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 30 June 2020


A wet morning with most of the view blocked out by the grey mist of clouds sinking to ground level. The afternoon brightened up under a sky of patchy grey.
Today a chap came round from the estate agents to take more pictures. As he came in out of the rain I wondered where his camera was but he was relying on his phone. He'd got himself a wide angle app so as to take more comprehensive/deceptive photos.  Before he came I looked through the existing on-line photos and it was only the sitting room that needed re-doing as it looks so much better with the re-upholstered furniture and my home-made tv stand. He took photos of some of the rooms but left those that are full of packing boxes as the original photos are better. Let's hope the new photos bring more viewings. 
Finishing this post later in the evening following an early evening viewing. It all seemed to go well but I didn't get the feeling that they would be rushing to make an immediate offer. You never know. Speedy was most put out as I waited until after the viewing to feed him which meant he had to wait 2 hours for his supper.

Monday 29 June 2020


Strong winds have been blowing all day long. Lots of cloud and a sprinkling of showers.
I looked out of the window this morning and saw this sinister figure spraying chemicals around. Not an increase in anti-covid measures, just a council worked spraying the weeds growing along the edges of the pavement. Maybe they'll come and cut the grass soon too. I can't cut the grass and Peter keeps saying he'll do the job though I'm worried about his back.
I put the (no-longer) fluffy fleece from Peter's chair in the wash this morning and then got to brushing it out on the line. I was enjoying the sound of the wind roaring through the trees and battling with the fleece which alternately tried to smother me and escape from the line until I remembered the state of my wrist. I don't want to aggravate the RSI again so I came to a halt when the familiar stinging began. A proper refurbishment of the fleece will have to wait which is a shame as it was so nice working outside.
We finally heard back from the estate agent, the couple love the place but they can't make the asking price by quite a bit. They really shouldn't have come to view. One feedback was that it looked a lot nicer in reality as compared to the on-line photos so the agent is coming tomorrow to take new photos. More tidying up!

Sunday 28 June 2020


More strong winds today, one moment sunny and the next a sudden shower.
I had an enjoyable time outside removing any dead roses and pottering about pulling up a few weeds until an approaching shower sent me back indoors. 
Today I completed the cover for Peter's chair putting an end to the gentle fall of black flakes onto his carpet. The chair itself is still comfortable and functional so it would have been wasteful and bad for the planet to replace it. There is also a small bone shaped cushion which although it had been put inside a pillow case was shedding black flakes in a far worse manner than the rest of the chair. I made a new inner cover from some heavy duty fabric that was once the leg of a pair of cargo trousers. I'd saved that fabric in case it was needed to patch Peter's remaining cargo trousers which he uses as work clothes. Black mess safely enclosed I made an outer cover from the rust coloured fabric. This fabric also fits nicely with my plan to hang an oriental wool rug on the wall of Peter's new study to reduce the sound of his films and games. The main colour of this rug is also rust which will match the chair.

One of last night's downpours produced a rainbow behind the house.

Saturday 27 June 2020


A very windy day, frequent showers in the morning, brighter now but some of the clouds heading north overhead are suspiciously dark.
Our second post-lockdown viewing this morning with a young couple seemed to go well That feeling was confirmed when we had a phone call from the estate agent asking for a second viewing within the hour. A good sign.  This time the girl came with her Nan and it looks like she definitely wants the place. It is however a matter of settling on the price as I think they were hoping to offer less than the asking price. We'll hear more on Monday when they've talked it over with their mortgage people. The funny thing is it was raining on both visits so they didn't go out in the back garden and see the newly cleaned rear of the house.
Between the viewings I got out the sewing machine and did some initial sewing of the back cover for Peter's chair. I could have gone back to it after the second viewing but I'm not sure I'd be concentrating enough to work out the final fitting. Instead I did some pedalling on the exercise bike.
It's so windy I feared for this sole agapanthus bud as it swayed back and forth on its tall stem. To give it some protection I've moved it to the corner of the garden. 

