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 30 November 2016

Catching Up.

On Monday my PC was infested by some Malware or to be more accurate my browser was affected. I had a page pop up purporting to be from Microsoft  saying my PC was being hacked with all sorts of dire consequences if I didn't phone the number shown. Needless to say I didn't fall for that one and switched off my PC. A virus check once I'd turned it back on came back clear but I couldn't get on my browser with all my usual sites. For the moment I'm using a different browser which meant finding all the relevant log in names and passwords. I've got them written or part written in the backs of 4 notebooks one of which I didn't find until today so I guess I ought to write them all in one place. To add to all that we've had problems with our phone which after Peter spent 4 hours on the phone turn out to be something to do with the ADSL ? box which as it is in the house BT won't repair without charging an exorbitant amount. So until the one which Peter ordered arrives we don't have a working house phone. 
It has been very cold these last few days. (The first 2 photos are from today.) It's been nice and sunny at school and my drive home was past green fields bathed in a golden light, that is until I got to the top of our hill. There everything changed with frost on the road from the morning and as I got down to the house our garden was all crisp and white, as if the Snow Queen had come by.
It wasn't quite so cold on Monday and there was a pretty sunset as I drove home. 

Sunday 27 November 2016


It was a dry day so we decided to take ourselves off for a walk around Morte Point. Unlike last week it was no sunnier at the coast than at home but it was good to be out. Fewer people out walking this weekend. We stopped at our usual bench for a cup of coffee. Today that was the sheltered side of the headland and it was only as we went around the point that the wind hit us. 

After our walk we stopped at the Ilfracombe Tesco's as we were almost out of milk. We freeze our milk and I don't always remember to check how much we have left in the depths of our big chest freezer. Once home I worked outside clearing more debris from the bog garden path and from the plant beds. While I don't think the astilbes would suffer from a 1ft blanket of leaves, mud and twigs it does make the bog garden look messy. I could have dumped all the debris in the stream to be carried into our neighbour's lake but that wouldn't have been very neighbourly. Instead I put the debris at the foot of the steep bank on the far side of the stream hoping to encourage more plants to soften the impact of the bare bank.

Saturday 26 November 2016


It wasn't quite as sunny as yesterday but was there was enough of a breeze to make it worth washing and hanging out the big fluffy throw that lives on the sofa. It's so big that I bought an extra large washing machine but today the machine began to beep alarmingly and flash a code at me. I switched everything off and looked in the manual but there was nothing about that code. Luckily the Internet came up with the information that the outlet may be blocked. Thinking that it was just the bulk of the throw causing the problem I moved it over and put the machine on rinse and spin which seemed to do the job. After being outside it's finishing drying by the rayburn and then there'll be plenty of brushing to bring back its fluffy loveliness. Today I went up and put plant labels by all the plants in the propagating beds. I've already forgotten what colour some of the varieties are so they've got blank labels for the time being. I also did some general weeding up there. Some of the weeds were still flowering so out they came and I dug up the buttercups that once again were trying to take over. 
I also swept up all the leaves on the front patio and once again picked the leaves off the stone bed. For a change I listened to music on my MP3 player and happily sung along to Jeff Buckley something I am not permitted to do when I'm listening to my MP3 player in bed. Later I went out again to take down the highest 2 hanging baskets and replace them with windchimes. Then I thought I'd do a bit of digging out of the debris left by the flooded stream on the path. In the distance I could hear the sounds of the local hunt, dogs baying and the horn blowing. That really upsets me so I got my MP3 player and sang along to Nightwish which drowned out any external sounds.
I was just about to take the kitchen scraps to the compost heap when I saw some pink in the sky. It was a bit brighter than in the photo but only lasted a few minutes. 
PS I've mastered the last of the complicated crochet stitches and made a start on my Christmas project. 

