On Saturday/Sunday here in the UK we reverted back to GMT by turning the clocks back an hour. It means we gain an hour’s extra light, such as it is, in the mornings and lose an hour at night. Nothing of course is lost, the whole process is simply a management exercise. In a few week’s time it will make little difference as the mornings and evenings will get darker anyway. Years ago it was suggested we operate this light-saving exercise twice in the year but it was decided against. I cannot see the point in the system to be truthful. If daylight is so important to certain businesses, such as farming perhaps then why not start work earlier and finish earlier too? That suggestion would stir up many a heated debate I’m sure. So it is that time of year, mid-Autumn, when lifestyle patterns begin to change as we once more have to cope with colder weather and miserable wet days. We should all be used to that by now anyway. I was out in the garden adding the final bucketful of collected stones into the west wall flowerbed and decided to hand-pick the fallen sycamore seeds from the lawn. At a rough guess I figure there were about two to three hundred I managed to remove but no doubt I will have missed a few. I like sycamore trees but not their seeds! Some will have fallen on the soil in the flowerbeds but not all will take root and grow. Those that do are easily spotted in Springtime and can be plucked out. The gardens, especially the rear garden looks a little barren in places where the trees have lost their leaves but there are so many evergreen trees and shrubs, most of which I have planted, which keep it looking alive. The lawn is at this moment lush but is still full of moss in many areas. I had treated the lawn a few weeks ago which killed off the weeds and clover and to some extent the moss too but more needs to be done in that respect. The lawn itself could do with one final cut if it is possible but wet days and heavy dew make that difficult. Perhaps we will get a dry spell to allow it to happen. The weather has been remarkably warm of late which only encourages the grass to continue growing so we need drier and colder days for a time. Some plants thrive in the Autumn and we have a few of those in the garden producing flowers and keeping it looking bright. Once upon a time there was nothing much to look at in the rear garden when looking out of the windows, now I could spend hours admiring the view, even if it is Autumn or any time of the year.
Having gone to bed rather late on Wednesday (27) evening meant I didn’t arise too early on Thursday. I had remained up until E returned from her visit to the hospital to see her mom who had been taken ill late in the afternoon. It turned out that her mom had to stay in hospital overnight for further tests and according to E was feeling a little better before E left for home. It was approaching midnight by the time she returned. She too slept in late and didn’t come down for breakfast until after ten-thirty, I had finished mine an hour earlier. I wanted to go for a walk but waited until she was up and about before doing so. The weather forecast was good, dry, warm and sunny for the whole day. That is how it turned out, in fact I was feeling a little too warm in my coat and thought I might have been better not wearing it until I got to the sea front where it felt a bit cooler. Had I gone out earlier it would have been much cooler. Once the sun was up it was just like another Summer’s day even though it was now Autumn and almost October. By the time I had returned home two hours later I really needed to remove my coat I was so hot! The gates on the drive to the garage in which E parks her car were open. She had gone out, in fact I learned she had gone to the hospital as I had expected and would follow on and do the weekly shopping later if all went to plan. I ate lunch then spent a couple of hours on the patio in the heat of the Autumn sun. Tomorrow’s forecast was for plenty of rain. The lawn was getting covered with fallen leaves again after we had swept it the afternoon before………now I knew it was Autumn.
PS. To E’s relief her mom was back home by evening after being discharged from the hospital.
It is still mid-September as I write this and I can say with much confidence that Summer is just about over. Over the last few days the temperature has dropped, the rain has fallen – is falling and the wind is high, more like Autumn. I could moan about Autumn’s approach but in fact the season is my favourite. All the outdoor work that still needs doing is best done without the hot sun bearing down on me but unfortunately most of the time the wind and rain bring everything to a halt. I had been working inside the garage yesterday (I write this on Tuesday 12) fixing the two brackets on which to store a couple of ladders and noticed the rain had been seeping in near the entrance, in the corner in fact. The problem was due to the joint between the garden wall and the garage wall having a crack in it because the mortar had shrunk. It would be a simple thing to rectify but the weather forecast predicted persistent rain for several days. There was just the possibility of a dry spell first thing on Tuesday morning and I took the opportunity to do the work then. I had it done in thirty minutes. It was ten o’clock with patchy cloud and a little sunshine. It improved until by one o’clock it was almost all sunshine. It didn’t last though as predicted and by later afternoon it became overcast. Rain soon followed and it was noticeably cooler. By that time the new mortar had dried enough to stand a little rain. It looked as though there would be little chance of doing anything more outdoors for a few days. When operating the garage door to access tools and such the door jammed a couple of times and it needed releasing. It is just as well that a new door system is to be installed shortly as the old one is getting worse for wear. At eleven o’clock I went for a walk, this time along the beach a couple of miles and returning the same way. I had to call into the pub on my way back to use the toilet! I was told by the manager that I looked a little windswept. When I looked in the mirror I could see why. Although my hair looked a little messy my cheeks were nice and rosy….a picture of health.
