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.

Saturday 31 March 2018


Today began even greyer and wetter than yesterday. Slightly less rain in the afternoon but no sign of the sun.
This afternoon I got on with the paint scraping and at last all the door frames are done. Only the bannisters to do but I'm not beginning that until Monday. It's been surprisingly hard physically but then I'm no Spring chicken.
Still waiting for small birds to visit the bird feeders. Hopefully once the bushes grow and there's more cover the birds will find the free food. Food on the ground would soon attract the many seagulls in the area not to mention the super flock of jackdaws.
Snippets from Peter's history researches, Joy Street in town is so called because it was the haunt of prostitutes and Shameface Lane (no longer in use) was the location of the moneylender.

Friday 30 March 2018


It's been a dismal grey day and raining for most of the time. No prizes for guessing that my afternoon was spent stripping paint. Sometimes the grey paint comes off in satisfyingly long ribbons and at other times I fight for every square cm. I'm not sure what makes the difference, most probably the angle I hold the scraping tool and how sharp I've managed to get it using a whetstone.
This evening we went out to the 'Pilton Cinema' to watch an SF film- Life. Only 14 people today which is disappointing for the organiser but not only was it raining heavily but it's Good Friday and the start of the Easter Weekend. Pippa had put out 40 chairs so we formed a line to pass them out and into the shed where they are stored. While we may have escaped the cold weather the forecast is for rain and more rain. Not good for working people who have looked forward to having a break.

Thursday 29 March 2018


Lots of rain today, all morning long then showers in the afternoon. A good day to carry on with the paint scraping. Just one and a half door frames to do, (about two sessions) and then on to the bannisters.
Lots of daffodils out in the neighbours' gardens. So far I've got two about to flower. Below- an approaching shower coming from the west.
We've heard from the handyman that it'll be a few more weeks before he starts on the decking. I was hoping for sooner but there you go. Dreckly (directly) is the Devon equivalent of manana and I think that's what we're working on.
Interesting evening skies. Peter cooked a Chinese meal for us tonight, stir fry vegetables & noodles with chicken accompanied by spring rolls and prawn toast from the supermarket. It's nice to have a change from my salad once in a while.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Mostly Sunny.

The morning was windy with some showers. Things brightened up in the afternoon and it looks as if we are going to have another lovely sunset. Listening to someone from the Met. office on the radio it seems that things have changed and it won't be so cold this weekend. Vytas and Sally are holidaying in Israel at the moment and from their photos it looks a lot warmer there.
Patch having a lazy afternoon.
Being Wednesday I called in at B&Q to pick up some paint for the hall woodwork when it is ready to be painted. On advice from our builder friend who is meticulous when decorating I bought expensive Dulux paint, undercoat and vinyl silk. I like gloss on woodwork but not the way white gloss quickly becomes yellow. I dropped off a few things at the dump and a peer into the 'large plastics' skip yielded some more large plastic plant pots and a seedling tray which I've already planted up. The grass 'Pony Tails' germinated well and is thriving on our bedroom windowsill. So far only 4 of the 'Wavy Hair' grass has germinated but I'm hoping for at least a few more. 
I finished off the afternoon with more door frame paint scraping. Our builder friend came round with a door catalogue and I've chosen the doors for downstairs and given him a rough idea of the type of door handles. The handles need to be polished chrome to match the door handles upstairs and as long as they are the bar type, so much easier to open, I said pick from the cheaper price range. The catalogue was trade one without prices so he'll let us know the prices before ordering.

Tuesday 27 March 2018


The day began grey and wet, the perfect excuse for a lie-in. By the afternoon strong winds blew the clouds away and the day ended with a lovely evening. The forecast is for colder weather with 'wintry' showers including sleet! It doesn't affect us but up in the hills it's lambing time so bad news for the farmers and their sheep. The farm that I can see from the back garden has its sheep in 2 sheltered fields near to the farm buildings and I do believe I've already heard the bleating of the new lambs.
With the last batch of biscuits all eaten I baked another batch of chocolate and coconut biscuits. While they were baking I stuck a new edging strip on one of the kitchen counters which had lost about an inch of the original strip using the left over edging strip from the bathroom counter. It's white rather than speckled grey but looks much better now. Then I went back to the seemingly endless task of scraping off paint from door frames. I think there's at least a week's worth of work upstairs before I can start on the bannister.
Then it was time for Pilates. As I neared the school where the classes are held I meet 2 other people from the class who told me the it was cancelled due to the school having parents' evening. When I got home I sent a message to my friend who also goes to the class only to have her ring and say that the class was still going ahead in the school's gym. Back I marched, made my way through parents and students and joined in with the class. Another good workout which had me sweating copiously though that might be more about my fitness level than the effort I put in. That said I am noticing an improvement in my muscle tone and find I'm able to do more of the exercises. 

