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.
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.
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.
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-formbyThey 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.
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.
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.
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 butteredbaking 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.
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.
We’ve had a few bad days of cold and windy weather from the east but today as I write this on Thursday 1st March it looks as though things are about to change for the better. It has been snowing but not that much, in fact we’ve probably had only a few hours of it during the time it has been falling. I guess we’ve had three centimetres of the white stuff at most as it comes and goes. What is worse is if it doesn’t melt away it freezes so although there might not be much of it the snow can still be a problem. We are very fortunate though for in many parts of the country conditions have been far worse so we mustn’t complain. It never ceases to amaze me though that this country cannot cope as well as it should when it snows whereas many other countries take it in their stride. I had planned to go for a walk but changed my mind and worked out on the Elliptical Trainer instead. That’s the beauty of being able to have the space in which to fit exercising machinery and equipment and I humbly acknowledge that privilege. Having gym equipment was never on my thoughts when we first moved into this house thirty years ago. Funny how things change I suppose. For most of the day I stayed indoors relaxing but I did wander about making plans for other projects E and I have been considering. My current project is to decorate the boiler room which houses the gym equipment and as you have been reading part of that work is already complete. However there is some preliminary work that needs to be done in other parts of the room yet to be decorated, tidying up wiring, replacing some of the pipe lagging, perhaps replacing the main light and installing another just to name a few. So over the next few weeks I shall be doing that work whilst decorating those areas which require no preparation. A little here and a little there is the way it will go. One other small project E would like have me do is to install a couple of 5 amp power points in the hallway for the two table lamps we use there. She wants them to be automatically controlled and I have the plans to do it. It will mean installing a photo-cell similar to those controlling the garage lights as shown in this picture…
and in conjunction with a time switch. The photo-cell will supply power to the 5 amp sockets when it goes dark and the time switch will prevent the lights remaining on all through the night. Once it is daylight again the power will automatically shut off. The system of operation is similar to that supplied to the porch light and the garden street lamp-post via the ‘part night’ controllers except that the new one will use cheaper parts and will be manually adjustable if required. Nothing like having plans as long as I can get around to doing them!
It was such a lovely sunny day that greeted me as I awoke from my slumber. I didn’t really want to exchange the warmth beneath the duvet but I knew I had to get up some time. It was nine o’clock and I forced myself into action. I didn’t dress for the day but put on my sports clothes for I was going to spend a little time on the treadmill. Before I went downstairs however I stripped off the bed linen and replaced it with fresh sheets. I collected some clothes which needed washing too and I took the two large bundles with me as I left the bedroom. Going directly into the laundry room in the cellar I put the first load into the washing machine and returned upstairs to put on my running shoes and socks. I returned downstairs with my water bottle and started my exercise. I had to open the cellar door leading into the garden to allow some much-needed ventilation as the room still smelled of paint and sealant! I left the door open whilst exercising. Although it was sunny outside it was also bitterly cold. For the next few days and for a couple of previous days we were to experience a cold snap with winds blowing from the east. We were getting our weather delivered fresh from Siberia for a change. All I can say about that is I am glad I live on the west coast and not the east! It would be bad enough here but far worse on the other side of the country. My main concern was for the plants in the garden, the semi-tropical ones such as the Phoenix Canariensis and the Fan Palms. They are supposed to be able to withstand temperatures down to -8 C but I sure wouldn’t like to put them to the test. With expected temperatures down to -2 C on this side of the country it would probably be alright. The plants are somewhat sheltered by native varieties in any case. Those temperatures incidentally are the ones through the night, daytime temperatures are expected to be a few degrees higher. Hopefully after a few days the winds would be coming from the west. I finished my exercise and as I normally do if it isn’t raining, I cool off outdoors in the garden. That is when I saw some more bluebells which needed digging out so I did the job whilst I was out there in my shorts and skimpy top! Gosh it was cold out of the sunshine but soon enough I was inside again and hanging up the first bundle of washing. I then placed the second bundle into the machine before finally going upstairs for something to eat…..at belated breakfast! I did venture out again later but this time I was well-wrapped up!
After breakfast on Friday (16th) I once again put on my overalls and began working on the pit. There wasn’t much I could do other than skim the edge beneath the newly fitted handrail I had installed on Thursday afternoon and to roughly fill in the edge on the opposite end of the pit. That end would hopefully be smoothed out and finished on Saturday leaving only the floor of the pit to be covered with a screed.
I should be able to get the floor done on Monday and Tuesday if all goes to plan. When that is done all that will be left to do will be cosmetic, sealing the concrete, painting and such. So I only spent an hour working on the project and decided I would take a short walk down to the beach for an hour. I hadn’t been out for a walk for over a week and had simply taken exercise on the equipment instead. To be quite frank I was too tired to go for long walks and fitting in some time on the equipment had been much easier. It was such a nice warm and sunny morning but by the afternoon it had turned a little cooler and dull. After lunch E and I spent a few minutes in the garden preparing the soil in the raised bed between the greenhouses for planting potatoes. I had already planted rhubarb at one end of the bed a few weeks ago and recently had separated the area using paving edge stones…
The rhubarb is at the far right of the bed and some has already begun to grow. As you can see we have made four rows of mounded-up soil and each has around six potatoes in them. The remaining two potatoes were planted in a bucket though I may change my mind and transfer them to the bed if I can. We had strawberries growing in the bed two years ago but they grew wild and too much of the fruit was eaten by woodlice so we dug them out. I transferred a couple of them to pots and grew them in the large greenhouse last year where I could protect them from being eaten.