Heavy Weather (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It has been some time since I went out walking, especially on a Sunday morning. There are two reasons for that, one, I have been so tired at times that all I wanted to do was rest. Two, the weather has been awful with high winds blowing and heavy rain accompanying. Who wants to go out in such weather when they don’t have to? Last Sunday I arose just as E was about to drive off to one of her outings, events held by various commercial enterprises promoting their wares where she often secures samples for the group she belongs to. Their group run competitions with the samples as prizes and give the money collected to charity. It meant that she would be out for most of the day and I would be home alone. I sometimes think I should get involved in some similar group though not necessarily of the same type but I am not really that interested. I didn’t take a shower when I arose but decided to go for a run on the treadmill instead. I have been using the treadmill more often lately because of the poor weather. Once I had finished my exercising I had breakfast whilst cooling off. I was then able to take a shower in the wet room before returning upstairs to get dressed. It is great to be able to wander around the house semi-naked without the worry of other people being there. Not that I am in the habit of lounging about semi-naked at home but there is no hurry to get dressed for any particular reason. There are things to do around the house at the moment, not least of all continuing with the bedroom but these things don’t get done on a Sunday. Sundays can get rather boring if I don’t find something to occupy myself with so that usually means reading, watching television but most of all going for walks……..sadly the weather is still lousy so no walks for the time being. Not long to wait until Spring arrives and then I will get more opportunities, the temperature is already on the rise.
Monday, Monday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sunday had been a well-earned day of rest but then along came Monday, a fresh week and of course more work! My day began in a little township about ten miles south of home where I was to investigate the reasons for a circuit-breaker often tripping out. On the side of the house there had been built an extension the full length of the house which was being used as a utility and workshop and inside of which was a total of fourteen power outlets! Nothing wrong in that except that they were all connected to the single and only cable that had been fed from an outlet in the lounge! As that outlet was already the maximum permissible to be wired as a spur on the ring circuit no other outlets should have been connected to it. It wasn’t so much that the circuitry was wrong but more what was plugged into it, a washing machine, a tumble drier, a freezer, hundreds (literally) of fairy lights (don’t ask) and some workshop equipment. As they were connected to the house ring circuit there would be more appliances plugged in around the house too. They were simply trying to draw too much current from the circuit and hence the breaker kept tripping out. The breaker is rated at 32 amperes. The washing machine and tumble drier would be drawing around 24 amperes at full capacity let alone any other appliances. Part of the extension wiring had been done in 13 ampere rated flexible cable too which I changed to 20 ampere for safety’s sake. The only real solution in the interim is to ensure only one or two appliances are used at any one time but the circuit really should be changed to meet regulations. I can only advise whilst making it as safe as possible where it is required. I suggested the circuit be wired in such a way as to become part of the ring circuit which can be done but better still a separate supply should be installed for the extension. That however would not be easy to do as it is remote from the circuit board. Either way it means spending a lot of money to put things right. They were reluctant to have the work done and the circuit remains as it was though a lot safer. Maybe I will get a call in the near future to put things right. I drove home to find a lone builder finishing off the front steps. They are now completed but the little containing wall needs rendering, a couple of hours work which will get done on Tuesday as I write, that is if the weather is dry. We expect on Tuesday to receive the remnants of the storm which left the east coast of the US in deep snow and blizzard conditions. It has been unseasonably warm over the last few days with temperatures reaching 15 deg. Celsius in places, hereabouts around 13-14. We still have two more months of Winter to look forward too but somehow I don’t think it will get too cold the way things are going, we’ll have to wait and see.
