Keeping an eye out

Nice as it is to have something to do during retirement I sometimes feel I am neglecting some things in favour of others. On the one hand I am keen to sort out my projects and get them completed as soon as possible whilst on the other hand I am keen to keep the gardens as much in order as I can. The weather has been fine for carrying out work in the garden but unfortunately I have not had much spare time to do it because of my indoor activities. However I have made every effort to keep as close a watch on things as I can. At this time of year it can turn cold very quickly and some of the plants suffered because of that last year. I did manage to put up some frost protection but not soon enough and some plants were damaged. This year I took time out from my projects to erect better frost protection for the more vulnerable plants knowing we were in for cold spells. Everything seems to be in order but I still keep an eye out for any damage to the protection screens. At the time of writing (25 th Nov) we haven’t had any strong winds blowing. I am hoping the frost protection is strong enough to withstand any wind coming our way and again I will need to be alert and keep an eye out. Today is Sunday and I have been in the garden checking things out though I’ve not done any work. The garden does need tidying up I admit for there are still fallen leaves gathered in places and scattered elsewhere. Twigs from the neighbour’s tree lie fallen on the grass and in the flowerbeds which we are forever picking up. All these things can be tackled sporadically but I would really prefer to spend a day at least to get it under control. Well I have a couple of months yet before the weather turns warm again, plenty of time for gardening duties. In the meantime most of my work will be concentrated on my projects.

The picture was taken today and yes, those pebbles still haven’t arrived!

Shirley Anne


Inching forward

I like that title. I am inching forward. Inching forward only really makes sense for anyone who uses or has used the old ‘imperial’ measurements of the UK. It somehow loses all meaning if we were to say ‘centimetring’ forward. In fact there is no such word as ‘centimetring’ as this spell-checker keeps telling me as I write! Inching forward means slowly creeping forward little by little or in tiny steps. Well what am I inching forward to? The weather has begun to change a little, at least for a short time and it means the temperature has dropped a few degrees. Today for instance it is 21 deg C though it is supposed to be increasing again tomorrow (11 th). Cooler temperatures mean I am more likely to do a little manual work outside where there are a couple of things I wish to do. While it has been hot and sticky I found it hard to do anything except water the gardens. In fact that is mostly all I have done over the past few weeks as far as work is concerned. The longer I have had to wait for it to get cooler the more reluctant I have become to do anything. Only my determination will prevent that. So what are these small jobs I am wanting to do outside? One is to finish fixing eye bolts around the garden, especially around the patio. They will be used when it comes to protect some of the plants from winter’s chill. Another is to manufacture a small wooden fence to replace the temporary brick one I fitted on the small wall near to the side gate. I could have done both of them today as it has been cool but other things got in the way. I can wait, there is no hurry, just as long as I can do these things when it isn’t raining. Rain, yes I remember that stuff, it used to fall around here up until a few weeks ago! When it gets much cooler I will do the internal jobs I keep promising to finish, the gym floor being the biggest of them.

Shirley Anne

Taking time

It was Tuesday morning (24 th) and I had planned to take a walk as soon as E had eaten breakfast. The thing was E didn’t get downstairs until ten-thirty! Yes in hindsight I could have taken the walk and been back before she got up but I had taken it upon myself to prepare her meals whilst she is struggling  in getting around because of her back condition. I had thought because of what she had said the night before that she is usually up around nine o’clock that she would be. I prefer taking my walks before breakfast if I have other things to do in the day, like my projects for instance. I couldn’t make up my mind whether to eat breakfast and take the walk later or chance it and hope I would be back in time to prepare E’s breakfast. Finally I decided to eat breakfast and simply wait for her to come downstairs. With nothing much to do while I waited I sat and looked at the (rear) garden, something I like to do quite often. I watch the birds and the squirrels if they are about and admire the variety of plants and flowers we have accumulated over the years. We have a number of plum trees growing in the Mound and at this time of year they are in blossom….I took the picture above on the day. The plum trees are clustered to the right of centre and almost dead-centre (of the picture) stands a wild cherry tree which is also in bloom. In the centre of the adjacent bed and about a metre out in front of the wall’s buttress stands another cherry tree but this one has edible fruit when in season. I looked at the apple trees which stand in front of the greenhouses and took this picture…They are only now (at time of writing of course) breaking out in leaf but I suppose by the time you are reading this (May 7) they will be in blossom too. Behind them the rhubarb is flourishing at the rear of the bed and finally the potatoes we planted a few weeks back have begun to sprout. One of the new shrubs we planted recently is in bloom too. It has white flowers and stands in the other bed beneath the small oak tree (just left of the tall holly at the end of the larger greenhouse). At last E came downstairs and I sat her down to her breakfast before putting on my coat and taking my walk. On my return it was time to prepare lunch for us both, though we ate different things. We sat and watched tv whilst eating lunch. Soon after I had eaten I put on my overalls and spent an hour or so painting in the cellar storage room. Though it seems to be taking forever I have been making good progress and I don’t think it will be too long before it is finished.

