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.
I had arisen from my bed three times during the night but ended up finally getting up at almost ten o’clock! By the time I was downstairs it was almost eleven o’clock and not feeling in the least hungry I decided to skip eating and go for a short walk. It was Thursday morning. E would be going to the shops with her mom to do the weekly shopping together as they usually do after lunch, so I thought. She had decided to do the shopping before lunch instead. I put on my outdoor clothing and boots and off I went for a walk. I hadn’t been for a walk outdoors for quite a number of days due to my leg muscles’ injury and although I had been using the treadmill for some exercise I didn’t want to push my luck by going too far on the walk. As it happened I managed to go just over two miles with ease. I had missed the outdoor walks but now I knew I would be able to resume taking them. I am happy too that I can resume more serious exercising on the equipment though for the elliptical trainer I will need to take it very slowly. I had taken the route along the coastal road but stayed off the beach, that is the path through what passes for a beach alongside but well below the level of the road. There was an enormous amount of seaweed and all sorts of things washed-up together with many plastic bottles of various sizes mingled within it. It is such a shame that today’s society discard their waste anywhere they want instead of disposing it in one of the numerous waste bins provided. There seems to be little respect for the environment, their environment. I wonder what their homes are like. When I had walked over a mile I turned inland to return home, first through a local park then on through the streets to home. E was still out shopping when I returned. After taking a snack I sat watching television whilst waiting for her to return. I didn’t have to wait long and it was time to bring in the shopping. As she cannot carry much due to her condition I more or less bring it all indoors myself. I only mention that because carrying those heavy bags of shopping was making my leg muscles ache a little. It would be so easy to hinder the healing process and end up having to start all over again. I was careful not to let that happen.
I was getting back into the routine of exercising yesterday, that would be Monday 18th and today I resumed my walking routine too. Quite often when I go out for a walk I meet someone who knows me, even when I am distant from home. That’s to be expected considering I have spent many years working in the area until earlier this year. Often I am taken by surprise when people approach and greet me by name for I can almost guarantee I have forgotten theirs. I remember their faces and even after they have reminded me that I worked for them and where they live I still cannot remember their names. So on Tuesday I planned to walk for five miles and headed northward on roads a little distance from the seafront. I passed along the Promenade to the other side of the town centre then took another road off the main route. At this point I was greeted by a man walking his dog but I didn’t recognise him (or the dog!). “Hello Shirley Anne” he said as we approached each other. He was wondering why I was so far from home as I told him I take long walks frequently though not always in the same direction. He was doing likewise but as he admitted he was more or less obliged to so the dog could get the exercise. I think he enjoys it too. We parted company and I continued on my chosen route. As I headed toward the coastal road I met the same guy again walking toward me. He had taken a circuitous route which crossed mine so we were bound to pass by each other again. This time I quipped ” We’ll have to stop meeting like this” and he smiled. I apologised to him for not remembering his name and asked him what it was. His name was Andrew. He headed home and I headed for the beach, if you could call it by that name for at that point it is all grass! I could see the tide was turning and beginning to come in but the water was still far off. I walked the whole way back toward home on the beach until eventually the grass gave way to sand and I was standing beneath the pier. The water was much nearer there but still far enough away to allow me to continue to my exit point a mile away. A guy had come onto the beach near to the pier with his bicycle and had proceeded to fill a large bag with seaweed. There is always a lot of seaweed washed up on the beach. Saying hello I asked him why he was collecting it and he told me that he uses it as a compost in his garden. He told me he grows vegetables and that the seaweed is an excellent fertilizer as it contains high amounts of amino acids, iron and other nutrients ideal for his plants. I had thought he was collecting it to eat though no-one in their right mind would eat the seaweed that washes up hereabouts. Maybe it is safe to eat but I wouldn’t like to try it. I might consider trying it as a fertilizer though. I continued along the beach toward home thinking about seaweed as a fertilizer additive to our compost bin.
We had another bright and sunny day on Thursday but it was bitterly cold outside with an offshore wind making it feel that much colder. Despite the weather I got myself ready to take a walk, yes, you guessed it, down toward the beach. Brave as I am as far as the cold weather is concerned even I had to admit to feeling uncomfortable as I plodded along through the sand dunes trying to steer clear of the biting wind. All along the coast hereabouts we have sand lizards and Natterjack toads ( http://www.countryfile.com/days-out/natterjack-toads-southport-lancashire ) both of which are protected species. In among the dunes there are areas called ‘slacks’, wet places, as well as large ponds which are dotted between the dunes. These are the breeding grounds for the toads, not that I saw any toads of course as they would be hibernating out of sight until Spring. The lizards are even more inconspicuous, even in Summer. As I walked along I noticed the surface of the ponds were partly frozen in places showing just how cold it really was. The air temperature at that time was around 3 or 4 deg C but the wind-chill factor made it feel nearer zero. The ground is often frosty at this time of year despite the higher air temperature. Although there was some shelter from the wind it nevertheless made its presence felt. I walked perhaps a mile in total through the dunes and decided it was too cold there so I moved away from the shore to more sheltered places. I don’t usually feel the effects of the cold weather when I am wrapped up in suitable clothing and although I wear a skirt my legs never seem to feel cold. I wear thick knee-length stockings which I let drop to my ankles and my walking boots and it is enough. However my hands can get cold even though I may be wearing fleece-lined gloves. The main problem is the wind. If it isn’t windy, which is very rare in Southport, the coldness is less noticeable. I might have been a little tired on Thursday morning but I cut my walk short and returned home after only an hour.
Downstairs a little later on Wednesday even though I was up and out of bed before eight. Being a woman it takes longer sometimes to get ready for the day! Still, I wasn’t dressed in my day clothes when I did get downstairs, I was dressed for working out on the treadmill or other things. Although I wasn’t really in the mood for running I made the effort as I always do and as I always do I feel great for doing it. It’s psychological I suppose. Anyway that done it was time for breakfast after which I got ready to go for a walk. Wednesday was a lovely sunny day but it was cold at 5 deg C with a slight northerly wind making it feel even colder. I was well-wrapped up though and prepared to enjoy the walk despite the cold. Part of the walk included my ending up at the pier. There were very few people out and about, especially down on the sea front where it was exposed to the wind. It didn’t matter to me, I walked the length of the pier, which in Southport is quite a long way….
‘Southport Pier is a Grade II listedpleasure pier located in Southport, Merseyside, England. First opened in August 1860, it is the oldest iron pier in the country and spans a length of 1,108 metres (3,635 ft), making it the second-longest in Great Britain after Southend Pier. Although at one stage reaching out 4,380 feet (1,340 m), a succession of storms and fires during the late 19th and early 20th century have reduced its length to that of the present day. (Extract from Wikipedia)’
At the time of writing the pier has been undergoing extensive maintenance to its ironwork and the work has been in progress for a couple of months. It will take a few more months I guess to complete the work. I spoke with one of the guys working there who told me that although the work is good (you’ve got to enjoy your work!) it was ‘Bl***y freezing’ he quipped! I left him to it and started back home which would be to the right along the shoreline and off the picture above. On the way home I paid a visit to the pub as I wanted a drink and the use of their toilet, though not necessarily in that order! It was packed with diners inside in the warmth. I stayed at the bar and off the carpet as I was wearing dirty boots. It was decorated for Christmas inside with two very large trees. It was still November. I thought it too early for Christmas decorations but it seems with each passing year it gets earlier. I suppose people are just too keen to begin the Christmas festivities. It’s a pity many don’t believe in Christ. He seems to have been left out of His own birthday celebrations (at the pub) once again, for nowhere could be seen anything to indicate the reason for the season. With a sigh I left for home and dwelled upon the weeks ahead and all that will go on during that time and into the new year.