On our way again…Wales, here we come…Favorite photos…

Beautiful tomatoes we picked every few days.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon: From this site:

“Devon derives its name from Dumnonia. During the British Iron Age, Roman Britain, and the early Middle Ages, this was the homeland of the Dumnonii Brittonic Celts. (The shift from “M” to “V” is a typical Celtic consonant shift.) The Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain resulted in the partial assimilation of Dumnonia into the Kingdom of Wessex during the eighth and ninth centuries. The western boundary with Cornwall was set at the River Tamar by King Æthelstan in 936. Devon was later constituted as a shire of the Kingdom of England.”
The car is loaded with everything but the perishables, which we’ll pack moments before we leave in a short time. Once again, the packing was quick and easy, and I didn’t give it much of a thought until yesterday so Tom could carry the heavy bags downstairs.
The Dorset sheep on the farm are adorable, although dirty from the constant rain.

While in Wales, I plan to go through the supply bag and my clothing bag to clear out anything we don’t need and any clothing that has to go due to wear and tear.  

All the lambs are being moved from one paddock to another.

At times, I could toss the whole lot when I am sick of looking at the same things over and over again. But, until we get to the US, where we’ll each rebuild our wardrobe, we’ll do the best we can. We prefer to buy clothing in Minnesota when there’s no sales tax on apparel.

Tom, the shepherd, enjoyed taking part in herding the sheep.

The only time weight is an issue when we fly from Fort Lauderdale to Minnesota and then several more flights in the US for two months, moving from state to state to visit family.

This is my favorite photo.
It’s raining today (not surprising), but we have less than a two-hour drive to the holiday home in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales, most of which will be on the main highway, so the drive shouldn’t be too bad.  
The pristine beach at Torquay.

One of the four properties we rented over two months in the UK that we were a little concerned about was too small. It has only one bedroom leaving few options to open our bags and not officially unpack. We’ll only be there for 11 nights, but as always, we’ll figure it out.

An impressive design made by a skilled sand sculptor.

On Monday, we’ll see our friends, Linda and Ken, who are staying nearby for four nights and I’m certain we’ll spend a lot of time with them. If we’d known they were coming ahead of time, we’d have booked a bigger property enabling them to stay with us.  

We explored parts of the massive apple orchard.

They stayed with us for a week in Marloth Park, and it was as easy as it could be. They were fantastic houseguests who pitched in and helped with meals, cleanup, and picking up after themselves.

Even the chickens were entertaining.

While in Wales, they’ve selected a holiday home not too far away so we can all spend time together. No doubt, this will be a busy and fun four days. If the weather improves a little surely, we’ll go sightseeing together.  

The pond at Pond Cottage where the ducks carried on all day.

Linda and Ken are avid world travelers, currently coming off a trip on the Orient Express, and we can’t wait to hear all about it. It is very similar to our upcoming train adventure in India on the Maharajas Express at the beginning of February.  We’re anxious to hear the ins and outs of traveling overnight by train, a first for both of us.

With the cool weather, we had a fire in the wood-burning stove almost every day and evening. Tom gathered the neatly arranged dry firewood from the shed every few days.

Most likely, we’ll dine out while they’re visiting, but I noticed our new holiday home in Chepstow has a dining table for four. Most likely, we’ll cook a night or two.

The chicken was looking inside the house to see if we had any pellets.

Well, folks, we’re signing off from the fabulous farm in Witheridge and will be back tomorrow with photos of our new location.

One day’s picking in the garden.

Have a purposeful and yet peaceful day!  See you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, October 11, 2018:
Ms. Warthog’s poses for the camera.  For more photos, please click here.

A peek inside a 500-year-old farmhouse…Pheasants in the garden…1 day and counting…

Considerable updating has been done over the centuries to maintain historical integrity.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Torquay: 
From this site:

“A major development for the future of Tiverton came in 1815 when industrialist John Heathcoat bought an old woolen mill on the River Exe. It followed the destruction of his factory and machinery in Loughborough by Luddites thought to have been in the pay of the Lacemakers of Nottingham. As a result, he moved his entire lace-making operation to Tiverton and such was his reputation for looking after his workforce that 500 people – workers and families – walked the 190 miles from Loughborough to come and live and work for him in Tiverton. The factory turned around the fortunes of the town and once again it became a significant industrial centre in the southwest. Trade was aided when a branch of the Grand Western Canal from Taunton to Tiverton was opened in 1838 followed by a branch of the Great Western Railway in 1848. The Heathcoat factory is still one of the town’s core businesses today.”
When John and Renate invited us to see their historic 500-year-old home, we jumped at the chance. They were packing for their one week holiday and respecting the time they needed to prepare to leave at 2:00 am, we didn’t stay long.
A large dining table suited for their large family who often visits.

It was such a thrill to wander through the house seeing snippets of who they are, the family life they enjoy with grown children and many grandchildren who visit often and the high regard for the property’s history in every change or addition they conduct.

Almost every room has a fireplace or wood burning stove used as supplemental heat for the house.

These two lovely people have meant the world to us. It’s been such a joy to develop close relationships with our landlords/property managers that have endured over the years, most of whom we’re still in touch on Facebook which has proven to be a great resource.

John and Renate’s 500-year-old house has been appointed with authenticity in mind.

Renate and I have sent messages back and forth this past week. They will return hours after we leave tomorrow morning by 10:00 am. We’re sorry we’ll miss seeing them one more time.

Built-in window seats.

