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.

Tuesday 31 March 2015

The Dental Saga Continues.

I had a lovely time with my friends last night. I hadn't been in this bar/restaurant before but it was a good choice. I liked the way you could see into the kitchen through the opening in the far wall, no quick heating up of microwave food which is what happens in a lot of pubs. I chose the Thai style fish cakes with aromatic rice as a lighter option than the the Beouf Bourguignon which also tempted me. They were very good but I discovered that with my reduced teeth I can't chew rice. Most of us had a dessert and I indulged in the chocolate and coffee cheesecake. As usual there was much laughing and generally being silly, a good time to let our hair down.
The Maitre d' offered to take some photos so here we all are. (I'm 2nd in on the right.) I drove my friend Linda (1st on right) back to her car which she had parked at my place. I was glad of her company on the way home because it was wild and stormy and the clouds blowing across the road made for very limited visibility. I was in bed before midnight but I stayed awake for a couple of hours stressing about my dental appointment.
And what an appointment it was. After talking with my friends I was determined to talk to the practice manager to complain that it has been 6 years since I had a second lower tooth taken out and though I've been back for regular check-ups, treatment and another tooth removed, not until my last visit to the hygienist was it mentioned that it would be possible to have a denture to replace the lower 2 teeth. I was told, when I had the first one out many years ago, that I couldn't have a bridge because the neighbouring teeth had crowns so I assumed that was the case on the other side of my mouth. I am pretty annoyed that for all this time I've had those unsightly gaps and less chewing ability. I did talk to the practice manager but unfortunately the business changed hands 2 years ago and they are not responsible for what happened before. I was hoping that I could get them to give me free tooth whitening (they charge £500) but no luck. I really hate anything confrontational so I had all that stress for nothing. Then I was seen by my new dentist. I was expecting her to do something to the tooth that was halfway through being re-root canal filled but that didn't happen. I'm still getting pain there so after showing me the x-rays she advised having the tooth out. I had been expecting that outcome but she couldn't do it today. The first appointment they offered me was in June but after I grumbled they found a slot at the end of May. As to the twinging tooth on the other side that's another one that needs re-root canal filling. Due to the difficulty she has referred me to the dental hospital in Bristol but apparently they are quicker at seeing people than the last time I had to go there when waiting and several appointments took nearly a year. Oh my, what a saga! 
By the time I got home I was feeling rather sorry for myself thinking that after 2 painful and traumatic appointments plus a 6 month wait to see if it worked the tooth is coming out anyway and  I was ready to curl up in a sad heap. But the weather was almost my favourite kind of weather, wild and windy with the sun shinning brightly. I forced myself to do a little admin before wrapping up for some outdoor work.  I did the usual pressure washing both of the slabs and the conservatory itself and hooray! all the paving around the house is now done. 
In between I made a good start on the bog garden. Most of the weeds are gone and the gravel path cleared of leaves and silt deposited by the many winter floods. Some of the ornamental grass on the bank has been overrun by the 'wrong' grass and I need to spend more time sorting that out. By the end of the afternoon I was feeling a lot more cheerful. After all none of today's problems were the end of the world, as my mother would say.

Monday 30 March 2015

Sunny Morning.

It was a little bit of a shock to the system to be woken up in the dark this morning. But once I had drunk my tea I was able to sleep for an hour and wake up to sunshine. The first job of the day was to go out and pressure wash more paving. Then I loaded up the car with all the bags of junk I had cleared from the outbuilding. Then it was on to the fun stuff, driving through the muddy back lanes to meet up with friends for coffee and a chat.
The back lanes are very pretty at this time of year with primroses flowering in the hedgerows and lambs in the fields. I found a good place to stop and take some pictures of cute lambs. Check out this local farmer's story
There were lots of tempting flowers at the garden centre but the prices are rather steep. As ever it was great to catch up with my friends. There were only 4 of us today plus children but we are all meeting up in a bigger group this evening for a meal (and more laughter) in town.
At the garden centre I finally gave in and bought myself a pair of smart wellies in the correct size. My previous pair were half the price but they only seem to make ladies' wellies up to size 8 and every time I wear them I end up with a blister on my little toe. For outdoor work I wear steel toe-cap work wellies but the smarter ones are for walks on the beach and I keep them in the car in case I get stuck in a flood. (I have stranded my car twice in flooded roads over the years.)
After lots of chatting and laughing I went off and unloaded all the rubbish at the dump. Then I drove around the dump (sorry - recycling centre) and pulled up by the skip for wood. There I re-cycled some of the thrown away wood into my car as we are a bit short of kindling. I got some off-cuts of pine planking and some chunky pieces of 4x4" beams that will burn nicely. Then I went to BJ's where I got some trailing lobelia seeds and some piping bags for my baking attempts. I have been shown how to make piping bags from grease-proof paper but they never worked. Then to Lidl's and finally Tesco's. There I met someone whom I haven't seen for years so we had a long natter at the top of the escalator. I didn't get back home until after 4 when I had one more go at the slabs, a cup of tea and now it's time to get ready for tonight. (It's raining once more.)

