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.
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…
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!
For some weeks now we have been enjoying dry and warm weather and I have been able to go for walks wearing the lightest of clothing. This morning (13 th) I was up and out of the house at seven doing just that. I arrived back home two hours later and was able to sit at the table with E for breakfast. She had only just gotten up as I entered the front door. Anyway I sat out on the patio after breakfast relaxing with a cup of coffee for a short time but I knew I had things to do so that didn’t last. The first thing I wanted to do was to erect some sort of temporary barrier to block a gap in the Laurel bushes to stem the wind so that the space could fill naturally with new leaf growth. New growth is already there but shielding it from the wind will encourage it to grow quicker….
I used some of the fire-clay floor tiles which I had removed from the gym room when I dug the pit a couple of months ago and propped them up with bricks though they were capable of standing unsupported. That little job didn’t take long and I went on to do the next which took far longer. The rear door frame of the garage in which I keep my van had become rotten on one side at the bottom. We suspected a mouse had recently been trying to gnaw its way though the rotting timber of the frame because there were a lot of .wood chippings around. I had to remove the door, which is very heavy, in order to saw off the rotted timber. I made the cut at an angle and manufactured a replacement section to match. This was to prevent the ingress of rain. A level cut would have allowed water to seep between the joint. This is the finished work before it was painted the following day. I had treated the timbers with preserver before fitting it.
I re-hung the door but left off the automatic closer to prevent the door closing by itself as it once did. Sometimes ‘auto-closers’ can be a nuisance. It was twelve-thirty and E made me a cup of coffee which I again sat and drank on the patio before returning indoors within the hour for lunch. The afternoon was mine to do as I pleased, which was almost nothing! I did take a walk around the garden though and took some photos as I went. In front of the large greenhouse…
My energy levels soon picked up after a great night’s sleep. I had been for an unaccustomed long walk on Saturday so I had been feeling a wee bit tired afterward. It’s not that I don’t do long walks but I hadn’t been so far in one go for quite some time. That is the key, the walk was done in more or less one go with a brief stop for toilet breaks and a chat with a lady walking her dog. So on Sunday morning I was as good as new and ready to go again though I didn’t go anywhere. Sunday was once more a lovely sunny day and very warm. Saturday had been a much cooler and overcast day which made the walk easier and comfortable. I don’t like exercising when the weather is too warm and that’s why if I go for walks during the warmer months they are usually done early in the day. It was due to the fine weather that I had to water the gardens again on Sunday and according to the forecast it looked like I would be doing the same for some time to come. The month of May as it happened had been the warmest on record since recording began. It was for the best part dry and sunny too. If ‘flaming’ June lives up to its reputation bright sunny days lie ahead (I write this on 3 rd). I did a little pruning of the trees close to the path in the rear garden and swept up the fallen leaves again. Every day there have been leaves lying on the path and part of the lawn and it’s not even Autumn! Something I will just have to put up with I guess. I spent some time relaxing on the patio during the afternoon. My youngest son had spent the night at the house as he does sometimes but he didn’t stay long once he had arisen and taken a shower. He was off to town, that is a public park on the town fringes to have lunch. Every year there is a food festival held in the park and the eating is free. He never misses an opportunity! I might have gone along too but for the crowds that attend these functions, I don’t like crowds. E didn’t fancy the idea either and she would have had difficulty in getting about anyway. There are several events and function held in Southport each month every year but I have never taken much interest in any of them though many people do. I prefer the quieter life.
