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.

Thursday 31 October 2013

Happy Birthday Romas.

My youngest is 25 today.

Here he is (on the right) with Vytas, indulging in a friendly bit of warfare when they were home in February. After he finished his Masters degree he continued to live in Stoke, working first in a supermarket and now as a warehouse man while playing in a band, composing his own music and working on a big project with his friends. The project is to open an indoor skatepark in an old factory. They have finally got all their funding and will be starting to build this month. He is such a hard worker and even today is working a 12 hour shift.
Skateboarding is a passion he shared with Linas. How good that he is building himself a future doing something he enjoys so much. Being so far away we don't get to see him that much but every now and again I watch his skateboarding videos, (yes he is dyslexic though it didn't hold him back at college or uni).
We are very proud of this young man and also very grateful for the way he came home immediately and looked after us when we were devastated by the loss of Linas.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Sunny Morning.

We were promised good weather for the morning so I was up nice and early. It was chilly but sunny and I managed to weed the rest of the paving around the scree garden and made a start on the scree garden itself. Although I try to avoid using chemicals in the garden hand weeding alone is not going to keep the slabs clear so I'm going to try a bit of an experiment. On one section I'll use standard weed killer and on another I'll use DIY weed killer made from vinegar and salt. It'll be interesting to see how they compare.
The first tentative drops of rain were falling when the post man arrived. He stopped halfway down the drive as there was a packet to be signed for. As I walked towards him I saw with horror that his van was rolling on down the hill towards the Rav. "Your car!" I squawked in my croaky voice. But I needn't have worried. He had a driver with him I guess he was showing a new post man the route. The post man did say I wasn't the first person to think his van was rolling away. Phew!
Then it was off to town, first to get a new tyre fitted on the Rav and then to do some shopping. I parked at Lidls  and spent over an hour in the High Street. I bought this Jasper Conran top in a charity shop. It was nearly £5! Charity shops are not that cheap these days. 
Then I did a fairly big shop in Tescos. I was hoping to pick up a pumpkin so I could make pumpkin soup and roast the seeds but there was not one to be seen. All sold out. It rained on and off for most of the afternoon and by the time I got home it was dark and I was worn out. Time for some sore throat medicine - a glass of Bailey's. I had some last night and it worked a treat though in deference to the vast amount of calories in it I halved my nightly chocolate ration.

Tuesday 29 October 2013


It's been mostly sunny with the occasional shower. Peter took my car to work as he had a puncture last night (in the rain and dark). I've ordered a new tyre but they won't have it until tomorrow morning so he'll have to take my car again tomorrow.
The scaffolding man turned up this morning and spent the whole day putting up the scaffolding. After he left I did start to climb the ladder but even though it is tied in it was so bouncy that I chickened out. I didn't want to disturb the scaffolding man at his work so I spent the day indoors. I got the apples I cooked yesterday, sieved and put in containers in the freezer and I made a batch of swede and carrot mash which is also in the freezer. That's one thing made towards our Christmas dinner.

Monday 28 October 2013


Well, we survived the storm without a scratch. No loss of power and not even a branch down. We must have missed the worst of the storm which although it did not reach the severity of the Great Storm did cause over 600,000 homes to lose power and this afternoon there were still over 200,000 homes without power. Although we did not get the strong winds we had plenty of rain but my uber dam did its job and diverted all the water away from the drive. I slept very lightly last night and kept waking up, no doubt my subconscious was expecting something to happen. This morning I felt very tired and planned a quiet day. I thought it was because of all the work I did yesterday and the bad night but then I realised I'm going down with a cold, the first of the winter. Yuck, just when it is half-term too but then I wouldn't really want to have to go to work either.
The rain and winds have persisted through the day with the occasional burst of sun. I had to drive the rubbish up to the road and I was surprised by the strength of the wind. 
These 3 pictures were taken at the same spot, just looking in different directions. 
Apart from putting things back into the conservatory I haven't done much today. I did chop up and cook all the windfall apples I picked yesterday but then I collapsed in an armchair and watched several episodes of Downton Abbey. That is one programme Peter will not watch with me. 

Sunday 27 October 2013

Preparing For The Storm.

