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 30 April 2016

Lots of Food.

I had hoped to be posting a photo of all the hedge trees neatly cut down with the chainsaw. But....... somebody (who shall remain nameless) assured me the chainsaw was all ready for Vytas to use only for us to find it wasn't. First there was the trip into town to get the right sized filter and now it still won't run. Vytas and Rob are valiantly tackling the branches with the bow saws and I guess I'll be the one taking those trees down by hand. While the first round of -Let's see if we can get the chainsaw working - was going on Sally, Elita and myself had a companionable time picking leaves off the stones in the scree garden. Then, as the forecast for the rest of the weekend is not too good the youngsters went off for a walk at Valley of the Rocks returning home via a farm where they stopped to buy some local cider and look at the new lambs. While they were out I made some ganache and decorated a chocolate cake using some sugar roses left over from decorating the wedding cake. I used up the remaining ganache on top of the last of the chocolate cookies. Then followed more kitchen cleaning and preparing the meat for tonight's stir-fry.
Here is lucky Patch enjoying some smoked salmon. We are fairly relaxed about eat-by dates but when you see stuff growing on the smoked salmon it's time to pass it on to the cats. 
We all carried down the big garden table this morning so I gave that a wash and finished my chores by washing the green off the big mirror by the scree garden. Afterwards I gave it a spray with some anti- mould stuff which might be beneficial. Then there was time for a bit of reading outside though it wasn't terribly warm. 
Off now to enjoy the stir-fry which Peter is cooking possibly followed by a tiny slice of the chocolate cake.

Friday 29 April 2016

Busy Day.

It's been an interesting day so far, some ups and some downs. This morning we had arranged to view 2 properties in Pilton. We left early so that we go across town to collect out monthly haul of medications (one bag for each of us), and drove to the first property. We arrived a few minutes early so I turned the car around and we waited and waited. After 15 minutes I phoned the office and was told they were very sorry, there had been a delay but the agent was on his way. 15 minutes later there was still no sign of anyone and as both properties were possibles rather than a probables I phoned the office again and said we were off.  Who knows, we might have fallen in love with them. When we got back home I had an apologetic call from the agent who said there had been a mix up and he had gone to the other property first. Very plausible until you take into account the fact that you could walk from one to the other in 5 mins and when I drove past later on it took me 15 seconds to go from the end of one road to the start of the other. This will get back to the vendors because I work with their next door neighbour. Peter had to be home by 12.00 so I had to go all the way back home, spend a little time writing a shopping list and then go back into town for my shopping.
Later in the afternoon we had 2 nice ladies from a different estate agents come to look at the place and make a valuation. Their estate agents is one of the 2  in this area that deal with our type of property and it is going to be hard to decide which to go with. Either way this house will be on the market within the next 2 or 3 weeks.
The reason I had to go shopping is that some time tonight (due now but who knows what the traffic is like) Vytas and Sally and then a bit later on 2 of their friends, are coming down for the weekend. I've made a big pot of chicken soup as I don't know how hungry they will be and I also baked a chocolate cake for tomorrow.
Arlington Court.
We've had more cloud than sun today but it is supposed to be getting a bit warmer.

Thursday 28 April 2016


The morning was fairly grey and by the afternoon dark clouds were being blown across the sky. The wind is still coming from the north-east so it is cold once more. I was up early ready for the windscreen man as they don't give you a specific time, just any time between 8.00 and 1.00. In the end he arrived at 10.30. Vytas, Sally and friends are arriving tomorrow so I made a batch of big chewy chocolate chunk cookies. In between batches I painted around the wall lights in the sitting room. I also got together all the technical guides, guarantees, maps etc that will be useful and put them in polypockets in a ring binder to show to prospective buyers. There were so many guides for the water treatment system that they have a binder of their own. At the same time Peter worked on tidying up the wiring in the conservatory
We can tuck the main wires up along the top of the big wooden beams but the wire going down to the light has to run down the stone wall. That's where I came in with stone chisels and hammer to carve out a channel through the concrete between the stones. I even chipped out a groove through one of the stones. That all took quite a while and I had to have a rest afterwards. (Tomorrow I'll mix up some concrete and hide the wire completely. Drilling holes for the light fitting in the stone was very hard work even with our big heavy duty power drill. Once they were done it was easy peasy wiring up the light and screwing it to the back plate. Peter turned on the switch and ....... nothing happened. A quick check on line revealed that halogen bulbs may not be compatible with older (I think 25 years qualifies) dimmer switches. Luckily we had a spare standard switch and Peter was able to put that on instead after which the lights did work. Thank goodness for Peter's electrical training.
I found my school diary. I had already looked once under the seats but it had slid right to the back.

