Chasing things up

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

Shirley Anne

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Time out

Now that my latest project has ended I feel it is time for a break. I won’t be entirely inactive though. I will either be doing small tasks or planning the next project, the lawn project for instance. I think ahead, always have and then I set myself a schedule. The work is already finished in my head long before I actually start doing it. Yesterday for instance I purchased online  a number of bamboo poles and 100 metres of bubble-wrap.

The poles were up to 8 feet in length (2.44 metres) and the bubble-wrap 1.5 metres wide. They will be used to protect some of the garden plants from severe wind and low temperatures. Last Winter we had a spell of really harsh weather which did damage to some plants, namely the Phoenix Canariensis (Canary Isle Palm). Three of them suffered badly even though I had shielded them for the wind managed to break through and even though they can withstand temperatures down to minus seven deg. Celsius. That however only means for very short periods! It was the now infamous ‘Beast from the east’ persistently blowing for days which caused the problem. The plants have now recovered though one has taken much time doing so and has some way to go yet before it is back to how it was before. Another though has recovered very well and even looks better than it did before! In preparation I have fitted a few eye-bolts in places to aid securing the protection I will be installing this year. I know it is early for the worst weather usually doesn’t arrive until January through to March and even then it doesn’t usually last for long. However it only takes a day or so to damage the more sensitive plants. There are always things to be doing in the gardens so having something to do is never a problem. There is one job I think I will end up doing which is to remove the round top edging that is fixed along the lawn edge nearest to the house or at least drop it to below the concrete path. The reason is due to the grass growing between the edging and the concrete which is difficult to remove. In the picture above you probably cannot see the edging stones for they are usually covered with the grass unless it has been cut. It is then that the grass can be seen growing where it shouldn’t. I may decide to put off that work for a while though, it all depends on how I bored I might get if I’ve nothing else to do.

Shirley Anne

Really early

I made a joke a short while ago about getting up so early that I hadn’t gone to bed yet! It’s almost true. An hour after E had gone to bed on Saturday I arose. Now she goes to bed just before one o’clock usually which meant I was up before two. In fact I was already awake at one-thirty. Over the last couple of weeks, maybe a month as I write, this has been my routine. I end up eating lunch when she is having breakfast! I am getting so used to the routine I may make it permanent. I much prefer to be up early anyway. Though two o’clock seems ridiculous to many what actual difference does it make when your day starts and finishes? I say if you are single and it suits you then do it, after all your not at anyone’s beck and call. If you have a  family living with you then that is a different matter. Anyway I was up and about early and the first thing I did once downstairs was to fill the washing machine and then move some of the gym equipment from the area of the floor I would be painting with its second coat on Monday morning. It was Sunday and I wouldn’t be working that day. Then it was breakfast time and soon after that I was dressed and ready for a very early walk. It was four o’clock when I left the house. As I passed along The Promenade, for I had chosen that route this time, I could hear the hustle and bustle of people in the town still hanging about after their night out. I could never understand why local authorities allow bars and clubs to remain open til such a late or rather early hour. Once upon a time you couldn’t get an alcoholic drink after ten-thirty in the UK and in some places not at all on a Sunday (like Wales for instance). How moral standards have fallen! I remember the arguments put forward in support of later opening hours. Everything would be fine and it would discourage drunkenness because people would spread their alcoholic consumption over the longer period instead of drinking as much as possible in the shorter opening hours. No, it just meant they had more time to be able to drink more and that is what many do. I steer clear of town at that time in the morning when out walking. Where I walk at that hour it is usually deathly quiet. On my return home it was time to hang up the washing in the gym (it doubles as an airing place) because it was raining outside and had been throughout the night. When it got a little lighter I saw that the far border in the rear garden had remained dry because of the overhanging trees so I got out the hose and have it a thorough soaking. It is that part of the border to the right and beyond in the picture above. The hose pipe ban had been lifted a few days earlier. On Monday morning I hoped to finish the painting of the gym floor which would only leave the touching up of the white walls and a general cleaning of the equipment.

