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.

Tuesday 31 December 2019


It's been a dismal grey day so today I'm posting more photos from our canal side walk. 
Here Peter went out to collect his prescription and post a parcel for me. Although we always collected our 28 days of tablets etc. on the same day somehow Peter now gets a text to pick up his prescription almost 2 weeks before mine are ready. It's probably related to him having to collect stuff that had been missed off his list at varying times. We daren't try and get them to adjust the dates as no doubt something else would go wrong. Today he had to wait for ages while 2 members of staff tried to run 3 pharmacy tills and one ordinary one. On the other hand there were no queues at all at the Post Office self service machines. I stayed home and had a cleaning day finishing off with some knitting. That's after a game of scrabble in the morning. Playing board games with Vytas and Sally (Pictionary, Snitch and GOT Monopoly) had me hankering after Scrabble which is my favourite. I take it far too seriously for Peter's enjoyment and he prefers not to play against me. I used to have a disc to play it on my pc but that stopped running when Windows updated. You can still buy new copies of the disc but it runs on Windows '95 & '98. Then Peter realised that there were Scrabble games apps on his Amazon tablet so the tablet is now in my hands. That's fine as he prefers to read books on his smaller i-pad and I can happily pit my wits against the computer. I've haven't resorted to getting out my Scrabble dictionary yet but that might be my next move.
 A lock.
 I can't resist reflections.

 A very arty shot.
I've been leaning out of my open window in a failed attempt to spot a line of lights in the sky, not UFO's but part of the Starlink satellite constellation that is currently being constructed. Unfortunately it was too overcast but I did hear a lot of owl hoots from the woods. 
As far as I can make out there aren't any New Year's fireworks in town tonight but no doubt I'll see the ones over in Bideford, about 10 miles away as the crow flies.

Monday 30 December 2019


The morning began with clear skies and a fog bank over the river. Later the fog receded leaving the Taw clear but still was visible over the Torridge and maybe Bideford. It was a beautiful day for people still on a break from work to go for a walk to stretch their legs and exercise dogs and/or children. We can't always take advantage of such days due to our various infirmities. That doesn't bother me as much as it used to as I know that there are many more walks to be enjoyed.
I had a birthday present to find so I took myself off to town. The roads were quiet but there were a lot of people out shopping. I found myself this apple shaped glass ball in a charity shop. I'm particular about the shape and colour of the glass balls  in my collection and this passed the test. I also bought a long sleeved zip-up top for Pilates and maybe the bike. So far the only Pilates class I've found in Aberystwyth is in the university sports club and the details advise wearing a long sleeved top as the class is held in a sports hall. I haven't seen any reduced cards I like enough to buy but I did buy a gift box and then a sparkly unicorn tree decoration and a GOT calendar for myself.
I had a pleasant walk home along Pilton Street. 
Next to the disappointing mock medieval alms houses and gateway built by the Victorians is this genuine medieval  building. I believe the current owners have spent a fortune restoring it.
The building on the left used to be a glove factory and has now been converted into luxury apartments. 
After a reviving cuppa I occupied myself removing the much frayed material stitched to the ends of the old blanket that used to be folded up on my chair and is now destined to become curtain lining. 

Sunday 29 December 2019


Rather than sit at home watching the blue sky through the window I went to the supermarkets to hunt for any bargains but there was not much to be had. So now for a few more details from our visit to Vytas and Sally.
As Peter's foot wasn't up to a long forest or heath walk we headed to the historic market town of Newbury. A short stroll through the pedestrianised shopping street included Sally and myself diving into two charity shops. Sally picked up a designer dress and I bought a necklace of blue and green beads to use in my crafting.  
We soon found ourselves walking between the Kennet and Avon canal and the River Kennet. The effect of the recent wet weather could be seen by the high water levels and some partially flooded gardens.
There were plenty of historic buildings by the canal. 

