Archive

Posts Tagged ‘foxes’

the lockdown log 65


Life goes on for us and whilst I am calm about lockdown it is bothering the Berkshire Belle considerably. I am content wearing my mask; she is not, yet if we fail to spot the sanitation station at the store entrance (or are too preoccupied to notice), she can get quite stressed when she realises that we have not added that layer of protection. The oddities in the changing regulations bother her too; why can large crowds attend sporting events when you can’t have a concert and so on. None of this interests me in the slightest and I cannot give her any answers as to why these things are as they are. I just accept them as facts and get on with my day.

I suppose that it is my innate habit of ignoring anything that I cannot influence. It works for me and I do my best to let all of this just wash over me. Yes it is affecting my life, but I have adapted and just live a different life. I used to do this to some degree when we spent as much time as we could in the USA and I would tell people that we were not on holiday, just living there instead of here. And that is largely true because from the second trip onwards we did little that was touristy, rather we settled into trying to live as much like locals as we could. It was a different life to here and one that we liked better. Covid life is not like the one that we knew and it is not so good, but it is the one that we have and I do my best with it.

One this that I have noticed recently is the way that fuel prices have risen. I am notorious for not looking at what I have paid for fuel, but I do remember a point during lockdown about 12 months ago when I paid less than £1 per litre for unleaded. This week I spotted at the Esso station that I pass on the way to and from work that the litre price was up to £1.319. Pre-lockdown it was about 122.9 to 124.9 per litre, so it makes a bit of a difference, but I do not use too much these days and I am glad about that.

We have been out a bit this week and the Berkshire Belle has had two trips; one over to Cheltenham to the bigger Waitrose supermarket there and then a three shop trip locally the next day when we did a garden centre, Marks and Spencer and Lidl in a mini orgy of retail. It is important that I keep getting her out, even if these trips are hardly full of excitement. We talked a lot this week about going out to lunch one day, but did not come to any conclusions beyond the uncertainty of whether we would enjoy ourselves. Given the lady’s dislike of lockdown protocols as mentioned above it does, for her, take away much of the pleasure and if she is not having a good time, then nor am I. We stayed in for all of our meals and, in all probability, actually ate more healthily that had we dined out. Certainly it was cheaper.

There is no rush for us to book any holiday yet. Our preferred destination is America, but things are so bad over there that we are concerned about going. We have talked about a shorter trip to, say, Dubai, but that, as a major hub, is firmly red-zoned for now. It will probably be another year for us with no holiday now. We have no interest in going to Europe at the moment, even if they would have us, nor in a UK tour, so it will be making plans for 2022 by the look of it.

This coming weekend I have an appointment with the scales. It is a year since I had the diabetic diagnosis that spurred me into a concerted effort to lose weight and I need to see where I am and, perhaps, try and kick start another drive towards getting under 100kg. The Berkshire Belle has had a splendid result from her own diet. Her numbers are her affair and not to be shared here, but she has done very well and I am proud of her efforts. It is causing her some issues in that she has few clothes that fit and her normal sources, various US chains, are not readily available to her. We are working on that from a mail order perspective though.

In the garden we are still having fox problems although we seem to be down to two now. Mrs Reynard has not been seen for a few days and the dark red coloured youngster has also been AWOL lately. The remaining pair have possibly picked up on Mummy’s talent for killing pigeons though judging by the evidence and neither looks to be going hungry. Whilst the are still living in neighbouring gardens ours is still the preferred place for burying food as we have the well turned flower beds and planters that our neighbours lack. July is around the time that the cubs usually push off and find new homes so maybe only another.couple of weeks…

My efforts to build a new base for our mini-Kamodo BBQ have probably caused this latest downturn in the weather. Honest Mother Nature, I didn’t want to use it, just to get it up off the deck so that I could finish painting said deck. I am getting very tempted again to buy a pop-up gazebo to work under: It would protect me form both sun and rain after all.