Despite the weather forecasts promise of heavy rain coupled with thunder and lightning throughout Friday (25) it didn’t quite happen that way. I had decided to take an early morning walk and with that promise in mind I wore my rainproof jacket. It wasn’t however raining though the sky was darkened with clouds. The coat acted more as a warm covering than protection from the rain for it remained dry until long after my return home. I had to remove the coat half-way through the walk and tie it as we girls do, around the waist by the sleeves. It was a really pleasant walk, just the right temperature (even before I removed the coat) and hardly any wind. As I went onto the beach I saw a guy stand up as if he had been lying down on the grass that partly covers it. His dog began to bark as I got closer but after a word from him it stopped. He was busy rolling up what I presumed was his portable bed, a straw mat and sleeping bag. He also had a guitar case with presumably a guitar inside. I supposed he was a busker and also it appeared a drifter too. I bade him good morning and he replied in kind as I continued on my way. I didn’t do much before lunch and if I am honest after lunch too! I did however finish off sawing down a neighbour’s tree growing too close and overhanging our garden. A couple of years ago E had spoken with the guy regarding our pruning back his trees and he told her he didn’t care what we did with the trees. He meant of course keeping them in check. The area behind the brick wall separating our gardens and on his side is a veritable jungle of undergrowth, weeds, brambles, ivy and out of control bamboo. The rest of my neighbour’s garden is in reasonable condition but he has let this part get out of hand and it appears he isn’t going to change that in the near future. All we can do is to prevent his mess climbing over the wall into our garden. I may buy him a chain saw and machete and see if he takes the hint! I ended up watering the long flowerbed despite the rain having started to fall. It wasn’t as heavy as forecast and being as it was from the east that part of the garden sometimes can remain dry beneath the tree cover.
In yesterday’s post I talked about buying new plants for the gardens and some of them are in the pictures I post today.For the gardeners amongst you the top two are Ceanothus and Viburnum and have been planted in the front garden, The rest include Dwarf Pinks, Geum, Calceolaria, Saxifraga, Phlox, Aquilegia, Viola (more than one variety), Dianthus, Gypsophila Festival White, Azalea, Phylliopsis, Agapanthus and Erysimum have all been planted in the rear garden. I took this photo of the beetroot plants being nurtured in the greenhouse. They should be ready for planting out soon.
In the trays at the far top right a few melon seeds have been planted by E and some of them have begun to grow. Maybe we’ll have a few melons to eat later in the year too! This morning (15 th) I spread out the bag of tree bark chippings we had stored but it could only cover part of one bed. I shall have to purchase more this week. Apart from making the beds look much tidier it can help keep the weeds at bay and also help keep the soil from drying out in the hot sun. This morning I also gave the cellar storage room floor its second and final coat of paint. After touching up the wall paint where I have not been able to avoid splashing it in red paint the room should have returned into service by the weekend.
Monday according to the weather forecast was the first day of a week of sunny days and it certainly set the bar high. It was May 14 and it was sunny throughout the day. These are the days I take to do my outside work of course which at the moment have put my indoor jobs on hold. The cellar storage room floor needs another coat of paint, well I think two coats is better than one, and I’ve still to fit the threshold and do the gym floor too. I had set my mind to get up early and cut back overhanging branches from a neighbour’s tree so after an early breakfast I set about doing that. It wasn’t a small job for I had to saw off a few large branches and that meant I had to do it whilst standing on the garden wall.
The tree in question is standing on the other side of the wall dead-centre in the pictures above and the branches reached out almost to a position over the footpath putting all the plants below in the shade. Four of the branches I let drop into my neighbour’s garden but one I had to let drop in ours. The neighbour’s garden just over the wall I hasten to add is a jungle of brambles, weeds and fallen branches which never get cleared. Anyway we had to cut up the branches which fell on our side so later on in the morning E and I got out the machine which produces chippings and put the smaller branches through it. The larger pieces we stored in the small greenhouse together with others already there.Perhaps you can see the machine (yellow in colour) standing behind the tall holly tree in the picture above, There are branches with leaves on the path to the left and bare branches on the other path to the right. Before we did that work we drove to the garden centre to buy more plants, about a dozen of them which we planted out later in the afternoon. Two of those we planted in the front garden but the rest we planted mostly in the two flowerbeds shown in the second picture. I mowed the lawn before we started chipping the branches and before we had a late lunch. If I’ve time I will post pictures of the new plants later.
