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Posts Tagged ‘Covid-19’

the lockdown log 49


It has been a heavy week. The skip that I ordered on Tuesday arrived the next day and is now pretty much full. Three or four hours every day have seen a lot of progress and the garden, garage and my upstairs office all show signs of improvement and I am almost at the point where I can start to disassemble the old shed (some of it is already gone).

I am at one of those stages in a project where you move from one phase to another and there is a psychological effect. One the one hand you have the feeling that the one part is over and are thankful, but the next stage looms and can seem daunting. There is no respite, you have to keep going and it can be hard. That is possibly why I had something of a crash yesterday and was terminally depressed for most of it, l=almost on the verge of tears all afternoon and then feeling very ill just at the point where I needed to be cooking dinner.

The way that I deal with these things is twofold. Firstly I try to just get on with it; if I can do something that I can focus on I can lose myself in that task and, even if it is for only twenty minutes or so, it burns off the clock and moves me onwards. It also aids the other tactic which is my old faithful ostrich principle of burying my head in the sand. I just ignore anything that I don’t want to think about. Time passes and I get over these depressions.

It’s daft in so many ways because I should have been thrilled with the progress that I had made by yesterday afternoon, but I wasn’t. Things that I would normally brush off or treat as motivators just kept knocking the stuffing out of me. I could have packed up and just flopped on the sofa, but I felt that I would have felt worse if I did, not least that a sense of guilt would envelope me for skiving off and so I just kept going u til I was too tired to do any more and at that point the feeling of not being too well kicked in and as I though about how I was going to cook tea I just wanted to throw up. I told myself not to be an idiot and went into the kitchen to cook salmon trout fillets over a savoury rice and, by the time I was ready to dish up, I felt better. After eating I felt better still.

This coming week I shall have to get my finger out on the garden work as we have gale force winds forecast for Thursday/Friday and I do not want to leave anything too vulnerable. If the old shed is coming down I need to have it done quickly, but my neighbour’s fence is in a poor state and without my shed protecting it a high wind might see it fall down. That will be a problem for me even if it is their fence and so as soon as my shed is gone I will have to do a bit of reinforcement on my side so, again, I have to have all of that done by Wednesday or think about deferring it all until next weekend. Plands A, B and C are under consideration…

We are certainly doing better for garden birds at the moment. As I sit here at the dining table I have a blackbird quarrying the from lawn for worms, a pair of amorous wagtails chasing around the cherry and the hawthorn and a blue tit watching on. The starlings are back regularly through the day although their flock is around a dozen rather that the thirty or more that we used to have swarming around. The blackbird oil one of a pair and we also have a pair or robins that follow my earth moving operations with interest, They all provide enjoyment and I love to see and hear them whilst out and bout around the garden. My neighbour has tried to dislodge the fox that is camping under his shed without much success as it is still around and seen on a daily basis. It is not too bothered about me these days and will sometimes sit and watch me work for a while.

Stay safe wherever you are.lock

the lockdown log 48


With the better weather I have been so occupied in the garden that I am a bit behind on this week’s log and whilst the high winds of a week ago did not help I have got a lot done. It has been a good week.

A couple of weeks on from my Covid jab I have still had no further side effects since the thumper of a headache over the first 24 hours. Another week and I will be as resistant as I can be until the second jab comes along in May. I will be keeping contact with others to a minimum anyway, but hopefully the risk of suffering the worst effects should I catch it are diminishing. We are considering whether or not we might try to get a holiday towards the end of the year, but it is so hard to predict how the world will be by then. My gut feeling is that it will be another year before things are settled enough, but you never know.

On the diet front my lack of discipline has been shameful, albeit that I have not put much weight on. All of the physical work in the garden has had an effect that the Berkshire Belle has noted in that my upper body is showing signs of developing muscle and, as she has counselled, muscle weighs heavy. So a couple of kg up from where I want to be at the moment is, perhaps, not too bad under the circumstances, but it does not help when I eat three days’ ration of chocolate in 20 minutes as I did the other evening whilst cooking dinner. Yes I was very distracted thinking about what I was going to do next in the garden whilst trying to focus on cooking something that I had not attempted before, but I managed to eat three squares off a bar of chocolate despite having told myself that I could not have my usual one. Not a major catastrophe, but it does not help.