Friday 26 June 2020


I fell asleep last night listening to the distant rumble of thunder enlivened by the occasional flash of lightning reflected on the clouds to the west. (The actual lightning was happening to the east.) By morning rain had fallen, the sky was overcast and it was considerably cooler than recently.
First thing this morning there was a ring of the doorbell and the window/fascia cleaner asking if he could come and clean the back of our house after he'd done our neighbour's windows. Peter had rung him a while back on our neighbour's recommendation.
We'd been wanting the back of the house cleaned for a while because it was looking decidedly grubby and neglected. Because of the position of the conservatory it wouldn't have been possible to clean the house using a ladder. The only way was to use the extending brush. I must say the chap did a good job. He apologised for the remaining streaks just under the gutter but he really tried his best. It must be something to do with the roof tiles because it happens on all the houses on this estate. Now the back looks nice and fresh and a good thing too as we have another viewing tomorrow morning. For some reason, probably because it catches the weather, the front of the house stays fairly clean.
Today was shopping day for me. The only clues to the pandemic were the usual queues and distancing in the supermarkets. The roads and the pavements were as busy as back in normal times. Because Peter has been shopping earlier in the week I didn't have a very long list. My main enjoyment when shopping is finding bargains and today I struck lucky. Up in Tesco's homewares section it was worth waiting for a rowdy family to finish going through the reduced section when I came across some super-king deep fitted white sheets. It's rare to find super-king bedding and as we need the deeper fitted sheets I usually buy on-line. When I saw these white sheets at less than half price I bought 4. That should keep us going for many years. I also found some treats in the reduced section of the chiller cabinets including sushi for supper. It was when I got home that I found out about tomorrow's viewing but Peter had hoovered so there'll just be some tidying up to do tomorrow morning.

Thursday 25 June 2020

Even Hotter.

It has been even hotter today. Too hot to sit outside so I don't know what the temperature in our garden was. Right now the clouds are building up and I watched the rain along with some thunder moving across the bay towards Braunton. It's brightened up again though there is a big black cloud right over the house.
This morning Peter suggested we go for a walk around Manning's Pit. By the time we'd organised ourselves it was the middle of the day so it was a very hot walk.
We went in by the closest route but Peter didn't appreciate climbing over the metal gate so on our return we climbed to the top of the field where there's a swing gate (the sort that stops stock from getting out).  
I woke early this morning which gave me the opportunity to start making a cover for Peter's desk chair. He finds it very comfortable when he's at his computer but the faux leather has begun to crumble resulting in a constant scattering of black flakes across the carpet. I got the seat cover sorted before breakfast and this afternoon I was able to cut out and tack together the fabric for the back of the chair. Will show photos when it's all done. However the fabric itself has a tale to tell. When we were first married we had a second-hand Chesterfield sofa. The fabric was showing its age so I bought a stretch cover of some artificial material in my favourite dark rust colour. That was at least 35 years ago. Eventually the sofa frame gave way but before the sofa went to the dump I saved the cover. Later I used the fabric to make covers for 1/2? second-hand armchairs. When they too had to go to the dump I saved what was left of the fabric which is now being re-used for the second time to cover Peter's chair. 

I've been watching the bud for days and at last we have a Passion flower. I've got two other plants, one all white and one all pink. 

Wednesday 24 June 2020


Incredibly hot today. 106F/41C out in the garden this afternoon. Officially 32.6C according to the radio and when it does break later in the week we could get half a month's rain in a few hours. Too hot to sit outside for more than a short time especially as there was little in the way of a cooling breeze. Right now I've got the window curtains pegged together near the top to block out the burning rays of the sun and then propped open at the bottom to let in the breeze. I got two machine loads of washing done, dried and ironed.
I tried my custom earplugs last night. Not as effective as I had hoped. There was a small reduction of the level of outside noise that I could hear but there was better clarity of the radio sound from the ear phones. On the other hand when my patience grew thin and I asked Peter to 'Stop snoring'  my voice echoed extra loudly in my head emphasising the pointlessness of my request. I have an idea for tonight to put some padding over my ears as well as using the ear plugs.
Peter volunteered to go shopping today and has  replenished my stock of ice cream. I find the individual chocolate covered ice-creams on a stick (like Magnums but Lidl's version) reduce the temptation to over indulge that a tub gives. The variety of instructions over the easing of the lockdown is so complex that we shall continue with our quiet lifestyle for the time being not that we did much in the way of going out anyway.
The main achievement of the day was to reinstate my Skype account. Stage one where I thought I was re-setting my password turned out to be for my Microsoft account so I had to go through the whole process again for Skype. This involved getting codes from my phone which first had to be charged up. Being a cheap phone and not as good as my last dumb phone the screen blacks out quickly so I have to be ready with glasses, pen and paper before I even find the text. As my webcam is deliberately sitting behind the monitor for security reasons that still needs to be set up. The most useful thing I did was to write my phone number on paper and tape it to the front of my phone for those occasions when you're on the phone and then get asked for your number. 
The first Passion flower bud.
My over enthusiastic bashing at concrete lumps on the paving slabs the other day has resulted in an RSI of my wrist so no piano or guitar practice for a while.

