump outside but I couldn't see anything out of place in the morning. Perhaps a branch had landed on one of the barn roofs. Next door the duck house had been blown across the lake. We have had some rain today but once again we have missed the worst of the bad weather. Peter went into town today to get the right sand and some vegetables. He said town was heaving with nearly all the car parks full up.
I had a short stroll around the garden during one of the sunny spells. A quick check of the little pond revealed some early frog spawn. Speedy was accompanying me  and decided to indulge in some frog spawn tasting. After that I wouldn't let him back in the house.
And that has been my quiet day. I finally worked out how to use the beat selector on the metronome Peter got me for Christmas, a proper mechanical one not an electronic gizmo,  
I've just looked out of the window and seen 2 deer in the woodland next door. 
The white blob in the middle of the photo is the rump of one of the deer. I couldn't get a better shot before they moved back into the trees..

Thursday 26 December 2013


We've had an enjoyable if different Christmas this year. To start with we are so glad that we have not been affected by the recent bad weather. Around 20,000 homes were without power over Christmas and there are still 1,500 homes that will probably not have power for a few days. And that's not taking into account people affected by flooding. Today has been dry and sunny but there are more storms due in the next few days.
For us Christmas started on the 24th with our traditional meal. There have been a few sad moments as our thoughts have turned to past years and  we were simply unable to start the meal with  the usual prayer thanking God for family and friends. The memories were just too painful though we are thankful for the love and support of those around us.
But life goes on and in keeping with our family tradition we attended the Midnight Service at the 700 year old church of St John the Baptist at East Down. It was a clear starry night as we set off though the recent rain had caused a small river to flow down the lane where we parked. As we lit our way with torches along the path there was a sudden shower which just as quickly turned to hail before we reached the shelter of the church. So it almost snowed at Christmas. Being more out of the way than Shirwell the congregation numbered only 25 which half filled the little church. Illness may have contributed to the low numbers and the vicar himself had been struck down by the lurgy. Instead the service was taken by a very jolly lady lay-reader. When we got home I gave Vytas a call on Skype and it was great to see him and Sally though as usual they couldn't see us. Best of all was to watch him open his present from us which was a pair of tickets for a helicopter flight on to a glacier. Sally knew about it and had booked the actual time but it was a surprise for Vytas. 
On Christmas morning I got up and did my usual exercises before officially calling a halt to my diet for the holidays. As it was just the 2 of us at home we exchanged our presents in bed and the room soon became filled with wrapping paper from our collection of silly and token presents. (Can't wait to see Peter in his reindeer hoody.) And then my body went into low gear as tiredness and a sinus infection overtook me. I slept most of the afternoon. Each time I tried to get up I was incredibly dizzy (that sometimes happens when my sinuses are bad) and I know the communion wine wasn't that strong! After a good rest our Christmas dinner of roast lamb, red cabbage, carrot & swede mash, parsnips and potatoes was very welcome. As I was talking to Vytas again on Skype Romas called so we had a disjointed but welcome 3-way conversation. Peter and I settled down to watch a disaster film but then Peter fell asleep so I put the film on hold and watched Call The Midwives instead. We used to live in Poplar and I'm pretty sure that the new location for Nonnatus house is just off Cable Street opposite the community allotments that we helped set up 30 years ago. Today Boxing Day, we have taken things easy. My dizziness has gone, thank goodness but my ears are buzzing instead. 

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Wet. (I think.)

 Happy Christmas Everyone.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Icy Showers.

The storm raged on through the night but things have been relatively calm today as we've had a mixture of sun and icy showers. Other parts of the West Country have had flooding, many homes are without power and people are being advised not to travel.. (Read more here. ) This is all to do with the same weather system that is affecting eastern N. America.
Mid-morning I decided to escape the gloom of our shady valley and take a walk out in the sun. Unlike yesterday we are back to icy winds once more. There were a few piles of hail in the spots which hadn't had any sun. When the boys were younger I used to try and get them out for a walk on Christmas Eve. That was to burn off some of their energy and to give me a reviving burst of nature before the domesticity of Christmas.
Once I got to the top of the drive I had to choose either to walk eastwards with views to Exmoor or west to Bowden Corner. First I had to rescue our recycling box which had been blown down the road. 
I chose westwards as I love the colour contrast between the grey of the approaching rain clouds and the sunlit trees..

