Friday, 26 May 2017

Taking a Moment ...

... to be present. To still my butterfly mind. To appreciate what's around me.

Late Thursday afternoon I have three private pupils. I left home early to do some shopping first, but that didn't take as long as expected so I set out on the drive to their home knowing that I'd arrive way too early for their lessons.  A bit of 'me time' seemed like a good idea so I pulled over into a lay-by to enjoy the view through the car window. 

A few minutes of doing nothing, then there was just enough time for a short walk through the field on the other side of the hedge. It was too hot to walk far, but a promising location for a cooler day.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Take Three Thursday

It's time to share three photos for Mary-Lou's weekly Take Three Thursday linkup. 

I chose to take mine in the garden this week, three images of white petalled flowers - fleabane, climbing rose and clematis. 

I didn't deliberately choose to photograph the dirtiest flower  ... honestly!

it hasn't grown tall enough to reach the trellis yet but it's started
 flowering and there's lots more buds to open over the next few days

this is going to be a new favourite ... I love it

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Yesterday's Adventure

Yesterday I volunteered to accompany Year 1 and Year 2 children on their end of project trip to see two local castles. I had responsibility for six year ones and was delighted when one of the girls said that she was glad I was 'being a year one with them'! So, as an honorary year one we found our seats on the coach and started the are-we-there-yet part of the journey.

This was our first destination, Farleigh Castle, just a couple of miles from the school. I didn't take my camera with me yesterday because of the regulations about photographing the children, so the photos in this post are ones I've taken on previous visits to the castles.

Here the children had a treasure hunt where they had to match the photos in their books to places and objects they could see around the castle. They also had room in their books to sketch anything they wanted to, and also the opportunity to read about the history of the castle in a very big, child friendly book. The highlight for a lot of them seemed to be either sitting on the grass for their snack (apples) as soon as we arrived, or sitting on the grass for their picnic lunch at midday! 

Then it was back on the coach for the longer ride to the next castle, Nunney, about a 20 minute trip and we passed the time with a rather challenging game of 'I Spy' - challenging because quite a few haven't yet grasped that they have to be able to actually 'see' whatever they are asking the others to guess! 

The attraction of this castle was the moat! There was only time for a quick look round, one sketch of the castle and a walk round the outside of the moat - keeping very close to the wall and as far away from the water as possible. Nobody fell in, so I'm counting this as a success!

So, back to the coach and the return journey to school. It was a tiring, but full of fun day. Brilliant weather (dry, warm, bit of a breeze but not too sunny), and the children were so well behaved. It was lovely to have the opportunity to chat to them and experience their developing sense of humour. Best quote of the day at the first castle was 'my dad used to live here when he was a pirate'!!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

A very sunny Monday afternoon wave to Sian and the other members of the Monday crew.

It was back to teaching today after a busy weekend. I wasn't looking forward to it on such a hot day but it's the last week of term so I'm keep the the half term holiday (next week) firmly fixed in my sights.

Today, I made time for my first on-the-way-to-school-picnic-lunch, taking time to just sit and enjoy some quiet time ... or at least as quiet as it can be when you're parked by a busy(ish) country road. I stayed in the car this time, sitting in the front passenger seat with all the doors open and the car parked at just the right angle to catch some of the breeze. This was my view - the Alton Barnes White Horse.

After school, it was back home for another first ... today was the first dry day to sit outside and use my new garden furniture. It was delivered during the week and I'm completely happy with my choice. It has padded cushion seats for the chairs and the bench but it was too hot to use them today, but just as comfy without them. Taking time to sit outside with a mug of coffee and a good book (I'm re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird) and just relax from the efforts of the day is a lovely way to wind down and will definitely be a regular part of my routine!

Here's a photo of the new furniture. Sorry, it's not that wonky really; the photo was taken with my phone and I can't manage to straighten the image. You get the idea anyway.

Hope you all have a good week.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Take Three Thursday

I stayed away much longer than I'd planned and am now playing get-my-act-together at home.

