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life log #6


Wow! Three months since I last wrote one of these. I am not sure why it has been so long, but it may just be that I have been too involved in other things.

I write best when I am quiet. Music is about the only sound that does not put me off, but sometimes it does distract me as well. My most prolific writing times were when I was working from home and the Berkshire Belle was still at work. She would go off to the office about a quarter to eight every morning and then it would be just me and the cats. I had about eight blogs on the go as well as writing for magazines and other projects. I could knock out twenty to thirty thousand words most days and, whilst I have never made a fortune from my scribblings, I didn’t do too b badly at earning a few bob either.

Things change though and I haven’t written for publication for six or seven years now other than a few things as an industry pundit, but they don’t pay or really count as writing. I seem to have too many other things that occupy my time and have not felt the need to inflict my thoughts on the world at large. These life logs started out as lockdown logs and seem to have developed a following as pretty much every day there is some feedback on them so I apologise to anyone who has wondered where I had got to.

Most of my time since March has been taken up in my back garden. The fencing contractors came in May and that was the catalyst for a lot of things to get started. I still have a lot to do and there is the daily maintenance of what I have done to take care of so I can easily spend an hour a day just on the latter. I now have a back garden that is habitable and have been able to just sit out there and read a couple of times. Maybe I can sit out there and write too.

The Double B and I have stopped wearing masks when out shopping and I no longer wear one at work. Neither of us is that comfortable with the decision, but we felt that we wanted to try and move a bit more back towards the way that things were. She has had her second booster and it seems that I will get mine in the Autumn. We are still carrying masks with us in the car though in case we decide that we want to use them. One possible side effect is that I have have had almost no sinus pain over the Covid period where I have been wearing a mask for between 3 and 4 hours a day, but within days of stopping masking up I am having problems again. Was recycling that humid breath beneficial? Who knows.

We are still undecided about a holiday this year, but will have to make a decision soon. We are both desperate to have a break, but can’t face the hassle that seems to prevail at the moment. Our type of vacation always involves scheduled flights on mainstream airlines and between primary hubs, so things might not be too bad, but 2 or 3 hours queuing for immigration or security is not too much fun, especially for the Berkshire Belle.

Anyway, that’s it for now and I will try not to take so long before the next one.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.

life log #5


Still no weight check. No excuses, I just have not cleared out the office to reveal the scales. I am not eating to excess, but nor am I being that frugal and I know that I have to do something about that.

I am getting plenty of exercise. Work puts about six miles on the clock on each of the five days a week that I turn up at the office and, on those days I usually end up with about seven and a half miles in total. So far this year my total mileage is 351.6 (565 km). This is way down on last year when I was really pushing for over 4000 km for the year, but it is still respectable and I am in the top 3% of the 110,000 plus people using the app that I record my exercise on.

Work also exercises other bits of me besides my legs and the recent rodent repellent activities have seen a lot more of me getting stretched that usual (more on that shortly) so I am burning off calories at a decent rate through the day. The issue is more about cutting back on the number of calories going in than the amount I burn off. ‘Twas ever thus.

The noises in the cavity wall and loft have diminished so I am hopeful that my anti-rodent actions are having an effect. I am struggling a lot more up there that I used to. Our home is a typical product of the 1970s with inverted W trusses at about two foot intervals and I have grazes on both shoulders from scraping them on a regular basis plus more than a few on my head. I have bought myself a new headband torch (I can’t find my old one) the help me see my way around up there. I do have a loft light, but there is so much stuff that most of the place is in shadow and holding a torch means trying to sort stuff one handed; there have been several avalanches.

The rodent problem does mean that I have tackled the problem of a loft full of stuff with some focus at last. I a week five bin bags full have been extracted; old Christmas decorations, clothes that we will never wear again, many boxes of magazines and goodness knows what else have gone to the recycling centre so far and there is more to come, a lot more. Life laundry is the name of the game.

In the garden we have loads of bulbs showing although many of the daffodils (and related species) have come up blind this year which is a disappointment. The fairly mild Winter has allowed a lot of stuff to survive and my efforts at planting perennials seems to be paying off. At the moment my priority is to get all of the vulnerable plants and everything that lined either side of the garden out of the way for the fencing contractors arrival early next month. Whilst out there I have been trying to visualise what might be possible once the new fences are up. It looks as though I have a few days of decent weather to spend out there and so the loft clear up may go on hold, hopefully not to be neglected.