It sometimes takes a lot of effort to get E out of her chair if I wish to show her something, especially if that is something in the garden. If it is cold and even when it isn’t that cold she grumbles that she needs to put on a coat before stepping out. So it was on Sunday morning just before we had lunch. She tells me that she feels the cold, which she does and I have known that ever since we met but there are times when it isn’t as cold as she thinks it is. Nevertheless being as she is a bit stubborn there is no way she won’t wear a coat if she thinks it is cold. It’s just her way I suppose. I am far less troubled by a low temperature or a little wind though I have to confess I hate the wind when it is strong. Eventually I got her to go into the garden with me so that I could show her some of the flowers that have sprung up recently, crocus, snowdrops, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths to name a few. She is fond of flowers as I am too except that I prefer those that don’t grow from bulbs. I find it strange that for someone who professes to love these early flowers E seldom goes into the garden at this time of year. Anyway we spent some time out there and whilst there she asked about the bluebells I had been digging out on Saturday and where I had found them. As my readers will know digging out bluebells and montbretia took me months to do this time last year. I knew there would be some still to dig out this year and maybe that will be the same next year too but they are far fewer in number than when I first started. Even so there are still quite a few popping up occasionally. She called me over to a spot where she had noticed a couple more which I had obviously missed. I dug them out then she showed me more in another bed so I dug them out too! That is typical of E, she is quick to show me things I have missed or mistakes I have made. I laugh about it and say ‘Yes boss, I’ll do it right away boss’…….Ha, ha, ha.
It doesn’t take long for me to complete a project once I get started. It is getting started which is often the problem but that is usually because I have either not enough time or I haven’t all the materials at hand. I have just returned from the pub after spending an hour there for my lunch. It is Friday (2nd Feb) and this morning I spent some time on the treadmill before breakfast. After breakfast I set about the tasks which would see the completion of the second part of the garage door project. The first part was to install the floodlight and the automatic circuit to control it (see previous posts). Whilst doing that work I discovered the safety edge equipment required a more robust installation from that which had been carried out by the installer. Sometimes things are best done by one’s self! This second part was what I set about doing earlier today. The first thing to do was to fit the two lengths of now painted timber, one at each side of the door frame on which to refit the edging strips themselves. They are coloured black in the pictures. The strips house the infra-red beams which when interrupted stop the downward movement of the closing door. The job took only a few minutes to do…..
Click on pictures to see detail.
Finally I had to replace the metal cover over the length of the door which hides the door when it is rolled up (part of it can be seen in the first picture). I had removed it some time ago when repairing the guide strip (see older posts). That was it, the end of another little project. E had come to the garage to show me something and I took the opportunity to ask her about a plant we have in one of the flowerbeds. Whilst we were looking at the bed we saw some more bluebells beginning to show themselves so rather than going indoors for lunch I spent some time digging them out, about fifteen of them. It as almost two o’clock when I returned indoors and E had almost finished her lunch. She needed to go with her mom for the weekly shopping. I decided at that point I would eat out, hence the pub visit.
It may be the end of the year, the last few days, I write this on 28th, but life doesn’t stop. Creatures of habit like me continue on as normal. A day is a day just like any other so I do pretty much the same as I do at any time throughout the year. I have been working on a very small plot in the garden and wanted to add some natural stone as I had done in the much larger plot we call the west bed. That simply means the bed is on the western side of the garden. This one however is on the opposite side. I had over the months gathered many stones from the beach to cover that plot and recently collected more to put in this one too but a small bucket-full is far from enough as you can see….(click on image to magnify)
They barely cover the soil around the plant, the new fan palm at the end of the flowerbed. I did realise I would need more but the idea is not to fully cover the soil as there will be some small flowering plants placed there later. Maybe another bucket of stones will be enough. On my morning walk on Thursday (28) I collected enough to half-fill a bucket so it shouldn’t take long to collect what I want. These stones I might add are what were left behind after the construction of the sea defence wall many years ago. The construction company I suppose couldn’t be bothered to remove them else were unable to remove them all. Already I have been digging out some montbretia plants from the main flowerbed in the garden on the north side. They are the ones I missed when I cleared them from the bed at the beginning of the year along with bluebells. I have no doubts I shall be digging more out as the new year begins. It isn’t that I don’t like the flowers, it’s just that they grow like weeds and want to take over the garden! E and I have been putting seeds out on the bird table and some ‘fat balls’ in the feeder but it isn’t just the birds who eat them, we have a small family of grey squirrels who like them too. They eat the fat balls through the wire cage and the birds peck them in turn. A few days ago I made some alterations to the bird table in order to keep the larger birds such as pigeons, jackdaws and gulls from feeding there and leaving nothing for the many smaller birds such as tits, wagtails, and the robin we get here. We do put seed and other food on the grass to accommodate the larger birds. However, the squirrels can and do climb the pole to reach the table and can still enter the protected table to feed. This picture was taken before I altered the access but as I said, they can still gain entry which is fine.