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 31 August 2014

Departure Day.

We were woken this morning by the sound of birds clattering about on the roof and by the sun shinning through the windows. Peter went out with the gun and scared off the rooks on the roof and in the tree by firing pellets at them. 
Sadly it was departure day for our visitors but after breakfast we got Vytas to clear the gutter over our bedroom window before the ladders were put away. ...............................................................
There was then much marching up and down stairs as the cars were loaded up for the homeward journeys. All too soon it was time for the traditional family photos and off they went. It's been a lovely visit though I'm feeling a little tired after so many very late nights but when you only see people a couple of times a year naturally we spend as much time as possible in each other's company.
It all seemed very quiet after everyone had left. Peter and I dismantled the big table and I started getting washing in the machine and hoovering downstairs. The sun stayed out long enough for me to have an hour sitting outside before the clouds started rolling in. While I was reading Elwen came along with a small bird in her mouth. I chased her around the garden and for once I caught her before she hid in the bushes. She was so surprised she opened her mouth to hiss and with a startled squawk  the bird flew off into the trees.

Saturday 30 August 2014


A grand night was had by those of us who went to the ceilidh last night. It was in the community hall in the artists/ex-fishing village of Appledore and was hosted by the Taw and Torridge Gig club. The evening started with  a meal and we had the choice of a mild chicken korma, a hot madras or a vegetable curry. The men chose the hot madras while us ladies all went for the korma. While people were arriving raffle tickets were being sold which happens at every local event. Sally was lucky enough to win a case of lager which she was able to swap for a bottle of Merlot. I was also lucky and won a tin of shortbread biscuits. Once everyone had eaten their fill we cleared the tables away and the dancing began. It was a real shame that Peter's knee is so bad at the moment but between us we managed plenty of dances. It was a real mixture of dances, I know the last one was the Virginia Reel and there was a graceful Jane Austin Regency style dance. Mainly they were fast dances and it was as much fun to watch as to take part. Naturally each dance had to be taught first which produced a lot of laughter. Gary the caller used to be a teacher and was incredibly patient as a floor full of beginners tried to sort themselves out. Even getting into the starting positions took a while as sometimes it was 4 couples in a square or 6 couples in 2 lines or even one large circle. But everyone had a really good time and it didn't matter if you were skipping around gracefully or stomping around hopefully. 

Today has remained cloudy and windy but it feels quite warm, a forerunner of the hot spell we have been promised for next week. Before Sally and Vytas went off for another cliff walk Vytas and Sam carried around the triple ladder and cleared out the long gutter that was clogged with leaves and weeds. They also carried the big wooden garden table back up the the scree garden shelter. At the moment Peter and I are not able to do heavy lifting jobs so I was thankful for a couple of strong men to do them for us. While the ladders were up I went up and cut back the climbing rose that was trying to get up onto the roof. After that I cleared all the branches and swept/picked up all the fallen leaves. 
A roast lamb dinner is soon to be served and Sam and Vytas are happily playing a 40k wargame in the conservatory while everyone else is in the kitchen knitting or on their computers.

Friday 29 August 2014


Today has been windy, grey and mostly wet. I found it really hard to wake up this morning as yesterday evening we played Balderdash after our meal. Naturally we want to spend as much time as possible with our friends and family as we don't get to see each other that often. So bedtime was rather late except for Peter who had to get up for work in the morning.
Not to be done out of holiday activities a contingent; Vytas, Sally and Sam went body boarding at Putsborough. Even on the low tide the waves were big in fact there were red flags up at Woolacombe which is the other end of the beach but there are no lifeguards/flags at the Puts end and surfers are expected to be sensible. I asked Vytas to park in view of the surf cam and I spent the afternoon keeping an eye on the white car in the centre of the picture only to find that it wasn't them at all. 
Meanwhile Kate, Alex and I stayed in the warm kitchen. Alex had brought an instruction book, wool and a crochet hook with her and yesterday I had helped her to master crochet (not too successfully) and knitting, which was a lot better. Today Kate had the book and was reviving her knitting skills from 30 years ago. 
Meanwhile Alex taught me how to do Medieval finger knitting. That was interesting though we weren't too sure what the various ropes/braids were used for. Medieval friendship bracelets perhaps?
This evening all of us except for Alex are going to a ceilidh at Appledore. The evening includes a curry and dancing to The Oggle Band. They play a mixture of Celtic and world music getting everyone up and dancing so it should be a fun evening.