Here's three photos of leaves/raindrops for Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday.


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A Quick Update

It's another quick post today but for a much better reason than yesterday. I've spent the afternoon in the garden, planting all my new goodies ... sorry, but I haven't taken any photos yet. As soon as I finish this post, I'll be packing and then I'm disappearing for a few days (so I won't be updating my blog) as I'm going to stay with friends. 

I'll do some photos of the garden when I get back.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Faffing About!

I've only got time for a quick post today. I've wasted most of the day faffing about trying to balance the end of year accounts for the band. Not really part of my role, but it has to be done and it looked like it wouldn't get done if I hadn't taken it on. I think I must have 'mug' written across my forehead!

My plan was to get up early and get it done, thinking it would only take about an hour at most. I was £30 adrift and I've spent all day, apart from an hour to have my hair cut, looking for the error or omission. I've just found it - a column added up incorrectly, which I'd checked I don't know how many times during the day! Anyway, it's all done now and I can pass the accounts back to the person who should be doing the work and forget all about it.

I'm going to have a soak in the bath to relax, get something to eat, and then I'm off to the book group meeting for the evening. At least the day is ending well!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

A cheerful Monday morning wave to Sian and the other Mondayers. 

Mail first ... I actually received quite a few parcels during the week but I'm only going to tell you about two of them this morning. The rest were destined for the garden so you will hear about them later in the week when I do a garden update. I'll start with the not-so-happy mail; I had some book tokens to use up so ordered a photography workbook from Amazon and when it arrived I was disappointed to see that a lot of the pages were ripped. Most definitely not what I expect for a brand new book. It's on it's way back for a refund and I'll use the money for something else, but I don't know what yet.  If I'm honest, I'm not too disappointed as a quick glance through confirmed that the contents were too basic for me, so I probably would have returned it anyway. 

I forgot to take a photo of the book, but I did take a photo of my definitely-staying-love-it happy mail.

It's not the best of photos as it's still covered in shrink-wrap and I struggled a bit with reflections, but this canvas will be on the wall in the third bedroom once it's decorated. I saw it advertised on Wayfair, fell in love with it, and a few days later, here it is!

On to the something new ... Ancestry is now showing 107 possible connections to me. I read up on how to use the information to identify common ancestors and from that have identified four links as the most likely to lead to the information I need on my paternal line (from the data available to me at present). Genealogy is usually a winter pastime for me but this is quite simply too exciting to wait!

Another 'new' is finding a new-to-me local walk, over fields towards the river instead of my usual route along the canal towpath. No photos of that yet though.

I don't have to work this week and will be spending most of the days at home, pottering and waiting for deliveries of plants. Tonight there is a band committee meeting to agree marketing material (it's going to take ages, I can feel a headache coming on at the thought of it!), and tomorrow night it's the monthly book group meeting (which'll be good because the pub where we meet does the best bowl of chips ever!). I had friends to stay on Saturday night so I cooked us a meal and we talked the night away, catching up on all the news. They've gone on down to Devon now but will call in on their way home mid week and stay overnight again. 

On Friday, it would have been Ced's 78th birthday. When he died I decided that I'd do something special on or near his birthday in celebration both of his life and our relationship, but I still have to decide what I want to do this year. Whatever I settle on will happen sometime this week.

Hope you all have a good week and have lots to look forward to.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

My Sunday Photo

a visitor to the marina


Saturday, 6 May 2017

The First Day of My Holiday

It's the dreaded SATS exams in UK schools next week so I won't be working - I am officially on holiday. I'm not going away, I think it's now called a 'staycation', and I'm ready for the break.

I had band practice this morning and arrived home to find that some of the plants I ordered had been delivered. I won't tell you what they are as there are more expected, and once they've all been planted I'll do another garden update.

I did a bit of food shopping on the way home from band and treated myself to these flowers and a Danish pastry, which has already been eaten! I don't need to go out for anything else so I can now pull up the drawbridge and shut out the rest of the world for the remainder of the weekend.

