Them Thar Hills

I took to the road for the first time in a while on Saturday morning. By road I mean on foot. I haven’t been at my best lately and was in need of rest. It was such a beautiful day though quite cold in the gentle breeze or out of the sunshine where frost and frozen rain still clung to the ground. Down to the sea front only a half-mile from my door is usually my preferred route and about half-way to the shore I came across a guy locking up the building site there. I add that the picture shown is not of that site.

There is another building site a mere hundred metres or so further along but that hasn’t progressed as far as yet. The first site houses a new apartment block aimed at the older retired generation. The first thing I noticed was the absence of the tall crane that had stood there for more than twelve months. I asked the guy when it was that they took it down and he told me two weeks ago. Well I hadn’t been that way for two weeks so hadn’t noticed. We chatted a minute or two and he told me he would show me around inside when the internal work had finished. I thanked him and we parted. If I get the chance I will take him up on that invitation. I continued my walk passing the other building site which had closed for the weekend. This building is much larger and spread out. It will be a new ‘village’ for the elderly and retired though the apartments will be rented rather than owned. It will house shops, hair salons, medical access and all the things a small village would have but all under the one roof. The complex will be managed by employees of the organisation who will own it. I carried along and walked to the shore. Looking across the bay to the town of Blackpool and beyond to its left the mountains of The Lake District could easily be seen covered as they were with snow. Further to the right of Blackpool some of the hills along the Pennine Chain could also be seen covered with snow. Fortunately around Southport there wasn’t any snow. As I had arisen rather later than usual I had missed breakfast so on my return I sat and ate lunch instead. It was twelve-thirty.

Shirley Anne

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A better day

I was wondering if and when my muscular problem would improve and hopefully disappear for good. When I arose on Tuesday morning it was still with me but a short time later after my prayer session (I have one every morning) everything changed – no pain whatsoever and it stayed that way throughout the day. An answer to prayer? I think so, though I know not everyone will agree. The day itself was wet, and cold as expected but that didn’t matter, I was staying indoors anyway. I wasn’t about to replace my lost aches and pains with a bout of cold! With not being so active lately I was inclined to stay that way I decided to remain that way for a few more days. Maybe at the weekend I would venture out on a walk once more. I value my health and like to stay fit as far as I am able so it is important to me that I get back into an exercise regime as soon as I can.

This time next month I hope to be able to report a healthier me, not that I am not healthy right now but it does feel that way for me.

As we get older it becomes more necessary and important to stay healthy if we are to live out the rest of our lives feeling the best we can. That is true for people of all ages and not just for older folk. I’ve not been totally inactive though, I have spent a little time out in the garden pulling out bluebells and montbretia as they appear. I mentioned a couple of years ago whilst digging out the many hundreds of them from our flowerbeds that it would take time to be rid of them totally.

Shirley Anne

Warm

Again I was tired when I went to bed yet found it difficult to nod off to sleep. Finally I did of course but ended up only getting five hours. That in itself was never a problem before as I had been very used to having only four and a half hours of sleep for a number of years. However on Friday morning when the alarm woke me at two I lay in bed for another hour! Now that was unusual for I normally get up straight away. I still felt tired and was about to go for my early morning walk. Despite it being an hour behind my normal routine I left the house only a half-hour later than I usually do. It was quite warm outside as I left the house and I could feel no wind at all. It was only as I reached the seafront later that I could feel a welcome breeze for by that time I was feeling too warm having walked briskly the whole way. By the time I had reached home I had cut around ten minutes off my usual time for that particular route. 

My tiredness had disappeared and I now felt great. How long would that last I wondered? When working at something I never feel tired until I stop and then I sleep well but if I have nothing to do I get tired yet can’t get to sleep. At the moment I am doing very little work at home except routine stuff. My latest project cannot be completed until I receive the pebbles I ordered which will be weeks away. I will need to find something to do in the meantime but the weather is warm and I don’t feel like it. 

