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 November 2014


Last night at 10.00 I heard some loud bangs outside.We had already gone to bed and the thought of late night visitors still unnerves me. I looked out of the window but nobody was there. The bangs continued for 10 mins and sounded just like a fireworks display. However a quick look at the online papers only deepened the mystery.

It's been another sunny and mild day, perfect for mixing cement and so at last all the slabs are repointed. The job that began with a bit of repair to the bricks in the path grew and grew and now the paving looks a lot tidier. It's not a perfect job but at least the place doesn't look so neglected. I really don't want to start on the paving around the scree garden but if the mild weather holds there are a few other projects I can be getting on with. 
I think it's time to get a new hairdryer. My trusty orange hairdryer bought at the end of the 60's was only used in the winter as usually I let my hair dry naturally but it's time to throw it out. It's still blowing out hot air but for the first time the wires that heat the air and indeed the whole of the inside were glowing orange. I'm sure I would have noticed if that had happened before. As I don't fancy getting electrocuted or burnt the hairdryer has been retired. A good thing it wasn't my hair straighteners as my unruly fringe needs ironing into submission before I can face the world. Our bedroom tv is also heading to the dump as it stopped working a few days ago. I bought it very cheaply some years ago on eBay and luckily another one of the right dimensions to fit on the shelf was up for sale a few miles away. We're just waiting for the seller to phone and arrange a time to pick it up. Now that I can sit comfortably in the sitting room we hardly watch tv in the bedroom but mainly use it to listen to radio programs we have recorded on the Sky box. 
The garden is still looking nice and green with a few spots of colour around though the roses didn't really like the frost. 

Saturday 29 November 2014


Peter had to go in to work today so I caught up on some much needed sleep. When I did go outside it was to find that it was quite a mild day. I was put off working outside straight away when I heard the sound of shotguns up on the hill. Luckily by the time I had spent some time on-line everything had quietened down. That was unlike the Saturday 3 weeks ago when it sounded like WW3 had broken out. Till then there had been a flock of about 30 pheasants up on the road and the top fields and I guess some so-called sportsmen were out on a 'shoot'. I thought about why I get so upset and cross when this sort of thing goes on and eventually I realised it's because they are a group of people who get enjoyment from inflicting pain on something that is weaker than them. Living in this household I can see the fascination that guns have for some people. Indeed I joined the gun club at uni for a while and learned to fire a handgun and enjoyed going to Bisley to shoot on the rifle ranges there. That's sport and if people want the challenge of moving targets they can always do clay pigeon shooting. But the reason people pay vast amounts of money to go on a 'shoot' is to main and kill things. In my mind these people are in the same category as those who bully their wives or employees or abuse any weaker members of society. Whew! rant over.
A nicer subject now, this painted lady butterfly has decided to hibernate by an upstairs window. I haven't seen it move but sometimes it is on one side of the window sill and at other times it is on the other. I got a bit worried that it might be expending too much energy moving around when it is warmer so I put some cotton wool soaked in sugar water out for it yesterday. Today it had moved near to the cotton wool. I wonder if it will survive the whole winter?
I spent the afternoon cementing outside in the garden. There were a few tiny patches of sunlight but most of the garden was covered in a heavy dew. 
This evening when I went to feed the cats in the conservatory there was a dead rat on one of the chairs which gave me a bit of a fright. I used a shovel to throw it out into the hedge but it shows the cats are still doing their job. Yesterday when the men were fixing the phone line, Speedy was sitting by the stream watching for trout. He did jump into the water after one but it got away and then I'm afraid I teased him by throwing bits of twig into the water which made him think there were trout everywhere.

Friday 28 November 2014

And Now I'm Really Back.

