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 28 February 2018

More Snow.

Yesterday evening I was entranced by the sight of the setting sun shining through an approaching snow shower. I wasn't so thrilled when I opened the front door and had to walk to Pilates through a short blizzard. There were only two of us at first but then nearly everybody turned up for an energetic session. My monitor kept beeping as first one then another of the contacts came unstuck from my sweaty warm middle. I made do by jamming them into my waistband. The snow had stopped falling for the walk home but later on as we were watching tv we spotted falling snow in the light of the street lamp at the end of our garden.
This morning we woke to a light covering of snow. 
By this afternoon most of the snow had melted, probably much to the disappointment of many children.
I decided not to bother going over to B&Q today and instead made a start on sanding down the hall door frames. Well, I started by sanding but the emulsion that had been painted over gloss (who does that?) began to fall off in big flakes. I knew then that I needed to remove as much of the grey emulsion paint as possible. I started with the frame around the doorway into the sitting room which will be getting a door fitted eventually. I didn't quite get all of it done but a fair amount.
It was only when I looked at this photo of Patch on my chair that I noticed the apt picture behind him.  
The real colour of tonight's sunset was much pinker than this. Right now I can see yet more snow hanging in the air.

Tuesday 27 February 2018


We woke this morning to a light sprinkling of snow. Luckily it has been dry for the last few days so there wasn't any ice on the roads and pavements. I had to walk up to the hospital to have a seven day heart monitor fitted and as I waited I could hear the receptionist getting calls from people who were either cancelling their appointments or saying they would be late. You would think we were under several feet of snow the amount of chaos being generated. One person phoned from the other side of town and said that the roads were gridlocked. Walking back from the hospital with good views of the hills around I could see any north facing fields were white while all the rest had returned to green. A sign that all around Dingles would be wintry white.
Back home I painted two small sections of kitchen wall by the sides of cupboards which only got  their first coat of paint yesterday. After that I pottered around tidying up etc.
I also sat in my warm study mending my trusty handbag. It's made of canvas and had frayed at a couple of points on the edges allowing the reinforcing plastic wire to break and stick out. I had to do a kind of darning job using sewing thread. Although I do have several handbags this one is my favourite as the strap is long enough to wear on the opposite shoulder and the bag is big enough for my camera. In fact I liked it so much that when my original bag wore out I bought the same one again on eBay. We had one brief shower of big fat snowflakes this afternoon and right now small specks of snow are wafting past my window.
Walking up to the hospital I had a view of the way out between the hills that for so many years had been my way home. Surprisingly it doesn't leave me regretting our move. I'm far too busy with plans for the garden here and looking onward to a future home nearer to the sea.

Monday 26 February 2018


After watching the weather forecast this morning and seeing snow already falling in London (a mere 215 miles away) I realised that within the next days I would need to buy a bag of cat litter. Although the bags are not very big they are too heavy for me to carry home in a backpack. So off I drove to Lidl's and Asda to buy the cat litter and any other essentials that we might need for the rest of the week. News reports indicate that this cold spell might last for a while and there did seem to be more people shopping than usual for this time of the week. I called in at the dump to leave a large box of spanners and other tools we don't need and throw out a bag of rubbish from the garden. I've almost cleared the bags of plasterboard by putting a couple in the wheelie bin for each collection as there is a significant charge if you take them to the dump.
Once home I hung up another load of washing and then got with painting the final coat on the kitchen walls. Peter was coming round to the cream colour when he noticed something I hadn't spotted, the colour matches the painted garden wall. That's a designer's trick to increase perception of room size and to 'bring the outside in' which I had forgotten about. While I was painting I could smell the aroma of a hearty beef stew with root vegetables, pearl barley and lentils which Peter was making in the slow cooker.
I keep being distracted by a lovely sunset shining in through the window. Right now the clouds are fringed with liquid gold as the sun drops down below the last cloudbank.

