Stopped from gardening that is. I had a couple of electrical jobs to do on Tuesday morning (21st) though the first one turned out to be only an advisory visit for which I levied no charge. The work to correct the customer’s problems would be too much for me to do. I have worked for the customer before but only to do small jobs, basically what I advertise I do. As the house wasn’t far away and as I was there only a few minutes I didn’t ask for payment, though it was offered. I drove on to the second job which turned out to be more awkward in its execution than I had expected but it paid well. The house was occupied by an elderly couple and the man, who was 86 years old, was bed-ridden due to a physical deterioration but who was also suffering with dementia. He just lay there in the rear room watching television whilst his wife, a few years younger, did all the running around. She was however in good health which was just as well. My work involved replacing lighting fittings and to check out a loose wall power outlet (as shown above). The lighting part of the work was the troublesome bit, wall-mounted units, but as usual I managed. The power outlet was supplying the power to the television and to the bed on which the man lay. It powered the vibrating mattress on which he lay. It vibrated to relieve the pain in his inactive muscles. When I see things like this I am not upset but a little saddened. I realise however that it could happen to any of us. I get annoyed when I see people moaning and groaning about their problems when there are others who are unable to do anything about theirs. I think people who think everything should go their way all of the time are missing the point, at least they are in a position to do something about it if it means so much to them. There are always going to be people worse off than ourselves and we should be grateful for what we have got, especially good health. It was around noon when I drove back home in the glorious sunshine. The day was also very windy however with rain by late afternoon to follow and much the same had been forecast for Wednesday. It would be Friday and Saturday before I could consider working in the garden as those days promised to be dry and sunny. I would be dining out on Thursday with E together with my youngest brother and his wife. Thursday would be a less favourable day for working in the garden anyway.
I had been itching to carry on with my garden project of installing a stone edging to the long flowerbed, which I should really name a shrub and tree bed for there are no flowers in it but for a few days up to and including the weekend it had been raining too much. I did manage however to do about an hour on Saturday before rain stopped me. That was a good thing in a way for in that hour I had upset my leg muscles again. I only felt the pain later when I had finished. I did no work on the project for there was something more important, more bluebells to remove! I looked in places I had previously removed them and found quite a few were now showing but mostly they were in The Mound. The same old story, I find one then another and before I know it I see them everywhere! They are one pesky plant to eradicate to be sure. I dug out a few bulbs but in a couple of places I couldn’t find any bulbs, only the long stalks reaching deep underground. I have the feeling I am never going to be able to get them out because they are so far down and beneath tree roots it would be impossible so I may have to resign myself to just removing the stalks when they appear during the growing seasons. It is what we were doing before I decided to dig them out. It isn’t as bad as it seems though for they have become far fewer in number now having dug most of them out. I didn’t get to the flowerbed where I saw the others but they are easy to get at and when I get the time, probably early in the week ahead as I write this on Sunday, they will hopefully be removed as soon as possible. Until I see others! The main work is installing the stones and cementing them in place but because of the problems with my muscles brought about by the work I will be forced to slow things down. It is a kind of race but one that has to be run slowly. There is less of an urgency in getting the edging done than there is with removing bluebell bulbs. If I leave digging out the bulbs for too long it will be hard keeping on top of things. None of them however will be allowed to grow and produce flowers because that is when they produce seeds and then all the hard work done to date will have been in vain. It is therefore a race against time to get them out as soon as possible after spotting them while it is the growing season.
