Weighing things up

During the last couple of days rain has threatened to fall and it looks like we are going to have a few more days of unsettled weather before it returns to the way it has been lately. It is Thursday 25 April and I write this late in the morning. I should have been doing a little more concrete screed laying but I am not. I was up quite early at 4.45. I had set the alarm for 5.30 but had awoken at 4.00. I usually get up this early when I have the shopping to do though I don’t actually go out until after 7.15. I was feeling fine until I returned from the supermarket and had stored everything away when I began to feel tired and listless. The idea was to take a short break before recommencing work for the forecast had indicated a few hours of dry weather before it would rain.

Although the work is inside the building the preparation work is all done outside, collecting the materials loading up the mixer and emptying into the barrow to take indoors. It just isn’t practical to do that outdoors if it is going to rain. I suppose I could have rigged a shelter of some sort but it wasn’t worth the effort seeing as the weather had been generally dry. I went to the room to inspect the work I had done the day before and it had set just fine (see picture top left to bottom right, driest where it is pale). It would be best to allow it to dry out some more before pouring wet concrete alongside so doing the remaining area would be better left off doing for another twenty-four hours. It sounds like an excuse not to work but having weighed up the situation I decided that was best. In any case I wasn’t feeling up to it. Friday I would take an early morning walk but having again looked at the forecast the driest part of the day was in the early hours up til noon or thereabouts. I would have a window of around four to five hours before it would rain but I would have to take the walk later to take advantage. Decisions decisions. It all would depend on the forecast being right and me being fine and in the mood. Well the remainder of Thursday should give me the rest I obviously need! I am eager to see the floor finished (as far as the screed is concerned) so that I can begin other work such as door frame removal, lintel replacement, ceiling stripped and boarded and other minor works. When the shell is completed then I can plan installing the toilet furniture and arrange for a new door to be installed. A lot of work but I am taking it slowly. ……………………….Shirley Anne

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I wish

I wished it was 10 deg with a 3 mph wind but it was 3 deg with a 10 mph wind and for half my early morning walk that wind was in my face. It was Wednesday April 10 and I left the house at twenty after five. I took the unusual route straight along the main road into town (I usually avoid town on my walks unless it is through the back streets). It was still dark at that hour but the street lights made it seem like daytime. I used to wonder what the cost of keeping all that lighting switched on through the night was, after all it was being paid for (partly) by me! Nowadays though they use LED lights in many places which does lower the cost dramatically. I plodded along the quiet Lord Street which is the main thoroughfare and saw but a few people starting their day. Soon I was out at the other end but continuing in the same direction until I turned toward the seafront. By this time the wind was out of my face which was a relief and I walked back home along and close to the shore. It was then that things began to brighten up but the sun didn’t actually make an appearance until I had returned home. The eastern sky was red but only near the horizon. Red sky in the morning is usually a warning if you believe in the rhyme but the day turned out brilliantly sunny. We had this area of low pressure over the country which had been with us for a few days. No clouds kept the temperature low and the winds were mostly from an easterly direction which didn’t help. Oh how I wished for a high pressure and a more southerly or westerly wind but this is England (where I live in the UK). I wondered for how much longer we would still be the United Kingdom. Brexit problems and a government not honouring the Referendum vote is getting many of us frustrated. I wished it was all over and done with and we could move forward at last. Life still goes on and at my time of life I don’t need the hassle but strangely I live in an old house which has over the years been somewhat of a hassle at times! That’s why a couple of years ago I fitted the stone plaque on the front of the building by way of a joke. You’ve got to laugh else you’d cry! Life is good nevertheless but I do sometimes wish things might just be a little better, don’t you agree?

