Sunday……

…..lived up to its name, it was sunny, not all of the time but much of it. I would be resting, or so I thought. Yes resting from my project but no in my leisure activities which now includes some gardening. I emphasise ‘some’ for once I get started in the garden there’s usually no stopping me, but it was Sunday and I deserved the day off anyway. I would be doing some painting the next day and perhaps one or two other things to bring an end to the garage door project. I doubt I’d be doing much nevertheless. So on Sunday (7 April) I swept up the garden path and cleared some weeds in the borders before spending a little time on the patio. I have to admit I was tired after doing that though I was only doing it for an hour. I obviously needed the rest and more so at my age. I noticed a couple of new shoots around the chopped-down fruit tree stumps but I knew that was always going to happen. Unless the stumps are removed completely or treated in some other way we shall have to keep cutting them off. Nature doesn’t like being messed about with. We’ll just have to see what develops. In any case it isn’t something to get worried about especially on a relaxing Sunday afternoon in the sun.

Shirley Anne

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Bit of a tussle

It is Monday 18 th Feb. The weather is in a bit of a tussle at the moment hovering between nice and warm and cold and windy. Despite that we are told to expect a warmer week. As far as I can make out the worst of the weather is behind us as we approach Spring. Well all I can say is wait and see. I am more concerned about any frost we may still get and by that I mean a hard frost lasting days. Why is that I hear you ask? Well after lunch today it became rather warm and sunny so I made the decision to remove the frost protection I had provided for the more susceptible plants we have in the garden namely the Phoenix Canariensis (palms). Last year they took a battering from the easterly winds which brought about a severe frost. We seem to have been fortunate this year and the weather has even been unduly warm. So off I went into the garden and guess what happened? The sun went in and the wind picked up and it became much cooler. No matter it was just cool and not freezing! After I had returned indoors say half an hour later the sun re-emerged the sky went blue and everywhere warmed up again. Just typical of my ‘good’ fortune. One of the bags in which the pebbles had been delivered came in very useful for storing the pieces of bubble-wrap I had used to protect the plants. They can be used again though I did purchase a large roll of bubble-wrap which would last for years.

Hopefully there will be no hard frost in the remaining weeks of Winter. This morning I had taken a longer walk than I had done for months and walked southward to Ainsdale taking the coastal road. I wasn’t that warm even though there was a south to south-westerly breeze. I walked down to the beach there, lovely at any time of year. The tide was just turning as I arrived and was beginning to recede but was still high upon the beach. I didn’t stop there too long because of the wind exposure and turned toward the dunes to make my way back home. It was the first time this year I had taken that route. There was far more shelter from the wind in the dunes though the line of trees and undergrowth on my left afforded the most protection. To my right were the main part of the dunes the other side of which lies the coastal road. By this time the sun had appeared and was warming by back from the right. I met a couple of people walking their dogs and one or two others out jogging. Finally I was back home and having an early lunch as I had skipped breakfast but feeling well and invigorated.

Shirley Anne

More bells

I mean of the blue variety. I was in the garden on Tuesday morning with the main object of putting some of the left-over pebbles into the raised bed in the area we call ‘The Plot’ at the side of the house. We sometimes refer to it as the secret garden because it hides between the garage and the laurel trees next to the patio. It is accessed through a gate I constructed almost two years ago and is therefore ‘out of the way’. It didn’t take long to spread the pebbles.

Although it doesn’t look a lot there are plenty of pebbles in there. What is left in the bag in the garage I hope will be enough to put in the long raised bed on the patio. Before that can happen I have to remove the cyclamen plants which are growing there. The other plants will be left.

Once I had finished that work I went around the garden borders digging out bluebells. Those which were remaining after the purge a couple of years ago cannot easily be removed for the bulbs are deep beneath the roots of other plants so all I can do is pull out any shoots which appear by digging down as far as I am able. At least now they are manageable but in places they are still quite numerous. I spent only an hour or so in the garden even though there were other jobs I could have done. There is no hurry, I’ve all the time in the world.

