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.

Friday 31 March 2017

Sun and Rain.

We had some bright sunshine in the morning with an occasional shower. Hoping that the day would improve I threw some towels in the washing machine but the afternoon drizzle meant they had to be hung up over the rayburn.
I've had a busy day, at least by my current restricted standards. First of all I repaired my Vax. Yesterday it kept cutting out as I  did my morning hovering. It didn't take too much deduction to work out that there was a loose connection in the plug. This was a fairly easy repair to do. It would have been easier if the plug wasn't one of those sealed ones meaning I had to cut it off and put on a new plug. The hardest part of that was stripping the cable. We have a handy tool to strip the actual wires but not one for the outer covering. It took me three tries before I had got the outer covering off without cutting into the wires underneath. After that it was simple and now the Vax works fine. I wonder in these days of sealed plugs on almost everything, if young people can change electric plugs or investigate faults in electrical goods?
My main morning job was to clean up the porch and put back all the boots, wetsuits & other stuff that usually lives there. After all it's only been a week since the plasterers were here.
Later on, in the afternoon I did a little plastering of my own. While the plaster on the walls, and I presume the ceiling, is as smooth as glass there were a few edges that needed finishing off. To be fair plastering usually happens before the skirting boards are put on and going over the existing artex was hard enough. We had an old bag of white plaster that I thought I would use for my work today. Possibly because it was old, the plaster set very quickly so I had to make a tiny amount each time. I was using small cottage cheese tubs to measure out equal parts of water and plaster but I found it best to only measure out half a tub of each. I got the job done though there will have to be some smoothing down of my work before painting can begin. All I can say it will be better than it was.

Out in the garden the winter flowering heathers are looking good and the pond is filled with bright kingcups.
In the afternoon a car arrived in our yard. It was a couple who thought they could drive by to have a quick look at the place. I didn't offer to show them inside but I did take the man up to look at the scree garden outbuildings. He was talking about turning them into holiday accommodation but I don't think they were what he was expecting.  

Thursday 30 March 2017

Stag Sightings.

At first it seemed as if today's weather was going to be a repeat of yesterday's but then the temperature shot up as the wind blew from the south and the sun tried hard to break through the gloomy greyness. 
I planned to have a restful day after yesterday's gallivanting around but I couldn't resist going out and repotting the last two of my acers. Last week Peter had gone to BJ's and used the last of my birthday vouchers (from work) to buy two more of the fancy grey plastic plant pots. Along with many of the trees and shrubs around the place the acers are putting out their buds ready for new leaves to appear.
I was working at my PC when looking out of the window I saw a stag casually walking across the garden. I grabbed my camera and tried to sneak out of the front door but he saw me and disappeared back up the stream. The only photo I got then was of the stag almost hidden in the bushes. However a couple of hours later he reappeared walking across the garden before sauntering up the drive. This time I managed to capture some better shots and I like this one with the Stags estate agent's board.

Wednesday 29 March 2017


It's been a grey day today with the weather moving between almost raining, raining a little and raining a lot. I had to go into town in the afternoon but as my knee was sore I decided to drive up to the Post Office in Sticklepath rather than walk across the bridge and go to the Post Office at the back of Smith's. Now that I think of it I don't know of any other local Post Offices and even the one up at Sticklepath is at the back of a small Co-Op. At least there you can park right in front of the Post Office.
That done I drove down the hill and did some shopping in Lidl's and some more in Tesco's. One of the reasons I went to Tesco's was to look for a sports crop top which would be suitable to wear at my physiotherapy sessions. At the moment I simply hitch up my vest top so Tim can observe my back. There wasn't much choice in Tesco's and the two I tried on were no good. Not to be beaten I called in at Sports Direct where I found a couple more possibles. Now I'm not very up to date with fashion, maybe because I didn't have daughters, but when a few years ago I started trying on all in one elasticated bras to wear at home (much more comfortable but not enough support for work), I didn't realise it is easier to step into them rather than try and pull them on over my head. (I worked it out eventually.) One of the two tops I tried at Sports Direct was easy to step into but the other one wasn't. I had a go at pulling it on over my head but when I finally yanked it into place I realised it wasn't for me anyway. Then came the difficulty of getting out of the top. It took some wriggling and contorting to extricate myself but imagine the embarrassment if I had been stuck and needed to call out for assistance. Especially as most of the shop assistants were young lads, oh the mortification that would have ensued on both sides!
My final stop of the afternoon, indeed the main reason I went into town, was to call in at the carpet place to arrange a time for the carpet to be fitted and to pay the deposit. The earliest they could do it was the 25th of April but at least that gives plenty of time to get the corridor walls and ceiling painted.