The UK has a peculiar weather system though it has to be said that the weather often varies for each country and in different parts of those countries. For a small land mass the weather can vary enormously from one end to the other. It is all to do with location of course and it could be much worse if it were not for the Gulf Stream sending warm water from The Caribbean. There were some hailstones on the roof beneath my bedroom window though there were none on the grass as in the picture above taken a couple of years ago around about the same time of year. That said the weather hasn’t been too bad considering it is still Winter even though, as far as the Meteorological Office is concerned, Winter ended on March 1st. Winter really ends at the Spring Equinox on March 21st. So one day may be warm and pleasant in these parts at this time of year then the next day it is bitterly cold as it was on Tuesday. I had to walk into an area close towards the town centre to carry out some business and when I set off from home it felt cold. I was suitably wrapped-up though and a little cold weather wasn’t enough to stop me from going for a walk. It was a wet day too with occasional light rain and I had to fold the umbrella a few times in between the showers. Nothing feels so silly as walking along with the umbrella up and it has stopped raining! I did feel the cold though as I had forgotten to take along a pair of gloves. I had to keep swapping the umbrella between hands putting one in my pocket to keep it warm. Ah, UK weather. In a few week’s time it will be warmer and all the cold weather will be forgotten. I had a day to myself and for the first time wasn’t digging out bluebells for a change, not that I could have spent much time in the garden between the rain showers. I knew there would be some popping up here and there eventually and I would have to deal with them so it was nice to get a break from that for a day at least. I received a few calls for my electrical services though I rejected all but one of them. That one I arranged to do on Friday. It is odd that I still get offers of work even when I don’t advertise as was the case this week.
I had been working again in the rear garden yesterday removing more bluebells but had run out of dry weather as well as running out of daylight and had to stop for the day. Most of what I was doing in the two hours between three and five o’clock was centred at the far end of the long flowerbed toward the ‘Mound’ and especially behind the trees. I had piled up everything I had dug out ready to put it in a bucket to dump it all. However the rain by then was heavy so I left everything and went indoors. According to the weather forecast a storm was heading in our direction to arrive on Thursday but that high winds and rain would precede it on Wednesday afternoon for my location. I lowered the flag we have in the front garden yesterday because the forecast of very high winds reaching perhaps 60 mph would rip it apart. I decided therefore to get up early and get out in the garden while there was time. Almost everywhere I had removed bluebells a few weeks ago I now found had more growing there! ‘Enough already’ I thought to myself as I got stuck in to the seemingly endless task ahead of me. My only consolation is in knowing I have removed many thousands of them, possibly and most probably around eight thousand by this point in time. So that will be eight thousand less plants producing seeds and making matters impossible. As it stands today, Wednesday as I write this, I still have the tail-end of the corner plot to finish though that should only take a couple of hours. Unfortunately, again according to the weather forecast, we can expect rain for many of the days ahead. The break, if I get one, will allow any other bluebells to grow and show themselves and I will be waiting with my little hand fork to escort them away! The two months I have spent thus far digging out montbretia and bluebells off and on is beginning to rip me apart too! Hopefully the major part of the project will be over soon but as I have mentioned in previous posts, it will be on-going maintenance for many months yet.
Update: Later in the afternoon I returned to the corner plot and finished filtering the soil as it hadn’t rained. That rain came later in the evening. So here is a picture taken from inside the greenhouse….
The plant in the pot is another shrub. It was an offshoot of a large bright green shrub further along the flowerbed far to the left. You can see it in the top picture dead centre. I had been working beneath that shrub earlier in the day removing more bluebells. The offshoot became detached in the process. It has of course its own root system. I put it into a pot until I decide to plant it later and after ensuring there are no more bluebells or montbretia plants in that place.
…and other excuses. Well I woke up a little later than I thought I would on Tuesday, at nine o’clock. I had been up several times during the night for toilet visits though I had slept well in between. I checked the time at five o’clock and woke up four hours later! The weather forecast had indicated a wet morning was probable and indeed it was wet when I arose but it wasn’t raining by then.
