As I write this on a dull Sunday afternoon the party is over and I for one could not be happier. What party you may well ask? The Open golf championship event here at Royal Birkdale. Don’t misunderstand me here, many people love the game of golf but I am just not one of them.
The picture above was taken through the window in a lounge at home at around five o’clock on the last day of the golf event. Up until then the day had been mostly sunny. On Saturday there had been much rain but the previous days had been fine and sunny. I am not sure how that affected the play though I have a feeling it made little difference. For the last few days the whole town of Southport but especially Birkdale had been geared up for the event with many local restrictions having been imposed upon us all. It is something we all have had to put up with whether we like the sport or not. I can live with that. I steered well clear of the course which is very close to where I live and spent my time away from the house in the opposite direction! However during the time I was at home we had to put up with a light aircraft circling above every two to three minutes for hours on end which really was annoying. When I say circling it was doing just that, flying in a circle around the course and our house was under the flight path. On Sunday morning I went for a walk and on my return I emptied out most of the things in my van. E and I were to go and collect some bricks from her nephew which were stored at a place less than a mile from home. He had graciously allowed us to take what we wanted which was around fifty bricks. They had been dumped with other rubbish and needed to be separated but it didn’t take long to do that and we were soon back home for lunch. I stored them behind one of the garages and under cover to keep them dry until I wanted to use them.
Later E received a text message from her nephew who was asking where we were and why we hadn’t called to collect the bricks! E had thought he meant for us to collect the ones we had but it appeared he meant those stored at his own house a few hundred metres away. Those bricks had already been sorted and separated whereas the ones we took we had to glean from a general pile of other material. Although the ones we took were not stored at his house they still belonged to him. The reason he has so many bricks is that he is a builder. He asked if we wanted more as he was trying to rid himself of some of them. We accepted his offer and he said he would drop them off later. Now I won’t have to worry about buying bricks for the projects I have in mind to do. The first one is to put a gate at the end of this passage where it meets the main part of the garden.
That is at the end of the side wall of the house on the right. Now I am not planning to begin that work during the summer though anything is possible with me.
By the time you are reading this it will all be over and done with. What? The Open Golf Tournament at Royal Birkdale and I will be most grateful. I do not like golf but I know many people do and many flock to the courses to witness these events in person. Personally I think it is all ridiculous following on foot watching others having a good time playing the game. Many years ago it was unthinkable to allow crowds of people to shadow the players save for a few. In the end it is all about money of course. Everything about the professional game and not just golf is about money. The players don’t see it that way though, for them it is all about trying to win. Anyhow what goes on at the venue is their affair. What objections I have, and many others have too no doubt, is what happens in the surrounding area, the town in my case. I have never seen so many traffic cones on our streets and signs posted on lamp posts all around Birkdale where I live. Speed limits around the course have been lowered to 20 mph on the main routes, traffic consequently is forced to crawling pace. Parking restrictions are everywhere and parking lots have suddenly appeared in and around the area, all charging a fee of course. Police vehicles cruise up and down the roads every couple of minutes whilst stretch limousines and luxury vehicles together with coaches, and buses ferry golfers and golfing enthusiasts here there and everywhere all day long. Added to all this there have been helicopters roaming the skies and one particular light aircraft capable of carrying several passengers and probably was, circling the course at low altitude. All very well but that aircraft was going round in circles around the course, which included my property, every three minutes for at least five maybe six hours a day! Why do local residents have to put up with such things all in the name of golf? I haven’t been at home for much of the time which is fortunate, I spent an hour or two out on the patio a few times and that was enough to annoy me. No, have your tournaments but spare a thought for those who take no interest. Trouble with Society is most of the time it doesn’t really care.
