As I write this on a dull Sunday afternoon the party is over and I for one could not be happier. What party you may well ask? The Open golf championship event here at Royal Birkdale. Don’t misunderstand me here, many people love the game of golf but I am just not one of them.
The picture above was taken through the window in a lounge at home at around five o’clock on the last day of the golf event. Up until then the day had been mostly sunny. On Saturday there had been much rain but the previous days had been fine and sunny. I am not sure how that affected the play though I have a feeling it made little difference. For the last few days the whole town of Southport but especially Birkdale had been geared up for the event with many local restrictions having been imposed upon us all. It is something we all have had to put up with whether we like the sport or not. I can live with that. I steered well clear of the course which is very close to where I live and spent my time away from the house in the opposite direction! However during the time I was at home we had to put up with a light aircraft circling above every two to three minutes for hours on end which really was annoying. When I say circling it was doing just that, flying in a circle around the course and our house was under the flight path. On Sunday morning I went for a walk and on my return I emptied out most of the things in my van. E and I were to go and collect some bricks from her nephew which were stored at a place less than a mile from home. He had graciously allowed us to take what we wanted which was around fifty bricks. They had been dumped with other rubbish and needed to be separated but it didn’t take long to do that and we were soon back home for lunch. I stored them behind one of the garages and under cover to keep them dry until I wanted to use them.
Later E received a text message from her nephew who was asking where we were and why we hadn’t called to collect the bricks! E had thought he meant for us to collect the ones we had but it appeared he meant those stored at his own house a few hundred metres away. Those bricks had already been sorted and separated whereas the ones we took we had to glean from a general pile of other material. Although the ones we took were not stored at his house they still belonged to him. The reason he has so many bricks is that he is a builder. He asked if we wanted more as he was trying to rid himself of some of them. We accepted his offer and he said he would drop them off later. Now I won’t have to worry about buying bricks for the projects I have in mind to do. The first one is to put a gate at the end of this passage where it meets the main part of the garden.
That is at the end of the side wall of the house on the right. Now I am not planning to begin that work during the summer though anything is possible with me.
After a cold and quite miserable weekend it was refreshing to have a much better day on Monday. The sun was shining and it was a little bit warmer, not much but enough to be noticed. According to the forecast the week ahead was only going to improve with temperatures around 10 C. I had spent the afternoon at the pub on Sunday to cheer myself up and treating myself to a meal in the process. I had done no work at home or elsewhere over the weekend and was ready for any work that might come my way. I did one small job on Monday morning which has led to more work in the near future, to install a power outlet and to replace a floodlight. I appeared to have made a good impression on the couple who I was visiting. They had moved to Southport last year having lived their whole lives in Manchester some 40 miles away though I didn’t ask why. Southport is a small town compared to Manchester which is a large city more like London. Anyway I sorted out their problem which had been a fault in the switches controlling the light in their lounge and returned home. Before I went indoors I got the kneeling stool from the garage and dug out a few bluebells that had appeared in three of the flowerbeds in the front garden. They just don’t give up do they? I went indoors and prepared some vegetable and chicken stew and while doing so received calls for more work. Things are looking up. The extra cash will come in handy as I have annual vehicle expenses to fund at the end of this month, MOT and service with any repairs that might ensue together with insurance and road fund licence to pay for. The afternoon? I was called out to yet another small job and was able to put some more cash into my ‘piggy bank’ and later received more requests for work. As the weather improves I will make the effort to finish digging out the bluebells in the rear garden, well the bulk of them at least. I know there will be more.