Shirley Anne

Getting used to it

Once upon a time I used to arise about two o’clock in the morning and go for a run before my working day which at that time began at five o’clock. Quite often I worked well into the afternoon too. That’s like fourteen hours or more of activity and I was no youngster either, in fact I was in my late fifties and early sixties and working full-time. I was used to the lifestyle so it was never a problem, in fact I looked forward to the early morning exercise and the work which followed. Now I am in my early seventies I still find it uplifting to go for early morning walks followed by some work at home. I spend some time on the gym equipment too a few times each week. So getting up early doesn’t bother me except that I have to adjust to different meal times. Lately I have been getting up at two o’clock, partly because I go to bed early and don’t sleep long and partly because I want to go for a walk and do some work, especially as it is much cooler at that time of day. Of course it is usually after four or four-thirty before I venture outside for my walk. As for the work, well some of it gets done earlier than that and some later. I have been cementing in the gaps in the gym floor in readiness for painting as there is no noise made when doing that kind of work. Who wants to use a hammer, a saw or a drill in the early hours unless they are far away from sleeping people? When there is no background noise every other noise seems amplified. The old saying ‘it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop’ is true indeed. I live in an old Victorian house that has creaking floorboards in one or two places. Going to the toilet in the middle of the night is difficult to do without making some noise. What little noise the boards make sounds much louder than it really is because it otherwise so quiet. I will be able to do the work in the cellar as early as I wish in the knowledge that I won’t be disturbing anyone. If I choose to paint the floor I will need the outside door open to ventilate the room. Even though I will be wearing the special filtering mask it is better the room is ventilated too but having a light on will only attract moths and other insects into the room. I will probably therefore leave the painting until after dawn. So far I have completed about a third of the floor (see picture above) which I hope to paint before moving to the next area. It is the area beyond the kneeling mat.

Shirley Anne

Cross with my trainer

I don’t know what it is but my trainer and I don’t seem to be getting along as we should. Despite efforts from myself nothing seems to be working right now. No, I am not talking about a personal trainer here for I think they are an unnecessary ‘extra’ for most people. Instruction is one thing but a little education regarding the use of exercise machines and how to keep fit in general serve much as good if not better. I am talking about my elliptical cross-trainer and how my body is reacting to my use of it. As with any equipment it is wise to follow the instructions and users guide to get the best out of it. It must be stated that any new exercise regime should be approached gently and any equipment used cautiously until we are used to them. Nice and easy at first and then building up gradually over a period of time will be of greater benefit and do less harm than if we rush into things. Naturally for those who are embarking on an exercise regime for the first time it is wise to get a health check beforehand. For myself, I have been exercising in one form or another for many years but still approach new things with caution. This has been the case with my cross-trainer. As for the treadmill, well I am well used to running so it isn’t a problem. The new exercise bike is also no problem as I have done much cycling in the past and still own a road bike. However, the cross-trainer and I don’t see eye to eye for sometimes after using it my upper leg muscles and buttocks suffer. I have always considered the type of exercise provided by the cross-trainer to be unnatural. It combines the exercises provided by a bicycle and a treadmill at the same time and even the ‘peddling’ action isn’t the same as a bicycle. So it needs a lot of getting used to and though I have had the machine for six months I still find on occasion my muscles object. Obviously it is down to myself to use it more wisely. Today, Tuesday, I went for a five-mile walk in the heat of the sunny morning. Tomorrow I will face the machine again and see if we cannot make up.

Shirley Anne

All change

I could sense the possibility of rain as I looked out through the window from my bed. It was Saturday morning (16 th) and five-thirty as I lay there contemplating the day ahead. I decided a walk was on the cards but I was hungry so I decided to wait until after breakfast this time. I had just finished breakfast and saw that fine rain was falling. I would need to take a raincoat if I was to brave the elements as they say. It wasn’t a warm morning at all, in fact it stayed pretty cool all day long. It was 16 deg C but it felt more like 10 or 11 in the breeze. I had put on my walking boots too thinking that lighter footwear was unsuitable for what seemed like a late Autumn day which as it turned out was a wise decision. The outward part of the walk was pleasant enough but I was glad I had put on the rainproof jacket for it kept me warm in the cooling breeze. I had reached the half-way stage when the rain began to pour down in earnest. It remained that way until I reached home when suddenly it stopped! As soon as I went indoors I realised just how cool it had been outside. There had been quite a number of women out running on the route I had taken and none seemed bothered about the driving rain. I knew how they must have felt having spent many a time doing the same thing years ago. I sometimes wish I could do it again but then realise how unnecessary it would be at my time in life. I get my exercising in other ways now not least of all taking a walk. It was Saturday and the afternoon was beckoning more activity. Did I succumb? I’ll let you guess.