As I got to Bowden Corner I began to wonder if I was going to get caught out in the rain.  

 But luckily I was only under the edge of the rain which didn't start to fall until I was half-way down the hill.
Preparations for Christmas are very relaxed here as it is only the 2 of us at home. All the food has been prepared for our traditional (sort of) Christmas Eve meal. We will be having various salads and cold fish though I have got some breaded scampi to put in the oven. I reckon they count as fish. 
Peter has been at work today but he has added some extra days to the holiday so he will be able to rest for 10 days. This afternoon I made the mistake of walking down the stairs with a bucket of hot soapy water and a cloth. No - I didn't trip and spill the lot but I noticed that the white painted bars under the banister were looking in need of a wipe down. Then so did the skirting board beneath them, and  then on the other side of the stairs and of course there was more woodwork to wipe in the corridor and so on. I called a halt in time to listen to the  Festival of Nine Lessons from King's. Right now I've got Fantasia playing on the TV. (That was the first film I ever saw at the cinema.) I've hung some glass drops from conifer branches in a big jug as my token decorations. Makes a change from my usual explosion of tinsel and decorations all over the house.

Monday 23 December 2013


This morning the news was full of weather warnings for the expected storm caused by a severe depression over the Atlantic. It does seem as if the weather keeps throwing up new extremes this year. The warnings had gone to amber (possible ) for flooding and strong winds. The advice to travellers was to leave as early as possible and the train companies said that tickets could be used on any time train which you can't normally do. The morning was extremely wet and windy so I wore my wellies for my trip to town. Great for splashing through all the puddles. It has been a lot warmer than yesterday as we lost that icy wind.
Mid-morning I met up with a group of friends at a garden centre for coffee and we were almost soaked just walking across the car park. Claire came with her twins who are such placid souls. The only tears were from Albie at the end of the morning. It was comical to see a big fat tear rolling down his cheek and all because he didn't like having his coat put on. 
After having a great time with my friends it was then back into the rain and a massive traffic jam as the whole of North Devon tried to get into town for some last minute shopping. By driving through the industrial estate I avoided a lot of the traffic but driving down from the bridge into town involved a lot of stopping and starting. Once I turned off to head to the re-cycling centre the roads were clear again and soon I had emptied yet another car load of stuff that was no good to anyone. Then, having parked at Lidl's I took 2 more big bags of stuff to the charity shop. By the time I was driving home the rain had almost stopped. Maybe that's it for us, the worst weather was supposed to be east of Plymouth and further up country.
The house is now clean and relatively tidy so tomorrow will just be for cooking and decorating. Now that the spare rooms are being tidied up I can't help popping into them when I go past. This is the room that had the wall and wardrobe painted. It's only a small room but there is enough room to flip the sofa bed into a double bed. OK, I'll admit that for the photo I moved the boxes that were on the sofa but they will be sorted eventually.

Sunday 22 December 2013


It's been a day of frequent showers with the occasional burst of sun. Unlike yesterday the wind has felt icy and there has been a lot of hail. There's nothing like having people coming to visit to get me sorting out the spare rooms. (Most of the time I can ignore the closed doors.) Peter was only too keen to move the sofa bed from his study into another room and once I had built a small platform for the little wardrobe (so that it could be put over the boxed in pipes in that room) I was able to get on with even more tidying up. My car is now full of stuff to take to the recycling centre and the charity shop.  Now I have to work out a way of disposing of a large office desk that sits in one room. It's too big for either of our cars but it's going to take an angle grinder to chop up the metal frame. 
I haven't put up any decorations yet. This is because with only the 2 of us here, like last year I shall only put up a token amount. Our family tradition is to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve and again like last year I'll just cut some conifer branches and put them in a big jug. Christmas cards and the lovely poinsettia already make the place look festive and there will be so much less to put away at the end of the holiday.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Winter Solstice..