Shirley Anne

And the plans which……

Best Laid Plans
Best Laid Plans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…didn’t happen! I was writing about making plans in yesterday’s post but on Friday, that is today as I write, I overslept. Over sleeping isn’t really true for had I not needed the sleep I wouldn’t have taken it. In real terms it meant I awakened at nine-thirty instead of eight o’clock which would be more my usual time. So it wasn’t the sleeping-in that prevented my doing some more work in the cellar but more the other things which got in the way. Prayer time, a shower, getting dressed, applying make-up, putting the soiled towels into the washing machine which had piled-up during the week and chatting with E all before I grabbed a quick breakfast, those were the things which prevented any work being done before noon. Following that I decided to venture out into the rear garden to sweep up the enormous piles of fallen ivy and some holly leaves that had been nicely stored in a couple of places by the high wind. It was another miserably cold day though it was showing signs of getting warmer for the snow had been slowly melting. According to the forecast it would be far warmer by the following Monday.  It was now almost twelve o’clock and time to return indoors to thaw out! I had been to the garage to collect the brush and bucket with which to sweep the leaves but returned later to empty out some things from my van and sort them out for storage. Now it was time to hang the washing after which I fitted a coat hook behind one of the doors upstairs. I was about to prepare lunch when E asked if I could help search for something in the cellar so off we went to do that. I had lost count of the number of trips to the cellar I had made in the previous couple of hours which is often quite normal in this house! At last it was time for lunch, it was one forty-five. By the time I had finished lunch I was in no mood for starting work, which would have been painting the room in the cellar. What can I say? There’s always tomorrow.


Shirley Anne


Might find the time

I think I worked pretty hard on Saturday in working in the garden and was glad for the rest on Sunday. Sunday was an ideal day for working outdoors too but it is a rest day for me. Wanting to resume work on Monday the forecast wasn’t promising in the least for it would be raining throughout the day. I am actually writing this on Monday morning and true to the forecast it is raining. We are told there might be  a break for an hour or so around midday but I doubt I’ll be able to do much if I decide to make the attempt. What I might do is rake off as much top soil as I can so that there will be less of it to dig out to get to the bluebell bulbs I want removing. To give you an idea of how many there are here is a picture taken last year when they were in flower…g-6

As you can see they are numerous. Fortunately about half of them are now removed. Those which remain as I write occupy the area approximately to the right of a projected line from the right-hand side of the path that runs from the bottom of the picture to the top. There might be a few to remove on the extreme right (in the corner plot) though E may have already done that last year. If not I will probably wait for them to appear above the soil to make it easier for myself. You will be able to see more clearly by clicking on the image to magnify. As I write this the forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday) is slightly better, though it will rain. Wednesday and Friday will supposedly be dry. By the end of the week we will be almost one-third of the way through winter but the next two months are usually the worst! I may find the time to get things done or I may not. I am at the mercy of the English weather. I will be available for electrical work once more from Wednesday onward so that may limit my spare time too.

