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Posts Tagged ‘Covid-19’

on working from home


For me the current passion for working from home worries me and I have enough experience of it, going back as far as the early 1980s, to think that I might have a point.

My first experience of working from home as an employee of a large corporation was back in 1982. I worked in London which was a three hour round trip commute away, and, for six weeks, was assigned to work with a supplier based on stop up the railway line from home. Because of issues of commercial confidentiality the supplier did not want me on site more that necessary and so I worked from home.

It was a nightmare in many ways. My wife felt that my presence meant that she could just talk to me whenever a thought entered her head and the inevitable list of garden and household jobs was right there under my nose; “I’ll just take a break and mow the lawn” type of thing. Yes, I did get all of the work that I was being paid for done, but, in general, I hated it and the one lesson that I did learn was that I could use the opportunity to time shift, that is to take an hour off for some DIY during the day and make time up in the evening for example.

Of course that was pre-internet and mobile ‘phones. Im did have a portable typewriter that I used for some reports, but a lot of my written work was done longhand and forwarded to the typing pool (remember them anyone?) at the office.

Later I became an early adopter for working from home when office space was at a premium and I was working all over the UK. By then I was on my second marriage, there were no children at home and I had a wife who understood that there were times when I needed to be left alone. Again I often did personal stuff during the day and work at night, but y then I was a fully equipped road carrier with cell ‘phone and GPRS equipped laptop.

Around the mid 1990s some of the implications of remote working were coming to the fore as it became more common and a working party was set up to look at the pros and cons as well as to try and draft some good practice notes along with a company policy. One of the key issues that came out of that was the employer’s liability. There is a duty of care and whilst we had all of the necessary workstation and VDU stuff in place for employees in the workplace, how did you cope with people working, unsupervised, from home off the dining table or with the laptop on their lap as they sprawl on the sofa? You can moan all you like about jobsworth H&S people, and I do, but the law is the law and their are people queuing up for big scalps.

The other big issue about working from home, for the employee and employer, is the lack of dynamics that you get when people are collected in one place. There is a lot to be gained from teams being together and the interchanges with others in those water cooler moments. Scatter the buggers all around the country and you have lost that. I don’t know how you measure it, but, over time, you will miss it. As a team leader you get a lot from seeing your people in action, it speaks volumes and helps to pick the real stars from the poseurs. Yes, you can judge on results alone, but, if you do, you will promote the wrong people too often.

Looking at working from home from the customer perspective it is already apparent to me that there are times when it is just not working well enough. This may just be due to policies and procedures combined with technology issues, but it has been a lot harder to get problems solved since lockdown started. Take one of my clients who has three times had the wrong item picked and shipped. Every time the supplier has made exactly the same mistake, but each time customer service have been called the person responding has been working from home and unable to do anything other than to tell my client how to return the item for a credit. At no time have either of us been able to speak to anyone who is actually there to try and resolve the problem. In the end we bought the item direct from the US and they got it right first time.

For some sectors there is no excuse for continuing to allow working from home now. The Civil Service being one; that large chunks of them are apparently working from home still is a scandal. Remote working in various forms is a viable tool in this day and age for the right jobs, sales teams being a classic example, but for much of what used to go on in the office we need to see people back and their desks. Working in a mask is a pain, but I do it as do many others.

We are in a time of great change and need to adapt. It may be that some businesses will feel that they can allow more people to work from home and will come up with policies and practices that work for them. If they can make it work then fine, but I think that, for now, we need to see a lot more bums on their original office seats.

PS: If you are working from home have a search through the old posts here for my top tips for home workers.

on control


There is a lot of talk about loss of freedom at the moment. We are, globally, living in a time when there have to be restrictions and, for many people, we are just not used to that. There is a perception that we have lost control of our own destiny because we are being told what we can and can’t do.

I will keep my remarks here about life in the UK for no other reason than that, for obvious reasons, I have not been anywhere else since life changed back in March 2019. We have it pretty good here which is why so many people from other countries want to come here, and talking to a colleague from one of the former Soviet Bloc countries I was told how they had needed a permit to go from the side of town where they lived to the one that they worked in. Just imagine how that would have gone down here. Yet the Covid regulations (for want of a better term) have, in some ways, not been that far removed and there has been acceptance from some and howls of protest from others.

