The Estuary

The Estuary

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Monday, 29 June 2015

Potty about his plants

One of the reasons we are moving is to get a bigger garden. Paul has filled this one up and wants a bit more space to try out some new ideas.

This garden is full!

However...... he cannot leave his favourites behind so for the last two years he has been gradually transplanting chosen specimens into pots. One hundred and eighty pots to be precise!

Here are a few of them..

Jasmine and Olive and pelargoniums in the plant house.

Golden bamboo and magnolia
Bamboo grown from seed
Another grown from seed
Some significant trees and shrubs...

Japanese maple
Japanese maple

Montezuma's Pine


 and some smaller specimens...

Various seedlings and one of the cactus collection

Carnivorous collection
Not forgetting his tomatoes - grown from seed and beginning to show signs of ripening already!
Tomato Rosada

 I have one to add to the removal van when the time comes...

Chines Elm Bonsai

So I suppose we will have to tell the removal men one hundred and eighty one pots, unless we buy anything new over the next few weeks.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Some hope...

Hope the village, hope the van keeps going and more..

Paul and Carolyn's walking club decided that it is not necessary to do a different walk each week. There is a lot to be gained by revisiting the same walk. There will always be more to see and experience. Having agreed on that, we decided to revisit the old drovers inn (and the associated walk) in Hope Valley.

You may remember that last time we had difficulty locating the village of Hope. Not so this time. We learned from our previous mistakes and found our way there quite easily.

We didn't even need this sign post.

On our way we discovered that the callow (the ancient drovers 'signpost') was visible from at least ten miles away. It is an impressive marker.

Bromlow Callow at the top of the hill guiding the drovers towards the markets of the WestMidlands

 We set off on our walk which circles the callow and enjoyed terrific views all around.

View towards Wales.

Finally we crossed the dangerous road between us and the approach to the callow.

Its not really very busy, although we did see one car.

Paul led the way up the path. It was quite dark on this side of the hill.
And we were in.

Hard to resist this upward shot of the pine trees.

 We enjoyed the walk despite a slight deviation (we lost our way) towards the end. We walked 5.79 miles measured on my Endomondo fitness phone app. That's a long way for us and we were definitely ready for a drink and dinner at The Stables Inn.

Still starting
Regarding the van. It continues to start well following the work done two weeks ago. We are definitely hopeful that it is fixed for good.

We are taking the van to its first music festival next week. We will be spending two nights sleeping in it!

Hopefully some of these musicians will be performing at the festival.
From left to right Harry, Nick, Andy, Rob, John.

Also, I have ordered a new sleeping bag from Amazon. I hope it arrives in time and I hope I will be warm at night...

Monday, 22 June 2015

Midsummer Madness

With retirement I am hoping to reconnect with 'nature'. Therefore I decided to celebrate the summer solstice this year.

I recently bought some books about biodynamic gardening (Gardening in tune with the moon and stars) and Celtic traditions regarding the spirits of nature etc. etc. The books have been rather disappointing but I am still interested, so I turned to the internet for some ideas about how to celebrate midsummer.

I found a very interesting book about Celtic cooking

You can buy this book from Amazon

I selected a recipe from it called  'Green Man Salad'. Lettuce, dandelion leaves, bacon, vinegar, sugar and salt.

Paul and I have always been a bit wary of the 'Green Man' since spending nights in the wood. He and his friend 'Sticky' used to torment us. We are not sure whether 'Sticky' followed us home and whether he will follow us to Devon...

The salad was delicious despite our misgivings about the Green Man.

I found another recipe online called 'Midsummer Chicken'.

Recipe photo: Midsummer chicken
Picture by Maggie Pannell on

I also read about the different ways people have celebrated the Summer Solstice in Britain. There are lots of different traditions but a common theme was the lighting of bonfires. Ideal as we had some garden rubbish to burn. Also some old bank statements to protect against identity theft.

So the Midsummer Celebration was planned - food, fire and probably something to drink...

Dandelion leaves and some wild strawberries harvested 

The wild strawberries were growing just behind the bonfire site

Here we go!

A lovely fire to celebrate the solstice.

Happy Midsummer

P.S. the midsummer chicken was delicious.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Losing weight and saving money

On Tuesday I attended a Crafting and Quilting work shop at my sister's and in the afternoon we went to Bournemouth to visit my daughter-in-law.

It was a lovely day. I enjoyed doing some micro macramé in the company of other crafters at Lorne Hill Farm. Sandra was sewing, Sandra C was making a little puppy out of sheep and alpaca wool, Joy was making a quilt and Joanne was sewing badges onto Jonathan and George's Morris Dancing outfits.

Joy's beautiful  Quilt
Bournemouth was stunning. The sun was shining. Meena's new flat is in a lovely location near to a huge wooded park and the long sandy beach was glorious.