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Mostly Dry.

The day started off bright and sunny but all too soon grey clouds began to loom. It began to look as if it would rain at any moment but apart from one brief shower it has stayed dry.
I'm slowly getting the place straight after Saturday's plastering. Today I wiped off the drips and smudges of plaster that had got onto the woodwork and the window so the corridor looks a bit better. This afternoon the man from the carpet firm came to measure up the corridor and Peter's study. If the new carpet comes in a 5m width there will be enough to cut out a rectangle for the room and leave an L-shape for the corridor. I'm going in to the carpet place tomorrow to pay the deposit and book a date for the carpet to be laid. I'll take in a piece from the left over pieces of the sitting room carpet to make sure I get the same carpet or a good match.
I've always thought this wild flower growing just beyond the garden, was borage but a quick check in my wild flower book shows that it is in fact Green Alkanet aka Bugloss. The book also says its roots can be used to make the red dye which Egyptian women used on their hair and nails. It's supposed to be a troublesome weed but I've only ever seen a couple of plants growing in the wild corner of my neighbour's field. I just like the blue colour, which is more intense than in the photo.

Monday 27 March 2017


It's been one of those perfect spring days that drives away the memories of the dismal greyness we so often have and makes you believe that summer is just around the corner. There was enough of a breeze to finish drying the dust sheets and I also got one load of bedding out on the line. 
I woke up very early and saw a stag in the field next door, perhaps my later rising is why I haven't seen many deer this year. It was so early that I went back to sleep for another couple of hours -bliss. Then I escaped out into the sun for the rest of the day. I gave the garden table and chairs a wipe over, had my breakfast outside and spent the morning reading in the sun. Later on I made a start on cutting back the santolina bushes after which I needed another rest, this time in the sun lounger by the conservatory. The only slight drawback to spending the day outside was the whiff of muck spreading coming from the fields up on the hill but you get used to that living in the country.
The inside of the house smells of damp plaster as the plaster upstairs starts to dry out. That smell takes me back to the times I spent in art school where my mother did bronze casting. (Plaster is used to make the moulds in the lost wax bronze casting process).
Finally, I have made myself a tool so that I can weed without having to bend down. I do have a hoe but the small table fork is just right for pulling out the small weeds that are beginning to appear.

Sunday 26 March 2017

British Summer Time Begins.

British Summer Time starts today and it has been the most glorious sunny day worthy of the emergence of my flip-flops and shorts. Very windy but I was able to sit out all afternoon in a sheltered sun trap with book, cat and a treat bar of dark chocolate filled with pistachio mousse as it is Mothers' Day. As well as all the lovely flowers in the yellow and blue bouquet I had a beautiful hand crafted card from Vytas. I was also treated to warm croissants for breakfast eaten in bed listening to The Archers.
Yesterday I hung all the sheet dust sheets out on the line hoping the wind would blow most of the plaster dust out of them. Originally I planned to leave them out there overnight but then I worried they might get blown off the line, the wind was that strong, and end up festooned in the tops of the trees. It was already dark by the time I decided I would bring them in so out I went  armed with a torch. As I took the dust sheets off the line I looked up and for a change there was a cloudless sky with a myriad of stars above. It was such a wonderful sight that I even got Peter to come out and marvel at the stars. I should persuade him to get that app on his phone that tells you which constellations you are looking at as my knowledge is limited to the saucepan (Orion) and the saucepan with a bent handle/ the big dipper /the plough (Ursa major). Back to the dust sheets -I didn't want to have plaster dust or bits going through my washing machine so this morning I rinsed out the dust sheets in the stream, but then there were bits of gravel on the sheets and they would do even more damage to the washing machine. So back on the line went the dust sheets and by the end of the day they were dry and free of gravel and plaster. However I was not convinced they were clean enough to put over furniture or carpets so the first lot went in the washing machine and are now out on the line to dry though the wind has died down a lot.
We have discovered yet another strange food item that our boy cats like - olives! Peter offered Speedy an olive and he reacted to it in the same way as cats do to catnip, lying down and rubbing his face all over it before eating half of the olive. I offered Patch the left over half and he simply ate it. Funny cats.

