30 January 2009

Picture tag

I have been tagged by my father on Rambles From My Chair with a picture tag.

The rules are:
Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures
Pick the 4th picture in that folder
Explain the picture
Tag 4 people to do the same.

I chose the insects folder on my computer, and the 4th folder was the butterfly folder. The 4th butterfly was Argynnis paphia, the silver washed fritillary.

This photo was taken at one of my favourite nature reserves in Devon - Bystock Pools. In addition to a large lake, some smaller pools and lots of heathy ground Bystock has a beautiful meadow that's host to a wonderful array of insects.

I'm afraid I'm going to fail at tagging people to do the same. Whilst I do read a couple of other blogs, other than family (and all but one have been tagged), the writers of those blogs have no idea who I am.

27 January 2009

The lowest ever score

Today I'm quite glad that although I worked for the University of Exeter for 3 years I don't actually hold a degree from there...


26 January 2009


Some photos of our new warm home...

25 January 2009

It's over

It has been a difficult week. The plumbers were quite friendly, at least much more so than the last two we had in, but both were ill and though not our fault we both felt guilty to the point of almost feeling sick at one point. They were supposed to arrive on Monday, but because John Elliott (they have the same name as Ian, which is why we chose them) had a bad back they didn't arrive until Tuesday when they had an additional helper. On Tuesday afternoon Alan Elliott (John's step-Dad) told us he'd come to our house that morning instead of going to the hospital to confirm that he had lung cancer. His words were 'he couldn't let us down' and now he has to wait til next Friday to find out. Given that they had already arrived a day late he decided he couldn't go to his appointment. Sadly his step-son didn't seem to have tried to convince him to go.

I had hoped that the plumbers would proceed room by room so that I could put some furniture back, but they didn't put all the floorboards back until Friday afternoon. We spent yesterday moving furniture around and I'm pleased to say that we are nearly there. Of course little is where it used to be due to the presence of radiators, but we're very pleased.

William behaved very well on the whole and very few of the tools upset him (although at times he was frustrated at not being able to leave the lounge, there being floorboards up in the dining room). The one thing that did scare him was when they filled the system with water and Alan let the air out of the lounge radiator. If there's one thing that William really fears it's hissing sounds. Ian once hissed like a snake after watching the film Anaconda and William fled the house.

I shall blog some photos of the house this afternoon after we've finished the kitchen.

21 January 2009

Central Heating

We currently have the plumbers in fitting central heating in our house. The chaos has been extensive, but it seems to be going well (although William isn't enjoying it much).

This is the house before they arrived...

The worst devastation was in the kitchen, where we had to remove a cupboard so that they could access the pipes from the old boiler. We now have a total of 3 cupboards in teh kitchen, one under the sink with the usual cleaning products in, one high up that has tins and jars in and one under the single square of worktop that we have left for crockery etc. The glasses and mugs are all in the lounge on the tv stand. All good fun!

19 January 2009

A day in the life of William

Our tabby cat William is definitely a creature of habit. He has two distinct behaviours - sleepy (usually asleep, but always deigning to be fussed) and awake. When I say awake it's difficult to describe William when he's in an active mood. You just have to experience it. Not that he goes running around that often (though he does have his kittenish days) - it's just that he cannot sit still and the least little thing will get him off his seat and into a different room. William is unusual in that whilst he does like his comforts - duvets and warm spots he also likes to sit on uncomfortable things. Paper is a favourite (important documents being his preferred choice, though he will settle for post), although nettles, gravel, wood, books, tools, boxes are all good substitutes.

A typical day in the life of William could be described as follows:

'Early' morning - William will be found sleeping on the duvet on the sofa, refusing to be woken by anything as boring as humans or breakfast.

Between 10 and 11 William will allow the postman, the phone or the first pangs of hunger to wake him up, will saunter to his bowl, sniff disdainfully at its contents and then either pop outside for a drink at the pond or back to the lounge for another nap.

