Monday, 5 September 2011

Been a bit busy

Been rather a busy few months and I am afraid one thing that got seriously neglected but back now! :)

College work was manic in the last few months of the school year, out teaching nearly every day of the week (not quite Saturdays and Sundays) and then I have also been concentrating on my glass beads.  Talk about serendipity... I popped into my local bead shop one day looking for a finding and the lovely lady who runs the shop asked me if she could sell my beads (she hadn't even seen them!).  I went in again about a week later with a selection of beads I had been working on and she put in an order for over 100, so with that and college work didn't have room to breathe!  Next another friend started up a weekly craft and antique market so I have been doing that almost every week since the beginning of July; great fun, not making a mint but enjoying it and covering the pitch costs so it's not too bad.  Finally on the bead front, I have opened an Etsy shop (need to put more items in there) and also my website it up, so what with these and a FB page for Glass Beads by Lotti and a Twitter link to that my beads are slowly slowly getting promoted.
On other notes our diabetic cat is still with us (just) but I think the time will be here very soon when we will need to really seriously think about allowing him to go to the great mouse hunting land in the sky.  It will be very sad, but he has been well looked after and used to have great fun in the fields here so we know he has had a good life.

Re the fields, sadly this year we have not had our boys and I have missed them very much; on the plus side though we have had alot more deer in the fields and it has been lovely to watch the young ones play.

The final thing that has happened and that has taken up alot of this year is that my poor little Mummy who has been unwell for years with terribly arthritis to the point that you could hear her bones creak as she moved and who was in so much pain that she was in tears every morning finally went to join my sister about a month ago after 2 and a half weeks in hospital under heavy sedation.  Those two weeks were terrible and her passing has been sad, but we gave her a great send off (arranged by Dad and one of my nephews and his wife) and now she is at peace and no longer in pain.  Dad seems to have had a new lease of life too (misses her very very much) and has regained confidence in driving again and has started to go back to church again, which they both loved but Mum just couldn't do.  We have to find him somewhere new to live as he (understandably) doesn't want to stay where he is (too many memories), but hopefully he will go on for a few more years yet..

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


Yes, they are back, how wonderful, makes you feel as if summer is finally on the way. :)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Beautiful day, busy in the garden

On a day like today, it would have been nice to go up onto the Moor, but gardening needed doing.  3 beds dug over (my dearly beloved), carrots planted and netted against pussy cat attack!  In door planting; toms, brussels, cauli, lettuce, peas, french beans (would have done runners too but discovered the seeds were mouldy!), marigolds, chillies, and various herbs.  Beds ready now for the new spuds to go in soon.  A very productive day, hopefully resulting in lots of produce!

The daffs are now starting to come out, it must be warmer at the top of the drive as these seem to be further on than the ones in the garden, best move to the top of the drive!

Talking of the Moor, it is so clear today I swear I can see the military flag post on top of Yes Tor, which is at least 30 miles away!  Mind you, they do say that if you can see the Moor it is going to rain, so will see what the week brings, hopefully no frost or snow (thinking of Ireland and Scotland who seem to have got a second winter right now). 

Monday, 7 March 2011

Current observations and a weekend walk

Just popped out for a ciggy (yes I know they are bad for you and yes I know I should give up, no lectures please.  Haven't smoked in the house for 7 years, takes some dedication in this weather I can tell you, but at least you see the moon and can watch the bats!).  Yes the bats are back, yippee, I love bats.  Also been admiring the thin fingernail of silver which is the beautiful new moon.  You can see the whole of the moon just about too.  Love new moons.  Also with the clear skies we are getting a fabulous sky at about this time.  The sun has set and along the skyline the colours go from dusky mauve at the horizon to dusky terracotta, then pale green, yes green, very pale yellow and then pale blue through to dark deep ink blue.  Just lovely, wish I could photograph it!

