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.

Tuesday 28 February 2017


When I first looked out of the window this morning there was a sprinkling of white on the ground. On closer inspection it was hail which didn't take long to melt in the long sunny spells we've had today. It has still been rather cold with strong winds blowing from the west but there's been more sun than yesterday with the occasional hail shower. 
I finally got around to fixing the to step leading up to the old hens' run. It just needed a couple of old bolts to be banged into the ground to stop the wood from falling down. Funny how the camera flattens out slopes as you really can't tell from the photo that the steps are on a 45⁰ slope. (Guess who's discovered all the special characters? Now I can write some Lithuanian words correctly.)
While I was in the hens' run I noticed that the wobbly willow tree had an even more pronounced lean to it, not only that but it was swaying noticeably in the gusting winds. If it falls in the direction it's leaning that should be okay but just in case it falls towards the shed roof I decided to put a safety rope on it. Although it's only a small roof I remember that it was surprisingly difficult to replace the last time the wind caught it and blew it off the stone walls.
Luckily we do have a very long strong rope one end of which  I tied to the leaning tree and the other to a tree at the side of the garden. Then I thought that it would be better to use a stronger tree and took the rope back to a sturdy tree by the wooden sheds. That willow tree will have to come down as soon as possible but I didn't feel like tackling it today. I did do a little weeding up by the scree garden. It was good to be out in the elements.

Monday 27 February 2017

Grey, Sun, Hail, Sleet, Rain.

It looks like I'm having the same trouble again ie. the button to upload doesn't become live. And yes, it is raining.
Today started off very gloomy but the weather has swung from bright sunshine to hail and even to sleet. Mostly it has been cold, grey and wet. I went out during a sunny spell to take some photos and spent about 10 minutes pulling up weeds growing in the gravel of the grass bed up by the scree garden. For the rest of the day I've played my guitar and had a long session working on my journal. I've completed making notes from the 2013 blog. Next step is to précis and collate them and then I'll be ready to write them into the journal. Apart from skipping over the sad bits it has been fun looking at the glorious summer flowers and butterflies that were in the garden that year. I washed, dried over the rayburn and then ironed some bedding, started knitting hat #2 and that has been the sum total of my day.

Nope - not even walking away and leaving the menu plenty of time to sort itself out has worked. 😩

Ah ha! It's working this morning (Tuesday).
 During one of the sunny spells.
 The cats keeping themselves warm.

Sunday 26 February 2017

Grey and Wet.

A morning of grey drizzle turned into an grey afternoon of  rain. If for various reasons I can't be working outside and am being bored stuck indoors then I might as well get on with some of the boring jobs. So today I did some extra bathroom cleaning, how thrilling! My one moment of excitement today was when I spotted a heron down by the lake (I was taking up some scraps to the compost heap). I raced back to get my camera only to find the heron gone. But when I walked up the road there it was standing in the ponies' field. We don't see these 3ft tall birds that often so I was pleased to get any sort of photo. It flew off as soon as it saw me and though I did get some photos while it was in flight they weren't that clear. The woodpecker was back helping himself to the peanuts in the bird feeder this morning and right now there are 2 hen pheasants walking across the garden, no make that 3 4, as they head off to roost in the big beech tree.
Remember the bobble hat I knitted? Sadly, being cheap acrylic yarn it stretched and got so big it covered not only my ears but most of my nose so I've taken it apart and will re-knit it making it a lot smaller. At least that will give me something to do. (Hen pleasant number 6 is now tip-toeing across the garden.)
There they are gathering under the tree. Even more have arrived since I took this photos.