Late morning - mid-afternoon William usually enters an active phase, characterised by following whoever is 'fortunate' enough to be present in the house. When I say 'following', William really likes to lead, but he lacks the confidence. This results in him jumping up immediately after you, fighting you through the door and then remaining under your feet, but usually slightly ahead as you proceed to another room. Inevitably if you end up in the kitchen he will use the opportunity to see if there is anything worth eating in his bowl. If Ian or I choose to do something upstairs during these periods William likes to 'help'. He will help you move furniture by standing under or behind it, help you take a bath by howling outside the bathroom door, help you work by sitting on the study windowsill, scattering things on the desk on route.

William helping to write Christmas cards.

Each time William reenters the lounge he likes to take a scratch at his scratch post (provided that he can find it - it usually gets moved around every 3 or 4 days).

When he does decide to eat, after eating a couple of mouthfuls William will go sit in front of his catflap, stare outside to make sure that there is nothing dangerous lurking and will then slowly proceed through the flap for a bathroom trip. William really takes his time going through the flap, often leaving a paw or two or tail behind for a minute whilst he assesses the situation (not that he's ever reversed back through when I've been watching). Though he leaves the house very slowly he usually hurtles back in and if it's a 'good day' leaves a lovely trail of muddy footprints when he does. William will then proceed back to his bowl for a few more mouthfuls, but likes to leave some food for a snack later on.

Although William will leave the lounge at the same time as Ian or I he will always come in just after we have sat down. This would be fine if the hall wasn't freezing cold and if William didn't insist on opening the door wide and letting in a draft. I have not the patience to count how many times I shut the door after him on a typical day. Luckily this should change when we have central heating.

In between active periods and from late afternoon 'til human dinner time William will sit in front of the lounge fire (if it's on) on a sofa or will look out the window. Often he has to compete with the washing for a spot in front of the fire, or perhaps something more unusual like a pile of drying pine cones or some wellies that got left out in the rain the 'right' way up (ooops). If he isn't tired William will sit upright staring at the flames, it being his equivalent of television.

Human dinner time can be a sleepy time or an active time. If it's an active time it invariably results in William being thrown out of the lounge for unacceptable attempts at stealing food.

Early evening can be an active period, but late evening is always sleepy time. William likes to sit in front of the fire until he's fully roasted and will then come and sit on a knee if one is available. After a little while on a knee he likes to get off and sit between us, a very safe place with potential for fussing on both sides. This is generally the time at which William is most relaxed.

When we go to bed William usually goes outside, usually waiting until we're almost asleep to come back in (for some reason our catflap is very loud).

I'm looking forward to seeing how his patterns of behaviour change when we have central heating and no longer use the lounge fire.

12 January 2009

Veg box

As usual we began the new year with resolutions to be more healthy. I got as far as buying a book on nutrition, but Ian did something far more sensible by signing us up to receive weekly vegetable boxes from a local grower. The seller forgot to email us to let us know when / where to pick up the first box so we were lucky enough to get this one for free.

Although it had been sitting under a hedge for a couple of days the only damage done was the addition of 22 slugs that Ian kindly removed before I photographed the box.

Never seen a parsnip look like that before and it will be our first acorn squash. I fancy trying a recipe on the web for acorn squash with apricot preserve. Will blog it if it's any good.

5 January 2009


Today we found out that our offer on the land nearby had been rejected. Not wishing to be disheartened we immediately set off to view another plot at Rowhorne, again just outside Exeter, but this time on the opposite side to our house. The land was described as being a sloping field leading to a wooded copse, with a mass of bluebells covering the floor in Spring and a stream running through and another gently sloping field on the other side of the copse. I had a feeling when it said the second field was gently sloping that the first would be unmanageable for anything that we had in mind. I don't think this picture truly conveys the slope that this field is on - Ian had to hold my hand as we walked down the edge and it was much steeper in the middle. The second field was not gently sloping - it was a hill - much higher in the middle than on any side and not even close to level at any point.

Apart from the incredible view the one thing that made the visit worthwhile was a fantastic group of icicles formed at the highest point of the land where a trickle of water normally runs down.

4 January 2009

Backing up blogs

I found this useful:

This page lists the latest N posts from the blog:

http://blogname.blogspot.com/search?max-results=NInstead of N, type the number of posts.

If your blog has less than 1000 posts, you can save this page: