Three day break?

After completing around one third of the next stage of the garden project I was ready to bring that part to a conclusion on Friday morning (20 th). However it didn’t work out that way. I had been for my early morning walk and was feeling a little tired but I had the weekly shopping to do. I went out at three o’clock and was back before five which gave me plenty of time to rest up before doing the shopping at eight o’clock. It made no difference, I remained a little tired and when I returned home from the shopping all I wanted to do was sit down. A muscular pain in my left buttock didn’t help so sitting down offered some respite. I needed to eat something too for I had not eaten much for breakfast. I made myself a sandwich and sat with E whilst she had her breakfast. We watched some television and checked the weather forecast. It was about to rain and according to the forecast would continue to do so for the following three days also. It would be Monday therefore before I could finish the second stage of the project, that is filling the bottom of the trench with concrete. The previous work had set hard overnight.

E asked where she could best do some spray-painting and I suggested outside in the fresh air! Aside from the dangers of inhaling the paint it would most probably dry faster outdoors. Fortunately the high winds we had on Wednesday had subsided so painting outside was possible but only if she did it within the hour. Rain was due about then. She was spray-painting egg shell halves. I cleared a space on the concrete base behind the garage where I had been putting old bricks and rubble. Why paint eggs shells I hear you ask? When dry they would be broken into tiny pieces to be used in art work when she makes her greetings cards. The paint would be touch-dry in twenty minutes and take twenty-four hours to set hard. Twenty minutes later they were dry and we packed them into a cardboard box. It began to rain right on time! I would it appeared be getting the three-day break from work!

Shirley Anne

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Not expected

It is fast approaching Autumn and the change in the weather makes it noticeable especially in the hours before dawn. It is getting colder though it can be quite cold during the night in the height of Summer sometimes. Being on the coast makes it a little cooler than elsewhere inland too. Over the years the weather forecasts have greatly improved and are now more accurate though not always. I had checked the forecast for Friday (7 th) morning and throughout the day and it indicated dry weather but on the cool side, only up to 14 deg C where I live. I was going for a walk at 4 am and was suitably dressed for the cool weather and was wearing my rainproof jacket just as I always do at this time of year. I had only reached my next-door neighbour’s house when a fox darted out from his driveway across my path only to disappear across the road into another driveway. He or she must have found my neighbour’s garden easier to negotiate. See my previous posts. I guess he/she wasn’t expecting to bump into anyone so must have been quite surprised at seeing me. At the time of writing I am engaged in some work to make it more difficult for foxes to enter our garden at the rear as they can be a nuisance. Anyway I carried on up the road on my walk. I could feel one or two drops of rain which gradually grew into more until about a mile into the walk when it lashed down. Water was bouncing off the roads and large puddles were everywhere as the drains struggled to swallow it all. I remained dry inside my jacket though the lower half of my skirt got wet. Now I could wear waterproof trousers but I wouldn’t be comfortable in them so I don’t. In any case I don’t have any. So the weather forecast was completely wrong, dry indeed, what were they thinking? The remainder of the day involved the occasional shower too.

Shirley Anne

Just in time

It had been quite a few weeks since I last mowed the lawn, well it seemed that long anyway. I don’t keep tabs on such things. I had watered the garden soon after breakfast on Friday instead of doing it the other way around. I wanted to go for a walk but needed some space after eating. It was just after four o’clock when I’d finished the watering and still very much dark. It wouldn’t get light until after six o’clock at this time of year. No, I didn’t water the garden in darkness as we have switchable lighting at one end which pretty much illuminates the whole garden though the floodlights illuminate automatically because of their motion detectors. The lights over the patio can be switched on too but there is little point if all the others are switched on, suffice to say it was light enough without them. Anyway I digress. So I went for my walk just after four o’clock and it was dry and windy but a little cool, especially in the wind. Soon I would have to think about wearing warmer clothing on these outings though I had on this occasion been well wrapped up too. I took the walk through the back streets to town and beyond and was well-sheltered from the wind. When I reached the seafront however it was a different story, bracing but enjoyable nevertheless. It stayed dry until I reached home when I could see the odd spatter of rain by the front door entrance. When I went indoors I prepared what I would be having for lunch later, another chilli. It was around ten-thirty when I decided to mow the lawn as it had remained dry until then. The odd spattering earlier must have been just a passing cloud which had decided to hold on to its load. I mowed the lawn, which took about twenty minutes and just as I had put the mower back in storage it began to rain.

Even so that didn’t last long either but we had been promised more persistent rain later in the day and into the night. On Thursday, the day before, our next-door neighbour was having the scaffolding around his house dismantled, well almost all of it. Evidently the work of re-pointing the brickwork and carrying out roof repairs had ended. The guys had been fortunate for it not to have been raining whilst doing that job. How do they manage to work safely if it is pouring down with rain? Anyway on looking at the work that has been done the front aspect of the house looks really nice but when I looked at the side and rear all that has happened has been a little patching up here and there. I would have though it better to have the whole house done while the scaffolding was there. I know how much it costs to have scaffolding erected having had it around my house and it isn’t cheap! I even asked the guys why they were dismantling it as I didn’t think the work was finished. It didn’t look finished to me.

