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.

Saturday 28 February 2015


Saturday morning means a chance to catch up on sleep for both of us. One of the main factors pushing us towards downsizing is being able to give up our jobs and take things a little easier. It is a hard fact to acknowledge but as we get older our stamina decreases not to mention joints and things that cease to work and we need longer recovery time after tackling projects in the house and garden. Simply having to work 5 days a week in a factory wears Peter out and I would find it hard to cope with full-time teaching. So I plod on with the sorting out and the basic DIY around the place. Peter spoke to the tank people and they will be going ahead asap. The morning was dry and the brief appearance of the sun had me out splitting more wood. I've also rearranged the remaining logs especially the ones leaning at the back of the shed as they've got a bit wet and some weird orange mould is growing on them. After that |I cut back the tall grasses growing in the bed by the septic tank. It doesn't hurt to cut them back in the spring and as workmen often seem to think "It's only a plant and will grow back." as they trample all over a garden I wanted the slightly raised stone covered bed to be obvious. I built the bed to ensure that large vehicles did not drive over the top of the expensive waste water system and the tall grasses do a good job of screening the tank lids and ventilation pipe. I had just finished that job when the forecast heavy rain started. 
The start of the next bit of wall.-  I haven't used cement as the stones are pretty large. Part of my plan is to put the broken up concrete, from the old manhole shaft, in the space behind the wall and then generally level up the edge of the lawn behind the wall. An acanthus (Bear's Breeches) plant that is currently competing with a small oak tree should fill in the biggest gap and then I'll plant a small ornamental grass on the slope between the lawn and the wall. The grasses in front of the wall are looking a bit suspect. I'll try transplanting some smaller seedlings but if as I suspect it's too wet and clayey there then I can put in montbretia as that it as tough as old boots.

Friday 27 February 2015


I came home after a full day at work to be greeted by a very tired and fed-up Peter. Fed-up because he had just spent an hour and a half on the phone to BT telling them our internet was down, again! After being passed from pillar to post he was told that there was a local problem and we should get the service back in 24 hours. I wasn't too happy with the prospect of no blogging, shopping, jigsaw or any of the other myriad things I do on the internet but then surprise, surprise it's back again.
My day at school went fairly well, not too many dramas with the kids, just a couple of bumped heads at playtime which developed into noticeable bumps. I gave the boys cool-packs and left them in the capable care of a member of staff who has the pediatric first-aid qualification. Before that incident I'd dealt with a wailing child who had fallen and grazed her knee. We had another drama at home-time when a boy in my class had put his finger into the button loop on his coat, twisted it round a few times and then tried to put his arm into the sleeve. The result was one hysterical child with a finger turning red and rapidly swelling up. Swift measures had to be taken and the loop was cut to release the poor finger. We had it under the cold tap when dad turned up to collect the child but the finger was still looking rather swollen (the child could bend his fingers) so I suggested they went to their doctor or the hospital if it didn't settle down. That's about a normal day in terms of injuries for a class.
It's been a dry and often sunny day. Coming home this evening after a shopping trip to Lidl's the evening sky was streaked with subtle shades of grey.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Sunny Afternoon.

It was a very wet start to the day. I was sitting at my PC when I saw the usually proud and regal cock pheasant looking rather bedraggled in the hedge. (Later this evening I saw the little stag feeding in the field.)
Luckily it had stopped raining when the pump people came. This time the boss came along to look at the situation. Sure enough the tank (under the green oval lid) was half filled with ground water which is coming in through at the bottom of the concrete lined inspection hole (under the metal lid). He's just sent us quotes for the different options but we're going to have to have the old chamber dug out and replaced as well as a new pump.
By the time they had finished peering into various holes the sun was out. Once they had gone the first thing I did was to split more wood as it's still quite cold in the evenings. 
Once the wood splitting was done I had a break before going back out to continue working on the latest wall. It was rather muddy and slippery underfoot but it felt good to be getting things done. I've already worked out which plants I can move from other parts of the garden once the bank has been tidied up.
The last few rays of the evening sun.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Wet and Warm.

