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.

Sunday 31 December 2017


Our windy and mild weather continues with the addition of heavy rain showers today. Listening to the weather report at midnight last night I heard that not only was Exeter the warmest place yesterday but that the night-time temperature in North Devon would be around 14C/ 57.2F. No wonder it felt so warm.
Today's sunshine and rain brought rainbows to the sky.  The photos show 2 separate rainbows and although I could see the double rainbow in the lower picture with my eyes I couldn't catch it with the camera. The smart growing tunnel and potting shed/greenhouse (which I covet) are part of the grand establishment behind us.

This afternoon we finally put up the mirror and shelf over the pine cupboard in the dining area with some help from Speedy. 
Now the place feels a lot more like home with familiar colour schemes and nearly everything in its place. We have just about reached the end of the things we can do ourselves at least until the major works are done. Once I've given my study a sort out I suppose I can make a start on clearing the last of the stuff in the shed before it gets taken down.

Saturday 30 December 2017

Checking Out the Sales.

I walked in to town this morning and was pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds in the High Street. By the time I had slowly ambled the length of the High Street the crowds had appeared. So much more wearing when you have to navigate past groups of slow or stationary people. However I have now checked out all the sales in the shops to satisfy my (bargain) hunting nature. I bought some more Christmas cards in W H Smith and now have enough for at least 2 years. I also bought another woolly hat and a shopping bag with straps long enough to fit over my shoulder.
I also went into Wilko's (was Woolworth's) where I found a good range of hardware including the smaller shelf brackets I needed and some larger size hooks for my clothes rail project. Back at home it did not take long to screw in one hook into the wall and another into the wood under the stairs, thread the chain through the length of pipe and slip the chain onto the two hooks. Hey presto, we now have a rail to hang up our jackets and coats. The plastic pipe does have a tendency to bow so if I was to be really fussy I could use a metal pipe instead. There was even a white coated metal pipe at B&Q which would be perfect for the job. But I am pleased that my simple design worked. Initially I had considered using those cup shaped holders you get for towel rails but I wasn't sure there would be enough clearance for the coat hangers. I also bought a couple of those under-shelf baskets and have been able to remove another storage box from the bedroom.
It has been very mild today with some very light rain in the morning.

Friday 29 December 2017


We were woken this morning by the sound and sight of a thunderstorm raging in the skies above. I'm a fan of thunderstorms especially if I can watch from the warmth of my bed. While the thunder did not return we had very stormy conditions with a few bright spells for the rest of the morning. Our food caddy was blown half-way down the garden and even the large wheelie bin had moved several feet. It seems that much of the rest of the country is affected by snow  and as usual things have ground to a halt. 
With a couple of projects in mind I drove over to B&Q to pick up the things I needed. However they didn't have small enough shelf brackets for one project (I'll have to go on-line for those.) When I made a start on the second project which is to create a hanging rail under the stairs and involves a length of chain and some plastic piping I found that I need larger hooks than the ones I have. So I couldn't finish that project either.
 Some hand-crafted decorations that Vytas and Sally gave me.
 The ever changing evening sky-scape.

Thursday 28 December 2017


It's ben a cold, bright day today. While Peter was out rowing I gave the conservatory and dining area a thorough tidy and clean. I emptied the last of the cardboard boxes there and after cleaning the bread maker some careful rearranging saw it fitting in the top of the storage trolley under the sink. The conservatory plants had the dead leaves picked off and I cut back the dead looking chrysanthemum. You never know, it might regrow.  
A friend gave me some hyacinths for Christmas one of which is already blooming and filling the kitchen with its lovely scent. 
 Not a red sunset tonight but still quite dramatic.

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Home Again.

No post yesterday as we were away visiting Vytas and Sally. The plan was to stay for two nights but unfortunately although Peter thought he had packed his medications he hadn't and we needed to return today. We had a lovely afternoon and evening with plenty of lively discussion over a wonderful meal (guinea fowl) and a certain amount of imbibing. Even I, who rarely drink enjoyed the salted caramel flavoured Bailey's. 

We woke this morning to find a couple of inches of snow had fallen in the night. Vytas was on his way to be part of an honour guard (armour and sword were already in his car) at a funeral of an ex-member of his Sealed Knott regiment. We left after a hearty cooked breakfast to allow time for the road conditions. Going there had taken 31/2 hours and the return 5 due to long stretches of barely moving traffic.
We came to a standstill on the slip road leading on to the motorway and for a number of miles the very heavy traffic was constantly slowing to a crawl and then stopping before moving on again. The cause appeared to be drivers slowing to look at this lorry which had come off the embankment some time before. There were no emergency vehicles or diversions and as soon as we reached this spot the traffic began moving freely again. 
All signs of snow near the road had disappeared as we headed west with just a few snowy hilltops in the distance. The traffic remained heavy and there were long hold-ups around Bristol simply due to the numbers of vehicles on the road.
It was only as we reached the Link Road that the traffic cleared. 
We stopped at Tesco's in Barnstaple to get some milk and check out the bargains to add to the many food treats we have been given for Christmas. I also picked up some very nice Christmas cards for next year. 