Work is still ongoing at the house two doors away, though that work is now concentrated on developing the grounds rather than the house itself which is completed both inside and out. The ground works seem to be taking far longer than I would have expected but of course it isn’t my house. E and I were talking about the progress of the work which has been slow from the start and how much longer will it be before our new neighbours can move in. They had been expecting to move in two months ago! We think the slow progress has been due to a lack of control over the work that has been done. A project such as this requires a site foreman to chase the various trades persons to speed things up and to maintain proper control of schedules as would be the case in any construction development. We are not sure proper control has been maintained in this case. Still the noise from the house continues each day as it has done for over seven months. More noise from both our next-door neighbours over the last couple of days as one is having the garage roof replaced/repaired whilst the other has a guy cutting down some very out of control Leylandii trees in her rear garden.which should really have been cut down years ago long before they got so tall and wide. For years the husband would prune them back as much as he could but he needed to use an extension ladder to do it and even then it was extremely difficult. Since he died, it will be four years come November, she has had other Leylandii trees chopped down and removed in both the front and rear gardens. A few months ago I myself chopped down an out-of-control tree in her front garden to help her out. It was a job her son should have done as he is fit enough and twenty-five years younger! One snag there, he just isn’t capable but that is because he was never encouraged or prevailed upon to do his bit at home. So life is going on all around us. It will be great when all the work is done and we can have our street back for a while. Speaking of streets, the local authority have placed notices on almost all of the street lamp posts to indicate a temporary parking restriction in order to prevent them becoming congested during the British Open golf championship being held here once again at the Royal Birkdalegolf course a week or so away. The ‘Common’, which is common ground adjacent to the club and used by many to exercise their dogs will be turned into a car park during the event. A fee is levied of course, any excuse to squeeze money out of people as I see it. Still….
Picture shows forest fire in the surrounding hills near Maracana Stadium during the opening ceremony in Rio.
I made a resolution that I would not be enticed into watching anything to do with the current Olympic Games tournament being held in Rio, Brazil. Why? Simply because this time around I don’t have the interest. Over the last few years when the tournaments were being held I did take an interest and watched many of the events on television but that interest, for this time at least, has waned. One problem arises having made the decision to avoid the event and that is no matter where I look I am bombarded with reminders or broadcasts relating to it. BBC Television covers the event on its channels and news programs as do other broadcasters. If I switch to the independent channels reminders are pushed through their advertisements. Most all media outlets give coverage of some sort. I have four basic email providers, AOL, Google, Yahoo and Bust.com . Of these four two cover their home page with advertisements and news items which have to be by-passed to reach the mail, AOL and Yahoo. There seems to be no escape other than to switch off all electronic devices if I want to avoid watching reports, events and advertisements about the Games. As for reading material, newspapers and magazines, I never purchase them anyway so that much is a blessing but it just shows how difficult it has become to avoid anything in particular that one wishes to isolate one’s self from in these modern times. There is far too much pressure put on us all to conform in many areas of modern life and this is one of the main reasons I dislike today’s society. My argument has nothing to do with the Olympic Games per se, no, it is about the choices or rather the difficulties trying to make them. To be honest all I have to do is switch to another channel of course and that is what I will always do. I do watch athletics on the television occasionally but I also get bored if I watch too much of it. Some things I never get tired of watching, it’s all a matter of taste. The thing about the Games, the World Cup (soccer), golf, cricket and the many other sporting events which take place, all these things as well as non-sporting events like Christmas they are so much pushed down our throats by the media who squeeze every last drop of news out of them dragging the whole event on as much as they can. Then they will chat endlessly about the outcomes for weeks afterward. I would be happier if there was a dedicated channel for sport and some of the many other events in the world so that I wouldn’t have to try so hard to avoid them.
