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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 36


Here in North Wiltshire it is grey, wet and cold. The days are short and whilst that does not bother me overmuch, apart from making outdoor projects more difficult, art depresses the Berkshire Belle enormously. With everything else that we have to cope with she is not doing too well at the moment and that tends to drag me down.

We have a lot to be thankful for; we have avoided catching this plague that is upon us and, even if we are a bit short on the psychological and emotional fronts, we have enough for our physical needs. That has motivated us to give the money we would have spent on Christmas presents to charity and, on the p[ronciple that charity starts at home, we have chosen charities that are supporting people in need here in the UK.

Assuaging our guilt? No, and these gifts do not provide any warm glow for us either, rather they add to the depression, for me anyway. We know that our donations are not enough to make any difference and opening up this world disturbs me; my Ostrich mentality is partly what gets me through (along with an very black sense of humour). I know that there is misery, p[overty and all sorts out and about, but choose to close my mind to it because otherwise I doubt that I could cope. What we have we have earned. I still work to make the difference between income and expenditure and we are comfortable so we have decided to give away cash that we would otherwise spent on things that might have provided pleasure, but which we do not need.

I am still losing weight and have now passed a milestone in that I have lost what we used to call three stone. That milestone leaves me a little short of getting down below 16 stone (100 kg), but it marks a point at which I will slow down the dieting a little. Weekly weigh ins will continue and any sign of gain will result in a further cut back on intake, but I am taking the focus off for now.It has surprised me just how much thinking and planning goes into dieting and I will enjoy using that time for other things. Dieting also involves time in making soups and such and that is more time that I might be able to save a little of to put to other uses.

Exercise still plays a big part in my days and I am on track to, if I can keep it up, pass the 1000 km walked mark by the end of December. I am going to get very close and so am aiming to go for it. Of course if I can do it in 6 months then I should be looking to do 2000 km in the full year 2021, but that is for the future.

My hobbies have come back into focus a little in that I have found a guitar tutor book that I have been able to connect with and that has seen me practising a little almost every day and, as always with practice, seeing some improvement. It has also helped the grey cells as I have been working on the theory and well as the physical. I am almost back at school in my approach using a little exercise book and writing stuff down, giving myself little tests and so on. It all helps to occupy my mind when there is nothing of interest on TV (most evenings). I am also reading a lot more at the moment and have thoughts of perhaps a little model-making over the Winter.

Predictive text is giving me a hard time this morning so I will stop now, quickly re-check this document for howlers and get it published. Stay safe out there wherever you are.

the lockdown log 23


The twenty-third in this series reminds me that we are almost six months into this plague. Despite the rantings of some about the way things have been handled here nowhere is doing that well overall and it seems that we are stuck with the bug until a vaccine becomes available.

Here in Swindon the sudden surge in Covid-19 cases has slowed again although we are still an area of concern to the authorities. Personally I feel no more or less vulnerable than I did back in March and plough on regardless. I have worked all the way through apart from a week off in May and will be taking another couple of weeks off from this weekend.

Some time off will help with a focussed effort on my various domestic projects and I am looking forward to making some good progress. I will so my best to get things done despite the weather.

My diet/exercise regime continues to prune off about half a kilo a week, or just over a pound in old measures. I am told that this is good and remember my first wife getting similar advice during her many diets. Loose slow and it stays off longer or something like that. Whatever, it is steady progress in the right direction, I am over a stone lighter than I was eight weeks ago and when I go back to see the medics at the end of the month hopefully they will be pleased with the results three months on.

One aspect of the weather interruptions to my outside projects is that I have dug out ukulele and guitar and started to practice a little each day. Not much, sometimes just five minutes here and there, but it brings both the pleasure of (occasionally), getting something right and the frustration of cocking it up. It is good for the grey cells apparently so I shall keep it up and, once it becomes safe to do so, will try and find some local gathering or other where I can get to play with others.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.

on the generation gap


An incident this week illustrated the generation gap to perfection. I was at one of the sites that I work at on a regular basis and where, amongst the team of twenty or so, we have people from early twenties through to me in my seventh decade. The youngsters usually have some of their music on and down the years come my father’s words about the music I and my sisters enjoyed back in the sixties; “What a racket” or something similar. Read more…