On Saturday through to Sunday afternoon we felt the effects of the latest storm to grace our shores and it was even worse than the previous one we had endured merely a matter of days before. You might say we were fortunate as it didn’t pass too close but it didn’t need to.
The eye of the storm passed over the Irish sea between England and Wales on the east and Ireland on the west. That meant the highest winds encircled it and guess where I live, right beneath them? On the map Southport is located just above ‘Liverpool‘ on the straight piece of coast before the next inlet above it. The eye of the storm passed over ‘Anglesey‘. The previous storm passed further to the west and we were less affected by it. The wind and rain were relentless and for hours we were bombarded with it. The driving wind forced some of the rain beneath the lead flashing over the bay window in a room at the front of the house. It found its way into the ceiling space and on to the floor in that room. When time and weather allow an investigation we will see what can be done to prevent it happening again.* I put off going for a walk on Sunday until after eleven o’clock. The rain had ceased but the wind was still strong at 35 mph (51 Km). I managed to get to the beach but it was hard-going though very refreshing. Surprisingly it didn’t feel very cold despite the wind. I walked a little on the sand before returning nearer to the coast road to walk there instead. I returned home ready for lunch an hour later, a little windswept! Around three o’clock the sun began to shine, the sky began to turn blue and thankfully the wind had dropped to a more respectable level. I actually found time to potter about in the garden!
* Post Script: I carried out the repairs which had caused the leak the following day having found a loose brick and some holes in the wall. They were hidden from sight behind the guttering. At the same time I replaced some of the plastic sheeting beneath the roof tiles which had become worn exposing the timbers behind.
On Friday morning I had a chance to sleep in until ten o’clock but was awakened by a phone call asking me to do a small electrical job. It was from an elderly couple for whom I had worked before and they insisted they would call me in preference before anyone else. He is a little senile and set in his ways whilst she had a stroke a few years ago which left her in difficulties with her speech. She couldn’t phone because of that and he seemed not to notice that I was trying to tell him I had retired as he kept on talking about the electrical problem. They live around three miles from me so how could I refuse to help? I dressed and went there immediately. As is sometimes the case with older folk they worry about potential electrical faults. As it happened there wasn’t a fault at all. What had happened was he had placed a piece of half-toasted bread into the toaster but somehow had wedged it in between the metal guide and the elements consequently short-circuiting the toaster.
That had caused the RCD to trip which cut the supply to other circuits too. He had already corrected the fault himself but it appeared he wanted to be sure. As E and I wanted to go shopping in the afternoon I missed the opportunity to go for a walk. I didn’t wish the same thing to happen on Saturday. I arose early on Saturday for two reasons, first of all I had to go and collect my medications and secondly, I hardly slept at all during the night so was awake anyway. It was a dull morning and threatening to rain, in fact that had been the forecast as we were expecting the tail-end of yet another storm to head our way. Again, although we were at the fringes where I live it got very wet and windy throughout the afternoon and evening. I wanted to go for a walk and fortunately was able to in the morning before the rain fell in earnest though it did rain for about twenty minutes while I was out. After lunch E went to her monthly meeting and I was left at home to hang out the washing, indoors of course for the rain was belting down!
I had managed to do a spot of clearing up of moss on the ‘secret garden’ flagstones and pathway as it was getting out of hand (compare to photo in yesterday’s post). Soon after the rain began to fall. With nothing better to do I spent a half-hour on the treadmill working out.
A few months ago E mentioned that she was up on the raised ‘secret garden’ as we now fondly call it and when she decided she wanted to come down she told me that she had nearly walked off the area between the two sets of steps we have there….
The drop there as you can see in the above picture (centre bottom) is around 750 mm onto the paving below which would prove to be nasty for anyone not realising it was there. A small wall could have been built but as the area slopes down toward the drop and has to it would have caused water to build-up behind it. The plan was always to put either a large statue there or some potted plants but because the sun only shines there for a couple of weeks at the height of summer any plants would suffer being in the shade most of the year. The plants in the raised bed are in sunshine for six months at least but nearer to the rear of the garage (to the left in the picture) the sun doesn’t shine at all. The only real solution was to put artificial plants there. Initially E and I drove to Dobbies to see what was available but a member of staff informed us that they had stopped selling artificial plants of the type we wanted. A wasted journey we thought so we drove off to town to look in another store. That proved to be a wasted journey also but we persevered and drove back to Dobbies just to make sure there was nothing available. As it is the approach to Christmas we decided an artificial fir-tree might be suitable. Most of the trees there however were constructed using wire which wouldn’t be suitable for outdoors though we did see one small one entirely made of plastic. We bought it. Whilst there we looked in the indoor garden section as discovered that they did have something suitable for outdoors and we bought two of them. When we returned home and in an instant we had solved the ‘falling off the edge’ problem, and here they are
The best part is they don’t require much in the way of after-care! Not a wasted journey after all.
