Not idle

During the last couple of days I haven’t been idle wondering what little project I can be involved with whilst making plans for bigger things. It is Saturday 8 th September as I write and the weather is beginning to get wetter more often as Autumn arrives. Rain has a habit of preventing any constructive projects outdoors but I have nevertheless been fortunate to be able to start one small task. When we moved here thirty years ago we became aware of some issues around the property regarding security. It is a sad reflection on today’s society that we have to take steps in preventing trespass on our property and attempts of burglary. We try to make things as secure as possible both inside and outside our homes. Over the years our house has grown steadily more secure as measures have been taken to that end. I remember one day seeing a couple of youths climb over the wall of our then neighbour’s garden at the rear of our property. They made their way across the long garden toward the house but we made sure they were apprehended before they could do anything. It reminded us that garden walls can be climbed and that our rear wall was vulnerable at least at one end where the ground was high. The only solution would be to increase the height of the wall at least at that point. We didn’t take any action then as there were prickly bushes in the corner making access less likely by an intruder. However since those days our garden has changed and the prickly bushes have gone. In the meantime the undergrowth on our neighbour’s side of the wall has become denser to the point of being a deterrent to anyone without a machete! Nevertheless we decided to add a few courses of brick to the wall in that area which is at the end of the wall.

Why now? Well having noticed the activity of the local fox(es) in our garden we concluded they were getting in at the easiest access point in the same corner. It was time to lay some bricks which was the small project I spoke of. It isn’t finished at this moment due to a lack of bricks but that is in hand and will be completed as soon as I get some more. So on Friday, yesterday as I write, I had some mortar remaining and I added some grit to it to make a cement render. I spread that over the brick buttress near to the little greenhouse which needed repair. Over the past twelve months or so I have been patching the buttress with left-over cement from other work but it needs covering completely. I will do that in time but I will have to move the sand in the bag on the right in order to do that side. If you remember the sand was removed from the floor when constructing the pit in the cellar. The other large bag was emptied into smaller bags and is stored inside the garage on the right of the pictures. It is slowly getting used on these projects when I mix cement.  Also on Friday I arranged delivery for the stone cobbles which I will be using to surround the feature I am constructing on the lawn. After digging out the plot they will be the first things to lay before any further work is done.

Shirley Anne

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Not expected

It is fast approaching Autumn and the change in the weather makes it noticeable especially in the hours before dawn. It is getting colder though it can be quite cold during the night in the height of Summer sometimes. Being on the coast makes it a little cooler than elsewhere inland too. Over the years the weather forecasts have greatly improved and are now more accurate though not always. I had checked the forecast for Friday (7 th) morning and throughout the day and it indicated dry weather but on the cool side, only up to 14 deg C where I live. I was going for a walk at 4 am and was suitably dressed for the cool weather and was wearing my rainproof jacket just as I always do at this time of year. I had only reached my next-door neighbour’s house when a fox darted out from his driveway across my path only to disappear across the road into another driveway. He or she must have found my neighbour’s garden easier to negotiate. See my previous posts. I guess he/she wasn’t expecting to bump into anyone so must have been quite surprised at seeing me. At the time of writing I am engaged in some work to make it more difficult for foxes to enter our garden at the rear as they can be a nuisance. Anyway I carried on up the road on my walk. I could feel one or two drops of rain which gradually grew into more until about a mile into the walk when it lashed down. Water was bouncing off the roads and large puddles were everywhere as the drains struggled to swallow it all. I remained dry inside my jacket though the lower half of my skirt got wet. Now I could wear waterproof trousers but I wouldn’t be comfortable in them so I don’t. In any case I don’t have any. So the weather forecast was completely wrong, dry indeed, what were they thinking? The remainder of the day involved the occasional shower too.