Over eighteen months we have had to have levels of control imposed and there has been a level of fear across us too. This is a silent and invisible killer, the stuff of science fiction. To all intents and purposes we are at war and it grinds you down. Mental health was an emergent problem in any case, but has become more of an issue as we face up to this modern day plague.

Something that I learned in my business life was that I needed to focus my attention on certain areas as a time management issue more than anything. To get the best out of the 60-70 hours I was putting in each week I had to focus on what I could deal with and one of the tools that I would use is the Eisenhower Matrix. I won’t go Ito that here, just run it through your search engine of choice if you are not familiar with it, but the basic principle is in prioritising tasks.

One of the benefits of this type of technique is that you get things done. I used to say that there were times when I couldn’t get my head out of the trench for long enough to see which way the bullets were coming from. Life could be like that and whilst that style of firefighting management can be good fun at times it is not a recipe for long term success: I needed to get things under control and, once I had, I found that I had time to think about preventing fires rather than having to keep putting them out. Life got easier.

Getting to that point took a lot of the stress out of work and I have tried to apply the same type of thinking too life under lockdown. There are lots of things that I cannot control right now, but if I focus on what I can control and take charge of those then it gives me some comfort, certainly more than I would get if I just sat in a heap complaining. Finding the things that I can manage myself might see me mired in trivia; often the things that a straight application of the Eisenhower Matrix would see me discard, but they are things that I can do without recourse to anyone else; I have control and it helps to keep me sane.

Control the things that you can. If nothing else you will be practising a good discipline that will help you in your career in the longer term.

the lockdown log 76


Finally I have managed to get a few words on paper (or VDU) after the worst bout of writer’s block that I can remember. It isn’t that I haven’t been able to think of things to write; there are part started blogs for all of the missing weeks and I have a host of audio files where I have thought of things whilst out walking plus some post-it notes. The problem has been getting any of this into some form of readable state. Day after day I have powered up and then stared at a blank screen with no concept of how to turn any of these jottings into sentences and paragraphs that add up to something worthwhile.

Today a corner has been turned and thoughts are flowing through my fingers and causing stuff to appear on the screen. Why I don’t know, nor do I know why I have had a problem. I am just glad that it is over. I will try and retrospectively fill in the gaps in the coming weeks, but, for now, a summary.

Since my last appearance here I have had a Covid scare and a fall, both of which rattled me a bit. The former came when there was a rumour that someone whom I had been in brief contact with was alleged to have been diagnosed as having Covid. This I was told just over a a week after I had been in their company and I still do not know whether or not the allegation is true, but although I did not contract the disease myself and that incident is past, It did give me a few days worry though.

The fall was at work where I was distracted just at the point where I got to a curb in the car park and tripped over it. The damage was mostly superficial, but I chipped a tooth which has begun to fall apart. The repairs are going to cost over £3000 and I am none too pleased about that. Fortunately I am not too bothered about dental work and so having it done will not trouble me too much, but paying for it will.

The weather has been variable enough to have kept me off most of my outside projects, although I have done a lot of garden maintenance and spent some to trying to work out what has gone well and what hasn’t from this year’s planting. I did manage to get the first coat of black paint on the final section of deck to be done that colour and am happy with the results. This deck paint, although a reputable brand, does not seem to cover as well as the stuff that I used 20 years ago and maybe there have been changes to the recipe along the way.

I have not yet built the BBQ station, but the new BBQ that we bought last year has still not been lit. It is likely that it will not be lit this year either the way things are going, but I would like to build the station for it before Winter sets in.

Much of my time in recent weeks has been spent in pursuit of a decent sourdough loaf. I am not quite sure why the Berkshire Belle has been pressing me to make these things when we have a good source of commercially baked sourdough, but she has and after she bought me yet another sourdough book in the Summer, I vowed to have another go. So far the score is 7 of which one was partially edible, two reasonable edible even if they had not risen enough, and four failures. I have, for now, given up and this week I made a good white loaf in the breadmaker just to cheer myself up. Having done that I am going to attempt a soda bread at the weekend. I haven’t had a go at one for a while and the last try was a failure, so I am none too confident. Onwards and upwards though; get back on the bike and try again.

