Sunday, 25 December 2011

A new clock

GB remembered from his visit earlier in the year that we hadn't got a clock for our new kitchen and kindly offered to buy us one for Christmas. We wanted to get a black one to match our units. Searching on the web came up with lots of lovely clocks, but we both fell for this one. It arrived a couple of days ago and was the first present we unwrapped this morning.

As well as being a little bit different and less serious than most clocks it also has three lovely little animals - a bird, squirrel and a rabbit. The rabbit is my favourite.

By Christmas dinner time the clock was in its new home:

Thank you GB for a wonderful and thoughtful present.

Monday, 14 November 2011


We celebrated Halloween a couple of days early this year as Ian was going away for a week. We were very busy with work so I didn't manage to do any baking, but we got these wonderful cakes from the supermarket (no doubt the first and last time that I'll happily eat spider):

As usual we carved pumpkins. I decided upon a bat which we both agreed looked more impressive in the light than in the dark:

Ian carved a graveyard scene which looked fantastic when lit:

Mum got us a lovely little tealight holder:

and we brought out these lovely little guys that Ian bought in Sweden:


It's traditional in my family to celebrate harvest by decorating the dining room with vegetables and sitting down as a family to a home-cooked meal. Over the last few years we haven't manage to keep up the tradition, but this year Mum visited us in October so we celebrated in Exeter for the first time.

After homemade soup for lunch we went for a walk around Stover Country Park

When we got back our neighbour's friendly cat Sweep dropped by for a fuss:

In addition to the fruit and vegetables we also decorated with the fake maple leaves that we bought for our wedding cake and with the hazelnuts that we collected on our walks:

We had a blackberry and apple pie for dessert and we used our delightful new pie crust cutters from Williams-Sonoma to decorate it:


During our trip to Cornwall we visited the village of Tintagel on the north coast. Tintagel and its castle are associated with the legends of King Arthur - see the wikipedia page for more information.

The Camelot hotel has incredible views of the Celtic Sea

The castle is partly on the mainland and partly on an island. To get to either part involves climbing a lot of steps. On the mainland:

On the island:

The castle ruins:

Merlin's Cave was very difficult to photograph, but I think this photo shows the atmosphere:

The cave is open at both ends and is only viewable at low tide. We just managed to make a quick stop there before the tide blocked it off.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Princess Sophie

Today we brought home our second foster cat from the local Cats Protection Centre. 15 year-old Sophie is a grey and white and had rather a reputation for grumpiness at the Centre. Certainly our first encounter at the Centre was a little trying with her scratching both Ian and I despite our trying not to upset her. The vet there even called us saints for taking her!

Although it's only been a few hours she seems like a different animal now that we've brought her home. She's both friendly and responsive. Her initial shyness wore off after only an hour and she's spent the afternoon begging for meals and treats. She loves human company, but also seems to be completely comfortable being left alone to amuse herself.

Welcome Sophie.


On our last morning in Cornwall Ian and I visited Polperro on the south coast. It's an adorable fishing village with some wonderful buildings.

None of the houses had numbers - instead each had a (presumably) unique name. It must be a daunting task for new postmen. The houses were all different and had lots of unique features like this front door

and this wonderful sign

The pubs were themed appropriately and we saw so many interesting eateries that we could have happily stayed there for a month and gone to a different one each day

Just as well this ice cream stall didn't open until the afternoon otherwise I'd have probably filled myself up before we even went to lunch.

Friday, 7 October 2011


Sadly, after only a week at Frog End blood tests showed that little Polly was in serious renal failure, probably caused by her thyroid medication (if she hadn't taken it she probably would have got heart failure so it was a no-win situation). Her health declined quite rapidly and only two weeks after we got her she had to be put down.

Although Polly was only with us for a couple of weeks she touched our hearts far more than we could have imagined. All her wonderful little grumpy noises became so endearing and the way she would sleep really made us smile. How she managed to breathe in this position I'll never know (luckily for us her tail swished constantly so we didn't need to check to make sure she was okay):

Not people to stick closely to pet names we started calling Polly different names within a day or two and she quickly became known as 'Pockets' (from poly-pockets - those plastic wallets that hold papers in folders). The name really seemed to suit her.

We're very grateful to have known her and glad that she spent her last two weeks out of a cage. We will miss you Pockets.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre

Just a few miles from Launceston (the historic capital of Cornwall), the Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre is well worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

The otters at the centre seem so much more relaxed that those at Buckfastleigh and even the New Forest or Chestnut Centre. Rather than going back indoors after their feed they stayed outside for over an hour swimming, playing, going down slides and even sleeping out in the open.

Biggy, Smalley and their father Raymond (asian short-clawed otters):

Although I've seen European otters before at Buckfastleigh I'd never had such a good opportunity to photograph them. William and Harriet:

I'm not sure who this is:

A very relaxed otter:

This is Dasher, a three-legged muntjac:

There were other muntjac in the woods at the Centre, but we were unable to spot them.

Jack the kestrel:

We both thought he was adorable. Ian asked to hold him for a minute and they were kind enough to let him.

A wallaby in the grounds:

and an adorable duckling:

Monday, 19 September 2011


Polly has a thyroid condition which requires us to give her a tablet once a day. The first day took 6 attempts, the second day it went down straight away. Today it took 5 hours of on and off attempts. Once we understood how to hold her jaw it's actually quite easy to get her to open her mouth. The problem is that if we fail to get her to swallow the tablet the first time she becomes angry and growls and snuffles which makes it more difficult for her to swallow.

This is Polly after she finally swallowed the tablet today.

She's actually a very sweet cat, but she sure can sulk!

Please cross your fingers that we all get the hang of this process soon.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Along came Polly

From today Ian and I are going to be fostering 15 year old Polly from the Cats Protection Centre near Exeter. Polly has been at the centre for a long time and because of her age no one has offered to adopt her. We're giving her a home at Frog End so that she can enjoy her old age in peace. By fostering her we're also receiving support (mostly medical) from Cats Protection to help look after her.

We picked Polly up this morning and she soon found a patch of sun to sit in.

Welcome Polly.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


We've just returned from a lovely couple of nights in Cornwall. Despite living in Devon for 6 years I'd yet to venture into Cornwall. It was well worth the wait and we'll definitely be going back soon.

I loved all the unprounouncable placenames and also the pub names: the Weary Friar, the Springer Spaniel, the Who'd Have Thought It Inn and the Swingle Tree Inn being just a few in the area where we were staying.

We visited the Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre, Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Cabilla Woods Nature Reserve, Tintagel and Polperro, all of which were fantastic and will probably get blogs of their own when I've sorted through the 900 photos I took.

For now here's a photo of Harriet - a European otter

Saturday, 10 September 2011

RIP William

A very special resident of Frog End sadly passed away this week. William moved in only two months after we did and very quickly made the place his home. He was with us through all the changes to our house and garden and even approved of most of them (the ponds became his personal drinking bowl for a year or two, the deck his sun lounge, the radiators his paw warmers and the French doors gave him hours of entertainment staring into or out from the house).Although already in retirement (aged 13) and beginning to show the signs of the skin cancer that was to plague him for the rest of his life he arrived and remained a very cheerful and friendly tabby.

William's first week - October 2007
In the lounge - November 2007
Drinking from the pond - August 2008
Helping to open Christmas presents in Formby - December 2008
On the newly laid lawn - May 2009
Enjoying the new bench and the lawn - June 2009
Taking it easy in the kitchen - June 2010
Enjoying some sunshine with his new friend the fig tree during his last week - September 2011.
William you were a very special puss and will be hugely missed.