Sunlight and Shadow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So there I was gazing out of the kitchen window again looking at a bright blue sky backdrop with sunshine lighting part of the rear garden. The whole sky was blue, no clouds anywhere on this first day of the year. Not all of the garden was in sunshine though because the sun was low in the sky. The house casts its shadow over a wide area as it does at this time in the year. I watched for a while as the long shadow of the garage slowly progressed along the side wall of the garden. The sunlit part of the wall above it gradually grew larger until finally the rear wall was in sunlight until it reached the shadow of the house. A blackbird perched there for quite some time in the warming rays. That window of sunlight moved toward the right at the same time the sun began to set until all was in the shade once more. Since September I had been watching the progress of Sun as it approached December and the Winter Solstice and the shadows it cast growing longer day by day. After the Solstice those shadows are now beginning to shorten in length and every day more and more of the garden is getting the sunshine upon it. It will be June before the shadows are at their shortest and the whole garden will be in sunlight at some stage in the day. Sunday was a beautiful day though a little chilly too as we entered a period of wind direction from the north for a few days. I stayed at home all day and although I was tempted to do some gardening I decided against it. I need to dig out some plants before they get too large and difficult to remove but there’s still plenty of time for that. For now I am happy just gazing out of the window until the urge to do something takes over.
Door furniture, old and new The hinge and lock say craftsman, the padlock, B&Q. Detail on the old door in a church outbuilding. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What a lovely day Sunday was, warm, dry and sunny practically all day long. There was only the slightest of a breeze, more a zephyr most of the time. I spent quite a few hours outside enjoying it. The only part of the garden that was damp was the grass and that only because of dew. The artificial grass on the patio was naturally also damp too. Almost two weeks ago saw the Equinox marking the beginning of Autumn but Autumn proper seemed far off on Sunday. It felt more like Summer. The week ahead looked promising too but I knew at this time of year it can suddenly turned wet, windy and cold. I still had some work to do outdoors if the weather could remain dry for me to do it. I had three small areas around the paving slabs I had laid on the Plot which needed filling in with a fine concrete mix and perhaps do some cosmetic work around the base of the new lamp-post using natural stones. There was also one other job I might be able to do sometime during the week but that would need the tower erecting at the front of the building. I had hinted at the possibility of doing this unusual job many months ago but didn’t get around to doing it. On Friday I had paid a visit to a local establishment which services and sells lawnmowers. It is noted for the lawnmower museum they have there ( http://www.lawnmowerworld.co.uk/gallery.php?location=0 ) but apart from their lawnmower business they are also master locksmiths. Part of their shop is dedicated to that trade and they sell all kinds of things to do with locks and door furniture. They also program vehicle keys and lock systems which is why I was there. Recently I’d had a replacement control unit fitted around the steering column of my van and later it was discovered that the key no longer controlled the automatic door locking system though it still works manually. Neither the auto electrician nor the locksmith could resolve the problem which still exists. I can live with operating it manually and I will leave it that way unless I come across a solution. Anyway whilst at the store waiting to see if the locksmith could set things right I noticed that they also sold natural stone (slate) plaques with signage. I made inquiries regarding cost to have one made to size for my needs. It would cost £150 I was told so I agreed to have one made. They told me it would be ready to collect a couple of days hence, perhaps Monday. Now I know you will be wondering what the plaque was for and what was to be written on it. It will read…’Hassle Castle…..1877′ and it is to be fixed to the wall at the front of the house at high level. The house was built in 1877. I mentioned the purchase to my neighbour who thinks the idea highly amusing but liked it. I think the same. I may be able to attach a picture before this is scheduled to be posted but if not I will post one later.
