What a day!

Saturday (29) was one of those days when everything went pear-shaped. Nothing I did went smoothly, in fact everything I did or was involved with was difficult. It felt as if there was an unseen force preventing me from doing what I intended. The day had started quite well and everything went smoothly until I had finished the work I had set myself to do in the garden. I was up very early and even before breakfast I had prepared lunch, a Spaghetti Bolognese. I spent a little time setting out the cobbles I wanted to fix as a path across the lawn feature and then set them in with concrete…

Surprisingly that didn’t take much time to do. It took me longer to tidy things away and clean up the garage. I still had enough time to visit the builders merchant to see if they had the pebbles I wanted and how much I would need. I had already calculated the area size which is around twelve and a half square metres. They told me they couldn’t supply me with the information and that I would have to use their web site. Nice and helpful. I returned home and checked their site but it was impossible to browse for the information or indeed the products unless I registered. I decided to call the first merchant I had checked out a few days earlier. I had browsed their site and found what I wanted though I still couldn’t check for quantity or order online. The guy answering told me how much I would need but he had to see if there was any in stock and would call back a minute later. Well that minute ran into about twenty and he informed me that there wasn’t any in stock and the guy who looks after the ordering wouldn’t be available until Monday. I would have to call them again. In the meantime I had attempted to take the photos you see above several times but I had problems with the Android tablet which kept switching off for want of recharging. When it was fully charged it took twenty minutes for it to ‘optimise’ the applications and then it switched off again. After I had switched it back on it went through the whole process again! Finally I was able to use it. After lunch I decided to chase up the order I had placed through Amazon which still hadn’t arrived after more than a month! (See older posts). Amazon had been under the impression that I had received the goods, a larder fridge but in fact the seller had misplaced it. Sent from Shanghai China it arrived in the UK ten days later and had passed through customs before it went missing. It went somewhere but not here! Evidently it had been sent to the wrong warehouse but they couldn’t locate it. As I write Amazon are chasing the order themselves and I will have to wait a a further couple of days for the seller to respond. I have a feeling I am going to get a refund and buy elsewhere! Time will tell. There were other incidences during the day where things went wrong but they are too numerous to mention.

Shirley Anne

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Getting near

I have just finished the next stage of the garden project which leaves me just three things left to do. Today as I write on 28 th September I have laid the membrane and set in the perimeter of it with concrete.

The cobbles dotted around are there temporarily to hold down the overlapping joints of the membrane which comes in a roll one metre in width. The next stage will be to lay some cobbles through the plot to form stepping stones but I will have to cut the membrane along the proposed route to remove a little of the soil beneath. I will then lay concrete in the bottom and set the cobbles in it. The concrete will also re-seal the gap in the membrane at the same time. The final stage will be to fill the area with pebbles and stones then clean the perimeter cobbles. 

Shirley Anne

Little by little

Following on from yesterday’s post where I had gotten outside at five am to remove the remaining turf from the new plot I rested a short while before driving to the supermarket for the weekly shopping. On my return E rose from her slumber and came downstairs for breakfast by which time I had packed all the food away. I sat with her and ate something myself as my breakfast had been almost six hours earlier. We are like ships passing in the night, she likes to stay up late and rise late whereas I like to retire early and rise early. Anyway an hour after eating I returned to the garden project and E came outside to help decide which of the plants went where. She returned indoors to her workshop and I planted the shrubs….    

There are only five but that is because they grow outward as well as upward and much of the space will eventually be covered. The two on the right at the back (or nearest the path on the right) grow to a height of around two and a half to three metres with a two metres spread unless they are pruned of course. The two on the left either side of the dwarf conifer grow to around a metre and a half with a similar spread. The conifer mainly grows upward with only a little spread. As there is only around 250 mm of topsoil before the sand beneath is reached I had to dig wide and deep to remove some of the sand before refilling the hole with about a metre of soil and compost for each of the plants. That was stage four completed. There will be more to follow before it is completed.

