It was Saturday, the first of two warm and sunny days we were promised in the forecast and the first of two days to relax in. I woke up early and was soon having a shower and getting dressed to go downstairs for breakfast. I finished breakfast before nine o’clock and sat at my computer for half and hour as well as collating some information for my tax-return. A little bit at a time is the method I adopt when preparing my tax-return, it is easier that way for me because I don’t like sitting down for long periods as I probably would do if I did it all at once. In any case it only takes a few hours to get it prepared. I made myself a cup of coffee and went outside to sit on the bench in front of the patio…this one…
It faces east so gets full sunshine for a few hours each day. I could have sat on the patio but the artificial turf was wet with dew, as was the lawn too. Both dry pretty quickly once the sun gets high in the sky. Once I’d finished the coffee I became restless and couldn’t remain seated for long after. I took a stroll around the Mound (over on the right in the picture above). A single shoot caught my eye, it was another bluebell. Thinking it was near to the surface I tried to pull it out but no, it went deeper. Off I went for the kneeling stool and hand fork and I began to dig it out. Did I say single shoot? Never true most of the time with bluebells, there were several of them. I must have covered every cubic centimetre of the Mound by now but still they appear. Anyway that took a half-hour and I looked for something else to do. During my gardening renovations I have removed lots of small stones and some not so small, some natural stone and some man-made, bricks and the like. I had three large containers filled with them. This picture taken a few weeks earlier shows two of them nearly full.
I decided I would empty them out and separate the natural stone from the rubble. Some of the natural stone I placed around the base of the yucca plant shown in this picture at centre against the wall. It is immediately to the left of the buttress in case you can’t see it.
Now it was lunch time so I returned indoors. After lunch I returned to the patio and laid down on the now dry turf for an hour. I couldn’t stay there any longer but arose and went for a long walk in the sunshine. On my return home I spoke with my next door neighbour’s son for a time. They have a collie dog, a well-behaved animal that seldom barks, not like the two small dogs in a house nearby that sometimes bark incessantly for ages before someone finally stops them as happened when I went for a lie down on the patio earlier. My other next door neighbour also has a dog, a young setter that also seldom barks, or so I thought. I went into the house and made myself another coffee and sat out again on the patio. The setter started barking and did so for at least twenty minutes. I gave up and went indoors, actually to watch The Grand National annual steeplechase (horse race) on television. I have watched that race every year for as long as I can remember, well over sixty years. I returned outdoors to water the garden plants before finally going back inside for my evening meal. Peaceful, quiet and relaxing day? Well for most of the time.
Old Racecourse Road. This ordinary looking road in Maghull has some history to it, as its name would suggest. In fact this is where the first Grand National was held in 1836. It was won by The Duke ridden by Captain Martin Becher who the famous fence Becher’s Brook was named after-won the race in 1836 and 1837. It moved to Aintree in 1840. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Saturday was Grand National Day, probably the world’s most famous horse steeplechase racing event held here in the UK at Aintree in Liverpool. Although I do not gamble on the race or any race for that matter I do like to watch it on television each year it is held. I always thought it amusing that once I lived quite close to the course yet never went to the course itself except on one occasion. I cannot remember the exact year but it was probably 1967 or 1968 I went there in an official capacity for the at that time Electricity Board who provided a standby emergency service should there be a power outage. I took on that responsibility on that one occasion. As it happened there wasn’t a problem so I got paid for standing around! I couldn’t wander too far from the supply switch room however so I didn’t get to see much but I was not really interested at that age. I was twenty-two to twenty-three years old. Now I live further away from the course, about sixteen miles away along the coast in the town of Southport and I avoid travelling anywhere near the north end of Liverpool because of the disruption.
Cropped version of the Aintree national circuit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
E and I spent the day at home busy decorating or preparing for decorating in the small bedroom. First of all I heaved the old mattress out of the window and dragged it into the garage for disposal later. I then finished off painting the ceiling and we cut the carpet into two and heaved it out of the window into the garden so we could put it in the garage with the mattress. I removed a television aerial socket that I had installed on the skirting board years ago because the room had not long been decorated and I didn’t want to spoil it. I re-fixed it alongside a power outlet and sunk it into the wall. Meanwhile E was busy filling in cracks and holes in the woodwork ready for applying an undercoat later. Our neighbour who lives directly across the road had popped over to ask if we had heard her house alarm sounding as she has had a little problem with it over the last few days. She had been away from home in the morning. We had heard it sound whilst she had been out. E invited her inside so she could see our newly decorated bedroom and view her own house from our point of view as she always wondered what it looked like from afar. At the moment it is covered by scaffolding at the front for the final stages of re-pointing the brickwork. It was almost time to watch the horse race when we finished working for the day.
