Whenever I see or use the phrase ‘hot and cold’ I am reminded of these verses in Revelations 3:15-16 where it reads ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Jesus is speaking to the church at Laodicea but in fact to all those who profess to follow him but not fully. He is saying he would rather we were totally for him or totally against him than to be lukewarm and half-hearted. This post however isn’t about the faith but just to show how I feel about many things in my life. Another phrase is ‘Decisions, decisions’, spoken by those who cannot make up their mind about something one way or the other. I am a bit like that toward the weather but not about the weather itself for it cannot be anything else than the way it is can it? We have enjoyed some really mild weather in January and some would say very ‘unseasonal’ though it hasn’t all been that way. One day it would rain and the next day it would be dry, one day it would be mild and the next cool or even cold. One thing which I hate most though has been the frequently windy days. I would say ‘I wish the weather would make up its mind what it is doing, either be warm or cold, wet or dry, windy or calm but please….not all of them’. It is useless of course to wish for such things as we well know. If anything the weather has been less harsh in January than in many former years and one wonders if this is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Only time will reveal the answer to that question. It does mean my garden plants, those more used to milder climates, have not had to endure severe cold spells for we have accumulated quite a number of such plants in recent times. Fan palms, Phoenix Canariensis, Yucca and Cordyline all feature in our gardens now and one or two of them it is said can bear low temperatures, even down to minus 8 deg C for a time though I would always endeavour to shield them if ever it gets below zero. It would be nice to be able to guarantee what the weather will be like at any time in the year and for any length of time but unfortunately this is the UK and the weather can be very unpredictable at times.
I am writing this on Thursday 21 after having my lunch. I had missed breakfast as I tend to do when I plan going for a walk in the morning. This morning was no exception. It has been a wet and dull morning with no prospect of any sunshine at all today. It wasn’t raining heavily when I went out but there was a constant drizzle, fine rain, the sort that drifts slowly down from the sky and seems to get into every nook and cranny not effectively screened from it. Even such fine drizzle can lead to streams of gushing water in some places. Anyway, it wasn’t going to prevent my enjoyment and off I went. I headed to the beach and walked toward the pier at which point I took to the roadside because there was too much mud on the beach for the next couple of hundred metres. I decided to remain on the roadside and continued as far as I wished until turning off to return homeward along a different route. I did return to the seafront for the last part of my walk. By the time I arrived home I was ready to do it all over again……but I didn’t. It proves a point, one which I already knew anyway, that the more we exercise the more we want to and are able to. It is all about building up stamina. When we exercise our bodies produce endorphins, ‘Any of a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions. They are peptides which activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.‘ In other words exercising makes you feel good. It is the start of Winter (Dec 21 or thereabouts) today if it can be pinned down to the calendar of course. It is so mild despite the rain. For some time now I have done little in the way of work at home though there are some things in the pipeline ahead which I plan on doing. I made the decision to put off all little projects until the beginning of the new year and simply enjoy doing nothing for a while, apart from my exercising of course.
Gosh it was cold on Thursday, peculiarly the same as it was the previous Thursday and it was all due to the wind. Storm Caroline was attacking the country this time. We have had several storms come our way this year. The part of the country worse hit was Scotland up in the far north but that didn’t mean the rest of the country escaped from its effects. Here in Southport a couple of hundred miles south of the eye of the storm we were still battered by winds gusting between fifty and seventy miles per hour. Yes, I prefer miles per hour rather than kilometres per hour being as I am of an older generation! I do understand the metric system of course and have been using it for many years but I cling to the old ways when I can. New ways aren’t always the best. Anyway we were expecting the delivery of the elliptical cross trainer on Thursday morning and as is usual these days we are bombarded with text messages and emails informing us of the delivery status. Tracking is what they call it but all they really have to do is say the goods will arrive in the morning or in the afternoon, is there any need to know the exact minute? I think not. I was up early and ready to go for a walk by nine o’clock but E was still in bed so I left a note informing her of the expected arrival of the trainer, between 10.10 and 12.10 according to the latest text message. I went for my walk and instead of steering clear of the sea front I braved it on the return path home. Gosh it was cold! I turned inland for the latter part just to escape the wind. The trainer hadn’t yet arrived and it was eleven o’clock but that was alright if it was to arrive when they said it would. I made myself a coffee and soon afterward it arrived. It was too large a parcel, the size of a free-standing small wardrobe to bring into the house through the front doors. Even so, it was to be located downstairs in the cellar anyway and would have been difficult to take there from the main entrance. It had to go through the garage and into the cellar from the garden entrance. The poor guys delivering it had no trolley which I thought a little stupid so I brought our trolley out to their van so they could use it. Thanking me they moved it down the path into the now opened garage and dropped it where I indicated. As I write this near lunch time it remains standing in the garage. Somehow and some way I have to manoeuvre it through the rear door of the garage and into the cellar through the garden entrance door. We’ll see what happens. Having returned indoors for lunch I decided first to take down the flag knowing full well that it couldn’t withstand the expected high winds to come. It would be raised again probably the next day.
