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.
Just when things are beginning to look good something bad happens. Don’t you ever get that in life? E and I but mostly I have been plodding along getting the gym/boiler room in shape over the past few weeks and by today, that is as I write on the 12 th, everything is coming along fine. There is still some way to go yet and part of the reason for that is that I am finding extra things I can do and have decided to do in the room. As for the decoration the ceiling isn’t quite fully painted yet as are some of the heating pipes. There are still some holes to be filled and this cupboard to sort out…
..and I have also decided to build a cupboard around the boiler, not to cover the boiler itself but the surrounding pipes and fittings.
I plan to fit a door over the switch gear and removable panels where necessary to make maintenance easier. all that will remain visible is the boiler itself for there is no need to hide it. You cannot see the base of the boiler in this picture (above) but it is standing on a square paving slab which is supported by bricks on top of another paving slab. The space between the slabs is open so I plan to fill it in. It was done that way by the heating engineers many years ago when the boiler was replaced. On the right-hand-side of the boiler is the drain cock and I plan to fit a small outlet pipe through the brick wall with a valve on the inside which can be connected to using a flexible pipe to drain down the system if required. The flexible pipe will only be connected when it is needed. The pipe will therefore remain dry at all times. Aside from being able to shut off the water when draining the pipes the valve will also prevent insects from crawling through the pipe when it isn’t being used. You just have to think of everything! Anyway it all sounds intricate and complex but in reality it is all simple to do. The bad thing had nothing to do with the room we are working in but the garage where my van is housed. The roof has been leaking or rather letting rain water seep in. I wouldn’t mind but it is the area we had reconstructed late last year to accommodate the new garage door. Although the sealant is the best so I am told, it looks as though part of the timber it is protecting has bent and has consequently forced a tear in the sealant. As I write a temporary cover is in place until it stops raining to allow a repair. Just when things were going right!
It was such a lovely sunny day that greeted me as I awoke from my slumber. I didn’t really want to exchange the warmth beneath the duvet but I knew I had to get up some time. It was nine o’clock and I forced myself into action. I didn’t dress for the day but put on my sports clothes for I was going to spend a little time on the treadmill. Before I went downstairs however I stripped off the bed linen and replaced it with fresh sheets. I collected some clothes which needed washing too and I took the two large bundles with me as I left the bedroom. Going directly into the laundry room in the cellar I put the first load into the washing machine and returned upstairs to put on my running shoes and socks. I returned downstairs with my water bottle and started my exercise. I had to open the cellar door leading into the garden to allow some much-needed ventilation as the room still smelled of paint and sealant! I left the door open whilst exercising. Although it was sunny outside it was also bitterly cold. For the next few days and for a couple of previous days we were to experience a cold snap with winds blowing from the east. We were getting our weather delivered fresh from Siberia for a change. All I can say about that is I am glad I live on the west coast and not the east! It would be bad enough here but far worse on the other side of the country. My main concern was for the plants in the garden, the semi-tropical ones such as the Phoenix Canariensis and the Fan Palms. They are supposed to be able to withstand temperatures down to -8 C but I sure wouldn’t like to put them to the test. With expected temperatures down to -2 C on this side of the country it would probably be alright. The plants are somewhat sheltered by native varieties in any case. Those temperatures incidentally are the ones through the night, daytime temperatures are expected to be a few degrees higher. Hopefully after a few days the winds would be coming from the west. I finished my exercise and as I normally do if it isn’t raining, I cool off outdoors in the garden. That is when I saw some more bluebells which needed digging out so I did the job whilst I was out there in my shorts and skimpy top! Gosh it was cold out of the sunshine but soon enough I was inside again and hanging up the first bundle of washing. I then placed the second bundle into the machine before finally going upstairs for something to eat…..at belated breakfast! I did venture out again later but this time I was well-wrapped up!
It was a somewhat colder day on Thursday because the wind direction was from the east and north-east. Whenever the wind blows from that direction, at least in Winter, it is almost always colder. Here on the west coast the prevailing winds are from the west and south-west and are therefore usually warmer. The day was a mixture of sunshine and clouds. Whenever the sun broke through it felt like a Spring day but when the clouds got in the way the coldness of the wind thrust it home that we are still in the winter months. It can only get better though and by the time you are reading this it will most probably be a lot warmer. I write on the 22nd. It is early afternoon and I have just helped E in with the weekly shopping. I had been for a walk earlier in the morning along The Promenade to the north end of the seafront returning home along the seafront itself. The Promenade is around a mile and a quarter from home and is itself around a mile in length. I walked on the beach coming homeward as it was more sheltered from the easterly winds because of the sea wall. I had taken a pair of sunglasses with me for the sun was shining brightly at first. Along the way however the clouds rolled in but I kept the sunglasses on as they served to keep the cold wind out of my eyes. It didn’t stay cloudy for long and soon the sun was out again. It made a pleasant change being out on a walk and not working on the project. On my return home however I did do a little something, I sanded down the handrail I had painted with primer the day before making it ready for the top coat of paint. I was determined not to do anything else on the project and just take the day off.