Victoria Street. Looking East along the pedestrianised section of Victoria Street. Picture taken on a showery Tuesday afternoon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As I am getting older, (well we all are aren’t we not?), and as I have continued thus far to carry on working I promised I would take more time off for myself. On the approach to Christmas I found that difficult for many people were asking me for help. I resumed working on Monday last even though I had a couple of requests the previous week. I had one job scheduled but ended the day having done two. I had no further offers of work so Tuesday would be a day all to myself. I hadn’t intended to sleep in a little longer and in fact I had awoken just before seven after a good night’s sleep, however I must have drifted off again and was woken by my mobile phone receiving a call. I guess I was more tired from Monday’s work having done no work for two weeks. Anyway it was a call from the husband of another lady who had called a week ago and again on Sunday and who had asked if I could work in the evening because she works during the day. I mentioned her in a previous post. She now had made arrangements with her husband to be available instead and we arranged that I would do the work on Wednesday morning. I suppose I could have said I would do the work on Tuesday but I was determined not to do that. No doubt there will be more requests for work in the weeks ahead but I am determined not to rush into doing them as soon as I am asked. I still haven’t had the time to get into the garden to do some tree pruning for the weather hasn’t been as settled as I would like. On Tuesday afternoon E had gone out for an hour or so and I thought I might go for a walk now that the rain had ceased but just prior to doing that the heavens opened and we had a torrential downpour. I decided to stay indoors instead. That’s the way it is at the moment, showery and unsettled.
Well now we are back to our normal routines (most of us) and in my own case I am fixing a hole which happens to be in the roof of our house. I have to confess that I am not carrying out the repairs myself, how many 70 year-old women do you know who want to climb a thirteen or so metre high scaffold and start doing roof repairs? I suppose I could if I had to but even then someone else would have to build the scaffold! No, someone else is doing all of the work as it is being done through the house insurance. The work is to be done within the first few days of this week if what I have been told is true. Ours is only a small inconvenience when you compare it to the problems many in the north-west of our country have been experiencing over the last couple of weeks. That part of the country in particular, the Lake District and Cumbria in general, has suffered very heavy and unrelenting periods of rain which has resulted in widespread flooding with rivers breaking their banks unable to contain the excess water pouring into them. Many homes have been flooded to a depth of two metres and more than once in many cases. Even as I write this on Christmas Eve more rain is forecast for Christmas day. Many have abandoned their homes and have put off clearing up the mess until the weather improves. Ours is a very minor problem by comparison but nevertheless requires attention. A stitch in time saves nine as the saying goes. It will only get worse if left unattended. So nothing really changes, problems never cease but life still goes on as usual.
A map of Manchester from about 1650, from “Views of Old Manchester” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tuesday was a very miserable day. The whole of this current week is forecasted as having poor weather, that is wet, windy and cold though not entirely cold. I had a couple of requests in the morning but they came to nothing and one of those nuisance calls most people are receiving these days regarding PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) claims. I was busy doing something on my computer when that call came in and I was caught off-guard thinking it might be a request for my electrical services. I glanced at the callers number and mistakenly thought it was someone living in the next town whose telephone prefix would be 01695 whereas in fact it was prefixed 0161. That prefix is for Manchester a city more than forty miles away and where I have no known contacts either for business or for personal reasons. It was the first three digits that threw me but I was not concentrating. A young girl began with a welcoming message and I had a little difficulty in stopping her as almost immediately I realised my error. I told her that I have never taken out a payment protection plan of any kind in the past and she then tried to persuade me otherwise. Too late! I had put down the receiver.
The Annoying Orange (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most annoying are these cold calls but even more annoying that I should have been caught off-guard. What is particularly annoying is the fact that this company ( a law firm specialising in claims) thinks I have an outstanding claim of some sort. I haven’t. Where they get this information I am not sure but it only takes one error by someone who has not closed any case files and removed them from their system. As these companies exchange file data it means anything I have been involved in, even though it may have been resolved many years ago, is still on somebody’s books.
Although I had no electrical work to do on Tuesday I didn’t do any work at home either. Aside from the fact that we are still waiting for the delivery of a new cooker extractor hood which is holding back the kitchen project I really didn’t want to be working on anything anyway. Even working in the garden was not an option because of the lousy weather. My heart wasn’t in it and that is because my relationship with E has turned a little sour once again. It is a sad affair that keeps rearing its ugly head every now and then. I guess I should have left years ago but I know I would have suffered more had I done so. I am not the sort of person who gives up in the face of difficulty and besides which I love E dearly.
