Sunday, 20 November 2016

No. November

November. Never anyone's favourite month, in spite of the excitement of Guy Fawkes and fireworks night.  And that's a mixed blessing, anyway: I know we should be thankful that a seventeenth century act of terrorism was foiled and the monarchy and Parliament were saved, but it has never sat comfortably with me that we celebrate a cruel death.

But bonfires and fireworks are long gone. Instead, we have Storm Angus, who howled through the English Channel last night, breaking branches off trees, tossing trampolines, stamping on surfboards and boats and generally keeping everyone awake.

Not us, though. In spite of hearing all kinds of tales about the fierce winds which affect this part of the island, we slept through the Force 12 gusts which tore through at 2.20am this morning. The only damage was to the spinach: already hail-battered, it is now looking rather wind-shredded. Green debris and the odd slate littered the roads this morning.

We are thankful. Thankful for a solid, warm house, when many sleep out in the cold, fleeing from terror.
Thankful for the loving friends we have, as I put together our yearly newsletter and start to send it off with Christmas cards. (Feeling somewhat under pressure, as some folk still don't know that we have moved, let alone have our new address.)
Thankful for family , even though they are all so far away that it tears my heart to shred.

There we are. No.Vember.

Some photos to bring cheer to a cheerless month:
Richard preparing to light the wood-burning stove he has installed

Lit!  It warms the room incredibly efficiently.

Final 'autumn cleaning' of TMH.  It needs a name.

Tanna coffee. From Cat and Andy in the summer. Warm climes, warm memories...

Baby butternut. The plant produced three medium sized squashes, in the end. Well done, plant!

Spinach, pre-Angus.  And the potatoes are ready now, too!

Orchids in the evening sun

Sunday, 30 October 2016


Autumn. Still stunning sunrises and sunsets... and fungi....

Nerines - the Guernsey lily.

Flowers by my back door

Herb garden

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Country life

Even though we have lived in a quiet lane surrounded by fields, with only a handful of neighbours, we now feel that we really have moved into the country. Before, as soon as we had cycled a couple of minutes, we were soon in a hodge-podge of lanes and houses built hugger-mugger, cottages tucked away almost in people's tiny back gardens.

Here, we have neighbours on each side, audible but not visible. Otherwise, huge fields stretch behind and in front of us, behind a bungalow, a stretch of land to the cliff edge.
Five minutes walk takes us to the coastal path.

Birds of prey have become a common part of our lives. Honey buzzards wheeling overhead, calling shrilly - one day, several pairs of them circling above the house. Harriers swoop low over the hedges. An owl perched on a post at sunset. And, sadly, today a blackbird's carcass on the lawn, evidence of a sudden aerial attack.

We face south, so we see sunrises in one direction, sunsets in the other. A ten minute drive to the beach saw us surfing as the sun fell behind the clouds into the sea. Sleeping this week has been interrupted by huge moons rising over the garden.
We explored many of the lanes over the summer, sometimes so narrow that a car creeps along, kissing the hedgerows on either side.

Cutting our hedge in company with our nearest neighbours resulted in a delightful impromptu tea invitation, coming home laden with home-grown tomatoes and courgettes. We bump into acquaintances as we walk the dog; others, already living in this remote part of Guernsey, invite us to supper.

Torteval is beginning to feel more like home.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

September reflections

Just over halfway through September and the warm weather continues.  Despite - or perhaps because of - the start of term, summer days have carried on as if there is no other way to be. Surely this is Someone's Law? The Law which says that September will be hot and sunny as soon as the children go back to school?  This year, more true than ever. The evenings have been incredibly warm: I have been reluctant to go to bed, sitting on the warm stoop at 10pm, watching bats flitting back and forth in the dark.

The mornings have been so beautiful that I have frequently scampered out of bed and along the cliffs before cycling off to school...

From the bedroom window

Gardening has been a delight: cucumbers galore, butternut squash appearing, leeks, spinach, curly kale, potatoes...

School is a new year's helter skelter: new Maths scheme, new English, new way of teaching writing, new children... the last 'new' is all good: it is such a privilege to get to know these intriguing personalities and journey with them over the year.

