Quite often in life it is the small things which can cause the biggest problems. We tend to overlook the small things as insignificant but they can soon become large things which then demand our attention. The phrase ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ springs to mind. A small tear in a garment can lead to it being thrown away if it isn’t mended in time. Life is like that, everything is in decay but some things perish more easily don’t they? For some years now I have suffered with the occasional problem of having a trapped nerve in my neck. I might suddenly feel an ache in my back, arms or legs as I did a few weeks ago and wrote about it in a post. At first I used to simply bear the pain until it subsided and that often was for a couple of days. Then just as suddenly as the pains appeared they disappeared leaving me wondering the cause. One day I discovered that if I held my head in a certain position the pain would disappear and that led me to discover that doing neck exercises solved my pain problems. As I am over seventy years of age I am beginning to think the trapped nerve issue is simply age-related and that is probably true. In my younger days I never suffered this way, not even once. I awoke on Monday morning with a view to drive a few miles to an electrical job but as I dressed and ate breakfast I found I had problems with the muscles in my buttocks and lower back which made moving about very slow and painful. I did remember to do some neck exercises which eased the pain and in fact once I was moving about the pain seemed less of a problem. I am sure many of us could relate to feeling a little stiff when we get out of bed but I have found that as I have gotten older the problem is more frequent. Lying still on a bed for hours is going to promote stiffness so I suppose having a restless night in that respect isn’t such a bad thing after all. Anyway despite my exercising the pain still took some hours to subside. I did go to the job as it didn’t involve any form of strenuous work and I was back home after an hour or so. I spent the remainder of the day doing very little but wanting to move about so that I didn’t seize up completely! A bit like being between a rock and a hard place. Some choice eh?
I promised myself that I would take some respite from my work at home for a while and so I took the whole weekend off. If I can extend that I thought to myself I might just do so but knowing me it wouldn’t be long before I found something to do. As I said in the previous post there is work to be done anyway. Saturday was one of those days when the weather was very changeable, one minute warm and sunny and the next cooler and overcast. There were just too many clouds being blown in from the west. There was always the treat of rain but it didn’t materialise. The following day however was to be different, rain all day long according to the forecast. I potted about at home during the morning but in the afternoon I decided to sit out on the patio with my guitar for a time playing quietly and listening to some bird song. All was pleasant and peaceful until I realised the bird song had suddenly changed. I looked in the direction I thought the sound was coming from and I saw a blackbird flying about and squawking as if in a panic. He kept flying in and out of an ivy-covered tree over the wall in the next garden and then as I watched I saw him dart into the ivy chasing out a magpie in the process. I watched as the magpie flew across our garden and out of sight between the houses with the male and female blackbirds chasing close behind. The magpie had one of their young in its beak. Its fate was sealed, there would be no chance of a rescue by its parents. I thought how sad but that is nature that is the way things are. A couple of weeks ago whilst sitting on the patio I saw a few seagulls chasing a sparrow hawk and on another day four or five jays chasing a seagull. It appeared they were all trying to protect their young. On Friday I noticed there was a lot of black bird feathers lying about on one corner of the lawn. They were presumably from an unfortunate (black) bird having been caught by some predator, probably a cat! It all goes on in the background usually out of sight but sometimes in full view.
People are talking about the recent referendum result and what the future holds for the country now that we have chosen to leave the European Union. In real terms not much will actually change immediately though the financial markets are proving to be very volatile but that I am sure will settle down as time goes by. According to the polls the decision to leave mainly came about by the votes cast by the older generations. I wonder why that was the case? Well the older generations have lived with the situation for over forty years and therefore I feel have a better understanding notwithstanding the fact that many didn’t really wish to join in the first place! A lot of sour grapes have to be swallowed by the disconcerted but as one person stated, we are team GB so let’s get on with it. A country can only be successful if the population work for it and can forget their differences. I say to the disappointed that remaining that way doesn’t do anyone any good. We as a nation managed quite well before the day we joined with Europe and there is no reason why that should not be the case now we have left. We have to make it work and we have to work to make it work! We have to weather any storm that comes our way and just get on with it. That is all I will say on the matter.