Monday 25 December 2017

Christmas Day.

 Merry Christmas everyone.
We've had a quiet day at home, mainly relaxing and of course exchanging presents. We're moving towards smaller fun presents and consumables because in this society we have enough 'stuff' and every present was truly appreciated.
I woke early and smiled to see that lights were already on at the houses where there are young families. The day itself started bright and windy so I threw some tea-towels in the washing machine. Then the rain arrived, not a gentle drizzle but heavy lashing rain crashing at the windows and wet it has stayed.
There is one bad apple among the residents whom I watched drive his 4WD up on to the grass and then back and forth until he could park outside his house. Fortunately his house is up for sale.
PS It's not that I have a thing about hedgehogs. Sally likes them and used to help out in a hedgehog rescue centre and I think the other card was coincidental.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Christmas Eve.

I'm confused, on-line all the meteorological sites say the solstice was the 21st and as it relates to the alignment of the North Pole is the same everywhere yet Radio 4 says it's today. I know that Christmas is celebrated on the 25th to coincide with solstice celebrations and just assumed that there had been a little slippage of the calendar. Anyway it has remained warm with the morning's low cloud/drizzle clearing by afternoon. It was so mild that I didn't even bother with a jacket when I drove over to Asda. With Sunday closing at 4.00 I had hoped to pick up some good bargains but unless I wanted doughnuts or beansprouts there wasn't much. Knots of people kept forming whenever a member of staff began reducing things but I wasn't planning to hang around. I called in at the Co-Op on the way back and they must have done their reductions early as all there was to be seen were empty shelves. I had planned to get some tangerines but the only fruit left was bananas.
In the Asda carpark my little car found its twin. Same colour, similar number plates and even the same amount of mud on the sides. My car is the one behind.
Having planned to make the icing for the Christmas cake I chickened out and bought some ready made royal icing. The cake is now finished and ready for my hungry son.
I had hoped to begin a new Christmas Eve tradition by going for a walk along Saunton Sands beach in the dark with coffee and smoked salmon sandwiches at the halfway point but apart from the weather Peter's knees are painful and puffy so it wouldn't have been a good idea. Instead we shall have a trimmed down version of the traditional Lithuanian meal of different types of fish and salads.
Earlier today we delved into the garage for our heavy duty drill and put up a coat rack in the porch. We had hoped to also put up a full-length mirror but the best position was no good because the door would have caught on it, the next place had a switch and phone plug and our final choice at the top of the stairs doesn't have a solid (brick ) wall and with the mirror being heavy we'll leave it for the builder to do.

Saturday 23 December 2017


The weather has been grey and mild with some light drizzle. That didn't deter me from walking into town for a wander along the High Street. Not walking too fast as I knew I'd be on my feet for a couple of hours it took just 15 mins from our front door to the top of the High Street. It's a pleasant downhill walk through the oldest parts of Pilton. It was like a stroll through a picturesque village with narrow alleyways and winding roads lined by a mixture of buildings from medieval times through to Georgian. There were a couple of brick cottages which were probably early 20th C. but everything else was much earlier, that is once you come out of our little estate which is late 20thC.
It was fairly busy in town with a good selection of musicians busking as well as the Salvation Army Band. I had a bit of a headache by the time I was leaving so walking alongside the marching band with the loud ting ting of the lyres got to be too much and I escaped into nearby shops until they had gone past. I try and support the local charity shops and today I bought some towels for the kitchen that are the same mushroom colour as the unit doors.
The man from Sky arrived as I was leaving and now we have the latest 'Q' boxes but no longer have all the programmes I had recorded for possible watching at Christmas when we intend to have a 'lazy' day. I spent some time scanning the TV menu and making sure we don't miss any of our regular programmes (so much nicer to be able to fast forward the adverts.) It's more or less the same set up apart from being able record more programmes at the same time. The voice activated function is new but I haven't bothered with it yet. 
I got home to find Peter on the phone trying to fix the broadband which had gone down. Kneeling down to fiddle with the wires really hurts his knees and combined with the frequent up and down the stairs and a not very competent help desk person Peter was not a happy bunny. Fortunately the broadband was finally sorted and hopefully will continue to work. We also put up the trusty whiteboard in the kitchen and put handles on the sliding wardrobe doors in our bedroom. They're large sliding doors which are constantly coming off the track but the handles should make them easier to move. The Christmas cake has had the marzipan put on and will be iced tomorrow. Almost ready for Christmas.

