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.

Sunday 31 March 2013

Easter Sunday.

It has worked out well, having the clocks go forward an hour on Easter Sunday. This way people have 2 days before they have to adjust their body clocks to getting up an hour 'earlier' for work. Peter was still up and out fairly early to go rowing again. I listened to the Easter Service on the radio and then the sun was calling me to work outside. My plan for this holiday is to try and clean as much of the outside paved areas as possible.
It is very satisfying to see the concrete slabs turning from grubby black to grey and then when they dry they become almost white. A lot of the mortar between the slabs has gone but that is only to be expected after nearly 20 years. Another job to add to the list. It was warm enough for me to take my breaks sitting outside in the sun. Using the pressure washer is not hard work but the vibrations start  to make my hand go funny after a while.
I got the whole of the front yard done today and I can bring down the wooden table and chairs. Must be springtime. Just as I had put away the pressure washer Romas phoned and we had a lovely chat and now I'm looking forward to dinner cooked by Peter. He's made slow cooked belly pork with onions and mushrooms and a not too spicy sauce which we will have with potatoes, broccoli and green beans.

Saturday 30 March 2013


We woke to a grey cold day but later on things brightened up. Although I prefer waiting until I have a number of jobs to do before making the trip into town I really needed to go in to change my library books. I find sadness creeping up on me as the day goes on and late night reading helps me escape reality for a while. I do also need some new black joggers for work. Track suit bottoms are not in fashion now, all the shops were full of jean-style trousers but jeans are not allowed for work. Not a professional image I suppose. As we are supposed to wear appropriate clothing for PE track suit bottoms are acceptable even if you are not teaching PE. I usually get my joggers from Next as they do a long fitting but this year their joggers had a folded over waist band which I didn't like. I tried M&S but their ones had a white trim and a dip at the front which is fine if you're fit and flat but not very flattering for the rounder waistline. (I was dieting since before Christmas and had lost a stone but right now the diet is on hold.) The 2 cheap sports shops have closed down and I don't really want to pay top price for a sports brand. I did find 2 pairs to try on but neither was cut right, it wasn't the sizing just the cut. I did end up with 2 pairs of leggings in a track suit fabric and a floaty tunic type top to cover all the bumps instead. I like leggings but in the last few years they have become too thin, thinner even than the footless tights we used to wear for keep-fit, and are mainly worn under short shorts by young girls. 
The High Street had almost a festival feel in the sunshine. It was very busy, this being Saturday and also the start of the tourist season. Some one was busking playing a penny whistle, the balloon seller was there, also there was some street preaching going on and the gig club had got The Lady Freida on show to promote the club and maybe get some new members.
Peter was there too in the club colours. A little later the town's marching band came along merrily playing on their xylophones and things. They too were dressed in red, black and white which Peter tells me are the town colours. (Barum is the old, Saxon? name for Barnstaple.)
Also out was this man and his duck collecting money for a charity.
Back home I hung some washing out to catch a little of the breeze and then I swept the front patio and got out the pressure washer to clean the concrete slabs from black to grey. I made a start but then the pressure washer sounded a bit funny. I think it was because there was a kink in the hose which has now caused an air bubble. I'll carry on tomorrow as it's about time to bring out the garden table and chairs so that we can enjoy the sun when spring decides to make an appearance.

Friday 29 March 2013


It was bright and sunny today, such a change from yesterday. The wind had veered to more southerly and it felt a lot warmer. I was able to get one load of sheets washed, dried in the wind and ironed so that's a tick for housework. Peter was out rowing at 8.00 when it was still really cold, especially out on the water. I made some porridge for breakfast which helped him warm up. I spent my day outside doing a satisfying amount of weeding. And none too soon as the shepherd's purse was already beginning to flower. Apart from the heathers the garden flowers are waiting for sunnier weather before flowering though I did spot one aubretia flower open in the sun.

Thursday 28 March 2013

Snow Again.

