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Posts Tagged ‘Lockdown’

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 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 51


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe wherever you are.

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 45


Another week rolls by and we are still OK. My turn for a Covid vaccination must be close as a local couple I know around my age, albeit registered at another surgery, got their call yesterday evening. My arm is ready and waiting.

I said a week or so back that I had given up on the diet for now, but it is hard not to try and whilst I have not been recording my weight, I have been weighing in each week and so I was a little dismayed to find that in two weeks of sort of trying not to eat too much I had put on 3 kg and was back up to 109 kg last week (from a best of 104 in early December). This week I have been a little more focused and this morning’s check weigh gave me 106.5 (it thought hard about 106, but kept flicking back up) so I am taking the higher figure and accepting that I am going the right way again.

Dieting is hard because I like the taste of food. I like the mouth feel of eating many things and I also enjoy cooking so denying myself these pleasures is the only way forward and saying nom is not easy. Cooking most of our meals does allow me to control what goes into our meals. We eat very little pre-prepared stuff these days and most of what we eat is either fresh or from the freezer so we don’t have too many additives, preservatives and suchlike in our diet and I can also control fat and sugar content. Things like fat and salt do contribute and enhance flavour though and so neither is eliminated. Having tasty food helps so much because it is satisfying and you can get away with smaller portions. It is when we have something that leaves us cold that we are both looking for more.

The Berkshire Belle is also dieting although she is not weighing herself, rather she works on what clothes fit and whether she can get into clothes that used to fit, but haven’t for a while. It works for her and that is all that matters. It does no good to beat yourself up over these things. If you can keep a positive attitude I think that you have a better chance in the long run.

Today is my day off as usual, along with Sunday, and I was up at my local Sainsbury’s just after it opened at 0700. An hour later I was home with three bags of shopping and a slab of money lighter just in time for the fortnightly fruit and veg box delivery. We have a full fridge and pantry and there should be no need to brave the shops again until early next week when we will need milk. Soup off the day for today, and tomorrow, is a curious mix of leek and cauliflower made last night from remnants having cleared the veg drawer of the ‘fridge ready for today’s delivery. I fried off the leeks with a little oil and added a couple of cloves of garlic for extra flavour then put the cauliflower in and covered with water. Some salt and pepper for seasoning and left to simmer for about ten minutes before leaving to cool and the blitzing it with a stick blender. It is not the most appetising colour, but it was hot and filling at lunchtime and there is nothing added beyond the seasoning. I have a celeriac in the veg box and that will be roast to make the next batch of soup.

I was going to walk this afternoon, but it is chucking it down here in Swindon and I really don’t feel up to going out to get soaked. I have walked for a mile and a half today according to my tracker and had planned on doing around 5-6 miles, but I will find some indoor jobs instead. So far this year I have racked up 205 miles of exercise walking (329 km) so a bit of slacking off is maybe permissible. Last week I mentioned the Teenage Cancer Trust challenge to walk at least 15,000 steps Monday through Friday. I managed that without too much trouble, but it dawned on me too late that if I had just walked for about another 10 minutes each day I could have turned in 20,000 steps per day for 100,000 for the five days and I would have been happier with that than the 93,000 that I did record.

The garden has had some of my attention this week and another bin full of garden waste went out for the green recycling collection this morning. The days are drawing out steadily and I am looking forward to being able to spend more time out there once the weather gets a little more clement.

That’s it for this week. Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 44


The black cloud of last week evaporated on Friday and I was back to normal as quickly as I had left. Nothing happened either way as far as I could tell; there was certainly no special event that lifted my mood any mare than there had been one to plunge me into the abyss. Who knows how these things work?

It has been an eventful week with a blocked sink in the kitchen to start it off and my confidence in dealing with these things took a knock when my first two usual solutions both failed. In fact the second one seemed to make things worse, but a look at the internet showed me what I was doing wrong in applying my usual way of working to a double sink and once the logic of that had penetrated (it was blindingly obvious once I had been shown it) the blockage was cleared in seconds and the looming need to dismantle parts of the plumbing thus avoided.

The initial failure and ultimate success of the sink maintenance brought about a strangely satisfying feeling. The Berkshire Belle joked about me feeling all manly and I suspect that there was some primal thing about having faced a problem and beaten it. For some years whilst at the peak of my working life I sorted things out all of the time; “I like Bowen, he makes things happen.” was a comment from one of the directors of the group that I worked for for years and it is probably the part of my former life that I miss the most and so the sink issue had some significance: An easy problem that appeared to have become insurmountable, but which was then sorted made me feel good, especially so as I had learned something new about how to fix that problem in the future. I have long loved learning.

I don’t know how it affects others, but one mental health factor of lockdown is the amount of charity adverts that flood daytime TV commercial breaks. I appreciate that charities need funds, but the absolute barrage of misery that is pedalled is depressing beyond my comprehension. I have various defence mechanisms; I don’t watch too often, I do other things and, when all else fails, I resort to black humour. The Berkshire Belle absorbs it all and is often in tears to the point that she now records almost everything that she wants to watch so that she can view the recorded version and fast forward through the adverts. We are almost always watching yesterday’s TV these days.

Many years ago whenI was a suit I had funds to disburse to charities and used to consult my workforce about where to give help. Often the chosen charities were local ones and I hope that we were able to do some good. From a personal viewpoint I decided that I would adopt one charity and focus my donations and support there. I chose a charity that provided free mammograms for ladies in countries where such things had to be paid for. a link to that charity has appeared on my web sites and I have done what I can to keep that support up with my only deviation until recently being to support other breast cancer related appeals.

This Christmas, as I mentioned here in an earlier Lockdown Log, the BB and I decided to give what we would have spent on presents to charities that were supporting people here in the UK who were down on their luck and now I have, through work, signed up to support an exercise challenge for the Teenage Cancer Trust for whom I will be walking more that 15,000 steps each day Monday through Friday of this week. The first three days have gone well because IO have been at work and can do 15k without too much trouble there, but today is a day off and I need to walk for about two hours to get close. I will confess next week. I am not abandoning breast cancer as my chosen charity though.

Work in the garden is largely at a standstill as everywhere off the paths or deck is like a quagmire and I have pretty much tidied everything that I can reach. There are loads of new shoots and many bulbs are showing above ground now so the signs of Spring coming are all around. The days are drawing out too so there are signs of better times ahead.

Another week gone and we have survived. happy enough with that. Stay safe wherever you are.