Anyway, that is it for me for this week. Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 62


It has been another week that has just flown by and it hardly seems possible that it is Thursday again, but the date at the top of the newspaper is about the only thing left in the media that I believe at face value so it must be true.

Life with my fox family continues and every time that I think that I have built a decent defence they find a way around it. We seem to have lost one of the quartet, but I still see the other three youngsters on a regular basis and mum occasionally. The latter’s continuing presence comes more in the regular stashes of dead pigeon that she leaves for the kids and now that I have so many of the old locations covered up she just leaves them on the lawn.

My daily regime with these visitors is to go around with a black bag and my picker-upper and clear food debris and rubbish that they have left around (they love toys and steal dog’s balls, squeaky toys and such from other gardens) and the go around and hose off the mess that comes from the other end of the animals. They have no sense of potty training and barely break stride to leave ley another deposit, often right outside the back door. This takes me about 30 minutes and is getting boring.

All of my neighbours have turned their front and back gardens over to patios, astroturf, gravel or similar and ours is the only one with flower beds and tubs so the foxes, whilst living under sheds in neighbouring gardens, get to dig in ours.

aAnt over and on to other topics. My garden labours have slowed a little because I am waiting for one of my neighbour to replace the shared fence. He said that this would be done by the end of May, but as yet there is no sign of action and I can’t do some of the things that I want to do until he sorts it out. I have managed to cut away the rotten sections of my old deck and replace them so that is another job crossed off the list.

I have, to some degree, lost my motivation for getting the garden done and I think that the fox problem may be at the heart of that, but I’ll not go back to them right now. I do need to find something that will get me going again though.

Tomorrow might be a good point in that we are going out to lunch for the first time since way before lockdown. In fact the last time that we ate out was probably in Florida in October 2018, so hopefully it will be a treat. We are going to a restaurant in the hinterland north of Reading which we have been to a few times before, The Berkshire Belle is doing her usual “I don’t want to go” thing, but that is just her and I am used to it now.

It will not be a lunch that is in any way slimming and I have been trying to cut down this week to allow a bit of a blow out. My greenhouse activities have provided various lettuce and cress to bulk out my wraps and sandwiches and I have, this week, had my first salad for lunch. The end of June will be one year since I started my diet and whilst I have slipped somewhat over the last 6 months I am going to have a weigh in at the end of the month just to see what the damage is and maybe that will help to re-focus me.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.

the lockdown log 61


I have had a week off and, most days, have been working on various projects. Some of that seems to have told on me physically as I have a lot of muscular pain around the right side of my rib cage that may be due to lots of sawing amongst other things.

The weather has still not been too kind and that has curtailed things a little, but I have invested in a cordless circular saw and so that means that I do not have to run a power cable around from the garage to the back garden for many of the jobs I have on the list. On days with random showers it is a nightmare having to keep reeling it in.

The foxes are starting to roam and seem to spend the odd night on the loose, but were back the other nights and had their most destructive session yet. It is heartbreaking to see so much laid to waste. This morning I found a dead fox, probably from last year, when lifting a couple of rotting deck boards so had to dispose of that and one, or more, of the current crop is a bit loose in the bowel regions and I also had a lot of hosing down to do. All good fun (not).

It has seemed strange not going into work, but I am still getting up at 5 am as normal and have been out in the garden working on the quiet jobs most days by 7. Two door down are having an extension built and so as soon as their crew start work I get my power tools out and join in with the cacophony. I am into some of the more complex jobs at the moment and so there is the mental challenge of working out how best to do things and, sometimes, getting it right first go. There is the usual problem of nothing being the same level, length or square, but it all keeps me amused.

I have finally taken the plunge and planted out my hanging baskets, That has given me some space in the greenhouse which is welcome and I am trying to pot up some of the seedling that I first put in there a couple of months ago. I have been a bit lax in keeping notes on what I have done and when so I may have to rely on memory if I do it again next year.