Monday 26 March 2018

Sunny Morning.

We had a lovely sunny morning, an overcast and much cooler afternoon with the rain beginning at about 6.00. The morning sun streaming into the kitchen filled me with energy and I zoomed around cleaning everything in reach. Today has been a day for getting on with those smaller jobs which kept getting put off. I had a box of handbags and other stuff which I'd brought up from the garage as it was getting damp. The bags got wiped/washed as needed and hung out to air and that was another box dealt with.
At midday I took time out to sit in the sun and read. Not to mention simply staring at the garden and picturing where the pots and planters will go. With so many trees and fields nearby the air was filled with the sound of birds in a most relaxing way. 
Peter was out getting another 6 bags of compost for me. He reports that not many bags remain but I think 12 bags will be enough for now. My afternoon was spent putting up the smoke alarms and testing them. I think that with 6 very loud alarms we are well protected. I also put the bathroom towel rail up in the kitchen. A bit safer than having them hung on the cooker handle and I love re-using things. 
For friends and family who visited us at Dingles this is the state of the main road at Shirwell 8 days ago. If this is the main road the back roads would have been twice as bad/dangerous. The forecasters are predicting a return of the cold weather for the Easter weekend.

Sunday 25 March 2018


We have had a beautiful sunny day on this first day of British Summer Time. The only problem with the clocks going forward is the temptation to stay far too long outside in the garden. This afternoon people were catching the sun in their front gardens and exercising children and dogs (a cute springer puppy) on the grass.
Before spending time in the garden I put in action my plan to spruce up this rather grim (dishwasher) space in the kitchen and also painted the copper pipes under the towel rail.
The plaster at the back has obviously been affected by damp at some point as there were signs of mould and the plaster is blown. Nothing we're going to bother with at the moment so I just wiped down the plaster with an anti-mildew spray.
I used the left over lino to cover the concrete floor and part of the back and it looks much better. Though the space is covered by a curtain I could still see how horrible the floor looked when I needed something from one of the trolleys that go under there.
The first thing I did out in the garden was to make a roughly accurate plan and detail the work to be done as hopefully the local handy man will be starting work soon.
Then it was time to begin gardening. I dug over the flower bed, daintily picking out tiny seedlings but every now and again I'd come across more bindweed roots like the nasty tangle above. It took all afternoon but finally it was done. Then came the fun job of planting out some ground cover plants. After I took the photo I gave the holly bush in the front garden another trim and cat-proofed the flower bed. While Peter was out in the afternoon he dropped into BJ's and picked up 6 bags of compost which are on special offer at 6 bags for £10. He said they were flying out of the door with people buying 12 or even 18. 

Saturday 24 March 2018


The concert last night was a resounding success and much enjoyed by choir and audience. The rugby club was full to bursting with an audience of about 150. Including the encore we sang 19 songs and surprisingly I was able to join in with most of them. A couple of times I had to mime and for the Czech song I stuck the words onto the back of the lady in front of me. I couldn't see them clearly as she was too close to me but they gave me enough of an idea. Hopefully by the time we do another concert I'll have learnt the words.
The chap with the bald head (bottom right) is a choir member who had a sore throat. He chatted to Peter sitting to his right (out of shot) and I think Peter is ready to give the choir a try when we start up again after the Easter holidays. Here is a link to a video somebody posted on FB. (Not sure if it can be opened by people not members of the group page.) Not the best sound quality but it gives an idea of the enthusiasm the singing generates. I was standing right at the back hidden behind everyone else. I had gone along earlier to help with the setting up and by the time we got home I'd been on my feet for over 4 hours. No wonder I felt tired but it was worth it.
I woke early with a headache, took my usual morning painkiller then woke up 2 hours later with a really bad head. Nothing for it but to take my other strong painkillers which did the trick. Our builder friend came round to put the edging strip on the bathroom counter top and make some boxing to cover the pipes to the towel rail. He left me with instructions to paint the exposed copper pipes before he comes back to put a sealant around the joins. 
I planned to have a quiet day doing general tidying in the house but after sorting out the kitchen and dinning room I found myself back outside. I hoped to finish weeding the small flower bed under the bush rose but it took longer than I thought. This was due to yet another bucketful of bindweed roots and a large bramble growing right next to the rose which all had to be removed. It was a matter of digging carefully around the rose roots but making sure to go deep enough to get all the bindweed out. I found the rose's label which after scrubbing revealed it to be Sweet Juliet a 'fragrant English shrub rose'.

