It is Monday 18 th Feb. The weather is in a bit of a tussle at the moment hovering between nice and warm and cold and windy. Despite that we are told to expect a warmer week. As far as I can make out the worst of the weather is behind us as we approach Spring. Well all I can say is wait and see. I am more concerned about any frost we may still get and by that I mean a hard frost lasting days. Why is that I hear you ask? Well after lunch today it became rather warm and sunny so I made the decision to remove the frost protection I had provided for the more susceptible plants we have in the garden namely the Phoenix Canariensis (palms). Last year they took a battering from the easterly winds which brought about a severe frost. We seem to have been fortunate this year and the weather has even been unduly warm. So off I went into the garden and guess what happened? The sun went in and the wind picked up and it became much cooler. No matter it was just cool and not freezing! After I had returned indoors say half an hour later the sun re-emerged the sky went blue and everywhere warmed up again. Just typical of my ‘good’ fortune. One of the bags in which the pebbles had been delivered came in very useful for storing the pieces of bubble-wrap I had used to protect the plants. They can be used again though I did purchase a large roll of bubble-wrap which would last for years.
Hopefully there will be no hard frost in the remaining weeks of Winter. This morning I had taken a longer walk than I had done for months and walked southward to Ainsdale taking the coastal road. I wasn’t that warm even though there was a south to south-westerly breeze. I walked down to the beach there, lovely at any time of year. The tide was just turning as I arrived and was beginning to recede but was still high upon the beach. I didn’t stop there too long because of the wind exposure and turned toward the dunes to make my way back home. It was the first time this year I had taken that route. There was far more shelter from the wind in the dunes though the line of trees and undergrowth on my left afforded the most protection. To my right were the main part of the dunes the other side of which lies the coastal road. By this time the sun had appeared and was warming by back from the right. I met a couple of people walking their dogs and one or two others out jogging. Finally I was back home and having an early lunch as I had skipped breakfast but feeling well and invigorated.
I spent a few hours working in the utility room on Tuesday (30 th) most of it around the door and the adjacent wall. First of all though I went for a walk. It was a cold and frosty morning and all the parked vehicles I came across were white! There was a gentle breeze blowing from the northeast but it was cold and in my face for the first half of my four and a half mile walk. On my return the wind died down and some clouds began to appear for there had been none at all until then. An hour after getting home there was a shower of rain and things started to warm up though it was still quite cold even so. I began the work after breakfast and later in the day this is how far I had got……
It doesn’t seem to be much work but it was tricky and awkward, especially above the door opening on the right hand side. The plywood which will be above the opening door will obviously be higher than the rest of the boxing-in. There is not much spare clearance but the door has to be removed in order to straighten the top of it by cutting a little off and that will ensure enough clearance. The door hinges need replacing too as one of them is broken. The door itself is a little bit twisted but you have to remember it has been there a very long time, probably being fitted when the house was under construction 141 years ago! It was simply made using planks of wood as you can see. Before I can do any further work on the project I will have to purchase that extra plywood I mentioned.
Today (26 th) I got up early and went for my usual walk this time leaving the house at three-fifteen. It was a reasonably warm morning with a gentle breeze from the south-west. Unless rain bearing clouds and high winds come from that direction we can almost guarantee fine warm weather. The only activity I saw at that hour were one or two taxis dashing about at breakneck speed as if the drivers had only minutes to live! They get away with it because there are few police patrols and they know all the short-cuts. Why do people feel the need for speed? Perhaps I am getting too old, well I know I am but with age comes wisdom (for most of us). Don’t misunderstand me, I once drove like an idiot too occasionally! When I returned home I was feeling neither too warm nor too cold, just about perfect conditions for me. Later at sunrise I began to work on the lawn project once more. During the day I spent a total of six hours on and off doing the work but there was still a lot more left to do when I decided to stop for the day.
Notice the change in the picture colour. I can only put that down to the time of day and the conditions The first one was taken when it was cloudy and the second when the sky was blue. Anyway I began the work at six-fifty and was pestered by mosquitoes for the first two hours. I think it was the lack of wind allowing them to hover about me. Later the breeze picked up and I had no further problems with them. I don’t think the English variety bite but they are still a pest. I am not sure but I think they are attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale and perhaps the smell of newly dug soil doesn’t help. Perhaps I should wear a net over my head! Once the grass is taken away the shrubs can be planted followed later by the membrane and the finishing touches.