Over the past week, we’ve seen several ring-necked pheasants, both male and female hanging around in the garden. We haven’t been able to take a single photo outside since each time we hear or see them, they fly away when they see us.  

An Aga range is known as a top-of-the-line addition to any kitchen.

As a result, all of the bird photos we’ve included here today, except for the three geese, were taken through a window in Pond Cottage. Although it’s not mating season with winter quickly rolling in it’s been delightful to see the groups of males and females, pecking at the grass and making a variety of sounds we didn’t recognize.  

After owning the property for over 30 years, they’ve made many additions such as granite countertops, new appliances, sinks, and cupboards. Floors throughout the house are either original stone or wood.

We’re currently in the process of wrapping up our packing.  Mine and Tom’s clothing bags are done (gee…I love not unpacking!) and downstairs waiting to be transported to the car.  Luckily, once the bags are downstairs, he’ll be able to wheel them to the car.

These three geese stopped by for a visit.

The only other items to pack are the toiletries and supplies bag, the digital equipment and plug-ins and the food. I’ve placed all the non-perishables in one area of the countertop and it will only take moments to load it into grocery bags.  

Over the past week, several ring-necked pheasants, both male and female have been hanging around the garden.

The perishables will go in the yellow insulated Costco bag which surely will stay fresh with only a two-hour drive ahead of us. Since check-out here is 10:00 am and check-in in Monmouthshire is 2:00 pm, we plan to stop for lunch along the way.

From this site: Pheasants are birds that can be found alone or in small flocks. Typically, a mother hen and her brood will stay together until early autumn. While pheasants are able to fly fast for short distances, they prefer to run. If startled, however, they will burst to the sky in a “flush.” Their flight speed is 38 to 48 mph when cruising, but they can fly up to 60 mph. When chased, Pheasants spend almost their entire life on the ground, rarely seen in trees. They eat a wide variety of foods including, insects, seeds, and leaves. Roosters typically have a harem of several females during the spring mating season. Hen pheasants nest on the ground, producing a clutch of around twelve eggs over a two to three week period in April to June. The incubation period is about 23 days.

Tomorrow, we’ll upload our final post for Witheridge including a number of favorite photos. This has been wonderful, for two reasons, one; we’ve loved this farm and two; I regained my health while here. We couldn’t be more cheerful and optimistic.

This adorable bird, a Green Woodpecker, was sitting on a fence post.  We took all of the bird photos through the window glass. They were so close, they would have flown away if we opened the door.

As soon as today’s post is uploaded we’ll be off to the garden to collect a few more tomatoes to take with us for tomorrow night’s dinner. We’ve purposely kept a meal available, to easily cook to avoid the necessity of grocery shopping on our first day in Chepstow. We’ll settle in for a day and then take off shopping and exploring.

Our friends, Lynne and Mick, the most educated birders we know, who live in Jersey, UK, got back to us and identified this bird as indicated above.

Back at you tomorrow! Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2018:
We flipped it over for this photo. This is an African Black Beetle. We swept it over the edge of the veranda. A few minutes later a band of mongooses stopped by and one of them immediately started devouring the beetle, savoring it so much, he made funny noises while crunching on its hard shell. Mongooses are carnivores. They don’t sting but have a potent toxin they release when agitated that can feel like a sting and cause irritation. For more photos, please click here.

Feeling great….Last few photos of Torquay…Two days and counting..

A cute little restaurant, the Cottage Cafe.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Torquay: 
From this site:

“Roman soldiers are known to have visited Torquay when Britain was a part of the Roman Empire, leaving offerings at a curious rock formation in Kents Cavern, known as “The Face.” No evidence has been found of Roman settlement in the town. The first major building in Torquay was Torre Abbey, a Premonstratensian monastery founded in 1196. Torquay remained a minor settlement until the Napoleonic wars when Torbay was used as a sheltered anchorage by the Channel Fleet, and relatives of officers often visited Torquay. The mild climate (for the UK) attracted many visitors who considered the town a convalescence retreat where they could recover from illness away from the cold and cloudy winters of more northerly or easterly locations. The population of Torquay grew rapidly from 838 in 1801, to 11,474 in 1851.”
Six weeks ago, I came off the three heart medications, each of which was causing terrible side effects.  The conditions for which they were prescribed are not issues I’ve experienced except during the first few weeks after surgery while I was hospitalized.

The exhaustion, the constant need for naps, the chronic pain in my muscles and joints preventing me from walking or performing simple tasks, the erratic pulse often too low, the atrial fibrillations, the bouts of high and low blood pressure, and the frightening breathlessness, all are gone.

My pulse is comfortably in the high 60’s. My blood pressure runs in the 115/70 range. I can breathe easily and walk up and down several flights of stairs with no more difficulty than others without heart issues. I am often sleeping through the night…a first for me.
The best shot I could get of this church was when there was no nearby parking.

Keep in mind. I’ve never really noticed any difference before and after the surgery. I’d completed the stress test with seeming ease before the surgery without being out of breath. Then, I was easily able to exert myself, and now, there’s no difference.  

But it was an abnormal stress test readout attributed to the plethora of tests and surgeries that followed. Finally, it was the angiogram that provided the scary situation I was in.  I still have blockages but no angina (chest pain or otherwise). We’ll see what the future holds.

In the past month, I’ve stopped obsessing about how I am feeling at any given moment. With all the side effects I had, it’s no wonder I was in a state of worry and concern. I no longer check my pulse 20 times a day, my blood pressure ten times. All is well.
There are numerous churches in Torquay of many denominations.