Further up there were a number of narrow boats moored along the edge of the canal. We carried on walking on the towpath between fields before retracing our steps and visiting a local pub.
In the evening we went to see the film Knives Out. It was a thoroughly enjoyable film, well made and best of all it was viewed in absolute silence something that is lacking in our local cinema. It is a 12+  so there could have been children there but the 'Please turn off your phones' message before the film made a point of asking people not to disturb the rest of the audience. The cinema had 10 screens, all of a decent size with very good sound systems and reclining comfy seats with individual tables. The whole evening was an interesting experience. The cinema was set in a complex of two enormous shopping centres which also hold restaurants, a sports centre and library. After driving there in the dark and parking in one of the multi-storey carparks we emerged into what almost seemed like a scene from a Sci-fi film. The design of the levels linked by escalators consisted of curving oddly shaped white walls with inset coloured lighting in the walls and shiny floors with added sparkle from white geometric decorations hanging from the ceilings. The strangeness was enhanced by the fact that though it was the evening everything was open and the place was buzzing. I couldn't stop laughing as us oldies who have always considered ourselves used to city living from our lives in London were now so impressed by the shopping/entertainment facilities in an urban environment. Nice for a visit but I'll be happy in our seaside home far away from such places.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Home Again.

We've returned from visiting Vytas and Sally in Basingstoke. It was a lovely visit but right now we're feeling pretty tired. The delays on the drive home drive home extended the journey time from 3 hours to nearly 4. It was the usual bottleneck on the A 303 caused by people slowing down as they passed Stonehenge and the generally heavy amount of traffic on the roads.
I was pleased to hear that they had celebrated the traditional Lithuanian Christmas Eve meal (12 dishes with no meat and nor dairy) with their closest friends. The wife is Lithuanian and she had brought some traditional 'mushroom' cookies from her recent trip to Lithuania to show her parents their new grandchild.
Feeling too tired to blog more but have plenty of photos to share in future posts.  
The photo is but a pale record of tonight's vivid sunset. (I wonder if the phone camera might show the colours better? I'm getting to grips with the phone camera which was all I took to Basingstoke.)

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Christmas Day.

 May the New Year bring health and contentment to all.
We've had a very quiet day at home as we will be seeing family later. We exchanged our token gifts in the morning though I think Peter got carried away with his shopping. I now have a veritable stash of calories in the form of chocolates, marzipan and other tasty items. I shall have to use a great deal of restraint and ration them strictly if I am to have any hope of loosing the weight gained while not feeling my best these last few months. 
I woke early and as often happens needed to stretch my back with some exercises so up I got. I looked out to enjoy the lovely blue sky which at that time was studded with pink tinged clouds.  It was then I heard the faint sound of church bells ringing in Christmas Day. Nothing for it but to open the window and enjoy the happy peals. For once the traffic hum had ceased and after the bells stopped all I could hear was the sound of seagulls later followed by the cooing of wood pigeons. The weather was perfect for our planned beach walk but sadly Peter's arthritis has flared up, this time in his foot. The more he rests it now the quicker the attack will be over and his immune system back to normal. I was happy to potter around, wrapping the last of the presents which will be hand delivered and putting away all the wrapping materials. I did a bit more knitting before we both prepared our Christmas dinner, chicken Kiev, roast potatoes, red cabbage, swede and carrot mash and stuffing which we ate around 6.00. We find with our reduced activity we only need two meals a day. A hearty bowl of porridge for breakfast and an early evening meal is quite sufficient.
Our Christmas viewing seems to have been on the sombre side. Yesterday we watched 'The Dirty War on the NHS', a very disturbing expose by John Pilger of the way the corporate bodies and politicians have been scheeming and conspiring to privatise the NHS. Already billions have been sucked out of the system to pay shareholders and management to the extreme detriment of patients. Absolutely horrifying but we need to be informed in order to oppose this. Our only consolation is that Welsh health service is devolved and the Welsh parliament is almost all Labour. After that cheery offering this morning listening to Radio 4 - 'With Great Pleasure', a compilation of readings and music we heard a beautifully written sad piece about the death of a pet A Death in the Family by Caitlin Moran. Not only were the programme presenters in tears by the end I should imagine that most of the listeners were too. On a brighter note this evening we began watching Rogue Wars, (a Star Wars film) but halfway through Peter fell asleep so I switched over to watch 'Call the Midwife'. We can watch the end of the film another day. The plot was minimal but the effects superb.
PS. Just listened to 'Three Vicars Talking' on Radio 4, a conversation between three very down to earth vicars which made a fitting end to the day.