Shirley Anne

To the woods

I’m sure you’ve heard this little rhyme

To the woods, to the woods
I’ll tell the vicar
I AM the vicar.
The vicars wife wouldn’t like it
The vicars wife’s not getting it!

Well enough of that bit of humour. As was my want I went to bed early on Thursday evening but for two reasons, one, I was tired (best excuse yet!) and two, I wanted to go for a long early morning walk before it got too warm. After a little something for breakfast I began my walk, this time heading south. This time I took the main road as it led me directly to my destination, the little township of Formby or rather the northern part of it called Freshfield. We lived in Freshfield from ’76 till ’88 before moving to Birkdale where we are now. The main route through from Birkdale to Formby took me first of all through Hillside and Ainsdale before continuing down the Formby by-pass where I turned off into Freshfield. Once in Freshfield I headed along the main route (Victoria Road) which took me into the Red Squirrel reserve, all now maintained by The National Trust.https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/features/red-squirrels-at-formby They look after all the woodland along the coast hereabouts. It is somewhere I am completely familiar with having spent much time either walking through the woods or running through them. I particularly enjoyed running through the woods in the hours before dawn when it was just about light enough to see where I was going. I often came across a fox or two and almost always a few rabbits. The owls I could hear but couldn’t see. The woods are special places at dawn. I usually saw the squirrels when out walking but only if one or two where at ground level would I see them when out running. I am guessing the distance to be around six or seven miles by the time I had reached the reserve. I stopped for a short rest at a picnic area where I could sit down before then walking through to the beach a further half-mile away. I stayed on the beach for only a short time but walked northward for a quarter-mile before climbing up a steep sand dune to return to the woods. Two steps forward and one step back was the order of the day climbing that sandy slope! I was exhausted by the time I had reached the top but soon recovered as I made my way into the trees and onto a small path heading north. I walked what seemed an awfully long way until I reached a little sign indicating that it was a mile and a half to the place I had just been, Victoria Road or the squirrel reserve. I walked along not coming across any other people at all, just me and the sound of nature. In fact it was totally quiet and a little eerie most of the time. Suddenly I appeared at the end of the track and was standing on the main track which circles the area. That part of the track runs alongside the rail tracks running between Southport and Liverpool. Every twenty minutes a train or two passes by. I was feeling a little tired once more so I made my way to another picnic area for a snack and a drink. I gave myself twenty minutes before I was off again and heading for the coastal road which would take me back home to Birkdale about four miles away. I hadn’t been walking exceptionally fast getting to the woods and walking through them but along the coastal road I picked up the pace and walked the four miles briskly. It was around twelve-fifteen as I went in the house feeling a little tired and hot. I recovered after a drink and prepared lunch with E. After lunch we spent some time doing garden maintenance and I watered the rear garden again. If the woods were closer to home I would most probably spend more time there. In some ways I regret having moved away all those years ago but that’s life.

Shirley Anne

All sorts

It is Friday 18th as I write late in the afternoon. E and I have just returned indoors after  a brief spell out on the patio, well it was brief for me for E had been out there much longer. I had retired to bed very early on Thursday evening because I was very tired. It meant however an early rise too but I took advantage of that and went for a walk in the bright sunshine. It was bright and sunny throughout the day in fact and the whole weekend was forecast to be even better with higher temperatures. When I had finished breakfast on my return home E asked if I had cut the piece of plywood she needed to make a door notice. More on that later. I had forgotten and had other things planned but I cut and painted the wood so that she could use it later. I had used vinyl emulsion so it would be dry in a couple of hours. It would be varnished over once E had finished her little project. I could now  begin the small project I had set for myself which was to remove some small paving slabs from the driveway E uses for her car and reset them in concrete. They had become loose after the original mortar mix had crumbled over the years since it was laid. I managed to do four of them but there are others which need attention too. Over the next few weeks I shall probably do them a little at a time rather than all at once. 