Each of the three drugs had its own unique set of side effects. As I weaned off one medication after another, the changes in how I was feeling were palpable. I’m so grateful.

Sure, you may say I should have gone to a doctor before stopping these drugs. But, after considerable reading on reputable medical studies, all my side effects were expected. Normal? Yikes!
(Please do not take any of this information as advice or suggestions for your health. Please see your physician if issues arise).
A clock tower.

Once we left South Africa in May, I left behind a relationship with a cardiologist. I’d requested records from him and the surgeon, but they weren’t as comprehensive as they should have been to present to a new doctor.

IF I had gone to a cardiologist in another country, I would most likely have been required to have more tests, some invasive and some with a degree of risk. I took my own life into my hands which, in itself, wasn’t without risk.
However, if I’d had any new symptoms as I weaned off the drugs, I would have immediately sought professional help.  Now, I can stick to having my first annual checkup in February, which I plan to do.
We were surprised to see a casino in Torquay.

As we look to the future, we do so with innate optimism and passion for our continuing travels. We realize the risks, but after we’ve experienced what we have been through this past year, we know we can figure out the best possible solutions.

In two days, we head out for the last of the four holiday homes in the UK before we’re off to Southampton for a few days in a hotel and then on to the cruise back to the US. One month from today we’ll be with our families!

Enjoy your day to the max!
Photo from one year ago today, October 9, 2018:
Traffic jam on the way to the river. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Torquay, the much revered English Riviera…Living on farms…Three days and counting…

High Street in many towns and villages has banners flying indicating the main shopping area.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Torquay: 
From this site:

“Torquay’s name originates in its being the quay of the ancient village of Torre. In turn, Torre takes its name from the tor, the extensively quarried remains of which the town’s Lymington Road can be seen, thus giving this the original name of Torquay, then Torkay, Torkey, and Tor Quay before joining the words together to Torquay.

The area comprising modern Torquay has been inhabited since Paleolithic times. Hand axes found in Kents Cavern have been dated as 40,000 years old,[4] and a maxilla fragment, known as Kents Cavern 4, maybe the oldest example of a modern human in Europe, dating back to 37,000–40,000 years ago.

It’s going to be hard to leave this incredible farm in three days. Our only disappointment has been the amount of rain during our stay, impacting our ability to explore further this beautiful 150-acre property and more of the surrounding area.

Several beachcombers wandered the shore with the dogs, tossing balls for them to chase.

Once again, we’ve discovered that living on a farm has been a memorable experience. In the past seven years, we’ve only spent a total of four months living on farms. Although not significant time-wise,  each unto its own has left an indelible mark on the accumulated scope of our travel experiences.

The center of town has a variety of shops and restaurants.

In the future, we may search for farms as possible holiday homes based on the depth and magnitude of their effects on our level of enjoyment along with a profound sense of well-being and pleasure.

A footbridge was leading to the beach promenade.

People often ask what has been our favorite experience since we began seven years ago. For both of us, the answer is simple…being close to nature, whether it’s living in the bush surrounded by wildlife or living in the area where we can spot indigenous wildlife and birds and, of course, living on farms.

Our two experiences of late include St. Teath, Cornwall, and now in Witheridge, Devon. And, when was our third? Our first farm adventure occurred when we lived on the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

We walked on this bridge down to the beach.

As we’ve mentioned many times in the past, the three months we spent living in a newly built farmhouse with 100 alpacas surrounding us in various paddocks will be remembered as one of our favorite stays in any location.  

To begin reading a few of the alpaca farm adventures, please click here. When I just looked up the link, my heart did a flip-flop when I saw the adorable face of my favorite little alpaca (called a “cria”), Mont Blanc, who later lost his little life. Such memories.

The cliffs overlook the beach and promenade.

Then, of course, the four months we spent in Kauai, Hawaii, with almost daily interactions with the nesting, hatching, and eventual fledging of the stunning Layson albatross chicks who nested in the nearby neighborhood of several of the friends we made while there.  

Click this link for more and the beginning of our posts for this life-changing opportunity, one we’ll never forget as the chicks were about to hatch. We followed their story day after day, cherishing every moment of this peek into the life of these fantastic birds.  

This little dog made us laugh when fast chasing a ball.

And, as many of our long-time readers are well aware, the total two years we spent in Africa, our lives were filled with adventure and excitement beyond our wildest dreams. It’s hard to believe we left South Africa only five months ago, as the memories linger on.

The contemporary spire on a church in the downtown area.

It was in October 2013. We had the blissful experience of our first safari in Kenya. We still find ourselves reeling over the endless sightings we were blessed to see. Please click here where those photos began.

Well, it goes on and on. Mother Nature is our hero and will remain so for whatever time we are gifted with as we strive to continue this year-long journey.

There are many ornate office complexes in the town.

We are very grateful for life…for ours and theirs…the mission continues.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 8, 2018:
They aren’t particularly handsome animals, but they are an essential part of the animal kingdom. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Torquay, the much revered English Riviera…Wardrobe issues…

A creative sand sculpture artist was busy working on the beach in Torquay, Devon, known as the English Riviera.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Torquay: From this site:

Torquay (/tɔːrˈkiː/ tor-KEE) is a seaside town in Devon, England, part of the unitary authority area of Torbay. It lies 18 miles (29 km) south of the county town of Exeter and 28 miles (45 km) east-north-east of Plymouth, on the north of Tor Bay, adjoining the neighboring town of Paignton on the west of the bay and across from the fishing port of Brixham.The town’s economy, like Brixham’s, was initially based upon fishing and agriculture. Still, in the early 19th century, it developed into a fashionable seaside resort, originally frequented by members of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. At the same time, the Royal Navy anchored in the bay. Later, as the town’s fame spread, it was popular with Victorian society. Renowned for its mild climate (for the U.K.), the town earned the English Riviera’s nickname.