Shirley Anne

It did rain after all…

It did rain later on Saturday as forecast and quite heavily for a time though it was spasmodic. When I awoke on Sunday morning at two am it was dry but by six o’clock it began raining in earnest and stayed that way throughout the day. It had been very windy on Saturday but it was less so on Sunday morning. The weather hadn’t been this way for many weeks and needed getting used to again. My Sunday was to be a day of complete rest so I didn’t need to venture outside except to dump waste into the wheelie bins. I was so pleased that the weather had turned cooler at least for a time. It gave the gardens some space to recuperate and me too! Worse than the heat though for me is the high humidity that when combined with the heat makes it so uncomfortable. High humidity actually makes it feel warmer because we cannot lose body heat as efficiently. So in cooler weather it can be beneficial having high humidity. Being indoors at home with little to do gives me time to think about things. I am always looking for something constructive to do especially if it is something I can get my teeth into so to speak, something I can do with my hands, a project. On Sunday I gave some extra thought to something I had been thinking about over the previous few days and it has to do with the lawn in the rear garden,

I took the above pictures on Sunday. The lawn has slowly improved over the last week or so after being scorched dry because of the high temperatures and sunshine. I had watered it daily, sometimes twice until the grass returned to its present lush appearance. The dark patches are the remains of the moss which had taken over large areas until we treated it a couple of months ago. The grass is growing back in those areas though you may not be able to see it in the picture. The grass also looks unkempt because I haven’t mowed it for weeks. I have deliberately left it that way until it thickens up. Yes, it will be harder to mow but the machine can cope with that. Anyway it is the lawn itself for which I have ideas. I am thinking of landscaping an area of the lawn by placing an island containing trees, shrubs and rocks in it. If it happens I think it will greatly improve the otherwise plain lawn and be more pleasing on the eye. Watch this space as they say.

Shirley Anne

A wet day

Praise the Lord for giving us a wet day on Monday (16 th)! For so long we have had to endure hot and dry weather which is alright for many people, it’s just that I’m not one of them.

Rain 4

My planned early morning walk went ahead though the rain at first wasn’t heavy it got heavier later on. It was very warm for five-fifteen in the morning, I guess it would be around the 19 deg C that had been forecast and the humidity was quite high too, it could be felt. That meant a lightweight raincoat or an umbrella. I took both, the shower proof coat I had purchased a few weeks ago and the umbrella. At first I just walked along without either but a half-mile into the walk I had to use the umbrella. I didn’t wish to use the coat for I knew I would feel too hot if I did. About halfway through the walk however I was at the seafront in a driving wind and was forced to stop to put on the coat.

Shower proof coat

I struggled a little with the umbrella but managed to keep it forward of me to act as a wind break. It kept most of the rain at bay, the coat protecting me from the rest. As it is only supposed to be a shower proof coat and not a completely waterproof one I was reluctant to go without the umbrella. My waterproof jacket which I wear in the cooler months really does keep out the rain and the wind also but in summer it is far too warm to be wearing it unless there is a cold spell. The rain gave me some welcome respite from watering the gardens with the hose. Yesterday (15 th) for instance I watered the rear garden borders once but the lawn twice. Here is a reminder of the size of our lawn. The picture was taken a year ago and when the grass wasn’t scorched by the sun! 

I also watered the front garden once too. I had mentioned in my post on Saturday that today I would be installing the little wooden fence I had made but obviously I couldn’t because of the rain. Hopefully I shall be able to do it tomorrow, Tuesday 17 th. Today I will give the sections yet another coat of preserver. Maybe I should apply the stuff to my skin so I can dispense with raincoat and umbrella! When I used to go running the rain was never a problem, I simply got wet and enjoyed it. Going for a walk isn’t quite the same though is it?

Shirley Anne

Yippee!