Tuesday 24 December 2019


A gloomy grey Christmas Eve. It began with a windy morning and finished with heavy rain.
I've had a relaxed day. I cooked some spiced red cabbage, with onions, bacon, apple, honey and cider vinegar to have with our Christmas dinner. It freezes well so I was able to make an enormous family sized saucepanful. One other necessary job was to replace the insulation on the external pipe that leads the condensation water from the heating system into the drainpipe. I'd fitted insulation on the small elbow when it had frozen up and shut down the heating back along when we had snowy weather. I must have secured the insulation with tape because I suddenly noticed yesterday that it was no longer there. Rain must have unglued the tape and strong winds blown the insulation away. This time I secured the neatly mitred and folded grey insulation with a couple of strong cable ties. There's nothing worse than finding the heating off in freezing weather. Actually there are lots of worse things but you know what I mean.
Somehow despite all my good intentions I still hadn't finished a couple of felt tree decorations so I cracked on with that. One done and the other half-way there.
Presents have been wrapped using paper and tags bought last January and materials from my large box of saved paper, bags, ribbon etc. I like to make presents look as beautiful as possible with the materials I have. I'm still using a cone of thin gold ribbon that I rescued nearly 30 years ago. I was out walking in London pushing Vytas (or Linas) in my lovely Silver Cross pram in London when I came across this ribbon in the street. It was wrapped around a lamp post/ street sign so I assumed it had been blown along from a florist's. There was so much ribbon it was a shame to waste it so I untangled as much as I could, snapped it by hand (no easy task) and have been using it ever since.
Just for fun I've begun knitting a pair of mittens with the multi-coloured wool though it's hard to handle four needles with Speedy sprawled across my lap.

Monday 23 December 2019


I'm not too sure what the weather was like today as I was busy either sitting in the car or shopping but I know it didn't rain.
For once Peter and I were out together. The garage had rung and said the camper was ready for collection. This is not our lovely local guy ( we stopped there to give him a 'thank you' flagon of a particular cider that he likes,) but a specialist garage on the far side of town. Every road leading in to town was solid with traffic as people tried to get their Christmas shopping done. However when we got to the camper garage we found that they'd not sorted out the little door to the compartment where you access the bathroom waste to empty it. The distortion of the bodywork had jammed it shut, a pretty serious problem. So the camper stayed at the garage and we were saved a journey out to the farm where the camper lives. On the way to the garage we stopped at the surgery to pick up my prescription. Foolishly I thought that the actual tablets would be there for me to collect from the pharmacy but no, just the paper prescription which I would have to go to another pharmacy to get filled . (The surgery pharmacy is only for patients who live out of town.)  Once we left the garage we headed to Tesco's. Because of the horrendous traffic we didn't attempt to go to the larger one by the station but swung right round town to the smaller Tesco's on that side. Peter had a couple of things to do actually in town so he walked in from Tesco's and later made his own way home. 
It was so busy at Tesco's I had to trail back into the car park to find a smaller trolley. Then I needed to visit the toilets so I tucked my trolley nearby and of course by the time I came out the trolley had gone. Back I had to go searching the car park. The shop itself was busy but I ambled round trying not to get stressed. From Tesco's it was a slow crawl in the car to Lidl's where I joined the queue of cars waiting for a parking space. That shopping done there was an even longer crawl to one of the streets near the High Street where you can park for an hour free. There my luck changed and the nearest marked parking space was empty. At Boots they had my medicine but there would be a 20 minute wait until the pharmacist signed it off. That gave me time to get some more tiny beads for the last of my home made gifts. My eye was caught by this sculpture in the window of a pop up gallery. It looked to be made of resin and other mixed media and was about 3 ft. nose to tail.
It was a relief to get home though I wasn't best pleased to see that a sack of cat litter had fallen over in the boot of the car and torn on the metal car jack. Once the shopping was unpacked it was a relief to sit down with a cup of tea and relax.

Sunday 22 December 2019

Wintry Showers.

