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 December 2022


Grey and wet all day long. Another downside to being under low pressure is that it gives me a nagging headache which I could do without.
Peter went into town this morning to brave the supermarket while I stayed in, did some housework, played the piano and knitted. One goal for this year is to check my knitting technique. I've been able to knit since a child but I was mainly self-taught with some input from my mother who knitted in the continental style (holding the wool in the left hand) while I hold it in my right. Although I knit confidently and can follow complex stitches somewhere along the line I'm doing something wrong. Firstly my tension is always loose and I have to use a size smaller needles to match the tension of a pattern, secondly my stitches aren't square so if I follow a graph style pattern the finished result is distorted and thirdly any ribbed stitches look wonky. I suspect I'm winding the wool the wrong way around the needle at some point. That might be hard to correct after so many years but I'll give it a go.
Seeing as it's the last day of the year I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the things I'm thankful for -
Firstly I'm thankful that our sons and their partners are happy, in good health (apart from the odd bout of Covid which hardly counts these days) and have comfortable homes and secure jobs. Is that not what any parent wishes for their family?
For us I'm grateful that we are in reasonable health for our ages and that healthcare is available, eventually, without charge. (One thing I'm not grateful for is the Conservative government who over the last 11 years have worked to grind down the NHS to the point where it seems the only solution is to move in private companies whose only interest is making a profit. The sooner voters realise how they been lied to the better.) Okay, rant over. I'm also grateful that we have what is nearly, and hopefully soon, a comfortable warm home where we eat our meals or relax on the sofa enjoying sea views. And finally I'm grateful that we've come to live in a friendly village and that we are both finding plenty to do in the local area.
And now I thought I'd cheer things up with a few things that amused me over the year. Enjoy.


PS. It's only just after 6.00 and we've had the first lot of large fireworks set off from the beach. Maybe somebody with children decided it wasn't worth waiting in the rain until midnight? Looking forward to seeing more fireworks later on.

Friday 30 December 2022


It has been a day of unremittingly boring greyness. On the plus side the wind has been blowing from the south and feels relatively warm.
I didn't get a good night's sleep last night so I haven't done much today. I spent the afternoon knitting, then decided that I didn't like the second colour and also that the mitten was going to be too big so I undid the whole thing. I've started again with less stitches and am now going for a simple rib rather than the seed stitch of the Hobbit pattern. I guess I'll just freestyle it from now on.
Speedy spent the night out, was waiting at the door in the morning and went straight to sleep without eating his breakfast. He probably found somebody's Christmas leftovers. He slept all day and when he came to join me on the sofa I noticed his ear and head was all crusted up with something. After cleaning it with a baby wipe I could see it was dry blood from a scratch on his ear. He'll live.

Thursday 29 December 2022


Strong winds have been whipping up the waves all across the bay. We had a few short showers but for the most it was just windy.
I had a parcel to post so this morning Peter drove me down to the Post Office at the far end of the village. (Missed that one off yesterday's list of amenities.) From there we had a walk along the sea wall path towards Ynyslas. The wind was fierce and at times we were almost knocked sidways by the gusts.
The wind was whipping up the sea foam which was being blown up the beach and across to the golf course where there were a few hardy golfers playing golf.
Back home I chopped up vegetables for a big pot of hearty soup. I had planned to throw in a packet of pigs in blankets but they turned out to be a figment of my imagination. I searched both of our freezers but they were nowhere to be found. I can only conclude that as I stood looking at the items on the 'reduced' shelves in Morrisons I decided to leave them as the chipolatas were probably made with the cheapest sausagemeat. Never mind, I like to add grated cheese when I serve up my hearty vegetable soup.
Scanning through a selection of UK blogs yesterday I came across some people who take down their Christmas decorations on Boxing Day. I'd never heard of such a thing before. Is it maybe a throwback to Oliver Cromwell's Puritans who didn't believe in Christmas festivities which as we all know were tacked on to an earlier midwinter festival? Traditionally folk would if possible have celebrated the 12 Days of Christmas and even today many people have the interval between Christmas and New Year's Day as a holiday and may spend time visiting friends and family. And anyone with children will have them home for the school holidays (hooray say the teachers too). Personally I enjoy making the home look festive for the holiday and will not be taking down our decorations until New Year's Day.