Why do people get themselves into so much trouble or difficulties when most of the time it can be avoided? We often hear of mountain rescue teams having to risk their own lives getting people out of life threatening situations. Often these people will be well equipped for mountaineering but even the best can become unstuck. More often it is the less well equipped, the less knowledgeable and the casual hill-walker who get caught out. They say only an idiot would venture onto a mountain when the weather is bad and although when the well-meaning take this into account and venture out only when the weather is fine, conditions can deteriorate rapidly. Recently on the news we heard about three surfers who lost their lives surfing at this time of year in a place which is known for its dangerous rip tides and when there were no life guards on duty. The following day we saw other surfers out on the beach. Some may say well it was their own fault and they should have known better and perhaps that is true. Conditions were so bad it seems that even the rescue attempts using a helicopter proved inadequate. For conditions to be that bad one would expect a certain level of common sense in the minds of the surfers but it appears that the thrill and excitement their sport gives them overrides that. It is such a shame that people put themselves at such unnecessary risk and forget that they are putting their rescuers at risk too.
Have you seen all the gear a mountain biker has to wear for his sport? That shows just how dangerous it can be and despite all the precautions people still end up with broken arms and legs and sometimes even lose their life! I would like to think that I would forgo any desires to fulfill my need for excitement if I were interested in any risk-filled sport and if I knew I would be placing myself in too much danger both for myself and those who might have to rescue me. In fact I know I just wouldn’t do it. I often wonder what it is that drives people to seek that Adrenalin ‘rush’ which almost never seems to satisfy once only. Why do we feel the need to be under the influence of any drug? Adrenalin is a drug too. Why are our lives so empty that we have to endanger ourselves to get a thrill? I think maybe it is because we are looking in the wrong places.
Since my youth I have been an active person, always on the go. I didn’t have much time for specialised exercises like running and other sports except swimming and cycling. I would sometimes visit the local swimming baths but more often you would find me riding around on my bicycle. I would travel miles on my bike. Being as I was in those days a very anti-social person insofar as I preferred my own company, I was never interested in anything that required more that one person being involved, me! I was a complete loner and isolated from everything outside my work and home life. I only took a slight interest in what my other four siblings were up to and I cannot remember what sort of things interested them. The four of them, all younger than I, flew the nest long before I did. I simply wasn’t interested. More about my life can be read in the pages above. One thing I used to like watching was people dancing though it wasn’t something I wanted to do myself, that was the last thing on my mind. It just wasn’t my style. So I went through life never really having danced and especially with a partner. Everyone has an aversion to something that others find absorbing I would guess, dancing being one of mine. When I think about it I know quite a few people who are extremely reluctant to get on the dance floor. Perhaps it is the desire not to make a fool of themselves and in such cases they need a lot of ‘Dutch courage’ to change their minds. I have done that much myself in days gone by I have to admit! I often wonder what it is that drives people to do certain things, for instance Bungee jumping, sky diving and other hazardous activities or things like dancing! People don’t do things that are of no interest to them, that is why I don’t dance.
It had been quite a few years since I rode a bicycle when I bought myself a brand new one almost three weeks ago but as they say it’s one of those things you never forget how to do, like swimming for instance. The bike itself cost around £190 but I bought a few other things at the time which boosted it up to £220. I have enjoyed quite a few hours on it so far and have ridden some eighty or so miles in the various short outings I’ve been on. That brings the cost per mile to £2.75 but knowing me it will be 2.75 pence before too long. That’s the beauty of it. Hopefully I shall be able to ride it for a few years yet. One thing I noticed, or rather was reminded of, is just how dangerous riding on our roads has become for cyclists. As a road user and used to driving the many vehicles I’ve had, I was always careful when passing cyclists. I still am of course but it is good to be able to feel what it is like as a cyclist for a change. I have to say that some drivers are not careful enough when passing cyclists and often drive past far too quickly and far too close! I have experienced this on my recent trips out. When I first got back on the bike I was naturally a little unsteady so I stuck to riding in the side roads and on the pavements where I had to for safety’s sake! I am now at that stage, or near it, when I ceased riding a bike a few years ago. I still have my old bike and it is very good condition. The tyres need attention but only so far as they need pumping up with air. The bike looks as good as my new one. The reason I bought another is to do with gender. The old bike is designed for male riders. The weather at home has been quite wonderful lately, excellent for riding a bicycle and I have taken full advantage of it. It is especially nice riding along the sea wall and frontage and taking in the scenery and the fresh salt air. I am beginning to feel the benefit of having another avenue for exercising. The only problem with riding is its dependence on fair or reasonable weather, for the average cyclist that is, no-one but the ardent cyclist wants to go out in the pouring rain or when it is very windy and certainly not if it is icy too! I will probably revert to walking (which I still do of course) when the weather gets too bad, something I don’t mind doing as long as I am dressed for the part! Of course I can use the treadmill too or even go out running if I am that way inclined. No, I think the days of street running are long past but you never know, I do crazy things sometimes.