Happy Winter Solstice.
From today the days begin to get longer. You don't need to be a Pagan to celebrate the lengthening days and the prospect of kinder weather. Long gloomy nights must be disheartening to even the cheeriest of souls. No wonder the date of Christmas was set to coincide with the turn of the year.
Our weather today was a mixture of heavy showers (the hail crashing into the window didn't wake Speedy up,) interspersed with some sunny spells. 
While Speedy slept I finished the mittens after which there was some much needed tidying up of my desks. This one was strewn with important papers and random stuff that needed putting or throwing away. The wooden desk in the sitting room was covered with fabric, elastic and all the other stuff being used in the sofa cover alterations, knitting wool and needles from my marathon mitten knitting (I'm still thinking about a pair for myself from the multicoloured sparkly wool) and felt and beads for my felt tree decorations project. Now that it's tidied up and the junk thrown out there's room to get on with whichever project I'll return to next.
 Late afternoon gloom.
A momentary rainbow.

Saturday 21 December 2019


We woke to a sunny morning and then saw rain clouds blowing in from the west. After that the day turned grey and very wet.
I made a start on our Christmas dinner, cooking carrot and swede mash. We are not planning a traditional dinner, for one I don't really like turkey and secondly it's only the two of us. However carrots were on promotion at Tesco's, 15p for a kilo bag and carrot and swede mash freezes well. The swede takes longer to cook so I left it cooking with the windows open for an hour before adding the carrots. Plenty of butter and a generous dash of pepper went in as I mashed and bashed with the masher.
I finished the right hand mitten today. As I checked the pattern (it's different for left and right) I realised I'd been over confident knitting the left hand mitten without looking at the pattern and had missed three rows that should have been done before separating off the thumb. I had to search for the loose ends which I'd already sewn in but now all that needs doing is the top two inches. While I knitted Speedy amused himself rolling around on the floor with the ball of wool.
Peter and I exchange minimal Christmas gifts, mainly consumables, and today I found the perfect way to muffle the clinking of beer bottles - sit each one in a sock! I think Peter would happily not bother with fancy wrapping but I like to see the presents looking a bit special and we continue to keep the presents secret until Christmas morning. The bag of beer, tied with a gold ribbon is secreted under my bedside table to be placed on the other side of the bed while Peter sleeps.

Friday 20 December 2019

Wet Morning.

It rained heavily all morning which was annoying as I had to walk into town. Then suddenly the sun appeared and we had a bright afternoon before the rain returned.
In town I had another bill to pay to the builder, a small one this time for the removal and disposal (burning) of a large amount of timber that had once been the kitchen island and an enormous but dilapidated wardrobe from Peter's study. I think all the workmen are giving themselves a Christmas holiday and work will not resume until the middle of January.
All these delays, while frustrating give time to sort out my heart issue. The hospital letter arrived today, hmm the date at the top of the letter was the 10th. It's full of long cardiology words which no doubt my doctor will explain when I see her in January. The only phrase that made any sense was that there was no evidence of sinister bradycardia which I take to be a good sign. I'm picking up some new tablets on Monday and will have a 24 hour BP monitor in January.
Walking back from town the sun shone brightly as I plodded up the hill. Once I'd unpacked my backpack and hidden away a couple of secret purchases I didn't feel like doing more than flopping in the armchair and making a start on the second mitten. 
A lone nasturtium surviving in the back garden.

Thursday 19 December 2019


We have had heavy rain for most of the day. Generally grey and gloomy.
This morning I went up into the loft. Firstly to find some clothes, a particular fleece that Peter wanted and this cardigan. I knitted it at least 30 years ago in the days before fluffy fleece fabric. I'd seen it on display in the window of a knitting shop and fell in love with it straight away. This was in the days when you purchased a pattern and then had the wool 'put away' so that as you needed more balls they would be from the same dye batch. Being mohair the wool was quite expensive so I bought a few balls at a time.The body was knitted in one piece and the sleeves each had to be started from a new ball of wool so that the random colours matched.
Jobs done I carried on with knitting and I'm pleased to announce that mitten number four has finally made the grade. Today I knitted at my desk as I couldn't take any more tv and Classic FM which I listen to through the tv has taken to playing Christmas carols, a bit too early for my taste. Sitting at my desk I could listen to any radio programme from the last few weeks. Generally I stick with Radio 4 or Radio 4 extra. My usual routine, oh how I love routine, was turned topsy turvey today as I had an appointment for my flu jab at 5.00. The nurse was ultra quick and I was out in about a minute. That's me safe from the flu, hopefully. Peter still maintains that he doesn't need a jab as he had flu once years ago. However I think he might be weakening as he mumbled something about getting a jab for himself. On my way home I stopped at Lidl's and Tesco's for a few things. They were both almost empty though the road traffic was quite heavy. It was strange to be out in the dark as I'm turning into a house mouse. It was different when I went to Pilates and choir but the on/off move kept me from joining up after the summer. The Pilates has changed venue to the college on the other side of town so I might have gone to a closer class at one of the gyms. Plenty of time to sort that out once we're in Wales.