Wednesday 27 April 2016


Lots of sunshine today but still with the bitterly cold wind. In the morning I filled the dips in the walls around the new sitting room lights. For one set of lights some of the channelling for the wires had never been filled in and the connectors were in the wire above the light rather than behind the light fitting. I filled in part of the hole and fixed a piece of  plastic wiring conduit over the connectors. It's already dried so in a minute I'll mix up some more filler and complete the job.
We finished off the bees this afternoon. Then we had our usual staff meeting. This time it was teaching and assessing science. Before the meeting finished we had some dates for our diaries (mine's been lost for the past 10 days) and people were being given times for lesson observations. I kept my head down because I'm not a class teacher but because I'm on a contract I am observed as well. I thought I should be proactive so instead of subjecting myself to the stress of suddenly being given a date and subject I suggested that as everyone else is having a literacy lesson observed perhaps I should be observed teaching phonics and our Headteacher said she would do a 'drop in' some time. 
After work I popped to the Co-Op for some shopping before heading for home. Driving home through the sunny countryside I noticed that the swathes of soft yellow primroses are being over shadowed by white flowers coming into bloom, wild garlic, stitchwort and even some cow parsley.
More signs of spring at home, the geese have 6 goslings. Last year there were 2 goose families so maybe there'll be some more goslings around soon.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Snow !!

Much to my surprise the icy wind blew in some snow showers this morning. Not much of an incentive to get out of bed too early. Most of my morning was spent happily browsing the internet for possible houses to buy. We are going to look at 2 on Friday. Neither of them tick all the boxes on my check list but it is worth going to have a look anyway. 
After a few wintry showers the day brightened up but with a bitterly cold wind. At school we made yet more bees while playtime produced the usual crop of minor accidents. Mainly slightly grazed knees and elbows which are generally 'cured' with some TLC and a wet paper towel. 
After school I walked into town to look for a wall light for the conservatory as the spotlight we hoped to install no longer works. I checked out BHS (currently about to close down) and found a chrome and glass light reduced from £50 to £20 which will do.
Cherry blossom on a tree at school.

Monday 25 April 2016


We've had a day of deceptive blue skies dotted with fluffy clouds. Deceptive because the wind has been bitterly cold. The forecast is for frost here and snow up north, so although we had rain last night I think it is too early to propagate some of my perennials.
The world is slowly turning green. Some trees are fully green and the beech leaves are just beginning to appear.  
This morning I climbed up to the loft to get down the packaging for some of the lights and at the same time I brought down all the bags of Christmas decorations. Put together there were rather a lot. I decided that I would limit myself to one box of decorations and give the rest away. It turned out that one box was just the right size for the decorations I wanted to keep. There is still a lot of stuff up in the loft but some time ago I numbered the boxes and catalogued the contents in a notebook. Reading the list there seems to be a lot of antique china and glass. Oh well eBay here we come.
Following an afternoon of teaching I went across to B&Q and bought the fuse and a couple of other things we need to finish the electric on the conservatory. 
PS Borage not comfrey yesterday.

Sunday 24 April 2016


Another sunny day though the wind was a bit chilly especially when the clouds covered the sun. First thing in the morning we got on with the lights. I was able to take down the spotlight over my PC and replace it with the last of the double lights almost unaided. In fact there was a bit too much unneeded advice and let's just say there was some dis-harmony in the house. Peter started on the conservatory light but there's no power going through the wires. All it needs is a fuse but the fuse board in there needs smaller than normal fuses so we have to buy one at an electrical suppliers. 
Out in the garden I tidied up this stone bed picking off the fallen leaves and then digging out the grass roots that had crept in under the stones. When wetter weather returns I shall take some of the Knautia Macedonia and the blue salvia to propagate in the veg garden. I have a real fondness for blue flowers and the comfrey (below) growing along the edge to the drive looked even brighter than in the photo.
Sitting outside and reading my book gave my back time to rest (the painkiller also helped). I  then had another shorter gardening session pulling out nearly everything that has gone a bit wild at the end of the grass bed in an effort to make it look tidier. 

