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 30 April 2013


More lovely sun today though the cold wind is still with us. As I took a break in the garden, cup of coffee and a book to hand I said a prayer of thanks to be living in such a wonderful place. What does it matter that holidays are few and far between when we can enjoy both the beauty of the garden and the ever changing moods of the sea. Though speaking of holidays we will be off soon to the Isles of Scilly. There will be a bit more to take this year as the new tent is considerably bigger than the one we had last year. Indeed, the bag of poles is the same size as the whole of the previous tent in its bag. I'm optimistically taking shorts, vests and sunscreen but realistically also taking warmer clothes that can all be worn at once should conditions prove cold and wet. We are hoping the good weather will continue but my main hope is that it is dry when we put the tent up.
I taught in the afternoon. The children were "learning to make rotating joins", in other words making spinny things some of which were made into ships' wheels. Driving home the countryside was showing signs of new growth though the trees remain in their dusty winter colours. I did notice a beech tree in leaf at Burridge so the spring is getting closer.
The roadside verges are sparkling with yellow dandelions and pale yellow primroses. Some pink flowers are starting to show and my journeys home will be brightened by nature's gardens beside the country lanes.

Monday 29 April 2013


There's nothing like the early morning sun to wake me up ready for a new week. I spent half an hour reading  in bed and then suddenly the sky was filled with nasty grey clouds Fortunately they didn't hang around for too long, blown away by the cold wind probably, and the day has been mainly sunny. On the radio they were talking of 6 hours of sleet and snow for the Scottish Lowlands! and the wind has been pretty cold. The Beech trees are now tinged with red at the end of their branches but I don't think the leaves will be out by the 1st of May which is when they generally appear.
I got more tidying done in the conservatory this morning and I foresee a trip to the dump soon. I mean, who needs 3 work benches? The most awkward one which doesn't fold up properly can go as all it is doing is taking up space. I'll put it with the recycled items as somebody might want it. . 
I had an extra afternoon's teaching after which I popped into town briefly. I treated myself to some carob coated ginger when I was in the health food shop and it was a really tasty treat. Just got to complete this power-point and that's me done for the evening.

Sunday 28 April 2013


I got to play with horses again today. Sarah came round in the morning to ask if I could go over in the afternoon to check the horses as they were all going out to see a demonstration of horse drawn barges and Sarah's dad had something else on. I thought I could manage to do that.
All I had to do was to check on the horses in the barn. This was originally built for cattle and the bull pens make perfect loose boxes. Everything is tidy and well organised unlike some of the cramped stables where I looked after horses in the East End of London. 
I topped up all the water buckets but they all still had haylage (a kind of hay which is fermented and more digestible than dry hay), so I didn't need to give them any extra.
Sarah also asked me to let the dogs, Fred the dalmation and Neville the border terrier, out for a run. She warned me that Neville can be naughty and not to worry if I couldn't get him back. I took over a few dog biscuits and there was no problem with Neville. The dogs were in the club house/office which Paul built a few years ago. 
Simply for old times' sake I took a walk around the stable block which they use for the ponies in the winter or when they are needed for lessons.
This is their new menage which they built after the boys and I stopped going over for lessons (too expensive for 4 of us). The new house was built on the site of the previous menage.
And to show how we fit in, that's our house beyond the trees at the end of the lake. For the rest of the day I tidied up in the conservatory and worked on a power-point about Lundy which I have been asked to do for school. It's been dry for most of the day though not particularly nice. The official high for yesterday was only 12C so we were very lucky catching the sun yesterday. No shorts for me today though.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Cold and Sunny.

It has been another sunny day but with a very cold wind blowing. It felt almost like summer if you could find a sunny spot that was out of the wind. My garden thermometer went right up to 26C and I was sorely tempted to stay sitting outside and read but I did do some work in the conservatory and made a prototype rain diverter from lead sheeting and wood, to stop the water from the overflowing back gutter pouring on to the porous stone back wall of the house. The steep roof at the back of the house causes the water to pour down and over the gutter there. We've tried re-siting the gutter but we may have to fit extra deep gutters to solve that damp problem. However we had already been for an invigorating walk around Morte Point where the sheep and lambs were back and enjoying the sunny conditions. 
The low temperature kept the air clear and the visibility was excellent. As well as being able to see buildings on Lundy with the naked eye we could see the mountains of central Wales across the Bristol Channel. 
We only saw one seal, in the usual spot but right at the Point there were lots of sea-gulls resting on the water.  It was beautifully warm on the sheltered side of the headland and as we walked through the flowering gorse we could smell the strong coconut scent of the bright yellow flowers.
It seems to have been a day for wildlife spotting. Back home I glanced out of the window on the stairs and saw a long brown creature on the stones by the edge of the stream. At first I thought it was a squirrel but then I realised it was a stoat. It's the first time I've seen a stoat in the wild and Peter and I were able to watch it through the windows of the back room as it walked all the way along the stream and down to the lake. 
Later on I looked up from my computer to see a deer in the woodland beyond our garden. It stayed there long enough for me to go out and get some shots from the garden. His tiny antlers identify him as a young red deer stag.  

