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.
Although I don’t mind it being Winter and the fact that it is cold far more than it gets warm there is a lethargic atmosphere deep in my brain telling me to refrain from attacking the jobs I want to do. This applies both to outdoor tasks and indoor tasks alike, I have to force myself to do some of them. It’s all about self-discipline of course for once I am engaged in a task nothing really matters, I just get on with it. I suppose if it were warmer and the sun was shining it would be a different story but no, perhaps it wouldn’t. You see if it is warm and sunny I like to relax in it! Again, it is about discipline and motivation. It is the middle of January as I write. The sun was out throughout the morning but decided to go hide for the rest of the day. The day suddenly feels the temperature it is and to add to that a slight breeze is blowing now. Suddenly I don’t wish to be outside in it but the waste doesn’t find its way to the bins all by itself and the leaves don’t get swept into the wheelie bin either. Neither of those tasks need to be done immediately but there is a nagging urgency for me to tackle at least one of them. I’ll let you guess which one. We love our creature comforts don’t we? The bedclothes are cozy, the heating is on, there is shelter from the elements and a nice warm cup of coffee invites us to remain indoors. Nothing will get done unless we decide not to be lazy and just get on with it. It’s battle fought by many a dedicated couch potato and won but I am not a couch potato so I’ve no defence. I put on my armour and throw myself at the enemy. I am beginning to once again set my mind on the things I want to get done and even those I don’t but have to else they will niggle at my grey matter. Who wants to be outside working in Winter? I have to confess I do for some of the time but sometimes it is nice to stay put on the sofa. I have been doing things of course I have and with each day passing I am slowly getting more of them done.
It may be the end of the year, the last few days, I write this on 28th, but life doesn’t stop. Creatures of habit like me continue on as normal. A day is a day just like any other so I do pretty much the same as I do at any time throughout the year. I have been working on a very small plot in the garden and wanted to add some natural stone as I had done in the much larger plot we call the west bed. That simply means the bed is on the western side of the garden. This one however is on the opposite side. I had over the months gathered many stones from the beach to cover that plot and recently collected more to put in this one too but a small bucket-full is far from enough as you can see….(click on image to magnify)
They barely cover the soil around the plant, the new fan palm at the end of the flowerbed. I did realise I would need more but the idea is not to fully cover the soil as there will be some small flowering plants placed there later. Maybe another bucket of stones will be enough. On my morning walk on Thursday (28) I collected enough to half-fill a bucket so it shouldn’t take long to collect what I want. These stones I might add are what were left behind after the construction of the sea defence wall many years ago. The construction company I suppose couldn’t be bothered to remove them else were unable to remove them all. Already I have been digging out some montbretia plants from the main flowerbed in the garden on the north side. They are the ones I missed when I cleared them from the bed at the beginning of the year along with bluebells. I have no doubts I shall be digging more out as the new year begins. It isn’t that I don’t like the flowers, it’s just that they grow like weeds and want to take over the garden! E and I have been putting seeds out on the bird table and some ‘fat balls’ in the feeder but it isn’t just the birds who eat them, we have a small family of grey squirrels who like them too. They eat the fat balls through the wire cage and the birds peck them in turn. A few days ago I made some alterations to the bird table in order to keep the larger birds such as pigeons, jackdaws and gulls from feeding there and leaving nothing for the many smaller birds such as tits, wagtails, and the robin we get here. We do put seed and other food on the grass to accommodate the larger birds. However, the squirrels can and do climb the pole to reach the table and can still enter the protected table to feed. This picture was taken before I altered the access but as I said, they can still gain entry which is fine.
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.
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.
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.
It is November 29 as I write this on a cold but sunny day. It is now mid-afternoon and the sun is hiding behind the houses across the road, soon to disappear below the horizon. I have just finished baking another apple pie. If you will remember I wanted to use a roll of the ready-made pastry that E had purchased some time ago to make the pie rather than make it myself from scratch as I had done yesterday. I had to wait a day for the pastry to defrost.
It begins to get dark around here not long after four o’clock at this time of year but in about three week’s time the daylight hours begin to increase once more. It will be the Winter Solstice and the sun will begin its northward journey as we push on toward Spring.
I am not sure why the Solstice is called the Winter Solstice seeing as it marks the beginning of the season. In these last few weeks of Autumn the weather has become noticeably colder and we’ve already had a couple of days of deep frosts, for most of the country anyway. As I live on the western coast it tends not to get quite as cold as it does inland, a good thing for the plants in my garden, that is the ones which normally grow in warmer climes. We have a few growing in the less exposed part of the garden where it tends to be slightly warmer out of the wind. Even so, some of those plants can tolerate temperatures down to -8 deg C. I wouldn’t survive long in those temperatures unless well-wrapped up. When I went to work this morning everywhere was covered in frost except where the sun shone and it was around 1 deg C. An hour ago it had reached 3 or 4 deg C, the maximum for the day though the frost remained on the lawn where the sun wasn’t shining upon it. Most of the lawn is in the shadow of the house at this time of year and never sees the sun at all. It will be April before all of the lawn is in sunshine at some point in the day, though not all at the same time. I have just been watching someone installing a floodlight above the front door of a neighbour’s house across the way and wondering why my neighbour hadn’t asked me to do it. I am not sure he actually knows that I am an electrician as we seldom speak. He is an elderly gentleman in his mid to late eighties who now lives alone since his wife died many years ago, probably approaching or around twenty years ago as I remember. He employs many guys on a regular basis who look after the maintenance of his house, one is an electrician who specializes in fire protection. It will be he who was installing the light. I didn’t pay too much attention. At the second of the two jobs I did earlier the lady watched my every move and sometimes I find that a little unnerving. She was pleasant enough and was simply interested in what was involved. I try not to interfere when someone is doing a job for me but if I do watch I do it discretely. It is beginning to get dark now as I finish writing these thoughts down….four o’clock….. right on time!