Shirley Anne

Bricks and mortar

I always remember what my father used to say to me when I was a teenager, he would say ‘You can’t go wrong if you invest in bricks and mortar’. He himself however hadn’t done the same thing but that was because my parents couldn’t afford to. They never purchased their own property though in later years they had the opportunity. They considered at that time it wasn’t worth it. As things turned out they were alright. They moved from Liverpool to Stratford-upon-Avon not long after I had married and had moved on myself. In fact I was the last of my siblings to leave the home of our parents. I was told later that they thought I would never leave! They were joking but I could tell their concern was for me to find a partner and settle down. Eventually I did that of course but only after a long time. The reasons are all explained in my pages section of this blog. One of my sisters had along with her husband at that time (for she has married four times) gave my parents a house to live in for as long as they wished. They, my sister and husband were financially well-off and had another house of their own. Today it can be difficult for anyone on an average income to purchase their own property because of the high deposit often required and the high repayments thereafter when taking out a mortgage. Many have lost their homes because they have been made redundant at work or have lost their jobs for other reasons and could not keep up the repayments. I guess I have been very fortunate having ended up with my own (jointly owned with my ex with whom I still live) property with the mortgage fully paid last year. We had financial support from my in-laws in the early years which helped us enormously. Not everyone is so fortunate, I am very aware of that and am grateful. Looking back I think we would still have been secure but with a smaller house than that which we now have. I had been very fortunate in not ever being out of work and in later years having worked for myself. Though owning a property doesn’t necessarily ensure security, nothing really does in the materialistic world, it does give a fair measure. It is nice to know we have somewhere to live in comfort and to call our own. I was wise to invest in bricks and mortar and I would encourage young people starting off in life to do the same if they possibly can.

Shirley Anne

Love


How well do we know love? When we think about love our thoughts turn to those closest to us, our wives, husbands, children and then the rest of our families, friends, acquaintances and sometimes those we work with. I suspect though that the less connected and those we don’t give much thought are not loved in the same way. That I also suppose is natural and expected but God doesn’t love us in that way, He loves us all no matter who we are for we are His creation. How many of us really know that or indeed accept it or even accept God Himself?
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
That is the measure of real love.

Shirley Anne

Love (1 John 4:8)

To know God is to know love, and to continually experience this love is to have renewed motivations, even for work. As we grasp the depth of God’s love for us, we begin to see every part of our lives being sustained and directed by that love. Over time this perspective affects every part of our lives. And because we spend so much of our lives engaged in it, one of our greatest needs is to have God’s love transform the way we work.

When we begin to experience God and his love, our whole being—heart, mind, soul and strength—is engaged, and this experience cannot help but change the way we approach work. It affects our motivations, our relationships and the very work that we do. We see ourselves working for God out of gratitude for what he has done for us, and our diligence at work reflects that gratitude.

As we consider the transformative power of God’s love, the question we must always ask ourselves is this: “Have we come to know the true living God, or are we more occupied with a projection of God informed by our own intellect, desires or experiences?” Only when we encounter this loving God are we truly changed at the very core of our being.

Connecting

God speaks into our lives, and his voice communicates a profound love that changes us in ways both big and small. His love is not an abstract sentiment, but is specific. He didn’t love humanity in some obscure way. No, he sent his Son to live as a Jewish man, die on a Roman cross and rise again so that we could be saved and know him.

One of the most powerful expressions of God’s love in us is in the words we say to our coworkers. Most of us have opportunities to give feedback. Yet, sometimes we shy away from giving positive feedback, in fear of appearing weak or sappy, or we give it in such a way that tears people down. When the love of God is at work in us to transform the way we see others and the importance of our work, even seemingly insignificant feedback can create the kind of change that brings life and health to an individual as well as an organization.

Taken from NIV Faith & Work Bible

Shirley Anne

Shanghaied

Shanghai, a city in China was the place from which my order, a larder fridge was dispatched. It appears that the unit was manufactured there. The firm itself was founded by two men, Russel and Hobbs and it has its main office in the UK. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Hobbs ). As with many companies these days manufacturing of their goods is carried out in other countries where the cost for labour is much lower. People ask why things are no longer manufactured here but the answer is that in this country the labour costs are too high. Minimum wage legislation and the demand for better living conditions will naturally price us out of the manufacturing industry when manufacturers seek the best profit margins possible. In the end no doubt labour costs in these foreign places of manufacture will eventually creep higher too and manufacturing there will cease to be beneficial. Perhaps then manufacturing will return to the UK. However, that could take many years for there are always going to be places in the world playing catch-up. It all makes me wonder where our income is coming from, how as a country do we survive? In the meantime we have to rely on foreign manufacture being reliable. Many of them are just so and in some instances far better than things we once manufactured ourselves, cars, televisions and computers for example. If we are not careful we will lose the ability to manufacture anything! Skills and abilities are soon lost if there is no generation of interest. As for my fridge I did wonder why it was taking so long in being delivered and only discovered its source after implementing the tracking of it online. In fact several of my most recent purchases have been sent from abroad. The fridge itself looks well made but I wonder how reliable it will turn out to be. As an example and by comparison one of the three chest freezers we have is now over fifty years old and is still working fine. However I think it was manufactured in Italy as many refrigerating appliances were and still are but for how long? Will they be Shanghaied too?

