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 31 January 2016

Storm Henry.

We're now being battered by Storm Henry which has brought howling winds and sheets of rain. Looking at the link I see that it is due to get worse tomorrow though once again we should escape the worst of it. When I ventured outside this afternoon to take some photos it wasn't too bad in the shelter of the house but when I tried to walk around the end on the building I was nearly blown over. I'm taking part in the RSPB bird watch this weekend. You could count your garden birds seen in an hour yesterday or today but I think I'll use yesterday's tally; 3 Blue Tits, 3 Great Tits, 3 Coal Tits, 1 robin, 1 Nuthatch, 1 Greater Spotted Woodpecker, 2 sparrows, 1 pheasant, 1 blackbird and 20 rooks. I would have included the geese and ducks on the lake next door but there was no sign of them this weekend. Most of my sightings were at or on the feeder at the back of the house.
Our much anticipated Chinese meal last night was very tasty. Unfortunately the overload of fat was too much for my system and I suffered from indigestion all night long. King prawn balls, pancake roll and prawn crackers in one meal was a munch too far. My fault for eating too much but I wonder if my lack of a gall bladder makes me less tolerant to fatty foods. Things weren't helped this morning when as well as my usual back ache I also had a nasty sinus headache. I popped a pill and slumbered the morning away listening to the wind howling outside. How good that it isn't a work day. This afternoon I took things easy and had a long session at my current puzzle which is especially tricky before putting a bit more paint on the spare room ceiling.

Saturday 30 January 2016

Pedicure Time.

It was a bright and sunny start to the day with a chilly bite in the air. My job for today was to paint the ceiling of the spare bedroom. Painting white on white it's hard to see which bits have been done. Looking at it now I can see a colour difference where I filled the crack so that'll need an extra coat tomorrow.
Painting done I sat down for a break at my pc only to notice that Squeaky's claw had grown around and into the pad. Normally I clip her nails when I notice them getting long, ie her claws get stuck in my clothing so that made me feel really guilty. She doesn't like having it done so I hadn't checked them for a while. I tried soaking her paw in warm salt water to see if I could ease the nail out of her pad but it was obviously painful. I'm wary of clipping too much and I couldn't see if I could avoid the nail bed. Nothing for it but to ring the vet for an appointment. The usual branch at Pilton was already closed for the day so I was put through to the one at Mullacot Cross which I thought would be easier to get to than cutting through town to Roundswell. An appointment was made for the afternoon and eventually Squeaky and I set out. I was expecting that she would need some pain relief and possibly antibiotics so expected a bill of around £40. Then I started to think that the vet would take one look at my decrepit old cat and say that she was suffering and perhaps it was time to decide to have her put to sleep. So it was with trepidation that I took Squeaky into the surgery. One look at the claw and vet got her nail clippers, cut the offending claw and eased it out of the pad. She then offered to cut the rest of the claws, much shorter than I normally would. I mentioned the teeth but also that I didn't think Squeaky would survive a general anaesthetic and the vet agreed. She said that her coat was good and weighed Squeaky for the record. At 3.08 kilos there's not much of her but she's doing okay. And when I went to pay the bill was only £12.75! No extra consultation fee, was that a mistake? but I'm not going to argue. All Squeaky needs now is to have the cut bathed with salt water several times a day until it heals.
Right now Peter has gone into town to pick up a Chinese take-away meal to celebrate that the paperwork has finally come through for his promotion up the skill levels at work. He did the required work back in September but shall we just say ..... circumstances put every hindrance in the way until Peter went and spoke to the most senior member of management in the factory. He's also had back pay from September which makes up for some of the hassle.

Driving back from the vets' there were pretty colours in the sky but my battery ran out after I took this photo of The Ariel where Romas used to record music.