Iv'e been battening down the hatches for the big storm which is headed our way. It is expected to be of a similar scale to the Great Storm of 1987 when 15 million trees were blown down. It has been stormy all day though the main storm is due to hit us in the early hours of the morning. There was a warning to stay away from the coast as the waves could be up to 9m.
While Peter was out coaching a crew at the gig club I moved my car into a more sheltered spot and re-dug the channel that takes away any water that makes it down the drive.
The heaviest rains are predicted for the northern side of the storm but I was taking no chances. I put wood right across the road reinforced with heavy concrete blocks and soil. That should divert the worst of any water coming down the road.  
Any small outside items have been put away and I've tucked the acers in the sheltered spot between the sitting room and the porch.
The strong winds will probably bring down branches and there is a chance that some of the trees will come down too. The big beech tree on the corner is still full of leaves which makes it more vulnerable. If that tree falls towards the house then it will take out the whole corner of the building. The other trees on that side, which is catching the worst of the wind, have been swaying alarmingly all day but they have less leaves on. If they come down the main damage would be to the conservatory. The conservatory roof, which is not in the best of states might just get blown off. I've cleared everything of any consequence from the conservatory and Speedy and Patch will join the other cats in the kitchen tonight. There is a possibility that the wonky chimney will fall down but we sleep on the other side of the house
It is very likely that the power will go at some point but that shouldn't affect us too much. The rayburn does not depend on electricity so we will have a warm kitchen, be able to cook and have hot water. Thinking about the things we would lose if the electricity went out I decided to hoover the whole house and Peter's rowing kit is in the washing machine right now. Although the tv and pcs are our first choice for entertainment I changed my library books on Friday and there are plenty of other things to do. There is not much else we can do to prepare so check this space tomorrow to see how we fared.
PS The hen did not make it through the night.

Saturday 26 October 2013


 The view from my PC.
 I saw the squirrel again this morning as he made his way to the cob nut trees behind the house.
We had rain in the night but the day has been mostly dry and quite mild. While Peter went off to row I carried on weeding the paving around the scree garden. The 2 worst sides are done now. When he came back Peter gave me a hand to carry the round garden table up to the shelter for the winter. In case this storm does hit us I pulled some big branches out of the stream ( a failed attempt to protect the water pipe that is also in the stream) and then cleared any blockages along the stream. That included sneaking next door and clearing branches from the 2 concrete pipes the stream flows through.. 
The hen is looking even worse today. I saw her eat this morning but I didn't know if she had been drinking. I dripped some water into her beak and she swallowed it eagerly so I spoon fed her more water. Maybe I should have left her or even dispatched her but I'm too soft and would rather she faded away gently.

Friday 25 October 2013


It was a bit of a wrench to get up at 6.00 especially as I hadn't got to sleep until after 1.00. I guess if I had to work more full days I would be so tired I would fall asleep earlier. It was a fun day in school. Not being a supporter of school uniforms for small children it was good to see them 'wearing something green' as we were having a fund raiser for the Macmillan charity. The children brought in donations of money and cakes and in the afternoon every child chose a cake to eat at playtime. I fell at the last hurdle and ate a piece of home-made crunchy apple cake and it was delicious. Having an extra day gave the children a chance to do more on their lift-the-flap houses. They also used Google maps to find their own streets. Street view was very popular and they got quite excited when they saw their own house or even car on the screen. The TA who was working with those children even saw herself in front of her house. Street view doesn't cover the countryside so all I could see of our place was an aerial view. For the rest of the time the children could 'choose' and I provided them with lots of different paper and cards for drawing & making which proved very popular.
After work I walked into town to change my library books. I also bought myself a necklace (£10 reduced to £3). 

Primark is always worth a look and there I bought some fleecy lounging/pyjama bottoms for Peter to wear when it gets colder. With energy prices constantly going up, 10% just recently, the news is full of ways to keep warm and how many people can't afford heating. On R4 last night I was horrified to hear that last year 24,000 people died in the UK simply because of the cold! It's all very well putting on layers, which is what we do, but for frail people breathing cold air can be fatal. Somebody from the government suggested that we should save money by just heating our living rooms to 20C and keeping bedrooms at 18C. It would be lovely if our bedroom was 18C in the winter. What kind of world do they live in? We're OK because we are relatively fit and active but there are so many people who simply have to endure this climate of austerity.
I checked on my lonely hen and she is still alive and eating but not really able to walk. I made sure she had food and water close to her and closed the hen house door to keep her a little warmer. 

