The Estuary

The Estuary

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Sunday, 31 May 2015

In the Garden

I have listed gardening as one of my hobbies. This means I like sitting in the garden, I like looking at the garden, I like eating and drinking in the garden and occasionally I grow something in the garden.

I received a cosmos seed growing kit as a retirement present last year.
Quite successful...

Paul on the other hand is a very keen gardener and a plantsman. He tends his plants everyday. He is loathe to leave them for more than a single night now the weather has warmed up. The ones pictured below are generally considered difficult to grow.

Here are some of his favourite specimens. Starting with some of his Iris collection.

Iris nigricans. The national flower of Jordan.

Iris X 'Warlsind'
Iris acutiloba.

Iris stolonifera.

Iris paradoxa.
Here is a pretty South American Specimen.   
Habranthus tubispathus.

 And this one is South African

Disa X 'Inca Warrior'

And finally his blue poppies!

Meconopsis 'Lingholm'

 They look particularly good when photographed at night.

This belongs to the 'Fertile Blue Group'

Our move to Devon is scheduled for late summer so Paul is having a busy time keeping his favourite plants alive in pots ready for the move. Meanwhile I will continue enjoying my gardening.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Peruvian Memories

We decided to have a Peruvian themed evening. The only way to start our journey down memory lane is to drink pisco sours. Our favourite drink. It always takes us back to our 2011 Christmas holiday in Peru when we spent our first few nights in the faded luxury of the Hotel Bolivar in Lima

The bar of the Gran Hotel Bolivar where Orson Wells is reported to have drunk 42 pisco sours in one night.
There are many variations of the recipe for pisco sours. Paul has perfected his own recipe based on the label from a bottle of Pisco that we bought in Lima. We now get the pisco from a shop in London or through the internet.
3 units of pisco - he uses a 50ml measure for one unit, so that makes two very strong drinks.
1 unit sugar syrup - we used to use Gomme syrup but now we use home made
1 unit fresh lime juice
1 egg white
Crushed ice - crushed with the rolling pin - use as much as you like



First blend the sugar syrup and egg white.
Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend again.
Serve sprinkled with a little powdered cinnamon.


Here is another memory of Lima!

Unfortunately some of the ice responded badly to the blender and my edible kokeshi got splattered. Ruined!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Pond Life

Its nice to sit and listen to the sound of running water. In the wood I listened to the stream. On the beach I love to listen to the waves. At my mothers house at night I listen to the sound of the river outside the window. So when we moved to Shrewsbury an immediate priority was to install a small pond in the garden.
It took a lot of digging by Meena and me and the small rigid plastic tank and suitable pump were quite expensive.

In the beginning

Plants, fountain and fish added. Willows planted to soften the fence.

Original formal surround

Later I created a more natural surround using stones from the wood

Sumi-e painting of carp. Find out more about sumi-e.

The most exciting part of the project was adding the fish. Each member of the family chose and named one.

Mine was Freddie a rather small plain goldfish. He turned out to be not a very healthy specimen. He fell ill after a couple of years and despite medical attention from me was the first to die.

Paul chose a pale fish with orange markings and a pretty tail. He called it Sasha. We tended to think of her as female. She lasted quite well and her colouring changed until she was almost completely white but she died during the very cold winter of 2010/11.

Find out about Riker's life
Harry's fish was mottled dark orange with some black and white. He was called Riker after the First Officer of the Star
Ship Enterprise. He was a timid fish. Once we thought he had been eaten by the visiting heron but he was actually hiding behind the fish house for over a week. Sadly he was eventually eaten by the heron.

Ju Yu Rin star of Korean T.V. drama.

Joe and Meena called their fish Ju Yu Rin after one of the main characters in a Korean T.V. drama. She was a confident fish - mainly white with one orange spot. She has a large appetite and has grown very big.

The Baron with just a tiny amount of black remaining.
Sam chose a very good looking orange and black fish. He called it Baron or The Baron, apparently inspired by the name of Paul's fish. He was a confident fish, quite happy to come to the surface to take food from your fingers! He grew well and his markings changed until he was almost completely orange. He also died during the cold winter of 2010/11

Luke called his fish Winkie after a character from Harry Potter. He is rather a timid fish and meant to feed from the bottom of the pond but he has learnt to feed at the surface. A necessity when competing with Ju Yu Rin.

Winkie - a strange fish

Well the fish have provided hours of entertainment. They have a little house made from an upturned flower pot and they swim in and out of it and round the back of it. They chase each other and swim in formation.

Follow my leader. Sasha, Baron, Ju Yu Rin and Winkie

Artistic pose by Baron, Sasha, Ju Yu Rin and Freddie.

Baron, Ju Yu Rin, Riker and Sasha, with Freddie's tail and reflected sunflowers.

Nowadays there is just Ju Yu Rin and Winkie. He lets her think she's in charge. She bosses him about and makes him stay in the house but if he makes up his mind to do something different he just goes for it. He can move faster than any other fish.

Winkie following Ju Yu Rin

I'll sit in the sun by the pond and watch their antics. From time to time I'll use my net to fish out dead leaves. I have a plan for transporting them to a new home in Devon.

