A new mower….

….but first…..it is now March 1 st as I write. The day started off dull, cool and misty with rain threatening to fall and according to the forecast will do before nightfall. It is now the afternoon and a little warmer but still dull. I went for my walk before six o’clock so that I could return early and eat breakfast before the delivery of the new mower I had purchased on Monday. I wanted to get on with finishing the job of removing the moss from the roof which I had started yesterday but had to wait for the delivery. The guy delivering it arrived later than I had expected but still within the time slot between nine and ten o’clock as arranged. When he arrived he reversed onto the drive and proceeded to unload the mower. I had removed my van from the garage so that he could wheel it straight in. He instructed me on how to use it and then we pushed it through the rear door mostly to see if it would pass through. I have to say there was little spare space each side. I am thinking of ways to widen the doorway and also to lay more concrete outside to make the existing slope more gentle. Here is the picture of the mower standing inside the garage…

Here is the picture of the slope outside showing the doorway also…

We are not disposing the other mower which is in the shop being serviced but will keep it as a standby.

Once the guy had gone I plugged the mower into the power supply to charge its battery as he instructed I should do. Then I put on my overalls and set about finishing the moss removal before then dismantling the tower and storing it away in the garage. It was approaching one o’clock when I had finished and time for lunch. If the weather allows I will begin work on the concrete slope but first I will need to buy more materials though it will only be granite chippings for I already have enough sand and cement. Looks like the concrete mixer will be in use again. That must be one of the best things I have purchased in the last ten years for helping me do all my construction work and there has been plenty of that!

Shirley Anne

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Even better

I deliberately arose early on Monday morning for I had intended to take my walk earlier than of late. Knowing I would return by seven o’clock it gave me plenty of time to eat breakfast and hang the washing on the line that I had put in the washer before I went out. I also planned to visit the lawnmower repair shop before nine o’clock to leave the rest of the day to potter around at home. Well not just potter but to relax in the promised bright sunshine we were told to expect. More on that in a minute. It was a very cold morning at five o’clock with a sharp easterly cold wind. I took to walking through the back streets of town to minimise exposure to the wind but it seemed a little pointless as it was in my face throughout the first half of the walk. Still I was wrapped up against it. Anyone I saw was either delivering goods or driving off presumably to work. The sky was almost clear of clouds but a thin layer of mist blocked any starlight, at least for a while. When I reached the seafront the wind was now behind me. At eleven o’clock stood the Moon at last quarter, toward ten o’clock shone a bright Jupiter and further east at nine o’clock was a very unusually red Venus rising above the cloudy horizon. Though it was red it was bright and couldn’t be mistaken for any other planet, even Mars for it was too bright to be that planet. They stood in a straight line as if joined by a string. Obviously they weren’t! The Moon would be around a quarter million miles away, Venus at that moment and position would be around ninety million miles distant (it is around twenty-six or seven million when closest to us I think) and Jupiter is around four hundred and eighty million miles distant. As the eastern sky began to redden they all began to fade away with the sunrise. As I got nearer to home I saw several hundred, maybe a thousand jackdaws flying in swarm-like fashion and squawking away as if in terror. Their idea of a morning chorus no doubt. The gulls weren’t silent though they could hardly be heard over the jackdaws. It was quite light by the time I reached home and I was hungry but before breakfast I hung up the washing in the gym/boiler room. I had put the lawnmower in the rear of the van on Sunday and I took it to the repair shop before nine o’clock. It would take them ten days before I could collect it or they deliver it. It was due to the fact that many other people had taken their machines in for servicing too that it would take so long. When in the shop I saw a ride-on mower (they call them tractors) and I took an interest in it straight away. I asked the guy what the width of the machine was to see if it would fit through the rear door of my garage and according to the measurement it would. Having asked for other information about the machine I asked the price though it was there hanging on a label and I’d missed it. It was for sale at £1299 and well within my budget. I made a snap decision and bought it. It would be delivered on Friday 1st March at the end of the week. I explained to the guy that it would give me enough time to clear the wild animals out of the tall grass to which he laughed. Seriously though the grass has been growing steadily higher with the mild weather we’ve been having. He asked me if I still wanted the old mower servicing and I told him I did because it can either be a standby machine or I can give it to someone else, maybe one of my sons. I spent some of the rest of the day clearing the passage to the rear door inside the garage but I also relaxed on the patio in the lovely sunshine. I may at some point extend the sloping ground at the rear of the garage if required in order to make access for the new mower easier. That would mean laying more concrete but first I would need to remove the large bag of sand that still lay there. (White with bricks on it)

