To the woods, to the woods
I’ll tell the vicar
I AM the vicar.
The vicars wife wouldn’t like it
The vicars wife’s not getting it!
Well enough of that bit of humour. As was my want I went to bed early on Thursday evening but for two reasons, one, I was tired (best excuse yet!) and two, I wanted to go for a long early morning walk before it got too warm. After a little something for breakfast I began my walk, this time heading south. This time I took the main road as it led me directly to my destination, the little township of Formby or rather the northern part of it called Freshfield. We lived in Freshfield from ’76 till ’88 before moving to Birkdale where we are now. The main route through from Birkdale to Formby took me first of all through Hillside and Ainsdale before continuing down the Formby by-pass where I turned off into Freshfield. Once in Freshfield I headed along the main route (Victoria Road) which took me into the Red Squirrel reserve, all now maintained by The National Trust.https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/features/red-squirrels-at-formbyThey look after all the woodland along the coast hereabouts. It is somewhere I am completely familiar with having spent much time either walking through the woods or running through them. I particularly enjoyed running through the woods in the hours before dawn when it was just about light enough to see where I was going. I often came across a fox or two and almost always a few rabbits. The owls I could hear but couldn’t see. The woods are special places at dawn. I usually saw the squirrels when out walking but only if one or two where at ground level would I see them when out running. I am guessing the distance to be around six or seven miles by the time I had reached the reserve. I stopped for a short rest at a picnic area where I could sit down before then walking through to the beach a further half-mile away. I stayed on the beach for only a short time but walked northward for a quarter-mile before climbing up a steep sand dune to return to the woods. Two steps forward and one step back was the order of the day climbing that sandy slope! I was exhausted by the time I had reached the top but soon recovered as I made my way into the trees and onto a small path heading north. I walked what seemed an awfully long way until I reached a little sign indicating that it was a mile and a half to the place I had just been, Victoria Road or the squirrel reserve. I walked along not coming across any other people at all, just me and the sound of nature. In fact it was totally quiet and a little eerie most of the time. Suddenly I appeared at the end of the track and was standing on the main track which circles the area. That part of the track runs alongside the rail tracks running between Southport and Liverpool. Every twenty minutes a train or two passes by. I was feeling a little tired once more so I made my way to another picnic area for a snack and a drink. I gave myself twenty minutes before I was off again and heading for the coastal road which would take me back home to Birkdale about four miles away. I hadn’t been walking exceptionally fast getting to the woods and walking through them but along the coastal road I picked up the pace and walked the four miles briskly. It was around twelve-fifteen as I went in the house feeling a little tired and hot. I recovered after a drink and prepared lunch with E. After lunch we spent some time doing garden maintenance and I watered the rear garden again. If the woods were closer to home I would most probably spend more time there. In some ways I regret having moved away all those years ago but that’s life.
Touching on yesterday’s post regarding the subject of wisdom I am glad I had been wise to follow an exercise regime when I was younger. It has been beneficial to me in keeping me fit and active over the years. Of course having an occupation which was manually orientated helped a lot too. Even so I still get tired after exercising if I push myself too hard. If I didn’t get tired at all it would mean I am not benefiting from the exercise as I should. At my age I am limited to how much exercise my body can sustain but being used to exercising I know I can do more than I could otherwise do. I love going for walks and for many years loved and enjoyed running. Some people my age still go running, I know, I see them when out walking. I have to say though that the running is more often than not like a trot. Still they are out actively enjoying themselves. I hadn’t been for a longish walk for some time so on Saturday (2nd) I made it my business to arise early and go for a longer walk than I normally take. I decided to walk down the coast to the district where I lived before I moved to my present location. I estimate the distance to be around six to six and a half miles or twelve to thirteen miles for the round trip. So with bag containing my water bottle and a couple of other items should they be needed across my shoulder I set off. My destination was the pine woods (shown above) north of my old house and I walked the coast road to get there. My return journey would take me along the beach and then through the sand dunes nearer home. As I walked northward along the beach there was but one figure in the distance ahead of me, a lady walking her dog. She was walking toward me when her dog dashed off toward the sea a couple of hundred metres away. The beaches along this part of the coast are very wide when the tide is out. The dog seemed to disappear but had in fact walked into a dip in the otherwise flat sand. The lady shouted to me that he always does this and soon enough he was back with her. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes and I discovered she lived locally. She asked where I lived so I told her adding that I too lived where she now does. She asked exactly where so I told her the name of the road then she asked which number so again I told her. ‘That’s my house’ she said, ‘I live there now’. What a co-incidence that we should meet out on a walk. She described the house as it is now and I described what it was like when we lived there and what work we had done in it. It appeared that the people to whom we sold the house in 1988 sold it on a couple of years later to this lady’s sister who then sold it on to her in 1994. She mentioned that I would know ‘Sylvia’ her neighbour and ours when we lived there to which I replied that I did but doubted she would remember me since much water has passed under the bridge since then. We parted company and I continued homeward. It is a fact that the effects of exercising or doing strenuous work don’t come upon us until long after we have ceased what we were doing. It was a short five minutes after I had arrived home that I felt worn out even so but I was soon back to normal later.