So apart from the (still very cold) beauty of the night sky what else is going on.  Well yesterday we had leisurely stroll along the river from Sticklepath to Belstone and back again.  Very beautiful and sadly without a camera!  Forgot to bring it.  The woodland here seems very ancient in parts with trees dripping green in the form of moss and ferns.  The river bubbling and tumbling over the rocks, crystal clear waters that look so inviting but also so very cold.  A nice walk, only about 3 miles, but with two small girls with us took a bit longer.  The other great thing about this walk is that there are lovely pubs at both ends, so you can have a nice local beer at half time and then another one at full time.  Will try to do this walk again with my posh camera soon to share some of the beauties with everyone. 

Monday, 21 February 2011

Bucks Mills

Went to look at a house yesterday which is up for auction in April.  It is just 500m from the cliff path that runs between Peppercombe and Bucks mills on the North facing coast between Clovelly and Bideford, the bay is known as Bideford or Barnstaple Bay.  

After the viewing we walked down from the house through the woods to Bucks Mills.  Bucks Mills could have become another Clovelly, but has managed to avoid this, there are no shops or pub to attract the tourist.  However the village is very pretty and very quiet, I imagine that many of the homes are holiday homes and that in the summer it is a bit busier. 

You cannot park in the village and have to leave your car in the car park (if you drive in) at the top of the village and walk down.  When you get to the bottom there is a very steep path down to the beach with fabulous views towards Clovelly in one direction the mouth of the Taw/Torridge estuary in the other.  It is a strangely empty coast line, there is something rather prehistoric about it all.  The beach isn't terribly sandy, but much quieter than the beaches on the West facing coast around Bude.  I should think fishing would be good here and indeed fishing boats still go out from Clovelly.

One of the attractions for me about Bucks Mills is the old lime kiln and remains of the old harbour that was here in centuries past.  There is nothing left of the harbour now except in a finger of gravel and rock that points out to sea and is known as the Gore.  This area, as I have mentioned before has very poor soil and one of the ways to make it fertile (apart from bringing in sand which I have talked about previously re the Bude Canal) was (and still is) to lime it.  Limestone was brought in to Bucks Mills and then burned down to make it usable on the soil.  There are quite a few old lime kilns along this coastline including one near Instow opposite Appledore.

The walk back up to the house we had looked at and where we had left our car can best be described as steep and rather slippery and muddy, but through ancient woodland which even at this time of the year was beautiful and I should think in a couple of weeks will be ablaze with wild flowers.  Must try to go back and have another walk along there in April.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Spring is on the way?

Heard the yellow hammer for the first time in months this morning.  Just love this bird, it was one of the first songs I recognised when we came to view this house and is so evocative of my childhood, for some reason it's song makes me feel better!

Not entirely convinced we are out of the wood yet in terms of any more snow...don't count your chickens, or in this case your yellow hammers, last Feb and March were snowy so anything could happen yet!

Edited to say that on Saturday we had a bit of a stroll along the cliff above Widemouth Bay and I swear I heard a Lark!  Must have been lost as it has gone back to being horrible cold and wet today! 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Haven't really thought much of Appledore before but have to confess have only really driven through it, or parked up when going sea fishing from there.  You can see that the village might be interesting looking up the narrow streets from the sea front where you park, but just have never done it.  Also Appledore is well known as a second home mecca so there must be something to it.  

Admittedly in recent years it has become known for it's literary festival; sadly this year this has been cancelled due to lack of funds, but it was becoming as well known as Hay or Cheltenham.
So yesterday, we both had the day off and wanted to go for lunch somewhere; no not a romantic valentines day lunch just lunch! M decided that he wanted to go to Appledore as he told me he had found a good pub; I couldn't quite believe it as had never seen one that looked good, but he assured me so we went.

Well, there is more to Appledore than meets the eye as I discovered!  If you park your car in the car park at the end of the harbourside or on the road and walk to your left you find a narrow side streets lined with tiny houses, most of which, sadly, seemed to be holiday homes.  There is a tiny tiny one called the dolls house with has been squeezed into the smallest of spaces and yes, this too is a holiday home.  There are two pubs down this narrow street and we went into The Beaver and had a good (if rather large) lunch.  There were good views out across the estuary and out to sea and we could watch the weather coming in, one of our favorite pastimes.  Off these narrow side streets you also catch glimpses of little courtyards and cobbled streets, very pretty. At the end of this street, past the pubs, you come to the RNLI station which you can visit and look around.

