The Estuary

The Estuary

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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Three more months... a short account

Well, we've passed our two year anniversary of moving to Devon and retirement has become a way of life....

When I started this blog I listed activities I planned for retirement. This is how it has panned out:

Visiting (people and places) - This is definitely one of my favourite activities.
We had a lovely visit to St. Ives in October for a birthday treat.
View from our hotel bedroom
We saw some very interesting abstract art at Tate St. Ives.
More of this later
A week in Spain in November.
We visited Carmen and David in Marbella
And enjoyed eating out in the warm November sunshine!
A weekend in Porthcawl in December.
Paul played bridge at the hotel while I explored the town and beach
I started a good sea glass ollection
Art and Craft (inc. macramé, sketching, papermaking) - Well I'm not doing much macramé and haven't made any paper but I have been working on my sketching.  I am also attending evening classes experimenting with abstract art. I didn't really think this was what I wanted to do but I am really enjoying the sessions and it inspires me to do lots of painting at home.
Here's one of my first little paintings
My abstract art Christmas Cards were inspired by the paintings at Tate St. Ives but were not fully appreciated by the recipients.....

 I have also done quite a lot of knitting and crochet.
Someone's Christmas present.....
Bridge (playing) - I continue to play bridge regularly and go to a class on Monday afternoons. I mainly do it for the social life - we have made so many friends in Devon thanks to bridge.
Cooking - I haven't done any especially exciting cooking lately but Paul and I both enjoy cooking for family and other visitors. Looking forward to preparing Christmas Eve buffet and Christmas dinner!
Gardening - goes on. The garden hasn't been very inviting for the last two months due to excessive rain but I have been making plans. Yesterday we had a 7 hour power cut but the sun was shining so I was tempted out into the garden. I did a bit of digging and clearing up and then enjoyed sitting in the sun. 
A Sunny Day in December!!!
Walking - I have spent less time walking with Paul as most of his outdoor activity is concentrated on the garden. However, I regularly walk with Carol who knows all the best local places. (Actually, this month we went Christmas shopping in Exeter rather than country walking.)
Swimming - I haven't been swimming as often as I had hoped but was very pleased to go swimming in the sea in Porthcawl on December 3rd!
That was quite a quick dip!
Holidays - We've started planning a few holidays, e.g. Canada and China but haven't got beyond the planning stage, although I did buy a guidebook for China...
Eating out - there is not so much choice for eating out locally as when we lived in Shrewsbury but we have explored a few places. We have a new favourite Indian restaurant and I have found quite a few nice places for lunch.
Computer - my computer (and my phone) remain essential to my daily life. Playing games (bridge, Pokémon Go), reading mail,  storing photos, finding out about this and that - it would be hard to live without them.
I have reached Level 30 but am not as keen as I was...
Reading - I don't read a lot. I started reading 'The Brothers Karamatsov' by Dostsoevsky - I enjoyed it to start with but seem to have ignored it for a while - will probably get back to it after Christmas.
Kokeshi - My kokeshi doll collection increased in number after my birthday.
Two cute Nodders from Belinda and Jamie
and a traditional egg shaped Kokeshi from Sam
So it seems I was mainly right about the activities I imagined I would enjoy during retirement.
One of my resolutions for 2018 is to do even more of all of them!
Happy Christmas!


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Another Six Months 65th birthday is just around the corner and life in Devon has become the norm..

My time is shared between gardening, bridge, walking, socialising, and a few art and craft projects. I still go to the Fremington Manor Old Folks home round the corner on Tuesdays where I spend a couple of hours in the morning gardening and a couple of hours in the afternoon chatting or helping out with activities.

April 2017

Our first spring visitor was Mark and we went for a lovely sunny walk around the grounds of Hartland Abbey.

It is great to walk through the woodland
and then come across the marvellous sea view before walking down to the shore.

I was pleased to receive some special Mother's Day greetings.

The card was from Harry
and the pictures on the balloon are old photos taken in Grandma's garden.

Later in May Paul played in a bridge congress at the Palace Hotel in Torquay. So I enjoyed a relaxing stay at the hotel, making good use of the gardens, woodland walks, swimming pool, restaurant and bar.

The grounds of the hotel.

Later in the month we were lucky enough to find a source of rotted manure so the van was filled and we then wheelbarrowed it into the garden.

Rather a messy load!
They also had a load at the Manor.
Here are my gardening companions at the manor watering in the manure in one of the raised bed.

Our neighbours and bridge friends David and Carmen live part of the time  in Fremington and part of the time in Spain. We went for a meal with them while Carmen was here for the Easter school holidays.

We ate at the Tapas Restaurant at a local sculpture park. Muy Bien...

And finally Paul had some D.I.Y. to do...

Adding new lights above his work bench!

May 2017

We decided to try our hand at cooking paella for the first time. We bought a paella pan and were pleased with the result.

Muy bien...

We enjoyed using the firepit in the garden
Very pleasant to sit round the fire as the evening gets darker

My irises flowered in the front garden

I persevered with my project to draw a chicken a day

We were very pleased to go to the Kindred Spirit Festival in Cornwall. This is a festival organised by Harry's boss Andy. There are bands, interesting hippy stalls, a range of delicious food and a bar! Harry was playing in one of the bands and the weather was fantastic!
We had a good corner plot for our camping.

Sam was serving on the bar.

Very relaxing!!

Joe was too busy at work and going on his own holiday so couldn't join us at the festival.

Joe and Soulla

Back home I finished making my garden bench (with help from Paul)

I bought the wood and wood stain with my Christmas money from Mummy.

June 2017

A lovely visit to London. Sam and I did some sightseeing and visited some art galleries.