Wednesday 28 December 2022


Rain, rain and more rain today with the briefest of sunny spells.
The excitement of the day was putting out the rubbish. It was the scheduled general rubbish and glass for recycling but unfortunately the weekly food waste and other recyclables collection has been postponed until next week. Not so good right after Christmas. 
We had another quiet day. I did some more knitting while keeping half an eye on the waves and an ear on the tv (Saving Lives at Sea, real rescues by lifeboat crews.) To stop the soft wool slipping off the small double ended needles I've resorted to clipping the sections on each needle with clothes pegs which works well. There were a few surfers out and a kite surfer for a while but I think the conditions were too rough.
We had a delivery today of a box of presents from Romas and Laura. It's quite nice to open presents in this quiet time after the Christmas festivities. Included were these fun slipper socks which should keep my toes toasty in the evenings.

I've been amusing myself by labelling useful places in the village. There's just about everything we need here though I could easily swap one of the pubs for a library. However it is only 7 miles to town and the National Library of Wales.


Tuesday 27 December 2022


A wet grey day.
After a solid 9 hours sleep I woke with no rib pain at all for which I am truly thankful. I still planned to have a quiet day though with the constant rain I wouldn't have been doing much anyway. I needed to go to the shop to buy some kitchen foil for the salmon I'm cooking for dinner tonight and you've guessed it, I had a short beach walk. I had simply intended to go down the steps at our end, walk to the slipway and up the slipway to the shop but the rain wasn't too bad and I was being assisted by the wind. I carried on most of the way to the first rocks not realising quite how hard it would be once I turned to walk into the wind with the icy rain driving into my face like sharp pins. I still enjoyed my walk even though I arrived home dripping wet.
This afternoon I finally got round to beginning knitting a pair of fingerless gloves with the wool I bought a while back. I had hoped to knit while I watched tv but it was too hard trying to keep the tiny needles under control especially as the wool is multicoloured and multistranded and with a cat on my lap. In the end I found it easier to knit at my desk.
This evening I'm making baked salmon and I thought I'd make some bread and butter pudding to go in the oven as well. When I was checking the amounts in my Readers Digest recipe book first published in 1973 I came across the wonderful description - 'this traditional English nursery pudding which appeals equally to children and husbands.' How dated that sounds.

Yesterday I watched a programme on ancient Greek statues and it got me thinking about the way that Greek, Roman and Egyptian statues were not the elegant white classical figures we're used to seeing and admiring. Instead they were brightly coloured much like Hindu temple figures in India today or statues in Catholic churches. This led me to looking for photos and articles on line.

The reconstructions look almost garish but they have been well researched. Many flakes of colour still remain despite the statues often being thoroughly scrubbed before being put on display. The scientists analysed the flakes and made up similar paints. Also the original painters scratched faint lines on the marble to mark out the patterns which have been faithfully reproduced. Gold and precious stones were also used to make the statues more eye catching.


Monday 26 December 2022


Mostly sunny today with rain looming and quite cold and windy.
I'm not having a brilliant day today. A couple of days ago I reached up to get something and that set my costochondritis (rib cartilage inflammation) off. I didn't get much sleep last night and have been awake since 4.30 this morning. Painkillers don't have a lot of effect but icecream helps. Strange but true. I don't know if it's just a psychological thing or if the cold icecream going down my trachea blocks the nerve messages from the ribs. Luckily I had bought some icecream as a Christmas treat as I haven't had any at all this year. I like icecream but I find it easier to cut something out altogether rather than reduce the amount I have. I was so sleepy when I did my Duo Lingo before 7.00 I'm surprised I managed to get through it but I did. For the rest of the day I've been plodding on from one small task to another and I'll have to refrain from going to the zoo tomorrow.
(Photo by Chris Denny). Look at all these brave people going in for the traditional Boxing Day dip.
More time has been spent looking at cameras on line. An expert friend has been giving me some good advice and I'm down to choosing between a couple of models but it's still a chore. The nearest camera shop is in Shrewsbury, 75 miles away but that only has one of the models. There is a Curry's in town which can also get me the same camera at the same price but I wouldn't get a sales assistant who knows about cameras and Currys has a poor reputation for customer service if there's a problem. There are a couple of places on line selling it cheaper but then what guarentees will I have?