Pass the second working end through the loop knot in the first working end. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had mentioned something about my lack of work in an earlier post and how sometimes my weeks start off with nothing on the books but that invariably towards the end of the week I will have had lots to do. On Monday this week I had nothing booked but on Tuesday I had two jobs to do. As I am writing this on Tuesday I cannot say if the rest of the week will follow suit though I have had some offers. I had taken E out to lunch on Monday after we had both done a little painting in the kitchen. I thought I would be able to continue the work on Tuesday but I was asked if I could do some work for a lady for whom I had worked earlier in the year. I knew the work would take me up to lunchtime and was hoping I could carry on with the kitchen work in the afternoon or at least part of it. However I received another call just as I had finished the first which I felt obliged to do. It was a call for help. A man friend of an old lady I have worked for several times had caused a fault to some power points and a light in her kitchen. He had been degreasing the surrounding tiled area to the cooker. He had sprayed the de-greasing agent onto the tiles and had then used a steam cleaner to wash it away but unfortunately it had penetrated the outlets and the light in the process. The light needed to be replaced in any case as it was damaged in other ways so I disconnected it. I replaced the two power outlets and checked others before reinstating the power supply. It was well after one o’clock by the time I had returned home. I didn’t finish my lunch until after two-thirty by which time it was going dark! The reason for the early darkness was the approaching storm we were told to expect. It would be useless to start painting in the kitchen at that hour as it would have been dark soon anyway. As I mentioned before artificial light is not ideal for painting and there is no immediate need to rush the work. A few days ago I had to take down the flag because the lower eyelet, a loop of nylon rope, had torn away from the flag and needed repairing. I sewed it back onto the flag and hoisted it up again only to find a couple of days later the rope itself had snapped leaving the flag dangling at the top. Once again I lowered the flag and removed it indoors. The nylon rope which is formed into a loop to act as an eyelet with which to attach the flag to the pole fittings had worn through and snapped in half. The flag needed a sturdier piece of rope to form the loop. We robbed a small piece from another flag’s cord and E stitched it onto the flag using nylon twine. It did the job and I hoisted the flag aloft again. On Tuesday however, the day following, I had to lower the flag again and take it indoors because of the forecasted severe weather. The flag is not supposed to be flown in winds exceeding 35 mph and we were to expect anything up to 60! The following days would be more settled and I could once again raise the flag. So it has been a case of up and down with my work, the painting of the kitchen and the raising and lowering of the flag. I know…………..life has its ups and downs!
Even horses need coats Three small horses stay wrapped-up warm against the winter chill near Crask. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We cannot say that we have had it bad during the Summer, the weather has for the most part been warm and sunny. It has been unusually warm and sometimes sunny during the last couple of months too, exceptionally so for November. We have been experiencing overnight temperatures exceeding those we would normally expect during the day at this time of year but slowly all that is changing. Most noticeably the wind has been getting stronger making it feel colder than it actually is but it is getting colder in any case. I suppose we can expect it to really feel like it is mid to late Autumn in the days to come. It is time to think about pruning the deciduous trees and shrubs that need pruning back and to prepare those plants more susceptible to the cold for protection if needs be. With that in mind E and I spent a few minutes wrapping three of the Phoenix Canariensis trees with sheets of bubble-wrap plastic and tieing them up so that only their tops are exposed. It isn’t for the low temperatures that we will get during the next few months but for the cold winds. These particular plants can withstand temperatures as low as minus seven degree celsius but the cold winds burn their leaves. It is the wind that we are protecting against. I have noticed I am having to wrap up more whenever I am out of the house or going to work. I am beginning to see the need to have the heating on in my van. The house heating has been switched on for a few weeks. It is Autumn and although it is my favourite time of year, it sure can get cold, wet and windy! Soon it will be Winter and Christmas time and before we know it the next year will be upon us. It is a time for preparation and readiness whilst we are still able and to wrap up those plants which need a winter overcoat so we can enjoy them during the warmer months. Despite it being so cool and windy we still have flowering plants in the garden, in fact some of them only burst into flower in Autumn. Others actually prefer it being wet and cool. Most of the leaves have fallen from the trees and not before time as I have spent quite some time sweeping them up. Each day there have been fresh heaps of them to move but finally there are now almost none. Some apples remain on the branches but I have fitted a net beneath those branches which are above the concrete path to catch them when they fall. There is still plenty to do out in the garden but I will be well wrapped up for it.