In exercise terms I am still walking at least 10 km per day on average and have passed 600 km for the year. In old measurement I am averaging 6.1 miles per day and am close to 375 miles for the year so far. With 2-3 hours an afternoon labouring in the garden in lieu of an afternoon exercise walk I should be during calories at a reasonable rate and, despite the slip(s) described above, I have not piled the weight back on. Working in the garden all afternoon does keep me away from the temptations of the cupboards as well so as long as I can avoid stupid consumption of treats I should have a fair chance of losing a bit more weight over the Spring and Summer. Roll on salad weather.

That’s it for this week I think. It is Sunday morning and I am part way through the weekly chores that we save up for today. Outside it is still freezing and foggy, although there is a sign that the sun will break through shortly and warm things up enough for me to get back outside and move some more things along there. So far my morning has not gone too well so I am hoping that the day will improve when the sun comes out.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 47


A week on from my Covid vaccination and I am feeling fine. About 2 hours after the jab I got a headache that got progtressively worse and so, after another couple of hours, I took 2 x 500mg paracetamol. That didn’t fix it, but it did take the edge off and I took another paracetamol before going to be at ten. The next morning there headache was still lingering and so I took another pill at 5 before going to work and the headache faded out over the course of the day. I had no other side effects as far as I can tell. Mine was the Pfizer job by the way.

Despite various extremes of weather I have been getting into the garden now and again. Just half an hour at a time does wonders both for the garden and my general wellbeing. It is also helping me get my mind back into ideas for how to get on with the work that I started last year. There is a lot to do and expectations from the Berkshire Belle are high so I do feel a little pressured. Still, I have a plan forming and if I can start to make visible progress she will be a little placated.

I am making a weekly trip out to do the supermarket shopping with the odd top up when I finish work; milk, bread and so on. Beyond that we are finding new suppliers on the web although not many of these are not too conducive to my diet. That said I am holding my weight static at the moment again having had a could of good weeks. Due to the weather I have not been taking my afternoon exercise and I think that the loss of that is compromising me a little, so if I can ease back into that it might help me. To get back to the half a kilo a week loss again will be nice and start me moving toward the 100 kg mark.

With outdoor work still curtailed somewhat I have been turning my attentions to indoors projects and have put up the new light inn my bedroom office, the one that I bought last year and then did not get around to using. I have to replace the four spot ceiling light in the kitchen now too as I have run out of spare bulbs and can no longer buy replacements as they are out of production. The new one should be available for click and collect on Monday so another electrical project beckons.

The days are drawing out and we have a lot of bulbs coming through. So far only the snowdrops are flowering, but the daffodils will soon be out too and, for me these signs of Spring are one of the things that I love about the seasons. Whilst OI have mentioned a lot about the weather disrupting my exercise and gardening we have had it very light compared to some and I am grateful for living far enough above sea level for flooding not to be an issue. We do have a heavy clay soil in these parts so there is some localised flooding, but only in small pockets and it in no ways causes me any problems.

Time for me to go and warm up dinner. I have a chicken casserole ready to re-heat and add a bit of extra veg to. Good peasant food and just the thing for a Winter evening. I hope that you all have enough to eat. Stay safe out there wherever you are.

on masks


I had seen on film and TV clips people out East wearing masks in the streets before I first saw people from that part of the world wearing them here in the UK or over in the US. In both of the latter they stuck out like a sore thumb, but I did wonder whether or not they had a point regarding pollution in our cities. Having worked over in China and Thailand it was me who stuck out in the street for not wearing a mask (and being a lot taller and wider than most of the locals), but I did not at any time on those trips consider wearing a mask myself despite the very obvious air pollution, especially in China.

Now we have a different reason for wearing masks, or face coverings, here and I do admit that, at first, I did not bother. It was only as things moved forward that I felt that it would be a good idea and, shortly before it became a requirement, I started to wear a visor that I had originally bought for DIY jobs around the homestead. The visor I only wore at work; when shopping I wore a disposable mask and, despite trying as many of the possible remedies that I could find, I was not able to stop my glasses fogging up so I started to go without them. With mounting evidence that visors were not as effective as masks I stopped using the visor and went full time with masks. There are some disadvantages to a mask without my glasses, but I am OK most of the time and can work quite well in my myopic state.