Cloud and rain, weather forecast symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
However we were supposed to expect intermittent rain at least for the morning. It didn’t happen but it was enough to deter any thoughts of working in the garden. Wednesday was forecast to be much better, drier and a little warmer too, so I resigned myself to take the day off on Tuesday and work in the garden on Wednesday instead. So I had a late breakfast of fruit and spent the morning at home doing pretty much nothing. As it was approaching two o’clock I drove to the pub and treated myself to a meal there but only the main course this time. I wasn’t hungry enough for anything more. The day remained dull but it stayed dry until late. we would be getting overnight rain with the promise of a fine day to follow, even sunny! This year I am promising myself to get out more, especially to the pub which I have neglected visiting these last twelve months. In fact last year I only went there three times in total. I need to keep in touch with people and not isolate myself so much. Whenever I stop going to the pub for any length of time I am missed according to those I know there. I have to correct that, I know I do. Bad weather may be an excuse for staying out of the garden but it isn’t an excuse to cease meeting with people so as Jimmy Buffett says…….
Take the Weather with You (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Windy Day at Wispington Evidence of strong westerly winds on the bales and the sign to Hall Farm, Wispington! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had the pleasure of an extra hour or two in bed on Wednesday. Recently I had been sleeping in occasionally when I ought not to have done, upsetting my plans for the day to some extent and feeling guilty about it. Knowing I had no electrical work scheduled for the day I could, if I wished, occupy myself in the garden, and that was exactly my wish. There was no hurry, there never is now for me, my time is essentially my own, I can do what I like in it. My life has become a balance between my electrical work which I try to keep to a minimum and time for myself to do with as I please. Currently my wish is to finish off digging out bluebell bulbs. Wednesday was a nice day and sunny for the most part, an ideal day for digging in the garden as long as I stayed indoors! Yes, when I first looked out of my bedroom window I thought I would be able to carry on with the work but when I actually went outside my mind was changed in an instant. It was extremely windy, look what the wind did to the bales of hay in the picture. I knew it was going to be windy as I had taken down the flag the evening before for a day or two until the forecast high winds had passed but had thought those winds would only start to become strong later in the day. As it happened it did get more windy later but even in the morning those winds were already strong and they were getting stronger. No chance then of working outside unless I wanted to feel very uncomfortable and then suffer for it the next day. All my plans therefore were up in the air and at the mercy of the weather. If it isn’t windy around here it is often wet or cold, or all three together at this time of year so it can be difficult to do the things I wish to do outdoors. As I write this on Wednesday afternoon I cannot say with any certainty when I shall be able to get back into the garden. So far today I have done very little except for one or two minor repairs indoors. My electrical work might pick up now that the advert is running once more.
I think I worked pretty hard on Saturday in working in the garden and was glad for the rest on Sunday. Sunday was an ideal day for working outdoors too but it is a rest day for me. Wanting to resume work on Monday the forecast wasn’t promising in the least for it would be raining throughout the day. I am actually writing this on Monday morning and true to the forecast it is raining. We are told there might be a break for an hour or so around midday but I doubt I’ll be able to do much if I decide to make the attempt. What I might do is rake off as much top soil as I can so that there will be less of it to dig out to get to the bluebell bulbs I want removing. To give you an idea of how many there are here is a picture taken last year when they were in flower…
As you can see they are numerous. Fortunately about half of them are now removed. Those which remain as I write occupy the area approximately to the right of a projected line from the right-hand side of the path that runs from the bottom of the picture to the top. There might be a few to remove on the extreme right (in the corner plot) though E may have already done that last year. If not I will probably wait for them to appear above the soil to make it easier for myself. You will be able to see more clearly by clicking on the image to magnify. As I write this the forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday) is slightly better, though it will rain. Wednesday and Friday will supposedly be dry. By the end of the week we will be almost one-third of the way through winter but the next two months are usually the worst! I may find the time to get things done or I may not. I am at the mercy of the English weather. I will be available for electrical work once more from Wednesday onward so that may limit my spare time too.