Shirley Anne

Wily old fox again

Wily old fox where are you now?
I’ve seen where you’ve been
And the mess on the green
That you’ve kindly left there for me to clean.

It was Sunday morning and I went for a walk. I had put on my coat for it didn’t seem that warm when I left the house. About half-way through I had to remove it and tie it around my waist I was so hot. Even down along the seafront it was warm but there was a slight breeze which made the humid air more comfortable to be in. I could hear the sound of voices in the distance toward the town centre as Saturday night revellers walked about in their drunken stupor. Noise travels far in the quiet hours. I keep well away from the town centre on certain days like Saturday and Sunday mornings for that reason. I remember once returning home after an early morning run to see a guy lying on his back in the middle of our street and fast asleep! Fortunately for him we live in a quiet street. Alcohol has that effect on people who drink too much of it and he was one of them. Usually when out walking I might come across a cat or two, a few rabbits and of course sea birds and water fowl. Once in a while I will see a fox who has usually seen me first and has dashed away to hide somewhere. We have lots of urban foxes though we are not that far from open countryside where there are probably more. Even down along the seafront among the sand dunes foxes can be seen occasionally but wily as foxes are sometimes they can be right under our noses and remain hidden. On my return home I wanted to water the garden but left it until it was daylight. As I looked upon the lawn I could see three little presents the fox had left for me to clean away. One or two very small holes had been left too! Now I have seen a fox on several occasions walking along the top of the boundary brick wall but never have I seen one actually in the garden. E tells me she has seen foxes on the wall too but normally in the evening when it is dark. As we don’t usually spend time out in the garden when it is dark we don’t get to see what goes on. Because the tail end of the garden belonging to the neighbour over the rear wall is in such disarray a family of foxes could be living there without their knowledge. I do hope not for as much as I like foxes I don’t want to be clearing up after them night after night or morning after morning.

Shirley Anne

Spanner in the works

Or…for my American friends and some others….a wrench in the works. Somehow ‘wrench’ doesn’t seem to express it as well as spanner but I suppose that is due to my living in the UK. I would prefer to say England rather than the United Kingdom because I am English, I was born here. I do have Scottish ancestry though on my father’s side of the family but I was born in England. Now we say ‘spanner in the works’ to express a condition whereby a planned activity has been forced to a stop by an outside influence or objection. Well it seems that E has thrown such a spanner in the works having raised tentative objections to my planned garden project. I think however she would prefer something slightly different from my proposals though not entirely different. At the moment therefore the plans are on hold until we can agree on what to do. I suspect that won’t take long and I’ll soon be making inroads but who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime I can rest up though with me that will be difficult. This morning, that is September 1 st I had to water the garden  again because we’ve had little rain lately and one or two of the plants were beginning to wilt a little. I had watered the garden on Friday evening and the plants were looking healthy afterward but a second watering was needed to ensure the soil was moistened through. For today and the following few days the weather forecast says it will remain dry. Anyway I did that and on the way back upstairs I glanced at the pit in which the cross-trainer stands and noticed a small amount of paint flaking off in one corner. When I first constructed the pit a few months earlier I had used paint we had in storage but was never really satisfied with the colour after painting the walls in the room white. The paint in the pit was more creamy looking. Having painted the floor red it magnified the differences between the wall and pit colours. I decided to scrape off the flaking paint and redo the whole pit in a gloss white though I couldn’t of course paint beneath the cross-trainer itself.

It didn’t take long to do, about twenty minutes but now it looks much better for it. Later in the day it was time for more garden maintenance, sweeping up leaves and mowing the lawn.

