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.

Wednesday 31 January 2018

Grrrrrrrr !

I was hoping that today I'd be posting a photo of the new bin shed and indeed I successfully bought one at B&Q which had been reduced a further £10 plus my 10% discount. However before I left I went out to the back garden to take a photo of the outside tap so that I could buy the correct fitting for the hose and discovered that the drain cover there was being pushed up by the waste water underneath. So while I was at B&Q I bought some extra strong chemical drain blaster. Once home we got the drain rods out of the garage, I donned new heavy duty rubber gloves and opened the drain lid. I shall spare the gruesome details but although the water level had dropped there was clearly a problem. Suffice it to say that emptying and rodding have not yet been enough so the chemical has been added and I'm hoping for a miracle.
Then came my next frustration, when I plugged my camera in to the PC it didn't do the usual thing and upload but gave a blue message about apps and Windows Store. Peter had a look but media was never his thing so not a lot of help there. I finally found a way of getting the photos but then had to move the folder from one place to another and rename it. Peter has suggested reloading the driver but that would mean locating where my discs are which might take a while. No help from Google so my last hope is that it might all resolve itself once my PC and been switched off and then turned on again. You never know.

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Changeable Weather.

I first woke this morning while it was still dark. Looking out of the window I could see a distinct fog bank above the river lit by the street lights. In the other direction the moon was setting dramatically over the hill. When next I woke and looked out everything was sparkling white with frost. Frosty roofs and frosty grass with a clear sky above. A friend of mine posted photos of her car upside down on the verge where she had hit black ice going round a bend. Luckily she was just shook up though her back is sore too.
We had blue skies all morning then the cloud bank rolled in and the world turned grey.
We spent the morning moving boxes up into the loft. We used an extra large shopping bag and a rope to haul the heavier stuff up which worked a treat. In the end I decided to move the plastic storage boxes from my study as well. Once that was done we moved the big mirror from our bedroom and I brought my digital piano upstairs. There's still some stuff to sort out (hidden from the camera) but I'm enjoying my new look study.
Just returned from my Pilates class. I got there to find a fluster of Pilates ladies in the main lobby because the Drama Hall was being used for something else and we should have been told that the class was cancelled but weren't. In the end we had our session in the dinning hall. As usual it was a hard work out and I opted out of a couple of moves that were too much for my back. The teacher/leader? usually gives a gentler version for those that need it and reminds us that we know how much we can do.

Monday 29 January 2018

Wet Morning, Dry Afternoon.

The day began very wet indeed. Last night I made the silly mistake of thinking I was over my shoulder strain and thought I was ready to resume the press ups that are part of my floor exercises. I stopped after the first one but this morning my shoulder was not in a good state. Neither was my back maybe due to too much DIY.
Thinking about my carpentry projects I decided to stop for the moment. I don't have enough materials and probably skill to make an enclosure for the wheelie bin which for me is a real eye sore in the front garden. I had a good look on-line and found a plastic mini shed for two bins which would take the re-cycling bins as well as the wheelie bin. The same model was £20 cheaper at B&Q not to mention the 10% over 60's Wednesday discount so I'll trot off there on Wednesday.
The day brightened up in the afternoon but I planned to do some less strenuous jobs indoors such as hovering, blitzing the bathroom, and backing up all my photos. I also had a fun time on the choir's website working on the alto parts of the songs we have been singing. 

The afternoon's blue sky faded to a lovely golden glow and eventually a flash of red. (The colours were brighter in reality.) 

Sunday 28 January 2018


It's been a damp misty day with the sand dunes of Braunton Burrows almost lost to view. Undeterred I got on with planting up the window box after adding half a bag more of compost. In retrospect I should have made a central support to prevent the slight bowing but I can live with that. I planted the box up with a couple of grasses to give year round interest and two kinds of sedum in the hope of attracting some butterflies. I also added some small bulbs emerging in some pots from Dingles. I think they are small narcissi. I was able cover the top of the compost with a bag of river pebbles that I discovered behind the old shed. I do like the challenge of reusing materials that are around the place.
Now on to the next project, a box to put the recycling boxes in. So far I've made the lid using cladding and only had to redo my work twice which is quite good for me. I've got enough cladding left to make the front of the box and the rest will have to be all wood.
I look forward to seeing the front garden in flower.