Friday 23 March 2018


It's been mainly overcast today with enough wind in the morning to hang out more washing. Just to stretch my legs in the afternoon I took a couple of letters to the post box. It had begun to rain lightly but that didn't stop all the birds singing away. I can still hear blackbirds through my open window.
First thing this morning the men from the council were round cutting the grass. When the man with the mower got to the section we'd already cut he has a little confab with his co-workers and left it as it was. The big mower didn't pick up the grass so the other sections look a bit messy but it has left a lovely smell of cut grass in the air. 
As I failed miserably in my plan to spend the week learning the words of the songs I'm unfamiliar with that's what I've been doing today while being careful not to strain my voice. Really that means 19 new songs so I've given up on some of them and hopefully will be able to join in with everyone else for the rest. Usually us newbies stand in front of the stronger singers which makes it easier to hear our part but for today's concert the strong singers will be at the front. I have tried to learn the Czech song of which we only sing 8 lines but I'm having a back-up and have the words on a post-it which I'll put on the back of the person in front of me. 

Thursday 22 March 2018


Mostly grey clouds today with enough wind to dry some sheets which I ironed while waiting for Peter to return home with the carpet tape.
The old lino.
It's a good thing I didn't attempt replacing the lino yesterday. It has taken most of the day to; cut away the sealant all round the edges of the old lino, trim the lino so that it fitted, tape on some card where it should have been bigger, find out how to take up the door bar and carry the old lino to the paving in the garden to use as a template. Then once I'd repaired the hole in the floor and traced the possible point where the shower needs new sealant all I had to do was put the new lino in place. Hah! First I had to take the door off its hinges, then check and cautiously retrim  the lino, wait for Peter to come home with some double sided carpet tape which I'd forgotten to buy. (Or rather never bothered with before.) I don't know how but the lino still needed adjusting in a few places. Finally the door bar had to be put back, carpet inserted and the bathroom door screwed back into place. All I can say is that I don't want to be doing that job again in a long time.
The colours of the new lino don't show up too well in the photos but the silver, grey and brown stripes have quite a beach house feel.  I quite like the way they have some of the same colours as the hall carpet. Not bad when there were only 2 designs to choose between. Most of the rest of the designs were of the floorboard type or large tiles which would not have suited our tiny bathroom.
I was putting some things in the bin just after Peter came home when up the path trotted a French bulldog. He looked a bit lost and I didn't recognise him as any of the neighbours' dogs. I was about to go inside to find something to use as a collar & leash when the chap from the end house came out calling for 'Bruno'. They bought their house just before us but are doing it up before they move in which was why I didn't recognise Bruno.

Wednesday 21 March 2018


We're back to chillier weather again. It's been cloudy with a lot more grey clouds than sunny spells. 
Having decided to buy new lino for the bathroom I drove into town today so that I could check another flooring warehouse before making my final choice. The warehouse was the most unappealing place I've been in for a long time. You couldn't walk around to look at the stock because the floor space was blocked by rolls of carpet and numerous sample books that looked as if they has just been thrown there. Not only that but the whole place smelt of cigarette smoke. Eventually somebody wreathed in a cloud of stale cigarette smoke came out to see me and pointed out a few rolls of lino in the far corner. None of them was suitable and I don't know if I would have wanted anything from there anyway. Instead I called in at the carpet place I usually go to. None of the offcuts were suitable and I ended up choosing between 2 rolls. One of them had the sort of random granite pattern I wanted but was almost black. That would have picked up the feature black tiles in the bathroom but I didn't really want something so dark. Instead I picked the other lino. Much as I was tempted I haven't laid the new lino yet. I can't use the old lino as a template until I've trimmed a few places that don't fit and added a bit on where it doesn't quite meet the bath panel. Also there's a hole in the floor by the door which could do with sorting out. 
Right now I'm practicing more songs for choir tonight. There's a Czech one I haven't learnt yet which has 16 lines! It's powerful to sing so I really want to learn it by Friday.

Tuesday 20 March 2018


The Spring Equinox brought with it sunny skies. Having 'come in like a lion' hopefully March will live up to the old saying and 'go out like lamb'. Despite the sunshine the snow was still clinging on in those shady corners. 
Much as I would have liked to be potting up the rest of my plants the tedious job of scraping paint awaited. I did try using my hand held electric sander to see if that would speed the job up but the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. It is quick but heavy to hold and awkward to get into corners. Also though it does have a dust box I find it messy to use. One door frame proved difficult but then I decided that if the paint stays on after sanding and scraping then it's not going to come off when I paint over it. 
There was enough wind today to dry the washing. I got it to be ironed and back on the bed before I went off to my Pilates class which I see from the flier we were given re next term's dates is Pilates Exercise. No wonder it's such a good work out.
The white lily is now on the bathroom window sill as Speedy snuck into the bedroom and was happily watching the world go by as he sat on the window sill next to the lily. Before I moved the lily I carefully cut off and disposed of the anthers because the pollen was beginning to fall off and it stains fabric.