Thursday 28 August 2014


It's been very windy but with only a few clouds it has been pretty hot for most of the time.
Sally and Vytas arrived at 1.00 this morning and naturally I was still awake. Unfortunately after that I paid the price of doing too much in the last few days and it took nearly another 2 hours and more painkillers until I got to sleep. Only to wake up again at 6.00 and once Peter had left for work I got up to set out the breakfast and make porridge for those that wanted it. I had a quiet time until eventually everybody wandered downstairs. Afterwards our friends went into town and Sally and Vytas went for a walk on the cliffs at Countisbury. 
The town contingent had been sent on a mission to buy a replacement switch box for the shower which had ceased working. Luckily they were able to get one and later Vytas replaced it. That's another maintenance job done.

Wednesday 27 August 2014


It was grey, windy and ccccold this morning though it does seem to be a little warmer now that it has rained. I'm blogging early as I wait for our friends to arrive in the next hour or so.  My day has been spent on a final clean up, no cobweb spared and cooking. I've baked a lemon drizzle cake which is just waiting to cool before I add the drizzle. I have made it before but I couldn't find a recipe in my books so I turned to the web instead. The first recipe called for 1 1/2 eggs, I mean who uses half an egg? That was the Mary Berry recipe so I used the BBC one instead which needed 4 eggs. Hopefully it will taste nice. Supper is under way, even for 4 it takes an early start if you want to use the Rayburn though there is always the hotplate. It's only sausage, mash, garlic mushrooms, beans and gravy but that's 5 pans to use! I've had it easy living on salads that only take one bowl.
There may only be one tiny pumpkin in the veg patch but the apples trees have done well this year. 

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Southerly Winds.

With strong winds blowing up from the south it has been very warm today with occasional sunny spells too. When the rain died down yesterday afternoon I went up and took down my extra flood defences to make it easier for Peter to drive out this morning. But then heavy rain set in once more so there I was at 10.00 dragging the wood across the road again. I don't sleep too well these days so when I woke and saw it was 4.30 I thought I might as well go and move the wood out of the way again. I did doze off a bit before Peter's radio went on at 6.00 but by 7.00 I decided I might as well make an early start to the day. 
After the usual routine jobs I washed the kitchen floor and then went and blitzed all the bathrooms. That done I headed into town to change my library books and get in last minute supplies.  
As it was such a warm day I thought I'd wear shorts, here something only holidaymakers and the young do. It was a good choice as it was quite hot and sticky in town. With 2 weddings coming up next year I've taken to popping in to Monsoon for inspiration. Today I actually tried a dress on. It was in sale reduced from £69 to £20 but although the top was gorgeous it had a strange hem line so I didn't buy it. I did toy with the idea of cutting the jersey fabric into a tunic and maybe would have done if it had been black rather than navy blue. (The top part had bright green embroidery/cut outs on the shoulders and back.)
As I drove home I could see a dark grey weather front just to the north of us and it feels as if it is going to rain any moment. The bees and the butterflies were busy getting as much nectar as they could. I missed the chance to photograph our largest dragonfly, a Southern Hawker. It had stopped for a rest on a handy conifer branch but was gone by the time I got my camera. Earlier I had been deadheading the hanging baskets when a medium sized bronze coloured dragonfly came and sat on my arm and then my shoulder completely unconcerned when I moved around. Later I waited for a Beautiful Demoiselle (that's its proper name) to stop but it never settled and I missed my chance to get a picture of this emerald green bodied and black winged dragonfly.

Monday 25 August 2014

Friday 22nd August.

It was a very wet start to the day it then became bright and breezy. There were a lot of dark clouds too but no more rain thank goodness. I was off for another outing to town to meet a friend for coffee and a chat at Lindsay's where they make the best cheesecakes. 
After our coffee I headed back to the High Street taking the lane that goes past the parish church. Halfway down I realised that the lane was filled with people who had just been to a funeral service so I took the side lane that leads to the Pannier Market. From the High Street it was possible to see the horse drawn hearse and I didn't think I would be impinging on anyone's privacy if I took a photo from there.  
I finished off my town visit by going to Tesco's to stock up on stuff for next week when the house will be full again. I also bought a half price acer, a purple leaved one that is different to the ones I already have. Peter is quite fond of the acers in pots and regularly give them the dregs from the beer barrel before he takes it back to the brewery. 
Peter came home with lots of sausages and mincemeat which he buys at a local butchers. I bagged up the mince into 1lb bags and the sausages into 4s before putting them all in the freezer. Apparently my biscuits went down very well at work which was a relief and now they are waiting for the next time I do some baking.

Wet and Warm.