Sunday 25 February 2018


It's been another day of bright blue skies, icy winds and golden sunshine. While Peter went out rowing I was busy at home. I got two coats painted on the kitchen walls. The colour is standard magnolia but to me it looked like melted Cornish ice cream. Peter thinks it's a bit bland but I feel it brightens up the kitchen and blends better with the cream tiles. If I was being really picky I'd try and get a closer match with the tiles but it will do.
While waiting for the paint (and the washing) to dry  I got on with a job that I had been saving for a rainy day but could also do sitting outside in the sun. A while back I'd noticed that one of the chair cushions was so old that the fabric was splitting allowing the feathers to escape. I used a piece of striped upholstery fabric to make a new cushion pad first with the sewing machine and then hand sewing the last seam. This I did sitting outside on the pallet in the suntrap at the top of the garden. As usual there was the faint hum of the town traffic but just a few gardens down a woodpigeon was cooing and being answered by another woodpigeon further away. While there are less birds around than at Dingles I usually hear one or two species nearby. Only the occasional rook but on several occasions I've seen a flock of around 100 jackdaws and there's even been the hooting of owls in the evening.
Once again the golden late afternoon ended in a blaze of orange and red. The forecasters are still warning of much colder temperatures and the arrival of a snow storm luridly called the Beast from the East but it looks like we shall miss the worst of it here in the south-west. Back at Dingles we would be checking the oil level and our food stores and worrying about work and appointments but here the Co-Op is in walking distance and so too is the hospital where I do have two appointments this week.

Saturday 24 February 2018


It's been sunny with an icy north easterly wind blowing. In the back garden which gets some protection from the big house behind it felt quite pleasant and I wondered where they had come up with the figure of -8C but just now I ventured into the back garden which had lost all its sun and it felt extremely cold. Today I was able to put up the first washing line pole and by propping up half of the other pole with stones and heavy pots I was able to string up a temporary washing line and hang out some washing.
This morning the builder/handyman who is currently working next door came round to look at what I want done with the decking. I've realised that the two sagging lower levels will need replacing but the top section will be made using the old salvaged decking and the bit where the balustrade was will remain as it is. It was so nice out that I took some time to sit with the sun on my face while I read. When Peter came out and joined me for a while we could hear a terrific caterwauling from Fluffy Cat with Speedy's lower growls. I've heard Fluffy Cat make just as much noise when Speedy was simply looking down at him from the fence so I wasn't too worried. Today things escalated into full blown fighting which continued on across several gardens and lasted for some time. When Speedy eventually returned he was buzzing with excitement and dripping a little blood from his ear. Patch had a more relaxed afternoon lying on the wooden pallet in the sun while I carried on scraping plaster from the paving slabs.
When I was at B&Q looking through the reduced items I came across a shiny metal pole which was just what I needed for my under stairs coat rail. The pole had been reduced because it was bent at the end but there was enough undamaged for the coat rail. All I had to do was to cut the metal pole to the correct length. The original plastic pole hadn't had enough strength to prevent it bowing with the weight of the coats but did the job for the time being.
The front of the house has been bathed in a lovely golden light all day. The photos do little justice to the setting sun which was a crimson glowing orb slowly descending behind the far hills. Must, must spend some time reacquainting myself with the camera's manual settings  so that I can capture more of such beautiful sunsets.

Friday 23 February 2018


It has been bright and sunny today with an icy wind blowing which made me look forward eagerly to being able to hang out my washing. However it is far to cold to be mixing up cement so the washing line posts will have to wait. Instead I took a screwdriver and drill to the balustrade. What a difference removing that has made.
Peter gave me a hand to drill into the wall to put up my sword, Anduril and I also hung up a map of Middle Earth above the radiator. I wouldn't like to risk the heat damaging an original art work though I might select one or two pieces for the other wall. 
All the bright sunshine flooding into the sitting room showed that there were a few sections of wall that could do with another coat of paint. I started off painting the corner behind the tv, carried on and ended up painting the whole room apart from behind the big cupboard. It's amazing how much bigger the room looks now that the fake wall over the radiator has been taken out and the gloomy grey replaced with snowy white.  
This evening we went to the church hall/cinema to watch Dad's Army film. We weren't sure how it would work with the original cast members being so familiar but the voices were spot on and there was some resemblance to the overall look of the actors. It was a pleasant film with plenty of comic moments making for an enjoyable evening. There weren't so many people in the audience possibly due to the cold weather. The forecast says that with wind chill tomorrow will feel like -8C and it will carry on getting colder at least to the beginning of next week.