At work there are only a small group of us there until around 0730 and as I have almost not contact with any of the others, not they with me, none of us wore a mask until about 0725 when we would mask up in preparation of everyone else turning up. But then it occurred to me that the Covid-19 bug does not know the time. It does not have a stretch and a yawn about 0725 and consider clocking on the get infecting people. So I started to put my mask on when I got in in the morning and then opted to mask up in the car before I walk over to the building in the morning. The rules have caught up with me now and we are required to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking.

I do not enjoy wearing a mask. I am asthmatic for one thing, but I do not suffer from claustrophobia as some claim to. About two hours is a long as I can go without changing my mask as it gets wet with the condensation from breathing. In cold weather outdoors that steamy breath escaping from the top of my mask starts to develop icicles from my eyebrows too. I have a poorly formed ear one side so the elastic strap doesn’t fit too well and occasionally chafes behind that ear so generally mask wearing is a pain for me in a number of ways, but it is safer than not wearing one so I shut up and get on with it. Some things we should do for the common good and this is one of them.

the lockdown log 45


Another week rolls by and we are still OK. My turn for a Covid vaccination must be close as a local couple I know around my age, albeit registered at another surgery, got their call yesterday evening. My arm is ready and waiting.

I said a week or so back that I had given up on the diet for now, but it is hard not to try and whilst I have not been recording my weight, I have been weighing in each week and so I was a little dismayed to find that in two weeks of sort of trying not to eat too much I had put on 3 kg and was back up to 109 kg last week (from a best of 104 in early December). This week I have been a little more focused and this morning’s check weigh gave me 106.5 (it thought hard about 106, but kept flicking back up) so I am taking the higher figure and accepting that I am going the right way again.

Dieting is hard because I like the taste of food. I like the mouth feel of eating many things and I also enjoy cooking so denying myself these pleasures is the only way forward and saying nom is not easy. Cooking most of our meals does allow me to control what goes into our meals. We eat very little pre-prepared stuff these days and most of what we eat is either fresh or from the freezer so we don’t have too many additives, preservatives and suchlike in our diet and I can also control fat and sugar content. Things like fat and salt do contribute and enhance flavour though and so neither is eliminated. Having tasty food helps so much because it is satisfying and you can get away with smaller portions. It is when we have something that leaves us cold that we are both looking for more.

The Berkshire Belle is also dieting although she is not weighing herself, rather she works on what clothes fit and whether she can get into clothes that used to fit, but haven’t for a while. It works for her and that is all that matters. It does no good to beat yourself up over these things. If you can keep a positive attitude I think that you have a better chance in the long run.

Today is my day off as usual, along with Sunday, and I was up at my local Sainsbury’s just after it opened at 0700. An hour later I was home with three bags of shopping and a slab of money lighter just in time for the fortnightly fruit and veg box delivery. We have a full fridge and pantry and there should be no need to brave the shops again until early next week when we will need milk. Soup off the day for today, and tomorrow, is a curious mix of leek and cauliflower made last night from remnants having cleared the veg drawer of the ‘fridge ready for today’s delivery. I fried off the leeks with a little oil and added a couple of cloves of garlic for extra flavour then put the cauliflower in and covered with water. Some salt and pepper for seasoning and left to simmer for about ten minutes before leaving to cool and the blitzing it with a stick blender. It is not the most appetising colour, but it was hot and filling at lunchtime and there is nothing added beyond the seasoning. I have a celeriac in the veg box and that will be roast to make the next batch of soup.

I was going to walk this afternoon, but it is chucking it down here in Swindon and I really don’t feel up to going out to get soaked. I have walked for a mile and a half today according to my tracker and had planned on doing around 5-6 miles, but I will find some indoor jobs instead. So far this year I have racked up 205 miles of exercise walking (329 km) so a bit of slacking off is maybe permissible. Last week I mentioned the Teenage Cancer Trust challenge to walk at least 15,000 steps Monday through Friday. I managed that without too much trouble, but it dawned on me too late that if I had just walked for about another 10 minutes each day I could have turned in 20,000 steps per day for 100,000 for the five days and I would have been happier with that than the 93,000 that I did record.

