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 30 June 2013


It's been cooler with occasional rain today so I didn't feel like sitting outside to read. Instead, while Peter is out at another regatta, I worked on next week's planning for school and generally lazed about.  I don't like not getting things done but I will be working for most of the week so I'm trying to relax today. I've watched some Glastonbury but I'll wait until Peter gets home to watch The Stones. The BBC were only allowed to film 1 hour of the 2 hour set which I think is a bit mean. Both of us went to the original free concerts in Hyde Park many, many years ago. 

Saturday 29 June 2013


Went to put a photo on the blog when suddenly I found that every photo from 2012 and 2013 had vanished. PANIC !!! though not a total meltdown as I do back up my photos onto an external hard drive. However I was annoyed as I had been a bit lax recently and hadn't backed up my files for a month. I couldn't even see them on my McAfee on-line back up?! Luckily once I had rebooted the pc and it had done its disc check it found the files again. Needless to say the first thing I did was back up the final 32 daily photo files. 
Peter was off to another regatta today so I had a peaceful day at home. After filling up the washing machine and doing the morning chores I had the pleasure of switching into holiday mode. I only had to step out of the front door to be 'on holiday'. No packing, long journey or airport hassle yet I was sitting in beautiful surroundings, birds were singing and it was reasonably warm. Well it may never have reached 15C but I was comfortable enough and could enjoy a pot of fresh coffee rather than my usual instant as I settled down with some light reading from the library. I returned to work mode to hang up the washing and make a pot of butter-nut squash soup.
Later, as light rain drove me indoors I was disappointed to see that there wouldn't be any tv coverage of Glastonbury until 7.00 and I hadn't recorded anything from last night. My dream is to get to Glastonbury one day though I think I would opt for the comfort of a caravan or motor home rather than a tiny tent. At least then you could have all your home comforts. I'm watching and recording right now though this year there isn't the choice of using the sky controller to pick from 6 performances. There is more choice on the web site but I don't know how to wire my pc to the tv. Perhaps Romas will do it for me next time he comes to stay, 
The pond is looking very lush at the moment with red and blue darters whizzing about. 
Peter came home tired but happy. His crew came in third in their race which is pretty good and overall the club came third as well. And he's got to do it all again tomorrow. 

Friday 28 June 2013

Low Cloud.

The promised sunny spells never arrived today. Instead I spent the morning watching clouds billowing across the garden. Driving to work I needed headlights, windscreen wipers and sunglasses (it was still bright inside the clouds). Barnstaple itself was below the cloud layer but it was grey, humid and sticky. I was teaching art in the afternoon but it was also Golden Time and I let some of the children take out a game that involved knights, castles and trebuchet that shot cannon balls across the room. That kept the noise level high and there was the occasional tantrum when they couldn't agree on the rules. I could have made life much easier on myself by letting them go on the internet to play games but they had lost internet privileges when a group failed to come and sit down when asked, several times. Anyway I think it is good to steer them towards alternative activities as some of them do nothing else when they are at home. One little girl gave me a real confidence boost when she gave me a big hug and said she loved it when I came to teach them because I know all about art. Hardly but bless her, we all like to be appreciated.
The clouds were a little higher when I drove home at 4.30. 

Thursday 27 June 2013

Warm Then wet.

It seems such a treat to have a whole day at home during the week. Weekends aren't quite the same. 
I started my day by getting my bow saw and removing tree branches that were overhanging the garden. These had mostly grown since the last time we cleared the boundary about 18 years ago. Now I'm looking out at mossy tree trunks rather than a mass of leafy branches. I'm not sure how easy it would be to take down a couple of the trees to allow more sun into the garden. Peter seems confident and he used to do tree work so he should know. It was fairly warm in the morning, 15C, so I was in need of a break after I had cut and cleared all those branches. It felt like rain so I didn't wait too long before getting out the mower to cut the grass. I was finishing the small lawn by the side of the house when the rain began and it has got steadily heavier. Off soon to another turbine meeting at Bowden Farm to discuss tactics.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Sunny Spells.

