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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

the lockdown log 64


There are days when I am very low and this is one of them. I hurt in all sorts of places and, for one of them, in ways that I am not familiar with and am therefore slightly bothered by the unusual sensations. It is easy to joke about; “If I had known that I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself” sort of thing, but feeling physically crap does tend to drag the mind down with it.

It is probably no more than that I overdid things on the previous two days when it was hot and I was trying to get as much done before the promised severe weather arrived. As it happens our bit of the UK did not get any severe weather at all, just a light breeze and a bit of rain so I need not have pushed so hard. I forget sometime that I am in the fag end of my sixties and, although I do take more precautions and care than I did even ten years ago things do tend to take their toll.

My malaise is therefore self-inflicted and I shall just have to let it pass. I am being bloody minded about it and have not reached for the paracetamol. I will see how I feel come bedtime and maybe take a couple then if I think that they might help me sleep, but I think that I am likely to be so tired that I will not even want to lie in bed and read for an hour as I usually do.

I have got a lot done in the garden as referred to above and there is some satisfaction in that even if it has come at a price. Progress is very visible now and the vison that I had eighteen months ago is starting to become a reality. There is still a lot to do, but it will keep me amused for months to come.

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.

on gardening and leadership


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 53


The Berkshire Belle has had her second Covid-19 vaccination and is showing no ill effects beyond a bit of fatigue. All being well I should get the call for my second one soon as I was about 3 weeks behind her for the first jab.

The greenhouse is built and in use. As with some many elements of these jobs I am going through the anti-climatic phase now and fighting the urge to stop working on all of the other little jobs that need doing. It was not an enjoyable construction job and I had to push hard to make myself get it done, but four afternoons over last weekend and into this week saw it finished apart from a couple of cosmetic touches that I will get around to at some point.

More jobs loom though and the spurt of growth amongst the vegetation brought on by the warm weather of the last few days will drive my next priorities. One thing that I want to get done before things get too advanced is to put in the cabling for some garden lighting. I can wire up the lights later, but need to get a new cable from the junction box on the house down to the bottom of the garden fairly soon. These little jobs help keep my mind active and distract me from other things that I would rather not have to consider.

My blood test results came back on Tuesday and I am at the same level as 6 months ago. I am waiting for a call from the surgery to discuss, but the bottom line for me is that I have maintained my blood sugar levels below the diabetic threshold and so would like to get off the Metformin if I can. At the test this time I was not weighed in and nor did they take my blood pressure so I assume that they are not too bothered about either factor and that that is another good sign.

I have not weighed myself this week either. Last weekend I decided to let myself off the leash as far as food and drink intake was concerned, not that that means that I gorged myself, far from it, But I was doing a lot of physical work both paid and any home and so I ate to support that effort. As far as alcohol is concerned we shared our weekend bottle of wine as usual making it last two days and I did, on Tuesday, down a 500ml bottle of beer as a reward for finishing the greenhouse. Hardly a blow out and I have not had to loosed my belt off; if anything I have thought that I might need to open top a new hole soon.

With the holiday weekend coming up we might be a bit more generous with the food and drink. A second bottle of wine is traditional for us so that we get a glass and a bit each Friday through Monday. I am working every day except Sunday so it is like any other weekend to us. We will not get any visitors nor we will we go visiting so it will be js=ust us and the cats as usual. I will have a check weigh next Thursday just to see where I am and I will take it from there. Next week looks to be very cold again and that is not conducive to light eating, but the better weather is not far away and I will soon be back on salads for lunch. We have already started a policy of sharing a pear or an apple for afters at lunchtime and will try to keep that us. If it fends off temptations for a mid-afternoon snack then that is a good thing.

It is Friday afternoon now and I want to get this finished and uploaded before I settle down to cook tea (spare ribs and stuff to go with them, but cooked indoors; it is too cold for firing up the barbecue).

