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life log #7


It was inevitable that we would see a resurgence of Covid here in the UK given the large gatherings to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee followed by the other Summer gatherings; Glastonbury, Wimbledon, Silverstone and the myriad of public events. At the supermarket last Saturday mask wearing was about 50:50 with non-mask whereas in recent weeks the mask wearers have been in the minority. I have not resumed wearing a mask whilst out and about as yet, but am seriously considering it.

I am at one of those times when my weight has come off the plateau and staring going up again and I am not sure what to do about reversing the trend. I am eating more fruit and burning off extra calories in the garden every day, but it is not giving me the right results. As yet I am not back on the scales, but there is a bulge around the middle that is giving me the indication that things are not going well.

Somewhere in my mind is that mental switch and once I can find it I can, maybe, start making a difference again. I am allowing myself a few indulgences to keep me cheerful, for example once or twice a week after a heaving afternoon in the garden I allow myself a can or bottle of beer. Those will have to stop. As much as I enjoy them, as a treat, a reward and for the pleasure of a cold drink, they are empty calories. There are always tough choices to be made and I really should be thinking of my health in the long term rather than a little instant gratification.

I am grateful for still being fit and healthy enough to do what I do. The other afternoon I got the big ladder out and spent a couple of hours working across the front of the house at bedroom window level. I don’t know how many times I was up and down that ladder, but my legs knew all about it a couple of days later reminding me that I am almost seventy and not still in my twenties. I did it though and, despite the balance problems that I have from the mouth cancer operations back around 2008-10 (scar tissue has almost closed the tubes to my left ear) I was quite comfortable working at height and very pleased that I can still do all this stuff.

Mental attitude plays a lot in how you feel and what you believe that you can do. I try not to over think about some of these things because it is very easy to convince myself that something is going to be too hard. Equally there are times when I launch into something without thinking through the consequences such as the afternoon that I shifted just over a hundredweight of gravel in the full sun. I need to balance optimism and pessimism a little better perhaps.

The garden has yielded a couple of portions of mixed berries so far, we have tomatoes forming and the bean, carrot and dwarf cucumber plants are looking healthy. This is another bad year in the herb garden though as my parsley has not done well at all and the two sage plants, that had been coming along well, have both died. The only herbs that is thriving are the chives, several of which have been planted as companion plants to the roses as they are supposed to help ward off black spot and the rosemary hedge by the front door that is rampant again after a savage prune over the Winter.

Gardening is very much like life: You have to work at it and, even then, not everything will work out. Bad things happen and it is how you deal with them that counts.

Enough for now. Stay safe out there wherever you are. 

life log #6


Wow! Three months since I last wrote one of these. I am not sure why it has been so long, but it may just be that I have been too involved in other things.

I write best when I am quiet. Music is about the only sound that does not put me off, but sometimes it does distract me as well. My most prolific writing times were when I was working from home and the Berkshire Belle was still at work. She would go off to the office about a quarter to eight every morning and then it would be just me and the cats. I had about eight blogs on the go as well as writing for magazines and other projects. I could knock out twenty to thirty thousand words most days and, whilst I have never made a fortune from my scribblings, I didn’t do too b badly at earning a few bob either.

Things change though and I haven’t written for publication for six or seven years now other than a few things as an industry pundit, but they don’t pay or really count as writing. I seem to have too many other things that occupy my time and have not felt the need to inflict my thoughts on the world at large. These life logs started out as lockdown logs and seem to have developed a following as pretty much every day there is some feedback on them so I apologise to anyone who has wondered where I had got to.

Most of my time since March has been taken up in my back garden. The fencing contractors came in May and that was the catalyst for a lot of things to get started. I still have a lot to do and there is the daily maintenance of what I have done to take care of so I can easily spend an hour a day just on the latter. I now have a back garden that is habitable and have been able to just sit out there and read a couple of times. Maybe I can sit out there and write too.