All in all a good day out and nice to see a bit more of Appledore; no more will I think there is nothing there!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

An gentle stroll on the South West Coast path

It may seem a bit of an oxymoron to say that we had a gentle stroll on the SW coast path as most of it (in my experience so far) has been anything but gentle, but this bit was great.  Starting at the Parish Church at Tintagel, if you didn't know how to get to it you would never find it, very tucked away down a narrow lane, then along the cliff to Trebarwith Strand for a well needed pint of Tribute to refresh before walking back.

Tintagel of course is famous for the ruins of what some believe is Camelot, King Arthur's legendary castle.  Others, and to be honest I think this is the correct interpretation, believe that this amazing 'fortress' is the site of an ancient Celtic monastery and what a place for inspiration.  We haven't managed to 'do' the castle yet, but friends tell me it is not for the fainthearted (sheer drops) and not wise to do on a wet day as the place can be slippery.  Because of the links with the Arthurian legend, Tintagel has become rather a tourist trap with lots of tat shops and pasty shops named after the famous Merlin.  Parking in Tintagel is a nightmare and can cost you a small fortune in the summer.

One of the things I like about Tintagel is the other 'castle' a monstrous hotel perched on the cliffs next to the ruin.  It is rather art deco inside and I believe was built as a hotel in the late 1800's, it still has rather an old fashioned feel to it.  The outside of it, in my opinion, is rather an eyesore, but yesterday I noted that it seemed to look at bit better so there must have been some work done on it.  It is well worth a visit just to appreciate the views from it.

Our walk started the other side of the ruin, now run by the National Trust and you need to pay a fee to get in, from the Hotel and followed the very well marked cliff path past a youth hostel with a fantastic view; the picture opposite shows the youth hostel.  The waves were crashing against the rocks but each time I tried to get a picture of the water coming over the cliff top I mistimed it; need to get back there with my proper camera and a tripod, my new blog main picture was the best I could get!  The walk to Trebarwith and the Port William Inn; now owned by St Austell brewery and recently rather done up; we stayed there many many years ago and it seems to have lost some of it's charm but the location is just amazing; is a gentle one and it is only at the end as you descend into Trebarwith Strand that the going becomes a little tricky.

It is an interesting walk with ruins of slate mines created in the 17 and 1800's.  You can still see the remains of tram lines and the working,s and in places exploratory mine workings (like this 'door' in the cliff).  There are fantastic walls built into the sheer cliff and you wonder how anyone could have built these.  At a stage in the walk you turn a corner following the cliff and then can see the Port William in the distance, below you there appears to be a track and this leads to an old quay where ships would have been moored up and the slate loaded on. (you can just make out the track to the left of the picture on the left). The walls and 'ramparts' are all part of the mine workings, quite amazing.
After a beer or cool soft drink at the Port William you could carry on up a VERY steep cliff towards Port Issac but we turned round as this point and went back up the cliff path (bit steep in places, but once you are back on the top it is easy again) and took a bit of a detour off the cliff path to make the walk a circular ones.  You can of course return the way you came. 

A good resource for the South West Coast path is this site,  it includes planning to do the whole 630 miles, splitting the walk into day long walks, or shows the shorter circular walks including the one we did yesterday.  It details places of interest and history and things to look out for, so if you are thinking of doing any of the SW coast path this site is well worth looking at.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Busy busy no time to stop

Seems like I haven't stopped for breath for the last 6 weeks, lots of my students were finishing their course and it seemed to be a mad rush right at the end.  Thankfully am nearly there now.

