A nice day for pottering

I could make any day a nice day in which to potter about but usually I have something bigger to do or something more important. That’s not to say that pottering about is less important for I believe pottering about is beneficial to our well-being. We can wander about aimlessly without being under pressure and find so many little things to do which ought to be done but get left behind in the great scheme of things we call our lives. It is in the execution of these small tasks that we often find the greatest pleasure. Monday was the beginning of yet another week though for me that has begun more and more to be of less significance as each day is taken the same. I often forget which day it is I have to say. I have been taking a break from heavy work, from projects, from anything inside the house lately and have concentrated mainly on working (and pottering) in the gardens. If you’d have asked me five years ago what I like about gardening I would have told you I hate gardening. How times and attitudes have changed for me, now I enjoy the work no matter what that work might be. I treat gardening as a never-ending project and work at it in the same way as with any other project I undertake though those projects obviously do end. At the beginning of this week I have nothing set in mind to do so I suppose I will be pottering about a lot. This morning (4 th) I emptied out one of the two industrial bags which are filled with the sand I removed during the construction of the pit in the cellar a couple of months ago. 

It occupied the area where you can now see a dark wet space right of centre in the picture above. It was the same sized bag as the white one top centre  which is still full of sand. That one will most probably remain there for some time because it is out-of-the-way where it is.. The emptied sand was put into smaller plastic bags and is now stored in the garage to the right out of the picture. The area in the picture is that which is first seen when exiting the cellar into the rear garden. During the Autumn leaves accumulate  mostly on the right in the picture so I have been endeavouring to keep it as tidy as possible to make sweeping the leaves up easier to do as well as making it less of an eyesore. I took the following pictures on the day of things around the garden.The apples beginning to grow,

Under the apples trees,

Under the little oak tree,

Behind the apple trees the potatoes and rhubarb (of which some has already ended up in a rhubarb crumble),

and finally some of the baby beetroot plants we put into this raised bed and elsewhere

The beetroot are those without the flowers in case you were wondering!

Shirley Anne



Lovely and not nice

For some apparent reason soon after I arrived downstairs for my breakfast on Wednesday morning I began to feel chest pains. Now immediately you might be thinking, heart attack, angina or some other debilitating symptom but I am glad to report it was none of those things. The pain was over my right breast, on the surface, that is it was emanating from my muscles there. They were sharp and intermittent, one minute all was well and the next it wasn’t. After a while the pain moved to the centre of my chest as if it were indigestion. I was tired too because I didn’t get to sleep until after two o’clock and even then it was restless. Anyhow I realised the pains were due to a digestion problem of one sort or another and typical of a reaction to certain foods or even trapped air. I had eaten a breakfast consisting of mainly fruit however so that might have triggered a reaction though I don’t usually suffer eating fruit. A toilet visit helped and I deliberately skipped lunch except for a warm glass of milk sweetened with honey. Gradually over the day things improved and by evening I was as right as rain as they say. That was the not so nice part of my day. As I hadn’t been feeling too well I did no work but spent the day relaxing. I was looking out of the kitchen window admiring the flowers on some of the shrubs we have planted so I went outside and took a couple of photographs. I had already taken some a few days earlier too. This was the lovely part of the day, being able to see some of the new shrubs flowering for the first time since planting…

Because the shrubs are infants I didn’t expect too many flowers and especially with the ones only planted in the Autumn last year. I am hoping there will be far more as the shrubs grow larger. I was happy to see the results of all my hard work over the last eight months.