The garden has had some of my attention this week and another bin full of garden waste went out for the green recycling collection this morning. The days are drawing out steadily and I am looking forward to being able to spend more time out there once the weather gets a little more clement.

That’s it for this week. Stay safe wherever you are.

on living through interesting times


My parents, and their peers, used to tell me how good I was having it not facing living through a war. With the generation gap in full swing I would reply that it wasn’t my fault that we didn’t have a war on and, more often than not, would get a clip around the ear for my pains. One’s elders could do that then with no fear of being charged with assault…

It did not occur to me that I would ever live through a war. Even in the darkest days of the Cuban missile crisis, although then we did not expect to live through what we seemed to be on the brink of; we were all going to die. But all of that faded away and life was generally fairly quiet on the home front and, having avoided National Service by dint of age, I had not expectations of facing too much strife here. Yes we have had various terrorist threats and I have twice found myself holding a ticking package in my increasingly sweaty palm, but nothing like the sustained threat of death that my parents generation went through.

When my mother and father talked about the war years it was more that often about the pulling together; they community spirit that a common danger brought to people, but if I was to dig a bit deeper there would be the stories of those who exploited or flouted the rules and regulations for their own benefit. Beneath the veneer of good there was always a a darker side.

It is almost a year now since the world was plunged into the Covid-19 crisis and we found ourselves at war with an invisible killer. I make no comparison with what my parents went through, but this is probably as close as I am ever likely to get. None of us know whether today is the day that the virus will infect us or, if it does, whether we will survive. Working on the front line as I do now I see first hand every day examples of how different people are affected and, in the people that I see regularly, how the accumulated strain of living through these times is taking its toll.

There is a lot of irresponsible behaviour and a lot of anger. Some of the latter is driven by fear and some by frustration, but the majority if people are just trying to live as normal a life as they can. The world is always changing and very now and again we get a period of accelerated change, Covid-19 is an extreme example and it has changed our lives forever. Personally I doubt that we will ever get back to what we had this time last year if for no other reason that too much has had to change. Shopping, leisure and working habits are good examples and I think that we need to be looking towards a very different future rather than longing for a “return to normal”.

Perhaps it is appropriate, given the source of this plague, to consider the old Chinese curse of “May you live through interesting times”. We certainly are.

the lockdown log 43


I am writing this from a very dark place, and no, that is no pun on the fact that it is barely getting light outside on a wet and windy Thursday. I am at a low ebb here.

What has brought this on I am not sure about, but, as sometimes happens, I went from fairly cheerful to the abyss at the flick of a switch yesterday. These things usually do not last too long and I will probably have it behind me tomorrow. How I get out of it I don’t know anymore that I know how I got into it; I’ve just learned to go with the flow and to try and not let a mood swing affect those around me too much. I am so deep into this one that I cannot even face going to my happy place (my music) as I do not want to taint anything with memories of where I am right now.

I have given up on trying to lose weight by the end of them month; for whatever reason I seem to be stuck at the same weight and have decided that I can do without getting stressed about it. As long as I can stay at that weight for now it will do and I can start trio think about starting again in a month or so. I am exercising though and will be through the 200 km mark by Saturday evening if not before.

Despite the weather I have been able to do a little gardening over the last week, mostly just tidying up. It looks as though I may have made a mistake with some of the snowdrop bulbs that I bought as a close inspection of the from lawn reveals a few very miniature snowdrops barley visible amid the grass. I shall have to check and see if I bought a pigmy version; if so it was a major mistake as there are around 100 of them planted out there. I made a similar mistake last Spring over the nicotiana that the Berkshire Belle wanted. I assumed that I was buying the same variety as I have bought many times before to put in the hanging baskets, but these ones grew to over a metre and a half tall (4-5 feet). More care in reading there catalogue is called for here.

One piece of unwanted excitement came last evening when I opened the back door Leo (our tomcat) to go out. He flattened himself on the doormat and, when I looked out, it was into the eyes of a fox. Outside our back door we have a plastic kennel for the cats to wait in if it is wet (we do not have a catflap) and Reynard had decided that this would be a great place to shelter fro the wind and rain. On seeing me it left, but was back about half an hour later when the Berkshire Belle checked so I went out and moved the kennel down to the bottom of the garden. The photo below is of one of our regular foxes sat in the back garden looking slightly pissed off, perhaps at the loss of its new house.