On Saturday I had plans. I was to get up early, which I did incidentally, and then I was to have a session on my treadmill. After this a trip to ‘Halfords‘ to buy myself a bicycle. Before my transition, ten years ago now, I used to do a lot of cycling as well as running and I still have the old bike in my garage. However that bicycle was designed for a man to ride and I wanted one suitable for a woman. I fulfilled my plans. I did my session on the treadmill, after bathing and dressing I had my breakfast then headed out in my van to the shopping centre two miles out-of-town. I went directly to ‘Halfords’ and browsed the bicycles they had on display and it didn’t take me long to decide on the model I wanted, very feminine in pink! I chose a road machine with full suspension on both front and rear, essential if one wants a comfortable ride! I then browsed for accessories and left everything in the hands of the salesman who arranged to have all the accessories fitted and for the bicycle to be ready for the road. I paid for everything in cash and with all the discounts they had it all came to just less than £220, about the price I had in mind. Whilst they were fitting all the accessories and getting the bicycle ready for the road I meandered to another store in the same shopping arena just to browse around and kill some time. This other store sells all sorts of things for the home and readers in the UK will know it as ‘Homebase‘. They have a corner in the store where they display discounted goods and I found myself looking at an aluminium two-piece extension ladder giving a possible reach of over 5 metres and on sale for £50, about half of what it would sell for normally. I have quite a few ladders at home, one giving a reach of over 10 metres, one a folding ladder giving a reach of around 5 or 6 metres but made of steel and rather heavy to move about and of course a couple of step-ladders one giving a reach of around 4, maybe 5 metres and the other around 3 or 4. This particular ladder would be very useful in my capacity as an electrician so I bought it. I know I am cutting down on my electrical work but there have been many incidents where a ladder of this type and size would have been very handy indeed. At the end of the day, when I finally retire from my electrical work, the ladder will still be useful to have around the house. I will be able to offset the cost by claiming it as a business expense so I shan’t be taxed on its cost. I returned to Halfords to collect my new bicycle which just happened to fit in the van. I had removed the small step-ladder I carry inside the van in advance. The larger step-ladder together with the now new extension ladder are kept permanently on the van’s roof-rack. I drove back home for a small late lunch and then took my new bicycle out for a test run. A test run? I ended up doing around 6 or 7 miles, riding along the seafront and returning the same way. I now realise just how much I missed cycling. It is such a lovely way to both exercise and to get out in the fresh air. When I returned home a couple of hours later E was working in the rear garden but I sat out in the patio finishing off the bottle of red wine I’d opened a couple of days ago. Well it had to be drunk else it might have gone ‘off’! Actually I use a vacuum pump on unfinished wine so that it can be kept for a day or two without it going ‘off’. So all in all it was a very different but very enjoyable day. Here is the bicycle….I didn’t think you’d be interested in the ladder!