Thursday 22 February 2018


Today I dug the holes for my new washing line poles. I had to revise my positioning plans as there were concrete slabs along the wall on the left where I had intended for one post to go and I didn't fancy having to smash through a slab. I moved over to the other side and investigated the small area of soil around the rhododendron. Before I could even think about digging a post hole there was an enormous tangle of bindweed roots to remove. When that was eventually done I realised that there was small flowerbed (full of ivy roots) on the level below that would be easier to dig in. The instructions with the pole said the hole had to be 50cms deep and 20cms wide which proved to be bigger than I had anticipated and brought me down to the subsoil level.
I planned for the second pole to go somewhere in the narrow space between the back wall of the garden and the fence of the garden beyond. I don't know who the space technically belongs to or if it was originally a footpath but now it looks to be a bit of abandoned ground. So over the ladder I went and dug out another deep hole. The ground level behind the wall is much higher than the garden, a bit higher than the bottom of the painted part of the back wall. If I used both parts of the washing line pole as supplied my washing would be about 10ft up and I would need the ladder to put it up and down. Instead I shall use just one of the sections bringing it to about a foot higher than the back wall. 
I'd bought some ready mix mortar for the post holes but the first hole used up the whole bag. Really I've taken a bit a chance with the mortar as the temperature is already dropping to below 5C and we're due for even colder weather going down to -1C so I shan't rush to set in the second post socket. I've protected the first hole with soil and an upturned bucket so it should be alright.

 Another pretty sunset.

Wednesday 21 February 2018


This morning two electricians came and fitted a light in the loft. It would have been a lot quicker if we had it done before the loft was boarded out but we just didn't think of it before.
It's been another sunny day with more clouds in the sky. It would have been ideal for working outside but though my heart is keen my body is not. A combination of too much kneeling work as well as forgetting to take one lot of painkillers yesterday left me realising I've been overdoing things. So today all I did was to go over to B&Q to buy two washing line poles and a bag of concrete. I also dropped into BJ's and came out with a tin of satin magnolia paint for the kitchen (yes, we changed our minds again about the colour) which was on the bargain shelf for £5.
The wind has been blowing from the east which technically is a colder wind but we are sheltered on that side so the front garden and rooms at the front of the house have been lovely and warm. The celandine flowers are so bright they look like little suns and this pink primulas is looking good too. There are quite a few daffodils and crocuses flowering in other people's front gardens.
This evening the sun has gone from a magnificent golden globe in the sky to a burning ball of red before disappearing behind the clouds.

Tuesday 20 February 2018


Behold! A new garage door. It's nothing grand but compared to the old, dented green door that needed two people to open and close it carefully it's wonderful. Now it opens and closes at the merest touch and all we need to so is to fix the roof so that rainwater doesn't drip inside.
Today has been one of those sunny days with barely a cloud in sight. With the cool wind it reminds me of being by the sea. I've spent most of the day working on the paving, first scraping off more lumps from the slabs and then pressure washing. The lumps were made up of different building materials which possibly helped keep me from getting bored. The pink plaster and mortar were the easiest to scrape off while the cement was hard to distinguish from the slabs and needed chipping away. Worst of all were the large patches of white plaster which were hard to scrape away and never came off in pieces. I took the above picture at around 4.00 when the sun had moved round to the front of the house but for most of the day that corner had been a wonderful sun trap. It was so nice that I took a long break sitting against the wall on that bit of pallet with coffee, book and sunhat.
I've more or less decided to keep the paving and deck the other side with a small raised flower bed going from the spades to the edge of the paved area. Next we need the builder to fix the big crack in the wall and sort out the decking.
I'll be off out to Pilates soon once I've done my home exercises as a pre-warm-up warm-up. We've got a different instructor for this week which might prove interesting.

Monday 19 February 2018


For most of the day we have been enveloped by low fog. The view was so hazy that I could barely see beyond the first bend in the river.
I've spent most of the day working outside removing the rest of the top decking. Peter persuaded me to give the drill another go after he fitted the correct head. Though only a few of the screws came out with the drill it loosened most of them enough for me to lever up the planks. I was using our largest screwdriver as a crowbar when suddenly it flipped out of my hand and into the small rhododendron bush on the right. Now this screwdriver is over 12" long, the sort you might use to fix a tractor with a bright red handle but could I find it in the bush? The bush is only about 4ft high and 3ft across but I had to spend a long time searching until I spotted the screwdriver pointing up at me.
Here I've taken up all the planks but haven't yet begun cleaning the paving slabs.
And finally, the slabs have been initially cleaned and swept. They must have done a lot of plaster and cement mixing on the slabs before laying the decking (very badly) as at least half of the slabs had mounds of cement or plaster on them. So far I've chipped a lot of them away but need to do a bit more before I begin pressure washing. Although at first glance the decking looked smarter and more modern but on closer inspection, presuming you hadn't slipped over, the planks were in a poor state and rotten at the ends. I've stacked all the planks according to size and shall ask someone more knowledge if they are at all salvageable. Ideally I'd like to have decking on the left side, the paving slabs cleaned up and maybe a few along the right hand side taken out to make space for planting.