My place

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sense of Direction

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive...

Paul and I used to have a poor sense of direction. Once while driving in Wales we were convinced that someone must have turned the signposts round so did the opposite to what they indicated. Then finding ourselves back where we started, but failing to recognise the fact, criticised the Welsh for calling two towns by the same name.

This may well have been rotated by local youngsters.

We are getting better. In 2013 we completed a 5000 kilometre road trip round France with very little drifting off course. Mainly thanks to my faith in Google Maps on my phone and Paul's faith in me....

The open road.

More recently we have endeavoured to follow instructions and maps for Shropshire walks. We don't always stick to the recommended route, but yesterday we successfully completed the circular Adstone Walk from The Horseshoe Inn at Bridges.

Fearing mud, I wore my new wellingtons and dressed to match the van.
I printed off the walk instructions from the pub website and they were generally fairly clear apart from the bit that said aim for the old tree on the skyline (there were quite a few).
The full walk is 6.5 miles but we took a shortcut that made it about 5.5 miles.
We enjoyed walking along the ancient road on top of Adstone hill and Paul identified lots of different tree species in the hedgerow (the more species there are the older the hedge and the road).
It was very cold and windy on top of the hill but later it was very nice when the sun came out as we were walking along sheltered lanes.

The Horseshoe Inn at Bridges. One of our favourite pubs.
We got back to the pub in the sunshine and had plenty of time for a pub meal and a couple of drinks. We like this pub a lot. The food is good, the people are friendly and Paul likes their beers.
When we got home we noticed that our house had a 'SOLD' notice on it, so we were very pleased about that.

We appear to know what direction we are moving in. We are not lost. Its a slow journey but we quite like the gypsy lifestyle.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

I love Micro Macrame Mandala Flowers

In my previous post I talked about 'getting to grips' with retirement. My method has been to devise daily and weekly schedules. Sounds a bit rigid but I don't have to stick to them. They are just there in case I need them. It makes me feel grounded, not floating. And I have allocated a significant amount of time each day to 'Art and Craft'. Bliss...

I rediscovered Macramé in July 2014. My guru has been Christina Larsen via her CSLdesigns You Tube tutorials. The first tutorial of hers I followed was to make a micro macramé four leafed clover and then I tried my first Mandala Flower. 
Time flies when I'm knotting. One night when I couldn't sleep I calculated how many knots in one mandala flower. I can't remember the answer, probably because I fell asleep, but it is a very large number. It is very calming. I sit in my upstairs work room and listen to the sounds around me. I think it is a form of meditation as well as a creative craft.

I follow the instructions from CSLdesigns You Tube Channel
My first one made for Harry's birthday card August 2014

Since making my first Mandala Flower in shades of green for Harry's birthday card I have made lots more in lots of different colour combinations. I like to make them with a particular person in mind and choose the colours accordingly.

The first time I saw a photo of a Micro macramé mandala flower was on That's a really good online art gallery. I loved the colours and the flowing cords. I think I like them best when they are not finished off.


This one was for Paul's birthday card.
It has the colours of the Spanish flag which he likes plus some blue and green for variety.

Just thinking about these mandala flowers has made me want to make another. I can't resist but can't decide whether to make it for myself or for the next person on my birthday card list.  I need to start choosing the colours straight away.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Getting to grips with retirement

My retirement cake complete with edible kokeshi made by Laura and Fran

Well my first post reflected my feelings after about a week of retirement. Now I am into week three and everything is under control...

I looked back on my list of hobbies and interests that I made in preparation for retirement and found I have lots to do.
Visiting (people and places)
Art and Craft (inc. macramé, sketching, papermaking)
Bridge (playing)
Eating out
I intend to post useful information about these hobbies and interests. I may also record the story of our experience of living on a large housing development in Devon as it grows from two or three houses to nearly three hundred!!!
So for a combination of visiting places, holidaying, eating out and checking up on progress of the housing development.......
We went on our first camping trip in our hippy flowers motor van. We stayed at Westermill Farm Campsite on Exmoor. Wonderful site - four fields next to the River Exe and just one or two other campers!
Campervan flowers from Hippy Motors - a retirement gift from Laura
 We also sat in the sunny garden of the Exmoor White Horse Inn at Exeford overlooking the river and had delicious lunch and dinner there.
View of River Exe from pub garden
We then visited the foundation slab of our new house.
Slab in place complete with radon protection membrane
This was what it looked like a year ago, so at last its beginning to take shape.

So that's the end of my first day of blogging - have to see how it goes - now need to get ready for my bridge lesson - so much to do!!



The Beginning

29th April 2015
Retirement day finally came!

I had a brilliant retirement dinner at the local Indian Restaurant (although I was too excited to eat much), followed by plenty to drink at the Armoury. I received lots of lovely cards, flowers, balloons and gifts. It was a day to remember!

Next day came and life went on as usual as I haven't worked on a Friday for years. Then the next week came. I had only been working one day a week for the last month, so not much different really. However, knowing there was no Wednesday work day coming somehow cast a strange shadow.

I was beginning to float with no sense of direction. I had expected to enjoy this feeling but instead found it rather unnerving. How annoying!