It was Friday morning the last day of the month and I was up very early after a good night’s sleep. I guess that was due to my having been busy on Thursday. Around four-thirty I went for my walk and as usual lately I was well-wrapped up for the mornings, at least that early, are quite cool bordering on cold. However it was dry with almost clear skies and the gibbous Moon was shining. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t much want to go for the walk at first but that thought faded quickly as I stepped through the front door. At first everything was quiet but as I walked further I saw more and more activity as people were beginning their day but it was mostly vehicles in fact I saw only three pedestrians the whole time I was out. When I got back home I happened to look out over the rear garden through the kitchen window and saw a large and cheeky cat beginning to dig in one of the borders. I opened the window and made my presence known and the cat was soon dashing over the wall! E was telling me that she had seen the local fox in the garden the previous night too, probably the same one I have seen lately. What makes our garden so special? Animals do what animals do I suppose but woe betide them if I see them doing their ablutions in my garden! On Thursday I received a letter from the DVLA regarding the renewal of my driver’s license. Once we reach our seventieth birthday we then have to renew the license or re-apply for it every three years thereafter. As I am fast approaching 73 I received the reminder. I can apply online and don’t require a new photograph or submit a fee. That makes a change, not having to pay for something! So today as I write I shall be chasing that up. Later I plan to visit the guy who I visited a few weeks ago regarding the slate monoliths I wanted to purchase from him. As he hadn’t yet been in touch I would be chasing that up too as I would like to start work on the project of installing them and creating the planned feature on the lawn.
I am pretty certain that most of you will have periods in your lives where nothing much is going on, I know I do. What do you do when that happens? Do you sit back and relax and do nothing? Do you find something to do? Do you play catch-up with those things you kept promising yourself you would get around to do but never had the time? What if none of those appeal to you? What if you struggle to find things to occupy yourself with? What do you do then when the box is empty? Life is exciting when the things that you like are happening all around you but when something comes along to upset the apple cart you get annoyed at having to deal with it. You wish it would go away and think to yourself why did this have to happen when things were going just fine? That however is the way it is, life doesn’t promise us anything. If we want something we should just go for it but always keep in mind that it may not all be plain sailing. Do you ever wonder why things go pear-shaped? Why do bad things happen in life? Wise people accept that they cannot always avoid untoward happenings. We can plan as much as we like but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will all go well, we have to expect the unexpected might happen. We must however not take that approach but always live in hope. Why is it hard sometimes, why do we have to suffer once in a while, and for some that once in a while is more often than not? The little things we take in our stride, sort them out and carry on as before. The bigger problems require more attention and after dealing with them we sometimes lose heart in what we were doing before and it loses its appeal. Life is great when it is going our way but when it isn’t it makes us sad. I often think about these things and take comfort in reading the pages of Ecclesiastes ( https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+1&version=NIVUK ) in Scripture. In life we strive for peace and tranquility, love and harmony, ease and comfort but not always do we receive them do we? We must learn to accept the good with the bad, the busy and the not so busy times, the full days and the empty ones and simply be happy with them all.
Now that my latest project has ended I feel it is time for a break. I won’t be entirely inactive though. I will either be doing small tasks or planning the next project, the lawn project for instance. I think ahead, always have and then I set myself a schedule. The work is already finished in my head long before I actually start doing it. Yesterday for instance I purchased online a number of bamboo poles and 100 metres of bubble-wrap.