Saturday 25 March 2017

Plastering Day.

The weather has been lovely today, lots of sun and it turned quite warm in the afternoon.
We were up early both of us walking before the 7.00 alarm had a chance to ring. I am a morning person anyway but recently poor sleeping has led to me sleeping in a bit longer in the mornings. Today we had time for  a civilised wake up which for me is a mug of tea followed by two more mugs of coffee. The plasterers turned up at 8.00 as promised but straight away there was a set back. Four of the bags of plaster which were meant to be bonding coat plaster were board coat plaster. I thought that was another of my mistakes but when we looked at the delivery note I had ordered the correct plaster. As this was the plaster needed for the first coat Peter and the boss plasterer drove into to town to change the bags. There were four plasterers in all and I spent most of the day making cups of tea and coffee, sausage sandwiches and in the afternoon I baked a chocolate cake. I did have a little bit of an ulterior motive as I then was able to ask them to bring down the garden table. They did a very good job of plastering the walls and ceilings of the upstairs corridor though at the moment it looks a bit grim because the plaster is dark brown. Even with all the dust sheets I put down there was a lot of mess. They did their best to clean up but builders' tidy is not the same as even my standards. To be fair I had told them that the carpet upstairs is going to be thrown out. We did some extra hovering and laid a trail of newspaper to walk on but I think that carpet will have to be got rid of sooner rather than later. The extra care I took in protecting the new carpet on the stairs and downstairs hall paid off as the new carpet didn't have any mess on at all. As well as the heavy plastic tablecloths I had used a couple of lightweight plastic tablecloths, the sort that have a flock backing. The backing worked like Velcro on the carpet underneath so that the tablecloths didn't move an inch and there was no chance of anyone slipping.
In the afternoon I had a delivery of a beautiful bouquet  of flowers from Vytas (it's Mothers' Day tomorrow) and the postman brought a card from Romas.
I went into the sitting room to send the boys messages on Facebook and to my horror there were these white marks on the carpet. I tried unsuccessfully to wipe the marks off and was wondering if somehow I had tracked in some of the bleach that I use in the bathroom. There was also a pink mark which I thought was some of the plaster. I was beginning to panic when suddenly I realised that the marks were sunlight being reflected in through the window. The pink mark was from the sunlight reflecting off a pink orchid that sits in the window. Great sigh of relief.

Friday 24 March 2017


Last night the winds roared around the house (gale force 8 out at sea according to the shipping forecast) and it's been windy today as well. There was a lot of sunshine too, clouds came over in the middle of the day but they soon blew away giving us a beautiful afternoon.  I got all the rest of my dust sheets (the ones that used to be sheets) out on the line to blow out any dust before using them. I've finally  got the upstairs corridor protected with dust sheets over the doors as well. The new stair and hall carpet which will be walked over have got extra attention as I really wouldn't want any mess on them. I used up the old heavy plastic tablecloths (like oil cloth) for that job. I had been loathe to throw them away so each time I bought a new table cloth I kept the old ones underneath and now they are proving invaluable.
I finished off the last bit of moss raking and liberally applied the 'speedy lawn' grass seed I bought in BJ's. I keep looking at the seed I sprinkled on the bank but not surprisingly with this cold weather there's no sign of germination yet. Last week's warmth encouraged many of the early flowers to start blooming.
We're off to bed early tonight as the plasterers should be here at 8.00 tomorrow morning. Once they start I won't be able to get into our bedroom so I better make sure that I take out anything I need for during the day.