Tuesday (6th) was forecast to be a cold wet and miserable day starting off with a snowfall. Actually the snow was predicted to fall during late Monday night and on into the morning. As it happened it hadn’t been snowing by the time I awoke at six o’clock though I could detect one or two flakes every now and then. By the time I was dressed and downstairs however it began snowing in earnest. I was off for an early morning walk and had to keep the hood of my coat up the whole time I was out, about two hours. When I arrived back home the garden looked like this….As you can see by then the snow had stopped falling but notice it didn’t stick to the path. It was the same story everywhere I walked, snow only stuck on the grass and elsewhere was simply wet. About a centimetre or so had fallen. Around these parts over the last few years it has hardly snowed at all and if it did it didn’t last more than a couple of days on the ground. Sign of the times on this side of the country hereabouts. Rain was predicted to fall later in the day and it also began to get warmer. The snow didn’t last. Once my exercising was out-of-the-way I thought about the next project I had in mind to do. It had been on my mind for weeks really but I had been busy doing other things. It was to move the new Elliptical Trainer temporarily to a new position in the cellar room so that work could begin on lowering the floor where it stands. With the use of a trolley we moved it here….
Now the floor where it stood was vacant and ready for the work to start.Those paving stones have been there since 1877 when the house was built. Beneath them is sand. They are quite thick and closely packed together and will be difficult to dig out. However some are broken which may make it a little easier. Behind the short piece of timber which is standing at the top centre in the picture is a large piece of concrete. We are not sure what it is, perhaps the remains of a demolished pillar? It needs taking down a little further to make it level with the floor. This room, now our gym also houses the boiler. It was once part of the servants work rooms and had a fireplace as did three of the other rooms down there. The chimney breast in this room stands behind the bench-press in the picture above but the fireplace has long since been bricked-in. At last I can get on with the project and then we can return the trainer to the spot.
Whenever I see or use the phrase ‘hot and cold’ I am reminded of these verses in Revelations 3:15-16 where it reads ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Jesus is speaking to the church at Laodicea but in fact to all those who profess to follow him but not fully. He is saying he would rather we were totally for him or totally against him than to be lukewarm and half-hearted. This post however isn’t about the faith but just to show how I feel about many things in my life. Another phrase is ‘Decisions, decisions’, spoken by those who cannot make up their mind about something one way or the other. I am a bit like that toward the weather but not about the weather itself for it cannot be anything else than the way it is can it? We have enjoyed some really mild weather in January and some would say very ‘unseasonal’ though it hasn’t all been that way. One day it would rain and the next day it would be dry, one day it would be mild and the next cool or even cold. One thing which I hate most though has been the frequently windy days. I would say ‘I wish the weather would make up its mind what it is doing, either be warm or cold, wet or dry, windy or calm but please….not all of them’. It is useless of course to wish for such things as we well know. If anything the weather has been less harsh in January than in many former years and one wonders if this is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Only time will reveal the answer to that question. It does mean my garden plants, those more used to milder climates, have not had to endure severe cold spells for we have accumulated quite a number of such plants in recent times. Fan palms, Phoenix Canariensis, Yucca and Cordyline all feature in our gardens now and one or two of them it is said can bear low temperatures, even down to minus 8 deg C for a time though I would always endeavour to shield them if ever it gets below zero. It would be nice to be able to guarantee what the weather will be like at any time in the year and for any length of time but unfortunately this is the UK and the weather can be very unpredictable at times.