Sunday 29 March 2015


The gales blew on through the night (gale force 8-9 according to the shipping forecast) and into the day. Not the ideal start to British Summer Time. By the afternoon I realised it wasn't actually raining so I was able to get outside and do some more pressure washing. I've been washing the conservatory windows at the same time so I think I think I've got at least 3 more sessions. Then I'll make a start on the paving around the scree garden.
It was quite exhilarating working outside and I got some gardening done too. Just general tidying up and weeding. I also replaced the cane wigwam over the fennel as the old one had been damaged when the workmen were here. 
With all this rain the water level in the pond is back up again. The question is did my stomping around the pond seal the leak or will it go back down again? In the meantime the tadpoles have hatched and wriggling merrily away.

Saturday 28 March 2015


The combination of a sinus headache and windy, wet weather made staying in bed seem like the best option this morning. Even Speedy felt that it was a day for lying with his paws pressed up to the warm rayburn.
The rain eased off later but low clouds kept the air filled with fine drizzle. When it's like this I tend to gravitate towards my pc or even the tv doing nothing useful at all. Today I avoided these temptations, - mostly, and got on with school planning for next term. Often I end up doing my planning on the last few days of the holiday but the Year 1 RE is now planned and thought about. Still to do is PE for the reception children.
After that I went out to do some clearing up in the outbuildings. I was back quite quickly as once again I had hit my head on the very low lintel there. Half an hour with an ice pack and I went back to filling up bags to take to the dump next week. And yes, I knocked my head again but not so badly. While I was up there I cut back the fuscia bush in the scree garden and rather than just throw the twigs on the compost heap I stuck them into some rough ground where if they grow they will look better than the brambles.
Time now, with the wind whistling around the building, to build a fire and heat up some pumpkin soup for supper.

Friday 27 March 2015


The weather has been somewhat dismal today, lots of grey skies and drizzle which set in for good in the afternoon. 
However I did manage to fit in a couple of sessions with the pressure washer. The back patio is easier to clean as it is more exposed to the weather and less stuff grows on the paving so 2 or 3 more sessions should have it done. I also got a lot of general tidying up done at the front of the house; planters washed and put back, windchimes hung up and plants cut back. Best of all I got the brickwork around the ground floor windows brushed and washed ready to be painted. 

Thursday 26 March 2015


A bright but chilly day today. I was working all day but it was a very relaxed day with the children finishing off their Easter hats. Some class teacher job candidates paid us several visits but I had already spoken to the children and made sure they were able to talk about the teaching objectives of the activities they were doing. Otherwise it might have looked as if they were just cutting, sticking, colouring and copying words. 

It stayed nice and bright in the afternoon for the Easter Bonnet competition and everyone got sweets to take home. I stayed in school to print off photos of the children to take home tomorrow as not all the parents were able to come along. Then I was free and my Easter holiday begins. Because Easter is so early this year we've had a very short half term, only 5 weeks. But the summer term has 2 long halves of 8 weeks each. It's a sad thing to say but as soon as we come back from a holiday we know the exact number of weeks and days until the next holiday.
Lambs are now appearing in the fields. This is the closest I could get on my way home. Once home I cleaned out the conservatory gutters, started washing the paving and gave the hanging basket brackets a coat of black Hammerite. The forecast for the next week is not too good so I tried to take advantage of the dry evening.