Richard has been so busy at home: laying new paving slabs for parking; cutting and trimming trees and bushes; fixing our broken bike barn, after the roof of it blew off in a summer storm; repairing my faithful food processor, which stopped working after 28 years...and celebrating 32 years of married life with a beautiful reminder from Cat:
And every weekend has involved hosting friends old and new, getting to know our lovely neighbours...such a privilege to be able to use this lovely house as a meeting place.

#blessed #contentment  #hospitalityissosatisfying

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Endless. summer.

Nearly the end of August, and the summer continues. We have seen rain on approximately four occasions since the beginning of July, although Cat and Andy had a couple of damp days during their visit. This was due, in part, to being away from Guernsey as the island endured fog and rain for several days, but since we have been back we have had a morning of rain and a thunderstorm. Otherwise, one sunny day stretches into another...

Bliss. I am into my ninth week of school holidays - unprecedented, I think, in my career - and enjoying every minute. Cycle rides - some functional, running errands; some social, visiting friends; some just for fun, exploring the nooks and crannies of parts of the island I've rarely ventured into. Cliff walks - first one way from our house, then another: we are five minutes' walk from the path. Sea swims, although it is never 'warm', just tolerable. #LovelyOnceYouAreIn
Rocquaine in the evening

The Cup and Saucer - Fort Grey. #MartelloTower

So warm on the rocks

The time to relax. Gardening: planting vegetables, trimming shrubs, filling pots with compost and herbs, preparing a compost heap. Beach: with husband, with friends, soaking up the sun in sheltered spots. We even helped as marshalls in the car park for the North Show, visiting it afterwards to look at all the amazing produce and creative displays...
Large vegetables

A very hungry caterpillar. Half the length of my hand.
This morning, I woke before the sunrise. Too good an opportunity to miss, so within minutes dog and I were out of the door. It is a five minute stroll to the cliff path and the sky was beginning to lighten.

Mist lingered above the dew-dampness, the gorse and heather glistening in the pre-dawn light. Silken nets, spider-laid traps, waited for flying insects to be lured into captivity. My feet stirred dust up lightly from the rocky path, its dryness a stark contrast to the moist green of bracken and bramble.

The dog was in heaven: more interesting rabbit smells than she knew what to do with, each leading off fruitlessly into tiny runs through the undergrowth.

The sun came up, the world changed...

...and then there was sunset.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Return. Catching Up. Settling In. Etc etc.

Cat and Andy left... and so, the following day, did we.  Our venture into France and Spain has been more than adequately documented in Travels With Pickle. Yes, Pickle went on holiday too...

Good to be home, though, especially with Jonny and Adele still with us. The washing machine went into overdrive...perhaps only seven loads in seven two days, but it felt like more.

The garden was a pleasant surprise. Andy had cut the grass for us before we left and it had barely grown in the month we were away; the baby cucumber plant had a baby cucumber on, thanks to Kareena's faithful watering; the hedges were...somewhat overgrown, but that hadn't changed much - we knew they needed cutting down to size.

So that, with Jonny's help, is what we have been doing. He loves wielding cutting tools, so was in his element with the hedge trimmer, chainsaw and strimmer and now the garden looks much more manageable.  Of course, he still managed to surf, cycle, kayak, fish and catch up with best friends - scrambles down the cliffs (and back up through the brambles in the deepening twilight - almost dark), hanging out on the beach and sleeping out in the garden.

We were so glad to have him stay on, and the weather was glorious.

We've made the most of it: cycling from one end of the island to the other, exploring lanes and footpaths we'd never before ventured down,catching up with friends for beach sundowners. (And getting lost in the moonlight, pedalling down lanes so dark and narrow that the sky made a tunnel over our heads.)

Inbetween, we're slowly by slowly getting little jobs done around the house: preparing beds for vegetables, organising cupboards, getting ready for painting, working out how to install a wood-burning stove... lots to keep us busy.

Vazon at sunset
Tess at L'Eree

The gang eating supper. So warm, we stayed resting on the rocks, which radiated so much heat that it was still comfortable at 9.30 that evening, long after the sun had finally slid beneath the covers to sleep.

Beautiful weather. Beautiful island.