Saturday 23 April 2016


It's been a bright and sunny day, perfect for showing the place at its best. The estate agent who came round today is from an office that deals more in this type of property and his valuation was more than 25% higher than yesterday's valuation. They also have a London office which is good because the unfortunate fact is that these properties are often bought by people from outside of the area. North Devon may be beautiful but wages are low. 
First thing this morning we changed 3 more of the sitting room lights. I think I could change a wall light on my own now. We were lucky in that the screw holes in the wall were the same distance apart for the old and new lights. That said I did have to carefully carve away the plaster around the lights because when Fred plastered over the horrible textured walls he took the new plaster right up to the lights. The new lights are smaller so I'll need to tidy up around them. All that is left to do is to take down the spotlight over my PC, put up the last of the new lights then put the spotlight up in the conservatory. After that I think my DIY of the last 2 years is finished. Next to be sorted is the contents of the loft, no small task that.
As this may be regretfully / hopefully our last summer here I thought I ought to enjoy the garden as well as work in it so I spent the first half of the afternoon reading out in the sun. Then I moved on to some gardening, carrying on with weeding the grass bed by the scree garden. I replanted some of the grasses and the purple ajuga in other parts of the garden.

Friday 22 April 2016


I've spent the day getting the place spick and span for the estate agent's visit so it hasn't really mattered that it has been raining for most of the day. Whenever I know somebody is coming to the house I have this urge to clean every corner of all the bathrooms and that is what I spent my morning doing. In the afternoon I hoovered everywhere and did yet more tidying up. I've never seen the place look so good. I did have one surprise in the morning, I went into the conservatory to roll out the new big mat and there in one of the cats' beds was a large rat. Dead of course so on went the rubber gloves and the rat was thrown out. That wouldn't have made a very good impression.
(Later on.) The estate agent has been and suggested a price towards the higher end of the range we had in mind. So far so good. The more upmarket estate agent is coming tomorrow. They have offices in London too so they may be more suitable for us. For tonight I've rolled up the rug in the conservatory and put back the bits of carpet the cats sleep on in the kitchen. And so the journey begins.

Thursday 21 April 2016


It hasn't really been sunny today but the grey skies did have quite a bit of variation in them.  
First thing this morning I filled up my car with a load for the dump, started driving and saw a big crack  about 6" long in the windscreen. It wasn't there last night so I don't know how it happened but I have hit a few potholes in the past week. I carried on to the dump being very careful not to hit any more potholes. When I spoke to the windscreen replacement man he assured me that there is no possibility of the windscreen falling to pieces which is a good thing as they can't come and replace it until next Thursday. It's covered by my car insurance but I will have to pay an excess of £90 which isn't fun.
It felt like it might rain at any time so I got on and did the mowing. Afterwards I raked over the patch of soil where they had dug up the manhole for the telephone cables, picked off all the stones and sprinkled grass seed as it was looking rather bare. I had a bit of a rest then as I've got a cold brewing, sore throat, muzzy head that sort of thing and then I got on with my indoor jobs. The back room needed a sort out and I was able to throw out a small cupboard that had been sitting on top of the central heating boiler. Then I went up to check out the bathroom thinking that I just needed to stick down a few wallpaper edges. That did need doing but there was also a crack to be filled and I ended up painting all the walls above the tiling and most of the ceiling. I know that estate agents are not so influenced by the superficial look of a place but I might as well do the painting now rather than later. 

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Tall Plant in Small Car.

