……during the morning that is. It was Thursday and this Thursday E had made arrangements to visit Manchester with a couple of the members from her hobbyist club. It meant she had to arise early but although she was eating breakfast after taking her shower she hadn’t dressed. I entered the room fully dressed as I normally do before eating and she was surprised to see me, thinking I was going to have a lie-in. Well I had thought about doing that but soon after waking I remembered I hadn’t put the wheelie bin out for collection so I had to arise early enough to do that before the they came to empty it. I was however intending to go for a walk too so it was just as well I arose earlier rather than later. I don’t eat breakfast when going for a walk but might have some honey before I go and also take a banana with me just in case I get hungry. I was out of the house long before E went out and in fact she passed me by as I was walking along the coastal road about a mile from home. I waived as she went by. She was off to Chorley on her way to meet with a friend there before they went on to Manchester. Had she been going directly to Manchester she wouldn’t have been on the coastal road going north. It was a very cold and a very windy morning and I struggled at times just to stand up! Not quite as bad as in the picture below as it was a dry day but it certainly was windy….I didn’t go far along the beach this time, it was too cold, so I turned away and made my way toward the lake behind the dunes where it was slightly better out of the wind. By the time I arrived back home I was feeling the effects of that cold wind. I had work to do, cleaning my bedroom being one, moving a couple of items of gym equipment around to make easier access for the washing lines which hang in the same room in the cellar and then apply a top coat of paint to the lengths of wood I shall be using to space out the safety edge strips on the garage door frame. Then a few other small things too. Ah but breakfast before all of that though it was only a small bowl of muesli with fruit. The afternoon? That’s another story.
It was Thursday (18th) and it had been quite some days since I had last taken a walk of any distance outdoors. The reason for that had been the problem with my upper leg muscles combined with some very bad weather in the latter days. For a couple of days I had also been suffering with a mild cold too and pretty much didn’t feel like doing anything. I reluctantly left alone any exercising on the gym equipment for almost a week during this time but now I suddenly felt better and was eager to get out in the fresh air. Over the last couple of days I have been working out a little on the equipment though but now I wanted to take a walk. Thursday started off bright and sunny for the most part though there were some wintry showers of rain and hailstones. The wind had died down considerably too. None of that was going to stop me from getting outside for a while. There had been some very high tides in the previous days and the foreshore had noticeably changed, more sand and more piled-up seaweed lined the sea wall. If left it would compact and the existing grass would grow through it. I have no doubt that is what will happen. Slowly Nature is taking back control. Eventually I can see more dunes appearing for already some of the existing grass which stretches out to sea has formed into small mounds in places. I have seen this happening in other places only a quarter-mile south. I often think about what the coast will look like in say fifty or a hundred years from now. During my time living here in Southport, now approaching thirty years, I have seen a lot of changes along the seafront. I walked along the front for about a mile before turning back homeward though by that time I had covered two miles. I chose a more sheltered route on my return but still got caught in a shower of hail. My aching muscles have eased now and suddenly I feel much better. Nevertheless I shall be taking things a little easy for a while so I don’t do myself a mischief.
I had arisen from my bed three times during the night but ended up finally getting up at almost ten o’clock! By the time I was downstairs it was almost eleven o’clock and not feeling in the least hungry I decided to skip eating and go for a short walk. It was Thursday morning. E would be going to the shops with her mom to do the weekly shopping together as they usually do after lunch, so I thought. She had decided to do the shopping before lunch instead. I put on my outdoor clothing and boots and off I went for a walk. I hadn’t been for a walk outdoors for quite a number of days due to my leg muscles’ injury and although I had been using the treadmill for some exercise I didn’t want to push my luck by going too far on the walk. As it happened I managed to go just over two miles with ease. I had missed the outdoor walks but now I knew I would be able to resume taking them. I am happy too that I can resume more serious exercising on the equipment though for the elliptical trainer I will need to take it very slowly. I had taken the route along the coastal road but stayed off the beach, that is the path through what passes for a beach alongside but well below the level of the road. There was an enormous amount of seaweed and all sorts of things washed-up together with many plastic bottles of various sizes mingled within it. It is such a shame that today’s society discard their waste anywhere they want instead of disposing it in one of the numerous waste bins provided. There seems to be little respect for the environment, their environment. I wonder what their homes are like. When I had walked over a mile I turned inland to return home, first through a local park then on through the streets to home. E was still out shopping when I returned. After taking a snack I sat watching television whilst waiting for her to return. I didn’t have to wait long and it was time to bring in the shopping. As she cannot carry much due to her condition I more or less bring it all indoors myself. I only mention that because carrying those heavy bags of shopping was making my leg muscles ache a little. It would be so easy to hinder the healing process and end up having to start all over again. I was careful not to let that happen.