Shirley Anne

Another week

Shirley Anne 46For someone who is supposed to be semi-retired I have been very busy with my electrical work during the week gone by. It is now Monday and I am wondering what the new week has in store for me regarding electrical work. Most of the jobs I do these days are small though occasionally I will get several ‘small’ jobs to do at the same address! This happened twice last week. I get tired if I do too much especially when the weather is warm as it has been for some time now. The heat drains my energy and that is why I prefer cooler weather if I am working. Our little decorating project in the top room came to a grinding halt more than a week ago because the weather has been too nice to remain indoors. There is little to do up there anyway, a couple of hours painting over a couple of days and some other small jobs to do will see it finished as far as our involvement goes. Once the carpet has been fitted there will be nothing left to do. The weather can’t remain fine and sunny forever can it? On the days I haven’t been working away from home E and I have been busy in the gardens, mostly removing plants or planting new ones (see previous posts). On Thursday afternoon whilst E was out shopping I removed two plants from one of the two smaller flowerbeds I had constructed on the patio last Autumn. We had purchased what we thought would be small and slow-growing plants when we first populated the beds. Some of the plants are Cyclamens which don’t grow fast or large as well as another variety which likewise remains small but one other variety does. I don’t know its name. The plant in the picture below is of course a Cyclamen.

Embed from Getty Images

We weren’t aware of this when we purchased them but this season two of them grew so large they were blocking out the other plants. This only happened in one of the flowerbeds for in the other bed these particular plants did not survive and did not grow at all. I removed the two plants to a position beneath the apple trees near to the greenhouses further along in the same bed as the new Dahlias and Scented Lily we had planted a week or so ago. They survived the move as they had fully developed root balls which were not disturbed during the process. The thing about gardening is that there is always something to do all year round but especially in the growing seasons. In the unlikely event I don’t get any electrical work whatsoever you can be sure I will find work in the gardens and if it is raining I will be working indoors, if I am up to it!

Shirley Anne

Don’t leave it

The once well-kept lawn and the borders filled with an array of shrubs and flowers of different colours have all but disappeared. A wood lives there now and has crowded out the gardener’s hard work. The garden is no longer recognizable, its former glory and beauty is a thing of the past. Weeds grow everywhere beneath the thickets and young trees have taken their opportunistic places and even threaten themselves through overcrowding. Over the last few days E and I have pulled out many of these things (shown in the picture) from the lawn and borders…Sycamore seedlings Yes, they are Sycamore seedlings and there have been lots of them. I must have plucked eighty or more and I know E has plucked a similar amount. It is an annual thing which must be done else the garden will end up in a similar way to the scenario described above. It doesn’t take Nature long to revert to its wild state does it? The motto is, don’t leave it! It is something we have to live with unfortunately if we have gardens surrounded or even part-filled with trees. We are in that situation, in fact we have a sycamore tree standing in our own garden. That tree however tends to shed most of its seeds in a neighbour’s garden because it stands against the eastern wall of the garden. The prevailing wind direction, especially in Autumn is from the west. The real culprits are the trees in another neighbour’s garden on the north side of our garden. Their seeds tend to fall into our garden as well as the garden in which they stand. I personally love trees but they can be a problem. Mowing the lawn frequently in Spring helps to keep things in check but during the intermittent periods we must keep a lookout for the dreaded seedlings. They can be difficult to recognize as the young leaves look nothing like the mature onesSycamore leaves. Compare the pictures. If you have a garden and want to keep it neat and tidy it takes work. A garden is a living and growing environment which needs constant maintenance to keep it the way you want it else it will gladly tend to do its own thing if left unattended too long. I think it is worth the effort though and besides which it is good exercise!

Shirley Anne

All wrapped up.