Friday 25 November 2016


We had a clear starry night followed by a bright and breezy day. We don't get too many good drying days in the winter so I got some more washing done and out on the line to dry. Before hanging up the washing I went up and gave the rope line a wipe and because I still had a bucket of hot soapy water I gave my car a wash too.
I went in to do an extra afternoon in the reception class and it turned out to be quite a relaxed afternoon. After the usual phonics lesson I took my class out for 10 minutes in the playground. It wasn't a proper PE lesson but I took out a box of soft balls for the children to play with. My only rule was that if the ball went out into the car park or up on the roof you didn't get another one. Then it was time for me to have both classes, 60 children, to watch an animated version of the Nativity story. It wasn't the best version I've seen and was rather long. I gave the children a chance to run around the playground after about 20 minutes and then cut the DVD short when we got to Herod ordering the killing of the babies! The children know the basic story because they have started practising their Nativity which they will perform for their parents.
After school I joined the Friday traffic jam going over the bridge and checked out the new Asda that opened a couple of weeks ago. Because they don't yet have settled customer numbers there was a lot of fresh stuff in the various reduced sections. I came out with a good haul of greatly reduced items; potatoes, mushrooms, radishes, raspberries, pork chops, a cook-in-the-bag chicken, fresh prawns, anti pasta, bread, bagels, scotch eggs, custard tarts and a couple of fresh cream meringues. I'll be eating a prawn salad tonight followed by fresh raspberries and mango. Tempting as the cheese cakes, profiteroles and other fresh cream cakes were I bravely thought about my diet and left them for other people to enjoy. The custard tarts are for Peter and the meringues are ....... a treat for me. Overall I don't think I'll be tempted to go to Asda for my everyday supermarket shopping. The prices were about the same as Tesco's and though Lidl's have a much smaller range I like their continental foods at very good prices.

Thursday 24 November 2016


I realised, as I sat at my PC in the small hours of the morning (waiting to take more tablets) how much I shall miss the sound of the wind when we leave this place. Last night the winds were up to gale force 6 according to the shipping forecast but even under less stormy conditions they tend to roar through the trees.
Today the winds were still lashing the trees so we decided to go for a walk on the beach. Imagine our surprise when we found the sun shining, unlike the grey skies at home. Close to shore the cross winds had flattened out the waves while out to sea the waves were choppy with white-caps everywhere.
The tide was high so we ambled around the small amount of beach skimming stones or at least trying to in my case and picking up the occasional bit of sea glass.
While we were there a young man dressed in lycra sports  gear rode his mountain bike down to the beach accompanied by his dog. I think he came down simply for the dog's benefit because without any encouragement the dog ran into the water for a swim. Later the man threw a stick for the dog but mostly the dog just swam around.
We sat on the steps of the concrete platform where the beach cafe sits during the summer to drink our coffee before returning to our grey and windy valley.
It was so windy at home it was worth hanging up the sheets for the last hour before dark. I used plenty of pegs for each item because as Peter remarked they looked like battle flags blowing sideways in the wind. I also dug out some gravel from the stream to fill up the last of the ruts in the drive and back indoors I baked the chocolate chip cookies Peter has been asking for. Before I stopped for the day I got the sheets ironed and hung the tea towels over the rayburn to dry off.

Wednesday 23 November 2016


This morning I cleared away the mud, twigs and leaves that had been deposited by the flood from the steps leading down to the stream. Now the way is clear for me to go down to the stream to dig up gravel for the drive. 
At school we had yet another birthday celebration lunch this time for a teacher who has reached 40. She's only got another 27 of teaching before she can retire, that is if the retirement age doesn't get put up again. 
Now that we are in Christmas performance mode the hall is not available for me to do PE with my reception class so we have to use the playground if it's not raining or do a toned down version in the classroom. Although it looked like it might rain at any moment we managed to get out side today and I kept the children active so that they didn't get cold.
One little girl was very excited to tell me that her mum had had a baby in the morning and at the end of the day mum came to school with her new baby which was less than 12 hours old. I did go out to give my congratulations and have a look but I didn't get too close as I've still got a bit of a cold. You forget just how tiny newborns are.
I got away from school quickly and went into town, first to change a pair of pyjama/lounging bottoms which were rather an odd shape. They were a bit like those low crotch joggers you see dancers wearing, not my style at all. Instead I got a loose lightweight hoody top to match the grey pyjama bottoms I bought the other day. Then I went to the library to return a book. They were having trouble with the computerised booths which kept sticking and wouldn't move to the next screen. Instead the books had to be hand stamped and the ticket details entered manually by the librarians. Because the books hadn't gone through the system they all set the alarms off whenever anyone walked through the main doors and will do so when we bring them back.