It has been sunny all day but this evening heavy rain clouds were approaching and we are being told to expect stormy weather on Sunday night.

Thursday 24 October 2013


We were promised a dry day and that's what we got at least until 3.00 (playtime). I was back out weeding this morning and though I was in the shade it was good to see the sun on the fields and trees around. I've got half-way up one of the long sides of paving and I started with the worst sections to make the job easier as I go along. The poor old hen is very much on her last legs. Or not on her legs as of yesterday. She is finding it hard to walk so I made sure she had water and corn where she could reach them. Each time I go up there I expect to find her 'gorn' but this evening she answered my call with a low cluck when I checked the hen house. At least it is still very mild.
The 2 acers down by the house were catching the sun just before I left for work.
Spot the bird ! I could hear a bird singing high up in the ash tree behind the house, 
but it was only when I enlarged the photo that I saw it was a woodpecker. 
I stayed on at school to stick work into books and then drove across town to the Post Office, right in the middle of our local rush hour. At least I remembered to cut through the industrial estate and avoided the long wait at the traffic lights on the Braunton road. Driving home I was startled by a small bird which flew up right in front of the car which I may well have hit. I was just getting over that when a branch sticking out of the hedge whacked the side if the car with a bang. It has taken a bit of paint off the front pillar but nothing else. I was waiting for a third thing to happen but I was driving carefully around the final blind bend when a massive feed lorry coming towards me caused me to stop so that doesn't really count.

Wednesday 23 October 2013


It poured with rain all through the night and carried on for most of the morning. Late morning it stopped and I was able to fit in nearly an hour's weeding before going to work.
As I was leaving for work this dragonfly zoomed past me and then settled on the front step to catch some sun. 
After so much rain it was good to see the sun again. It was my afternoon to work with the little children and then for once I didn't need to stay for a staff meeting as it was Parents' Evening and not being a class teacher that doesn't involve me. 
I drove home through more sunshine and although most of the garden was in shade the sun was hitting the big beech tree on the corner of the garden.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Mostly Wet.

We've had a lot of rain today but in between the showers I was able to make a start on weeding at the scree garden. As I didn't get round to replacing the mortar around the slabs the gaps have filled with leaves and make the perfect place for weeds to sprout. Vytas rang me on Skype this morning but for some reason we couldn't get either camera to work so it was voice only. Still lovely to speak to him.
Sorry about the blurry picture but I was driving to work when I saw Andrew Lewis moving some small calves. I was still driving while I fished out the camera and took a photo! At school it was the Year 2's again. Quite a bit of confusion between towns and countries as we talked about their addresses. One child suggested that we should put phone numbers on the envelopes because everybody has a phone. Some of the envelopes had rather too much glue applied so that they were stuck flat but hey, it's all a learning curve. The rain caught us out at playtime. We have a 10 break in the afternoon (longer if it is nice). It was fine as we left the classroom so nobody had coats on but by the time we walked around to the front playground it started to rain. We sent the children back to get their coats but the rain got worse, to the point when we were about to give up and go back to the classrooms when suddenly it all stopped and the sun came out.
The winter flowering jasmine has put out the first cheery yellow flowers.

Monday 21 October 2013


The weather today has changed from heavy rain to light drizzle with every variation between. I don't mind it being wet on a Monday because that gives me the perfect chance to get all the housework done. And as I look out of the kitchen window I can see the cheerful red acer out in the yard. I also typed up 60 children's names and addresses so they can write them on envelopes which they will be making themselves. A combination DT & geography lesson.
Last week at the art shop I spotted some beautiful cards made from pieces of shell (made into hummingbirds and butterflies) so I thought I'd make some cards using slate and glass that I collected on the beach yesterday. Most of Barricane beach is made of broken shells,stones and sea glass so I think I'll be taking a collecting trip down there next week. 
Poor Peter - he came home from work and was preparing his lunch for tomorrow when he realised that the shepherd's pie he had lovingly made yesterday afternoon was still in the oven. The oil rayburn burns 24/7 (hence our astronomical oil bill) and as it has its own chimney you can't smell anything until you open the oven door. Needless to say the shepherd's pie was a charred black lump and is now sitting outside on the grass. He had planned to have lunches of that shepherd's pie to relieve the monotony of sandwiches but it will be sandwiches again tomorrow.
He's just told me that his work place was hit by a mini tornado on Saturday. One worker, a very large person, opened the door to see what the massive banging was and nearly got sucked out, to everyone's amusement. The UK is apparently hit by lots of mini tornadoes each year but they rarely impinge on people's lives.