It has warmed right up today, 12 C according to the TV and only due to go down to 9 C tonight. The clouds were down low as I drove to work at mid-day. 
The pump people for our septic unit came down this morning. It was only cleaned out last week but all the ground water from the recent heavy rain had filled it 3/4 up again. Once they had pumped out the clean water we could see that the ground water was getting in where the drain was connected to the original man-hole. At least that is right next to the tank and not underneath any of the paved area. We will have to have that hole dug out and replaced with a new inspection hatch. That means a digger and men working for a day ££££ ! We also need to replace the pump that takes the cleaned water out of the tank. The old pump has given up but it has been working for 15 years so we haven't done too badly there. Hopefully they can do that in the next few days because once again it is raining heavily so the tank will be filling up again. Oh the joys of country living. 
Coming home this evening after a long and stressful staff meeting (how am I supposed to show evidence of the children's progress in the 20 min RE lessons which are about learning to reflect and think on various topics?) the clouds were very low and the visibility was limited. 

Tuesday 24 February 2015


Yesterday evening we were hit by a sudden thunderstorm directly overhead. Four times the thunder crashed and four times the power went out. I had a mad scramble in the dark to go and disconnect the phone line to prevent the hub and PCs being damaged (yes we do have surge protectors). Each time the power would come on and just as I was resetting the Sky box off it would go again. I guess it had to do with this storm. If I had known about the huge waves I would have gone down to the beach this morning but unfortunately I've only just found out.
It was sunny but windy this morning. I had already planned to do some painting in the kitchen so I got on with that. I'm just freshening up the ceiling. I have painted it before and I have no idea why I didn't paint one bit which was replastered when we had the wall taken down 20 years ago. Because it's a textured ceiling I've had to use a brush rather than a roller which takes longer. As I was painting this morning I noticed that the whole ceiling could do with painting so that's the next thing on the list.
More singing with instruments !!! this time, with the reception children this afternoon. I only had 8 children playing various shakers, bangers and rattlers so it wasn't too bad. I took a photo of these narcissi in school. Things always flower a few weeks earlier in town than up here in the wild hills. This evening it has turned chilly again so I'm off to light the wood fire which I got ready earlier.

Monday 23 February 2015

Hail and Sleet.

We've had a few brief sunny spells but for most of the day it has been wintry with hail and sleet showers. Not a day for outside work so I spent the morning doing housework and a little mending. The other day I had found Squeaky in a spare room happily asleep on top of the pile of duvets. Unfortunately she had settled down on the one feather filled duvet and had managed to catch the duvet with her claw ripping a long tear. So when I saw her she was curled up in a  pile of feathers. I didn't want to spread the feathers further so today I fixed it in situ sewing up the tear and then adding a large patch. I did the job properly first hemming and pressing the patch which reminded me of a sewing exam at school when I was 11. We had to hem a corner mitering the fabric for a neater finish. We were given heavy binca  (that square fabric with big holes) to use. I got frustrated and simply chopped off the corner instead of folding it and failed that exam. 
The little pond has filled right up after all the rain but I think a lot of the frogspawn was above the surface level earlier and got frozen. Somehow the ground water is getting into our septic tank system so yesterday Peter had to run a little pump to empty out the rain water. When I got home from work today I undid a couple of the drain inspection hatches in the paving to see if I could spot where the water is getting in. No luck with that but under one hatch there were about a dozen small frogs. I had gloves on but still didn't fancy making a grab for them so I was only able to scoop out about 6 with a trowel before the others disappeared down the drain. 
Music today with the reception children was fun though my back is a bit sore from trying to get them to join in with Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. I did explain to them that I'm too old to bend too much but some of the children are reluctant to move unless they see me demonstrating. I'm using a music CD called High Low Dolly Pepper which has lots of fun songs and stories. The only problem is getting some of the tunes stuck in my head.

Sunday 22 February 2015


It has poured with rain all day long. It's a good thing I brought in plenty of wood yesterday. This morning the stream was already running quite high and muddy.
Some hours later it had risen and was level with the sunken path in the back lawn. Fortunately the rain has eased off a bit and the stream hasn't got any higher. I've spent the day working on my school planning for next half-term; music for the Reception classes and RE for the Year One classes. At the same time I've been looking out of the windows checking on the water level in the stream. No water has been  coming down the drive as I rebuilt the dam after the tanker drove over it the other day knocking someof the wood out of place. 
The level in the stream has been so high that water has been unable to drain from the front patio and might even have been flowing back from the stream on to the patio. 