The car tax reminder just dropped onto the doormat. It seems incredible that it is a year since I bought it, but time seems very telescoped in these strange times.

Anyway, time to get this onto the web and I will aim to be back again next week.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 71


Life here in North Wiltshire continues pretty much the same. Most people are still masking up to go shopping and there is little sign of change. Some people have gone away now that the schools have broken up, but few amongst the people that we know are venturing abroad other than some of my colleagues from Eastern Europe who have gone back home to visit family. Most of these drive and aim to make the trip in around a day and a half driving pretty much non-stop with two or more drivers taking turns.

For those of us who live here most seem to have abandoned thoughts of a trip abroad on the grounds of risk and cost. We have too and gave up on our plans for a return to the US for a second year and are now starting to wonder if we will ever go back. Given our advancing years maybe we have seen the last of long distance travel, but maybe the world will start to get a grip on Covid and things will both open up and look safer. Time will tell, but we are running out of it.

On that note we are looking to organise our cremations so that all of that sort of thing is taken care of when the time comes. It is not a subject that is easy to deal with, although I seem to be more pragmatic than the Berkshire Belle on these things. It is also crossing my mind to have another look at living wills in case either of us does loose our marbles. We talked about this when we made our joint wills and were told that we had just missed the boat for doing them in an economical fashion so we let the idea pass. Maybe we should look at it again.

I have not lost weight for another week. I am trying to stay positive about this and am reading up on how the body processes food from the perspective of type 2 diabetes to try and see if there is something there that will help me break out of this impasse. It is possible that I do have a bit of muscle build up; The last two weeks have been very physical in many ways with more heavy lifting that usual and I am noticing a change in muscle tone around my upper arms, amongst other places.

Being stuck at 106.5 kg is not so bad in many ways and is a lot better than being 123 kg as I was back at the start. Maybe I just need to change diet again as that sometimes has worked in the past. It does seem as though I am getting my head back around the need to shift weight and the old target of 100 kg is calling me again.

Into August now and out weather is weird. As I sit here after lunch typing the wind is howling around the upstairs windows and rain showers are sweeping through at irregular intervals. Just as I typed those words the sun has come out and the temperature has climbed as it should, but there are more black clouds rolling in. The poor plants don’t know what to do with themselves.

Apart from the wind and rain keeping me away from the jobs I need to do up the ladder my last go at that work on Monday has brought me back out in a rash. I had this problem last year and have not yet worked out which of the climbing plants that I am clearing I am allergic to. I think that it is one of the varieties of ivy, but what I have been clearing includes three types of that plant plus a hop, a grape vine and another one that I have forgotten the name of. Between planting by my neighbour and I these things have grown together over the years and the rapid spells of wet and warm weather over the last 6 weeks have seen rampant growth that needs cutting back. Insects and dust abound within this undergrowth and something there does not like me. Even with arms covered and wearing gauntlets something has gotten through and, if last year is anything to go by, I face a couple of weeks of discomfort before it goes away.

Stay safe wherever you are and thanks for looking in.

the lockdown log 68


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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe wherever you are.

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.

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 56


Today has been an odd day to round out an odd week. More disasters than triumphs, but that’s life eh? I’ll tell you a bit more in the coming paragraphs, but all in all I am still here as are those closest to me so I am thankful for that.

This morning started quite well. I was up just after five (my day off so a bit of a lie in) and breakfast of pasta with some homemade tomato sauce was good. The Berkshire Belle decided that we would go shopping and so my quiet time got a little disrupted as she wanted to be out by eight thirty and I had a few household chore to get done, but I still managed to watch a Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain concert on YouTube as well as a bit of use practice myself so things were going quite well at first.

By the time we got out a sinus headache had set in and was getting worse. The low sun didn’t help either on the drive across town tom Sainsbury’s so by the time that we were in the store I was not feeling great. We then had one of those shopping sessions where we had a total communication breakdown and compounded things by going into the store next door for further shopping. We had recovered our sense of humour bu the time that we got home, but then the bank that I use for my business contacted me for some further information and when I powered up the PC it decided to do a software update and I could not use it until after lunch.