I had it in mind to go for a long walk on Thursday morning so I went to bed a little earlier the previous night. My sleep pattern was such that it was broken and the maximum time I had sleeping at any one point in the night was three hours. I managed a total of six. I was up and dressed before six o’clock and out through the front door twenty minutes later. It was still dark. My plan was to walk along the beach to the next township, Ainsdale, a satellite part of Southport, returning homeward along the coastal road. When I arrived at the path leading down toward the beach I could only see the first few metres of it. Having trodden the route many times I didn’t find it too difficult walking in almost complete darkness. I had to find the path leading off that one which would take me to the sand. During daylight hours I had been using a different path, very muddy in places and winding all over the place but this time I actually found a more direct path, shorter and with less mud. How I missed the path in daylight but could find it easily in the dark I’ll never know. Once on the sand it was a case of simply putting one foot in front of the other for about three miles. I love walking in the gloom as it is that early in the morning and at this time of year. There was a slight off-shore breeze from the sand dunes on my left and it wasn’t warm but I was wrapped-up well. Soon I was on the coastal road walking back home. E was still in bed when I got back. I had just finished eating breakfast when she walked in the room. After cleaning my boots in the garden I went back indoors and decided to do a small job E had asked me to do days ago. It was to cut some timber to make small frames for one of her little crafting projects. It would entail cutting lots of mitres but I didn’t want to do them by hand as it would have taken ages. Out came the mitre saw
…and soon they were cut. E of course was my assistant and we had them done in minutes. Here is one of the many we prepared…..
…and what they will look like before E continues working on them
The back boards had to be cut by hand though we could have used the mitre saw. It wasn’t worth the time it would have taken to set it up. Cutting by hand was quick enough. We left-off assembling the parts for another day. It was something different to do for a change.
I sometimes feel I am not getting enough of the things I want to get done actually done. It’s like I don’t think there is enough time in the day for me to possibly do everything that is on my mind to do. When working as an electrician I sometimes thought to myself how I could get around a problem I was faced with yet I always did somehow. For a few days I resisted the urge to investigate an extremely small leak on the bathroom towelrail.It was one of those things which niggle at you until you finally give in and do it. On Wednesday morning after breakfast I told E that I was going to check out the towel rail and collected the few things I needed to fix it, a small ladder (it is the tall rail shown in the picture), a spanner (wrench). a screwdriver, a bleed key, a rag and some PTFE tape. It took a mere five minutes to valve the rail off, bleed off any air and what little water there was at the bleed-off valve (in picture above), remove the valve and the old PTFE tape, clean around the thread, apply new PTFE tape, put the valve back in the rail and turn on the water. It sounds a lot to do for such a simple job and that is the point, if we analyze too deeply even the smallest thing that wants doing it can put us off doing it. It probably took me longer the collect the tools and materials than actually do the job. E went to her workshop whilst I was doing that and I took the opportunity to get on the treadmill for thirty minutes. Yes, I still use the treadmill occasionally, most days if I can. Soon afterward E mentioned that she needed to post a parcel at the village post office so I offered to drive her there. I told her that we could kill two birds with the one stone by collecting some of the rubbish we had acquired over the years and take it to the tip after she had posted the parcel. Now that the van is empty I was able to dispose of an old metal waste bin we’d had in the garden for years, three large car batteries, containers filled with used vegetable oil, broken lengths of timber, an old radio, an old faulty electric drill, numerous hard plastic items, two rubber bin lids and other bits and bobs. When we arrived at the tip there were many other people disposing of their waste and unwanted items too. I require a permit to use the van to dispose of waste and I applied for one days earlier as the previous one had expired years ago. In fact I was given two permits, one allowing unlimited visits for the disposal of domestic waste and one allowing twelve visits only for disposing of large items such as furniture and washing machines for instance. Both permits run for twelve months then require renewal. It was time for a belated lunch when we returned home and I managed to go for a walk later in the afternoon. The in-between portions of the day were filled with many small domestic chores and some gardening too and here was I thinking at the start of the day if I could get anything done! It is all about motivation, if you’ve a mind to do something…..just do it!