Shirley Anne

A tad cooler and stuff

Who am I to complain about the weather we have had lately? It is a slightly cooler day today than it was yesterday but still several degrees above the norm for February. It is Sunday and I wanted to sit out for a while on the patio. It had to be after lunch as that was supposed to be the best time of the day for the sunnier weather. True enough it was and I managed an hour or so sitting in the warm sunshine. However there was a cooling breeze to accompany it which meant I had to sit in the most sheltered spot to feel comfortable. It didn’t last because thin clouds eventually lessened the warm rays of the sun and I reluctantly returned indoors. I wasn’t going to be tempted to return outside because the sunshine grew stronger for I knew it would be futile, and it was! It soon went dull again. Well after all it is still February. By the time you are reading this it will be the last day of March and hopefully a lot warmer. While I was sitting on the patio several things were on my mind. One of those things concerned the state of the lawn which by then was ready for its first cut of the year. I had attempted to start the petrol mower the previous day but it wouldn’t start. I decided I would check it out during the week……

Lawn mower

The picture shows the model we have at home (not the actual machine we have). So I was thinking about that and came up with the idea of having it serviced professionally by people who deal in lawn mowers and service them too. What could be easier especially as we have such a business close to home? At the same time I can ask about ride on mowers which I am interested in purchasing. Having looked at their website however I noticed a lack of variety and their prices are far more than I wish to spend. I have looked elsewhere and know I can purchase a suitable machine within my budget and that’s probably what I will do. There is only one foreseeable problem I might encounter and that is whether the machine will pass through the rear door of the garage to enter the garden! It will be dealt with one way or another. Anyway in the interim I have just loaded the mower into the back of my van ready to transport it to the repair shop tomorrow morning. I should by then have received the information I had requested about the ride-on mower too.

Shirley Anne

More bells

I mean of the blue variety. I was in the garden on Tuesday morning with the main object of putting some of the left-over pebbles into the raised bed in the area we call ‘The Plot’ at the side of the house. We sometimes refer to it as the secret garden because it hides between the garage and the laurel trees next to the patio. It is accessed through a gate I constructed almost two years ago and is therefore ‘out of the way’. It didn’t take long to spread the pebbles.

Although it doesn’t look a lot there are plenty of pebbles in there. What is left in the bag in the garage I hope will be enough to put in the long raised bed on the patio. Before that can happen I have to remove the cyclamen plants which are growing there. The other plants will be left.

Once I had finished that work I went around the garden borders digging out bluebells. Those which were remaining after the purge a couple of years ago cannot easily be removed for the bulbs are deep beneath the roots of other plants so all I can do is pull out any shoots which appear by digging down as far as I am able. At least now they are manageable but in places they are still quite numerous. I spent only an hour or so in the garden even though there were other jobs I could have done. There is no hurry, I’ve all the time in the world.

Shirley Anne

….in the morning

I mean Christmas day in the morning, I did this….

…..this…

…this..

…and this….

That is giving the whole room, the walls and ceiling its first coat of white emulsion. Bright isn’t it? I think so. The room had been in an awful state very much as the other rooms I had refurbished during the year. By the time you are reading this at the end of January hopefully the work in the cellar will have been completed. It wasn’t the only thing I did that day for I spent a little time in the rear garden cleaning and hosing down the area in the Plot where we keep the composting bin. It had been looking a little neglected when I went to tip more compost in the bin.

Moss loves the area and leaves get trapped too. In all I spent around five hours working before I decided I’d had enough.

Shirley Anne

Less but more

The title seems to be a contradiction but this is what I mean, I did less of working on the utility room project and more on securing the plastic tunnel in the garden after high winds had loosened everything. When I arose at two it was still dark of course and I didn’t pay any attention or give any thought that the wind might have been a problem. It was the 13 th, a wet, windy and miserable day but it didn’t stop me going for a walk. I bore in mind that the wind was blowing from the south-west with intermittent heavy rain showers so I set off in the opposite direction. When I reached the place where I would normally turn toward the seafront I chose to walk inland instead for I didn’t wish to walk back into the wind and showers. Choosing to walk through the town’s streets offered shelter from the wind but I chose to walk home through an indirect route for the extra distance. On my return home I wasn’t in any hurry to begin work but when I did the first thing I did was to clear the room of tools. Next, I moved the two freezers away from the centre of the room to their permanent resting places so that I could fill in the gaps on the floor with cement. 

The picture was taken hours later when the cement had almost completely dried. I wasn’t going to paint the floor that morning for I wanted to paint the worktops with their final coat of paint. Before I could do that I went into the garden to use the left-over cement to patch up an area in the stone pathway behind the Mound by the lamp post. As I was returning into the house I noticed the tunnel needed some attention but first I painted the worktops, (both pictures).

Finally I was able to undo the wind damage but it took quite some time for the wind was still blowing strong. When E and I assembled the steel frame we fixed the two side bars to the outside of the structure and didn’t realise they should have been fixed on the inside so as not to interfere with the plastic covering. The wind had caused chafing of the cover by the two ends of the bars so my first job was to re-fix the bars on the inside. Not easy in the windy conditions with the cover in place but I didn’t take long doing it. I then set about securing the structure and fitting some bubble-wrap sheeting to the inside of the plastic cover and generally securing it as best I could, I also weighed down the structure with ropes and concrete slabs, Hopefully that would keep everything in place until Spring. Time will tell. I had just about enough of work so I suggest to E that we dine out for a change. By mid-morning the weather had changed dramatically , it was now blue skies and sunshine though still a little windy. We drove about four miles to a canal-side pub called The Saracens Head in a small hamlet and enjoyed one of the best meals we’d had in a long time. Well worth the trip.

