Although I don’t mind it being Winter and the fact that it is cold far more than it gets warm there is a lethargic atmosphere deep in my brain telling me to refrain from attacking the jobs I want to do. This applies both to outdoor tasks and indoor tasks alike, I have to force myself to do some of them. It’s all about self-discipline of course for once I am engaged in a task nothing really matters, I just get on with it. I suppose if it were warmer and the sun was shining it would be a different story but no, perhaps it wouldn’t. You see if it is warm and sunny I like to relax in it! Again, it is about discipline and motivation. It is the middle of January as I write. The sun was out throughout the morning but decided to go hide for the rest of the day. The day suddenly feels the temperature it is and to add to that a slight breeze is blowing now. Suddenly I don’t wish to be outside in it but the waste doesn’t find its way to the bins all by itself and the leaves don’t get swept into the wheelie bin either. Neither of those tasks need to be done immediately but there is a nagging urgency for me to tackle at least one of them. I’ll let you guess which one. We love our creature comforts don’t we? The bedclothes are cozy, the heating is on, there is shelter from the elements and a nice warm cup of coffee invites us to remain indoors. Nothing will get done unless we decide not to be lazy and just get on with it. It’s battle fought by many a dedicated couch potato and won but I am not a couch potato so I’ve no defence. I put on my armour and throw myself at the enemy. I am beginning to once again set my mind on the things I want to get done and even those I don’t but have to else they will niggle at my grey matter. Who wants to be outside working in Winter? I have to confess I do for some of the time but sometimes it is nice to stay put on the sofa. I have been doing things of course I have and with each day passing I am slowly getting more of them done.
It may be the end of the year, the last few days, I write this on 28th, but life doesn’t stop. Creatures of habit like me continue on as normal. A day is a day just like any other so I do pretty much the same as I do at any time throughout the year. I have been working on a very small plot in the garden and wanted to add some natural stone as I had done in the much larger plot we call the west bed. That simply means the bed is on the western side of the garden. This one however is on the opposite side. I had over the months gathered many stones from the beach to cover that plot and recently collected more to put in this one too but a small bucket-full is far from enough as you can see….(click on image to magnify)
They barely cover the soil around the plant, the new fan palm at the end of the flowerbed. I did realise I would need more but the idea is not to fully cover the soil as there will be some small flowering plants placed there later. Maybe another bucket of stones will be enough. On my morning walk on Thursday (28) I collected enough to half-fill a bucket so it shouldn’t take long to collect what I want. These stones I might add are what were left behind after the construction of the sea defence wall many years ago. The construction company I suppose couldn’t be bothered to remove them else were unable to remove them all. Already I have been digging out some montbretia plants from the main flowerbed in the garden on the north side. They are the ones I missed when I cleared them from the bed at the beginning of the year along with bluebells. I have no doubts I shall be digging more out as the new year begins. It isn’t that I don’t like the flowers, it’s just that they grow like weeds and want to take over the garden! E and I have been putting seeds out on the bird table and some ‘fat balls’ in the feeder but it isn’t just the birds who eat them, we have a small family of grey squirrels who like them too. They eat the fat balls through the wire cage and the birds peck them in turn. A few days ago I made some alterations to the bird table in order to keep the larger birds such as pigeons, jackdaws and gulls from feeding there and leaving nothing for the many smaller birds such as tits, wagtails, and the robin we get here. We do put seed and other food on the grass to accommodate the larger birds. However, the squirrels can and do climb the pole to reach the table and can still enter the protected table to feed. This picture was taken before I altered the access but as I said, they can still gain entry which is fine.
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.
It is November 29 as I write this on a cold but sunny day. It is now mid-afternoon and the sun is hiding behind the houses across the road, soon to disappear below the horizon. I have just finished baking another apple pie. If you will remember I wanted to use a roll of the ready-made pastry that E had purchased some time ago to make the pie rather than make it myself from scratch as I had done yesterday. I had to wait a day for the pastry to defrost.
It begins to get dark around here not long after four o’clock at this time of year but in about three week’s time the daylight hours begin to increase once more. It will be the Winter Solstice and the sun will begin its northward journey as we push on toward Spring.
