I deliberately arose early on Monday morning for I had intended to take my walk earlier than of late. Knowing I would return by seven o’clock it gave me plenty of time to eat breakfast and hang the washing on the line that I had put in the washer before I went out. I also planned to visit the lawnmower repair shop before nine o’clock to leave the rest of the day to potter around at home. Well not just potter but to relax in the promised bright sunshine we were told to expect. More on that in a minute. It was a very cold morning at five o’clock with a sharp easterly cold wind. I took to walking through the back streets of town to minimise exposure to the wind but it seemed a little pointless as it was in my face throughout the first half of the walk. Still I was wrapped up against it. Anyone I saw was either delivering goods or driving off presumably to work. The sky was almost clear of clouds but a thin layer of mist blocked any starlight, at least for a while. When I reached the seafront the wind was now behind me. At eleven o’clock stood the Moon at last quarter, toward ten o’clock shone a bright Jupiter and further east at nine o’clock was a very unusually red Venus rising above the cloudy horizon. Though it was red it was bright and couldn’t be mistaken for any other planet, even Mars for it was too bright to be that planet. They stood in a straight line as if joined by a string. Obviously they weren’t! The Moon would be around a quarter million miles away, Venus at that moment and position would be around ninety million miles distant (it is around twenty-six or seven million when closest to us I think) and Jupiter is around four hundred and eighty million miles distant. As the eastern sky began to redden they all began to fade away with the sunrise. As I got nearer to home I saw several hundred, maybe a thousand jackdaws flying in swarm-like fashion and squawking away as if in terror. Their idea of a morning chorus no doubt. The gulls weren’t silent though they could hardly be heard over the jackdaws. It was quite light by the time I reached home and I was hungry but before breakfast I hung up the washing in the gym/boiler room. I had put the lawnmower in the rear of the van on Sunday and I took it to the repair shop before nine o’clock. It would take them ten days before I could collect it or they deliver it. It was due to the fact that many other people had taken their machines in for servicing too that it would take so long. When in the shop I saw a ride-on mower (they call them tractors) and I took an interest in it straight away. I asked the guy what the width of the machine was to see if it would fit through the rear door of my garage and according to the measurement it would. Having asked for other information about the machine I asked the price though it was there hanging on a label and I’d missed it. It was for sale at £1299 and well within my budget. I made a snap decision and bought it. It would be delivered on Friday 1st March at the end of the week. I explained to the guy that it would give me enough time to clear the wild animals out of the tall grass to which he laughed. Seriously though the grass has been growing steadily higher with the mild weather we’ve been having. He asked me if I still wanted the old mower servicing and I told him I did because it can either be a standby machine or I can give it to someone else, maybe one of my sons. I spent some of the rest of the day clearing the passage to the rear door inside the garage but I also relaxed on the patio in the lovely sunshine. I may at some point extend the sloping ground at the rear of the garage if required in order to make access for the new mower easier. That would mean laying more concrete but first I would need to remove the large bag of sand that still lay there. (White with bricks on it)
I took to the road for the first time in a while on Saturday morning. By road I mean on foot. I haven’t been at my best lately and was in need of rest. It was such a beautiful day though quite cold in the gentle breeze or out of the sunshine where frost and frozen rain still clung to the ground. Down to the sea front only a half-mile from my door is usually my preferred route and about half-way to the shore I came across a guy locking up the building site there. I add that the picture shown is not of that site.
There is another building site a mere hundred metres or so further along but that hasn’t progressed as far as yet. The first site houses a new apartment block aimed at the older retired generation. The first thing I noticed was the absence of the tall crane that had stood there for more than twelve months. I asked the guy when it was that they took it down and he told me two weeks ago. Well I hadn’t been that way for two weeks so hadn’t noticed. We chatted a minute or two and he told me he would show me around inside when the internal work had finished. I thanked him and we parted. If I get the chance I will take him up on that invitation. I continued my walk passing the other building site which had closed for the weekend. This building is much larger and spread out. It will be a new ‘village’ for the elderly and retired though the apartments will be rented rather than owned. It will house shops, hair salons, medical access and all the things a small village would have but all under the one roof. The complex will be managed by employees of the organisation who will own it. I carried along and walked to the shore. Looking across the bay to the town of Blackpool and beyond to its left the mountains of The Lake District could easily be seen covered as they were with snow. Further to the right of Blackpool some of the hills along the Pennine Chain could also be seen covered with snow. Fortunately around Southport there wasn’t any snow. As I had arisen rather later than usual I had missed breakfast so on my return I sat and ate lunch instead. It was twelve-thirty.
E wants to retouch the remaining three of the white painted doors in the cellar hallway but for myself I consider the job done…
Slightly different from what it looked like a couple of months ago don’t you think?
Despite the job dragging on so long I enjoyed doing it most of the time. Some of the work as with the other rooms I had tackled in the cellar last year was mundane and boring and it often felt like I was getting nowhere. A lot of paint was spread over a lot of repairs and alterations in all of the rooms but for some reason the hallway repairs took longer than the rest. Perhaps I was simply feeling my age and just got tired of it all but then, like most jobs, everything just falls into place and in the blink of an eye it is done. If I could clear out the two remaining rooms of all the stuff in them I would find the time to refurbish them too. So now at last I can do some of the work that needs to be done in the gardens, especially the rear garden. Today is Friday 11th January and I have completed the work two weeks ahead of the date I thought it would. I am also very tired but not just from this morning’s work, I went for a five and a half mile walk beforehand. It went something like this……Went to bed at seven and dropped off to sleep. Woke up at ten-fifty and couldn’t get back to sleep. Finally arose at one-ten and went for my walk at two, an hour earlier than usual and when out decided to extend the walk. After breakfast and a little catch-up tv I finished the work at eight-fifteen. I lead a very strange life…
I took a longer route on my morning walk on Saturday for two reasons, I wanted to avoid walking along the promenade and secondly I wanted to walk just that bit further. For weeks I had been taking roughly the same route and it was becoming a little mundane and dare I say a little too comfortable. I wanted to extend the exercise but didn’t want to extend it too much just then. I had work to do on my return home. I spent a couple of hours finishing off the plywood panelling and began to fill in the gaps in readiness for painting. The inspection hatch on the first section of the boxing-in was left undone for the time being. That won’t take long to do when I make the effort. I was keen to get the bulk of the boxing-in work completed to allow me to get on with the rest of the project and that I did. I stopped the work after two hours and sat with E whist we had something to eat. I wanted to drive to the shops and purchase a few items for the project so that on the following Monday I could carry on with the work. After eating E went to get washed and dressed then came with me to the shops but just for the ride. We visited three places but she sat in the van throughout. I purchased a couple of electrical items which I would need to alter the existing power outlet circuitry to the utility room. I purchased a large drum of white vinyl-silk emulsion paint for the walls and ceiling and two sets of hinges, one for the room’s door and the other, a cabinet set for the inspection hatch. All other materials I would need I already had in stock. Hopefully the work would all be downhill from that point on but as with most projects it’s the small things that sometimes take the longest time to do.
It was now Thursday 1 st November but slightly warmer than it had been of late. Even so it was only 8 deg C as I stepped out of the house on my way for my early morning walk. I was wearing the new Wellington boots just to break them in though I doubt they will become my regular footwear for walks but I may just wear them occasionally. They are more suited for wearing when working in the garden though E says they are too good for that as they are fur-lined and fashionable. I do have basic Wellington boots which have steel toe cap protection and they do get used when gardening in wet weather. It rained constantly whilst I was out and I didn’t expect to come across anyone for that reason. However as I walked along The Promenade a guy wearing only trousers and shoes crossed over to my side of the road ahead of me. He was soaking wet and probably cold though he also probably couldn’t feel it because he was drunk. He approached me to say hello and broke into a one-sided conversation. He told me that he had just been ‘mugged and threatened with a shooter’ but I doubted that was true. Why is it that drunken people think they know you? He told me that he knew me and had seen me in a certain supermarket a few times. I told him he was mistaken for I didn’t shop in the supermarket he mentioned, which I don’t. Then he invites me to his flat (apartment) for a cup of tea! Just then a police patrol car stopped to question him and I took the opportunity to walk away. There had been many patrol cars passing by along the route I had taken which was unusual for usually there are none. I thought they were looking for someone or a group of people as they circled the area. The rest of my walk was uneventful as it normally is when I am out that early. A couple of hours after breakfast found me shopping again but only for the weekly food stock. This time I was wearing knee-high boots of a more fashionable style though I suppose I could have worn the new Wellingtons! It was around ten-fifteen when I decided to put on my overalls and do some work in the utility room. Actually I spent most of the time in the garage cutting the plywood sheet for it was too large to get it into the workshop. A couple of hours later I had finished for the day as I was too tired to carry on but I managed to fit some sheets of plywood…..