Saturday 25 February 2017


We were back to grey wintry weather today. It stayed dry until late afternoon and now the rain has really set in. The internet is running so slowly that I haven't been able to get any photos onto today's post. I get halfway through the steps and then it just ........ stops. It seems crazy having high tech communications stopped by the weather but until BT change the (more than likely) damaged telephone wires we are left with an abysmal internet that slows to a crawl whenever it rains.
The doctor advised me to rest my knee for a few days so today all I did outside was a little sweeping up of leaves. Having done all my regular indoor jobs including working on the journal and playing my guitar I thought that I might as well put aim for a spotless house. (Ha!) I decided to start on our bedroom where everything that could got a wipe down. That included all my wooden earring trees though I drew the line at cleaning the actual earrings. Peter came in just as I was wiping the tops of the underbed storage boxes  and I got a telling off for kneeling. I finished by cleaning my sword which hangs on the wall. I used some cotton buds dampened with lemon juice to take off the various marks and then wiped it carefully while making sure I didn't touch the metal with my fingers as that will cause more marks. Peter has some proper oil for me to use to protect the metal.

Friday 24 February 2017


The gale blew itself out overnight and if it hadn't been for the chill in the air today could have been a spring day. Lots of sun until late afternoon made it very pleasant indeed. I was able to dig out yet another basketful of weeds from the bank which is looking barer each time I clear another small section. 
In the afternoon I went to my GP for a steroid injection into my arthritic knee. This she did under the watchful eye of one of the more senior doctors as she is still in training for these injections. As I have no fear of needles I was quite happy for her to do the injection. Apart from the tiniest scratch as the needle went in there was no pain at all just a 'heavy' feeling as the steroid & anaesthetic were pushed in. I was going to take a photo for the blog but thought that might put her off a bit. In choosing later in the afternoon I had made a big mistake because by the time I left the surgery it was end of school time. Not only that but many local manufacturing companies finish early on a Friday. It took me 20 minutes to cover the half mile from the Newport traffic lights to the turn-off for Lidl's.  I prefer to buy fruit and veg from Lidl's because their prices are better than Tesco's. It then took about half an hour to drive crawl along the main road for a mile to the point where the road splits and 99% of the traffic heads for the old bridge. It was clear sailing for the rest of the way with just a short stop at the road works by the hospital.
Speedy being silly in the sun.

Thursday 23 February 2017

Storm Doris.

Gale force winds due to Storm Doris blew through the night and all day long. At least they have blown away the low cloud and the sky is blue once more with clouds racing across. I went into town this morning and took extra care driving by the trees in Burridge, keeping my eyes on the trees and then speeding up a bit to get past safely. I got held up at the hospital traffic lights and a quick look on line has yielded the information that they are putting in a small roundabout instead of the lights.
My trip to town today was to meet a friend for coffee at Lindsey's. We both had the raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake which is my favourite though I wouldn't turn up my nose at any of the varieties on offer. We had a great catch up and were in there chatting for about an hour. I had parked at the all-day car park so I was able to take my time walking back down the High St. popping into some shops and then going to the library. Then I went over to BJ's and used some of the gardening vouchers I'd been given at school for my 60th birthday to buy some plant pots. My acers are in ordinary plastic pots and the 2 oldest ones desperately needed re-potting. I had been keeping my eyes open for some nice plastic pots and rather liked the 2 grey pots. It was quite funny at BJ's as a number of the plastic pots had blown all over the place. I was hoping to get a third matching pot but they didn't have anymore in the colour and size (the paving slab is 2 ft. square). The smaller dumpy pot is frost proof terracotta. I found it at half price in the clearance corner. Ceramic pots look better in the long term but filled with soil they can be extremely heavy. I've already re-potted 3 acers into the new pots. That was much harder than I anticipated as the big acers were very hard to get out of their old pots. In the end I had to smash the sides of one of the old plastic pots because no matter how much I loosened the sides with a kitchen carving knife the acer wouldn't come out.
I also dropped into Tesco's for some shopping. I had seen these mugs the last time I was there but decided that I didn't really need another mug. This one was one of two in the half price section, all because of a tiny chip on the bottom. It's only noticeable if you run you finger around the bottom so I had to have it. Driving home the winds shook my little car a number of times as I drove over the New Bridge. Then as I was coming up to the Muddiford turn-off there was a Road Closed sign on the main road which leads home. The sign also said access only to Wooley Lodge a place name I didn't recognise. I decided to stay on my normal road as there are a couple of detours I could take further up if necessary. Luckily the road was clear all the way for me, I think Wooley Lodge is at the top of Zig-Zag, part of the Arlington court estate. We were going to take a drive down to Woolacombe in the afternoon as it's wild and stormy but a quick view of the beach web cam showed that the wind had flattened the waves which were messy but small so we decided not to bother.

