Duck! Rabbit, Duck! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I really felt terrible on Friday, weary, tired and a little fed-up with things but it was basically caused by fatigue, overwork, all work and no play if you prefer. I went to bed early on Friday and had some quality sleep. I woke up feeling completely different from the way I had done the previous day. I had determined that the weekend was going to be work-free and indeed on Saturday morning I couldn’t do any work anyway, in the garden that is, as it was raining. It was ceaseless and lasted the whole morning. Great if you are a duck and we often see ducks in our neighbour’s pond but none were about on Saturday. Around one-thirty the sun began to poke through the clouds and the weather improved minute by minute until around two-thirty when it could improve no more! The afternoon became bright and sunny in complete contrast to the morning. I wanted to get out into the garden and relax but it didn’t happen. I took the van to Dobbies and purchased ten more trees and shrubs, I say trees but three are actually tall shrubs I suppose rather than trees. Anyway I returned home and planted them out, one in the Plot area, two in the west wall bed and the remaining seven in various places in the long flowerbed. I was then able to sit on the patio for a short time until I saw another bluebell appearing in The Mound! I had to remove it……them and then I began to see others in different places which I set about removing. What annoyed me more than having again to dig them out was that one group were growing beneath a shrub I had planted in The Mound eighteen months ago. I had to gently remove the shrub to get at them. The sad part is that I know there will be more to remove yet. In one or two places I have not been able to remove the bulbs because they are so deep beneath tree roots. In those cases all I can do is pluck them back to prevent them growing above the soil. The grass needed cutting again but that would have to wait until at least Sunday as it was too wet to cut on Saturday and I’d had enough!
It was all about garden maintenance and the opportunity to get something done despite the bad weather. It rained practically all day on Thursday but it did ease back during the later part of the afternoon. I had no electrical work for the day, that was to come on Friday, so I was itching to get into the garden and do something. One of the things I wanted to do was to empty out the dead plant material in the pots in the large greenhouse. They were the remains of the bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers which E had been growing last year. That took around thirty minutes. Meanwhile the rain stopped for a time and I did other work outside, removing a couple of bluebells and weeds and then on to the little plot between the garage and the small greenhouse. There was a shrub there that needed some heavy pruning and a few weeds removing in the same plot too.
The shrub is the one on the left in the above picture taken last year. I had rescued the shrub in that it had been split and overgrown at the time and I had tied it to a support to allow it to recuperate. Well it had done that and now it needed more pruning. That done I could find little else to do but I went into the front garden where I had seen more bluebells a couple of days earlier. Because it had been raining and because they were in such a position as to be difficult to remove quickly I could do nothing about them.
As you can see they are trying to push between the edging stone and the concrete. It is unlikely they can be removed from the soil side as the edging stones are quite deep so it looks as though the edging will have to be removed to get them out. That will be a job to do later when we get drier weather. This is the bed where the edging stones are located (near to the white stone on the left). The tall rose-tree was pruned later in the year (last year) and is of similar height to the surrounding plants at the moment.
There is always something to do in the gardens and as long as the weather is reasonable I have a fair chance of getting it done!