I spent a few hours working in the utility room on Tuesday (30 th) most of it around the door and the adjacent wall. First of all though I went for a walk. It was a cold and frosty morning and all the parked vehicles I came across were white! There was a gentle breeze blowing from the northeast but it was cold and in my face for the first half of my four and a half mile walk. On my return the wind died down and some clouds began to appear for there had been none at all until then. An hour after getting home there was a shower of rain and things started to warm up though it was still quite cold even so. I began the work after breakfast and later in the day this is how far I had got……
It doesn’t seem to be much work but it was tricky and awkward, especially above the door opening on the right hand side. The plywood which will be above the opening door will obviously be higher than the rest of the boxing-in. There is not much spare clearance but the door has to be removed in order to straighten the top of it by cutting a little off and that will ensure enough clearance. The door hinges need replacing too as one of them is broken. The door itself is a little bit twisted but you have to remember it has been there a very long time, probably being fitted when the house was under construction 141 years ago! It was simply made using planks of wood as you can see. Before I can do any further work on the project I will have to purchase that extra plywood I mentioned.
Today (26 th) I got up early and went for my usual walk this time leaving the house at three-fifteen. It was a reasonably warm morning with a gentle breeze from the south-west. Unless rain bearing clouds and high winds come from that direction we can almost guarantee fine warm weather. The only activity I saw at that hour were one or two taxis dashing about at breakneck speed as if the drivers had only minutes to live! They get away with it because there are few police patrols and they know all the short-cuts. Why do people feel the need for speed? Perhaps I am getting too old, well I know I am but with age comes wisdom (for most of us). Don’t misunderstand me, I once drove like an idiot too occasionally! When I returned home I was feeling neither too warm nor too cold, just about perfect conditions for me. Later at sunrise I began to work on the lawn project once more. During the day I spent a total of six hours on and off doing the work but there was still a lot more left to do when I decided to stop for the day.
Notice the change in the picture colour. I can only put that down to the time of day and the conditions The first one was taken when it was cloudy and the second when the sky was blue. Anyway I began the work at six-fifty and was pestered by mosquitoes for the first two hours. I think it was the lack of wind allowing them to hover about me. Later the breeze picked up and I had no further problems with them. I don’t think the English variety bite but they are still a pest. I am not sure but I think they are attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale and perhaps the smell of newly dug soil doesn’t help. Perhaps I should wear a net over my head! Once the grass is taken away the shrubs can be planted followed later by the membrane and the finishing touches.
The alarm went off at two in the morning and woke me up when usually I am lying there waiting for it to ring. I must have been just that bit more tired on Friday evening. What happened next sometimes happens after I switch the alarm off though not often, I dozed off again but woke fifty minutes later. Saturday was a day for my walk and I was ready to get out there and take it but it was very windy and cool. Would it be too windy I thought? When I had gotten dressed I skipped breakfast opened the front door and braved the elements as they say. The wind wasn’t as bad as I had thought it might be but then again I was sheltered close to home. As soon as I had reached the first street pointing west toward the coast I could feel the brunt of the wind but it still wasn’t as bad as I imagined earlier. The walk this time took me along The Promenade which runs parallel to the seafront but a quarter mile inland. It passes behind the town’s clubland and being a Saturday morning I was half-expecting to see some alcohol-imbibed people staggering about as sometimes happens if it isn’t pouring down with rain. I wasn’t disappointed. The first person I came across was a middle-aged man leaning on the frame of the shelter he was beneath. He couldn’t do otherwise it seemed as he looked a little unsteady on his feet and his eyes were glazed. ‘Good morning’ I said. He seemed taken aback, well he would wouldn’t he being in the state he was? No reply. I repeated my greeting and with a look of disbelief I guess he responded. I carried on with my walk. Across the road ahead I saw four younger guys dressed in shirts and trousers who were walking away from The Promenade back into town through a passageway. One of them stopped to relieve himself against the small wall there. There seems to be no shame with people today in what they get up to. You would think anyone wanting to urinate would find somewhere a little more discreet. Further along I saw four children walking aimlessly on the sidewalk. They were about the age of eleven or twelve though one appeared to be older, say fifteen. What were they doing out so early (or late) I wondered? Lack of parental control no doubt. Finally all that was behind me and I had reached the point for me to turn back homeward along the seafront.