I am writing this on Thursday 21 after having my lunch. I had missed breakfast as I tend to do when I plan going for a walk in the morning. This morning was no exception. It has been a wet and dull morning with no prospect of any sunshine at all today. It wasn’t raining heavily when I went out but there was a constant drizzle, fine rain, the sort that drifts slowly down from the sky and seems to get into every nook and cranny not effectively screened from it. Even such fine drizzle can lead to streams of gushing water in some places. Anyway, it wasn’t going to prevent my enjoyment and off I went. I headed to the beach and walked toward the pier at which point I took to the roadside because there was too much mud on the beach for the next couple of hundred metres. I decided to remain on the roadside and continued as far as I wished until turning off to return homeward along a different route. I did return to the seafront for the last part of my walk. By the time I arrived home I was ready to do it all over again……but I didn’t. It proves a point, one which I already knew anyway, that the more we exercise the more we want to and are able to. It is all about building up stamina. When we exercise our bodies produce endorphins, ‘Any of a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions. They are peptides which activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.‘ In other words exercising makes you feel good. It is the start of Winter (Dec 21 or thereabouts) today if it can be pinned down to the calendar of course. It is so mild despite the rain. For some time now I have done little in the way of work at home though there are some things in the pipeline ahead which I plan on doing. I made the decision to put off all little projects until the beginning of the new year and simply enjoy doing nothing for a while, apart from my exercising of course.
Gosh it was cold on Thursday, peculiarly the same as it was the previous Thursday and it was all due to the wind. Storm Caroline was attacking the country this time. We have had several storms come our way this year. The part of the country worse hit was Scotland up in the far north but that didn’t mean the rest of the country escaped from its effects. Here in Southport a couple of hundred miles south of the eye of the storm we were still battered by winds gusting between fifty and seventy miles per hour. Yes, I prefer miles per hour rather than kilometres per hour being as I am of an older generation! I do understand the metric system of course and have been using it for many years but I cling to the old ways when I can. New ways aren’t always the best. Anyway we were expecting the delivery of the elliptical cross trainer on Thursday morning and as is usual these days we are bombarded with text messages and emails informing us of the delivery status. Tracking is what they call it but all they really have to do is say the goods will arrive in the morning or in the afternoon, is there any need to know the exact minute? I think not. I was up early and ready to go for a walk by nine o’clock but E was still in bed so I left a note informing her of the expected arrival of the trainer, between 10.10 and 12.10 according to the latest text message. I went for my walk and instead of steering clear of the sea front I braved it on the return path home. Gosh it was cold! I turned inland for the latter part just to escape the wind. The trainer hadn’t yet arrived and it was eleven o’clock but that was alright if it was to arrive when they said it would. I made myself a coffee and soon afterward it arrived. It was too large a parcel, the size of a free-standing small wardrobe to bring into the house through the front doors. Even so, it was to be located downstairs in the cellar anyway and would have been difficult to take there from the main entrance. It had to go through the garage and into the cellar from the garden entrance. The poor guys delivering it had no trolley which I thought a little stupid so I brought our trolley out to their van so they could use it. Thanking me they moved it down the path into the now opened garage and dropped it where I indicated. As I write this near lunch time it remains standing in the garage. Somehow and some way I have to manoeuvre it through the rear door of the garage and into the cellar through the garden entrance door. We’ll see what happens. Having returned indoors for lunch I decided first to take down the flag knowing full well that it couldn’t withstand the expected high winds to come. It would be raised again probably the next day.
It is December 2 as I write this. It is Saturday afternoon and I have just eaten lunch. Actually lunch served as two meals for I haven’t eaten breakfast. Over the last few days the weather has been cold with a northerly biting wind blowing off the sea along the coast where I live. Today all of that changed and it has been warmer and far less windy. Although the temperature is barely reaching 9 deg C it has been pleasant in the sunshine, well this morning anyway for at this very moment the sun is about to set and the day has turned cloudy. I went for a walk along the seashore to a point some three miles or more away before turning inland to take an elevated footpath across the marshland. The path is a historical ‘right of way‘ passage which cuts through one of the local golf courses of which there are many around here. The area is called ‘Marshside’ for very obvious reasons, it is basically marshland or wet land where many wildfowl visit. Having traversed to the other side of the area the path led out to a road which I have often walked on my travels to and from the seafront. There was an old sign showing the site where an old airfield was located many years ago. There was a workshop at the location from 1910 until 1966 according to the sign……….This is the exit point onto Hesketh Road from which I emerged.
Facing the row of houses I turned right which took me back to the shore. I remained on the concrete on my walk back home having walked on the shore on the outward trek. What is the collective term for a large group of people dressed in waterproof clothing carrying tripods and binoculars? No I don’t know either but there was such a group descended on the footpath in front of me eagerly pointing their binoculars out to sea across the marshes. One thing you can say about this part of the coast is we have plenty of geese, ducks, swans, gannets and gulls and many more varieties of birds for bird watchers, which is what this group were doing. Just a couple of miles further inland there is a wetland centre for all those interested in birds. It is called Martin Mere…. https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/martin-mere/ . So that was my day on Saturday. As we approach the Winter Solstice we can begin to look forward to warmer times ahead but we’ve got some cold weather yet to come first no doubt. In the meantime so far so good.
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.