I have friends coming to stay on Monday so fingers crossed that it stays dry and we can do a few touristy type things.

Friday, 5 May 2017

5 in 5 | Around the Marina

I'm linking with Sandie @ itchifingers for her monthly 5 in 5 link up, and sharing some random photos taken within five minutes this afternoon at the marina.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Take Three Thursday

Linking with Mary-Lou @ Patio Postcards for her weekly photo meme, sharing three photos with a common theme.

My three photos for today are of the 'pictures' I can see in some the garden paving. It's fossilised Indian sandstone and I realised, after I'd taken the photos, that I should have made them wet to enhance the colours. Sorry!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A Rock Garden

This is a bit of an experiment!

I'd planned to create a rockery type arrangement in this bed - the crab apple tree is at the other end, you can just see part of the stake on the left of the photo. In my mind I was seeing it as the sort of rockery with lots of alpine planting but yesterday I was browsing in the garden centre (can't stay away!) and saw these rocks. One quick change of mind later, and I bought a couple together with some grasses to see if I'm happy with how it will look. It's now going to be a selection of grasses with some of these larger rocks arranged in the space. So far I like how it looks but will need to buy some more rocks to get a better idea of the finished result.

A question for all the experienced gardeners out there. Will it be okay to use a covering of bark for weed control or will I (in some way I haven't thought of) be creating problems for myself? Also, do you have any suggestions for grasses that are non-invasive and reasonably low growing (say about 2 feet max). I'd like to add a variety of textures to add interest but which doesn't detract from the tree.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017


Well so much for a quiet day yesterday. Despite planning a quiet home alone type of day, I somehow became 'the person to see' and had a steady stream of visitors from mid morning through to late afternoon. In between, I fitted in a flying visit to the garden centre (didn't buy anything), made a list of everything in the freezers, scanned some documents for Lauren, ordered some goodies, and sorted through another box of stuff.

This week has to be about restocking the freezers. I've made a list and will go shopping later, after I finish teaching at 3 pm. I'm going for a slightly different approach this time. Usually, I spend a couple of days cooking non-stop but this time will cook a different meal every day and then freeze the extra portions. It'll take a bit longer to fill the freezer but shouldn't be as time consuming as my usual approach. Today I'll be having chilli so will end up with four main meal size portions, one to eat and three to freeze. I'll also make some pea and ham soup (using the soup maker), giving six lunch size portions to freeze. 

The climber in the front garden has started to flower and has put on a growth spurt with all the rain we've been having, so today or tomorrow I must give it some attention and fix it to the trellis properly. It's a Solanum lacuna 'Album', more commonly called jasmine nightshade. I'm definitely going to have to learn how to photograph white flowers properly!

The white rhododendron (Madame Masson) is also starting to flower but is looking suspiciously pink in places!

I've found the compost bin I want and have ordered it, hopefully for delivery tomorrow. I then have to decide if I want to paint it or just leave it as the natural wood. I also ordered a couple of shrubs, some bulbs and a few perennials for the garden but they won't be here until next week. I'm debating with myself on whether to do a gardening notebook/scrapbook; part of me thinks it'll be fun and useful but a bigger part of me isn't sure! 

This evening will be put to good use, finishing this month's book ready for the book group meeting next Tuesday. We went for something lighthearted this time, The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler, and I'm enjoying it so far.  I like the two main characters, find them quirky and fun, and as there are several more books featuring them I'll be looking out for others to read. As if I don't have enough books! Anyway, I'm just over half way through with another 170 pages to go so should easily get to the end tonight. I have a friend coming to stay for a couple of days so I want to get it out of the way and know it's done.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

A happy May Day wave to Sian and all the other Monday posters. I'd opted for a quiet, home alone, Bank Holiday weekend and I'm thankful I made that choice. Sleep is still very elusive and I tire easily as a result, so this weekend was an opportunity to chill and recharge the batteries for the week ahead.

