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.

Friday 31 July 2015


Good news, the sparrow family were chirping away this morning. It all went quiet later on so I guess the young have left the nest. I wouldn't be surprised if the sparrows lay a third set of eggs.
Hooray, the sun was shining again today. Sam and Kate left late morning having for once had a week of fairly decent weather for their summer visit. That was my cue to get back to working on the porch. I repaired a section of the floor using the rest of that tub of cement, cleaned away years of dust and gave the other side of the porch its first coat of paint.
Then it was time to mow the lawns. Taking a break did help deter those infernal flies. 
Although it was lovely and sunny I had to go indoors to iron the bedding that had been washed and dried on the line. I was half way through the ironing when Peter rang to say his car was still in the garage and could I come and collect him. On the way I stopped at the Co-Op again and then filled the car up at the petrol station.  
Back home I finished the ironing, made the bed and my day is done. Now I can relax.

Thursday 30 July 2015


Woke up this morning to lovely sun. This wren, smaller than an egg, was hopping about in the hedge. For us it was a perfect day to head off down to the beach at Woolacombe. Not surprisingly after a week of miserable wet weather, the whole world and his family were also heading down to Woolacombe. Or so it seemed. The tail back started about a mile from the village but luckily there is a great view of the sea all the way down that road.
No chance of parking along the road and the main car park  was full. Instead we parked in the other car park field which must have had thousands of cars in. We then joined the throng making its way down to the beach which was absolutely heaving. 
The dry sand above the tide line was packed out with families in all their encampments screened off from the sharp sea breeze by wind breaks and tents.
Once we got down to the wet sand there was plenty of space for games of cricket, kite flying, wet suit clad children and surfers making the trek down to the sea and dog walkers out for some exercise. 
We walked most of the way to Putsborough before turning back. The beach is one of the few places Milo gets to run off the lead though as both his sight and his hearing are poor he kept losing us and trying to wander off with other people. (Spot him in the photo above.)
Feeling refreshed by the walk and the sea air we walked back to the car for something to eat and a vital cup of tea. Then while Sam went off for a swim we relaxed in the sun.
After leaving Woolacombe we drove to Barnstaple so that I could pick up my car, £170 for a new barrel for the key! I called in at the Co-Op for a few things and right now supper is cooking and Sam and Kate are enjoying the sun in the garden. The sparrows' nest has gone quiet. Hopefully the youngster(s) have flown as sadly we found a dead female sparrow by the conservatory.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

A Bit Sunnier.

There was an improvement in the weather today. Not exactly hot but then not as cold as yesterday. Sam and Peter went off to shoot clay pigeons and came home very pleased with themselves after their boy's jaunt. Kate picked more blackcurrants and I was able to cut the whole length of the wire netting fence and take it down.
For the rest of the afternoon we were able to sit outside reading (Sam and I) or knitting (Kate). Milo the dog is now so old that he can roam the garden safely off the lead unlike his younger days when he would try to escape and remain free for as long as possible. 
The sparrows kept up a constant chirping as the adult birds flew back and forth with food for their hungry young.  

Tuesday 28 July 2015


We had quite a few heavy rain showers this morning so thought it best not to head out for a walk by the sea. Instead (cunning plan you see) we worked outside in the garden (it had stopped raining by then). Kate picked an enormous bowl of blackcurrants which are in the freezer for the moment but she'll take them home as I've still got frozen blackcurrant puree from last year. 
And Sam set to work clearing the waist high weeds growing in the old chickens' run.  Sorting out all that is on my list for this summer but I wanted to get the house jobs done first. This is a great start and hopefully I'll get it done by the end of the summer. Today I also pulled weeds and worked on removing the wire fence. I'd already taken one side down a while back and today I cleared all the fence from the end. The side fence was done a bit too well as I had dug the bottom of the netting into the soil, so it will be a hard job to remove. Instead I'm taking the easy way and cutting the netting above ground level. That's a lot of wire snipping but easier than digging down. Then once I've cleared the weeds on both sides I can take my time to dig out the last bit, or hide it in the soil.

The buddlias are coming into flower so hopefully we should see lots of butterflies soon. I cut the bushes back in the autumn but never got round to doing a harder pruning in the spring so they are all a bit too large. Better not forget next year.