I was getting back into the routine of exercising yesterday, that would be Monday 18th and today I resumed my walking routine too. Quite often when I go out for a walk I meet someone who knows me, even when I am distant from home. That’s to be expected considering I have spent many years working in the area until earlier this year. Often I am taken by surprise when people approach and greet me by name for I can almost guarantee I have forgotten theirs. I remember their faces and even after they have reminded me that I worked for them and where they live I still cannot remember their names. So on Tuesday I planned to walk for five miles and headed northward on roads a little distance from the seafront. I passed along the Promenade to the other side of the town centre then took another road off the main route. At this point I was greeted by a man walking his dog but I didn’t recognise him (or the dog!). “Hello Shirley Anne” he said as we approached each other. He was wondering why I was so far from home as I told him I take long walks frequently though not always in the same direction. He was doing likewise but as he admitted he was more or less obliged to so the dog could get the exercise. I think he enjoys it too. We parted company and I continued on my chosen route. As I headed toward the coastal road I met the same guy again walking toward me. He had taken a circuitous route which crossed mine so we were bound to pass by each other again. This time I quipped ” We’ll have to stop meeting like this” and he smiled. I apologised to him for not remembering his name and asked him what it was. His name was Andrew. He headed home and I headed for the beach, if you could call it by that name for at that point it is all grass! I could see the tide was turning and beginning to come in but the water was still far off. I walked the whole way back toward home on the beach until eventually the grass gave way to sand and I was standing beneath the pier. The water was much nearer there but still far enough away to allow me to continue to my exit point a mile away. A guy had come onto the beach near to the pier with his bicycle and had proceeded to fill a large bag with seaweed. There is always a lot of seaweed washed up on the beach. Saying hello I asked him why he was collecting it and he told me that he uses it as a compost in his garden. He told me he grows vegetables and that the seaweed is an excellent fertilizer as it contains high amounts of amino acids, iron and other nutrients ideal for his plants. I had thought he was collecting it to eat though no-one in their right mind would eat the seaweed that washes up hereabouts. Maybe it is safe to eat but I wouldn’t like to try it. I might consider trying it as a fertilizer though. I continued along the beach toward home thinking about seaweed as a fertilizer additive to our compost bin.
We had another bright and sunny day on Thursday but it was bitterly cold outside with an offshore wind making it feel that much colder. Despite the weather I got myself ready to take a walk, yes, you guessed it, down toward the beach. Brave as I am as far as the cold weather is concerned even I had to admit to feeling uncomfortable as I plodded along through the sand dunes trying to steer clear of the biting wind. All along the coast hereabouts we have sand lizards and Natterjack toads ( http://www.countryfile.com/days-out/natterjack-toads-southport-lancashire ) both of which are protected species. In among the dunes there are areas called ‘slacks’, wet places, as well as large ponds which are dotted between the dunes. These are the breeding grounds for the toads, not that I saw any toads of course as they would be hibernating out of sight until Spring. The lizards are even more inconspicuous, even in Summer. As I walked along I noticed the surface of the ponds were partly frozen in places showing just how cold it really was. The air temperature at that time was around 3 or 4 deg C but the wind-chill factor made it feel nearer zero. The ground is often frosty at this time of year despite the higher air temperature. Although there was some shelter from the wind it nevertheless made its presence felt. I walked perhaps a mile in total through the dunes and decided it was too cold there so I moved away from the shore to more sheltered places. I don’t usually feel the effects of the cold weather when I am wrapped up in suitable clothing and although I wear a skirt my legs never seem to feel cold. I wear thick knee-length stockings which I let drop to my ankles and my walking boots and it is enough. However my hands can get cold even though I may be wearing fleece-lined gloves. The main problem is the wind. If it isn’t windy, which is very rare in Southport, the coldness is less noticeable. I might have been a little tired on Thursday morning but I cut my walk short and returned home after only an hour.