Sunday 25 December 2022

A Sunny Christmas Day.

May peace and joy be upon you this Christmas.
It's been a mild and sunny day with the rain waiting until sunset to return. There's even been some wind and as this was the first decent drying day for weeks I got some washing out on the line. Half dry is better than nothing.
This is the print I got Peter (okay so it's for both of us but I did get him other things). It's going to look lovely in our living space. (What are you supposed to call an open plan living/dining/kitchen?) Peter gave me about a million calories worth of chocolatey goodies which will test my will power to the limit.
After breakfast and housework the sunny day tempted me out for another beach walk. A lot more people out on the beach today, at one point I did a count and got to almost 30 with surfers and swimmers in the sea too.

We've had long phone calls with the boys and it was lovely to talk to them both. 
There wasn't a lot of preparation to do for our meal which I planned for 5.00. (We had porridge and croissants for breakfast and I may have had a Lint d'Or or three in the morning which kept us going through the day.) The spare ribs simply needed half an hour in the oven, the carrot and swede mash only needed heating up and the new potatoes and petit pois cooked together in the same saucepan. That all made for a tasty meal which didn't need a dessert though I did have chocolates later in the evening. 
I've been looking on-line to see which camera would suit me best. That has been a real roller coaster ride. I began by looking at the Nikon b500 which has 40x optical zoom and the b600 which has 60x optical zoom. Both looked like good options as all the buttons and dials seem the same as my current camera. I was leaning towards the b600 until I found the b500 on clearance for less than half price at Argos. But no, not a single one to be found in any branch in the whole of Wales maybe not even the UK. Blast. But then I spotted a single vital difference. Neither of them has a small viewfinder that you put your eye to. Only a large viewfinder which my eyes can't focus on unless I hold the camera away from me. I'll try using the large viewfinder on my current camera to see if I could cope with it but I doubt it. On to the next range of Nikons. Yup, they had both viewfinders and optical zoom of 85x and 125x but also correspondingly bigger price tags and more telling longer lenses and are bulkier and twice as heavy. Next step is to look at alternative makes of camera, either Canon or Olympus.


Saturday 24 December 2022


Quite sunny today though by the time I'd done the usual housework more clouds were appearing and there was even the hint of a few raindrops. It has been a bit colder but nothing like the dreadful storm affecting most of North America. Commiserations to any readers who are suffering from the extreme conditions. Climate change is making itself truly felt.
It was too nice a day to be stuck indoors (I've just seen our neighbours going down for a swim.) so I headed out for a beach walk. On the way down I noticed that Rudolf has finally made an appearance. He's a bit shaggier this year.
Not too many people on the beach, just a few surfers and several family groups exercising the children. Peter would usually be working but one of the family traditions I began, except when the weather was too poor, was to take the boys out for a walk on Christmas Eve. This was partly to burn off the children's energy but also to clear my head before the marathon of Christmas cooking. Going to Midnight Service was the logical follow-up after the the Christmas Eve meal. A pointer to the true meaning of Christmas and by the time we got home the boys would be ready to sleep as soon as they got to bed and I could creep round hanging their stockings on their bedroom door handles. Now I'll pick one of the Midnight services to watch on tv instead.
When returned I carried on making preparations for our Christmas Eve meal. The tradition is to have twelve dishes which I have done if I count each different item including the butter. I like to listen to the Festival of Nine Lessons from King's as I work in the kitchen but I have to say I find some of the highly priviliged accents jarring. Instead as now I blog I'm listening to Dead Ringers. Speedy has been fed early in the utility room so that I know he's safely away from the food out on the kitchen counter.
Another small job done was repairing my sheepskin slipper boots (much needed with the cold draughts sneaking in from the rooms that are still bare floorboards) where the uppers were coming unstitched from this year's soles. I think I've been repairing these slippers for at least 15 years. Even when I decided to splash out on a new pair I couldn't find any in the large size I need so I shall keep on repairing them and replacing the soles as needed.
I've returned to using the big camera as the mark doesn't show so much when I've used the zoom but the thought of 40x or 60x zoom is very tempting. 


