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 30 April 2015

Busy Day.

Having some days when I am working in the afternoon and  have to keep an eye on the time  really makes me appreciate days like today when I have the whole day at home. Once I've had an early cup of tea I set the alarm for 9.00 so that I can have some extra sleep but today was the first time that I wasn't wide awake by 8.00. Instead I was woken by the alarm and started my day a little later than usual. I planned to spend most of the day cracking on with the downstairs toilet. I didn't get quite as far as I thought but I am not a natural DIYer. I can't understand that no matter how many times I measure, use a straight edge to draw lines and cut carefully with the jigsaw there are always adjustments to be made. I mean how did I manage to get a curve along a straight edge? One of my trickiest moments was nailing a strip of tiny wood quadrat molding to the wall to hold the vertical boxing in place. Anyone outside would have heard all sorts of groans and a few rude words as I tackled that task. But the boxing is all done, 3 skirting boards glued to the wall and a first coat of stain stop painted on the water marked ceiling, the toilet walls and anywhere else around the house that needed it. My first job had been to paint some wood hardener on the end of the one skirting board I was leaving in place. That's great stuff, some kind of liquid resin that soaks into the wood and then dries hard. I used most of the tin on a beam in the conservatory which has suffered badly from the water that soaks down behind the stones on the outside of the house.
A nuthatch has been visiting the bird feeder. They spend a lot of their lives upside down as they search for insects on tree trunks. I wonder if a peanut only diet is good for all the chicks whose parents queue up to visit the feeder or should I wait a while before refilling it so that they go off and find some insects?
It's been bright and sunny today and with bad weather due for the weekend I ended the day by cutting all the grass. I was surprised to find it was 7.00 when I packed up outside. I had time to make some chocolate cookies for Peter to take to work tomorrow before I flopped onto the sofa with some melon for my supper.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Sunshine and Showers.

I woke this morning to grey skies and heavy rain. Luckily the rain had all but stopped by the time I was up and about. A lot of my morning was spent working on stuff for school but I also measured and wrote a list of all the materials I need to finish off the downstairs toilet. The afternoon at school went fairly well though the lap top in one classroom refused to recognise my pen drive. That's the temperamental lap top that only works if the power cable is wedged upright with a resin block containing a scorpion. I never rely on the IT systems at school and as a back up I had printed out the photos of the local church that I wanted to show the children.
After school I went into town with a long list of things to do and buy. After almost a year of deliberating, researching and then designing (or rather trawling through LOTR art books) I finally went to book having another tattoo done. Because I want Tom, who did my first tattoo, to do it there is a very long waiting list and he is fully booked until the middle of August! And I was hoping to have it done for  wedding I'm going to in June. I've made the appointment for August but I asked if they have any cancellations could they get in touch.
Barnstaple has some interesting architecture, bits of which go back to Medieval times but being a working town it has a lot of very ugly buildings too. Look what they've done to the poor tree, there's another couple like that as well. Let's hope they recover.
We had some short heavy showers during the afternoon. I got caught in one when I was in town and my raincoat was in the car. Another shower at home gave rise to a brief rainbow. 
And here are my 'rainbow' eggs. Since we no longer have our own hens Peter buys free range eggs from a mate, a tray at a time. That's too many for us so he gives some away to other mates who in turn brings us wine from France or slices of home-made savouries (man cooking).

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Bluebell Time.

The bluebells have begun to flower along the road up the hill to the Lewis' farm. They make a lovely show though this year only the white cow parsley is flowering and the buttercups have yet to appear. I love that colour combination hence my white with touches of blue and yellow kitchen. The field on the other side of the hedge was filled with glowing golden dandelions.
This morning I carried on with my carpentry. As there was an extra  board I used it to box in some pipes running along the floor to the radiator. I finished that off when I came home from school though I can see one small adjustment to make. I also cleaned down the tiles after re-grouting. Usually I just buy a tub of fix & grout stuff which is really hard to clean off afterwards but the grout that I mixed up from powder wipes off so easily. 
It's been a bright and breezy day and at school I took the children out onto the field for most of their PE lessons.  
Coming home this afternoon I found 2 cock pheasants squaring up to each other on the drive. I tried to catch them jumping up at each other but then they stalked off across the lawn. 

Monday 27 April 2015

Clear Views.

With no wind it was very warm in the sun today but in the shade of the many clouds it was bitterly cold. I'm not surprised that snow is still being mentioned for Scotland and the north of England. I spent the morning doing carpentry which takes a lot longer than I imagined. 
Driving up the hill to work my way was blocked by farm vehicles. Just out of sight to the left was a loader scooping up the big pile of manure that had been left there last year. I thought the vehicle in front of me was reversing to let me go past when I saw yet another tractor looming ahead. Luckily that one pulled off the road and I had to follow the nearer tractor as it went up the road. Thank goodness it turned off at Ashelford Corner and I could go a bit faster than 20 mph.
We had a few brief showers in the afternoon and had to beat a retreat from the first PE lesson out in the playground. I had a back up plan in the form of a music cd so we did a little singing until it was time for me to go the next class. They fared better with the weather and enjoyed running relay races on the no-mow. We have to use the playground for the main part of the session but it's unforgiving  on the knees when they fall over.
I had to drive the rubbish up the hill when I got home and because it was quite cold the air was really clear.
 These 3 photos are of Dartmoor 60 miles away to the south.
 And from the same spot, Exmoor (about 10 miles away to the east).
PS Patch left the trout in the conservatory and went off hunting again, Speedy came in ..... and the trout was no more.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Been Fishing.