The alarm went off at two in the morning and woke me up when usually I am lying there waiting for it to ring. I must have been just that bit more tired on Friday evening. What happened next sometimes happens after I switch the alarm off though not often, I dozed off again but woke fifty minutes later. Saturday was a day for my walk and I was ready to get out there and take it but it was very windy and cool. Would it be too windy I thought? When I had gotten dressed I skipped breakfast opened the front door and braved the elements as they say. The wind wasn’t as bad as I had thought it might be but then again I was sheltered close to home. As soon as I had reached the first street pointing west toward the coast I could feel the brunt of the wind but it still wasn’t as bad as I imagined earlier. The walk this time took me along The Promenade which runs parallel to the seafront but a quarter mile inland. It passes behind the town’s clubland and being a Saturday morning I was half-expecting to see some alcohol-imbibed people staggering about as sometimes happens if it isn’t pouring down with rain. I wasn’t disappointed. The first person I came across was a middle-aged man leaning on the frame of the shelter he was beneath. He couldn’t do otherwise it seemed as he looked a little unsteady on his feet and his eyes were glazed. ‘Good morning’ I said. He seemed taken aback, well he would wouldn’t he being in the state he was? No reply. I repeated my greeting and with a look of disbelief I guess he responded. I carried on with my walk. Across the road ahead I saw four younger guys dressed in shirts and trousers who were walking away from The Promenade back into town through a passageway. One of them stopped to relieve himself against the small wall there. There seems to be no shame with people today in what they get up to. You would think anyone wanting to urinate would find somewhere a little more discreet. Further along I saw four children walking aimlessly on the sidewalk. They were about the age of eleven or twelve though one appeared to be older, say fifteen. What were they doing out so early (or late) I wondered? Lack of parental control no doubt. Finally all that was behind me and I had reached the point for me to turn back homeward along the seafront.
Here the wind was at its strongest and my eyes became glazed too in the face of it. I decided not to walk the entire way back along the seafront leaving the last mile and a half or thereabouts to turn into the built-up areas where the wind wasn’t as bad. According to the weather forecast the day ahead would be miserably wet and windy. I would stay indoors and out of it .
On Thursday (26 th) the weather turned hot again after a few days of cooler times. I had arisen at two o’clock in the morning after what had been a really good night’s sleep. The previous night had not been so good as far as getting off to sleep was concerned. It was a sort of knock-on effect, not sleeping well the night before left me tired and going to bed even earlier than I have been going lately. By eight o’clock I was fast asleep and because five hours is around the time I need I woke at two. Sensible folk would have stayed in bed I suppose but that is something I very rarely do once I am awake. So what does one do at that hour? Watering the garden was one thing I got out-of-the-way. Washing clothes another, watching catch-up tv another and soon it was dawn. I’d eaten breakfast of course and although a walk could have been taken I was set to do the weekly shopping at eight o’clock instead. Yes I could have done the shopping later but I have found it much easier to shop when the store has far less other shoppers milling about. By the afternoon however the sun had turned the day into a scorcher and going for a walk didn’t seem inviting. I usually take my walks early in the day whilst it is still relatively cool. However by the afternoon I had become restless and decided a short walk down to the shore would help and the cooler sea breeze would help to cool me down too. Against my better judgement therefore I went for a short walk which stretched further and further until in total I had walked four and a half miles! Sure enough it was cool along the seafront but by the time I had gotten home I was as red as a strawberry and perspiring profusely. It took me ages to cool down and it reminded me that, as the saying goes, ‘[only] Mad dogs and Englishmen (and presumably English women too) go out in the midday sun’.
Due to all the fine and very hot weather we’ve been enjoying, though not me I don’t like it to be so oppressive, I have not done much in the way of going for a walk. I have been taking walks but they have been far fewer. For some reason this past week (I write on 6th), I have been feeling rather strange. Perhaps it has been the heat or the fact that I have cut back my food intake or both. I have also been far more choosy in what I have been eating too though I was already eating the right stuff, that is healthily. Whatever the reason it kept me indoors and reluctant to do anything but this morning was different. I awoke early as I have been doing for some time, early to bed means I automatically wake early, and I thought I would take that walk. Perhaps I should have eaten first because by the time I returned I felt awful. I felt as weak as a kitten. Anyway once back indoors and after eating my breakfast I began to feel stronger. I had walked one of my more shortened walks along The Promenade, of course I had to get there first, and then returning along the seafront I reached The Pier. There were no people on foot and only saw a couple of bike riders as I walked along. It was like a deserted town. Some vehicles passed by though they were also few. There was a reason for the absence of people aside from the fact that it was a normal working day, it was the first day of the three for the Annual Southport Air Show and traffic had been re-routed. As I reached the pier there were vehicles of all types, generating stations, overhead sound systems and lighting, mobile food vendors and temporary metal fencing everywhere, even on the beach. Every effort had been made to ensure anyone within shouting distance of the beach event would have to pay. As for the aircraft, well you only have to be within a mile radius to see most of them as they fly past. I never visit these events now though when the children were growing up I used to take them along to watch. Even then we were able to get close enough to see most of the event without having to pay. Well it is expensive raising children!
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…
To the woods, to the woods
I’ll tell the vicar
I AM the vicar.
The vicars wife wouldn’t like it
The vicars wife’s not getting it!
