Dough and grow

There are times when feeling at a loose end I turn to baking something. Usually the idea to bake something has been in my thoughts for days but I hesitate to do it for one or two reasons, I am too tired, I am involved doing something else or I haven’t the time. Over the last couple of years I have taken a greater interest in baking and have slowly improved doing it. Sometimes there have been mistakes of course but those who say they never make mistakes usually don’t make anything! Once in a while I will take on a new challenge, make something I haven’t attempted before. A year or more ago I found a recipe for making doughnuts and set about making some. Doughnuts though are not baked, they are fried in deep fat or oil. The results were fair, the doughnuts were edible but could have been much better. Since then I hadn’t bothered making any more until recently when I discovered another recipe using different ingredients. I decided to try it. It was Saturday and E had gone to her afternoon meeting and I had time on my hands. Whereas the previous recipe used bicarbonate of soda this one called for yeast to be used instead and the process took much longer. However I made the doughnuts but sadly they were somewhat of a failure having not risen enough they turned out far too heavy. E and I had a great laugh regarding the escapade, me suggesting they would fit in well in the garden rockery and she suggesting we give them to a neighbour to practice his golf with. Oh well, back to the drawing board I suppose. On reflection it was all about the yeast but I think the next attempt will be using the original recipe instead, at least they tasted and felt like doughnuts! It was now Monday and E again was out during the afternoon shopping with her mom. I had spent an hour exercising on the gym equipment in the morning but as it was such a fine day I decided to put on my overalls and get into the garden to do some work. The first thing I wanted to do was to spread some mulch onto the flowerbed by the greenhouses….

As you can see I got it done but there was no more mulch in the bin (below) suitable to spread anywhere else.

After that job I swept up the pathways and placed the leaves on top of what was left in the compost bin. It will be many months before there would be any usable mulch or compost to take from it. It will get filled once the grass starts growing and is cut. Things are beginning to grow again even though it is still only January and I have already dug out a few bluebells. As the weather improves (stops raining) I will be able to get more maintenance done in the garden and if it is raining too hard I can always make some doughnuts!

Click on pictures to magnify.

Shirley Anne


People say……

…..that I am mad but don’t believe a word of it, honest. It’s just that my two brain molecules sometimes cannot cope, I mean well it’s like this you see..

Spledificusious allyvick all mongled moven dankworthystill.
Witherspooned magoolicated crackleburgers notwithsat among
And capsicarno trunnymungle fortune athrill
Twas all the elephotomusses poo to wit too pong!

Glasing the twaglets all a crungbutty spreaded
Amidlington a berry merry beauty
Dullshecam over the johnbat a merry fed
When ofttrill bedring thence about her tootsy!

(Copyright Shirley Anne 12 Feb 2004)

and..A tricorniansquirrelhornmakepiece teracottamogwheel spadeconnectioningtondale and company limited cronjul tripe ooblidoobli  thingimumbobsit:- Or words to that effect, so I was

On my squirrelhorn and makepiece
Trundling by my looberstrom
Krilled by dawn and featherington
Teracotta mogwheel dumb.

Finglingting and fusimumble
Scorching tangled mooglestripe
Corn and oobla tangimanpole
Cronge my ooglitooglitipe.

Perm and mangled herbidantrop
Tri my cornian hatpinbob
Formilang a doobliwotsit
Corpuling a mingled sod.

(Copyright Shirley Anne 6 Jan 03)

Breakfasting on hammy hamules,
Quaffing down my squidgey ale,
Munching on an some nanapancas,
With my feet all numb and pale.

Putting on my cloakywokey
And my woolen caplingpiece,
Trot I too with all the mogwheels
Down towards my darling neice.

(Copyright Shirley Anne 8 Feb 2004)

and that must be why

Shirley (album)
Shirley (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a little rubber room
I play in every day,
I’d have a chair to sit on
But they carted it away.
I sit on polystyrene
My bed is made of sponge,
The food I get is wobbly
Just like a cold blancmange.
I used to have some clothing
I used to have some shoes,
They used to come and speak with me
And tell me all the news.
One day I’ll get my freedom
One day they’ll let me free,
Then we can be two nuts together
You and crazy me.

(Copyright Shirley Anne 29 Feb 2004)

I’m only kidding you know…………..but I can’t find the key.

