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.

on discrimination


Discrimination is a word appearing a lot at the moment, not least in reference to the, for some, dreaded Vaccination Passport. Much has been done in the last thirty or forty years to try and eliminate discrimination, but I will argue here that it is another example of trying to suppress a basic human emotion.

We all discriminate: If there is something that you choose not to like you are discriminating about it. It could be a food (hands up all who hate Marmite), a sporting team, a TV programme, a band or singer, anything at all. Discrimination is simply a choice and to be discriminating is, still, a compliment for it implies a level off sophistication.

The argument against discrimination is about how we apply it and I have no argument with the principle of equality here. However, there are inconsistencies. For example my doctor’s surgery will offer ladies the opportunity to see a lady doctor or, if seeing a male doctor, to have a chaperone. The Berkshire Belle takes the latter option and takes me with her. Not because of any caution, she is an ex-nurse, but because she knows that I will listen carefully and be a better sounding board on what was actually said.The option is there though and I have no problem with it, but when I make an appointment I have, son far, not been offered the choice to see a make doctor. A clear case of discrimination, but not one that I am making a fuss about, simply making the observation.

The safety of females is another issue that has been high lately and it seems ironic to me that, in the general sweeping away of things to level the male:female playing field, one thing that we have lost is the Ladies Waiting Room at stations and Ladies Only compartments on trains. Whilst we still have separate changing rooms and toilets the distinction there is becoming a little blurred though. I have become used to having females coming into the male toilet at venues where there are queues for there own facilities and their need is too great for them to wait in line. It does not especially bother me, but the Berkshire Belle is very unhappy about the prospects of males coming into the female facilities whilst she is using them; it makes her feel unsafe.

Protecting minorities is all very well, but what about majorities? Democracy is about the will of the latter and as a society we have to have a sense of proportion. There is so much noise being made around the edges where, by definition things are extreme, that the moderate voice cannot be heard. Indeed, the minority tactic is to shout down any voice of reason.

I do not see any reason why a group of like minded people cannot decide who they want in their number. If I go to a bar and there is a large group in one corner enjoying their mutual company can I just gate crash and join in? In all probability I will unwelcome. Try looking in on social media at any of the echo chambers that exist for a particular point of view. When you find one try chucking in something of a contrary viewpoint and see what happens. Inclusive? I don’t think so. I can remember the days when football crowds were not segregated and it was possible to mingle with opposition fans and not go home via the local ER facility, but I would not try it now. In any case I would not be allowed to; dissemination? Yes, but there is no outcry.

There is a lot of hypocrisy around discrimination. It is something that is as much a part of human existence as is breathing and we need to accept that, even embrace it. What we do not want is unreasonable discrimination. There is a difference.

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.

on a new normal


Change is constant, at least in that things change all of the time. We all get older for one thing, speeding towards death at sixty minutes in every hour. The only thing that changes about change, if you see what I mean, is the pace of change.

The last eighteen months have seen an accelerated change that the world in general has probably not seen since World War 2, although localised areas have had conflicts that have had severe impact. It is that impact, rather than the pace, that we probably notice more and beneficial changes probably sneak through with less notice.

Take the mobile device revolution. The speed at which mobile communications took hold was stupendous, changing business and personal lives at a stroke. It has had a huge effect on society and mostly good, but it has also opened doors for criminals and terrorists that we could have done without. Einstein’s cause and effect principles apply here.

A pandemic on the scale of Covid-19 and its variants has been able to spread so rapidly because of advances in travel and the way that the world works these days. Forty years ago it would have been different, but the changes that have happened over that time made such a devastating spread more possible. Perhaps Bubonic plague is the nearest equivalent in human history and that, too, spread mainly through commerce and isolation principles helped defeat it, or at least to slow the spread.

Terrorism changed global travel in the early 2000s and Covid will change it further. The freedoms that we enjoyed at one time in jetting off around the world allowed those with nefarious intent the opportunity to exploit them and so we had them curtailed. There are those who have allowed selfish interests to spread Covid and their actions have seen freedoms removed, if temporarily, but to what extent will we get them back?

Working patterns have changed too and the future is again unclear. Much office work depended on workforces that commuted and on jam packed public transport. Will such circumstances come back? As always, business, the capitalist system, has risen to the challenge and found new ways to sell to us as we have embraced new ways of buying.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, as they say, and whilst sometimes we yearn for simpler times of the past, we would not really want to go back. This time may be different, but the past is gone and the future is up to us. Will mask wearing become a common sight as it is in many Asian cities? I know that I am going to find it strange not wearing a mask in public places and credit having worn one, along with a greater hand hygiene regime, with the fact that I have not had so much as a common cold through the last two Winters. Fringe benefits maybe, but it will be interesting to see how things are this time twelve months hence.