It is Sunday once more and I sit in the front lounge writing this at eleven o’clock in the morning. I arose around five-thirty having gotten to bed early the night before. I was washed, dressed and had put on my make-up by six o’clock and went downstairs for a breakfast. Before breakfast though I put the first batch of items to be washed into the washing machine. At six-fifteen I had eaten my breakfast and went outside to water the rear garden. That took me about forty minutes and then I returned indoors just in time to take the washing out of the machine and hang it on the lines in the cellar. I wasn’t going to trust the weather to remain dry though the forecast was for it to remain dry until around one o’clock. I then placed the second load into the machine. I went out for a walk and completed something like three and three-quarters of a mile before returning home. During the latter part of my walk I was overtaken by hundreds of runners doing a sponsored run. I am not sure about the distance involved but along the route I passed a twelve-mile post. I think it likely that the run was a half-marathon and it was being held, that is the starting and finishing lines, from the local park. Also in the same park there was being held a two-day beer festival, that is Saturday and Sunday and I imagine that would have been fully attended! Not by myself though I might add. As I neared home I crossed the path of a lonely runner not associated with the organised run and not even on the same course. She smiled and wished me good morning. Apart from the runners and a few solitary walkers I saw nobody in the town or down on the Promenade. Sunday mornings in Southport are quiet before ten o’clock unless some special event has been organised. I once took a stroll on a Sunday morning around eight o’clock and hardly saw a soul. I had taken along my camera and took several pictures in and around the town, the promenade and the sea-front. The scenes are devoid of people, like a ghost town. Those pictures are posted above in ‘Southport’. Oh yes on arriving back home I hung up the second batch of washing in the cellar. They will all be dry by evening time, no need to depend on the weather!
Another way of saying I just couldn’t be bothered! As many of my readers will know, I sometimes go through these phases of not being interested or not being bothered about things. Saturday was one such day though I have to be honest and say it happens a lot more often these days than it used to. It was such a lovely day on Saturday, brilliant sunshine and blue skies, the kind of day that beckons you to be outside. I had deliberately stayed in bed longer than I normally do, I just didn’t want to get up. I wasn’t that tired but there was nothing really desperate to get up for. However, as I sleep with my curtains left open I could see the clear blue sky and a few fluffy clouds and I just had to get up. Before I could do anything I noticed some movement in the garden and was stopped in my tracks. There were two wood pigeons waddling along the path totally oblivious to the squirrel following them. They continued along unaffected whilst the squirrel hopped here and there searching amongst the shrubbery and plants. Eventually the squirrel disappeared and I got on with what I had to do. By the time I had finished getting dressed and applying my make-up my phone rang. It was someone asking if I could do some work for them on Monday. I wrote down the details and went downstairs ready to go out. I skipped breakfast as by this time it was eleven o’clock. I locked up the house and I walked to the train station. I had just missed the train but another came along fifteen minutes later and I climbed aboard. I was on my way to Liverpool for a spell. I had almost forgotten that it was Saturday.
The train carriage was packed with people, most of them going into the city themselves. I don’t usually travel to Liverpool on the weekend because the trains are often full whereas during the week they aren’t at these off-peak times. I spent only an hour there but got so bored I decided to return for home, maybe stopping off or taking a detour to the pub for an hour or so. By the time I reached my station I found I couldn’t be bothered with a pub visit so I walked home instead. The journey home on the train was a little irritating as a guy sitting behind me was chatting continuously on his phone for the whole forty minute duration never stopping for a minute. Why can’t people just sit quietly once in a while? A woman about my age or slightly younger came on board with her two grandchildren (I learned later when chatting with her), one, a boy about eight years old and the other a girl whom I was told was five. The boy was very well-behaved, even letting his little sister sit on his knee. I could tell he was fond of her. She however was a proper little madam and a little cheeky too. I was teasing her during my conversation with her grandmother. They were being taken to Southport for a few hours whilst the sun was shining. I left the train and walked home to an empty house. E had gone out to her monthly meeting with her group. They meet on the third Saturday of each month. She had gone out prior to me leaving the house, in fact prior to my coming downstairs earlier. Evidently she had been visiting her mom but she must have returned home for her lunch whilst I was out before then driving off to her meeting. I had thought about walking to the pub after I’d had something to eat but I found my heart wasn’t in it.