Tuesday 23 June 2020


Very hot today. Within an hour of hanging sheets on the line they were ready to be brought back inside for ironing. Still some breeze and a few clouds for a little relief when we sat outside later in the afternoon. (Photos from yesterday's walk.)
Went to put an extra bit of rubbish in our wheelie bin which I'd taken out onto the grass last night and discovered somebody had added another bag of rubbish. What cheek! 
In my quest to reduce the sound of Peter's snoring on advice from Romas I bought some DIY self moulded earplug stuff and some new in-ear headphones. Today I had my first attempt to solve the problem. I mixed equal amounts of the two pastes, pressed in a headphone and then put the whole lot into my ear to get a custom fit. After 10 minutes the silicone mixture had set and tonight will test the efficacy of these ear plugs + headphones. There's still plenty of the pastes left if I need to make modifications. 
A while back I noticed that there was rust on some of the struts of the sun loungers I bought a while back. I could have claimed for a refund or replacement but they were relatively cheap so instead I decided to deal with the rust. Today I sanded back to clean metal and then sprayed with black car paint. If it gets worse in future I could use Hammerite to maintain the metal. The most difficult part of the job was protecting the seat fabric and the floor with plastic and paper.
The lockdown easing continues - it's been announced that from July 4th holiday destinations; camp sites, caravan parks, hotels etc, pubs, restaurants, museums and many other places will be allowed to open and the 2m distance is reduced to 1m+ which means with some other precautions such as face coverings. All a bit vague and designed to boost the economy. I just hope we'll have moved before the inevitable second wave.
I saw this sea holly growing in a front garden yesterday. After some initial slug damage I've got growth showing from five of the roots I bought in Tesco's. Perfect plants for a sea-side garden. Today I had to sort out the climbers again. They keep winding around each other and the buddleia and are growing tremendously.
Re comments - It's still diverting to other pages. I find a second try gets me through to the comments page.

Monday 22 June 2020

Warm and Windy.

All day strong winds have been blowing while it's definitely warming up.
This afternoon I took myself off for a walk around Manning's Pit. (Our road is behind the houses hidden on the left.) The quickest way in is over this gate. Turning around the view is of green fields and trees. 

Plenty of birdsong in the air but also sadly, the constant rumble of machinery building new houses in the fields to the right. The original plan had been to build in these fields too and maybe down along the stream but that has been stopped, for now. 
First I took a short diversion across the wooden bridge to gaze over the 4ft high grass and enjoy the sight and feel of the wind. There I met the first of a number of dogs accompanied by their humans, a young cocker spaniel puppy who cautiously sniffed my hand before hiding behind his owner's legs. Later dog encounters were an enthusiastic staffie and a gentler black lab.
Crossing the stream I turned back to meander along the water meadow by the stream.  
Generally around 12" deep with occasional pools that are possibly 18"-24" deep the stream is the perfect playground for youngsters. With rope swings (below), building dams and dens it harks back to a more relaxed time when kids were allowed out without supervision and this still happens here though possibly for older children. Today there were two mums, a dog and four children playing in a shallow pool (the children only!) 
Back home the usual housework included washing the top decking where an incontinent seagull, or a seagull and friends had splat bombed. That doesn't happen very often. I also gave the rhododendron bush a good trim to prevent it getting out of hand. I must have cut it back at the wrong time last year as it only had two bunches of flowers but it's the common sort and tough as nails.
I tend to amble rather than march when I'm walking and even stand and just look when I'm out with the camera. I'd looked in vain for the Beautiful Demoiselle from the bridge where I'd seen them before and then suddenly one appeared in the meadow. Not the best photo but it really is a spectacular insect.  I was taunted by a Small Blue(butterfly) which fluttered up into the trees. The flies were a nuisance and I ended up undoing my plait so that my hair kept the flies off my back. 

Sunday 21 June 2020


Strong winds have been blowing from the west. Overall it's been warm to hot cooling slightly when the fast moving clouds block the sun.
Last night was the shortest night of the year so now the nights will be getting longer. How depressing is that? One thing about watching the sun set each night is seeing just how far north the setting sun gets  to (beyond Prixford) while now it will swing back southwards setting over the sea beyond Hartland.
Instead of sitting and not doing very much, today I went out for some garden tidying, the back garden this time. The first flush of rose blooms is almost over for the big rose bush so only the stems with flowers still on escaped a hard pruning. Then came the less pleasant job of scraping up the mush of soggy rose petals from the decking. Some were almost welded to the boards and needed scraping off with an old washing up brush. A final trim of the 'over' London Pride stems completed today's gardening. I also spent time scraping away at the last few paving slabs. I enjoy that, it's satisfying to see the paving slabs emerge from under the lumps of mortar but my back limits the time I can stay kneeling. After that I sat outside enjoying the a mug of tea and the sound of the wind rushing through the trees.
Today is Father's Day which as a purely commercial construct we've generally ignored but it was nice when Vytas phoned to talk to Peter. Naturally I had a long chat with Vytas as well. 
The nepeta is doing well, I love the combination of grey foliage and purple flowers. My latest plant  purchases included a pink flowered variety which should also be pretty.
The next clematis to flower.

