I don’t know what it is but my trainer and I don’t seem to be getting along as we should. Despite efforts from myself nothing seems to be working right now. No, I am not talking about a personal trainer here for I think they are an unnecessary ‘extra’ for most people. Instruction is one thing but a little education regarding the use of exercise machines and how to keep fit in general serve much as good if not better. I am talking about my elliptical cross-trainer and how my body is reacting to my use of it. As with any equipment it is wise to follow the instructions and users guide to get the best out of it. It must be stated that any new exercise regime should be approached gently and any equipment used cautiously until we are used to them. Nice and easy at first and then building up gradually over a period of time will be of greater benefit and do less harm than if we rush into things. Naturally for those who are embarking on an exercise regime for the first time it is wise to get a health check beforehand. For myself, I have been exercising in one form or another for many years but still approach new things with caution. This has been the case with my cross-trainer. As for the treadmill, well I am well used to running so it isn’t a problem. The new exercise bike is also no problem as I have done much cycling in the past and still own a road bike. However, the cross-trainer and I don’t see eye to eye for sometimes after using it my upper leg muscles and buttocks suffer. I have always considered the type of exercise provided by the cross-trainer to be unnatural. It combines the exercises provided by a bicycle and a treadmill at the same time and even the ‘peddling’ action isn’t the same as a bicycle. So it needs a lot of getting used to and though I have had the machine for six months I still find on occasion my muscles object. Obviously it is down to myself to use it more wisely. Today, Tuesday, I went for a five-mile walk in the heat of the sunny morning. Tomorrow I will face the machine again and see if we cannot make up.
At last the weather turned to conditions more to my liking on Tuesday (8 th), cooler (17 deg C) and with a very slight breeze. For most of the day after eleven o’clock it remained cloudy and overcast and it rained once or twice too. It had been bright in the morning and E and I spent an hour or so outside just before lunch. I was dressed and ready for some exercising on the gym equipment soon after arising at eight o’clock and was about to go downstairs when I received a call from a lady for whom I had done electrical work a year or so back. She wanted to know if I could do a small job for her. After I had explained that I was now retired I asked what the work involved. She wanted an outdoor circuit disconnecting from its source so that the wiring could be removed. I explained I couldn’t do anything immediately as I was about to spend time exercising but offering my services I said I would do it later in the morning. I went there at ten o’clock and was back home an hour later with a little extra cash in my purse. Around twelve-thirty I checked to see if the exercise bike I had ordered the previous week had been scheduled for delivery and discovered it would be with me within the hour. When it arrived the guy carried it into the garage for me so I could then take it indoors later. It came in a large cardboard box and only for the picture on the box could you tell it was the exercise bike. Obviously it would need assembling and that is what E and I did later and after lunch.For the moment we are keeping it where it stands because there is a spare power outlet there. If we decide to move it across the room I would have to install an extra power outlet there as I explained in earlier posts. So the machine represents the latest edition to our equipment but there is one final piece of equipment I am thinking of purchasing later in the year, a rowing machine. That would be the last purchase we make should we decide to buy one.
Sunday had been a totally different day and although the weather forecast promised rain it stayed dry during the day. It was much cooler too with an overcast sky. Not really a great day but I wasn’t going anywhere, I remained indoors throughout, didn’t even go into the garden. My day of rest meant just that but I wasn’t idle, I did some baking. I had gotten up around eight in order to get some exercise on the treadmill and cross-trainer before breakfast. I was just finishing breakfast when E appeared. It was approaching ten o’clock. I had to return upstairs to get out of my sportswear and get dressed for the day. After a spot of reading and checking emails I became bored so I decided to do a little baking, this time a very simple bake-rock cakes. They are so easy to make a child could do it…..Ingredients:
1/2 lb self-raising flour
1/4 lb butter
3 oz caster sugar
4 oz mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas and currants)
1 standard egg
1 or 2 tablespoons milk.
Rub butter into flour with fingers in a bowl until it forms a crumble
Add fruit and sugar and mix
Beat egg and milk then add to form a stiff mixture but not sticky.
Take portions of mixture and either roll into a ball or simply stack on a well buttered baking tray leaving plenty of space between each portion to allow for expansion.
Place in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 400 deg F (204 deg C) or slightly less if fan assisted for fifteen to twenty minutes. When done transfer to a cooling rack before storing unless they are to be eaten immediately.
I like them because they are so easy to make and very tasty.