Monday 27 July 2015


I came downstairs last night (to get my tooth whitening stuff out of the fridge) and found this  very large Elephant Hawkmoth on the kitchen window sill. Once I'd taken some photos I let it go outside.
Yesterday I got an email from my friends letting me know what time they would be arriving today. This was a bit of a surprise to me as I was expecting them next month. It was entirely my mistake as we'd made the arrangements at the beginning of the year so that holidays could be booked. Later I must have pulled up their email from last year where they said they would be arriving on the 27th of August. Luckily the house was tidy with the spare rooms already made up and Peter was able to swap his holiday to  this week. The weather is pretty dire, wet and windy and quite cool. Last night the weather report kept saying it was 'autumnal'. It's not even August, surely the summer isn't over already.

Sunday 26 July 2015


It has been a very wet day today. Heavy rain for most of the time with occasional spells of lighter rain and maybe a couple of moments of no rain at all.
All I've done today job wise is to paint another coat of white emulsion on the porch wall and fix the gap where I pulled out the metal strip. During my clear out of the porch I came across a tub of quick setting dry cement which was exactly what I needed to fill the messy gap. I also took the cables that came with the last 2 hover lawn mowers and stored them up in the scree garden outbuilding. That's enough DIY for a wet Sunday.

Saturday 25 July 2015


No rain at all today and quite a few moments of proper sun. This morning I painted the porch wall with undercoat. It's surprising what a difference a coat of paint makes. But now I'm rethinking the porch altogether. I'm sure I can find places to put a lot of the stuff that used to live in there so that it becomes a smarter more welcoming entrance. I'll have to put in a ceiling too. Tongue and groove planks are more expensive than plasterboard but as I absolutely can't plaster to take that option we'd have to get a plasterer in. So I'm guessing boards unless something else inspires me at B&Q. 
Then it was time to mow the grass. I had to take a break half-way, not because I was worn out but to escape the flies. Even though I was covered from head to toe it felt like I had a swarm of them around my head. Beekeeper's hat perhaps? 
I love my little bits of wildflower meadow down by the pond. It's filled with grasshoppers chirping away and it only takes a few moments standing and watching to spot all sorts of wildlife.
As the sun has been a bit elusive recently I did allocate a couple of hours as 'holiday time' after all that mowing. The cats usually come and join me when I sit down outside. They are like children in that they all want to sit on my lap, if they don't get there first they sit nearby casting soulful looks before giving up and going to sleep by my feet. Later I did a bit of weeding that had cought my eye when I was mowing.

Friday 24 July 2015

Heavy Rain.

It's been an eventful day. I was up bright and early this morning when the oil man came to top up the tank in the pouring rain. I was already working in the porch because as I had already imagined, painting the doors was only the start. Sorting out the curtains had been the next logical step and things didn't stop there. After yesterday's good clear out it was inevitable that painting the bare walls came next. I even have the ideal paint to start with. Some cheap, water based quick drying gloss that was useless as gloss but should make an initial primer coat over the concrete. I cleared one side of the porch and painted it before breakfast. Then it was time to head into town. I normally wouldn't bother when it is so wet but the car was filled with stuff for the dump and I needed shopping and to change my library books. Hoping not to go into town for a while I had a long list of things to get at Lidl's and Tesco's. At the library things were a little hectic as all the self-service machines had stopped working. The librarians had to record the books on their computer and hand stamp each book. (My first proper after school job was working in the local library.)
In Tesco's I found these dark red trainers in sale which are exactly what I have been looking for to wear during the ceilidh (at Vytas and Sally's wedding) so that I can cavort merrily. I also got some men's slippers which I will chop up and use the soles to give my beloved winter sheepskin slippers a new lease of life
While I was in town I picked up this top in a charity shop. It looks rather brown in this picture but is actually dark red and has glittery bits all over. The flowers were in the Accesorise sale and I might make them into something for my hair. Sally's accent colour is dark red so I thought I thought I would soften the slightly Gothic look of my dress for the formal part of the wedding.
Having done all my shopping I drove to Tesco's petrol station to fill up the car and that's where the real fun began. As I went to remove the key from the ignition to unlock the petrol cap the key got stuck half in and half out of the ignition. Some helpful people including someone who said he was a mechanic all tried to free the key with no success. I went to phone the RAC and guess what? my phone that I keep for car emergencies had run out of charge. Which also meant I couldn't contact Peter as I don't know his number. The people in the garage were very helpful, gave me a phone to use, asked if I needed to put any of my shopping in their fridge and pushed the car away from the pump. The RAC had predicted a 45mins wait but no sooner than I  got out a library book and found a bar of white chocolate then there he was, 10 mins if that. Apparently the key problem is not unusual with my car. He hot wired my engine and then followed me back over the bridge to my usual garage about a mile and a half away. The boss was off on a job but they said if they needed to put in a new barrel for the key it wouldn't be done until Monday. Then as I had no way of contacting Peter one of the garage men drove me and my many bags of shopping home. I was unpacking the shopping when Peter came home. I was explaining what had happened when Alec from the garage phoned saying the car was sorted and ready to collect. Back we went into town. Alec said the key had some sharp edges which could have caught on the mechanism which was already a bit worn. When I explained that I had been using that key since I bought the car he agreed to keep the car and check it a few more times with both keys and also price up a new barrel. I'd rather change it than worry about the key jamming again.
Back home I mixed up some filler and filled in a couple of holes and cracks in the porch wall so that I can paint it again tomorrow. What a busy day I've had. And yes I shall write down vital phone numbers in a book and have a regular routine to charge up my phone.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Dark Clouds.

