I could sense the possibility of rain as I looked out through the window from my bed. It was Saturday morning (16 th) and five-thirty as I lay there contemplating the day ahead. I decided a walk was on the cards but I was hungry so I decided to wait until after breakfast this time. I had just finished breakfast and saw that fine rain was falling. I would need to take a raincoat if I was to brave the elements as they say. It wasn’t a warm morning at all, in fact it stayed pretty cool all day long. It was 16 deg C but it felt more like 10 or 11 in the breeze. I had put on my walking boots too thinking that lighter footwear was unsuitable for what seemed like a late Autumn day which as it turned out was a wise decision. The outward part of the walk was pleasant enough but I was glad I had put on the rainproof jacket for it kept me warm in the cooling breeze. I had reached the half-way stage when the rain began to pour down in earnest. It remained that way until I reached home when suddenly it stopped! As soon as I went indoors I realised just how cool it had been outside. There had been quite a number of women out running on the route I had taken and none seemed bothered about the driving rain. I knew how they must have felt having spent many a time doing the same thing years ago. I sometimes wish I could do it again but then realise how unnecessary it would be at my time in life. I get my exercising in other ways now not least of all taking a walk. It was Saturday and the afternoon was beckoning more activity. Did I succumb? I’ll let you guess.
It was getting a little monotonous having each day to water the gardens because of the dry weather. Oh it has been just fine for sitting about in or simply being out in but all I wanted was a little rain now and then. The attempt to rain was made last evening (13 th) but it wasn’t very much. However it was a storm called Hector which gave some respite from the heat and dry weather. The only problem was it brought more wind than rain! It got pretty stormy hereabouts but fortunately we were too far south to receive the harshest of the wind. Nevertheless some tree branches came down here and there. I had gotten up early on Thursday in order to do the weekly shopping again for E has been unable these last couple of months. I actually arose at five-thirty and was in the kitchen at six-fifteen. However I thought I would do a little work before breakfast which was to give the repaired door frame I did yesterday a coat of priming paint. I later in the day applied the top coat. Anyway whilst I was doing that I heard a loud snap and something falling on the lawn behind me. I paid no attention until I had finished the small painting job for I knew what it had been making that noise. Once again the neighbour’s tree was shedding a branch because of the high winds. It is the large tree left of centre on the other side of the wall in the picture. You may be able to see from its leaves and the leaves of the apple trees bottom right from which direction the wind is blowing. It is left to right or west to east of course.
Most of the time we are picking up small twigs and leaves which have fallen from the tree but occasionally when it is very windy larger parts fall down. I cleared up the mess on the lawn and deposited the bulk of the fallen branch in my neighbour’s garden. At the same time I took the opportunity to prune back a couple of lower branches on the tall holly tree which stands next to the large greenhouse. It is just right of centre at the end of the greenhouse in the picture. Naturally I chopped the holly branches up and put the pieces into our own waste bin. I returned indoors for breakfast. It was seven o’clock. After eating I waited until it was eight o’clock before driving to the supermarket. I was back home at nine-fifteen just as E came down for breakfast. Pretty much throughout the day it was windy but there was still no rain. In fact it brightened up late morning. I would be watering the gardens again if it remained dry.
It was a somewhat colder day on Thursday because the wind direction was from the east and north-east. Whenever the wind blows from that direction, at least in Winter, it is almost always colder. Here on the west coast the prevailing winds are from the west and south-west and are therefore usually warmer. The day was a mixture of sunshine and clouds. Whenever the sun broke through it felt like a Spring day but when the clouds got in the way the coldness of the wind thrust it home that we are still in the winter months. It can only get better though and by the time you are reading this it will most probably be a lot warmer. I write on the 22nd. It is early afternoon and I have just helped E in with the weekly shopping. I had been for a walk earlier in the morning along The Promenade to the north end of the seafront returning home along the seafront itself. The Promenade is around a mile and a quarter from home and is itself around a mile in length. I walked on the beach coming homeward as it was more sheltered from the easterly winds because of the sea wall. I had taken a pair of sunglasses with me for the sun was shining brightly at first. Along the way however the clouds rolled in but I kept the sunglasses on as they served to keep the cold wind out of my eyes. It didn’t stay cloudy for long and soon the sun was out again. It made a pleasant change being out on a walk and not working on the project. On my return home however I did do a little something, I sanded down the handrail I had painted with primer the day before making it ready for the top coat of paint. I was determined not to do anything else on the project and just take the day off.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We had been informed to expect high winds during Sunday and especially late that night. Sunday itself was bright and sunny for the best part of the day and yes, the promised wind did arrive making it uncomfortable to be outside if exposed to it. The wind got progressively stronger as evening approached so I made the decision to lower the flag. Now flags are supposed to be taken down overnight, that is according to tradition. I always wanted to have a flag flying outside my house but I wasn’t prepared to take it down every evening. I leave it there the whole 24 hours and only lower it if the weather, that is the wind is too strong. The advised wind speed maximum for flag flying I have been informed is 35 miles per hour after which the flag may be damaged. We were expecting winds of up to 43-45 miles per hour so the flag had to be taken down. I could have raised the flag on Monday morning as the weather had turned dramatically for the better but I left it until the evening. It is unusual to have weather of this kind in the UK