It's been one of those days when it is lovely and warm when the sun is out but should a cloud cover the sun it becomes quite chilly. I had a leisurely morning at home pottering around the place with a little gardening thrown in. A while ago I realised that the jackdaws and rooks were coming down to eat the hen's corn so now I stay up in the run until she has eaten her fill. The jackdaws used to sit in a tree next to the run, hiding from me by staying on the branches on the other side of the tree but I think they are getting the message now.  I've been keeping myself occupied by clearing the weeds that were growing on the old compost heap (which has now turned to soil), with the long handled hoe. It would be more efficient to use a spade but the hoe has the advantage of not affecting my back at all and I can use it even if I'm wearing my good clothes for work.
Every day new flowers are in bloom in the garden. Even though valerian is a wild flower I think it makes a good garden flower. 
The grass is terribly long as it has been too wet to cut, a job for tomorrow I think.
When I came home the postman had left me a couple of packages. I like getting parcels even if they are things I've ordered myself. One was a new memory card for my main camera. Daily formatting over the years had used up all the space on my old 8GB card and there was only room for 9 pictures. The other package was a book of Einaudi's music arranged for solo piano. Cue piano session. My piano skills are limited but I thought I would be able to manage Tu Sei. It's not quite as easy as I thought. Apart from the 4 flats the music is in 6 time but you have to count 12s as half of the R-hand notes come in between the L-hand notes. At least it's mostly one note at a time for each hand and even when there are chords as in Berlin Song they are quite simple and repetitive. I listen to Einaudi a lot on the pc so even Peter recognises the pieces when he hears them on the tv where they are often used as mood music. 

Tuesday 25 June 2013


Yesterday evening we had a test flight of Bill's kite. I've photoshopped in  the outline of the turbine on one of the photos I took. (I couldn't see the kite until I looked at it on the pc.) When you consider that the 2 little blobs below it are full sized trees 100ft from the turbine I think it is obvious why we do not feel this is appropriate for our countryside. Our campaign had a boost this evening when the BBC ran it as the second item on their half hour round up of local news. The piece ended with a local MP saying that the country had reached its quota for wind turbines and that the latest legislation ensures that the view of the local community plays an important part in the final decision. Sadly 80% of turbines initially rejected by the local authorities get through on appeal but hopefully the new legislation should help redress that.
We have had a lot of sun today and we finally managed to run the children's sports day which went well. After 2 weeks of working  almost full time I really appreciated the chance to have a bit of a lie-in before washing my hair and pottering around doing housework. Got some hoovering done and tidied the kitchen. I think there should be a special word for that pile of papers that that is a feature on our kitchen table. I've checked with friends and they have them too. How about dwil (Deal With It Later) heap? Well our dwil heap is greatly reduced now that I've cut out coupons from the free magazines, filed away things that need to be kept and thrown away everything else.
After school I went into town to change my library books and buy oat bran, sunflower seeds and carob coated ginger at the health food shop. There was just time to bake some flapjacks and have a cup of tea before heading out to the Shirwell PCC meeting. We weren't so confident about this one as last time they had decided not to express an opinion but some of us got a chance to talk and they did vote to reject the planning application. Being an adjoining parish their views are not as important as the Marwood one but it all helps,
There is a big patch of yellow flag iris looking like burning candles, in the neighbouring field. Might be something to do with me chucking the excess tubers from my pond over there. But they are a British wild flower and there are some water meadows near Loxhore which are filled with them. 

Monday 24 June 2013

Almost Summer.

It's been like a British summer's day. Sunny and breezy for most of the time but with cold spells too. There was a good illustration of the unpredictable weather during the afternoon playtime. I was out there in a sleeveless top and sunglasses while another teacher was wearing a jacket and long scarf.
For last Friday and today the Year 2 class teacher asked me to come up with some sort of art work linked to keeping healthy for a display at the Health Centre. And this is what the children have created. It still needs putting on card to finish it but I am really impressed with the quality of the children's pen drawings (they are only 6 & 7 years old). Apart from a talk at the start about looking carefully and drawing what they see the children worked independently with only an occasional reminder to look carefully. Although I couldn't fit every picture on each child has several drawings at least on the poster. (5 is the recommended number of portions of fruit and veg to eat each day though this varies from country to country, & potatoes don't count.) The wording and layout came from one child's poster design.

