27 October 2008

In the trees

Mum is currently visiting us in Exeter. Today, despite the rain, we went to Stover country park - a place we enjoyed visiting with Dad a few weeks ago.

We took a walk around the lake and were pleased to find a raised boardwalk on one side. Up at mid-tree height we were able to watch lots of birds feeding closeby - coal tits, black caps, nuthatches and a jay.

We also saw two robins in different holly trees - very Christmassy.

21 October 2008

The melon

There are so many things that I meant to blog at the time and didn't. Does anyone else ever find that, and if so do they do delayed blogs or just give up?

One of our biggest edible successes this year was the melon that Ian grew on the dining room windowsill - see my Dad's blogs for details:

The melon took a trip to Formby for our annual harvest dinner and then came back down to Exeter before it was eaten. We were a little concerned that it might not taste good, but it turned out to be delicious. Even I thought it was good and I don't even like melon.
So here are a couple of pictures of the melon eating...

You can't fake a reaction like that!

Lemon moose

Last week we went for my leaving dinner with some friends from the lab. Sonia recommended the Nobody Inn just outside Exeter - love the name. A lovely country inn that specialises in whisky and wines - their wine list was at least two thirds the size of my phd thesis (though of course we got so confused we ended up ordering the house white).

On their specials board they offered salmon with 'lemon moose'. Embarrassingly the waitress walked in whilst we were laughing at the spelling and to our surprise she said it would be most fun if there was a spelling mistake and could we tell her what it was. We explained the difference between moose and mousse. Five minutes later she came out with this lovely fellow (pictured here at home the next day - hope they didn't mind us snatching him)

How adorably cute!

Busy busy

For the last two weeks Ian has been cycling to Uni and leaving his laptop there in the evenings. I too have been limiting my own computer usage - some days I haven't even checked my email (a definite first for me). One of the fantastic things about having the internet is the million ways to get in touch with people, but it can also make what was supposed to be a quick 5 minute email check turn into a couple of hours in front of the screen. I regularly check 2 non-work email addresses, work email, email and messages on facebook, a dozen or so blogs and then as soon as I turn the computer on everyone starts to skype me (unfortunately often skypes are work-related). I have therefore been taking a break from it all, but now I am back so please give me a couple of days and I shall get to those emails you've not had a reply too.

Not spending 10 hours a day in front of the computer has given me time to do lots of other things. The house has been turned upside down with tidying and sorting jobs (unfortunately it's still at that half finished stage where it looks worse than it did before, but is actually much more organised), the area for the second pond has been cleared (mostly by Ian), the front garden is looking less like a waste disposal site and we are a couple of steps closer to finishing the bathroom.

I've learned 2 key lessons from my exploits this week

1) always stir paint for at least 10 minutes - I realised this when I accidentally painted the bathroom yellow when it was supposed to be soft oatmeal (closer to peach). I did stir the paint a lot and was considering complaining that it wasn't the same as the tester, but having slapped it on the wall I had to finish. Luckily a marathon stirring session for the second coat has resulted in the colour we actually chose. Phew.

2) Never ever ever remove the filling from a futon if it looks like it's going to be tricky putting it back in. We realised this back in Tor Close when we considered washing the cover, but William having been sick all over it this week we thought it worth the risk. Big mistake. We now have a binsack full of bits in the wheelie bin, 2 binsacks (aaah - a new skype conversation. Should have known I wouldn't get through this blog without an interruption) of broken stuffing that could potentially be useful for bean bag type items, and a very thin and uncomfortable futon that will cost £200 to replace. Ugh.

Anyone for french marigolds?!

Ian regularly checks the local freecycle listings. We've obtained a number of items of furniture, gadgets and things for the garden this way. Recently we got an enormous number of seed packets from someone in a little village in East Devon. Most are annuals and all are out of date, but generally I've had no trouble with out of date seeds. Will give them a try in the Spring and see if I can grow some for sale (most of the packets are duplicated at least 3 or 4 times and I could fill the garden 5 times over if they all germinate).

13 October 2008

Fat puss

Not a very polite name I know, but this is how we have come to refer to the chubby white cat that frequently makes himself at home in our front garden. This in itself is not a problem, indeed when our only contact with him was in the front he was known as 'white puss', but now he has become more of a menace his name has changed.

Earlier in the year we were woken in the middle of the night by William howling on 3 or 4 occasions, to find that fat puss had decided to come in the catflap and have some of Williams food. Upon coming back from a weekend away for my birthday we found William hiding behind the television. When he finally came out (to go hide behind the sofa instead) we found that he was limping and had scratches on his face and head, which we can only assume were inflicted by fat puss (though of course we may have the wrong culprit, but he is the only cat we've seen in our back garden this year).

William is currently hiding behind the television after another painful encounter. We managed to tempt him out for some food and before he hid again I pulled a cats claw from the top of his head (I assumed it was a bramble thorn before I pulled it out). He appears to have no other injuries.

Ian has now stated that he is going to keep a supply of tennis balls handy and throw them at fat puss if he dares show himself again. Look out puss!