Over a week ago we passed the half-way point in the year, the Summer Solstice also called midsummer’s day on or around 21/22 June. It is a bit of a misnomer to call it Mid-Summer for as far as the weather is concerned the height of summer happens during the following two months. The term really applies to mark that position in the Earth’s orbit when due to its tilt the northern hemisphere is pointing more toward the Sun than at any other time in the year. It is around this same time (July) when the Earth is actually at its farthest from the Sun. The difference between the Aphelion (farthest) and Perihelion (closest) is about 3.1 million miles or 5 million Km but being that extra distance from the Sun has little effect on climatic conditions. Our weather is more dependent on events here on the planet, wind, closeness to seas and oceans or dry land, mountains and so on. It all depends where we live what sort of weather we have but it doesn’t stop people moaning about it nevertheless. At the moment (of writing) my local weather happens to be dull and overcast with a chance of rain in the offing but it is still mild and maybe a little cooler than of late. This is one of the reasons I like summer….
It is the proliferation of insect pests I find difficult to cope with at times. That is why I prefer the cooler months. I have been taking things easy these last couple of days both by choice and the fact that I haven’t been as well as I might. As it is summer I get less offers of work than at other times so I haven’t been too busy with electrical jobs though I have had some. It has been fortunate therefore that I have had something to do at home instead. There is always something to do at home isn’t there? I need to make the most of the warmer seasons though, it will be winter soon enough, it isn’t all that far away!
When I woke up on Sunday morning it was very bright and sunny and the forecast was that it would be warm and sunny all day. However forecasts are never always that accurate are they? Soon after breakfast it became overcast and dull though during the day it did get brighter. The day turned out not too bad but I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t as nice as I had expected. Sundays are my days of rest and at this time of year I like to be outdoors to enjoy them if I can, especially after my week’s work and domestic projects. I have been observing the changes in the garden as the trees begin to bud and the various flowers come into bloom as their time comes, snowdrops, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips each in turn becoming alive once more. Spring is a lovely time of year to be sure. I took this photo through an upstairs window so that the creamy-white blossom on the plum trees would have a darker background to make them easier to see….
Does this mean we are going to have a bumper crop again this year? Well only if the blossoms are pollinated. That shouldn’t be a problem as there are plenty of flying insects about capable of doing the job and those pesky few pigeons who seem to enjoy nibbling at them are kept at bay! We chase them off whenever we see them doing that. We mustn’t forget the wind plays a part too and we’ve had our fair share of that recently. Thankfully the wind was light on Sunday which made sitting out on the patio a little more pleasant. It will be lawn mower time again soon. I mowed the lawn a week or so ago for the first time this year but at this time of year it grows quickly. It will probably need its second cut by the end of this week and it will get it as long as the rain keeps away. Nah, I actually did it after writing this!
IntiRaimi, the festival of winter solstice and the beginning of the year (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bad weather kept me inside the house over the weekend though as I write this on Sunday afternoon I am not certain the bad weather will improve much for the coming week ahead. If I have to go out I will do so however. I woke up late this morning and consequently missed breakfast but it was too early for lunch so I waited an hour or so before eating. I guess I was more tired than I had thought after working in the kitchen over the previous two days. I have just finished eating my meal and am in the lounge now watching the end of the movie I had begun to watch whilst eating it. I can multi-task, writing this at the same time. Whilst I was preparing the meal I was looking out of the window but could see almost nothing because of the driving rain and sleet. A strong wind was blowing and it looked as if the rain was blowing horizontal to the ground. Not a nice day for a walk! For a very short time whilst sitting here in the front lounge the sun appeared in the sky but was soon gone hidden again behind the dense cloud cover. I noticed the sunlight shining on the wall opposite and it was reaching more than half-way up toward the ceiling. It can only do that if it is shining directly into the room from low down in the sky and it reminded me that we are more than two-thirds of the way through Autumn. In three weeks time it will be the solstice which marks the beginning of Winter and of course the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight hours. The days will again begin to lengthen and as they do the sunshine on the wall will reach lower up it each day that passes. For the time being it has a little further to travel up the wall before it reaches its highest point but it won’t be long before it no longer shines on the wall and we will be able to look forward to longer and warmer days ahead.