Friday 29 January 2016


It's been a quiet day at home for both of us. Peter is going to use his holiday days as extra days around weekends rather than book a block of time off so he's having a much needed rest day. Storm Gertrude has been howling outside the house all day but here in the south-west it's been a regular storm unlike the severe weather they've been having further north. I quite enjoy listening to the wind rather than have the radio or music on while I relax with an on-line puzzle.
Today I've been taking things out of the spare room getting it ready to paint tomorrow. It's amazing just how much stuff you can hide under a single bed. Another opportunity to throw out stuff. I wasn't too pleased to find that mice had nibbled away at a couple of throws I had crocheted. If I let the cats in the bedrooms then there wouldn't be mice around but then I'd be cleaning off cat hairs instead of mouse droppings. 
I don't know if it counts as being a hoarder or a sentimentalist but I can't throw out cards from the family. I've kept Mother's Day, birthday, Valentine's day, anniversary and Christmas cards as each one has been chosen or made with love. Today I sorted out the pile of cards and put them in poly pockets in a couple of ring binders. As I read the messages written in those cards I knew I was right to have kept them, at least for now.

Thursday 28 January 2016

Town Day.

It's getting a bit colder and there were lots of dark clouds in the sky today. No doubt forerunners to the yellow alert heavy rains due tonight. So keen was I this morning that I had loaded up the car with stuff for the dump even before I had my breakfast. As well as stuff for the dump I took in a couple of bags for the charity shop, the RSPCA one this time as included were some child's sized safety stirrups with leathers and a crop. 
As well as going to the dump I did a full town visit, parking at Lidl's and walking over the bridge into town. I picked up some more books at the library and had a general mosey around. I was looking for a diary to record my daily photos but couldn't find anything. No diaries at Tesco's apart from a mini one which I bought in desperation.
On my way home I thought I'd drop in at the Pound Shop and there I found a good selection of diaries for ..... you've guessed - £1. Normally I buy a long slim diary half the size but this one will do and I won't have to use tiny writing. The goblet I got from Tesco's. I got all excited when I found it because last year Peter and I bought 4 of these recycled glass goblets from the clearance shelf. They weren't cheap so we just bought 4 and very quickly one got broken. But there were no more in the shop. This is the first time I've seen them again and this one was the last one on the shelf. It was only as I looked at my photo that I noticed a chip on the foot. Blast! I dug the receipt out of the bin and it will have to go back. Maybe I can make enough fuss so that they order one in for me.
At home I got out the polyfiller and covered over the cracks in a spare room ceiling. I don't like the random textured effect but it does make repairs less noticeable. That room is now almost clear and in a couple of days I'll paint the ceiling to freshen it up. While I had the dust sheets out and a chair to stand on I also filled some cracks in the corridor ceiling. Every bit helps.

Wednesday 27 January 2016


It's been a wild day today. More windy than wet but at 9C still very mild for January. The rain got heavier later in the day, hopefully it will wash the mud off the the road. The turning at the top of the drive is still a sea of slippery mud.
My morning was spent doing housework and dismantling some stuff ready to take take the dump. I was back at school in the afternoon in the same reception class. It seemed a bit tame to be just teaching handwriting and reading after spending the last couple of days covering everything. However I have no desire to have responsibility for a class full-time. My short week suits me fine.
After school we had a staff meeting, feed-back from the latest conference our head teacher and another teacher went to in London. New ways of becoming more effective teachers. In between they went to the top of The Shard. 2 gin and tonics cost them £30!! 
Thinking of London I'm enjoying watching the new series of Call the Midwife. As well as being the sort of people centered story I generally enjoy it also brings back some memories. It is set in Poplar which was where we had our first flat only about 15 years later than when the series is set. I too rode a bicycle to get around the local area and while there was a lot of development during that time there was enough of old London left to make the setting very familiar. 
The front of The (Royal) London Hospital is sometimes shown. Apart from being close to Peter's home it is a place I became even more familiar with in the year before our marriage when I would visit Peter there following a motorbike accident. The nurses wore the same purple uniforms at that time though they have been modernised since.