The men from BT came this morning and at last we have the internet back, albeit mighty slow while it catches up on the automatic updates, and a clear phone line. It's such a relief to catch up on emails as I wasn't at work yesterday and check out Facebook. It's been almost 3 weeks off line which has seemed like an age. 
The heavy rain which put paid to our line continued on and off for 2 weeks so everywhere is quite soggy and I didn't have many chances to get on with the cementing. Last Saturday was relatively warm and I was able work outside without a coat. It was colder on Sunday and by Monday we had our first frost and it did feel cold. The roses in the garden looked like crystallised cake decorations. It stayed too cold for cementing so apart from teaching I've been doing things indoors.Yesterday the day started off crisp and sunny so I thought I'd take myself off for a short walk to Ashelford Corner. 
I was hoping to capture the sun on the last of the autumn leaves but the clouds had started to roll in by the time I got up there. It felt really good to be out for a walk, something I hadn't done for a long time. My knees complained about the unaccustomed work in the evening. Must take more walks.
It warmed right up in the afternoon so I was able to get on with the cementing, the end is in sight so long as it doesn't get too cold. Today was warmer still, 11C the man on the tv said, but I had finished the bag of sand so after baking some muffins for Peter to take to work and making cups of tea for the nice phone engineers who had to dig 9" down to uncover the man hole, I scrambled up and down the rocky slope giving it a thorough weeding. 
 Squeaky demonstrating her technique for the acquiring the warmest spot next to the Rayburn.
There was a lot of sun today which was nice to see though for most of the time the garden was in shade. As I worked on the slope the wind was roaring through the trees sounding like waves crashing on a shore or the distant rumble of heavy traffic. I prefer the waves myself.

Monday 24 November 2014

I'm Back.

Finally, I've managed to get back on to my blog. For the last 10 years every time we had heavy rain our phone line deteriorated and the internet slowed to a crawl. And each time it happened it would be a bit worse. We would contact BT who own the line and provide our internet, they would eventually turn up and either the fault would have cleared or they would do something to the system and it would be working again, until the next heavy rain. Just over 2 weeks ago the torrential rain knocked out the whole system. The phone line was so crackly you could hear about 1 word in 4 and the internet died completely. Then followed a week of Peter reporting the fault and being told they had done an remote check on the line and there was no problem and if we called out an engineer and a fault was found with the equipment in the house we would be charged £120. Then followed another week of Peter literally spending hours on the phone each evening trying to speak to someone in India to explain that this is a reoccuring fault and needs fixing. Every evening they would promise that someone would phone him on his mobile the next day which they never did. The latest news is that somebody should be coming tomorrow morning but Peter should!! be getting a call today to confirm that. 
Right now I'm using the free internet at the public library as both Blogger and Facebook are filtered at work. I did come here last Friday and had a great time catching up on Facebook but I only knew an old password for my Blog. Today I've come into town an hour before work to have some internet time, it feels so isolating not to be able to chat or see anybody's news not to mention general research, shopping or playing jigsaws. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow though if anyone does turn up I expect we will then have to wait for the line itself to be replaced.

Sunday 9 November 2014


The day started off with sunshine but as Peter and I were listening to The Archers we could hear thunder rumbling away in the distance. That got me up hoping that the rain would hold off long enough to get some outdoor jobs done. 
My first job was to find the last pair of wellies that don't leak so that I could wade into the stream and reposition a concrete lintel. Normally the concrete beam lies along the side of the bank to help prevent it  getting undercut by the water. The strength of water flowing down our little stream in the last few days had shifted the beam right across the stream. That done I got on with more autumn cutting back as it did look like it might rain at any moment. There were several showers but having done so little yesterday I was determined to keep on working. I was finally satisfied when all the Autumn Joy sedums that form the big circle had been cut back and disposed of. I even picked up all the leaves etc that were going all sludgy from the outer part of the circle. 
It's definitely feeling colder so I've lit a fire in the sitting room to warm us up as we watch Strictly and the results.

Saturday 8 November 2014


It's rained for most of the day. Peter had to go to work again so after catching up on some sleep I've spent my time doing housework and a bit more sorting and clearing out of my school papers. Nowadays we laminate all the labels and pictures that go up on the display boards and it seems a dreadful waste to just throw away the resources I made. Not that I ever imagine I will have my own class again and right now I wouldn't enjoy teaching full time. But you never know what the future will bring.
The last pumpkin is cooking in the oven and is almost ready to puree and store in the freezer. And that's been all I've done on this wet and chilly Saturday.