It is December 2 as I write this. It is Saturday afternoon and I have just eaten lunch. Actually lunch served as two meals for I haven’t eaten breakfast. Over the last few days the weather has been cold with a northerly biting wind blowing off the sea along the coast where I live. Today all of that changed and it has been warmer and far less windy. Although the temperature is barely reaching 9 deg C it has been pleasant in the sunshine, well this morning anyway for at this very moment the sun is about to set and the day has turned cloudy. I went for a walk along the seashore to a point some three miles or more away before turning inland to take an elevated footpath across the marshland. The path is a historical ‘right of way‘ passage which cuts through one of the local golf courses of which there are many around here. The area is called ‘Marshside’ for very obvious reasons, it is basically marshland or wet land where many wildfowl visit. Having traversed to the other side of the area the path led out to a road which I have often walked on my travels to and from the seafront. There was an old sign showing the site where an old airfield was located many years ago. There was a workshop at the location from 1910 until 1966 according to the sign……….This is the exit point onto Hesketh Road from which I emerged.
Facing the row of houses I turned right which took me back to the shore. I remained on the concrete on my walk back home having walked on the shore on the outward trek. What is the collective term for a large group of people dressed in waterproof clothing carrying tripods and binoculars? No I don’t know either but there was such a group descended on the footpath in front of me eagerly pointing their binoculars out to sea across the marshes. One thing you can say about this part of the coast is we have plenty of geese, ducks, swans, gannets and gulls and many more varieties of birds for bird watchers, which is what this group were doing. Just a couple of miles further inland there is a wetland centre for all those interested in birds. It is called Martin Mere…. https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/martin-mere/ . So that was my day on Saturday. As we approach the Winter Solstice we can begin to look forward to warmer times ahead but we’ve got some cold weather yet to come first no doubt. In the meantime so far so good.
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.
A few months ago I manufactured a gate to fit at the side of the house……
It didn’t take long to construct and it fitted perfectly into the space where I placed it but that was when the weather was warm and dry. The weather naturally has changed since then becoming colder and more humid which all means the wooden gate expanded. That’s what wood does when the temperature and humidity change. I knew I had to remove the gate and shave a little wood from it but I had to wait for my youngest son to return the borrowed plane so I could get on with it. In fact he had borrowed two planes, one of them electric and it was the electric one I wanted to do the job. Finally after weeks of asking he brought the plane over and I was able to do the work which only took a half hour. Now there is a gap between the gate and the frame so further expansion if it happens will not result in the gate jamming as it did. A few years ago I erected a flagpole in the front garden…..
As you might expect the weather has affected that too. The flag has to put up with wind, sun, rain and everything the weather throws at it. That being the case the flag has to be replaced from time to time and in fact new ones have been purchased along the way. On Thursday last week however I noticed the halyard rope had become worn and I had to remove the flag for a few days until I could replace the rope. At the time of writing I am waiting for the delivery of the rope and a couple of accessories. I have never had to change the rope since it was new and I am hoping I will be able to attach the replacement to the old one in order to pull it up through the pole and out at the top. If I find I can’t it will mean erecting part of the scaffolding tower around the base to remove the top section of the pole. It may be prudent to do so anyway so that the finial can be serviced. At present it tends to remain fixed when it should be free to rotate about the top of the pole. The weather takes its toll on anything exposed to it!
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.
By noon on Friday (27) I was worn out but soon after lunch all was right again, though I remained a little tired till bedtime. It all began with my going to bed early the previous night as I was beginning to doze off in the chair around nine o’clock. This meant I fell asleep at ten-thirty as my head hit the pillow and slept through until five o’clock.
I had an appointment with the nurse at the surgery who was to take some blood samples to be sent off for analysis at my doctor’s request following my last visit to see her. The appointment was at five minutes before ten o’clock and I had hours to spare before then. I didn’t arise until seven however and I decided to spend some time on the treadmill before taking a shower and then getting dressed. I couldn’t eat breakfast because I was supposed to fast for at least twelve hours before the blood samples were taken. I hadn’t eaten since six o’clock the previous evening, more than enough lapsed time. I remained hungry therefore until the samples were taken. I walked down to the surgery which is about a half-mile from home. I had put on my walking boots and a suitable coat in order to go for a walk once I had seen the nurse. I probably walked another two miles before reaching the point on the seafront I was aiming for. I ate the banana I had taken with me along the way. No collecting pebbles and stones this time as on my last journey I had collected enough to finish the work I was doing in the flowerbed at home. I was home before noon so whilst it was warm and sunny I thought I’d mow the lawn and hopefully for the last time this year. The grass however was wet with dew as expected but it was the moss that was retaining the water, not the grass. Even so the mower made short work of it. Now I was hungry and tired. I prepared and ate lunch as by now it was one o’clock. Usually I dine with E but she had been busy in her workshop and didn’t arrive downstairs until almost two o’clock. I was too hungry to wait that long. She asked if I had enjoyed the walk, which I always do. I told her I’d cut the lawn since my return which is why I was feeling a little tired and she hadn’t noticed. Our lawnmower like most isn’t exactly quiet but she hadn’t realised the ‘buzzing’ sound she could hear faintly was the mower! Her workshop is at the top of the house though, four levels above the garden and double-glazing seem to be effective in blocking out the world. The day was so pleasant and warm I found a little time to sit on the patio with a coffee in the afternoon. It didn’t last too long though after all it was late October.