Saturday 27 January 2018


The day began with the kind of heavy drizzle that ends up getting you soaked through. A good day for a long lie-in which we especially appreciated after having to be up and ready for the builder by 9.00 every day last week. That sounds terribly lazy but it follows many years of having to be up by 6.00. Plus the fact that due to aches and pains we often don't sleep that well. A lie-in including breakfast in bed is just one of life's (free) pleasures at this time of life.
With the rain making it too wet to work outside I thought I would begin moving some of the stuff from my study up into the loft. I've been thinking that if I could shift most of the stuff including the 30+ plastic storage boxes the big wall mirror currently squeezed into our bedroom could go on the study wall creating a mini exercise corner. Then I wouldn't have to block the corridor doing my floor exercises. Who knows I might even be inspired to add in more of the Pilates exercises? I'd also be able to move in the digital piano from the sitting room. Grand plans indeed. The first hurdle was finding that although the builder had swept up the loft floor with a dustpan and brush there was still a lot of sawdust around. My trusty Vax was quite heavy and awkward to get up the ladder and into the loft but once there I was able to hoover the whole loft. The loft is about a foot higher at the apex than our old loft so it was still a matter of crawling around on my knees. Thank goodness for my knee pads. I did get all the bags containing curtains up but it wasn't as easy as I had imagined. Empty boxes for my PC were easy enough but I didn't even attempt to get any of the plastic boxes up there. I'm not even sure that once the stuff from our storage unit is up there that there will be enough room.
After a long break to catch my breath I saw that the rain had died down to more of a fine mist. Not wanting to leave the window box in an unfinished state I gathered up my tools and set to work outside. I had begun the job carefully measuring the wood and cladding with a tape measure but I soon found that with the unusual profile of the cladding and my general lack of ability it was mostly better to mark where to cut once I'd offered the bit to be cut against the rest of my creation. Eventually I got the box done just as Peter arrived home in time to help me bring up some of the bags of compost from my car. I started thinking two bags would be enough, then added another and I'll still need to add one more tomorrow. Then I can do the fun bit, planting up with ice plants and grasses.
We both enjoyed the film last night. it was a bit confusing as to what was going on but I think that was the point of it. Best of all there was hardly a sound from the audience unlike at the town cinema. Also I was unable to comment or ask questions something I'm prone to do if we watch a film at home.

Friday 26 January 2018

Loft Finished.

Looking out of the window this morning and seeing the clouds being blown by a northerly wind I thought we were in for a cold day but with lots of sun it felt almost like a spring day outside. While the builder was working up in the loft I did my morning exercises in the sitting room. Speedy thought he had found himself a comfy spot when he jumped on my tummy eliciting a surprised 'Oof' as he landed.  
When the builder finished he loaded up his van with all the wood from the old shed apart from a few beams which might be useful. I made a start on the trough to go in front of the window but ran out of nails. As there was a collection of stuff from the loft sitting by the front door including a large round water tank I halted my construction work and filled up my little car with as much as I could cram in for a dump run. From the dump I went to BJ's, bought the nails I needed and 6 bags of compost (on special offer for £10). Apart from the trough I will need to repot most of the plants I brought from Dingles.
This evening we are going to Pilton Cinema to watch Dunkirk. The 'cinema' is a community event in the church hall just five minutes walk away. It is good to support local events and is a chance to socialise as well, tea and coffee are provided or bring your own drinks. The independent cinema in town is only 25 minutes walk away with the main screen in the original theatre style auditorium but the main drawback is the amount of noise from people unwrapping and eating the sweets, popcorn and crisps that are sold in the foyer. 