It had been at least a week since I last went for a walk and it was all due to my having too much to do in the house, specifically the cellar storage room. As I write this on Tuesday afternoon on the first day of May the room only requires that the floor be painted but as yet we haven’t received the paint. This morning I was able to go for a walk and that was mainly because E had told me that today I was to take a break and rest from my labours. Had I not listened I guess I would have started work in filling in the holes in the floor of the gym/boiler room in readiness for that floor to be painted also. My plan was to prepare the sand and grit mixture today and on Wednesday use some of it mixed with the cement and begin filling in the holes. I am glad I didn’t do anything and went for a walk instead. My walk took me three and a half miles south of town along the coastal road.
It was one of those mornings with bright sunshine and clouds but with a stiff breeze too. It wasn’t that warm but got warmer as I began my journey back home and the clouds disappeared too, though they returned after lunch. The afternoon was much cooler as the clouds rolled back and filled the sky but it didn’t matter, I was back indoors. My return journey took me through the dunes where it was much warmer being as it was sheltered from the wind but there were many insects flying about making a nuisance of themselves. I had skipped breakfast but had taken a banana and some sultanas to nibble at along the way, and of course a bottle of water. The beach was almost deserted but there were a few people doing the same as myself, walking through the dunes. If you like sandy beaches you would like Ainsdale, Freshfield and Formby for there is plenty of sand along that part of the coast. Birkdale, where I now live, has more grass and mud to overcome before the sand can be reached. I used to live in Freshfield and often went running along the beach there. Still it is only an hour and a half walk or so away from where I now live. Who is ‘M’? What is the name of my blog?
You might think that for someone who is very tired sleep comes easy but unfortunately that isn’t always the case for me. Although I had been very busy on Thursday and was tired when I went to bed getting to sleep eluded me. I tossed and turned throughout the night and felt awful when I got up in the morning. After having something for breakfast I felt so much better though I did remain a little sleepy. I spent some time on the project (see yesterday’ post) and by the afternoon I was ready to go to bed but of course I didn’t, not at that time. Later however when I did go to bed sleep came very easy and I was out for the count in minutes! I had a really good night’s sleep and should have been ready to do some more work but I decided to take a break from it and have the next two days off, Saturday and Sunday. I decided a walk was on the cards so before breakfast, which incidentally I missed altogether, I dressed to go for the walk. It wasn’t that warm on Saturday morning as I left the house but it wasn’t cold either. About half-way through the walk things changed, the clouds rolled away and it became warm in the bright sunshine. By the time I had returned home my coat was beginning to make me feel uncomfortable wearing it. I was ready to eat something so had a slightly early lunch, though it was by then approaching one o’clock. E had been busy at the top of the house and didn’t have lunch until two. I in the meantime went onto the patio to sit in the now warmer sunshine. E joined me not long after but neither of us sat there too long as we began digging out a few sycamore seedlings and weeds. We did return to the patio however to make the most of the fine weather while it lasted. Sunday looked gloomy as plenty of rain had been forecast but during the week ahead we had been promised high temperatures and bright sunshine. When we returned indoors we sat and watched the Grand National horse race, the only horse race we do watch throughout the year.