Shirley Anne

Not a lot…

….but just enough was the theme of the day or rather the morning on Thursday. On Wednesday I hadn’t been feeling too good with what I thought might have been a head cold. After a little medication all seemed better. I got up early, not for a walk but I would be doing the weekly shopping and do it early in the morning. The actual shopping takes place between a quarter to and a quarter past eight o’clock and I am usually back home before eight-thirty. I wanted to do a little more work on constructing the new garage door but only a little. In fact I spent two hours at most putting in more strengthening timbers which included a frame for the glass panel. The next phase would be to cut and fit the plywood panels each side but I didn’t want to spend more time getting that done on the day. As it was the work took me up to eleven-fifteen and I stopped for a snack having had my breakfast more than five hours earlier.

It was a lovely day on Thursday (we are talking about the 28 th March), sunny all day long with a slight cooling breeze. I spent a couple of hours on the patio once the sun came round to that side of the house. At this time of year the patio gets the early morning sun as if faces almost due east but in the afternoon it gets the sun from around twelve-thirty until three-thirty. As we approach the height of summer it gets the sun for around five hours in the afternoon. I was sitting there and I heard the clanging of a ladder being raised to a wall. It was our next-door neighbour. I stood on the wall of one of the flowerbeds and saw that it was he and asked if he needed help, that is someone to stand beneath the ladder whilst he climbed it. He wanted to remove some grass that was growing in the rain guttering. He told me that the gardener would be helping him as soon as he was done with whatever he was doing. Craig, that is my neighbour, asked about drilling a brick wall and what to use. He is totally unfamiliar with anything that requires DIY skills for he was never encouraged to help his dad when he was alive. I told him to come around to the garage in which I have been working and I gave him the wall plugs and screws he needed. We chatted about my projects. Twenty minutes after leaving he returned with a battery drill and a box of drill bits and paraphernalia and was asking which bits were for masonry and which were for drilling metal. Both E and I ran him through which was which and even how to fix them in the chuck! He just doesn’t have a clue but at least he is giving it a go for as he said himself it would cost him a fortune if he had to employ someone to do everything. I will always lend a hand if requested but I want to let him put in some practice for his own benefit. He isn’t stupid, only inexperienced but that will change given time.

Shirley Anne

Still cool

I hadn’t been able to finish the ramp alterations on Friday because the forecast indicated rain was on its way. As it happened it did rain though not a lot. Any rainfall would be detrimental to newly laid concrete unless it was covered or shielded in some way. Rather than set up a covering which would have been impractical anyway because of the larger area being laid than on previous occasions I chose to do the work the following day. That day was Saturday 23 rd. Accordingly I arose early in order to get it done early in the day. The forecast for the next few days indicated dry weather and a rise in temperature too. Even though the day was sunny it was hazy sunshine most of the time and the westerly breeze ensured it felt cool. It was cool, too cool to sit outside for long though I did try for a spell. The work didn’t take as long as I had thought it might. I mixed one and a half mixer loads of fine concrete which was just enough to finish the project.

As you can see the area is fairly large to protect with a cover and not worth doing. I would have to rely on the weather remaining dry and of course preventing anything from falling onto it for a few hours. The picture was taken about an hour after I had finished and had tidied everything away. The mixer was removed from its stand which was put back in the garage but the mixer itself had to remain outside for a couple of days whilst the concrete hardened. I use a large bag to cover the mixer. Five hours after the work was done it still looked pretty much as it did after an hour but it had started to set firm. It would be Monday at the earliest before I would attempt walking on it. I would be making a start on constructing the new door and frame on Monday and working with my favourite material….wood.

Shirley Anne

Ides of March

Alright I confess it is 20 th April as you read this but I am more than four weeks ahead of you. I think there are 36 scheduled posts but that will be 37 by the end of this day. I find I like writing and I hope you get at least some enjoyment from them. They are never too long and sometimes even a little brief but I suppose ideal for anyone taking a coffee break. I do tend to go off track occasionally but try to keep a tight reign on things, after all I would hate to bore you. ‘Beware the ides of March’ as the soothsayer said to Caesar in Shakespeare’s tragedy but he didn’t take the advice and was stabbed to death. As I write this we are now at that same time in the year and one might say as the soothsayer that we should also take note and beware. To be sure in today’s society there is much to beware of, just take a moment to think on it. However this post isn’t about the dangers in life we all face from time to time no doubt but on things more positive.