Friday 23 December 2022


Lots of heavy rain today with a little sunshine. The strong winds brought out a couple of kite surfers closely followed by a small group of surfers who had a great time catching the waves.
Today's photos were taken with both cameras but when it came to getting the photos from the small camera I ran into some problems. Option one was to use the lead but the battery light was flashing low and the photos wouldn't transfer. I do have more of the same size rechargeable batteries but they're currently in the battery operated Christmas lights in the sitting room. Option two was to read directly from the card. It's a large card but I do have a multiport reader that it fitted into. However my PC then decided it couldn't open the files so I gave up. I've had a look at the cost of a new camera which as I prefer to stick to Nikon is a lot. But when I looked at the specs my camera has 24x optical zoom while the equivalent model  now has 40x optical zoom or the next one up has 60x optical zoom. Those are very tempting.
My day has been spent doing housework and cooking, neither of which I find very satisfying. In fact with my back aching just as much as after walking or gardening I'm already fed up with cooking. Neither of my cooking jobs was very complicated, I just don't think I have the right temperament to enjoy being in the kitchen. Well, I cooked a large batch of carrot and swede mash, some to have with our Christmas dinner and the rest for the freezer. It's at this time of the year that the supermarkets vie for shoppers by offering very cheap vegetables. On the farming programme this morning they were talking about how 19p for 2.5 kg bags of new or roasting potatoes was less than it costs to produce them. I have taken advantage of the offers and bought cheap potatoes, carrots and parsnips. I'm not sure that swedes are that economical as they take forever to cook. Eventually they were soft enough to mash with butter, pepper a little nutmeg and cream, so tasty. My other cooking job didn't even involve cooking, it was all chopping and slicing. This was vinegretas, mixed bean and beetroot salad that is a staple of the traditional Christmas Eve meal. Added to the basic ingredients went fine chopped red onion and dill gherkins all mixed with a vinaigrette dressing. Before serving I'll add sliced spring onions. If I was making it for guests I'd also add celery, apple and pickled herring. I had only planned to make enough for tomorrow night and some extra for Boxing Day but my Lithuanian genes kicked in (serving plenty of good food is a must) and by the time I'd chopped up the whole bag of boiled beetroot and added an extra tin of kidney beans I'd made enough to feed at least eight. I asked on a Lithuanian recipe page to see if I could freeze some but the consensus is not. So I had a portion tonight with mozzarella for my dinner and we'll eat as much of it as we can. Since it hasn't got the fish in it I wonder if I can put it in a soup?


Thursday 22 December 2022


Mainly overcast today with low cloud sitting on the hills sometimes dropping down enough to fill the air with a fine drizzle.
I tried just using the phone camera but it doesn't cope well in low light levels. I contacted Nikon for an estimate of the cost but although they replied promptly they weren't able to give any estimate. Not even a minimum cost for looking and making a diagnosis, only free postage. Perhaps the camera shop in Shrewsbury will be more helpful.
I went into town today to do a final shop and forgot to get any croissants for Sunday even though I went in Lidl, Morrisons and M&S. Although the shop windows are quite festive all the side streets looked grey and miserable. In the photo above I was standing on the main shopping street, which has a wide pavement and one-way traffic, looking across to a side street.
We finally decided on smoked spare ribs for our Christmas dinner, the sort that come ready prepared with a barbecue sauce as neither of us wants to cook something elaborate as well as all the vegetables. In M&S, buying rollmop herrings for our Christmas Eve meal I happened to glance at the cost of a prepared turkey crown roast with stuffing. It said it would serve 6-8 people so make that 4-6 and the cost was just under £60. Ouch! I know their food is good but I reckon if you bought the whole meal there it would cost £200 for 4 people. I was only buying the herrings there because I couldn't find them anywhere else. To make them less acidic I've put them in the marinade from some Polish sliced gherkins that I got in Lidl.
When I got home Peter went out for a drink with a few of his fellow rowers which gave me the chance to wrap a couple of small presents for him. I reckon I have enough wrapping paper bought in previous January sales to last at least the next five years. A good thing too as the Tesco's here is smaller than in Barnstaple and doesn't seem to have as good reductions. Today they had cards at silly prices in Morrisons so I bought a couple of packs to add to the stash.