Shirley Anne

A quick look

I was up and about early on Friday morning, that would be the 19 th but I actually didn’t get downstairs until 9.30. E was only a few minutes ahead of me in reaching the kitchen for her breakfast. I however only wanted to fill my drinks flask with water as I was about to go into the cellar or basement if you prefer to do some exercising on the equipment. I spent a little time stretching my leg muscles before mounting the bicycle to do some gentle peddling for ten minutes. I could have spent hours doing that as it is so relaxing even though it was exercise, mild exercise admittedly but it served to warm me up for getting on the treadmill. Finally I am getting back to where I left-off  as far as my treadmill routine is concerned. I spent thirty minutes on it and found I had increased my overall distance covered in that time. It isn’t all running though, I walk between stints of running but my distance run is increasing and the time spent walking in between is lessening. My next exercise was spent on the elliptical trainer, the machine I found difficult to get used to. It appears my muscles are beginning to accept the different exercise regime at last and I was able to spend fifteen minutes on it without any problems. It will take some time before I can do more strenuous exercise on it of course but I am getting there. Time for a little breakfast before taking a shower. Later in the morning I decided to go to the greenhouse to water the bulbs which had sprouted in the large tubs. E has been growing flowers in the greenhouse over the past few years. It was left to me to do the watering however, she didn’t want to face the elements as it was a cold, windy and wet day. I have no problems with that. Whilst outside I noticed a few montbretia and bluebells beginning to grow in the border close to the greenhouse. I was expecting them to show up at some point. I got out the kneeling stool and hand fork and dug them out. If you remember I spent the first couple of months of last year removing the bulk of them from the garden. The picture above taken at the time shows one of the areas I worked in. No doubt there will be more to come yet. Just as I had dug them out it poured down with rain. Later we had more showers of both rain and hail. Well it is Winter after all.

Shirley Anne


All very nice but something is missing. The songs says that heaven is a place on earth and although in the beginning that was true now it is far from that. As soon as sin entered the world heaven was lost. Sin keeps us out of God’s presence and would do so forever unless something could be done about it. The problem is we can’t do anything ourselves but there is One who did. There is One who paid the price on our behalf and has taken away our sin and if we believe on His name and put our whole faith in Him Heaven will be our destiny. He is Jesus Christ. The Saviour of mankind. So if you are looking for heaven on earth you may find glimpses of it around you but the real place is found in Christ Jesus.

Shirley Anne

Things Above (Colossians 3:1–2)

Do you look forward to heaven? Explain.
Give an example of how a person might set their mind on earthly things. Give an example of how a person might set their mind on heavenly things.
Before a person becomes a Christian, it’s natural for them to have an earthly outlook. We can’t really blame someone for pursuing wealth, fame, popularity, fun and everything else this world has to offer. After all, from their perspective, what else is there? Life is short, so grab everything you can while you can.

When a person makes a decision for Christ, though, the perspective changes. We shift our eyes away from this earth and toward heaven. We see things with an eternal view. We shift our priorities to reflect what’s really important. We recognize the things of this world for what they can be: distractions, wastes of time, empty pleasures.

We turn our attention to heaven. We consider the possibilities. If heaven is where God is, and God is the source of all joy and happiness, what does that say about our eternal life there? What kind of place has Jesus prepared for us (see John 14:3)? What will it be like not to have to worry about pain, sickness, sorrow or death? We may not know a lot about heaven, but we know enough to get our curiosity going.


Dear God, thank you for giving us an unimaginable future beyond this life. Help us keep our minds focused on heavenly things, not earthly things. Fill us with an excitement for heaven. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day At the Table

Shirley Anne


It was Thursday (18th) and it had been quite some days since I had last taken a walk of any distance outdoors. The reason for that had been the problem with my upper leg muscles combined with some very bad weather in the latter days. For a couple of days I had also been suffering with a mild cold too and pretty much didn’t feel like doing anything. I reluctantly left alone any exercising on the gym equipment for almost a week during this time but now I suddenly felt better and was eager to get out in the fresh air. Over the last couple of days I have been working out a little on the equipment though but now I wanted to take a walk. Thursday started off bright and sunny for the most part though there were some wintry showers of rain and hailstones. The wind had died down considerably too. None of that was going to stop me from getting outside for a while. There had been some very high tides in the previous days and the foreshore had noticeably changed, more sand and more piled-up seaweed lined the sea wall. If left it would compact and the existing grass would grow through it. I have no doubt that is what will happen. Slowly Nature is taking back control. Eventually I can see more dunes appearing for already some of the existing grass which stretches out to sea has formed into small mounds in places. I have seen this happening in other places only a quarter-mile south. I often think about what the coast will look like in say fifty or a hundred years from now. During my time living here in Southport, now approaching thirty years, I have seen a lot of changes along the seafront. I walked along the front for about a mile before turning back homeward though by that time I had covered two miles. I chose a more sheltered route on my return but still got caught in a shower of hail. My aching muscles have eased now and suddenly I feel much better. Nevertheless I shall be taking things a little easy for a while so I don’t do myself a mischief.