I took a chance and did a load of washing this morning. It didn't make it out onto the line as although it was dry there was very little wind. Instead it's been hanging over the rayburn.
After painting the tiles once more and putting a coat of gloss on the inside kitchen doors I sat outside to finish hemming the second of the long door curtains for the porch. Speedy joined me and once again made himself comfortable on the curtain. While the sun was shining it felt quite hot but dark clouds filled most of the sky.  I ignored the first few raindrops but when some more fell I took myself and the curtain inside. By which time the rain stopped so back out I went.
Once the second curtain was hung I made a pair of snazzy tie-backs with some gleaming white rope that I found. Then I began to have a sort out of all the stuff that had collected in the porch. Ours is more of  a farmhouse porch with bow saws, safety helmets, gardening tools and wellington boots. Let's just say that it is a lot emptier now and my car is filled with a load for the dump. Still to go in the car is the assortment of useless stuff I found at the back of the house.
And that was my day. No time for gardening apart from pulling a handful or two of weeds each time I go up to the compost heap or the scree garden. The scree garden needs a lot of work but I want to get the boring house stuff done first. 

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Sewing Day.

It rained heavily in the morning but then the afternoon turned out sunny and windy. Perfect drying weather if I had thought to run a wash. Once the rain stopped I was able to get out and use sealant to fill the gaps between the lead flashing on the porch roof and the uneven stone wall. As I climbed up and down the ladder I got rather wet squeezing past the wet winter flowering jasmine that had filled most of that corner. So out came the secateurs and I gave jasmine a good trim. Not in revenge but just as part of my general tidying up campaign. I stuck some of the cuttings in a bank that is bare in winter as they seem to take root very easily. While I was wielding the secateurs I cleared the steps leading down to the stream and part way along the bank.
The rest of the day was spent sorting out the big curtains before hanging them from the new curtain pole. Apart from changing the length they needed a good shake out and quite a few repairs to the lining. When I laid the first curtain on the paving (as you do) to pin the new hem Speedy thought I had put it there for him and went to sleep in the middle of it. I was only doing rough hand sewing but the size of the curtains and the thickness of the material made it a long job. The first curtain is now hanging up with a rustic rope tie-back but the second curtain was in worse condition. I've done all the repairs and pinned the hem ready to sew tomorrow. I worked outside at the big table to the background sound of children's riding lessons in the indoor school next door. 
These almost black ringlet butterflies skip and dance around the garden and hardly ever stop, real flutterbys. 
 In case you were wondering.
Nearly forgot to mention my best idea of the day. Over the porch door was a metal spike, a sort of giant nail sticking out of the arch. Impossible to remove I could see that it would damage the curtain which now would be over it. My solution? I found an old tennis ball with our beach stuff, cut a slit in it and pushed it over the spike. No chance of damage to the curtain.