Friday 26 April 2013

Sunny But Cold.

There are rumours around that warmer weather might be with us soon but as yet it is still cold. The sun was out today but it was just above freezing first thing this morning and the afternoon temperature in the shade was around 7C. At least it was far too cold for the slugs to make an appearance.
I've been teaching one of the Reception classes all day. Not my usual class so I didn't know the children so well but we still had a good day. More cakes this morning as another member of staff begins her maternity leave.  
I was home nice and early which gave me a chance to wash and hang outside a favourite hoody which has to be washed by hand as it is cashmere & cotton. I was in the bathroom when I heard a terrific crash followed by thumps and clattering. It sounded as though somebody had dropped several bags of shopping. Strange! I thought as I looked in the kitchen. Peter wasn't home and there was nothing out of place. Had a ceiling collapsed or maybe a branch had fallen onto the house but there was nothing to be seen through the windows. Then something streaked past me up the stairs. It was Speedy with his head through the handles of a carrier bag. I finally caught him on his return flight and removed the bag. Later I found a very dented tin of sweetcorn in the upstairs corridor . It's the result of Speedy's deprived beginnings out on the streets that has left him unable to resist looking in shopping bags and ripping open any packages. This time the sweetcorn fought back. After laughing heartily I topped up the bird feeders, made a batch of flap-jacks, did some hoeing and pulled up some brambles. Even if I only get a little bit done it all helps.

Thursday 25 April 2013


It felt really hard to get going this morning. Sort of too lethargic and lacking motivation. I was going to say it was a case of the blues but to me blue is the joyful colour of the sky and the sea when the sun is shinning so perhaps I should say I had a case of the greys. However I forced myself to get at least one outside job done before going to work (tapping the lead flashings above the porch to fit against the stone wall), and then I was kicking myself for not having gone outside earlier. There was a light drizzle but it was so much brighter than indoors. However work beckoned and I spent a happy afternoon working with the other Year 2 class on their pirate boats.
 Many hands make light work.
It is good to see the children working together though one boy's Handy Hint was more of a plea - "You should let everyone in the team work."
I got home in time to finish cutting out the dead rose branches over the porch though I may finally have lost the coiled spring from the middle of my secateurs. It falls out regularly and being old and rusty is hard to spot amongst the leaves and plants and even though I searched hard it eluded me. Thank goodness I have a couple of other pairs of secateurs though at the moment I don't know where the pink ones are either. That's why I have several.

Wednesday 24 April 2013


The clouds were right down to ground as I drove to work this morning and the visibility was about 100m. On either side of the road trees and bushes made eerie shapes in the enveloping gloom. It wasn't until I got down to Burridge that I emerged from the grey mist. It has been one of those days where the sun never makes an appearance. I've spent the whole day in school, Year 2 in the morning and Reception and Year 1 in the afternoon. At least I have the option of a lie-in tomorrow.
Each day there seems to be something new to see in the garden. The pond is still quite low and there is frost damage on many of the plants but there is still beauty to be seen if you use a bit of selective vision. No sign of any leaves on the beech trees but lots of tiny unfurling green leaves on the hawthorn or May bushes. The slugs were out attacking the aubretia again this morning so another 60 were sent to a watery grave. I'll have to use the evil slug pellets around the bearded iris as I've learn't the hard way that if I want any iris flowers I must resort to chemical warfare. But they are the only plants to get such special treatment.

Tuesday 23 April 2013


It has been a little warmer today but the sky has remained resolutely grey. When I went up to feed the hen this morning I wasn't too happy to see lots of slugs munching away on the almost flowering aubretia. Wearing rubber gloves I dispatched 50 slugs (dispatched = drowned in a bucket of water and thrown in the stream to be washed down to the lake). I carried on wiping the inside of the conservatory until it was time for school. We had a good afternoon and the pirate ships now have sails and prows. It only took me half an hour after school to print today's photos and stick them in the scrapbook along with the Handy Hints.  
I came home muttering darkly because the recycling box, which I hadn't bothered picking up on my way to work, was missing. I can imagine they are quite handy storage boxes and they do disappear every now and again.  However I needn't have worried, Peter had come home early as things are slow at the moment and as he is still technically on a phased return they said he might as well go home. So he had picked up the box. He's also cooked up a supper which we call Lithuanian soul food - pickled herrings in a cream dill sauce, boiled potatoes and a beetroot and bean salad. Looking forward to that.