An expression sometimes given when filled with happiness, joy and glee. I woke up early on Friday (13 th) and it was still dark outside. At four-thirty it should have been much lighter at this time of year unless there was a heavy cloud cover. It had been cloudy throughout Thursday but it remained dry. However on Friday it was raining and looked as if it had been raining for some hours. I was overjoyed to say the least for I had been praying for rain for a few days in the hope that the gardens wouldn’t need hours of watering by hose for a while. Nature does it better than me anyway. Rain had long been overdue, everywhere I saw grass it was straw-coloured and dry as a bone. This had resulted in many wild fires across the country although some of those we were told had been deliberately caused. What kind of person thinks that is a good idea to set fires this way especially as there had been a water shortage? In fact what kind of person wants to set fires going anywhere in the open countryside? It is bad enough dealing with urban fires and many were indeed set off in urban areas. How long would it continue to rain or how frequent would they be? Those were my thoughts but the forecast looked gloomy, it would be dry again for at least five days unless the forecast was wrong. At least the rain gave everywhere a good soaking and it gave me a little respite from having to use the hose for a day or so. Rain threatened to fall throughout Friday but little did. I was up early and after breakfast I carried out some adjustments to the small fence sections I had made and made them sturdier. I then gave the parts a coat of wood preserver and left it to dry, returning later to give it all a second coat. It would probably get four or five coats before it was fitted. For the support bracket I flattened a piece of copper pipe, bent it in an ‘L’ shape and drilled fixing holes in it ready for use. It is lying on the long fence part between the two upright smaller parts in the picture below. I was hoping there would not be a need for further support but wouldn’t know until I began installing the fence.

Shirley Anne

Same again please?

Practically the whole month of May was fine and sunny with high unseasonal temperatures too. The month of June has been less so. We have had warm spells in June though they have been few. As I write this on the 22 nd we are told to expect a mini-heatwave for a few days. Today it is struggling to reach 20 deg C, pleasant enough but the wind is making it feel cooler. Do we really need high temperatures and humidity and little or no rain? No we don’t if we are being honest even though the warm days are welcomed. I have been spending a lot of my time just watering the gardens for if I leave off doing it for more than a day or so the plants begin to wilt, even those which are well established. None of the trees have been suffering of course for their roots reach much further below the ground toward the water table. The land around these parts is sand below the first metre so it doesn’t hold the moisture for very long. Our gardens have a fair amount of top-soil  but I think it could be more substantial, heavier like it would be if there was some clay in the mix. There are alternatives of course, vermiculite for instance could be mixed in to help retain more water and a surface covering of bark and/or mulch is beneficial.  We have been spreading both on the more exposed flowerbeds which has helped but when the weather is constantly very warm it isn’t enough and I have to water the ground more often. As the bushes and shrubs grow and develop they cover over more of the soil and that certainly helps it to stay wet longer. I have noticed that to be the case in the front garden where the bushes seem oblivious to the lack of rain. I do water them but less often than I water the rest of the garden. So yes, I do welcome the warmer weather as long as we can have some rain once in a while too!

Shirley Anne

All change

I could sense the possibility of rain as I looked out through the window from my bed. It was Saturday morning (16 th) and five-thirty as I lay there contemplating the day ahead. I decided a walk was on the cards but I was hungry so I decided to wait until after breakfast this time. I had just finished breakfast and saw that fine rain was falling. I would need to take a raincoat if I was to brave the elements as they say. It wasn’t a warm morning at all, in fact it stayed pretty cool all day long. It was 16 deg C but it felt more like 10 or 11 in the breeze. I had put on my walking boots too thinking that lighter footwear was unsuitable for what seemed like a late Autumn day which as it turned out was a wise decision. The outward part of the walk was pleasant enough but I was glad I had put on the rainproof jacket for it kept me warm in the cooling breeze. I had reached the half-way stage when the rain began to pour down in earnest. It remained that way until I reached home when suddenly it stopped! As soon as I went indoors I realised just how cool it had been outside. There had been quite a number of women out running on the route I had taken and none seemed bothered about the driving rain. I knew how they must have felt having spent many a time doing the same thing years ago. I sometimes wish I could do it again but then realise how unnecessary it would be at my time in life. I get my exercising in other ways now not least of all taking a walk. It was Saturday and the afternoon was beckoning more activity. Did I succumb? I’ll let you guess.

Shirley Anne

Drought?

During the last couple of weeks it has rained only once in earnest. I write this on 5 th with no forecast of rain for the next few days. If it continues this way we will be heading for a drought. It also means I have been engaged in watering the gardens with a hose else the plants would be suffering, even dying in some cases. For this part of the world the current weather pattern is very unusual and I wonder if it is just a temporary phase or something we can expect more often now. Parts of my country have plenty of water to hand and don’t feel the effects so much when there is a drought but other parts, the more densely populated areas for instance struggle. I hope we can avoid a drought but it is one thing totally beyond our control. I have always maintained that there should be more reservoirs constructed and interconnected with wetter areas to alleviate any possible problems. We do the same thing at home on a miniature scale, we have rainwater butts which are kept full throughout the year for use in drier weather if needed. I have been thinking of adding more for we do have the space for them. For instance I could install a couple behind one of the garages, where the bricks were stored in this old picture for instance,

in fact a very large tank could be installed in that spot if it were desired. We have never resorted to using either of the present water butts because of a shortage of water. So far it has never been necessary but that could change. The moment I decide to add another water-butt it will most probably pour down for weeks on end! It is nice to know I have the option anyway.

Shirley Anne

 

Just when things..

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!

Shirley Anne