The writer Agatha Christie was born in the town and lived there during her early years, and there is an “Agatha Christie Mile,” a tour with plaques dedicated to her life and work.”

When it was sunny a few days ago, we didn’t waste a moment dropping everything to hit the road to visit the popular town of Torquay, Devon, known as the English Riviera.
It was beautiful to see the ocean once again in Torquay, Devon.
Driving was always challenging when many roads weren’t marked, and the GPS signal was seldom available. Saving the online directions helped, but only when we closely watched the odometer for turns which helped but still wasn’t perfect.
It was one of the few sunny days in weeks inspiring us to go on a road trip.
Once we got onto the highway, the M5, finding our way was easy with many signs marked for Torquay, the popular seaside resort town. It took us over an hour once we made it to the highway.
Upon arrival in the lovely town of Torquay, after we’d had lunch in a restaurant with a parking lot (yeah!) with excellent views of the sea. We had a nice lunch and were on our way to check out the attractive location.
Torquay is a busy tourist location as well as a permanent home for many British and foreigners.  Its current population is 65,245, making it the third-highest population in Devon, but not in England’s top 320 cities/towns/villages.
Perhaps, someday, we’ll stay in Torquay for a few weeks as we’d done in the equally fantastic seaside town of Falmouth, Cornwall, which we left only a month ago. It was a memorable experience along with the two farms we’ve experienced on this two-month leg in the UK.
The time in the English countryside has passed quickly, and when we realize we’re leaving Witheridge in a mere four days, for 11 nights in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales. 
As shown above, over 1,000,000 tourists visit Torquay each year. Many stay in hotels and holiday rentals in buildings.
After spending two nights in a hotel in Southampton, we’ll be boarding the ship to begin our 15-night cruise back to the US in only 17 days from today, arriving in Fort Lauderdale on November 8th. We’re both very excited to see family again and, of course, to go on yet another cruise.
On our last cruise on August 11th from Amsterdam back to Amsterdam, I could not walk freely without awful pain.  Plus, my wardrobe was seriously lacking in options to wear both during the day and in the evenings when a more dressy attire is expected.  
The beach was clean and sandy, but the cool weather only attracted walkers, runners, and those exercising their dogs.
My clothes are worn out, and although I’ve tossed every tattered item, the remaining options showed signs of wear. It was frustrating to try to figure out what to wear each day and evening.
Also, most of my tops were low-cut v-neck, none of which I was excited to wear with the huge scar on my chest. No, I don’t mind it showing during our day-to-day lives, but I don’t care to draw attention to it in evening attire.
A week ago, the box of supplies we’d ordered from the US arrived (and received in five days) included a half dozen new tops I can wear on the cruise, along with the three casual dresses I’d fit in a prior package several months ago that arrived in South Africa, after quite a hassle.
Contemporary buildings line the boulevard, with many historic properties located throughout the town.  Parking was tricky.
My pants are all in good shape, so that these new tops will work out well.  I have one black skirt I’ve been hauling around for a few years that I’ve yet to wear. The scars on my legs are still raised and red, and unless I wear my opaque black tights, I doubt I’ll ever wear them. Maybe I’ll try that this time around.
We’ll pack in the next few days, and now that I have a few new things, I can unload an equal number of worn items I’ll no longer wear. This will make packing easier when we have to fly once again when we arrive in Florida in one month.
Today, we’re staying in again. You know…the rain continues.
May your Monday be sunny and bright!
Photo from one year ago today, October 7, 2018:
Cape buffalos sure know how to cuddle. Note the bird on his head. For more details, please click here.

Why do towns in UK have so many names?…Knock me over with a feather…Well, not quite…How about a sheep?…

Chickens willingly wandering up the steep ladder to 
the safety of the barn at night.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Tiverton: 
From this site:

“Tiverton enjoyed prosperity from the wool trade into the early 18th century, but then came a period of decline during the early industrial revolution. There were occasional riots, and societies of Woolcombers and Weavers were formed to protect jobs and wages. However, by the end of the century, due to cotton imports and the expansion of industrialization elsewhere, the town’s woolen industry was in terminal decline. In June 1731, another major fire broke out in the town, destroying 298 houses. After this, the streets were widened.”

We should clarify a fact I’ve intended to mention during many posts but failed to do so. In England, most cities have a few names. The answer is described more comprehensively than I could have. From this site:

“In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a town traditionally was a settlement which had the charter to hold a market or fair and therefore became a “market town”.In Scotland, the equivalent is known as a burgh. There are two types of burghs: royal burghs and burghs of barony. 
Note the chicken on the second ladder inside the barn.

The Local Government Act 1972 allows civil parishes in England and Wales to resolve themselves to be Town Councils, under section (245 subsections 6), giving the chairman of such parishes the title ‘town mayor.’ Many former urban districts and municipal boroughs have such status and other settlements with no prior town status. 

In more modern times, it is often considered that a town becomes a city (or a village becomes a town) as soon as it reaches a specific population. However, this is an informal definition, and no particular numbers are agreed upon. 