The Double B and I have stopped wearing masks when out shopping and I no longer wear one at work. Neither of us is that comfortable with the decision, but we felt that we wanted to try and move a bit more back towards the way that things were. She has had her second booster and it seems that I will get mine in the Autumn. We are still carrying masks with us in the car though in case we decide that we want to use them. One possible side effect is that I have have had almost no sinus pain over the Covid period where I have been wearing a mask for between 3 and 4 hours a day, but within days of stopping masking up I am having problems again. Was recycling that humid breath beneficial? Who knows.

We are still undecided about a holiday this year, but will have to make a decision soon. We are both desperate to have a break, but can’t face the hassle that seems to prevail at the moment. Our type of vacation always involves scheduled flights on mainstream airlines and between primary hubs, so things might not be too bad, but 2 or 3 hours queuing for immigration or security is not too much fun, especially for the Berkshire Belle.

Anyway, that’s it for now and I will try not to take so long before the next one.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.

life log #5


Still no weight check. No excuses, I just have not cleared out the office to reveal the scales. I am not eating to excess, but nor am I being that frugal and I know that I have to do something about that.

I am getting plenty of exercise. Work puts about six miles on the clock on each of the five days a week that I turn up at the office and, on those days I usually end up with about seven and a half miles in total. So far this year my total mileage is 351.6 (565 km). This is way down on last year when I was really pushing for over 4000 km for the year, but it is still respectable and I am in the top 3% of the 110,000 plus people using the app that I record my exercise on.

Work also exercises other bits of me besides my legs and the recent rodent repellent activities have seen a lot more of me getting stretched that usual (more on that shortly) so I am burning off calories at a decent rate through the day. The issue is more about cutting back on the number of calories going in than the amount I burn off. ‘Twas ever thus.

The noises in the cavity wall and loft have diminished so I am hopeful that my anti-rodent actions are having an effect. I am struggling a lot more up there that I used to. Our home is a typical product of the 1970s with inverted W trusses at about two foot intervals and I have grazes on both shoulders from scraping them on a regular basis plus more than a few on my head. I have bought myself a new headband torch (I can’t find my old one) the help me see my way around up there. I do have a loft light, but there is so much stuff that most of the place is in shadow and holding a torch means trying to sort stuff one handed; there have been several avalanches.

The rodent problem does mean that I have tackled the problem of a loft full of stuff with some focus at last. I a week five bin bags full have been extracted; old Christmas decorations, clothes that we will never wear again, many boxes of magazines and goodness knows what else have gone to the recycling centre so far and there is more to come, a lot more. Life laundry is the name of the game.

In the garden we have loads of bulbs showing although many of the daffodils (and related species) have come up blind this year which is a disappointment. The fairly mild Winter has allowed a lot of stuff to survive and my efforts at planting perennials seems to be paying off. At the moment my priority is to get all of the vulnerable plants and everything that lined either side of the garden out of the way for the fencing contractors arrival early next month. Whilst out there I have been trying to visualise what might be possible once the new fences are up. It looks as though I have a few days of decent weather to spend out there and so the loft clear up may go on hold, hopefully not to be neglected.

We are still both Covid free, still wearing masks around the shops and I still wear my mask pretty much all of the time at work. I was going to go to a swapmeet last Sunday, but the organiser posted a photo on Facebook showing the venue set up and ready to open with not a mask in sight amongst the stallholders. It put me off and I didn’t go. Cowardice? Yes, but here in Swindon we have one of the worst records in the UK at the moment for new infections so I am happier with a yellow streak. We are watching the travel situation with interest as we would very much like to go away this Autumn having kissed the last two years, but…

It helps that we are both anti-social. We have both had to put on a show in our jobs over the years meeting and being nice to all sorts of people and it is a joy not to have to do it so much these days. It isn’t that we don’t like people, we just prefer our own company. I tired to explain it in a note to my step-son yesterday and maybe I didn’t get the message over too well, but we have been together now for more than half of our adult lives and we like our own world. Lockdown has probably made us even worse.