The day started off windy and distinctly cold. I had to put a coat on for my morning pressure washing. (The end of that job is in sight.) By the afternoon the sun had made an appearance and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky for the last few hours. Peter and I sat out in the sun in the afternoon and even after 20 years it still feels like being on holiday.
I've been getting on with the work in the downstairs toilet and things are progressing nicely. I found some cement so my first job was to concrete in the holes in the outer wall. A bit more general cleaning of the last corner and a good soaking with fungicide and I was ready to get on with boxing in the pipework. Peter brought me back 2 more conti boards (I'd only asked for 1!) when he went in to town for a session at the gym, (The sports physio has given him specific exercises to work on.) so that I could box in some pipes that run down from the ceiling. Then it was time to begin assembling all my carefully cut pieces. That was after collecting up; drill, drill bits, box of screws, box of screw drivers, electric jig saw and safety glasses and bringing them into the conservatory which is currently my workshop. So far I've put together at least half of the pieces and I may get it all done in a day or two. I also had a bag of grout which I mixed up and went over the whole of the tiled wall and as I had some left over I re-grouted some of the kitchen tiles too. 

Patch has just returned home with a snack- a rainbow trout.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Mrs. Plumber.

I think I earned my first plumber's badge this morning when under Peter's supervision I fixed the leaking joint in the downstairs toilet. It was in a very awkward position and I still fail to see how I'm supposed to see through a pipe to check if the back of the nut is level with the front so that I don't cross thread it. I almost gave up at one point when the small drip suddenly increased in flow. Poor Peter had to get down on his arthritic knees to find out that a big plastic nut holding the pipe to the toilet cistern also needed tightening. Naturally when I cut the alkathene pipe to insert a fitting I didn't cut it perfectly straight so had to spend time filing the 2 ends of the plastic piping level. But eventually it was all done, the nut tightened up without cross threading and the drip is no more. 
All that stressful plumbing sent me out into the garden, after a cup of tea and a rest, to do some weeding up in the scree garden. That was after splitting a load of logs so we can have a fire tonight. It's not that cold but not too warm either.
When the rain sent me back inside I tidied up the downstairs toilet and used some tile adhesive to fill a crack in the plaster. (That was because I've got a big tub of tile adhesive.) However I realised that the crack was just a sign of some blown plaster so instead of trying to bodge it I took off the plaster to expose a patch 6x3" of very crumbly wall, part of the original farmhouse which could be several hundred years old. That's now filled and parts of the walls and floor have had a good soaking with fungicide.

Friday 24 April 2015

We've Lost the Sun.

No sign of the sun today, just a grey haze with light rain in the late afternoon. It was a perfect day for working indoors. It has taken me the whole day but I have now cut all the pieces of board that I need to box in the pipe work. It was tricky cutting the wood to fit around all the pipes, the  sink and the toilet as there were curves in every direction. I carefully made templates from card but there were still many, trips to the workbench I had set up in the conservatory. Now everything is ready for assembly and Peter assures me we will attempt to fix the leaking pipe tomorrow. Wish me luck on that one.
Doing the work gradually has given me time to work out how to solve each problem and I've planned a storage unit for the other side of the tiny room. About 12" from the corner there is a hole in the wall through which 2 pipes come in about 2" above floor level. These pipes go across the room and exit at the far corner. One of the pipes is a flexible alkathene pipe bringing in our water supply and the other is a copper pipe bringing in the oil for the rayburn so they need to be well protected. I did have bricks on either side with wood on top but my planned storage unit will go over the pipes. Still no solution to the fact that my extra large washing machine stops the room door from opening properly. My previous machines fitted perfectly and I assumed that all washing machines were the same size. Silly me.
The sparrows are back nesting in the wall by our bedroom window and I've heard the sounds of young jackdaws in the loft above the old part of the house. What with the bats and the swallows this place is filling up. 

Thursday 23 April 2015

Tough Cookies.

It looks as though this spell of warm sunny weather is about to come to an end. However today was still lovely. I was at home in the morning and I stayed indoors long enough to bake some chocolate cookies for Peter to take to work tomorrow. Unfortunately, as I was doing my usual cooking by guesswork, I left them in the oven a bit too long (I'd use cocoa in the dough so couldn't tell by the colour if they were done) and instead of being chunky and chewy they are a bit on the hard side. Okay for dunking but they could beak the teeth of the unwary. I made a second lot this evening and having tested one I can vouch that they are nice and chewy.
I had an extra afternoon's work at school. All the work had been planned and the resources prepared but the overhead projector overheated and we were unable to look at the powerpoints with information and the legend of St George (seeing as it's St George's Day). I just made it up as I went along using the minimal information available. After work I went over to B&Q to get some wood to replace the skirting boards in the downstairs toilet. I had all the measurements but annoyingly the wood I needed came in 2.4m lengths, too big to fit in my car. Earlier I had thought about taking a saw with me but then forgot. I asked if it would be possible to have the wood cut down but their only solution was to suggest that I bought a saw and cut the wood in the car park. I was so cross that I marched out, put my trolley back and got in the car before realising that I had put some fungicidal wash in the trolley before I went to look at the wood. So I quickly retrieved the wash, took it back in and paid for it.
When I got home I cut all the grass. By the time I got to the bottom lawn I had an audience checking out what I was doing.

