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 30 June 2017

Bird Day.

Another cold and grey day this time without much in the way of rain. It feels as if summer was over once we'd had the solstice.
At lunchtime I walked over to my neighbours' with a bag of the chocolate cookies I'd baked. I also took a new lunging rein, something that had been in my hoard but I'm sure they will have more use for it than I ever will.
Walking over there the 2 goose families were grazing on the grass by the lake. There was also a group of 5 female ducks who came straight up to me completely unafraid. They were obviously used to being hand fed. Sarah told me that they had been given 6 ducks as a swap for some of their young white doves but one had gone off on its own straight away. Maybe it has taken up with one of the wild drakes that come to the lake. Sarah also told me that there are a pair of herons hanging around.
I asked about the pony that had to be put down and it was Doris, one of the dark brown Dartmoor ponies born here.
As it wasn't raining I put on my old gardening coat and spent the afternoon weeding the path in the scree garden. I find it very relaxing with the sound of the wind and the birds. A perfect time to put the world to rights in my head. Then I looked up to see a couple of baby swallows taking short flights and landing back on the roof of the outbuildings. 
They may be able to fly but they still called to the adults for food and every now and again one would land on the roof with food for the youngsters. The insects must have been low down because when I walked across the field the swallows were swooping only a few feet above the grass. Later as I was kneeling on the path picking up leaves and moss I looked up to see a swallow narrowly miss my head. They're such good fliers that they've never collided with me even when they are swooping through the doorways.

Thursday 29 June 2017


It's been a cold (12C/53F), grey day with frequent rain in the morning. The forecast has just said we may get heavy rain in the night so I've been up to reinforce my dam across the road. 
I didn't go back up in the loft today as I wanted to sort out the pictures that I've already brought down. That included searching the internet to see if there is anything truly valuable. Not much luck with that though there are a couple of pictures it might be worth taking to the experts.  I got excited when I identified one artist but the only place I could find a price was eBay where a similar picture sold for £16.00. That's not going to send us off on a holiday. The bigger charities have art specialists who know where to sell art work so unless my youngsters want them, doubtful, then the charity can benefit.

Wednesday 28 June 2017


It rained last night and continued raining all through the day. That made it the perfect day for baking a double batch of chocolate cookies. That should keep Peter going for a while and I might possibly have the occasional one too. 
Peter has also been cooking. The other day we were watching the programme Eat Well for Less when they showed how to make a doner kebab at home. We rarely have a take-away meal, mainly due to cost and distance but also because you don't know what goes into the food or else have a horrible idea of what might. Also we hardly eat any salt so restaurant as well as processed food can taste unbearably salty. But  a doner kebab is Peter's absolute favourite so he thought he'd give the recipe a go. I've already had a tiny taste and I can vouch for it being absolutely delicious as well as simple to prepare.
As it is much cooler I ventured back up into the loft. This time to start bringing down any of the framed pictures that were by artists other than my mother. I plan to check that the pictures are not by anyone famous ie. worth a lot and if not I shall donate those to charity as well though I may keep some just for the frames.
So far I'm keeping up with my exercise regime of half an hour on the bike. I'm not sure how accurate the calorie counter is which doesn't really matter but according to it I burn around 120 calories in my half hour. I certainly need a shower afterwards so I must be doing my heart some good as well as strengthening my leg muscles.

Tuesday 27 June 2017


It felt quite cold this morning and with rain predicted for the afternoon I thought I'd best get on with tidying up the stone walls. Some time later the walls had been cleared of unwanted plants, the gap between them tidied and the old dead pampas grass removed and the rain still hadn't arrived. One section of the pampas grass is still alive and the young pampas grass which I planted earlier is doing well. For good measure and because I'd pulled them out of the wall I added 2 more seedlings. There were more tiny toadlets around, about half the size of the one I found the other day.
The Rambling Rector rose which scrambles through the trees has begun to flower.  
I was on my usual wander around the garden looking for things to photograph when I stopped for a while by the wild flower sections. At first I saw no wildlife, then I saw a Ringlet butterfly resting. No sooner had I taken some photos then I spotted a number of Ringlets, sometimes resting and sometime fluttering in pairs. Then a flash of electric blue caught my eye, a blue damsel fly. Once I took my time to look I saw more blue damsel flies, a red damselfly and a small grasshopper.  
This year the cowslips are flowering well, unlike last year when slugs or snails chewed through every stem.
The rain has finally arrived (it's 6.30). I've done my half an hour on the bike and my second lot of exercises so I'm looking forward to a relaxing evening. 