Peter tells me it was like a winter wonderland at 5.00 this morning but I wasn't awake at that time. 
By 10.00 the oil tanker had been down and topped up the oil tank that feeds our hungry Rayburn. The delivery man told me that most people were having much bigger top-ups but we've continued with the heating on for an hour in the morning and evening and it hasn't been too bad. 
The snow melted rapidly in the sun and by the time I left for work at lunchtime the snow only remained in the shaded corners. 
Naturally when I arrived at school it was warm and sunny with children sitting outside eating their lunches on the No-mow. It was the last afternoon of the term and we had a relaxed time with a lot of the children spending their afternoon outside. We do set up independent learning activities for them and many of them were keen to try out the new basket ball hoop that has been put up outside the hall.
Coming home there was not a scrap of snow to be seen. It would be nice to have a bit of warm weather for the Easter holiday. Here in the UK we are experiencing the first effect of global warming as a worsening and cooling down of our weather. That's due to a shifting of the Gulf Stream, which previously kept us warmer in the winter. My, aren't we the lucky ones.

Wednesday 27 March 2013


I woke this morning to see big fat snowflakes falling past the windows. I took the precaution of running my car engine while I ate my breakfast as otherwise I simply get cold air blasting through the 'heating' system for the first half of my journey.
 (7.00) Up at the top of the drive there was a light sprinkling of snow on the road. Needless to say it was all change once I got to school. We had a lovely sunny day and it was pleasantly warm. A good thing too as in the afternoon we could smell gas in my classroom. It was a bit of a mystery as although the children can be smelly the school boiler, which runs on gas, is down in the basement under the kitchens on the other side of the hall. We opened our windows and doors and fortunately it was playtime anyway. The gas people came within half an hour but their detectors showed nothing. That was strange but outside I did notice a whiff of slurry floating in from the countryside so maybe that was the cause. I've been in school all day and it's been good. The warmth is a bonus but mainly I am strengthened by being around my friends and the children. I was teaching Year 1 in the morning which was some data handling based on favourite Easter eggs and then listening to readers and in the afternoon I was back down with the Reception children. We also had cakes and silly games at lunchtime as one of my colleagues is now starting her maternity leave. It's her second pregnancy but this time she's having twins so we've all been teasing her about her extra large bump. Some of us turned up with cushions under our jumpers so that she wasn't the odd one out. Her little boy is determined that both the babies (whatever the sex) should be called Jesus. Jesus1 and Jesus2 to be precise. Today's little party was themed on Dr Seuss' Thing1 and Thing2 and the staffroom was decorated with red and blue paper chains made by the children. It felt like the end of term already but there is one more day to go. I'm not teaching until the afternoon so I don't have to get up too early.
Coming home I started my journey with the car window open but up in the hills it started to snow once more, the icicle fall had reappeared and right now I can see a light dusting of snow on the garden. Peter went into work in the morning, as part of his phased return to work but he said it was cold all afternoon at home.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Still Cold.

Once again it has been bitterly cold but thankfully dry here in the South-West. Another bug is sweeping through the school so I ended up teaching in the Reception class for the whole day. The children were all quite excited as we had our Easter hat parade in the afternoon and the PTA had organised an Easter Fayre in the hall. One little boy spent the whole day asking me if it was time to have the cakes now? He didn't quite grasp the fact that he had to wait until after school. A small flutter ran through some of the staff this morning as we were unexpectedly visited by a whole fire crew doing a spot check of our fire precautions. When they asked me about smoke detectors in my classroom I could only point to the security sensors which are not really the same thing. The presence of firemen in their uniform wandering around the place only increased the children's excitement levels.
In lieu of anything interesting to photograph in our grey environment I offer a couple of photos pulled from the web showing the current conditions in the rest of the country. I did spot one article that said freezing until after Easter and then a heatwave but I suspect there might be more optimism than science in that statement.