Tuesday 26 January 2016


My first thought as I got up for another early start was " at least I don't have to do this tomorrow". It's been another grey day and as the storm that dropped all the snow on The States approaches us things have got considerably wetter. It was so wet that for once I didn't take my class out for either morning or afternoon play though luckily things had calmed down enough at lunchtime for the children to have a run around. Because of that and the fact that the children couldn't go and do any of the outside activities during the day things were fairly lively in class.
The photo above was taken yesterday. I posted it on Facebook to tease the class teacher who apart from being fantastically organised, which makes my life easy, also likes everything to be very tidy. I've known her since she started teaching and it's something we joke about together. She often asks me to do the more messy art activities as I'm quite happy with mess. Needless to say everything was tidied up by the end of the day. 
Today I replenished the bag of junk materials so the children could build more castles, part of their current topic. However there were a group of boys who had discovered the therapeutic effect of cutting everything and anything into tiny pieces. Not only that but I looked up from the table where I was working with some children on teen numbers to see a veritable drift of polystyrene bubbles rolling across the floor in the draft. The boys had found some packaging inside a cardboard box and were crumbling and cutting it down to  bubble size. Then there was some cotton wool which had been pulled into individual strands, lots of them. It was looking bad even to my eyes. I didn't stop to take a photo but abandoned my maths children to get a major tidy up started. No more junk modelling for the rest of the day. Having satsumas for fruit time added to the grubby state of the floor as though each child peeled their satsuma into a paper towel small pieces escaped on the way to the bin. 
The storm was in full force as the parents came to collect their children at the end of the day. I stayed behind to write up my assessment notes for the class teacher. A quick diversion to the garage to fill up with petrol as I don't trust the fuel gauge in my car and then home in the gathering gloom and rain.

Monday 25 January 2016

Swede Day.

An early start for me this morning. I consider that if the sky is dark when I leave the house then it is still night time and all good people should be in bed at night. It was car lights on for the whole journey though it had lightened up by the time I got to school. I had a pleasant day in the Reception class. One little boy made my morning when his response to my reply to his question "Are you looking after us today" was to run over and give me a hug. My ego quickly deflated when the next thing he asked was "Where's Miss Walker?" (She's their class teacher.) We had a morning of maths when my groups of children played little games with teen number cards to practice recognition and ordering. Others are still working on recognising numbers up to 10. In order to prove to the powers that be photos have to be taken of each child doing their maths. It took most of my lunchtime to print the photos, trim and then stick them into books with appropriate comments as well as writing in the reading record books of the guided group I had in the morning but I made sure I had 15 mins to sit and relax. In the afternoon the children had to cut out pictures of 3-d shapes and use them to design a castle which they will later build from blocks, or at least attempt to build. There wasn't too much tidying up to do at the end of the day so I was off before 4.00 and down to the Co-Op to stock up on fresh fruit and veg.
The day, when I finally saw it, had started grey with some drizzle then for a brief but glorious spell in the afternoon we had blue skies and warm sunshine. 
As I drove home I was hoping for a good sunset. I just managed to catch the sun lighting up the edges of the clouds. I was under the clouds as I took these photos and it was bitterly cold.
Driving along the back roads I could see a scattering of fodder swedes along the edges of the road or crushed across the road. "Somebody is harvesting their swedes." was my brilliant deduction and when I turned into our drive I saw the operation in progress in the top field.
There is a proper road surface under all that slippery mud. 
 The automated swede picking machinery.

Sunday 24 January 2016


Last night my sleep was disturbed by a nightmare where I was being chased by an evil monster along with scary noises. I woke in a fright to the sound of stentorian snoring sounding even worse than usual as Peter has a bit of a cold. My usual remedy of putting on headphones and listening to the radio did nothing to drown out the loud noises. As Peter already wakes 3 or 4 times in the night from the pain of his arthritis I could hardly poke him awake for something he can't help. After about half an hour I decided the only way I was going to get any sleep was to move rooms. We have plenty of spare beds but I ended up under a duvet on the sofa as that way I could listen to the World Service radio via the tv. I slept soundly until 7.00 when I crept back into bed for a few more hours sleep.
The mild weather continues with it being around 10C all day. I didn't hear the frogs croaking in the pond but when I got close I could see a lot of suspicious waving of the plant stems emerging from the water.
I've got a couple of full days working this week so I decided not to risk overdoing things outside. Instead I got on with the job of sorting 'stuff'. There was a fair amount of moving things from one place to another but some things ended up in the 'give away' pile or the rubbish bag. While I know I'm hanging on to some things 'just in case' I want to reduce the amount of possessions we'll have to pack up when we do move. 

Saturday 23 January 2016

Serendipity ?