Shirley Anne

Isolation at will

Ladies in Retirement
Ladies in Retirement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The idea was mine, the thought of freedom was too strong and all I wanted was to be left alone, isolated from the hum-drum of life for a while. It was time to hang up my overalls and stash my tools away, I was going to retire for a spell. Well that spell grew longer and longer and before I knew it my unofficial retirement became official. I had made it through the previous months without doing any paid work and it felt good. When working I was often asked about my retirement and when it would be, though people didn’t ask the question until I had revealed to them my age. The reason I mention that is I was also often asked how long I had been in the profession. When I revealed that information I wasn’t taken seriously at first because I don’t look my age. So in reply to their asking about my retirement I would tell them I had no immediate intentions to do so. That was true but I also told them that if my advertisement was missing from the newspaper then I was either on holiday, was retired or else I was dead. That always got a laugh but in all honesty it couldn’t be anything but the truth. It didn’t stop people phoning my number, at least for the first few months after my retirement which began last April last year. Occasionally the house phone would ring too and in both cases I would tell the caller I was no longer available for work. Eventually I stopped answering the calls just for the peace. In any case I often don’t answer the house phone because of the many nuisance calls we used to get and occasionally still do. I check the callers’ number after they have hung up and many, if not most of the time it has been a local domestic call. I am just not available but it appears the callers don’t read the newspaper because they have my business card. It doesn’t bother me as I don’t answer the calls. Eventually the calls will cease anyway. Today, Wednesday as I write, I received but two calls only and that is a blessing. One was a suspected request for work and the other was my next-door neighbour who wanted to know which wheelie bin should be put out for emptying the next day! She can never remember. She did however call me on my mobile phone so I knew who it was calling. Sometimes though and quite often I don’t carry my phone with me as I just wish to be left alone.

Shirley Anne

That time again

I received a personal letter a couple of weeks ago from the vehicle service centre I use whenever I have work done on my van or to have the van checked over in its annual MOT test. The letter was headed ‘Dear Ms ****….It’s that time of year again’ referring to the MOT test. The current test certificate expires at the end of February theoretically speaking though a test may be carried out two weeks prior. That happened last year and for a couple of years prior to that too. Of course the test can be forward dated to the actual and original date of the first test that was carried out when the van reached its third year. I don’t remember asking the service mechanic to forward date any test and so at each successive yearly test the date creeps backward. At any rate the certificate of compliance has to be obtained before the van can be taxed so it has to be in place before that can happen. There also has to be a certificate of insurance before the tax can be paid too. The appointment to have the van checked over was on Tuesday 23 January, a couple of days ago though the existing MOT certificate doesn’t expire until a few weeks hence. I say certificate but in fact one isn’t issued unless asked for as the certificate these days is kept electronically in a data base. The police and other authorities have access to the data whenever it is required. It’s all about producing less files on paper but it also enables rapid examination by the police for example if they wish to confirm whether a vehicle is properly taxed, tested and insured for they are all on a data base somewhere. I cannot say at this time of writing (16th) whether my van passed its test but I am hoping it did. I haven’t really used the van much over the last twelve months, probably less than three hundred miles, so there should be little difference from last year’s status. It turned out to be around six hundred miles but still a low distance. I have been cutting back on my expenditure in regard to my van’s recovery and roadside assistance membership with The AA and have switched to another group. I am now covered by Green Flag. That switch has saved me over £110 per annum. Previously my AA membership cost around £120 which included recovery and many other benefits should I have wanted them, though many of those I wouldn’t have used anyway. This year they wanted over £160 so I switched. I don’t go on long distance trips but with Green Flag I still get the same cover for only £56. I cannot change my insurance premium though as I am not carrying electrical goods now I might get some small discount. The tax will be a little higher though as promised by our wonderful Government! One good thing is I hardly ever visit the service station for fuel! That has been quite a considerable saving for me over the last year. Yes, I could claim tax-relief on purchasing fuel but now I don’t even pay for the fuel, well only on the few gallons I now use each year. It’s that time of year again.

(Having taken my van to have it tested on 23rd I am pleased to report that it passed!)