Thursday 25 January 2018


Another day of mixed weather. Work continued in the loft keeping me out of my study. In the morning I wanted to stick the numbers on our various bins so naturally I went out armed with a bucket of hot water, soap and bleach and gave the smaller bins a thorough scrub probably adding to the neighbours' impression that I am some sort of cleaning fanatic. If only they knew. 
I had planned to have a proper sort out of the kitchen food cupboards but the increasingly blue skies lured me out to the front garden to weed out all the chickweed seedlings that had sprung up. They might only have two tiny seed leaves but with the root they were up to two inches long. I'm leaving the celandines as I think they will make a nice addition to the daffodils some of which are beginning to appear and later in the year they will be tucked away under the hardy geraniums
I have a suspicion that this top section of decking has been laid over paving. It might be possible after cleaning the planks and cutting off the rotting ends to relay them on the sunny side of the garden where the shed was.
Mid-way through the afternoon grey clouds rolled in bringing heavy rain. With no possibility of escaping outdoors I started on the kitchen cupboards. After taking out all the food items which were quite randomly stuffed into the various cupboards I gave the insides of the cupboards a good clean. Then I really had to tackle a job I've been putting off, cleaning the very tops of the kitchen cupboards. They were utterly nasty, a layer of dirt and grease which I first had to scrape off with an old kitchen knife. With much muttering and scrubbing with washing up detergent I got them back to a clean state. The final touch was to place sheets of kitchen foil over the top surfaces so that when I next decide to spring clean all I have to do is replace the greasy kitchen foil. After that all I had to do was replace the food items in some sort of order leaving the insides of the cupboards satisfyingly tidy. 
There was a little bit of colour in the evening sky and I'm still tilting down to the left when I take photos.

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Silly Me.

It's been a day of mixed weather, heavy rain in the morning, sun in the afternoon and ending overcast. As the builders were going to be working in the loft all day making my study inaccessible I took the sewing machine and materials down to the sitting room first. Then I loaded up my car with a couple more bags of junk from the shed and headed off to the dump. From there I did some shopping including two coir doormats for the front and back doors and some white stick on numerals to put on our various bins. On collection days each household puts its bins in a group by the parking area. A small price to pay for having no traffic going past our house. I've written the house number on the bins in black marker but it will be easier to identify our bins with the number in white.
At home the hall and kitchen were filled with large panels of chipboard and the sitting room housed a number of rolls of insulation taking up most of the space. I squeezed myself in and got on with my sewing. As you may have noticed the end result was not set of shopping bags but three cushion covers. It was only as I was near to completing the third shopping bag that I had the following sequence of thoughts ' Making cushion covers is so much easier./ Maybe I should have made cushion covers./Could I still make cushion covers?/ Right, let's chop up these fiddly shopping bags.' If I had worked this all out before starting it would have taken less than an hour to make four cushion covers. Still better late than never and as the dining table is pushed up against the wall we don't need a fourth chair with a matching cushion.
By the time the builders finished for the day half the boards and all but two rolls of insulation were up in the loft. Once that is done work will begin in the sitting room. Can't wait to decorate the room (all white) and transfer the contents of the cardboard boxes into the big pine cupboard. 
9.45pm - Back home from singing with the choir. I stand with the other altos and in our little crowd was a face I recognised, somebody I knew from the many years we went to a church in Ilfracombe. We had a nice chat in between concentrating on singing. We learnt the South African song Shona Malanga and I'm afraid our alto group struggled with one section and kept on fading out to silence accompanied by puzzled expressions until after a lot of work we managed to get through the song. 

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Shed Down.

The shed was still standing this morning. There was only light drizzle in the air so out I went to complete the demolition. After messing around about a bit removing pieces without a total collapse I pushed the frame so that it sagged gently towards the wall. From there it was easy to prise apart all the pieces until all that remained were a couple of piles of wood. Some I shall keep to build a planter at the front and the rest is being taken by our builder. 
The builder came this afternoon and brought in timber which he used to increase the depth of the joists in the loft so that we can put in insulation to the new depth specifications.  I spent some time staring out of Peter's study window seeking inspiration for the top part of the garden. Once I've gone over the slippery decking with the pressure washer I may have thought of something. As I'm not designing a garden for me the main criteria are minimum expenditure for maximum impact. I'll need to think where to place a couple of washing lines as I'm not a fan of rotary washing lines. Also there needs to be a seating area in the top left hand corner which gets the most sun.
I've just returned from my Pilates class which as usual was challenging but fun. I got there early enough to position myself right at the back. Funny how everyone likes to be at the back. The teacher swaps the exercises around and this week I struggled with those that involved balancing on one leg. I made some progress in the lie-on-your-tummy with legs and arms outstretched and off the floor exercise as this week my knees actually parted company from the floor though I don't think anyone watching would have been able to see this amazing feat. 