Friday 22 December 2017

Baking Day.

The mild grey weather continues. The photo below was taken during the only brief spell of sun, one blink and it was over.
My first job of the day was to get the Christmas cake in the oven. The quantities of the individual ingredients should have been an indicator of how big the cake was going to be. It was like going back to the days when all the family were at home. Each year I would buy a new washing up bowl and use it for mixing up the cake before swapping out the old washing up bowl. This morning it was hard work stirring everything together without losing half of it over the side. Nevertheless it got done, baked for four hours and is now cooling on my window sill and sending out lovely Christmassy smells.
Then came the final coat of paint in our bedroom. I'm so glad I got it all done before Christmas. The last of the magnolia paint may be needed after the new window is put in. 

Thursday 21 December 2017

Winter Solstice.

Now we can enjoy the lengthening days and look forward to the abundance of spring. That is once the deep wintertime is over.
Still grey and not too cold here without yesterday's rain. I painted a third coat of magnolia over the grey wall and as there is still paint left I'll go over the other two painted walls as well. I think it looks a lot fresher and warmer than the original grey and off-white colour scheme. I might also be influenced by fact that it is the colour we had in our bedroom for the last 25 years.
I felt a bit stir crazy this afternoon so I walked down to the Co-Op to get milk and butter. Naturally I returned with a selection of reduced bargains; bahjis, tortilla wraps, blueberries and strawberries. Although I've not been dieting since we moved (too much hard work going on) I've stopped eating chocolate for December up till Christmas. So far I've stuck to that with just some spoon licking when I made the Christmas biscuits.
Walking back up Chaddiford Lane I counted 23 houses with lights or other outside Christmas decorations which was about a third of the houses. It wasn't dark at the time but any lights that were switched on did brighten the place up and brought a smile to my face.
 A wobbly artistic shot of the Christmas tree in the grand house behind us.

Wednesday 20 December 2017


I looked out of the window this morning upon a world of white. Not snow but a mist rolling in from the sea. The mist retreated during the morning but could be seen out over the sea and rain fell gently all through the day. Both cats remained curled up in their chosen sleeping places until 11.00. 
I had a head start on my exercise routine this morning as I had already done the floor exercises the night before. It was one of those nights when I couldn't sleep, possibly due to very loud snoring, and instead of whiling away time at my PC I thought I might as well do the exercises. I'm not sure how good an idea that was as it took another few hours before I got off to sleep.
The main job of the day has been painting the grey wall. By having windows open, luckily it's not too cold, I was able to get two coats done. Taking the very heavy mattress off the bed and shifting the wooden bed was quite a task for us so should the wall need another coat I may just paint around the headboard.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

New Hairstyles.

Being in town I had thought we might lose our starry skies but although they were not as clear last night as out in the hills I could still make out the constellations. Without the cloud cover it did get colder and remained chilly today. We started off with wispy cirrus clouds but before long the cloud bank (on the right) rolled in from the north. No wonderful sunset tonight. 
Today I painted not one but two of our bedroom walls bringing the job back on schedule. Now all that remains is the grey wall. 
The previous owners had left two art nouveaux style ceramic planters on the garden wall planted up with a couple of small sad looking geraniums. The geraniums are now potted up and in the conservatory and the ladies are sporting an ornamental grass aptly called Frosted Curls.  
While Peter was out I gave the bowl of fruit a stir as instructed and wrapped up some Christmas presents.
I appreciate being able to see barns and sheep from the back garden. It makes me feel not so removed from the countryside.

Monday 18 December 2017

Cat Fight.

This morning Speedy had taken over the shed aka Fluffy Cat's House which resulted in an awful snarling and spitting fight inside the shed. Looking through the window it looked to be getting out of hand so I broke it up by shouting at them. It was funny to see both cats all fired up bouncing off the walls as they failed to jump out of the big space where the windows were. Fluffy Cat was off first and in the end I had to lean down, grab Speedy by his scruff and haul him out of the window. He ended up with a flap of skin ripped on his ear which I'll keep an eye on. He has a number of battle scars mainly I think from fighting rats and sometimes cats.
Last night the paint colour looked fine so I put everything back on the shelves in the alcove I'd painted. This morning it was a different story, the sun was shining in a blue sky above some mist rolling in from the sea and the colour was ........ completely off. Indeed it was hard to spot the difference between the original colour and the new in the daylight. Putting that down to experience I took myself back in to town to buy the correct colour which was good old magnolia. At the same time I gave the hardly used tub of paint to the charity shop for someone else to use. I also took along the smart but not my taste black and white lampshade that had been hanging in our bedroom. In its place now hangs a new large round white paper lantern.
While I was out I bought the ingredients for a Christmas cake which I'm baking by request. This time I'm using a Mary Berry recipe. I'm trying hard to follow it to the letter but have already made a couple of adjustments. The ingredients included sultanas, raisins and currants but somehow I forgot the raisins and as the fruit needs to soak for three! days I substituted more sultanas. I also changed the alcohol as we have neither brandy nor sherry so I thought port would do. I did however wash and dry the glace cherries as instructed.  
I've already painted the alcove again and have to say it looks much better. Peter kindly filed off the head of a protruding screw in the next wall that I had given up on so I can go ahead and paint that tomorrow.
We had such a glorious sunset this evening I could hardly stop taking photos.  It just kept getting better until suddenly it all faded away.