Friday 7 November 2014


A fierce storm was blowing first thing this morning, as I checked my emails before leaving for work I could see the tree branches lashing back and forth not to mention the curtains of rain that were thundering down. During the day it went from sudden downpours to the occasional clear blue sky. I was with the same Year 2 class who did have some time for art but I also had to do guided reading and then do maths with several groups. In the afternoon I swapped over to the other Year 2 class for a geography lesson while my class did PE. 
I got away from school promptly and had an hour to stride along the High Street and make a quick visit to the library. I then, dear reader, became rather decadent. I love my black and cerise watch and have been thinking for a while about getting the same watch in a different colour to match some of my other teaching outfits. I was torn between the baby pink and the vivid pink but finally made up my mind to get the baby pink watch. At the same time I mentioned to the shop assistant that I had wanted the light blue one which they didn't have any more in the window. And voila! a light blue one had just come in. I was torn between the 2 and ..... you've guessed it, ended up buying both. Very indulgent but at £19 each they didn't break the bank.
Somehow I managed to be just passing the baker's at 4.30 when the lady came out to call out the reductions and my willpower fell to the cry of "3 cakes for £1". A maple pecan plait and 2 caramel doughnuts are not exactly part of my diet but I have worked for 3 full days and 2 half days this week. I must have burned up some extra calories getting up so early.
My extravagance didn't end there. Primark is the last shop before leaving the High Street so I usually have a little spin through there. Fluffy pj's are my weakness and these bottoms are extra soft. The woolly leggings with snowflakes and Christmas puddings did tempt me as well but pj's will always win the day.

Thursday 6 November 2014


There was the merest hint of a sunrise amongst the grey clouds as I drove to work early this morning. It stayed grey all day with the occasional drizzle but the proper rain held off until the evening.
Apart from (quite) a few stressful moments with a child with behaviour difficulties it's been a fun day doing art activities with a Year 2 class. A print maker who is also a local teacher brought in her printing press and worked with groups of my children in the morning. Their topic is Antarctica so other children made penguins and I worked with children making collages using a photo of some pack ice as an inspiration. I had my usual fun and games with the IT system trying to print out that picture. First of all the teacher's lap-top refused to connect to the internet at all. Then I got through using one of the children's lap-tops, found the photo but it wouldn't print because of the school's filter. I found my way round that and after a few tries got the photo printed in the class. (The staffroom system couldn't print out because the photocopier there which doubles as a printer was on strike.) The children made some fairly interesting collages and tomorrow they will work in small groups using pencils and the same photo as a starting point.
This evening I've made some chocolate biscuits for Peter to take to work tomorrow. A Friday treat.

Wednesday 5 November 2014


The sun was rising as I set off for work this morning, 
and going down again as I drove home. 
The sun has shone all day long and we have been warned that the temperature may drop below freezing tonight. I was with the Year 2 children in the morning, guided reading and then continuing with their art work before heading off for the swimming pool.  In the afternoon I was back with the Year 1 children. Getting the children ready to go home at the end of the day was a little stressful as, yet again a child couldn't find their school sweatshirt. With this fine weather the children have been taking off their sweatshirts during playtimes and they had also got changed for PE in the afternoon. This was a child who is fairly new and his mother was sure that his name was written on the label. We looked and looked and finally I checked every child's sweatshirt as they left the classroom to no avail though we did have a couple of spare unnamed sweatshirts left in the classroom. Our only conclusion was that the child must have had the wrong sweatshirt on all day or possibly his name had come off in the wash. We sent him home with a new looking sweatshirt and will have to keep our eyes open for his one. In another class somebody has gone home with a sweatshirt that has another child's initials embroidered on the front! Un-marked school uniform is the bane of our lives though I don't like the idea of small children in uniform anyway.
It was still fairly light when I got home so I had time to do some gardening. With the possibility of frost it is high time all the sedums were cut back so I got on with that job.

Tuesday 4 November 2014


Today's weather was much the same as yesterday's with more showers and fewer sunny spells. Instead of cement work I washed my car. I'm not too fussed about the way it looks, especially with our muddy roads but I kept getting mud on my clothes as I got in the car. When I had washed off the mud there were a lot of black specks on the now bright green paintwork. At first I thought they were chips in the paintwork caused by all the loose gravel that had been on the roads this summer but they started to come off as I rubbed them with my sponge. I guess they were specks of slurry courtesy of the local farmers. It took a while but my car looks a lot better now. As I drove to school I saw the man with his horse trailer again at Ashelford Corner. I don't know yet if he was successful as it was too dark to see on the way home.
The reception children had been out for a walk in a local park in the morning and collected bags and bags of leaves and sticks. Our task for the afternoon was to do some sorting activities so we sat on the carpet and spread leaves everywhere. After school we had a staff training session which lasted until 5.00. Coming home after calling in at the Co-op the sky went from a midnight blue with silvery clouds lit by the moon to almost total darkness. I stopped at the top of the drive and took a photo through the window. It was darker than it looks because the camera tried to adjust for the low light level.

