Sorry but…..

‘I’m sorry Shirley Anne but it’s just got to go’, I told myself on Thursday morning. It was a very miserable day on Thursday just as it had been a couple of days earlier, wet and windy, very windy. I had gone to bed the evening before feeling rather down and tired and hoped the new day would be an improvement but it wasn’t. I was feeling a little down because I was tired and some of the events in the day had given me some irritation. It had been one of those days as we say. So Thursday promised better things but it didn’t fare that way for me. In the first place I woke up with a horrible bout of Cystitis and all that comes with it. I have an interim solution for Cystitis which helps until I can get some medication if I haven’t any to hand but it only helps soothe the burning sensation and kill the surface bacteria. It was enough to allow me relief until I went shopping later. However, back to the foul weather. No matter what I tried to hold down the tunnel structure over the patio the wind loosened it and I would have to try something else. There was no way I would get the upper hand and I knew it. When the weather is less windy all is fine but the wind destroys and shows no mercy. Did I mention I hate the wind? Well I do. So what’s got to go? The tunnel. As soon as the weather would allow I would be out there removing it and mark it down as a failure. What would take its place? Well I mentioned that I think in yesterday’s post. Two tee-pees or wigwams if you prefer would replace the one tunnel and should hopefully withstand the wind better. Oh the joys of gardening eh? I did no work on Thursday for not only did I have nether regions problems but I was feeling the effects of maybe a cold but definitely the bad weather. 

Shirley Anne 

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Another one

Wednesday was my walk day and it started off well. It was the end of November (28), more than two-thirds of the way through Autumn and the weather had become noticeably much colder during the preceding week. This morning was no different but at least it was dry but not for long! It had rained the previous evening and into the night but had stopped until twenty minutes into my walk. It wasn’t the rain which bothered me but the wind driving it. Although I enjoyed the walk I was very glad to be back home. I hadn’t taken the route back along the seafront because of the driving wind knowing there would be no shelter from it. I walked home through the back streets instead. As I approached the top end of our road a fox ran across my path and over a wall to my right where there is a large plot of land filled with trees and undergrowth, an ideal place for foxes to live. It is unlikely to be built upon because of its location, the age of the trees and because it stands in the grounds of an apartment block. I carried on homeward to the warmth and breakfast. After some catch-up tv I decided to put on my overalls and get ready to resume working in the cellar. I wasn’t able to do much at first in case I disturbed E from her sleep for I had much sawing to do. I was going to begin cutting and fitting the plywood panels for there was no plasterboard left to finish off the ceiling and I couldn’t leave the house to purchase any. I was expecting the delivery of the pebbles and E had to go out too. As it happened the pebbles were delivered around ten-thirty but the guy had a lot of trouble trying to manoeuvre the pallet truck to get the pallet out of the wagon. Eventually he mustered the help of another delivery driver who just happened to to be making a delivery further up the road. Up until that point I had done very little work but then I continued and got this far..

The far left hand panel with the white cup washers will be readily removable should access to the gate valves ever be necessary. It was whilst working down there that E took a shower in the wet room and I saw the leak from the drain above. It appears that the floor seal around the grid in the wet room had cracked. What an absolute pain! Something else for me to do. In the picture below you can just about see two black streaks running top to bottom on the grey drain housing. The picture below that one shows the frame surround beneath the drain which will have a removable inspection cover too. Just as well it seems!

Later in the afternoon it got very windy indeed and I was fearful that the tunnel on the patio would either be damaged, get blown off or both so I spent a little time out there securing it with more rope. On reflection I don’t think the idea of using the tunnel was a good one and I may simply dismantle it and erect another two tee-pees as I had done with one of the plants in the border close-by.

  Shirley Anne

Framed

There’s a popular (?) tv program in the UK called ‘You’ve been framed’ whereby viewers can send in clips of mishaps they or others have had the misfortune to endure and it is broadcast for all to see. Each clip broadcast rewards the sender with £250. I was ‘framed’ if you like when I erected this with lots of help from E….

….and if it had been recorded it might have made the program! I began the work by myself but after fifteen frustrating minutes I had to enlist the help of E. As with most self-assembled units the instructions are not all that easy to follow and by me especially. I seem to have the knack of getting it wrong and then getting angry because I experience problems which if truth be known don’t actually exist! E came outside after my insistence that she wear warm clothing for it was a cold October day even though the sun was shining. In a matter of minutes she had things sorted. What I had failed to do was to recognise the numbered parts and indeed the large components were all numbered. I just hadn’t noticed and had been trying to identify them from the drawing. The drawings never seem to look like the things they are supposed to be representing do they? Perhaps a photograph would be more useful. We began the assembly, though it was only myself doing the assembling whilst E held the parts which needed supporting. Finally we ended up with the structure you see and we lifted it up to sit on the patio walls. I had to add some supports  to the frame where it overhangs the patio deck by using two lengths of plastic pipe secured using ‘Jubilee clips’.  When it is time we shall be putting the plastic covering over it to protect the plants in the raised bed from severe wind and frost during the colder months.

