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.

Thursday 31 August 2017


We had some very heavy rain in the night that was so loud it woke both of us up at different times.  Today the forecast was for occasional heavy showers but although at times black clouds appeared overhead the rain passed us by. In between the cloudy spells it was sunny and very hot.
I loaded up my car with as much stuff for the dump as I could cram in including the old office chair Squeaky likes to sleep on in the conservatory, sorry Puss. The dump was busy with a short wait to find a spot to park. Again a member of staff came over to help me unload, most likely to keep things moving rather than from a sense of chivalry. 
My neighbour has been constructing what looks like a sign post. I wonder if it is a temporary or permanent structure or even a permanent temporary  one?
At home I baked a chocolate marble cake as the surveyor is coming tomorrow. We've had the report on the place we want to buy and it will be good to ask him about some of the information on that as well. We finished off the afternoon with half an hour sitting out in the sun. There are lots of dragonflies about but there were only a couple of swallows flying above. Maybe the main group has already departed for Africa.

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Mainly Sunny.

After a very wet start the day brightened up giving us a sunny afternoon and evening. 
Today I set myself the task of finishing clearing the loft and I am pleased to say that this was indeed done. As well as bringing down a couple of boxes of sketches I carefully brought down the four empty tea-chests that were up there. One I'm keeping to store a large alabaster carving but the other three are now in the back of my car ready to take to the dump. Originally we had used them to pack things from our home in London but they are so big and consequently heavy that we don't want to re-use them. As I was sliding the boxes along the loft floor I found to my dismay that there were two more large paintings that had been tucked away out of sight. Those have also been brought down and all that remains in the loft are some empty cardboard boxes that I may use for packing.
The postman brought me a wonderful present from Vytas and Sally, a photo book filled with pictures from their wedding in 2015. A really thoughtful present. 
We've now got the sun-loungers up by the scree garden because I'm fed up with dodging the shade from the trees in the late afternoons which is when we usually sit outside for a while. Today we had an hour to enjoy the sights and sounds of the garden. The swallows are still here though it sounded like the young ones had been sent to bed early judging by the amount of chattering coming from the out buildings.

Tuesday 29 August 2017


It was somewhat galling to hear the weather forecaster, BBC R4 no less, saying that the day will remain dry while outside the windows fine but steady rain soaked the garden. It cleared for a while in the afternoon remaining decidedly damp and leading to a few later showers. 
In the afternoon I went over to Asda for some more storage boxes. I got 10 boxes and a few other items and sure enough at the till they came up as £3 each. As I put them in the car I wondered if we would need more and decided to go back in and buy a further 10. This time the price came up as £4 each. I had gone to the same cashier and when I queried the price he tried scanning another of the boxes but still it was £4. He explained this by saying the first lot must have been old stock and as they were still cheap I paid up. Then, as I walked through the supermarket foyer I saw a stack of the boxes on promotion at ...... £3! Back in I went to the customer services desk and they soon refunded me the extra £10. That's 24 storage boxes bought this week. Peter has already filled several with the computer stuff he had been keeping in the oak chest of drawers.
Before returning home I called in at the music shop but they don't have a noticeboard that I could have advertised my piano on. I did try the electric pianos and found a decent one that has the same range with the keys being weighted so that they feel like piano keys. As I eventually intend to get an upright piano when we make the move after this I shan't go for an electric piano on a wooden frame with foot pedals for now as that takes up more room and is also more expensive.
I've been 'off' my diet for the last couple of weeks, some overindulgence while our family was here, celebrating the house offer and of course my birthday. Any excuse for chocolate, home baked cake and biscuits. Now I'm back on the straight and narrow which although it doesn't include chocolate, cake or biscuits just means I eat fruit for a snack when I really need one. Not eating bread, potatoes or anything greasy doesn't worry me. They're not things I long for. However I do have the mad habit of torturing myself in the supermarket by always walking down the chocolate aisle and checking out the reductions on the cream cakes. I don't know quite why I do it, maybe for that self righteous feeling when as today I pass by some reduced cream meringues.
Once I got home I did some hand sewing on two of the bedroom curtains I washed yesterday. I ironed them yesterday evening because the room looked bleak without curtains but I found that two of them needed the sides re-hemmed. I made the unlined curtains myself years ago and hand sewed the hems and sides for a better finish. Once I had hung the curtains I cleared most of the stuff from the corridor and also went through my 'best' china cupboard and sorted out another box for the charity shop. 