Monday 3 November 2014

Heavy Showers.

At this time of year we get a couple of hours of sun on the front of the house (that's if the sun is out at all) while the rest of the garden sits damply in the shade. I made use of the time and got on with more cementing.
And for an hour or so it was lovely. Some long tailed tits and blue tits also seemed to like the sun as they foraged for honeysuckle berries on the front of the house. I had to rescue this little chap twice from the porch where he had squeezed in through a hole under the eaves. I'll have to get some more insulation down and block everything up properly as I know from bitter experience that the cats catch birds in the porch. 
When I drove up to school at least half the children in the playground had not bothered to put their sweatshirts on but then a sudden shower had everyone rushing to get their coats. The whole school is having an Arts Week and my reception children spent the afternoon making junk models and gluing pasta on to card. Some made shapes that they could identify while others simply stuck loads down and said they were fireworks.
Unfortunately for the waiting parents we had a heavy downpour at hometime. Luckily nearly all our children had coats. I ran to my car and for the first time this term, remembered that I'm supposed to turn on the dishwasher in the staffroom. As I had failed to remember every previous Monday I went back through the rain and puddles and did my duty. 
Coming home the sun was shining through a break in the clouds. I had wondered if I could do a little gardening when I got home but all I did before the next shower was clear the little ditch by the dam. At least we were spared the tornado that hit Leicestershire yesterday. 

Sunday 2 November 2014


Peter was off to work again today but he had declined to start at his usual time of 8.00 and left an hour later for a 9.00 start. He was so tired yesterday, they didn't even stop for their 30 min lunch break, for which they will get no pay or even thanks but they just wanted to get finished a bit quicker. It was the same again today but at least he was home at 3.30.
After a wet night the day started with frequent heavy showers. I put my gardening clothes on to see how much work I could get done in-between showers but after running back indoors several times I decided I wouldn't risk mixing up any cement. Instead I did a lot of prep work; pulling up weeds and dragging out the old mortar so that I'm ready the next time we have a dry spell. Naturally we then had a long dry spell so I cut down the last stands of purple loosestrife, another of those must-do autumn jobs.

After clearing the little ditch that runs around the bottom lawn to help drain it, my optimistic mind started thinking about the next big job once I've finished re-pointing all the big slabs. If possible I'm going to re-build the wall by the steps. I did build a very good dry wall there years ago but the subsoil I used to in-fill it was our clay subsoil. Eventually the ground water that collected behind it burst through and the wall collapsed. My plan is to use some concrete to strengthen the wall and put in drainage pipes along the bottom. I made a start by clearing the grass and weeds growing in the wall. This is all dependent on how long it takes to finish the paving, ie weather and my work schedule
I was messing about with some stones trying to think of new ideas for Christmas cards. I may do sheep but not the sheep puns because there is already a similar line of sheep pun cards available locally.

Saturday 1 November 2014


Last night Romas rang and we had a long chat which was lovely. As I guessed he's very busy but we might see him and Laura at or after Christmas.
It's been dry today with the occasional glimpse of the sun and nothing like as warm as yesterday. Peter had to go to work so I've kept myself busy all day. In the morning I was mixing sand and cement and in the afternoon I switched to mixing up the ingredients for a Christmas cake. The concrete work is looking better now that I can get all of the old mortar out. I've completed the area at the side of the house and have made a start on the paving around the conservatory. That included making a whole new edge for one slab on the step which had suffered from constant skateboarding. 
Hopefully my Christmas cake will be successful. The recipe calls for a long slow bake, 1 hour at a low temperature and 2 more hours at an even lower temperature. The rayburn doesn't do low temperatures and the warming oven is not hot enough so instead the door has been slightly open for the first hour and a little further open for the rest of the time. I'm also turning the cake every half an hour. I've departed from tradition and instead of using a round cake tin I'm using a ring mold. Being so rich people don't really want a big slice of cake and the ring shape gives easily cut smaller portions. I ran out of brandy some years ago so I soaked the dried fruit overnight in port. It was that or whiskey. 
This just came up on Facebook, I think it's great.