Shirley Anne

Moving along slowly

So it was I was up and about at two-fifteen on Saturday morning and looking out of the window into the garden shrouded in darkness. Despite it still being dark it wasn’t so dark that I couldn’t make out the lawn and the path around it. I could even see most of the plants in the borders but I could also see that everywhere was still dry. The overnight rain and stormy weather hadn’t materialized and I was wondering if it would. The lightning storms which apparently would pass over us must have passed by unless the forecast was wrong. I am writing this at eight-thirty and still there is no rain though the sky is filled with rain clouds. It is also partly blue in places too. I decided to water the rear garden in case it didn’t rain so that was my first job at two-fifty when I arrived downstairs. About forty-five minutes later I was back indoors to eat breakfast. What next would I do? I put on my overalls and went into the garage to mix a bucket of cement mortar and began filling in the next area in the gym floor

I had to be careful to leave a corridor to the door above the steps which leads out to the garden so the area at the bottom in the picture was left. It actually doesn’t need much filling-in there anyway but it will get done in turn. It is this next area which will be more of a problem because the furniture has to be moved but it will be done.

When that was done I left it to dry and then used the remaining mortar to fill a gap in the patio capping stone, something I had been meaning to do for ages. I covered it just in case it did rain. Well now it was time to take a very early walk. It was now five-fifteen and I left the house, posting some of E’s letters on the way. I hadn’t put on my rain-proof coat but had it tied around my waist. It was so lovely in the cool of the morning but I hadn’t gone far when the rain began to fall so I put on my coat. However it stopped raining after a couple of minutes and didn’t rain after that. The rain had been very light, hardly rain at all but I wasn’t going to take a chance and get soaked before my walk had started properly. I was back home a couple of hours later and went into the cellar to sweep the excess mortar off the gym floor. It would be ready for painting over the next day but seeing as the next day was Sunday it wouldn’t get done until Monday (30 th) at least.

Shirley Anne

Comings and goings

I’ve never been a person who was interested in flitting about all over the place every day as some might like to do. I was however always interested in going places, that is going somewhere for a long stay or even a short stay for a purpose. I mean by this that I enjoyed travelling to a holiday destination or somewhere for a day out. I still like those things but seldom go anywhere these days. Travelling can be tedious and tiring but if I can relax at my destination it is worth putting up with. Now I am retired there are very few places to go each day. Those trips I do make are usually for shopping. Other outings I take are simply for the exercise, I enjoy going for walks. I have neighbours who can’t seem to be able to remain at home and I wonder why they have a house to live in because they spend more time out of it that in it! To be fair my neighbours do have small children so they will be driving them to their various activities, not least of all school. Aside from that they seem to be taking short trips constantly throughout the day which don’t include their children. I am not suggesting their children are abandoned, each parent in turn stays at home whilst the other flits about in their respective cars throughout the day. They have electrically controlled gates which only ever seem to be closed at night because during the day they would constantly be opening and closing. They lead a very different life from that of E and I. It is all about our modern western society and the needs we have self-imposed upon ourselves to conform to it. Life is hectic for us all as we grow through our adult lives but as the years pass things do begin to slow down and we find there is neither that same urgency nor necessity to be flitting about all over the place every day.

Plain sailing

When we look back over the years we can so easily forget what we once did and sometimes wonder where the years went! Living for the moment we forget the passage of time. Did we really do those things? Did we spend all that time doing this and that? Would we have done it differently knowing then what we know now? Probably not I surmise. It is nice to not have to do the many things we once had to any longer. It is nice to have a slower pace of life and not have to worry about the things we perhaps used to worry about. No more comings and goings, well far fewer of them anyway.

