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Posts Tagged ‘foxes’

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.

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.

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 54


It is grey and cold again today after a brighter start. The greenhouse is working as the temperature was up around 40C earlier when the sun was out. The plants that I started out with last week have all come on leaps and bounds under glass and so I am very pleased with progress.

I had intended to weigh myself when I got up this morning, but I was about 45 minutes later getting top and forgot so I will try and remember to do it this evening before bed. I am always heavier in the evenings, but I do want to have a quick check on where I am especially after a lax Easter weekend as far as calorie control was concerned.

I did try to re-start exercise walking in the afternoons this week as the weather has been cold and windy with of which preclude some of the jobs I want to get on with, but on my one effort it snowed and so I gave up having only managed 2k. I am still getting in over 10k a day in the mornings any work though and have been filling in using a neighbour’s treadmill on days off. She is moving this weekend though and so that option is going to be closed to me. I don’t want to re-join the gym (even if it does open) and will rely on the weather getting better and allowing more pleasurable walks.

This morning I have done the shopping alone as The Berkshire Belle does not do cold outings and she stayed in bed whilst I went off foraging at first light. A three shop trip this morning; Lidl, M&S then Aldi, but we are shopped for the week. I will make fish pie tonight; we haven’t had that for a while and it will give us a second seafood meal of the week. As a confirmed carnivore I am getting used to moving away from red meat and these days a steak that is about half of the size of the ones that I used to eat myself will do the two of us as the protein content of dinner.

We are down to red meat about once a week now, not so much from trying to avoid it as because there are so many other things that we can cook and enjoy. Whilst we do have our routines around food, always having dinner at 6pm for example, we have never got into the pattern of certain meals on certain days of the week. We might make a slightly greater effort for our dinners Friday through Sunday and possibly try and do something special for lunch on Saturday and Sunday, but that is about it apart from our bottle of wine that we make last over two days, usually Friday and Saturday, and firing up the coffee machine for a latte on Saturday and Sunday.

Trying to keep variety in our meals is important to us and it is surprising how many different things you can do with 250 gas of mince or a couple of chicken thighs. One of the things that has crept more and more into our cooking is the use of spices and using them to impart flavour rather than heat. There is a lot more to a curry, for example, than bunging in a handful of chilli and some the best curries we have eaten have not been hot at all.

One thing that we two differ on is that if the Berkshire Belle enjoys her meal she will not go looking for extras, but if she has something that she does not enjoy the contents of the cupboards develop a strong gravitational pull for her. I am the opposite and if I have really enjoyed what I have eaten I have to fight hard to stop myself going after more, even if I know that I will regret it by overeating, but if I don’t enjoy my meal I will usually just give up and have no interest in a supplementary bite. Having had a nice meal going out to the kitchen to wash up can. be torture for me with all of the temptation around me and I will often just make a black coffee (instant from a jar) because it will fill me up to a degree.

Out in our back garden Mrs Reynard has three babies, not the two that I thought. She has the task of finding food for that family as well as for herself and as she entertains them under our deck for at least part of the day I am not sure what we might face in a few weeks time by way of unfortunate aromas. The last time that we know we had a fox family living under there it was before the council had introduced wheelie bins and we got back from an early holiday to find the back garden full of part destroyed bin bags. Nature is wonderful, but…

I am back on clearing out my upstairs office as it is too cold for concerted efforts outside. I thought that the purge of last February had got rid of most of it, but there is still more rubbish coming to light, most ion which begs the question “Why am I keeping this?” A lot of it is stuff that would be useful to me if I was still widely working as a consultant, but as I have largely given that up I really do not need this vast source of reference and so there is a steady pile of paper feeding the recycling boxes.Last weekend I read through one of my day books that covered the period October 1998 to November 1999 and was staggered by just how much I was doing and how far that I travelled to do it, despite a car crash (hit from behind) and a bout of diverticulitis. It brought back a lot of memories of people and places.

That’s it from me for this week. Stay safe wherever you are and thanks for looking in.

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.