I’ll wrap up here. It’s eight o’clock and I want to get the day under way, so stay safe out there wherever you are. See you next time.

life log #3


so much is happening that it barely seems credible that I am already 6 weeks into 2022. I have been writing, but have there or four blogs that are not quite ready to publish; I seem to have lost that ability to bring some of these things to a conclusion, but it might also be indicative of the decision paralysis that afflicts me from time to time these days.

Our kitchen has featured some of the events that have occupied me. Back in November our combination microwave oven developed a fault and when the first engineer called in December a dud hearing element was diagnosed. A new one was ordered along with a replacement mechanism to set the timer as that was playing up too. The new part arrived between Christmas and New Year (we had had use of the oven for over a month by then) and whist the heating element was successfully fitted the other part was not the right one and so another spares order was created and a third visit booked.

Engineer number three arrived in mid-January and was somewhat taken aback by our 18 year old Neff. In reassembling it things did not go well and the upshot was an oven that we could no longer use. Our service contract offered an equivalent replacement and this was duly ordered, but fitting was to be at our expense and arranged by us. A few days later and we had our new Bosch product up and working.

That focused me a bit on my plans to replace the gas hob. I had come around to the thought of an induction hob, but there was a problem in that the ones that plug into a 13 amp socket are limited in terms of the total power available; you can’t have all 4 rings on full power at once. I won’t go into the complications of why fitting a 32 amp supply was not an option, but the bottom line was that it would have to be another gas hob.

So last Sunday, about two years after I had decided that I wanted to replace the old hob, I pressed the button to buy a new one. It arrived on Monday and was fitted yesterday in time for me to cook lunch for the Berkshire Belle. Finally it is done and the saving grace, I suppose, is that I had started putting away £10 each month as an emergency fund about 4 years ago and so there was a small cache of cash available.

Not content with us being without our combo oven all over Christmas the heating boiler shut itself down the weekend before last and left us without heating or hot water for 36 hours until we could get our man to call (he was due to do the annual service that week anyway. The fault was a minor one and was, thankfully, fixed in minutes for which we are duly grateful for the tolerance to cold that we had as children in an age before central heating was common is long gone. The Berkshire Belle first enjoyed central heating in about 1974 and for me it came 5 years after that with the second home that I bought as an adult.

I have not weighed myself for nearly two months and am conscious that there is a bit more of me around the middle than there was the last time that I stood upon the scales. I am not consciously eating more, but perhaps the Winter weather has curtailed some of the outdoor activity that might have burned off additional calories. I do need to face up to the scales of doom and find out though. I shall report next time.

Some garden labouring has begun as I have decided that I cannot wait another year before sorting out my back garden fence. I am in the usual battle with contractors who are, hopefully, much better at their job than they are at communicating, but I hope that I can get the work done before the end of March and that will open the door for some serious garden activity. In the meantime I have added another 50 snowdrops and 25 bluebells to the garden collection along with some other plants bought at random and on a whim.

Planting things that come up for a week or three once a year brought home the fact that I may not have many more years to enjoy them. I try not to let such thoughts crowd in on me, but it is hard not to. Having said that, as I sit here typing at the dining table and glancing out of the window from time to time, I have just seen a wren dance along the low front fence. We do seem to have a few more garden birds this year even if we have lost the big squadron of assorted tits and sparrows that used to entertain us. They are always a delight and that’s a good note to close on.

Stay safe wherever you are.

life log #1


Starting off a new series here having retired the lockdown logs last week. I’m not sure that life log is the best title, but it will do for now, so here we go.

I was bemoaning last time that I still had work to do on the weight loss front, but in clearing my bedroom office I came across a box of clothes buried deep at the back. One of our cats had adopted it as her latest nest, although why she liked the plastic lid of a storage crate more than one of her several beds I don’t know, but it became her favourite spot for a couple of weeks until the other day when the bathroom mat took precedence. Sans moggie I pulled out the crate and found treasure in the form of eight pairs of shoes that I haven’t seen for some years along with some shorts and a pair of chinos.

