Loose ends

I hate it when I’ve nothing to do but I don’t want to be too busy all of the time. However, when I am relaxing I tend to see things that I feel need attention and before I know it I am up again. I tend to be restless when perhaps I should just leave things alone and have the rest. My recent project kept me busy but not all day and even when I had stopped for the day I ended up doing other things around the garden and house. I would have made a great servant in that respect, good value for money. It was Thursday morning and I had been up since four-thirty even though I had set the alarm for five o’clock. Why that early? Well I hate lying in bed once awake and I knew I would be awake early anyway. It was do the weekly shopping day which I like to do between seven-thirty and eight-thirty. It gets it out of the way and leaves the rest of the day to do other things but I’ve mentioned this before. It was very cold first thing in the morning but by ten o’clock it began to warm up, so much so I spent an hour sitting on the patio with a drink. Just to show you what the weather was like and how the sun shines on the patio in the warmer months in the mornings I took this picture at ten o’clock.

I went indoors for a short time but returned to the patio after my lunch where I dozed off for about twenty minutes! After a while I jumped up realising I wanted to remove the hinges which were still fixed to the old door of the garage out on the front driveway. I had been thinking of putting hinges on a wooden chest which I was given when I left my employer twenty-three years ago! It had been used to store lead-acid batteries when in use but had been disposed of when a new system had been ushered in. I thought at that time it would be useful and for some time it was used to store odds and ends in the cellar. I had cleaned it last year and had left it in the gym empty. I fitted the hinges I had just reclaimed on the chest and it is now being used to store the ‘bed’ E uses when lying in the sun on the patio.

I screwed a spare knob to the lid to make it easier to lift. The rolled-up bed just about fits inside. There is an identical bed in the store room but we seldom use two at the same time. Waste not want not. I knew it was a good idea to take that chest all those years ago.

Shirley Anne


I wish

I wished it was 10 deg with a 3 mph wind but it was 3 deg with a 10 mph wind and for half my early morning walk that wind was in my face. It was Wednesday April 10 and I left the house at twenty after five. I took the unusual route straight along the main road into town (I usually avoid town on my walks unless it is through the back streets). It was still dark at that hour but the street lights made it seem like daytime. I used to wonder what the cost of keeping all that lighting switched on through the night was, after all it was being paid for (partly) by me! Nowadays though they use LED lights in many places which does lower the cost dramatically. I plodded along the quiet Lord Street which is the main thoroughfare and saw but a few people starting their day. Soon I was out at the other end but continuing in the same direction until I turned toward the seafront. By this time the wind was out of my face which was a relief and I walked back home along and close to the shore. It was then that things began to brighten up but the sun didn’t actually make an appearance until I had returned home. The eastern sky was red but only near the horizon. Red sky in the morning is usually a warning if you believe in the rhyme but the day turned out brilliantly sunny. We had this area of low pressure over the country which had been with us for a few days. No clouds kept the temperature low and the winds were mostly from an easterly direction which didn’t help. Oh how I wished for a high pressure and a more southerly or westerly wind but this is England (where I live in the UK). I wondered for how much longer we would still be the United Kingdom. Brexit problems and a government not honouring the Referendum vote is getting many of us frustrated. I wished it was all over and done with and we could move forward at last. Life still goes on and at my time of life I don’t need the hassle but strangely I live in an old house which has over the years been somewhat of a hassle at times! That’s why a couple of years ago I fitted the stone plaque on the front of the building by way of a joke. You’ve got to laugh else you’d cry! Life is good nevertheless but I do sometimes wish things might just be a little better, don’t you agree?

Shirley Anne

Not guilty?

Not Guilty (Leviticus 5:14–19)

Isn’t it painful to harm others intentionally? Premeditated evils can be set right by our finite sense of justice, even if guilt then rests on our own heads. But imagine the fear and frustration of being held accountable for hundreds of violations that you committed without knowing it. Nothing you ever did would be good enough; you would carry around the guilt of wrongs you never intended to commit. Talk about paranoia.