Shirley Anne

No time

I have been waiting for an opportunity to get into the garden again, that is the rear garden, to do more work but two things have stood in the way this past week. Firstly the weather turned unsettled with intermittent rain and windy conditions. Although that was enough to keep me indoors I hadn’t the time anyway because of a busy work schedule. For some reason my electrical services have been in great demand this past week keeping me away from everything else I might want to do. Each day I’ve had electrical work to do, some days three jobs and some two and none of them were difficult, in fact much of the work was ridiculously easy. Is it any wonder then that I continue to work? There were some spare hours during the week but they were dedicated to housekeeping and the things one does inside the house. While the offers to work are coming in I would be foolish to reject them though a few have been rejected because  too much was being asked of me. A couple of ladies told me they were envious that I could pick and choose what I do but I told them I think I’ve earned that privilege having been at work for 54 years! So it has been a busy week but it has been profitable and worth the time spent. There will be plenty of opportunities to get back into the garden if all goes well. The plants I’ve put in over the last few weeks are all doing well but more need to be planted elsewhere in the garden and I’ve yet to decide what I want to do in the plot behind the garage from where I removed the gooseberry bushes. One idea is to have a compost heap there. We used to have one in the area but somehow it was done away with when we stripped out the various shrubs and trees that were growing there some years ago.

Embed from Getty Images

We do have a compost bin, that is a large plastic container into which we can tip in grass cuttings and other degradable items just like the ones above . It stands at the rear of the other garage but perhaps it could be moved to the plot instead. There are numerous old house bricks only suitable for use as hardcore which sit near to the other garage too together with many large natural stone pieces still remaining after they were dug out of the mound in 2014. They could all be moved to the plot and out of sight until somebody decides they have a use for them. If I do that I will erect a wooden fence to hide it all and make the area more presentable. If we have to keep these things they are best kept out-of-the-way and the plot is an ideal place for that. Everything takes time but at present most of it is getting used elsewhere.

Shirley Anne

A funny old day

weather symbol
Weather symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was Friday morning and a day forecast to have rain. After many days of dry and bright weather it is always welcome to have some rain. It meant however that E and I could do no more work in the front flowerbed we had made a start on a couple of days earlier. I was available though I expected calls for my electrical services and indeed got some but unfortunately they were jobs I wasn’t prepared to undertake. The top room beckoned. My readers may remember we had done a lot of work in refurbishing one of the rooms at the top of the house up and until the weather turned hot and sunny. It was wiser to make the most of the good weather while it lasted and get on with necessary outdoor work. We would rather have continued the work indoors to its completion but we need to use our free time in the best ways possible. So it was that on Friday morning I did some sanding down of the wood we had painted last time in preparation of receiving another coat. The window frame and some of the other woodwork were painted before I decided I’d had enough for the day. As it turned out it did rain but there was little of it and we could have continued with the flowerbed had we wished but we didn’t want to risk it.

Box of chocolates
Box of chocolates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just before our lunch which we had later than usual our next-door neighbour came to the door and E brought her into the kitchen where I was removing the edible seed pods of a pomegranate and putting them into a bowl. She had come to give us each a box of chocolates. I asked her why she had done so and she told us that it was simply in recognition of our being there for her when she needed help. Naturally we thanked her but insisted she need not have bought us anything. Anyway she passed a remark about how much she liked eating pomegranates when she was a young girl and I offered her some, passing her a dessert spoon. She half-filled the spoon and ate them and I could see the look of delight on her face as she remembered the taste. Soon she returned home and we had lunch. We did nothing else that day except pick up a few weeds and have a short break out on the patio. It wasn’t sunny but it was warm. I received another call for work on Monday morning so I would have to make the most of my free time at the weekend or get nothing done.

