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the lockdown log 68


I will start with the good news; the scales gave me 107 kg this week, so 4 kg down from last week and that makes it look even more like the 111kg was a spurious reading. What went wrong? Atmospheric pressure? Sun spots? I don’t know, but I am reassured that I am back on track.

The jolt that I got from the dodgy numbers last week did give me some motivation to try and focus. I have not gone into starvation mode, but have tried to cut back on intake and to be a little more thoughtful about what I am eating. The latter can be hard, especially when a certain voice calls through from the kitchen asking if I knew that such and such needs eating by today. Obviously not or I would have had that rather than what I have on my plate, but such circumstances tend to see me eating my share of the about to run out of date food in addition to what I had portioned out for myself. The difference is that a couple of weeks back I would probably have buttered some bread and made a sandwich whereas now I just eat whatever it is and cut out the extra carbs.

Out in the garden the foxes are still passing through and we get the odd signs of the passing, but the damage has largely stopped. Other pests have made an appearance though; blackfly, greenfly, caterpillars, slugs and snails to the fore and the constant battle has moved on. The wet, but warm, weather had seen growth rocket and with it the amount of time needed for basic maintenance is eating into getting projects done. The big Silver Birch in my neighbour’s garden is now shedding its seeds and, even with no real breeze, standing on the deck is like being in a minor blizzard which means that finishing the deck repaint is on hold for a week or two.

I am hoping to be able to get on with building a table for the barbeque in the coming week as that will mean that I have the table available and can get the barbeque off the floor and can also, perhaps, use the damn thing although I have never understood the attraction of standing out in the heat cooking on something that is even hotter. We are planning lots of things salad based for the coming week.

With the 19th approaching we have no plans to ditch our masks. Down in these parts we are also seeing a surge in C-19 cases and we will be staying safe to reduce the risk of being sorry. We are plotting going out for lunch one day soon though and one of the local pubs will be seeing us all being well.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 67


Isn’t it odd how a week can change in a moment? I thought that it had been a decent week; I had got a few things done despite the weather, the foxes are causing less damage although they are still living next door, our tomatoes and cucumbers are flowering, I had been fairly good on my food intake, had had salads for lunch on a couple of days and was looking forward to some good news from the scales. I should have known better.

The first attempt came up with 110.5 kg, so 2.5 up from last week. What?! I tried not to make loud noises (it was just before 5 am) got dressed and went to work. Back home before lunch I tried again as I got changed out of my working gear: 111 kg. I tried swaying about a bit and was rewarded with 111.5 before the scales settled back to Nelson (as all the ones are known in cricket and darts).

Those of you who have been on diets will probably be familiar with the days when you feel either fat or thin. It was the former that pushed me to start getting weighed regularly again and when that first re-visit gave me 109 I was relieved. I was not good about my food intake, but was much better than bad, felt thinner and got the 108 next time around so was feeling comfortable that I was on the right track. My belt was back on the second new hole that I had punched in it and I could see my toes if I looked down. So where the heck did another 3 kg (almost half a stone) come from?

So, what to do now? Well, firstly have a rant as I have done here. It has a marginal effect, but I need to avoid despair because that will lead to eating for comfort and that is the wrong path. I have talked here before about a parallel with addiction and, like an addict, I am trying to take it a day at a time and hope that I can get through the next week knowing that there have been times when I have denied myself things to eat that I really do not need. I will also try to keep a tight reign on portion control as well as on content because one of my failings is often finishing off the odd slice left on the loaf, the odd bit of cheese or whatever rather than leave it for tomorrow when I already have what I need on the plate. I shall try to be positive and, who knows, this might be the kick up the arse that I needed to get my motivation back.

We have pretty much abandoned thoughts of a holiday this year, but will wait until the end of August to make a decision. If we are giving up on going away then I will change my holiday plans at work and take three separate weeks with the aim of putting in some serious garden and home maintenance as well as having a few days out. We are fortunate in living not too far from places to go and be back in time to look after the cats.

It’s been a bit a weight dominated blog this week, but that digital read-out on the scales did shake me to the core. I am still here though, and still healthy so I will be grateful for that. Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 66


Let’s get straight down to that appointment with the scales. I can’t remember offhand what the last weight that I mentioned here was, but my fears of being into the teens were unfounded as I got as solid 109kg. OK, that is 6kg up on my best from around November 2020, but not a disaster and four days later a subsequent check gave me 108kg. I am still lacking my mojo, but going back to regular weight checks might help a little with some focus.