Here the wind was at its strongest and my eyes became glazed too in the face of it. I decided not to walk the entire way back along the seafront leaving the last mile and a half or thereabouts to turn into the built-up areas where the wind wasn’t as bad. According to the weather forecast the day ahead would be miserably wet and windy. I would stay indoors and out of it .
I didn’t intend taking a walk on Sunday morning (26 th) because I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep or that’s how I felt. I must have had plenty of sleep though for I couldn’t account for the hours I was in bed! Sometimes it goes like that I know for there has been many a time when I have woken up feeling tired even though I’d had the sleep. After breakfast I felt much better and more awake and I considered taking the walk but left it for a while to allow my breakfast to digest a little. It gave me some time to check emails and other things. Finally I opened one of the windows to get a feel of the conditions outside; it was cold but it was dry and there was hardly any wind to speak of. It meant I had to wear something extra to keep me warm so I put on a scarf and took along a pair of gloves just in case. I had a long-sleeved warm top on beneath my jacket and decided boots were the order of the day once again. I wear heavy woolen socks when wearing the boots but still insist on wearing a skirt rather than covering my legs with trousers or jeans which I never wear anyway, don’t even posses them. It isn’t my legs which feel the cold when it is cold, it is my hands mainly and of course my body but that I make sure is kept warm. It sounds from all of this that it was biting cold on the day but it was actually 14 deg C at the time. Had it been really cold of course I would have been wearing heavier clothing beneath the jacket. It is after all still summer and not likely to freeze all of a sudden! I took a slightly different route than I normally take but still ended up on the seafront. That night there had been a full Moon and it shone faintly and rather eerily through the heavy cloud covering the sky over the sea. A couple of miles off shore stands an oil/gas rig and the faint glow of the Moon was above it looking like some alien craft hovering menacingly with evil intent. My imagination runs riot sometimes. It was whilst I was on the seafront that I put on the gloves as my hands were beginning to feel cold in the breeze such as it was. When I got home it was still dark but just about sunrise time. I hadn’t noticed the flag lying on the ground instead of hanging on the pole. It was after I had watched some catch-up tv and had a coffee I happened to glance out through the window and saw that something was missing.
I put on my coat and went to the flagpole. The rope had severed and the flag had dropped. I opened the covered cleat where the rope is secured using the key and pulled out the rope from inside the pole. Ours is the type in which the rope runs up inside the pole and out at the top down to the flag and the weight to weigh it down. The flag itself was looking a little tired and worn so I ordered a new one and a replacement weight, one which would look better than the original supplied which is a plastic-covered heavy chain.
It meant of course that I would need to erect the tower around the pole in order to lift off the top half in order to thread the rope down inside. I have done this once before and it isn’t that easy because of the weight of the pole; even though it is aluminium. It would be a week before I could to that and then only if the weather permitted. Happy days.
On Thursday (26 th) the weather turned hot again after a few days of cooler times. I had arisen at two o’clock in the morning after what had been a really good night’s sleep. The previous night had not been so good as far as getting off to sleep was concerned. It was a sort of knock-on effect, not sleeping well the night before left me tired and going to bed even earlier than I have been going lately. By eight o’clock I was fast asleep and because five hours is around the time I need I woke at two. Sensible folk would have stayed in bed I suppose but that is something I very rarely do once I am awake. So what does one do at that hour? Watering the garden was one thing I got out-of-the-way. Washing clothes another, watching catch-up tv another and soon it was dawn. I’d eaten breakfast of course and although a walk could have been taken I was set to do the weekly shopping at eight o’clock instead. Yes I could have done the shopping later but I have found it much easier to shop when the store has far less other shoppers milling about. By the afternoon however the sun had turned the day into a scorcher and going for a walk didn’t seem inviting. I usually take my walks early in the day whilst it is still relatively cool. However by the afternoon I had become restless and decided a short walk down to the shore would help and the cooler sea breeze would help to cool me down too. Against my better judgement therefore I went for a short walk which stretched further and further until in total I had walked four and a half miles! Sure enough it was cool along the seafront but by the time I had gotten home I was as red as a strawberry and perspiring profusely. It took me ages to cool down and it reminded me that, as the saying goes, ‘[only] Mad dogs and Englishmen (and presumably English women too) go out in the midday sun’.