Shirley Anne

Sometimes

Sometimes you’ve got to go with the flow. Last night, well early evening, I went to bed very tired after the work I had done during the day. Mainly it was my upper arms and neck which ached the most through removing the grass and then the soil from it. Despite the fact that I was tired I found it difficult to get to sleep. This usually happens when I dwell on things and fill my thoughts with the problems I am faced with doing projects or any work at home. I lie there thinking about how I will tackle the work the next day. It was Thursday and I was up around two having finally gotten the sleep I needed. Around five o’clock I decided to take the bull by the horns and dig out the remaining grass from the new garden feature. The garden lighting would be enough to work under.

The picture was taken a couple of hours later as it was still dark when I had completed the work at six o’clock.  The two wheelie bins were full, though not all of grass so I couldn’t dispose of any more. I decided to place the new sods in one of the builders bags we have and put it under cover in the passageway behind the second garage. This would allow the soil to dry making it easier to remove at a later date. Doing it later would allow me to get on with the project. As it was Thursday I would be doing the weekly shopping but afterward the whole day was at my disposal. Maybe I could do some planting? Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow.

Shirley Anne

Walk and work

Today (26 th) I got up early and went for my usual walk this time leaving the house at three-fifteen. It was a reasonably warm morning with a gentle breeze from the south-west. Unless rain bearing clouds and high winds come from that direction we can almost guarantee fine warm weather. The only activity I saw at that hour were one or two taxis dashing about at breakneck speed as if the drivers had only minutes to live! They get away with it because there are few police patrols and they know all the short-cuts. Why do people feel the need for speed? Perhaps I am getting too old, well I know I am but with age comes wisdom (for most of us). Don’t misunderstand me, I once drove like an idiot too occasionally! When I returned home I was feeling neither too warm nor too cold, just about perfect conditions for me. Later at sunrise I began to work on the lawn project once more. During the day I spent a total of six hours on and off doing the work but there was still a lot more left to do when I decided to stop for the day. 

Notice the change in the picture colour. I can only put that down to the time of day and the conditions The first one was taken when it was cloudy and the second when the sky was blue. Anyway I began the work at six-fifty and was pestered by mosquitoes for the first two hours. I think it was the lack of wind allowing them to hover about me. Later the breeze picked up and I had no further problems with them. I don’t think the English variety bite but they are still a pest. I am not sure but I think they are attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale and perhaps the smell of newly dug soil doesn’t help. Perhaps I should wear a net over my head! Once the grass is taken away the shrubs can be planted followed later by the membrane and the finishing touches.

Shirley Anne

Moving along

No walk for me this morning as I went yesterday. It is the 25 th and the first thing I did when I arrived downstairs at three o’clock was to prepare and bake an apple pie using the left-over pastry to make a small blueberry- filled pasty. Who makes pastry and bakes pies at three in the morning? It is great being retired as I can please myself what to do and when to do it, a luxury I couldn’t enjoy when working. anyway the result was this..

I think they are an improvement on the first ones I made the other day and the apple pie is larger too. This time I rolled the pastry a little thinner and coated the top with milk before adding a sprinkling of sugar. If you remember I hadn’t baked a pie before, that is one covered in pastry. I tended to make crumble instead. After the baking I ate breakfast but I really wanted to get into the garden to do a little work. I had to wait a couple of hours before that could happen of course unless I was to work in the moonlight! When I did get out there all I did was to scrub the cobbles with a stiff brush and water. I wasn’t able to remove all of the cement from the tops of the cobbles but I would be tackling that job again later on. Rubbing a piece of stone or brick over them will clean off the cement but it will be a down on my hands and knees job. When E came down for breakfast I suggested we might go to the garden centre to purchase the plants we would be putting inside the new plot and whilst I was waiting for her to finish her breakfast and get ready I decided to mow the lawn then off we went to purchase the plants.

There are five of them and they are standing on the path immediately in front of the small greenhouse and behind the main flowerbed there. They would have to stay there until I was ready to plant them. After a little something for lunch I went out again into the garden for an hour or so and began digging out the grass inside the new plot..

