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.

Wednesday 31 August 2016

Last Day of the Summer Holidays.

I'm back in school tomorrow. It's a non-pupil day and I need to be there for the morning as I'm only a part-timer. It was raining lightly all morning so I had a relaxed day. The sun came out in the afternoon when I did some dead-heading of buddlias and the santolina but my back is not back to normal so I avoided doing too much.
Lundy - Wednesday morning walk. Leaving Peter still sleeping I was up and out for a fairly early morning walk starting off with a climb to the top of the Old Light. Even the sheep were still sleeping, some of them at least.
Having surveyed the slightly misty island from the top of the lighthouse I set off to walk northwards up the western coast.  
The 2 sides of the island are very different due to the prevailing westerly winds blowing all the way across the Atlantic. The sheltered eastern side has more plant life though the invasive rhododendrons are gradually being removed.
The western side is very much my favourite with the dramatic granite rocks reminiscent of the Cornish cliffs of my childhood. These rock stacks are know as 'The Cheeses'.
Tempted as I was to return back along the cliffs I decided for a change to cut across by Halfway Wall and return down the central track.
My reward was to walk through this group of Highland cattle. One of them was standing right on the track as I passed and while I have to admit to walking slowly past I reminded myself that no-one had said anything about them being aggressive and they must be very used to people anyway. You wouldn't be tempted to pet one on the nose because an inadvertent swing of those horns could take your eye out.
Those long horns obviously came in useful for a good back scratch and another of the cattle demonstrated how useful a bovine tongue is for cleaning nostrils. Before crossing back through Quarter Wall I came across the wild ponies.
Then it was back down the main track, through the village and home for breakfast. I took hardly any photos of the village this time as I have so many from previous visits.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Hot and Sunny.

It's been another fun packed day. First thing this morning I met up with friends for coffee in town. Lots of laughter and chatter as we exchanged our latest news. I left my car at school (I know the code for the gates) so I was able to spend as long as I liked in town. After coffee I went to the library then had a gentle amble around the shops. I managed to find 3 tops for school in the charity shops. As usual they are all long vest tops and yes one of them was black but it had gathers at the neckline and was made of a better quality fabric than my regular black vests. I also bought another superking-size white duvet cover in Cargo. It was the last one they had and as they are closing down in a few days it was reduced to £5 from £35. When I got back to my car I called in at Soundpad to collect this lovely acoustic (with electric) guitar which was my birthday present from the boys. Being the musician in the family Romas had chosen this one which is apparently a good one for beginners. I've already dug out my How to Play the Guitar -Book 1 which I bought many years ago as I've always wanted to learn how to play a guitar.
Now back to Lundy. - My afternoon walk on Tuesday. While Peter settled himself down with a book, in the Tavern naturally, I went off for the first of many walks. 
First stop was the Old Light and up the 147 steps to the top. On our other visits I went to the top of the old light every morning before breakfast. 
There are fantastic views from the top of the whole island. I was disappointed to see that the 2 deckchairs were no longer on the central metal platform where the lantern had originally been. I found out later that the dreaded Health & Safety people had deemed it unsafe until a railing is put around the platform.  
I guess that was also the reason for the netting fixed to the spiral stone steps. That is a little more understandable as some of the steps had lost the corner of the step into which the railing had been fixed and it wouldn't be very nice to have a lump of granite landing on your head. Part of my enjoyment of climbing the steps was the hollow echoing sound of my sandals on the stone. A sound unique to a stone tower. 
Having come down from the Old Light my feet were drawn westwards to walk along the impressive western cliffs.  
I got as far as the Battery  (just to the right of centre in the above photo) and having reached the curving stone wall that marks the path down naturally I was going to go down to the ruined houses and cannon beyond. 
Coming back up the uneven stone pathway was fairly hard work and I could feel my heart pounding by the time I got to the top. Then I turned and started making my way back along the coast. 
I went right down to the southern point and then found the old pond/tank that had been cut from the rock to provide a rainwater collection source. 
Finally I turned north to go back by the church and into the village. 
After all that walking I was ready for a game of Scrabble and a dinner of rack of Lundy lamb. Afterwards one of the staff brought out a birthday cake complete with lit candles. Peter had smuggled a cake, white chocolate truffles and fresh strawberries in his bag and had then got the kitchen staff to put it all together. The whole pub sang 'Happy Birthday' while I hid my face in my hands and tried to slide under the table. I was embarrassed but loved it at the same time. Later that evening another lady, somewhat younger than me, had the same thing happen with a slightly smaller cake and one candle and her reaction was the same as mine. A great birthday and a fantastic start to our holiday. 