I am not sure why the Solstice is called the Winter Solstice seeing as it marks the beginning of the season. In these last few weeks of Autumn the weather has become noticeably colder and we’ve already had a couple of days of deep frosts, for most of the country anyway. As I live on the western coast it tends not to get quite as cold as it does inland, a good thing for the plants in my garden, that is the ones which normally grow in warmer climes. We have a few growing in the less exposed part of the garden where it tends to be slightly warmer out of the wind. Even so, some of those plants can tolerate temperatures down to -8 deg C. I wouldn’t survive long in those temperatures unless well-wrapped up. When I went to work this morning everywhere was covered in frost except where the sun shone and it was around 1 deg C. An hour ago it had reached 3 or 4 deg C, the maximum for the day though the frost remained on the lawn where the sun wasn’t shining upon it. Most of the lawn is in the shadow of the house at this time of year and never sees the sun at all. It will be April before all of the lawn is in sunshine at some point in the day, though not all at the same time. I have just been watching someone installing a floodlight above the front door of a neighbour’s house across the way and wondering why my neighbour hadn’t asked me to do it. I am not sure he actually knows that I am an electrician as we seldom speak. He is an elderly gentleman in his mid to late eighties who now lives alone since his wife died many years ago, probably approaching or around twenty years ago as I remember. He employs many guys on a regular basis who look after the maintenance of his house, one is an electrician who specializes in fire protection. It will be he who was installing the light. I didn’t pay too much attention. At the second of the two jobs I did earlier the lady watched my every move and sometimes I find that a little unnerving. She was pleasant enough and was simply interested in what was involved. I try not to interfere when someone is doing a job for me but if I do watch I do it discretely. It is beginning to get dark now as I finish writing these thoughts down….four o’clock….. right on time!
Today, Monday, as I write this, it is very sunny and very windy. At this time of year we are used to enjoying the warmer days of mid-Spring but alas it is more like late Winter. Over the last few years, indeed over the last few decades, there has been a gradual change in our weather patterns. Many scientists and meteorological experts agree that the whole world is entering a warmer phase and attribute the temperature increase, small as it is at the moment, to increases in CO2 levels in the atmosphere. According to many this rise has come about by human activity caused by the burning of fossil fuels but is this the whole picture? The Earth has seen climate changes many times and it may surprise some to know that even during the last 1000 years there have been noticeable changes, changes which cannot be attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. There are indications that the temperature was higher during the 10th to the 14th centuries. It is believed that the temperatures during the last 4000 years have reached their warmest levels on several occasions. It is a well-known fact that however that there was a dramatic drop in temperatures during the 16th and 19th centuries, a period often called the mini Ice Age. We moan so much about the weather but conditions could be worse and have been in the past. For more information I suggest a visit to this site http://www.co2science.org/subject/other/clim_hist_1thousand.php I think you will find it rather fascinating and perhaps give you a better understanding about our topsy-turvy weather here in the UK.
Don’t you just love the weather in the UK? For those who live beyond our shores let me tell what a wonderful weather system we have here (she says with tongue in cheek). Well you have to live here to understand what I am saying. If you have lived here or visited this lovely land you will appreciate what I am saying. It could be the reason you left couldn’t it? Living here means getting used to it but I think even those living near the North Pole would find it difficult living here, not because it gets cold but because it gets wet too, then it gets warm and finally it gets wet and sunny. It is all over the place at times and doesn’t know what to do. I am sitting at home on Monday afternoon having had no work scheduled and the day is windy, quite windy. Earlier it was sunny for an hour or so and it has rained a little too. A total difference to what the weather was like yesterday when it was warm and sunny, though there was a wind blowing but not as fast as it is today. I spent some time riding my bicycle in the warm sunshine yesterday but really don’t fancy doing the same today! Ah, but it is winter after all so we can expect this sort of weather. By the calendar we are half-way through Winter and heading for Spring when we hope to see a vast improvement, at least in temperature. We can hope for dry and warm weather but knowing our weather we are more likely to get rain. A national pastime here is moaning about the weather, we know it gets lousy at times but not all of the time and we know we could go and live somewhere else given the chance but we are used to the place and the good things about living here far outweigh the bad methinks. Why else would anyone want to come and settle here and we all know they do, even at this time of year! I have a small job tomorrow morning, fitting an outside light for somebody! Wouldn’t you just know it? If the weather is too bad I won’t do it but I know I’ll only be outside for a short time and can always pop back indoors in-between the showers!
I don’t know about you but I get sick of the way some news items and weather forecasts are dramatically presented. There seems to be a policy of exaggerating events and filling them with unnecessary drama, especially weather forecasts. Over the last couple of days we have been warned about impending cold temperatures, icy roads, snowfalls and windy conditions. They use coloured hazard warning triangles to show the severity of events. Come on, we know it’s Winter and we know we can expect inclement weather, we don’t need a song a dance presentation. It is sufficient to tell us to expect lots of snow and ice or whatever isn’t it? In fact we haven’t had any snow where I live but other parts of the country have been less fortunate. Which is better to say, ‘Tomorrow there will be heavy falls of snow causing problems and disruptions during the rush hour as people try to get to work’ or ‘Expect some heavy downpours of snow tomorrow which may cause disruptions to travellers’? I often wonder how other countries cope and if they make an issue of it? In places like Canada road users have a legal obligation to fit ‘winter’ tyres at the onset of Winter so they are ready and prepared for it and their snowfalls are measured in feet! We get a few inches and it causes havoc!