I hope that you and I are still here to see the new normal.

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.

on diminishing returns


I should start by saying that I have often been assessed over my management career and have rarely, if ever, been classed as a Completer Finisher. That fact may colour what follows, but stay with me.

Regular readers of these musings will know that I am a fan of the Pareto principle in the sense that you can get 80% of the results with 20% of the effort and it is something that I have employed often over the years, especially in planning where you can get to a point that you have so much information that the answer is obvious, so give up and go with what you have.

This is the principle of Diminishing Returns; you have done well, but to continue will not yield the same productivity so stop there and move on.

It is not something that you should do every time. Take, for example, installing some plant where you will still get 80% there with 20% of the effort, but you do need to spend the other 80% effort to finish the job. I think that surgeons apply the same principle. or at east I hope that you will should they ever operate on me.

The point is knowing when to give up. Planning is a problem partly because people like planning. It is comfortable and you are not actually doing anything. The desire to get everything perfect is understandable, but there comes a point where you have to say go or you risk being late in delivering that which you are planning and too many times I have been lumbered with leading a project where the planning has not only gone past the necessary start date, but has also been so far out that the end date is hopelessly wrong. No plan survives first contact, so do your best and get cracking.

Another area of procrastination is in the bid process. There will be a deadline for submission of tenders and that will almost always be too optimistic anyway. You do your due diligence and costing and get the proposal written, but there will always be an element in the team who want to keep tweaking and adding. I remember once being drafted in on the last day before a tender submission for a French company. The bid had to be in French and the commercial translator had been booked to put our English into French, but their engagement ended 48 hours before the tender was due because it was to be printed in multiple copies and sent by courier across the Chanel.

Our team decided that they wanted last minute changes and would send the documents over with one of our team on the morning of the due date. Eurostar would have them in Paris in time they said and duly wrote their revisions, but overlooked that the translator had moved on to another job for another client. That was why I was there, although people’s faith in my technical French was touching to say the least, but I finished the changes late that evening, printed off the pages and rebound the bid documents before starting the drive to Ashford where I was due to meet our man who was taking the documents over.

About ten minutes after midnight the ‘phone in my car rang; “John? I’ve got some more changes…”

Despite it all we won that bid and were very pleased to do so, but there was no need; the client was only looking at price and delivery. They had already made their minds up that it did not matter which of their short list got the job as we were all capable. All of that stress and last minute polishing was just a waste of time and effort.

These things are a judgement call, but there needs to be strong leadership to sense when the moment has come to stop and move on, then to make that call and change tack.

the lockdown log 58


It has been one of those weeks when working around the weather has been paramount and I have managed to get a fair amount done outside. The high winds have also tested some of my bodges (I can’t think of a kinder expression) to reinforce my neighbour’s dodgy fences and we have come through that examination well.

In between downpours I have managed to paint our patio set with a coat of Hammerite and it looks reasonable, certainly much better than it did, although the colour is a lot lighter than the Navy Blue that is shown on the tin. It is another job done and the Berkshire Belle can get on and order us some cushions.

I have more repairs to make to the deck that I had thought and have found a problem that needs some thought as to how best to fix it. The cost keeps mounting and in some ways the fact that we are starting to accept that we will not be going away on holiday again this year is a blessing because I can divert funds to the garden. Looking at it the other way if I fix the deck we won’t be able to afford a holiday, but my way is easier to accept I think. At least we will have somewhere to sit and enjoy our bit of England.

The birds are back after the desecration of their trees in our neighbour’s garden and it has been nice to hear them singing as I work. A young robin spent most of Sunday afternoon poking about the garden just a few feet away from me as I painted and was not at all put off my the radio commentary from the Portuguese Grand Prix. I also had one of the young foxes watching me for a while from behind a flowerpot.

The foxes are still causing major damage and leaving me a mess to sort out every morning. There are two of the out playing on the deck this evening as I write this. One thing that I had not appreciated was their desire to have toys and I find all sorts, some traditional dog things like balls that I assume they have pinched form other gardens, but they also have the plastic rose off a watering can, plastic bottles and bits of wood. The cubs are growing and one is almost as big as mum now.

Poling day today, but we have postal votes and so ours were sent off about three weeks ago. We always try to vote; the postal votes are a hang up from the time that we would often be away in May and wanted to avoid missing out. Having registered back then we have just carried on and it is relatively easy although this time we have two elections. One is for the local council and is a straightforward vote, but the other is for the police commissioner and that one is one of the alternative vote type which I am not in favour of. Personally I think that the requirement to cast an alternative vote is just ridiculous.