Wednesday 21 December 2022


Hooray, it's the Winter Solstice. After tonight the days start getting longer though oddly enough sunsets have been getting later for a week while sunrise won't start getting earlier until the beginning of January. (Information from Countryfile.) 
Here it's been a day of blustery showers but was dry enough in the morning for me to head off down to the zoo. It took nearly three hours but I got the whole of the gravel patch by the wolf dogs cleared of weeds, wet leaves and tiny cones. So a satisfying morning. There had been a few short showers while I was working and heavy rain started right at the point when I was packing up.
And with the showers came a rainbow. As I was taking photos I realised that there is a problem with my camera and this time I think it may signal the end of this camera. Yesterday when I spotted the shadow in the centre of the photos I thought it was a mark on the viewfinder or the lens. I gave both a clean which didn't get rid of it. I had a closer look today and there is a line or scratch on the lens but it's on the inside. Possibly some sand has got in there. Unfortunately this camera doesn't have removable lenses and my guess is that it will be too expensive to send the camera off to be cleaned. We plan to go to Shrewesbury in the New Year to look at tiles for the bathroom and there's also a camera shop there. I may wait until then to make a decision about the camera. For the time being it's either ignore the blob or use the smaller camera or the phone. Hmm.
One thing that did get done was writing up the autumn entry for my journal, a job that's been hanging over me for a while. Sometimes it feels like a chore but it's worth it to be able to look back through the journal to see what was happening in our lives in past years.


Tuesday 20 December 2022


Often wet today with the occasional sunny spell. Good waves which were much appreciated by the surfers.
It was fairly dry in the morning but I didn't go to the zoo as I was heading out to Mach in the afternoon for more carol singing. Instead I took out all the limp naturiums from the street wall troughs and any weeds that were growing in and around the troughs. I collected a lot of nasturtium seeds but there are enough left in the troughs to ensure a good show of nasturtiums for next year. Along with the montbretia that's the troughs sorted for the forseable future. While I was in gardening mode I propagated a lot of leaves from the stretched succulents. The tops will also be planted once they've had a few days for the cut stalks to dry.
Then it was time to drive to Mach. The Edible Mach Christmas dinner was being held in the bowling club which we know well from parking there when we meet our friends for Welsh practice. After we sang our carols we were invited to join the community for lunch and what a lunch it was. I'm not a fan of turkey but fortunately for me it wasn't on the menu. Instead we had a vegetable en croute, an mix of mediterranean vegetables in delicious pastry, braised red cabbage, roast carrots, sweet potato and parsnips with new potatoes and a tasty gravy. Before the equally scrumptious apple crumble with lemon custard four of us bravely stood up to sing some of the carols again. I wasn't expecting to be the only tenor but the lady conducting us sang the tenor parts with me as I've only just learn't them. However we were joined by two young chaps from the audience both of whom were musicians who were able to harmonise in their own way. We were singing the line 'Bless all the dear children,' from Away in a Manger when three children from the audience came up to us. 'How sweet' we all thought until it turned out that they just wanted to get to the doors behind us so that they could go and play outside. But all in all it was a great end to our carol singing marathon and it was lovely to spend time chatting with people from another choir.