Monday 28 August 2017


Wow! Another day of amazing sunshine. This time though I got on with things around the house before heading for the sun lounger. 
Top of my list today was the sitting room carpet. We'd had a wine disaster at the end of the evening yesterday, red wine on a beige carpet! I first blotted up as much of the wine as I could and for this an old fashioned smoothing iron came in useful to press the kitchen paper onto the carpet. (The iron makes a handy door stop.) Then I cold water washed the area with my trusty Vax. When I left it last night I could still se the outline of the spills and sure enough in the morning they were still obvious. So then I mixed up a paste using the oxy- powder that I add to my washing when needed and rubbed it into the stains. About an hour later I washed the carpet with the Vax again this time using warm water and hey presto the stains have disappeared.
As it was a sunny day I got our bedroom curtains washed but I ran out of time to iron them. That was because a couple came round to buy an oak chest of drawers and mini version that I had put on Gumtree. Co-incidentally the chap was the guy who had dropped by the other day for a look at the outside of the place. (We'll know who to get in touch with if our sale falls through.) 

Sunday 27 August 2017


Today has been hot and sunny, most unusual for a Bank Holiday Weekend.  
I timed my the cupcakes delivery to the gig club regatta so that I was at Asda for 10.00. Even the supermarkets have to stick to Sunday trading laws though I noticed that customers were allowed in earlier but the checkouts weren't manned until 10.00. I'd remembered that Asda also have a coin counting machine and was able to swap my box of coppers for a voucher. I like to visit different supermarkets once in a while and today I found some more clear plastic storage boxes with lids. At £4 they were considerably cheaper than the ones I've bought previously. I even wondered if they were a bit smaller but when I got home they were the same as the ones I already have. Even better, when I got to the checkout the machine priced them at £3. I may get some more in the week if they still have them. (I did take a photo of the boats on the water but for some reason it came out blurry.)
At home I decided to actually enjoy the sunshine for once. Usually I get on with a job or two around the place and then find either time or the sun has run out. Instead I got the sun lounger out and read my book in the sun. When I had toasted my front enough I sat at the garden table so that my back got some sun too. That way I was able to mend a pair of Peter's work trousers that had a rip in them. I find mending quite satisfying and I even like darning socks but only if they are woollen ones not cheap towelling ones. When the boys were little there was plenty of  mending to do, mostly trousers. I've never taken to the fashion of ripped jeans which has made a comeback recently. It must be my age as I don't understand having rips that go from seam to seam. It just looks silly to me.

Saturday 26 August 2017


Like yesterday we had blue skies in the morning turning overcast by the afternoon. 
Apart from a couple of forays in the garden first to pull up the grass growing through the London Pride and then to remove the brambles growing in one of the rose bushes, I've been working in the kitchen. Mainly I was baking some cup cakes for the gig club's regatta tomorrow. It looks a poor showing for an afternoon's work but it seemed to take forever. Maybe that was because I couldn't leave the kitchen at any point as the cats are ever eager to taste my cooking. (Nobody has ever told them that chocolate is poisonous for cats.) As Peter's current bout of arthritis has now moved to his foot not only is he unable to do his burger flipping duty tomorrow but he can't drive either so I'll have to get up early to deliver the cupcakes. (I've just checked and the music shop isn't open on Sundays.)
Now that Smarties are coloured with natural food dyes they don't have the vivid pop of the artificial colourings. I used up some white fondant icing from the freezer and a packet of gold sugar sprinkles that came with some frozen profiteroles. We've been watching old episodes of Bake Off and looking forward to having an oven that has temperature controls, unlike the rayburn which is more a case of adjusting the cooking time to the temperature shown on the door. Peter is tempted by the bread baking while my thoughts go more towards cakes but not pastries.

Friday 25 August 2017

Chat, Cake and Coffee.