News from this end apart from being busy is that our single hen sadly passed away about 2 weeks ago.  We had been out all Saturday and she had been locked in her run, she hadn't been out much recently, wasn't keen on the cold in her old age.  When we got home on Saturday afternoon she was sitting in the nesting box looking pretty fed up, but not ill looking.  Sunday morning when I went to feed her and let her out I found her fast asleep on the floor of the hen house with her head tucked underneath her wing.  Hopefully she didn't suffer but just fell asleep and didn't wake up.  Bit sad to loose her as she was such a character; previously when we have lost hens we had other ones to take their place, but now we are completely henless.  We certainly will get more now, after giving the hen house a very thorough disinfect - not that we think there was a problem here, but it gives us a chance to do it properly when it is empty.  Problem is just can't decide what to get, I find that I make a decision on the next ones and then see other ones and change my mind!

Starting also to think about the garden and now have seed potatoes chitting on the window sills and M has planted out some tomato and chilli seeds and (not sure why) some cauliflowers.  I say I am not sure why as we have tried to grow them for many years and never been successful.  I have also planted out the garlic; a little late but hopefully it will be OK.  Now sorting through the rest of the seed packets to see what is out of date and what we have run out of.

Bead making has been a bit slow due to the amount of work I have, but I did manage to go on a two day course last weekend which was fab but tiring.  More on this on my glass blog.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Home studio now set up

Finally managed to get the lampworking studio set up in one of the outbuildings and have been learning some new techniques.  Check out my other blog at

Sunday, 2 January 2011

What a Christmas!

I cannot remember the last time we had snow on the ground at Christmas, not proper deep(ish) snow anyway.  It was icy cold (minus 11 on Christmas eve night, didn't get above freezing all day Christmas and minus 11 on Christmas night), with deep frost and sparkles everywhere.  Deep blue sky and sunshine with Dartmoor giving it's best winter display in the distance.  Pure magic.

Christmas Eve evening started the magic with the film 'Prince Caspian'.  Us 3 girls were raised on C.S. Lewis and my eldest sister even wrote to him (and got a letter back - a long long time ago); and my youngest nephew is named after the prince; I have never met another Caspian, wonder if there are any others?

Then Christmas morning bright and clear and a visit to our friends to deposit presents for their two little girls and a glass of pop (for M not me I was driving) and some very pleasant company in front of the fire before coming back home again to our own fire, lots of pressies and a roast chicken.  I was going to do a goose but chickened out and it is in the freezer to be cooked on a day when I am not so distracted by pressies!  That evening we had a very close flyby of our resident barn owl, so white you could almost miss her against the snow.

Boxing day morning saw the barn owl sitting on the fence by the chicken run, quite undisturbed by me opening the front door, but when I went back to get the camera she decided it was time to take off; a real shame as she was so close and so still, it would have made a wonderful picture.  Instead I managed to get some lovely photos of the sun rising over a very white Dartmoor.

Then the thaw came and quickly, on Boxing day morning we went for a walk round the lanes, still covered in crisp powdery snow, but the evening it had turned to mush and now all the white has gone and the green is back (and I have found a row of carrots in the veggie patch again).  We did have some Christmas excitement though; not like last year when M's car slid into the back of mine on the drive because of the ice; but also ice related.  On Christmas morning we noticed that our water supply had gone a little brown and the flow was reduced. We boiled all drinking water and hoped we hadn't got frozen pipes.  Boxing day morning, no water at all in the house, lucky we had filled up some receptacles the day before.  Thankfully one of the outbuildings still had water so we collected big containerfuls and boiled what we needed for drinking.  Yesterday morning water back on, no brown and flow back to normal.  Need to keep an eye on this and let the landlord know (the water company will only deal with leaks on their network and the house is a good 50 yards from that so it is probably on our land).  Must have been that the mains comes in through the kitchen along the back wall which is north facing and for two nights well below freezing.  Oh the joys of rural living!
So is the winter weather over?  Who knows, it is only December and for the last two years the worst of the weather has been in January and February, so it probably isn't over yet.

Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays whether or not the celebrated the season.