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.
One thing I think you can guarantee here in the UK is the often unpredictable weather. Usually we get the remnants of any Western Atlantic storms or hurricanes which befall those countries in the Caribbean or the States of the USA. Obviously by the time those storms reach the UK they have lost most of their power even though they can still be strong enough to cause mayhem. Whether one part of the UK is hit the hardest or not depends totally upon the path of the storm and the prevailing conditions here when it reaches our shores. As we had been enjoying high pressure over most of the country during the latest storm’s approach it was forced to follow a route which took it across Ireland and the north-west of Scotland rather than across England and Wales. That wasn’t to say the north-west areas of those countries didn’t feel the effects to some degree. I live in the southern part of north-west England and we still experienced high winds gusting at seventy mph. Here is a picture of a tornado (taken during the recent storm) over the town of Morcambe which is around sixty miles north of Southport where I live
On Monday evening I lowered our flag for that reason but raised it again on Tuesday morning when the wind had died down. On Monday morning I went for a walk whilst the wind was less strong but the day had an eerie feel to it. The sun had made an attempt to break through the clouds earlier but the clouds won. The sky turned an orange-red colour as did the sun. It looked more like a sunset or sunrise rather than the late morning it was and although the wind was blowing it was surprisingly warm at twenty-one degrees. It was reported that the colour was due to sand being whipped-up in The Sahara and being carried northward over the UK. The winds had been blowing from the south for many days by then. By the time I had returned home the sky had turned completely blue with no clouds at all! I even sat out on the patio for a time in the full sunshine. An hour or so later and it was cloudy and the winds began to strengthen, no more sitting outside. The worst of the weather came overnight but by Tuesday morning it was much better though the wind remained with us throughout the day. I am talking about twenty mph winds here and not the seventy-something mph winds we had during the night. The day turned out bright and sunny and I was able to do some work in the garden and later in the afternoon I went for another walk down to the beach popping into my local pub for a drink on my way back home.
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.
Having gone to bed rather late on Wednesday (27) evening meant I didn’t arise too early on Thursday. I had remained up until E returned from her visit to the hospital to see her mom who had been taken ill late in the afternoon. It turned out that her mom had to stay in hospital overnight for further tests and according to E was feeling a little better before E left for home. It was approaching midnight by the time she returned. She too slept in late and didn’t come down for breakfast until after ten-thirty, I had finished mine an hour earlier. I wanted to go for a walk but waited until she was up and about before doing so. The weather forecast was good, dry, warm and sunny for the whole day. That is how it turned out, in fact I was feeling a little too warm in my coat and thought I might have been better not wearing it until I got to the sea front where it felt a bit cooler. Had I gone out earlier it would have been much cooler. Once the sun was up it was just like another Summer’s day even though it was now Autumn and almost October. By the time I had returned home two hours later I really needed to remove my coat I was so hot! The gates on the drive to the garage in which E parks her car were open. She had gone out, in fact I learned she had gone to the hospital as I had expected and would follow on and do the weekly shopping later if all went to plan. I ate lunch then spent a couple of hours on the patio in the heat of the Autumn sun. Tomorrow’s forecast was for plenty of rain. The lawn was getting covered with fallen leaves again after we had swept it the afternoon before………now I knew it was Autumn.
PS. To E’s relief her mom was back home by evening after being discharged from the hospital.
I slept in late on Friday, deliberately so as there was nothing planned for the day. It was warm and there was only a slight breeze. I chose to sit out on the patio with a drink and E joined me. Unfortunately it clouded over after thirty minutes and E went back indoors. I mentioned that as soon as she went indoors the sun would probably reappear and it did. Not only that but it remained sunny after that for quite a few hours. By now the house’s shadow had placed the patio in the shade for a while so I moved my chair down into the garden in front of the Mound and it was even warmer there than it had been on the patio. My chair was sitting on the pathway on the far left in the picture below.
That side of the garden is such a heat trap as well as it being less windy there. I sat there for over an hour just relaxing in the warm sunshine. It was almost time for lunch when I returned indoors but whilst I was outside I heard and saw a couple of RAF airplanes flying over to the west, which would be over the left wall in the picture.Today (Friday), Saturday and Sunday the annual Southport Air Show was being held so I guessed the pilots were warming up and checking the lay of the land so to speak. The skies get quite noisy during those afternoons. If I was to go for a walk northward along the coast I would be denied as the whole area is cordoned off and patrolled for three days. I would have to choose another route instead. For a time after lunch it went dull again but by late afternoon it was bright and sunny again. Unfortunately the weather forecast wasn’t very promising for Saturday, thought supposedly it would be better on Sunday. This is how it is weather-wise in this country but we are used to it.