In other wildlife news we do seem to be getting a few garden birds back. There is at least on wren, a pair of robins and another of blackbirds. The wagtails are around out in the from garden along with some sparrows and bluebirds and a trio of starlings were feasting on the mealworms the other day. There is often birdsong out there again even if we can’t always see who is singing. Small pleasures.

The Berkshire Belle has had her first Covid vaccination today. All pretty efficient as a process and I was allowed to stay with her (I would have been happy to wait outside and watch the trains go by). We just have to wait for her to get the call for the second dose and for me to get my first. A little milestone done anyway.

It is getting colder again here and I will be off out to cover the car’s windscreen in a minute. The forecast is for it to be around freezing at 0500 tomorrow and one less thing to scrape will be appreciated at that time of the morning. At least we do not have the flooding that other parts of the country are enduring and I am grateful for that.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 42


Another week flies by and the Monday Morning Quarterbacks are still at it, claiming too know best. My Dad and I dod not have a great relationship and some of the advice he gave me would have been better ignored, but one of his pearls of wisdom was not to argue with strangers or drunks. Of course fifty years ago we did not have social media and any arguing would be done face to face so the potential for a smack in the mouth was very real (and often deserved).

Here in my corner of North Wilsthire the Berkshire Belle and I await word of a place in the vaccination queue. She has a little age advantage over me being older and will probably get called first, but as she is staying at home and I am a front line worker she is very willing to give up her place in the line to me as it makes more sense, to her, for me to be done first and reduce the risk of me brining it home. Hopefully we can get her done soon and that I will not be too far behind even if it does not mean that we can relax our regime, stop wearing masks or remove any of the other measures that we take to avoid this plague. Just reducing the risk a bit will be a help.

I think that it is the lack of a light at the end of the tunnel that is the hardest thing to deal with. This time last year we had just booked our flights and accommodation for our Autumn holiday and were planning one or two days out each month for the time before we went. Not only did all of that vanish, but the thoughts that we had consoled ourselves with about the possibility of maybe getting away for a week in May this year have also gone for now. We might not get away this year either and, at our age, are considering whether our days of the long haul holiday are passed. The fact that we are lucky to be able to have such a break when others can’t afford to is no consolation.

Our holidays are something that we have enjoyed over the time that we have been together and do us good. We are happier when we are off on these jaunts and they help re-charge our batteries so not getting one last year was a blow and the realisation that we might not get another is depressing. The time of year does not help either and whilst I have plenty off things to occupy my mind and divert the negative thoughts my lady is not so fortunate and tends to dwell on the negative. Hope is at the heart of spiritual wellbeing and she is struggling at the moment.

I have not been able to ruthlessly pursue my diet this last week as we keep finding things that need eating or throwing away. We chose the former course and so my weight is sticking at the moment. Better to stay the same than gain, but it is a little frustrating, I have not walked today, but have about 120 km in the book so far this year so I am getting the exercise. I just need to reduce the calorific intake a bit more and I should start to prune some more weight off, but my planned target of being back down to 104 kg by the end of January seems to be out of reach for now unless I do something drastic.

I have managed some time in the garden just keeping up with general seasonal maintenance. The are quite a few bulbs starting to show through and we should soon have a few in flower so that will cheer me a little. We have also seen a few garden birds about again; a wren has been active outside the window as I write this, clambering through the jasmine looking for insects. Many of our shrubs are showing new buds ready for the coming warmer weather and I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of last year’s work.

Stay safe weever you are.

the lockdown log 41


The thought occurred to me as I tried to get to sleep on New Year’s Eve that Covid-19 might be the millennium bug, just that It was twenty years late. Certainly the levels of stupidity being displayed over the 2020 plague have their parallels in that of the later months of 1999, it’s just that we did not have social media to spread nonsense with back then.

When Last weighed myself I was 105 kg, 1kg up on the previous week, and my plan was to relax the diet over Christmas and New Year then to get back to 104 kg, my lowest weight so far, by the end of January. Last Friday I got the scales out again and weighed in at 106.5 kg which is a bit less than I expected. I have not binged during my time off, but I have not had my regular after lunch and that seems to be an integral part of me losing weight. So I have just 2.5 kg to lose in the next four weeks.