Sunday 20 October 2013


Listening to the torrential rain last night I was feeling sure that my road dam would be holding up when I remembered that the postman had driven down to us in the afternoon. Our usual postman is very ill and the new guy tends to race down the road knocking the dam out of place. So I got up, donned my wet weather gear and went out to check. And it was a good thing I did so. The dam was more or less in place but the little ditch I have created in my neighbour's field was not coping with the flow of water and it was spilling out and down the drive. I deepened and widened the ditch, reinforced the dam and was able to go back to bed knowing our drive was protected.
It has been windy today but the rain held off so we went for a walk along the beach. I was impressed with this new bench that has been built above Barricane Beach. I would love to have it in my garden, along with the view of course. 
There were a lot of people around as we drove through Woolacombe but there is plenty of beach for everyone. 
There is nothing like a good sea breeze to blow away the cobwebs. 
The surf looked quite choppy but that didn't seem to deter the surfers.
Coombesgate is perfect for rockpooling. You can walk on the smooth sand and peer into waist high rock pools. This pool had over 50 snakeslocks sea anemones in it. 
We walked back up to the shelter of the cliffs to have a coffee. The sky wasn't quite this blue but it was still lovely. Children and dogs splashed in the larger sand pools and a young lad was flying his kite. What simple and free pleasures we have so close to hand.
Back home I was tempted to do some gardening but I haven't recovered from yesterday so it would not be sensible.

Saturday 19 October 2013


The day started nice and sunny but no sooner had I started weeding than everything went grey and down came the rain. Then followed a couple of hours of rain and thunder mixed with dry spells (there goes that squirrel again!). I was out weeding during each dry spell and eventually the sun came out. I can now say that the whole of the rocky bank has been weeded.  
While I was weeding I could hear the plaintive crying of the kitty-from-next-door. She is fascinated by our cats and yesterday she was making advances to Speedy. But woe betide if Elwen or Squeaky are outside. They will not tolerate another female on their territory and yesterday the kitty did get beaten up. Elwen did go and investigate today but as long as the kitty is on the other side of the invisible line between our properties she is safe. Elwen does have a big patch of mud on her back so I wonder if she had an embarrassing fall as she chased the kitty through the mud.

Friday 18 October 2013


It rained first thing this morning but that didn't interfere with my plans as I was going in to town to meet with some friends for coffee. We had our coffee in the local department store which has more comfortable chairs but a less tempting choice of pastries. That's better for my diet though I still had a custard tart with my coffee. It looked home made and was a far cry from the factory produced custard tarts you can buy in the supermarket. It was great to catch up with my friends and we had a good chat. On my way home 3 collared doves flew down and stood in a line across the road looking at me from about 10ft away. They didn't fly off again until the last minute, I guess they were playing chicken.
Once again it was dry in the afternoon and I was able to get on with yet more weeding. Looking up at the clouds I could see that the wind was now coming from the south which explained why it was so warm. The oil tanker came down to top up our oil and mashed up my wood and soil dam across the road so fixing that was my final job. At least that I can do without hurting my back.

Thursday 17 October 2013


The morning was overcast with a mild wind blowing. I got in an hour's weeding, scrambling about on the rocky hillside. The sun made its appearance at lunchtime so although I had taken along a raincoat, just in case, it was a lovely afternoon. It didn't take long to stick the children's work into their books after school and I had a sunny drive home. Going in to work the road was busy with tractors hauling in giant trailers of maize silage up to the Lewis' farm. I got stuck behind one trailer which went right into town so they must be cutting in fields on the other side of town.
For once Peter has a nice evening for his rowing session. As the nights draw in they will only be able to row at the weekends.