Saturday 21 February 2015


Apart from a couple of hail showers it has been mainly sunny. So off we went, well wrapped up against the icy wind for a walk on Barricane beach. Incidentally Woolacombe beach has just been announced as the best beach in the UK, in the top 5 in Europe and number 13 in the world. Not bad for a beach that is only 20 mins down the road.
The tide was out so there more opportunities for rock pooling. 
I could spend a morning gazing into these pools, if it wasn't so cold in the wind. 
 We mainly saw the common Beadlet anemones and a few Snakelocks anemones.

When we got home I put in a couple of hours working outside, first splitting logs and bringing them in and then making a start on building another wall at the side of the back lawn. Only a short one this time  but then I can sort out the bit of ground above. The fire is blazing and I'm looking forward to trying some of the bread pudding I made. I adapted the recipe slightly due to lack of ingredients but I wanted to use up the pieces of brown, white and toasted bread left from Romas' visit. It certainly smells nice.

Friday 20 February 2015


It looked as though we were going to have rain at any moment this morning but much later in the afternoon it brightened up and there was some blue in the sky. I went into town first thing to meet a friend for a long chat over coffee and cheesecake at Lindsay's. A very pleasant start to the day.
Afterwards, as I had paid for all day parking, I had a gentle meander in and out of the shops. I managed to get a couple of things in charity shops; a pair of walking sandals (Oxfam) and this bluey long scarf thingy (Cancer Research) to wear with my floral dress in case it's a bit chilly at the wedding. I also got a top for work in Primark. Now that Romas has taken what he wants from our collection of 'stuff' I can get rid of the rest to the charity shops. Today a  couple of boxes went to the Rotary club shop, Shoes, PS2, games that sort of thing. I also took a bag of printer ink cartridges to the RSPCA as they get a bit of money for recycling them.
Later on I got out the secateurs and gave the santolina bushes their yearly trim. That's another job out of the way. 

Thursday 19 February 2015

Very Wet.

Last night after I brought the boys from the local pub we stood outside and marveled at the night sky something they don't get to see from their homes in a very built up part of the country. It wasn't as clear as the night before but Romas was still able to point out a number of constellations and Josh was most impressed. Then we went inside to the warmth of the wood fire and chatted for a while. When I went to bed I felt so content to have at least one son back under my roof.  I felt like a mother hen as she gathers her chicks under her.
Unfortunately they had to leave this afternoon but before that we took Josh down to view the sea as he hasn't been in this part of the country before and where they live is about as far from the sea as you can get. We went hoping that the pouring rain might ease up and sure enough it did. We stopped at Mortehoe and went for a walk around the point. The downpour did return so we were thankful for our waterproofs (I had over-trousers on as well) which kept the worst of the rain off and Josh had a chance to enjoy the wild clifftop scenery. (I didn't take my camera because it was far too wet.) At home I got Romas to go through a whole load of stuff some of which he has taken back with him and the rest I can give to the charity shops. I'm not too far off having all the spare rooms clear of anything except essential furniture and my overflow wardrobe. After a hearty lunch they set off for Stoke and hopefully it won't be so long before we get another visit. 
I didn't have too long to feel sad at saying goodbye before the tanker man came to empty our supposedly self-maintaining septic tank (too much ground water gets in during heavy rain) and  to relieve me of £160. Part of the added costs of living in the country. 
It's raining heavily once more and my knee is complaining about marching about on the cliffs so I shall take it easy for the rest of the day. 

Wednesday 18 February 2015

A Good Day.

It's been a day of niceness. In other words lots of nice things have happened today. In chronological order they were ......
.... waking up early when Peter got up for work so that I had time to do some jobs then jump back into bed with a coffee and watch tv for a bit.
 ..... discovering another wood mouse caught in the trap under the kitchen sink. This trap has a one-way flap/door that you can't lock so here the mouse is sitting on the door, inside a bucket prior to being driven to a release site. It must have been stuck in the trap for quite a while because it had made a start of nibbling its way to freedom.
........ the mouse was released on my way to meet up with some friends for coffee and chat at the garden centre. Only 4 of us this time but they are all friends that no longer work at my school so there was lots to catch up on.
 ....... meeting the postman at the top of the drive and being handed a parcel containing my new dress. It is even nicer than I thought and though it looks slim it fits perfectly. It is more my style of dress and I'll wear it for the evening part of the wedding. So that's me sorted as I can get out the sandals I wear once a year for the staff Christmas do.
 ........ and finally, best of all, Romas arrived for a short stay driven down by a friend. They've already split some logs for us and been fed a hearty pasta bake. I've just dropped them off at the pub so that Josh can experience a real country pub. I'll pick them up again in a couple of hours.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Sunny Morning.