The poles were up to 8 feet in length (2.44 metres) and the bubble-wrap 1.5 metres wide. They will be used to protect some of the garden plants from severe wind and low temperatures. Last Winter we had a spell of really harsh weather which did damage to some plants, namely the Phoenix Canariensis (Canary Isle Palm). Three of them suffered badly even though I had shielded them for the wind managed to break through and even though they can withstand temperatures down to minus seven deg. Celsius. That however only means for very short periods! It was the now infamous ‘Beast from the east’ persistently blowing for days which caused the problem. The plants have now recovered though one has taken much time doing so and has some way to go yet before it is back to how it was before. Another though has recovered very well and even looks better than it did before! In preparation I have fitted a few eye-bolts in places to aid securing the protection I will be installing this year. I know it is early for the worst weather usually doesn’t arrive until January through to March and even then it doesn’t usually last for long. However it only takes a day or so to damage the more sensitive plants. There are always things to be doing in the gardens so having something to do is never a problem. There is one job I think I will end up doing which is to remove the round top edging that is fixed along the lawn edge nearest to the house or at least drop it to below the concrete path. The reason is due to the grass growing between the edging and the concrete which is difficult to remove. In the picture above you probably cannot see the edging stones for they are usually covered with the grass unless it has been cut. It is then that the grass can be seen growing where it shouldn’t. I may decide to put off that work for a while though, it all depends on how I bored I might get if I’ve nothing else to do.
I made a joke a short while ago about getting up so early that I hadn’t gone to bed yet! It’s almost true. An hour after E had gone to bed on Saturday I arose. Now she goes to bed just before one o’clock usually which meant I was up before two. In fact I was already awake at one-thirty. Over the last couple of weeks, maybe a month as I write, this has been my routine. I end up eating lunch when she is having breakfast! I am getting so used to the routine I may make it permanent. I much prefer to be up early anyway. Though two o’clock seems ridiculous to many what actual difference does it make when your day starts and finishes? I say if you are single and it suits you then do it, after all your not at anyone’s beck and call. If you have a family living with you then that is a different matter. Anyway I was up and about early and the first thing I did once downstairs was to fill the washing machine and then move some of the gym equipment from the area of the floor I would be painting with its second coat on Monday morning. It was Sunday and I wouldn’t be working that day. Then it was breakfast time and soon after that I was dressed and ready for a very early walk. It was four o’clock when I left the house. As I passed along The Promenade, for I had chosen that route this time, I could hear the hustle and bustle of people in the town still hanging about after their night out. I could never understand why local authorities allow bars and clubs to remain open til such a late or rather early hour. Once upon a time you couldn’t get an alcoholic drink after ten-thirty in the UK and in some places not at all on a Sunday (like Wales for instance). How moral standards have fallen! I remember the arguments put forward in support of later opening hours. Everything would be fine and it would discourage drunkenness because people would spread their alcoholic consumption over the longer period instead of drinking as much as possible in the shorter opening hours. No, it just meant they had more time to be able to drink more and that is what many do. I steer clear of town at that time in the morning when out walking. Where I walk at that hour it is usually deathly quiet. On my return home it was time to hang up the washing in the gym (it doubles as an airing place) because it was raining outside and had been throughout the night. When it got a little lighter I saw that the far border in the rear garden had remained dry because of the overhanging trees so I got out the hose and have it a thorough soaking. It is that part of the border to the right and beyond in the picture above. The hose pipe ban had been lifted a few days earlier. On Monday morning I hoped to finish the painting of the gym floor which would only leave the touching up of the white walls and a general cleaning of the equipment.
I’ve never been a person who was interested in flitting about all over the place every day as some might like to do. I was however always interested in going places, that is going somewhere for a long stay or even a short stay for a purpose. I mean by this that I enjoyed travelling to a holiday destination or somewhere for a day out. I still like those things but seldom go anywhere these days. Travelling can be tedious and tiring but if I can relax at my destination it is worth putting up with. Now I am retired there are very few places to go each day. Those trips I do make are usually for shopping. Other outings I take are simply for the exercise, I enjoy going for walks. I have neighbours who can’t seem to be able to remain at home and I wonder why they have a house to live in because they spend more time out of it that in it! To be fair my neighbours do have small children so they will be driving them to their various activities, not least of all school. Aside from that they seem to be taking short trips constantly throughout the day which don’t include their children. I am not suggesting their children are abandoned, each parent in turn stays at home whilst the other flits about in their respective cars throughout the day. They have electrically controlled gates which only ever seem to be closed at night because during the day they would constantly be opening and closing. They lead a very different life from that of E and I. It is all about our modern western society and the needs we have self-imposed upon ourselves to conform to it. Life is hectic for us all as we grow through our adult lives but as the years pass things do begin to slow down and we find there is neither that same urgency nor necessity to be flitting about all over the place every day.
