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.

Wednesday 31 July 2013


Woke this morning to proper rain. Just what my garden needed. It was still very warm and though black clouds remained in the sky the rain died away quite quickly with only the occasional shower. I had to go into town, first to take my flat tyre to the cheap repair place. It turned out that they couldn't repair it and I had to buy a replacement tyre. Who knows if they are telling the truth or not but they have repaired some of my tyres before so perhaps I am too cynical. Then I went and had my tattoo touched up. This time I didn't take any painkillers beforehand and there wasn't much difference. Today's session was less than an hour while the original tattoos took nearly 2 hours each. I enjoyed chatting to Tom as he worked especially as he is a skateboarder too and knew Linas. Even though Barnstaple is a big town there is still a strong community feel and when you get chatting to anyone who has lived here for a while you soon find a lot of connections.
My afternoon has been spent washing the sitting room carpet as the forecast is for the hot weather to return which will help it dry out. Usually I wash every bit of it and that takes forever especially as you get to a point where the vax is dragging up dust from the concrete underneath. I wouldn't mind spending all that time and effort washing the carpet if it looked fantastic afterwards but once the wool dries it doesn't look a lot different to before. So this time I allocated one afternoon to wash the parts that needed cleaning and that will have to do. I am so not having carpet when we eventually move because you can never get a carpet really clean. I'd like floor surfaces that can be washed apart from maybe the bedroom. Just can't make up my mind what surface would be ideal. I love the cork tiles in our kitchen but even if you hire a sander and re-varnish them you can't get them looking like new. Sometimes I think I'd like limestone tiles (with underfloor heating) but that would be a hard surface to fall on, you know when we get old and doddery. It's fun to dream.

Tuesday 30 July 2013


The weather has been much the same as yesterday; warm, windy and mostly sunny. 
I spent the whole day working on weeding the bank and finally that job is done. But .... I decided to weed and widen the path up there so that's at least another half day's work.  
And that's been my day, fairly uneventful but things got done which always makes me feel good.

Monday 29 July 2013


Today has been very blustery and mostly sunny. I spent the morning getting on with hoovering and washing floors. I like to get the housework out of the way as it's not my favourite past time. Then I got ready for my hydrotherapy, walked to the car and saw this.
I've know how to change a wheel since I was about 10 but I knew I couldn't get it done in time to get to the hospital. Oh well, it's a group session so if you miss one it's not so bad. It was annoying but not stressful. That would have been the case if I'd been on my way to work or for an appointment. And I'll have to pay up for a repair or a new tyre. I cheered myself up with a fresh mango with plain yoghurt before changing back into work clothes and spending the afternoon in the garden. 
One more good session on that bank and it should be sorted. I had to break up every lump of clay because they would often contain grass roots and then I'd have a final dig thinking I'd got all the grass roots only to find more going even deeper. But I might as well do the job properly if I don't want to be digging it all up again in a year or 2.
I called a halt at 6.00 and still had another hour sitting up by the scree garden. The trees were waving in the wind while I caught the last bit of sun reading my book.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Sun and Showers.

It's been a day of sunshine and showers accompanied by a warm wind blowing up from the south. The earlier showers lasted only a few minutes and were so light that they hardly made a mark on the ground. Throughout the day they have been getting longer and heavier, so much so that I had to make a run for it when I was caught out in the garden taking photos.
Spot the butterfly. 
A lone red admiral was flying erratically around the garden taking frequent rests and nearly being nabbed by Squeaky as it tried to fly past her into the porch. It may have even been blown here on the wind from central Europe.
This ringlet stopped briefly on the valerian giving me a chance to get a good view of its characteristic spots. 
This year the goose family raised all of their 4 goslings safely. The parents must have learnt from last year to stay away from Neville.
With the unsettled weather we decided not to go for a walk. Although I could have had time in the garden instead I backed up all my photos and then did some cleaning of the sitting room windows and wiping down of surfaces. A quiet day for us. I didn't have my usual Skype chat with Vytas as his firm has taken all its staff for a weekend at Treetops Lodge. Can you imagine any UK company doing this for their long term employees let alone staff who have been there less than a year?  

Saturday 27 July 2013


I was expecting rain today, even had an extra lie-in this morning but it has taken up to 5.00 before gentle rain started to fall. 
The weather was perfect for weeding so I spent the day working on the bank. The soil is at least 80% clay so is horrible to work in when it gets wet. I didn't get all of the grass roots cleared but the end is in sight. Considering I started that job during the winter but then stopped when the London Pride was flowering I'm quite pleased with my progress.
This year the lavender is a deep purple and the above photo doesn't show just how vivid red the crocosmia Lucifer really are. When the boys were at scout camp I used to call in at a smart garden centre near the Alice Holt forest for a wander round their display areas. Just where I would sit to have a cup of tea there was a planter of c. Lucifer which I coveted. Eventually I bought some corms locally and they have thrived and grown into this showy clump.