It was fast approaching lunchtime when I had done them and it was getting warmer by the minute. I didn’t wish to continue working in the heat wearing my overalls and having to mix a load of concrete by hand. I could have used the mixer but as I was not going to tackle the rest of the driveway at once it would have been pointless. After lunch I had to feed the plants in the front garden having done the ones in the rear garden yesterday but first I had it in mind to put feeding tubes beneath those plants which stand on the mound beneath the flagpole. The picture below shows a white plastic tube at the base of a newly planted shrub.

All six of the plants on the mound were done in the same way. Once they were done I fed all of the garden plants before returning into the rear garden to give it a thorough soaking. It was then that I found a few minutes to relax on the patio with E. It wasn’t long however before we decided to go indoors, after I had taken the washing off the line for E.

Shirley Anne

Sunday was

Sunday had been a totally different day and although the weather forecast promised rain it stayed dry during the day. It was much cooler too with an overcast sky. Not really a great day but I wasn’t going anywhere, I remained indoors throughout, didn’t even go into the garden. My day of rest meant just that but I wasn’t idle, I did some baking. I had gotten up around eight in order to get some exercise on the treadmill and cross-trainer before breakfast. I was just finishing breakfast when E appeared. It was approaching ten o’clock. I had to return upstairs to get out of my sportswear and get dressed for the day. After a spot of reading and checking emails I became bored so I decided to do a little baking, this time a very simple bake-rock cakes. They are so easy to make a child could do it…..Ingredients:
1/2 lb self-raising flour
1/4 lb butter
3 oz caster sugar
4 oz mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas and currants)
1 standard egg
1 or 2 tablespoons milk.
Method:
Rub butter into flour with fingers in a bowl until it forms a crumble
Add fruit and sugar and mix
Beat egg and milk then add to form a stiff mixture but not sticky.
Take portions of mixture and either roll into a ball or simply stack on a well buttered baking tray leaving plenty of space between each portion to allow for expansion.
Place in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 400 deg F (204 deg C) or slightly less if fan assisted for fifteen to twenty minutes. When done transfer to a cooling rack before storing unless they are to be eaten immediately.

I like them because they are so easy to make and very tasty.

It was almost time for lunch when I had finished but I didn’t eat until two o’clock. I had been browsing my personal writings which I keep in ring binders and books and one of them I post here….

O the glory of His presence
Fills me each and every day
And I get up every morning
With the urgent need to pray
For my Saviour has reminded me
That by my side He’ll stay
My Saviour rests with me.

As I go about my daily tasks
He whispers in my ears
And I often have to stop and think
For well I know He cares
He’ll be guiding me and moulding me
Throughout the coming years
So faithful is my Lord

O so often I do think on Him
For His sweet and saving grace
His persistence and undying love
The warmth of His embrace
So I’ll honour Him as best I can
‘Till we meet face to face
My great Redeemer King

Copyright Shirley Anne (1989-1998)

In those days I never recorded the date I wrote my songs and poems I only know which era. I wrote something each and every day so there are literally hundreds of them. Some are posted in my blog pages. So that pretty much summed-up my Sunday. Monday would again see me active on my project.

Shirley Anne

Last Monday?

I write this mid-afternoon on Tuesday 27 th. The day feels cool and uninviting because of the wind and overcast sky. Not a day for sitting out in but earlier I had been out for a walk which was pleasant enough though the wind took the edge off things. I was having a day off work, no intentions of continuing with the project in the cellar, I just wanted to take a break. As it happens I had been working the previous day and had completed most of the basic work anyway. One very minor thing needs to be done, a sticking door. One of the doors on the cupboard needs a little shaving off near the bottom as it is sticking to the other door when closed. That will take all of two minutes to do at the most! So apart from filling in a few cracks in the floor and then sealing the whole floor the project is complete. Maybe it will have been the last Monday of the project if you disregard the floor. The room as it stands this afternoon simply requires tidying up but as you can see from the pictures it is in use as a laundry drying room which it always was anyway.

Clothes don’t hang in the room too often and in the warmer months seldom at all for we hang them on the washing line in the garden. It is very handy having a drying room for when the weather is bad. It appears at the moment that the floor inside the cupboard is slowly drying out now but it is a very slow process. The walls have dried out at least which only leaves the floor to do the same. Had we been aware of the problem months ago I am sure it wouldn’t have gotten so damp. I am at that stage now where I am looking for another project to tackle.

Shirley Anne