Monday 29 August 2016


It's been a glorious day, warm and sunny, perfect summer weather. I haven't done much at all, just a little weeding, the holiday washing and looking through all the photos I took while we were away before sitting outside to enjoy the sun.
Tuesday - We had an early start having to be at the shipping office in Bideford by 8.00. The holiday feeling started straight away as we waited with a crowd of people (263 to be exact) eagerly anticipating their visit/holiday on Lundy. Bags and backpacks were piled around the place, some festooned with ropes and climbing clips. We handed our bags over to be placed in big wooden crates which were hoist 2 at a time into the Oldenberg's hold. There were also 2 crates of chickens, water and general supplies bound for the island. We had got ourselves into the boarding queue quite early so that we could secure seats on the top deck on the side where we would have views of Saunton Sands and the mainland before heading across the 12 miles to Lundy. The journey commenced over seas with a gentle swell, having taken a travel tablet I would have preferred more of a bounce. Over an hour later the most exciting things were the sight of  Manx Shearwaters doing their water skimming and a lone seal that bobbed up to look at us. Suddenly there was excitement from the people on the other side of the ship. Dolphins had been spotted! I stood up and was thrilled to see a small pod of about 5 dolphins in the mid-distance, some of them leaping out of the water together. Then some dolphins appeared on our side, again in the mid-distance and one leapt vertically out of the water several times. This was amazing enough when one of the pods appeared very close to the ship on our side. 3 dolphins swam across the bow of the ship and another swam along the length of the ship no more than 20 feet away. To finish off the truely thrilling experience we saw a pod of at least 20 dolphins in the distance. Before landing we given some information over the loudspeaker including mind the ponies, they can bite and don't fall off the cliffs - there are no warning signs.
At last we chugged our way to the jetty at the bottom of the only road (if you can call it that) that goes from the top of the island down to sea level.
The sun was shining and the day was hot as we began the long trudge up the hill. Being determined to prove we were fit and capable we took the quicker but much steeper route up the steps past Millcombe House. As we still had our backpacks and were wearing jackets and walking boots we were more than a little hot and bothered by the time we had climbed the 400 feet to the village. Because the properties need to be made ready there is an understandable but slightly tedious wait until you can go in. We spent our time waiting in the picnic field almost too hot and bothered to go into the Marisco Tavern for a cup of tea or a drink. I wandered up to the shop and bought some postcards, Lundy stamps and an ice cream.
Eventually we were able to go to our home for the next few days, Old House North (through the archway on the left). Originally it had been part of the farm house later converted to a hotel and now converted into self-catering accommodation. 
There were 6 properties all opening onto 'the square'. Inside we had a compact but very well appointed kitchen. Most of the plates and other tableware were in a beautiful antique cupboard in the sitting room (all the furniture were most delightful antiques) but it took me a long time to locate the cutlery. Fancy disguising drawers as part of the structure just under the counter tops.  
The sitting room had everything we needed, 2 comfy chairs, a round dining table, a sea chest full of games and puzzles and a round dining table. We did re-arrange the furniture so that the table was next to the window and both armchairs had a window view. At that point a cup of tea was most welcome and I browsed the log book. Many of the entries were short, of the had a wonderful time, enjoyed the peace and tranquility, hope you do too type. Naturally my subsequent entries were on the longer side. It was surprising, though maybe not, how many people had been there to celebrate their 60th birthday. There were also references to Norman the pygmy shrew that lived in the cottage: the things he liked to eat- Hobnob biscuits & cheese and where he lived - under the skirting board by the wood burner. I'm sure that when we stayed in Stoneycroft the pygmy shrew there was also called Norman. Naturally I put out food and cake and cheese disappeared pretty quickly. I did see Norman later on and he/she is very fat and had to scrabble hard to squeeze under the door to the understairs cupboard. Despite the stone walls and the old fashioned look to the place it was also beautifully warm with the central heating running, on the lowest setting, all the time. That made it very pleasant to walk around with bare feet on the polished wooden floors.
This was the view from the sitting room and our bedroom upstairs - stunning. We had to wait a while until our luggage arrived and we were able to unpack.
I know that Peter was lucky to get a last minute cancellation but how fortuitous that we were right next door to the Tavern. 
Lundy is such a special place and I have so many photos to share that I shall stop at this point and resume in future blogs.