‘The more I see you, the more I want you’, are the words of a song popular forty or so years ago but it is in my heart every time I visit the city of my birth, Liverpool. The city is becoming more and more different each time I visit, especially the road system in and around town. I had to visit the clinic I have been attending which is located not far from the city centre in one of the oldest residential areas and one which seems to be enjoying a renewed popularity. The merchants of the day who made Liverpool prosper and grow lived just outside of the heart of the city in houses that were considered up-market even by today’s standards and only the rich could afford to live in them. Many have stood there since the eighteenth century and outwardly remain for the most part exactly as they were built. Some have been turned into desirable apartments whilst others remain as they were originally intended as a complete home. They are full of character and it is nice to see them being well maintained and looked after. I took a different route into the city from my previous recent visits and it took me through the suburbs to the north-east passing through the familiar roads and streets where I lived from the age of twelve until I was twenty-seven. I saw many changes which I have to say broke my heart. There are neglected buildings and buildings being put to new use in some places and the whole area looks like it has ‘gone to seed’ as they say. Nothing is as it was when I lived there forty something years ago. There is a building in the Tue Brook area which once housed a popular cinema and I know for a fact that it hasn’t been in use for several years, even though it had been put to another use in more recent times. I know this because I have been past it a few times in the last ten years. As I drove past again on Friday the building was covered in plants growing out of the brickwork and crevasses, not merely small plants but many several feet in length, small bushes or trees in fact! Nobody seems to care. (you can see a picture of it in the article below (‘Liverpool has the most listed buildings outside of London’). As I drove onward, now approaching the outskirts of the city centre itself there is dereliction everywhere intermingled with modern housing that somehow seems to be going to seed too, old buildings partly demolished or barricaded up and graffiti adorning any wall that was in easy reach. At the end of the road I was on everything began to look different. The road turned left along Low Hill, an aptly named road for from that standpoint I could see over the city centre toward the river Mersey a couple of road miles distant though in fact probably less than two miles as the crow flies. A short distance ahead lay the area in which I grew up until I was twelve when the family moved further out from the city centre. Of the streets that remained, their names were easily recognisable but sadly many of the buildings were relatively new and stood over ground now changed beyond all recognition. The old back streets and houses were demolished years ago and nothing resembles what it was when I lived there. During the war many of the older buildings had been bombed and were razed to the ground but there still remained street after street of terraced houses when the war was over. In the mid forties, that is 1946 onward, the authorities erected prefabricated houses in many places though some of the land which had been bombed was left waste for many years and was still that way when we moved house. We lived in one of those ‘prefabs’ up until 1958. Now there are none, now there are Liverpool University buildings standing in their place and the main street on which we lived is no longer anything like it was. Although the city is vastly improved there will always be a sense of loss in my heart for the things that now only remain in memory or local history books. I would dearly like to return and live there and be close to the places where I had been raised but I know that isn’t going to happen. I shall have to be content with the occasional visit and leave the rest to memory. I now live in Southport, some twenty miles north along the coast from Liverpool but I will always be a Liverpudlian, a ‘Scouser‘ at heart.
On Tuesday morning I went for a leisurely stroll to the village to collect my prescription from the chemist (drug store) after which I took the train into Liverpool to attend to some business with every intention of being back home about two hours later. The walk from the station in Liverpool to my destination was all uphill and by the time I’d reached the destination I was feeling the benefit of it! About a half-hour later I was on my way back to the station but stopped for a coffee along the way thereafter continuing to the station side entrance which happened to be next to the coffee-house. Soon I was standing on the platform waiting for the train back to Southport about twenty miles away. People were muttering about the cancellation of the next train to Southport which although was running was destined to stop a little short of half-way, travelling no further. Evidently we, the passengers were to continue by bus. However whilst on the train we heard an announcement regarding the reason for the cancellation. A few stops further on toward Southport at a place called ‘Freshfield‘ where I once lived someone had been struck by a train as they were crossing the line at a dedicated pedestrian crossing point.