Monday 22 April 2013

Low Clouds.

Another grey, wet day. I think it has been raining all day up here in the hills though when I went to town in the morning there were only a few light showers. It seems the clouds have decided to settle right down on the hills. My trip to town was mainly to meet up with a group of friends whom I have worked with in the same school over the years. One of our group was celebrating her birthday and another is expecting twins SOON. This time we had our coffee/teas in the lounge of the Fortescue Hotel at the end of the High Street. I've been there a couple of times for the staff Christmas do and it is a comfy place to sit and natter for a couple of hours. Although I have greatly reduced my chocolate intake I still had a slice of white chocolate caramel shortbread. Well, it would have been rude not to join in with everybody though perhaps a toasted tea-cake would have been less fattening. I got some more books at the library before heading home. As it was so wet I drove over to the stables next door to ask Sarah if she could come and feed the cats and my one hen when we go away which she was quite happy to do. 
I found Sarah in the big barn where the farrier was shoeing the horses. That's Tom the farrier, shoeing Dave who is Sarah's gentle big horse that she uses for adult beginners. Being over there brought back a longing to be working with horses again. I don't think my knee or my back would let me do much in the way of proper riding and it is very expensive but I know I would be welcome to come and help out with the horses. Unfortunately I never seem to have enough time to be keeping on top of housework and garden jobs as well as my school work so I'll just have to content myself with the occasional social visit or bringing back a pony that has escaped from the fields.
Peter has just come home, changed into his rowing kit and gone back for a hard training row on the river.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Grey & Wet.

It's been grey and miserable today. A gentle drizzle fell up until Peter left to go rowing and then it poured. My morning was brightened up by a Skype chat with Vytas. It was good to hear his voice and catch up with his news.
His and Sally's latest activity was a day spent canyoning; abseiling down waterfalls and generally making their way down a river. 

It does look fun but somehow I don't think my bones would make it. My day was spent carrying on cleaning the inside of the conservatory. I even braved the rain a couple of times to clean the outside of the glass just so I could see how good the windows looked. Now that the roof doesn't leak so much I might even spend time relaxing in there when we have the usual summer rain.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Mostly Sunny.

It was yet another sunny morning so off we went for a walk. Morthoe again but this time we went down to walk through the wooded Kinevar valley. A few of the trees are dusted with the pale green of their first leaves and the ground below was a carpet of colour.
No bluebells yet but native daffodils, primroses and celandines everywhere sprinkled with the first of the violets.
We stopped at Bennet's Mouth to enjoy a cup of coffee. Then onwards and up the steep cliff path to Bull Point lighthouse before turning back along the lighthouse road.

From there we could see across to Morte Point and watch the coastguard helicopter. They do their training exercises up on that ridge.
One last glimpse of Bennet's Mouth before the final gentle hill to the road where we had left the car. The clouds had gathered and it looked as if that was it for the good weather but the sun reappeared in the late afternoon. I did some gardening including the spring pruning of the buddlia bushes. Hopefully this year there will be a few more butterflies to enjoy their flowers. I ended the day by catching the evening sun by the scree garden (cup of tea and a book as always). The first swallow has been joined by its mate and they are busy house building or at least renovating, in one of the out buildings.

Friday 19 April 2013


It's been quite a nice day again. I didn't have to go in to school but I did plenty of work at home. On the off chance that spring is on its way I gave the santolina bushes growing in the yard wall, their annual trim. For now they resemble spiky hedgehogs but soon they will be pale grey hummocks sporting yellow button flowers. I was going to get on with the conservatory but when I finished my pruning I found a big blister on my finger. I took it to be a 'sign' that I had done enough work and sat out in the sun with a cup of tea and a book. Then I noticed that the lawns were looking a bit messy so I had to get the mower out and cut all the grass. The garden looks a bit tidier now mainly because the grass is the same height as the moss which seems to be taking over. Should I claim that I'm going for the Japanese moss garden look or try to do something about the moss? Perhaps I should go out and buy a moss rake and lots of grass seed.

Thursday 18 April 2013


It's been a beautiful sunny day at school if a bit windy. The one shower we had was soon over and at least it wasn't the promised thunder and lightning.
The big weeping willow tree at the far end of the grounds looked so spring-like with the bright green sprouting branches cascading down and swishing around in the wind. I've been working all day in school, the reception children in the morning and then more model boat building in the afternoon. I stayed on quite a while at school to finish making the covers for the DT scrap books and putting in more photos and handy hints but now that they are set up it shouldn't be too hard to update them each week.

