27 February 2013

Tuesday 26th February

In the Orchard

the back garden from the orchard
Lichen on the tree

no idea what these flowers are!
The Taw valley from the orchard
(looking West)


no idea what flowers these are either

Monday 25th PS... Evening

photos speak for themselves

goodnight all....

Monday 25th February

Yes! Look! 

(note my snazzy wellies! LOL)

The Daffs happen to be in the Lower Field
but I'm blowed if the horses are going to get the benefit of them -
so I picked them & put them in a vase in the kitchen.
(the daffs, not the horses - they are FAR too muddy!)

Sunday 24th Feb

The house was very empty without our old boy, Rum. The choice was to sit around watching TV and get bored, or go out. Despite it being a very cold wind we opted for 'out'.
The out being Instow beach.

Looking upriver (the Torridge) towards Bideford
looking towards the mouth of the River Taw
Looking out to sea
(the vague line of froth between the two land points is The Bar)
Adam, Kathy's partner (coming to live with us in Devon soon. He's been travelling down each weekend so far. Couple hundred miles & a 4 1/2 hour drive!) Hopefully the two of them will be sorting a home of their own soon - probably building one somewhere here on the 'estate' if we can get planning permission.

What? Cold? Nah.... brrrr
Must say - Adam is lovely. 
Worth waiting for eh Kathy? :-)

(let's face it, a guy who brings in two bottles of delicious red wine, then sits at the dining room table after dinner with his prospective M.I.L until 1 a.m. polishing off the two bottles between us has GOT to be worth treasuring!)

me kneeling in the sand that's
Appledore behind me
The Ripples In The Sand
and why, you might ask, were these last two photos taken? Well, it might have something to do with the cover of my latest book - the Fourth Sea Witch Voyage....

cover background photo: Simon Murgatroyd
cover designer :Cathy Helms
although Anne, who poses as my character, Tiola, is somewhat more elegant 
(and warmer) than my pose! 

and er...
notice the title?

(quick plug: available from on-line stores world wide, NOW 
- book and e-book form)

23 February 2013

Sad Farewell to our Dog, Rum. 23rd Feb

I'm putting this here in my Devon Diary as I think it is an appropriate place.

Today we had our lovely old dog, Rum, put to sleep.
We think he was 15 years old, but he could have been 14 or 16

Rum was a chestmnut coated Field Spaniel we got him from Wood Green Animal Shelter, Cambridgeshire. He had been badly treated, which is why he was at the rescue centre. A young couple had rescued him from a home where he had been beaten and kicked on a regular basis, but they found because they were at work all day that they could not give him a good home so did the sensible thing and handed him in to the Centre. Where we found him.
He was very fat - and I admit when I first saw him I thought he was the ugliest dog I had ever seen! He soon lost weight - but poor boy, his pads were so smooth because he had never had proper walks, that he was very footsore.

The first thing he did when we got him home was mess on the carpet - but that was nerves and excitement, he was never unclean in the house again (until these last few days where old age got the better of him).

He was called Rocky then - a most unsuitable name. We wanted to keep the 'R' sound though, and 'Rum' seemed a good choice because of his colour. (Ironic that a few years later I started writing the first of my Sea Witch Voyages!)

He came with us to the show jumping centres where Kathy was competing - the first time Ron took him over the fields Rum came to a ditch and had no idea what to do with it. Imagine, a dog who didn't know how to jump over a ditch!
He soon learnt that ditches with stagnant water in  them were good fun though!

Ron, me and Rum
He chased off after a herd of Fallow Deer once and Ron lost him. Kathy and I were back at the Equestrian Centre - Kathy had just finished her jumping round, and there was Rum trotting, as happy as could be, tongue lolling, tail wagging, towards us. Only his 2nd time at that centre, but he remembered his way back to where the horse boxes were parked.

He has been a loyal companion and a good mate for all the years in between - the sort of dog you can cuddle when you need a friend. He loved his walks, loved chasing rabbits, although it never seemed to occur to him that the things with long ears and a cotton-bob tail that sat alongside the path were exactly the same as those that were down the bunny-holes. Rum would go hurtling past all the rabbits above ground, his long ears flapping behind him like the scarf-ends that the old-fashioned pilots wore (I would have called him Biggles had I known this!) his tail wagging, lips grinning: he was always laughing - and that tail never stopped waggng until he fell ill. He won the Waggiest Tail contest once.