Downstairs a little later on Wednesday even though I was up and out of bed before eight. Being a woman it takes longer sometimes to get ready for the day! Still, I wasn’t dressed in my day clothes when I did get downstairs, I was dressed for working out on the treadmill or other things. Although I wasn’t really in the mood for running I made the effort as I always do and as I always do I feel great for doing it. It’s psychological I suppose. Anyway that done it was time for breakfast after which I got ready to go for a walk. Wednesday was a lovely sunny day but it was cold at 5 deg C with a slight northerly wind making it feel even colder. I was well-wrapped up though and prepared to enjoy the walk despite the cold. Part of the walk included my ending up at the pier. There were very few people out and about, especially down on the sea front where it was exposed to the wind. It didn’t matter to me, I walked the length of the pier, which in Southport is quite a long way….
‘Southport Pier is a Grade II listedpleasure pier located in Southport, Merseyside, England. First opened in August 1860, it is the oldest iron pier in the country and spans a length of 1,108 metres (3,635 ft), making it the second-longest in Great Britain after Southend Pier. Although at one stage reaching out 4,380 feet (1,340 m), a succession of storms and fires during the late 19th and early 20th century have reduced its length to that of the present day. (Extract from Wikipedia)’
At the time of writing the pier has been undergoing extensive maintenance to its ironwork and the work has been in progress for a couple of months. It will take a few more months I guess to complete the work. I spoke with one of the guys working there who told me that although the work is good (you’ve got to enjoy your work!) it was ‘Bl***y freezing’ he quipped! I left him to it and started back home which would be to the right along the shoreline and off the picture above. On the way home I paid a visit to the pub as I wanted a drink and the use of their toilet, though not necessarily in that order! It was packed with diners inside in the warmth. I stayed at the bar and off the carpet as I was wearing dirty boots. It was decorated for Christmas inside with two very large trees. It was still November. I thought it too early for Christmas decorations but it seems with each passing year it gets earlier. I suppose people are just too keen to begin the Christmas festivities. It’s a pity many don’t believe in Christ. He seems to have been left out of His own birthday celebrations (at the pub) once again, for nowhere could be seen anything to indicate the reason for the season. With a sigh I left for home and dwelled upon the weeks ahead and all that will go on during that time and into the new year.
The title doesn’t infer we have two dining rooms I have to say before I go any further, no, it is just the second post about my current (well as I write this on Tuesday 21) project. It follows yesterday’s post. Now on Saturday as I mentioned then I began the work of changing the colour of the ceiling in the dining room. As you saw in the picture I started off painting it white but on Monday when resuming the work I discovered the paint wasn’t covering the existing crimson colour so I changed tack and switched to using a beige colour. Not only did it cover the crimson more effectively (though I had to re-touch here and there) it looked the better option too by matching and bringing out the oak-stained ceiling timbers. Naturally I had to over-paint the white I had used earlier. On Tuesday I managed to complete more than three-quarters of the work. and here are the pictures…
In the top picture you can see the street lamp-post in the garden which switched on at three forty-five as it was getting dark by then and that’s why and when I stopped work for the day. I needed daylight whilst painting the ceiling though I had to use the room’s lighting too at times. The second picture shows what remained to be done on Wednesday, apart from any touching-up that is. Also in the first two pictures I removed the small timbers which are fixed at an angle in order to make painting of the wall easier. You can see them replaced at the other end of the room after the wall there was painted. I had arisen very early on Tuesday morning as I wanted to take a five-mile walk before breakfast. I left the house fifteen minutes before six o’clock. On my return and after breakfast I began painting. Tuesday marked the anniversary of my birth too…..I am now 72!