When we look back over the years we can so easily forget what we once did and sometimes wonder where the years went! Living for the moment we forget the passage of time. Did we really do those things? Did we spend all that time doing this and that? Would we have done it differently knowing then what we know now? Probably not I surmise. It is nice to not have to do the many things we once had to any longer. It is nice to have a slower pace of life and not have to worry about the things we perhaps used to worry about. No more comings and goings, well far fewer of them anyway.
It’s getting that way I shall be getting up before I’ve even gone to bed! Another early night on Wednesday and fast asleep just after nine o’clock. I awoke at three and paid a visit to see my porcelain friend but after returning to bed I couldn’t resume my slumber. I eventually arose ten minutes before four o’clock and was surprisingly rearing to go. I was downstairs and into the rear garden to water it before five. More on that in a minute or two. An hour later it was time for breakfast and then some computer time. To be honest I was a little bored after that because there was nothing to do. Come seven-thirty I was leaving the house to do the weekly shopping and arrived at the supermarket at my usual time just before eight. It is great doing the shopping early because there are fewer people in the store and moving around it is much easier. I find having to manoeuvre my trolley around other folks’ trolleys is a distraction and a pain when there are lots of them being pushed around. Anyway I wasn’t there long and was driving home after thirty minutes. On my way home I have the radio on and heard that our wonderful water supply authority has imposed a hose pipe ban because they say the reservoir levels are low. That means limited watering of the plants in the garden unless it rains in the meantime (I write this on 19th two days after it had rained all day long). I think it is disgraceful that they haven’t done something about this seasonal shortage by now after years of having to put up with it. The irony is that when we don’t need the extra water there is too much of it but when we do need it most there is a shortage! Build more reservoirs for goodness sake, it isn’t rocket science! Now I will have to resort to the watering can won’t I?
On my arrival back home and after unpacking and storing everything away I discovered I had forgotten two items though neither of them were important and can be purchased next time. It’s getting that way I can’t read my shopping list it seems but there was a very good reason for missing the items. When I walk through the store I normally use a set route but on this occasion I collected the canned food first which meant I ended up going down a couple of aisles in the opposite direction. Being so used to collecting items in a certain manner it confused me and I had to consult my list but even then I still missed one thing. Got to be my age eh?
Today I was going to prepare a chilli-con-carne, something different for a change and after half an hour it was complete.
I normally make this kind of dish well in advance and re-heat it later. Once the heat is removed after cooking the dish stands in the residing heat and cooks slowly for an hour or so more. It tastes far better as a result. Is your mouth watering?
Over the last few days I have become more lazy in my attitude insofar as work is concerned. Any ideas of working on my projects, and there are two or more I’d like to get done, have taken a back seat. I haven’t neglected my exercise regime however so at least I remain active up to a point. A combination of events have made me less interested in doing anything too strenuous. It was about time that I took a break from too much work anyway. That was one thing and now at the moment of writing I have been watching a lot of televised football as the World Cup games are underway. I have been watching the three televised games every day which has helped me to relax and take things easy for a while. The only snag is that I feel I want to be doing something constructive rather than just sitting on my butt! I wonder if I’ll want to get back into a routine more suited to what I am used to or not. Probably I will do despite my thinking otherwise, it’s in my blood. I am not sure about the future and what I will be up to but I hope that whatever lies ahead it will be something I will enjoy. Last month we had gloriously sunny days and E and I spent much time outdoors together but in this month of June it has been very different so far. I write this on the 20 th, a day or so before the Summer Solstice with only ten more days of the month left. The days will get shorter as Summer begins and I am hoping there will be more days like those we had in May. For the time being I am stuck indoors out of choice once lunchtime is over as I wish to continue watching the football. Maybe all this relaxing is going to be of benefit to me but I am not sure, I could end up like a couch potato! God forbid that I end up that way but I rather suspect I won’t.