I suppose that my daily exercise is helping and I think that I have managed over 10km per day walking every day this year. After this morning’s effort I have 2150km (over 1300 miles) in the book so far for 2021 and am looking good for over 4000km for the year.

We are venturing out and getting a little more confident about it. The news that mask wearing may become optional soon leaves me wondering whether or not I will keep wearing one whilst around the shops. I do have the condensation problem with my glasses, especially around the colder parts of supermarkets, or sometimes when I walk under an air-con vent, so tend to leave the glasses off whilst map wearing and peer myopically at the shelves and products. Not having to wear a mask would, in those circumstances, be a blessing. A decision to be made.

In the garden there are signs of flowers on the cucumbers and tomatoes so I am hopeful of some greenhouse grown crops in a while. We have had a few strawberries so far and the tayberry and raspberry fruits are forming. Hardly The Good Life, but it is nice to go and pick something to eat. On the herbs front things are mixed again. The parsley has been difficult this year; normally I don’t have a problem with it. We have carpets of chives after a slow start, but the tarragon has done almost nothing and the basil is struggling despite being in the greenhouse.

With all of my various projects I have been neglecting my hobbies and so many of the plans that I had last year have not come to fruition. As with the weight loss many of these things do require some focus and, again, I am lacking that extra little bit of desire to make things happen. In the garden I have been doing a lot of general maintenance rather than getting on with the big jobs, but that is mainly down to Mother Nature: Stuff grows and has to be kept under control. Grass cutting is close to becoming a weekly job at the moment with the alternating wet and warm days for example.

With the way that the weather has behaved lately the Berkshire Belle has had no inclination to go and sit in the garden and has had no interest in me firing up the BBQ either and so there has been no pressure on me to try and get some of the garden projects finished. Instead I fiddle around the edges so to speak and can happily spend a couple of hours pottering around outside just doing anything that I see that needs doing; a bit of pruning here, some weeding there and so on. I can just get lost in the moment with no plans or aims, just the basic “See it – Sort it” principle. Maybe it helps to keep me sane.

Stay safe out there, wherever you are.

the lockdown log 65


Life goes on for us and whilst I am calm about lockdown it is bothering the Berkshire Belle considerably. I am content wearing my mask; she is not, yet if we fail to spot the sanitation station at the store entrance (or are too preoccupied to notice), she can get quite stressed when she realises that we have not added that layer of protection. The oddities in the changing regulations bother her too; why can large crowds attend sporting events when you can’t have a concert and so on. None of this interests me in the slightest and I cannot give her any answers as to why these things are as they are. I just accept them as facts and get on with my day.

I suppose that it is my innate habit of ignoring anything that I cannot influence. It works for me and I do my best to let all of this just wash over me. Yes it is affecting my life, but I have adapted and just live a different life. I used to do this to some degree when we spent as much time as we could in the USA and I would tell people that we were not on holiday, just living there instead of here. And that is largely true because from the second trip onwards we did little that was touristy, rather we settled into trying to live as much like locals as we could. It was a different life to here and one that we liked better. Covid life is not like the one that we knew and it is not so good, but it is the one that we have and I do my best with it.

One this that I have noticed recently is the way that fuel prices have risen. I am notorious for not looking at what I have paid for fuel, but I do remember a point during lockdown about 12 months ago when I paid less than £1 per litre for unleaded. This week I spotted at the Esso station that I pass on the way to and from work that the litre price was up to £1.319. Pre-lockdown it was about 122.9 to 124.9 per litre, so it makes a bit of a difference, but I do not use too much these days and I am glad about that.

We have been out a bit this week and the Berkshire Belle has had two trips; one over to Cheltenham to the bigger Waitrose supermarket there and then a three shop trip locally the next day when we did a garden centre, Marks and Spencer and Lidl in a mini orgy of retail. It is important that I keep getting her out, even if these trips are hardly full of excitement. We talked a lot this week about going out to lunch one day, but did not come to any conclusions beyond the uncertainty of whether we would enjoy ourselves. Given the lady’s dislike of lockdown protocols as mentioned above it does, for her, take away much of the pleasure and if she is not having a good time, then nor am I. We stayed in for all of our meals and, in all probability, actually ate more healthily that had we dined out. Certainly it was cheaper.

There is no rush for us to book any holiday yet. Our preferred destination is America, but things are so bad over there that we are concerned about going. We have talked about a shorter trip to, say, Dubai, but that, as a major hub, is firmly red-zoned for now. It will probably be another year for us with no holiday now. We have no interest in going to Europe at the moment, even if they would have us, nor in a UK tour, so it will be making plans for 2022 by the look of it.