Tuesday 22 November 2016


It was great to wake up this morning and find that it wasn't raining. There's still some flooding on the roads but not as severe as yesterday. There's a spot on the main road (just where I turn off onto the back roads) that regularly floods where the water gets trapped by the bank on the far side. Today as I drove to work half the width of the road was flooded with a highways van parked there and a workman trying to clear the blocked drain. When I came home in the dark at about 5.30 the van was still there with the workman holding up a warning sign for traffic going along the main road. I do hope he doesn't have to stay there all evening.
Out in the garden the rill that takes ground water into the little pond was full of water. It was sad to hear that Tarr Steps had been damaged by the weekend's floods. This stone bridge was built 3,000 years ago with stones weighing up to 2 tons. Hopefully the stones haven't been washed too far away and can be put back into place. We haven't been to Tarr Steps since we walked the Two Moors Way over 30 years ago.
 Tarr Steps.
After school we had some Thrive training which was very helpful to those of us who haven't had the full training. Today was mainly about how to help with children who have attachment issues ie those children who cry when they come to school, a situation which we have all seen many times. One other thing I found useful is the fact that when a child (or adult) flies 'into a rage' the brain is flooded with cortisol which means that the Reptilian Brain over-rules other brain functions and the child is unable to access the other parts of the brain that enable reasoning, emotional empathy etc (emotional coping brain) until the body produces oxytocin  and reduces the cortisol levels. 

Monday 21 November 2016


Although it was raining steadily this morning (and continued all day) it wasn't the torrential rain I feared and I didn't have to go with my back-up plan of taking Peter's Rav when I went for my early appointment at the doctor's. This was to discuss the x-rays I had taken of my foot. There's no sign of any injury or old break to the bone which was something I thought might have been the cause of my funny toe. Apparently the chap I saw at the hospital earlier was a senior orthotic something or other and the next step is a referral to see the podiatrist. If he can't help then I wait for a further referral to the orthopaedic people. My doctor thinks my toe problem might be due to the tendon doing something funny and perhaps a splint might help to straighten it out. 
After my doctor's appointment I did various bits of shopping in the rain including going to the High Street.  I was lucky to find this giant ball of wool in the right colour and weight for my crochet project in the in the oddments basket at Banbury's our local department shop.
Before work I dropped my car in at the garage for a winter service. When I went to pick it up I had to wait 15 minutes because they put in the wrong code into the keypad and you have to wait until you try again. Also they told me I had been running the car with almost no oil in! The warning light had flashed once but I thought that meant the oil was getting low, surely the light should have been on all the time? Perhaps in future I'll check the oil as well as the water.
After a day of rain there were quite a few small floods across the roads on the way home. I just drove through slowly and hoped I'd remembered which bit of the road was the highest.

Sunday 20 November 2016

Storm Angus.