Fog on the Humber The Humber foreshore as seen from the old Coastguard Station on a damp and foggy day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is certainly the season of mists (and mellow fruitfulness…) and lately we have been experiencing misty and foggy mornings. The humidity is high, very high because of that but it isn’t warm with it so it feels cold and damp. We can cope with such things with no problems at all, if we are moving about on foot that is. If we need to travel it becomes a problem if it is too foggy for we cannot move about so safely unless we move very slowly. Each year though we hear of accidents and collisions on our roads because of the fog. The fog is blamed when it is ourselves who should take the blame. If we didn’t rush about in the fog there would be no accidents or collisions. Fog does slow us down despite whatever we do. In foggy conditions travelling by air can still be a problem for it can be very dangerous taking off and landing in fog. Train services are less prone though signals still have to be seen. I like the fog though but only if I am not travelling. I like to see it in woodland, filling the spaces between the trees and the remaining leaves on them. Usually when it is foggy there is little or no wind at all and that has got to be a good thing in my book for I am not a lover of the wind. I have been going for short walks in the morning whilst it has been a little foggy and damp but I am wrapped up to meet the conditions. It is nice kicking through the fallen leaves but they are becoming soft as they rot on the ground and this is where moving about becomes more dangerous. The oils in the leaves leach out onto the roads and pathways causing them to become slippery under foot and tyre. If we take care the fog presents no problems at all so do that and enjoy the Autumn.
A miserable and wet day, typical of most days at this time of year except that of late the weather has been anything but miserable. I am not complaining about the weather, there is little point in moaning about something we cannot change. I am now getting plenty of work, well that which I want to do and it is enough to keep me happy. Today as I write this, which happens to be Wednesday, I am feeling rather tired and worn out even though I haven’t really done much work today but I have been feeling this way for a few days. Notwithstanding the fact that I am quickly approaching my seventieth birthday I cannot explain why I am feeling the way I am other than the fact that my sleep patterns are all over the place. I have a lot of things on my mind and this isn’t helping me getting to sleep and added to this I am sometimes up a couple of times during the night for toilet visits too. I might get lucky and have three hours before I find myself awake once more so I get up in the morning still feeling a little tired. If my mom was alive she would be telling me that all this, the miserable weather and poor sleep was because it is Wednesday. She told me that I was born on a Wednesday, which is true by the way, and she would recite that old rhyme with tongue in cheek about the days of the week where Wednesday’s child is full of woe! Well thanks mom, you always knew how to cheer me up. The miserable weather has nothing to do with whichever day it is, has it? Hahaha..The miserable day is another matter. It has been one of those days where all matter of things seem to have been against me, annoying little things like other drivers not driving as they should, getting stuck in an elevator whilst trying to carry all the things I needed for that small job this morning, all sorts of trivial things. I try not to let things get the better of me but some things are inexcusable and shouldn’t perhaps happen at all. The lady I was working for was nice though and she could make a decent cup of coffee!
Dangerous sunbathing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For anyone living a thousand miles south of where I live sunbathing in October is probably more the norm than the exception but for where I live it is very much the exception. I don’t do sunbathing as a rule but the opportunity has been with me during the first two weeks of October, most unusual. We have had such fine weather for the beginning of the month but whenever the wind could be felt it has been a little chilly too. A sheltered spot anywhere out of the wind was a warm micro-climate and still very suitable for anyone wishing to sunbathe. I like the idea of creating micro-climates in a garden. Many have done so and have turned part of their gardens into warm havens in an otherwise cold place and have been able to grow plants not usually found in temperate climates in them. However, as the weather is turning cooler it is ideal for working outside and at this time of year there is always plenty to do outside, not least of all sweeping up the leaves! I was out for a walk a few days ago and saw a guy with a petrol-driven air blower who was clearing away his drive. I thought to myself well that is a good idea but only if the leaves are subsequently collected and put in the bin but I didn’t think he was doing that which meant the leaves would probably end up on someone else’s driveway. A little anti-social I suppose but the wind does the same thing doesn’t it? It was only last week I swept up a lot of leaves only to discover there were lots more of them two days later. Eventually though there will be no more leaves to clean away and the gardens will be settled down for the winter. I often get people asking me to install outside lighting or repair the same during the colder months as they never think to check such things when the weather is fine, warm and sunny. Unless the work is easy I won’t be taking on such work if I can help it. I have been taking every opportunity to sit out on the patio whilst the weather has been fine for I know that soon I will only be able to look at it through the window.