Doom and gloom hangs over us both at the moment and neither of us can find a way out of it for now so we just have to get on with life. The Berkshire Belle has got used to her weekly trip out, but didn’t get one today as we were waiting in this morning for a delivery that didn’t turn up until half past two by which time it had started raining and we had both lost the will to go out – the garden centre will have to wait until next week.

We do have one treat lined up in that we have booked to go out for lunch one Friday early next month so that is something to look forward to. So one that note I’ll close for this week. Stay safe wherever you are.

on pandemics


Over the thirty or so years that I had some senior management responsibility I have sat through many hours of crisis management, business continuity and disaster recovery sessions looking at strategy and tactics for such events. I have also been involved in many dry runs to test the plans that same from these sessions and a good few incidents where such planning and practice helped, even if the planning was actually flawed.

One topic that came late to these discussions was that of a pandemic. I think that it was towards the end of the nineties that it was first brought up, but we were, at that time, dealing with all sorts of nonsense about what the millennium would bring and that, being imminent, was very much the priority even if we were wasting our time.

The risk of a pandemic took hold as were saw things like bird ‘flu and ebola rampage around the globe, but there was little impact here in the UK and I don’t think that any of us took such threats too seriously. They always seemed a bit science fiction and I don’t think the way that these potential events were presented helped. After all wee were hard bitten operational people who dealt with real life issues; strikes, power cuts, road accidents, weather and such. Yes, there were times when some form of sickness might sweep through the workforce, but such events were rare and when they did happen they were very localised.

It was about ten years ago when I had the last discussion on risk management plans and was, at that time, acting in a consultancy role rather than being the person whom would be left holding the can. By then we had seen a few more viral infections spread around the world and almost all office environments had become open plan on every floor of a building which increased the opportunity to spread infections around a building. The one thing that I remember from that time is the potential scale of a pandemic was beyond everyone’s imagination; it was just too hard to grasp a scenario such as the one that the world has gone through over the last eighteen months.

Whilst appropriate plans were drawn up for mass home working , disruptions to supplies and trade there was little enthusiasm for any of it. How wrong we were and yet we have, largely, come though it fairly well. Business has changed and there have been casualties. We have not seen the last of the latter, but there has been a demonstration of just how adaptable businesses are in the face of a challenge.

I do not advocate ignoring risk nor failing to plan and train for dealing with potential risks, but throughout my career I saw various crises arise that did not fit the planning. The old military adage of no strategy surviving past first contact with the enemy is very true. Business is often derided as is the capitalist system, but it works and any business that is flexible and adaptable will rise to meet significant change in its environment. What planning for a crisis does is it get managers thinking about how they will react and considering where to find resources and how to deploy them. When a challenge arises, whilst it may not resemble anything that has been planned for, the thinking processes are in place and they work.

Thinking time is never wasted. Perhaps the current pandemic might have given us time to ponder on that.

the lockdown log 57


On Tuesday I have my second Pfizer Covid vaccination. I felt a bit odd later in the day and had the bizarre experience of my right arm being uncomfortable at the same point that I had had the jab in my left one. Weird, but that’s how it was and I went off somewhat through the day. I took a couple of singleton paracetamol during the day and then two at bedtime. Next day I felt rotten, but went into work and ploughed on before going home to collapse in a heap and have a quiet second half to the day and today I feel fine again.

Here in North Wiltshire I had a few windy days when trying to sand down and paint was not a good idea, especially with my neighbour’s silver birch shedding its catkins by the hundredweight and so I contented myself with pruning, weeding and working on some anti fox measures. Not much has been done on finishing the bit of the fence and deck that I wanted to have done by the end of April and that is a deadline that is now gone. So it goes and I will get that bit finished soon as I have everything I need to hand. During the general tidy up I found myself looking at the essential elements of the garden that I had planned out back in the 2019/20 Winter so I am getting close to the main goal.

The foxes are giving me all sorts of trouble. They practice their digging in my garden and are destroying plants at an astonishing rate. They use my garden as a dining room too and I spend time every day clearing up after them. The four babies are growing well and should be leaving for their own territories soon at which point I shall start to work on closing off every access point that I can find to stop them getting under the deck. Mrs Reynard is a deadly birder and regularly catches starlings and pigeons to feed her brood.

The Berkshire Belle has got the bug for doing the weekly food shop again and today was her third or fourth run out in a row. She buys far more than I do and we have a house stuffed with food so that, apart from one or two essentials like bread and milk we will not need to shop next week. We are eating well and I think that that keeps us healthy too.