Woke up this morning to find that Storm Angus had washed away the drive. It was almost the worst damage I've seen with the rut on the left hand side at least 6" deep and up to 12" wide all the way to the top of the slope. No prizes for guessing what I spent the rest of the day doing.
I did my best to pace myself, better to put only a small amount of gravel in the wheelbarrow each time than wear myself out before the job is done. It was when I took my  first break that I read about the flooding in the local area and realised we had got off quite lightly. With more heavy rain due in the early hours of tomorrow morning I went up and reinforced the dams putting wood right across the road and tried to make sure that any water coming down the road is diverted before it washes away the drive again. Peter finds it very frustrating that his arthritis stops him from helping me with such manual labour but that's just the way it is.
The path in the bog garden is once more covered in mud and down by the steps there is a good 12" of silt and mud washed up onto the bank.
Here's the drive with the left hand side filled in. I got about half-way down the other side before I stopped for the day. No matter how much raking I do there's never enough gravel to fill the ruts back up again so I'll have to dig some gravel out of the stream to finish off the job. Also ground water continued to flow into that side from the top corner of the lawn. I dug a channel across the grass to divert the ground water into the central ditch to help stop the constant eroding of that side of the drive. I've done as much as I can to prevent losing the drive again tonight as this sort of work isn't good for my back either.

Saturday 19 November 2016


I was woken up this morning by a loud crash of thunder which had me jumping out of bed and running down the stairs to disconnect the phone/internet. Despite the hail which kept falling to lie in little drifts across the garden Peter went out early for a rowing session out on the river. It's been a while since he's been fit enough to row so he wasn't going to miss his chance no matter what the weather. One good thing about rowing is that you certainly warm up quickly.
Meanwhile I stayed at home, hid under the duvet for a while and then spent most of the day in the kitchen having an extra clean around the place. Unlike yesterday when the sun shone between the hail showers today has been dark and grey with barely a hint of sun. The postman came with a book and something small and electrical for Peter and more plastic plant labels for me as I've been unable to find any in town. I'll wait until the weather is a little better before I go out to complete the labelling of the plants in the propagating beds.
I've also been working on deciphering the crochet instructions. With the aid of my book and the internet I've mastered Back Post Half Double Crochet, Front Post Half Double Crochet and even Front Post Double Crochet remembering that they're trebles not doubles but so far Front Post Half Double Crochet Two Stitches Together has eluded me. Perhaps it will make more sense after a bit of a break and all that will be left is Front Post Double Crochet Six Stitches Together. And I thought my crochet project was going to be easy.

Friday 18 November 2016

Winter is Coming.

First thing this morning we had 2 brief thunderstorms which dropped a lot of hail  making everything seem quite wintry. As I didn't have to go to work (still rejoicing over that) all we had to do was turn on the heating, unplug the internet, feed Squeaky and let the other 2 cats in before returning to bed with some coffee for a lie-in. For the rest of the day we've had intermittent hail and rain but no more thunder and lightning. In fact with very little wind at ground or tree level it hasn't been that cold so off went the heating once more as the rayburn keeps the place warm enough.
Seeing all that white outside put in in the mood to write out my Christmas cards. Out came the cards bought last January and my very old address book. Having written out all my cards I then went through the whole address book to check I hadn't missed anyone out. Looking through the book is a real trip down memory lane as I've used it as an address book since my school days. It brought to mind; school friends, committee members from the city farm, church members, friends right across the years, local farmers, the now retired piano tuner and even the farmer who would come and pump out the old septic tank. I've not been too good at keeping in touch with people but we still have friends whom we haven't seen for 20 years that we keep in touch with at least at Christmas. Good old Facebook makes keeping in touch so much easier these days.
Last night I made an attempt to start work on a crochet pattern that I had bought from etsy. In the past I've crocheted blankets and even soft toys but that's always been freestyle, never from a pattern. Armed with my Guide to Crochet, a comprehensive book with wonderfully dated illustrations from 1974 I attempted the tension square, no problem there until I realised I'd done double instead of single stitches, but I couldn't work out some of the terms for the fancy stitches. I looked on line today which was a good thing as the US terms (it's a US pattern) are not the same as the UK terms eg UK double stitch is US single stitch. Looking a bit further I found diagrams of the fancy stitch so hopefully once I've bought the wool I need I can get started on some Christmas presents.