A young apple tree produced its first bright red apple.

The cultural importance placed on charters remains, and it is not an unusual event for towns across the UK to celebrate their charter in an annual Charter Day (normally a fair or medieval market).”

Black-eyed Susans. As a result, we are located in Witheridge, Tiverton, Devon, which is comparable to listing a village, a town, a city, and a county. When we mention any of these areas, they each have it’s own “downtown” or High Street, as explained below at this site:

“High Street (or the High Street, also High Road) is a metonym for the concept (and frequently the street name) of the primary business street of towns or cities, especially in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations. To distinguish it from “centres” of nearby places, it is frequently preceded unofficially by the name of its settlement. 

It implies the focal point for business in a town, especially shops and street stalls (if any) in town and city centres. As a generic shorthand presupposed upon linear settlements, it may denote more precise concepts such as the urban retail sector, town centre sectors of employment, all small shops and services outlets, and even broader concepts taking in social concepts.

This may be Common Montbretia.
The number of High Streets grew from the 17th-century and reached a peak in Victorian Britain. Since the 20th-century, the prosperity of High Streets has been in decline, forcing many shop closures and prompting the UK Government to consider initiatives to reinvigorate and preserve the High Street. 

High Street is the most common street name in the UK, which according to a 2009 statistical compilation, has 5,410 High Streets, 3,811 Station Roads, and 2,702 Main Streets. The smallest High Street in Britain is located in the small market town of Holsworthy in Devon. The street itself is no more than 100 yards (100 m) long and consists of only three shops.”
Zucchini, aka Courgettes in many parts of the world.
High St. is most comparable to “downtown” or “Main St.” in many towns throughout the US and a few countries worldwide. Each country we’ve visited seems to describe counties, towns, cities, and villages.  We find it’s essential to be aware of how they are related to ensuring we don’t sound like idiots when speaking to locals.

As for the other “mention” in today’s heading, here’s how the story goes: Yesterday afternoon, we wandered over to the paddock closest to Pond Cottage to greet the sheep and to feed them some of the small pellets Renate had left for us, along with different smaller pellets for the ducks, geese, and chickens.
Unable to identify these purplish flowers.

No, feeding the feathered friends and the sheep is not quite as exciting and eventful as providing 25 kudus, eight zebra,s, and six warthogs and babies, standing at the edge of the veranda.  

We make the most of every possible animal interaction regardless of where we may be living at any given time and haven’t been disappointed. But, yesterday was unique in that we were feeding animals face to face standing at our feet.

In Marloth Park, the wildlife was just that…wild, requiring a reasonable distance for safety reasons. Many tourists had been injured over the years when approaching the wild animals, which, unlike domestic animals, can quickly turn from friendly to dangerous, especially when competing for food.

The bright green vegetables appear to be butter lettuce but are overly ripe and too late for the picking.
Once inside the gate, at first, the sheep backed off, guarded and cautious with “people” they didn’t know. They freely gathered around. We proceeded with caution, speaking to them in soft voices while holding out our flat hands with pellets.

I was busy taking photos while attempting to feed them with my other hand. Suddenly, a sheep decided to walk from behind me between my legs to the other side. Go figure. My stance was a little wide while standing in the tall grass to balance myself, which was uneven and highly wet from days and days of rain.

This all happened so quickly I had no chance to further steady myself. I’ve never had a sheep or other animal walk between my legs. I tumbled and hit the ground. Luckily, for a few things, the ground was mushy and soft, and two, my sternum has wholly healed (although still painful to the touch and when I move specific ways).
A goose with a knot on her head.
During the seconds it took me to hit the ground, I tried to avoid falling on the many piles of sheep poop, and…much to my liking, I succeeded. My pants, socks, sweatshirt, and shoes ended up dirty and wet, remedied by a wash in hot water in the kitchen’s washing machine.  

I wasn’t injured but wondered if I’d be stiff today. Good grief! I awoke this morning feeling as good as I’ve felt each day over this past blissful month…free of pain, stiffness, and discomfort.  This won’t deter us from revisiting the sheep before we depart the farm in five days. Next time, I’ll keep my legs together and be more cautious.

Today’s above video was taken around 6 pm last evening when Allison, the temporary farm helper here twice a day while John and Renate are away, knocked on our door when we’d asked her to let us know when she’d be guiding the chickens into the barn.  
It was the wide sheep on the right that caused me to topple.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, our reader/friend Adele suggested making a video of this momentous event. Only two of the five chickens hadn’t already wandered into the barn, up the steep ladder, on their own. Allison and I searched for the two remaining chickens. I found them in a side paddock, and they freely followed us toward the barn.
Alas, they “performed” as expected, making me laugh out loud as I took the video, barely able to keep the camera steady. Please click on the video for a chuckle. Chicken may be construed as having “pea brains” only motivated by food.  But entering the barn is for comfort and safety at night.  Maybe they aren’t so dumb after all.

That’s it for today, folks. Enjoy your Sunday!
Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2018:
At first, we spotted this warthog sitting in the cement pond. By the time I grabbed the camera, he’d already begun to climb out. For more photos, please click here.