Wednesday 18 December 2019


Back to cold, grey and miserable weather today with a fair amount of rain. I got carried away with the cleaning this morning and having done the bathroom, as per the schedule which often goes awry, I carried on and washed the stairs' woodwork. There was a piece of the wooden flooring downstairs that was splintering so that was fixed with wood glue and some tiny nails. I remembered a tip I saw on FB to hold the pin with a pair of small pliers to save battering my fingers with the hammer. I'd had to go to the garage to find our smallest nails/pins and while doing so noticed that the white painted metal door had some green algae appearing. In my energetic mood I filled a bucket with water, soap and bleach before noticing that it had begun to rain. Rather than waste my enthusiasm I carried on regardless pulling my hood up to keep the rain off.
Once again I settled down for a knitting session in the afternoon. The first row or two look far too small to fit around a man's wrist but somehow it works. The even smaller needles give the correct sized mitten (at last) but I took a chance that I might have enough of the greyer wool not to have to use the browner wool around the cuff. Well now I know I don't so having got most of the mitten knitted it had to be undone and I'll start again tomorrow using the brown wool first. I'll admit that I am getting a bit fed up especially as there's a limit to how much tv I can watch.
When the post arrived I got excited to see an official letter from the surgery. It took a moment to realise that it wasn't a copy of the cardiologist's report, which would come from the hospital, but a general notice that all patients on regular painkillers would at some time be called for an annual blood test.

Tuesday 17 December 2019


A much brighter though colder day today.
It's been four weeks since I returned the 7-day heart monitor and having heard nothing I arranged a phone appointment with one of the doctors at my surgery. My usual GP wasn't available but the doctor I spoke to had full access to my records. It wasn't a fruitful chat as nothing had come through to the surgery from the cardiology department. The doctor said he'd write to the hospital to see where the report was. In the meantime I rang the hospital and spoke to the consultant's secretary. She began by saying that I would have to wait for the consultant to look at my case but suddenly stopped when I pointed out that it had been four weeks. After asking for my hospital number surprise, surprise the letter was there on her desk about to be posted. I translated that as 'Whoops! I forgot to post off those letters.' I should get my copy by the end of the week and I've made an appointment to see my GP after Christmas.
I spent a happy afternoon knitting and completed the next mitten. However .......... it's still too big. I've one last set of smaller double ended pins to try or I could make the smaller size. It's a good thing I've got plenty of time for knitting.
PS. I discovered this morning that trying to make a phone call on the Sky controller doesn't work. In my defence they are quite similar.

Monday 16 December 2019


The weather today was fairly nondescript, grey and wintry with no rain.
Once the routine jobs were done I settled down for an afternoon of knitting. I completed the first mitten and even used the more complicated 'elastic cast-off' specified in the pattern. It was as I neared the finish that I began to wonder if it wasn't too big. The pattern didn't have a tension square to knit as a size check so I went ahead using the size of knitting needle/pin given. However I always seem to knit 'larger' and usually end up with smaller needles after checking a test square. I have a feeling this might be to do with my method of knitting. I think I first learnt from my mother who used the continental method where the wool is held with the left hand and then adapted what I saw in a book. I hold the wool in my right hand and having had a look at Wiki do a reverse of combination Eastern and Western knitting. This might explain why my knitting doesn't come out square and following a knitting graph results in a squashed design. Maybe once I've done the mittens I'll see if I can adapt my weird style to one that gives a better result. 
While I waited for Peter to return after getting the car serviced, so that he could try on the mitten, I did some gardening. I'd been reluctant to cut back the rose bush while it was still producing flowers but the recent strong winds were breaking the long stems. I saved a few blooms to make a shabby chic bouquet and then gave the bush a good trim. Then I picked up the fallen rose leaves, not only do they look messy but they encourage diseases like black spot. Most of the nasturtiums had been destroyed by the frost so they went too but I left the few that were still looking good and producing flowers.
When Peter put the mitten on it was definitely too big so I've started another using a size smaller needles and will write a note on the pattern to remind me which needles to use in future.

