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.
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.
Ah, Sunday morning and all tucked up under the duvet made me feel so secure and warm, The curtains drawn back allowed me to see the new day outside and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Rain was pelting against the glass of the windows forced relentlessly by the strong north-westerly winds. I tried to close my eyes again but it was now too late, time to get up and face the day. I was going for a walk, down along the beach and back along the coastal road this time. It was around eight-twenty as I stepped through the front door, I was well wrapped up to face the elements and needed to be, it would get worse before it got better! I walked the half-mile or so to the coast road and crossed over to walk through the sand dunes and onward to the beach. There was the watery and muddy paths to negotiate before I reached the sand and soon after I arrived there the wind picked up and became stronger, then the rain began to fall again. It had ceased raining by the time I set off but now it was back with a vengeance. Have you ever stood in a waterfall? I have and there on the beach it felt just the same. I stooped down to the sand to minimise the drowning I was being given but thankfully it lasted only a few minutes before easing off to be just light rain for ten minutes. I looked heavenward to see a bright blue sky, the clouds had blown over, well most of them. I made it to the point where I was to turn off the beach and as I did I saw several police, coast guard and ranger vehicles with their crews standing close by. I wondered if there had been an incident along the beach for as I had approached the turning off point I could see flashing amber lights in the distance ahead of me further along the beach. Whatever the event was about it looked as though it was all over. I continued with my walk and homeward bound. By the time I reached home the sun was shining, it was warmer and most of the sky was blue. It didn’t last too long however as by one o’clock it was cloudy again, then sunny, then cloudy…..a day of two halves.
On Saturday through to Sunday afternoon we felt the effects of the latest storm to grace our shores and it was even worse than the previous one we had endured merely a matter of days before. You might say we were fortunate as it didn’t pass too close but it didn’t need to.
The eye of the storm passed over the Irish sea between England and Wales on the east and Ireland on the west. That meant the highest winds encircled it and guess where I live, right beneath them? On the map Southport is located just above ‘Liverpool‘ on the straight piece of coast before the next inlet above it. The eye of the storm passed over ‘Anglesey‘. The previous storm passed further to the west and we were less affected by it. The wind and rain were relentless and for hours we were bombarded with it. The driving wind forced some of the rain beneath the lead flashing over the bay window in a room at the front of the house. It found its way into the ceiling space and on to the floor in that room. When time and weather allow an investigation we will see what can be done to prevent it happening again.* I put off going for a walk on Sunday until after eleven o’clock. The rain had ceased but the wind was still strong at 35 mph (51 Km). I managed to get to the beach but it was hard-going though very refreshing. Surprisingly it didn’t feel very cold despite the wind. I walked a little on the sand before returning nearer to the coast road to walk there instead. I returned home ready for lunch an hour later, a little windswept! Around three o’clock the sun began to shine, the sky began to turn blue and thankfully the wind had dropped to a more respectable level. I actually found time to potter about in the garden!
* Post Script: I carried out the repairs which had caused the leak the following day having found a loose brick and some holes in the wall. They were hidden from sight behind the guttering. At the same time I replaced some of the plastic sheeting beneath the roof tiles which had become worn exposing the timbers behind.
What a couple of rough days we had since the weekend and basically all due to the high winds. The temperature has been reasonably fair for the beginning of October, hovering around 15 deg C, though some say it could be warmer. The wind didn’t prevent me doing those small jobs yesterday and perhaps now they have subsided for a spell I might be able to work some more in the garden. I went for another walk on Tuesday, this time going north once more to end up on the now overgrown beach north of the town at Marshside. The area is the white portion of the map nearest the top of the picture… The tide had been in an hour or two before I had reached the shore and all that could be seen was a covering of green far out to sea. I was at the high tide mark merely a few metres from the road where the ground is a mixture of sand, crushed seashells and flotsam and jetsam washed-up onshore. At this end of the shore the path is separated from the road by a small bank covered in grass and shrubs but as one walks south toward the pier there is just a metre or two of sand alongside the sea wall which begins at that point. I didn’t walk far in front of the wall as the sand began to turn to mud after a hundred metres or so. It isn’t until the pier is reached when the whole beach becomes sandy again. Anyway the other reason for getting off the beach was the wind-blown sand in my face! I decided to turn inland and walk the rest of the way home away from the shoreline, stopping off at the pub for a soft drink before continuing home. It can be very pleasant walking along the sea front even in the colder months but it can also be the opposite when the weather, especially the wind, turns nasty. It is at times like these I take to walking the more sheltered routes through the town.
It is still mid-September as I write this and I can say with much confidence that Summer is just about over. Over the last few days the temperature has dropped, the rain has fallen – is falling and the wind is high, more like Autumn. I could moan about Autumn’s approach but in fact the season is my favourite. All the outdoor work that still needs doing is best done without the hot sun bearing down on me but unfortunately most of the time the wind and rain bring everything to a halt. I had been working inside the garage yesterday (I write this on Tuesday 12) fixing the two brackets on which to store a couple of ladders and noticed the rain had been seeping in near the entrance, in the corner in fact. The problem was due to the joint between the garden wall and the garage wall having a crack in it because the mortar had shrunk. It would be a simple thing to rectify but the weather forecast predicted persistent rain for several days. There was just the possibility of a dry spell first thing on Tuesday morning and I took the opportunity to do the work then. I had it done in thirty minutes. It was ten o’clock with patchy cloud and a little sunshine. It improved until by one o’clock it was almost all sunshine. It didn’t last though as predicted and by later afternoon it became overcast. Rain soon followed and it was noticeably cooler. By that time the new mortar had dried enough to stand a little rain. It looked as though there would be little chance of doing anything more outdoors for a few days. When operating the garage door to access tools and such the door jammed a couple of times and it needed releasing. It is just as well that a new door system is to be installed shortly as the old one is getting worse for wear. At eleven o’clock I went for a walk, this time along the beach a couple of miles and returning the same way. I had to call into the pub on my way back to use the toilet! I was told by the manager that I looked a little windswept. When I looked in the mirror I could see why. Although my hair looked a little messy my cheeks were nice and rosy….a picture of health.