Too many aching muscles last night to carry on with weeding in the hens' run today much as I want to get on with that job. I wasn't going to do any outside work but I just couldn't let a dry day go to waste. I compromised by weeding the rocky bank. Although it is a bit of a scramble at least there isn't so much bending. The mild winter has meant that the grass in particular has kept on growing so there was plenty needing to be pulled and dug out. The birds were singing, the wind whistling in the trees and all was well until I heard the dreaded baying of the hunt hounds and the sound of the huntsman's horn. They were up on the hill and then spent at least half an hour on the gorse covered side of the valley no doubt hoping to 'accidentally' come across the scent of a fox rather than the drag hunt trail. The sound of the hunt is one thing I shall not miss when we move away from here.
I had done a fair amount of weeding so I came indoors. I had missed the first episode of the new series of Call the Midwife so I decided to watch it on the BBC i-player and treat myself to one of yesterday's chocolate cookies (very nice it was too) and a small chocolate Swiss roll. (Saturday is treat day on this diet.) Speedy was purring away on my lap when suddenly he leaned forward and grabbed half the Swiss roll which was on a plate in front of me. Needless to say he got a shout and a smack as I prised the cake out of his greedy mouth. Then he got thrown outside and the cake went into the bin.
Yesterday's efforts at filling the holes in the plasterboard under the stairs were in vain. The stairs are very old, possibly several hundred years so there is movement when you tread on them and this caused all the filler to drop out. I've tried again today this time putting superglue in the holes before filling them. Maybe that will work.
Now for the strange co-incidence. We always listen to Radio 4 in our bedroom though Peter falls asleep within minutes usually when he is reading. Last night it got to 11.00 and the announcer said that next would be Great Lives. That's a biography style programme that I generally find boring. So while the radio was still running I turned on my MP3 player to listen to some music and read. When I first got my MP3 player Vytas very kindly put on a load of tracks from his MP3 player. Most of it was older stuff that I knew;Jethro Tull, Dire Straits etc. but there were also some that I had never heard of. Not too surprising as I don't have a radio in my car and hear very little modern music. Currently I've been enjoying the album Grace by Jeff Buckley and that's what I went to last night. I've been meaning to ask the boys about Jeff Buckley or look him up on line as I can see that some of the songs are covers but I wanted to know a bit more. Imagine my surprise when I heard, over the music that the subject of the Great Lives programme was Jeff Buckley. I hadn't missed much and it was interesting though sad to hear about his life and short career.

Friday 22 January 2016

Sunshine and Wind.

The sun made a welcome reappearance today. This morning the outdoor thermometer was reading 8C and it stayed there for the rest of the day.
As soon as I could I took myself outside for more grubbing about in the wet clay soil. I really enjoy being outside and I worked for as long as I thought sensible. The new veg plot will have a path down the middle so that I can use the whole length of the washing lines.
We had an official letter to -The Occupier, Dingles which could mean either us or our neighbours as both properties are called Dingles. When we opened it we found a TV licence final demand which wasn't us as we pay by direct debit. I took it next door but they don't have a TV or even watch TV on a computer. They get those letters because the authorities can't believe that there are people who don't watch TV.
Much as I would have liked to keep on gardening I got on with sorting stuff in one of the spare rooms. I dismantled the aluminium pole wardrobe as it has done its job. Instead I'm airing clothes I want to keep and storing them in big plastic lidded boxes.  My final job of the day was to put offcuts of the new carpet under my pc chair and the armchair Peter sits in to protect the new carpet.
The warm days have fooled the frogs into thinking spring is here. When I walked over to the little pond there was a flurry of legs as most of the frogs tried to hide. 

Thursday 21 January 2016


Back to the greyness today. It's warmer which is good though it has been raining lightly for a lot of the day. I started my morning by sorting out the wires for the hub and telephone in the space under the stairs. I had taped them to the concrete floor as a guide to the carpet fitters but either my positioning was off or the fitters were a bit careless but they weren't emerging from under the carpet in quite the right place. I had to unstick the edges of the carpet to move the wires and even then the wire to the telephone stand wasn't long enough for the phone to fit on the wooden shelves that stand in there. It took me a while to work out but eventually I realised that if I drilled a biggish hole in the back of the shelves I could feed the wire through. Now the phone sits handily on one of the shelves. Later I mixed up some filler to repair the holes in the plasterboard on the underside of the stairs. The hammering of the stairs to fit the metal gripper strips had caused the plaster that had been put over the nail heads in the plasterboard to drop off, something that couldn't be helped.
Later in the afternoon I baked some chocolate chunk cookies for Peter to take to work tomorrow. Afterwards it dried up enough for me to spend some time digging over the ground in the hens' run. I was quite pleased to have reached the far corner and got that bit re-levelled making a start on the lower path and ornamental planting area around the higher vegetable plot. Not that I intend to do much veg growing. I may sow some seeds as well as propagating more garden plants but mainly I'll keep it clear by hoeing so that prospective buyers will be enthused by the idea of growing their own vegetables. 