It's been dry and quite mild today. A good day for outdoor work. If Fred had turned up earlier or Peter had bought the right type of sand the new chimney would have been rendered but all Fred could do was to fix the metal beading to the edges. Oh well, it will be done eventually and then guess who will be climbing up the ladder to paint the chimney. As part of my general sorting out of the spare rooms I refreshed one wall with a coat of paint and painted a small wooden wardrobe. Once I've shifted the furniture around tomorrow I'll see if I need to paint any of the other walls. The rest of the day I spent outside and have nearly cleared one whole corner of the scree garden. I decided to work on until either it got too dark or the postman arrived, he's been getting later due to all the Christmas post. When he did come it was only business letters, how disappointing. And then it started to rain.
Today is the winter solstice, for some people the start of winter, for others (Celtic and Scandinavian cultures) today is mid-winter with winter beginning on 1st Nov, All Hallows. This is based on day length and I feel my spirits raised by the thought of a little more sun each day so I feel like celebrating mid-winter. I'm not a pagan but much of my life is spent immersed in nature and observing the changes of the seasons. In the UK meteorological winter is the 3 coldest months of the year, December, January and February. So that makes the start of winter the 1st of December.  
No sign of any snow for Christmas this year. 

Friday 20 December 2013


This morning I went over to the stables to thank Sarah for the lovely poinsettia and to deliver their card and a present for Jack. When I got there Sarah and a couple of ladies who were helping her had stopped for coffee so we sat in the club house and chatted for a while. That made a nice start to my day.
It has been dry for most of the day but I had to stay inside as I was waiting for my GP to phone me back. I had a couple of amounts to change on my regular prescription and the pharmacy won't do anything without the doctor authorising it first. He finally phoned after 5.00 so I got a lot of tidying up done. I also made a couple more Christmas cards and heaved the sewing machine downstairs so that I could alter my new purple pj's. I had bought the larger size because I like the top to be loose fitting but the bottoms were too, too big. I didn't go mad and only took in the minimum but at least they don't look like clown trousers now.

Thursday 19 December 2013


The storm had blown itself out by the morning. I took advantage of the dry morning and spent an hour before breakfast sweeping the front patio and picking off the leaves from the raised bed there. By the time I had finished my toes were somewhat cold as I was only wearing thin socks and rubber gardening clogs. I was going in to school at lunchtime so I thought I would dismantle an old single bed and see if I could fit it in the micra to take it to the recycling centre. I just about managed to fit it in though it was right up by my shoulder. The staff lunch and Secret Santa was fun as usual. We all brought in food this time and I allowed myself to go 'off diet' for the occasion. I was still sensible but did indulge in some scrummy chocolate tart type dessert. Claire brought her 6 month twins along and they sat there beaming at everyone. Albie made everyone smile as he lay back on Sue's lap with his hands tucked behind his head. (He also threw up over Claire's leg!)
By the time I left school it was raining heavily so when I got to the dump I put on my flowery wellies which I keep in the car. As the weather forecast is looking a bit grim for the next week (including the dreaded phrase 'possible snow and ice on high ground') I thought I'd get the final basics from Tescos and Lidl's and walk into town as well. 
I intended to get some special schmultzy herrings for our Christmas Eve meal but when I went to the fishmonger in Butcher's Row it is now a butcher's shop and the other fishmonger only sells fresh herring. 
 The 4 Liars clock and the local museum.
 Walking back over the Old Bridge.
 The rain did clear up for a while but it's raining again now.
 Looking towards the New Bridge.
When I got home I found my neighbours had left this beautiful poinsettia and a card for us. The colour is a deeper red than in the photo and it looks very Christmassy.