Monday 25 March 2013


Although the wind is still cold enough to cut right through to your bones thankfully we are still spared the snow and ice that is affecting the rest of the country. This afternoon the Met Office extended the weather alert up to the end of the week. I'm in school quite a lot this week so I shall be enjoying the tropical temperatures of the school's heating system. I taught a new class this morning, the other Reception class. As it was my first time with them it was mainly a getting to know you morning. Before school started I showed off my tattoo to my colleagues who made suitably impressed comments (they're kind that way). 
I took this picture an hour or so after the one above, when the sun briefly made an appearance. Maybe it had something to do with my playing Primavera on the piano. After lots of listening to Einaudi I was finally motivated to spend a little longer at the piano rather than a quick burst of LOTR as I walk past. I've always been quite happy to sit at the PC with just the sound of the birds outside and my thoughts but lately I like to distract myself a little by having some music playing. 
 Even though the garden is still in winter mode there is a little colour around.

Sunday 24 March 2013


Even the bright yellow of the first daffodils failed to make the garden look spring-like today. We didn't have any rain or snow but a bitter wind blew all day under the grey sky.
While Peter went off to race at Appledore, I stayed home and got on with some housework. My plan was to do some ironing but as the duvet cover is so big first I needed to hoover the sitting room. There was no point in just doing the sitting room so I carried on and hoovered the whole of the downstairs. I don't mind hoovering but then I see all the woodwork etc that could do with a wipe-over. Somehow I managed to resist because once that was done no doubt something else would have needed doing and before you know it I would have turned into a ....... housewife. Bah, I'm not married to our house and life is too short for constant cleaning.

Saturday 23 March 2013

No Snow Here.

 Today in Cumbria.
While the news headlines have been full of snow, traffic disruption, power cuts and weather alerts for almost the whole of the country down here in the West Country it has been a different story. It hasn't been warm but the rain stopped last night and it has been dry all day under grey skies. 
Peter spent the afternoon down in town where the gig club had a naming ceremony for their new gig, Barum Bobby, which they have got so the younger rowers have their own boat. I pottered around the place doing a little tidying up and cooked a supper for when Peter came home. They were late getting out on the water and the biting wind was none too pleasant. My only time outside was a brief foray to feed the hen and top up all the bird feeders hanging over the stream. 

Friday 22 March 2013

Ta-Dah !

At last, I've had my tattoo done and I do think it has turned out rather well. I chose the inside of my wrist because I can see it easily but I can cover it up with a towelling sweat band when I'm at work. It hardly hurt at all though I had taken my strong pain killers to keep the tooth pain under control. (The swelling is slowly subsiding though last night my bedtime painkillers didn't seem to work and I had to wait until 2.00 to take another dose. Not so good when I had to get up at 6.30.)
The tattoo parlour is in the half-timbered cottage on the other side of the music sign. This is one of the old streets in Barnstaple that dates back to ......... um, well the olden times. There are some almshouses a little further along the street which were founded in 1627 and are still used to provide accommodation for the elderly and needy of the parish.
The heavy rain came in today which was not good news for school as we were all due to walk The Pilton Mile around the grounds of the local secondary school in aid of Comic Relief. We ummed and aahed over going until 5 minutes before our setting off time when there was a lull in the rain which luckily lasted for the whole of our walk. The children from the junior school actually run the mile mile but we just amble in a raggedy crocodile. That and finishing Easter hats took up my morning. It took about an hour and a half to do the tattoo then I dropped into a few shops on my way down the High Street to the car park on the other side of town. I hadn't been sure how long the tattoo would take so I didn't want to take the chance of an £80 fine for overstaying in the free parking by Lidl's.
PS Although I wouldn't call Barnstaple a small town I wasn't surprised that Tom, the guy who did my tattoo knew Linas through his skateboarding. The girl who sat in to watch as part of her training was, until recently an art teacher at one of the 2 secondary school which is kind of a link and Peter tells me she is going off to teach English in Lithuania which is more of a coincidence than a link.