This coming weekend I have an appointment with the scales. It is a year since I had the diabetic diagnosis that spurred me into a concerted effort to lose weight and I need to see where I am and, perhaps, try and kick start another drive towards getting under 100kg. The Berkshire Belle has had a splendid result from her own diet. Her numbers are her affair and not to be shared here, but she has done very well and I am proud of her efforts. It is causing her some issues in that she has few clothes that fit and her normal sources, various US chains, are not readily available to her. We are working on that from a mail order perspective though.

In the garden we are still having fox problems although we seem to be down to two now. Mrs Reynard has not been seen for a few days and the dark red coloured youngster has also been AWOL lately. The remaining pair have possibly picked up on Mummy’s talent for killing pigeons though judging by the evidence and neither looks to be going hungry. Whilst the are still living in neighbouring gardens ours is still the preferred place for burying food as we have the well turned flower beds and planters that our neighbours lack. July is around the time that the cubs usually push off and find new homes so maybe only another.couple of weeks…

My efforts to build a new base for our mini-Kamodo BBQ have probably caused this latest downturn in the weather. Honest Mother Nature, I didn’t want to use it, just to get it up off the deck so that I could finish painting said deck. I am getting very tempted again to buy a pop-up gazebo to work under: It would protect me form both sun and rain after all.

Anyway, that is it for me for this week. Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 64


There are days when I am very low and this is one of them. I hurt in all sorts of places and, for one of them, in ways that I am not familiar with and am therefore slightly bothered by the unusual sensations. It is easy to joke about; “If I had known that I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself” sort of thing, but feeling physically crap does tend to drag the mind down with it.

It is probably no more than that I overdid things on the previous two days when it was hot and I was trying to get as much done before the promised severe weather arrived. As it happens our bit of the UK did not get any severe weather at all, just a light breeze and a bit of rain so I need not have pushed so hard. I forget sometime that I am in the fag end of my sixties and, although I do take more precautions and care than I did even ten years ago things do tend to take their toll.

My malaise is therefore self-inflicted and I shall just have to let it pass. I am being bloody minded about it and have not reached for the paracetamol. I will see how I feel come bedtime and maybe take a couple then if I think that they might help me sleep, but I think that I am likely to be so tired that I will not even want to lie in bed and read for an hour as I usually do.

I have got a lot done in the garden as referred to above and there is some satisfaction in that even if it has come at a price. Progress is very visible now and the vison that I had eighteen months ago is starting to become a reality. There is still a lot to do, but it will keep me amused for months to come.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 63


The lunch outing was a success, despite driving for over an hour to get there, but after some good food we had a slow meander back via Waitrose and Abingdon and Aldi at Farringdon. Around Reading and the village where we ate it was wet and horrible, but within about ten miles coming home we were into sunshine and a very pleasant drive.

I am slowly getting some focus back into the garden projects and because that progress is visible it is generating some motivation. Much of what I am doing are things that I dislike such as painting (and the preparation for painting), but I am moving again and that is good.

There have been a lot of distractions; silly things going wrong prominent amongst them and new jobs coming into the schedule that I had no expectations of having to do. Life is like that though and you just have to get on with it.

Paid work plods on regardless and I seem to have no issues with that. I can turn up, do my stuff and come home and I am grateful for that. I have no recollection of a time where I had a problem with a job and although there have been times when I have not especially enjoyed a piece of work or a time at work, I have not lacked motivation to do it. The fact that I am still working getting on for aged 70 perhaps bears that out.

Technology has been one of the distractions for me and I am still using an old desktop for these blogs as my laptop will not display the blog properly at the moment and I am too reluctant to invest time working out why. This is a Windows 10 machine and works slightly differently to the MacBook. It is also an American device and I realised the other day that it was using American English not UK English. I have changed the settings, but it is still trying to Americanise my spelling, so apologies if you have found some strange words recently. This PC uses a grey fond on a white background and, in certain lights, I can’t be relied on to spot when it has corrected me.

That’s it for this week. Sorry it is a short one, but time is pressing and I need to go and cook a couple of Brill fillets, along with some veg, for dinner.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 62


It has been another week that has just flown by and it hardly seems possible that it is Thursday again, but the date at the top of the newspaper is about the only thing left in the media that I believe at face value so it must be true.

Life with my fox family continues and every time that I think that I have built a decent defence they find a way around it. We seem to have lost one of the quartet, but I still see the other three youngsters on a regular basis and mum occasionally. The latter’s continuing presence comes more in the regular stashes of dead pigeon that she leaves for the kids and now that I have so many of the old locations covered up she just leaves them on the lawn.

