Moving along

A week or so back I wrote about having a replacement garage door installed. I had been having problems with the old door that fairly recently was converted to electrical operation though it wasn’t the electrical conversion but rather the inherent mechanical components beginning to show their age. The picture below shows almost the exact door as the one we are having replaced….

Photograph of a chain-drive garage door opener...
Photograph of a chain-drive garage door opener. This residential unit is manufactured by The Chamberlain Group, Inc. under the LiftMaster brand name. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a few years I have wanted to replace the door with a roller-shutter type so I contacted a company which manufactures and installs them to call and give me a quote. Having agreed on the price I told them to proceed with the work. I was informed that it may be a month or so before it could be done. In the interim I arranged for the garage roof to be raised where the new roller was to be fitted and that work was carried out during the following week. Since then it has been a case of waiting for things to happen, that is up to the time of writing this on Thursday (21) for on Wednesday I received a call informing me that after a second survey on Wednesday 27 to check the preliminary alterations have been completed the installation will take place on Thursday October 5. The work will be completed in one day. I never did like the old door because there were too many things in its design that were prone to fault. Things move on though and hopefully there will be less problems associated with the new door.  The other garage has a rolled steel shutter door which gives us little problem and there is no reason to replace it. Hopefully in my next post regarding the new installation I will be able to post a picture or two.

Shirley Anne



Nocturnal visitors

There have been many incidences of finding cat stools in our rear garden over the years. Having these nocturnal visitors is somewhat of a nuisance as far as I am concerned. It isn’t so much the visitor, it’s what they leave in their wake and the fact that I have to clean up after them. Cats however like to bury their waste deposits which is even worse and for two reasons. Firstly, unless I have noticed the burial there is always the possibility that I could dig it up by accident then have to clean up the mess. Secondly, cats don’t give a hoot where they dig up the ground and often leave more of a mess in spreading soil all over the place. I am glad to say that nocturnal visits by cats has become, at least for the time being, less frequent. A few mornings ago I noticed many very small patches of grass had been dug up on the lawn and a couple of large black stools lying on the grass. Now I know cats don’t usually dig up lawns, they prefer digging in soil as it is easier. Typical of cats to be that lazy. I wondered what animal or bird could be responsible. Our garden is visited by a variety of birds, some of which could have been responsible for digging up the lawn, Jackdaws for example. They dig for moss to line their nests and moss is something our lawn has. I have been treating the lawn for that reason lately. However, late Summer or early Autumn isn’t the nesting season but then I thought they may have been digging for worms in the moist ground. It is possible but I have doubts about that. The reason I say that is the digging happens at night and apart from the owls in the area, all other birds would be asleep. So although the digging could still have been done by birds I have doubts about it. Now I also know that squirrels like to bury some of their food, storing it for harder times in the Winter but again I don’t think squirrels would be out and about when it is dark. They like their sleep just as we do and besides, they would be prey to any of the owls we hear after nightfall. Mice I think we can rule out, they just don’t dig holes in grass, especially at night! There is only one other possibility, foxes. We do have foxes hereabouts, we have seen them and heard them, oft-times in the night. One morning recently and still while it was dark, I happened to be looking out of my bedroom window which overlooks the rear garden and could just about see the outline of an animal on the garden wall. There was very little light but I could tell that it wasn’t a cat, unless it was a very large one. In seconds it moved behind the trees and I lost sight of it. I am almost certain it was a fox. I think therefore that our nocturnal visitor is almost certainly a fox. I looked around the garden perimeter searching for an access point. I know foxes can leap over high walls if they have the space to do it but they usually take easier routes. There are only a couple of places around the garden which make access that easier and they are both in the same corner of the garden, in the corner behind the holly tree in this picture…

This is a picture of the same corner taken some years ago during Winter…

On the other side of the wall where the lower wall meets the tall one behind the Sycamore tree left of centre the ground is high and just on the other side of the tree in the high wall there is a gap. At this time the ground on the other side of the wall  is filled with fallen branches and access through it has been rendered almost impossible, even for cats. The small gap in the wall would only allow small animals through, even foxes and I suspected this was the access point. I have fitted some chicken wire over the gap and now have to see if  my lawn will remain free of dung!

Shirley Anne

Front garden

Much of the work I have been doing in recent months has been centred upon the rear garden mainly because there is always more to do there. However, though it may seem that the front garden gets neglected that is far from the truth. It simply requires less maintenance than the rear garden. Most of what we do in the front garden is keeping the weeds in check and laying down snail and slug pellets to keep them from devouring the plants. I am not sure how many other areas in the country are so infested with slugs and snails but Southport certainly is. It is only in the last year or so which saw us revamping the front garden flowerbeds. Prior to that it was several years ago, just before we had major renovations done around the garden and house that anything major was done in the front garden. We had three tall pine trees removed and a yew tree cut back a little. We also had removed a hawthorn and a holly tree and they were all just behind the then front wall. The wall was rebuilt with an extra opening in it. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the original frontage but only a couple taken just after the new wall was built. By that time all the tall trees had gone..

