Keeping an eye out

Nice as it is to have something to do during retirement I sometimes feel I am neglecting some things in favour of others. On the one hand I am keen to sort out my projects and get them completed as soon as possible whilst on the other hand I am keen to keep the gardens as much in order as I can. The weather has been fine for carrying out work in the garden but unfortunately I have not had much spare time to do it because of my indoor activities. However I have made every effort to keep as close a watch on things as I can. At this time of year it can turn cold very quickly and some of the plants suffered because of that last year. I did manage to put up some frost protection but not soon enough and some plants were damaged. This year I took time out from my projects to erect better frost protection for the more vulnerable plants knowing we were in for cold spells. Everything seems to be in order but I still keep an eye out for any damage to the protection screens. At the time of writing (25 th Nov) we haven’t had any strong winds blowing. I am hoping the frost protection is strong enough to withstand any wind coming our way and again I will need to be alert and keep an eye out. Today is Sunday and I have been in the garden checking things out though I’ve not done any work. The garden does need tidying up I admit for there are still fallen leaves gathered in places and scattered elsewhere. Twigs from the neighbour’s tree lie fallen on the grass and in the flowerbeds which we are forever picking up. All these things can be tackled sporadically but I would really prefer to spend a day at least to get it under control. Well I have a couple of months yet before the weather turns warm again, plenty of time for gardening duties. In the meantime most of my work will be concentrated on my projects.

The picture was taken today and yes, those pebbles still haven’t arrived!

Shirley Anne

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Inching forward

I like that title. I am inching forward. Inching forward only really makes sense for anyone who uses or has used the old ‘imperial’ measurements of the UK. It somehow loses all meaning if we were to say ‘centimetring’ forward. In fact there is no such word as ‘centimetring’ as this spell-checker keeps telling me as I write! Inching forward means slowly creeping forward little by little or in tiny steps. Well what am I inching forward to? The weather has begun to change a little, at least for a short time and it means the temperature has dropped a few degrees. Today for instance it is 21 deg C though it is supposed to be increasing again tomorrow (11 th). Cooler temperatures mean I am more likely to do a little manual work outside where there are a couple of things I wish to do. While it has been hot and sticky I found it hard to do anything except water the gardens. In fact that is mostly all I have done over the past few weeks as far as work is concerned. The longer I have had to wait for it to get cooler the more reluctant I have become to do anything. Only my determination will prevent that. So what are these small jobs I am wanting to do outside? One is to finish fixing eye bolts around the garden, especially around the patio. They will be used when it comes to protect some of the plants from winter’s chill. Another is to manufacture a small wooden fence to replace the temporary brick one I fitted on the small wall near to the side gate. I could have done both of them today as it has been cool but other things got in the way. I can wait, there is no hurry, just as long as I can do these things when it isn’t raining. Rain, yes I remember that stuff, it used to fall around here up until a few weeks ago! When it gets much cooler I will do the internal jobs I keep promising to finish, the gym floor being the biggest of them.

Shirley Anne

And the plans which……

Best Laid Plans
Best Laid Plans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…didn’t happen! I was writing about making plans in yesterday’s post but on Friday, that is today as I write, I overslept. Over sleeping isn’t really true for had I not needed the sleep I wouldn’t have taken it. In real terms it meant I awakened at nine-thirty instead of eight o’clock which would be more my usual time. So it wasn’t the sleeping-in that prevented my doing some more work in the cellar but more the other things which got in the way. Prayer time, a shower, getting dressed, applying make-up, putting the soiled towels into the washing machine which had piled-up during the week and chatting with E all before I grabbed a quick breakfast, those were the things which prevented any work being done before noon. Following that I decided to venture out into the rear garden to sweep up the enormous piles of fallen ivy and some holly leaves that had been nicely stored in a couple of places by the high wind. It was another miserably cold day though it was showing signs of getting warmer for the snow had been slowly melting. According to the forecast it would be far warmer by the following Monday.  It was now almost twelve o’clock and time to return indoors to thaw out! I had been to the garage to collect the brush and bucket with which to sweep the leaves but returned later to empty out some things from my van and sort them out for storage. Now it was time to hang the washing after which I fitted a coat hook behind one of the doors upstairs. I was about to prepare lunch when E asked if I could help search for something in the cellar so off we went to do that. I had lost count of the number of trips to the cellar I had made in the previous couple of hours which is often quite normal in this house! At last it was time for lunch, it was one forty-five. By the time I had finished lunch I was in no mood for starting work, which would have been painting the room in the cellar. What can I say? There’s always tomorrow.