Sunday 17 December 2017


It's been grey and wet all day. It started as a light drizzle and then soon became serious rain. Peter got rather wet out rowing. Today they had taken the gigs over to Appledore so not only did they have the rain to contend with but being out at sea it was as he described it ' a bit bibbly bobbly' with at times the waves crashing over the boat.
Nice and dry at home I began painting our bedroom which I hope to get done before Christmas even if I only do one wall at a time. Three of the walls were already an off-white, just not the exact shade I wanted to match the curtains, and it looks like one coat will be enough. On the other hand I'm not convinced it's quite the right shade of cream. Perhaps in daylight and when the paint is dry it'll be a closer match. 
I'm slowly getting back into my exercise routine and today I managed 2 sets of floor exercises, the bike and piano and guitar practise. All set for the final of Strictly and then in January Dancing on Ice returns but will it be as good without Torville and Dean?

Saturday 16 December 2017

Wintry Showers.

It's been mostly overcast with a few wintry showers. After driving over to the Post Office at Sticklepath this morning I can sit back knowing the last of my Christmas posting has been done. I also dropped in to Lidl's and Asda where I picked up a few bargains. We're gradually getting our heads around a different way of shopping. Whereas before when we had a big freezer and made fewer trips to town the larger the amount of shopping in one trip the better. Now with limited storage and freezer space it's better to have just one or two bags of shopping especially as we park at some distance from the house. 
This afternoon we did a bit more sorting out in the garage including moving stuff from the house. The oversize coffee table in the sitting room has now been replaced with a much smaller one and a pine chest. Thankfully Peter's bike is no longer blocking the hall and stopping the kitchen door from opening fully and the dining area is almost clear of random boxes. As Peter was carrying a large box of mostly plumbing bits to the garage he got chatting to a builder who is helping his son do up his house. Peter ended up giving him the box which saves us having to sort it all out. The son's house is two doors down and I had been keen to view it when we were looking as it has 4 bedrooms and a larger garden but it had already been sold. The father and son were both really nice people and the father was keen to offer his services should we need any work done.
After all that shifting around of things my heart began skipping beats again so I took things easy for a couple of hours before failing dismally to take a photo of the night sky.

Friday 15 December 2017

Decorating Day.

It's been bright and sunny today and while it didn't feel as cold as the last few days there were a couple of hail showers in the morning.  
I was doing my morning exercises out on the landing (the only carpeted space that is big enough) when I heard the most dreadful racket coming from the kitchen. Going down to investigate I found Speedy on one side of the cat flap and Fluffy Cat on the other both yowling and taking swipes at each other. I had to step outside before Fluffy cat got the hint that he is not welcome here. Talking of making yourself  welcome, Peter found out from our neighbour that both Speedy and Patch had decided to go in and explore her house. Oops, especially as her husband is allergic to cats. Peter suggested shouting at them or even a quick squirt with a water pistol to deter them. The poor cats have never encountered neighbours living right next door so how were they to know?
After my epic fail yesterday with the white chocolate I had one last try with the remaining white chocolate. This time it melted as expected and I was able to finish off decorating the chocolate biscuits. I also baked a batch of butter biscuits for anyone who doesn't like chocolate. While they were cooling I painted a last coat of white paint on the walls in the dining area. Then for the finishing touches to the biscuits I made up some white icing and got to work. Being a sporadic baker my piping skills are non-existent. I would give myself 2/10 for today's effort. One mark for getting the icing into the bag and out again through the nozzle and the other for enthusiasm. The snowflake biscuits look better from a distance especially when compared to the examples I found on-line.
With our ever hungry cats prowling like sharks I found the perfect place to store the biscuits while the icing dried.
Then before the light faded I went and planted out the bags of daffodil bulbs in the front garden. The last job of the day was to paint the edges of the newly painted walls with a paintbrush.  I think that space is done now until we get glass doors put across the conservatory.