Today as I write it is Good Friday. I am reminded as always each day that Jesus died and suffered on a cross for me. This day celebrates that event. It is both a sad and a happy day, sad because what Jesus did was necessary for us all, happy because if we believe we too will be raised up to everlasting life. However, that isn’t the subject of this post. Many folk will be taking a break from their usual routine either going on a short holiday or relaxing at home. Two of my neighbours have taken short breaks away from home but for E and myself staying at home is fine though if we did take a break away from home it would most likely be out of the country. Personally I can’t see why going to a different country just to relax is necessary unless it is for the benefit of guaranteed warm sunshine. I have to say that dull and cold weather can be depressing if it stays that way too long. At the moment we are experiencing a dip in temperature after a short spell of warm and sunny weather. That is the nature of this land, it can be unpredictable sometimes. This morning I took a walk northwards on the edge of town and then turned toward the seafront. I was glad I had taken gloves with me and in fact at this time of year they will remain in the bag I carry until I know they will not be needed. It was quite a cold morning though that was more due to the south-easterly wind than the temperature which hovered around seven degrees. I was happy to return to the comfort and warmth of home later. In the meantime I did enjoy the walk, I always do.
I had no intentions of doing any work on Thursday (22) for I wanted to go for a walk first thing in the morning. Having not been out for a walk for a few days and for more than a week or so prior to that I kept the walk brief, that is I walked four miles only. I didn’t wish to push myself too much this time but even so I felt tired on my return home. It was one of those days, typical of early Spring when the sun was trying to warm things up but a biting wind was making it difficult. I was warm enough in my clothing but could still feel the coldness of the wind, especially down on the beach front. Having had no breakfast before I left the house I was feeling hungry and rustled up something to eat. E had recently eaten her breakfast and was preparing to dress so she could go and do the weekly shopping with her mom. All I wanted to do was sit on the sofa and watch tv. The nourishment finally took effect and I was feeling my old self again. It was too late to begin the work in the cellar room gym as E would be returning home with the groceries and it would soon be time for lunch anyway. The work I would be doing in the cellar was filling in gaps in the woodwork and walls and painting the inside of the cupboard I had prepared with a priming coat the day before. The floor inside the cupboard still looked a little damp in the corner though not as much as it did the day before. Perhaps it was drying out after all but only time will tell and I had doubts about it. That part of the cupboard would be left alone until I was sure there was no rising damp or ingress of moisture from outside. I any event I would be taking measures externally to ensure there would be no ingress of water at a later date. I didn’t sit watching tv all the time E was out, no, I did some house cleaning, mopping floors and such!
Last week I wrote about baking ‘Sugar and Spice Rings’ on Sunday. This Sunday I did a little more baking but this time it was ‘Tea Scones’, a very basic recipe which I am sure most will know. I had taken an early morning walk before breakfast, just four miles as I hadn’t been out for a walk for about two weeks and didn’t want to overdo things. To be honest I was feeling quite tired by the time I had returned home. The day looked promising in the morning sunshine but it wasn’t that particularly warm because of the cold slight breeze. When I went into the kitchen for breakfast E was sitting there having just eaten hers. After eating mine I sat on the patio with a coffee then spent some time digging out a few bluebells. Returning indoors I decided to do a little baking whilst E went upstairs to change. By the time she had come downstairs again I had the scones baked.
1 lb self-raising flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (optional)
1/2 level tsp salt
4 oz butter or margarine
6 oz caster sugar
6 oz sultanas or currants (optional)
1/2 pint milk
Place flour with salt in bowl and rub in the butter or margarine until the mixture is crumbly. Add sugar and fruit if used and mix. Add the milk (advise half of it at first) and thoroughly mix with ingredients until it becomes a firm but not sticky dough. Spread some flour onto a board or flat surface and place dough on it and knead for a couple of minutes then using a rolling-pin spread the dough till it is about 1/2 inch thick. Using a small circular pastry cutter, cut the dough and place each piece on a buttered metal tray. Brush each with milk and place in a hot oven (215 deg C) for ten to fifteen minutes.
Easy and tasty. The mixture will make about sixteen scones.
I did very little else on Sunday as on Monday I would be busy working again.
After breakfast on Friday (16th) I once again put on my overalls and began working on the pit. There wasn’t much I could do other than skim the edge beneath the newly fitted handrail I had installed on Thursday afternoon and to roughly fill in the edge on the opposite end of the pit. That end would hopefully be smoothed out and finished on Saturday leaving only the floor of the pit to be covered with a screed.