Looking forward socializing in the near future…Keeping track of time…

This morning when the rain stopped for a few minutes, we walked in the mushy grass to the greenhouse to collect these vegetables we’ll use for dinner. We picked more raspberries for my Greek yogurt dessert.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Tiverton: 
From this site:

Tiverton owes its early growth and prosperity to the wool trade, which caused the town to grow rapidly in the 16th and 17th centuries. Many of the wealthy wool merchants were philanthropists, building up the town’s heritage. John Greenway added an impressive chapel to St Peter’s parish church in 1517 and a small chapel and almshouses in Gold Street, which still stand. Peter Blundell, who died in 1601, endowed funds and land to found Blundell’s School to educate local children. It was founded in 1604 and relocated to its present position on the outskirts of the town in 1882. However, the impressive original building still stands on its grounds in the town center. Around1600, there were two major fires in the town. The first, in 1596, was believed to
have been started in a frying pan and destroyed most of the town. The second was in 1612 and was known as the ‘dog fight fire’ because a dog fight had distracted people who were supposed to be looking after a furnace. Again the damage was extensive
It’s hard to believe we’ll be aboard the cruise ship sailing to the US in only 19 days. With one more holiday home awaiting us in Monmouthshire, Wales, for which we’ll depart Witheridge in a paltry six days, time is flying by quickly.
The sheep approached us when we offered some pellets, eating out of my hand.
We’re excited our friends Linda and Ken are coming to Monmouthshire to see us for four days from October 14th to 18th. No doubt, we’ll all have a fantastic time together as always.
Sheep, doing their thing.
Then on the 19th, we’re meeting up with friends/readers Liz and Dave in the town of Shirenewton for dinner. Liz had come to visit us in South Kensington in 2014, taking the train from Bristol to meet us.  
While I was feeding them, one giant sheep walked between my legs, and I toppled to the wet grass.  Luckily, I wasn’t hurt and, I’m grateful I didn’t fall on top of the piles of sheep dung scattered throughout the paddock.
Liz had been reading our posts since the onset, and we were honored and thrilled to meet her. We had a fantastic day and evening with her. Since that time, we’ve stayed in touch by email. And now, we have the opportunity to see her once again and finally meet her husband, Dave. Here again, I’m sure we’ll have a lovely time.

I must be losing my marbles. I thought yesterday was Saturday all day. When I awoke this morning and Tom reminded me today is Saturday, I thought I really must be losing it. I suppose it’s all part of the retired lifestyle and the immense amount of enjoyment we’re finding here at the farm, which may have prevented me from paying much attention to the day of the week.

Cloudy day view of another farm at a distance.
The date is always easy to remember when I post it here each day, but I don’t include the day of the week. How easy it is to lose track, especially in this lifestyle we lead, with few requirements to pay much attention to the days of the week except for departure dates.

Overall, we keep track of dates to enable us to prepare for the next move, whether it requires a flight, a cruise, or as in the upcoming case, a few hours drive through the countryside to Wales. 
The orchard is filled with apples yet to be picked.
The dream of living in the English countryside is becoming fulfilled from the last farm in St. Teath, Bodmin and now the farm in Tiverton, Witheridge, and soon the house in Shirenewton, Chepstow, South Wales.

We haven’t forgotten the fantastic seafront location in Falmouth with exceptional views and walking distance to the charming village. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the end of our stay in Falmouth (from August 23 to September 6) that I could walk again, and thus, we missed a few opportunities while there.

More apples ready for picking.
Now, as my legs gain strength over the past month, we’ve become able to get out more and more. The constant rain has been a deterrent, but we’ve loved being on this exceptional farm and all of the UK properties we’ll have visited over two months.

As mentioned, we’re staying in this weekend with the non-stop rain unless by a fluke that the sun peeks out for a few hours. That will motivate us to jump in the car and see what we can find.

Have a fantastic weekend!
Photo from one year ago today, October 5, 2018:
We were excited to see this massive “obstinacy” of cape buffalos. For more photos, please click here.

Making apple cider and apple cider vinegar on the farm…

  • John was showing us the old apple press, which they still use today. “An apple press makes the whole process fun and simple. The press essentially grinds up the apples into a pulp and then presses the juices out. Once you get going, the liquid gold keeps flowing. You go from press to glass in 30 seconds! There are many presses from the simple hand press to the traditional cider press with a grinder.” The process may not be as quick using this old equipment.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Tiverton: From this site:

It is believed that the name is derived from ‘Twyfordton’ or ‘Twyverton’ as the town stands not only the Exe but also the River Lowman. Historically it was referred to as Twyford, and at some point, that morphed into the name it carries today. It was an ideal site for occupation. Many flint tools from the Stone Age were found in the area, and an Iron Age hill fort – Cranmore Castle – stands on top of Exeter Hill, which looks down on today’s town and the point where the rivers Exe and Lowman merge at Collipriest. A Roman marching camp was also discovered on the hillside below Knightshayes Court near Bolham just north of the town. Henry, I chose the town for a Norman castle with a Motte and Bailey type construction built-in 1106. Tiverton Castle was extensively remodeled in the 13th and 14th centuries.
John and Renate left at 2:00 am this morning to head to the airport for a one-week holiday. Last night when they invited us over to show us their 500-year-old house and say goodbye, it was sad to see them go. 
The second-floor weight is used in processing apples in the press.
Tomorrow we’ll share photos of their charming old house with accouterments one would expect to find in such an old property. This lovely couple certainly knows how to honor the integrity of centuries past on their historical farm.
As shown in the photo below, the apples are dropped through this funnel down to the first floor, where they enter the machine.
When we walked back to our house, for the first time, it dawned on us that we’d be entirely alone during our remaining week at the 150-acre farm, along with the 350 sheep and dozens of ducks and geese.

