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.

Monday 31 July 2017

Surprisingly Dry.

My friendly little robin is slowly getting his red/orange feathers.
It looks as if the internet is properly back, at least for now. I was going to say it is surprising but then maybe not so much, how much I enjoy my 'window onto the world'. Facebook gives me a glimpse into the boys' lives and also lets me stay in touch with friends and family. Of course I do also spend time looking at cute animals or other 'light' articles which I liken to flicking through a magazine. I did miss my morning relaxation time when after having done my housework and guitar practice I enjoy some coffee while listening to a radio programme on i-player and almost mindlessly working on an abstract on-line jigsaw. Instead I ended up watching the kitchen TV (which doesn't record) usually house buying programmes which were interesting but frustrating at the same time or cake programmes which had me succumbing to the home baked chocolate cookies sitting in the cupboard.
We've had lots of rainy weather over the past 4 days. I went into town on Thursday when rather than showers we had sudden cloudbursts (above). For most of the time it has been too wet to work outside but today despite the constant threat of rain it has been dry and even quite sunny in the afternoon. 
Over the last 2 days I've cut back the alchemilla around the pond, weeded most of the path and hand trimmed the grass edges there. Indoors I've carried on sorting stuff and was able to take a good load into the charity shops on Thursday. One project that I'm quite pleased with was to use a pool noodle, from the pound shop, to make soft spacers on 2 of our small back backs so that the back of the backpack doesn't come into contact with the wearer's back. (Does that make sense?) You can buy backpacks with a mesh panel that does the same thing but I couldn't find anything you could put on an existing backpack. The pool noodle idea came from the reply to somebody else's similar query on a forum. I do have to admit to generally getting Peter to wear the backpack when we go out for our walks but I thought it would make it more comfortable for him.
My coffee damaged ergo keyboard failed to revive after being rinsed under the tap and then gently allowed to dry so I shall have to clatter away on this old one for the time being.

I'm Back.

Yes, I'm back once more. My absence for the last 4 days was not due to being whisked off on a surprise holiday to my beloved Lundy or anywhere else but most was most annoyingly caused by the failure of our internet.
We woke on Thursday to find the orange light on the hub flashing which indicated that we had no internet connection. Although the weather had been poor there was no sign (by the flashing lights of an old radio) that there had been a power cut which is the usual cause of our losing the internet. Peter phoned our provider - BT but the earliest an engineer could come out was Monday morning. That's 4 days with no chance to blog and no FaceBook or jigsaws which was a bit of a change to my usual routine. I dug out my as yet unused discs with Scrabble and Solitaire on but they are old and couldn't be loaded without access to the internet.
All through the 4 days the orange light continued to flash with occasional times of going out altogether. The light was still flashing at 8.00 this morning and at 8.40 but surprise, surprise when the engineer knocked on the door at 9.00 the light was blue showing that the hub was now working. A mysterious coincidence? I think not, our best guess is a fault at the substation has been corrected even though the young engineer denied having done anything to the line or substation from whence our line comes. 
I'm blogging now at 11.00 just in case the hub goes down once again but will blog later as normal if we are still connected.

Wednesday 26 July 2017


It rained all night then continued on and on through the morning finally stopping some time in the late afternoon.  
With the kitchen door open as Roger worked on the rayburn the cats moved to the sitting room to sleep. It took all afternoon but eventually the problem turned out to be that one of the filters by the oil tank needed changing. Even with the special additive we get put in with the oil it tends to have bits in it which eventually clog up one part or another. Working out rayburn faults takes a long time because each time adjustments are made to the oil valves etc. great care has to be taken in putting everything back together and making sure it is all level. As I understand there are few or no moving parts  with just simple turning controls to increase the amount of oil flow and thus the temperature of the oven and hotplate. That makes the initial setting up crucial. It is now running well so hopefully we won't need the engineer until the next service in 6 months time.
My own IT problems got even worse today. I had done my morning jobs and was sitting at the PC with a cup of fresh coffee, my morning treat, when Speedy climbed up behind the monitor. As Patch was already on my lap I picked Speedy up in order to put him back down on the floor. Unfortunately his foot went down into my cup of coffee which then spilled over the desk and the keyboard. Trying to save both the carpet and my keyboard I turned the keyboard upside down while at the same time grabbing a throw from the back of my chair to try and mop up the coffee. It wasn't difficult to mop up the coffee from the desk but then there was the matter of the keyboard. At first I used paper towels to soak up the coffee from between the keys. Then I remembered that the keys can be prised off easily (Might have seen the result of a toddler taking off all the keys on FB.) I started taking off the keys and found not only coffee drips but a horrible mess of dust, crumbs and cat hairs. It took a while but I removed all the keys, gave the board underneath a much needed clean and then cleaned each key before replacing it. Switching my PC back on I had access to FB and my jigsaw. It was only when I tried to get to my blog and needed once again to log in with my email and password that I found out the keyboard wasn't actually working. Power was getting through and the PC said it was there but whatever Peter did it was still kaput. I couldn't believe my ears when Peter told me to run water over the dead keyboard and in the end he stuck it under the tap and it is now drying off. He says there is a small chance that it might come back to life but not to be too hopeful. I'm now using an old and very dusty spare keyboard which at least works. Apart from the fact that the other keyboard was a fancy ergo keyboard the reason I use it is because it was Linas' keyboard so I really hope it recovers. It had a few keys with the letters worn off but even though I can't touch type, (that's a project for the future) I knew which letters they were but this keyboard has different letters worn off and the 'end' key, one which I use a lot, is in a slightly different place. Plus this keyboard clatters.

I had a brief walk around the garden this afternoon and was surprise to see that in amongst the honeysuckle flowers the wisteria is flowering for a second time. 

Tuesday 25 July 2017


Another sunny day was too good an opportunity to waste so once the morning jobs were done we drove to Mortehoe to repeat the walk down towards Rockham Bay and then around Morte Point.
As I've already shown my favourite views along this walk I thought that I'd post some different aspects of our route. Here we've just left the car park and are heading past all the holiday cottages, along the road that leads out to a couple of camp sites and finally Bull Point lighthouse.
This is where we turn right down an alley opposite the original village spring set in a wall. 
Which leads us out to the coast with its numerous paths through bracken and gorse. In the UK we are lucky that most of the country's coast is owned and managed by the National Trust which maintains the pathways for everyone to use free of charge.

The tide was out but there were still safe lagoon-like waters at Rockham Bay which is popular with families staying at the camp sites.  
As it is now the summer holidays not only were the paths busier but there were plenty of tourist boats out on the water. Here we have people watching the seals watching the people watching the seals. (There were about 6 seals in the usual place today.) 
As ever we stopped for coffee and cake at our regular bench. Because the rayburn is still on a go slow (the engineer is coming tomorrow) I haven't been able to do any baking but yesterday I saw I had written down the ingredients for a microwave cake, I think it might have been a 'mug' recipe. I used a small square silicone cake 'tin' and made a tasty chocolate slice cake in 3 minutes. A good recipe to know for emergencies. 
We ended out walk back at the village coming down the hill by the church.
At home while Peter went to town to collect our prescriptions (they are very strict and won't release them a day early) I gave the fridge a thorough clean out. It wasn't particularly messy but for once it was almost empty which made it easier to take out all the shelves for washing. Later while I sat outside with my book and some tea Peter manfully cut all the lawns as the weather is due to break tomorrow.