For over a week now I have avoided the scales. Naughty, but mentally I have not been too good and have not wanted to know in case the news is not good. As I have said here throughout these scribblings I like the ostrich principle and work on the basis that what I don’t know will not bother me. I apply this to much of the news too, but the Berkshire Belle is an avid reader and only has me to share with so I get it all pored over me on a daily basis. I act like a sponge and soak it up because she needs to vent her feelings, but often knowing things that I have been avoiding drags my mental state down. One day this week I just had to tell her that I didn’t want to talk about a certain subject and I left the room; I could not take it.

Today we were going to go to a craft fair and have a rare day out, but we bottled it and stayed at home. It is odd, but our reasons were slightly different; she loathes all of the Covid regulation, even though she knows that it is sensible. Things like one way systems, mask wearing, having your temperature taken and so on take all of her pleasure away whereas I accept all of that stoically. My reason for backing out of today was that there had been more overnight rain locally and the thought of trekking through wet grass plus the risk of getting stuck where other idiots who cannot drive on such surfaces without chewing them up would make life difficult for us all.

Little things tend to become big things and this week I ended up with so many things that required a trip into town that I finally took the plunge and did it. It took up an afternoon, but, despite my fears, all of my errands were completed. I find that there are so many things that, these days, I tend to put off whereas a few years back I took on all comers with little bother. I have flown into countries like Columbia, Libya and China to work without batting an eyelid and let a trip into town to run some errands took more out of me. It must be age creeping up on me. Perhaps it is just that I am out of practice.

I made lamb burgers for lunch today, but elected not to fire up the BBQ and cooked them in the pan on the hob as the sky was looking very black. When I have finished this I am off to do a few outside jobs and then back into the kitchen to make a chicken and leek pie for dinner tonight. Anything to keep busy and stop my mind wandering off into areas that I don’t want it going off to.

If you have plans for this weekend, a Bank Holiday here in the UK and Memorial Day weekend in the US then I hope all goes well for you. I shall be looking out for the Indy 500 on whatever medium I can find to follow it from afar, but I hope that things hold up for you and you have a great time.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 59


This is a bit late this week, but for some reason WordPress on my go to device is not allowing me to add a new blog entry, instead it just gives me a blank screen and so I have had to revert to some older technology here to keep up my weekly utterings.

The weather has been so variable that any planning has been a waste of time and I have just gone with the flow and done what I can where and when I can. Odd bits of progress have been made and I am starting to get a shopping list, what we used to call a bill of materials when I wore a suit, for the next main jobs on my agenda. I just need to order stuff or go out and buy it, but therein lies another familiar problem; where do I put it while I am waiting to use it? I have 5 bags of compost in the car at the moment…

Our foxes continue to wreak havoc and their destructive power is beyond anything that I have previously experienced. I am gradually blocking up access to the space below my deck where a couple of the youngsters like to spend their days, but can do nothing about what the perishers get up to after dark.

it has been a bit of a mad ending to the week as on Friday I swallowed a fish bone that got stuck in my throat. A look at the NHS111 web site got me into an on-line chat that suggested that I go to the hospital in Cirencester about 20 miles away, There they were unable to reach the bone and, being Friday evening, said that I should try and eat some soft food to push the bone down. If that did not work I should go to my local A&E department. It did work and, apart from a very sore throat, I am fine. Added to my neck problem and the Sore Nuts Syndrome living up to its name it was a miserable end to the week and I had a quiet day yesterday.

Despite all of that I am fairly perky and certainly my head is in a better place than it has been for a while. Hopefully that will continue.

On the exercise front I am past 1500 km for the year. I am on track for the 4084 km target for the year, so I am looking at tryi8ng to squeeze in a little bit extra each week now wo that I can do 5000 km over the 12 months.

Nothing much else to report at this stage, so stay safe wherever you are and, one way or another, I will be back next week.

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.