One thing I think you can guarantee here in the UK is the often unpredictable weather. Usually we get the remnants of any Western Atlantic storms or hurricanes which befall those countries in the Caribbean or the States of the USA. Obviously by the time those storms reach the UK they have lost most of their power even though they can still be strong enough to cause mayhem. Whether one part of the UK is hit the hardest or not depends totally upon the path of the storm and the prevailing conditions here when it reaches our shores. As we had been enjoying high pressure over most of the country during the latest storm’s approach it was forced to follow a route which took it across Ireland and the north-west of Scotland rather than across England and Wales. That wasn’t to say the north-west areas of those countries didn’t feel the effects to some degree. I live in the southern part of north-west England and we still experienced high winds gusting at seventy mph. Here is a picture of a tornado (taken during the recent storm) over the town of Morcambe which is around sixty miles north of Southport where I live
On Monday evening I lowered our flag for that reason but raised it again on Tuesday morning when the wind had died down. On Monday morning I went for a walk whilst the wind was less strong but the day had an eerie feel to it. The sun had made an attempt to break through the clouds earlier but the clouds won. The sky turned an orange-red colour as did the sun. It looked more like a sunset or sunrise rather than the late morning it was and although the wind was blowing it was surprisingly warm at twenty-one degrees. It was reported that the colour was due to sand being whipped-up in The Sahara and being carried northward over the UK. The winds had been blowing from the south for many days by then. By the time I had returned home the sky had turned completely blue with no clouds at all! I even sat out on the patio for a time in the full sunshine. An hour or so later and it was cloudy and the winds began to strengthen, no more sitting outside. The worst of the weather came overnight but by Tuesday morning it was much better though the wind remained with us throughout the day. I am talking about twenty mph winds here and not the seventy-something mph winds we had during the night. The day turned out bright and sunny and I was able to do some work in the garden and later in the afternoon I went for another walk down to the beach popping into my local pub for a drink on my way back home.
Every six months I arrange an appointment with my doctor for a check-up, specifically to have my blood pressure monitored. Up and until a couple of years ago I underwent regular blood checks for lipids also but for one reason or another those checks lapsed. That was partly my own fault I know but the surgery should have reminded me too. As I take hormones I have to watch my cholesterol levels, hence the lipid screening. At the same time and in order to keep my cholesterol levels down I have to be a little strict in my eating habits, low intake of dairy products for instance. Now due to the fact that I’ve not had any blood checks for around two years I basically forgot about my health in that respect. A case of out of sight out of mind I suppose. Consequently I have allowed myself to slip into bad eating habits by consuming more of those foods I should be steering clear of! On Monday I had an appointment to see the doctor to arrange for a repeat prescription and expected and received a blood pressure check. I get six month’s worth of hormones to save the need for frequent visits to the chemist (drug store). The doctor brought up the subject regarding blood checks and I have now been put back on track so to speak. Since my old doctor retired over ten years ago I have been attended to by a number of different doctors at the practice but not all of them were shall I say too conscientious with regard to my blood check-ups. This new doctor whom I have been seeing for a few months seems to be more on the ball. Having arranged for my prescription to be repeated she took my blood pressure, which was high, and she arranged for a blood test. At any rate she has reminded me to take more care of what goes into my mouth too and not to wander from the path I should be on. With immediate effect I began to put my diet back in order and at the same time increased my exercise regime, not that I really lacked in that department. Happy days.
Sunday was one of those days where one minute it was warm and sunny and the next it was cool with a breeze blowing. One consolation was that it didn’t rain which meant I could stay out in the garden to do my thing. The weather at this time of year can be very changeable, a bit like me, one minute I want to do something in particular and the next I change my mind and do something completely different. I have always something on my mind I wish to get done but do not always do it immediately. Let me see if I can explain. Whenever I have a large project to do I am more interested in the main constructive part of that project, for instance if I wanted to build an extension to a room and then decorate it, it would be the main construction which would hold more interest for me. I would be less interested in the decoration and thereafter the detail. It isn’t that I don’t like decorating but for me it is the construction part that I enjoy the most. So although I may have many things to do, it is the larger projects I am drawn to first. All the minor jobs do get done but later and usually because they have been on my mind too long. On Sunday the first thing I did was to check how the concrete I had laid on Saturday had turned out. Suffice to say I was pleased it had gone well and had now set hard. There was still plenty of time before lunch to do a little gardening for after lunch I just planned to relax. In the flowerbed beneath the west wall of the garden I wanted to dig out a few bulbs where we didn’t wish them to be, at the rear of the bed. Next, I wanted to cover the area at the rear of the bed with stones both for effect and to keep weeds at bay.