Fog on the Humber The Humber foreshore as seen from the old Coastguard Station on a damp and foggy day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is certainly the season of mists (and mellow fruitfulness…) and lately we have been experiencing misty and foggy mornings. The humidity is high, very high because of that but it isn’t warm with it so it feels cold and damp. We can cope with such things with no problems at all, if we are moving about on foot that is. If we need to travel it becomes a problem if it is too foggy for we cannot move about so safely unless we move very slowly. Each year though we hear of accidents and collisions on our roads because of the fog. The fog is blamed when it is ourselves who should take the blame. If we didn’t rush about in the fog there would be no accidents or collisions. Fog does slow us down despite whatever we do. In foggy conditions travelling by air can still be a problem for it can be very dangerous taking off and landing in fog. Train services are less prone though signals still have to be seen. I like the fog though but only if I am not travelling. I like to see it in woodland, filling the spaces between the trees and the remaining leaves on them. Usually when it is foggy there is little or no wind at all and that has got to be a good thing in my book for I am not a lover of the wind. I have been going for short walks in the morning whilst it has been a little foggy and damp but I am wrapped up to meet the conditions. It is nice kicking through the fallen leaves but they are becoming soft as they rot on the ground and this is where moving about becomes more dangerous. The oils in the leaves leach out onto the roads and pathways causing them to become slippery under foot and tyre. If we take care the fog presents no problems at all so do that and enjoy the Autumn.
Rain clouds Looking out to sea at the rain cloud that had just soaked me on a winter sunday walk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If we are to have much more sunshine and warm days it doesn’t look like it is on the menu for the next three or four days as I write this on Saturday afternoon. The sun has been shining this afternoon but there has been lots of cloud cover too. It rained mostly during the morning but the rain is supposed to be returning by nightfall. Sunday looks a little better but thereafter more rain is forecast right up to and including Wednesday. Soon I will need a dry day so that the lawn can be mowed, it doesn’t need it just yet fortunately but it is a case of doing it when I can. I might do it tomorrow, Sunday if it is to be as dry as they say it will be. I made the short trip into the village in the morning in order to deposit some money in the bank but I didn’t linger and walked back home as soon as I left the bank. Although I had an umbrella with me and although it was raining very lightly I didn’t bother opening it but by the time I had reached a hundred metres from home the rain became much heavier. Part of the last few metres I had tree cover so wasn’t bothered too much until I got to the gate when I had to make a dash for the front door. Another few seconds later and I’d have been soaked through! After a late lunch I spent an hour or so out on the patio. It was warm, a little humid and sunny and I sat there watching the numerous bees making their daily trips to a large flowering plant we have in the border close-by. I don’t know the name of the plant but there are several tall pale green stems which I would describe as being lime green, green mixed with white but toward the tops the minute leaves fade into a deep purple colour which are the flowering part of the plant. There isn’t much strength in the plant’s stems and it tends to bend over unless there is some sort of support provided. We have some bamboo canes to help in that support. For quite a number of weeks now the bees have been visiting the plant to collect nectar. There are other flowering plants nearby and some are even growing intermingled with it, Mombrecia being one of them but the bees seem to prefer the purple flowers. The ants are still busy and as soon as the sun comes out so do they. Soon it will be Autumn, four weeks away isn’t a long time is it?
Revolving earth at winter solstice on the northern hemisphere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today marks the time of the Summer Solstice, the point in the Earth’s annual orbit around the Sun when we in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet experience the longest daylight hours in the day. Naturally those living in the Southern Hemisphere will be experiencing their shortest number of daylight hours in the day. After today we begin once again to drift back to Winter and for those in the south, Summer. We mark time using our calendars but did you ever wonder how we ended up with the calendar, the months, the seasons, how in fact we measure time and for what purpose? We mark time because we need uniformity in our lives and to be able to conduct business and social engagements with each other. In our day-to-day routines we don’t necessarily need to have absolute accuracy in our time keeping but just enough to make things work. Below is an extract from a website dedicated to Calendars. The link to the site is shown below this extract. It is filled with some very interesting facts about our calendar…….