My situation remains as it was and I am sure that will be the case for most of us so I just get on with my life. On the home front I have reached that stage where I am again looking for things to do. Yes, I have to do some minor things in the top room where E and I have been working and over the next few days I hope to do so. We can then get the carpet installed to complete the work. I can now start changing all the radiator valves when I feel I am ready for at this moment I am not. I have to be in the right frame of mind before I do anything and at the moment all I really want to do is rest a while.
And finally I have completed the second flowerbed work. I might decide on a couple of additions here and there, an extra stone or two and perhaps another small plant or two but maybe not. It is tempting to fill all the gaps but I have to bear in mind that some of the plants I have placed there will grow both in height and width. I arose very early on Thursday after not many hours sleep even though I had been very tired going to bed. The sleep was solid and I woke up very refreshed. As it happened Thursday was voting day here in the UK as we went to the polls to decide if we as a nation should remain in the European community or leave it. I was downstairs by 6.30 though I awoke at 5.00. I left off having breakfast and went to cast my vote at a little after 7.00 and ate it on my return. After breakfast I decided to take a walk down to the seashore and got back home around 10.30 . The seashore has changed dramatically over the 28 years I have lived here. The sand dunes have encroached upon the shore so that the sea no longer reaches where it once did at that point. I remember seeing small patches of Marram grass on the beach which used to be removed by our local authority but years ago they put an end to doing that. Consequently the grass grew and grew and the little mounds became large ones until now we have new sand dunes reaching about a hundred metres further out. Anyway it was still a pleasant walk in the bright sunshine. When I got back home I found E lying on the patio furniture soaking up the sun. I didn’t disturb her. I drove to the garden centre to purchase some more plants for the flowerbed. The centre was surprisingly empty of customers but that made my visit easier and quicker. Soon I was back home yet again and E was still on the patio. I went to the large greenhouse to collect some things and there was a blue tit in there. The poor little thing must have gotten in there the previous day through the roof vents when they would have been open (they open automatically as it gets too hot inside). He couldn’t find a way out. I left the sliding door fully open and let him come out when he was ready. Meanwhile I went into the front garden and set about bedding in the new plants until it now looks like this…
By the time I had finished it was time for lunch! I’ll let you name the numbers of varieties of plants in there but it is more than ten.
…..the end is near. One small job to do first thing in the morning on Wednesday and then I could return home. In fact I got back at 10.30 or thereabouts. I wanted to get out into the garden once more but without plants I could do nothing. I needed to drive to the garden centre and see what I could purchase. I decided to leave it until after lunch for I knew I would end up missing lunch if I didn’t. Just before lunch E told me that her mom had again been taken into hospital for observation and E and her brother who collected her, went off to see her. She is advanced in years and a little frail and has various ailments common to some elderly people. I prepared my lunch as it was now after noon and I had eaten breakfast early. Soon after lunch I part-emptied my van and drove to the garden centre. I browsed around looking for suitable plants, evergreens and plants that don’t grow to any great height, though I wanted some taller ones to fill in the rear of the bed. I bought some plants of the same variety we had put in the other flowerbed a few weeks ago but the others I bought were different. We don’t want the two flowerbeds to be identical but only similar. I was away from home for an hour and on my return I set about putting the new plants in the bed. Here is the result
I placed some large natural stone blocks here and there amongst the plants as I did in the other bed. I may put some more in later after or before we plant some flowering plants in the bed to fill it out, again as we did in the first bed. I think it looks better already but it should look even more so once finished. It is far better than what it looked like a week or so ago.
The smallest part of the flowerbed I have been working in has taken the longest time for its size to do. On Monday I almost finished filtering the soil but time was pressing on and I was tired so I left off doing the final section until later. I had hoped it would be Tuesday morning and my wish came true. There was about a square metre left to do that is almost a half of a cubic metre for I had to dig down a half metre as I had done with the whole of the flowerbed. It took four hours to complete the final section though part of that time was taken up topping up the bed with new soil. Last year around early October we had purchased a one ton bag of clean soil for filling the three flowerbeds I had newly constructed on the patio and quite a lot of it was left over. It had been stored near one of the gates in the front garden by the delivery driver as that was the only place it could go and remain out-of-the-way. Finally I was able to empty the remains (about six wheelbarrows full) to fill in the flowerbed. It is surprising just how much was removed in the way of weeds, stones, roots and bluebell bulbs especially! If I ever see another bluebell bulb it will be too soon. So now the bed looks like this All we have to do now is populate it and it will take many plants to fill it. I plan to fill it with evergreen plants so the only plants which will die back in the winter will be the Fuchsia (at the far right in the picture) and what we think is Iris (centre). The Azalea is replanted on the extreme left and that other evergreen shrub was replanted next to it. Still haven’t found out its name but we’ll work on it. Naturally I took the rest of the day to myself. The following day I would be out doing electrical work.