Thursday 21 March 2013


We are now under the same grey cloud as the rest of the country and the rain has progressed from light drizzle first thing to heavy rain right now. There are some warnings out for extra heavy rain over the weekend. I might just be declaring those duvet days. But I have these lovely tulips, which a friend at work gave me yesterday, to cheer me up. I think I will always associate dark red flowers with Linas, the roses I kept back from the final  farewell have dried to almost black.
On a cheerier note my toothache is at a manageable level, I can almost smile evenly and I'm losing the chipmunk look.

Here are a few of the pictures that one of my Year 2 class (6/7 years) created. They completed sketching each other in profile this afternoon which produced some ..... interesting results.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Spring ?

It's the spring equinox and today's weather map shows most of the country covered in snow. We are in the small patch of green down in the south-west corner with the weather front sitting right over our valley. So in town it has been hot and sunny with the occasional grey cloud mixing in with the fluffy white sort while at home it has been greyer and colder. And further north it's snowy, very seasonal.
I got up early this morning, for a full day at work, only to discover that the side of my face was beginning to puff up. A phone call to the dentist and I got an appointment for after school. Although it felt to me that side of my face resembled a chipmunk it wasn't really that bad. It got worse during the day and by the time I got to the dentist my painkillers were wearing off and even my eye felt sore. 'You've got a dry socket and an infection' said the dentist when she she had a look. Well, duh - I told her that would probably happen when I had the tooth out on Monday but she blanked my suggestion of giving me a prescription for antibiotics then. I know we have to try and minimise our use of antibiotics to stop resistance in bacteria but there are times when they are really needed. Now she had to give me a 5 day course of a stronger antibiotic. She cleaned out the hole, which was a bit ouchy and put in a dressing that tastes suspiciously like good old fashioned oil of cloves which I keep in my first aid kit but don't often use.
Funny moment at school - I was talking to my class of littlies when I got the hiccups so they all joined in too. We were just about to go out to play so I popped into the staffroom and had a glass of cold water which did the trick. It would not have been easy trying to read the end of day story with hiccups.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Feeling Better.

I am so glad to be able to say that my teeth, or at least my jaw bones, are settling down at last. Everything was still very painful last night and having woken at 4.30 I stayed up until 7.00 to take a final dose of painkillers. Since then, although my jaw where the tooth was taken out is still sore the pain is manageable and best of all the pain in the rest of my mouth has subsided. I was really worried that it was a sign of problems with yet more teeth. At the moment it is painful to smile and I can only produce a weird half-grimace but that will have to do.
The weather today has been swinging from sunny and warm under bright blue skies to cold grey clouds and heavy sleet and hail showers. I arrived to school in a shower of hail with all the children running around excitedly trying to collect the hail stones.

On my way home I stopped to buy some fresh eggs from this box. There is still a lot of extra traffic on our back road due to the Muddiford road being closed for repairs.
Looking down the lane the sun was shining through the edge of the weather front which once more was dropping sleet down on me.
 A little further up the hill I stopped to take in the view of the sun shining down on the sea.
I had to stop at the top of the drive to collect the emptied re-cycling box. I'm pretty sure that the white on the Exmoor hills was hail rather than snow. 
And the day finished off with a pretty pink sunset. 

Monday 18 March 2013

Ow !!!

My self-diagnosis was right and the tooth had to be pulled out.It took quite a while and my biggest concern was that the dentist wouldn't be able to get all the roots out. In that case she would have to refer me to the hospital which would mean a wait of about 8 weeks! Eventually the tooth was removed and I was fine until the injections wore off. Since then it has been so painful.The last hour before I could take a second dose of my powerful painkillers was just horrible. The painkillers are only taking the edge off the pain. I only hope the pain on the other side of my mouth clears up as last night it was so bad it woke me up. I'm hoping that it was referred pain or just because I'm not used to eating on that side. I really wouldn't like to have to have any more teeth out for a long while. It was a lovely sunny day but even if I hadn't been in agony I had been told to take things easy for the rest of the day.
Peter went in to work this morning to talk to their doctor regarding a phased return to work. The doctor immediately realised that Peter wasn't ready to return to work and told him to come back and see him next week. 