I'm not sure that I really have anything new to tell you as I've already mentioned receiving the books from my sister, and told you about the crabapple tree in previous posts. Hang on a mo while I have a think  ....


okay, thought of something ... when I received my Ancestry DNA results I was originally notified of 96 links to potential 2nd, 3rd or 4th cousins. In the space of a week, that number has grown to 102 links and I've already received messages from some of them and have contacted others, trying to work out who our common ancestor is. Some I already knew (on paper), but it looks like it may now be possible to make a start on my paternal line, the one I was completely stuck on. The vast majority of the potential links will need a lot of research to identify the common ancestor as I don't recognise any of the surnames at all. Interestingly, a lot of the links are based in the USA, whereas all my previous research had only found connections in the UK and Ireland. I'm excited about the possibilities this is opening up. 

And that's all I have to tell you this time. I have another quiet day planned, although I think Julie and her youngest daughter will call in at some time during the day. I'm going to carry on with some online research, not ancestors, but plants and interesting garden stuff. I'm looking for a beehive shaped compost bin and also some ideas for perennials to fill the planting pockets that run down the right hand side of the garden.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

My Sunday Photo

a summer snowflake on a dull, rainy day


Saturday, 29 April 2017

A Garden Update

Okay, it's time to show you what I've been up to in the garden, starting at the back of the house. All of these photos are a few days old, and since they were taken pots have been moved (although still not planted up!) and some of the new plants are now in the soil.

This is taken from the dining room side of the house, looking down the garden. Where you can see trellis I will eventually plant white climbing roses and in some of the planting pockets I now have the summer snowflakes (white/green) and the dwarf phlox (pink/green). I haven't decided on the rest of the plants to fill out this side of the garden yet, but I'm open to ideas. I'd like to end up with some winter interest and I'd like to stick to pinks, reds, whites and lilacs, with yellow being added with the spring bulbs.

This is taken from the same position but looking across the back of the house. The clematis looks a bit poorly but is actually doing well despite being moved and replanted in a pot. I thought it had died when it was uprooted in one of the winter storms, but since being re-potted it seems to have a new lease of life. The gardener has advised me to leave it alone for this growing season so that it can re-establish its roots and then look to cut out the dead growth and fix it to the trellis ready for next year. 

I'm standing by the honeysuckle which grows over the fence from my neighbour's garden to take this photo. This is the space where I'll have some seating but I haven't decided what I want yet. 

And this is the space behind the garage.  If you look carefully you can see the delivery I was waiting for peeping out from between the bins - a crabapple tree, Malus Royal Beauty. It's planted in the bed roughly where the stick is. This has been chosen not only for it's size (10 feet at full maturity) but because it provides year round interest as it tends to retain its fruit through the winter and therefore attracts the birds. The fruits on this variety are not very big so can't really be put to a culinary use. In the bed where the tree is planted I will probably add some ornamental grasses and also some decorative stones to create a rockery, which will be planted up with some alpines.

In the bed by the fence there'll be some evergreen shrubs. I haven't decided on the varieties yet, only that they will have white flowers.

Moving to the front garden now, these photos were taken earlier in the week. The climbing plant on the left of picture is a jasmine (white flowers), the central plant is a buddleia wisteria lawn (lilac flowers) and the one on the right is a dwarf rhododendron (white flowers). The other plants dotted about are different heathers, some summer ones and some winter ones. Once this all fills out I think it'll be enough planting for the space. Surprisingly it make the space look much bigger than it actually is - I thought this was just my imagination but a couple of neighbours have made the same comment.

And finally, this is looking along the front of the house. This part still has to have more gravel put down (I have loads bagged up in the garage but need help from my nephew to get this done - he filled the bags and they are way to heavy for me to move!) but the plants are doing well - it's alternating hebes and lavenders.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Looking Forward

I've been thinking carefully about my short, medium and long term plans. I'm glad I took the time to do this as I feel extremely positive about how things are going.