I wouldn't like to argue with this chap. After last year's incursion the farmer came down and rebuilt the wire fence so hopefully I won't be finding footprints in the lawn.
This evening I was back out again attending Marwood parish council meeting along with the rest of the group of neighbours who would be affected by the proposed wind turbine. The applicant was there but the parish council were not swayed by his misleading statements and voted to recommend refusal of the planning application, as had the East Down parish council on Monday. These views will be taken into account by the planning authority who make the decision. 
Sunset on the way home.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Early Start.

It was a bit hard to wake up this morning but then again as I was dreaming about having my arm savaged by an Alsatian dog followed by being involved in a train crash perhaps it was a good thing I interrupted my dreaming. Once I was awake I was greeted by another lovely morning. Driving Peter into town was made easier by the much reduced amount of traffic at that time of the morning. I also got to see the countryside lit up by the rising sun with shadows where I don't normally see them. 
I was back home and had done my first round of pressure washing before 8.00. I actually got to the end of the paving around the scree garden yesterday but I'm not happy with the slabs at the outbuilding end. Being more sheltered means that more of the black algae grows on them and while they do look better than before I cleaned them they are still not that clean. I'd rather remove more of the top layer of concrete to get a good finish and anyway pressure washing has become part of my daily routine.
I had an appointment with the dental hygienist this morning, the only painful part was paying for it and knowing I couldn't claim it on Peter's work insurance which does cover routine NHS dental work. In honour of this spell of lovely weather I wore a skirt to work with flip-flops, a change from my usual leggings and Uggs. That kept me nice and cool through a hot afternoon of phonics and RE followed by a staff meeting about Embedded Formative Assessment. Afterwards I called Peter to see if he needed a lift home but luckily the Rav had been fixed. So I was able to come home and dig up 63 dandelions from the back lawn and rake out some of the moss which is about to take over.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Wonderful Weather.

Yet another sunny day with not a cloud to be seen in the sky. I was up bright and early for a whole day teaching the reception class.  
After work I went back to B&Q and bought the boards I needed. They just fitted into my car and because the surface is very smooth every time I turned left they slid towards my head or would have done if I hadn't kept them back with my hand. Luckily there weren't too many left turns on the way home. 
I was just thinking what a lovely evening for Peter's first outing on the river (as a cox rather than rower because of the state of his hands) when the phone rang. It was Peter telling me that he had to leave his car in the garage because of a brake problem and could I come and pick him up from Pilton. Now we're both back home he has been in touch with the people he would have been taking into work and I'll be getting up early to drop him off in town so he can have a lift to work. At least everything was solvable.

Monday 20 April 2015

Bright and Sunny.

It was a chilly start to the day, possibly even frosty though I didn't look out of the window for too long before dozing off for an hour after my early cuppa. That's such a luxury especially when I find it so hard to get to sleep. Once I did get up there was the usual round of housework before I pulled off the wall paper on 2 walls of the downstairs toilet. I also measured up to see what wood I need to box in the pipes. I'm going to use conti board because then I won't have to paint it.
Driving to work is such a pleasure these days, the trees are greening up, lambs are out in the fields and wild flowers line the country lanes. Even in town there are drifts of petals below magnolia, camellia and cherry trees. At school I taught 2 sessions of PE out in the sun which was very pleasant. After school I went over to buy the boards but the sizes weren't quite the same as I needed. Rather than make an expensive mistake I wrote down all the measurements available. These I checked and now I know for sure which ones to get. I'm off out again this evening to a parish meeting as that local farmer has yet again put in another application for an enormous wind turbine. 

Sunday 19 April 2015

A Coastal Walk.

As it was such a lovely day we took ourselves off for a walk around Morte Point. The wind was cold so I wore a bodywarmer with my shorts. As long as my back is warm and I've got something to keep the wind out of my ears I'm fine while Peter was rather more wrapped up.
Now that the school holidays are over there were not too many people around. While we sat and drank our coffee 3 lads passed us on mountain bikes which was rather naughty as bikes are not allowed due to the damage they do to the terrain.
The sheep are back again with their lambs and it is lovely to hear the deep baaing of the ewes and the higher baaing of the lambs.  
We just feel so lucky to have such a wonderful place to walk 20 mins drive from the house.  

Back home I got out the leaf blower to hoover up the worst of the leaves on the scree garden. It is heavy and awkward to carry but while I enjoy carefully picking up every leaf and bit of moss by hand it would take forever and my knee is not doing too well with the kneeling. I planned some time reading out in the sun but the clouds started to gather and it got too cold.