Monday 26 June 2017


I had to go to town again today as there was something I needed to do at the bank. This gave me the opportunity to take in more stuff to the charity shops, this time the air ambulance and Oxfam shops. The day has been mainly overcast and when I left home it looked as if we might get rain so I put a bodywarmer and a raincoat in the car. I needed neither as it was noticeably warmer in town.
Heavy though it is my camera is always with me so I took a few pictures in town. There are still a number of these medieval cobbled alleyways in town but it is hard to think that apart from the High Street all the streets were once like this.  Imagine a maze of narrow alleys filled with people going about their business, children playing and animals roaming including pigs. It is recorded that the pigs kept by the townsfolk were a real nuisance in the market held in the High Street in the days before the Pannier Market was built.
Traffic hold up on the way home.

Sunday 25 June 2017

Wet and Windy.

The day has been mostly wet, windy and cold with occasional brief moments of sun. The only outside job I've done was to take off little apples forming on the trees so that there is just one apple at each cluster. It's something I usually don't get round to doing so that in autumn there are lots of small apples with few of them being big enough to use.
The rest of the day seems to have flown by without much being done except exercising whilst watching Glastonbury. Lots of pedalling on the exercise bike and even some hula-hooping. 
Peter has been occupied trying to find out if something untoward is happening with our internet as our poor connection is even worse than usual. I blame the wet weather but he suspects something using our connection illegally. At the least he blames the fact that I keep FaceBook open.

Saturday 24 June 2017


It's been a grey day with a lot of drizzle/rain. I set the alarm for 7.30 as I planned to go to the card shop sale so naturally I woke at 5.30 and 6.30 by which time I gave up and made myself a cup of tea. It was a bit harder to find a free 1 hour parking space in the residential streets but I was still in town before 9.00. I assumed that shops open at 9.00 but the card shop must have been among those that opened at 8.30. It didn't matter as the rain may have put some people off and the shop was busy but not too crowded. Having made my earlier recce I went straight to the most expensive cards and got all bar one of the cards I was after and a few more. I ended up with 26 cards which sounds like an awful lot but I have 10 family and close friend birthdays  each year. Some of the cards were for specific people while others were more general and I got a couple of in-case occasion cards. When I set the cards out at home there were an awful lot of cut outs, glitter and jewels along with some holographic cards. I'm such a sucker for shiny or sparkly things. I may have spent £26 but when I added up the original prices they totalled nearly £96. This was a one day sale but there seem to be sales on everywhere. I did look at some clothes, as if I didn't have enough, and bought a peach coloured cotton top to go with the light flowery trousers I bought recently.
Back home I had a quiet afternoon. I unpicked part of the logo from one of Peter's work polo tops, something I wish I hadn't started as the machine embroidery was a nightmare to remove. My original intention was to remove the logo (They were not good employers)  and leave Peter's name but now it says EAT instead of EATON and that will have to do.
It's Glastonbury once more and I spent a happy half hour cycling while watching Radiohead.
I went out to put the vegetable peelings on the compost heap and found this tiny toadlet. Why are little things so cute?

Friday 23 June 2017


It has been overcast all day with strong but not too cold winds blowing. Squeaky was back at her usual spot warmed by the hot water pipes where she can keep an eye on the bird feeder, still being rapidly emptied by the woodpecker,  and get stroked every time one of us goes up or down the stairs.
Outside the wind is creating showers of rose petals though the bright pink rose, Morning Jewel has always proved highly resistant to the strong winds we get here. 

I've spent the afternoon tidying up the stone walls by the scree garden. Up till now I've turned a blind eye to the speedwell and ivy-leaved toadflax as they are quite pretty in themselves but now they're covering over the small sedums planted between the stones and it's time for them to go. It was still pleasantly warm with the wind roaring in the trees until a brief shower sent me back indoors. The flock of about 15 dispossessed jackdaws which has been searching for a new home since the fire seems to have settled down. Yesterday they kept getting chased off by the rooks that live in the tall trees by the lake.

Thursday 22 June 2017

Mostly Grey.

It looks as if summer is over, at least for the moment. The morning was overcast with quite strong cool winds and the garden thermometer reading 16C/61F. The sun eventually made a half-hearted appearance later in the afternoon which did warm things up a bit.
I got some weeding of one of the stone walls done in the morning and then my afternoon was spent in town.