Yet in Old Testament times, you would certainly have been guilty of such unwitting sins, and they would have required blood sacrifice. The Law of God was clear: No one could be good enough, not even those who sinned without awareness, unintentionally. Few of us think of sin in these terms today, but God remains the same. His standard of perfection cannot be attained, even by the best of us on our best days. The sacrifices of the Old Testament foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice: Jesus Christ. When Jesus offered himself on the cross, he paid the debt of sin in full. He declared his followers “not guilty.” The law was fulfilled. We no longer need the sacrifice of a ram to cleanse us from the sins we knowingly commit or the sins we unintentionally commit. No other blood sacrifice will ever be required. Women today are often burdened by guilt. We are inundated with “shoulds” and “oughts.” We feel guilty if we work; guilty if we don’t; guilty for not spending enough time with our husband, kids and friends; and guilty for not taking time for God and ourselves. We have a hard time knowing when we’re really guilty and when we suffer from false guilt. But Jesus’ declaration from the cross that we are not guilty covers all of our sins—even the unintentional ones. Instead of blood sacrifice, we can make offerings of gratitude: repentance, praise and service. We all both unintentionally and intentionally wrong God and others. But Jesus Christ bought our forgiveness on the cross. Offer him the sacrifice of confession, and you’ll be covered for overlooking the things you should have done and the things you ought not to have. Then pour out the sacrifice of praise. Present the sacrifice of service, helping others in God’s name, for “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Despair has no place here; our advocate perfectly kept even the hidden laws. Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible

Shirley Anne

More garden work

There was but one small thing to do in the garage and that was to fit the other keyhole escutcheon disc on the inside of the new door. I had been too busy to fit it on Monday as I was concentrating on other things. It would only have taken a few minutes to do so I thought but when I did fit it on Tuesday morning it proved to be a bit of a nuisance. One of the screws simply wouldn’t screw in all the way perhaps because there was a small knot inside the wood. I had to find another shorter screw and then found it wasn’t holding! Back to the first screw again and I dropped it on the floor and spent five minutes looking for it. You have to remember these screws are quite tiny. Eventually I managed to screw it in with the aid of a persuading tool….a hammer! The second screw had to be put in at a slight angle as there wasn’t enough wood immediately behind it because the slot was just a tad too wide. You have to be spot on with these things but isn’t it usually the case that the small things cause the most problems? I find it so anyway. The main task for the day was a job in the garden, specifically on the patio. If you remember a few weeks ago I wrote about topping the two small flowerbeds with pebbles, well I wanted to do the same with the larger bed.

First of all though I had to add some compost and a generous helping of bone meal. There was just enough of the pebbles remaining to cover the surface though I had to pinch some from the lawn feature to do it. Fortunately the lawn feature had more than enough pebbles to lose a few. Notice the Phoenix Canariensis nearest the camera in the first shot and on the far right in the second. It had been cut back drastically after the wind damage caused by ‘The Beast from the East’ two winters ago. New growth has sprung from the centre so it has recovered though looking a bit sad.

The other looks better for being larger but it was damaged too and it hasn’t as yet produced new growth like the other one. During the winter just past they were both well wrapped up and suffered no further damage. The ones in the smaller beds on the other hand are doing enormously well but they are better protected from the wind. That was all I did on the day except to give the garden another watering.

Shirley Anne

One thing or another

Quite a busy day was Monday. I took my early morning walk in the cool morning air, so cool I had to wear warm clothing but at five-thirty it was always going to be cool. The eighth day of April and the day looked very promising. After breakfast I spent a little time online before putting on my work wear to paint the garage door. With it being a gloss paint it would take hours to dry so the earlier I did it the better. When the door is fully closed it doesn’t make contact with the brick wall because I fitted spacers behind the door frame when installing it. There were however two bricks which were protruding very slightly which I had to dress with a chisel. I chose the mahogany colour as I said I would…

I also painted the concrete beam as I said I might do. The inside face of the door was left unpainted as I explained in yesterday’s post it didn’t need painting. When the door is fully opened I now have the complete width between the bricks to get the mower out with plenty of space either side. My next task was to get out of my overalls and drive off to the garden centre for I wanted to purchase some heather plants. I bought fourteen of them but on reflection I think I should have bought a couple more. I could always go again if necessary. On Saturday I was pottering about the garden later in the day and I removed the large overgrown and unkempt lavender shrub we had in the west wall border. When it was first planted it was small and compact but I didn’t realise it would grow much bigger though I should have pruned it back. I wanted to remove it anyway and replace it with heather which is why I planted them today, that is the same Monday as I write. They are small but will grow to around a half-metre in height and width. Hopefully they will fill the spaces in the border more effectively.

You may not be able to see them all but there are nine of them in this flowerbed. One is hidden behind the green foliage bottom left and two are further along out of sight. Another is in The Mound facing them on the right of the path and out of sight whilst the remaining four are also in The Mound out of sight. I will probably take pictures later when they all fill out. Once I had all fourteen bedded with bone meal and watered I gave the whole garden a good soaking too. It was a lovely sunny day throughout and I took advantage of it by relaxing on the patio for an hour or so but by then it was already three o’clock.