Saturday 20 June 2020

Small World, Again.

It's been a bright and breezy day. We spent some time sitting out this afternoon and it got very hot until the clouds began to gather.
It was an interesting viewing this morning. We were right in recognising the name but they had in fact been a no-show which it turns out had been due to the estate agent using an out of date email. The couple came with their two sons so they took it in turns to be shown around the house. I first gave them latex gloves to wear and checked that they were happy to be shown around with me maintaining a 2m distance. Peter stayed out in the garden reading. During the general chat it turned out that the mum came from Churchill, a hamlet very close to Dingles, and had been down to the stables when she was younger. Once she mentioned that she had kept her horses in the field in the corner by Ashford I knew exactly who she was though I only remembered her maiden name and not her first name until after the visit. I think they liked the place and very importantly the older boy will be starting at Pilton Community College in September. That's only five minutes walk away, (Where I used to go for Pilates.) They are moving from Bideford to Barnstaple to be near the school. However they are also looking at two other properties, both bigger and cheaper but do-it-uppers and not in such a nice area. We can only hope.
Viewings are always an emotional roller-coaster. First the rushing around tidying and putting away everything that's not nailed down. Then the anticipation of the viewing, the viewing itself where you try to mention all the important and positive points followed by a quiet wondering about the result and relaxation in a very tidy and calm house. After all that it's hard to settle down. I occupied myself by trimming the blob bush again. Later I extended my piano practice routine with some sight reading (to extend the neural pathways). Sight reading never came easy and today Peter came to ask if I was alright when he heard loud groans as I hunted for the notes for some chords. I mean, who writes d sharp and a sharp just because the other two notes in that chord are also sharp? Along with three sharps in the left hand no wonder I was struggling. This was in  The March of the Ents (LOTR TT) not too hard to play piano score. It was fun building up the volume and my piano was getting an enthusiastic bashing though later I realised I could have turned up the volume to achieve the same effect.
I'm really glad I paid so little for that varnish because it has turned out to be totally the wrong colour. The floorboards are a browny oak colour and the varnish has given the trim a very yellow appearance. I'm wondering if the application of some brown shoe polish might tone down the yellow though I've a suspicion I may have thrown out the last of the shoe polish tins.
Update on yesterday's classroom photo. They do have equipment for the children to work/play with but it has to be disinfected after use so the amount is limited and nothing soft.

Friday 19 June 2020

Mixed Weather.

The day began looking quite gloomy, dark clouds loomed during the afternoon and right now (5.30 pm) the sky is blue and it's positively hot.
Our day began well when the estate agent phoned to arrange a viewing for tomorrow. They've sold their property and we're pretty sure they've viewed before. All the more reason to get the varnish for the conservatory wood and today was my shopping day anyway.
First stop was at BJ's where the shelves where the varnish should have been were almost empty. Just one tin of high gloss mahogany varnish. Not suitable at all. Naturally I had a look around their garden centre and if I'd been pushing a trolley rather than towing a basket I'd have bought more of these lavender plants which had been reduced to £1 each. Nothing out of the ordinary at Lidl's and Tesco's though having sent us a text to say our prescription was ready Tesco's only had Peter's stuff. They couldn't tell me about mine as their computers had gone down. 
I called in at B&Q to look for the varnish. There on the shelf was one lone small tin of matt oak varnish, for £11! The next size up tins of a different make were the same price but only gloss and no oak varnish. Nothing for it but to buy the pricey tin. I bought a few other small items from the reduced bin and when I went to pay the total was ridiculously low. I checked with the till person that the varnish had been scanned and this was what the system decided to charge me. I was not going to argue with that. When I got home I painted on several coats of the quick drying varnish and I shall use some DIY adhesive to stick the wood to conservatory frame. They can't be stuck to the flooring planks as those need to be able to expand and contract with the weather conditions.
The govt. has just announced that all children will return to school in September. Below is a photo posted by a friend of her classroom where she is currently teaching 3, 4 and 5 year olds. At the same time as coping with such grim surroundings there is still the 2m distancing rule though that may be reduced to 1m. Would you want your young child to be taught in these conditions?