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.

Friday 31 May 2013


Dare I mention it was sunny today. First thing in the morning, when I drove up the hill, there was not a cloud in the sky. I had to laugh when I saw one of the horses in the field completely stretched out on his side. It was only the twitching ears and the eyes that followed me as I drove past which indicated that this was not a deceased horse. My early drive out was for a physio appointment at the hospital. This was with an experienced physiotherapist who took full notes of all my various aches and pains and has given me some exercises to do before my next appointment. She is also going to make sure that I get an appointment to see my original soft tissue specialist, the one whose injections actually worked.
With our variable weather it has to be 'Carpe diem' so with an even better day than yesterday we headed out for another walk. 
A few miles further up the coast than Heddon's Mouth is the steeply wooded valley of Watersmeet, one of Britain's deepest river valleys, where the East Lyn and Hoar Oak Water join before flowing out to sea at Lynmouth.
There were a lot of people at down Watersmeet and the expensive but nice NT tea-rooms were doing a good trade.
The water level in both rivers was very low but the sound of rushing water still filled the valley drowning out all but the loudest birds.
At times our walk took us down by the river, 
 then the path would climb the hillside and the river would suddenly be 200ft below us.
We stopped at Crook Pool to eat our lunch. Midges were dancing over the water and occasionally a trout would snatch one from the surface. A pair of ducks swam along and dabbled under the stones of the little beach. 
Yesterday it was the steep bare hills on either side of us that were stunning. Today the water and the trees were bigger and taller making them the most impressive features of our walk. Lower down the trees rose up like nature's cathedral carpeted with bluebells and ferns. Another lovely walk.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Hunter's Inn.

It was dry and sunny at times today so we headed out for a walk to Hunter's Inn (Lorna Doone) at the edge of Exmoor. After driving over the moor and following a steep but spectacular road we found ourselves in the dramatic valley that has been attracting visitors since Victorian times. It was a bonus to find a place to park by the side of the road rather than having to pay for the car park. We walked up to the inn then made a sharp turn back onto the path that runs along the Heddon valley to the stony cove of Heddon's Mouth.
The path rose and fell beside the small, fast running Heddon river through airy woods.

On either side steep scree slopes rose high above the narrow valley.
Eventually we came upon the pebble beach which was said to have been used by smugglers. 
Although I prefer to photograph only the scenery there must have been at least 20 other people there enjoying the dramatic scenery.
While the path had often been made up of angular red rocks from the scree slopes the beach itself was made up of rounded pebbles ranging from a few inches to 2ft long. The mostly grey stones are smooth and lovely to hold. Some have lines of white granite running through them and to me they are works of art and yes we did bring a couple back to add to the stone collection on the raised beds by the house.
Although the River Heddon is about 20ft wide when it arrives at the beach it conveniently disappears under a pebble ridge and then comes out 10ft further down the beach. Even though we were retracing our steps for the return journey there were many new views that we had missed on our way down. Even the drive back was stunning as first we wound our way up to the top of the moor and then out across the moorland. To one side at steep moor looked almost mountainous, sheep meandered across the road and on the other side was more moor ending in cliffs and the open sea. Not a sign of habitation, it felt like we were in a remote wilderness but actually were less than 10 miles from home.
Yesterday, when we had been walking around Linda's garden I had been taken with the shuttlecock ferns growing there. So when I saw them growing alongside the path today somehow several small ferns made their way into my bag. And have since been planted in a damp corner of the garden that I had been planning to weed anyway.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Lovely Day.

I finally decided on just thorns rather than my leaf design for my open bracelet tattoo. It took a while until the freehand design was drawn on to my satisfaction. Poor Tom would draw a section and then I'd be asking for a bit more curl here or different shaped thorns but as a tattoo is somewhat permanent it's worth getting just right. It took 2 hours to do the actual tattoo and some parts were almost painless while others, like over the wrist bone, were a little stingy. But it's just how I wanted and I'm very happy with it.
Driving into town in the morning there were black clouds to the west and black clouds to the east with just a corridor of blue sky leading out to sea and by the afternoon things brightened right up.
Which was wonderful because I was going over to Linda's house in Berrynarbour to join a group of friends for the afternoon. Linda's garden is so beautiful, 1.5 acres of mature trees and shrubs, sunny glades, ponds and winding paths with the sea in the distance. 
The rhododendrons were looking absolutely amazing and the whole garden is simply stunning. Down in the shady end of the garden little streams ran through stands of different types of ferns.
After a ramble around the garden we then retired to the deck for more tea and coffee with home made cake and biscuits in the sun. We chatted away the afternoon until nearly 6.00 when we reluctantly bade our farewells and drove off bearing various plants in pots. The pink fuchsia and the olearia I brought home should do well in the scree garden.