Earlier in the day I had received a letter from HM Revenue and Customs. It was a (short form) tax return for 2018/2019. As I have been retired for two years and my final return was 2016/2017 I should not have received it but with everything the tax office sends it has to be processed one way or another in case of incurred penalties. The form does say on it that if you don’t need to fill out a return then contact them. First of all I went online to make sure I was not required to fill in a return. That went well and confirmed what I had thought but how to tell them that? Option one do it online, option two telephone them, option three write them a letter. Well I tried option one and got nowhere. In frustration I opted to phone them. A complete waste of time. They have an automated response which uses AI (artificial intelligence). It is essentially voice recognition and you are asked to tell the machine what you are attempting to do. It just didn’t work though I tried several times. In the end the machine disconnected! So now it was old faithful, snail mail. I wrote them a letter ensuring all my details and concerns were listed. Sometimes the old ways are best.

Shirley Anne


…..lived up to its name, it was sunny, not all of the time but much of it. I would be resting, or so I thought. Yes resting from my project but no in my leisure activities which now includes some gardening. I emphasise ‘some’ for once I get started in the garden there’s usually no stopping me, but it was Sunday and I deserved the day off anyway. I would be doing some painting the next day and perhaps one or two other things to bring an end to the garage door project. I doubt I’d be doing much nevertheless. So on Sunday (7 April) I swept up the garden path and cleared some weeds in the borders before spending a little time on the patio. I have to admit I was tired after doing that though I was only doing it for an hour. I obviously needed the rest and more so at my age. I noticed a couple of new shoots around the chopped-down fruit tree stumps but I knew that was always going to happen. Unless the stumps are removed completely or treated in some other way we shall have to keep cutting them off. Nature doesn’t like being messed about with. We’ll just have to see what develops. In any case it isn’t something to get worried about especially on a relaxing Sunday afternoon in the sun.

Shirley Anne


Anyone undertaking DIY has to be flexible, be able to turn their hands to any task, study problems, come up with solutions and most of all give things a try! That ideology has been part of my approach throughout my working life and remains so now I am retired. After a nice early morning walk and breakfast I was ready to do more work in the garage. Following yesterday’s post my first job was to come up with a solution that would replace the plastic discs in which the door knobs sat. It was either that or buy new ones which meant buying the knobs too. In my electrical work I sometimes used plastic conduit and accessory ‘boxes’ which had plastic lids. The boxes were circular which meant the lids were also. I have quite a number of those lids still in my possession (remember I don’t like throwing stuff away) and they were just the right size. The old plastic discs were in fact recessed to allow the knob to sit in it and not move side to side when turned. Using three plastic lids I drilled holes in their centre, the first was just big enough to allow the knob spindle or bar to pass through but for the next two I drilled larger holes to allow the base of the knob to sit in them. As the lids also had pre-drilled holes all I had to do was align them before screwing them to the door. See picture below.

There are three discs there I assure you but you can see the knob is sitting inside them, the two outer ones that is. When the picture was taken I hadn’t yet purchased the keyhole plates so they will be fitted when I do. One of my next jobs was to fit a sill along the bottom edge of the door but of course it couldn’t fit the whole width else the door wouldn’t close in this case. You can just see the end of it (white in colour) in the next picture that also shows the concrete screed I laid which would fit beneath the sill when the door is closed.

The plywood board was there to keep rain off whilst the concrete was setting though the wind had changed direction and rain wouldn’t be a problem. In fact the door only ever gets wet when the wind is from the north and that is quite rare. I might decide to fit a canopy if I’ve a mind to. I have also decided to paint the door at least on the outside. The whole door and frame has had a couple of coats of preserver. Here are two more pictures one from the inside and one from the outside. Those of you who are awake will notice that the outside of the door is shown before it was painted (see yesterday’s picture)

You can also see that the old door frame has been removed. I did that immediately I had finished working on the knobs. The frame had to be cut before I could lever it off using the large crowbar (jemmy) I have. A very useful tool but I also had to use a lump hammer and piles of elbow grease! My word that frame was hard to remove. I will have to fill in holes in the brickwork and beneath the concrete beam above the doorway and also fit more timber along the top edge on the underside of the opening. All small stuff which shouldn’t take long.

