Empty nest

          The “Lady on the lake” has been missing on the last two mornings I’ve passed their spot, the reeds have grown pretty high, but I was certain I was still looking in the right spot so, once a mum, always a mum, I began to fret that something had happened and today on my walk home from work, I joined the lakeside further down the road and was relieved to find the reason behind the empty nest.


          Hidden away by the side of one of the boardwalks is a new, lower nest, and a bundle of little fluff balls.

          I waited quietly and then Mother swan gathered up her five little balls of fluff and took them out onto the lake.


          Father Swan sat for a little more preening before he joined them, but what a beautiful place to bring up their family.


          More from before: Semi-retirement by the seaside in “Weymouth“.


Marina sticks


          Summer will be officially here soon and many minds have turned towards their holidays.

          My thoughts turn to holidays future, and past, each time I walk into town past these sticks in the marina.  They put me in mind of “Venice” where the whole city is built on top of such giant sticks driven deep down into the silt below.

          Nothing is built on here though, and at first I was puzzled but now that I’ve seen them in use a few times, the puzzle has solved itself.

          Our giant sticks are the equivalent of a dry dock, or a boat yard, the boats arrive at high tide and tie up between the posts, then, as the tide goes out, the boat is grounded on a ramp from beneath the surface and small repairs or paint jobs can begin… Quite a clever idea really.


          More from before: Semi-retirement by the seaside in “Weymouth

Crazy jigsaw

          Do you remember the rest of the rotten decking from this picture in “Operation treegone” where I looked on helpless as it rained on my mud? 


          Well, after I took the tree out, the builder called round again to see what I’d uncovered, he seemed quite happy that the footing for the back wall on the left looked sound so he arranged to arrive on the following Monday morning to start his part of the preparation.  He left me with just the one instruction… No more digging.

          Monday morning arrived, and so did my builder, I started work at silly o’clock so he let himself in the back gate to begin without me.  When I arrived home, he’d taken down the little wall on the left and discovered as expected that the footing was sound, and was hammering away at the right side, which was giving him more of a problem than he had expected so I lent him my sledgehammer

          Oh, didn’t I mention I’d bought a sledgehammer?  It’s a wonderful toy, I’m having no end of fun playing with it.

          Anyway, with the wall down, and the three extra trenches dug out for the new footings, the builder left us ready to arrive the following morning with cement etc to start building.

          There go the mice and men again with their plans … My poor builder dislocated his finger picking up the bits and pieces he needed for Tuesday’s building and couldn’t work for two weeks.

          At the end of the first day, my garden looked even more like a building site.


          Well, while the cat’s away, the mouse will play… And I wasn’t planning on digging as such… .


          The red brick back wall was now in a heap in the garden and the bricks themselves featured in my thoughts for another part of the garden so I set about breaking up the chunks of wall with my sledge hammer, then chipping at the remaining mortar with a slightly gentler hammer and placing them this way and that to build the foundations to my steps.

          I contacted my builder again and it was arranged that if I prepared the next stage while he was off, he would build my dividing wall to split the garden into two main levels.  At least this way I could claw back a little of the time lost.

          With permission granted to start digging again, I moved the pieces of broken patio slabs to a safer location and set about the rotten decking with a crowbar, uncovering a new multitude of sins.

          Oh boy ! 


          Oh boy was I glad I’d bought my sledgehammer.  My mission for the day was to take out some the rubble from under the decking and bring it down to the same level as the little wall at the front.  I had a sort of plan, the bigger chunks of rubble got moved to the pile building up behind the shed and the smaller chunks got hammered, the mountain of good soil got sifted into IKEA bags to be put safe ready for transferring to the flowerbeds, and the gravel mountain I’d built from taking up the old patio area came down into the decking pit to level things off.

          What a sight I must have made, stamping around in my green, yellow and orange wellies crushing the gravel as if it were grapes.

          Well, never one to pass up the chance of a jigsaw, I jiggled the pieces of broken paving this way and that to fit them onto my new patio.  They’re not yet level, I’m expecting the ground to drop slightly beneath them, no, I’m counting on the ground dropping beneath them because I need to add a thin layer of sand under the slabs to level them out.

          I still have some more seiving to do to stop my mountain of soil falling into the trench the builder will have to dig before the foootings for the dividing wall can be laid, but I’m almost there… And it did feel good to finally be making the new garden instead of just breaking the old one. 


          More “Fixings and finishings” on the new house.

Deckchair small print


          Have you ever visited a beach and hired a deckchair?