Sunday 23 June 2013


It's blowing a real gale today, definitely not summer weather. Vytas gave me a Skype call this morning and it sounds as though it is not much colder in Auckland even though they are officially in winter.
Meanwhile the garden thinks it's summer and the hillside is turning into a mass of colour. 
Bill, my neighbour, tried to get his kite up today for a test flight but the wind kept making it collapse so we'll have to wait for the wind to lessen. 
The climbing roses are out but I don't know how long they will last with these strong winds. We're taking things easy today so the only gardening I've done is to earth up my little row of potatoes. Some of the plants don't look that robust but I'll keep my fingers crossed. The 3 tomato plants in the conservatory are shooting away and I'm finding the wind-the-stem-around-a-string method much easier than tying the stem to a cane. I expect those of you that grow tomatoes regularly are saying 'Duh!' but I'm new to this. At Peter's work they were selling some planters for growing tomatoes upside down but I'm not sure about those. I've had a look on line and maybe next year I might try a normal hanging basket as some Which trials got 2lbs-4lbs per basket growing special varieties with Tumbler coming out the best.

Saturday 22 June 2013


It's been extremely windy today with the occasional shower thrown in for good measure. Peter had to go to work today. He doesn't like working overtime but the pressure was on them to work Saturday and Sunday but he told them at 63 he had no intention of working 12 days in a row. He did agree to go in today and had to be there at 7.00 instead of 8.00 so that they could produce the number of components required. I was up in reasonable time and then went over to one of our neighbours to plan how we are going to make our own set of photographs to counter the misleading ones produced by the turbine developer. (I've already proven that the line diagrams are out of scale with the blades being shown at 2/3 of the actual size. I knew my maths would come in helpful one day.) We're going to fly a kite to near the same height to get an idea of the true size and take photos from different locations. At our action group meeting on Thursday a journalist came down from the Western Morning News and we appeared in their on-line edition yesterday.  You can read the article here  http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/EXCLUSIVE-Villagers-spurn-wind-farm-bribe-issue/story-19352458-detail/story.html  (I'm right at the back in a pink jacket.)
I've had another busy week but thankfully I'm not as tired as I was last Saturday. I've spent the afternoon cutting tree branches from the trees behind the outbuildings. (The ones in the centre and a bit to the left). When we first moved here besides providing shelter from the prevailing winds they also screened the road at the top end of the field next door. Since then the trees have grown and a deciduous wood  has been planted in the field. When we had that unusual spell of hot weather I realised how much shade those trees were casting in the afternoon and evening and I decided that we should  clear most of those trees. Then we will have a nice view across a wild meadow with the woods beyond. Peter wants to wait until next winter 'The sap's rising now', but I'm making a start with my trusty bow saw. Today I cleared all the branches that were lying on top of the outbuildings.

Friday 21 June 2013

Summer ?

It's the summer solstice today. According to Google it's the first day of summer though I would have thought that it should be mid-summer seeing as the nights will now start drawing in -sob. The clouds have been down low and we have had almost continuous soft rain all through the day. The clouds parted briefly at 5.00 giving a short spell of very hot sun but it's now grey and chilly once more.
Traffic jam on the way home. 
 The road home was gently steaming.
I had a good day in school. It was all about eating healthily. The children looked at a variety of fruit and veg, designed posters, drew fantastic cross-sections of fruit using pens and and did some printing with the fruit.  This is all towards a display at the Health Centre. Then of course I cut up all the fruit apart from the pieces covered in paint and the children had them as a snack. Our school is part of a healthy eating scheme and the children get a free snack of fruit or vegetables each day. Some bring their own but other snacks, including muesli bars which are high in sugar, are not allowed. 