Of course, they stated emphatically that if we run into any issues, feel free to contact them via email. We don’t expect any problems, but one never knows. As mentioned in a prior post, a friend will be coming by each day to feed the animals, check on the sheep and ensure the geese, ducks, and chickens get into the barn at night.
This old machine received the apples from above, which come out the chute near Tom is standing. They barely resemble each other. “The difference between the taste of homemade apple cider and that pasteurized, filtered grocery store cider is indescribable. The taste of homemade cider pops in your mouth—pure, fresh, flavor-packed!  Plus, you can use all those less-than-perfect apple drops from the ground, so it’s also a big saving from the price of store cider.”
Subsequently, we don’t have to do a thing but see to our own needs, gather more firewood for the woodstove, which we’re using almost all day and evening. Renate sent her cleaner Carol to clean our house yesterday.
More equipment is used in making apple cider.
Carol was here for almost four hours, cleaning every inch of space. We were thrilled not to have to clean the house. The cost of a cleaner here is in the range of GBP 25, US $30.83 per hour. For that cost, we would have done it ourselves.  But, John and Renate kindly offered to provide this service for us.
This is where apple cider-making transpires.  From the Farmers Almanac at this site:  “In colonial days, it was common for farmers and families to own a barreled cider press (and in those days, the cider was often left to ferment and become an alcoholic “hard” cider). Today, the “old-fashioned” cider press is becoming more popular again, perhaps because more people are planting fruit trees.”
We don’t mean to imply we “won’t” clean.  We often do.  But, more often than not, a cleaning service is included in the holiday home’s rental agreement. This has become a feature we investigate upon booking most properties.

Back to apple cider making…when John and Renate took us on a tour of the apple cider making, which transpires in one specific barn, we were enthralled to learn about the process.
They make apple cider vinegar as well.  The barrel to the right is aged almost 20 years.

Since they use old equipment that may have been used as far back as several centuries ago, we couldn’t help but be fascinated with the process along with their commitment to making the cider using antiquated equipment. They relish the authenticity of the process they use and the product they produce using a ton of apples from their orchards.

They offered to try the cider, but sadly, we declined since I don’t drink juice (theirs is non-alcoholic). Tom has never been a fan of apple cider, so we didn’t want to bother them with opening a new container before leaving for their one-week holiday.
An algae-covered pond outside the cider-making barn.
They don’t sell their cider. A large family that visits at different times of the year, including holidays, sends their adult children and grandchildren home with plenty of cider to last throughout the year.
John and Renate showed us the original medieval door used on the 500-year-old property.  It’s been restored in part over the years.
After leaving their home, we wandered out to the greenhouse and picked some tomatoes for dinner and a handful of raspberries to add to my unsweetened Greek yogurt.  What a treat! Berries are the only fruit, along with tomatoes, that I can eat in moderation.  
The back entrance to the chicken barn.
The fact that everything from their garden is truly organic is also a treat. They use no chemicals whatsoever, and yet their garden has been richly filled with Mother Nature’s bounty each year, the remnants of which we’re enjoying now.
This ladder is used for the chickens to climb up into the barn’s upper level, where they stay at night.
With ominous dark clouds having returned to the skies, we’re content to stay put for the weekend. Soon, Tom will light the fire in the woodstove, and we’ll celebrate another pleasing day on the farm.
Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, October 4, 2018:
He’s checking out the perimeter before he gets too comfortable, resting with his brother.  For more photos, please click here.

The lamb saga on the farm continues…

 This photo op sent me swooning with delight.  Too cute for words.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Witheridge: 
From this site:

The village of Witheridge is set in a gloriously scenic area dominated by the waters of the Rivers, Little Dart, Dalch, Taw, and the lovely River Mole. It is a charmingly un-spoilt village that has clung steadfast to its rural way of life, with farming mostly at the economy’s center. The village is perhaps best known for its beautiful village church. This has a sturdy clock-face tower crowned with pinnacles and is surrounded by an attractive churchyard. There is a village store, a post office, and a newsagent. Two village inns provide good food and lively conversation – the pub is the place to be if you want to meet the locals! Witheridge is on the Two Moors Way. Thus it offers easy access to the delights of both Dartmoor and Exmoor. The townships of Crediton and South Moulton are both just a short drive away.
We’re still reeling over the entertaining experience we both had on Tuesday while assisting John and Renate in herding the 6-month old lambs from a paddock located across the road to the fenced area where the barns and outbuildings are located.
At one point, the lamb herd wandered over to the pond next door to our house, Pond Cottage. We couldn’t help but laugh.

I can’t help but tease Tom over his participation in this process as a competent shepherd. Moving this many sheep at one time always requires a third person to assist, most often a neighbor or friend.