There has been much to grumble about lately here in the UK, for one the poor handling of our government to deliver Brexit as promised. It all hinges on leaving the EU without a deal or accepting one which at the end of the day will never be to our advantage. Politicians being as they are just won’t agree. Those who side with the population who wish to remain are putting stumbling blocks in the way of progress. There are ulterior motives for this you can be sure. It is something therefore that we must be wary of and how appropriate since it is March 15 th (as I write). The weather is the other thing we grumble about but then we always grumble about the weather if it doesn’t suit us. It has actually been appalling over the past week or so with high winds and plenty of rain but that is to be expected in March. However there were things in the garden needing attention, cutting the grass and digging out the weeds which grow profusely at this time of year when it is wet and mild. Today, Friday was dry for a change and it lasted until late in the evening. I had been for a walk in the morning and after breakfast went to the local window installer to see if I could purchase a double-glazed small window panel (10 x 10 inches or 254 x 254 mm) which I wish to fit inside the new garage door I plan to construct. They could supply one for around ¬£20 so I placed the order and would collect it the following week. Much time had been wasted during the morning but in the afternoon when it also happened to be sunnier I decided to mow the lawn using the new ride-on mower.

It took me a few minutes to get the hang of it and then I soon had it finished. One good thing about using it apart from it being easier was the fact that I didn’t have to empty the grass box three times as I had to do with the old mower. This one holds more and in fact I only had to empty it after I had finished! One small disadvantage with the ride-on mower is it uses more fuel of course because it carries a passenger. Following that job I went into the front garden and did some weed removing in the flowerbeds. The two green waste wheelie bins are full to the brim and await the first collection of the year on the 18 th March. They have been almost full for months. Saturday would be another wet and miserable day so I was glad I took the opportunity to get something done in the gardens while it was dry.

Shirley Anne

A tad cooler and stuff

Who am I to complain about the weather we have had lately? It is a slightly cooler day today than it was yesterday but still several degrees above the norm for February. It is Sunday and I wanted to sit out for a while on the patio. It had to be after lunch as that was supposed to be the best time of the day for the sunnier weather. True enough it was and I managed an hour or so sitting in the warm sunshine. However there was a cooling breeze to accompany it which meant I had to sit in the most sheltered spot to feel comfortable. It didn’t last because thin clouds eventually lessened the warm rays of the sun and I reluctantly returned indoors. I wasn’t going to be tempted to return outside because the sunshine grew stronger for I knew it would be futile, and it was! It soon went dull again. Well after all it is still February. By the time you are reading this it will be the last day of March and hopefully a lot warmer. While I was sitting on the patio several things were on my mind. One of those things concerned the state of the lawn which by then was ready for its first cut of the year. I had attempted to start the petrol mower the previous day but it wouldn’t start. I decided I would check it out during the week……

Lawn mower

The picture shows the model we have at home (not the actual machine we have). So I was thinking about that and came up with the idea of having it serviced professionally by people who deal in lawn mowers and service them too. What could be easier especially as we have such a business close to home? At the same time I can ask about ride on mowers which I am interested in purchasing. Having looked at their website however I noticed a lack of variety and their prices are far more than I wish to spend. I have looked elsewhere and know I can purchase a suitable machine within my budget and that’s probably what I will do. There is only one foreseeable problem I might encounter and that is whether the machine will pass through the rear door of the garage to enter the garden! It will be dealt with one way or another. Anyway in the interim I have just loaded the mower into the back of my van ready to transport it to the repair shop tomorrow morning. I should by then have received the information I had requested about the ride-on mower too.

Shirley Anne

Bit of a tussle

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.