I had been itching to carry on with my garden project of installing a stone edging to the long flowerbed, which I should really name a shrub and tree bed for there are no flowers in it but for a few days up to and including the weekend it had been raining too much. I did manage however to do about an hour on Saturday before rain stopped me. That was a good thing in a way for in that hour I had upset my leg muscles again. I only felt the pain later when I had finished. I did no work on the project for there was something more important, more bluebells to remove! I looked in places I had previously removed them and found quite a few were now showing but mostly they were in The Mound. The same old story, I find one then another and before I know it I see them everywhere! They are one pesky plant to eradicate to be sure. I dug out a few bulbs but in a couple of places I couldn’t find any bulbs, only the long stalks reaching deep underground. I have the feeling I am never going to be able to get them out because they are so far down and beneath tree roots it would be impossible so I may have to resign myself to just removing the stalks when they appear during the growing seasons. It is what we were doing before I decided to dig them out. It isn’t as bad as it seems though for they have become far fewer in number now having dug most of them out. I didn’t get to the flowerbed where I saw the others but they are easy to get at and when I get the time, probably early in the week ahead as I write this on Sunday, they will hopefully be removed as soon as possible. Until I see others! The main work is installing the stones and cementing them in place but because of the problems with my muscles brought about by the work I will be forced to slow things down. It is a kind of race but one that has to be run slowly. There is less of an urgency in getting the edging done than there is with removing bluebell bulbs. If I leave digging out the bulbs for too long it will be hard keeping on top of things. None of them however will be allowed to grow and produce flowers because that is when they produce seeds and then all the hard work done to date will have been in vain. It is therefore a race against time to get them out as soon as possible after spotting them while it is the growing season.
The UK has a peculiar weather system though it has to be said that the weather often varies for each country and in different parts of those countries. For a small land mass the weather can vary enormously from one end to the other. It is all to do with location of course and it could be much worse if it were not for the Gulf Stream sending warm water from The Caribbean. There were some hailstones on the roof beneath my bedroom window though there were none on the grass as in the picture above taken a couple of years ago around about the same time of year. That said the weather hasn’t been too bad considering it is still Winter even though, as far as the Meteorological Office is concerned, Winter ended on March 1st. Winter really ends at the Spring Equinox on March 21st. So one day may be warm and pleasant in these parts at this time of year then the next day it is bitterly cold as it was on Tuesday. I had to walk into an area close towards the town centre to carry out some business and when I set off from home it felt cold. I was suitably wrapped-up though and a little cold weather wasn’t enough to stop me from going for a walk. It was a wet day too with occasional light rain and I had to fold the umbrella a few times in between the showers. Nothing feels so silly as walking along with the umbrella up and it has stopped raining! I did feel the cold though as I had forgotten to take along a pair of gloves. I had to keep swapping the umbrella between hands putting one in my pocket to keep it warm. Ah, UK weather. In a few week’s time it will be warmer and all the cold weather will be forgotten. I had a day to myself and for the first time wasn’t digging out bluebells for a change, not that I could have spent much time in the garden between the rain showers. I knew there would be some popping up here and there eventually and I would have to deal with them so it was nice to get a break from that for a day at least. I received a few calls for my electrical services though I rejected all but one of them. That one I arranged to do on Friday. It is odd that I still get offers of work even when I don’t advertise as was the case this week.
I had been working again in the rear garden yesterday removing more bluebells but had run out of dry weather as well as running out of daylight and had to stop for the day. Most of what I was doing in the two hours between three and five o’clock was centred at the far end of the long flowerbed toward the ‘Mound’ and especially behind the trees. I had piled up everything I had dug out ready to put it in a bucket to dump it all. However the rain by then was heavy so I left everything and went indoors. According to the weather forecast a storm was heading in our direction to arrive on Thursday but that high winds and rain would precede it on Wednesday afternoon for my location. I lowered the flag we have in the front garden yesterday because the forecast of very high winds reaching perhaps 60 mph would rip it apart. I decided therefore to get up early and get out in the garden while there was time. Almost everywhere I had removed bluebells a few weeks ago I now found had more growing there! ‘Enough already’ I thought to myself as I got stuck in to the seemingly endless task ahead of me. My only consolation is in knowing I have removed many thousands of them, possibly and most probably around eight thousand by this point in time. So that will be eight thousand less plants producing seeds and making matters impossible. As it stands today, Wednesday as I write this, I still have the tail-end of the corner plot to finish though that should only take a couple of hours. Unfortunately, again according to the weather forecast, we can expect rain for many of the days ahead. The break, if I get one, will allow any other bluebells to grow and show themselves and I will be waiting with my little hand fork to escort them away! The two months I have spent thus far digging out montbretia and bluebells off and on is beginning to rip me apart too! Hopefully the major part of the project will be over soon but as I have mentioned in previous posts, it will be on-going maintenance for many months yet.