Before the cover goes on I shall be fitting some eye bolts on the walls to secure it using the tie ropes supplied.  Its actual purpose is a growing tunnel but it will be equally as good in the use we make of it.

Shirley Anne

Better ideas

Do you find yourself discovering a way to do something but later on find out there might have been a better way to do it? During my experiences in the electrical industry that was often the case for me. I have to say though after years of working in the industry the better way to do things came naturally, well for most of the time. Last winter we had some really nasty weather for a couple of weeks and some of the garden plants suffered as a result. I was therefore determined to find a better solution or an easier way of implementing the precautions I had taken at that time. The plants which suffered were those where the protection I had provided had come adrift. During the year I have been giving much consideration in regards to finding that easier solution. I had fixed some anchoring points by which to secure the protection around the two small beds on the patio but they were the easy ones to protect. One is shown below and the plant at risk from frost damage is the fan palm.

The longer of the three beds shown below is the one most difficult to protect as wrapping the two fan palms isn’t as easy at it sounds especially if the older leaves are to be protected from wind damage too.

I had purchased some bubble wrap and bamboo canes earlier this year and was going to use them to construct a makeshift frame to cover the whole bed but having given that idea much thought since then I think I have come up with a better idea, I decided to purchase a walk-in ‘tunnel’ to place over the top of the bed. Designed for use as an alternative to a greenhouse for growing certain plants under cover the tunnel would be the ideal solution and probably much sturdier. As the one I have purchased is two metres in width it will overhang the bed on the inside and make access to the bed possible if required. Of course it will need support beneath the overhang and some fixing points with which to tie it down. 

As far as the bubble wrap and canes are concerned they will still be used in the bed adjacent to the patio as planned.

Shirley Anne

A little fib

In yesterday’s post when writing about the work I did on the utility room project I mentioned that I would paint the floor today, Saturday the 20 th. I must confess to that being a little fib though at the time I wrote it was true. What happened was late in the afternoon I called next door to give my neighbour a loaf of bread as she had asked if we had some. My neighbour is house-bound because of her condition and her son was away at work. We chatted about things and she was asking if I had been busy so I told her about the project. An hour later I began to think about the painting of the floor, well that part on which I would be working the next day. The painting takes minutes, the drying takes a few hours but the fumes linger for a very long time especially as there is little or no ventilation down in that room. If I were to paint it on Saturday I wouldn’t be able to do anything else that day and I wanted to get on with the work. With that in mind I painted the floor on my return home.

  

Having done that I was able to continue the next day and install the third cabinet and also move the old freezer.

I then moved the other smaller freezer to the spot where the old one had stood, though it will be moved away from the wall whilst I paint the wall and floor there. That left the rest of the floor clear and ready to be worked on later. Before I did all that work and also paint the floor the previous afternoon I lifted up the remaining pieces of carpet, cut them into smaller pieces so I could dispose of them in the wheelie bin. The carpet had been fine whilst lying on the floor but the rubber backing had deteriorated over the years and was left on the floor as the carpet was lifted, 

I finished the work for that day by 1 o’clock and rested but during the afternoon I noticed that the membrane I had laid in the lawn feature had a couple of holes in it. It could only be the squirrels whom we’ve seen on the lawn at times digging little holes either to bury food or to dig for worms! I decided to cover over the area with a robust plastic netting until we finally get delivery of the pebbles (see recent posts).

    

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

Little by little

Following on from yesterday’s post where I had gotten outside at five am to remove the remaining turf from the new plot I rested a short while before driving to the supermarket for the weekly shopping. On my return E rose from her slumber and came downstairs for breakfast by which time I had packed all the food away. I sat with her and ate something myself as my breakfast had been almost six hours earlier. We are like ships passing in the night, she likes to stay up late and rise late whereas I like to retire early and rise early. Anyway an hour after eating I returned to the garden project and E came outside to help decide which of the plants went where. She returned indoors to her workshop and I planted the shrubs….    

There are only five but that is because they grow outward as well as upward and much of the space will eventually be covered. The two on the right at the back (or nearest the path on the right) grow to a height of around two and a half to three metres with a two metres spread unless they are pruned of course. The two on the left either side of the dwarf conifer grow to around a metre and a half with a similar spread. The conifer mainly grows upward with only a little spread. As there is only around 250 mm of topsoil before the sand beneath is reached I had to dig wide and deep to remove some of the sand before refilling the hole with about a metre of soil and compost for each of the plants. That was stage four completed. There will be more to follow before it is completed.