We are still both Covid free, still wearing masks around the shops and I still wear my mask pretty much all of the time at work. I was going to go to a swapmeet last Sunday, but the organiser posted a photo on Facebook showing the venue set up and ready to open with not a mask in sight amongst the stallholders. It put me off and I didn’t go. Cowardice? Yes, but here in Swindon we have one of the worst records in the UK at the moment for new infections so I am happier with a yellow streak. We are watching the travel situation with interest as we would very much like to go away this Autumn having kissed the last two years, but…

It helps that we are both anti-social. We have both had to put on a show in our jobs over the years meeting and being nice to all sorts of people and it is a joy not to have to do it so much these days. It isn’t that we don’t like people, we just prefer our own company. I tired to explain it in a note to my step-son yesterday and maybe I didn’t get the message over too well, but we have been together now for more than half of our adult lives and we like our own world. Lockdown has probably made us even worse.

I’ll wrap up here. It’s eight o’clock and I want to get the day under way, so stay safe out there wherever you are. See you next time.

life log #4


Odd how one thing leads to another. We have what sounds like a rat in the cavity wall between us and the house next door so I have been spending time in the loft trying to make sure that it does not come through. In shifting stuff out of the way I started to throw things out and, in going through one long forgotten box, I found many packets of photos.

Many of these were ones taken since the Berkshire Belle and I got together more than thirty years ago and, for one thing, chart the development of our from and back gardens down the years, but in amongst these were a few photos of me from the 1970s, pictures that I thought were long lost.

Most of them feature me in my long haired days between 1971 and 1974 and it was towards the end of the latter year that a change of job saw me start to have it cut a little shorter. By 1976 I was pretty conventional by comparison. There is also what is probably the only photo of me with a beard; I have worn one twice and didn’t like the look much either time. In the case of beard in the photo that I mention here I shaved it off whilst on holiday with my wife (the first one, my mother and wife wife’s mother and none of them noticed for a day and a half…

The first of the series of photos was taken about halfway though a bad time in my life between around February 1971 and March 1972, but from that point I made a change or two and started on a path that lead me from long haired layabout to polished professional as reflected in another photo taken of me in April 1994 whilst on a business trip buying materials handling equipment in Germany.

A lot of memories flowed from the photos and I can’t say that I am proud of all that I did on a personal level over those years. There were also some professional decisions that were questionable, but very step that I took, good and bad, led me to the Berkshire Belle so I have no regrets. The important things was that I recognised that I was in a hole that was, whilst not of my making, trapping me because of the way that I reacted to my troubles. I got out of the hole because I chose to and did something about it.

Back in the present I have a date in early April for the new fences and am starting to plan what to do once I have them. I foresee a lot of time fiddling and fettling in the garden over the coming months and so am hoping for some weather that will be conducive to getting things done. I don’t think that I will be spending as much on plants this year as usual, partly because I want to see what survives all of the changes, but also to see what the possibilities are. Last year was the first year for my new greenhouse and I did not do too well with it, possibly because I overloaded it. There were other factors, not least my long battle with the fox cubs that distracted me from some things and I have no idea what might come back this year from the destruction that the volt wrought. A consolidation year this year then.

I did try going back to soup making, my old faithful red pepper and tomato cropping up a couple of times. One batch usually does me four lunches and I don’t get bored with it. I still have not got around to weighing myself though and, as I write this, I am thinking that I will make sure the scales are put out before I go to bed so that I can check myself in the morning.

life log #3


so much is happening that it barely seems credible that I am already 6 weeks into 2022. I have been writing, but have there or four blogs that are not quite ready to publish; I seem to have lost that ability to bring some of these things to a conclusion, but it might also be indicative of the decision paralysis that afflicts me from time to time these days.

Our kitchen has featured some of the events that have occupied me. Back in November our combination microwave oven developed a fault and when the first engineer called in December a dud hearing element was diagnosed. A new one was ordered along with a replacement mechanism to set the timer as that was playing up too. The new part arrived between Christmas and New Year (we had had use of the oven for over a month by then) and whist the heating element was successfully fitted the other part was not the right one and so another spares order was created and a third visit booked.