We woke up to rain which has been with us, sometimes light and sometimes heavy,  for the whole day. The wind has changed direction and now it is blowing up from the south it is very much warmer so that is something to be thankful for. As we will have visitors with us next weekend we listened to yesterday's omnibus edition of The Archers today instead.
My job for the day has been to clean up the conservatory. Conservatory in name and structure in reality it is more of a greenhouse, workshop and cat bedroom so there were plenty of cobwebs, insect bodies and sawdust to clear up. Thank goodness for my trusty hoover. Once everything had been sucked into the hoover I had a bit of a tidy up, put in some nails to keep a dangling electric cable out of the way and then had a final wipe over all the white window frames. It does look a lot better and I know that some of the men folk will probably spend time in there painting figures or even having a 40K wargame. While I had the hoover out I went over the sitting room in case I run out of time on Wednesday. Peter is busy putting some audio books on my MP5 player as I got a bit grumpy with him because the instruction book is hard to follow and neither of us could get it onto the menu page that it says comes up each time you turn on the power - not. I can get the calculator but when will I need that and also 15 Asian language to English dictionaries again not something I see myself ever using. Without the menu page we can't get radio either. All I wanted was a nice simple MP3 player to listen to music, audio books and the radio. Why do men feel that the more gizmos something has the better? It's like that with washing machines. Most of them have a plethora of options when I and I suspect most people, only need 3 different temperatures, half wash and an extra spin. As far as I'm concerned there's just more to go wrong. When something does the job extras are not improvements.

Sunday 24 August 2014


It's been overcast all day with soft rain settling in later in the afternoon. I planned to have a quiet day but first I decided to get 3 bedrooms ready for next week's visitors. I do keep one bedroom more or less ready for visitors but somehow 'stuff' seems to end up in the other spare rooms. Not a lot but it did take quite a while to move empty boxes, guitars etc into Romas' old room. I worry that Romas' room might be a little damp so I don't like to leave things in there permanently. Perhaps this will give me the incentive to sort out all the 'stuff'. By the time I had made up the beds, hoovered and wiped away any traces of spiders (my friend and her daughter both are scared of spiders, and generally got the rooms ready that was most of the day gone. All that I need to do to those rooms now is to put in fresh flowers and they will be ready for our visitors. 
After all that effort I slumped in front of the TV with a coffee and some pavlova, a suitable reward. 
I had a short walk around the garden in the rain, no butterflies only some white tailed bumble bees on the ice plants. The bears' britches is due to be moved this autumn as the small oak sapling next to it completely shaded it out so I was surprised to see that one flower spike had attempted to make it up through the oak branches. 

Saturday 23 August 2014

A Lovely Day.

My birthday started with a card, chocolates, an orchid and new MP4 player from Peter. And the sun was shining. The instructions on the MP4 player said to initially charge it for 8 hours so I haven't had a chance to see if it is as easy to work as Peter says. It's not one of those teeny tiny ones because I need a big screen to be able to actually see what I'm doing. All I want is to listen to music and audio books so an MP3 would have been adequate but you have to keep up with progress, so I'm told. And .... there is a cake in the fridge, well a pavlova really but that's even better. I haven't started on that yet because I had a slice of cheesecake that I brought home from Lindsay's yesterday. 
I was enjoying the morning sun when this big bouquet arrived from Vytas and Sally. No sooner had I put the flowers into 2 vases than I had a phone call from Vytas. He had just arrived at the muster so I was able to exchange greetings with our friends who were also there.
Today was the first time I seen a bird on the seed feeder since I made the chopstick perches. Apart from some work on my journal I declared today a holiday and had some time sitting outside reading. It was hot in the sun but then very cold when the many black clouds obscured the sun. I compromised in my attire by wearing flip-flops, shorts and sun hat for the sunny spells and a warm fleece for the cold spells. So at any one time half of me was wearing the right clothing. We planned to go down to Barricane Beach in the evening for a curry and took fleeces and jackets thinking it would be colder by the sea.
But when we arrived there was not a cloud in the sky and it was lovely and warm down on the beach which was totally full. It was high tide so everyone was crammed onto the top of the beach. Normally I don't like crowds but today there was just a gentle happy murmur all around and thank goodness no radios.
We arrived just after 5.30 and already we were order no 69 but luckily most people took their plates, proper china ones, down on to the beach. We shared a table with a couple who were here camping. The meal was delicious, this time I had all vegetable curries while Peter had a chicken curry with his selection. 
Afterwards we strolled back up the cliff and sat on a bench to watch the sun going down over Lundy. Then it was time to head for home where I doubled up our flood defences as we are due for rain tomorrow and heavy rain, indeed a yellow alert, for Monday. Typical Bank holiday weather!