On Thursday 23 June the people of the UK as a whole voted to leave the European Union. The gap between the two parties, those wishing to stay and those wishing to leave was relatively small with 1,250,000 more voting in favour to leave. I myself was one of them. I believe we should never have joined in the first place. We are a sovereign country and we need to control what we do here for ourselves without any interference from Europe or indeed anywhere else.
Those who wanted us to remain and many others in my opinion have not seen the bigger picture which has nothing to do with immediate policies and arrangements. Angela Merkel the German Prime Minister was one of the foreign leaders who were saddened by the result of our referendum. She mentioned something in her formal response to the news that struck a chord with me. She said that the decision we made to leave the Union was an obstacle to ‘Globalisation‘. As I have mentioned in previous posts we are heading for a one world government and the machinery to bring that about is already at our fingertips. It may take several years for the ball to hit its target but it is inevitable it will. Our future isn’t bright if we end up in a one world system. Control will be moved from us and we in turn will be under the control of government. People will scoff but things are heading that way even as I write. The ‘End Times‘ are almost here. How will we be controlled? Through the technology we have developed. Nobody will be able to buy or sell without having bought into the system first. Those who disobey will have any credit removed from their accounts and nobody will be able to help for fear of the same thing happening to them. It all sounds Orwellian and far-fetched but it is all written in Scripture. Close your eyes to the events happening all around you because that’s what people do. All they are concerned with is the present time. It takes wisdom and understanding of the times we are in to see the bigger picture. In the meantime I am glad that we in our own small corner of the world have made a stance against the signs of the times. If what is written in Scripture is true, and I believe what The Bible says, the UK leaving the European Union is in the long-term irrelevant. Our future can only be assured if we turn to God, to Jesus Christ. The world will face the future it is heading for and for some it will be disastrous. If it happens sooner than you think you will need the protection that only Jesus can give you. Why wait?
I started the day on Monday with nothing to do. It was raining, not a lot but enough to keep me from working in the garden. I called back to house I had done the emergency repairs on Sunday for two reasons, to collect something I had left there and to check things were alright. I couldn’t phone ahead as I hadn’t asked for the phone number when the caller rang. She had marked her number as private. My mistake for I usually insist on a contact number in case I need to contact the caller. I took the chance but there was nobody at home and I left a note so they could call back. Looking through their window I could see some of the kitchen appliances were switched on as I could see the indicators lit. I could also see what I had left there sitting in the window sill! Oh well I would have to wait for their call, No sooner had I returned home when another call came in asking for my electrical services so I attended on that one and didn’t get back home until 1.30 just in time for lunch. After lunch I decided to work on filtering more soil in the front garden flowerbed for the weather had changed dramatically. It was now sunny and warm. I spent four hours and made a lot of progress. There remains less than a square metre of soil left to filter as I write this on Monday evening. It is hard-going filtering out soil but it is worth the effort. I am truly amazed at how many bluebell bulbs I have removed, there are now thousands of them in the green wheelie bin. As I write this I have no other work scheduled until Wednesday so I may be able to finish the bed on Tuesday. The weather forecast is good for the next few days too. What has E been doing whilst I have been working in the flowerbed or away from home? She has been painting the cabinet and drawers in the top room and has also finished the painting of the room itself!
Once I have finished the outdoor work I will fit the room’s door furniture and curtain rail. It will then be ready for a carpet to be laid once we buy it.
Six days you shall labour and do all your work,
‘Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the ploughing season and harvest you must rest.
for six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death.