           I’ve always said that one day I would have my own deckchair and live near enough to carry it to the beach with me. I am living near enough now, but haven’t got my own deckchair yet.

          Now that I’m here, what’s the rush, no hurry.


          Have you ever read as far as the small print on a deckchair hire sign ?

          Normally the detail is in the small print, and more often than not, the devil’s in the detail. Not this time however.

          The deckchairs on Weymouth prom are supplied, and hired out by, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.  There is just a small charge of £2.20 for a whole day, but the wonderful thing, hidden in the small print, is that residents of Weymouth and Portland who are over 60 can apply for a pass to use them absolutely free.

          The sign says that concessionary passes can be claimed at the beach office. I’m not sure where that is, but I still have a few years to find it.

          More from before: Semi-retirement by the seaside in “Weymouth

Quiet spot

          On a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday in a busy seaside town full of tourists, I bought myself an ice cream and set off to find a quiet spot…


          I found one…


          … And as I lay back on the giant rock and closed my eyes, all I could hear was the lapping of the waves on the smaller rocks around me.


          More from before: Semi-retirement by the seaside in “Weymouth



          These are my new “Bowls” .

          What do they say about me?

          I guess you need to know a little bit about them to work that out. TAYLOR, that’s easily explained, it’s the brand name, but BLAZE?  That tells you a little bit more. 

          Flat green bowls don’t roll in a straight line, they roll in a curve. The direction of curve is decided by which way you hold them to start your shot, but the arc of the curve (to a novice like myself) is decided by the type of bowl.  There were plenty of bowls to choose from in the bowls cupboard so in my first few weeks I practiced with a few different types and sizes and finally settled on Taylor Ace, size 2.

          Size 2, chosen purely for comfort.  The sizes range from the smallest, 00, up to a 5, size two is the biggest size I can comfortably pick up with one hand.

          Of the Taylor bowls, the Ace is the one which curves the most, it’s quite difficult to use, but if you can learn to control it, it’s perfect for slipping in through small gaps from the side of the rink at the end of the game.

          I haven’t done a bad job with the aces over the last few months, but they need a very wide shot to allow for the bowl to arc inwards to do its job and for that you need to not be afraid of aiming too far out.

          Until recently, Taylor made, I think, six different styles of bowls, the ace making the biggest arc, and the Vector being next in line. I did have a go with a Vector set from the cupboard, and was more comfortable with their arc, but there wasn’t a size two so in the end I decided to buy a set of Vector bowls, but continued to use the size two Aces while I waited for a friendly payday.

          As I got used to the Aces, instead of making my mind up, I was more and more undecided between Ace and Vector… then Taylor released the Blaze… with an arc which rolled between the two… perfect.

          The colour ?  Well most older bowls are black with coloured emblems on them.  It’s only recently that bowls have been made in colours… And of course I looked for orange and found them.

          Then the confidence fell and the doubt set in again. The orange bowls were very bright and could be seen clearly from the far end of the green. An advantage to follow a good bowl with another, but since I only manage for about one in four shots to be good, my bad shots would show up from the other end of the green more than my good ones.

          Bowls aren’t cheap and I’m probably only ever going to have one brand new set so I made up my mind, I would go for the orange ones.  I couldn’t find them again online so eventually phoned Taylors in Scotland …  Limited edition… The words sunk in and my smile fell to the floor… The decision had been taken out of my hands … No orange bowls.

          New colours available in the new catalogue ? Not yet online?

          I vaguely remember giving my address and waiting for a catalogue to arrive.

          Well, the catalogue arrived and so did the friendly payday.  Green bowls, not quite as good as orange, on the plus side though, not quite as bright as orange either.  Another delay, they were so new a colour that the compound to make the bowls hadn’t arrived, there was another plus side though, since my bowls were still a twinkle in someone’s eye, they would be made from scratch for me and I could choose whatever emblem and colour paint I wanted…

          Orange of course, and the scorpion? My birth sign.

          And then my smiles arrived in the post, all four of them, and they’re perfect.

          So, what do my bowls say about me?

          I like orange and green (of course I like orange and green), it’s taken over six months to get to the stage where I get the odd really good shot with the more difficult bowls, so I guess there’s perseverance, but I’ve bought the slightly easier bowls to use… There’s that confidence thing again.

          Oh, and the scorpion ?   Pretty standard really, I’ll back away from most things for a quiet life, but just bear in mind I have a nasty sting in my til and given no other choice, I know how to use it.

          More from before: living into “Semi-retirement” and beyond…