Wednesday 20 January 2016


It was ccccold this morning. At 9.00 the garden thermometer read -5C and when I returned home none of the ice patches in the yard had melted so I guess it stayed cold all day 

This was the first proper frost of the winter and the poor arum leaves in the bog garden now look like wilted spinach. 
The carpet fitters came this morning and finished off carpeting the hall and stairs. No more echoing hallway tempting me to test the acoustics with silly noises. The men came at 10.00 and didn't finish until 12.30 with me following on their heels as I usually leave for work at 12.00. 
At school I started getting the children's handwriting books ready and realised after half were done that I needed to stop to have a break and a coffee before actually teaching through the afternoon. Never mind, I thought. I'll just have to do the rest of the books while keeping an eye on the children writing. Then I saw a note saying that the children needed to watch the end of Star Wars IV in the afternoon. As this is the input for their next bit of writing I couldn't even take out a few at a time for handwriting. Instead both classes sat and watched the DVD while I finished putting work in the handwriting books for next Tuesday. As the children had been sat down for a long time I then did some action songs with them before taking them out for a long playtime.
The staff meeting after school was all about filling in charts showing the interventions and extra things each class teacher is doing for their children with extra needs. There wasn't really anything for me to do but when I asked if I needed to be there it was suggested that it would be helpful for me to have an overview of the classes I work with so I didn't leave until 5.00.

Back home I had a lot of hoovering to do as there hadn't been time earlier to clear up all those strands of fibre that were everywhere. I'm off now to have more chicken and salad for my supper.

Tuesday 19 January 2016


Today was crisp and cold, a perfect morning for a spot of gardening. I cleared up the remains of the bonfire in the hens' run putting the ashes in the yew stump hole which is nearly full now. Then it was back to weeding and forking over the ground with the hand fork. Not so many buttercups today but in the soil were still some bramble and nettle roots plus the bright white roots of a weed that can regenerate from the root pieces.
I had to work in the afternoon, back with the reception children doing more handwriting and guess what? Tomorrow will be the same. I don't mind.
I mark the handwriting as the children do it so I was able to leave school quickly. I went to the Co-Op and as well as the milk, tomatoes and coffee I had gone in for came out with a fresh chicken. It was all prepared and seasoned so all I had to do was put the whole thing inside its plastic bag into the oven. There'll be plenty for sandwiches, salads and a stir fry or curry.
Coming home, ahead the sky was cloudless while behind me over the sea was a pretty sunset. 

Monday 18 January 2016

Lots Done Today.

There was a fine drizzle this morning which cleared up in time for me to do a tiny bit of work in the garden. I sawed a big branch in two so that I could move it on to the concrete and I bagged up some stuff that couldn't be put in the compost heap. The rest of my morning was spent on work for school. I had to use my lap-top and save documents on a pen drive as Office still isn't sorted on my pc.
Most days, if I'm lucky I get a glimpse of the sea as I drive in to work. Today the view was so clear that not only could I make out the sand dunes at Saunton but I could see where there was sand and where there was vegetation. 
It was my usual hectic afternoon working with both Year 1 classes, phonics and RE then getting them into or out of PE shoes and moving around the place fairly quietly. Hometime is terribly rushed as they only have a few minutes to change their shoes, put on their jumpers and coats and collect their book-bags and drinks bottles. We are getting into a routine for this and this is the only afternoon that I don't collect my class on the carpet for our hometime song and a calm goodbye before sending them out to their parents. Instead I get them to line up at the side of the classroom once they are ready so that those children who take their time don't hold everybody up.
Last night I finished my first pair of Bofur's fingerless mittens knitted to the same pattern and with the same wool as in the film. Now that I have mastered knitting with 4 needles I shall be making a smaller pair for myself.
My final job of the day was to drive the rubbish and re-cycling up to the road for collection tomorrow.