Friday 26 July 2013


It was still sunny today but the clouds are rolling in and some of them this afternoon looked quite black. This morning I went to a friend's house in town for a coffee and a good long chat. Normally we meet at Lindsay's cake shop but today I dropped into town first and got some of those delicious cheesecakes which we ate sitting in Janet's garden. (Any excuse for cheesecake! ) After my visit I drove over the New Bridge to the other side of town, 2 hours free parking at Lidl's, and walked back to the High street. 
But first I called in at the tattoo parlour to book a time to have my tattoo touched up and I walked up Litchdon street to the old almshouses.  
They are still in use as almshouses providing sheltered accommodation for a few lucky elderly of the Parish. The plaque on the front states that they were built in 1627. 
A little further down the street is the impressive entrance to the old  Brannam's Pottery They moved out to Roundswell but have since closed down.
 Here's a view of Litchdon street.
And this is the Square with the 4 Liars clock and the museum behind. I am envious of the clumps of golden oat grass as I lost mine several winters back.
After a bit of shopping I got home in time to sit out for a while in the sun as rain is due tomorrow. Then I did some weeding and replanting so if it doesn't rain I'l have to get the hose out.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Eventually Sunny.

After some heavy rain last night which had me up and checking the dams at 11.30 the day started overcast and felt cool at only 15C. However by the time I had dealt with some correspondence we were getting sunny spells and things began to warm up.
Naturally I spent the rest of the day outside getting on with weeding some of the flower beds and the stone steps. I also started picking the blackcurrants which were hanging like juicy black grapes. Once more the birds are beating me to the raspberries but I found a few ripe ones to snack on.
All afternoon the warm south-westerly wind was pulling the high cirrus clouds into fantastical shapes.
It was fascinating to watch the veils of cloud twisting and turning across the sky.
I was right about the sparrows. When I took a break in the morning they were still chirping away like mad in their little hole but by lunchtime all was silent apart from the mewling of a lone buzzard. By listening out for the sparrows' chirping I located them in the trees at the back of the house. I wonder if they will have a second brood? The owls are noisy again in the evenings with their screeching and burbling only feet from our bedroom window.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Gentle Rain.

As the forecast was for rain, possibly tonight but definitely tomorrow I thought I better spend the day working outside. (The rain started half an hour ago as steady gentle rain unlike other parts of the country that yesterday had a month's worth of rain in a few hours.) 
Today's task was to shift the pile of soil next to the compost heap, clear the nettles and brambles and give the concrete a good sweep. I had a small bonfire and burnt the brambles and scraps of wood so not only was I covered in dust from my vigorous sweeping  but was gently scented with smoke. Such a relief to get in the shower.
It must be quite confusing for my solitary hen to have things change so much. I don't think she is going to last much longer, she is wobbly on her feet and keeps her wings spread out a little to help her balance. She took herself off to sleep around 2.00 and then got up at 4.00 after her nap for some corn.
After last year's lack of butterflies it has been good to see lots of Ringlet butterflies around the place. They are dark brown/black and flutter erratically about the place so I was lucky to find this one resting on a leaf. I've also seen some Small Whites about. 
I think the sparrows must be nearly ready to leave the nest. This afternoon, before the rain, I could hear the chicks chirp from the nest, then the adult would reply from up on the roof, then the chick again and so on. At least with the rain the cats will be indoors rather than waiting to pounce on any fledglings that don't get airborne. 
I had my first try at making hummus today. Last year one of the boys made some using tinned chickpeas but they were rather salty for our taste. Instead I bought a bag of dried chickpeas, soaked some and then cooked them before blending and adding lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and seasoning. I didn't have any tahini and maybe I'll use less garlic next time but it was still pretty tasty.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

A Few Drops of Rain.

It looks as if the heatwave is finally coming to a close. Still two and a half weeks of Mediterranean weather made a good start to the summer. This morning was overcast and it kept looking as if it was going to rain at any moment. I concentrated on outdoor jobs and managed to weed and sweep all the paved areas around the house. At least now it doesn't look so scruffy.
The sun made an appearance in the afternoon albeit for short spells. By the time I called a halt to my work and had a shower it was grey once more and there were even a few spots of rain. Peter has been home and gone straight out again as they were 1 person short for the social rowers. At least he won't have to work as hard as yesterday when he came home quite exhausted.

Monday 22 July 2013

Definitely Changing.