Update: Later in the afternoon I returned to the corner plot and finished filtering the soil as it hadn’t rained. That rain came later in the evening. So here is a picture taken from inside the greenhouse….
The plant in the pot is another shrub. It was an offshoot of a large bright green shrub further along the flowerbed far to the left. You can see it in the top picture dead centre. I had been working beneath that shrub earlier in the day removing more bluebells. The offshoot became detached in the process. It has of course its own root system. I put it into a pot until I decide to plant it later and after ensuring there are no more bluebells or montbretia plants in that place.
…and other excuses. Well I woke up a little later than I thought I would on Tuesday, at nine o’clock. I had been up several times during the night for toilet visits though I had slept well in between. I checked the time at five o’clock and woke up four hours later! The weather forecast had indicated a wet morning was probable and indeed it was wet when I arose but it wasn’t raining by then.
Cloud and rain, weather forecast symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
However we were supposed to expect intermittent rain at least for the morning. It didn’t happen but it was enough to deter any thoughts of working in the garden. Wednesday was forecast to be much better, drier and a little warmer too, so I resigned myself to take the day off on Tuesday and work in the garden on Wednesday instead. So I had a late breakfast of fruit and spent the morning at home doing pretty much nothing. As it was approaching two o’clock I drove to the pub and treated myself to a meal there but only the main course this time. I wasn’t hungry enough for anything more. The day remained dull but it stayed dry until late. we would be getting overnight rain with the promise of a fine day to follow, even sunny! This year I am promising myself to get out more, especially to the pub which I have neglected visiting these last twelve months. In fact last year I only went there three times in total. I need to keep in touch with people and not isolate myself so much. Whenever I stop going to the pub for any length of time I am missed according to those I know there. I have to correct that, I know I do. Bad weather may be an excuse for staying out of the garden but it isn’t an excuse to cease meeting with people so as Jimmy Buffett says…….
Take the Weather with You (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Windy Day at Wispington Evidence of strong westerly winds on the bales and the sign to Hall Farm, Wispington! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had the pleasure of an extra hour or two in bed on Wednesday. Recently I had been sleeping in occasionally when I ought not to have done, upsetting my plans for the day to some extent and feeling guilty about it. Knowing I had no electrical work scheduled for the day I could, if I wished, occupy myself in the garden, and that was exactly my wish. There was no hurry, there never is now for me, my time is essentially my own, I can do what I like in it. My life has become a balance between my electrical work which I try to keep to a minimum and time for myself to do with as I please. Currently my wish is to finish off digging out bluebell bulbs. Wednesday was a nice day and sunny for the most part, an ideal day for digging in the garden as long as I stayed indoors! Yes, when I first looked out of my bedroom window I thought I would be able to carry on with the work but when I actually went outside my mind was changed in an instant. It was extremely windy, look what the wind did to the bales of hay in the picture. I knew it was going to be windy as I had taken down the flag the evening before for a day or two until the forecast high winds had passed but had thought those winds would only start to become strong later in the day. As it happened it did get more windy later but even in the morning those winds were already strong and they were getting stronger. No chance then of working outside unless I wanted to feel very uncomfortable and then suffer for it the next day. All my plans therefore were up in the air and at the mercy of the weather. If it isn’t windy around here it is often wet or cold, or all three together at this time of year so it can be difficult to do the things I wish to do outdoors. As I write this on Wednesday afternoon I cannot say with any certainty when I shall be able to get back into the garden. So far today I have done very little except for one or two minor repairs indoors. My electrical work might pick up now that the advert is running once more.
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…
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.