Later I did sort out the bank and paid the paper bill on-line before heading out into the garden with no thought of what I was going to do other than that I needed to do something to take my mind off on my headache. The box of extra long wood screws that I had ordered from Amazon had arrived and so I put those to good use and was starting to have a productive afternoon when the tree surgeons turned up to work of the Leylandii hedge at the bottom of a neighbour’s garden. The noise and smell from there petrol chainsaws was too much even with my ear defenders on and so I retired early. At least I had made some progress.

The week has not been a good one in general, especially in terms of my weight. I deiced after writing last week’s lockdown log to change my eating habits slightly to see if it would help kick off a losing streak, but, despite cutting down on intake, I have put on 2.5 kilos according to my scales. Now I accept that it could just be another rogue reading and tomorrow may show something a bit more where I want to be. I hope so, but this was a blow.

My big idea was this. Five days a week I walk about 5-6 miles at work (8 km) and I eat my breakfast pack in two stages, about one third before I start work and the rest about half way through. Now my tracker estimates calorie burn off at around 1400 per morning, but I do about two thirds of that in the first half and so I thought that if I was to eat two thirds of my nosh before I start it would be a better balance. With cutting back on what I eat later in the day too, including having a couple of soup lunches, I was hoping to maybe lose a kilo or maybe two instead of which I have gone the wrong way. I have no idea why, but I am going to persevere for another week and see what happens.

I have been generally very fed up all week, apart from a few good moments. One of the latter came on Tuesday when I was hoping for a text offering me my second Covid vaccination. This did not come through at lunchtime as had happened for the first one and I went off into the garden in the afternoon in low spirits. I had just got started when Bane, the little black cat from next door, turned up to offer advice and I suggested to her that, as she looked like a good witch’s favour, could she not magic up my appointment? Meow she said and my ‘phone warbled; it was the text from the doctor! I will be getting my second jab next Tuesday morning and will be treating Bane with a lot more respect in future…

The fox family are still wreaking havoc in our garden (another source of downers), but the cubs are showing signs of rapid growth and I thing that a couple of them are being encouraged to set up their own homes. All being well they will all be leaving soon and I will be adding some fox prevention measures into my garden project programme. I doubt that I can entirely rid myself of them, but I will try and take away some of the fox friendly aspects whilst still leaving room for hedgehogs.

The garden project is coming along, but I have had a few setbacks this week and have not made the progress that I though possible this time last week. Today, despite an early shutdown, did see some good progress towards finishing the jobs that I want to have done by the end of this month. I have over a week to go though and am determined to hit my deadline.

Stay safe wherever you are and I will try to too.

the lockdown log 55


I’m writing this in the sunshine having had a decent day with various jobs. We went out shopping together earlier, the Berkshire Belle very frightened of being out, but she did it. My concern is that the more she hides away the harder it will become to get her out and so I will continue to push her to have an outing a week now.

This afternoon I have finished the repairs to one section of the deck and am happy with the new solid and level section. Now I can block off my neighbour’s disintegrating fence and get on with the next stage of painting and will be able to see something that I can call complete before moving on to the next part of the great garden project.

The poxy foxes are steadily destroying the back garden. The four babies are practising their digging and are already able to tell flowers and vegetables from weeds.The latter they will not touch, but everything else is fair game. It has become a continuous battle between us with me trying to thwart them and them me. So far they are winning. Add in the debris from what their mum brings them home to eat and it really is not too much fun at the moment, made worse by the fact that they live next door and just use our garden as a creche and dining room.

Fortunately they haven’t worked out how to get into the greenhouse and I have all sorts of stuff growing happily in there. It is amazing how quickly the space has been filled up although I do still have room for the tomatoes that are on order. Once the weather warms up I can get some of it planted out assuming that I can build adequate fox defences. (From the corner of my eye I can see the little bleeders are back). Another month and they will probably be ready to head off and fend for themselves.