Shirley Anne

Chasing things up

It was Friday morning the last day of the month and I was up very early after a good night’s sleep. I guess that was due to my having been busy on Thursday. Around four-thirty I went for my walk and as usual lately I was well-wrapped up for the mornings, at least that early, are quite cool bordering on cold. However it was dry with almost clear skies and the gibbous Moon was shining. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t much want to go for the walk at first but that thought faded quickly as I stepped through the front door. At first everything was quiet but as I walked further I saw more and more activity as people were beginning their day but it was mostly vehicles in fact I saw only three pedestrians the whole time I was out. When I got back home I happened to look out over the rear garden through the kitchen window and saw a large and cheeky cat beginning to dig in one of the borders. I opened the window and made my presence known and the cat was soon dashing over the wall! E was telling me that she had seen the local fox in the garden the previous night too, probably the same one I have seen lately. What makes our garden so special? Animals do what animals do I suppose but woe betide them if I see them doing their ablutions in my garden! On Thursday I received a letter from the DVLA regarding the renewal of my driver’s license. Once we reach our seventieth birthday we then have to renew the license or re-apply for it every three years thereafter. As I am fast approaching 73 I received the reminder. I can apply online and don’t require a new photograph or submit a fee. That makes a change, not having to pay for something! So today as I write I shall be chasing that up. Later I plan to visit the guy who I visited a few weeks ago regarding the slate monoliths I wanted to purchase from him. As he hadn’t yet been in touch I would be chasing that up too as I would like to start work on the project of installing them and creating the planned feature on the lawn.

Shirley Anne

Pole dancing

Well not exactly so the guys reading this can stop getting excited. It was such a nice day on Thursday I made the attempt to work on the flag pole in the front garden. As you may know from previous posts the rope had severed leaving the flag on the ground and the rope itself inside the pole. This meant lifting off the top section of the pole in order to carry out repairs, that is cleaning the finial and inserting the replacement rope which can only be done when the pole is either on the ground or the scaffolding used to work on the pole was as high as the pole itself.

 

As you can see in the above picture I erected the scaffolding but only two of the three sections we have. This was for two reasons. First of all it would be less safe to erect the scaffolding higher because the ground beneath is uneven and difficult to work upon. Secondly it was just as easy to lift off the top section of the pole once the second section of scaffolding had been erected. In fact it was much easier than I remembered when I last erected the scaffolding around the pole. Maybe that was due to my taking a different approach the second time. Anyway I lowered the top section and took it into the rear garden to make use of the soft grass to work on it.

The finial I discovered hadn’t in fact seized as I first thought but it did need loosening. All I could do was wash it with warm soapy water because the moving parts are made of nylon. I washed the pole itself too before threading the rope inside ready for re-assembly. Replacing the top section was as simple as can be. The only possible snag would have been pulling out the rope from inside the pole into the small access key-locked covered panel located at chest level on the outside of the pole for raising and lowering the flag. I used a stiff piece of wire bent at the end to form a small hook with which to pull out the rope. It was then a simple matter of attaching the flag and the new weight. The flag and small weight are shown in the picture I took the day before.

The work took four hours but most of that time was taken up in assembling and dismantling the scaffold tower because of the uneven ground!

Shirley Anne

Didn’t wait

People might say that I am an impetuous person, I do things on the spur of the moment. Though that may be true and I must confess to acting that way many times, I do usually give plenty of thought before taking any action. In a recent post I was writing about our problems with fridge/freezers and the fact that one unit not much older than five years had become faulty for the second time thus rendering it not cost-effective for a third repair. I had in fact carried out the last repair which kept it in service for over a year. It would be better to cut losses and simply buy a replacement. However I had decided not to make an immediate purchase and also not to purchase a similar unit but instead purchase a larder fridge. The logic behind that decision I explained in the other post. The main reason was to separate fridge from freezer, to have independent units rather than combined. We don’t really need extra freezers as we have some in the cellar rooms. We do however need the extra fridge capacity so that is why I intended to purchase a stand-alone tall fridge as a replacement. When and if the other fridge/freezer we have in the kitchen requires replacing we would purchase a stand-alone freezer to replace it. So instead of having two combined fridge/freezer units we would have two individual ones, a fridge and a freezer. I had decided to wait awhile before purchasing the fridge as I said but changed my mind and ordered one a couple of days ago. It had only been a matter of a few days but we were struggling with the lack of fridge space the other fridge/freezer has and couldn’t wait any longer. It is Thursday (30 th) as I write and we expect the delivery within a couple of days. Yesterday I received the new flag and weight and don’t have any excuses not to work on the flag pole and fit them.

If you remember I need to remove the top half of the two-piece pole in order to re-insert the rope and carry out a repair to the finial at the top which doesn’t move freely as it should. It may need replacing too which will delay completing the work. Fortunately we are in for a couple of days of fine weather.

Shirley Anne