Wednesday 22 February 2017


The wild and windy weather continued on through the night and all through today. I love hearing the wind howling and whistling around the house. I did start getting wrapped up to do some outside work but then I looked through the window and realised that I'd be soaking wet long before my half an hour was up and reluctantly put away my gardening clothes. 
The oil man came to top the tank up in the afternoon. He was a new driver so we had to play musical cars in the yard to give him room to turn around. He still managed to drive over the grass verge which at least gives it a good sharp edge.
For most of the day I've been pottering around sorting a few things here and there including sorting some of the kitchen cupboards. I did some work on my journal but as I've reached 2013 I can only cope with short sessions of reading my blog for that year. I had a sort through of some more files and cleared out all our electricity and oil bills prior to 2016. Apparently there have been cases of people in remote properties having their rubbish stolen specifically for paperwork to use in creating false identities so I had a small fire in the wood burner. Much more fun than using Peter's paper shredder. As the plant holder thing was made of shells strung on fishing line I decided it would be too difficult to fix it and instead cut it apart and saved all the shells to use sometime.

Tuesday 21 February 2017


It's been dark and gloomy all day with the clouds swirling round the garden and tree branches swaying in the strong winds. It was too wet even for a short spell of gardening so I've stayed indoors. When it's cold the cats like to stay in the kitchen near the warm rayburn and today I left the door of the warmer oven open. Sure enough Squeaky claimed it as her own and as the oldest of the cats at 17 I think she deserves it. In the evenings she likes to sleep under one of the radiators in the sitting room on a spot where the concrete floor under the carpet is also warmed by the central heating pipes. For the last few evenings we haven't bothered to put the central heating on as it wasn't that cold and Squeaky objected vociferously first wailing at me and even going upstairs and yelling at Peter in his study. Peter didn't believe me at first when I told him why Squeaky was wailing but the minute the heating goes on she settles down happily. Not that we will be putting the heating on just for her.
Being stuck indoors I decided to sort through several boxes of photos and negatives. Amongst them was the one above of me age 15 with a friend's afghan hound. Our friends lived in Knightsbridge and I would often take Zanzibar for long walks in Hyde Park.  I am sorry to admit that when people asked if they could stroke him I took gleeful pleasure in telling them that he might bite strangers. It was true but I shouldn't have been so smug. He was a beautiful dog and I spent a lot of time brushing him trying to get the matts out of his fur. Not the type of dog to have unless you can afford to have regular dog grooming. As I went through the photos, a lot of which were already sorted, I made sure that were names and dates on the backs, even those photos of ourselves because one day we might forget or future generations might not recognise us. I even found some of Peter's dad's photos from when he became an officer in the Lithuanian army just before the war. I have already got 26 scrap books filled with photos and a lot of the photos today were the spares when I made the albums but I can't throw away photos. It's like throwing away memories. Today's sort out got 3 boxes reduced to 2 along with some stuff actually thrown away.
Look what I did yesterday! I was tidying up the pitcher plant that hangs in the kitchen window by snipping off the old brown leaves, got to the very last leaf and cut through one of the strings of the shell hanging basket. Down fell the plant pot making a mess but nothing got broken. I haven't decided yet whether to get a replacement or try and mend the broken strand.

Monday 20 February 2017

Low Cloud.

We were up early this morning (early for us that is) to do a final tidy up and I had already taken my car up the hill when we got the message that today's viewing had been cancelled. Maybe it is mean minded of us but the thought is there that was there a viewing at all? A friend of Peter's was an estate agent and apparently that is what they do to make you think things are still happening.
We have been shrouded in low cloud all day long. I took these photos in the middle of the day when Peter gave me a lift up the hill on his way into town. The clouds lifted enough in the afternoon for me to get out and pull up a few more weeds from the bank. Right now they have dropped again and looking through the window I can see great billows of fog being blown across the garden. Today's indoor jobs included clearing yet more papers after which I got all my knitting wool and needles packed into one box. Should I ever plan to do some wool embroidery or attempt some Kaffe Fasset designs (on a small scale only) then my collection will come in useful.
My visit to the doctor last week has got me signed off from work for the time being. My attitude of going to work however I feel proved not to be the most sensible thing to do so now I am taking the doctor's advice.