It isn’t much to look at but the main work was in removing the soil from the sods and dumping it in the flowerbeds. We are not allowed to dump soil in the green waste wheelie bins so the soil must be removed beforehand. Even when the grass is fully removed the remaining soil level needs to be dropped a little too. At least the work is moving along in the right direction!

Shirley Anne

Still…

It is September 24 and we still have not received the larder fridge we ordered at the end of August. In their last email the vendor informed me that they would arrange for another dispatch although according to them it had been shipped and stored temporarily in the wrong warehouse. Surely they didn’t mean another would be sent from Shanghai in China. What can I say? All we can do is wait a little longer and hope it finally arrives. Of course if it doesn’t…….well.

I have been getting on with the lawn project today and have completed stage three, setting in the cobbles.  

As you can see from the picture the cobbles are still covered with cement but an hour or so later I covered them with dry sand and swept away the cement. Tomorrow, Tuesday, I hope to clean them more thoroughly using water. Originally I was just going to set them in the cement and later sweep a dry mix of cement into the gaps but I changed my mind when I started the work this morning. I allowed the concrete mix to be a little sloppy which meant the cobbles ‘floated’ on the wet mix. This made levelling them far easier but using this method means the mixture oozes out between the cobbles and has to be swept away. The finished product will be much stronger when it dries and because I have used a fine concrete rather than mortar it will be even stronger. Mortar is less strong and can crack especially if it is used in pedestrian pathways. Anyway I have completed the best part of the hardest work on the project though removing the grass inside the feature will be hard work too just as it was when digging out the trench. I can now browse around the garden centre to see what plants are available for the feature. If we purchase any they will be alright left in their containers until I am ready to put them in. My next task will be to assess the quantity of pebbles we need to fill the feature’s empty spaces and place an order. Now that the cobbles are in place I can finally mow the lawn as it is beginning to look a bit unkempt.

Shirley Anne

Oh yes you have!

Ever done something wrong and regretted it? Perhaps you’ve done something wrong and yet not regretted it! When you feel guilty you know you’ve done something wrong but why do you feel the guilt? Is it shame? If nobody saw you then what’s the problem? Yet you still think it was wrong. Perhaps you think you’ve let yourself down by doing something against your nature. You still feel that guilt. ‘But I’ve never done anything wrong, well really wrong, well perhaps once or twice’….Oh yes you have, we all have done things we know were wrong. Maybe we forgive ourselves or make excuses but what do we do if we know we’ve offended someone? What if we offend God? Oh yes we do, we all fall short of His standards, we are all guilty of that. We know if we do wrong and get caught there is a price to pay but what do we receive when we offend God? One day we will all have to face God and explain ourselves, yet God lays His cards on the table before we get to that stage. He offers a solution, a way out and there is no small print at the bottom of the page! You may look for it but you’ll never see it because it just isn’t there. God’s offer is freely given for those who accept it. The offer is salvation through Christ Jesus………. 

Shirley Anne

Where’s the Fine Print? (Isaiah 55:1–7)

You’ve seen the offers in the mail: “No money down and no payments for the first six months!” “Huge savings—up to 75% off!” “Lose 20 pounds in seven days!” “Apply now and start earning points today.” “Your money back, guaranteed!” And don’t forget how many times you’ve read the word free: “Free financing!” “Free cash back bonus!” “Buy one and get a second absolutely free!”

As you skeptically sort through these “limited offers” and “special savings,” you don’t even open most of the envelopes. Others might get a quick glance before you tear them in half and drop them in the “circular file.” And the ones you do open you instinctively scour for the fine print. Why? You know that an offer that sounds too good to be true probably is.

If you were to receive Isaiah 55 in the mail, you might easily dismiss it too as junk mail, as too good to be true! In the opening lines God promises free food and drink. What’s the catch? you wonder. Then God pledges to “freely pardon” those who turn away from evil and turn toward him (verse 7). Of course, that offer seems totally far-fetched, completely unbelievable. Cynically, you ask yourself, “Free pardon” . . . free for how long before the hidden charges kick in?

Yet though you search for the fine print in this offer, you won’t find any. God offers forgiveness as a gift. The price was enormous—God himself paid it through the blood of his Son, Jesus. Yes, God offers pardon to us free of charge. You can’t pay even if you want to. In fact, if you try to earn this offer from God, you can’t have it!