The lambs wandered off to wherever they liked with little regard to the mission at hand.
Knowing we wanted to take photos, they asked Tom if he’d take the role of the third person while I would do what I could with both of my hands on the camera poised to take photos, and videos are shown in yesterday’s post here.
They checked out the pond.
Although we’ve always appreciated the work of farmers, we had no idea how challenging a process such as this can be, along with all the other endless chores facing a farming family.  
They stopped to graze on some fresh grass, far from where they were headed.
Living on this farm in Witheridge gave us an entirely new perspective. Not only do John and Renate handle 350 sheep (they have professionals do the steering), but they harvest tons of apples from their orchards and make their cider and apple cider vinegar. (Tomorrow, we will post photos and details for this fascinating process).
Finally, they acquiesced and entered the area to which they’d be nudged along. 
In addition, they have a good-sized garden, greenhouse, and apple orchard to maintain and harvest, wood to gather, chop, and sort for the wood-burning stoves, chickens, ducks, and geese to feed, the day-to-day management of the sheep, and the maintenance and management of their substantial 500-year-old house and of course, this separate house we’re renting. 
The chickens were curious as they watched the lambs herded into the barn.
John is on his tractor many hours each day. Renate works right along with him. The most fantastic aspect of this well-managed farm they handle without permanent staff is that they are both in their 70’s. John is 79! We can’t imagine working so hard at this point in life, but they seem to enjoy it thoroughly.  
With all of them in the fenced area, John nudged them along further.
John and Tom have spent hours chatting. They have similar views on many topics and can’t seem to get enough.  Unfortunately, they are leaving on holiday late tonight and won’t return until after we’re gone. We’ll be alone at the farm, but they have a friend coming to feed the chickens, ducks, geese and check on the sheep.
Still, a little resistance from the young ones.
They encouraged us to wander about at our leisure while they are away, and when there’s a sunny day (if there’s a sunny day), we may do just that. The grass, the rocky paths, and the walkways are slippery and muddy from the constant rain.
With all of them inside the fenced area, John and Renate locked the gate.  John is a retired doctor (no retiring for them working so hard on this 150-acre farm) and handles most sheep’s health issues with expertise and ease.
Today, when it stops raining, we’ll head out to the garden to pick a few tomatoes for dinner and see if we can roust up a few more tender morsels this late in the season.

May you have a fine day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2018:

A giraffe visiting our garden was quite a thrill. We’d seen this large male at other locations in the park.  For more photos, please click here.

Tom, the shepherd…A truly exciting farm experience…Out sightseeing, late posting…

Part 1…Tom, the shepherd…
Part 2…Tom, the shepherd…

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon: 
From this site:

Devon is home to the last castle built in England:
Not everything in Devon is really, really old. Castle Drogo dates from 1930 – and is the last castle to have been built in England. In 1910 Julius Drewe bought about 450 acres south and west of the village of Drewsteignton and asked Edwin Lutyens to build him a castle. The First World War and the economic downturn caused many delays. Exeter City Council had nothing to do with this one. The castle’s defensive characteristics are purely decorative and it had electricity and lifts from the outset, with power being supplied by two turbines on the river below.”
It’s 5:30 pm (1750 hours) and we just returned from a day of sightseeing when this morning we awoke to much-appreciated sunshine.  Based on the weather reports we may be bombarded with more rain over the next several days making today our big chance to get out.

When we noticed the sun was shining first thing this morning with the sky mostly blue with few scattered clouds, we hoped it would last throughout the day and to our delight, it did.  
Suddenly, they’ll stop and decide to go back the way they came.  It takes some coaxing to get them walking in the correct direction.  The sticks are never used to hurt them, only to guide them along the way.  It definitely is a minimum of a three-person job.  They often bring in outside help to assist when possible.  But, we were here and thrilled to assist.

Now, we see the grey clouds rolling in leaving us grateful we’d made this decision. We took many photos, but first, over the next few days, we’re thrilled to be sharing today’s photos and the heartwarming experience we both had yesterday when John and Renate asked if Tom could help with herding the sheep.

Finally, they were headed in the right direction.

Of course, my job was to take photos and assist when and if the lambs took off in the wrong direction near where I was standing. Each of the four of us had a specific spot as to where to stand. I didn’t have any sticks for guidance with my hands busy with the camera but Tom was well-equipped.

The lambs (150 of out a total herd size of 350), all born in March or April this year, began their journey down the road to be moved to the barn for worming and later returned to a different paddock.  Tom had two long sticks to help Renate and John with the shepherding while I took photos.  

He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, nor could I. He’s not necessarily a farm-type of guy. His grandparents, mother, and father both grew up on farms. Renate said he was a “natural” sheepherder. Perhaps sheepherding is in his DNA!

Where we lived in Minnesota, we had some exposure to farms, by purchasing free-range eggs, chickens and organic produce from local farms. We always appreciated the hard work of farmers and the commitment to the lifestyle.  

After considerable guidance, they were headed to the barn.

A few times over the years we attended gatherings at various farms owned by Tom’s relatives or our friends.  We always treasured the experiences. Since we began our travels seven years ago as of October 31st, we’ve had the blissful opportunity to live on a few farms. This beautiful farm is the second in the past 30 days.

It’s always a treat to have an opportunity to interact with the farm animals and yesterday’s example will remain in our hearts and minds as one of our favorite hands-on experiences in our travels.

At one point, they turned and made an incorrect turn (herd mentality) and again, Tom guided them back in the right direction. 

For us, the “experience” has so much more meaning than seeing one more historic stone building, one more church or one more museum.We’ve already done that. And, no doubt we’ll continue to do that again for many years to come (God willing).

However, experiences such as yesterday’s sheep herding is hard to top in our realm of things. We loved every moment and we look forward to sharing more farm photos in the next few days. Please check out our videos, albeit a little jittery when I had to pitch in and assist.

This adorable boy wanted some attention which Tom and I freely offered.  So sweet!

From there we’ll share our sunny day photos of the Torquay, known as the English Riviera.Thanks for your patience in being able to see this late post. Please check back for more each day!  

Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2018:
It’s important to always stop and wait patiently when wildlife is crossing the road.  No honking necessary!  They’ll move on.  For more photos, please click here.