In the garden at our old London house
Two years ago in early January he woke me up to ask to be let out into the garden. I let him out but he was such a long time I put my dressing gown on and went out to see why he was not coming back in (thinking perhaps the foxes had been at the pigeon loft again). There was something wrong. He couldn't walk straight, he was all lop-sided and wobbly; it looked like he'd had a stroke.
I called the vet as soon as the surgery opened, and Ron and I took him up as an emergency case.
We thought this was going to be his last ride in the car.

It turned out that this illness is common in dogs (and I'm sorry, I've forgotten what it is called) It affects their balance, can be treated but if it comes back the odds of a second recovery are slim. 
Rum had at least three attacks. Each time he was left a little wobblier, his sight faded and his hearing went. His old legs had arthritis and he could only manage a slow amble, but he was still laughing, still enjoying life.

He developed a problem at night, when he would sleep so deeply he didn't realise that he was 'dribbling' a bit. The vet fixed that though, with a drop or two of medicine in Rum's dinner which tightened his bladder enough to sort things out.

We were worried about the move. It would be stressful for him, a new home, new surroundings, especially as he couldn't see too well or hear at all.
But he loved it here in Devon as much as we do. 

He wobbled up the lane with us of a morning when we went to feed the horses, pottered about the garden, enjoyed all the sniffs in the hedgerow.
He laughed when we went for a walk in the snow - that wide doggy-grin of his - he so wanted to jump about in it!

We took him to Instow beach a few days ago; his little face when he saw the dunes and the sand! He so wanted to go for a paddle, but we were careful not to let him go near the deeper channel of the River Torridge - just the shallows. He had a great time.

Rum on the beach at Instow, Devon, a few years ago
(in his younger days)

These last few days he has become even more wobbly, and was losing weight. He'd fallen over several times, a couple of nasty tumbles, and was not able to manage the slope in the garden or the step in the front garden.

Old age, his illness and very probably the dreadful start that he had in life had finally caught up with him.
We took the decision to  let him quietly slip away before he deteriorated even further. I have always believed that the last service we can give our pets is to ensure they do not suffer any unnecessary pain or indignity, even if it means we have to go through that awful grief of losing them. It is more of a comfort to know they have not suffered just because we can't bear to part with them. 

Rum's bouncing along in a cornfield, hurtling past the bunnies watching him, heading straight for a rabbit hole. I can see him, head stuffed down a rabbit hole,  paws scrabbling, bum and tail wagging fir to burst. He looks up, grinning.
'Ain't life grand mum?'
'Yes Rum, it is.'

 Rest in peace boy.

Rum in his younger days

I’ll lend you for a while 

I’ll lend you for a little while, a dog of mine, God said,
For you to love while he’s alive, and mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be one or fifteen years, or maybe more than these,
But will you, ‘till I call him back, take care of him for me, please?

He’ll bring you love to gladden you, and should his stay be brief
You shall have his memories, and solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay, since all on Earth return,
But there are lessons taught down here, I want my dog to learn.

I’ve looked this wide world over, in my search for teacher’s true,
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love, and not think labour vain?
Nor hate me when I come to call, and take him back again?

Will you shelter him with tenderness and love him while you may?
And for the happiness you’ve known, forever grateful stay?

But when the angels call for him, much sooner than you planned,
Brave the bitter grief that comes, and please, try to understand.

He was made from love and trust, and most lovingly bred...
 I’ll lend you, for a little while, a dog of mine, God said

Author unknown

(follow-up links to our new 4-pawed friend, Baz:



19 February 2013

19th February

The mist had concealed the Valley this morning - but it was interesting to see how quickly the sun burnt it off: the fields and trees behind came into view as if an eraser was being wiped gently across the scene. Where the sun was hitting everything turned to gold, as if Midas was walking past. As the frost melted (everything had a white sheen to it!) the dew turned to glittering diamonds, scattered there by fairy-dust no doubt.

We had another visitor to the 'gallows' bird feeder this morning LOL - Felix Sybilia. Sybil the cat has discovered the birds, naughty puss. Fortunately she can't reach the feeder, though I don't know how long it will take her to work out how to climb up. Hopefully the rather prickly roses growing up the posts will be a deterrent!

Pickfords have just arrived to collect all the discarded boxes and packaging - there is rather a lot of it, thank goodness for the Old Dairy which we have used as a storage space. Ron is going to use one side of it as a stock loft for his pigeons, the other side, will be for our hay.