This time I was successful in getting a number of things done in one trip; filling up with petrol, changing my book at the library, checking out the cards at Clinton's which is having a £1 sale on Saturday, dropping a bag of clothes off at the Hospice shop and 2 boxes of stuff to the cancer research shop, some shopping at Lidl's and getting my ear syringed at the doctors'. It was a junior nurse who did the syringing though she did call in a more senior nurse to check my ear at the end. I mentioned to her at the time that I was feeling quite dizzy and even now 3 hours later I still feel dizzy. I had a quick look on line and the BMJ says the water should be at body temperature otherwise it can cause dizziness and/or vertigo and guess what the water she used felt cold in my ear. I'm tempted to ring the surgery tomorrow, not to get the nurse in trouble but so that she is reminded about the correct water temperature for future patients.
At home I had another go with the hula-hoop. I wasn't so successful today but I persuaded Peter to take some photos.
When I woke up this morning I found myself paying the price for wearing my swimsuit while gardening. I hadn't overdone it with the sun though in this erratic climate we do tend to soak up the sun when it makes an appearance. Nope, I'd been bitten by horse flies, 2 bites on one hip and 4! bites on the other. I'm one of those unfortunate people who get bitten and those bites itch like mad. I am leaving them alone after dabbing on some anti-inflammatory ointment and took an anti-histamine tablet but they are driving me mad.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Hottest Day.

It seems fitting that the summer solstice should be the hottest day of the year, in fact we've had the hottest June day in 40 years. We celebrated the solstice with a barbeque though already the sky had begun to haze over. The darkness has fallen earlier than expected due to the sudden lowering of the clouds filling the valley with grey fog. The forecasters may well be right about rain tonight.
I woke early but the balmy warmth soon sent me back to sleep once I'd taken my tablets and poured olive oil into my ear. Our bedroom has stayed at around 84F all day which makes a nice change to our usual cool grey summers.
I needed to make a trip out of the valley so I tried to combine 3 tasks in the one journey. First I stopped by the farm at the top of the valley which sells eggs by the road. I didn't strike lucky there as there was only one box of eggs and they had a post-it with somebody's name on so all I could do was leave the 6 empty egg boxes I'd brought from home (I can't bear to throw away things that can be re-used). Then on to the re-cycling/dump at Ilfracombe to get rid of some old suitcases, an extremely heavy metal thing which has been outside for years and Pyrex casseroles which I put in the sale area. Finally on to Tesco's for milk and fresh fruit. Walking in there the cool air felt most refreshing. With only a handful of really hot days each year it's only the big supermarkets that have air conditioning. At home we just open all the windows and doors for the light breeze to blow through.
It was getting cooler when we ate our barbeque up by the scree garden. Peter had barbequed a couple of courgettes for me and I also went wild and had a beef burger. It seems I am unwittingly following an eating trend and can be described as a flexitarian. Basically it means that mainly I eat fruit and vegetables with meat occasionally, which for me at the moment is probably once a month if that. I'm quite happy to get my protein from cheese, mainly cottage cheese, and milk and once in while tinned fish.
My hula-hoop arrived today and I surprised myself by being able to hula-hoop for a reasonable length of time. All those core strengthening exercises must be working.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Very Hot.

Once again it's been a swelteringly hot day. Plenty of vehicles and sounds of activity from next door. After he'd been to town Peter dropped in on them to see how things were. Paul, with his arms fully bandaged was working away against medical advice and the pleadings of family and friends. People have rallied round to help with the clear up. A lot of horse tack was lost in the fire but the local saddlery has almost been emptied by friends/riders buying replacement tack to give to Paul and Sarah. Sadly the horse that was burned had to be put down in the night, not because of its burns but its lungs had been affected by the smoke.
I have been working outside being careful with the time I spent in the sun and applying sun-cream to the bits of me that have had enough sun ie. face, neck and the backs of my hands. In order to even up my old-lady tan where I have big white areas from my t-shirts, I allowed myself some gardening time in a low backed swimsuit. Yesterday (this was before the fire) I waited until the postman had been before changing into my swimsuit. Imagine my surprise when a van parked at the top of the drive and a young man got out. I would be perfectly happy wearing my plain black swimsuit on the beach but it seems different in the garden. I stood up clutching my basket of weeds to my middle which made me feel a bit less exposed. At first I thought he had come to take down the old estate agent's sign which is still there but no he was from a broadband company. It didn't sound like our broadband company but I know that BT has recently split into 2 separate companies and yes we're always having problems with our broadband. I blurted out that I would call my husband and raced into the house to change into shorts and t-shirt, a somewhat more respectable outfit. It turned out that he had been called in for next door so off he went.
Another thing I did yesterday was to sort out the garden table. My plan to use up the last of the boiled linseed oil on the table was an epic fail, as they say. The linseed oil had been for sealing the beech wood work surfaces in the kitchen so I thought it couldn't be too different to the teak oil I buy for the garden furniture. Well it was, the oil didn't soak into the wood but formed a tacky surface. I tried wiping it off with methylated spirits and even acetone but they  had no effect. I thought I might have to resort to scraping it off with a sharp knife but luckily when I tried using wire wool with water and detergent that did the job. Now I'll have to buy some more teak oil to restore the table.
It sounds like this hot weather may last another day before reverting to rain and/or thunderstorms. Last night I was jolted awake by several flashes of lightning that lit up the sky. There was no rain or thunder but I still went down to disconnect the phone line and the broadband hub.

