Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Willing volunteer

Well, I went into that castle as a 'potential', and came out wearing an official name tag, having been warmly welcomed and introduced to many other volunteers, and also to the staff room and biscuit tins, filled with just the dull, plain biscuits (Rich Tea, digestives, Nice, and so on) that I prefer.

I start next week, buddied up with an experienced volunteer, on "Peri" - as in peripatetic, which in every other National Trust property is known more simply as "tea break cover". This means I will get to spend 15 minutes in every room, although thankfully I won't be expected to know much about each.

However, I do now know something about the wonderful 17th Century ceiling in the dining room and where the little figure of the hunter (looking suspiciously like a cherub) with his bow, and the deer (complete with arrow) are positioned. Oh, and the exact spot in another room that people feel is haunted. And no, I'm not telling.....

I think this is going to be fun. So far, I have elected to attend one morning a week, and have just realised that I have double-booked myself with my yoga class and must rectify this immediately. I would not like to be the person compiling the volunteer rota.....

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Not finished yet, but the girls approve. And so do I. Tough, scrubbable, Umbrian limestone.

Coming soon

....with photos, when I have a moment, and when the masons have finished: a stone-flagged hall.....

This morning I am leaving them to it and going off for my introduction to being a volunteer at a local castle.

Life is FULL!

PS No corpse: someone must have eaten it. Makes it less awful, in a way....

Thursday, 24 May 2012


I came home this afternoon to find a few of these in the hall. First place to look, under the sofa, yielded nothing.

There is a small corpse somewhere. 

The cats are saying nothing.

They find it hard to make eye contact.

But they know something.....

Monday, 21 May 2012


Out for a very decent traditional Sunday lunch at the Lion Inn at Timberscombe; plain but well-cooked, followed by a short excursion into the surrounding countryside. The dogs, already walked, stayed at home today; sometimes we like to eat without an avid audience eyeing our every mouthful.

The primroses are over, save in shady spots; instead, Queen Anne's Lace and Red Campion are everywhere; the hedgerows are a froth of pink and white.

We pootle gently; Exmoor is very beautiful today in its fresh Spring greenery.

Sometimes we stop; we look in at St Mary's church above Luxborough; we take photographs.

 A very muddy man on a trail bike stops; he and his companions have been hopelessly lost for miles, winding in and out, up and down, round and round, through the little lanes. We share a map, and he and his group roar off; later we spot them lost again, peering confusedly at the sat-navs that struggle to cope with the twists and turns, farm tracks and dead ends that lie in wait for the unwary.

Then home for a few hours of gardening, weeding, planting, planning where to put the gated arch that will keep an enthusiastic labrador off the flower beds. The garden is full of stinky Herb Robert, which I regard as the enemy; it thrives down here, so my ruthless pulling-out won't endanger it in the slightest. I am delighted to find that one of its other names is Death Come Quickly....

Sensing my strange reluctance to weed for hours (or getting fed up, perhaps, with my lack of focus and over-keenness to look way beyond the task in hand to the dream garden that may evolve in years to come?), the Companion releases me, and I go indoors to bake a chocolate cake instead.

By evening those plants that have been released from pots look like they are already
stretching their legs and extending their toes, grateful for real soil and freedom to grow.

The chocolate cake, on the other hand, is a less grateful affair; it looks, smells and tastes good (and so it should, given the ingredients) but it sinks in the middle and is oddly dry and powdery. One for cream or chocolate sauce, I think.

Never my favourite day of the week, after the bleakness and rigours of a convent boarding school, I'm finding that Sundays are really rather pleasant these days.

Hours of battling with Death Come Quickly excepted, of course.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Hot off the press

This was on the front page of the local paper. The front page.

It amuses me on so many levels.....

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Time get the old Bakelite clock repaired.

It's been 8.21 for far too long*.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012


Sometimes, it's just too much to resist. Park up, intending to walk on the beach, but find ourselves lured into the private holiday chalet site, enticed by the little woodland walk that runs along behind. Walk confidently, as if residents, but feeling slightly furtive and guilty.

Hardly any of the chalets are in use at present, and we meet almost no one. Two long rows of neat little buildings, facing either out over the beach, or across the sunlit fields to the hills with their castle and folly.

Take photos. Reach the end, and walk back to the car along the beach, the sun setting behind us.

Except for birds, the beach is bafflingly empty. Where is everybody?

Just us; we are privileged to have this lovely beach to ourselves.

But people have been here before.

And then, swallows swooping above and around us, we go home.

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