I woke this morning to blue skies and lots of sunshine. (Should have taken photos then.) As I drove into town above the fluffy cumulus clouds the cirrus clouds were being blown into fantastical shapes. By the time I was on my way home (below) the sky had reverted to grey overcastness.
I was off into town to meet up with my friends for coffee. This time we met at a different garden centre on the other side of town and very nice it was too. Today there were seven of us with plenty of news to share; a long awaited grandchild, top GCSE exam marks, a former pupil now qualified as a doctor of dentistry, our hopefully imminent move to Pilton and much more. The school my friends and I all worked at is in Pilton and one of the reasons we chose to look there for our new home is that we have many friends in Pilton which still has a village atmosphere even though it merges into Barnstaple. 
As I was in town I took the opportunity to do some shopping and also dropped off more stuff at the charity shops. Having gone through most of the stuff we had stored I'm now winnowing through 'stuff' that has been part of everyday life. Today the Laura Ashley teapot and fruit bowl that matched the kitchen décor (L.A. border tiles and curtains) went to the Oxfam shop because although I liked them I have other bowls and teapots that I like more though I did keep the matching jug simply because I have a penchant for jugs. Somehow I managed to forget to drop into the music shop even though I had written it down at the bottom of my shopping list and had the card advertising the piano on the car seat next to me. Either it was a subconscious desire not to get rid of the piano or more likely it was just the fact that having passed heavy traffic in town on my way to the garden centre I was pleasantly surprised to find the roads clear on my return journey. The latter I think as now I'll have to make an extra trip into town soon.
Coming home I saw that they have begun harvesting the wheat in the top fields along the drive. It stayed dry all day and the forecast is the same for tomorrow so they should get it all in before rain arrives.

Thursday 24 August 2017


Apart from a few early showers it's been a dry day with a much cooler wind blowing.  I thought it would be a good time to start washing curtains, especially the heavier lined curtains. I would prefer not to pack dusty curtains and also here the water isn't metered and I've got a decent washing line. The pair that I washed today need another day on the line before I run the iron over the linings and hang them back up for the time being.
Then it was time to go back up into the loft. I sorted through one last box of my mother's cut glass and china and it's already sitting in the back of the car ready to go to the charity shop. I will admit to pulling out a few items to keep but I've also cleared out our spare every day plates and they're in the back of the car as well. There are only 4 more things to bring down from the loft and I need to shift the things that are now sitting in the corridor but after sweeping up and tidying in the loft I'd had enough. 
I've finally decided not to take the piano to the new house. I talked it over with the tuner the last time he came and he thought my plan of waiting until we move one final time to get another piano was a sensible one. I don't play it a lot at the moment, just run through the major scales after my guitar practice but I was hoping to spend a lot more time playing when we move. As we're moving to a terraced house that might not be appreciated by the neighbours! Instead I shall get a decent electronic piano so that I can wear headphones and play when and for as long as I like. I've already put an advert in Gumtree and I'll  take a card to the music shop tomorrow where I'll try out some electronic pianos.  I would find it hard not to have anything at all to play.
I was taking a break in the afternoon when my roll of bubble wrap arrived. That's for wrapping up all the pictures. 
Whenever I walked around the garden I disturbed numbers of butterflies who were resting, mainly on the drive and warm stones, trying to pick up some warmth. 

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Curry on the Beach.

I began the day eating chocolates as I opened my birthday cards. Peter also gave me this lovely orchid. I have a number of orchids some of which have survived from past years and continue to produce flowers. I give them special orchid food and try to water only once a week but it's hard not to overwater. I prefer to keep them in clear plastic outer pots so I can see how they are doing. 
There were a few showers this morning but I was busy cleaning, photographing and cataloguing the last lot of pictures from the loft. The spare room looks more like an artist's studio as I wait for my roll of bubble wrap to arrive.
I sat outside during the afternoon making the most of the moments of sunshine that occurred as the southerly wind blew clouds across the sky.  
Later we headed off to Barricane Beach for a Sri Lankan curry. We got there early, grabbed a free table and our curry arrived almost immediately (you get a ticket when you order and then they call out your number). Almost immediately we were hit by a sudden shower but we had come prepared - I had a plastic carrier bag to put my camera in and we were both wearing hoodies. We didn't mind the rain but then the café staff brought out big table parasols that protected us from the worst of the rain. Although some people left the beach when it rained most didn't, just put on a coat or another layer of clothing. 