Not only does God offer his forgiveness free of charge, his pardon sets us free! When we accept his gift we experience peace, new life and a restored relationship with God.

When God freely offers pardon and mercy and life and love and blessing, he really means it. Don’t even bother searching for the fine print.

Taken from NIV Men’s Devotional Bible

Shirley Anne

Dependency

The moment we enter this world we are dependent on others for our survival. No new-born baby is instantaneously independent, that only comes with time. Babies are reliant on their mothers for their needs no matter what those needs are. As children we always look to mom or dad for direction and support whilst gradually increasing our dependency on others until we finally become independent adults. However it doesn’t stop there. We still have to rely on others whether we think we don’t or not. All our needs are provided through the activity of others, our food, clothing, shelter and our work. Even our leisure activities involve others at some point whether directly or indirectly. This is how a society operates, everyone must pull together for it to work. In an ever-increasingly automotive society we may feel there is too much pressure to fall in line, follow suit and just go with the flow. This is especially true in our electronic age where every gadget we use is becoming more and more a necessity rather than a novelty. We’ve moved on somewhat from cooking over an open fire. First it was the oven, then the microwave variety of it. Now even the microwave oven is being subjected to so-called improvement in the way it is used. Electrical devices require switches of one sort or another for them to work, thermostatic switching and timers for operational control but now are being developed to respond to our voice. It would appear our lives in this modern technologically advanced society are becoming more reliant on voice-operated computer-driven devices. They are all around us and have become or are becoming essential for our survival in our society. We are a long way off total dependency on the many diverse gadgets in circulation but give it a few more generations and things may be different. Have we gone too far already that we now cannot stem the tide or are we not bothered by it all? Some people I speak to can’t see a problem but perhaps they can’t see far enough into the future or don’t want to think about the consequences of what lies ahead.

 An amusing advertisement currently being broadcast on television shows a guy on a train who notices that everyone around him has their eyes fixed on a small screen device, their mobile phone. He looks around to see if there is anyone not doing so and thinks he sees an old lady who isn’t so he goes to sit next to her presumably for conversation. However she pulls out her device as he sits down. He goes through the carriage to see all of the passengers using their phones. He shouts ‘What is wrong with you people?’ then realises they are making the most of the mobile phone operator’s ‘amazing’ offers! It may be an amusing advertisement (I think all adverts are amusing because I don’t take any of them seriously) but it proves a point…. people tend to follow like sheep.  trouble with sheep is they can fall into a gully quite easily.

Shirley Anne

It didn’t rain

At the end of yesterday’s post I mentioned the weather forecast for the rest of that day wasn’t very promising, rain and wind throughout. However after breakfast I decided to re-check the forecast for it had been the previous day when I last checked it. While out on my walk I had expected some rain to fall but it didn’t. Now the forecast was completely the opposite, no rain and hardly any wind so when I had finished my breakfast I decided to put on my overalls and work on the garden project with a view to completing the second stage which was filling the bottom of the trench with concrete. Three mixer loads later it was done..

As you can see the concrete is now laid all around the plot. On Monday (24 th) I hope to begin setting the cobbles in place around the perimeter. I will be using a fine concrete mix for that part of the project. After packing away everything until Monday morning I had a walk around the garden and noticed a problem on the lawn near to The Mound.

In the picture above you can see the dark patches (top centre) on the lawn. The lower patch is the soil I had scattered a dew days earlier for there is a dip on the lawn just there. The grass will grow through the soil in a few days. The other patch is the result of my digging there to remove roots coming from the damson trees in The Mound behind. Last year I had seen a tree shoot in the lawn which I dug out by removing about a metre of root. This time I saw yet more shoots so I decided to lift some grass and dig them out, hence the soil everywhere. Later this Autumn I had already planned to remove a couple of the damson trees from The Mound and cut back the others. This is the problem with fruit trees, they like to spread themselves through their root systems. It could be that we remove them altogether at some point for we don’t eat much of the fruit anyway.

Shirley Anne