Palm trees of unknown species. Identification is appreciated. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For quite some time now we have had dry and sunny weather which has obviously been welcomed but there comes a time when we need rain. Now for once I could leave the hose reel in storage and not have to water the garden plants as we got that rain on Monday morning and again later in the evening with more promised during the week. Autumn is here, my favourite time of year. After a more restful weekend I was happy to get a request for work but it wasn’t much, though it paid well. More followed during the week, enough to keep me happy. There will be plenty to do at home, in the gardens, clearing away fallen leaves, pruning back overgrowth of trees and shrubs. We are hoping the wall we demolished might get re-built within the next few weeks but of course that will require we get a couple of dry days to have it done. E and I have been watching and feeding the squirrels as one or two of them have been busy scurrying about on the wall, in the garden and through the tree branches. No doubt they have been searching for food and storing it away. There will be less sitting out on the patio as the temperature drops away though at this moment we are still enjoying temperatures of 17 C or 18 C during the day. It won’t last though and it won’t be long before I will have to wrap the palm trees with some plastic sheets to protect them from icy winds. We have some large sheets of plastic bubble-wrap ready for when it is required. The plants can withstand below freezing temperatures up to a point but the cold wind burns the leaves and it is the wind which needs shielding against. For the time being is it just getting cooler and wetter but not enough to prevent working outside.
It promised to be a fine and sunny day on Friday and indeed for the next four days thereafter but it was slow to get warm as the clouds kept blocking out the morning sun. Around about ten o’clock most of the clouds had disappeared and it stayed that way pretty much for the entire day. I put on my overalls and gloves to start work in the rear garden for I had it in mind to put a small natural stone retaining wall in front of the flowerbed which is next to the patio. The soil in that bed often spilled onto the path and to be honest I should have done something about it long ago but I have not had the time with all the other projects I have been working on. So the first thing I had to do was to select enough suitable pieces of stone to do the job. All of the stone we have been using to create the path and surrounding retaining walls around the new mound were discovered buried beneath what was a huge mound of soil and trees in that corner of the garden where the new mound now stands. It was a very fortunate find for to buy it would have cost literally £2000-£3000 and I am certain I wouldn’t have bought it. Even now there is still a lot of it stored in the garden. I made a start on the mini-project at ten-thirty and by one o’clock I had it finished though as I write this I have still to fill in the gaps with mortar as I did with the little wall at the front of the mound. Here is what I have done thus far…
We are now in a position to clear away the weeds and one or two of the plants in the bed we wish to be rid of and then lay some tree bark chippings to keep the weeds at bay. After lunch I spent some of the afternoon sitting in the sunshine and E joined me for a short time before she decided she’d had enough of the wind. I didn’t think it was at all windy but for E any slight breeze, unless it is quite warm, is not to be sat in.