Sunday 28 August 2016

Great Company.

We arrived home from Lundy at 9.00 last night so all I did was unpack, upload 405 photos from my camera and go to bed.
Today our friends who were staying in Ilfracombe came over for a barbecue and a long lazy and scrummy lunch turned into an afternoon and evening of much laughter. We were lucky with the weather as after an initial morning shower we had sunshine for most of the afternoon, so much so that we had to get the parasol out. Once again it is fairly late so here are just a few photos from Lundy. 
 The Landing Bay and South Lighthouse.
 The west coast.
The church at sunset.

We had a fantastic time, good weather and lots of beautiful walks. Plenty more photos to follow.

Monday 22 August 2016

Surprise !

It's my birthday tomorrow but this morning Peter presented me with a card inside which was sailing confirmation for early tomorrow morning. We're off to the wonderful island of Lundy. It wasn't a total surprise to me as a month ago he had called me to look at an email and there in the middle of his inbox was an invoice from the Landmark Trust. So I knew the destination but not when or how long for. I think I got as much fun hiding the fact that I knew and also I was able to quietly plan what to take. Peter had organised for someone to look after the house and the cats but I had made sure I got in food for Squeaky as she needs different food to the plain cat biscuits the other 2 get. I was amazed that Peter had been able to book something for this summer as a lot of the properties are booked up several years in advance. The first time he looked there wasn't anywhere but a week later Old House North became available so there must have been a cancellation. Lucky for us. We have to be at Bideford at 8.00 tomorrow morning for the 2 hour sailing to Lundy. Once I've taken my travel tablets and don't stay below deck I am fine out on the sea, the rougher the better. The first time we went out from Bideford we were standing in the bow and when we looked back not only was the stern going up and down but it was also making figures of eight. The Oldenburg is flat bottomed so not best suited to rough seas. 
I spent my day pottering around collecting everything to pack and ticking off the list I made last night. Once we deliver our bags to the ship they then magically appear outside our door some time in the afternoon. Even taking the minimum, just clothes to layer on if it gets cold and one change in case we get soaked it soon adds up. 
Lundy is electronically silent, no internet, radios or tvs and no phones etc allowed in the pub but I shall satisfy my blogging desires by writing daily in the log book. There is one in every property and they make fascinating reading. Many writers are humorous, others are more specialised depending on the writers' interests; climbing, bird watching, bell ringing, diving or nature in general. We plan to spend our evenings in The Marisco enjoying the  good cooking and playing scrabble or other board games.

Sunday 21 August 2016


Wind and grey skies have been accompanied by day-long rain. Too miserable to do anything outside. 
I kept myself busy by reorganising some of our DIY stuff. Everything is already in labelled boxes but I was able to move things around and create a bit more space in the back room especially on the window sill. Ideally the window sill should be completely clear but there are only so many corners you can tuck stuff away in. While I was moving things around I also decided to do some general wiping and cleaning in the back room. For a short while I even toyed with the idea of painting the walls and ceiling which haven't been done since we moved here. I have the paint but as it would be impossible to move the several big cupboards and the chest freezer it would have to be a very patchy job and not worth the effort. Just cleaning and rearranging have made the room look better anyway.