Monday 24 July 2017


It's been a day full of sunshine with enough wind to make it feel pleasantly warm. Needless to say the cats had a strenuous day finding the perfect sheltered spot to sleep the day away.  
While Peter went off for another clay pigeon shooting session I spent the afternoon weeding the scree garden. Because it hasn't been too long since the last time I weeded there I was able to go over the whole area and even took out a lot of the weeds growing between the slabs around the garden. The gap between the slabs is a bit too narrow for my fingers so I just remove any weed that dares to show its head above ground level. The young robin came along to see what I was doing. It hopped up onto the rim of my weed bucket to check there were no tasty worms in there. He was out of luck and as I was working amongst stones and not turning over soil he didn't stay long. The swallows on the other hand were very active with lots of swooping in and out of the buildings and noisy chattering.
I had just called a halt to my gardening and was getting a book to read when Peter returned so we had a relaxing time sitting outside in the sun. It's times like those that remind us how lucky we are to be living in this lovely valley. 
Today Google decided I couldn't get into my blog until I had verified my telephone number. The only problem was they were going to send a code by text to my home phone. Really? A text to a land line isn't possible and there was no voice mail option. Instead I had to change the number to my mobile number after eventually finding said phone in my coat pocket. BTW I heard on a consumer programme that if you have paid out a lot of money for a pay as you go i-phone after 2 years they no longer get updates or work with the latest apps so you have to buy a new one. I think I'll stick with my dumb phone.

Sunday 23 July 2017

Sunny Afternoon.

After an overcast and initially wet morning the afternoon turned out quite pleasant with long sunny spells.
All my garden work today has been round the back of the house. At first I just intended to cut back the long brambles that were reaching down into the stream but naturally one job lead to another. As well as hacking away at the brambles I trimmed down the level of the hedge cutting back the hawthorn, beech, cob nut and ash trees that were starting to get out of hand. Then down by the bog garden the long handled loppers were useful for cutting back the branches of the mature trees that were covering the far side of the stream which is sort of wild, ie no brambles or nettles but any other wild plants and unwanted garden plants. By the time all that was done I was being hounded by a cloud of flies so I escaped inside for a while.
Then came the not so pleasant but much needed task of cleaning out the back gutters. The gutters at the back of the house are a few feet lower than the ones at the front so I don't mind (too much) going up and down the ladders and reaching over my head to clear out the fallen leaves. The roof ladders are set up so that with the aid of a long pole, once a rake, I can get to most of the gutter. I still have to move one of the ladders a couple of times to get the whole thing done but with the bees still in residence I didn't go around the corner to clear the gutter above their new home. The gutters were especially bad because I haven't done them for a long time and not only were they filled with leaf debris and gunk but plants were growing all the way along as well. The worst thing is when, despite wearing a zipped up old coat bits of stuff fall down my sleeves or my neck. I feel a certain sense of satisfaction knowing the job is done and I timed it so that I did my cycling straight away followed by a shower.
An alternative view.

Saturday 22 July 2017

Sunny Spells.

We had much better weather today, quite a lot of sun with just a few showers. Luckily it stayed dry, almost, while I showed some new viewers around the garden after Peter had shown them around the house. They stayed for an hour an a half including a second look around the house on their own but you can never tell. At least this new estate agent isn't sending round people for whom this place obviously isn't suitable. 
I've done some gardening in between showers, mostly weeding and some dead heading. The little robin was back again and made a charming appearance as I was showing the people around. 
There were some Red Admiral butterflies on the buddleia. I think the underside of their wings has its own subtle beauty.
Once again technology is driving me to distraction. This time it's ***** Windows. I'm under instructions to allow any Windows updates so when the latest one popped up yesterday I set it to download in the evening. Today I found that most of my favourite sites have to be re-logged into which necessitated getting out my notebook containing usernames and partial passwords. They didn't always work (or maybe I mistyped) but before they could email me a code I had to log in to one site and register with another to get to my emails. Such a lot of faffing about. Also this morning I tried to go to my new jigsaw of 540 pieces only to find it reset back to the start. 'Oh well' I thought I'll start the boring process of sorting out by shape and colour which I did once more so that it was all ready for the fun part of trying to fit the pieces of a random mosaic together. You can guess what happened when I opened it up to make a start as my photos loaded on to the blog, yes - it had all gone back to the start again. I think or at least I hope that I've solved the problem 
The Day Lilies around the small pond are all doubles while the ones by the washing lines are single flowers.

Friday 21 July 2017


It was raining steadily when we woke this morning. As I began my exercises it seemed to get a lot heavier which got me worrying until finally I interrupted my exercises, togged up and went out to extend the dam right across the road. I could see that at some time in the night the water had gone over the dam but fortunately it had been caught by the small ditch across the top of the drive that sends extra water into the channel running down the middle of our drive. I'm glad I went out when I did because the rain just got heavier and heavier throughout the day. It finally stopped raining but that wasn't until the end of the afternoon.
I spent the day tidying around the place and planning for a visit in August when there will be 6 extra people here. I also started sewing a shoulder strap on a bag that Peter takes shooting. An old belt in my sewing box was perfect for the job but although it is only made of cotton it's very hard to sew through so only one side got done today.
I went out to feed the cats in the conservatory when in a corner behind the geraniums I found this small newt, a teeny frog and a horrible, enormous slug. Frog and newt have been relocated in the wet grass and the slug went for a swim in the stream.

Thursday 20 July 2017


It's been a cool windy day with brief spells of sun and sudden showers.  Last night I'd been listening to the radio when the promise of 'a month's rain in just a few hours' at unspecified locations had me out of bed and up the drive with a torch putting wood and soil right across the road. Listening to the shipping forecasts a little later it didn't sound as if we were in danger but at least I could relax.
The Rayburn isn't heating up properly so our chatty engineer will be back to try and sort it out. I'm not looking forward to that as not only can I not use the kitchen which  is the hub of many of my activities the smell of the oil is most unpleasant and I'm sure it gives me a headache.
This morning I gave the kitchen floor a thorough mopping. I hoover every day and the cork tiles are very forgiving of any small stains but it feels good to know it is really clean.
After my indoor work I decided to continue sorting out the raised bed which was mainly cutting back or even removing a very vigorous scrambling hardy geranium. As I worked a robin fledgling stayed close by often only a couple of feet away.

I went and got my camera and sat down to see how close it would get. Showing little fear it hopped around my feet, perched on the other chairs and then flew up onto my knee. The photo below was taken without any zoom. You can just see the first patch of orange on its breast, an indicator of its adult colours. Right now I can see it hopping about on the back lawn looking for worms. 
At the moment we are watching the 6th series of game of Thrones while the 7th series records on the Sky box. I am very disappointed in the packaging of the discs. The outer cover has an interesting holographic cover but inside it was almost impossible to prise the discs out of the case. Pressing in the middle to release the discs had little effect and the dipped areas where you would normally put your finger to raise the disc have a ridge that stops you doing so. It almost seems as if it is deliberate so that you end up breaking or damaging the discs. I'm not taking any chances and as we get each disc off (with great effort and very carefully) they are being put in spare disc cases.

Wednesday 19 July 2017


No storms or heavy rain yesterday, unlike the Cornish village of Coverack where windows were broken by large hail stones and a 4 ft. surge of water down the main street caused major damage with people having to be rescued by helicopter.
Here the morning was very humid and dark with a number of heavy showers in the afternoon though right now the sun is shining.
This rose, New Dawn should be a mass of light pink flowers. Instead it is covered with brown shrivelled flower buds. I presume this is due to the recent very dry conditions. I wonder if there is any chance of these flowers recovering? Even the miniature rose in what is always quite a damp raised bed has a number of shrivelled buds.
The Rayburn engineer has been here all afternoon trying to get the Rayburn to burn properly. For the last few days the oven temperature has dropped, it's been guttering (making sort of popping noises) and smelling horribly of unburnt oil. All these are signs of uneven burning making the wicks char which then makes the situation worse and so on. Peter is sure that this is due to the burner box not being totally levelled the last time the rayburn was serviced. Even half a mm out from front to back or side to side can cause uneven burning. Anyway, the man was here all afternoon and the rayburn is up and burning though both he and Peter are not sure that the problem has been solved. Apart from the awful smell there was also a small possibility of carbon monoxide build up so we've had all the windows open to keep the air flowing through the house. Squeaky showed her displeasure by sleeping on the stairs and the other cats are still curled up here in the sitting room.
Last night I was listening to The Infinite Monkey Cage on the radio, a great science programme. It was all about oxygen and they did a few demonstrations using liquid oxygen including one called The Exploding Sheep, (cotton wool really). In trying to find a video clip of this I may have put myself on a government suspect list as I googled 'exploding cotton wool' which gave me a list of sites which looked as if they showed how to make explosives. Eventually I did find a clip from a Royal Institute Christmas lecture where cotton wool soaked in liquid oxygen was ignited with spectacular results. I still don't know what happened to the Digestive biscuit (Graham cracker) they poured liquid oxygen on.
PS Found this.