Well enough of that bit of humour. As was my want I went to bed early on Thursday evening but for two reasons, one, I was tired (best excuse yet!) and two, I wanted to go for a long early morning walk before it got too warm. After a little something for breakfast I began my walk, this time heading south. This time I took the main road as it led me directly to my destination, the little township of Formby or rather the northern part of it called Freshfield. We lived in Freshfield from ’76 till ’88 before moving to Birkdale where we are now. The main route through from Birkdale to Formby took me first of all through Hillside and Ainsdale before continuing down the Formby by-pass where I turned off into Freshfield. Once in Freshfield I headed along the main route (Victoria Road) which took me into the Red Squirrel reserve, all now maintained by The National Trust.https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/features/red-squirrels-at-formbyThey look after all the woodland along the coast hereabouts. It is somewhere I am completely familiar with having spent much time either walking through the woods or running through them. I particularly enjoyed running through the woods in the hours before dawn when it was just about light enough to see where I was going. I often came across a fox or two and almost always a few rabbits. The owls I could hear but couldn’t see. The woods are special places at dawn. I usually saw the squirrels when out walking but only if one or two where at ground level would I see them when out running. I am guessing the distance to be around six or seven miles by the time I had reached the reserve. I stopped for a short rest at a picnic area where I could sit down before then walking through to the beach a further half-mile away. I stayed on the beach for only a short time but walked northward for a quarter-mile before climbing up a steep sand dune to return to the woods. Two steps forward and one step back was the order of the day climbing that sandy slope! I was exhausted by the time I had reached the top but soon recovered as I made my way into the trees and onto a small path heading north. I walked what seemed an awfully long way until I reached a little sign indicating that it was a mile and a half to the place I had just been, Victoria Road or the squirrel reserve. I walked along not coming across any other people at all, just me and the sound of nature. In fact it was totally quiet and a little eerie most of the time. Suddenly I appeared at the end of the track and was standing on the main track which circles the area. That part of the track runs alongside the rail tracks running between Southport and Liverpool. Every twenty minutes a train or two passes by. I was feeling a little tired once more so I made my way to another picnic area for a snack and a drink. I gave myself twenty minutes before I was off again and heading for the coastal road which would take me back home to Birkdale about four miles away. I hadn’t been walking exceptionally fast getting to the woods and walking through them but along the coastal road I picked up the pace and walked the four miles briskly. It was around twelve-fifteen as I went in the house feeling a little tired and hot. I recovered after a drink and prepared lunch with E. After lunch we spent some time doing garden maintenance and I watered the rear garden again. If the woods were closer to home I would most probably spend more time there. In some ways I regret having moved away all those years ago but that’s life.
Touching on yesterday’s post regarding the subject of wisdom I am glad I had been wise to follow an exercise regime when I was younger. It has been beneficial to me in keeping me fit and active over the years. Of course having an occupation which was manually orientated helped a lot too. Even so I still get tired after exercising if I push myself too hard. If I didn’t get tired at all it would mean I am not benefiting from the exercise as I should. At my age I am limited to how much exercise my body can sustain but being used to exercising I know I can do more than I could otherwise do. I love going for walks and for many years loved and enjoyed running. Some people my age still go running, I know, I see them when out walking. I have to say though that the running is more often than not like a trot. Still they are out actively enjoying themselves. I hadn’t been for a longish walk for some time so on Saturday (2nd) I made it my business to arise early and go for a longer walk than I normally take. I decided to walk down the coast to the district where I lived before I moved to my present location. I estimate the distance to be around six to six and a half miles or twelve to thirteen miles for the round trip. So with bag containing my water bottle and a couple of other items should they be needed across my shoulder I set off. My destination was the pine woods (shown above) north of my old house and I walked the coast road to get there. My return journey would take me along the beach and then through the sand dunes nearer home. As I walked northward along the beach there was but one figure in the distance ahead of me, a lady walking her dog. She was walking toward me when her dog dashed off toward the sea a couple of hundred metres away. The beaches along this part of the coast are very wide when the tide is out. The dog seemed to disappear but had in fact walked into a dip in the otherwise flat sand. The lady shouted to me that he always does this and soon enough he was back with her. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes and I discovered she lived locally. She asked where I lived so I told her adding that I too lived where she now does. She asked exactly where so I told her the name of the road then she asked which number so again I told her. ‘That’s my house’ she said, ‘I live there now’. What a co-incidence that we should meet out on a walk. She described the house as it is now and I described what it was like when we lived there and what work we had done in it. It appeared that the people to whom we sold the house in 1988 sold it on a couple of years later to this lady’s sister who then sold it on to her in 1994. She mentioned that I would know ‘Sylvia’ her neighbour and ours when we lived there to which I replied that I did but doubted she would remember me since much water has passed under the bridge since then. We parted company and I continued homeward. It is a fact that the effects of exercising or doing strenuous work don’t come upon us until long after we have ceased what we were doing. It was a short five minutes after I had arrived home that I felt worn out even so but I was soon back to normal later.
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.