Tuesday 28 May 2013


The forecast was for sunshine and showers which is what we got though thankfully we missed the thunder & lightning with hail that was also mentioned. The morning was dry so I was once again on my knees tidying the scree garden. Yesterday's rain made it easier to peel the strands of moss from the stones. As I work my way  through the rocks there have been a few surprises. Yesterday there was a little brown toad and a tiny newt under the same stone and today a small green frog suddenly appeared. Today when I was clearing some of last year's ornamental grasses I came across a spherical nest, about the size of an orange, woven from dry grass. I was pretty certain it was empty before I checked it as yesterday Speedy was snoozing on top of that clump of grass. While I worked the air was filled with birdsong and the squawking of the young crows each time their parents returned to the nest. One way down the valley I could hear Sarah calling in the ponies from the hillside and in the other direction the farmer was rounding up or moving his sheep with the quad bike.
The showers came in the afternoon and after a little housework I spent the rest of the time drawing the 2 alternatives for next part of my tattoo which is being done tomorrow. This involved much cutting out of bits of paper and sellotaping them to my arm, easier said than done, and then taking photos. The trouble is I like both of my designs and can't decide. Hopefully when I see what Tom has done with the 2 designs I gave him it will be easier to choose. Watch this spot tomorrow to see which bit of body art I decided to go with.

Monday 27 May 2013


The rain arrived by lunchtime as promised. Typical Bank Holiday weather. Tempting as it was to have a lie-in I got up at a reasonable hour so that I could get some gardening done. The black clouds were rolling in but there were still moments of warmth so I opted to take off my fleece and suffer a few cold spells rather than keep it on and melt during the hot spells. At last I was able to make a start on tidying up the scree garden. There are not that many weeds but last year's leaves are still trapped under the stones and I do try and get rid of as much moss as possible. Some plants did not survive the cold wet summer followed by the long cold winter. It's a good thing that I planted up any stray seedlings that I found growing around the place as I don't wish to spend money on a garden that we'll be leaving in a few years time.
It is the Barnstaple Beer festival this weekend and once again Peter was helping behind the bar. Such a chore! I've just collected him from town and the rain is now coming down in earnest. (Last night's shipping forecast spoke of a deep low out in the Atlantic which will hold heavy rain here for the next few days.) Luckily before I sat down at the pc I went up and reinforced the dam across the road. I do feel sorry for all those people who are camping this weekend.

Sunday 26 May 2013


It was another lovely day so as it is supposed to change tomorrow we took ourselves for a long walk. First going down to Kinevar where the bluebells were fully out though alas no butterflies.
Not only was the sun shining but it is a bank holiday weekend and the start of the school half term holiday  so there were lots of people out enjoying the wonderful scenery.
The little beach at Bennet's Mouth was teeming with at least half a dozen other people there. 
We had our usual coffee stop and then tackled the steep path up to the top of the cliffs.
Then instead of heading inland from the light house we carried on along the cliff path and on to Morte Point. There were a few steep climbs up winding steps but it was a satisfying walk. 
On our way home we stopped at Tesco's and though they are not usually that good for reductions I got a couple of bags of perfect bananas and some bashed meringue nests for a third of the normal price. Mixed with some whipped cream they made a tasty dessert, sort of an Eton Mess with bananas instead of strawberries. Although we we were having today as a holiday I still planted a row of potatoes while Peter cut up a log with the chainsaw. Then I had time to sit out in the sun with a book and a cup of tea after washing my hair while Peter made us dinner of roast lamb with broccoli, sweet potatoes and boiled potatoes. A good day off I think.

Saturday 25 May 2013


It's been mostly sunny today. During the morning the temp dropped rapidly whenever clouds blocked the sun's warmth but by the afternoon there were cloudless skies. After the very pleasant surprise of chatting to Vytas on Skype first thing I spent the day working hard in the garden. Weeding and giving the ornamental grasses an overdue trim and tidy up. After a tea break I decided that I should really get on and mow the lawns. I love how tidy the garden looks after the grass has been mown but all the bending down is getting increasingly hard and there is the knowledge that by the end of the week it will all have to be done again. But while we are here it has to be done.