Shirley Anne

All against us

Medical X-rays
Medical X-rays (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that I feel like doing some work I find a reluctance to do so. The warm weather and various appointments haven’t helped either. So once again the small project gets shelved. Early on Friday morning E and I took a member of the family the twenty miles to the next town so he could conduct some business. He was incapacitated and was unable to drive himself. It was almost 1.45 by the time we returned home for lunch. At 3.45 E had an appointment at the hospital to have an X-ray picture taken of her knees on the advice of her doctor. Her left knee had been causing her problems for quite some time and it was painful for her whenever she knelt down. Her right knee had banged against a stair rail a few days ago when she tripped whilst climbing the last couple of steps leading to the top room we are redecorating, that is when we get around to it again! The fall was her own fault and not switching on the lights didn’t help. She asked if I could drive her to the hospital though she was able to do so herself. She did say that her back was aching and she needed to relax. That problem was probably caused by her bending down on her knees and digging out the weeds in the flowerbed. She uses a proper kneeling stool but I don’t think she realises that kneeling down and stretching to dig out weeds isn’t doing her back or indeed her knees any favours. She ought to use a hoe instead but she insists on doing it her way. So what with her aches, pains and injuries and the problems I have had this past week is it any wonder the redecorating has slowed down to a crawl? Now that the weather is turning warmer and sunnier it is going to be difficult to discipline ourselves and get the room finished. I still have to find the time to do other necessary jobs at home too.  Did I say we are looking forward to some rainy days?

Shirley Anne


Balancing act

Balancing Acts
Balancing Acts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Excel Dry Cleaners - New Road Side
Excel Dry Cleaners – New Road Side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of days ago I wrote that it might be a couple of days before I could do any more work on the bedroom project. As I write this on Monday evening I think I was right however I did manage to spend an hour or two earlier. I had an electrical job to do during the morning and when I returned home I found that the guys had returned to continue work on the west end of the roof. I asked if the work had been done and they told me it had. They then inspected the eastern side of the roof to assess what work needed doing there and told me they would be back the next day to do it. Hopefully they will. By the time they had left it was lunchtime so I ate a light lunch and watched a little tv whilst doing so. After lunch I decided to give the walls in the bedroom another coat of paint which didn’t take too long as the total area of exposed wall below the new picture rail represents less than a third of what would be visible had the wardrobes and other furniture not been installed and of course one wall is more window than brick! When I had finished that part I started to paint the coving in the same colour as the lower part of the walls. A photo will be posted when that work is finished. In the meantime E had been out to collect the curtains for the room which we had left with the dry cleaners.

They need to have linings fitted to them as for some reason they have none at the moment. During the afternoon I received more requests for electrical work so for the next two days at least I will be busy doing those jobs at least during the mornings. I may not feel like working at home in the afternoons. The extra work will relieve the burden from my purse! I hope to have the time this weekend in which to relax. The weather we have been informed does not look promising for the weekend, rain and wind look set to spoil it.

Shirley Anne

The week ahead

I am writing this on Sunday afternoon and am looking forward wondering what the week will bring. Tomorrow I have one electrical job which won’t last longer than an hour but thereafter I have nothing planned. That will probably change before long, it usually does. I know I will be at home all day long on Thursday because the guy who is building the bedroom furniture starts the work early in the morning. E will be doing the weekly shopping after lunch so I have to remain at home then anyway. The start of the work was put back from Tuesday which means it is unlikely to be finished by the weekend as we have been told it should take three to four days and I can’t see him working past Friday. We’ll see.28 I am hoping to see the roof repairs underway too for the weather is forecast to be reasonable. It is just that E’s nephew will be doing the work and he is quite laid back when it comes to working for us. It’s as though he can’t see the urgency in getting on with it whilst the weather holds good. I know that isn’t true because he does have a lot of work on his books. Builders are strange creatures who think nothing of having many jobs running concurrently. This practice is foreign to me for I have always concentrated on one job at a time. I have always worked alone and although I could have had more than one job on the go at a time I never did. E’s nephew does employ other men so he can have more than one job running at a time. The problem with that system is obvious, each job takes longer to do if employees are being moved from job to job. In the case of roof repairs it is imperative to get the work done quickly before the weather turns nasty. If I get more work during the week E will hopefully be able to stay at home unless she has doctor’s appointments in which case I will have to reschedule my work. It all depends I suppose on others and sometimes others let us down don’t they?

Shirley Anne