I am writing this on Thursday 21 after having my lunch. I had missed breakfast as I tend to do when I plan going for a walk in the morning. This morning was no exception. It has been a wet and dull morning with no prospect of any sunshine at all today. It wasn’t raining heavily when I went out but there was a constant drizzle, fine rain, the sort that drifts slowly down from the sky and seems to get into every nook and cranny not effectively screened from it. Even such fine drizzle can lead to streams of gushing water in some places. Anyway, it wasn’t going to prevent my enjoyment and off I went. I headed to the beach and walked toward the pier at which point I took to the roadside because there was too much mud on the beach for the next couple of hundred metres. I decided to remain on the roadside and continued as far as I wished until turning off to return homeward along a different route. I did return to the seafront for the last part of my walk. By the time I arrived home I was ready to do it all over again……but I didn’t. It proves a point, one which I already knew anyway, that the more we exercise the more we want to and are able to. It is all about building up stamina. When we exercise our bodies produce endorphins, ‘Any of a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions. They are peptides which activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.‘ In other words exercising makes you feel good. It is the start of Winter (Dec 21 or thereabouts) today if it can be pinned down to the calendar of course. It is so mild despite the rain. For some time now I have done little in the way of work at home though there are some things in the pipeline ahead which I plan on doing. I made the decision to put off all little projects until the beginning of the new year and simply enjoy doing nothing for a while, apart from my exercising of course.
Ah, Sunday morning and all tucked up under the duvet made me feel so secure and warm, The curtains drawn back allowed me to see the new day outside and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Rain was pelting against the glass of the windows forced relentlessly by the strong north-westerly winds. I tried to close my eyes again but it was now too late, time to get up and face the day. I was going for a walk, down along the beach and back along the coastal road this time. It was around eight-twenty as I stepped through the front door, I was well wrapped up to face the elements and needed to be, it would get worse before it got better! I walked the half-mile or so to the coast road and crossed over to walk through the sand dunes and onward to the beach. There was the watery and muddy paths to negotiate before I reached the sand and soon after I arrived there the wind picked up and became stronger, then the rain began to fall again. It had ceased raining by the time I set off but now it was back with a vengeance. Have you ever stood in a waterfall? I have and there on the beach it felt just the same. I stooped down to the sand to minimise the drowning I was being given but thankfully it lasted only a few minutes before easing off to be just light rain for ten minutes. I looked heavenward to see a bright blue sky, the clouds had blown over, well most of them. I made it to the point where I was to turn off the beach and as I did I saw several police, coast guard and ranger vehicles with their crews standing close by. I wondered if there had been an incident along the beach for as I had approached the turning off point I could see flashing amber lights in the distance ahead of me further along the beach. Whatever the event was about it looked as though it was all over. I continued with my walk and homeward bound. By the time I reached home the sun was shining, it was warmer and most of the sky was blue. It didn’t last too long however as by one o’clock it was cloudy again, then sunny, then cloudy…..a day of two halves.
On Saturday through to Sunday afternoon we felt the effects of the latest storm to grace our shores and it was even worse than the previous one we had endured merely a matter of days before. You might say we were fortunate as it didn’t pass too close but it didn’t need to.
The eye of the storm passed over the Irish sea between England and Wales on the east and Ireland on the west. That meant the highest winds encircled it and guess where I live, right beneath them? On the map Southport is located just above ‘Liverpool‘ on the straight piece of coast before the next inlet above it. The eye of the storm passed over ‘Anglesey‘. The previous storm passed further to the west and we were less affected by it. The wind and rain were relentless and for hours we were bombarded with it. The driving wind forced some of the rain beneath the lead flashing over the bay window in a room at the front of the house. It found its way into the ceiling space and on to the floor in that room. When time and weather allow an investigation we will see what can be done to prevent it happening again.* I put off going for a walk on Sunday until after eleven o’clock. The rain had ceased but the wind was still strong at 35 mph (51 Km). I managed to get to the beach but it was hard-going though very refreshing. Surprisingly it didn’t feel very cold despite the wind. I walked a little on the sand before returning nearer to the coast road to walk there instead. I returned home ready for lunch an hour later, a little windswept! Around three o’clock the sun began to shine, the sky began to turn blue and thankfully the wind had dropped to a more respectable level. I actually found time to potter about in the garden!
* Post Script: I carried out the repairs which had caused the leak the following day having found a loose brick and some holes in the wall. They were hidden from sight behind the guttering. At the same time I replaced some of the plastic sheeting beneath the roof tiles which had become worn exposing the timbers behind.