Shirley Anne

Got it wrong

According to the weather forecast we were supposed to have had very high winds overnight on Wednesday. E tells me that in fact it had been windy though not as bad as was forecast. However I am only referring to the weather here where I live, it might have been a different story elsewhere. This morning (Thursday 7) I went to do the weekly shopping and the weather wasn’t very pleasant at all, wet and windy but this afternoon it is bright sunshine all the way. It is however getting windier by the minute and having just heard the weather report we are in for the high winds previously promised. Sometimes they just get it wrong or in this case the date!

Despite the weather we are having it isn’t as bad as it was when the picture on the left was taken a few years ago. Yesterday, whilst there had been reasonable weather I did some work in the gardens, a spot of clearing them of accumulated leaves and the twigs and small branches that keep falling from a neighbour’s tree in the rear garden. It seems to be forever dropping twigs or branches. I also spent an hour digging out unwanted bluebells and one or two montbretia. Unfortunately some of the bluebells bulbs cannot be dug out as they lie beneath the tangle of tree roots. I had to just dig as far as I could and pull out the stems. After removing the majority of the bulbs a couple of years ago I knew there would be others some of which I knew I couldn’t remove unless I also dug out the other plants. Either way it is an impossible task and I fear the bluebells will just keep appearing each year. When I am pushing up daisies they can do what they please and no doubt they will! Today however I am staying indoors and out of the wind. I have other things to do indoors anyway.

Shirley Anne

Spring days

Spring days in the Winter. Today it is warm and sunny after a night of light flurries of snow which didn’t take long to melt away. I am feeling much better than I have for a week or more and feel like going for a walk but I am remaining at home just for now. I like days such as these because they point to warmer days ahead. I watch the shadows as they slowly creep further south with each passing day. Out on the patio it looks so cozy and inviting though earlier I was out in the garden putting seeds out for the birds and walked past the patio on my way back indoors. There was a covering of frozen snow on the artificial grass as the sun hadn’t come around to warm it up. Even¬† as I write when the sun is approaching its highest for the day there is some ground frost in the shadier places. I looked at the forecast for the rest of the week and it looks as though we won’t get rain or snow or anything dropping out of the sky until Monday. I am happy about that, it is uplifting and will encourage me outdoors for a walk or two now that I feel better. The day after tomorrow will be the first of February and the day I take the van in for its annual check, the dreaded MOT! I am not expecting it to fail the test but it could. As I am retired there is less urgency in keeping the van on the road though I do need it for bringing home the shopping! I thought E hadn’t yet included me on her insurance so I can drive her car should it be necessary. She is covered on my insurance to enable her to drive the van should it be necessary though. That would have been a little of a one-sided arrangement perhaps but thankfully not. It is a beautiful Spring day in Winter.

Shirley Anne

How different

Saturday and especially Sunday were horrible as far as the weather was concerned, wet and windy, very windy for most of the time. They were what you might call typical winter’s days. On Monday morning I awoke thinking I had travelled to another planet, it was bright and sunny with no clouds in sight and remained so all day. The forecast for Tuesday was for rain throughout the day followed on Wednesday by another dry and sunny day. Very unsettled weather to be sure but we are talking about the UK.

I had no plans for the day except pay a visit to Dobbies the garden centre and that only for a quick visit and my free coffees. I didn’t think about it at the time but I I missed the opportunity to buy some things for the garden. As it happened E wanted to go into town to exchange some clothing on behalf of her mom and I wanted to purchase another air compressor for pumping up tyres. If you remember last week I purchased a compressor for E to have in her car but at the time it was the last of the stock. When I called in again they still had none in stock so one was ordered. Hopefully I could collect it at the end of the week. On the Friday of this week (1 st March) I would be taking my van in for its annual MOT test. I am trying to take as much rest as I can whilst I have the backaches but it is hard for me to sit doing nothing. At this exact moment I am sitting on the sofa writing this whilst the tv is on and I am watching an hour of drama. Makes a change from digging around the garden, refurbishing rooms in the cellar and the countless other things I normally do at home.

Shirley Anne