It was getting a little monotonous having each day to water the gardens because of the dry weather. Oh it has been just fine for sitting about in or simply being out in but all I wanted was a little rain now and then. The attempt to rain was made last evening (13 th) but it wasn’t very much. However it was a storm called Hector which gave some respite from the heat and dry weather. The only problem was it brought more wind than rain! It got pretty stormy hereabouts but fortunately we were too far south to receive the harshest of the wind. Nevertheless some tree branches came down here and there. I had gotten up early on Thursday in order to do the weekly shopping again for E has been unable these last couple of months. I actually arose at five-thirty and was in the kitchen at six-fifteen. However I thought I would do a little work before breakfast which was to give the repaired door frame I did yesterday a coat of priming paint. I later in the day applied the top coat. Anyway whilst I was doing that I heard a loud snap and something falling on the lawn behind me. I paid no attention until I had finished the small painting job for I knew what it had been making that noise. Once again the neighbour’s tree was shedding a branch because of the high winds. It is the large tree left of centre on the other side of the wall in the picture. You may be able to see from its leaves and the leaves of the apple trees bottom right from which direction the wind is blowing. It is left to right or west to east of course.
Most of the time we are picking up small twigs and leaves which have fallen from the tree but occasionally when it is very windy larger parts fall down. I cleared up the mess on the lawn and deposited the bulk of the fallen branch in my neighbour’s garden. At the same time I took the opportunity to prune back a couple of lower branches on the tall holly tree which stands next to the large greenhouse. It is just right of centre at the end of the greenhouse in the picture. Naturally I chopped the holly branches up and put the pieces into our own waste bin. I returned indoors for breakfast. It was seven o’clock. After eating I waited until it was eight o’clock before driving to the supermarket. I was back home at nine-fifteen just as E came down for breakfast. Pretty much throughout the day it was windy but there was still no rain. In fact it brightened up late morning. I would be watering the gardens again if it remained dry.
Almost from the time I awoke at 4.45 am until after my evening meal I was kept busy doing one thing or another on Monday (11). Our next-door neighbour had asked, no, hinted that she would like her tv on the wall and I offered to fit a shelf for it (yesterday’s post). I knew I had some timber but no brackets. The first thing I did when I got downstairs at six o’clock was to paint the leading edge of the timber so it would match the colour of the timber which was covered in a veneer. As I was down in the cellar doing that I decided I might also paint the piece of timber I had fitted to the bottom edge of the new larder’s door. That colour being a pale blue to match the existing door paint. Having done that I ate breakfast then immediately went into the garden to water the lawn. When that was done I moved to the front garden and watered that too. Still not finished I set about emptying the waste and washing out and cleaning the waste buckets we have indoors. By this time E had come downstairs and had eaten breakfast before she returned upstairs to dress. We were to go out shopping. When she was ready we drove to the local optician to see if he could repair our neighbour’s broken spectacles. Our neighbour is bed-ridden remember. He repaired them free of charge because they were under guarantee. We then drove to the hardware store to purchase the brackets and on the way back home we stopped off at Dobbies garden centre to purchase eleven plants for the small plot we had cleared on Sunday. When we arrived home we planted them all in the plot, two large plants and nine small ones.