It was almost time for lunch when I had finished but I didn’t eat until two o’clock. I had been browsing my personal writings which I keep in ring binders and books and one of them I post here….
O the glory of His presence
Fills me each and every day
And I get up every morning
With the urgent need to pray
For my Saviour has reminded me
That by my side He’ll stay
My Saviour rests with me.
As I go about my daily tasks
He whispers in my ears
And I often have to stop and think
For well I know He cares
He’ll be guiding me and moulding me
Throughout the coming years
So faithful is my Lord
O so often I do think on Him
For His sweet and saving grace
His persistence and undying love
The warmth of His embrace
So I’ll honour Him as best I can
‘Till we meet face to face
My great Redeemer King
Copyright Shirley Anne (1989-1998)
In those days I never recorded the date I wrote my songs and poems I only know which era. I wrote something each and every day so there are literally hundreds of them. Some are posted in my blog pages. So that pretty much summed-up my Sunday. Monday would again see me active on my project.
We’ve had a few bad days of cold and windy weather from the east but today as I write this on Thursday 1st March it looks as though things are about to change for the better. It has been snowing but not that much, in fact we’ve probably had only a few hours of it during the time it has been falling. I guess we’ve had three centimetres of the white stuff at most as it comes and goes. What is worse is if it doesn’t melt away it freezes so although there might not be much of it the snow can still be a problem. We are very fortunate though for in many parts of the country conditions have been far worse so we mustn’t complain. It never ceases to amaze me though that this country cannot cope as well as it should when it snows whereas many other countries take it in their stride. I had planned to go for a walk but changed my mind and worked out on the Elliptical Trainer instead. That’s the beauty of being able to have the space in which to fit exercising machinery and equipment and I humbly acknowledge that privilege. Having gym equipment was never on my thoughts when we first moved into this house thirty years ago. Funny how things change I suppose. For most of the day I stayed indoors relaxing but I did wander about making plans for other projects E and I have been considering. My current project is to decorate the boiler room which houses the gym equipment and as you have been reading part of that work is already complete. However there is some preliminary work that needs to be done in other parts of the room yet to be decorated, tidying up wiring, replacing some of the pipe lagging, perhaps replacing the main light and installing another just to name a few. So over the next few weeks I shall be doing that work whilst decorating those areas which require no preparation. A little here and a little there is the way it will go. One other small project E would like have me do is to install a couple of 5 amp power points in the hallway for the two table lamps we use there. She wants them to be automatically controlled and I have the plans to do it. It will mean installing a photo-cell similar to those controlling the garage lights as shown in this picture…
and in conjunction with a time switch. The photo-cell will supply power to the 5 amp sockets when it goes dark and the time switch will prevent the lights remaining on all through the night. Once it is daylight again the power will automatically shut off. The system of operation is similar to that supplied to the porch light and the garden street lamp-post via the ‘part night’ controllers except that the new one will use cheaper parts and will be manually adjustable if required. Nothing like having plans as long as I can get around to doing them!
I was up and about very early again on Wednesday morning and after breakfast by then seven forty-five I was out in the garden checking on the protection I had taken for some of the plants was still in place. I decided to strengthen that protection because of the weather forecast which informed us of an even colder night to follow. By the time I had returned indoors an hour later E came downstairs for her breakfast. We talked about taking a trip to the garden centre but actually didn’t set off until eleven-thirty as she wanted to wash her hair have a shower and get dressed! Whereas I get up and go to bed in the same day she gets up one day and goes to bed the next! She is what you might call a night person and never retires to bed before one o’clock in the morning unless she has an early appointment the next day. I’ve usually had a couple of hours sleep by then. It makes going anywhere together in the morning difficult at times. Anyway we did go out and whilst we were out I decided to take a trip to the decorating store and the electrical store after we had visited the garden centre. I needed more emulsion paint and some light bulbs to replace faulty ones. It was approaching two o’clock when we sat down to lunch and at the same time watch some tv. At three o’clock she and I went into the cellar and moved the Elliptical trainer into its new home….
Not bad for two ‘senior citizens’! Actually it wasn’t that difficult, it was just a matter of approaching it in the right way. Neither of us had to exert ourselves in any way because of the way we tackled it. Now it is in its new home E will find it much easier to mount when she uses it. I had painted the whole wall and that part of the ceiling above it to make it easier. Now it is out-of-the-way so to speak I can get on with decorating the rest of the room, when the mood takes me of course!