 

Shirley Anne

 

Last working day of the year

As long as it didn’t rain on Saturday (23) I intended to spend some more time in the garden again. It would be the last day in the year for doing any work for me but alas it didn’t happen. I had gotten up early and went for a long walk down the coastal road to Ainsdale. I chose that route as it was still dark at the time I went, 7.30. I wanted to take the route through the sand dunes but that could have proved very difficult in the dark. However, by the time I decided to return home it was light so I walked back through the dunes. When on the beach the sky was clear toward the south but northward it was dark and heavy. To the south I could see the mountains of North Wales, easily seen when the skies are clear. The oil rig westward out to sea was still fully lit against the dark sky. This time the tide had receded before I arrived but it had left an enormous amount of seaweed behind! I walked northward again along the beach to the point in the dunes where I would turn into them and off the beach. I was back home before 10.00 and had breakfast whilst E was busy doing something associated with her crafting hobby. As I mentioned I wanted to do a little gardening but events got in the way during the rest of the morning. After lunch I just didn’t feel like doing anything. It has been quite a busy twelve months with all the projects that I have been involved with both inside and outside the house. It helped not having to do electrical work for others, at least for the last nine months anyway. My time became my own and I could concentrate on my little domestic projects, and there were many! Just the way I like it, better for my health and well-being to have things to do to wile away the time. When I look back on the year I am amazed just how much was done, all of them written about in my posts, and there was still plenty of time to relax too. Saturday afternoon being one of them. There was always Sunday for a potter around the garden!

Shirley Anne

Feels so strange

At this time of year I was always busy working but this year all that has changed. Since my retirement back in April I have not done any electrical work to speak of, just a couple of very minor jobs and some of them were at home anyway. From around September until the week preceding Christmas I was kept busy doing electrical work with little time for myself. I was used to the pressure but then again I worked better under pressure, still do. However over the last few weeks I have had very little work to do, certainly no contract work and what I have been doing at home wasn’t that taxing. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am glad the pressure has been lifted from my shoulders and that now I can please myself what I do and when I do it. It is simply that it feels a little strange having all this freedom. I have been occupying myself outside of any domestic jobs I do by taking walks and exercising more on what equipment we have accumulated over the last few years. I am currently getting to grips with the new elliptical trainer we purchased a week or so back. Having not used one before it certainly felt strange when making the first attempt! I am more used to the treadmill, that is my muscles are more used to it.

Collage of several of Gray's muscle pictures, ...
Collage of several of Gray’s muscle pictures, by Mikael Häggström (User:Mikael Häggström) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the elliptical trainer however those muscles are exercised in a different way and other muscles not exercised much when running or even walking have to adjust too. I wake up in the mornings with a kind of joy in my heart knowing I haven’t any reason to rush into the day so in a way that too feels strange, though I am getting used to it. To be honest I rarely lie in bed for long once I am awake and half the time I have something in mind I want to do anyway. I never thought of it before but having one’s remaining years free to one’s self is often not appreciated until the time it arrives. I’ll try to make the most of them.

Shirley Anne

Quite busy

I’ve been quite busy on the electrical front, all small jobs but very profitable nevertheless. I prefer the type of work I am doing for a couple of reasons, not least of all my age! What I like is the freedom and flexibility the smaller jobs allow me to have whereas when I worked full-time I never got a minute to myself unless I turned down work. Not a good idea if it is your main income. However, since I had an income from a private pension when I started self-employment twenty years ago that was less of a problem. Since I began receiving my State Pension eleven years ago there isn’t a problem at all when it comes to taking time off. That however isn’t me, if the work is small, and that’s all I will do these days, I am more inclined to do it. Having said that the pressure of offers sometimes is relentless. I even get called when I am not advertising! Much of my time so far this year has been spent in the gardens and no doubt that will increase as the weather warms up. It was another lovely sunny day on Thursday but still cold in the westerly wind. I went to do a job in a house on the other side of town at nine o’clock and had it finished just an hour later. As has often been the case recently I again noticed a few bluebells in the front flowerbeds on my return home. (Picture taken last year)Front flowerbed redesign 1Most were simply small and close to the surface but a couple were rooted deep beneath the soil. I wondered how I had failed to see them on my previous visits but they do grow quickly and short of removing all the plants and turning over the whole flowerbed soil I am bound to miss a few. Needless to say I put on my overalls and dug them out before digging a few more out of the flowerbed by the small greenhouse in the rear garden. (Picture also from last year)greenhouse-flowerbed-5 I thought I might have been able to sit out on the patio for a time but the wind was too strong and by early afternoon the clouds rolled in to blot out the sunshine. It wasn’t to be, not yet.