I find my mood swings are quite pronounced at the moment and I can go from one end of the spectrum to the other at the flick of a switch. Half off the time don’t know what triggers a change and try hard not to bother too much, but when you plunge into the abyss it is no fun. Overall I have lost the feeling of generally being well and all sorts of odd niggles are developing. There is something amiss in my neck that is causing occasional clicks that are loud enough for the Berkshire Belle to hear from the other end of the sofa. Changing pillows has not helped, but I have started wearing my neck pillow that I bought for flying long haul. It seems to help in that, when watching TV, it holds my head at the right angle without me having to do it with muscle power. Today I have started to get a little pain from that area and so I think that the doctor beckons.

On the diet front I have been very silly this last week and find myself eating without any conscious thought. One evening whilst making my sandwiches for the next day I had a piece of bread that had not cut too well and I had made into a sandwich and was eating it. That sort of casual extra calorie intake is not conducive to weight loss and I am lucky that the scales weighed me in at 107.5 kg this morning – I had thought that 110 was probably deserved. I am back onto trying to refuse myself things as I think that a slide may be on the cards and I really do not want to start going backwards. I suppose that the good news about my diabetes test has had an effect and I know that my head is not in the right place for a concerted effort to cut down, but I am more conscious of feeling fat rather than feeling thin. I don’t want to feel fat, but do I want to feel thin enough to stop me eating? Only I can answer that one.

I have been making my own bread again, one or two loaves a week. I am using the old faithful Panasonic bread maker rather than doing it the hard way, but the results are good and hopefully the results are slightly more healthy than shop bought bread. The Berkshire Belle keeps hinting about making sourdough loaves, but my previous attempts have all failed. Even keeping a starter going seems beyond me and I would rather just buy one when the fancy takes me. Another starter kit has turned up though so I will have to take the hint and make an effort to try it soon.

Time to go and cook a Thai chicken curry for tea, so stay safe wherever you are and I will be back next week with a Monday Musing and the next lockdown log on Thursday.

the lockdown log 51


Progress on the garden project is still picking up and, despite discovering a couple of things that need fixing that I had not anticipated, there is a lot of visible progress. All being well the greenhouse assembly will start any day now.

The exercise regime is slightly compromised by all this work in the garden, but over the last week I have gone through the 800 km (500 mile) mark for the year to date so I am looking god for over 3000 km for the full year if I can keep this pace up.

I have talked about some of my soup making in earlier posts and thought that a bit more on what I do might be off interest. I don’t pay too much attention to quantity as I am most often using up things rather than working to any recipe so I have put some photos below to show one of last week’s efforts.

The first photo shows a mixture of veg cut up ready for roasting. There is squash, onion and a white sweet potato ready for the oven and then the same tray after about 40 minutes on 160 in a fan oven. The final shot shows the results having been whizzed up with a stick blender. I allow the veg to cool before putting in a jug and adding water to about cover the veg before blending. I like my soups smooth and fairly thick, but you could just add more water or stock if you like a more liquid end product. I add salt and pepper before blending and then try the soup as it warms up before adding more seasoning if necessary.

The end product sometimes, as here, does not always look too appetising, but there is nothing in it by way of preservatives or additives; it is just veg and water and usually it is fairly tasty. A litre of soup lasts me a couple or three days. I make whatever I can with what I have; parsnip (usually with a dash of cumin or Garam Masala), red pepper with sweet potato or tomato, celery, leek. I try to avoid adding potato as I am trying to keep the carbs down, but eek and potato is a classic combo.

In the background of the middle photo is the start of a seafood risotto that was in production for dinner that night.

I don’t know what the calorific values are of my various soups, but they should not be too bad and they seem to work for me.

And so here I am one week away from a year of lockdown logs. There have been a good few times along the way when I wondered if I would get through this far. So much has been learned about this plague since we first encountered it and often what was first thought has proved not to be the case. As an asthmatic I was at ne time though to be more vulnerable, then evidence suggested that people like me have a better resistance to Covid-19 for example. There is still much to learn, but as the weeks pass science learns more. I feel much more comfortable, although nowhere near complacent.

Stay safe wherever you are.