Six days you shall labour and do all your work,
Some harsh words here and there but these verses not only display God’s will but show us just how much He cares for us. How can only working for six days benefit any of us in this day and age you might ask? Why did God set these rules down? If we ignore them what are the consequences? Well many people today think nothing of what is written in The Bible, it is all myth to them, stories made up to keep us under control they say. If that is true then who made them up? If they don’t believe they don’t believe, they might not suffer any ill effects or so they think. In the first instance they are rejecting their Creator and His love. Secondly they tire themselves out working seven days a week presumably to earn more money to buy more things that ultimately they will leave behind when they die! God doesn’t want us to wear ourselves to the bone, why do you suppose He set the rule to labour but for six days? It is for our benefit, in fact everything God does is for our benefit. Isn’t the sacrifice of Jesus enough to show you how much God cares? So I make it that I rest on the Sabbath, to recharge my batteries so to speak and reflect on the love of God. I reflect on the love of God every day to be truthful. I get phone calls from people wanting me to work at the weekend simply because they don’t want to take time off during the week to have things done. One guy phoned me and asked if I would work on Saturday and after I told him that I need the weekends for myself he had the cheek to ask if I would work in the evening instead! When I have been working all day either doing my electrical work or working at home I am not prepared to work in the evenings too, especially at my age! I told him to try elsewhere. Around 11 o’clock on Sunday morning I received a call for help from a house in the next township. All electrical power had been lost which meant amongst other things that food in freezers and fridges would perish. As it was an emergency I went to investigate.
He said to them, ‘If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?
Yes it was the Sabbath but it was also an emergency, an exception. I discovered that the main circuit-breaker board had burned and as I found out later it was due to a loose connection. The insulation around the cables connected to one of the connector blocks had begun to melt and the block itself was covered in carbon. Even the (plastic*) board had started to melt in that area. Fortunately I was able to put things right and restore the power. I charged no more for the work than if it had been done during the week. I will work on a Sunday and have done several times in the past but always and only if it is an emergency.
*New regulations forbid the installation of plastic circuit-breaker (or fuse) boards because they can be a hazard if this kind of fault occurs. Regulations now require the fitting of metal-cased units in new installations.
Another bright and sunny day on Saturday enabled me to get outside again to work in the flowerbed. It is taking a long time to filter the soil in the bed and every spadeful contained bluebell bulbs. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that there were hundreds of bluebell bulbs but it is more likely there have been thousands of them, probably two thousand or more. The filtering of the soil in the bed is still not finished as I write this. I am probably three-quarters done I think. Practically all of the work has to be done in a sitting position for my back’s sake. I sit on an old chair with three buckets to my left hand side and the sieve in front of me. I have to take a spadeful of soil from my right beyond the barrier I use to separate the completed section of the bed from the incompleted side and put it into the sieve then shake it. Each time I do this I find bluebell bulbs in the soil. The three buckets are for large stones, small stones and debris and the third is for plant debris, bulbs, roots and such. There has to be a system to make the work less difficult than it could be. I spent three hours in the morning and another three hours in the afternoon to reach this far…
Alongside the separating barrier in the unfiltered part of the bed (on the right) and next to the stone wall you can see concrete. The electric underground cable emerges from beneath a stone covering just beyond the bricks I have placed there temporarily after I mixed the concrete to cover and surround the exposed cable. It disappears beneath the stone wall and into the cellar of the house. I suspect that the previous owners of the house built that wall too close to the house thereby exposing a small section of the cable. Soil will just about cover the concrete but I will place a slab of natural stone in that position to disguise it. I will be placing slabs of stone in the bed in random positions as I did with the other flowerbed we worked on a few weeks ago. Incidentally there is another electric cable running parallel to this one and about a half metre to its left. That cable has been damaged and has been disconnected from the cables in the street. It can be seen inside the cellar cut off where it enters through the wall. I think the cable may have been damaged during those garden works all those years ago. Further work in the flowerbed will have to be done after Monday as rain is forecast for the next couple of days.
I had another day free to myself on Friday and though I had three requests for my electrical services I rejected two of them. The third will get done sometime next week. That meant I could work in the garden. The conditions were ideal, not too warm at 16 or 17 degC with some cloud cover and dry. Even at those temperatures and me wearing only a flimsy top I soon worked up a sweat! The best time to work in the front garden here is as early in the morning as possible when the sun is blocked by the house next door and the trees in their front garden. After ten-thirty if it is sunny the sun begins to appear over the flowerbed currently being worked in. The first picture shows the bed as it was before any work started
The second picture shows the initial work done last week and before, the work mainly involved removing the Hydrangea bush that was at the extreme left in the bed as seen above.