On Friday morning I had a chance to sleep in until ten o’clock but was awakened by a phone call asking me to do a small electrical job. It was from an elderly couple for whom I had worked before and they insisted they would call me in preference before anyone else. He is a little senile and set in his ways whilst she had a stroke a few years ago which left her in difficulties with her speech. She couldn’t phone because of that and he seemed not to notice that I was trying to tell him I had retired as he kept on talking about the electrical problem. They live around three miles from me so how could I refuse to help? I dressed and went there immediately. As is sometimes the case with older folk they worry about potential electrical faults. As it happened there wasn’t a fault at all. What had happened was he had placed a piece of half-toasted bread into the toaster but somehow had wedged it in between the metal guide and the elements consequently short-circuiting the toaster.
That had caused the RCD to trip which cut the supply to other circuits too. He had already corrected the fault himself but it appeared he wanted to be sure. As E and I wanted to go shopping in the afternoon I missed the opportunity to go for a walk. I didn’t wish the same thing to happen on Saturday. I arose early on Saturday for two reasons, first of all I had to go and collect my medications and secondly, I hardly slept at all during the night so was awake anyway. It was a dull morning and threatening to rain, in fact that had been the forecast as we were expecting the tail-end of yet another storm to head our way. Again, although we were at the fringes where I live it got very wet and windy throughout the afternoon and evening. I wanted to go for a walk and fortunately was able to in the morning before the rain fell in earnest though it did rain for about twenty minutes while I was out. After lunch E went to her monthly meeting and I was left at home to hang out the washing, indoors of course for the rain was belting down!
I had managed to do a spot of clearing up of moss on the ‘secret garden’ flagstones and pathway as it was getting out of hand (compare to photo in yesterday’s post). Soon after the rain began to fall. With nothing better to do I spent a half-hour on the treadmill working out.
I got the chance to test the effectiveness of the coat I had purchased a month or so ago when I went for an early morning walk on Thursday. Although I have worn the coat several times since its purchase and some of those times in the rain, Thursday’s walk was a real test. Rain had been forecast to fall at around four o’clock but by the time I started out a couple of hours later it had stopped. I took the long route on my way to the coastal road and the sky to the west looked very menacing, so dark the clouds were almost black in colour and then I heard the rumble of thunder out toward the sea. To the east and south it was slightly brighter, that is the clouds were a lighter shade of grey! By the time I had reached the sea front it had begun to rain and it appeared I was walking in the same direction to where it was falling. It got heavier and heavier as I went along. Out to sea the horizon had almost faded into the sky and visibility was cut down so much the town of Blackpool, normally visible across the bay twenty miles away was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t so much the rain that was the problem but the persistent wind blowing on-shore. The scene looked pretty much like that shown in the picture, water, water, everywhere..
The coat stood the test as expected which was just as well else I’d have been soaked through. On my chosen route there was nowhere to take refuge, nowhere for respite and to be honest I really didn’t wish to stop walking anyway. I doubt I will deliberately start my walks during a heavy downpour but it is nice to know that if I get caught out in a storm I can have the assurance of staying dry, at least under my coat. My feet didn’t fare so well, though not soaking wet they did get wet. I had been in two minds as to whether I should have worn my boots but chose my trainers instead. I think I should have worn the boots! Thursday did however turn bright and warm with wall to wall blue skies after lunch.
Another lie-in on Tuesday saw me putting my feet on the floor at 10 o’clock and missing breakfast once again. That didn’t matter, what was more important was I had a good night’s sleep even though I didn’t actually rest easy until 5 o’clock! It’s all to do with a change in routine, not having to get up for work and not getting to bed at the right time take their toll. I have to make the effort to settle things down before I am available for work in a couple of week’s time. When I retire none of this will matter but will I like it? Probably not but I will wait until I have crossed that bridge. So I was late getting downstairs and a banana and fruit drink would have to do until lunch a couple of hours later. Gazing out of the kitchen window a grey squirrel caught my eye and I spent a little time watching what it did. It was scampering about in the border and on to the lawn until after a few minutes it went over to have a drink from the bucket beneath the greenhouse which collects rain water. It comes more useful in the warm months of the year when there is little or no rain. All we do is take out the leaves that have fallen into it. The squirrel then ran up the holly tree and ended up in the branches of the naked sycamore behind it. Just then two magpies perched themselves in the tree but one flew off immediately the squirrel appeared. The other one played cat-and-mouse with the squirrel who kept chasing it off the branches. The squirrel got its way and the magpie flew off, probably for a bit of peace. While all this was going on there were two male blackbirds making a mess on the path by the lamp-post at the other end of the garden. They were doing what many birds do when searching for food, shifting fallen leaves to see what is hiding beneath them. They seemed to be having some success at my expense for it would be me sweeping up the scattered leaves later. They do the same with the bark we have in a couple of plant pots, in fact later in the day I had to put the removed bark back into the pots and take some preventative measures against it happening again. It is usually the little ones which make the most mess. I inserted some plastic sticks in the pots to deter the birds from landing on them until the flowers have grown tall enough for them to be removed. The pots contain tulip and daffodil bulbs some of which have already started to emerge. I think there are a few snowdrops in them too. When the squirrel had moved away I went outside and placed some more nuts for it to gather on its return. They were gone by the end of the day. Before I returned indoors I attached the new flag and raised it to the top of the pole but it hung there quite limply as there was hardly any wind at all. Finally I went indoors and prepared another pan of chicken and vegetable stew enough for two meals. After lunch, an hour later, I decided to go for a walk. The day was far colder than the previous day but there was hardly and wind. I was surprised how many people were out doing the same despite the cold. E had been out all afternoon and didn’t return home until early evening. Apart from my walk I stayed at home all day.