After a poor night’s sleep I still woke up feeling refreshed and ready for the day though it was nine o’clock before I got out of bed. I was going to skip breakfast and take a long walk. I did however eat a banana before setting off. Actually I didn’t much feel like eating but thought it best to have something. For a change I walked to the beach entrance (in picture) at Ainsdale which is about three miles or so south from home though it is further when taking the route along the beach as I first have to walk to the beach of course. That is approaching three-quarters of a mile away. However, rather than going directly on to the beach I decided this time to walk through the dunes to my destination and then make the return journey along the beach. The dune paths meander all over the place so the walk is made more strenuous because of that. As the route is also sheltered from the sea it is warmer too, especially when the sun is shining as it was on Saturday morning. It was beginning to be uncomfortable because of this but soon I was more in the open as I approached the beach where I would turn back to walk home. There isn’t much to see along the beach to be honest, sand dunes on one side and the sea on the other but it is essentially flat all the way.
Now I was on the beach heading northward (roughly) it was much cooler in the strong breeze that was blowing. As I reached the point where I needed to get off the beach I couldn’t locate where it was. There is a path of sorts as I have explained in previous posts, it is often muddy and wet, in fact more often that not which makes it difficult to see as most of the terrain around there is similar. I had walked passed it without realising yet though I retraced my steps the path eluded me. On reflection I hadn’t retraced my steps far back enough. The path is far easier to spot from the other end of it! I decided to take a chance and wade through the tall grass which covers the area even though it hides many pools of water and muddy places. It took me about twenty minutes to step gingerly across to the firm ground only a matter of metres away from the path’s other end. The rest of the walk thereafter was straightforward and soon I was back home feeling a little more tired than usual. I thought it strange that I found the path quite easily one morning before sunrise a few weeks ago when it was pitch black!
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.
I was up early on Monday morning but didn’t dress for the day at that time. Instead I put on shorts, a vest and my runner’s shoes and spent some time on the treadmill….running. I had neglected my treadmill exercise routines to the point that I was using the treadmill very infrequently and I had to correct that. For the past couple of weeks therefore I have disciplined myself to spend more time on the treadmill as I had been doing previously. In just a short time I found myself improving with each session, pushing myself just that little bit more each time and feeling the benefit for it. For quite some time I have been taking walks and here too I have noticed a steady improvement, walking faster and going further is the trend but I knew it would be. After my stint on the treadmill I went for a walk later too. You see for many years exercise has played a major part in my life and I know the benefits regular exercising can provide. The key word here is ‘regular’, it is of no use exercising sporadically because that can be worse than not exercising at all. Sudden exercise for someone not used to it can cause heart failure in some people as well as other physical problems. If one is to take exercising seriously then it should be planned, short periods of light exercising at first then progressing to harder regimes over a period of time. Marathon runners and sprinters, swimmers and cyclists didn’t start at the peak of their disciplines but gradually built themselves up over a period of time by exercising regularly and improving slowly along the way. There is only so much a person can do when exercising and much of that is affected by their weight, size, capability and age not forgetting their health status. Know your limits should be your motto. Your body will tell you if you are overdoing things and if you are you must take note. Improvements and benefits are gradual but they do happen eventually for those who exercise on a regular basis. As I am fast approaching my 72nd birthday I know I can no longer run as I used to and neither do I want to. There are those who at my age and even older will think nothing of running a marathon or two and if that is what they want I am happy for them but for myself I don’t think I need to aim that high in order to benefit from exercise. All I know is the exercising I take gets better each time, gets longer each time and I feel good each time I do it.
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.
We had been informed that warmer and drier weather was coming our way for a couple of days, an ideal time to be doing any outdoor work that was necessary. It was Saturday (14) and I had plans to do some patching up of the garagefloor, completing the ramp I had put there many years ago and filling in a couple of holes with concrete after the recent work we had done. First though I wanted to go for a longish walk as I hadn’t been able to do any walking other than the two miles I had walked a couple of days earlier. I hadn’t been too well and had remained more or less indoors for a few days. I arose early and went out as soon as I was downstairs. I walked south along the coastal road to Ainsdale and onto the beach there turning northward to walk back home. I was surprised how many folk were out and on the beach so early on a Saturday morning. It was about eight forty-five when I arrived there. The round trip from home on that route is just over seven miles. I have to admit to feeling a little tired but that was probably due to my not eating breakfast and not having been out for a while. I did take a banana along with my bottle of water. Anyhow I ate breakfast on my return home and after a short time donned my overalls and got on with the concrete mixing. For this work I used 6 mm granite chippings in the mix rather than using grit which would result in a finer concrete as it would have to withstand a vehicle passing over it. These are the holes which required filling after the old wood frame was removed and the existing floor ramp which was never finished years ago…
The ramp exists because the garage floor is almost level with the concrete drive leading to it. When we had heavy downpours of rain it sometimes ended up inside the garage so I constructed a ramp to prevent that happening. It does the job but it needed the back edge finishing. Here are pictures of the finished work.