Walking through the park

What a lovely beach

 And then an added bonus, Country Casuals in Bournemouth was having a closing down sale. This gave me the opportunity to save £170!! A great start to my thrifty lifestyle now I am retired. (No need to think about how much I had to spend to save this much). I love the clothes in Country Casuals and if anyone else wants a bargain you can go to their website and order online.

Some of my bargains

However, whilst trying on my new clothes I couldn't help but notice that my waist has expanded massively. That probably explains why so many of my skirts are so uncomfortable to wear and why I haven't worn jeans for nearly a year.

The time has come to get back in control of this situation so I am embarking on a weight loss campaign. I have done it before. I will weigh and measure all my food and drink and keep daily records. I will exercise everyday - hula hoop or walking. I will plot the results on my graph. I will reduce my calorie intake to about 1250 per day and aim to lose a stone in 2 months.

If anyone else wants to do it with me, let me know and we can compare progress. I can email you blank copies of the simple record forms.
p.s. The van is back from the garage. The mechanic has replaced yet another part and maybe this has solved the problem. The next few weeks will be the test.

Monday, 15 June 2015


I have just finished reading 'Lorna Doone' by R.D. Blackmore.

When on holiday I always enjoy reading fiction set in the place where I am holidaying. I enjoyed the crime novels of Donna Leon when we were in Venice and I first read Japanese fiction (in translation) when we went to Japan.

I read books set in Peru during our Peruvian holiday and especially enjoyed Inca by Geoff Micks. This is a fictional work, but describes the life and times of the Incas in great detail. The Inca system of using knots or Quipu in place of writing was particularly interesting and I think of it while I am knotting my different coloured cords.

Peru Knots
Inca Quipu

In preparation for our move to Devon I have been reading novels set in North Devon. I read Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson and two novels by R.D. Blackmore. The Maid of Sker and Lorna Doone.

Tarka the Otter is set in 'the country of the two rivers'. This is the land between the River Taw and the River Torridge which is exactly where we are going to live. I am busy researching the Tarka Trail and we are looking forward to long walks to sites mentioned in the book and hopefully otter spotting!
Tarka the Otter first edition cover.jpg

I have enjoyed the books by R.D Blackmore. They are exciting tales and his characters, including small children, are very engaging.

R.D. Blackmore

I also enjoy the interesting bits of  history included in the stories, e.g. in the 'Maid of Sker' a colony of naked people of Nympton Moor is described. This seemed very odd so I did a bit of internet research. I found that newspapers of the 1870s reported widely about the Cheriton family from Nymet Rowland who lived in a primitive style and caused numerous problems for their neighbours. Blackmore's naked colony was based on this family.  Very interesting.


Anyway I have just finished reading Lorna Doone and am longing to explore the Doone Valley and surrounding countryside.

Badgeworthy Water Doone Valley
From 'Everything Exmoor' website

p.s. the van is due back from the garage on Wednesday...fingers crossed...

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

My sister Joanne has commented that some of my previous posts have been rather melancholy. Well this time we have plummeted.

I am deflated like my retirement balloons.
I loved my 'Sunny Melon' yellow Corsa, but in the beginning of March I traded it in for the 'New Van'.

Cheerful yellow corsa in the background, traded in for 'Whie Van'

We took the van home and I nervously had a go at driving it. I missed the relaxed feeling of driving of my familiar corsa, but Sunday on  morning I got up early to take the van to a deserted car park to practise reversing.
It wouldn't start!
A bit annoying but never mind the car dealer we bought it from is very decent and his mechanic did a bit of work on it - problem solved.
I practised my reversing until I was pretty good.

Tidy parking.

I drove the van to work and showed it off to my colleagues. Laura gave me a set of stickers as part of my retirement present. I was thrilled and on went the flowers..

Big one in the middle.
A floating garland to the right

More to the left

Looking good.

Enough flowers to trail round the sides.
I love this van.

The van is for sleeping in when we go stargazing on the moors of Devon and for taking to the beach as a handy, warm changing room for when I go swimming in the sea.

We took it for its first sleepover and stayed on a lovely Exmoor campsite.

Cheers. Happy motoring.

A wonderful van. Although it continued to mess about a bit and frequently refused to start. Our friendly mechanic changed this and that. Each time we got it back it started fine - for a while.

We made a pact - with the van - with each other - with the mechanic.
If it starts ok for the next few weeks, we will stick with it. If not we will have to give up on it.
It started ok (although sometimes a little reluctantly) for over three weeks. We booked it in for a full service and change of cam belt at the local Vauxhall garage.

Yesterday I threw my 'Good Luck for your Retirement' balloons away. This morning we got in the van to drive it to the refused to start!

The flowery van is no longer on the drive but the story is not finished.

We are giving it just one more chance. If the dealer and his mechanic can sort it out we will have it back. If not, its definitely the end.

We just have to wait and see.