Thursday 20 June 2013


All change again with the weather. It was definitely not like summer today. We had rain first thing which eventually fizzled out though it stayed quite warm. At the end of the school day there were big black clouds overhead and it looked as if we were in for a downpour or even a thunderstorm but that passed and we had fine rain instead. I took these photos on my way home at about 5.00. The ponies in the field by us were waiting dejectedly by the gate for someone to take them back to their nice dry stables.

I taught Year 1 in the morning and Year 2 in the afternoon. They have doing their SATs tests for the last few weeks so when they do go outside they are full of pent up energy. The K'nex will not be put out tomorrow in the outside area as all they do is make weapons (not allowed) and chase each other around wildly. They are not learning anything and there are a fair few accidents. Today 2 boys collided, one skinned his elbow (not serious) and the other split his lip (copious blood). It is good that these lively children can go outside to let off steam but the accident rate is rising. Last week one of my class badly bruised his nose, later he kept telling all and sundry that it was broken and had to be reset which made me feel really bad until we confirmed with mum that it was only bruised. The same boy has only just had stitches removed from his leg after a bike accident at home so I wouldn't let him out today. I didn't want to have to report yet another injury to his mum. Instead he crawled under the tables in danger of getting kicked or banging his head.

Wednesday 19 June 2013


I can only describe today as a lovely summer's day. I set off for work early in that haze that tells you it is going to be hot and sunny. It felt quite bucolic driving up the hill past 3 pretty ponies sleeping in a sunny field of buttercups. Then I had to stop at the Lewis' farm to let the cows walk across from the field to the yard for milking (the same happened on my way home).
My morning was spent in a Year 1 class. We nearly always start with guided reading and instead of taking my small group of children off to find a corner of the hall or the staff room I shifted one of the mats from the outdoor area into the sun and we sat outside to read. So much nicer. The morning activity for that class who have been learning about halves and quarters, was to put extra toppings on some small plain pizzas which were then baked and shared out between the children. This afternoon has been the first of 2 'shuffle up' afternoons when the children spend the afternoon in the class they will be in after the summer holidays. I was down in Reception welcoming the children who will be starting school in September. They came into class with their mothers and then came the difficult task of getting the mums to go in the hall for a talk while the children stayed with us. Naturally there were a few tears and it took all our skills to interest the children in the activities so that the mums could slip away. Also there are a number of children with extra emotional and developmental needs who will need even more support.. 
I took the Micra in for its MOT in the morning and there were a couple of extra bits to do as always. Now I have to fork out another £140 for a year's car tax. Good thing I'm doing all this extra work. Coming home I flung myself in the shower and my clothes in the washing machine. Then, as there are no meetings to go to tonight, I sat out in the sun by the scree garden. It would be lovely if we have a few more days like this.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Out Again.

It's been another humid day, not a lot of sun but quite sticky. It was a relief to get home from a full day's teaching and have a shower. Then back out again for another PCC meeting. This time it was Marwood and as the turbine would be in their parish their recommendation is quite important when the application goes before the local council planning committee. They didn't want us all to speak but I got up and said my 3 minutes worth on the effects of the noise; how noise is funnelled down valleys and how a same size turbine in Cornwall made by the same manufacturer has gone over the noise limits and that local council is turning down any more applications from similar turbines. Only one PCC member voted against the proposal to reject the application so that is another hurdle over.
Driving home I stopped on Whitefield Hill to take advantage of the views and the soft evening light.
Down in MuddifordI I had discovered this sweet footpath which doesn't look to be used that often. Early-ish to bed as I've got another full day of teaching tomorrow.

Monday 17 June 2013

Wet Morning, Sizzling Afternoon.

I've had a very busy day today. First stop was the hospital for a session with the physiotherapist. She did some deep massaging of my hips which Peter will be able to do at home for me, using the pestle from the kitchen as a substitute for the massage tool that she uses. (The physio thought that would be a good alternative.) I've also been signed up for some hydrotherapy in the pool at the hospital. That should be fun.

