A name

If you were going to open a pub and wanted a name for it what would you choose? The list of possibilities is endless but I came upon a name today which came about after I purchased something. It is Tuesday 14 th May and I write at six in the evening having just eaten a very light meal. It wasn’t even a meal in the true sense but rather a dessert, blacmange and mixed fruit. Why only a dessert? Well I had eaten out earlier though even then it was simply one course. No I am not dieting! I arose an hour later than of late and after breakfast I returned to my project at nine-thirty to do two things. The first one was to extend the cable connected to the door alarm switch because it wouldn’t reach the point where it needed to be. The old door had opened with its hinges on the left but the new one will be hinged on the right. I had to solder almost an extra metre of cable on to the existing piece. Following that I began putting the extra timbers in place to complete the framework for boxing-in the pipes and wiring. I would need to tap into the cold water pipe to supply the cistern and hand basin before I could fit the plywood sheeting to complete the boxing-in. In any case I hadn’t enough plywood to do that work and I needed a couple of plumbing parts too. It was noon before I stopped for the day and I decided I would eat out for a change. Now I hadn’t been to the pub for a couple of months as I don’t go there often these days but they serve great food. I was surprised there were plenty of tables spare for the car park was full. On entry I met a woman I know who practically lives there and had a quick chat before I sat to eat. After my lunch I sat with her for an hour and we chatted some more. I was sad to learn that her mom had passed away in February and her dad wasn’t in good health either. She lives with her parents, now sadly only one. The strange thing was her dad was the one she though might pass away as he had been taken to hospital severely ill. Her mom died whilst he was in hospital. I asked if she was at work for she works at a local food store and often goes to the pub after working the morning shift. She told me that she hadn’t worked since February but that hadn’t anything to do with her mom’s death. She had complained of having chest pains and her doctor arranged for her to have her heart checked out at the hospital. I asked if she suffered with angina but she said she doesn’t. She smokes though which won’t help. Anyway I wished her well and left the pub for I had some shopping to do. I purchased two sheets of plywood, a bag of sharp sand as I was low on that and a selection of wood screws. On the way back home I thought I would drop into Dobbies Garden Centre for a coffee and to purchase a couple of things for the lawn feature.

As you can see the shadow cuts the feature in two as the picture was taken at five-thirty in the afternoon when the sun had swung around to the west of the house. Maybe you can see the two items which are a pot lying on its side to the left of the small conifer in the centre of the picture and directly above it on the far side of the feature stand the other item, an eagle. Now then back to the name….the ‘Pot and Eagle’ or ‘Eagle and Pot’. No dafter than ‘Elephant and Castle’ and many other English pubs I could name.

Shirley Anne


More heather

A couple of days ago (I write on 12 th April) I purchased several heather plants and at the time thought I should have purchased more for there were still some empty spaces here and there around the garden. I chose heather because first of all I like it but it flowers too and spreads itself out a little more than many plants at ground level. Heather was the ideal plant to fill in some bare spaces. When I went to the garden centre I had forgotten I had a couple of vouchers in my purse. As you buy at Dobbies you are credited with points for every purchase as well as getting a reduction in the price if you are a member. A couple of times each year they send out vouchers reflecting your points total converted to currency, a kind of cash back if you like. There is a catch though, the vouchers have a limited life so must be spent or you lose the credit. A crafty way to ensure your return! That’s fine if you purchase things on a regular basis for you cannot lose. Anyway I thought I would put the vouchers toward another purchase. Their value amounted to £11.12, not a great amount but I only had to pay an extra £3 or so when I returned to purchase four more plants which normally would have cost £14. Whilst there I had one of the two of my free monthly coffees too. E wasn’t with me this time else she would have taken the other one! I had been for my usual walk then had breakfast before driving to the service station to fill my van with diesel and to purchase some petrol for the new mower. It looks as if I will be needing it again soon. Once that was done it was off to the garden centre. Here are the new plants which I dug in as soon as I returned home. The top picture is in the Plot and the heather is dead-centre next to the capping stone. It should fill much of the surrounding space when it is established

The next picture shows the Mound and the two extra heather plants are at dead-centre and top-right between the Camellia and the small conifer on the right.

The last picture shows the so-called tree heather which will grow to a height of 1.2 metres. It is the bright green plant right of centre at the top. Just left of the conifer is a small plant which is struggling to grow where it is so I might try and place it somewhere else and replace it with another Phoenix Canariensis or similar plant. It will be easy to protect in Winter as it backed by the greenhouse. There is no such thing as having nothing to do in a garden!

Shirley Anne

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

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….



…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