From the inside the existing shrubs grew to look like this about three years ago but became much taller since this picture was taken…

Those shrubs had beforehand been kept in the shade because of the pine trees and we had left them alone since then which was seven years ago. I had been promising myself that I would cut them back sometime and indeed E has dropped a few hints too! I had been out for a seven-mile walk on Monday morning (18th) so wasn’t particularly looking for much to do but after lunch I set things up and using the hedge cutter set to work. Now it looks like this..

It may not seem that much was removed but in fact they have been cut down more than half a metre. The hardest part of the work, which took me two and a half hours, was putting the cuttings into the bins as most of them needed cutting again to get them in. At least that is one job that won’t need repeating for a time.

Shirley Anne


What a mess

E was going to the hospital for her first physiotherapy session early on Monday morning. The appointment was connected to her having problems with one of her feet following a recent suspected accident. As she suffers with her motability because of her other condition too I had  suspected part of the treatment was for that also but it wasn’t. Meanwhile I was going for an early morning walk. On Saturday I walked a different route to my normal routes, going south along the beach for a change. It had been more of a case of not being able to walk my usual route because of the annual air show being held there. Anyway I enjoyed the alternative route but really wanted to do it mostly on the beach. The terrain had changed so much since I last went that route and I was unable to find my way to the beach until I had walked quite a distance. On Monday therefore, although I could have taken one of my usual routes I wanted to make another attempt at reaching the beach directly. I walked directly out toward the sea, the tide was out so at some point I could turn and walk along the sand. However the path was muddy and full of pools of water and being the same one that is used by the ‘cockler’s vehicles who use it every day to get to the water it is not exactly an easy path to walk. Marram grass and other plants grow either side of the path and they hide numerous pools and small streams of water making walking that way almost impossible. As I was wearing boots I could stay more or less on the path until I reached the open sand. It would be impossible to walk that route if the tide was high but on the day, the morning, it was far out. I reckon I had to walk out 300 metres before I could turn left to walk south along the sand.

English: Ainsdale Beach and Sand Dunes. This p...
Ainsdale Beach and Sand Dunes. This photo was taken on New Years Eve in 2004, looking north along the sands approaching Ainsdale. Behind the dunes lies Ainsdale National Nature Reserve, home to Natterjack Toads. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were no other people on the beach until I reached the Ainsdale turn-off two to three miles away. Once there I could walk inland to take the coastal road north and back home. I have to say I am not impressed by the way the local authority has abrogated its responsibility to maintain the beach south of the town, the north side was left to its own devices many years ago and it has become marshland. In fact the local area is named ‘Marshside’, a great place for those who like watching the many birds who visit or habit the area. I suppose one day the whole of the beach will be covered in grass and sand dunes and the sea will be further to reach. According to studies the coast at Lancashire is already encroaching further out into the Irish Sea, whilst on the opposite side of the country the North Sea is eroding the land.

Shirley Anne

This and that

I had thought Sunday was going to be dull and windy with a little rain but I was far off the mark: it turned out warm, sunny and dry with just a slight breeze. I had mowed the lawn the day before and I was glad I did for during the early hours of the morning rain did fall and the grass remained wet for a time. What I wanted to do was a little bit of garden maintenance before lunch time such as cutting the flower stems from the Agapanthus plants and saving the seed pods for E. That I did before pruning back the overgrown Lavender shrub which I think has been attempting a take-over of the adjacent plot, the Mound. It has to span the footpath between and had made some progress toward that end. Nice as Lavender is it does like to spread itself about! I read somewhere that very few plants want to grow beneath or too close to Lavender, especially weeds which can’t be a bad thing. I have noticed that to be the case in our garden, at least as far as the weeds are concerned. Other plants don’t seem to mind but I suppose it depends upon the plants. Anyway having done that I went into the front garden to help E with the pruning of plants and shrubs. It would be green bin day on Monday, that is the collection of green waste. This time we had only the one bin full and ready for emptying; next time it would probably be two because of the Autumn leaves. It was around lunch time that we finished. After lunch I decided to move the plant I had been waiting to die-back for the Winter so that I could put another plant in its place. If you remember it is the one against the wall to the right of the new fan palm in the centre of the picture.

I moved this plant much further along in the same border. It will not sprout new leaves until the Spring followed by bright yellow flowers a few weeks later. I planted the Olearia in its place.