Take care all and stay safe, wherever you are.

the lockdown log 52


Well, that makes it a year and what a year it has been. Ignoring the plague, as best as I can, I am still working on the transformation of the back garden and am physically a different person. Mentally I am holding it together and do not think that I am any more, nor less, weird than I have ever been. Perhaps others should judge that though.

Tomorrow I go for my 6 monthly blood test and should know the outcome of that on Monday or Tuesday. I am hoping that my blood sugar results will still be down where they were last time and that I can reduce my Metformin dose or come off it altogether. I am not losing any more weight at the moment, but muscle build up may well be part of that. All of the heavy lifting and other activity that takes upon my afternoons is having a visible presence in the way some tee shirts are getting tight across the chest and shoulders (this time last year they were tight across the belly). I did have one moment of extreme hope earlier this week when I went for a weigh in before bed and the scales had me at 98.5 kg. I moved them to find an old fuse on the carpet beneath and they then gave me a more realistic 107 kg. Never mind.

My new greenhouse has the frame up, but I have found some other problems that need sorting before I finish it off. One of these is a couple of rotten deck boards that I will replace as soon as I can find the right sized timber and another is in dealing with my neighbour’s rotten fence that is now exposed. Project management was ever thus, but I will get there soon. Once the greenhouse is up and operational I can start work on some of the rest of what needs doing to get the deck functional again as a deck rather than a construction site. This time of year is one where planting starts and I am trying to get my head around the hanging baskets and what need to go into the areas that usually get planted with annuals.

Some of the management training and experience kicks in with this sort of thing and I find myself instinctively treating it all like work. I have a day book back in use for keeping To Do lists, sketching ideas, doing little for and against lists to help decide on problems and so on. I suppose that I did it for so many years it has just become second nature and I find that it does help me.

The skip has gone now so I am starting to get a pile of discarded or unwanted stuff that will had to go to the council tip soon. Most of the old shed is getting reused for various things and to such good effect that I might not have enough of it left to build the bench for the BBQ that I had planned on. I am a compulsive hoarder of things that might be useful though and may well have enough odd pieces of timber available. You’ll find out here in the coming weeks how I have got on.

I am writing this early on Thursday with the aim of getting the bulk of it written before nipping out on a shopping run around 0800 and then being able to get out into the garden for two or three hours before the rains that are forecast arrive around lunchtime. If I cannot work outside later then there are some inside jobs on the list that can take up my afternoon and then it will be time to cook dinner and another day off will be gone. I have some celeriac soup that I made last night for lunch today and tomorrow; just diced celeriac with a little garlic and about half an onion plus salt and pepper with water to make it liquid all whizzed up with the stick blender. I am not sure how it will taste, but it shouldn’t be too bad.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.

PS.

The promised rain not only arrived early, but we had a couple of showers through the morning so no power tools in use outside today. A very frustrating morning in that, in addition to weather delays, my plan for the greenhouse would not work. A re-think over lunch fixed that and good progress was being made when it chucked it down and I abandoned further work to come indoors and study the greenhouse assembly manual to get to grips with the next couple of stages.

I may have been an interrupted day, but I have got a significant part of the greenhouse build behind me now. The rain may be a benefit in that, sitting here, I realise how much the day has taken out of me. I have had to indulge in some serious contortions as well as using a lot of physical strength, things that I could have done easily even ten years ago, but which are a lot harder now. A paracetamol beckons I think and then half an hour with the Revitive before I start to cook dinner. Sole tonight – looking forward to that.

My labours have been helped a lot, at least mentally, by wearing my headphones and getting the old iPod into action. I do love my music and find that it keeps me in a good place when all about me is not going so well. It was a big factor in keeping me sane during my 6 weeks in hospital a few years back.

See you next week

the lockdown log 49


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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe wherever you are.lock

the lockdown log 48


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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 47


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

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

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

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

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

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

the lockdown log 42


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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe weever you are.