Saturday 20 August 2016


An autumnal gale has been blowing all day long bringing with it extremely heavy showers. Not good news for Peter who had to be up early to organise taking one of the gigs up to the High Street for a publicity drive. The day had been allocated by the council and unfortunately coincides with a regatta that the fitter more committed members are attending (though they may have not been able to go out to sea in these conditions) so it had been difficult to find enough people to move the gig and be there during the day. Peter came home once the gig was put in place and I drove him back down earlier this afternoon. I provided transport because once the gig is safely put away all the helpers will be going for a drink or 2. Right now I'm listening to the wind and waiting for a call to go and collect Peter. 
One of my jobs today was to fit the new door handles. In theory, as we had chosen the same handles as had been there before it should have just been a matter of putting in some screws. The first hitch was that though the packaging said to fit a door 1 3/4" deep underneath it said that the spindle may need shortening using a hacksaw and sure enough it was too long. I tried a couple of our smaller hacksaws and then spent an hour working my way through the bar with a metal file. That done it took only a few minutes to put in the screws. Then I made the mistake of assuming the spindle of the second handle was the same length as the first one, carefully measured how much I needed to remove and spent 45 minutes sawing away with a bigger hacksaw. I was so relieved to be finished that I put everything away except the screwdriver only to find I needed to take off another 1/2 cm! More sawing, sitting at the kitchen table and watching tv and the spindle was now the right length. But then the screw holes wouldn't all match up and I had to take out the drill and make new holes. But at last it is done and the shiny handles look very nice. 
Before all this DIY I made 2 loaves of banana bread with some bananas I hadn't been able to resist yesterday, 16p for a kilo. I have had a slice and then cut the loaves in half and put 3 halves in the freezer.
It's mainly been too wet to take photos outside so here are some of my flowering orchids. This spotty one has been flowering since April and the white one has been flowering for a couple of weeks while the little pink one has just started to flower.

Friday 19 August 2016

An Interesting Day.

The day started off gloomy and wet, typical August weather. Peter and I were both about to go into town when the oil tanker came down to top up the oil. While we were waiting the phone rang, it was the estate agent asking if some people could come to view the house in the afternoon. Peter went off into town where he got the right door handles, they even refunded the price of the 'wrong' handles despite the fact that I had destroyed the inner packaging when I cut off the security ties. I rushed around the house doing the usual hiding of things in cupboards and checking everything was clean and tidy. I hoovered up all the cobwebs in the conservatory because although the spiders are doing a good job, cobwebs full of dead flies are not very welcoming. 
Peter got home just before the people arrived, a very nice couple with baby, dog inside vehicle and surfboards on top. Fortunately the sun made an appearance by that time and though there were a couple of heavy showers at least they got to see the place in blazing sunshine first. As usual we sat in the car while the estate agent showed them around but from what we could hear when they were in the garden they seemed to like the place. We haven't had any feedback yet from the estate agent.

To clear space in our yard I drove up the hill and left my car by one of the wheat fields. It looks like the farmer got caught out by rain in the middle of harvesting the wheat. All the harvesting machinery had been left in the field presumably until the wheat dries out.
After the viewing Peter drove me up to collect my car as the rain was coming down in sheets. It stopped soon after I went on my way to do my planned shopping. Being late in the afternoon not only did I miss the traffic but on the way in every traffic light was green or turned green as I approached and even on the way home I only had to wait 5-15 seconds before the lights went green for me.
My first stop in town was at the logo printing/embroidering shop by BJ's. Some years ago I had ordered a custom printed t-shirt from a firm in the States. I had had the White Tree of Gondor printed on the back of a black vest. Not only was I thinner then but the vest was quite fitted and would show too much of my curves now. Today I took in a black vest which I had already altered so that it is extra long and the Tree will be printed on the back of that. Then I went on to do some shopping at Lidl's and Tesco's. Next week is the last week of my summer holidays and I don't want to be running into town then. 