Old Dairy (estate agent's photo)
Our new neighbours from Up Top Of Hill called round this morning with a lovely card - what nice people, Jacqueline and Kenneth. Met the neighbours from Down the Hill last week - Tony & Diane, and the neighbours from Lower Up The Hill
before that - all somewhat of an improvement on the last lot of Unpleasant Upstairs Walthamstow neighbours! :-)

Going up to the top of Bottom Field now to mark out where we want a menage put in. (Gulp at the cost of what this will be! :( ....  ) Needed for the horses of course, especially as Lexie has decided that sheep are horse-eaters and must be Avoided At All Cost. Silly horse. (she went all goggle-eyed yesterday when the deer decided to cross her field. Kathy had to laugh because the Exmoor pony gave her such a withering "for goodness sake" look!

Lexie & Jasper in Middle Field

Lexie & 'Squidgy'

18 February 2013

18th February

Mysterious banging from upstairs, above my study. First one I ignored - but as Ron and Kathy are out, they've gone shopping, the second one was a bit disconcerting.
Either we've got a ghost or a cat is shut in...

Turned out to be the cats playing in Kathy's room. Talk about pretending to be a herd of elephants! LOL


Not sure if I mentioned: went for a lovely walk up the lane the other day. Coming back it was all so beautiful I got choked up and shed a few tears.
All a bit overwhelming!

17 February 2013

17th February

Lazy Sunday.
The sky is blue, but there is quite a strong (and somewhat cold) wind blowing out there.
In between doing various small jobs Ron and I have been bird watching - taking pleasure in watching the birds make full use of the bird feeder and the fat balls that we have fixed to the 'Gallows' in the garden.

I've not got a good enough camera (yet) to take photos of them but ...

the garden - and the bird feeder on the gallows
mother & baby blue tits
...these are the birds we've seen since moving in:

barn owl
blue tit
wood pigeon
long tail tit
green woodpecker
marsh tit
great tit
tawny owl (heard)

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15 February 2013

15th February

Ron and I have been out in the garden listening to the deer calling in the nearby woods. Too dark to see anything though :-(

12 February 2013

12th February

Quick entry today as I've been busy sorting out the spare room: sorting out Ron's racing pigeons via two lovely visitors, Cindy and Don, local pigeon racing people who have set Ron on the right path to start racing here. Sorting out one very naughty horse - Lexie - who decided she doesn't like sheep so would NOT go up the lane. I ended up walking with her. Not easy as she is big and I have a stiff hip and aching knees. Couldn't leave daughter Kathy to struggle on her own though - even if she is a very good rider! Then I had to sort out British Telecom who were re-directing my phone calls to a wrong number... FINALLY managed to boot the computer up at 8 pm.
I HAD intended to start writing the next book today.... sigh. I also have a Blog Tour for the recently published book  Ripples In The Sand to get under way.

Ripples is set in Appledore and Instow, by the way.... now just up the road from where I live!

I must add.... I am thoroughly enjoying listening to BBC Radio Devon. Love the morning shows, and listening late at night. I was actually dancing round my beautiful bedroom this morning while getting dressed to a Robbie Williams track - thank you Judy Spiers for starting my day with a happy smile (I haven't jigged about for ages!)

Facebook Radio Devon

11 February 2013

11th February

It was my turn to get up and feed the horses this morning. Now people who know me will know that I am not an early morning "lark" person, I've always been more of a late-night owl, but getting up at 7.30 to walk up the garden to feed the neddies their breakfast is a huge pleasure. (Mind you, the novelty might wear off!)

This morning there was a double pleasure.

I got up, looked out my bedroom window - and the mist wandering up the valley was absolutely gorgeous! It really was just like the breath of a dragon stalking the valley, or an ethereal magical spell being cast.

Anyway, here's the pictures:

This was the view from my north-facing bedroom window this morning at 7.30 a.m. 
(The silver thing hanging from the "gallows" is a bird feeder)

Looking north-eastward across next door's field
(where we saw a red dear stag a short while ago)
This is the north-facing bedroom window

Mab on my bed watching Sybil coming in
the south-facing window - you can just see the greenhouse
 with stables behind
Mab looking out
Our dining room
Note the wine rack - made from the sections of clay piping that I found in the shed! 
The view at breakfast!

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