In the short term, my focus has to be to recover from the depression. I know that it will be so easy to just hide away at home but that won't help me at all, so I've arranged a few treats to look forward to ... not as many as I'd normally do but I don't want to overload myself and I can always add extra if and when my health improves. The special treat I'm most looking forward to is a return visit to the Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros Studios, this time accompanied by a fellow Potterhead friend. With another friend I've booked tickets to see Keith James singing the songs of Leonard Cohen and I'll also be going on a day trip to Lichfield later in the year on my own.

In addition to these, band practice resumes this week after the Easter break (which I'm really looking forward to) and I'll still do the weekly walking with L, the monthly book group, plus we're also trying to find a local pub quiz we can all do. I have another week's holiday in May (as I don't teach during the UK SATS week) and Ced's birthday falls during this week so, in celebration of his life, I plan to visit Bristol to see the sights using the tourist bus and to revisit SS Great Britain. Other possibilities include a trip to see Chester/tour of the Manchester ship canal, and maybe a short stay in London but I'll  need to feel a lot better before I fork out the money for these.  

For the medium term, my focus is on the home.  I'm hoping to get the third bedroom decorated in the very near future (just waiting for the date to be confirmed), followed by my bedroom, the en-suite and the family bathroom. This sounds a lot but my involvement is limited to choosing the tiles etc and paying for it! Completion of these rooms just leaves the hall, stairs & landing, and then the living room to be done, which means that the entire house will then be finished. I'm aiming to get it all done within the next year to 18 months .... it feels really exciting to write that! I'd originally committed to an additional four years of part time teaching to finance the work I wanted to do on the house and garden so, if things go according to plan I will still have 18 months to two years left to do after the work on the house is finished which will give me the opportunity to save all the income from the teaching for future holidays etc.

Long term plans are still a bit hazy, except that I hope to be able to retire completely once my teaching commitments are over and to start doing some travelling. Most of the places I want to see are in the UK, but I do have a few special foreign holiday destinations in mind as well.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Take Three Thursday

Organised by Mary-Lou @ Patio Postcards, this is her weekly meme to share three photos which have a common theme. My photos are of three varieties of thyme I've acquired for my garden - Highland Cream, Doone Valley and Pink Chintz.

Thank you for organising this link up, Mary-Lou.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Busy Doing Nothing

It's a day at home for me today which is just as well because it is bitterly cold out there. I don't 'do' cold! The heating has been turned back up and I'm snuggled up in a comfort blanket as I type this, but I'm still shivering and desperately hoping that it isn't another bout of the dreaded lurgy.

I'm waiting in for a delivery, due either today or tomorrow, of something special for my garden and once it's here and planted I'll do the photos to show you what's been happening in the garden. Does this cold spell mean that I should hold back on the planting until the weather improves?

We had plenty of rain last night so the garden has had the watering it deperately needed. I could hear a constant dripping and eventually tracked it down to a leak where the down pipe connects to the gutter so that's something else I need to get sorted, but will hopefully be the last 'outside' thing demanding money for a while. 

I'd planned to get on with the sorting/decluttering (I'm just doing little bits at a time to nibble away   at the seemingly endless number of boxes still to clear) but have decided instead on a doing-nothing-except-reading-eating-and-relaxing day. It feels like a much better use of my time!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Nice Problem To Have!

I'm not complaining, but I have too many books! Despite sending the majority of Ced's books to the National Trust at Lacock for their fundraising and also donating over 100 paperbacks to the BookBarn, I still have way too many. I also did a ruthless purge and passed on loads of books I'm unlikely to ever read to friends. However I finally had to admit that maybe, just maybe, it's a bit of a problem when I found myself searching online for new bookcases. 

I decided to add a smallish one to the third bedroom after it's decorated (won't be long!) and then to be strict about the books I keep. Happy with my decision, I settled down for the evening when the doorbell rang ... it was my brother-in-law with another delivery of books from my sister!

I may need a bigger bookcase but, as I said in the title of this post, it's a nice problem to have!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

For the first time in ages, here's a wave to Sian and all the other Mondayers on this lovely Monday morning.

I'll start with the 'new' things which, of course, are to do with the garden.  It's not a complete reveal but if you read yesterday's post you'll know that I was going to the local garden centres ... this is what I bought. I'll list all the names in my garden post later this week.  The two roses, different varieties but both white, have been planted but the rest has been placed around to see if I like the arrangement. With a few tweaks, they'll be planted later today.

Moving on to the interesting mail, I received the results of my Ancestry DNA test on Saturday. There's no real surprises with the largest percentage showing ancestry from Great Britain and West Europe - my sister commented that we are more British than our Royal family! A family story is that one ancestor was a Spanish sailor from the Armada who came ashore and settled in England and the DNA results show a percentage as originating from the Iberian Peninsula - a very small percentage, i.e. 2%, but I'm claiming that as a possibility even though I have absolutely no documentary evidence to back up the claim! The best part of the results is it provides links to others who share, or may share, a common ancestry; my results show 98 people who have links with my own family. I've had a quick look at some of them and can easily identify a few but on others, all showing a high probability, I can't see an obvious common relative so I'm hoping that this will be a route into discovering the ancestry line I've struggled with. 

I've nothing else to talk about so I'm off to the garden centre again. I don't really like the pebbles in the gaps at the edge of the paving (wrong colour, and I think it'll look 'more finished' if it's some sort of pea shingle) so I'm off to see what else is available. Then I have a couple of hours teaching and will finish off with some photography if the weather holds - we're due rain later today. I hope you all have a good week whatever you have planned and I'll be round to read your posts later tonight.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

A Photo An Hour | Saturday 22nd April 2017

Organised by Louise @ duck in a dress and Jane @ is that you darling, yesterday was the day chosen to take a photo an hour throughout the day.

7 am (ish) | my day started at silly o'clock. I'd been awake and pottering about for a couple of hours before I remembered to take a photo for 'a photo an hour'.

8 am | in the middle of doing the previous night's washing up. I'd been too tired to bother with it after a great evening with friends who came round to see the progress on the garden, and which went on a lot later than any of us had planned! 

9 am | I've been shopping (ran out of bread!) and have just finished putting it all away. This is my current favourite owl shopping bag hanging on the door handle to remind me to put it back in the car.

10 am | out in the garden, filling the gaps at the edge of the new paving with pebbles. The pebbles were in the garden before and were bagged up and stored in the garage, so this was a simple job and I managed to get about half of it done - I'll need some help from my nephew to finish it as I can't reach/move the remaining bags of pebbles.

11 am | L, the landscaper is back to finish off the grouting - his last job in the garden. This is a sneak preview for you ... I'll do a proper post about it later in the week.

12 pm | moving some of the empty pots out of the garage where they've been stored. 

1 pm | waiting for the kettle to boil and indulging in an after lunch maple and pecan danish pastry - my reward to myself for working in the garden in the morning!

2 pm | playing 'word with friends' on the iPad.

3 pm | back out in the garden enjoying the sunshine and taking some photos - here's the shadow of some leaves against the fossilised ones in the stone and the (out of focus!) green ones in the front!

4 pm | looking for ideas for planting.  I'm hitting the local garden centres today (Sunday).

5 pm | relaxing on the sofa with a coffee and my latest book.

I fell asleep so missed the photos for 6 pm and 7 pm!

8 pm | the final job in the garden - watering the plants. 

This was the final photo for the day. I had a soak in the bath and then planned to read in bed but actually fell asleep and slept through the entire night, not waking until 6 o'clock this morning.

Plans for today include meeting J for breakfast at the newly refurbished Leyker's Coffee Bar in town and then a potter round the local garden centres. 

Many thanks to Louise and Jane for organising this monthly link up.