English: Even horses need coats Three small ho...
Even horses need coats Three small horses stay wrapped-up warm against the winter chill near Crask. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We cannot say that we have had it bad during the Summer, the weather has for the most part been warm and sunny. It has been unusually warm and sometimes sunny during the last couple of months too, exceptionally so for November. We have been experiencing overnight temperatures exceeding those we would normally expect during the day at this time of year but slowly all that is changing. Most noticeably the wind has been getting stronger making it feel colder than it actually is but it is getting colder in any case. I suppose we can expect it to really feel like it is mid to late Autumn in the days to come. It is time to think about pruning the deciduous trees and shrubs that need pruning back and to prepare those plants more susceptible to the cold for protection if needs be. With that in mind E and I spent a few minutes wrapping three of the Phoenix Canariensis trees with sheets of bubble-wrap plastic and tieing them up so that only their tops are exposed. It isn’t for the low temperatures that we will get during the next few months but for the cold winds. These particular plants can withstand temperatures as low as minus seven degree celsius but the cold winds burn their leaves. It is the wind that we are protecting against. I have noticed I am having to wrap up more whenever I am out of the house or going to work. I am beginning to see the need to have the heating on in my van. The house heating has been switched on for a few weeks. It is Autumn and although it is my favourite time of year, it sure can get cold, wet and windy! Soon it will be Winter and Christmas time and before we know it the next year will be upon us. It is a time for preparation and readiness whilst we are still able and to wrap up those plants which need a winter overcoat so we can enjoy them during the warmer months. Despite it being so cool and windy we still have flowering plants in the garden, in fact some of them only burst into flower in Autumn. Others actually prefer it being wet and cool. Most of the leaves have fallen from the trees and not before time as I have spent quite some time sweeping them up. Each day there have been fresh heaps of them to move but finally there are now almost none. Some apples remain on the branches but I have fitted a net beneath those branches which are above the concrete path to catch them when they fall. There is still plenty to do out in the garden but I will be well wrapped up for it.

Shirley Anne

And finally….

The majority of my latest posts have been about my patio and the construction of a flowerbed upon it. There are two more smaller beds to construct but for the meantime the work has finally come to an end but watch this space! On Saturday I spent the whole day at rest except for one small task. E had gone out for a couple of hours before lunch, her lunch that is for I couldn’t wait for her return to eat my own lunch not knowing when she would return. She returned sometime after two o’clock and after a snack drove me out of town to a garden centre in order to purchase some plants. She has a discount card for use in this particular centre so whatever we bought would be at a discount. As events turned out we managed to buy nineteen plants for around £53. There are other garden centres closer to home but I suppose the plants would have been more expensive. We weren’t away from home very long and on our return we immediately put them in the new flowerbed and here they are…….Patio Flowerbed 13Patio Flowerbed 1269

As the plants are perennial we expect to see them flowering for some time. The taller plants, those with long pointing leaves flower earlier in the year and have pink flowers when they do.

It was only just a little more than a week prior that the area looked as shown in the last picture. Those with keen eyesight may notice the plant pots in which the Phoenix Canariensis were growing are now standing on the left in front of the smaller greenhouse as seen in the middle picture. They were originally open at both ends and a couple of years ago I placed them on a sheet of plywood, placed a piece of plastic tube in the centre then filled to 3cms with concrete. Result….two earthenware plant pots with drain holes in them! They are still usable of course but we have so many plant pots now we could open a shop selling them!

Shirley Anne




A quick meal

English: This is a roll of Gaffer tape. It was...
This is a roll of Gaffer tape.

I had a little electrical job to do on Thursday morning and I arose early so that I could be there early too. I knew the weather was going to change by evening time and we were to expect heavy rain throughout the night and on into the middle of Friday. I have to say the weather over the last couple of days has been tiring for me. I don’t like it when it is too warm for it drains the energy from me. The rain would be bringing a fresher climate, one that I much prefer. Nevertheless I watered the rear garden plants, those which would otherwise suffer without a watering, those newly planted. Their roots have not yet spread deep enough to where water should be present so I have been keeping the ground moist while there has been no rain. Similarly I watered a few plants in the front garden too for the same reason. Established plants are more resilient to dry spells but even they get a soaking if it hasn’t rained for a time. After breakfast I had enough time to read my emails and write to a friend before driving off to work. It was a simple job but then I only do small electrical jobs these days. I had to fit a few new light switches and power outlets as the old ones had been removed by the decorator working at the house. He had also used gaffer tape to wrap the bare conductors but I couldn’t see the reason for that. He should have used proper insulating tape of course but most folk don’t understand and think any tape will give adequate protection.  Not that it mattered in this instance for