Wednesday 25 March 2015


It's still feeling quite cold but the sun was out this morning. I finished cleaning all the paving at the front of the house and can now move on to the paving at the back around the conservatory. As we were promised a dry day I put a coat of gloss paint on the porch woodwork. At almost every stroke one or two bristles came out of the brush and stuck to the paintwork. It was only an old brush so I chucked it away when I was done. I'll get some cheap brushes which I can wrap in cling film at the end of each session and then throw out when the job is finished. With gloss paint the white spirits to clean the brush cost more than new brushes. When I came home tonight the paint was adorned with a number of flies stuck to the paint. I'll wait until the paint is properly dry and then remove them.
At school this afternoon I decided to read the children the Easter Story for their RE lesson. They really don't know the story which I find sad and one child even asked me if there are still Christians today. Then the tricky subject of 'Is the Easter Bunny real?' came up. I did tell them there is no Easter Bunny in the Bible and then asked them who they thought brings the Easter Eggs? I think most of them realise that the Easter Bunny along with the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas is more story than reality but enjoy the magical feeling, and why not?
Our staff meeting was about formative assessment which does look very interesting but we have each been given a weighty tome to read over the holidays and we have to report back on one chapter. 
There was just enough time when I got home to split another load of logs so that we can dry them out on top of the woodburner.
 The sky was quite pretty coming home tonight.

 Patch enjoying finishing off some cottage cheese.
I expect he wishes his face was smaller or the pot bigger.

Tuesday 24 March 2015


We had a sunny morning and a cloudy afternoon. For my 'in between' jobs first I got out the circular saw and cut up some branches and some old wood planks from our store which I don't think we are ever going to use. All useful for the woodburner. Later I put on some strong work gloves and got to work on the brambles growing alongside the hen run. The Rambling Rector (rose) also needed some taming as there were some long shoots with vicious thorns dangling down from the trees. 
I went in to work earlier than usual as we were having a surprise lunch for one of my friends who is going off to teach in another school. I've known her since she started at our school 12 years ago and it is a shame to see her go but I know she will be happy in her new job at my boys' old village school. After work I was supposed to be going to a meeting about RE assessment but the teacher I was going with went home with a migraine and by the time I had seen all my class out and left a message for the school caretaker that I would pick my car up later, the teacher from the other school who was going to give us a lift had already gone. I didn't even know where the meeting was being held so instead I went into town to change my library books.
Coming home there were dark grey clouds in the sky. As I got down to the house the shower in the distance (above) had moved overhead and released hail which stung as I ran from the car. 

Monday 23 March 2015


We're back to the grey once more. With rain coming in at lunchtime it wasn't a day for painting woodwork so instead I cobbled together a new compost bin in between pressure washing the paving. The old one,  made at least 15 years ago from wooden pallets lashed together with wire had lasted well but was almost rotted away. I used a couple of old wooden half doors and a wire netting gate to make a temporary structure for weeds and kitchen waste. I have several spots around the place to dump branches and cuttings but I like to have somewhere specific for the kitchen waste. 
I didn't get to do music this afternoon at school as the children need to make their Easter hats. I let them get on with their own ideas only helping them with cutting out ears and Easter eggs from card and giving them bits of sellotape.
At home the goose family is back down to 2. Up until last week the 5 youngsters came every day with their parents to graze on the fields near the lake before they all flew off each evening. 
Photos taken at 5.00 this evening.

Sunday 22 March 2015


Today started off overcast but the sun soon made an appearance. Having been woken up at 6.30 by the radio I decided to make an early start on the pressure washing. It's certainly teaching me to be patient only being able to do a bit at a time. Once I'd run out of water and done my usual morning housework I jumped back into bed for a snooze and our weekly Archers omnibus.
Due to a leak the water level in the small pond drops dramatically in dry weather. That gave me a chance to clear out the grass growing in the water and at the same time I cut down all last year's dead growth and had a general tidy up. In an attempt to puddle over the leak, which I assume is the result of pulling out some deep rooted iris, I did some extra stomping around in the shallow edges. It might work though probably not. I also split some wood but we have almost come to the end of the dry wood. Unfortunately some of the wood at the back of the shed got damp and doesn't burn well. I'm gradually re-stacking it so that it can dry out properly.
Lots of new growth appearing. 

Saturday 21 March 2015


We've been blessed with yet another sunny day. The chilly breeze was a reminder that it is early in the year but the sunshine is always welcome. No doubt unremitting sun would become boring but I'm not overwhelmingly keen on grey skies.
In between washing the paving slabs I started on the outside woodwork first rubbing down any loose paint, then washing and finally undercoating the bare patches. While generally I'm a traditionalist I am a great fan of UPVC  windows which only need a wipe over. But for me doors should be proper wood, we've got UPVC doors on the conservatory and they just don't look right to me.
I also did some gardening. I thought about cutting the grass but it hasn't rained since I cut it last week so I left that job and instead cut down all the old flower heads in the marjoram and sedum bed pulling up a few stray weeds as well. While I was there I tried to clear the long grass growing under a climbing rose. The rose bush stabbed me once - painfully but I did get most of the grass growing on top of the wall.