I find many people making too much of a fuss about certain things in their lives, things that most people just accept as life. There is a time to make a fuss I suppose but not for things we should expect to happen but maybe for the unusual.
This country has been quite unprepared in previous years for sudden changes in the weather, such as heavy snow by not having enough rock salt to spread on the roads or enough vehicles or personnel to do it. There is really no excuse for that, at this time of year we know conditions can change dramatically, especially in this country!
These past few weeks have been rather good as far as the weather is concerned. Yes we have had rainy days but hey, this is the UK and in my case England. Throughout the month of June and early July we began to wonder if the weather was ever going to improve but finally it did. Apart from one or two occasions the weather held for the Olympic Games and has been warm, even hot since. OK it rained rather heavily on Wednesday and it is forecast to rain for the next couple of days as I write this on Saturday. Saturday was dull but warm during the morning but in the afternoon it was wall-to-wall blue sky and bright sunshine right through to sunset! I had gotten up around nine and spent some time on the treadmill and basically chilled out after that. E went out for her monthly meeting and I decided to go for a ride on my new bicycle. When I returned home I noticed that the sun was shining onto the coffee table in the middle of the room. It was only two months ago it barely shone onto the floor in the afternoon because the sun was so high in the sky. In a couple of months it will be almost shining onto the wall facing the window. In Winter if it is sunny, the sun can shine half-way up that wall in the middle of the afternoon. If I was that way inclined I could mark the position of the sun each month on the floor or furniture but it does remind me of the progress of time and how precious a commodity it is. I sometimes feel that I am just going through the motions if you understand what I am saying, life seems to have lost its purpose for me lately. I don’t get excited as I used to anymore. I never get depressed as such but I do occasionally feel down. Is it the people in my life that make me feel this way, is it the lack of company and companionship, is it the lack of friendship, the lack of love? Perhaps, but sometimes it is none of these things, sometimes I just cannot be bothered! Maybe I am just a weathered soul in the scheme of things. Whatever I do, whatever I feel, wherever I go, the sun marks time as it slowly creeps across the floor.
We haven’t had much really cold or bad weather hereabouts during this winter season although much of the rest of the country has. We are approaching the Spring Equinox marking the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring but even now it feels more like Spring than Winter. With the change in temperature we are beginning to see more and more insect activity. On a wall at the front of our house a few days ago, a wall which faces more or less southward, was a huge bumble bee. It remained there for most of the day supposedly warming itself in the sun even though the sun wasn’t visible. Of course infra-red radiation cannot be seen with the human eye so there was no need for the sun to be visible to me. The one thing I dislike about warm weather, and it is the only thing about it that I dislike, is the increase of flying pests. Not all insects, flying or otherwise, are pests I have to admit but certain insects are, like the common house fly for instance! As I write this on Wednesday afternoon the sun is shining into the room and I can feel its warmth. I had been out for an hour or so earlier to attend on a small job and although it is pleasantly warm and I should be getting on with some work I am not doing so. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit and enjoy the warm weather as I know there will be times when I cannot. We still haven’t got the roller-shutter door installed but the guy assures me that he has got it in hand. It would be the perfect time for the job to get done as it looks like we are in for some wet and windy weather over this weekend.
I haven’t really had much chance to see what is going on in the garden lately except at the weekend because my jury service commitment has kept me from home during the daylight hours. I remember looking around the rear garden on Sunday and seeing flowering plants in the border we created last Summer when we were working on the patio. It is pretty much sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds because of the garden wall which would help to keep them flowering for longer but it is January and not exactly the month to see flowering plants unless they are snowdrops. Daffodils it appears are sprouting up all over the country and there are some even as far north as Aberdeen according to one viewer on a television magazine program a day or so ago. It would seem that Spring has come early this year. Although it is still Winter we haven’t really had much wintry weather compared to what we are accustomed to. It is too early to say that we won’t get colder spells with snow and ice before the season is over or that it is too late in the season for it to happen but if we judge by what the plants are doing it appears unlikely. It it a good thing? Perhaps not. The reason I say that is the plants will be struggling to cope with the changes but more than that there is nothing to stop garden pests from flourishing in the mild weather. When the weather becomes cold it has the effect of curbing the growth or even killing off diseases and general garden pests that threaten a plant‘s developement, especially those we cultivate for food. The garden nevertheless looks fine and the grass is lush and flourishing too but no doubt so will the moss, clover and weeds! Our lawn isn’t that good! There will be plenty to do out in the garden soon enough not least of all replacing those plastic panels that the recent high winds blew out of the small greenhouse. Thankfully the large greenhouse has been unaffected but then it is a more professional affair with glass panels. I will be replacing the damaged plastic panels in the small greenhouse with glass in a few weeks time. There is much to do elsewhere before then.