There is far too much open soil at the rear of the bed so the plan is to cover it all but unfortunately there wasn’t enough stones on the day to do that. When I obtain more stones I will finish the work. Personally I think it looks much better already and it will serve to reduce maintenance by keeping the weeds down. I replanted the bulbs elsewhere in the bed. I then topped-up the soil levels in the three flowerbeds on the patio using growing compost.
As you can see, the ‘Mums’ in the two small beds have really filled out…I removed them from the larger bed last year…..
The same bed from the other side…
And some more ‘Mums’ at the other end of the garden…
It’s like a take-over bid with Mums but they come into their own in Autumn when the flowers come out. In a week or so the red, yellow and white flowers on these two balls will almost blot out the leaves. They are beginning to show already.
We had been informed that warmer and drier weather was coming our way for a couple of days, an ideal time to be doing any outdoor work that was necessary. It was Saturday (14) and I had plans to do some patching up of the garagefloor, completing the ramp I had put there many years ago and filling in a couple of holes with concrete after the recent work we had done. First though I wanted to go for a longish walk as I hadn’t been able to do any walking other than the two miles I had walked a couple of days earlier. I hadn’t been too well and had remained more or less indoors for a few days. I arose early and went out as soon as I was downstairs. I walked south along the coastal road to Ainsdale and onto the beach there turning northward to walk back home. I was surprised how many folk were out and on the beach so early on a Saturday morning. It was about eight forty-five when I arrived there. The round trip from home on that route is just over seven miles. I have to admit to feeling a little tired but that was probably due to my not eating breakfast and not having been out for a while. I did take a banana along with my bottle of water. Anyhow I ate breakfast on my return home and after a short time donned my overalls and got on with the concrete mixing. For this work I used 6 mm granite chippings in the mix rather than using grit which would result in a finer concrete as it would have to withstand a vehicle passing over it. These are the holes which required filling after the old wood frame was removed and the existing floor ramp which was never finished years ago…
The ramp exists because the garage floor is almost level with the concrete drive leading to it. When we had heavy downpours of rain it sometimes ended up inside the garage so I constructed a ramp to prevent that happening. It does the job but it needed the back edge finishing. Here are pictures of the finished work.
The van wasn’t going anywhere for a couple of days! Rain water flows into the grid shown which is lower than the surrounding concrete drive. The drain pipe actually runs beneath the garage floor to connect with the main drains at the rear of the house. That work had been done when we built the garage back in 1988/9. Much has changed since then. After lunch I added an extra fixing to secure the new bird box I had fitted a week earlier then carried on with some gardening work. Who said retirement would be boring with nothing to do?
After a recent bout of rain we noticed there was a leak in the new raised portion of the garage roof, that is the garage in which I park my van. E’s nephew, a builder, had done the original work and he called back a couple of days after we had informed him of the problem. However, the weather wasn’t particularly good at that time so he put off the repair until Friday last week when it was pleasantly warm outdoors. He cut away the fibreglass covering which had by then set hard as expected but hadn’t adhered to the wood-based sheet beneath it. Water had somehow gotten beneath the covering and leaked onto the floor of the garage. This time he produced a different compound/fibreglass mix which was presumably superior. I asked him how long it would take to dry out and he told me a few days. What he meant was that as soon as it was applied it became waterproof almost immediately but it would take a few days more in which to cure. I hoped he was right, he wouldn’t be happy to have to do the work again. The finished work looks good though, just right in fact. Here is a picture of the area after the grey covering was replaced. Whilst they were doing that work I took the opportunity to shorten the excessively long electrical supply cable to the new door control panel and to tidy up some of the other wiring by using mini-trunking. Now that looks a lot better also. At the time of writing we still haven’t heard from the installers of the garage doors who were to return to install the door alarm system. We are hoping it will have been done by the time this post is published. I can now plan out how I am going to install the circuit to control the main garage light when the door is opened at night. I had to remove the existing circuit I had installed which was operated by the old door. I will carry out the work when I get time.
Earlier in the day I had been working in the rear garden tidying and sweeping up yet more fallen leaves. Already the two bins are again full to the brim though the leaves will compact allowing more to fit in later. Many of the trees still have their leaves and probably won’t lose them yet awhile, maybe by the end of the month. Our apple trees still have their leaves and the only four apples growing on them this year. In fact those four apples are all on the same tree, the largest tree has none. Must be something to do with pruning and the unusual weather we have had this year.