Too much

I went to bed early but didn’t drop off to sleep until just after ten o’clock. I had set the alarm for four-thirty despite knowing that usually I lie awake waiting for it to go off! I wanted to take an early walk and set off just after five-thirty. The forecast had been for a cold night and fairly windy with it. Whenever the wind blows it makes things colder than the dry bulb indicates. It is all about evaporation. As an engineer one of my responsibilities was to ensure a comfortable working environment for the staff across the site. I had to maintain an ambient temperature of 21 deg C and a relative humidity of 50% both within set limits. I often used a whirling hygrometer which is a device resembling one of those rattles people often used at football matches many years ago. In the hygrometer are two mercury-filled thermometers one of which has the bulb inside a sock which is dipped in distilled water. As the device is rotated at speed it takes two temperatures, a dry bulb and a wet bulb temperature. The wet bulb would generally produce a lower temperature than the dry bulb due to the cooling effect caused by the evaporation of the wet sock. A reference chart would be used to find the relative humidity using the two temperatures. That by the way was a slight diversion to my post! It is interesting though as many folk wouldn’t know why the wind has a cooling effect, they just know it does.

There you see the device in the picture. Although I was well wrapped up the walk was bracing to say the least! I chose to walk my current route in a clockwise direction rather than the counter-clockwise direction I normally take which meant walking along the sea front with the wind in my face. I was certainly glad when I reached the point where I would turn inland and then back home with the wind behind me! It began to rain. It took some time to ‘thaw out’ on my return. How different from a couple of weeks ago when it was quite balmy. Now the rain was heavier and the morning looked miserable but after breakfast I did a little more work in the garage. This time cutting out the slot in the door edge in which to sit the new lock. It took me ages to do it because the door was on its hinges. I should have done it whilst it was held in the workbench the day before but of course I didn’t have it then. Suddenly I had it finished, the slot anyway and I stopped work. “I’ve had enough” I told myself and tidied up. It was twelve forty-five and time for lunch.

Shirley Anne

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A nothing day

Do you ever get nothing days in your life? Days in which nothing out of the ordinary happens or nothing gets done happen all of the time but hopefully not every day for everyone! My Wednesday was such a day for me. It was the 13 th day of March but it could have been a nothing day on any day both before and after. The weather hereabouts had been really miserable with very high winds blowing and the occasional showering of rain didn’t help matters much. There were things I wanted to be getting on with outside but they were never going to happen until the weather improved. One was finishing the work on the ramp behind the garage and to start work on constructing and installing a new door and frame for the same garage. The latter project was to widen the access into and out of the garage especially for the new mower.

The picture was taken a couple of years ago but shows the rear door of the garage which I intend to replace. I could have started the work on the door had there been materials on hand but there wasn’t. I would have to order them along with other materials but because the weather was so bad I shelved the idea for a few days. Earlier I had partly drained down the heating system in order to remove a leaking valve and on filling it up again discovered the bathroom towel rail heater refused to heat up. That was caused by trapped air in the system which I attempted to remove but at first couldn’t. It happens every time I drain the system for one reason or another. Over a couple of days I eventually did manage to get the air out but still the towel rail wasn’t getting hot enough. I decided to leave it alone for one more day to see if it would eventually work and it did just as it usually did. I went for a walk early in the morning even though the wind was still very strong (around 55 to 60 mph) and tried to stay sheltered from it as best I could. The wind finally eased off later in the evening and hopefully Thursday would be a better day where I might get something done if I felt inclined. It would probably be to order timber for making a start on the door and frame. The concrete laying for the ramp alterations would still have to wait for an improvement in the weather.

Shirley Anne

Rain

Enjoy the rain?

I don’t mind the rain do you? It’s when the wind blows it sideways I hate it. Sometimes in this country (UK) when it rains it rains for days on end and if you don’t like the rain it can be very miserable for you. As the song points out it is all a state of mind. We cannot prevent it raining so unless you just grin and bear it or even enjoy it your life will remain very miserable indeed! I have to admit though that when it rains it can prevent us enjoying the things we enjoy doing outside when it is dry. We had a few days of continuous rain at the beginning of December and it came after a long period of almost completely dry weather. I was beginning to think we would never get rain again! So remember to enjoy the rain just in case you never have it again!

Shirley Anne

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

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