Engineer number three arrived in mid-January and was somewhat taken aback by our 18 year old Neff. In reassembling it things did not go well and the upshot was an oven that we could no longer use. Our service contract offered an equivalent replacement and this was duly ordered, but fitting was to be at our expense and arranged by us. A few days later and we had our new Bosch product up and working.

That focused me a bit on my plans to replace the gas hob. I had come around to the thought of an induction hob, but there was a problem in that the ones that plug into a 13 amp socket are limited in terms of the total power available; you can’t have all 4 rings on full power at once. I won’t go into the complications of why fitting a 32 amp supply was not an option, but the bottom line was that it would have to be another gas hob.

So last Sunday, about two years after I had decided that I wanted to replace the old hob, I pressed the button to buy a new one. It arrived on Monday and was fitted yesterday in time for me to cook lunch for the Berkshire Belle. Finally it is done and the saving grace, I suppose, is that I had started putting away £10 each month as an emergency fund about 4 years ago and so there was a small cache of cash available.

Not content with us being without our combo oven all over Christmas the heating boiler shut itself down the weekend before last and left us without heating or hot water for 36 hours until we could get our man to call (he was due to do the annual service that week anyway. The fault was a minor one and was, thankfully, fixed in minutes for which we are duly grateful for the tolerance to cold that we had as children in an age before central heating was common is long gone. The Berkshire Belle first enjoyed central heating in about 1974 and for me it came 5 years after that with the second home that I bought as an adult.

I have not weighed myself for nearly two months and am conscious that there is a bit more of me around the middle than there was the last time that I stood upon the scales. I am not consciously eating more, but perhaps the Winter weather has curtailed some of the outdoor activity that might have burned off additional calories. I do need to face up to the scales of doom and find out though. I shall report next time.

Some garden labouring has begun as I have decided that I cannot wait another year before sorting out my back garden fence. I am in the usual battle with contractors who are, hopefully, much better at their job than they are at communicating, but I hope that I can get the work done before the end of March and that will open the door for some serious garden activity. In the meantime I have added another 50 snowdrops and 25 bluebells to the garden collection along with some other plants bought at random and on a whim.

Planting things that come up for a week or three once a year brought home the fact that I may not have many more years to enjoy them. I try not to let such thoughts crowd in on me, but it is hard not to. Having said that, as I sit here typing at the dining table and glancing out of the window from time to time, I have just seen a wren dance along the low front fence. We do seem to have a few more garden birds this year even if we have lost the big squadron of assorted tits and sparrows that used to entertain us. They are always a delight and that’s a good note to close on.

Stay safe wherever you are.

life log #2


A lot goeth on at the moment Chez Nous and I am trying to keep up with it all, although I am seriously failing. Time seems to slip by and before I know it it is not just tomorrow, but next week. We have a lot of change in hand, or approaching, and I am in the process of trying to both plan and action those plans whilst firefighting all sorts of other shit that life throws my way. I use to get paid a lot of money to do all this stuff and was pretty good at it, but these days, at least at home, I am doing it for love and the motivation of knowing that, if I screw it up, a lot off people might loose their jobs is not there anymore.

On the good news front the Berkshire Belle and I are still healthy. Part of that I possibly due to our self-imposed isolation. We saw no-one over Christmas or New Year (besides, for me, colleagues at work). Our shopping trips tend to be early morning raids when stores ar quiet and we are still buying most of our meat, fruit and veg on-line: Our shopping trips are for basic consumables like milk and bread and often I do those solo on my way home, so the Double B regards herself as getting just the one trip out per week.

No sign yet of any of the snowdrops, but there are bulbs breaking through in the back garden, albeit that I have no idea what they might be. A couple look like hyacinths, but time will tell. Perhaps they all know that it will be a mild Winter? I did plant more snowdrops, and some bluebells, last year and I am hoping for a nice display come February. The Spring bulbs always give me a lift as a portent of better things to come.

Our lilac tree has begun to lean far too far over and I need to apply some drastic surgery before it starts to show new growth. Another of those heavy tasks that I will have to tackle. Last year I left it too late and that is why I have a bigger problem this year. It will give me something to do over Christmas.