On Saturday it cannot have escaped most people’s notice that the world-famous Grand National horse race was run at Aintree, Liverpool. That course is about sixteen miles from where I live though at one time I lived much closer than that, about three or four miles away. The only time I ever visited the course was in the mid to late sixties in a professional capacity. I was a stand-by emergency electrician there only to reinstate the electricity supply for the television cameras and equipment. I was never interested in the races themselves and I suppose that was a consideration in my being selected for the position, I could be trusted not to wander too far from my station. Many people gamble on the race but the thought has always been far from my mind to follow suit. I entered in a raffle one year at work but only because I was under pressure to do so as there was only one ticket left. I reluctantly accepted and to my surprise but probably much more so the surprise of the organiser, I won. The horse’s name was Aldaniti ridden by Bob Champion who I am sure many of you will remember. I won the princely sum of £48 for my £1 ticket. I watch the race each year though on television but only that race, no others. I had the chance to sit down and watch the live broadcast late in the afternoon having spent the morning doing some work in the bathroom, I got the radiator working and can only assume it still had an air lock preventing it working properly before. I fitted the replacement air vent plug at the same time. I also fitted the wall mirror which covers the inspection panel at the rear of the shower unit and I laid the shower tray temporarily in position to establish what work if any had to be done before it is fitted permanently. Here are some more pictures….
Nothing I did yesterday was new to me, most things aren’t these days! I got up quite early and even before breakfast I gave the front door steps and walkway another coat of sealant, the last of three. I had applied two coats last week but the recommended number of coats was three. I went back indoors and had breakfast before returning to the rear garden to mix mortar and fill the holes in the wall next to the vegetable plot. We had been filtering the soil in that area a couple of weeks ago and discovered some of the bricks, mainly below the soil level, were missing! I had the dubious pleasure of replacing the bricks. I soon had the job finished. We will now be able to spread out the soil that was piled in a mound. There is more work to do in that area, filtering the remaining quarter of soil, planting vegetable plants, re-pointing the rest of the wall (quite a large area) above soil level, finishing the concrete stand for the proposed water-butt and other sundry things. E and I went into the front garden and cleared out an area of flower-bed and planted a tree, three shrubs and three flowering border plants before returning to the rear garden where I began to dig out and filter the border where a few weeks ago there had been several trees, ivy and a host of weeds! I had previously done about one-third of the area and now completed the next third, well almost the next third! The main problem with this border is the amount of roots in the ground but slowly I am filtering them out. It is hard work however and I have to take a break now and then else injure my back. I left off doing that so I could eat lunch and returned later to do a little more. To relieve the monotony I cut down yet another tree/shrub, the last in that section of border. I still have to remove the roots! I cut the pieces down so that they could fit in the waste bin and then went back indoors with E to watch the Grand National. A little more time outdoors and then we came in to prepare and eat our evening meal. That was enough for one day! Today we shall be outside again doing various things, filtering soil, planting a cherry tree, clearing out weeds from one of the front flower-beds and demolishing part of the dry-stone walling near the new garage under the bay window. We have decided to build a double brick wall there to match the one at the other side of the house which will serve two purposes, one it will make the front more ‘balanced’ and it will serve to strengthen the area and two it will give slightly more room to the driveway for vehicles. We have yet to ask the bricklayer to do the work but I’m sure he won’t mind! In fact he and his mate will be starting the completion of the patio area in the rear garden soon I hope. We are getting there, slowly at times but getting there.
Well Friday was ‘no intention’ day for me mainly because I got up fairly late at 9 o’clock and went to see the dentist at 12.30 which left me reluctant to do anything else for the remainder of the day as I didn’t get back home until almost 2 o’clock! As it happened the dentist prescribed an anti-biotic and I am to see my regular dentist at the end of the month to assess any further necessary action. There is more filling than tooth where I am feeling the pain although the pain is not strong nor continuous. It may be that the medication will resolve the problem, I’ll have to wait and see. So I just pottered about the house and garden all day and will make up for lost time today instead. My sabbath day of rest came early this week. It had been a beautiful day yesterday and looks as though it will be even better today but there’s lots to do in the gardens and E and I will be busy most of the time. We will stop in order to watch The Grand National in the afternoon. All the years I lived in Liverpool (about 4 miles from the racecourse at Aintree) and even now I live but fifteen miles away, I never did go to the races although one year in the late sixties I did attend the meeting as a standby electrician for one day but didn’t see any of the races! Most years I watch the Grand National race. In fact I cannot remember one year that I missed watching the main race live on television. I never gamble on the races but one year (1981) my colleagues at work were holding a raffle and they had one ticket left which they co-erced me into buying for £1. I was told the the horse I had on my ticket was ‘a donkey’ and had no chance of winning. Well it’s name was Aldaniti and it came in first! I won £48 on the raffle and my colleagues were gritting their teeth! A lazy Friday, a busy Saturday and probably Sunday to look forward to…………but I like it!