Lockdown leisure time

          Be careful what you wish for… For years I’ve been wishing I had more time to myself, to just sit around and do nothing …

          It seems that time to myself to do nothing is not at all what I need. I need people, coffee, cakes, visitors, visiting… I need for those moments to myself to be rare to make them enjoyable, it seems I don’t enjoy my own company anywhere near as much as I thought I would. Poor Hubby, he has to put up with just my company more often than I do.

          My concentration and my mojo have left me… Any get-up-and-go that I had has got up and gone without me. I have a house full of “U. F. O. ‘s” (unfinished objects) to keep me occupied but no enthusiasm to do any of them. I spent the first lockdown eating and sleeping, but as “stay at home” time happened again, both me and my hips decided that wasn’t a good idea to eat my way through lockdown this time and so I’ve been shedding a few pounds instead (made easier admittedly by the lack of cake eating opportunities). I’ve used some of the time to do a few jigsaws instead of sleeping, most I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, the “Pollyanna puzzle” was a huge challenge but I did it, and although it was frustrating at times, it was very satisfying to finish it.

          I went dredging online to find a new puzzle. I was looking for pictures of places I recognised so that the memories of the place enhanced the enjoyment of the puzzle, and I quite by accident I found this picture, taken from half way up the “199 Steps” in Whitby, on the way up to the Abbey. There seems to be a new craze for wooden jigsaws, I’ve been avoiding wooden puzzles, not too sure about a new twist on an old favourite, but the picture on this one was perfect so I sent for it to give the wood puzzling a go… I think I can quite positively say I won’t be doing this particular puzzle again, or buying another wooden one for my collection. In case you haven’t guessed, I didn’t enjoy it. There are just two basic shapes, my eyes aren’t the best of my five senses, but even with perfect vision it would be impossible to tell some of the pieces apart. There is a grid of letters printed on the back to help you by sorting the pieces into sections and I actually got more enjoyment out of putting the letters together than the picture in some places.

          I persevered, as is my way, and arrived at a finished puzzle as my reward, but now I’ll take it apart. Put it back in the box and pass it onto the next person to do it… And will never buy a wooden puzzle again.

          I’ve procrastinated as long as I can over painting the top half of “The Passage“, and since Ive just had a week off from work (supposedly to visit my Girls and Grandson) I’ve run out of excuses to put it off for any longer. It took a while, and of course I decided it needed two coats to improve the finish, but the white painting on the top half of the walls and the ceilings is finally finished. I’m glad its done now because I’ve been itching to play with the rest of the passage, I have to lift the carpet, both in the hallway and on the landing, to investigate underneath. The floorboards bounce in places, and the central heating pipes click against the joists as they expand with heat. I’ve bought some heatproof felt to pack between the pipes and the wood so there will no more clicking from that direction. As for the floorboards… I’ll have to be careful where I step because I wouldn’t be surprised if, once the carpet is lifted, stepping on one end of a floorboard will bring the other end up in my face.

          So my jigsaw is finished, my painting is finished … I’m sooo tempted to just lift the carpet upstairs to see what I’ll be playing with next, but I’m back to work this week so I’ll leave the floor in one piece until I’m off again. … maybe I’ll dig out another jigsaw this evening. In the meantime, I’ll just make myself another coffee to drink on my own … with no cake … and peer ouf of the kitchen window to see if there is any sign of spring.

Waiting for spring

          The flowerbeds have recovered slightly since “Storm Bella“. I’ve cut back the climbing roses to take away the spindly bits of stems at the ends and I’ve taken off the remaining bedraggled leaves from last year. I’ve sprayed the new buds to give them a good desease-free start, so now there’s not much I can do until we get a bit more of a break in the weather.

          The walls need a bit of touching up in the garden this year in some places, such as behind the flowerbeds, more than others, but obviously, dryer weather will give a better resullt.