Young Phoenix Canariensis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The weather changed rather suddenly on Sunday. The morning was bright and sunny for the most part then the afternoon became cool and cloudy. The wind had increased too. Ideal conditions for working outdoors but not for me being as it was Sunday. To be perfectly honest I was feeling a little tired from the work I had done on Saturday. I might add though that my toothache had gone because the anti-biotics are doing their work. The brickwork and the concrete had all set solid overnight so later in the day, that is Sunday, I hosed the area to see how and if the water would drain properly. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post it is difficult to build a sloping surface with wet concrete. I would have to apply more concrete to make it better. That I hope will be done by the time you are reading this. The plan is to do more work on Monday, weather and electrical work permitting. As long as it doesn’t rain i should be able to do more. One of the Phoenix Canariensis plants is trying to push its way out of its container, an indication of root growth I think meaning a healthy plant. The sooner I can complete the flowerbed construction the sooner I can re-plant the two of the largest plants. I propose to construct two separate smaller beds to accommodate the other two plants but at this point I am not sure when I will do that. I have also been thinking about over-winter protection for all of the Phoenix Canariensis plants and what to do about it. There is plenty of time at the moment to sort that problem out. The weather might change quickly but time doesn’t thank goodness. Thinking about time though I often find that it seems to go nowhere. I wonder where my days have all gone, one minute it is Spring and then it is Autumn but that is an age thing. I remember as a child the seemingly endless days of Summer but of course children don’t have the same concept of time as we do. Speaking for myself I see the urgency in getting things done before I am overtaken by time and not being able to complete them. So far, as I write this I have nothing else scheduled and nothing to stand in the way of getting on with my project. Let’s hope there are no sudden changes for the worse in the weather in the meantime.
Pile of bricks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Tuesday, the first working day of the week as Monday had been a national holiday, I was expecting the delivery of the bricks I had ordered but none arrived during the morning while I was at home. After lunch I received a call to do some electrical work and wouldn’t you know it the bricks were delivered not long after I had left the house! Just as well that E was at home though I had informed my neighbour who would have informed the driver where to drop them for me. I wasn’t away from home very long and on my return there was the pallet stacked high with the bricks all tightly wrapped in polythene and cling-film wrap. They had been dropped close to one of the front gates as I expected but they had to be transported through the garage into the rear garden and up a couple of steps onto the patio some 24 metres away, twenty at a time on a wheelbarrow. It took me about an hour. Fortunately it had stopped raining some time before. I discovered that they had supplied 280 bricks. I had ordered 250 but I guess they did that purposely for the bricks are what you might call second hand or reclaimed common bricks of the same type we used for building the patio which again was built in sympathy with the garden walls. However because some of these bricks were of doubtful quality and some misshapen it was reasonable to expect some extras. As it happens not all of the bricks need to look good as the ones on the inside of the flowerbed will not bee seen as they will be hidden by the soil/growing medium. It was tiring work loading then unloading the bricks two at a time nevertheless. So now I have all the materials to do the work and now the only things standing in the way are my electrical work and the weather. I can control the one but the other is out of my hands.
Rain clouds Looking out to sea at the rain cloud that had just soaked me on a winter sunday walk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If we are to have much more sunshine and warm days it doesn’t look like it is on the menu for the next three or four days as I write this on Saturday afternoon. The sun has been shining this afternoon but there has been lots of cloud cover too. It rained mostly during the morning but the rain is supposed to be returning by nightfall. Sunday looks a little better but thereafter more rain is forecast right up to and including Wednesday. Soon I will need a dry day so that the lawn can be mowed, it doesn’t need it just yet fortunately but it is a case of doing it when I can. I might do it tomorrow, Sunday if it is to be as dry as they say it will be. I made the short trip into the village in the morning in order to deposit some money in the bank but I didn’t linger and walked back home as soon as I left the bank. Although I had an umbrella with me and although it was raining very lightly I didn’t bother opening it but by the time I had reached a hundred metres from home the rain became much heavier. Part of the last few metres I had tree cover so wasn’t bothered too much until I got to the gate when I had to make a dash for the front door. Another few seconds later and I’d have been soaked through! After a late lunch I spent an hour or so out on the patio. It was warm, a little humid and sunny and I sat there watching the numerous bees making their daily trips to a large flowering plant we have in the border close-by. I don’t know the name of the plant but there are several tall pale green stems which I would describe as being lime green, green mixed with white but toward the tops the minute leaves fade into a deep purple colour which are the flowering part of the plant. There isn’t much strength in the plant’s stems and it tends to bend over unless there is some sort of support provided. We have some bamboo canes to help in that support. For quite a number of weeks now the bees have been visiting the plant to collect nectar. There are other flowering plants nearby and some are even growing intermingled with it, Mombrecia being one of them but the bees seem to prefer the purple flowers. The ants are still busy and as soon as the sun comes out so do they. Soon it will be Autumn, four weeks away isn’t a long time is it?