There’s no getting away from it, Autumn is upon us here in the UK. As the temperate areas of the Southern Hemisphere are welcoming Spring, we in the north are moving in the opposite direction. Leaves have been falling from the trees in greater quantities and for anyone living near that means the annual sweeping up of them! It’s either that else let the mess continue. Having a garden is a lovely thing and for those who wish to keep theirs tidy and well-maintained sweeping up the leaves is a must. The problem is the leaves don’t all fall at the same time. A couple of days ago I decided to sweep up as many of the leaves that had fallen as I could, mainly off the pathways because quite simply I got fed-up looking at the state of the garden. As the green waste bins were full after my trimming back the bushes in the front garden there was limited space for any swept-up leaves. I managed however to get them all in by compression. On Wednesday we were expecting another visit from the installers of our new garage door prior to it being installed the following week on Thursday. More accurate measurements were required and an assessment of the preparatory work we had done for the installation was needed. It was just as well I was at home for they had misunderstood my original request to maintain head-clearance and the reason for my having the roof at that point raised to accommodate the unit. They didn’t stop long and after five minutes or so were on their way. They weren’t sure if it would be themselves or the other local crew who would return to carry out the installation. E had been working in her studio during the morning but after lunch she joined with me and we cleared-up the fallen leaves once more but this time we included the lawn. Fortunately we have one of those devices , a rotatory sweeper which sweeps up the leaves into a hopper by simply pushing it along the ground. We had the work done in less than fifteen minutes but then had to put the leaves into one of the builder’s bags we keep in the garage. The green waste bins wouldn’t be emptied until two weeks later so storing the leaves temporarily in the bags was the only option and there would be more leaves to sweep up long before then. Autumn in the garden is never dull, there is always something to do, in fact I have some plans afoot already.
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!
After an early rise and following breakfast on Wednesday morning I noticed that the leaves that had completely covered the lawn were now piled-up in two or three places. The wind had changed direction and was now coming from the west as opposed to the east as it had been over the last few days. When the wind blows from the west or north-west any leaves lying about tend to end up in one of a few isolated spots around the garden for instance on the path behind the larger greenhouse, on the path behind the ‘Mound’ or in the area outside the cellar door which leads out into the garden. When I opened that door I was confronted by a large bed of leaves about a half metre in height! Having them all in neat piles makes it easier to sweep them up but even so it takes time for there are so many of them! I love Autumn.I had nothing else to do so I set about sweeping up the leaves. I filled two wheelie bins which doesn’t seem a lot but I had to keep compressing them to get them in. There will be more leaves to sweep up over the next couple of weeks as the trees have plenty more to drop yet. Just as I was finishing that work my phone rang and it was a customer in whose house I had installed two new light fittings six days earlier. It seems he didn’t like those fittings which had cost him £170 to buy, and he wanted me to remove them and fit two LED long fittings instead. The two new fittings cost him £98. He wanted to return the first set but the store wouldn’t accept them as he had disposed of the packaging! I drove the eight miles to his house whilst he went to purchase the new fittings. I got there ten minutes before he returned but his wife was home and she let me in. Soon I had the two new fittings installed, much to their satisfaction and after they had paid my fee I drove back home just in time to cook lunch. Wednesday was a gloriously sunny day and I was able to sit out on the patio for a couple of hours relaxing. I went indoors some time after three and my phone rang again, it was from the electrical supplier who had sourced the part-night photo cell I had difficulty in obtaining these last couple of weeks. If my readers will remember I wanted the photo cell to control the lamp post I installed a few weeks ago in my rear garden. Presently the light stays on throughout the night but this new photo cell switches the supply off for a few hours during the night for economic reasons. I drove to the supplier to collect it and when there I purchased a couple of extra items too. As I write this on Wednesday evening I plan to install the photo cell on Thursday and will post a picture once it is done.