No matter how long we have lived here I never fail to be amazed by the stars on a clear night such as we had yesterday. Looking up at those stars I can't help but think there must be other life out there in those countless galaxies.
After a clear night and a frosty morning the day began with beautiful blue skies. Just perfect for a walk down on the beach. 
It was still pretty busy but I managed to squeeze the car into a space along the road. It felt so good to smell the sea and feel the sun on our faces. 
The tide was coming in so we didn't have a lot of time to explore the rock pools. Only saw a couple of ordinary sea anemones in the crystal clear miniature worlds nestled in the rocks. 
A lot more sand and shells have been deposited on the beach and as ever I couldn't resist hunting for pieces of sea glass and shiny shells. 
I took a couple of random pictures of the beach and looking at this one I wish I had collected the bit of blue glass in the centre and the striped piece to the left. 
We had our coffee down on the beach and then sat up on top of the cliff for a while longer before returning home. It started clouding over as we drove home but I've been baking cakes and tidying rooms as Romas is driving down with a friend tomorrow. 

Monday 16 February 2015

Happy Birthday Dr Vytas.

Vytas is 29 today. Where did those years go?
This past year he and Sally have been living near Reading where they both have work. He has continued to be an active member of the Sealed Knott which involves battles and possibly some comradely drinking.

Last autumn he went to a conference in Mexico (I get an afternoon at Pilton Community College if I'm lucky). Sally traveled with him and they  stayed longer for some sightseeing.  
Now we are looking forward to their wedding, sometime next winter.

Meanwhile back home the day started grey and brightened up towards the afternoon. I went into town to post the boots and a couple of other items I had sold on eBay. I did a bit of shopping at Tesco's and came straight home. I rang Royal Mail to sort out my parcel delivery and when I finally got through the lady was very apologetic and helpful and we arranged delivery for Thursday. A couple of hours later a postman knocked at the door with my parcel. ?? The latest boots (long tan ones) fit perfectly so now I can keep my eyes open for short black ones in my size for work.Then although I overdid things a little yesterday I couldn't resist doing some outdoor work. I broke up more kindling, trimmed the beech hedge and then cleared the brambles encroaching on to the path to the woodland.
The pond is now full of frogspawn.

Mouse Update - Squeaky dispatched 2 more wood mice last night. I would rather have caught them alive but if they won't go in the trap ........

Sunday 15 February 2015

Mainly Overcast.

It wasn't the most sensible decision to go for a walk on the beach this lunchtime as not only is it Sunday but it's the start of the half-term holiday.  Even as we drove down to Woolacombe we could see how crowded the car parks were. There was no chance of finding a space along the road (still free to park) so we simply carried on up to Mortehoe. We didn't even stop there for a walk as I was wearing wellies which would have been too slippery on the wet grass of the cliff tops. We just completed the circuit and drove home. Peter has taken a couple of holiday days to get over his current bout of arthritis so we'll go down on Tuesday when it should be less crowded.
I've spent the rest of the day working outside on the bank. And the grass cutting has begun - it's too wet for the mower or the strimmer but I used the long handled shears to cut the grass on all the steps and paths on the bank. Now that the long straggly grass has been cut to a tidy length it will be possible to use the mower and/or the strimmer on those bits to keep them tidy. Then I scrambled around on the bank digging out the brambles and getting rid of the last weeds. 
I've bought myself another dress on eBay. It's another Per Una dress but more edgy than the first one so I may well wear it for the evening party of Rachel's wedding. (The photo I copied off eBay is too blurry to use.)
Mouse Update- I opened a drawer in the spare room to see a wood mouse sitting there. The mouse froze and I thought about grabbing it by the tail but was worried that it might turn and sink its teeth into me. You never know what germs it might be carrying. That was yesterday and then in the early hours of this morning I heard a scrabbling on my bedroom desk. I had brought a slice of fruit loaf up for a Sunday morning treat and had put it in the metal biscuit tin I keep my various tablets in. The mouse was sitting on the tin working out how to get in! Once again I could have made a grab for it before it ran off but didn't. The cheeky thing.