The weather forecast for Saturday was rain for most of the day. Any work I might want to do outside would have to wait until late in the afternoon when it was supposed to become dry. I had gotten up early and before breakfast I went out into the garden with a tape rule to measure something but first I checked the concrete I had laid the day before. It was solid but obviously still ‘green’. I had placed a cover over it whilst it set and decided to leave it covered until the rain had ceased. What was I measuring you might ask? On Friday I received an email from a company who sells among other things, street lighting posts. I had been making inquiries with a view to purchasing one for the rear garden but they had none of the type and size I wanted in stock. I chose to wait and they would send a message when they became available, the email was to inform me of that. I immediately ordered one online. This is the one I chose.
With a discount voucher but with the added cost of delivery the cost would be £319. I have at the time of writing on Saturday no date for the delivery. As Saturday was going to be wet I could do no work at least during the morning so I decided to pay a visit to the electrical supplier and purchase the materials I would need to install the lamp-post when I could get around to doing it. It will also require that I build a concrete base on which to stand it. The concrete mixer will need to stay out a little longer! The tape rule was to measure the length of cable I would need to reach the proposed lamp-post position which turned out to be a little under 19 metres. The cable I am using is pvc steel wire armoured which will be small enough to be almost invisible when I install it beneath the capstone where they overhang on top of the wall. The other materials included a weatherproof box in which I will put a control switch (for isolation only) and a weatherproof connection box where I will connect the cables and the wiring to the photo cell unit which will control the light. The photo cell could not be purchased over the counter so I have been trying to source one online. A few years ago I bought one to control the light in the front porch. It is a special unit which switches on at dusk, off at midnight, on a few hours later and then off again at dawn. It takes a few days to settle down and adjust the switching times more accurately and it will enable the light to remain off during the early hours of the day. In the meantime I have work to continue with on the Plot as long as it isn’t raining. The rain did ease off for about thirty minutes in the afternoon so I took the opportunity to mix some mortar by hand as it was quicker for such a small amount and I managed to lay the second paving slab and recover the area before the rain resumed. I wanted to lay some bricks on its rear edge as I had done with the first step but hadn’t enough time because of the rain. Here are two shots taken on Sunday morning.
It would be Monday before I could do any more work at home but I had two electrical jobs scheduled, one small one and the other not so small which would scupper the idea.
I was never much of a fan of the group Wet, Wet, Wet and neither the weather their name reflects. It’s not that I mind it so much when it is raining, I don’t, as long as it doesn’t last too long. Just as we had some lovely days, even weeks of warm sunny times we are now going through a hopefully short period of rain. As I write this on Wednesday morning it is raining and has done for a few days on and off. As far as the forecast is concerned we might not see much of the Sun for perhaps another week. It is the UK however after all so this type of weather isn’t really unusual but if it remains too wet for too long it can be depressing. All outdoor work has to cease which can be inconvenient, especially when gardening jobs like mowing the lawn is necessary or if building work and repairs are needed. In this respect we don’t need to mow the lawn for a few days but there is a leaking corner on one of the garage roofs. I have known about that leak for months but because I had other pressing things to do I effected a temporary repair by covering the area with a heavy-duty pvc weighted-down sheet. It is unlikely to leak whilst that is in place but it does need a permanent repair at some point. I had to walk into the village a short time ago. I could have taken my vehicle but the village is less than a half-mile away so I walked there as I usually do. I needed some fresh vegetables for E hadn’t bought enough when doing the weekly shop. She is sometimes inconsistent in what she purchases and occasionally we run out of some things. Strangely though she often buys in things we don’t really need, things we already have plenty of, especially tinned stuff. I am struggling at the moment as I have little to do other than planned work which I am reluctant to start just now. I guess I am going through a lazy phase, a can’t be bothered phase, something I do from time to time. I need something but I am not always sure what that is. All I do know is that it is wet, wet, wet and I am not in the wet mood.