After a few days of dry weather it finally rained on Friday, all day in fact. That meant a break from gardening work but I knew that anyway as the forecast is generally accurate these days. With that in mind there was no need to get up early so I didn’t, this time is wasn’t accidental as it has been with me lately. If I have a reason to get up early I do it without any problem as I set the alarm but I have to add however that most of the time I wake up before it goes off! So it rained and there was nothing to do. I didn’t go anywhere, just stayed at home. How boring! Usually I find something to do and most probably there was something but I try to put off thinking about such things. It doesn’t work however and I get to thinking what I can do in the months ahead. Already I have a couple of plans in mind and if they materialise I’ll post something about them. When I am working I am happy and though sometimes I think about having a break when I get one all I think about is getting back to work. It’s not necessarily work which is the magnet, though I enjoy work, it is more having something to do. I often play my guitar at home but I couldn’t do that all day long. I read, though it has to be informative, it has to be anything but fiction, I deal in fact. Fiction is fine with me only if it is the theme of a movie. I watch television though I try not to watch too much of it. So Friday was the first day it rained both from the sky and on my parade. I didn’t even get the chance to see the squirrel who has been a regular visitor to the garden lately. He/she lives in the huge ivy-covered lime tree over the wall in the rear garden (centre of picture) and is often found on that wall or in the garden itself. I suppose the rain is keeping him or her in the nest. The year is young and there will probably be more days like Friday………..I just hope they’ll be few. Probably the squirrel is thinking the same!
Another lie-in on Tuesday saw me putting my feet on the floor at 10 o’clock and missing breakfast once again. That didn’t matter, what was more important was I had a good night’s sleep even though I didn’t actually rest easy until 5 o’clock! It’s all to do with a change in routine, not having to get up for work and not getting to bed at the right time take their toll. I have to make the effort to settle things down before I am available for work in a couple of week’s time. When I retire none of this will matter but will I like it? Probably not but I will wait until I have crossed that bridge. So I was late getting downstairs and a banana and fruit drink would have to do until lunch a couple of hours later. Gazing out of the kitchen window a grey squirrel caught my eye and I spent a little time watching what it did. It was scampering about in the border and on to the lawn until after a few minutes it went over to have a drink from the bucket beneath the greenhouse which collects rain water. It comes more useful in the warm months of the year when there is little or no rain. All we do is take out the leaves that have fallen into it. The squirrel then ran up the holly tree and ended up in the branches of the naked sycamore behind it. Just then two magpies perched themselves in the tree but one flew off immediately the squirrel appeared. The other one played cat-and-mouse with the squirrel who kept chasing it off the branches. The squirrel got its way and the magpie flew off, probably for a bit of peace. While all this was going on there were two male blackbirds making a mess on the path by the lamp-post at the other end of the garden. They were doing what many birds do when searching for food, shifting fallen leaves to see what is hiding beneath them. They seemed to be having some success at my expense for it would be me sweeping up the scattered leaves later. They do the same with the bark we have in a couple of plant pots, in fact later in the day I had to put the removed bark back into the pots and take some preventative measures against it happening again. It is usually the little ones which make the most mess. I inserted some plastic sticks in the pots to deter the birds from landing on them until the flowers have grown tall enough for them to be removed. The pots contain tulip and daffodil bulbs some of which have already started to emerge. I think there are a few snowdrops in them too. When the squirrel had moved away I went outside and placed some more nuts for it to gather on its return. They were gone by the end of the day. Before I returned indoors I attached the new flag and raised it to the top of the pole but it hung there quite limply as there was hardly any wind at all. Finally I went indoors and prepared another pan of chicken and vegetable stew enough for two meals. After lunch, an hour later, I decided to go for a walk. The day was far colder than the previous day but there was hardly and wind. I was surprised how many people were out doing the same despite the cold. E had been out all afternoon and didn’t return home until early evening. Apart from my walk I stayed at home all day.