during August though as you now know not impossible. Today, Tuesday as I write this in the morning, it is fine and sunny and with a slight breeze, ideal for working in the garden as I had planned. However a short while ago I received a request for my electrical services once again and I will be attending to that shortly. The house I am to work in is not much further than a half mile away and shouldn’t take me long to do. I will then hopefully get some time to start digging in ‘The Plot’ (see previous post). Those plans might have been shipwrecked had other calls come in or if the weather once again turned foul but fortunately they weren’t. I didn’t do too much as I wasn’t feeling up to it but I managed to expose the hidden wall and dig out the ground between what I had laid a few days ago and that hidden wall and fill it will hardcore. You can see the small section I refer to just right of centre in the middle of the picture. The hidden or buried wall runs from the back wall at centre top of the picture to a spot marked by a brick in the centre of what is shown of the small wall at the bottom right of the picture and beneath those large root balls lying on the ground. Click on picture to magnify and again for a real close-up. Those root balls have been there for quite some time waiting for them to dry out so that we can cut them up to give to our neighbour who has an open fire in her lounge. We have often given her logs and the remains of branches we have lopped off overhanging trees and she stores them as fuel for use during the colder months. You might have noticed that some of those roots have already been cut and are lying alongside the wall on the footpath on the left of the picture. All I need now is some materials to mix the concrete and if all goes well I should be able to do that this week. Next job will be building the walls. For some time now I have been considering installing a lamp-post in the corner of the garden behind the ‘mound’. Obviously that will require a cable run and control gear. I already know what I plan to do if and when I get around to it. Watch this space as they say.
I am writing this late on Wednesday afternoon and the wind is beginning to get quite strong outside. Strange whistling sounds seldom heard are occurring quite often as the wind blows over pipes and chimney stacks. We have been told to expect gusts of wind at speeds of up to 100 mph but at the moment it is probably around 40 or 50 at a guess. Of all the weather characteristics it is the wind I dislike the most. It is so damaging and destructive. There’s nothing we can do about that of course except to live in as solidly built a house as possible. It will be morning before the winds ease off but by then the damage will be done. It has to be said that we are indeed experiencing a lot of stormy and wet weather lately as low pressure after low pressure systems pass over the country. Many areas have suffered with heavy flooding as rivers overflow their banks spewing excess water over much of the low-lying ground, especially in the west country counties and along the south coast. We have been fortunate in this part of the country, that is the north-west and in other northern parts in that there hasn’t been much devastation due to flooding, though it has happened in some locations. We cannot however escape the wind if it gets up! Being as we are on the coast here in Southport there always seems to be a breeze blowing as the prevailing direction for most of our weather is from the west. Again, as we are on the front line so to speak. right on the coast, we are open to whatever winds come our way but not necessarily the rain or snow as much precipitation falls on higher ground. It does rain and snow of course but not as severely as in some places around the country, especially where the snow is concerned. On windy days I like to remain indoors. Having said that I was working partially outdoors this morning as I had been working in the garage and going back and forth between there and the house when I had to use the workbench in the cellar. A couple of days ago we discovered the roller door was faulty and yesterday, Tuesday, the guy came to repair it under guarantee.
Prior to his arrival on Monday I removed a switch assembly which in conjunction with a photo cell operates the fluorescent light fitting in the garage automatically when it is dark. I was never satisfied with my original setup and have had it in mind to change it for some time. I have been too busy to get round to it but as we haven’t much to do in the bathroom at the moment I took the opportunity to alter it. The reed switch is encased in a large aluminium housing and is mounted on a bracket adjacent to the wall channel in which the door moves up and down. At the bottom of the door I have fitted a permanent magnet (also encased in aluminium). When the magnet reaches the position where the switch is located it operates the switch which in turn operates an electronic circuit controlling a relay which puts power through to the light. Sounds complicated for those not into such things but is in fact a very basic circuit. The light can also be switched on manually in the normal way through a wall switch of course. The weather at that time was calm, bright and sunny. Now it is dark, wet, cold and windy!
After a few days of miserable weather of snow, wind and rain the sun began to shine again at last (Tuesday) although it is still cold. What little snow we had it has almost all disappeared now but it could fall again at any time of course. Some snow still lies on pavements shaded from the sun and can only melt when the air temperature rises but at 2 degrees Celsius this could take some time, especially as the temperature drops below zero overnight. I am looking forward to the time I can get out on my bicycle again but it may be some time yet. The problem with the weather in the UK is that it is so unpredictable. This is due to the UK’s location on the Globe where warm and cold winds can be in conflict and where the Gulf Stream warms an otherwise cold sea. The position of the ‘Jetstream’ high in the atmosphere has a strong influence too, enabling cold air from the north or east to blow or allowing warmer winds from the west and south. My bicycle stands next to my van in the garage ready for action that at the moment isn’t going to happen. At least the sun is shining and is brightening up the lives of people during these cold days of winter. We all know it won’t last though but although we cannot make hay at this time of year we can be happy that the sun is shining can’t we? Just as well, more snow is forecast for Friday and they say it will be raining the day after with 6 C temperature! I did say the weather in the UK is unpredictable.