My daily regime with these visitors is to go around with a black bag and my picker-upper and clear food debris and rubbish that they have left around (they love toys and steal dog’s balls, squeaky toys and such from other gardens) and the go around and hose off the mess that comes from the other end of the animals. They have no sense of potty training and barely break stride to leave ley another deposit, often right outside the back door. This takes me about 30 minutes and is getting boring.

All of my neighbours have turned their front and back gardens over to patios, astroturf, gravel or similar and ours is the only one with flower beds and tubs so the foxes, whilst living under sheds in neighbouring gardens, get to dig in ours.

aAnt over and on to other topics. My garden labours have slowed a little because I am waiting for one of my neighbour to replace the shared fence. He said that this would be done by the end of May, but as yet there is no sign of action and I can’t do some of the things that I want to do until he sorts it out. I have managed to cut away the rotten sections of my old deck and replace them so that is another job crossed off the list.

I have, to some degree, lost my motivation for getting the garden done and I think that the fox problem may be at the heart of that, but I’ll not go back to them right now. I do need to find something that will get me going again though.

Tomorrow might be a good point in that we are going out to lunch for the first time since way before lockdown. In fact the last time that we ate out was probably in Florida in October 2018, so hopefully it will be a treat. We are going to a restaurant in the hinterland north of Reading which we have been to a few times before, The Berkshire Belle is doing her usual “I don’t want to go” thing, but that is just her and I am used to it now.

It will not be a lunch that is in any way slimming and I have been trying to cut down this week to allow a bit of a blow out. My greenhouse activities have provided various lettuce and cress to bulk out my wraps and sandwiches and I have, this week, had my first salad for lunch. The end of June will be one year since I started my diet and whilst I have slipped somewhat over the last 6 months I am going to have a weigh in at the end of the month just to see what the damage is and maybe that will help to re-focus me.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.

the lockdown log 61


I have had a week off and, most days, have been working on various projects. Some of that seems to have told on me physically as I have a lot of muscular pain around the right side of my rib cage that may be due to lots of sawing amongst other things.

The weather has still not been too kind and that has curtailed things a little, but I have invested in a cordless circular saw and so that means that I do not have to run a power cable around from the garage to the back garden for many of the jobs I have on the list. On days with random showers it is a nightmare having to keep reeling it in.

The foxes are starting to roam and seem to spend the odd night on the loose, but were back the other nights and had their most destructive session yet. It is heartbreaking to see so much laid to waste. This morning I found a dead fox, probably from last year, when lifting a couple of rotting deck boards so had to dispose of that and one, or more, of the current crop is a bit loose in the bowel regions and I also had a lot of hosing down to do. All good fun (not).

It has seemed strange not going into work, but I am still getting up at 5 am as normal and have been out in the garden working on the quiet jobs most days by 7. Two door down are having an extension built and so as soon as their crew start work I get my power tools out and join in with the cacophony. I am into some of the more complex jobs at the moment and so there is the mental challenge of working out how best to do things and, sometimes, getting it right first go. There is the usual problem of nothing being the same level, length or square, but it all keeps me amused.

I have finally taken the plunge and planted out my hanging baskets, That has given me some space in the greenhouse which is welcome and I am trying to pot up some of the seedling that I first put in there a couple of months ago. I have been a bit lax in keeping notes on what I have done and when so I may have to rely on memory if I do it again next year.

For over a week now I have avoided the scales. Naughty, but mentally I have not been too good and have not wanted to know in case the news is not good. As I have said here throughout these scribblings I like the ostrich principle and work on the basis that what I don’t know will not bother me. I apply this to much of the news too, but the Berkshire Belle is an avid reader and only has me to share with so I get it all pored over me on a daily basis. I act like a sponge and soak it up because she needs to vent her feelings, but often knowing things that I have been avoiding drags my mental state down. One day this week I just had to tell her that I didn’t want to talk about a certain subject and I left the room; I could not take it.

Today we were going to go to a craft fair and have a rare day out, but we bottled it and stayed at home. It is odd, but our reasons were slightly different; she loathes all of the Covid regulation, even though she knows that it is sensible. Things like one way systems, mask wearing, having your temperature taken and so on take all of her pleasure away whereas I accept all of that stoically. My reason for backing out of today was that there had been more overnight rain locally and the thought of trekking through wet grass plus the risk of getting stuck where other idiots who cannot drive on such surfaces without chewing them up would make life difficult for us all.