Tuesday 21 July 2015


It was windy and cooler this morning. There was one quick shower which sent me running to rescue the washing from the washing line and the large curtain that was airing outside.
It's so good to have the whole day at home to get on with jobs at my own pace. So far I've been staying awake when Peter gets up and not going back to sleep. That may explain why I've found myself getting to sleep earlier in the evenings. The first task of the day was to work on the metal strip stopping the kitchen door from closing properly. A long and back breaking job it was too. Chipping out the concrete above the strip wasn't too bad but my initial plan to flatten the metal was a no-go. The metal was too strong. Plan B was to remove the metal strip which involved chipping out more concrete and then getting the chisel under the strip to loosen it from the concrete below. Thank goodness I have my mother's old stone working chisels. Eventually I dragged out the metal with a pair of pliers (dentist & tooth?) with only a bit of damage to one of the cork floor tiles. And now the door shuts perfectly. I'll need to fill in the gap under the wooden threshold the next time I mix up some cement.
After a suitable rest and painkillers I went back to work on the porch. I should have know that painting the doors would lead to more than a tidy up there. To keep out the winter drafts we had heavy curtains over both of the doors. That did the job but it was a bit of a battle to get through the doors when the curtains were drawn. Instead I've fitted a longer curtain pole (a length of copper pipe instead of wooden poles) above the inner door so that both curtains can be closed on either side of the porch light. While I was working on that I decided to do something about the electric cable that ran from the wall socket, up over the inner door, across the wall, out under the front door, round the corner and across the flower bed to the pump that runs the waste system. Much better to have it run into the porch roof from outside, over the inner door, down the wall and to the socket. To do this I had to remove the wire from the plug so that I could thread it through under the eaves. It was only then that I discovered that the cable was about 50ft longer than needed. I should have remembered as it was me that looped the cable tidily and hung it from a hook. That made for a lot of extra work and it was only as I was pulling it back through into the porch that I realised we don't need all the extra length. I left some slack outside and a spare 10ft inside before chopping off the rest and rewiring the plug. After that I just splashed a bit of white paint on the arch over the inner door and the not so red now tiles.
I did a tiny bit of gardening too, making a start on clearing the strip behind the house.

Monday 20 July 2015

Last Day of School.

It rained steadily all through the morning. That was okay by me as I had things to do indoors. 
First I had some school work to do on the pc and I discovered I did have a 'before' photo of the kitchen door. I can't believe how bad it was! Then I had time to clean some brass work from the front door and screw it back on, paint yet another coat of white on the tiles (It's going to take a lot to cover up that red) and chip out some concrete where the kitchen door shuts against the floor of the porch. Romas had pointed out that the door din't shut properly because a metal strip along the floor had been set too far into the room. I'm chipping out the concrete behind the strip and then I'll bash the strip back on itself so that the door closes easily. At least that is the plan.   
At school the children had brought in their own toys to play with and were being allowed free play all day. I took in a stack of paper for them to use for drawing or pictures and a group of girls started writing. These were from 2 of the most well behaved, polite little girls you could imagine. They were obviously having a rebellious moment. But what impressive writing from children who are only just 5 years old. Their last writing focus had been using time words in a recount and the one before had been about writing instructions. 
This one has progressed into writing about The Hungry Caterpillar which was a book they had written about earlier in the term. It's mostly phonically plausible and I love her spelling quiet as cwiyoot. And then it was time to send them home for the last time this year. Their class teacher came in  to do that and I just helped to make sure they took home all their belongings. Even though I was not their class teacher there were still some cards and presents from the children which I thought was really sweet. My part-time timetable will be the same next year so I will be teaching them on Wednesday afternoons in their Year One classes. After school I headed off to the carpet remnant warehouse to see if by any chance they had carpets big enough for our sitting room but no chance. However they do also sell cheapish carpet by the metre and it wouldn't cost as much as I thought to re-carpet the sitting room. Now I need to get a quote from someone Peter knows and maybe we can go ahead with getting a new carpet.
The rain got heavier in the afternoon and in town it was very hot and muggy. Out here the strong wind is clearing the air a bit and it has stopped raining for the moment. Now the holiday begins.