Wind-sculpted trees on the Pembrokeshire coast In contrast to the many images of the sunny summer coastline this shows the effect of the prevailing winds on clifftop vegetation and the misty atmosphere of a midwinter afternoon (Christmas Eve 2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is Christmas Eve as I write this late in the afternoon. I sit alone. It was exactly the same yesterday and it bores me to tears. At the moment the wind is blowing at around 40-44 mph according to the weather forecast and it is cold at 7 deg C but feeling colder because of the wind, not a day for going far on foot. We are promised a warm day tomorrow at an astonishing 15-16 deg C and although the wind will have not lessened it should be a better day for being outdoors. However there is the likelihood of rain too as we have been informed. That being the case and as I will be doing nothing else I might do a bit of gardening. It would be colder days from then on. There are bluebell shoots coming out of the ground, the remnant of those I removed during the early summer when I redesigned the front garden flowerbeds. At that time I removed many bluebell bulbs and couldn’t be sure I had removed them all. Now that they have sprouted I can see where to dig to remove them. Nice as bluebells are they tend to multiply quickly and spread themselves all over the place. Of course there is no hurry to get rid of them just yet as it is only after they have flowered do they begin to spread seeds. If the weather is warm it is worthwhile getting them out now as the warm and dry days will be few as the season progresses. There are shrubs to prune back too and of course there are always weeds to dig out! At least it will give me something to do on the day rather than sit watching television. If the weather isn’t as bad as it could be I might carry on doing some more gardening tasks if I am able. I will reveal what happened in a later post. On Friday last I placed an order for a replacement Union Flag for our flag pole as the existing one has become torn and tattered on its trailing edge. I took it down on Thursday ahead of the forecast high winds and though it is still serviceable I thought a new one would be in order. The new one arrived early on Saturday morning! That was quick service. As I write I am wondering how long it will be before the wind dies down enough to raise the flag once more as it shouldn’t be used if the winds are too high. Well this has been the first week of the Winter season and no doubt the weather will only get worse before it gets better. How long will it be I wonder before we can rely on getting warmer days every day?
Sleep/Holiday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It was a bad day on Friday, not the day itself but the weather turned nasty at around two o’clock. I have to confess I didn’t get out of bed until almost one o’clock after four separate three-hour periods of sleep. My sleep patterns are all over the place recently but I guess I am getting the sleep I require. It would be nice however to be able to sleep for six hours in one go. I almost never sleep beyond five hours in one go. E had been up for some time and was just finishing her lunch when I came downstairs to have mine. Obviously there would be no breakfast so I had the remainder of the chicken and vegetable stew I had prepared a couple of days earlier. The large bowl was enough to satisfy my hunger. E went out just as I had finished eating, she was off to see her mom again perhaps to do some shopping or sort out some Christmas presents. She spends Christmas day afternoon at her mom’s house as do the rest of the family I think. I never get invited but it isn’t a real problem as I don’t observe Christmas anyway. I repeat that I am a Christian just in case some of my readers were thinking otherwise. Just as she was leaving the house the heavens opened and the rain began to pelt down. The wind had picked up too and it was blowing a gale. It had been forecast days before. This particular storm had been named ‘Barbara’ and its path took it to the north of the UK, that is the centre of the storm went along that path. The winds lessened the further south from it but even at our latitude it was still strong. We had enjoyed rather mild weather for the season up until that point so we couldn’t complain I suppose but it didn’t last long, a couple of days and we would be back to more settled weather. I had thoughts of going out perhaps for a meal on Friday but I decided against the idea because of the poor weather. There would be another opportunity in the days ahead if I wanted to go somewhere. One thing I really wanted to do over the holiday period was to get out into the gardens and do some work. At the time of writing this on Friday afternoon it looks as though that opportunity will be a long way off unless the weather improves.
A Christmas Without Snow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have just written a comment on an article posted by AOL regarding snowfall at Christmas. Our weather forecasters seemingly cannot say with certainty if we in the UK will get a white Christmas. My comments centred on the fact that I thought it utter nonsense that people yearn for such things forgetting as many do what Christmas is supposed to be all about, the birth of our Saviour and not the fact that we might or might not get snow!