Shirley Anne

Getting that way

It’s getting that way I shall be getting up before I’ve even gone to bed! Another early night on Wednesday and fast asleep just after nine o’clock. I awoke at three and paid a visit to see my porcelain friend but after returning to bed I couldn’t resume my slumber. I eventually arose ten minutes before four o’clock and was surprisingly rearing to go. I was downstairs and into the rear garden to water it before five. More on that in a minute or two. An hour later it was time for breakfast and then some computer time. To be honest I was a little bored after that because there was nothing to do. Come seven-thirty I was leaving the house to do the weekly shopping and arrived at the supermarket at my usual time just before eight. It is great doing the shopping early because there are fewer people in the store and moving around it is much easier. I find having to manoeuvre my trolley around other folks’ trolleys is a distraction and a pain when there are lots of them being pushed around. Anyway I wasn’t there long and was driving home after thirty minutes. On my way home I have the radio on and heard that our wonderful water supply authority has imposed a hose pipe ban because they say the reservoir levels are low. That means limited watering of the plants in the garden unless it rains in the meantime (I write this on 19th two days after it had rained all day long). I think it is disgraceful that they haven’t done something about this seasonal shortage by now after years of having to put up with it. The irony is that when we don’t need the extra water there is too much of it but when we do need it most there is a shortage! Build more reservoirs for goodness sake, it isn’t rocket science! Now I will have to resort to the watering can won’t I?
On my arrival back home and after unpacking and storing everything away I discovered I had forgotten two items though neither of them were important and can be purchased next time. It’s getting that way I can’t read my shopping list it seems but there was a very good reason for missing the items. When I walk through the store I normally use a set route but on this occasion I collected the canned food first which meant I ended up going down a couple of aisles in the opposite direction. Being so used to collecting items in a certain manner it confused me and I had to consult my list but even then I still missed one thing. Got to be my age eh?
Today I was going to prepare a chilli-con-carne, something different for a change and after half an hour it was complete.

Chilli

I normally make this kind of dish well in advance and re-heat it later. Once the heat is removed after cooking the dish stands in the residing heat and cooks slowly for an hour or so more. It tastes far better as a result. Is your mouth watering?

Shirley Anne

Just can’t hold me back

There’s just no stopping me sometimes. I had quite a busy day on Thursday, that is up until after three o’clock in the afternoon.  At that time I decided to take a break and rest up. The evening before I had watch England dismally fail to get to the Fifa World Cup Final. After scoring a goal in just over five minutes of play and remaining in the lead until well into the second half when their opponents, Croatia, equalised. Extra time had to be played to decide the winner and Croatia scored during that period. It also meant that I had stayed up just that bit longer to see the final result. Despite that I was still in bed before ten-fifteen and slept through until three-fifty and that is when I arose. No early morning walk as I would be doing the weekly shopping at eight. I had planned to water both the front and rear gardens and that is why I arose as early as I did. So at five o’clock I was out front doing that and by six-thirty I returned indoors having watered the rear garden too. Time for breakfast and a short break before I drove to the supermarket. I was back home before nine-thirty and had stored everything away. I wanted to make a start on that little fence I had planned to make but before that I had an hour’s break watching catch-up tv as I had missed a program I wanted to see because of the football. Once that had finished I set about measuring and constructing the fence. It would be in three sections and be assembled together when it was to be installed a couple of days later. Before then it would receive several coats of penetrating wood preserver just as the gate I had constructed twelve months ago.

The fence would be fitted on the right of the brick column, turn toward the corner (above the pot on the ground) then turn to the right again to meet the wall of the patio. Like the letter ‘Z’ but with right-angles. Here are the parts (three of them) on the workbench.

I also need to make a small corrosion-proof bracket that will support the fence near the middle and fix it to the natural stone capping at the joint so as not to drill the stone itself. I will probably use copper to make the bracket, a simple ‘L’ shape will suffice that can be screwed to the wood. Where the fence meets the brick wall and column it will be screwed through the timber. It will therefore be fixed at three points. It was a nice little project to work on whilst the weather had cooled down to a more respectable 21 deg C or thereabouts. Thursday began with a completely cloud-covered sky and it stayed that way all day. As I was driving to the supermarket, in fact I was still in my own street, it began to rain. However the amount we got amounted to a bucket to cover a football field and then it stopped. I was hoping it would return by nightfall but as yet at the time of writing it stays persistently dry. Maybe tomorrow?