Shirley Anne

Feeling it

Quite often in this blog I have mentioned my age. Some people are a little sensitive when it comes to revealing how old they are but I have never had any qualms about such things. What is age anyway? As a date on the calendar age is meaningless but in life it certainly affects us all. If you don’t already know I am 73 years old, born in November 1945. Many folk my age show their age and have done for some time whilst others sadly never made it to 73. Others yet again are as fit as fiddles as the saying goes. Although I pride myself in my physical fitness naturally there are times when I really feel my age. There is no way I can do as much as I once could these days and some things really do take it out of me. Over the last four days I have done very little in the way of physical activity or work, in fact I have done no work at all due my muscular pain in my buttocks and lower back. I needed to rest. This morning however I decided to make some tentative progress in the removal of the damson/plum tree stumps in The Mound. Before Christmas I had lopped off the tops leaving around a metre and a half standing. You can see four of them in the first picture. The second picture shows the remains of the one I cut down.

I wanted to take them down to soil level then later dig out the stumps and main roots. It isn’t an easy job even for the professional. I took a saw and an axe to make a start on the first of the five left standing. There are a couple of smaller ones there too but they may be less difficult to remove. The outer layers of the trees are soft and white and are easy to cut into but the core is a different matter, it is much harder and red in colour. It took me ages to cut it down and I was exhausted doing it, so much so I stopped once it was done. The trunk itself was quite heavy too as I discovered when moving it across the garden. I am seriously thinking of giving the work to someone else, someone with a chainsaw! If I can get them all to ground level I may be able to drill them and treat the stumps with a herbicide to kill them off.

Shirley Anne

Less but more

The title seems to be a contradiction but this is what I mean, I did less of working on the utility room project and more on securing the plastic tunnel in the garden after high winds had loosened everything. When I arose at two it was still dark of course and I didn’t pay any attention or give any thought that the wind might have been a problem. It was the 13 th, a wet, windy and miserable day but it didn’t stop me going for a walk. I bore in mind that the wind was blowing from the south-west with intermittent heavy rain showers so I set off in the opposite direction. When I reached the place where I would normally turn toward the seafront I chose to walk inland instead for I didn’t wish to walk back into the wind and showers. Choosing to walk through the town’s streets offered shelter from the wind but I chose to walk home through an indirect route for the extra distance. On my return home I wasn’t in any hurry to begin work but when I did the first thing I did was to clear the room of tools. Next, I moved the two freezers away from the centre of the room to their permanent resting places so that I could fill in the gaps on the floor with cement. 

The picture was taken hours later when the cement had almost completely dried. I wasn’t going to paint the floor that morning for I wanted to paint the worktops with their final coat of paint. Before I could do that I went into the garden to use the left-over cement to patch up an area in the stone pathway behind the Mound by the lamp post. As I was returning into the house I noticed the tunnel needed some attention but first I painted the worktops, (both pictures).

Finally I was able to undo the wind damage but it took quite some time for the wind was still blowing strong. When E and I assembled the steel frame we fixed the two side bars to the outside of the structure and didn’t realise they should have been fixed on the inside so as not to interfere with the plastic covering. The wind had caused chafing of the cover by the two ends of the bars so my first job was to re-fix the bars on the inside. Not easy in the windy conditions with the cover in place but I didn’t take long doing it. I then set about securing the structure and fitting some bubble-wrap sheeting to the inside of the plastic cover and generally securing it as best I could, I also weighed down the structure with ropes and concrete slabs, Hopefully that would keep everything in place until Spring. Time will tell. I had just about enough of work so I suggest to E that we dine out for a change. By mid-morning the weather had changed dramatically , it was now blue skies and sunshine though still a little windy. We drove about four miles to a canal-side pub called The Saracens Head in a small hamlet and enjoyed one of the best meals we’d had in a long time. Well worth the trip.

Shirley Anne     

A little fib

In yesterday’s post when writing about the work I did on the utility room project I mentioned that I would paint the floor today, Saturday the 20 th. I must confess to that being a little fib though at the time I wrote it was true. What happened was late in the afternoon I called next door to give my neighbour a loaf of bread as she had asked if we had some. My neighbour is house-bound because of her condition and her son was away at work. We chatted about things and she was asking if I had been busy so I told her about the project. An hour later I began to think about the painting of the floor, well that part on which I would be working the next day. The painting takes minutes, the drying takes a few hours but the fumes linger for a very long time especially as there is little or no ventilation down in that room. If I were to paint it on Saturday I wouldn’t be able to do anything else that day and I wanted to get on with the work. With that in mind I painted the floor on my return home.