Thursday 18 August 2016


After a wet night the day was grey and damp. The day stayed warmish with fairly high humidity. In the late afternoon the sun tried to break through the clouds but never for more than a couple of minutes at a time. 
A man turned up at 8.00 this morning to work on the rayburn so I missed my chance to cook my morning porridge (I had porridge for a late lunch instead.) Today's work was not another repair but to swap the double oil valve, only needed if you are using the rayburn to heat the central heating, for a much less temperamental single oil valve. At the same time the redundant central heating burner was removed. The deal was that we got the better single valve and in return the heating company got spare parts which are no longer made. It took all morning for this to be done and apart from hearing heavy sighs from the engineer there was a plenty of heating talk with Peter. Lots of stuff about oil flow rates and levelling adjustments. I left them to it.
I did go and potter around outside in between wondering when I was going to be able to get something to eat. One thing I did was to replant some of this creeping Corsican mint which was growing in the lawn. For some time I had noticed a strong mint smell when I mowed one patch of grass but it took a lot of looking to find this tiny mint. I labelled it 'micro-mint' in the propagating beds and then searched on-line to find it's real name. Only then did I recall that many years ago I had bought some to grow around the stone steps. That planting failed because the soil there gets too dry but obviously some escaped into the lawn.
My main gardening job was to cut down all the alchemilla growing in one of the raised beds and do a bit of weeding there. That lead to me clearing the steps down to the stream, sorting out a bit of the path along the stream and weeding the bed with the spreading hardy geranium. I call that variety my thug because it spreads quickly if not treated with a firm set of secateurs but it has a pretty purple flower and is good for awkward spots.
Hardly any butterflies around today but the montbretia was buzzing with the sound of white tailed bumble bees visiting the flowers.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

A Mixed Day.

The blue skies were back again this morning, but only for the early birds because clouds soon rolled in leaving us with an overcast day. It was still very warm and there was a bit of a breeze so I hoped my washing would dry. I also hung out all of Peter's t-shirts to air. It stayed warm but the breeze died down and everything felt quite humid so the t-shirts will have to wait for better conditions to get aired properly. The rain began at 4.00 as I was bringing in the slightly damp washing which is now hanging over the rayburn.
My gardening job for the day was to cut down all the Rubus which had spread all over the old steps. Maybe one day I'll reinstate the steps to nowhere which we took down to allow the tractor in when the pool was being filled in.
Peter had lots of things to do today starting with an appointment to have his hand scanned at the hospital before they decide if he needs an operation or not. Then he went to his old firm as they'd rung saying his leaving present had arrived. He also took the door handles and the lock with him to get replacements at B&Q. However things did not turn out according to plan. First the door handles- I had asked him to get 2 sets of handles as along with the 10% off for the over 60's on Wednesdays they had a deal if you bought 2 sets of handles and it would look good to have new handles on both the doors. I get ready to fit the handles and locks to find he only bought 1 set as you get 2 handles in a pack - um that's for 1 door and we have 2 doors! As I didn't want to wait another week I thought I'd fit the handles we did have, cut open the packaging only to discover Peter had bought the handles without the keyhole. We resolved our slight disagreement and he will go and get 2 sets of handles tomorrow. Then I opened the boxes with the retirement glasses from his work. Not only were there 2 glasses instead of 4 but they were the slightly smaller ones and the vase which I had carefully chosen to make up the amount he had been allocated was a slightly bigger one. This was entirely the fault of the office as I had gone on line, checked the current Dartington catalogue and written down the exact names and prices of the glasses and the vase on a piece of paper which Peter had given to the office. So more delays until we get the right ones. This time I've even written down the codes for the glasses and vase.
On a much better note the water pump people came today to check out the system. I haven't been able to run the water for any length of time before it stops so we decided we'd better get it sorted before selling the house. We thought the main pump might need replacing which would be a lot of money but it turned out to be a blown (up) capacitor which is quite a minor thing to replace.