The van wasn’t going anywhere for a couple of days! Rain water flows into the grid shown which is lower than the surrounding concrete drive. The drain pipe actually runs beneath the garage floor to connect with the main drains at the rear of the house. That work had been done when we built the garage back in 1988/9. Much has changed since then. After lunch I added an extra fixing to secure the new bird box I had fitted a week earlier then carried on with some gardening work. Who said retirement would be boring with nothing to do?
What a couple of rough days we had since the weekend and basically all due to the high winds. The temperature has been reasonably fair for the beginning of October, hovering around 15 deg C, though some say it could be warmer. The wind didn’t prevent me doing those small jobs yesterday and perhaps now they have subsided for a spell I might be able to work some more in the garden. I went for another walk on Tuesday, this time going north once more to end up on the now overgrown beach north of the town at Marshside. The area is the white portion of the map nearest the top of the picture… The tide had been in an hour or two before I had reached the shore and all that could be seen was a covering of green far out to sea. I was at the high tide mark merely a few metres from the road where the ground is a mixture of sand, crushed seashells and flotsam and jetsam washed-up onshore. At this end of the shore the path is separated from the road by a small bank covered in grass and shrubs but as one walks south toward the pier there is just a metre or two of sand alongside the sea wall which begins at that point. I didn’t walk far in front of the wall as the sand began to turn to mud after a hundred metres or so. It isn’t until the pier is reached when the whole beach becomes sandy again. Anyway the other reason for getting off the beach was the wind-blown sand in my face! I decided to turn inland and walk the rest of the way home away from the shoreline, stopping off at the pub for a soft drink before continuing home. It can be very pleasant walking along the sea front even in the colder months but it can also be the opposite when the weather, especially the wind, turns nasty. It is at times like these I take to walking the more sheltered routes through the town.
LESSER SPOTTED DOGFISH Scyliorhinus caniculus M. Ir. Freangach; Fr. Petite rousette; Ge. Kleiner Katzenhai; Du. Hondshaai; It. Gattuccio; Sp. Pintarroje, Gato marino.
Small, slender, sinuous, rough-skinned shark, with two small dorsal fins placed far back and close together. Thickly sprinkled with small dark brown spots. Nasal flaps simple, continuous and touching mouth. Anal fin ends under or in advance of the origin of the second dorsal. Grows to about 2.5 feet in length.
In all the years I have lived in Southport I had never seen a stranded fish on the beach until Sunday morning whilst out on another walk. I seldom take a walk every day, usually every second day is enough but I am beginning to feel like going more often lately. Exercise is addictive and for all the right reasons. I like being out in the fresh air and that is one thing we have plenty of on the west coast. Most of the time the wind is from the west and it is very refreshing. So it was that I went for a walk on Sunday after taking one on Saturday too. I never walk less than a five-mile distance. I chose to walk southward along the beach toward Ainsdale. The tide was out, about a half-mile out, though it can get much further to around two miles! Less so the further south you go from Southport. My favourite line is to walk along the high tide mark rather than nearer the sea unless the tide is in so it was unusual for me to see a stranded fish so far from the water and at the high tide mark. It is the fish in the picture above. I am pretty sure it is a dogfish though I am not an angler and nor am I familiar with fish types. I did a search on types of fish found in The Irish Sea on which coast Southport is and came up with the description above. It was as long as the description indicates (two and a half feet or around 750 mm). I often see dead gulls or sandpipers on the beach but never fish. I just wondered how this one came to its end.