We’d had many days of warm, even hot sunny days but by Sunday evening we were feeling a little tired by it all. I mentioned to E that I couldn’t remember the last time we’d had rain and it didn’t look as though we would get some anytime soon. The heat drains the energy out of me and as I had been very busy doing electrical work and the work in the gardens too I was hoping for it to cool down a little. My friend, who lives in New York, had been trying to contact me but as the weather was so fine I had been spending most of the time outdoors. She had left me a message on the phone which I responded to via an email. In the mail I mentioned we had been having good weather and that I couldn’t remember when it rained last. About an hour later just after E and I had eaten our evening meal it began to rain! Then it got heavier and then it got heavier still. There must have been a week’s supply of it in the space of a half-hour! So much rain at once put pressure on the gutters and drains to cope with it. I had to go outside to clear away some debris that was preventing the water from getting down one of the grids at the rear of the house. Even under an umbrella I still got a little wet. Soon though it eased off and it was dry again. Due to the lack of rain I had been using a hose every day in order to water the garden plants and in fact it was only an hour earlier I had done that and then the heavenly downpour came. Although I can water the surface plants and shrubs it takes an awful lot of water to satisfy the trees, something I couldn’t do with a hose pipe. Tree roots generally reach down to the water table anyway if the trees are big enough. That water table certainly got topped up on Sunday evening. On the plus side I wouldn’t need to water the garden for a day or two. On the other hand the grass will now start growing faster and I’ve only just mowed it!
The much-needed rain started to fall on Thursday night so when I arose on Friday I expected it to be still raining and it was, in fact it rained well into the afternoon. I didn’t therefore need to water the gardens. I was lying there in bad fully awake and it was about seven-thirty. I had a good night’s sleep and had a bit more sleep than usual but there was no hurry to get up. I lay there in prayer but at eight o’clock the house phone rang. I picked up the receiver and the caller, who was calling on behalf of his neighbour, a very elderly man, needed someone to sort out an electrical problem which kept cutting off the supply. He asked if he had disturbed me from my bed to which I responded with a ‘yes’ but was about to get up anyway. How folk seem to know I am lying down in bed when they call so early is a mystery but I suppose my voice will sound slightly different when lying down. It wasn’t that I had been awakened by the call for I had been awake for over a half-hour. Anyway I told him I would be there as soon as I had dressed. The apartment is in my village and only half a mile or so away. I was there around thirty-five minutes later. As you might have guessed I can wash, dress and apply my make-up very quickly if I have to. The first thing I had to do once there was to remove all appliances from the circuit and isolate the cables at source. As it happened there was an extra cable in the circuit breaker which supplied an isolated outlet which wasn’t faulty and I left it connected so that I could connect the tropical fish tank and maintain the fishes’ environment for I had no idea how long it would take me to repair the fault. I also connected the refrigerator to an outlet on the cooker control switch in order to keep the food inside fresh. Now I could get down to the business of locating the fault on the power outlet ‘ring main’. Some countries don’t use ring circuits for their power outlets but wire each outlet independently to its own breaker at source. A ring circuit is just that, two cables wired into the same circuit protector which form a continuous ring on which all the outlets are connected. See above drawing. Each of the two systems has its advantages and disadvantages. With a ring circuit one has to split the ring at some point and test each ‘half’ to see which remains at fault and then by splitting the faulty section in the same way it is simply a process of diminishing elimination until the fault is pinpointed. It can take hours or minutes depending on the layout. In this case the fault lay behind the refrigerator and in fact was the outlet itself. Although it looked alright visually there was an internal fault shorting the live and earth terminals. I replaced the outlet, replaced all those I had removed in the process, tested the whole circuit and then reinstated the supply. Everything back to normal. The old guy was so grateful that I had called so promptly as was his neighbour and he kept on saying things like ‘You are doing very well girl’ and ‘I’m in safe hands aren’t I girl’, occasionally calling me by name. ‘Girl’ is a local expression used by people from Liverpool and indeed the old guy was born and originally lived there, just like myself. People might say ‘Alright girl’ or ‘Alright luv’ when greeting someone. It is simply a common expression of the area. I was home by ten-fifteen and sat down to enjoy a late breakfast. No sooner had I finished when the old guy phoned me and asked if I could supply him with a receipt for the work as he thought he might be able to recover some of the cost from his landlord. Normally I don’t give out receipts unless asked when once I wrote one out for every job no matter how small. Had he asked whilst I was there I would have given him one but I wrote one out and walked there to hand it to him. I took the opportunity to walk into the village and make a deposit in my bank. My umbrella had one of its rare outings for it was still raining.