Sunday 15 December 2019


A range of weather today but not too cold with the winds blowing from the south-west. I cracked open an eye when Peter told me there was a rainbow to be seen but wasn't awake enough to take a photo. Soon after that there was a loud clap of thunder and then ………… nothing. Some rain later in the day, a typical winter's day.
Most of my day has been spent knitting. I put on a tv programme that doesn't need too much attention and concentrated on managing four knitting needles. The basic stitch is only moss stitch (aka seed stitch) but there's the ever present danger of stitches falling off the back of a needle though I am getting better at hanging on to the needles and then adding in extra stitches for the thumb but only on alternate rows. It's harder to keep track of the rows when working in a circle and I find a card with 'increase this row' written on one side and 'stay in pattern' on the other helps me keep on track.
This evening we had our annual visit from Santa courtesy of the local Rotary club which raises funds for local needs. The dates and routes are publicised in the local press so we were prepared with some money waiting by the door. Looking out of our windows I could only see the helpers knocking on all the doors but I'm sure that any children who saw Santa would have been thrilled.
(Photo from the web.)

Saturday 14 December 2019


The day began with heavy showers and hailstones that slid slowly down the window. These eventually blew over though the wind remained. With hindsight I wish I'd put the second blanket in the washing machine as the wind would have blown it dry but there you go. Can't always get it right.
My initial plan had been to walk into town with my parcels and send them from the Post Office in Smith's but instead I drove to the Post Office at the top of Sticklepath.  That gave me the chance to take my old office chair to the dump. It was so old and broken that it wasn't fit to be put on the Don't Bin It site. Coming out of the dump I was met by the sight of Santas on motorbikes taking a break at a lorry fuel stop. They do this charity run every year coming up from Tiverton and raising funds for the local Children's Hospice and very festive they looked with their bikes covered in tinsel. My attempts to zoom in the photo failed so when I got home I looked up how to. I'd tried that opening fingers move but had needed to tap the screen three times first. I also worked how to delete photos from the phone so that now I only have my Borth photos stored. And I came across the editing menu. 
From the dump I went to Lidl's and Tesco's. A Saturday is never the best time to go shopping and with Christmas so close the roads and shops were very crowded. In Tesco's it felt a bit like being at a Christmas party, maybe a works one that you didn't really want to go to. The staff and many customers were wearing Christmas jumpers and hats, Christmas party songs were blaring over the loudspeakers though I still like 'And so it is Christmas' and crowds of people were milling around. It was almost jolly. I didn't feel stressed as my shopping list was short and my visit not too long. I did cast my eye over the most expensive boxed cards picking out which ones I hoped would be in sale after Christmas. Then I called in at the Laura Ashley shop and looked longingly at their decorations already on sale. I was nearly tempted by the beautiful glass tree ornaments, if they reduce them further I may succumb.
Later in the day I began knitting the mittens. I've decided on which of my wool purchases I'll use for the cuffs along with the New Zealand wool which was used for making LOTR costumes. The pattern calls for 'knitting in the round'. The only other time I've done this was when making the first two pairs of mittens a few years back. I began by using three double ended knitting pins until I realised something wasn't working. Yep. I need to use four pins. Having sorted that out and dissuaded Speedy from attacking the wool or the pins I began. Several times I got to the second row and found extra stitches which were throwing out the pattern. I'll make a fresh start tomorrow. Our evening ended with the finals of Strictly. There was no point in waiting for our usual Sunday viewing as being a BBC programme they often mention the winner in the morning news.