Wind-sculpted trees on the Pembrokeshire coast In contrast to the many images of the sunny summer coastline this shows the effect of the prevailing winds on clifftop vegetation and the misty atmosphere of a midwinter afternoon (Christmas Eve 2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is Christmas Eve as I write this late in the afternoon. I sit alone. It was exactly the same yesterday and it bores me to tears. At the moment the wind is blowing at around 40-44 mph according to the weather forecast and it is cold at 7 deg C but feeling colder because of the wind, not a day for going far on foot. We are promised a warm day tomorrow at an astonishing 15-16 deg C and although the wind will have not lessened it should be a better day for being outdoors. However there is the likelihood of rain too as we have been informed. That being the case and as I will be doing nothing else I might do a bit of gardening. It would be colder days from then on. There are bluebell shoots coming out of the ground, the remnant of those I removed during the early summer when I redesigned the front garden flowerbeds. At that time I removed many bluebell bulbs and couldn’t be sure I had removed them all. Now that they have sprouted I can see where to dig to remove them. Nice as bluebells are they tend to multiply quickly and spread themselves all over the place. Of course there is no hurry to get rid of them just yet as it is only after they have flowered do they begin to spread seeds. If the weather is warm it is worthwhile getting them out now as the warm and dry days will be few as the season progresses. There are shrubs to prune back too and of course there are always weeds to dig out! At least it will give me something to do on the day rather than sit watching television. If the weather isn’t as bad as it could be I might carry on doing some more gardening tasks if I am able. I will reveal what happened in a later post. On Friday last I placed an order for a replacement Union Flag for our flag pole as the existing one has become torn and tattered on its trailing edge. I took it down on Thursday ahead of the forecast high winds and though it is still serviceable I thought a new one would be in order. The new one arrived early on Saturday morning! That was quick service. As I write I am wondering how long it will be before the wind dies down enough to raise the flag once more as it shouldn’t be used if the winds are too high. Well this has been the first week of the Winter season and no doubt the weather will only get worse before it gets better. How long will it be I wonder before we can rely on getting warmer days every day?
Sleep/Holiday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It was a bad day on Friday, not the day itself but the weather turned nasty at around two o’clock. I have to confess I didn’t get out of bed until almost one o’clock after four separate three-hour periods of sleep. My sleep patterns are all over the place recently but I guess I am getting the sleep I require. It would be nice however to be able to sleep for six hours in one go. I almost never sleep beyond five hours in one go. E had been up for some time and was just finishing her lunch when I came downstairs to have mine. Obviously there would be no breakfast so I had the remainder of the chicken and vegetable stew I had prepared a couple of days earlier. The large bowl was enough to satisfy my hunger. E went out just as I had finished eating, she was off to see her mom again perhaps to do some shopping or sort out some Christmas presents. She spends Christmas day afternoon at her mom’s house as do the rest of the family I think. I never get invited but it isn’t a real problem as I don’t observe Christmas anyway. I repeat that I am a Christian just in case some of my readers were thinking otherwise. Just as she was leaving the house the heavens opened and the rain began to pelt down. The wind had picked up too and it was blowing a gale. It had been forecast days before. This particular storm had been named ‘Barbara’ and its path took it to the north of the UK, that is the centre of the storm went along that path. The winds lessened the further south from it but even at our latitude it was still strong. We had enjoyed rather mild weather for the season up until that point so we couldn’t complain I suppose but it didn’t last long, a couple of days and we would be back to more settled weather. I had thoughts of going out perhaps for a meal on Friday but I decided against the idea because of the poor weather. There would be another opportunity in the days ahead if I wanted to go somewhere. One thing I really wanted to do over the holiday period was to get out into the gardens and do some work. At the time of writing this on Friday afternoon it looks as though that opportunity will be a long way off unless the weather improves.
A Christmas Without Snow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have just written a comment on an article posted by AOL regarding snowfall at Christmas. Our weather forecasters seemingly cannot say with certainty if we in the UK will get a white Christmas. My comments centred on the fact that I thought it utter nonsense that people yearn for such things forgetting as many do what Christmas is supposed to be all about, the birth of our Saviour and not the fact that we might or might not get snow!