Shirley Anne

Finding out

It has been more than two and almost three months since we had the new garage door installed. A few weeks ago there had been a problem with the cushion in one of the guides, there to prevent metal to metal contact and wear when the door is opened and closed. We had informed the installer’s repair and maintenance department but it was more than three weeks before they contacted us to make an appointment! I in the meantime corrected the fault myself because at the time I wished to reinstall the circuitry which automatically switches on the main garage light whenever the door is opened when it is dark. Naturally that only happens when the door is opened and when closed the light switches off. On the old door the installation was simple to carry out, it just meant having a micro-switch which allowed the door to operate it as it reached its open position. The micro-switch was wired through a photo cell (still fixed above the new door, see in the picture) and then on to the light. The light can be manually switched from three positions too, that part remains as it did.  I was sitting at the table having just eaten lunch on Monday afternoon last week when I decided to investigate my options regarding this garage light circuit. I took my toolbox to the garage to work on the problem. Unfortunately it was and still is proving difficult to install the micro-switch on the new door because it is a roller door and there is no easy way for it to operate the switch. It can be done though, nothing is impossible but it could require much work to achieve. There had to be another more simple way I thought. I had thought about having a relay which would operate using the power supplied to the door for it to open and I set about testing that. It worked but unfortunately it also worked when the supply was connected for the door to close. This is because of the type of motor being used. The relay switch would replace the micro-switch had I gotten it to work. It is possible to have a relay operate an external circuit of course and had the manufacturer incorporated one in their control panel it would have made things so easy. I however cannot tinker about with the panel as it would invalidate the guarantee and warranty. So having discovered I couldn’t use a relay in order to reinstate the automatic circuit I am left to continue figuring out how to get the door to operate the micro-switch instead. I had to shelve the idea whilst I think about it.

Shirley Anne

Slowly getting there

Slowly but Surely
Slowly but Surely (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I don’t mind it being Winter and the fact that it is cold far more than it gets warm there is a lethargic atmosphere deep in my brain telling me to refrain from attacking the jobs I want to do. This applies both to outdoor tasks and indoor tasks alike, I have to force myself to do some of them. It’s all about self-discipline of course for once I am engaged in a task nothing really matters, I just get on with it. I suppose if it were warmer and the sun was shining it would be a different story but no, perhaps it wouldn’t. You see if it is warm and sunny I like to relax in it! Again, it is about discipline and motivation. It is the middle of January as I write. The sun was out throughout the morning but decided to go hide for the rest of the day. The day suddenly feels the temperature it is and to add to that a slight breeze is blowing now. Suddenly I don’t wish to be outside in it but the waste doesn’t find its way to the bins all by itself and the leaves don’t get swept into the wheelie bin either. Neither of those tasks need to be done immediately but there is a nagging urgency for me to tackle at least one of them. I’ll let you guess which one. We love our creature comforts don’t we? The bedclothes are cozy, the heating is on, there is shelter from the elements and a nice warm cup of coffee invites us to remain indoors. Nothing will get done unless we decide not to be lazy and just get on with it. It’s battle fought by many a dedicated couch potato and won but I am not a couch potato so I’ve no defence. I put on my armour and throw myself at the enemy. I am beginning to once again set my mind on the things I want to get done and even those I don’t but have to else they will niggle at my grey matter. Who wants to be outside working in Winter? I have to confess I do for some of the time but sometimes it is nice to stay put on the sofa. I have been doing things of course I have and with each day passing I am slowly getting more of them done.


Shirley Anne


First month over

The first month of Winter is over and as they say, it can only get better! Along with the new year comes the prospect of ‘Spring Cleaning’ too. Although I suppose Spring cleaning should happen in Spring it doesn’t necessarily have to, it’s only an expression. I suppose also that traditionally the tidying up of the house was always carried out after the colder months were over, when the inclination to take on the tasks of the year ahead was in people’s minds. As with many traditions folk take them too seriously. I was sort of minding my own business on Saturday afternoon just after lunch when E called me to ask if I could fetch her a small brush, a paint brush would do she said. I went into the cellar to fetch one and took it upstairs where I discovered she had been vacuuming the top stairs and landing. Naturally I asked what she was doing and she replied that she had been vacuuming the room she now has as her craft workshop at the top of the house and she had decided to carry on down the stairs. The brush was to clean the dust from the staircase banister rails and I told her that I would fetch a better brush to do the job as we had one down in the cellar. I went to get it but on my return I took over the job. She meanwhile continued with the vacuuming.

As you can see in the picture above the cast-iron is intricately detailed and was, along with the wooden spindles coated with dust. When we first moved into the house almost thirty years ago we had to remove all 57 of those cast-iron pieces and have them sand-blasted and then painted in the gold/bronze colour you now see. The detail had been painted over so much we couldn’t see it, many of the gaps had been filled in with the numerous coats of paint they had received over the previous years since the house was built and that was in 1877! In order to remove them to have them renovated I had to remove the small piece of wooden moulding at their base and remove the large screws which holds them through the hole in the casting. On their return I had to replace everything before we could begin to decorate the woodwork. There are two flights of stairs and three landings so it took us some time to clean them. The next pictures show the lowest flight from below and above.

We repeat the process every six months or so though the stair carpets get cleaned far more often. E is good at giving me jobs to do! I don’t mind because it gives me something to do when I am not engaged in one of my projects and I know she cannot do many things by herself these days.

Shirley Anne