Thursday 21 August 2014


It's been raining for most of the day. There were a few sunny spells around midday when I went out and did some gardening.  Just a bit of weeding in the scree garden and deadheading the buddlias. Then the weather closed in again and we've had some very heavy rain showers.
For the rest of the time I have been mostly ...... baking. After my relative success baking biscuits on Monday I offered to make some more for Peter to take to work tomorrow. His team mates have been looking after him and making sure that he doesn't get the jobs that hurt his hands or need too much walking about so I thought biscuits would be a nice thank you. But I was a little over confident. The first batch of extra chocolatey biscuits spread all over the baking sheet. So I halved the remaining biscuits and rolled them into balls so that they came out biscuit sized if a little thin. Then I thought I had better go back to making some plain butter biscuits with lemon zest and a little juice. Blow me down but they also dissolved in the oven. Had I misweighed the flour or was putting them at the top of the oven not a good idea? I added more flour to the remaining dough and put the biscuits in the middle of the oven. All was going well so I went to play the piano. Result - slightly overdone biscuits. I took more care with the final few biscuits which came out fine. I've made up a container of lemon biscuits, thin chocolate biscuits and spiced honey biscuits for Peter to take to work tomorrow. I hope they like them.
There is one tiny pumpkin attempting to grow, will I be lucky? Possibly because it is off the ground unlike the last one which got eaten. Anyway I should have started off the pumpkins a lot earlier. Still it is satisfying to have something big and green sprawling across the veg plot.
Look what the slugs have done to one of the other pumpkins! 

Wednesday 20 August 2014


I came downstairs this morning to find yet another container occupier by a cat. Speedy was quite cosy in his new home.
I was saddened when I looked out of the window and saw this sparrowhawk. It was still warm when I picked it up but its neck was broken. Either it had not seen the glass or more likely it was attacking its reflection.  
A cold wind has been blowing for most of the day but there were a lot of sunny spells. After doing some gardening, deadheading the santolina, edging a lawn and a little weeding, I found myself a sheltered spot where I could read in the sun. 
The butterflies were making the most of the sunny spells on the pink buddlia bush.  
After a restful time outside I did come in and do some work on my journal. I read through 6 months worth of blog posts and relived a time when this house was filled with teenagers either happily shooting at each other or making and playing music while I kept them fed with lots of home cooking.  Happy memories. 
Then I had a long session at the piano. Being she who never throws anything away I still have my 40 year old exam music books. It was fun going through them to see which pieces I could remember, not many, but when I tried sight reading them I could still remember what they were supposed to sound like when my fingers didn't hit the right notes. Isn't memory a wonderful thing.

Tuesday 19 August 2014


Today's weather was good for autumn or poor for summer. It depends which season we are now in. As it's August it should be summer but it feels a lot more like autumn. Lots of wind and a fair amount of sun but getting chilly when the clouds darkened the sky. 
This morning I had a lovely time visiting a friend who lives a few miles away. Luckily the weather was nice enough for us to sit out on the deck from where we had views of the sea and Wales beyond. I am so jealous of her sea view and the garden is spectacular but I would never be able to look after a garden of that size.
We were joined by 2 more friends both of whom worked in schools so we had lots to chat about. Naturally we went on a long ramble around the garden. It's so big that at every corner there is a new glade, pool or stream. Rather like being in an enchanted woodland.
The flowers on the Hydrangeas were enormous, some of them the size of footballs.
I stayed on for lunch, homemade butternut squash soup followed by homegrown salads with chicken not to mention homemade Chelsea buns. I had brought along some of yesterday's biscuits which went down well but then anything with butter, sugar and chocolate stands a good chance of being tasty.
Then it was time to go home and give my teeth a good scrub before going to see the hygienist at the dentists. She was an absolutely lovely girl. Newly qualified, chatty and very helpful. She's a local girl and had gone to the same school as my boys but wasn't in Romas' class so didn't know him. She talked me through the various options for dentures and looked at my x-rays before giving my teeth a clean. Apparently my oral hygiene is very good and my teeth were pretty clean. The bone loss is not that serious but she took measurements and I'm going back to her in 3 months time. I talked about tooth whitening with her as mine are not stained but are more yellow than white. But to have them done at the dentists would cost £500 !!! Perhaps I'll wait till all my teeth fall out and then I can have some gleaming dentures. I got caught in a heavy shower on the way home from town but now the sun is shining again.