The Olearia is an evergreen shrub producing daisy-like flowers in Spring to Summer giving it the nickname of ‘daisy tree’. Hopefully it will grow to a height of two metres and have a spread of about a metre and a half to brighten up the wall. Later we sat out on the patio in the warmth of the sun for an hour or so.

Shirley Anne

Went south

From anywhere north on this planet going south means getting warmer but in my case, at least on Saturday morning , it was due to my not being able to go northward on my walk. The Air Show was taking place over the three days from Friday which meant road closures for a while. It might seem odd but it had been many years since I walked along the beach or even through the sand dunes in a southerly direction. In any case I was usually running, not walking. In the intervening years the area had changed somewhat, different paths, the old ones lost in the shrubbery meant I was led away from my intended route. I remembered the time I could walk or run along the path and still be able to see the beach and the sea, in fact the path ran alongside the beach. Either I had taken the wrong path initially else the original one had simply become lost. I should have walked as far out toward the sea to be able to turn and then walk along the beach but I had thought the path would eventually take me to the beach instead. That was my mistake for I ended up walking along this path with sand dunes on my left and the coastal road beyond that and with dense shrubbery and trees on my right beyond which were more sand dunes and the beach. There were no paths leading off to the beach until I had walked two-thirds of the way to my destination where I would turn left and back toward the coastal road for my return home. I finally found the path leading to the beach so I was able to walk the last section on flat sand. Having turned from the beach I walked along till I reached the footpath on the coastal road to get back home. I doubt I will ever use that path again because I found it boring. Next time, and there will be a next time, I will make sure I follow the beach route. From my access point to the beach if I go north I pass the town’s seafront but if I go south I can walk on the beach for miles depending on how far I want to walk, even as far as Freshfield where I used to live….

English: Sand Dunes and Beach, Freshfield. San...
 Sand Dunes and Beach, Freshfield. Sand dunes and the beach at Freshfield. Blackpool tower and the Big One rollercoaster could clearly be seen from the top of this high sand dune on this day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Southward the beach is lovely and many use it in summer for all kinds of water activities but northward the beach, apart from directly in front of the town, turns muddy and is covered in grass. The sea covers it all when the tide is in and it hides it. Some years ago the local authority decided against defending the beach from the build-up of grass and has allowed it to grow for a short distance to the south. Consequently sand dunes have and are taking over more of the beach to the north but not south. Because of tidal action the trend is for the sand to drift northward leaving the south clear, clean, flat and sandy. Further north toward the next river, the River Ribble, there are large sandbanks due to the action of the tide. A few years ago I was on a yacht with two others when we were marooned on a sandbank for a few hours because the tide receded faster than we could make it to deep water. Our ‘captain’ thought we could make it. How wrong she was. That is another story which perhaps I’ll post one day. As for my walk, I might just go south more often, it all depends on the tide.

Shirley Anne

Warming up

I slept in late on Friday, deliberately so as there was nothing planned for the day. It was warm and there was only a slight breeze. I chose to sit out on the patio with a drink and E joined me. Unfortunately it clouded over after thirty minutes and E went back indoors. I mentioned that as soon as she went indoors the sun would probably reappear and it did. Not only that but it remained sunny after that for quite a few hours. By now the house’s shadow had placed the patio in the shade for a while so I moved my chair down into the garden in front of the Mound and it was even warmer there than it had been on the patio. My chair was sitting on the pathway on the far left in the picture below. 

That side of the garden is such a heat trap as well as it being less windy there. I sat there for over an hour just relaxing in the warm sunshine. It was almost time for lunch when I returned indoors but whilst I was outside I heard and saw a couple of RAF airplanes flying over to the west, which would be over the left wall in the picture.Today (Friday), Saturday and Sunday the annual Southport Air Show was being held so I guessed the pilots were warming up and checking the lay of the land so to speak. The skies get quite noisy during those afternoons. If I was to go for a walk northward along the coast I would be denied as the whole area is cordoned off and patrolled for three days. I would have to choose another route instead. For a time after lunch it went dull again but by late afternoon it was bright and sunny again. Unfortunately the weather forecast wasn’t very promising for Saturday, thought supposedly it would be better on Sunday. This is how it is weather-wise in this country but we are used to it.