I was at work on Saturday afternoon. I had no work in the morning but had arranged to work in another town for someone in the afternoon because they had no free time during the week. I didn’t mind, after all it is Christmas as they say. Anyway the work was to replace a few light fittings with sparkling new ones. The lady for whom I was doing the work began chatting with me. Usually it is off-putting when people won’t just let me get on with the work but on this occasion I didn’t mind. I was taken a little by surprise because her questions all centred upon me, my family, friends, about my faith and about Christmas. I am not forthright in opening up to people regarding my family and friends my faith and beliefs unless they ask of course but if they do I don’t hold back. She began by asking what I was doing over Christmas. When I replied ‘nothing different from usual’ she was intrigued and wanted to know more so I explained, telling her that I don’t think Christmas is celebrated for the right reasons these days and it has become a secular and commercial machine having nothing to do with Christ. I also told her that my family have all but distanced themselves and my friends all live afar, not that I can claim having many friends as I don’t which means I couldn’t celebrate the holiday with them as they do even it was my wish to do so. My social life is just about zero too but that’s another story. She became very concerned and it prompted more questions which I answered as honestly as I could. She couldn’t believe I don’t celebrate Christmas as I once did, in fact I don’t celebrate it at all. The look of concern upon her face was evident. She asked if I was a Christian, a question I usually end up asking of those I talk with rather than it being asked of myself. Asking what church I went to and discovering I don’t prompted her to ask why. The answer I gave made her feel sad for me and she said she thought it was sad that I wasn’t in a fellowship and no longer felt the urge to be in one. I was more concerned about her feeling a sadness for me instead of just accepting the way I feel about things as being my own choice. I have to admit I haven’t felt such a concern for me for many years, not even from those closest to me, my own family. I am more concerned that people should believe in God and Jesus Christ rather than be concerned for me and never mind whether it will snow or not.
Finally cold foggy winter days, even a bit of rain, until now we had warm weather. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So here we are almost in the middle of December on the thirteenth as I write and it is unseasonably warm outside, though it has been raining a little. With temperatures hovering around 9 deg C accompanied by very little wind it feels more like a bad summer’s day rather than the end of Autumn. We tend to associate December with Winter but in fact it only marks the beginning of it. A friend living in New York tells me she is experiencing temperatures as low as -1 deg C. No doubt we will have that sort of weather in the months ahead. The first three months of the year are all about Winter. I always look forward to March when we begin to see things warming up again. Tulips, daffodils and snowdrops lie in wait and already there are daffodil shoots emerging from beneath the soil. Yesterday I removed the remaining apples from the trees. They wouldn’t get any larger than their small size and many had already found a spot among the border plants below and on the lawn. I had reaped a small harvest of larger apples a couple of weeks ago and some of them went into apple pies I made which were then frozen. The rest I ate with ice cream over a few days, delicious! Maybe I’ll eat the pies when the colder weather appears to remind me of the warmer days passed. Surely I will eat them anyway before Spring. My favourite time of year is about to end, that is mid-November to mid December, late Autumn, though each of the seasons I like also in their own way. There is only one aspect of the weather I don’t really like, the wind. Other aspects vary in their affect upon me according to my mood I guess. High humidity comes in high on my dislikes too when it is hot that is. Because fog is the result of high humidity too but when it is cold I do not mind fog at all. It has been a little misty here where I live on one or two days recently but we’ve yet to experience the dense fog other parts of the country get. As I am writing these last few words the sun has put in an appearance just to let me know how quickly the weather can change from being cold to becoming warm. We are told to expect continuing warm weather for the next few days. That’s nice.