Sunday 19 February 2017


A fine rain has been falling all day and now the clouds are so low I can hardly see the trees in the next door field. That put paid to my plans to wash the conservatory windows. Instead I sat at the kitchen table brushing the fleece of a long dressing gown I had washed yesterday. I also did some mending then got rid of some energy by splitting some cut down planks for kindling. There is something very basic about wielding an axe even if I was kneeling on the thick sitting room carpet. After that I cleaned up the stone hearth first sweeping while trying not to raise any dust. Then a thorough going over with the hoover finished the job off. 
Peter went off for some rowing this morning and there met somebody who had been to see the house but bought somewhere else. Peter had told him about the gig club as he's always encouraging people to join and there he was. 
The top half of my dwarf umbrella tree.

Saturday 18 February 2017

Sunny Morning and Afternoon.

After a foggy start we had a sunny morning followed by grey clouds but then the sun broke through once more. By the time the sun began to go down there was not a cloud to be seen in the sky.  As we have a viewing on Monday I didn't carry on pulling up weeds from the bank but did some 'here and there' tidying around the garden - edges tidied up and leaves picked off plants that sort of thing.
My indoor job was to have a clean up in the conservatory, wiping down everything and clearing out the old spiders' webs. While I was doing that I noticed that the leaves of my dwarf umbrella tree (dwarf only in respect to a jungle, it's now touching the conservatory roof) besides being dusty some had black marks. My guess is some sort of mould so I carefully washed the black off every leaf. There were a lot of leaves and each one is split into 10 leaflets. It looks much better now and hopefully I haven't spread the mould over the whole plant. I try not to use chemicals and I expect most of the chemicals recommended in my otherwise excellent Readers' Digest Book of Gardening are now prohibited. Then I snipped all the dead leaves from the trailing geraniums which gave away the fact that I don't always look after my plants properly. A number of the orchids which are mainly in the sitting room are starting to flower so they do get proper orchid food in their weekly watering.

Friday 17 February 2017

Sunny Then Grey.

We had even more sunshine today although now in the late afternoon everything has turned grey again. I did a small amount of weeding outside and used the wire brush on the concrete under the washing lines. When I unscrewed the handle from the worn down brush I was dismayed to find that it didn't fit the new head I had bought. Luckily I had a spare metal broom handle that was just the right size to fit the new head.
While I was walking around the garden I found the body of a female blackbird. It didn't look like a cat casualty but I suspect that it had flown into the window which sometimes happens.  Poor, silly bird.
One of my indoor jobs today was to clear out several folders of school work sheets that were very useful when I worked in different schools as a supply teacher but are no longer needed. Being me I did save a boxful of poly-pockets. It seemed wasteful to just throw them away and the thought of all that plastic going into landfill doesn't seem right. However when the time comes to go through the rest of my school resources I shall just have to overcome my scruples and throw the whole lot away.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Happy Birthday Vytas.

It's Vytas' birthday and I did the embarrassing mum thing of posting a photo from way back on FaceBook. We were at a Sealed Knott muster and he was wearing 17thC clothing so he hasn't changed that much.

Last summer he and Sally went off with friends to Lithuania so now he knows a bit more about his heritage. He also went to the States for his work and visited Yosemite.
When not working he and Sally can be found marching around the wilder parts of the country or going off to Heavy Metal gigs and festivals. 
Part of his birthday present was this crocheted 'Dragon's  Egg' (Game of Thrones) which is actually a tea cosy. Vytas is one of the few people I know who uses a tea pot and I had checked with Sally first if a tea cosy would be suitable. She thought it would be and sent me the measurements of his tea pot. I based the design on the scale stitch used in the slippers I made for Sally but then changed the shape slightly and when to do each scale. To finish off and make it more dragonny I embroidered a gold stitch at the tip of each scale.  
Today it was still fairly warm with the sun appearing for a while. I did my small amount of weeding on the bank again. It's a good thing I bought plenty of grass seed because by the time I pull out the weeds and the 'wrong' grass and clip the rest of the grass it all looks rather bare. Next door Jack was out on the big tractor mower but it will be a while before Peter starts mowing our grass.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Traffic Jam.