‘Our units of temporal measurement, from seconds on up to months, are so complicated, asymmetrical and disjunctive so as to make coherent mental reckoning in time all but impossible. Indeed, had some tyrannical god contrived to enslave our minds to time, to make it all but impossible for us to escape subjection to sodden routines and unpleasant surprises, he could hardly have done better than handing down our present system. It is like a set of trapezoidal building blocks, with no vertical or horizontal surfaces, like a language in which the simplest thought demands ornate constructions, useless particles and lengthy circumlocutions. Unlike the more successful patterns of language and science, which enable us to face experience boldly or at least level-headedly, our system of temporal calculation silently and persistently encourages our terror of time.
“It is as though architects had to measure length in feet, width in meters and height in ells; as though basic instruction manuals demanded a knowledge of five different languages. It is no wonder then that we often look into our own immediate past or future, last Tuesday or a week from Sunday, with feelings of helpless confusion.’
Robert Grudin, `Time and the Art of Living’
Street lamp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have my bedroom curtains open during the night for a couple of reasons. In the winter months when it is dark and there are no leaves on the trees my bedroom is faintly lit by a street lamp in a cul-de-sac a couple of hundred metres away beyond the gardens at the rear of my house. Its light shines through the trees and results in a silhouette of moving shapes on my bedroom wall. It allows me to see what I am doing when I might be paying a visit to the toilet during the night without having to switch on a light. In some respects that is the more favourable option for who wants to be dazzled by a bright light when in a semi-awake state? Having the curtains open allows me to be greeted by the dawn when I awake, especially in the other seasons of the year. I live in a street which is orientated in an approximate ESE to WNW direction or if you prefer, the house faces roughly SSW. This means that the sun rises to my right from my bedroom window but of course I cannot see it during the winter months as it is too far south. There comes a time in the year when it finally rises directly in line with our street but then of course it is blocked from view by the other houses and the trees in the street and as ours is almost the first building in the street. There are quite a few houses beyond and toward the sunrise. Once the sun begins to rise from a further northerly position the sunlight is able to shine into my bedroom on what is roughly the west wall of the room, that is the wall on my left as I look out of the window. Each year I eagerly wait for the first rays of the sun to appear on that wall for I know Spring is almost here. So it was that on Monday (9th) I saw again for the first time this year the thin line of bright sunshine on my bedroom wall as the light shone in from an acute angle. It was there for about twenty minutes then finally disappeared as the sun rose higher in the morning sky, each moment moving further southward as it did. As the weeks and months pass by the sunshine will light up more of the wall and will remain there longer as the sun rises from a more northerly point each day until around June 21st when it begins to rise further south once more. At that time the sun, if it isn’t cloudy, will shine on part of the wall which faces the windows and the west wall will be almost fully lit for quite a while each morning. It is nice to wake up to a bright room lit by sunshine, it sets the mood for the day.
This is the 2500th post since starting my blog…….
Christmas Dawn The sun rises late in midwinter this far north. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well not actually a couple of days, more like five but after then the days begin to get longer once more. Trouble is the weather will get worse before it gets better, worse that is if you don’t like it cold, wet and windy! That’s how it will be here where I live anyhow. I almost hate this time of year knowing what is to come in that respect. Our house faces, that is the front of it faces south-west and if the sun is out after mid-day it shines directly into the rooms. At this time of year it lights-up the wall facing the window and illuminates half of its height upwards from the floor. As the seasons progress it begins to shine on the floor only and by the time it is midsummer it is so high as to only shine on a narrow strip of the floor close to the window. In a couple more days after midwinter’s day it will be Christmas day of course. Actually I don’t know why it is called midwinter as in fact it marks the beginning and not the middle of it! In a couple of days, in fact Christmas Eve I will be hanging up my electrical ‘hat’ for a couple of weeks, unless….well you know how it goes. The way things are going at the moment I may have to cease my electrical work anyway. I am told that I have the early stages of osteoarthritis. I can’t see the condition improving in my hands but who knows? I have found that whilst I am working or even just up and about there is no stiffness in my hands. That probably won’t last forever though. I have to take each day as it comes. In the meantime my work is still keeping me that busy I am turning down more offers almost every day. In a couple of days or so I will be able to rest from it all for a while.