Shirley Anne

Best part

Well the best part of any project is the end of it I guess but I like the fact all the hardest part is over and only the small things are left. I like doing everything in a project but get more satisfaction doing the little things at the end. That is probably because I am getting tired of it! Not really, it all keeps me active one way or another. It is Saturday 6 th April and finally we have warmer weather, weak winds and no rain but of course that can all change so easily. The sun is out, well dodging the few clouds that dot the sky and the birds are chirping away. Must be Spring. This morning immediately after breakfast I drove to the retail park to purchase a small can of grey undercoat paint and a couple of escutcheons for the keyholes. Yes I discovered, well I actually knew but had forgotten they were called by that name. The store that sells the paint sells all sorts of materials for DIY enthusiasts, even locks and other door furniture. However they seemed not to have any escutcheons on the shelves. On the way back home I stopped off at a locksmith’s store and it was there I was reminded of the name ‘escutcheon’. The guy gave me two free of charge! He explained that he had loads of them. I thanked him and left the shop for home. On my arrival back home I put on my overalls and gave the outside of the new door a coat of the undercoat paint. It would take four hours at the most to dry. I didn’t fit the escutcheons but left them for another day.

Following the painting I fitted a piece of timber to the top of the frame to block off the gap there and to finish off the appearance. I couldn’t paint it because I had just coated it with wood preserver. Once that was done I mixed some mortar with which to fill in the holes in the brickwork and the gap in the centre of the overhead concrete beam.

I may paint that beam if I’ve a mind to. Now for the top coat of gloss paint I have two choices, white or mahogany but I think I will choose the mahogany. I am not electing to paint the inside pointing face of the door as it isn’t necessary but the door has had a couple of coats of preserver and may get another. The preserver is oak-coloured so looks good by itself. I will continue the work on Monday hopefully.

Shirley Anne

Nearly there

After doing the weekly shopping I arrived back home at eight-thirty and put everything away before spending an hour relaxing on the patio with a coffee soaking up the bright sunshine. When it isn’t too windy sitting on the patio early in the morning sunshine once Spring is here is wonderful. One side of the patio faces eastward and with the wall on the west side is is a sun trap. I didn’t want to stop there long as I wanted to continue with the garage door project. I finally got the slot cut to the right size and the holes for the handle bar and the key cut out. So it was time to fit the lock and screw it in place. I used the two white plastic door knobs which were on the old door and the square metal bar which was long enough to go through the new and slightly wider door. Unfortunately the plastic disks on which the knobs sit couldn’t be removed from the old door without breaking them so I will either have to purchase new ones which is unlikely (they are usually only sold with new knobs) or I will make a couple as I do have suitable plastic sheet. I will however purchase a couple of keyhole covers for they will be available. In the meantime the door is ready for use and therefore I removed the old door and moved it to the front driveway for disposal later. My word that old door was heavy but then again so is the new one! The old door was about to become in need of replacement for the base was showing signs of rot. I had made repairs a couple of years ago but knew it was only ever going to be temporary. There is more work to do on both the door and the frame and they will get done over the next few days. The door is now in use. No pictures today but I have some scheduled in tomorrow’s post

Shirley Anne

Too much

I went to bed early but didn’t drop off to sleep until just after ten o’clock. I had set the alarm for four-thirty despite knowing that usually I lie awake waiting for it to go off! I wanted to take an early walk and set off just after five-thirty. The forecast had been for a cold night and fairly windy with it. Whenever the wind blows it makes things colder than the dry bulb indicates. It is all about evaporation. As an engineer one of my responsibilities was to ensure a comfortable working environment for the staff across the site. I had to maintain an ambient temperature of 21 deg C and a relative humidity of 50% both within set limits. I often used a whirling hygrometer which is a device resembling one of those rattles people often used at football matches many years ago. In the hygrometer are two mercury-filled thermometers one of which has the bulb inside a sock which is dipped in distilled water. As the device is rotated at speed it takes two temperatures, a dry bulb and a wet bulb temperature. The wet bulb would generally produce a lower temperature than the dry bulb due to the cooling effect caused by the evaporation of the wet sock. A reference chart would be used to find the relative humidity using the two temperatures. That by the way was a slight diversion to my post! It is interesting though as many folk wouldn’t know why the wind has a cooling effect, they just know it does.

There you see the device in the picture. Although I was well wrapped up the walk was bracing to say the least! I chose to walk my current route in a clockwise direction rather than the counter-clockwise direction I normally take which meant walking along the sea front with the wind in my face. I was certainly glad when I reached the point where I would turn inland and then back home with the wind behind me! It began to rain. It took some time to ‘thaw out’ on my return. How different from a couple of weeks ago when it was quite balmy. Now the rain was heavier and the morning looked miserable but after breakfast I did a little more work in the garage. This time cutting out the slot in the door edge in which to sit the new lock. It took me ages to do it because the door was on its hinges. I should have done it whilst it was held in the workbench the day before but of course I didn’t have it then. Suddenly I had it finished, the slot anyway and I stopped work. “I’ve had enough” I told myself and tidied up. It was twelve forty-five and time for lunch.

Shirley Anne