 Just before going to bed last night I went into the kitchen to get my book when I heard a plop and a splash.
I looked down to see a toad in the cats' water bowl. I know we are surrounded by nature but that's plain ridiculous. 
More wildlife- a pair of sparrows have made a nest  by our bedroom window so we are constantly serenaded by sparrows chirping. In a way that's a sad sound to me as it brings back memories of living in central London with almost no access to any outside space.The sound of sparrows and town pigeons were the nearest I got to nature. It was especially hard as my first home was St Ives with the sea on 3 sides and even as small children we roamed the tiny back lanes and had free run of the beaches. When we moved up to London I spent the whole year looking forward to the summer when I would go back to Cornwall to stay with friends. There the only time we were indoors was to eat or to sleep. I have no recollection of it ever raining but then I think we played in the barns and sheds. We lived a Bohemian life and were very poor, no tv or radio but plenty of books and creative opportunities. But we never felt deprived, we didn't long for material goods. Clothes were hand-me-downs and we were never subjected to 'going shopping'. With at least 6 children in the household us older ones would have to look after the 'little ones', 2 days a week each, annoying but accepted. No such thing as pocket money but we earned a little picking tomatoes and strawberries at the market garden across the road. I do think that paying us to collect buckets of stones from a field was more an act of constructive charity than a job that needed doing. Days we weren't minding the little ones were spent at the local riding stables and that's where we spent our earnings. And on the days we didn't have money for riding lessons we still got to ride the ponies bareback to and from the fields. For us children those summers were idyllic and it was partly in the hope of giving our boys the same sort of freedom that we moved out of London as soon as we could. Hopefully they will look back on their childhoods as fondly as I do on my Cornish summers. 
Today was my last afternoon at school before the holidays though the children still have one more day. The morning was overcast and incredibly humid. Even though I wasn't doing anything strenuous the sweat was pouring down my back and I took another shower before going to work. As I left the temperature was 42C but when I came home it had dropped to 25C. It's all change just in time for the school summer holiday.
Normally from this gateway I can see down to the sea and across Bideford Bay to Hartland but this afternoon the sea mist had rolled in and obscured the view. 
Coming down the hill more mist was rolling in. Yesterday's late night shipping forecast spoke of 'sudden thundery showers' for nearly all of the sea areas. We haven't had any thunder yet  more is due tomorrow so I've checked all the dams and run-offs just in  case.  
My first job this morning was to write down a list of jobs I hope to do this holidays. It was a full page so maybe they won't all get done and I'm trying not to keep adding to the list but I've just thought of a couple I need to add. Nothing like optimism.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Changing ?

It looks as if the weather is beginning to change, or possibly not. The morning was overcast, warm and windy. We took ourselves off for a walk around Morte Point. Morthoe itself was heaving and not only was the car park full but there were cars parked all along the road even though it's a double yellow line (no parking at any time). We were just about to give up when we spotted a couple going to their car. Not only were they leaving but they passed on their all day parking ticket. Not strictly legal but they had paid for that space for the whole day.
We had just gone out on to Morte Point when it ....... rained! We thought about turning back but then decided to take a chance and indeed the clouds soon moved on and it was blue skies once more. We saw a couple of seals people watching in the usual spot while most of the sheep were hiding in the gorse bushes to keep out of the sun. Back home I cut all the grass in case the rain does arrive. The flies were dreadful so I ended up covered from head to toe in joggers, a long sleeved shirt, scarf worn Bedouin style and safety goggles. I did get hot and sweaty but that was soon remedied with a shower and it was better than getting bitten and staying itchy for days if not weeks. After said shower we ate our dinner outside (the flies not being too interested in my clean self). Peter had barbecued some courgettes for me along with his pork which I had with tomato & onion salad and cottage cheese. 
And now for a few more photos from Green Man Day. The owl rescue man was there which gave a great opportunity for taking pictures of owls.
I loved the way the owls took no notice of the dogs. 
This is a Tawny Owl, we often hear them around our house as well as Barn owls. 
I never seem to be able to get a close-up of the wild buzzards so here is a tame one instead.

Saturday 20 July 2013

Green Man Day.

A lovely day for Green Man Day in Pilton with a bit of a breeze at times to cool things down. Peter went earlier as he was acting as a marshal for the procession and then would be up at the gig club's stand (gig, information boards and cake stall), while I just wanted to have a wander around and listen to some music.
Having craftily parked at school I got there in time to see the Green Man and his attendants arrive followed by even more people to add to the throng in the street.  
 It's very much a people's festival with plenty of music, craft stalls, fund raising stalls and information stalls.
 Lots of opportunities to buy your own Green Man.
Up in Rotary Gardens I nearly bought a basket (the rectangular one with the handle nearest the path) as I've been looking for something I can load up with plate, cup, book sunglasses etc to take up the garden but it was a size too big. 
 There was lots of old fashioned fun for the kids as well as free kids' craft making activities.
 I loved this little display next to a stall selling lavender bags, pin cushions etc.
 I saw a group of ladies knitting these in the foyer of our library the other day.
There were plenty of opportunities to buy home made cakes but I am currently trying to be 'good' so I passed by these cup cakes and all the other lovely treats. I was nearly tempted to by some fresh pineapple juice served in the pineapple it came from but I was getting tired so after a bit more listening to music I walked into town to visit the library before driving across town to BJ's where I bought some plants to replace some of my hanging basket plants that haven't done too well. Once home it was too nice to do anything but sit outside enjoying this fantastic weather.