Lots of sunshine today with a strong though cold wind blowing which made for a good drying day. I didn't have any sheets to wash so I washed our fleece underblanket instead.  
It had to be a day for working outside so I found myself a sunny spot out of the wind and tidied up the little patch of rough ground by the old back door. That included raking the ground  to even up the slope so that I can run the mower over it which should take care of any weeds I missed.
I still had a bit of time before I needed to leave for work so I made a start on the bog garden breaking off all the old astilbe stalks and digging out the weeds which had their roots deep beneath the layer of silt deposited by the winter flooding.
In the sparkle of the sun on the stream I saw lots of tiny trout fry. There are at least 2 in this shot.
We had a staff meeting following an afternoon of yet more bees but finished reasonably early so I was able to drive across town to Saint Johns Garden Centre where they had a good selection of tall plants suitable for the conservatory. Big plants are pricey so in the end I chose this Schefflera Arboricola (dwarf umbrella tree) which was £25. I went into Tesco's afterwards and half way round the shop my handset (to scan and pack your shopping as you walk around the shop) went blank. When I spoke to a member of staff she said their internet had gone down and I ended up having to go through the regular check out.  

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Feels Like Summer.

The day started with lovely blue skies which then clouded over but by the end of the afternoon we were back to blue again. At the end of school it felt like a summer day with happy children everywhere. The after school sports club had taken a big group of children on to the field, lots of children were playing in the playground as their parents chatted, more children were climbing up trees and I think a group of parents and children were preparing to work on the Secret Garden. 
My morning was spent doing a final tidy in the conservatory including scrubbing some of the concrete floor especially where it had a slight green tinge after which I finished sorting out the old wood shed. One more run to the dump and that's another job I can tick off my list.
My afternoon was spent with the reception children making bees after their visit to the honey farm last week. My idea of using black and yellow electrical insulating tape on the cardboard tubes worked a treat. I had thought they might all end up looking the same but there is already a lot of variety in the way they've applied the tape. 
I got home quickly after work and had a good session working outside clearing the overgrown grass around the top of the waste water tank and tidying up a bed of tall ornamental grasses. 

Monday 18 April 2016


The weather has been overcast and a little gloomy. In town there is blossom everywhere to cheer things up and here it is the bird song that lifts the spirits. First thing this morning I loaded up my car with most of the junk from the wood shed and drove it down to the dump at Ilfracombe. 
Then, and this is quite exciting at least for little old me, I rang 3 estate agents and arranged for them to come this weekend to value the property. I know that for the last 2 years all my DIY projects have been with the aim of making the place more saleable but this is the first step in the actual selling process. With such high stakes all the estate agents were very pleasant and helpful to talk to. As well as details of the place I had to give detailed instructions on how to get here starting with "Don't use a SatNav or you will end up in a lane a mile away."
Then it was time for school. This week there was a visiting story teller working with one of my usual Year 1 classes so I had the other class for the whole afternoon. Rather than get out of synch with the RE the children finished off work from the morning with some follow up work from last week's RE for the few who had done everything.
After work I walked into town to collect my next 2 Game of Thrones books from the library. I had a birthday card to buy and as the card shop had some lovely cards on sale I stocked up with cards for future birthdays.

Sunday 17 April 2016


A chilly but bright day today with much less wind than yesterday.We were listening to (last week's) Archer's omnibus when right in the middle of all the dramatic events our bedroom TV went blank and wouldn't respond to the controller. Fortunately that good old remedy of switching off and on or in this case pulling the plug out of the wall socket and then putting it back in worked. It's only a second hand TV we bought on eBay a few years ago but it would be a shame if it stopped working now.
In the morning we made a start on changing the sitting room lights. We did the 2 over the hearth as the lights are screwed directly into the wood. That did make things a bit easier but the cable coming out of the wall was heavy duty outdoors cable and it was difficult to bend the wires. We did the job between us with me doing the fiddly bits that Peter can't do with his poor fingers. We plan to do the rest and tidy up the wires in the conservatory next Saturday as Peter is going to buy a small work platform to make it easier to reach the lights on the walls.
The torchieres which we will be taking with us. The 2 we have already changed are a little bigger but almost identical to the ones on the walls. 
I missed out on a good drying day yesterday so got the washing out on the line today. While the sheets were flapping in the breeze I had a good tidy in the old wood shed, bagged up the rubbish from the floor and sorted out the rest of the stuff that needs to go to the dump. There's even some carpet that I don't recognise at all. I did spend a while sitting outside and reading too.