After my disastrous weigh in last week I have reverted to my old eating regime and have lost all of what I put on so I am happy with that. I am not making any special efforts to cut down on my intake, but I am putting more salad type things into my sandwiches and wraps for work; tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber for example to perk them up rather than a dash of mustard or ketchup. It is tiny steps, but maybe it helps mentally. I don’t know why the change to my eating habits caused a spike, perhaps it was something like fluid retention. Odd, but changing back has me back on course and so that will do.

Our plans for a holiday later this year are fading. We had pretty much given up on going back to the USA again, but were thinking about maybe Dubai. That though seems to be out too as it is a major hub and therefore is regarded as a potential Covid hotspot. We do not fancy anywhere in Europe looking at the Covid position there and so this could be a second year that we go nowhere. In thirty two years together we blew out in 2016 for a number of reasons, but that was the first year in which we did. to have at least one holiday abroad until last year. Now it looks like two on the bounce, but we will have to suck it up. I have a week off later this month and we might try and have a day out if regulations permit.

So there we are, both double vaccinated and in rude health. I hope that you are all well too and staying safe wherever you are.

on gardening and leadership


Like many of us in lockdown, or seclusion as some overseas are calling it, I am spending more time in my garden than I probably would have done, although, for me, I am still working on a project that was conceived around the time that Covid-19 was taking hold in China and we were still in blissful ignorance of what was about to descend on the world.

Gardening gives you time to think and one of those random thoughts that have passed through my grey cells as I have been weeding and pruning is how much of what I have been doing in my front and back yards ties in to the leadership lessons that I have learned down the years.

It may seem odd that such solitary activities give rise to thoughts of leading, but one of the crucial talents that a leader needs is self discipline. Without that it is easy to lose focus and drift off track. In the business world you are dealing with customers, suppliers, competitors and regulators who create a dynamic environment much of which you cannot control despite any effort to influence it. The expression juggling chainsaws is a little extreme, but is not far off the mark at times and the person at the top of the team needs to be watching, evaluating, re-calculating, delegating, motivating, monitoring, planning and driving. Focus is essential.

Out in the garden things may seem more relaxed with just you and the vegetation, but that is an illusion to some degree for the equivalent of your business marketplace is nature and she never sleeps. Weeds are just plants that you don’t want and they are usually the most successful. They are resilient because they are left to evolve to their strengths; they compete to survive. Cultivated plants are much weaker as they are bred for other things and they need much more care to enable them to survive and flourish. The slugs, snails and aphids all ignore my weeds, but will destroy the stuff that I have spent my hard earned cash on in hours. Leadership 101 really; life is not fair and shit happens.

Tending to the garden requires planning, but also the ability to church the lan out of the window tom deal with the unexpected. Take weather. You check the forecasts (two or three at least) to get a feel for what is coming up. Like any business forecast the data will get less robust the further away you move, but, also like in business, the forecasts rarely agree exactly and you plan on worst case or maybe averaging the predictions depending on what you have in mind. What you get is rarely what you expect and you make do with what you get (sound familiar; sales forecasts anyone, or maybe delivery dates?).

Looking after a garden also means a lot of boring drudgery work, but you have to do it. Time management is all over this. You set aside maybe half an hour do do some pruning or weeding, but once you start you find something else and, if you are not focused you are still at it an hour later to the detriment of something else and you are on the back foot as far as getting what you planned for the day done. Pruning is a case in point for me as last week I decided to tackle the ivy growing over from next door where it has wrecked one of my fence panels. The plan was to strip the ivy, pull out what was left of the old panel and replace it with a new one that has been sat there since last year (when I was planning on doing it, but got distracted…). It should have taken me about 15 minutes to strip enough ivy to do the job, but an hour and a half later the Berkshire Belle was at the back door enquiring when I planned to cook her dinner; I had almost cleared the length of the fence.

These mindless tasks are a minefield for me. Sometimes I get bored immediately, give up and move on to something else which leaves a problem getting worse (and needing more time when I do get around to it), but at other times I get into the groove with my eyes and hands working on their own whilst my mind wanders off into, well anything really. I have to really work hard at keeping on track and it is an area where a leader’s followers need to pick up the tone because if they see you wandering off track where do you think that they will go? Do what needs doing and if that is not what you had planned then be sure you understand why you are changing tack and when you need to be turning back onto a course to recover.

I do. not mean to imply that gardening is a high stress environment, but then neither is leadership all of the time and when you have either activity under a modicum of control then both can be quite relaxing and certainly both will give pleasure. In that last sentence the key word is probably control. Whilst many of us get an element of pleasure from the gang-ho antics of firefighting and a good panic now and again can be fun in the aftermath, being in control is far better.

I will be back in the garden later weaving the essential periodic maintenance tasks into my various projects that make ups the overall strategy and doing my best to keep it all on track using the resources that I have whilst staying within my budget. Sound familiar?