Wednesday 17 April 2013


It was windy and grey today so somehow I couldn't summon up the enthusiasm to leap out of bed at 7.00 to make an early start on washing the conservatory. After making a couple of big books (to keep a record of the children's pirate boats) and chopping up veg for a saucepan of soup, I only had time to put in a short session of wiping down before going off to work at lunch time..
 My Wednesday afternoons have been changed around a bit and now I teach the first hour in a Year 1 class and then spend the rest of the afternoon back down with the reception children. After school a maths specialist came in to give us more ideas on how to use Numicon (coloured plates with different numbers of holes), with the children. It was a mostly practical session which was fun though it had to be me that held up the '1' plate when a photo of a hand was shown. Everyone else held up a '5' plate for the 5 fingers but then children think laterally as well.
Peter came home bearing this skateboard deck which a group of local skaters had designed and painted in Linas' memory. A lovely gesture but it did  bring a few tears to our eyes. 

Tuesday 16 April 2013


Lots of welcome sun this afternoon. It was quite windy in the morning and I did wonder if I was being sensible going to work without a jacket but I needn't have worried. I got to work to find the children happily eating their lunches outside. I was working with a year 2 class and we made a good start on the D&T that I had planned. Now 6 small pirate boats with masts sit on the cupboard and I have a stack of post-its with the children's handy hints. The one saying 'Don't make a big mistake' was beautifully written but not so useful as a handy hint. 'Dont use flopee figs (floppy things)' was somewhat more helpful. Luckily there was a water tray outside one of the other classrooms so they were able to go and test them. Next week -sails!
I drive through a couple of residential streets on my way in and out of work and right now there is an abundance of spring colour around as town is a couple of weeks ahead of our valley high in the hills. I pass 3 big magnolia trees, the cherry blossom is nearly out and everywhere are daffodils, tulips and other spring flowers.
This is the saxifrage that grows in the wall by the scree garden.
My morning was also spent productively. I was so enthusiastic that I was out washing down the conservatory by 7.30. I plan to clean one side each day but I got carried away this morning and did half the front as well. We have a big conservatory which should be very useful in this wet climate. But apart from the water that comes up through the floor (when it's very wet), soaks through the stone house wall and emerges over the inside beams ( who would have thought that stone was porous?) or drips in between the badly fitting roof panels, it has tended to be used as a workroom and store. I've tidied up all but the biggest tools (our real sheds are damp so the circular saw, angle grinder and chainsaw have to stay), stacked the many boxes and trays of warhammer figures and been ruthless with the stuff that was being kept 'for making'. Even with a plastic rather than glass roof it is light and warm in there so I intend to use it as a room to read and draw. The special offer at the garden centre included a free gro-bag so I may get a few tomato plants this year.

Monday 15 April 2013


At last it feels as if spring is finally here. And about time too with the school summer term starting tomorrow. It was warmer today and we have had some spells of welcome sunshine between visits by black clouds. It kept looking as if we were in for heavy showers but hardly any rain fell at all. The inhabitants of the little pond have started to croak much to Ellie's surprise and best of all this afternoon I saw the first of the swallows swooping low over the scree garden. Now all we need are some leaves on the trees and all will be well.
I was back at the dentist again this morning. I was still having trouble where the tooth had been pulled out.  A bit of bone had worked its way out of the hole a little while ago (apparently that's quite normal), but one piece seemed to be trying to work its way out through the side of my gum and my jaw was aching. The dentist, who by the way was lovely and reassuring, put in a dressing which is as I thought oil of cloves and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. Job done and nothing to pay as it counted as part of the extraction which I had already paid for. My afternoon was spent tidying and cleaning in the conservatory. Spiders are welcome to spend the summer in the conservatory but today I hoovered up all last year's cobwebs. They are no good to the spiders and simply added to the general mess of the place. Who knows, I may even wash down all the windows and frames, inside and out. But not today.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Nothing Much.

A bit of a nothing day today. It rained in the morning and was grey for the whole day. (These photos were taken at mid-day.) At least it is a little warmer and for the second day in a row I haven't needed to wear a pair of warm pjs under my joggers.  I get a bit grumpy when as today I feel I haven't done very much. Just some housework and baked a fruit loaf. I tried using honey instead of sugar but although I used 4 spoons of honey you can't really taste it. That's what happens when you make up your own recipes.
I'm glad I put the wood right across the road yesterday as Peter tells me the rain at 2.00 am was torrential.