Monday 22 January 2018


Almost no rain today with a light breeze in the morning that tempted me to hang some washing out on the line. Speedy's latest game is to lie in the laundry basket batting the plastic bottle from the washing liquid bottle, round and round. I think he's bored with no small creatures to hunt.
Taking advantage of the dry weather I spent the day outside continuing the dismantling of the shed. 
It was a bit like one of those children's games where you have to remove blocks from a structure without the whole thing collapsing. The shed is disintegrating around the bottom and by the time I took a break (above) it was distinctly wobbly. From that point it was a matter of taking of a couple of planks from one side then moving to the other. My tools for this job were a claw hammer and an extra large screwdriver which I used to lever off the planks.
By the time I called a halt for the day most of the planks were off. The remaining door is wedged into the lintel so I left it there to support the frame. The back corner is being supported by a heavy plank but I wouldn't be surprised if it falls down in the night.
A touch of colour in the sunset tonight.

Sunday 21 January 2018


With heavy rain falling all day long I've had an afternoon battling with my sewing machine. Foolishly I decided to work in the sitting room kneeling at the low coffee table. Fine for a while but not so good on my back when done for the whole afternoon. Sewing the hem on the under counter curtain went smoothly enough but then I decided to use the remaining fabric to make some shopping bags. Plastic bags stopped being free some time ago and the stronger 'bags for life' get very scruffy after a while and of course they are still made of plastic. I've a couple of jute bags but they are quite bulky. I had enough fabric left to make three bags and being me decided that I would make bags with side panels instead of the easier flat bags. I worked on all the bags at the same time and by the end of the afternoon having had a number of annoying incidents of the thread breaking or running out not one bag was completed. If I wanted to get my exercises done I had to stop for the day. I had to put everything away as the builders are starting work tomorrow and may be working in the sitting room as well as the loft.

Saturday 20 January 2018


It has rained all day long. Not the cloudbursts of yesterday but steadily enough to keep me indoors which was fine as I had a couple of indoor jobs to get on with. I began by continuing to sand the paint drips & sploshes off the planks I took off the radiator. That done, and it did take a while I simply nailed the pieces together to make a box for the orchids to stand on. Best of all it was done using materials that I had to hand.
I've been really disliking this view of the kitchen especially as we will be replacing the solid door to the kitchen with one that has glass panels in the top half to bring some light into the dark hall. Not intending to replace the dishwasher or even the kitchen units and worktops which are not in the best of condition I thought that a curtain would at least help cover up the clutter. Being unable to find any shower curtains in town that would do ( I thought that shower curtains would give the most suitable fabric for a kitchen) I ordered one on-line hoping that the colour shown was fairly accurate. The curtain arrived in the afternoon and after careful measuring I got it cut and pinned. To hang it I was able to re-use the adjustable rod that our bedroom net curtains had been hung from.
I can't claim that the curtain is a design masterpiece but it does tone in with the kitchen colour scheme of mushroom brown cupboards and grey/orange/white floor tiles. Not colours I would choose myself but we will be moving on one day. I still need to sew the top hem but didn't fancy getting the sewing machine out today as it gets temperamental if I rush. 
I'm still debating which colour to paint the grey kitchen walls, cream to match the tiles or white because white is best.

Friday 19 January 2018

Roof Removed.

It's been a day of sunshine and showers starting with a partial rainbow over the hill. It was windy enough to makes me think it was worth hanging out some washing. Five minutes later it began to rain lightly so back indoors the washing went. No sooner than that was done when the rain stopped. 