I should be able to get the floor done on Monday and Tuesday if all goes to plan. When that is done all that will be left to do will be cosmetic, sealing the concrete, painting and such. So I only spent an hour working on the project and decided I would take a short walk down to the beach for an hour. I hadn’t been out for a walk for over a week and had simply taken exercise on the equipment instead. To be quite frank I was too tired to go for long walks and fitting in some time on the equipment had been much easier. It was such a nice warm and sunny morning but by the afternoon it had turned a little cooler and dull. After lunch E and I spent a few minutes in the garden preparing the soil in the raised bed between the greenhouses for planting potatoes. I had already planted rhubarb at one end of the bed a few weeks ago and recently had separated the area using paving edge stones…
The rhubarb is at the far right of the bed and some has already begun to grow. As you can see we have made four rows of mounded-up soil and each has around six potatoes in them. The remaining two potatoes were planted in a bucket though I may change my mind and transfer them to the bed if I can. We had strawberries growing in the bed two years ago but they grew wild and too much of the fruit was eaten by woodlice so we dug them out. I transferred a couple of them to pots and grew them in the large greenhouse last year where I could protect them from being eaten.
……during the morning that is. It was Thursday and this Thursday E had made arrangements to visit Manchester with a couple of the members from her hobbyist club. It meant she had to arise early but although she was eating breakfast after taking her shower she hadn’t dressed. I entered the room fully dressed as I normally do before eating and she was surprised to see me, thinking I was going to have a lie-in. Well I had thought about doing that but soon after waking I remembered I hadn’t put the wheelie bin out for collection so I had to arise early enough to do that before the they came to empty it. I was however intending to go for a walk too so it was just as well I arose earlier rather than later. I don’t eat breakfast when going for a walk but might have some honey before I go and also take a banana with me just in case I get hungry. I was out of the house long before E went out and in fact she passed me by as I was walking along the coastal road about a mile from home. I waived as she went by. She was off to Chorley on her way to meet with a friend there before they went on to Manchester. Had she been going directly to Manchester she wouldn’t have been on the coastal road going north. It was a very cold and a very windy morning and I struggled at times just to stand up! Not quite as bad as in the picture below as it was a dry day but it certainly was windy….I didn’t go far along the beach this time, it was too cold, so I turned away and made my way toward the lake behind the dunes where it was slightly better out of the wind. By the time I arrived back home I was feeling the effects of that cold wind. I had work to do, cleaning my bedroom being one, moving a couple of items of gym equipment around to make easier access for the washing lines which hang in the same room in the cellar and then apply a top coat of paint to the lengths of wood I shall be using to space out the safety edge strips on the garage door frame. Then a few other small things too. Ah but breakfast before all of that though it was only a small bowl of muesli with fruit. The afternoon? That’s another story.
It was Thursday (18th) and it had been quite some days since I had last taken a walk of any distance outdoors. The reason for that had been the problem with my upper leg muscles combined with some very bad weather in the latter days. For a couple of days I had also been suffering with a mild cold too and pretty much didn’t feel like doing anything. I reluctantly left alone any exercising on the gym equipment for almost a week during this time but now I suddenly felt better and was eager to get out in the fresh air. Over the last couple of days I have been working out a little on the equipment though but now I wanted to take a walk. Thursday started off bright and sunny for the most part though there were some wintry showers of rain and hailstones. The wind had died down considerably too. None of that was going to stop me from getting outside for a while. There had been some very high tides in the previous days and the foreshore had noticeably changed, more sand and more piled-up seaweed lined the sea wall. If left it would compact and the existing grass would grow through it. I have no doubt that is what will happen. Slowly Nature is taking back control. Eventually I can see more dunes appearing for already some of the existing grass which stretches out to sea has formed into small mounds in places. I have seen this happening in other places only a quarter-mile south. I often think about what the coast will look like in say fifty or a hundred years from now. During my time living here in Southport, now approaching thirty years, I have seen a lot of changes along the seafront. I walked along the front for about a mile before turning back homeward though by that time I had covered two miles. I chose a more sheltered route on my return but still got caught in a shower of hail. My aching muscles have eased now and suddenly I feel much better. Nevertheless I shall be taking things a little easy for a while so I don’t do myself a mischief.