This crossing, which is located in countryside, has been, along with other locations along the line between Southport and Liverpool not least of all the one near to where I live is notorious for people committing suicide or being killed accidentally. A similar pedestrian crossing is pictured right. Only last week we learned of a fatality in exactly the same place where a young girl who was trying to save a dog which had become stuck in the rails was hit by a train. This time we were not told if the incident was an accident or a suicide. No doubt it will be in the local news reports over the next day or so. The company responsible for looking after the rail system, Network Rail, are proposing to construct a footbridge at this place and close down the existing level-crossing point. When I mentioned this to a fellow passenger she told me that it wouldn’t stop people taking a short-cut over the fence. I replied that there will always be idiots who flout the safety measures and put themselves at risk whilst inconveniencing thousands of commuters in the process. There is little that can be done against the determined offender or one bent on suicide I suppose. So two fatalities in two weeks. The last time I rode a train was only a couple of weeks ago too when E and I went for a day out in Manchester. Our return journey then was cut short and we had to continue by coach. I wrote about that incident in a post shortly afterward if you wish to look. I told some of my fellow passengers on Tuesday that I would be advertising the next day I would be taking the train in case they wished to avoid travelling at the same time! LOL. Actually I have to make the return journey on Friday this week. When I arrived back in the village I took the short journey on foot toward the beach and to the location of my local pub whereupon I had a late lunch.
It’s been a while since I went for a walk about Southport town centre but on Saturday morning I decided I would make the most of the fine weather and do so. I do go for walks now and then but not always to town. I have never been a person who likes walking about in crowded places. Give me thousands of people sitting down and I can handle that. It’s not the numbers, it’s the jostling, the bumps, the sudden stops right in front of me, the emergence from the store entrances without looking to see if there is anyone there are the things which annoy me. People out and about in towns are a different breed. I took the main road into the centre so the pavement was practically empty all along the route. There seems to be a definite barrier between crowded places and empty ones as if people are magnetically drawn to the one place. It was only 10.15 and I was already in the town centre and the streets were already full of people, not as in the picture I took (in Lord Street, the main through road in the town) some ten years ago in late Spring on a Sunday morning around about the same time of day. I managed to get through the heaving mass of those going in the opposite direction, often four or five abreast leaving little choice but to circumnavigate my way around them or just simply plough through and hope for the best. I always choose the latter. Usually I only go into town if I am on a shopping spree and I suppose I could have just done that, however I had deliberately left my purse (wallet) at home to avoid buying anything, though I did have a small purse in which I keep coins. There was little over £14 in it, enough for a coffee and even a meal if I’d wanted them but I didn’t, the purpose of my visit was to get out of the house for a while and get some exercise at the same time. I found myself taking an unusual route on my return from the town which took me along a road I usually take in the van when I visit my electrical supplier(s). I remembered that I needed some switches for my van stock and was going to purchase them when out and about on Monday but I thought to myself, why not get them now? I took the small detour which brought me behind the main shopping area in that part of town and to where the suppliers were. I made the quick purchase and then set off homeward. I was going to retrace my steps and go back the way I’d come but I took another detour which took me over the railway footbridge to the nearest residential area on the east side of the centre of town. I continued along the way through the out-of-the-way places of the old part of town until I reached home. When I was about a half-mile from home I nearly witnessed a nasty traffic accident, only averted by a quick-thinking motorist. I was waiting to cross a junction controlled by traffic lights when the light switched in my favour and those of the traffic going in the same direction. I was about to walk across when a small van approaching from my right continued through the lights in front of me. The lights were against the driver and the other traffic had begun to move across the junction. The leading vehicle’s driver had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision and I would have been a key witness to it all. Thankfully the accident had been avoided and no-one was hurt. It brought it home to me that we never can tell what any day might bring or if we will live to see the end of it. I was soon back home with my feet up drinking a nice cup of coffee.