Although I didn't take the washing out again I took advantage of the mostly dry weather to carry on removing the planks from the roof of the shed. Not only did I get the whole lot off but even better than that I got it all down to the dump. I can cope with the fact that things get done a bit more slowly now but I really don't like to see things left in a mess especially when there's no telling when it will be dry again. Driving across town I could see black clouds with curtains of rain underneath approaching from the sea. I had just begun unloading the wood when down came big fat raindrops. Luckily I was back in the shelter of the car when the worst of the rain fell, the sort that you need to put windscreen wipers on at full speed to be able to see out.

Thursday 18 January 2018

Storm Damage.

Since the new windows were put in I'd noticed a creaking plastic sound coming from somewhere near my study window. Last night while I was blogging the creaking increased as the winds intensified and I intended to ask Peter to ring the window company in the morning to come and have a look before something happened. Later around midnight with the winds gusting outside there was a loud crash which I presumed was the wheelie bin falling over. I thought I'd better go outside and pick up the bin to stop any rubbish blowing around but when I looked out of the window I could see some of the plastic cladding planks scattered across the garden. There was nothing we could do so we left it until the morning.
Peter phoned the company first thing this morning and someone came round within the hour. He didn't say much but my best guess is the old windows were slightly wider than the new ones and were helping to clamp the side bar that the cladding was slotted into while the foamy stuff they used to fill the gaps didn't have the same function allowing the wind to get in behind the cladding.
Later that morning the workmen turned up, set up their scaffolding and got to work replacing the cladding and whatever that membrane was. I asked them to leave  the old cladding as I can reuse it to make a planter to go in front of the sitting room window and maybe a storage box for the re-cycling bin as well.
I went out in the afternoon to have coffee with two friends and when I came back 3 hours later they were just finishing off. They put in an extra fixing batten to keep the cladding secure and sealed every joint to prevent the wind getting in. I think it would take hurricane force winds to rip the cladding off now. We weren't even in the zone of the storm that hit the north of the country and then moved on to Europe.
During the morning I got the rest of the roofing material from the shed off and bagged and finally could start the real demolition work. I began by taking off some of the roof timbers which along with an old metal dustbin went in the back of my car and off to the dump after coffee at the garden centre. While I was at the garden centre I had a wander around looking at all the lovely things I could spend my money on. There were some amazing orchids but I don't think I'll be spending £35 on a single specimen no matter how gorgeous it is.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Shed Cleared.

The window people arrived early this morning and took less than 15 minutes to take out the two lower double glazed units in the sitting room window and replace them with safety glass. 
Then I loaded up my car with bags of rubbish from the shed, mainly rotting cupboard sections and other old wood. Having successfully off-loaded everything at the dump and being told to 'Keep your hands out of the skip.' when I was fishing up some large plant pots from the plastics skip I returned to BJ's to buy another 5 of those crisp white boxes and more curtain rail fittings. The orchids sit nicely in their boxes and I've already made a start on making a wooden box/shelf to raise them up a little. I'm re-using the wooden planks that were screening the sitting room radiator. They are painted light green on one side and on the narrow edges so I'm sanding off the paint on the edges and the drips and splashes on the unpainted side before I make the box.
It was windy but dry in the morning so after I returned from my dump run I began striping off the tar paper from the far side of the roof of the shed. Heavy rain drove me inside after a while but once that is done I can begin the fun job of demolishing the now empty shed.
This evening was choir night so wrapped up against the rain I walked to Windsor rd. for my lift to the rugby club where we sing. It was dark going down the steps between the houses on the corner of our grass with 3 lots of steps which I took cautiously. Next time I'll bring a torch. At the rugby club there was a problem with the heating which made me glad I was wearing my fingerless gloves. I'm really enjoying the singing and it certainly is a mental exercise for the brain remembering the words as well as the part we are supposed to be singing. At least I knew the tune and some of the words to Happy Together and Kalinka.  