It is certainly the season of mists (and mellow fruitfulness…) and lately we have been experiencing misty and foggy mornings. The humidity is high, very high because of that but it isn’t warm with it so it feels cold and damp. We can cope with such things with no problems at all, if we are moving about on foot that is. If we need to travel it becomes a problem if it is too foggy for we cannot move about so safely unless we move very slowly. Each year though we hear of accidents and collisions on our roads because of the fog. The fog is blamed when it is ourselves who should take the blame. If we didn’t rush about in the fog there would be no accidents or collisions. Fog does slow us down despite whatever we do. In foggy conditions travelling by air can still be a problem for it can be very dangerous taking off and landing in fog. Train services are less prone though signals still have to be seen. I like the fog though but only if I am not travelling. I like to see it in woodland, filling the spaces between the trees and the remaining leaves on them. Usually when it is foggy there is little or no wind at all and that has got to be a good thing in my book for I am not a lover of the wind. I have been going for short walks in the morning whilst it has been a little foggy and damp but I am wrapped up to meet the conditions. It is nice kicking through the fallen leaves but they are becoming soft as they rot on the ground and this is where moving about becomes more dangerous. The oils in the leaves leach out onto the roads and pathways causing them to become slippery under foot and tyre. If we take care the fog presents no problems at all so do that and enjoy the Autumn.
The weather changed rather suddenly on Sunday. The morning was bright and sunny for the most part then the afternoon became cool and cloudy. The wind had increased too. Ideal conditions for working outdoors but not for me being as it was Sunday. To be perfectly honest I was feeling a little tired from the work I had done on Saturday. I might add though that my toothache had gone because the anti-biotics are doing their work. The brickwork and the concrete had all set solid overnight so later in the day, that is Sunday, I hosed the area to see how and if the water would drain properly. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post it is difficult to build a sloping surface with wet concrete. I would have to apply more concrete to make it better. That I hope will be done by the time you are reading this. The plan is to do more work on Monday, weather and electrical work permitting. As long as it doesn’t rain i should be able to do more. One of the Phoenix Canariensis plants is trying to push its way out of its container, an indication of root growth I think meaning a healthy plant. The sooner I can complete the flowerbed construction the sooner I can re-plant the two of the largest plants. I propose to construct two separate smaller beds to accommodate the other two plants but at this point I am not sure when I will do that. I have also been thinking about over-winter protection for all of the Phoenix Canariensis plants and what to do about it. There is plenty of time at the moment to sort that problem out. The weather might change quickly but time doesn’t thank goodness. Thinking about time though I often find that it seems to go nowhere. I wonder where my days have all gone, one minute it is Spring and then it is Autumn but that is an age thing. I remember as a child the seemingly endless days of Summer but of course children don’t have the same concept of time as we do. Speaking for myself I see the urgency in getting things done before I am overtaken by time and not being able to complete them. So far, as I write this I have nothing else scheduled and nothing to stand in the way of getting on with my project. Let’s hope there are no sudden changes for the worse in the weather in the meantime.
Mornings, that is early in the mornings, it has been somewhat cooler of late. So much cooler in fact that if I have to go out for any reason I am obliged to wear a coat, at least a lightweight coat. It is the time of year when it is necessary to begin wearing warmer clothing yet by midday it is warm enough to discard some of it. A lightweight coat or a cardigan is easy to remove and so that is what I am doing. My thoughts are turning to when I will start wearing stockings again, which usually happens around late September or early October. Throughout the warmer months I go bare-legged for as much as I love wearing nylon stockings they are far too uncomfortable when it is warm. Besides which my legs need some sunshine too. I like this time of year but for me it is at its best toward the end of November when all the leaves have fallen and the air is cool and damp. I don’t really know why I should prefer it cooler rather than warmer but that is the way it is. It isn’t that I don’t like it hot it is just that I like it cooler more. There is something sad and melancholy about Autumn that for me isn’t present in the other seasons yet I am filled with joy when it is Autumn but that hasn’t anything to do with wearing nylon stockings. Along the coast where I live at this time of year it is very often foggy over the sea and the sea itself or the beach cannot be seen when even a short distance from them. As the season of Autumn begins that fog drifts further inland too and everywhere becomes wet, in the mornings at least. As Summer ends at the beginning of next week and Autumn takes over I will most probably be doing little work in my capacity as an electrician for I have cancelled my advertisement for two weeks. Maybe I will get the chance to do some shopping and buy some new clothes for the season. It has been a while since I went shopping for clothes and this is the best time to do it, before the season starts in earnest.