Electrical tape
Electrical tape (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the conductors were not separated so in the event that someone should reinstate the supply there would be a short-circuit. Secondly gaffer tape is not insulation tape and finally it was most difficult to remove. Maybe I should have got the decorator to remove it himself. I had been at the house back in March carrying out similar work. It appears the owner is having the house redecorated room by room as slowly as possible it seems! One of the power outlets was in a very awkward place beneath a new piece of fitted furniture without regard to accessibility. It was the very devil of a job trying to fit the new outlet I can tell you. Why oh why don’t people think things out before proceeding with a project? I had one ceiling light to fit but the bracket that attaches it to the ceiling had not been removed prior to the ceiling being skimmed with new plaster. Yes, it was now beneath the surface and had to be removed causing some damage in the process. It drives me mad that I have to correct other people’s mistakes before I can do the work I was asked to do. Soon I had it all done however and drove homeward, stopping along the way to carry out a little job for an old lady who had earlier phoned asking if I could disconnect her meter! She really meant that I should disconnect an off-peak fuseboard from the meter which was going to be replaced with a ‘smart’ meter. The off-peak circuits were no longer wanted. Why the engineer doing that couldn’t disconnect the fuseboard is beyond logic but I hear this attitude often, nobody wants to do anything beyond their strict obligations. I had it done in a couple of minutes then drove home. It was eleven-thirty so I parked my van and walked to the pub for a quick meal and it was quick, as soon as I had eaten it I left and walked back home. There was no point in staying at the pub once I had finished for there was no-one there to speak with, a now regular thing in my life unfortunately. I spent the afternoon alone at home once again. I needed the rest, I needed to relax for I wasn’t feeling at my best. I should by now be taking things more slowly but I am always on edge, always ready for something to do.

Shirley Anne

’twas on a Wednesday morning

How do you like Wednesday?
How do you like Wednesday? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

..That I beheld my darling…

Yeah I wish! Actually I don’t wish but to continue….The title just popped into my head and you might say well dear, there’s plenty of room for it! I jest of course, honestly. As is my usual want whenever I have no work scheduled I tend to look for things to do at home and if it is dry outdoors then I look for thing to do outside. The weather has been favourably dry and warm for a change though by the time you are reading this it may be pouring down with rain as promised. Anyway for some years now we have had a copper-coloured (leaves) tree in a small plant pot on one side of the patio which has been in the shade during the afternoon, only getting sunshine during the mornings. The tree is supposed to grow to a height of around 10 feet (3 metres) but is only about 18 inches (half a metre) in height. There was a suitable spot in the border on the right of the patio against the wall but it was taken up by a small plant and there was a suitable spot to move that small plant just a half-metre away. I decided therefore to move the small plant and put the tree in the space left. Hopefully now it will have the freedom to grow to a normal height. Naturally I have placed fertilizer beneath it to aid with its establishment. I had also been pondering what to do in the new mound in which I had planted some shrubs beneath the existing tall trees there. There was too much exposed soil between the plants. A month or two ago I had placed some natural stone slabs in the mound, and we have plenty of those from digging out the old mound last summer. I placed another five slabs in there on Wednesday morning too so the mound looks more natural than it did before. I think natural stone slabs and rocks strategically placed make all the difference, especially once the plants are established. After all that work I watered the garden and returned indoors for a coffee but not for long, I was out again this time only to get a few screwdrivers from the toolbox in my van which needed grinding and set about grinding their tips. We have had a grinding machine in the cellar for years along with a metal heavy-duty vice. They have become so valuable over the years for doing things at home. They both sit on the large work bench we constructed not long after we had moved into the house in 1988. By the time I had everything done that I wished to get done it was still only 9 o’clock! Then I got a call to an electrical job just a few hundred metres from home and all on a Wednesday morning.

Shirley Anne