I am well into my virtual walk from Lands End to John O’Groats and it has been interest to see where I am on the map each evening as I enter my evidence. I have so many memories from my travels around the country that each day beings something back. One night I found myself having reached the spot where one of my music heroes, Adge Cutler, died back in the seventies: I just had to dig out the I-pod and treat myself to All Over Mendip in homage. It is strange how doing this virtual walk is brining out a competitive streak in me. I am in a clump of people in around 8th through 16th place and find myself doing an extra couple of miles in the hope of getting into the top 10. Why? It’s just a virtual challenge and really all I am doing is walking a bit more than I would usually do. I will report on my finish, probably some time in February.

On the health from my blood pressure numbers have rattled the medics and I find myself back on Lisinopril. It helped me the last time that I took it and so I hope that it will this time too. I am taking things a little more seriously this time and have dug out my BP monitor to take daily readings that get logged and reported back to the doctor.

All for now. Stay safe out there wherever you are.

life log #1


Starting off a new series here having retired the lockdown logs last week. I’m not sure that life log is the best title, but it will do for now, so here we go.

I was bemoaning last time that I still had work to do on the weight loss front, but in clearing my bedroom office I came across a box of clothes buried deep at the back. One of our cats had adopted it as her latest nest, although why she liked the plastic lid of a storage crate more than one of her several beds I don’t know, but it became her favourite spot for a couple of weeks until the other day when the bathroom mat took precedence. Sans moggie I pulled out the crate and found treasure in the form of eight pairs of shoes that I haven’t seen for some years along with some shorts and a pair of chinos.

The chinos were a 42 waist and they fit! I have come down from a 46 waist via 44 and am now comfortably into another size down. Weight loss is one thing, but the loss of more inches is another and the psychological effect is well worth having. The Berkshire Belle, who voluntarily joined in on my dietary regime to show solidarity, is down three dress sizes and I am so pleased for her. It makes the sacrifices more worthwhile.

We have not been out much this last week, just a couple of supermarket runs, and, with Christmas party season upon us, we probably will not got out for another meal now until after the holiday break. I have an evening work drink gathering the weekend after next, but will not be going. A crowded ‘pub is not where I want to be right now. We have been talking about an opportunity for an evening meal towards the end of January and, for now, have decided against that on the basis that it promises to be a full house and we are not comfortable with the risk. For the same reason I have decided not to book for a concert in February. We may be wimps, but these are our lives and what we have left of them is precious.

Time does fly and it seems impossible that 2021 is almost gone. There was a lot of comment a while back that we should not count 2020, but at least I seemed to get a lot done that year. This one has just vanished and my job list does not seem to have gone down with it. The speed at which the days go by is another reason for trying to make the most of our time together. Will we make it to 40 years? Who can tell, but we both have a desire to try and make every hour count.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log, an end and a beginning


A few logs back I mentioned that I had been having equipment problems in getting these logs uploaded. This turned out to be related to software updates where the operating system for the devices and the software versions for WordPress were out of synch. I had resurrected my old HP travelling laptop and that, running Windows 7, seemed to be fine and I have happily been writing my log each week since.

Until now that is, and this week when I had to temporarily retire that old HP pending replacing a part. Having reverted to my MacBook I find that none of the last four or five logs are out there in cyberland. I know not why, but I was feeling that a change was in the air, that the Lockdown Logs had run their course, and so this has made it easy to make that change.

I had started the lockdown logs during lockdown and we aren’t locked down any more. If we behave ourselves we can, I hope, avoid another lockdown so the weekly log seemed a little out of place, at least under that banner. The logs have developed a small following though and so I shall carry on, but under a new title; LifeLog perhaps? I have another week to make a choice.

On the subject of choices I got a call from my doctor’s surgery ten days ago to make an appointment for a diabetic review. That spurred my into the decision to stop my daily treats in an attempt to kick-start a further weight loss. I have written here before about my perception of eating habits with alcoholism. I understand that they are not the same thing, but I try to adopt a similar attitude in taking things a day at a time and being able to go to bed at night and say that this has been a day when I have not strayed.