We had rain at the start and the end of the day but in between it has been nice and sunny.  
Today I tried another approach when sneaking up on the frogs in the pond. Anyone watching would have wondered what I was doing crouching down, creeping along the middle lawn trying to hide behind some heather bushes camera in hand. I think there are about 6 or 7 frogs in the photo above taken before they spotted me. After which the only signs of the frogs were some big bubbles and widening ripples where the frogs had gone down below the surface.
Late in the afternoon I had an appointment at the doctors. On my way in the road works at the hospital traffic lights were causing major hold ups. It took a long time for the lights to change and as I made my way down the hill there was a line of stationary cars from the traffic lights back to the top of Rotary Gardens (almost a mile Peter thinks).  On my way home I made sure I came through Pilton which still got me to the same traffic lights but there were only 3 cars in front of me and we didn't have to wait too long until the man controlling the temporary lights let us through.
While I was in town I got the grass seed and a new head for my patio wire brush/broom thing. I also signed up for the 'over 60' club at B&Q which gets me 10% off on Wednesdays. As they say - every little helps.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Valentine's Day.

Peter almost fooled me into thinking he'd forgotten Valentine's Day (not that easy when it's plastered all over the tv) before he gave me this lovely orchid along with a card and some white Lindt d'or. We don't do anything else special but it is nice to have a little treat.
We haven't really seen the sun today, more a uniform greyness with a hint of drizzle in the air. It wasn't too cold and listening to the radio last night it turns out that once again Chivenor was the warmest place in the country at 13C / 55.4F. I'm still clearing the grass from the primroses and having pulled up some weeds that were also in there the bank is looking a bit sparse. The next time I'm in BJ's I'll get some more grass seed as you can buy it by weight there.
I also cleared a final tray of oddments that was up in the scree garden shelter. You know those odd things that could be useful one day. It was things like old window catches and brass handles. These all came from my mother's very organised DIY cupboard. It won't be until we move into our coastal (hopefully) home that I will know which things to get rid of. So much nicer, in my opinion, and ethical to re-use old or even antique fittings than buy the latest mass produced version. There was also a lovely brass bell, about 4" high, green with age which I'm sure I will use eventually.
Love has been in the air for the frogs as well. Today I tried taking photos from the bank above them but they were even quicker to disappear. I should have realised they would be attuned to the threat of predatory birds such as herons (or seagulls?)

Monday 13 February 2017

Warm and Windy.

It's been a very different day today. With a mild wind blowing from the west and cloudy but blue skies all day long it was nice enough that in the afternoon I took a chair and sat outside doing my knitting.  The sheets were flapping in the breeze, frogs croaking in the pond and birds singing up in the trees not to forget the roaring of the wind through the trees. 
There was a small flock of about 9 dunnocks (a type of thrush) in the big beech tree and I could also hear blackbirds, pheasants, robins and other unidentified birds.
I finally finished knitting my bobble hat. As it's only acrylic yarn I used a lot of the remainder to make a big pom-pom, just for fun. I had bought the yarn to try out for my crochet project but went with some dark green wool I had in my wool basket.
Nothing else to distinguish the day apart from seeing on Facebook that Romas took and passed his driving test today. It is much harder to pass your test these days than it was in my time. For me the theory test was no more than a few questions from the examiner, identifying road signs and stopping distances from what I remember and a couple of random questions from the Highway Code. Now there's a separate theory test which you have to pass before you can take the practical driving test. Also there is a very long wait for the practical test as there seem to be very few examiners/ time slots. Now all he has to do now is to be able to afford the insurance which is very expensive for new drivers, I think about 10x my insurance.