Monday 19 March 2018

Bye-bye Snow.

The sun shone in full force today, first making the snow sparkle and then disappear. All except in those places not reached by the sun at this time of year. Looking out of my window now the house directly opposite still has a small patch of snow on its roof and some over the front door. Although for us the snow is over conditions are very different up in the hills and people are being told not to drive out to the moors looking for snow as they may find themselves stuck or hindering snow clearance work. 
I don't think Speedy was expecting the snow to be so cold when he tried leaping on the table that is usually his sunny spot.
In the distance I could see people enjoying the last of the snow in the same place as yesterday. 
I spent my day mainly scraping paint and managed to do all up one side of the stairs and a bit of the upstairs skirting board as well. When I had finished I felt the need to stretch my legs and although we didn't really need anything urgently walked down to the Co-Op. I got some j-cloths and some reduced items. I deliberated over some tubs of ice-cream that were reduced and then decided I didn't need them. The grapes and blueberries that I got are much healthier options.
Walking back up Chaddiford Lane I could see across town to the still snowy north facing hills.
I always like the countryside views I get once I turn onto our estate.
Another spectacular sunset with a red sun going down behind the trees.

Sunday 18 March 2018

More Snow.

It began snowing heavily yesterday evening and when I looked out of the window at 5.00 this morning the world was covered with a blanket of snow. A few hours later and the snow had conveniently melted away from paths and the pavement. I thought it was a shame that neither of the families with young children came out to make snowmen on the grass. At Dingles I used to be as eager as the boys to get out the toboggan and slide down the steep field behind the house. Talking of Dingles - we've just found out how bad conditions were there after the first bout of snowy weather. Up at the top of the drive the snow reached the top bars of the field gates and the stables had to close for 2 weeks because road conditions were so bad. In 25 years of living there this only happened to us a couple of times.
Here it carried on snowing lightly and by midday the heavy flakes were back only to peter out again by the evening. We're currently under an amber weather warning until the small hours of the morning. Seeing snowflakes drifting past the window had me thinking of warming winter food so I made a hearty soup of onions, tomatoes, white cabbage and lentils with small chunks of salami and smoked sausage for flavour as well as garlic and smoked paprika. I also threw in the remaining roast potatoes (cut up) from yesterday. By the time all that had gone in it was more of a stew than a soup and tasted delicious with a sprinkling of grated cheese on top. There's enough for us to have it  tomorrow as well.
The rest of the afternoon was spent scraping paint in the hall and singing along to my MP3 player to learn the words of some of the songs for the concert. All the hall skirting boards are now done, apart from under the stairs which I'm happily ignoring for the time being. 
I had to laugh when I saw a snowy photo a member of the choir had posted of their cat behind which were some upright decking posts with rope, 2 strands this time, strung between them. 
Our bedroom is currently filled with the scent of this lily. I took it out of last week's bouquet as all parts of lilies including the pollen are toxic to cats and our bedroom is the one room they are not allowed in.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Winter Returns.

......... or as the media put it, the Beast is back. The easterly winds were bitterly cold as I walked into town this morning to buy glue and strong tape so that I could shorten the rope. I'd had to buy 4 metres even though I only needed a little over 3 metres and the cut end needed binding and gluing. I was at the far end of the High Street when the snow began to fall. It was only little bits of snow which didn't settle even though it continued to fall through the day. 
When I got home Wayne was here fitting the panel and the counter top for the bathroom sink. Despite the cold I simply had to get on shortening and fitting the rope barrier. The hardest part was forcing the bolts through the rope to secure it into the metal end caps. I have to say I'm very pleased with the result.
While Peter went off to watch the rugby at the pub I wrapped up well and worked on the flower bed at end of the decking. I dug through the soil to remove the weeds and found more of those horrible bindweed roots. 
Besides removing a bucketful of weeds I moved the stones at the front of the bed right up to the lead flashing. The plant pots have gone back on top of the soil to keep the cats off. By the time I had done that I was relieved to get back into the warmth of the house. 
For a cold day treat I made a batch of apple pancakes as well as putting ordinary and sweet potatoes in the oven to roast. We do appreciate having a gas cooker as the rayburn was never hot enough to make proper roast potatoes.