I was able to check my test results on-line yesterday and all looks good. Of the other tests on the day things were also good; my weight was down from last time, there were no problems with my feet or circulation. The only negative was my blood pressure, but I had walked vigorously to the surgery and my pulse rate was up so I have been asked to check my BP at home twice daily and keep a diary for a week (I haven’t started yet). After the tests at the doctor’s I walked around the corner to the health centre for my diabetic eye tests. The results from the pictures of my retina should be through in a couple of weeks, but the basic, how far down the chart can you read, tests were OK.

So I am feeling a little positive. All being well I will finally be able to reduce my Metformin intake from 4 a day to 2 and that might have a beneficial impact on my digestive output. Whilst I have not had too many problems with one of the more unpleasant side effects of Metformin, I do have the occasional problem and I would be very happy to put these behind me. Another good thing from the doctor’s is that my scales and theirs agree so I am not deluding myself with the results I get at home. I am 6 kg over my best weight from about a year ago so I have no room for complacency, but the problem is that whilst I do not like being heavier than I want to be I do like eating. It is another of those choices.

As reported inn the missing blogs the Berkshire Belle and I have had our Covid boosters and our ‘flu jabs so we are as protected as we can be for the moment. We are still avoiding going out to crowded places, but have had a few lunches out recently, some to celebrate important dates and others just for fun. That has stopped as it is getting into Christmas party season and we always avoid that time of year. It will also help the wallet and purse a little; eating out is expensive as well as not being too good for the waistline.

Stay safe out there wherever you are, and thanks for sticking with me.

the lockdown log 80


It has been a bit of a week. My dental works started last Friday with extracting the broken tooth and fitting a temporary bridge. After the anaesthetic wore off things were not too comfortable and, despite cutting food into tiny pieces and avoiding anything that needed a strong bite or chew the bridge fell out on my birthday, which was not the greatest present. However, with the bridge went most of the discomfort too. I am off to the fang puller again tomorrow for a review.

We have also, after more than a year of faffing about, ordered various bits of replacement furniture for upstairs and down. This, for me, is a bit like flicking over the first of a line of dominoes. The new will not be with us until February, but I need to start clearing space in the garage and my den so as to make the project work. I am thus sorted out for Winter jobs.

My diet has been reasonable in that I have not gone mad and have worked off a lot of calories, hopefully more going out than have gone in. I haven’t weighed myself, not from any deliberate avoidance, more from having buried the scales under a pile of stuff as part of the space clearance mentioned above. I usually weigh in when I get up around 5 am and have forgotten to get the scales out the night before. I only remember when I get up and that is not the time to be trying to heave stuff around in the dark. I do feel a little thinner, but I know that that means nothing.

Something else that we have been talking about for ages is a cremation plan. Possibly the fact that we have both had recent birthdays has brought home the advancing years, but whatever, we had taken the plunge and signed up. Neither of us wants any fuss and, for me at any rate, funerals are for the survivors not the dead. My thinking is that I cease to exist when I go so what anyone else gets up to to mark my departure is their business; I won’t be there to know.

We have been out to lunch again this week, slightly spoiled by fellow diners who firstly got in our way as we walked in from the car park, the concept of giving way to pedestrians being seemingly beyond them, and then, just as our food arrived, opened a window then complained about the draught and moved, leaving the window open. I got up and shut the window, but the temperature of our food had suffered as a result of their thoughlessness.

The furniture buying trip also took us to a big shopping mall, the first that we have visited for nearly two years now. Fortunately it was quiet, but is was another step for us in going out. Whether we do more remains to be seen, but there is one more item of furniture to be bought and, as it is for me, I have been out on a solo mission to see what is available. Furniture is something that I think I need to try out and not for just buying on-line.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 79


Another week vanishes without me having noticed it go by. Time seems to evaporate these days, much faster than it did back when I was suited, booted and into all the high-powered corporate stuff. Perhaps it is just a sign of getting old.

I should have kept quiet about fuel shortage rumours last week. The panic that resulted was human nature and I do not have the heart to blame any of the individuals who have sweated over being able to get fuel that they need. I am less charitable about the greedy, but I am in a fair old fury about the moronic media who put the story out. If I ruled the country there would be consequences for them. It was all so unnecessary, there would have been no problem if the panic had not been kicked off.