The chinos were a 42 waist and they fit! I have come down from a 46 waist via 44 and am now comfortably into another size down. Weight loss is one thing, but the loss of more inches is another and the psychological effect is well worth having. The Berkshire Belle, who voluntarily joined in on my dietary regime to show solidarity, is down three dress sizes and I am so pleased for her. It makes the sacrifices more worthwhile.

We have not been out much this last week, just a couple of supermarket runs, and, with Christmas party season upon us, we probably will not got out for another meal now until after the holiday break. I have an evening work drink gathering the weekend after next, but will not be going. A crowded ‘pub is not where I want to be right now. We have been talking about an opportunity for an evening meal towards the end of January and, for now, have decided against that on the basis that it promises to be a full house and we are not comfortable with the risk. For the same reason I have decided not to book for a concert in February. We may be wimps, but these are our lives and what we have left of them is precious.

Time does fly and it seems impossible that 2021 is almost gone. There was a lot of comment a while back that we should not count 2020, but at least I seemed to get a lot done that year. This one has just vanished and my job list does not seem to have gone down with it. The speed at which the days go by is another reason for trying to make the most of our time together. Will we make it to 40 years? Who can tell, but we both have a desire to try and make every hour count.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log, an end and a beginning


A few logs back I mentioned that I had been having equipment problems in getting these logs uploaded. This turned out to be related to software updates where the operating system for the devices and the software versions for WordPress were out of synch. I had resurrected my old HP travelling laptop and that, running Windows 7, seemed to be fine and I have happily been writing my log each week since.

Until now that is, and this week when I had to temporarily retire that old HP pending replacing a part. Having reverted to my MacBook I find that none of the last four or five logs are out there in cyberland. I know not why, but I was feeling that a change was in the air, that the Lockdown Logs had run their course, and so this has made it easy to make that change.

I had started the lockdown logs during lockdown and we aren’t locked down any more. If we behave ourselves we can, I hope, avoid another lockdown so the weekly log seemed a little out of place, at least under that banner. The logs have developed a small following though and so I shall carry on, but under a new title; LifeLog perhaps? I have another week to make a choice.

On the subject of choices I got a call from my doctor’s surgery ten days ago to make an appointment for a diabetic review. That spurred my into the decision to stop my daily treats in an attempt to kick-start a further weight loss. I have written here before about my perception of eating habits with alcoholism. I understand that they are not the same thing, but I try to adopt a similar attitude in taking things a day at a time and being able to go to bed at night and say that this has been a day when I have not strayed.

I was able to check my test results on-line yesterday and all looks good. Of the other tests on the day things were also good; my weight was down from last time, there were no problems with my feet or circulation. The only negative was my blood pressure, but I had walked vigorously to the surgery and my pulse rate was up so I have been asked to check my BP at home twice daily and keep a diary for a week (I haven’t started yet). After the tests at the doctor’s I walked around the corner to the health centre for my diabetic eye tests. The results from the pictures of my retina should be through in a couple of weeks, but the basic, how far down the chart can you read, tests were OK.

So I am feeling a little positive. All being well I will finally be able to reduce my Metformin intake from 4 a day to 2 and that might have a beneficial impact on my digestive output. Whilst I have not had too many problems with one of the more unpleasant side effects of Metformin, I do have the occasional problem and I would be very happy to put these behind me. Another good thing from the doctor’s is that my scales and theirs agree so I am not deluding myself with the results I get at home. I am 6 kg over my best weight from about a year ago so I have no room for complacency, but the problem is that whilst I do not like being heavier than I want to be I do like eating. It is another of those choices.

As reported inn the missing blogs the Berkshire Belle and I have had our Covid boosters and our ‘flu jabs so we are as protected as we can be for the moment. We are still avoiding going out to crowded places, but have had a few lunches out recently, some to celebrate important dates and others just for fun. That has stopped as it is getting into Christmas party season and we always avoid that time of year. It will also help the wallet and purse a little; eating out is expensive as well as not being too good for the waistline.

Stay safe out there wherever you are, and thanks for sticking with me.