Tuesday 18 July 2017


It was warm and windy so today we went off for another costal walk.
We decided to try a longer route this time. We first walked through Mortehoe village and then turned down the path towards Rockham Bay.
As we neared the sea the coast path became visible. First we had to carry on walking around to the right before heading towards the cliff edge where we joined the coast path and turned left.  
Going this way meant we had one set of steps to climb. A good test of our knees and ankles. The school holidays start at the end of the week and when that happens there will probably be a lot more people out enjoying our beautiful coast so we will head for more remote places to walk. Today there weren't too many people around. 

Once we reached the top of the steps we could see Morte Point stretching out into the sea. It wasn't long before we picked up our usual route which took us right out to the point. The tide was high and there were no signs of any seals.
By the time we reached our coffee break bench it was less sunny and the wind was picking up. Fortified by coffee and banana cake we carried on around the Point and eventually back to the village.
There are weather warnings of possible thunderstorms and heavy rain so once we were back home I fortified the dam. I picked leaves off the gravel bed by the house for the second time today but when they first fall it is so much easier to spot and pick up the green honeysuckle and rose leaves. If I left them I would still have to pick them up later when they would be brown and either nasty and slimy or crisp and crumbly. Then I did some work on another of the raised beds clearing away the pink hardy geraniums growing up through  a miniature rose bush. Normally I like the wild and abundant look but the rose was beginning to be overwhelmed and also there is one last hardy geranium, a dark purple double flowered one, that I want to propagate behind the rose bush. We've had some big fat rain drops so I'm blogging early in case the thunderstorm does arrive. Off now to do my half an hour of bike pedalling to Barry Gibb at Glastonbury.
A 5-Spot Burnet moth.

Monday 17 July 2017


It was lovely to wake up this morning and see nothing but blue skies through the windows. An hour later the clouds returned and for most of the rest of the day it has been overcast. At least we didn't have any rain so I shan't complain.  
While Peter went off for an afternoon of clay pigeon shooting I started cutting back any of the hardy geraniums that had finished flowering. I don't bother with the ones tumbling down the hillside but there were a couple overhanging the patio that could be tidied up and also it is time to sort out the plants I've propagated. Somehow there were too many of the common pink variety and those I chopped back to the ground, may even dig them up if I have the time. The rest of the ones in the bed above have been tidied up and the labels rewritten. The other lot are still full of flowers so I'll leave those a while. A fledgling robin flew down and perched on a twig only a few feet away as I worked. I tried to find a worm or something to see if it would feed from my hand but I didn't turn up anything before it flew away. Once again the flies, especially the horse flies were a real nuisance. 
This blackbird under the apple tree was much further away but he still kept a careful eye on me as I walked around the garden with my camera.  Later as I sat outside with my book I heard the mewling of a buzzard. Looking up I saw it gliding quite low over the garden but I still only managed a blurry photo. Higher up there were 4 more buzzards lazily circling around in a thermal above the valley. Then one of the herons flew over squawking away. I don't think I've heard one before, it sounded like a seagull with a sore throat.
 A Red Admiral butterfly on the buddleia.