Sunday 17 March 2013

Brightening Up.

Peter was out rowing again this morning. Today he had to endure hail and sleet while I dozed at home. When I did make it downstairs my day was brightened by looking through lots of pictures that Sally had put on Facebook.

No prizes for guessing where they were. I was excited enough looking at the pictures. If or when I do make it there myself I'll be burbling even more than when we visited Tresco Gardens last year.
With the thought that some of my dear readers are not LOTR fans, they were visiting the set of Hobbiton which is now open to visitors. 
It brightened up quite a bit at home in the afternoon so eventually after doing some paperwork, I made my way into the garden for a spot of weeding. It wasn't too warm but at least it was sunny. The rest of my teeth seem to have come out in sympathy for the broken molar and most of them are aching too. Will I have any teeth left after tomorrow? 

Saturday 16 March 2013


Peter went out rowing first thing this morning. Luckily the weather was dry for his jaunt but it has been raining for most of the rest of the day. I haven't done much except a bit of cleaning and tidying up. 

After yesterday's hospital visit the outcome of which left me feeling quite optimistic I came down to earth with a bump when I realised there was SOMETHING WRONG with one of my teeth. One of my molars which was next to the one I lost a few years ago, has literally cracked under the strain of being sole chewer on that side of my mouth. The tooth is mostly filling and a strange feeling yesterday evening lead me to believe that the front of the tooth is cracked at the base. So long as it isn't touched and I keep taking painkillers for the nagging pain it is bearable but realistically I feel that tooth is doomed. I rang the dentist first thing and have an appointment on Monday morning. I expect I will return home with one less tooth. I feel that I am rapidly turning into a toothless old crone. The thought of wearing dentures is so shocking because I don't even feel middle aged (though at nearly 60 I ought to reassess my self image). One advantage of being awake for half the night is that I hear some interesting programmes on BBC World Service. The other night I listened to an interesting discussion on ageing from the LSE. The general consensus was that 'old' is somewhere after 80 so I've a few years to go.  Another interesting fact that caught my attention was that the number of babies being born globally has remained the same for the last 5 years. The continuing increase in population is due to less people dying in middle age. So eventually it will even out and we will have to work out how to share the world's resources fairly. Remember the recent report that said 1/3 of the world's food is lost before it can be eaten? We are always being told about the amount of food being thrown away by households but most of the food is lost due to poor harvesting, transport and storage. Surely we can solve those problems.

Friday 15 March 2013

Hospital Visit.

As forecast the weather changed and it began raining last night. I'm so paranoid about the drive washing away that I got up at 1.00, put on waterproof trousers, coat and hat over my pj's and went out to pull the wood across the road. When I got up there I could hear the sound of water rushing down into the gully I've created in Paul's field. With my failing torch I pulled a second piece of wood across the road and plugged the gaps with soil. This was all during a handy lull in the rain but when I got back to bed the downpour started up once more. It has continued to rain and be miserable all day. I went up mid-morning to check on the wood and found that someone ? had driven over it pushing the wood out of place.
I had an appointment at the hospital in Exeter this afternoon and I was glad of Peter's offer to drive me down. I'm not in much of a mood for browsing clothes shops at the moment and in the rain? No way! The high cost of fuel makes driving the same price as train and bus tickets combined with the car park charge but it was nice to be driven along the scenic old Exeter road. I was off to the hospital to see my back consultant to see what my options are for my leg pains. He reviewed my latest MRI scan and thank goodness did not mention  a bulging disc but there is another pinch point slightly higher up my spine. So the next step will be a nerve block at that point to check if that's where all my leg pain is coming from and if it is then back for another round of spinal decompression (shaving off some of the bone that is pinching the nerves). It would be so good to be able to sleep without the aid of medication. Last night I tried going without the co-codamol but gave in at 3.45. The soreness and pins and needles are not terribly painful so I can cope with them during the day but they prevent me from sleeping which does wear me out. 