Shirley Anne

Might find the time

I think I worked pretty hard on Saturday in working in the garden and was glad for the rest on Sunday. Sunday was an ideal day for working outdoors too but it is a rest day for me. Wanting to resume work on Monday the forecast wasn’t promising in the least for it would be raining throughout the day. I am actually writing this on Monday morning and true to the forecast it is raining. We are told there might be  a break for an hour or so around midday but I doubt I’ll be able to do much if I decide to make the attempt. What I might do is rake off as much top soil as I can so that there will be less of it to dig out to get to the bluebell bulbs I want removing. To give you an idea of how many there are here is a picture taken last year when they were in flower…g-6

As you can see they are numerous. Fortunately about half of them are now removed. Those which remain as I write occupy the area approximately to the right of a projected line from the right-hand side of the path that runs from the bottom of the picture to the top. There might be a few to remove on the extreme right (in the corner plot) though E may have already done that last year. If not I will probably wait for them to appear above the soil to make it easier for myself. You will be able to see more clearly by clicking on the image to magnify. As I write this the forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday) is slightly better, though it will rain. Wednesday and Friday will supposedly be dry. By the end of the week we will be almost one-third of the way through winter but the next two months are usually the worst! I may find the time to get things done or I may not. I am at the mercy of the English weather. I will be available for electrical work once more from Wednesday onward so that may limit my spare time too.

Shirley Anne

A lull

I had been reasonably busy on Monday, especially in the morning as I had been removing many light fittings and replacing them with basic roses and pendants. The lady of the house had sold the property and wished to take the lights with her to her new property in Hampshire. It is a requirement that electrical circuits in a property must be in working order with all fixtures and fittings in place or as in this case replacements fitted. I don’t know why some electricians insist on wiring some circuits the way they do when it leaves too many cables at the light ceiling roses. rose-connectionsThe maximum should never really be more than four cables, that is twelve conductors. The minimum of course would be one or two cables, that is three or six conductors. Ceiling roses can accommodate these levels though I have to say the more conductors the more difficult it is to connect them neatly. Another thing I find with some electricians is the lack of slack they leave in the roses or switches which makes alterations and repairs almost impossible in some cases. These are the problems I had  at this house so it inevitably took me longer than normal to do the work. Anyway, Tuesday started quite differently as I had no scheduled work but there was one job I wanted to do at home which was to fill-in the three small spots on the Plot with concrete where they couldn’t be done when the original work was carried out a couple of weeks ago. It was less than an hour’s work and I was soon back indoors with nothing to do. I was waiting for a call from the place I had ordered the wall plaque a few days earlier and also from an electrical wholesaler  who was sourcing the part-night photo cell I have been attempting to acquire to control the garden lamp-post. It was mid-morning when my phone rang but it was an invitation to work at a house less than a half-mile away. I was more than happy to oblige as I was beginning to get bored. He had a couple of track lights, the track of which appeared faulty but after testing I discovered it was the lights themselves that were faulty and would need replacing if he wished to keep the track system. track-lightingHe wouldn’t need me or any other electrician to fit the replacements. I returned home with the prospect of little to do for a couple of days.  There seems to be therefore a bit of a lull in activity and until I receive the plaque and the sensor I will be searching for things to occupy my time. I had one job scheduled for Thursday but it was rescheduled to be done on Friday instead which meant Wednesday and Thursday would be free though I did have a dental appointment on Wednesday morning. I really looked forward to that!

Shirley Anne

Should I?