Last week was a busy time for me so by the time Friday arrived I was well and truly ‘wacked’ as they say. I promised myself a weekend of rest and that is what I got. On Saturday morning however I wanted to do a stint on the treadmill so I arose quite early to do that. I’d slept like a log and woke very refreshed. Within a half-hour I was downstairs in the cellar doing my thing. Surprisingly I found that my stamina had increased even more than I had expected; it has been getting better over the last few weeks; accordingly I found I was running further and for longer periods without feeling the need to slow down. I generally do what I call ‘training cycles’ in order to ease into the exercise and build up stamina, which means a few minutes running followed by a short break of speed-walking until I am ready to simply run continuously for as long as I am able. On Saturday however there was hardly any walking done at all except initially. I had been too tired to even think about using the treadmill for six days yet I was able to do more on it when I used it on Saturday. That is a good indication that my stamina levels have risen. It can only get better, as long as I take the exercise regularly. The rest of the day I spent relaxing and I did much the same on Sunday too. I didn’t simply sit on my butt all day though, I did get up and about doing various things around the house and even went for a long walk down to and along the beach on Sunday. I treated myself to some red wine later in the day on Sunday as I hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol for quite a number of days and felt I deserved it. I haven’t visited the pub for nearly three weeks either, I simply don’t feel like doing so just at the moment. I have long breaks away from the pub as it suits me and I am trying to cut down on alcohol anyway but it is nice to go there occasionally and meet up with some of my friends. I actually had time to watch some of the events at the Olympic Games too but not too many, I am not interested in all the different sports. My preferences are the athletics field and track events, the swimming events and maybe a few others like the rowing events and cycling events for instance. Aside from those my interests are quite limited. I have ordered some sportswear over the Internet for personal use and now wait for the delivery. I needed some shorts, new running shoes and socks. My old shoes are beginning to fall apart and needed replacing soon anyway. I hope I get the chance to use them before the end of this week.
This weekend’s weather hasn’t been all that bad considering the amount of rain we have endured over the last few weeks. It was very sunny on Sunday morning when I arose and after a small breakfast I went out onto the patio and played my guitar for an hour or so. Returning indoors I potted about then prepared my lunch which was actually the remainder of the chilli con-carne I’d made on Saturday. I was prepared to sit and watch the men’s tennis final at Wimbledon but decided I would go for a walk beforehand. I ended up walking into and through town returning via the seafront and coastal road, The town was packed with holiday makers and day-trippers and as usual for me I took the opposite side of the main street to the shops. If you know Lord Street (Southport) you will understand what I mean. There is far less pedestrian traffic on that side of the street. There is nothing more that I hate when having to plough my way through hoards of people when out walking. I usually find that half of them don’t watch where they are going and invariably walk straight into me! I made my way down to the Promenade and on to the boardwalk which is the pier but didn’t go all the way to the end. Instead I decided to walk along the seafront back toward home. As I made my way along the coast road I found only a few other people along the route. The coast road has a paved side which has a line drawn down the centre to segregate pedestrians from cyclists who use the same path, exactly as in the picture on the left. In the distance I saw five cyclists heading in my direction, a family of people. Four of them were cycling within the designated area but one, the woman of the group decided to stay in the same lane in which I was walking. Normally cyclists who do that eventually switch to their own side of the path long before encountering a pedestrian but this woman seemed determined to make me give way to her! As she approached I stood my ground and she was forced to swerve into her designated lane and she didn’t like it. She shouted some verbal abuse but I replied by showing her the lane she should have been in. I was a little annoyed at her behaviour because she was in the wrong and knew it but still expected nobody to object to her actions. They rode off into the distance, probably to annoy other pedestrians. Why do some people think the rules don’t apply to them? I continued my walk and passed by my local pub which is only a short distance from the coast road but I didn’t go in this time. I arrived back home to find the tennis had started twenty minutes earlier but only two games had been played so I was able to see the rest of play after all. It clouded over during the late afternoon but didn’t rain. They were less fortunate at Wimbledon when half-way through the match they had to close over the roof because of the heavy rain. It gave the players a chance for a break, whether that was appreciated or not depended upon the players themselves. I forecast the result correctly and the player I thought would win did so. The rest of my evening was one of drinking my wine and chilling out. Monday was to be a working day this week.