Thursday 14 March 2013


The sun was out again today but even midway through the morning any part of the garden that was in the shade was still covered in frost.
The rest of the garden was so inviting I would have eaten my breakfast (porridge oats with fresh strawberries, blueberries and sunflower seeds), outside if the garden table wasn't still up in the shed. The Muddiford road is still closed so there was extra traffic on our country road. and the farmers were out taking advantage of this good weather to get fertiliser and muck out onto the fields. As I drove in to work a very large open top truck was stuck at Ashelford Corner. The side road that makes the T of this junction has an extra steep incline for about 20ft at the junction and the truck looked as if it had failed to get up the slope. The trailer part was was raised up on metal ramps and an empty trailer was next to it. I surmised that they were going to take the heavy load off before they could move the truck. 
And coming home I saw my guess had been accurate as the fertiliser had been dumped, half across the drive, by one of Mr Lewis' fields. I don't suppose Paul will have been too pleased to have his customers' access almost blocked by this pile. The forecast is for rain tomorrow so they will have to be out early to get it shifted and spread.

Wednesday 13 March 2013


Unlike the rest of the country we seem to have escaped the worst of the cold and snow and instead had sunshine for most of the day. The icicle-fall had a frosted effect as it was starting to melt and by this evening only the top third remained.
I woke up early this morning but as I wasn't working until the afternoon I dozed off again into REM sleep. I woke an hour or so later but my dream memories didn't get filed away properly and kept intruding on my waking thoughts. I was OK when I was focused on driving or talking to someone but at other times it was most strange. Before work I went to arrange to have a tattoo (for Linas) done on my wrist. I've been playing with designs and all will be revealed in 10 days time. It's going to be on the inside of my wrist so I can cover it with a sweat band while I'm teaching.
I just glanced through the window to see a pretty pink and blue sky.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Warming Up.

Snow and ice have caused disruption to most of the UK except for the western coastal areas which is us - hooray! The news reports were full of tales of stranded motorists, miles of tail backs and lots of transport closures. Even Europe has been affected. So we have escaped lightly with bright sunshine today and just a little snow remaining on Exmoor. The wind was quite bitter this morning and when I went to feed my solitary hen the full watering can that I keep there to top up her water, had frozen into a solid block of ice. 
Leaving for work this lunchtime I was flabbergasted to look down the road and see a bus. Apart from the occasional tourist coach buses just don't come down our country road. Even the children's school buses were small minibuses. But this was a 301 heading for Combe Martin. Then I remembered that there were detour signs down at the Muddiford turn-off so we must have been on the detour route.
I was teaching art in the afternoon and the children found it so hard to draw a profile portrait of a friend. We had the weirdest pictures and one child decided that as a profile shows half a face they would draw a full face portrait and then rub half of it out. Not quite the learning objective of drawing what they see.

Monday 11 March 2013


Opening my eyes this morning the view of a couple of icicles hanging from the gutter with trees rocking back and forth accompanied by the roar of the wind and the clanging of wind-chimes persuaded me that getting up early was not a good idea.  
When I did emerge outside it was to a sprinkling of snow on the ground. Exmoor and its foot hills were a lot whiter but the bitterly cold NE wind put me off going for a walk up the hill. Snow has fallen intermittently through the day even reaching mini-blizzard proportions at one point but nothing has settled.
Each day I give myself a few simple tasks so that the house remains orderly and I am up to date with my school work. I'm trying to keep my life stress free so a lot of tasks have been put in the 'sometime later' slot and I'll deal with them when I feel stronger. Instead I curl up with a cat or two and watch tv or work on a jigsaw.