Update: Looks as if my spare cash is about to be swallowed up on other things but hopefully I will have something extra with which to go shopping! That’s life!
We have enjoyed a few weeks of decent weather here in the UK but as I write this on Sunday morning it is windy outside, cool and overcast, much like it was the day before. We are approaching mid-August and it is obvious that the weather is beginning to turn much cooler and unsettled. In a few week’s time we will have arrived at the beginning of Autumn once more, my favourite time of year. People are returning home after their holidays in Europe and elsewhere looking healthy if not bronze! Showing off their suntan by wearing the ubiquitous white clothing and they will do so for as long as they can even though it is becoming much cooler. It’s funny how people act isn’t it? I’ve not been on holiday this year, in fact it has been four years now since E and I have left these shores for foreign places. I have a suntan though but not because I deliberately sit out in the sun, I don’t as a rule, no, I got my tan simply by being out and about in the sunshine for the most part. It used to be that we took a holiday every year outside of the UK but as time went by we seemed less inclined to do so. It is nice when the sun shines and the weather turns warmer but there is much to be said about cool weather too, at least for me. Many people I speak with complain about our climate and how little fine weather we often have to enjoy and I think that if they think that way then why don’t they move somewhere warmer? We may still get hot days ahead but with the passing of each day and week the likelihood of that happening grows shorter. You can tell we have had the best of the weather for this year and it can only get cooler and wetter from now on. Each year is different of course so it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that there will be some bright, warm and sunny days to come. Sometimes we can look forward to what we call a ‘Indian Summer’, Indian in the sense of the country of the same name. Late September can be warm and sunny. We’ll just have to wait and see. I can always tell when the season is about to change when I have to wear something more than a simple covering to feel comfortable, like a lightweight coat first thing in the morning if I have to go out and I have needed to do that lately. Autumn is decidedly on its way.
The 20th/21st day of March is the beginning of Spring, the Spring Equinox (or thereabouts), that point in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun where we have equal hours of daylight and night for both the northern and southern hemispheres. Of course it marks the Autumnal Equinox for the southern hemisphere, the beginning of their Autumn. The 21st might mark the official start of the season but I wonder when it will begin to show itself in terms of temperature rises and more sunshine? It is something to look forward to in any case. In the meantime the forecast is for SNOW on Friday!
These past couple of days have been quite warm and sunny, not like Autumn at all. With nothing to do on Thursday I decided to clear away some of the accumulated leaves which each year find themselves in all the nooks and crannies around the outside of the house. One of the worst places for them accumulating is by the rear door to the garden from the cellar which is located behind the garage on the right of the house. When there is a high wind eddy-currents form behind the garage and in Autumn many leaves end up piled against the door and would spill into the cellar if they were not removed or kept in check. It is impossible to prevent the leaves collecting in the area so we just get on with it and clean them away. The problem only lasts during leaf-fall and that only when the wind is high during the few weeks of the season. Whilst outside I check the drains occasionally too as we have four open grids dotted around the rear of the house. I make sure they are all kept clear of debris or blockages. It is just as well I checked them on Thursday, three were completely covered by leaves and one was blocked completely though not because of leaves. This particular grid/drain serves the main bathroom and toilet on the first floor some twenty feet away (seven metres) and is surrounded by a small brick enclosure which serves to temper the flow of water as it gushes out of the drain pipe at some speed. The main problem with blockages here is due to hair and it doesn’t take much time for the grid to become completely clogged with nowhere for the water to go. Needless to say I try to keep an eye on it as often as I can remember. I checked it just in time, another flush of the bath would have seen water spilling out onto the path. Prodding the now invisible grid below the water I was able to clear a couple of holes allowing the water to drain away. I lifted the grid cover and hosed it down, removing the accumulated hair and sludge in the process. Well someone has to do these things! The grid that serves the kitchen sink sometimes gets blocked too in which case it is a question of sinking my arm up to the elbow to scoop out the grease solids that threaten to stop the flow of water like cholesterol in an artery! Not a pleasant job in the least but again, someone has to do it. I wonder though why it always has to be me! I don’t mind really but it plays havoc with my nail polish! The drain was all right on this occasion fortunately. It is fine doing these sorts of jobs whilst the weather is good, not so when it is cold and wet as it will be no doubt soon enough.