  

Having done that I was able to continue the next day and install the third cabinet and also move the old freezer.

I then moved the other smaller freezer to the spot where the old one had stood, though it will be moved away from the wall whilst I paint the wall and floor there. That left the rest of the floor clear and ready to be worked on later. Before I did all that work and also paint the floor the previous afternoon I lifted up the remaining pieces of carpet, cut them into smaller pieces so I could dispose of them in the wheelie bin. The carpet had been fine whilst lying on the floor but the rubber backing had deteriorated over the years and was left on the floor as the carpet was lifted, 

I finished the work for that day by 1 o’clock and rested but during the afternoon I noticed that the membrane I had laid in the lawn feature had a couple of holes in it. It could only be the squirrels whom we’ve seen on the lawn at times digging little holes either to bury food or to dig for worms! I decided to cover over the area with a robust plastic netting until we finally get delivery of the pebbles (see recent posts).

    

Shirley Anne

Smell of paint

I was keen to carry on with the utility room project after an almost restful Sunday. I had gone into the garden in order to sweep up the first wave of fallen leaves from the lawn. We have an old push-along piece of equipment we inherited from somewhere many years ago. It has two large wheels at the front in between which is a metre-wide rotating brush that is driven by cogs within the wheels. Behind this setup is a large open container on a metal frame which is used to push it forward and in doing so collects the leaves as they are swept up. It kept jamming so I had to dismantle the wheels and do some repairs. I fancy it won’t last much longer and we’ll have to buy a new model but for now it works. It is Monday morning 8 th October as I write and I have just returned indoors after watering the rear garden. It is six o’clock. I finished breakfast just after three o’clock and went into the utility room in the cellar to paint the walls in the area around where the sink unit will stand. The exposed area around the fitted unit will be painted again later if required. It was just done to allow my installing the unit. I also painted the area of floor on which it will stand.   

No doubt the rest of the rooms’ walls and floor will be decorated this way, bit by bit because there are some large objects in there which cannot be moved out of the room, the washing machine and the freezers. Some of the other things will be removed and some will be stored elsewhere but all that is in the future. For the moment I have to concentrate on the job in hand. The floor paint gives off noxious fumes and I had to wear my face mask when using it as I did on the other two projects in the cellar. Despite it being a small area of painted floor the smell lasted for hours. I would rather do the whole floor at once and be done with it but unfortunately that is impossible. 

Shirley Anne

Sand and clutter

Before any work could be done on the lawn project I had to figure where I would put the soil after digging it out to allow the cobbles to be laid. Some of the soil would be replaced once the grass had been removed from it. I decided the only suitable place to store it would be where the second bag of sand had been placed. I had removed the sand from the cellar floor whilst constructing the pit in there (see earlier posts). That meant I had to put the sand into small bags and store it in the garage as I had done with the first large bag. Some of that sand has since been used but there was still a large amount unused. I spent some time on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning re-bagging and removing the sand from outside. 

…and putting it into the garage with the rest….

It may not seem a lot but there are seventeen bags there in the picture above with two more behind the wheelbarrow.There are also bags of grit, granite chippings and cement there too! The garage is getting quite cluttered as you can see from these pictures….

The wooden crate and the blue coloured pallet were used in the delivery of the cobbles. In this country these things are never collected and we have to dispose of them ourselves but sometimes they do come in handy. The timber can be used and the large bags used in delivery of sand, soil and other things can be used too as you can see. We use this garage for storing most things we use outdoors for there is more space in it than the second garage as well as it being more accessible to both front and rear gardens. Whilst access to the gardens is easy from the second garage access to the rear garden is more restricted and only suitable for pedestrian activity. Just after I had completed the removal of the sand the rain came down heavily. Typical UK weather…