My desire to avoid too much human contact continues and I have inflicted what must be the ninth self-performed hair cut. I am getting better at it with the amount of practice and, for the first time, the Berkshire Belle did not have to point out one or more bits that I had missed. I do wish that she would do it for me, but have given up asking.

We are still shopping and getting out and about, but no lunches or breakfasts out this week. It has been a quiet week in general; I did a supermarket she at my local Aldi on Monday and today we hit M&S and a farm shop. We have a fruit and veg box due the afternoon and all that, plus what we have in the freezer will see us through nicely.

I had my ‘flu jab last weekend and another very well organised job down at the space the local health team have rented at Swindon’s Steam museum. Our doctor’s practice if part of a combine of about thirteen local surgeries and they have teamed up to run this vaccination centre. It is still doing Covid jabs, but has now moved into the ‘flu vaccination programme. I got a text with a web link to alert me that my number was up. Clicking on the link got me into the appointment diary where I selected my date and time. I was there about 5 minutes early as the traffic was not quite as bad as I expected, but was straight in and actually got jabbed 2 minutes before my appointed time. I think that the fact that it is a private enterprise running the surgery group makes a difference as many others in the town who are registered with NHS run surgeries have had all sorts of problems getting their Covid jabs and, in some cases, have faced a round trip of over 100 miles to get them.

No real change for me on the weight front. One kg lighter, but I have little confidence in my mindset delivering a sustained improvement at the moment. If I can just keep from allowing the weight to creep up it will help.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 78


No change in weight despite having tried to ration myself better and having slammed in a 30+km walk. Depressing to some degree, but life’s like that. I just have to keep my head down and not let things slide.

Generally I am fed up with just about everything right now, but, again, that is life and I have been around doing enough to know that it will not change and that I just have to get on with it. Right now there do not seem to be enough hours in the day and that never helps. I need to get back on top of one or two things and all will be well. I am in one of those periods when as fast as I get something out of the way, three or four other things crop up that are unexpected, but need sorting.

One of the problems that I have got past is the one where technology was preventing me accessing these blogs. It looks as though it was just various bits of software being out of synch and causing conflicts. I try to keep everything updated, for security reasons if nothing else, but sometimes it just gets in the way. Today I have updated my laptop and that required me to re-enter passwords for about half a dozen sites (so far) most of which I do not know the passwords for. On one of the ones that I did I was then asked to respond first to an email too confirm that I was who I said I was, and then to a text message for the same purpose. Some of it drives you mad.

And then I did the equivalent OS update for my tablet and spent, on and off, the next hour getting rid on all of the whizzy bits that are supposed to make my life easier, but none of which I want. Now my home screen looks like it used to, organised how I like it except that, despite having selected the largest icon size offered, they are all about 20% smaller than they used to be. The Berkshire Belle has also done the update on her tablet and, although it is the larger version of mine, it works differently and trying to help her has led to some tensions where she is getting different results. We are still friends though…

Since the Covid outbreak I have changed my routine from sticking £10 of petrol into the car once or twice a week to filling up every 5 weeks or so. On our way back from Reading yesterday my fuel light came on as we came off the motorway. Having dropped off the shopping and had lunch I popped out and filled up, paying 131.7 per litre which is about the highest that I have paid for a long time, but better than the 138.9 that my nearest filling station are asking. At one point last year I only paid 99.8 if I recall, certainly just under the pound per litre. As I write this I am getting the news that there may be a shortage, but that is not what my industry friends tell me. Hopefully we will not get into any stupidity over the coming days. Panic buying just buggers up the supply chain.

This week we have not been out to lunch, but did go out for breakfast instead and I think that the last time we did that was in Florida back in 2019. It made a nice change and we will try and do it more often. It does seem to be helping us get more confident about going out. I have had the call to go for my ‘flu jab this Saturday and we are hopeful that we will get our Covid boosters fairly soon.

I have been trying to repossess my garage and clear out the clutter that accumulates, much of which is packaging from our mail order forays. With Winter approaching I would like to be able to have easy access to it as a workshop for some of the things that I can’t do outdoors. I am still not coming to any conclusions about what I want to do in the garden over the Winter, but maybe not having too many plans will be a blessing. Often just having a few ideas works out better as I can react to opportunities that arise.

Stay safe wherever you are.