The final picture shows the bed after my hard work on Friday. I spent two hours before lunch and three after. You can see I have moved the Azalea to the spot left vacant by the Hydrangea. I moved that strange bush with its branches sticking out all over the place (next to the variegated yellow/green shrub on the right in the picture above) to a spot near the Azalea. One tall Iris (we think it is an Iris) was left where it stood but the other which stood close to that strange shrub I moved next to the first. Before all that could be done I had to filter out more of the flowerbed soil which contained hundreds (literally) of bluebell bulbs as well as stones and weeds. I have never seen so many bluebell bulbs in such a small space! There will be more to filter out when I work the other half of the flowerbed.
You can see a stake sticking up in the centre of the picture as well as the end of a length of plastic board which separates that part of the flowerbed that has yet to be worked in. I did some work in that part of the bed however, digging out the two shrubs we had there, cutting them up and disposing of them. We had thought about keeping the variegated shrub but it is of a type which spreads itself everywhere in the soil, something we are keen not to have. The second plant was another Fuchsia which wasn’t needed. The main Fuchsia will remain where it is at the extreme right of the flowerbed (just out of sight in the second two pictures) as seen in the first picture. There will be many weeds and bluebell bulbs in the remaining half of the bed so there’s still plenty of work to do yet. When the bed is ready to be populated with new plants only four of the original ones will still be there five if you count there being two Iris plants next to each other. I have been thinking what type of plants to purchase and have in mind Lavender and Cabbage Palm at the moment but obviously there will be others. I believe Lavender is a plant which discourages weeds growing near it. Now that is a bonus but it can get out of hand if left to grow too large even so it smells nice and gives good cover where it is needed. As I write this on Friday evening I am not sure when next I will have the time to continue with the work but I suspect it will be Saturday!
After a good couple of weeks with mostly dry and sunny weather this past week saw the return of the rain. I don’t mind having the rain occasionally, it is necessary but it does prevent carrying out certain jobs in the garden. It is also impossible to do any outdoor repairs too. At this time of year it is a constant battle keeping weeds down for they grow at such a fast rate and before you know it they get the upper hand if you are not on the ball. The grass also grows quickly during the warm months often needing mowing every week if conditions are right. It was only a short while ago I had mowed the lawn but by Thursday it was beginning to look a bit dishevelled, it needed cutting once again. Thursday was a day of intermittent rain but late in the afternoon it became bright and sunny. If I played my cards right I could get the lawn mowed as it now only takes me around twenty minutes. It once took me an hour and a half as I used a small electric mower but since getting the petrol-driven mower serviced and cleaned up a couple of years ago it has cut the time down dramatically. My main concern was that the grass may have been too wet to cut but it wasn’t. The petrol mower would cope with the grass being a little wet but if it is too wet it clogs things up. I made the effort and had the job done in no time. Maybe having a sheep would solve the rain problem though I fancy it wouldn’t just eat the grass! I had only returned indoors ten minutes or so when the heavens opened up again and we had a heavy downpour of rain. Just in time! Earlier in the day I had plans to do more filtering of the soil in the front flowerbed but I got a call to do an electrical job some miles away. By the time I had returned home it was approaching lunch time and in the afternoon I wanted to watch England playing Wales in the current UEFAEuropean football competitions. I managed to do that and I had the spare time afterward to mow the lawn too. When E returned home with the weekly shopping it was still raining so I got a little wet helping her bring it indoors, Soon afterward the rain stopped! One of those days.