Shirley Anne

Moving along slowly

So it was I was up and about at two-fifteen on Saturday morning and looking out of the window into the garden shrouded in darkness. Despite it still being dark it wasn’t so dark that I couldn’t make out the lawn and the path around it. I could even see most of the plants in the borders but I could also see that everywhere was still dry. The overnight rain and stormy weather hadn’t materialized and I was wondering if it would. The lightning storms which apparently would pass over us must have passed by unless the forecast was wrong. I am writing this at eight-thirty and still there is no rain though the sky is filled with rain clouds. It is also partly blue in places too. I decided to water the rear garden in case it didn’t rain so that was my first job at two-fifty when I arrived downstairs. About forty-five minutes later I was back indoors to eat breakfast. What next would I do? I put on my overalls and went into the garage to mix a bucket of cement mortar and began filling in the next area in the gym floor

I had to be careful to leave a corridor to the door above the steps which leads out to the garden so the area at the bottom in the picture was left. It actually doesn’t need much filling-in there anyway but it will get done in turn. It is this next area which will be more of a problem because the furniture has to be moved but it will be done.

When that was done I left it to dry and then used the remaining mortar to fill a gap in the patio capping stone, something I had been meaning to do for ages. I covered it just in case it did rain. Well now it was time to take a very early walk. It was now five-fifteen and I left the house, posting some of E’s letters on the way. I hadn’t put on my rain-proof coat but had it tied around my waist. It was so lovely in the cool of the morning but I hadn’t gone far when the rain began to fall so I put on my coat. However it stopped raining after a couple of minutes and didn’t rain after that. The rain had been very light, hardly rain at all but I wasn’t going to take a chance and get soaked before my walk had started properly. I was back home a couple of hours later and went into the cellar to sweep the excess mortar off the gym floor. It would be ready for painting over the next day but seeing as the next day was Sunday it wouldn’t get done until Monday (30 th) at least.

Shirley Anne

Just stuff

Yesterday (13 th) I received a mail from my youngest brother. He is the only one of my family who bothers to stay in touch, my other three siblings stopped communicating with me more than ten years ago, possibly fifteen years. He himself hadn’t written to me for a few months but in his case it was more a case of forgetfulness I suppose. He actually asked if I had heard anything from my other brother and sisters which I hadn’t. In a previous mail he had asked if E and I might like to pay he and his wife a visit. Naturally we said we would and he replied that he would get back to us to let us know when. The problem at that time was their schedule, holidays and her dad’s illness. We didn’t receive a reply until he wrote yesterday. He wondered why we hadn’t visited yet. Now I know he is losing his memory! Ah well that’s the way it goes sometimes. His mail did cheer me up though and of course I wrote back as I always do if someone takes the time to write to me. It was a very dull day yesterday but today it is back to wall to wall sunshine though the temperature isn’t as high as it has been. It is 23 deg C. I was up early again at 4 o’clock and was out of the front door at five o’clock on my walk. At that hour it was cooler but still 18 deg C. It felt a little damp and indeed we had dew on the ground which kept the grass and soil moist. As expected there was hardly anyone about as I walked along the route. When I returned home it wasn’t yet 7 o’clock. Time for breakfast and after which I watered the rear garden, including the grass even though there was dew on it. The garden probably didn’t need the watering but I didn’t want it to start drying out, some of the plants are only relatively newly planted and need watering frequently. One part of the garden in particular is often left dry even after a rain fall during the summer months because of the trees nearby sheltering it. This time however the rain had gotten through to the ground but I still watered the area. I must add that I don’t usually water the gardens as often as I have been doing lately. It is because of the long hot and dry spells we have had. When the watering was done I went into the cellar and gave the new fence sections another coat of wood preserver, the third coat. Even after three coats the wood is still acting as a sponge and soaking it in. Probably another coat or two should be enough. I will install it on Monday rather than today. One of the beetroot plants had fallen over during Thursday night’ rain. It was ready for picking anyway. It was the nearest plant in the picture below…

Beetroot

The beet was the size of a large orange or apple. I took it inside and cooked it in boiling water. After removing the skin I sliced it up and placed it in a jar together with the water it was boiled in and some malt vinegar. It half-filled the jar. We buy pickled beetroot regularly in large jars and it was one of those jars I used. The beet tasted lovely freshly cooked. Funny thing is we seldom eat it unless it is pickled! I prefer it pickled anyway. Maybe that’s why I am pickled!

Shirley Anne