Friday 24 May 2013


It has been very windy but also sunny today so I can't complain. After yesterday I wasn't looking forward to a whole day with the same class (there are a few behaviour issues in that class) but today things were much better. We had a morning of practical maths activities which they enjoyed. I was working with small groups practising rounding numbers to the nearest 10. It was so funny to see how their attention and work levels increased dramatically when I introduced an element of competition. The first child to hold up their whiteboard with the correct answer got a counter and the winner was the first to accumulate 10 counters. They didn't even get to keep the counters at the end of the activity. It's now the half-term holiday so there was a light-hearted feel to the afternoon, at least amongst the teachers. Normally there are teachers working until 5.30 or 6.00 but today I was almost the last one out at 4.15. Peter has taken next week off as well so we hope to fit in a few walks if the weather stays fine.

Thursday 23 May 2013


It was a bit of a shock to the system this morning actually having to get up at 6.00. Recently I've been having the luxury of drinking an early cup of tea then and putting my head down for another couple of hours. Serves me right for staying up late, reading and listening to the radio. It will be the same again tomorrow and another day with 30 children and no teaching assistant. I don't mind when it's art or DT but it is harder when , as this morning, it's maths with half the class not really interested and far too easily distracted when they are supposed to be working independently. Still it will go towards the latest car repair bill which was just over £200.
Coming home it was bright and breezy. Peter's gone rowing straight from work so that will be a good work-out down on the river. I love seeing the wild flowers along the country roads.
(The hazy hills in the distance beyond the end of the road are Dartmoor, 60 miles away.)

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Car Nearly Sorted.

It was quite a grey start to the day but it brightened up later. I decided to get on with a bit of gardening in the morning, after all I had gone up the hill twice yesterday. And I even did some more weeding when I got home from work though scrambling about on the rocky hillside isn't so easy these days.
I seem to spend Wednesday afternoons rushing around as I have to speak to 2 teachers about the work in both of the classrooms, sort myself out and then switch classes halfway through the afternoon. Even after the children have gone home I have to remember where I have abandoned my bag, jumper, coat and toy dog that I need for one class. 
I took the car in to the garage before work and just as I was teaching phonics I had a message asking me to phone the garage. Luckily I was able to ring them straight away and confirm that yes I was happy for them to go ahead with fitting a new radiator and new brake shoes. That's more pennies out of my pay check but it's better than having to get another car. I collected the micra after work but I won't get the bill until tomorrow because they hadn't had time to take it to the tyre place for the wheels to be balanced.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Slight Panic.

I took myself off for another walk this morning to blow the cobwebs out of my head. It was greyer and cooler than yesterday so when I got to the top of the drive I turned towards Bowden Corner and then walked up to Indecott. It was very hazy so the views were limited and I couldn't see the sea but instead I enjoyed the flowers in the roadside verges.
Even the ferns look lovely at this stage. Unfortunately they do take over the garden if left so I have to ruthlessly dig them out as soon as I see them. 
At my turnaround point I could look down across our valley. Although our house is hidden in the trees our neighbour's house stands out clearly.
After my walk it wasn't time before I had to set off for work. I gave myself extra time as the micra was booked in at the garage. And then DISASTER struck. The car wouldn't move. I tried letting it run backwards and then I did get it too move forwards but something was very odd. I got out and looked to if I could spot anything stuck or falling off or ...... whatever but there was nothing to be seen. I tried again and this time I got up out of our garden and up to the ponies' fields but it was definitely WRONG. When I looked again I could see that the rear wheel hadn't turned but simply been dragged along. Panic set in for a moment but I prioritised, getting to work was the most important thing. I walked back to the house, phoned the garage to say I wouldn't be bringing in the micra and grabbed a smaller bag with the folders I needed for the afternoon. Then I simply left the micra on the road, keys in the ignition and a note saying 'Bust'. It was only blocking access to our place so that didn't matter. Then I hot footed it up the road (only 6 miles to school) hoping that I could hitch a lift as I wasn't going to make it in an hour and a half. The first car was a Discovery and the woman driving it simply went past my outstretched arm. I mean, as a 56 year old woman in a pink jacket, did I look like a car-jacker? The next driver stopped but the young girl said she didn't give lifts to people she didn't know. Luckily I saw that she had been riding so I quickly said that I lived next door to Paul and Sarah and was the owner of the red car stopped by the ponies' field. That convincered her that I was safe and she drove me all the way down to Pilton though she said she wouldn't tell her dad who obviously had warned her never to give lifts to strangers. I sent Peter a text so that he could pick me up from school saving me the bother of walking/hitching home. I also dropped into the garage which is handily next door to school and the mechanic said it sounded like my hand-brake cable had jammed. He suggested a couple of ways of freeing the wheel including walloping it with a hammer but as he also said, when we got home it had freed itself. I reversed back and parked without putting the hand-brake on and Alec will have a look at it tomorrow. Much relief on my part especially as, with my limited mechanical knowledge, I had thought there might be a problem with the bearings or even the axle both of which could be expensive or terminal for a little old car like mine.