The large (just pruned) shrub was in the plot when we moved into the house 30 years ago as was the tall tree behind it in the far corner. Click on image to magnify. The Laurel in the right hand corner is one of the new plants as is the shrub in front of the grey water butt. The smaller nine plants are those at the front from top left to bottom right. The tulip and daffodil bulbs were removed but the will be replanted in late Autumn. The new plant varieties are Laurel, Leucothoe fontanesiana Makijaz, Dianthus dark purple, Dianthus pink kisses, Edelweiss Grabglockner, Lewisia little peach, Lewisia little plum, Diascia breezee plus apricot, Scabiosa blue note, Viola Tony venison and last but not least Delosperma jewel of desert garnet. It was the time for lunch and afterward I went next door to fit the shelf and brackets and set up the television. My neighbour was well-pleased that now she could watch tv more easily. I was finished however for I removed all the brackets and fixtures from the old fridge/freezer and with the help of her son we pulled it out of the kitchen unit and stored it outside ready for disposal. We brought in the new fridge/freezer which had been temporarily stored in use in the garage. However we discovered that the new supply cable plug could not be pushed through the rear of the unit to reach the power outlet in an adjacent cupboard. When we removed the old fridge/freezer I cut the cable close to the fridge so it didn’t need to be removed. I went back home and dug out a power outlet of the type which is fitted to extension leads. I returned and fitted it to the end of the existing cable thereby making into a small in situ extension lead that the fridge could be plugged into. We lifted the new fridge/freezer into the kitchen unit but had to take it out again so I could adjust the kitchen unit door hinges. Finally it was done and I went home. E had joined me in order to chat with our neighbour whilst I was engaged in the work. It was approaching five o’clock when we got home. After a quick coffee I carried out a repair to the garden hose nozzle before watering the whole garden including the lawn once more. It was almost time for my evening meal when I had finished. Bored? I didn’t have time to be bored.
‘Down in the mouth’ is an expression we use to describe someone who is (temporarily) feeling ‘out of sorts’ or not as ‘upbeat’ as they usually are. Late morning on Thursday saw me like that and I’ll explain in a moment. I had gone to bed early on Wednesday because basically I couldn’t keep my eyes open! I really was feeling tired. It meant once more that I would wake early too but that wasn’t a problem except that I woke a little too early at three o’clock. I had slept on top of the bed again in the high temperature and especially high humidity which was way over 90%. Sleeping under the covers would have been unbearable. So I woke up and made the attempt at returning to sleep but couldn’t. At five o’clock I gave up the idea and had a shower. I was downstairs for breakfast before six. As is my want I usually have the tv switched on while eating breakfast which was on that day porridge. Just as I had finished eating the tv went dead. At first I though I’d accidentally switched it off on the remote control but then I realised the fridge power indicator light wasn’t on. I checked the lights and they too were not working. Going down into the dark cellar rooms I discovered the unit which reads the gas and electric meters had no indicating lights working. This meant there was no power at the electric meter, the whole house was off, fridge/freezers, power outlets and lighting all not working. It was six twenty-five. There was nothing I could do but go and do the weekly shopping run. However, even I didn’t want to go shopping at such an early hour though I had planned to go around eight o’clock. I sat and read the local newspaper for a while then looking out of the lounge window I saw our neighbour’s son about to leave for work. I opened the window and called to him asking if he had lost electrical power too. He had. It could only be a high voltage distribution problem for I learned later that large areas had been affected. Had it simply been local it might have been the lower voltage distribution system at fault. I decided I would go and fetch the shopping which I did but first of all I had to wind the garage door up manually to get the van out and wind it sown again manually too. I returned home at eight-thirty by which time E had come downstairs and eaten her breakfast. After I had packed the food away the power came back on as we stood and chatted. It was now nine o’clock. Now I had a dental appointment around eleven o’clock so after a short rest I drove there and was attended to almost immediately. I’d had a couple of fillings replaced. The injection I’d received didn’t wear off until almost two o’clock! I had no feelings on the right side of my mouth and when I looked in the mirror I could see my mouth was sagging on the right. I really was down in the mouth for a while. I was back home before eleven forty-five and drove E into town so she could attend to some business. We arrived back home for lunch after one o’clock by which time I was feeling really drained of energy. We spent a little time relaxing on the patio after eating lunch and wondered when we would get rain. The day was still warm and humid as we awaited the promised rain and thunderstorms late in the afternoon. Maybe it would finally rain on this the last day of the month……………