Shirley Anne

Not sure

Over the last few days I have become more lazy in my attitude insofar as work is concerned. Any ideas of working on my projects, and there are two or more I’d like to get done, have taken a back seat. I haven’t neglected my exercise regime however so at least I remain active up to a point. A combination of events have made me less interested in doing anything too strenuous. It was about time that I took a break from too much work anyway. That was one thing and now at the moment of writing I have been watching a lot of televised football as the World Cup games are underway. I have been watching the  three televised games every day which has helped me to relax and take things easy for a while. The only snag is that I feel I want to be doing something constructive rather than just sitting on my butt! I wonder if I’ll want to get back into a routine more suited to what I am used to or not. Probably I will do despite my thinking otherwise, it’s in my blood. I am not sure about the future and what I will be up to but I hope that whatever lies ahead it will be something I will enjoy. Last month we had gloriously sunny days and E and I spent much time outdoors together but in this month of June it has been very different so far. I write this on the 20 th, a day or so before the Summer Solstice with only ten more days of the month left. The days will get shorter as Summer begins and I am hoping there will be more days like those we had in May. For the time being I am stuck indoors out of choice once lunchtime is over as I wish to continue watching the football. Maybe all this relaxing is going to be of benefit to me but I am not sure, I could end up like a couch potato! God forbid that I end up that way but I rather suspect I won’t.

Shirley Anne

All change

I could sense the possibility of rain as I looked out through the window from my bed. It was Saturday morning (16 th) and five-thirty as I lay there contemplating the day ahead. I decided a walk was on the cards but I was hungry so I decided to wait until after breakfast this time. I had just finished breakfast and saw that fine rain was falling. I would need to take a raincoat if I was to brave the elements as they say. It wasn’t a warm morning at all, in fact it stayed pretty cool all day long. It was 16 deg C but it felt more like 10 or 11 in the breeze. I had put on my walking boots too thinking that lighter footwear was unsuitable for what seemed like a late Autumn day which as it turned out was a wise decision. The outward part of the walk was pleasant enough but I was glad I had put on the rainproof jacket for it kept me warm in the cooling breeze. I had reached the half-way stage when the rain began to pour down in earnest. It remained that way until I reached home when suddenly it stopped! As soon as I went indoors I realised just how cool it had been outside. There had been quite a number of women out running on the route I had taken and none seemed bothered about the driving rain. I knew how they must have felt having spent many a time doing the same thing years ago. I sometimes wish I could do it again but then realise how unnecessary it would be at my time in life. I get my exercising in other ways now not least of all taking a walk. It was Saturday and the afternoon was beckoning more activity. Did I succumb? I’ll let you guess.

Shirley Anne

I did ask

It was getting a little monotonous having each day to water the gardens because of the dry weather. Oh it has been just fine for sitting about in or simply being out in but all I wanted was a little rain now and then. The attempt to rain was made last evening (13 th) but it wasn’t very much. However it was a storm called Hector which gave some respite from the heat and dry weather. The only problem was it brought more wind than rain! It got pretty stormy hereabouts but fortunately we were too far south to receive the harshest of the wind. Nevertheless some tree branches came down here and there. I had gotten up early on Thursday in order to do the weekly shopping again for E has been unable these last couple of months. I actually arose at five-thirty and was in the kitchen at six-fifteen. However I thought I would do a little work before breakfast which was to give the repaired door frame I did yesterday a coat of priming  paint. I later in the day applied the top coat. Anyway whilst I was doing that I heard a loud snap and something falling on the lawn behind me. I paid no attention until I had finished the small painting job for I knew what it had been making that noise. Once again the neighbour’s tree was shedding a branch because of the high winds. It is the large tree left of centre on the other side of the wall in the picture. You may be able to see from its leaves and the leaves of the apple trees bottom right from which direction the wind is blowing. It is left to right or west to east of course.

Most of the time we are picking up small twigs and leaves which have fallen from the tree but occasionally when it is very windy larger parts fall down. I cleared up the mess on the lawn and deposited the bulk of the fallen branch in my neighbour’s garden. At the same time I took the opportunity to prune back a couple of lower branches on the tall holly tree which stands next to the large greenhouse. It is just right of centre at the end of the greenhouse in the picture. Naturally I chopped the holly branches up and put the pieces into our own waste bin. I returned indoors for breakfast. It was seven o’clock. After eating I waited until it was eight o’clock before driving to the supermarket. I was back home at nine-fifteen just as E came down for breakfast. Pretty much throughout the day it was windy but there was still no rain. In fact it brightened up late morning. I would be watering the gardens again if it remained dry.

Shirley Anne