Afterwards we walked down to the water's edge where I paddled and skimmed a few stones. 
This starfish was washed up by the tide. I picked it up and one of the wetsuit wearing children took it to put further out in the water. Coming home from a lovely sunny evening by the sea we drove home into gloomy, grey clouds. Another reason for preferring to live by the sea rather than 6 miles inland.
This house sold for £1.2 million last winter, is falling into even more disrepair, part of the balcony has fallen away and some of the garden walls are collapsing. What a shame.

Tuesday 22 August 2017


No sooner had I put my washing in the machine this morning than down came the rain. Luckily it was the only shower of the day and the warm southerly winds ensured my washing was ready to iron by late afternoon. 
Lovely as it would have been to spend the day outside bringing down pictures from the loft was more important. Those 16 pictures don't look a lot but together with a number of the largest size art folders it was quite a job getting them down. Not only do I have to crawl around on my knees in the loft but the presence of electrical wires on top of the boards mean that I can't just drag stuff along. Then, just by the hatch there are 2 water pipes which I don't want to knock. I'm now sporting a few bruises on my legs from leaning into the  loft ladder as I cautiously climbed down clutching each picture. At least now there is only one picture left to bring down and one folder. There are still a couple of sculptures and boxes of catalogues but at last I can see an end to that particular job. 
Later in the afternoon I finally got round to baking some more chocolate cookies. The first batch were somewhat overdone due to the rayburn running high and the fact that each of the 4 clocks in the kitchen shows a different time. I think it's time for some new batteries though the digital clock radio must have succumbed to repeated power surges (due to lightning) as it simply can't keep time. It's in the kitchen so that I can listen to the radio without having to go through the tv. Once we move into town I'll be able to use my fancy digital radio which can't get a signal down here.
These violas have been flowering since I planted them in the main hanging baskets last autumn. I couldn't bear to throw them out when it was time to do the summer planting so I transferred them to a smaller basket. I only bought the violas for a bit of autumn colour and certainly didn't expect them to last so long.

Monday 21 August 2017


The day began with autumnal mists obscuring my view of the surrounding trees. By mid-morning it was warm and humid and the afternoon brought more heat and wonderful blue skies.
After the usual housework I loaded up my car with more stuff for the dump. This included some wooden tool boxes that had been made by Peter's father to keep his tools in. (He was a carpenter.) It was sad to be throwing them out but we really didn't have any use for them. At the dump, sorry recycling centre, one of the staff gave me a hand unloading the car and he put them on the ground by the skip for wood saying someone might want them. Sure enough the next person along, who looked like a young builder type, was already loading them into his van as I left. Nice to know that they will be re-used rather than crushed or burnt, whatever they do with the old wood.
I was glad of the opportunity to go to the Ilfracombe Tesco's which is on the way to the dump, because I had noticed they had a loose change machine. You put in your copper coins and it gives you a receipt which presumably you can present at the till. I have a box of loose change which I sometimes used in school so I packed it in my shopping bag. I even thought my bag was quite heavy as I placed it in the trolley but it wasn't until I got home that I remembered about the coins -duh! 
Before I sat outside in the sun I photographed and catalogued the pictures I had brought down from the loft. That was a bit tricky as first I had to find a place with a neutral background and not create reflections in the glass. Then it was glasses on to measure each frame and picture and write down the details, glasses off to take the photo and glasses back on to write a label on masking tape. After all that I enjoyed some time in the hot sun reading my book while fending off flies and Speedy who was lying in my lap and wanting lots of cuddles. BTW I've been putting drops in Squeaky's ears to get rid of ear mites and there is a little improvement in her hearing.

Sunday 20 August 2017


It's been raining heavily for most of the day and now the stream is running high. I think there may be a blockage at the culvert leading to the lake so if the rain dies down a little I may wade down the stream to investigate. It's also been correspondingly cold necessitating the wearing of sheepskin slippers and fingerless gloves.
This morning I occupied myself with one of my favourite activities - making lists in preparation for our move. My folder includes a current to do list, the contents of each room and where they are headed and anything else I can think of. Hopefully this will help prevent a major panic nearer to the actual move. I also find it reassuring to see what progress I have made. Even if this sale falls through most of the planning will be the same for any other property.
On my to do list was taking photos of some things I shall try and sell including this pine cupboard that came from my mother's house. I quite like it but I don't see it fitting in our future down-sized life.