Thursday 23 March 2017


I looked out of the bedroom window early this morning and saw a deer in the field next door. By the time I had gone downstairs to get my camera she had moved into the long grass. She can be seen in the centre of the photo with her head looking towards me. I saw a hind and what looked like a yearling a week or so ago again very early in the morning but those have been the only sightings this year.
It has been a nasty cold day with a sharp wind.  There was a little rain in the air but I took a chance and hung out an old bedspread/ dust sheet.
I was just finishing my morning exercises when I heard the bronze cow bell which serves as a door bell, ringing. It was the delivery man bringing the plaster. He had sensibly stopped at the top of the drive as he was driving a long van which would have had difficulty either turning in our yard or reversing around the bend. I had to ask him to bring down the sacks, all 11 of them, as there is no way either of us old crocks could carry them. Luckily I had the wheelbarrow so he only had to make 3 trips but unfortunately the tyre is quite flat. At least all that work warmed the lad up on such a cold day. I did offer him a cup of tea or coffee but he just wanted to get on. For the rest of the day I've been sorting out dust sheets and have already taped some light plastic ones over the doorways.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Sunshine and Showers.

This morning it looked as if we were set for another day of sunshine and showers. I had only spent five minutes in the garden raking up the moss when down came yet more rain. I took an early lunch break during which it not only rained but there was hail too. I was able to go out afterwards and carry on combing the lawn with my hand rake, only one more session and that bit of lawn will be done. From my vantage point I was able to look down on the main lawns where I've spotted a lot more moss. I shall refrain from trying to get the moss out of those areas as it's just too big a job for me to tackle.
Today I took down the curtains and curtain rails in the upstairs corridor as well as the pictures hanging there and the picture hooks after which I went all domestic and baked some biscuits. They are flavoured with vanilla and I added half a tub of chopped peel that was sitting in the cupboard. I think the recipe has too much sugar as the biscuits are very sweet so I drizzled a little icing made with lemon juice on top.
I was upstairs doing my exercises and enjoying looking at the blue sky when I heard the sad news of the people being mown down on Westminster Bridge and a policeman being stabbed in what is believed to be a terrorist attack. Something like that strikes home because it is in this country at our seat of government but I wonder how many other innocent children, women and men have been killed today by terrorists or the military forces of any number of governments and haven't been mentioned in any news reports?  It is a sad world we live in and I can only be grateful that I do not wake each day fearing that my family will be bombed or shot.  

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Getting Colder.

The plasterers did arrive last night after having got themselves hopelessly lost so Peter had to go out and find them. I gave them mugs of tea when they arrived and we all chatted for quite a long time. The talk of mutual acquaintances / work places helped establish us as sort -of local and resulted in a much better quote for the job than if we had been outsiders. Not only that but they are going to do the job this week-end. We have to buy the materials, do some preparation and lay down dust sheets but that's no problem. I've already ordered the plaster from Wickes which have free delivery so I don't have to worry about lifting heavy sacks in my car and Peter will get the other stuff. We really think that tidying up those walls will make a great difference when people view the place because let's face it, we thought it was horrible when we moved in 23 years ago. 
It's been a day of contrasts, in the morning at one moment I would look through the window and see nothing but blue sky then suddenly down would come heavy rain from dark grey skies. I took the photos (above and below) in the afternoon on my way home from town.
I was out for the middle part of the day with my first stop being the hospital for another appointment with the physiotherapist. He seems pleased with my progress and has made one of my exercises harder and given me another inner core strengthening exercise to add to the ones I already do.
After my appointment I carried on and did some shopping at Lidl's and Tesco's as well as going to the library and the bank. All the time I was in town I was looking for some rubber floor mats for the car because my boots are often muddy and having something I can take out and hose down is handy. I didn't find anything in the High Street and I didn't want to spend £20 in Halfords for a full set when I only needed them for the front seats.  I struck lucky in Tesco's as when I checked out their small car stuff section they had the mats I wanted at £2 each. Now I can splash out on the black furry seat covers I had my eye on. My poor little car is looking a bit muddy at the moment because I misjudged both the depth of a flood across the road and the speed I was going. The resulting bow wave splashed mud up to the roof on one side of the car. I made sure I drove much more slowly on the way back through the same flood.
On my way home I stopped at the carpet place that put in the carpet in the sitting room and up the stairs and booked them to come and measure up the upstairs corridors and Peter's study.
I was just relaxing with a cup of coffee after all my travels when down came not rain but hail. That was enough of a reason to put the central heating on. We've since had a shower of sleet and the outside air is very cold.  