I am going to have to balance the post prandial exercise with getting back into the garden. I have lost all of the momentum from last year and need to start again. Neither the exercise walks nor the outside jobs are any great pleasure at this time of year and I will need to find some motivation instead of, as I am now, sitting on the sofa writing this, and other, blogs or watching TV. Last year, prior to Covid, I had started my projects off by making an effort to clear out the bedroom that I use as an office. Most of that initial clear out has been undone by the need to find room to store various things and so what I might do to kick start myself is to resume work there. It is, any least, in the warm and if I can finally sort that room out it will give me some satisfaction which, in turn, might be a catalyst to get me going again on the outdoor work.

Pepper soup

This time of year is soup weather and I am going to get back to knocking up my own as I was through much of the Autumn. The one pictured was a pepper soup made from white and yellow peppers that cam in my fortnightly veg box. With half an onion, a couple of garlic cloves and the last few cherry tomatoes. The dark swirl is balsamic glaze just to give an extra bite. In today’s box I have a massive cauliflower so there will be half of that going to make soup for early next week, I make about 2 day’s worth of soup in each batch and it is a good way of using up veg that I’m not going to be able to use with main meals. A bowl of soup for lunch when the heating is not on is very welcome.

We have placed our first order of the year for plants. We began to buy these on-line last year when there first lockdown mucked up our normal garden centre explorations and have started early this year. We have a range of herbs and veg coming over the period late February to late May and the earlier arrivals give me an incentive to get the old shed broken down and the new greenhouse put up. Some of the bulbs planted last year are starting to shoot and I always look forward to the start of the bulb season in Spring as portent of better weather to come.

I would like t be all fired up to get the jobs in motion and to get the weight off, but I’m not. So I have a bit of a battle on to both get some jobs done and to lose 2.5 kg, preferably 3 in just over two weeks. If I can get my head into the right place I will do both. Watch this space…

Meanwhile stay dafe wherever you are and I hope that 2021 brings you better times.

the lockdown log 40


It’s the last day of 2020, but just another day to me as will be tomorrow. The whole New Year’s Eve thing has long been an irrelevance to me and I blame that on my Mother’s obsession with it and its rituals. I shall; be in bed by around 10pm as usual and one of the advantages of being slightly deaf is that I can put my good ear to the pillow and not be disturbed by an revellers. Sadly my cats do not share my disadvantage and will be off to hide under the sofa.

Anyway, most folks will no doubt be glad to see the back of this year and will be hoping for a better one to come. I hope that we get it and am looking forward to the opportunity for the Berkshire Belle and I to get our Covid-19 vaccinations. As she is a little older than me she is a couple of levels ahead in terms of priority, but I am still classed as type 2 diabetic and th]at might advance my cause; I shall wait and see.

My diet will resume next week and so will my exercise programme. I am up to 1066 km so far and may add to that today. It is my regular day off and I have tomorrow off too so run the risk of another two days of couch potato lifestyle. It is cold out and not expected to get above freezing today, but I might try and get at least a couple of km into the books to round out the year. I have been looking for a virtual Lands end to John O’Groats (or vice versa) challenge and did find one yesterday, but it has to be completed by the end of March and that would require about 90 miles a week which is beyond me. I should be able to do it over a year though and am setting my sights on hitting the distance required even if I can’t do it through any recognised way.

I will weigh myself tomorrow morning to see what the damage is from the last two weeks, but will not resume the diet until Monday. I am not exactly going mad with eating because I recognise the health issues, but am not applying the rigid discipline that I have had in force since the end of June. We do eat well to try and stay healthy; most of our dinners are cooked from scratch with fresh ingredients and we try to get a decent amount of fruit and veg into our systems. Tonight I am trying something new in the shape of a Paella. I have not cooked one before and so I am not sure how it will turn out, but seafood, rice and veg are all things that I am familiar with cooking and so I am sure that it will turn out well.

So that’s it for the last lockdown log of 2020. Here in Swindon we have been promoted to Tier 4 so the Berkshire Belle will be staying at home, I will go to work and shop on my way back and we will await our vaccination appointments. In keeping with my “just another day” policy there will be no New Year resolutions and I will just play it a day at a time and home that we get through.

Stay safe wherever you are and I hope that, if you are making New Year wishes or resolutions that they all work out for you.