Woman wearing silky nylon-stockings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mornings, that is early in the mornings, it has been somewhat cooler of late. So much cooler in fact that if I have to go out for any reason I am obliged to wear a coat, at least a lightweight coat. It is the time of year when it is necessary to begin wearing warmer clothing yet by midday it is warm enough to discard some of it. A lightweight coat or a cardigan is easy to remove and so that is what I am doing. My thoughts are turning to when I will start wearing stockings again, which usually happens around late September or early October. Throughout the warmer months I go bare-legged for as much as I love wearing nylon stockings they are far too uncomfortable when it is warm. Besides which my legs need some sunshine too. I like this time of year but for me it is at its best toward the end of November when all the leaves have fallen and the air is cool and damp. I don’t really know why I should prefer it cooler rather than warmer but that is the way it is. It isn’t that I don’t like it hot it is just that I like it cooler more. There is something sad and melancholy about Autumn that for me isn’t present in the other seasons yet I am filled with joy when it is Autumn but that hasn’t anything to do with wearing nylon stockings. Along the coast where I live at this time of year it is very often foggy over the sea and the sea itself or the beach cannot be seen when even a short distance from them. As the season of Autumn begins that fog drifts further inland too and everywhere becomes wet, in the mornings at least. As Summer ends at the beginning of next week and Autumn takes over I will most probably be doing little work in my capacity as an electrician for I have cancelled my advertisement for two weeks. Maybe I will get the chance to do some shopping and buy some new clothes for the season. It has been a while since I went shopping for clothes and this is the best time to do it, before the season starts in earnest.
Update: Looks as if my spare cash is about to be swallowed up on other things but hopefully I will have something extra with which to go shopping! That’s life!
Tomorrow: A plumbing I will go
Garden Tour (Photo credit: Abby Lanes)
For no particular reason I opened the window in the wet room and looked out into the patch of land we call our vegetable patch, though at this moment it looks nothing like one. The old toilet pan and cistern still stand on the paving slabs we laid behind the garage last year and some of the waste material we dumped there whilst stripping out the bathroom supposedly as a temporary measure still litters part of the ground. There are also the branches and twigs we left there with a view to burning them when we pruned them. They are from our neighbour’s tree which overhangs the separating wall between us. Once the weather improves all that will disappear of course but in the meantime it serves as a reminder that we have an eyesore to look at in that part of the garden! I chanced to look to the left of the window down on to the footpath below which leads to the pedestrian access to the garage and it seemed to me that the electric light there was on, at least I wasn’t sure whether it was on or off, it is hard to tell in the daylight. I knew in my heart it couldn’t have been left on overnight as we would have been able to see it through the kitchen or wet room windows at night but I had to go and check it out to be sure. Off I went downstairs and through the cellar to the garden and I walked around the back of the house to see. It was off just as I supposed it would be. If you are like me you sometimes have to verify what you already know to be true just to put your mind at ease. Well that little excursion lead me to meander around the garden and have a general look at things. One of the first things I noticed was condensation inside the cover of one of the electrical bulkhead light fittings. I often wonder how water gets inside an apparently water-tight fitting! I attended to that a few minutes later. Continuing around the footpath I came to the far side of the patio to look and admire the snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and shrubs bringing some much-needed colour to the damp and dismal scenery. If it wasn’t for the evergreen shrubs and the lush green colour of the grass the rest of the garden would look rather dismal indeed. Spring is in the air. I walked around to the greenhouses and found water had found its way into the larger which will need sorting out later, probably laying a little fine concrete around the base where the water is getting in will cure that problem. After digging out a couple of extra-large dandelion weeds with my bare hands and disposing of them I returned indoors with plenty of jobs to think about doing outside over the next few weeks, if I can pull myself away from my other projects of course but it was Sunday and I thought no more about it for the time being.