Should I or shouldn’t I? That theme was mulling around in my head for hours on Wednesday evening. It was all to do with my project on the Plot. I had pretty much used all the materials I had so more needed to be purchased. The weather forecast for Friday and throughout the weekend was for rain. That meant all outside construction work would cease. Of course if I had a large enough tent to cover the site the rain would not be a problem, however I do not posses one. Perhaps if I had thought about such things many years ago I might have purchased something and had one to hand. The only other option would be to buy an awning but it would need to be fairly large. The project doesn’t warrant the cost so when it rains the project stops. It isn’t as though it will rain non stop for weeks, mind you this is the UK I am talking about so anything is possible! Should I buy in the materials and perhaps do a couple of hours work on Thursday morning while it was still hot and sunny or should I wait a few days and buy the materials then? No contest with me, I had to be doing something. The only drawback when purchasing these heavy materials is that I have to empty out my van of electrical gear and tools if I am to collect them myself. The alternative is to pay the merchant to deliver, the cost of which could buy me more materials. If they deliver I have no control over the time or even the day of delivery. When I have nothing to do but work on my project I don’t want what time I have to be wasted waiting for materials to arrive. I emptied the van and whenever I do that I place everything on the garage floor in a neat and tidy order to make putting it all back later far easier. I have to be careful not to purchase too much as I don’t wish to overload the van, although I could make a couple of trips if I needed to. The merchant is about  mile and a quarter from home so a couple of trips don’t take up much time. All I wanted this time was six bags of sand and two bags of cement so only the one trip was necessary. Once I returned home and offloaded the materials and reloaded my electrical gear I was ready to do a couple of hours work. Plot 9

Plot 10

I didn’t want to work in the afternoon for two reasons, one, it was going to be a hot day and two, I wanted the mortar to have enough time to set before the onset of the rain we were promised the following morning. I only laid twenty-five bricks but it was enough to have satisfied my goal for the day. I finished at noon, plenty of time before the likelihood of rain, about fifteen hours or so. I tidied up the area and stored everything away until next week. I could concentrate on electrical work until then and I had plenty of that to do. The old metal bin you see in the first picture we have been using to burn rubbish inside. When I lifted it out of the spot where I had put it temporarily the base fell out! I am wondering how much longer it would last if I didn’t get rid of it? It is old and worn out…..a bit like me!

Shirley Anne

No time

I have been waiting for an opportunity to get into the garden again, that is the rear garden, to do more work but two things have stood in the way this past week. Firstly the weather turned unsettled with intermittent rain and windy conditions. Although that was enough to keep me indoors I hadn’t the time anyway because of a busy work schedule. For some reason my electrical services have been in great demand this past week keeping me away from everything else I might want to do. Each day I’ve had electrical work to do, some days three jobs and some two and none of them were difficult, in fact much of the work was ridiculously easy. Is it any wonder then that I continue to work? There were some spare hours during the week but they were dedicated to housekeeping and the things one does inside the house. While the offers to work are coming in I would be foolish to reject them though a few have been rejected because  too much was being asked of me. A couple of ladies told me they were envious that I could pick and choose what I do but I told them I think I’ve earned that privilege having been at work for 54 years! So it has been a busy week but it has been profitable and worth the time spent. There will be plenty of opportunities to get back into the garden if all goes well. The plants I’ve put in over the last few weeks are all doing well but more need to be planted elsewhere in the garden and I’ve yet to decide what I want to do in the plot behind the garage from where I removed the gooseberry bushes. One idea is to have a compost heap there. We used to have one in the area but somehow it was done away with when we stripped out the various shrubs and trees that were growing there some years ago.


Embed from Getty Images

We do have a compost bin, that is a large plastic container into which we can tip in grass cuttings and other degradable items just like the ones above . It stands at the rear of the other garage but perhaps it could be moved to the plot instead. There are numerous old house bricks only suitable for use as hardcore which sit near to the other garage too together with many large natural stone pieces still remaining after they were dug out of the mound in 2014. They could all be moved to the plot and out of sight until somebody decides they have a use for them. If I do that I will erect a wooden fence to hide it all and make the area more presentable. If we have to keep these things they are best kept out-of-the-way and the plot is an ideal place for that. Everything takes time but at present most of it is getting used elsewhere.

Shirley Anne