Shirley Anne

Sometimes

Sometimes you’ve got to go with the flow. Last night, well early evening, I went to bed very tired after the work I had done during the day. Mainly it was my upper arms and neck which ached the most through removing the grass and then the soil from it. Despite the fact that I was tired I found it difficult to get to sleep. This usually happens when I dwell on things and fill my thoughts with the problems I am faced with doing projects or any work at home. I lie there thinking about how I will tackle the work the next day. It was Thursday and I was up around two having finally gotten the sleep I needed. Around five o’clock I decided to take the bull by the horns and dig out the remaining grass from the new garden feature. The garden lighting would be enough to work under.

The picture was taken a couple of hours later as it was still dark when I had completed the work at six o’clock.  The two wheelie bins were full, though not all of grass so I couldn’t dispose of any more. I decided to place the new sods in one of the builders bags we have and put it under cover in the passageway behind the second garage. This would allow the soil to dry making it easier to remove at a later date. Doing it later would allow me to get on with the project. As it was Thursday I would be doing the weekly shopping but afterward the whole day was at my disposal. Maybe I could do some planting? Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow.

Shirley Anne

Walk and work

Today (26 th) I got up early and went for my usual walk this time leaving the house at three-fifteen. It was a reasonably warm morning with a gentle breeze from the south-west. Unless rain bearing clouds and high winds come from that direction we can almost guarantee fine warm weather. The only activity I saw at that hour were one or two taxis dashing about at breakneck speed as if the drivers had only minutes to live! They get away with it because there are few police patrols and they know all the short-cuts. Why do people feel the need for speed? Perhaps I am getting too old, well I know I am but with age comes wisdom (for most of us). Don’t misunderstand me, I once drove like an idiot too occasionally! When I returned home I was feeling neither too warm nor too cold, just about perfect conditions for me. Later at sunrise I began to work on the lawn project once more. During the day I spent a total of six hours on and off doing the work but there was still a lot more left to do when I decided to stop for the day. 

Notice the change in the picture colour. I can only put that down to the time of day and the conditions The first one was taken when it was cloudy and the second when the sky was blue. Anyway I began the work at six-fifty and was pestered by mosquitoes for the first two hours. I think it was the lack of wind allowing them to hover about me. Later the breeze picked up and I had no further problems with them. I don’t think the English variety bite but they are still a pest. I am not sure but I think they are attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale and perhaps the smell of newly dug soil doesn’t help. Perhaps I should wear a net over my head! Once the grass is taken away the shrubs can be planted followed later by the membrane and the finishing touches.

Shirley Anne

Moving along

No walk for me this morning as I went yesterday. It is the 25 th and the first thing I did when I arrived downstairs at three o’clock was to prepare and bake an apple pie using the left-over pastry to make a small blueberry- filled pasty. Who makes pastry and bakes pies at three in the morning? It is great being retired as I can please myself what to do and when to do it, a luxury I couldn’t enjoy when working. anyway the result was this..

I think they are an improvement on the first ones I made the other day and the apple pie is larger too. This time I rolled the pastry a little thinner and coated the top with milk before adding a sprinkling of sugar. If you remember I hadn’t baked a pie before, that is one covered in pastry. I tended to make crumble instead. After the baking I ate breakfast but I really wanted to get into the garden to do a little work. I had to wait a couple of hours before that could happen of course unless I was to work in the moonlight! When I did get out there all I did was to scrub the cobbles with a stiff brush and water. I wasn’t able to remove all of the cement from the tops of the cobbles but I would be tackling that job again later on. Rubbing a piece of stone or brick over them will clean off the cement but it will be a down on my hands and knees job. When E came down for breakfast I suggested we might go to the garden centre to purchase the plants we would be putting inside the new plot and whilst I was waiting for her to finish her breakfast and get ready I decided to mow the lawn then off we went to purchase the plants.

There are five of them and they are standing on the path immediately in front of the small greenhouse and behind the main flowerbed there. They would have to stay there until I was ready to plant them. After a little something for lunch I went out again into the garden for an hour or so and began digging out the grass inside the new plot..

It isn’t much to look at but the main work was in removing the soil from the sods and dumping it in the flowerbeds. We are not allowed to dump soil in the green waste wheelie bins so the soil must be removed beforehand. Even when the grass is fully removed the remaining soil level needs to be dropped a little too. At least the work is moving along in the right direction!

Shirley Anne