Tuesday 16 January 2018


It's been very cold today making us grateful for the increase in warmth simply from having new windows, no draughts and a door to the conservatory. It was a good windy morning so I got my washing out on the line. I stayed outside clearing wood and junk from the inside of the shed so that I was ready to fetch in the washing in when the rain began. Later in the afternoon the rain became much heavier and was accompanied by hailstones. 
Today Wayne did most of the finishing off of the ceiling, just a final skim to do when the filler has dried. He also made a start on sorting out the hill in the wooden floor of the conservatory. He was almost upset about such good quality oak flooring being installed so poorly by the previous owner. Apparently you are supposed to leave a gap all around the edges of the room to allow for natural expansion of the wood and this hadn't been done. It also looks like the floors haven't been sealed which is why the kitchen counters always seem dusty. He's cut away a strip from one side and immediately the floor began to level out though Wayne says the patio doors shouldn't have been fixed to the wood floor but to a separate piece of timber. He'll check it again in a month's time to see if any more wood needs to be trimmed off.
I've just returned from my Pilates lesson walking home through rain and bitter winds. There were drifts of hailstones along the edges of the pavements and the earlier forecast was for more wintry showers through to tomorrow along with snow on the high ground, something we don't have to worry about now.

Monday 15 January 2018


It's been a wild and windy day. We had plenty of rain in the morning then by the afternoon the winds had shifted to blow cold dry air from the north. This time I doubled the amount of time I gave myself to get to the surgery and only made it with 2 minutes to spare. The rain and the start of the school day made for heavy road traffic.The nurse plugged the BP monitor into her computer and though my BP had been high at times both the daytime and night-time averages were within the normal range. Hopefully if I keep up the bursts of extra fast cycling on the exercise bike that should help to get my BP to an even healthier range.
Today Wayne another of Peter's contacts, began work on the loft. The ladder is now in place and tomorrow he'll block up the old hatch and repair the ceiling. He is precise and very tidy, both good qualities for a builder working in your home. By the time I got home from the surgery he was busy cutting the hatch and I couldn't get my camera from my study or access my computer. A small price to pay for getting anther big job started.
In town I called in at BJ's where I bought the accessory that every old lady requires - a shopping trolley. I don't intend to take it to the shops but will use it to carry my shopping from the car to the house. It will save me from having to make repeated trips to the car parked by the garage 8 houses away, something I've often seen my neighbours do, and take the weight of the shopping from my shoulders. The funny 3-wheel wheels are good for going up the steps of the garden path. I also found some plastic boxes for keeping things tidy by the bathroom and kitchen sink. I also got a small one about the size of a mug to go in the bathroom along with the big one. For the last week each time I've gone in a shop that sells household goods I've looked unsuccessfully for something to tidy up the clutter and these were perfect.

Sunday 14 January 2018

Kitchen Shelves.

Today has been a lovely sunny and hazy day, perfect for a walk apart from the fact that it is the weekend. We prefer to walk in the week when there are less people around. Not only was the sun shining this morning but the church bells were ringing and a wood pigeon was cooing. I have also heard an owl several times in the evenings.
Having cut the wood yesterday today I got on with getting the shelves in place. The heavy recycled shelf above the fridge  simply sits on top of the fridge. I used the offcut to make the 2 stands so that there is airflow to the back of the fridge.
The 3 shelves took more work, drilling into the side of the cupboard and the wall to fit the cupboard shelf supports. Initially I was going to fix wooden battens at the wall end but thought that if the plaster over concrete was sound I could get away with simply drilling holes for more cupboard supports. Luckily it worked and I had the exact number of supports to do the job. However I will admit to drilling a second set of holes for the middle shelf because my calculations were off and the spacing was uneven. 
My plan had been to put the radio on the first shelf but the reception wasn't so good so it returned to its space on top of the work surface. That's my fancy digital radio which still doesn't pick up a digital signal and has to revert to the analogue signal. I had fun arranging some (not all) of our spices on these shelves. I'd prefer to have everything hidden in cupboards but we just don't have enough space, or maybe too much kitchen 'stuff'.
Another thing that brightened my day was discovering that I can do my YouTube singing exercises while putting photos on the blog or doing my online jigsaw.