On Friday morning around 10 o’clock I asked E if she would like to take a trip into Manchester for a few hours, not for any particular reason but simply to get out of the house and away from things for a while. It would have been nice to go to Liverpool to see the marionettes but we knew it would be too crowded. The marionettes I am talking about are giant-sized puppets about 8 metres high visiting the city once again over the last few days. They were last there in 2012 but this weekend past a much higher number of visitors were expected. We didn’t wish to go there for that reason and for the disruption to transport schedules and routes. We decided to go to Manchester instead. The journey to Manchester from Southport is normally straightforward as most journeys between them are direct by train which only stops at a handful of stations along the way. Of course we took a cab to the station which is only a mile and a half from our house, cheaper than leaving the car there all day. E had telephoned ahead and had arranged the free hire of a motability scooter for herself as she is partly disabled. That meant that once we were in Manchester she wouldn’t have to walk anywhere though travel in the city is free on the bus routes. I however had to walk everywhere! We had no plans for the day but E wanted to return the scooter before 5.30 when the hire office would be closed. It still gave us a few hours to wander about. First stop was to get a bite to eat then we set off to explore. At first we were not sure where to go and we found that we had to move some distance away from the station in order to see more of the city. I have to say that a couple of hours isn’t long enough by far to visit any city and do it justice so we didn’t even try, all we wanted to do was go in the direction of our noses and see what we might come across. As it was another hot and sunny day the streets and parks were full of people enjoying themselves in one way or another. Eventually I took E to see the city’s gay village (quarter) and showed her the places I used to go every week on a Wednesday evening. No, I am not gay but it was just somewhere to go and mix with a few of my friends at the time. I don’t go there now and haven’t been there for twelve years. E had not been before but had heard of the place. We didn’t stop there but went for a coffee a short distance away before setting off back toward the train station and to return her scooter. We had purchased a lower-priced ticket which accordingly wouldn’t allow us to travel homeward between 4 and 6 o’clock (peak hours) but that didn’t matter as the next train was due not long after six. As it happened the earlier train had been delayed and therefore didn’t set off until two minutes before six and I am certain we would have been allowed to travel on it had we tried. However because E wasn’t so sure we delayed trying and when we did we found we had just missed the chance to board it before it left the station. That would mean a wait of twenty minutes, or so we thought, but we were informed that the next train would be leaving in a couple of minutes. We had to get to the correct platform which meant using the elevators for E’s sake as she cannot easily cope with all the steps they seem to have at railway stations. We made it just in time. We knew we had to alight a couple of stations down the line to board another train which was going directly to Southport but that was no hardship. Had we caught the previous train we wouldn’t have needed to change to another train as we had to with the later one. All was going smoothly and we hoped to be back in Southport around 8 o’clock at the latest but the train stopped a third of the way into the journey and we were told that it wasn’t going any further because they didn’t have a driver to take it the rest of the way! We were then informed that a bus would be provided to take us the rest of the way. It didn’t arrive for another half hour and now it was after 8 o’clock. The driver had to make stops at the train stations along the way to allow people off but he kept on making the wrong turns, having to reverse back up narrow country lanes that he shouldn’t have taken in the first place! It was 9.15 before we got into Southport and another fifteen minutes for the cab to get us home! At least we had the company of a woman with her two teenaged daughters for the duration and we made jokes and laughed about our common demise. We might do things differently next time or maybe not!