Monday 20 May 2013

Warm Wind.

It was much more like spring than summer this morning. I was trying to fight off a grey mood so I forced myself out for a walk. I keep saying that I ought to walk up to the road every day, or at least when I'm not working, to keep myself fit as that steep hill really does get you puffing. Even though it was completely overcast it was quite bright and the wind was warm. 
Sure enough, the sight of the fresh green leaves and the sound of a skylark singing high above the field lifted my spirits. 
From Ashelford Corner  I turned off towards the farm track that brings me out above our valley where I turned and retraced my steps.
Looking through a gap in the hedge there was a grand view over Ashelford Farm towards Arlington. 
Now that I am unable to run (or rather slow jog) because of my knee I try and focus on my posture when I'm out walking. Being tall I slouched as a youngster and I'm trying hard not to stoop now that the years are creeping on. When we are out walking on the cliffs the paths are rocky and uneven so it is vital to keep your eyes down but walking on the road I can stride out with shoulders back and head held high. 
Refreshed by my walk I was ready to tackle more jobs when I got home. I have a dreadful habit of not quite completing things and true to form I had one small section of the conservatory still to wash. I had left the corner round at the back which nobody sees and moved on to the next project but today I finished it off properly. Then the postman came and brought me some more strimmer wires so I was able to cut all the paths and steps which the mower couldn't do. That done, with my hair washed, I could sit out and enjoy the rest of the afternoon in the warm breeze. The sun even made a valiant effort to appear. The crow chicks are so noisy in their nest. I watched one of the adult birds fly away cawing quietly to itself. It really sounded as if it was muttering to itself "Pesky chicks, I bring them food and all they do is yell for more."

Sunday 19 May 2013


This morning it was 32C in our sun trap by the front door. Perfect for an al fresco breakfast and then we headed out for a walk.
We parked in the car park at Morthoe (no more free parking until autumn) and walked down to Kinevar. As I had hoped the bluebells were coming into flower. Another week of warm weather and the bluebell carpet will be at its best with hopefully butterflies fluttering about under the trees.
We were pleasantly surprised to see hardly anyone around on such a beautiful day. The wild garlic was also beginning to flower filling the air with its tasty aroma.
The tide was in when we got to Bennet's Mouth where we stopped for coffee. There had been a very high tide recently and the stony beech was strewn with seaweed and cuttle fish bones.

Climbing up the cliff I noticed that the water was so clear that you could see almost to the sea bed. I don't recall see that here before. In contrast the air across the Bristol Channel was quite hazy  and Wales appeared only as misty shapes in the distance. In the other direction Lundy appeared to floating above a bank of sea mist.
Back home Peter went straight out to the boat shed. First to do a 'Health and Safety' audit and then to help with washing the gig. I stayed to work in the garden, weeding the veg plot. I was just wondering if I had any seeds I could put in when I remembered that due to the small size of the plot and the vast numbers of slugs I had given all my veg seeds to Romas and decided to use the plot to propagate plants for the time when we do decide to leave. It won't be for a few years but it would be good to have my favourite plants ready to start off in a new garden. It's a good thing that I planted up some self-sown aubretia and stachys (lambs' ears) last autumn as they have both almost completely died off in the scree garden.  It's begun to cloud over and I don't know how long this good weather will remain but it has been good these last few days.