For my final break I put a sun-lounger in a sheltered corner and had a cup of tea while I read my book. 

Friday 20 March 2015

A Partial Eclipse of the Sun.

Not the moon but a crescent sun partially eclipsed by the moon at about 9.15 this morning. The morning had started off overcast which was ideal for photographing the sun but as the time for the eclipse drew near the sky cleared leaving just a few clouds. Luckily a cloud provided a bit of a filter and I got a few shots. I tried the manual settings to shorten the exposure time but I think the best photos were with the automatic settings.
The rest of the day has been beautifully sunny. I did a bit more pressure washing and was able to complete that section when I got home after teaching in the afternoon.
Friday afternoons are generally more relaxed at school and I just had to listen to some children read. At playtime there was a real party atmosphere as one of the staff had brought out a wireless large speaker which was playing pop music from his phone. A lot of the children spent all playtime dancing to the music and we saw some impressive moves. We had a longer than usual playtime then went in for story and then it was hometime. 
I left school before 4.00 and drove home in the bright sun. It still gets chilly at night so I split and brought in 2 more loads  of wood for the woodburner.
While I was uploading photos I've been hunting for Super Novae with Zooniverse stargazing project. It's quite addictive as you hope to find a successful possible super nova. The last project I did with them was categorising marks on the surface of Mars.

Thursday 19 March 2015


The sun was out again and I had the whole day at home, how good is that? I even gave in to the holiday feeling and sat in a sheltered spot to read and have a coffee. The morning was a little cooler due to a chill breeze but that made for perfect drying conditions. I got a load of washing in the machine but before I could hang our cream bedding on the line I gave the 2 washing lines a thorough wipe. Those 2 ropes have been up for many years and really I could do with replacing them with new ones that haven't got algae growing on them. 
My next job was to chisel out the mortar between the slabs by Peter's barbecue. For some reason that corner didn't get any mortar when the slabs were laid down and only after I carefully put mortar in did I discover that water seeps out from the retaining wall and creates a permanent puddle right across the paving there. Something had to be done as green algae was happily growing in this puddle. If I've dug out enough of the mortar to allow the water disappear somewhere beneath the slabs then I'll put gravel in the gaps to make it look a bit better. 
It's time for all the paving to have a spring clean with the pressure washer so I thought I'd start with the paving by the barbecue. I don't seem to be able to run the pressure washer for too long before the water stops flowing. Peter tells me that our bore-hole water pump is overdue for replacement but at £500 I'll be content with doing a section then leaving it for a while to allow the tank to fill up. One other job done today was to rub down a few rusty spots on my green car. I found the rust had gone quite a way under the paint on one spot on the roof and by the time I had rubbed down to shiny metal there was a small hole as well. I painted the bare metal with metal primer and when it was dry I plugged the 2-3 mm hole with some chewing gum! Well it doesn't come off city streets so I thought it might do the job. Now I need to get some touch-up paint in the right shade of bright green (a good thing I don't really care too much what my car looks like.)
I took all these flower photos using the manual settings as the yellow colour burns out with the automatic settings. From the top;dandelion, daisies, kerria and king-cup.

Wednesday 18 March 2015


I looked out of the window this morning to see the sun shining on the frost dusted garden. And the sun continued to shine all day long. My morning spent working in the garden felt like being on holiday. I only wish I could be so cheerful when the skies are grey.
Across the stream the celandines glowed brightly, yellow is the colour of the moment with daffodils, narcissi and primroses all flowering in the garden.
Today I carefully removed a section of the lawn where there was a bit of a hump, raked the soil to make a gentle slope to the wall and then replaced the turves. Then I transplanted lots of a short ornamental grass to just behind the wall and threw down grass seed on the rest of the bare earth. I hate to say it but I could really do with some rain to settle all the plants in. Perhaps between 10 pm and 8 am?
I dragged myself away from the garden to teach in the afternoon and then as there wasn't a staff meeting drove across town and did some shopping at Lidl's and Tesco's. Having saved myself a few pennies yesterday I splashed out and bought this silicone cake mould at Lidl's. I thought it would be fun to make these mini cakes.