Shirley Anne     

Keeping the weather out

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about purchasing a plastic-covered tunnel with which to use to protect a couple of the Phoenix Canariensis plants we have in the rear garden. The other three could be more easily protected but these two had proved difficult to protect over the last couple of years. Last year if you remember we had a severely cold snap which damaged some of the plants, these two especially. However, they started to recuperate during the summer months and I didn’t want them to suffer again this winter so I purchased the tunnel. A week or so ago E and I erected the steel frame an d we were going to leave it that way for a few more weeks but on Sunday (11 th) I decided not to wait and I placed the plastic cover over it. Surprisingly it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it might be.

I needed a step ladder of course and I had wanted to use the larger of the two I had in the garage but it had been stored temporarily behind the scaffolding tower and the smaller ladder was also trapped in the same way. I moved the scaffolding pieces to free the ladders but then decided the smaller of the two would suffice. Whilst doing that I noticed a small patch of water on the floor near to the door. The roof had sprung a leak. Now it had only been a matter of a few days since I asked E to call her nephew to sort out the problem as he had done the alteration work on the roof in the first place. At the time he had used this ‘special’ paint (all singing and all dancing apparently) but weeks later there was an enormous leak and he had the work redone. Well a few days ago he returned to carry out repairs to another but smaller leak. Now he has to return yet again to repair this one! So much for the ‘special’ paint! I think he should have stuck with the bitumen and felt covering. 

Shirley Anne

Getting near

I have just finished the next stage of the garden project which leaves me just three things left to do. Today as I write on 28 th September I have laid the membrane and set in the perimeter of it with concrete.

The cobbles dotted around are there temporarily to hold down the overlapping joints of the membrane which comes in a roll one metre in width. The next stage will be to lay some cobbles through the plot to form stepping stones but I will have to cut the membrane along the proposed route to remove a little of the soil beneath. I will then lay concrete in the bottom and set the cobbles in it. The concrete will also re-seal the gap in the membrane at the same time. The final stage will be to fill the area with pebbles and stones then clean the perimeter cobbles. 

Shirley Anne

Stage complete

It was quite a windy day on Tuesday (18 th) but very warm too. The remnants of the latest hurricane had wended its way across the Pond but had fizzled out somewhat. Even so the wind was quite strong. Earlier I had been for one of my regular walks but the wind at that time wasn’t strong. About an hour after returning home it began to rain though only lightly but it was enough to keep me from continuing with the lawn project. Around ten o’clock the rain had stopped and the sun was shining so I put on my working gear and set about finishing off the first stage of the project, the final third part of digging out the small trench and putting in some hardcore.

As you can see from the picture that stage is now complete. The removed soil from the grass sods was scattered on the lawn itself where there was a small dip near The Mound. The rest of the soil was put in the raised bed in which were growing some potatoes until a few days earlier. They have been dug out and eaten! What didn’t go in that bed was spread over the other beds. The large bag which I had filled with soil a couple of days ago will be used in the front garden later. The second stage will be to cover the hardcore in the bottom of the trench with a concrete mix. Everything is gradually taking shape.

Shirley Anne

Pests

There are a few things which really annoy me in life but one of the most annoying are insect pests and especially flying insects. It seems to me that some of them think I am the source of their next meal by the way I am not left alone. Some insect pests can be very irritating and can lead me to abandon what I am doing because of their not leaving me in peace. In the summer months flies and wasps buzz about my person and the flies especially like using my exposed flesh to land on. I have to apply lotions to deter them but it isn’t always successful. Creams with lavender in them seem to work to a point as long as you like the smell of lavender which I do. Now that Autumn is upon us we have more damp days especially in the mornings which appears to favour certain insects like midges and mosquitoes. I know first hand how annoying it is to be pestered by these two particular insect pests having experienced both offenders several times in my life. I remember being in Scotland on a camping holiday with family and being pestered so much by mosquitoes and midges forcing us to duck inside to get away from them. The only places free from them are either freezing cold or extremely hot and dry. Unfortunately I live in a temperate region where they like dwelling too!  On Monday 17 th I resumed work on the lawn project spending just two hours but it was early in the morning just after six-thirty. The air was still damp and right on cue whilst I was digging out the sods and cleaning off the soil from them the midges and mosquitoes arrived. I was wearing overalls and gloves so only my face was exposed. They appear to like my face! I got so annoyed I returned indoors to fetch the fly spray (it kills mosquitoes too) and sprayed the air around me. Normally the spray would have dissipated immediately but because there was no wind it lingered. I wasn’t pestered anymore. I got this far which was enough for the day.

The bag of soil was getting too full but rather than fetch another bag I deposited most of what I had dug up on the day in one of the flowerbeds. I could have continued and completed the digging but I have no deadline to keep….and it is hard work.

Shirley Anne