It was now Saturday morning and after an early breakfast I went into the cellar to begin the final stage of constructing the pit, the cosmetic work that is! I had sealed and later given the lining of the pit and the floor a coat of paint but hadn’t done the brickwork that had been exposed when the floor was lowered. See yesterday’s post. I had thought about rendering the bricks with cement but when I got downstairs and looked at them I decided simply a coat of paint would do….
At the same time I gave the rest of the pit another coat of paint and might have to do the same for the bricks later. there was one small spot on the floor of the pit where the sealant hadn’t dried out completely and it refused the application of paint so I have left it until it does. It is in the corner by the wall and is just out of sight in the picture. When the paint had dried, which I would leave until Monday, I planned to move the power outlet to a position above that same corner. A switched fuse box will be installed where the power socket is now situated. If you are an electrician you will know why and if you are not it will allow more outlets to be installed later should they be needed. The fuse will limit power usage from all the outlets. Technical stuff over. So it looks like we will be able to finally get the Trainer into position in the pit within the next few days. That in itself may not be as easy at it sounds.
After breakfast on Friday (16th) I once again put on my overalls and began working on the pit. There wasn’t much I could do other than skim the edge beneath the newly fitted handrail I had installed on Thursday afternoon and to roughly fill in the edge on the opposite end of the pit. That end would hopefully be smoothed out and finished on Saturday leaving only the floor of the pit to be covered with a screed.
I should be able to get the floor done on Monday and Tuesday if all goes to plan. When that is done all that will be left to do will be cosmetic, sealing the concrete, painting and such. So I only spent an hour working on the project and decided I would take a short walk down to the beach for an hour. I hadn’t been out for a walk for over a week and had simply taken exercise on the equipment instead. To be quite frank I was too tired to go for long walks and fitting in some time on the equipment had been much easier. It was such a nice warm and sunny morning but by the afternoon it had turned a little cooler and dull. After lunch E and I spent a few minutes in the garden preparing the soil in the raised bed between the greenhouses for planting potatoes. I had already planted rhubarb at one end of the bed a few weeks ago and recently had separated the area using paving edge stones…
The rhubarb is at the far right of the bed and some has already begun to grow. As you can see we have made four rows of mounded-up soil and each has around six potatoes in them. The remaining two potatoes were planted in a bucket though I may change my mind and transfer them to the bed if I can. We had strawberries growing in the bed two years ago but they grew wild and too much of the fruit was eaten by woodlice so we dug them out. I transferred a couple of them to pots and grew them in the large greenhouse last year where I could protect them from being eaten.
Tuesday (6th) was forecast to be a cold wet and miserable day starting off with a snowfall. Actually the snow was predicted to fall during late Monday night and on into the morning. As it happened it hadn’t been snowing by the time I awoke at six o’clock though I could detect one or two flakes every now and then. By the time I was dressed and downstairs however it began snowing in earnest. I was off for an early morning walk and had to keep the hood of my coat up the whole time I was out, about two hours. When I arrived back home the garden looked like this….As you can see by then the snow had stopped falling but notice it didn’t stick to the path. It was the same story everywhere I walked, snow only stuck on the grass and elsewhere was simply wet. About a centimetre or so had fallen. Around these parts over the last few years it has hardly snowed at all and if it did it didn’t last more than a couple of days on the ground. Sign of the times on this side of the country hereabouts. Rain was predicted to fall later in the day and it also began to get warmer. The snow didn’t last. Once my exercising was out-of-the-way I thought about the next project I had in mind to do. It had been on my mind for weeks really but I had been busy doing other things. It was to move the new Elliptical Trainer temporarily to a new position in the cellar room so that work could begin on lowering the floor where it stands. With the use of a trolley we moved it here….
Now the floor where it stood was vacant and ready for the work to start.Those paving stones have been there since 1877 when the house was built. Beneath them is sand. They are quite thick and closely packed together and will be difficult to dig out. However some are broken which may make it a little easier. Behind the short piece of timber which is standing at the top centre in the picture is a large piece of concrete. We are not sure what it is, perhaps the remains of a demolished pillar? It needs taking down a little further to make it level with the floor. This room, now our gym also houses the boiler. It was once part of the servants work rooms and had a fireplace as did three of the other rooms down there. The chimney breast in this room stands behind the bench-press in the picture above but the fireplace has long since been bricked-in. At last I can get on with the project and then we can return the trainer to the spot.
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.
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.