Monday 20 March 2017

Wet Morning.

This morning it felt as if the rain would never stop then suddenly at about lunchtime it did. There was even a little sun trying to break through. That gave me the chance to do a bit more of the never-ending moss clearing accompanied by the cawing of the rooks and the cooing of a wood pigeon.
In the morning I had a long session trying to get to grips with my guitar. I thought that having large hands would be an advantage, a better reach with my long fingers. However fat fingers are not so helpful. While I've been racing on with playing single notes when it comes to playing chords, okay the first proper chord that involves more than one finger, I'm finding it difficult to not touch the other strings. I reasoned that plenty of men, who generally have larger hands, play the guitar well so I sought some on-line advice. This seems to be a common problem and what I found was quite helpful. I shortened the nails on my left hand even more and am working on arching my fingers properly even when I'm only playing single notes. I have to say the tip of my middle finger is still tingling but I suppose no pain, no gain as they say.
Right now we're waiting for a plasterer to come and give an estimate for going over the nasty textured walls in two of the upstairs corridors. Having them smoothed over should make the place look a lot better especially as we'll put new carpet down as well.

Sunday 19 March 2017


The weather has been much the same as yesterday, very windy with low clouds being blown across the garden.  Once again I wrapped up and did a little moss raking of the grass by the paved area. Same old jobs indoors, still not made it to the 6th string of my guitar and sorted out some odds and ends that had ended up in one of the kitchen cupboards. Some things were re-homed in the correct places; a card of tiny round batteries are now with the rest of the batteries, two long thin bulbs (for the outside lights?) are now in the bulb box and a spare blade for a Stanley knife is in an envelope with the Stanley knife but other things have finally been thrown out including SK cards from 1993 and a couple of spare nit combs. None of us ever got nits, they're not uncommon in school age children, but sometimes I would panic and buy a bottle of lotion when children in my class had nits. That was before I bought one of those handy electric combs that zaps as you comb. There's also my sonic toothbrush. I found a YouTube video on how to replace the re-chargeable battery and sent off for a battery from The States which involved quite high postage only to find out, when I presented toothbrush and battery to Peter, that you need two batteries. As there is soldering to be done I don't even know if the repair is feasible. Maybe I should just cut my losses now and stick with the ordinary electric toothbrush I use at the moment. I didn't quite sort everything and I have to admit to putting a few small things in a container hidden away in a drawer. Not the most exciting of days.

Saturday 18 March 2017

Lost in the Clouds.

The wind roared around the house all evening and through the night. It had lessened by the morning but all we could see through the windows today were clouds blowing across the garden. I did a little moss raking, well wrapped up and only doing the bit of lawn I could reach while remaining on the paving as the ground itself is soft and wet.
Even the yellow daffodils which are generally more robust have succumbed to the wet conditions and are drooping sadly. Mr Pheasant didn't look too happy either as he sat in the middle of the ponies' field.
The rest of the afternoon has been spent doing my usual chores and the ironing. Peter is watching the rugby once more, muttering darkly at the way England are playing and not winning at least at this point.

Friday 17 March 2017

Grey and Wet.

We had a few brief spells of sunshine, just long enough to tantalise but not even long enough to grab my camera for a few photos. The rest of the day has been grey, cold and wet. So much so that we turned our central heating on in the afternoon rather than waiting until the evening. Now the sitting room feels nice and cosy despite the wind whistling outside.
It wasn't so bad in the morning and I was able to fit in a bit of moss raking before the drizzle drove me indoors again. I had a long journal writing session and my fine, green italic pen has almost run out and is getting a bit fuzzy so I'll have to find and order another one. Our local artists' supplies shop only has the standard black italic pens which even though the pages of my journal are quite thick show through. I tend to use either green or brown to write in my journal as the pages are already printed with brown and moss green illustrations.
 Some blank pages in my journal.