I was at work on Saturday afternoon. I had no work in the morning but had arranged to work in another town for someone in the afternoon because they had no free time during the week. I didn’t mind, after all it is Christmas as they say. Anyway the work was to replace a few light fittings with sparkling new ones. The lady for whom I was doing the work began chatting with me. Usually it is off-putting when people won’t just let me get on with the work but on this occasion I didn’t mind. I was taken a little by surprise because her questions all centred upon me, my family, friends, about my faith and about Christmas. I am not forthright in opening up to people regarding my family and friends my faith and beliefs unless they ask of course but if they do I don’t hold back. She began by asking what I was doing over Christmas. When I replied ‘nothing different from usual’ she was intrigued and wanted to know more so I explained, telling her that I don’t think Christmas is celebrated for the right reasons these days and it has become a secular and commercial machine having nothing to do with Christ. I also told her that my family have all but distanced themselves and my friends all live afar, not that I can claim having many friends as I don’t which means I couldn’t celebrate the holiday with them as they do even it was my wish to do so. My social life is just about zero too but that’s another story. She became very concerned and it prompted more questions which I answered as honestly as I could. She couldn’t believe I don’t celebrate Christmas as I once did, in fact I don’t celebrate it at all. The look of concern upon her face was evident. She asked if I was a Christian, a question I usually end up asking of those I talk with rather than it being asked of myself. Asking what church I went to and discovering I don’t prompted her to ask why. The answer I gave made her feel sad for me and she said she thought it was sad that I wasn’t in a fellowship and no longer felt the urge to be in one. I was more concerned about her feeling a sadness for me instead of just accepting the way I feel about things as being my own choice. I have to admit I haven’t felt such a concern for me for many years, not even from those closest to me, my own family. I am more concerned that people should believe in God and Jesus Christ rather than be concerned for me and never mind whether it will snow or not.
Finally cold foggy winter days, even a bit of rain, until now we had warm weather. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So here we are almost in the middle of December on the thirteenth as I write and it is unseasonably warm outside, though it has been raining a little. With temperatures hovering around 9 deg C accompanied by very little wind it feels more like a bad summer’s day rather than the end of Autumn. We tend to associate December with Winter but in fact it only marks the beginning of it. A friend living in New York tells me she is experiencing temperatures as low as -1 deg C. No doubt we will have that sort of weather in the months ahead. The first three months of the year are all about Winter. I always look forward to March when we begin to see things warming up again. Tulips, daffodils and snowdrops lie in wait and already there are daffodil shoots emerging from beneath the soil. Yesterday I removed the remaining apples from the trees. They wouldn’t get any larger than their small size and many had already found a spot among the border plants below and on the lawn. I had reaped a small harvest of larger apples a couple of weeks ago and some of them went into apple pies I made which were then frozen. The rest I ate with ice cream over a few days, delicious! Maybe I’ll eat the pies when the colder weather appears to remind me of the warmer days passed. Surely I will eat them anyway before Spring. My favourite time of year is about to end, that is mid-November to mid December, late Autumn, though each of the seasons I like also in their own way. There is only one aspect of the weather I don’t really like, the wind. Other aspects vary in their affect upon me according to my mood I guess. High humidity comes in high on my dislikes too when it is hot that is. Because fog is the result of high humidity too but when it is cold I do not mind fog at all. It has been a little misty here where I live on one or two days recently but we’ve yet to experience the dense fog other parts of the country get. As I am writing these last few words the sun has put in an appearance just to let me know how quickly the weather can change from being cold to becoming warm. We are told to expect continuing warm weather for the next few days. That’s nice.