Monday 19 June 2017

A Lucky Escape.

First let me say that apart from my neighbour who has badly burnt arms and a stable girl with burns to her hand everybody else is safe and sound and all the horses too though one has some burns. I can only be thankful that things didn't escalate in what must be every horse owners' nightmare - a stable fire. 
Let me start at the beginning. This afternoon while I was working outside near the conservatory I was aware of a steady clattering noise which I thought was normal farm machinery noise. Then I heard a large vehicle coming down the hill and when I looked up it was a fire engine with lights going but no sirens. I walked over to the washing lines to see what was happening only to see and hear flames and a great cloud of black smoke leaping into the sky from one of the big farm buildings next door. A second fire engine appeared as I quickly took in the clothes I had airing on the line and at that point I wondered how much danger we were in. Our house is made of stone but if fire got into the roof spaces that would be it. By that time I had run into the house yelling for Peter. He was about to ring 999 when I told him the fire engines were already there. He then went straight over to our neighbours while I closed all the windows to stop the smoke from getting into the house. By the time I went over 2 more fire engines appeared and a bit later more fire vehicles including a water bowser arrived. Luckily the firemen could draw water from the lake. We stayed for a short while to offer our help in any way but there were a number of able bodied people already there so we came back home. There is a large barn between us and the burnt barn but if the fire had spread to that or into the trees things could have so much worse. The stable barn is made from concrete up to about 7 ft. from the ground and the loose box walls were all made of concrete, one reason it was possible to get the horses out, but everything above that is destroyed. From what Paul was saying it only took minutes for the fire to spread uncontrollably not surprising with today's extreme heat. Their house, wooden stable block, wooden club house and indoor school all seem to be untouched but there will be an awful lot of work to do to repair the stable barn. Paul's arms are badly burnt and although he was insisting he was fine I presume he went off in the ambulance that eventually arrived along with the stable girl whose hands had been burnt opening the metal stable bolts.
Awful things seem to be happening all around. Yesterday evening somebody (a white man) deliberately drove at a group Muslim people leaving their mosque, a number of people injured and one person sadly lost his life.
Update- Our neighbour's son has just driven over on the quad bike to collect some water. The fire started in something to do with their solar panels and they lost their electricity. They've managed to isolate the power supply to the burned barn but their water pump needs some water putting in to get it started. Paul did go off in the ambulance and is already making plans to do the repairs himself. The vet came down to the horse that was burnt but it is just a few smallish patches on its face. Things you can replace, people you can't.

Sunday 18 June 2017

A Scorcher.

Another day of wall to wall sunshine. I did one machine load but then ran out of things to wash. Instead I hung up the contents of one of my clothes storage boxes to air. It was all sleeveless t-shirts and tops ( not going to admit how many) but I have taken out one to give to the charity shop.  
I was having a cool down indoors sitting at my pc when I heard an almighty crash from the kitchen. When I went to investigate I found a cafetiere smashed on the floor and the culprit - Speedy making his way out of the door. At first I thought it had fallen when Speedy tried to find a space on the small shelf by the rayburn, something he tries to do even though he knows it's not allowed. But that didn't seem very likely as the cafetiere sits at the back of the shelf and had at least 10 inches to the edge of the shelf. I could only assume that Speedy had deliberately knocked it down. Due to his fixation with food he will knock any sealed container off the counters as he knows that sometimes the lid will fall off so he can get at the contents. I'm surprised though as both cafetieres, the standard size one now broken and a single cup one which I use each morning, have been kept on that shelf for quite a while. Because the knitted cosy was on the cafetiere most of the glass stayed inside and was easy to clean up. I've kept the metal parts as I may be able to get just the glass container. Afterwards Speedy lay outside looking as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.
Peter went off to help with the rowing taster sessions while I put on a swimsuit (to catch the sun) and cut back the now finished flowering stalks of the London Pride on the bank. That would have been relatively easy but there was quite a lot of grass and other weeds to remove at the same time.
That still left us with time to relax sitting outside listening to the birdsong and watching a buzzard lazily circling in the sky. The rooks are quiet at the moment, probably out foraging in the fields.