I took the circuitous route home via the Fullabrook wind farm to  check out just how much noise these turbines make. There wasn't a lot of wind so they were turning slowly. The noise, a kind of swishing which reminded me of being on a ship, wasn't too bad. I can imagine that the noise produced when they are going full speed could be very annoying and disrupt sleep which is what people living nearby have reported.
Close up the turbines are actually very aesthetically pleasing but when they are seen marching across countryside that is described as a rural idyll they are intrusive.
It poured with rain first thing and the morning was pretty grey but things started to brighten up and get hot and humid after lunch. By the time I got home from school I swapped my Ugg boots and leggings for shorts and t-shirt while I sat out in the sun enjoying a cup of tea and some fruit for my supper. Then it was all go again, back into normal clothes and off to East Down village hall for the PCC meeting. It's a lovely drive down through winding lanes between 10ft hedges. As we expected the PCC voted to recommend a refusal of the planning application which will be taken into account by the Council planners. It's tomorrow's meeting which is more important. After our part of the meeting we retired to the Pyne Arms to chat and plan. We were pleasantly surprised to be given 3 dishes of complimentary chips (fries), lovely fat home-made ones. 
It was still light when I left the pub at 9.45. Coming down the drive I could see a glowing sunset and I tried to take some pictures but they didn't really capture the intensity of the glowing streaks.

Sunday 16 June 2013


It has been raining for most of the day. Not too heavily but enough to keep me indoors. It's Father's Day here and although Peter complains that it is just an invention to get people to buy cards I think he was pleased to talk to Romas on the phone. I had a quick chat too though Romas was rushing off to his supermarket job. 
Then I tried to connect to the internet so that Vytas could Skype (if he remembered) but my pc froze. I had to call on Peter's IT skills to sort out the problem. Too many programs running in the background using up all my processing space. One of them, a tool bar, is refusing to be deleted so Peter will have to download a tool to get rid of it. Then when all was done I found I had no sound. Peter had to perform his magic again and now things are working once more.
Most of my day has been taken up with looking at plans and photos of the proposed turbine and writing up my piece to say at one of the PCC (Parish County Council) meetings we are going to this week.

Saturday 15 June 2013


I was really pleased not to have to get up early this morning. But I am feeling so tired and haven't done much at all today. It's wild and windy outside but quite warm and it hasn't actually rained even though grey clouds are racing across the sky. I couldn't bear not to do anything at all so I took photos and put labels on the first of the hardy geraniums to flower. 8 varieties so far but there are more and I never remember where they all are. If I keep them on file then I'll know which ones to propagate by splitting once they have finished flowering. They are such easy plants it would be good to have a stock of new plants when we finally decide to move.
We had a chap round this morning to re-do the concrete render on one of the chimneys which although we had it done some years ago had started to crack and looked as if it would fall off at any time. Not a good look if we wanted to sell. But once Rich had started to remove the render a more serious problem was uncovered, literally. The chimney is on the old part of the house which was built over 100 years ago at a time when the farmers did their own building. Luckily most of the chimney stack is the same stone as the walls but the bit above the roof is made of bricks. And unfortunately the farmer did not use frost resistant bricks but normal house bricks which have now started to break up. So now we have to have the chimney rebuilt which is going to be costly mainly because we will have to hire scaffolding or a cherry-picker for the workmen to get up there. Ho hum.

Friday 14 June 2013

Friday At Last.

It was much the same again today, even heavier rain in the morning so we postponed the sports day again and then although it wasn't so sunny it dried up for the rest of the day. My class spent the morning using co-ordinates, finding things on treasure maps, directing each other across maps and then finally we played Battleships a couple of times. Because it was their first time to play the game I drew the ships and they tried to sink them with torpedoes. I think the idea of shooting at their teacher rather appealed to them. The afternoon was more relaxed. The children drew on coloured card which will be made into wrist bands if the sports day ever happens and then it was 'Golden Time' where they could chose any activity. 
After school I went into town for a bit to change my library books and call in at the health food shop for some carob coated ginger. I had to be strong willed to walk past  the bakery where they were selling their cakes cheap at the end of the day, 4 for £1. The caramel doughnuts, carrot cake and yum-yums were calling to me but I resisted.