We are experiencing rather unusual weather here in the UK. Tuesday was a cold and frosty day but on Wednesday that changed when the temperature rose where I live to around 12 deg C. As I write this on Thursday the temperature is around 14 deg C. Most unusual weather for December when the temperature should be around half that. The wind is from the south which explains the higher temperatures but according to the forecast it will veer from the west soon and the weather will become more unsettled and probably cooler.
Houseboat One of the many unusual houseboats on the south of the River Adur. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Thursday morning I was called upon to do an electrical job in a village some twelve miles or more away from home in a house I had worked in on a few occasions in the past. The people living there are quite unusual, that is a little odd, well to me they are. The children have long-since left the nest and now three people live there, the husband, his wife and her mother. The mother is 87 years old but doesn’t look it, in fact she doesn’t act it either! A bit like myself, ahem! The couple are slightly younger than myself and in their mid-sixties. They are nice people and very friendly, a little too friendly if one isn’t used to that when at work. When I arrived I was greeted by the husband, a rather effeminate and slightly built man who has a timid disposition which seems out of character for a man. His wife was too eager to please and she has an apologetic nature. When I entered the house she came over, hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. She told me how much she had missed me since my last visit which was in fact more than four years ago. I had only driven there to assess what was needed for the job, replacing recessed lights in a bathroom with LED versions, so that I could go and purchase them. I would then return immediately afterward to install them. She insisted I have a coffee whilst telling me there was no hurry to get the work done. Whilst I was away from the house buying the lights the husband went out too. On my return I set about doing the work and soon after he returned with all the weekly shopping. It appears he wears the skirts and has taken it upon himself to do the shopping every week whilst his wife stays at home! I had nearly finished the work when they both left the house seemingly to dine out judging by the way they were dressed. The mother remained at home to clean the house. I had been paid before they left but I had one other small job to do for them, drill the wall in the hallway and hang a mirror! The man had told me he was useless at DIY and I thought to myself why am I not surprised?…………
Don’t you just love Mondays? Monday started showery though it was quite mild with little in the way of wind. My scheduled electrical job was to check for an intermittent fault on a distribution board in an out-house (a built-on extension to the main building) and to replace two floodlights on the outside walls of that extension. It was dry when I arrived but soon after opening my toolbox it began to rain. However, because the forecast was for showers I expected the rain to stop after a few minutes, and it did but that was the pattern for the next hour or so. By noon the sun was ‘cracking the flags (paving stones)’ as we say but long before then I had finished the work. The reason for the distribution panel’s RCD tripping intermittently was due to one of the old floodlights which had become detached from the wall. It was hanging by the electrical cable leaving the connection box exposed to the elements. I removed it and fitted the new one which had been supplied by the customer. Her son had purchased two replacement tungsten-halogen fittings and had given them to her. I left setting it up until after the second floodlight had been installed. I set the controls on the first floodlight and it worked perfectly but when I did the same to the second light it wouldn’t switch off. The lady and I waited for quite some time for the light to ‘settle down’ as sometimes they can be quite temperamental when first switched on. This unit just didn’t want to know! The lady asked if I could simply buy a new one instead. She opted for me to purchase an LED version so I drove off to purchase one. The picture shows the same model.I was away from the house for almost a half-hour and on my return I saw that the floodlight had finally switched itself off! As I had set it up for automatic night-time switching the lady asked if I could leave it and see if indeed it was now going to behave itself. She sent me a text message later to let me know everything worked fine. I didn’t bother returning the newly purchased light as either she might find the light is faulty or someone else might want one. With the connection box included the price was under £25 so it will remain as van stock for the time being. I drove off to view another job and whilst doing so a lady I had been to see the previous week regarding replacing her outside wall lantern called to let me know she had purchased the replacement. It was in the next township but as the weather had now turned out for the better I took the opportunity to go and replace it for her. By now it was one-thirty and beyond my lunchtime. I didn’t get lunch until almost two-thirty. It happens quite often. My little run about paid well anyway so I was happy.