Thursday 17 November 2016


After a stormy night it's been a wild and windy day. It was raining lightly while I got my outdoor jobs done then as soon as I went inside the heavens opened. A lovely feeling of having all my jobs done and being able to relax at the PC while the rain lashes down outside.  All through the day we've had heavy rain mixed with a few sunny spells which gave me the chance to do some outside work.
There wasn't much point in continuing clearing the path with so much water around. Instead I swept up leaves from the front patio, picked yet more leaves off the stones and took the 4 garden chairs up to the outbuildings. I had left them out to for when we had the viewings but it's time to keep them out of the weather. 
For the rest of the time I did some tidying around the house. Not having to go to work on Friday's has lifted such a weight from my shoulders. It's only now that I realise how much physical and mental stress that day's work has been putting on me. As it is I've had a relaxed day, got things done and hopefully tomorrow we'll go and enjoy the stormy conditions at the beach.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Changing Plans.

With full cloud cover last night I didn't get to see the supermoon though it was shining brightly through the clouds. This morning the rain had stopped and the clouds had moved back up to their proper place in the sky. It was quite wild and windy as I cleared another bit of the path down by the stream.
At school I was all set to have one of the other teachers come and watch my PE with the reception class but as I was telling the children that we would have a visitor I found out that he too has been struck down with the tummy bug. (4 of my class were also off sick.) Then as my children were changing into their PE shoes I got a message saying we couldn't use the hall because there were some workmen  in there. Never mind I thought, we'll go outside only to discover that it was pouring with rain. Undaunted and because I love PE so much (ha) I said we would do PE in the class. I moved a couple of tables and we had a gentle PE lesson with a bit of jumping over the big plastic spots as well as some impromptu imagining of little creatures in the 'holes', describing them and carrying them carefully and showing them to each other. That filled up the time until playtime after which I was listening to a child read when the school alarm went off. Not the fire alarm but the security alarm. Not taking any chances we acted as if it was the fire alarm and walked our children out to the playground with all the parents watching from the other side of the playground fence. It turned out that somebody working on the boiler had pressed the wrong button setting off the alarm. 
At the end of the day the class teacher had a meeting with a parent in the classroom and I ended up standing outside with a couple of children waiting for the after-school club and a late parent.
After all that excitement I went and booked my car in for a winter service, silly of me not to have had that done at the same time as the MOT. Then as I was getting low on petrol I drove over to the petrol station and called in at Lidl's to stock up on vegetables because I don't need to go back to school or town until Monday - hooray!

Tuesday 15 November 2016


I woke this  morning to the same dull grey low clouds. If anything the drizzle was heavier but not so bad that I couldn't clear another section of the path by the bog garden. My whole drive to work was through the clouds again with the world beyond the hedges on either side of the road a wall of white. Coming home this evening in the dark the rain was heavier and the fog made seeing anything quite difficult. At one point, when I was driving through Shirwell the visibility was so poor I had to slow right down just to stay on the road.
At school I taught the reception children and for once decided that they wouldn't go out to play as not only was it raining quite heavily but the playground was covered with puddles. As every teacher takes their own class out in the afternoon it's your own decision if you want to stay in instead. Normally I would take them out as there are some covered areas and children don't melt in the rain but it was too wet today. The sickness bug continues on and today the school administrator and a student teacher were both unwell and had to go home as well as a number of children who were still off sick. We have a 48 hours staying at home rule to try and cut the spread of these bugs but I expect this will linger on for a while yet.
Our staff meeting was about marking maths, feedback and assessment. The maths curriculum was changed a couple of years ago and as yet there are no set ways of showing levels and progress so we're just working on getting continuity across the school. I say we but really it's the class teachers who have to get to grips with this. I was very happy to hear at the meeting that I no longer have to teach on Fridays. Not because the teacher is returning (she's been signed off for a while yet) but things have been changed around so that the children have more continuity rather than a number of different teachers each week. I was pleased because not only do I not have to get up before dawn on Fridays but I was also finding that I was so worn out that Saturdays were written off too.