London Eye

Breakfast in the park near Sam and Roxy's flat.

Back home my first harvest from the garden.

Broad beans.

Later Luke came to visit. All the way from South Korea for just a few days!
We visited the beach at Valley of the Rocks. (Luke in the background)

And had the whole beach to ourselves!

Next day we met Harry in Bude for a pub lunch.

I started going for regular walks with Carol my friend and bridge teacher. She has lived locally virtually all her life so knows all the best places to visit.

The view from the cliffs by Westward Ho!

Back in the garden I constructed a new bird feeding station. Trying to discourage our friendly mice from getting too much of the food.

The mice still managed to get some of the food but it seemed to discourage them a bit.

I persevered with my chicken a day....

However, after a visit from my old college friend Ruth, I was inspired to try something different. She has been experimenting with a range of art activities since retiring and showed me a lot of her work and equipment. So I went on an online shopping spree and bought myself water colour pencils, books and various other bits and pieces.
I was pleased with this picture of my fuchsia flowers.

July 2017

We decided it was time to organise the washing line. We agreed the whirligig washing line could go right next to the patio as long as we only put it up one day a week. (I do all the washing on a Monday)

Paul did a good job and we now have a sturdy washing line.

And once the washing is dry we can  use the hole in the ground for the sun umbrella!

I had some nice flowers in the garden, but not as many as I was expecting...

Nice lilies
But I think I will grow them in a large pot next year.
Had a few gladiolis
but most of them were damaged by pests.
I practised the art of Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging)

Went for a walk in the sun along Woolacombe beach with Carol.

The beach was quite crowded by the town but empty once you walked for a few minutes.

Eventually had a swim in the sea with another bridge friend, Jan. Her partner lives on our estate and she lives in Barnstaple.
The water was lovely and we had this bay to ourselves.

Maybe because the sea was full of jellyfish!

Back in the garden the first courgette crop!
Three plants doing well after initial attack by slugs.

And the arrival of Paul's new greenhouse.

This is going to be a very pretty greenhouse.

The dwarf wall had been built for us and Paul erected the frame.

Looking good.

August 2017

Frame is nearly finished

I'll be needed to help get the massive panes of glass in!!


August 8th and a visit to Newbury for Mummy's 89th birthday

All the presents she ever wanted..seafood, Bette Davis films and fresh veg from Sam's allotment.

Fresh veg from Belinda and Jamie's allotment and beautiful bouquets. 

Followed by lunch at the Garden Centre next to where Belinda works so she could join us.

Smile please....

And then afterwards Joanne worked hard to try and make the birthday girl feel sea sick on a garden swing.

Swing harder Joanne!

Later in the month another visit to London to see Sam and soak up more culture
Modern art made out of human hair and car bumpers......

Back home colourful produce from the garden

Whilst weeding the front garden I nearly took hold of this snake!

Its only a baby grass snake, but it gave me a shock.

And an invitation to a bar-b-q at David and Carmen's house.
Carmen, their neighbours, Jan (my swimming companion) and Paul.

More online shopping!

A colourful jacket from Monsoon (I haven't worn it yet)

We've had some lovely sunny days, but also a lot of rain..

Rain and sun, so a rainbow over the show home. View from our front door.

We often visit Rosemoor RHS gardens. There is always loads to see and lots of places to walk.

I think this was the 'Hot Garden'. Lovely colours.

September 2017

A visit from old Kineton friends Jane and Julian. Weather was very good so plenty of opportunity for walks and sitting out in the garden

This was the view from our garden as tree surgeons reduced the height of our back neighbours trees.
We are REALLY pleased as it allows loads more sunlight into our garden!!

We went to visit Hartland Abbey and Hartland quay. While on the beach we came across lots of these strange creatures. None of us had ever seen them before....

After a bit of detective work online we identified them as Gooseneck Barnacles.
They usually live attached to rock under the sea but must have got washed ashore by stormy seas.
Apparently people eat them but we didn't fancy it.

Instead we ate out at a pub restaurant in Instow. 
Lovely estuary/sea views from this pub.

I also checked out the times for the Instow to Appledore ferry.

As Sam and his friend James were planning a visit with a long hike along the coastal footpath from Fremington to Hartland.

They did well but only got as far as Clovelly on foot and then took the bus. There were more ups and downs than they had anticipated.

Sam and James camped at Hartland (more of the campsite later)

Once again Joe and Soulla could not make it down to visit due to work and other things. Joe had some fun taking part in a rowing regatta on the river at Shrewsbury.

A visit to Rosemoor flower show and Paul bought a pretty box of plants .

They are for his rockery which is looking very good.
His water lily in a half barrel flowered.

My bench became quite a flowery bower.

One of my sunflowers survived the slugs!

And the view of the night sky is much bigger with the tree tops removed.

We decided to copy Sam and James and spend some time camping and walking. We camped on the site they recommended for two nights and did several very interesting and picturesque walks in the area.

Van packed up and ready to go!

First walk across the fields, through the woods, along the cliff top, to arrive at the pub in time for dinner.
Sea view as we walk back to camp.


Before getting into bed with our cosy sleeping bags (and electric blankets)

The next morning was lovely and sunny.

Getting breakfast ready

And the view from the campsite is brilliant. Lundy in the distance.

We did a long circular walk through the countryside. We visited Docton Mill which has open gardens and a nice café. Then we walked along the valley to the coast where there is a very high waterfall.

It was quite impressive but is probably better when there has been heavy rain.

Back home I continued with some art and craft projects...
Finished knitting Paul's scarf.

And experimented with some of my coloured paints. (Quite pleased with this picture - going to art class at the end of the month...)

And finally...

The last tiny harvest of summer veg.