Shirley Anne

Garden bits

On Wednesday after some high winds overnight I hung out the flag having taken it down on Tuesday afternoon. I needed to do a spot of maintenance on the flag anyway. The top of the flag has a toggle which slips easily into the loop on the stay rope but there isn’t one at the bottom of the flag, only a small length of rope. Why the manufacturer doesn’t supply flags with two toggles on them defies logic. I have to use another method which is why it needed maintenance. That done I returned indoors to make a coffee for E and myself. She went upstairs to her workshop to do some work but I was at a loose end with nothing much to do. Well I couldn’t think of anything that wanted doing. I went into the garage to check if there were any leaks after the recent work then decided to tidy-up the raised planting bed between the greenhouses. This year we hadn’t planted anything new but had removed the strawberry plants that we had growing there. We decided that strawberry plants were too much of a problem. They put out feelers and produce more plants and need pruning back often. The fruit they bear is more often than not eaten by bugs despite efforts to prevent that. We are now thinking of growing potatoes once more which are less of a problem and produce a good yield. The bed awaits the planting season

The small greenhouse we purchased years ago has long since been used for storage and nothing is grown in it. It has become a store for plant pots and other odds and ends…

Whilst the large greenhouse has been used for growing some strawberry plants in pots and these bell peppers…

E usually grows tomatoes and cucumbers too but this year she hasn’t bothered much with the greenhouse except for growing the peppers. Whilst I was getting dressed in my bedroom earlier I noticed that the wind had caused an already broken off branch to fall lower from where it was hanging but it had been prevented from reaching the ground in our garden by the sycamore tree’s branches below. The sycamore tree is growing against the wall inside our garden. The lime tree grows on a neighbours land. See if you can spot the fallen branch. It is at the top right lying diagonally toward the centre in the picture. It looks small but in fact it is over three metres in length.

A couple of much larger dead branches hang on the same lime tree from which these branches keep on breaking off. One is shown in the centre of the next picture. Fortunately they are not hanging over our garden though there are live branches doing so

Finally I took a picture of the only apples growing on the trees this year, and these all on the same tree branch…

It has been a very poor year for apples for usually they count in the tens.

Shirley Anne

A teething problem

It was Thursday (14th) and a bright and sunny day. I was up early enough to go for an early morning walk but decided I was in need of food more than rushing out for a walk. If I eat breakfast I don’t go for a walk until an hour later and that is what I did. E asked if I could post a couple of letters so I took them with me. On the routes I take there are posting boxes along the way and not too far from home so I don’t have to carry the envelopes for very long. By the time I had reached the coastal road half of the sky had turned very dark and out on the sea I could see that it was raining. The other half of the sky was almost clear of clouds. The wind was blowing almost directly 90 degrees on shore and I was walking along the coast toward the clearer sky. I glanced back a couple of times to see that it was now raining heavily where I had been a few minutes earlier. I managed therefore to completely avoid getting wet. Soon I was on the return journey home, stopping on the way to chat for a brief moment with one of the staff at my local pub before walking the short distance home. After lunch I was going to sit out on the patio for an hour but E had other plans. Thursday she does the weekly shopping and was expecting the delivery of a parcel. I had to stay indoors to wait for it. Before she left we both took a peek inside the garage we are working in because I feared it was leaking in rain in a different place from that which I had dealt with a few says earlier. She sent a text message to her nephew explaining the problem and he said he would call in an hour or two. I had to remain indoors for that too. I had asked him to cover the top of the wall over the door opening with the same covering he had used for the raised portion of the roof he had constructed but he failed to do so. He explained that he didn’t think it would be necessary. Well I thought otherwise but went along with his decision. He called just as E had returned with the shopping and I asked him if he would cover the top of the wall when he had the time. He did it straight away and didn’t levy a charge, though the work was quite minimal anyway. At the time of writing this we are hoping that there will be no further teething problems before the guys come along to fit the replacement door. Speaking about the door, the sooner it gets fitted the better for the existing one has started to give me plenty of mechanical problems, like jamming, reversing when it jams and slipping out of the track occasionally too!

Shirley Anne

Who are you?

Enjoy the song (sorry about the odd expletives in the lyrics) then read the message below…..


Who am I? (John 1:12)

The beautiful thing about God’s kingdom is that all those who welcome Jesus as their Lord are given the opportunity to accept a new identity through him. This is illustrated poignantly through the story of a crooked tax collector named Zacchaeus. Tax collectors were among the most despised people in Israel because they chose to work for Rome and were making themselves rich by gouging their fellow Jews. But Zaccheaus shows that even the lost can be adopted and made new.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:1-9)

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

I believe I am significant because of my position as a child of God.
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?

Because of our new identity in Christ, we are free from condemnation. (Romans 8:1)
Because of our new identity in Christ, our worth comes from our position in Christ, not our performance. (Matthew 11:28)
Because of our new identity in Christ, we live to express who we are in Christ, not to prove who we are.
Because of our new identity in Christ, we can focus on building others up, not tearing them down.

Taken from NIV Believe

Shirley Anne