We are experiencing rather unusual weather here in the UK. Tuesday was a cold and frosty day but on Wednesday that changed when the temperature rose where I live to around 12 deg C. As I write this on Thursday the temperature is around 14 deg C. Most unusual weather for December when the temperature should be around half that. The wind is from the south which explains the higher temperatures but according to the forecast it will veer from the west soon and the weather will become more unsettled and probably cooler.
Houseboat One of the many unusual houseboats on the south of the River Adur. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Thursday morning I was called upon to do an electrical job in a village some twelve miles or more away from home in a house I had worked in on a few occasions in the past. The people living there are quite unusual, that is a little odd, well to me they are. The children have long-since left the nest and now three people live there, the husband, his wife and her mother. The mother is 87 years old but doesn’t look it, in fact she doesn’t act it either! A bit like myself, ahem! The couple are slightly younger than myself and in their mid-sixties. They are nice people and very friendly, a little too friendly if one isn’t used to that when at work. When I arrived I was greeted by the husband, a rather effeminate and slightly built man who has a timid disposition which seems out of character for a man. His wife was too eager to please and she has an apologetic nature. When I entered the house she came over, hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. She told me how much she had missed me since my last visit which was in fact more than four years ago. I had only driven there to assess what was needed for the job, replacing recessed lights in a bathroom with LED versions, so that I could go and purchase them. I would then return immediately afterward to install them. She insisted I have a coffee whilst telling me there was no hurry to get the work done. Whilst I was away from the house buying the lights the husband went out too. On my return I set about doing the work and soon after he returned with all the weekly shopping. It appears he wears the skirts and has taken it upon himself to do the shopping every week whilst his wife stays at home! I had nearly finished the work when they both left the house seemingly to dine out judging by the way they were dressed. The mother remained at home to clean the house. I had been paid before they left but I had one other small job to do for them, drill the wall in the hallway and hang a mirror! The man had told me he was useless at DIY and I thought to myself why am I not surprised?…………
I was going through one of my phases of not being bothered or interested in anything and it led me to lie in bed for hours on Saturday morning. I simply didn’t want to get out of bed. I wasn’t tired, I’d had a good night’s sleep and had actually woken by eight. It was almost twelve-thirty by the time I arrived downstairs. So that was breakfast missed. I didn’t much feel like eating anything but I had to eat something. I decided to prepare a chicken and vegetable stew, one of my favourite meals as it is very healthy and tasty too. When I make it I do it in quantity and can get three meals out of it, four if I have a smaller portion but it is the kind of meal I call ‘moreish’, a small portion just doesn’t cut it. As I was preparing the food I couldn’t help but notice the sound of hail on the windows and for a while everywhere began to turn white… It didn’t stay that way as the hail turned to rain after a short time. I wondered if this was the first sign of a colder winter ahead. I was thankful to be indoors in the warmth but I needed something to occupy myself. First of all I had some of the stew for my meal. It was by now two-thirty. E had gone to her monthly meeting and would be away for hours. I have been checking for any air in the radiators on a regular basis now that the heating is switched on. E’s workshop is at the top of the house so any air in the system naturally migrates up there which means the radiator in the room doesn’t get warm if I don’t bleed out the air. It needed bleeding which took minutes to do. The radiator in the bedroom we refurbished early in the year had been left valved-off as the room isn’t in use but I usually allow a little water to pass through just to keep the chill out of the room though it doesn’t get too cold because of its southerly aspect. I discovered it wasn’t warm in the least even after I had checked for trapped air. I opened the valves fully and still the radiator remained cold. I will need to address that problem when I get the opportunity though I think that may be next year if it is more than simply an air-lock in the pipes. I went downstairs and decided to do some baking, one of my other favourite ‘hobbies’. This time it was a fruit cake. Whilst it was baking I prepared a scone mix and baked the scones an hour later when the cake was done. E returned home after five o’clock and knew instantly that I had been baking. I love the smell of baking in a house, it makes it feel more homely. Just nice when it is cold and wintry outside.