         I’ve replaced both the arches now, they’re very low quality ones and so need replacing every-other year, they’re very low cost though so it sort of balances out. I did think of getting better quality ones so they’d last, but the arches aren’t equal and getting some made to measure didn’t come anywhere near budget, the less expensive ones have a lot more give in them, so I can squeeze or expand them to fit, and as they’re now secured to the wall with hooks, they’ll take the weight of the roses fine … I just need to remember to cut back the unsecured stems before the winter storms and not after.

          I’ll be painting around the door and windows of the fairy house, I’ve had to add a couple of big stones to step up to the door because the soil in the beds seems to have sunk. That’s OK though, it makes it easier for me to paint around the edges, and once it’s all painted, I’ll tip a couple of bags of compost around the plants to raise the level back up again. I’m sure the plants will appreciate the boost in goodness to the soil.

          That’ll be almost it then. I’ll give the cast iron garden decorations a quick rub down and a couple of new coats of hammerite to stop the rust and apart from the grass we’ll be done. But for now, I’m just waiting for spring.

          More from before : Going’s on in my “Garden“.

Storm Bella

After such lovely weather for our “Christmas morning” wander storm Bella swept in on Boxing Day. To be fair, we didn’t have any big plans for Boxing Day anyway so they weren’t interrupted. Hubby and Mum-in-law were quite entertained with the wall-to-wall sport on TV, and I just pootled about the house and tackled the settings on my new tablet, a present from Hubby with a much bigger screen for video calls to the girls.

         Storm Bella didn’t announce herself with a huge bang, she breezed in swiftly amidst some horizontal rain so as the daylight faded we pulled together the heavy curtains on the bay windows, turned the lights on, turned the heating up and settled down for evening with Mum-in-law.

          I woke up briefly during the night, I could hear Bella throwing a bit of a tantrum outside but I just huddled down under the warm duvet and went back to sleep. Then, when I emerged from my cocoon this morning, Hubby waylaid me before I went downstairs…”There’s been a bit of storm damage in the garden”, he warned.

          The whole of Weymouth is built on clay, a trade off for being surrounded by so much water I suppose. Big foundations are fine, and there was no subsidence detected on, or rather under, our house when we had the investigations done before buying. However add-on’s, such as garden walls, do have a tendency to move. When “Building the Garden” one such movement was tackled on the left hand side wall. The broken blocks on the wall were replaced and the crack repaired, then the wall was anchored to the front and back of the flowerbed walls on their new foundations.

I obviously moved a lot of ground when I basically turned the Garden upside-down by putting the old smashed up paths and wall etc underneath the nice soil to create the raised lawn and during the time since then, there’s been a little “settling”, causing a few cracks to appear which are waiting to be filled and painted in the spring… With Hubby’s worried expression I was fearing the worst, imagining that the high winds had caused the side wall to topple down into next-door’s garden. A quick look from the back bedroom window reassured me that storm Bella hadn’t penertrated my defences.

          A little rubbish, no doubt from someone’s windblown recycling, was scattered around the garden and the cat had blown off the shed roof. The cat was ok, a little bent and probably carryingz few more scratches, but again a coat of spring paint would fix that. The two baby dragons had succumbed to the wind but had toppled onto the grass. Howevef, the two solar powered lights which were pretending to be rocks had blown over their respective walls into next-door’s gardens either side. They are back a little worse for wear and I’ve given up on trying to repair them. They weren’t quite as effective as I would have liked them to be so its no big deal really.

The main casualty was the rose next to the gate on the righthand flowerbed. This was the same rose that took a battering last year, I must remember to cut it back next year before storm season and not during. The rose itself didn’t get damaged this time and both arches were due to be replaced this spring, so again, no big deal that the arch has been broken. I’ve done a little damage limitation, I’ve taken away the buckled side of the arch and tied the rose temporarily up to the hook in the wall. I’ve ordered the new arches a little earlier than planned, and as soon as there’s a spell of better weather I’ll be out in the garden preparing it for spring… Can you see a hint of the spring bulbs in the bottom of the flowerbed ?

          More from before : Going’s on in my “Garden.