Sunday 18 February 2018


Today has been quite mild with a gentle wind that helped dry the washing I hung out on the washing line. While Peter went off again to the row-athon I got on with things around the house. I began by painting part of a wall in our bedroom. When I originally painted the last coat in that room I very lazily didn't move the large mirror propped up against the wall as we intended for the mirror to be put up there. As that mirror is now in my study if looked at carefully the wall was not as good as the others. That will teach me to try and take short cuts.
I spotted two more black cats in the front gardens. I've stopped letting Patch out at the front since I found that he was probably using next door's garden as a toilet. He can get there from the back but I don't think he bothers.
This afternoon I began the task of removing the top section of decking. I had guessed correctly and there are slabs underneath the decking. I've been hoping that the decking could, with a bit of trimming, be re-laid on the  sunny side of the garden but the wood is in quite a poor state so I'm not sure. It was hard work on the wrists undoing the screws. I did try using an electric drill but some of the screws simply spun around in the rotten wood and others began to bur. I ended up using a combination of a screwdriver and some adjustable pliers. I'll just keep on working at my slow pace and eventually that deck will be dismantled and I can clean up the concrete slabs underneath.

Saturday 17 February 2018


Today has been another bright and sunny day following a little rain first thing. While Peter went off for the gig club's row-athon at the new Tesco's I got with painting the final corner of the sitting room. Like yesterday I was able to get two coats done and hopefully that is it for the sitting room. The next big job will be the hall and stairs but before I do that I may paint the top half of the kitchen walls. I finally decided that white would be better than trying to match the cream colour of the tiles. I got on with general tidying up between painting sessions and also removed a nasty slop of cement that had hardened onto the rim (not by me) of a large ceramic planter by the front door. It's resemblance to a massive blob of chewing gum was quite nasty. Working very carefully so as not to damage the planter I chipped away using a large screwdriver and hammer. The fact that some ordinary geraniums (pelargoniums) have survived the winter outside in the planter shows how mild our winters are. When spring is truly here I shall add in some of my trailing geraniums which are currently in the conservatory. 
Some photos from yesterday's walk to town.
One of a pair of windows in a building at the Northgate end of the High Street. If you go to this Link the building is just behind the cream painted building on the left in the modern view.
 An old cottage in Pilton Street.
A pair of cottages also in Pilton Street. I wonder if the shuttered windows once led to store rooms with hoists to lift in goods from the street? Also did the owners of these cottages hold out against the builders of the Georgian/Victorian houses on either side?
Looking at the woodwork of the door and under the roof of this cottage makes me wonder if it is even older than the cottages above. What a story all these old buildings could tell.

Friday 16 February 2018

Happy Birthday, Vytas.

Today is our eldest son Vytas' birthday. He lives a busy life which includes a lot of travelling to interesting places including China, Japan and Peru  both for work and pleasure. He and Sally are always off 'doing' things which frequently involve specialist attire ranging from Kylo Ren (Comic-con events), 17thC pikeman (Sealed Knott) to Highland wear for a friend's wedding. I just love their enthusiasm and passion for life.
Now I can reveal my kitchen project, marzipan hedgehogs and chocolate truffles, which I made to send to Vytas. The three types of truffles were; nutty, salted caramel filling with vodka soaked apricots and dipped in white chocolate and dark chocolate with rum. There were a few left over after I had filled two boxes and they tasted very nice indeed.
Not only is it Vytas' birthday but it is the 100th anniversary of Lithuania's declaration of independence. It wasn't long lived due to Lithuania lying between two major military powers, Russia and Germany but continues to be celebrated by Lithuanians both at home and abroad. (The guy on the horse is Vytautas the Great.)
Here at home I got two coats of paint done in the last corner of the sitting room before and after walking into town for some shopping. Friday is market day in the pannier market but even at 2.00 some stalls were already packing up. I suppose there's not so much trade in the winter.
I also cut a piece out of the wood frame that the bin store stands on so now the wheelie bin can simply be wheeled out without having to be lifted over the wood. 
The main  purpose of today's trip was to find a top to wear when singing in concerts. Looking at photos on the website I could see that the dress code is black trousers/leggings with a bright, single coloured top with sleeves. As that is something I don't have even with my vast clothing collection I decided to look in the charity shops for something suitable. I first bought the emerald green M&S top and then a couple of shops later found the bright orange top. So now I even have a choice.
And after resigning myself to manually importing, copying and renaming my photo files tonight a new version of the importing short cut appeared as if by magic.