Monday 14 November 2016


It's been a dismally grey day today. This morning there was a hint of drizzle in the air which didn't stop me from doing some work in the bog garden by the stream. I was mainly clearing the leaves and mud off the little path down there but to get to that I also needed to cut back the astilbes.  
This afternoon at school I had a Year 2 class for SPaG, PE and reading. It didn't take too long to mark the children's work after school which gave me time to go to town. I took a large and heavy bag of bedding to the Hospice shop, called in at the library and had a quick browse in Primark. By that time it was raining lightly and as I drove towards home I could see the cloud level was very low. So low that I drove into the clouds before I got to Shirwell. From there I was in wet greyness with the visibility reducing as I drove further into the clouds. With the cloud level at home skimming the tops of the trees I don't think I have much chance of seeing tonight's supermoon. 
PS The shortbread came out okay though it could have done with a bit less time in the oven.

Sunday 13 November 2016

A Walk Around Morte Point.

The morning sun was rapidly disappearing as we drove out to Morthoe for a walk around the point. It wasn't cold (I even saw a butterfly fluttering overhead when we stopped for coffee) and it was a great day for a walk. I caught a quick glimpse of a couple of seals at the usual spot but that was all.
The sea was quite choppy with waves crashing on to the rocks below. I was just about to take some dramatic photos when the camera battery  ran out. I had packed a spare battery but left it in my purse tucked under the driver's seat in the car so that was the end of my picture taking. Going out for a long walk gave us the chance to talk what else we can do to improve our chances of selling this place. We've come up with a few more projects that involve getting people in to do the work but will make the place look better. Just as we were finishing our walk I met one of the children from school out for a walk with her family. It was the first time I've met a child from school out on the coast as people in town are more likely to head for Braunton or go the other way towards Instow.
When the oil tanker came the other day it churned up part of the yard leaving a muddy spot right where somebody getting out of a car would step. As the stream is full of gravel that is constantly being replenished this morning I dug some out and dumped it in the muddy patch. Hopefully that will settle in and make the yard less embarrassingly muddy. 
I've just taken some shortbread biscuits out of the oven. They were an experiment as I can't get the oven cool enough so instead I left the door ajar. Also I didn't have rice flour so used all plain flour and substituted ordinary sugar for castor sugar. I suppose it will be a bit of a miracle if they turn out alright. I was going to make chocolate chip cookies yesterday until I found that Peter had decided to be efficient and hard boiled all 4 of our remaining eggs. I hoped to pick up some eggs from South Indicott Farm today but when we drove past the wooden rabbit hutch by the farm gate was empty. Hence the attempt to make shortbread.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Low Cloud.

We had 2 couples coming to view the house this morning so once again it was time for the extra tidy and  hide stuff in cupboards. At least it was 2 viewings for 1 tidy up.
While it wasn't actually raining the cloud level was down very low as I walked down the hill after leaving my car by the top field. It began to rain during the second viewing but the couple, who were cash buyers were only looking for a holiday home so this place wasn't suitable. The first couple who had a baby and a toddler seemed much more positive but you never know.
I had been out picking the leaves off the stone raised bed before the viewings and once the rain had stopped in the afternoon I went out and cleaned all the leaves off the snow-in-summer growing in the wall. 
Once the viewings were over I felt quite tired. Maybe that had something to do with getting out of bed at half-past midnight to deal with a crack in the wall by the stairs that was bothering me. Not so much a crack but a ridge where the previously filled crack was being squeezed. Several hundred year old stone walls built on clay next to a stream will always move as the underlying clay contracts or expands according to how wet the conditions are. Anyway I decided it looked too prominent so I sanded and then painted that bit of wall and now you can only detect the line if you look very closely.
For supper I've made a hearty winter soup based on a portion of pumpkin puree that Peter defrosted by mistake thinking it was a chicken breast! I just added onions, carrots, garlic and a tin of tomatoes and hey presto we have soup.