I am writing this late on Wednesday afternoon and the wind is beginning to get quite strong outside. Strange whistling sounds seldom heard are occurring quite often as the wind blows over pipes and chimney stacks. We have been told to expect gusts of wind at speeds of up to 100 mph but at the moment it is probably around 40 or 50 at a guess. Of all the weather characteristics it is the wind I dislike the most. It is so damaging and destructive. There’s nothing we can do about that of course except to live in as solidly built a house as possible. It will be morning before the winds ease off but by then the damage will be done. It has to be said that we are indeed experiencing a lot of stormy and wet weather lately as low pressure after low pressure systems pass over the country. Many areas have suffered with heavy flooding as rivers overflow their banks spewing excess water over much of the low-lying ground, especially in the west country counties and along the south coast. We have been fortunate in this part of the country, that is the north-west and in other northern parts in that there hasn’t been much devastation due to flooding, though it has happened in some locations. We cannot however escape the wind if it gets up! Being as we are on the coast here in Southport there always seems to be a breeze blowing as the prevailing direction for most of our weather is from the west. Again, as we are on the front line so to speak. right on the coast, we are open to whatever winds come our way but not necessarily the rain or snow as much precipitation falls on higher ground. It does rain and snow of course but not as severely as in some places around the country, especially where the snow is concerned. On windy days I like to remain indoors. Having said that I was working partially outdoors this morning as I had been working in the garage and going back and forth between there and the house when I had to use the workbench in the cellar. A couple of days ago we discovered the roller door was faulty and yesterday, Tuesday, the guy came to repair it under guarantee.
Prior to his arrival on Monday I removed a switch assembly which in conjunction with a photo cell operates the fluorescent light fitting in the garage automatically when it is dark. I was never satisfied with my original setup and have had it in mind to change it for some time. I have been too busy to get round to it but as we haven’t much to do in the bathroom at the moment I took the opportunity to alter it. The reed switch is encased in a large aluminium housing and is mounted on a bracket adjacent to the wall channel in which the door moves up and down. At the bottom of the door I have fitted a permanent magnet (also encased in aluminium). When the magnet reaches the position where the switch is located it operates the switch which in turn operates an electronic circuit controlling a relay which puts power through to the light. Sounds complicated for those not into such things but is in fact a very basic circuit. The light can also be switched on manually in the normal way through a wall switch of course. The weather at that time was calm, bright and sunny. Now it is dark, wet, cold and windy!
A couple of days ago I mentioned something about not knowing if I might get some electrical work during the week or any week for that matter. Not knowing if anyone is going to call can be a bit awkward when trying to schedule my own work at home and quite often people will call on the spur of the moment asking if I can do this or that for them and if I don’t take on the work it is a loss of prospective earnings. I do wish people would call me in the evenings so that I can arrange and manage my time better. A guy called me, I think it was on Monday, asking if I could do some electrical work and he gave me the details and the address. I didn’t know at the time that I had done work for him in his own house in recent times because he didn’t reveal that to me and of course I would never have remembered his name. The house I was to work in was an old cottage. There are quite a few of those in that part of Southport (Churchtown) which once belonged to ‘cocklers’, that is people who trawl for cockles just off the shore. They are small houses with low roofs, most have slate roofs but some still retain the original straw thatch. A lot depends on when they were built. Anyway, the house was rented and he was calling on behalf of the owner, a lady who incidentally lives quite close to me. He and she are friends so when she wanted some electrical work doing he must have told her that he knew a good electrician, me! I went to do the work on Wednesday morning but discovered that the work involved circuits in an outbuilding remote from the cottage which had not been wired correctly. The building would need a complete rewire with a new sub-main run underground from the cottage. Added to that a new distribution board in the cottage was required in addition to the one that was needed in the outbuildings. All this work would take time and would be fairly expensive to do. I was not prepared to take on that much work, I only undertake smaller electrical jobs these days. To be fair he didn’t know what was involved and the owner even less so. I secured a couple of loose switches and power points inside the cottage as I had been asked but I explained to the tenant of the property that I would have to speak with the owner about the other work. I drove back home but on the way I called in to speak in person to the lady owner and explain in more detail what was required and why I wasn’t prepared to take on the work. I had spoken to her over the phone whilst at the cottage. She paid me for what I had done and asked how much I thought the rewiring of the outbuildings and sub-main might cost. When I told her she was taken by surprise. I think that work will be shelved for a while until she gathers enough cash to have it done. I returned home and carried on cement-rendering the bathroom walls with E.