For the benefit of my American readers (and anyone else who doesn’t know) I mean the game which you actually play with your feet and not the version you play with your hands. Come on, how can a game played with the hands be called football? I am referring to the game you know as soccer. At the moment UEFA (the Union of European Football Associations) are holding the European Championship games, this time being held in France, for those countries which have qualified for the tournament by getting through the preliminary knock-out matches. For anyone liking the ‘beautiful game’ as it has become known, these current couple of weeks must be proving very enjoyable for the genuine supporters of the game. I myself like to watch a good football match and so far there have been many of them with more to come. I have been able to watch three matches on each of the days that I have had the good fortune to be at home in the afternoons and evenings. Many European countries have qualified to take part and it is interesting to see the differences in their approach to the game. Some teams seem to be more aggressive in their style of play than others and some teams seem to waste golden opportunities more than others. There are some aspects of the game which I dislike, too much foul play and constant back-passing of the ball are two but generally most of the games are good to watch, if you like football that is! Not everyone does. I am wondering which country will win the competition and I should favour my own country, England, but I have my doubts as to their capability to do so. Perhaps they will prove me wrong. I would like to think so anyway. Time will tell. There are still many games left to play and I might get to see most of them. Perhaps I will just make the time….
By the time Wednesday came around I hadn’t done much work outdoors and as I hadn’t any work scheduled I was free to do something if the weather held. However I wasn’t in the mood for work at all, I was tired. I got up very early and had eaten breakfast before 7.30 that was after I had put some clothes in the machine to be washed. It was a little before 10 o’clock when I decided to make the effort and do something but first I had to hang out the washing. Usually I hang it in the cellar but E had all three lines down there full of washing already which meant I had to hang it on the line in the garden. Rain was forecast to fall but not until later in the afternoon so I donned a pair of overalls and boots and began to filter the soil in the flowerbed we are in the process of clearing up. It goes like this. I have three buckets to hand, a spade and a sieve (a circular piece of metal with a mesh in the base to filter out debris) and an old chair on which to sit whilst shaking the sieve containing a shovel full of soil to be filtered. Sitting down rather than standing makes the task easier and less troublesome for the back muscles. Plant debris goes into one bucket, large stones in another whilst the smallest stones go into the third. The stones then go into plastic bags to either be washed later or discarded. The plant debris is put into the green waste bin. It is surprising just how many stones find their way into the soil. The main object of the exercise, and believe me it is exercise, is that filtering removes unwanted bulbs such as bluebells and montbretia. Other nuisance plants such as weeds are more readily removed when simply digging the soil but the removal of stones is a bonus when filtering with a sieve. After only an hour and a quarter I’d had enough and put everything away. It had been tiring working in the heat wearing overalls but although the clouds began to roll in it remained warm. The afternoon was pleasant though getting increasingly cloudy but I was too tired to do any more work. I guess I had been overdoing it lately. There is no hurry anyway. Whilst I was working away from home on Monday E had been painting the worktop surfaces in the top room. She had also spent time in there on Tuesday and continued the work again on Wednesday. It is just as well she is able to do the work for it eases the burden upon me and leaves me the time to do other things.
Every day we make decisions even if we think we don’t. As we grow up we may try to do our own thing and ignore the advice or the direction of others when often that advice is necessary. If we live in a society, and we all do, there are basic rules which everyone must adhere to else pay the penalty if we ignore them. It is all about keeping things under control for if we all did what we wanted that wasn’t in keeping with the society in which we live that society wouldn’t be stable. This is why there is a necessity to have a police force to keep the peace and maintain order and why we have prisons to house those who think their ways are best. In life therefore we make choices whether to conform or to rebel but we know the consequences for each route we take. Most of us just want a simple life and to be able to live in peace and pursue our happiness. Some however think that the world owes them a living and will take what they want without working for it. At a more mundane level people make decisions without realizing it, routine habits become automatic. In my own life I am happy to say that I am in a position to do anything I wish with my time but only if I make the time available. For instance if I decide to continue to work and not retire instead I have to make myself available in case I am called upon and that limits my choices. It means I cannot commit to other interests or pursuits. This is why I have to spend my free time doing household projects. It isn’t that I don’t like doing these things but my choices to do anything else have to remain on the shelf. It is all down to the choices I make in my life, the routes I take or don’t take as the case may be. The danger is that I can be forced into a situation in the future where I cannot make the choices I might want to because it will be too late to change direction. Of course it all depends upon what we want out of life which decides the routes we take. It is of no use regretting our decisions later in life. We need to be aware of possible outcomes and be prepared to meet them face on. Take the routes you wish in life but be prepared to alter course now and then.