Little things tend to become big things and this week I ended up with so many things that required a trip into town that I finally took the plunge and did it. It took up an afternoon, but, despite my fears, all of my errands were completed. I find that there are so many things that, these days, I tend to put off whereas a few years back I took on all comers with little bother. I have flown into countries like Columbia, Libya and China to work without batting an eyelid and let a trip into town to run some errands took more out of me. It must be age creeping up on me. Perhaps it is just that I am out of practice.

I made lamb burgers for lunch today, but elected not to fire up the BBQ and cooked them in the pan on the hob as the sky was looking very black. When I have finished this I am off to do a few outside jobs and then back into the kitchen to make a chicken and leek pie for dinner tonight. Anything to keep busy and stop my mind wandering off into areas that I don’t want it going off to.

If you have plans for this weekend, a Bank Holiday here in the UK and Memorial Day weekend in the US then I hope all goes well for you. I shall be looking out for the Indy 500 on whatever medium I can find to follow it from afar, but I hope that things hold up for you and you have a great time.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 60


A very hectic week and one that has passed in a flash. The fishbone problem went away and the resultant sore throat only lasted a few days thankfully. It was the first time that I had had a problem like that and I hope that it will be the last.

As the weather is getting in the way of my labouring projects around the garden I have spent what time I have been able to use out there on general maintenance; pruning, tidying and a little re-potting of some of the greenhouse contents. I am taking a week off work next week and would like to be able to get at least one garden centre trip in to be able to plant up our hanging baskets.

Being able to get out into the garden has done wonders for my general feeling of wellbeing and, after a couple of days where I didn’t get out at all (other than to go to work) a decent afternoon’s work outside made a big difference.

Any thought of diet has largely been forgotten for now, I am about 6 kg up on my best weight from last year and am showing almost no sign of willpower when it comes to food. At some point I will get back into the groove (I did have a salad for lunch yesterday, the first of the year), but for now I am trying to just not get stupid about eating. It is, as always, a mind game and I need to want to lose weight more than I want to eat.

We have pretty much given up on a holiday this year. They do not, as yet, want us where we would like to go and, to be frank, we are not sure that we want to go given the state that they are in. Europe does not appeal much either, certainly not the parts that seem to be trying to tempt us and our other possible destination is also, for now, off limits. As for a few days somewhere in the UK, well that is unlikely because the Berkshire Belle is not up to a lot of walking these days and, in any case, we have seen pretty much all of the UK between us through our respective jobs.

We know that we do not have that many years left and I think that that little fact is becoming the elephant in the room. Our overseas trips have been a big factor in our lives together over the last 31 and a bit years. going two years without one is hard to take and whilst we appreciate that we are fortunate to have been able to do all that we have done, we worked hard to get earn those privileges.

For now, though, my immediate problems are whether this blog will upload OK and I will have to come back to check on that later because the other problem is that I need to work out what I am going to do with the chicken leftovers from yesterday in terms of what we eat tonight.

And so I will bid you farewell for this week and hope that you are safe and well wherever you are.

the lockdown log 59


This is a bit late this week, but for some reason WordPress on my go to device is not allowing me to add a new blog entry, instead it just gives me a blank screen and so I have had to revert to some older technology here to keep up my weekly utterings.

The weather has been so variable that any planning has been a waste of time and I have just gone with the flow and done what I can where and when I can. Odd bits of progress have been made and I am starting to get a shopping list, what we used to call a bill of materials when I wore a suit, for the next main jobs on my agenda. I just need to order stuff or go out and buy it, but therein lies another familiar problem; where do I put it while I am waiting to use it? I have 5 bags of compost in the car at the moment…

Our foxes continue to wreak havoc and their destructive power is beyond anything that I have previously experienced. I am gradually blocking up access to the space below my deck where a couple of the youngsters like to spend their days, but can do nothing about what the perishers get up to after dark.

it has been a bit of a mad ending to the week as on Friday I swallowed a fish bone that got stuck in my throat. A look at the NHS111 web site got me into an on-line chat that suggested that I go to the hospital in Cirencester about 20 miles away, There they were unable to reach the bone and, being Friday evening, said that I should try and eat some soft food to push the bone down. If that did not work I should go to my local A&E department. It did work and, apart from a very sore throat, I am fine. Added to my neck problem and the Sore Nuts Syndrome living up to its name it was a miserable end to the week and I had a quiet day yesterday.

Despite all of that I am fairly perky and certainly my head is in a better place than it has been for a while. Hopefully that will continue.

On the exercise front I am past 1500 km for the year. I am on track for the 4084 km target for the year, so I am looking at tryi8ng to squeeze in a little bit extra each week now wo that I can do 5000 km over the 12 months.

Nothing much else to report at this stage, so stay safe wherever you are and, one way or another, I will be back next week.