Okay it is still February 21 st as I write this just after lunch but today is definitely not a winter’s day. It is mostly bright sunshine and around 12 deg C, no rain and very little wind, perfect. I had been shopping early in the morning and even then I could tell we were in for some nice weather. Before lunch I spent time in the cellar using the gym equipment, something I hadn’t been doing much of lately. This afternoon I will spend some time relaxing on the patio whilst I can. Over the weekend and maybe tomorrow also I hope to do some more garden maintenance, especially digging out the few bluebells that have shown themselves. Tomorrow morning I will take my walk before breakfast so that I can have the rest of the day to do as I please.
The cherry blossom is not yet on the trees in the area but soon will be. Now that I have removed the damson /plum fruit trees from our garden we won’t have the blossoms in our garden though we do have apple trees. They will blossom later and we do still have a couple of cherry trees, one wild and one with edible fruit. Not that we get much chance to eat the cherries however before the birds get at them, unless we cover them in some way. It looks like the lawn will need cutting too so that may get done over the weekend. One thing you can guarantee for the next few months in the garden is there will be plenty of things to do! Today though I will resist doing anything but who knows? There are lots of things pending.
Spring days in the Winter. Today it is warm and sunny after a night of light flurries of snow which didn’t take long to melt away. I am feeling much better than I have for a week or more and feel like going for a walk but I am remaining at home just for now. I like days such as these because they point to warmer days ahead. I watch the shadows as they slowly creep further south with each passing day. Out on the patio it looks so cozy and inviting though earlier I was out in the garden putting seeds out for the birds and walked past the patio on my way back indoors. There was a covering of frozen snow on the artificial grass as the sun hadn’t come around to warm it up. Even as I write when the sun is approaching its highest for the day there is some ground frost in the shadier places. I looked at the forecast for the rest of the week and it looks as though we won’t get rain or snow or anything dropping out of the sky until Monday. I am happy about that, it is uplifting and will encourage me outdoors for a walk or two now that I feel better. The day after tomorrow will be the first of February and the day I take the van in for its annual check, the dreaded MOT! I am not expecting it to fail the test but it could. As I am retired there is less urgency in keeping the van on the road though I do need it for bringing home the shopping! I thought E hadn’t yet included me on her insurance so I can drive her car should it be necessary. She is covered on my insurance to enable her to drive the van should it be necessary though. That would have been a little of a one-sided arrangement perhaps but thankfully not. It is a beautiful Spring day in Winter.
Today, well sometime today it will be the event we call The Winter Solstice.
It is that point in the Earth’s orbit about the Sun whereby the north pole of the Earth begins once again to tilt toward the Sun. At the same time the south pole begins to tilt away from the Sun and for those living in the southern hemisphere it marks their Summer Solstice. Our hemisphere will slowly become warmer and theirs gradually will become cooler over the next few months. The major parts of the Earth feeling those effects are the temperate regions, for anyone living near or in the tropics the effects are less noticeable. Whichever way you look at it the year is starting over, new beginnings, new possibilities, new promises. Yes, we can promise ourselves all these things and many do just that at the start of the new calendar year by making resolutions. Nothing will change however unless the spirit is willing. Many promises are not fulfilled, not even to ourselves. There is hope. Try promising yourself something new, something that will be worth the effort. You will finally gain the victory over empty promises and a future of uncertainty…….
JESUS’ VICTORY (John 12:31–32)
31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.32 And I, when I am lifted up[a] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’
This verse marks the declaration of Christ’s complete victory over the kingdom of the world. Jesus foretold this event in John 12:31–32, and in Revelation his promise is manifested. After Jesus’ victory was declared, the 24 elders “fell on their faces and worshiped God” (Rev 11:16). Five times in the book of Revelation the elders similarly demonstrate with their bodies the posture of their hearts (5:8,14; 7:11; 11:26; 19:4).
This absolute victory should cause those who rebel against Christ to shudder. Their doom is promised and assured. They will face the tribulation and punishment described in John’s vision. Yet, Jesus’ ultimate victory is a great hope for his followers. Though the world is in chaos, believers can be assured that Jesus has already won the victory over sin and death, and that the whole earth will soon see this victory. The kingdom of God will fully and finally come on earth as it has been in heaven (Mt 6:9–13). At the end of time, God’s promise from Genesis 3:15 will come true as the offspring of the woman will crush the serpent’s head forever.
Jesus, I can’t wait to fall on my face and worship you in your presence. Until then, please help me keep the right posture of my heart, always submitted to and honouring you. Amen.
Think what it would be like to know you gave yourself the opportunity to start afresh instead of each year ending up with empty promises. The promise of salvation and eternal life is yours if you want it, just believe in Jesus Christ.
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.
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.
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!