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the lockdown log 34 & 35


Oops, I forgot to finish and publish last weeks lockdown log. Perhaps being distracted speaks volumes about how I feel right now, or at least, last week. Anyway, here goes with what’s happening in my bit of the world.

First off I’ll talk about the week before last. It was the second week of me trying vitamin D supplement again. I took it for a while last Winter and stopped, but neither of us could remember why. In light of suggestions that, for our age group, it had the additional benefit of helping ward of Covid I had started taking it again (the Berkshire Belle has been on it daily for some years).

I took the first dose on the Saturday evening and by Monday a general feeling of malaise had descended. this went on for almost two weeks until, when chatting about it, the realisation dawned that it coincided with me taking my daily D pill and so I stopped. I have a lot on my mind at the moment and didn’t think any further about it, but the next morning I bounced back into the house after work full of the joys of Autumn that I had to admit that my general feeling, physical and mental, had improved beyond measure. There are no side effects to vitamin D supplements as far as we know, but it certainly seems to have one on me.

That week we had had both the washing machine and dishwasher replaced and so had two lots of disruption as they came on different days. That has taken care of the holiday money for the holiday that we are not having. Given how things are in America right now we are glad that we are not there and hopefully things might be better if we can get over next year. Not that the change of government will contribute much.

I had managed to keep up with the diet and weight loss that week as well although there were some wobbles. Part of the problem was that we started to find things that needed eating and I had the choice of throwing things away or breaking the diet: I choose the latter. Those issues have also flowed into this week and have been compounded by a lack of willpower on my part whilst shopping in my local Morrison’s. The walk there and back racks up a couple of kilometres towards my exercise, but such activity is somewhat negated when the aroma of the in-store bakery allows my nostrils to overwhelm common sense. The scales may punish me tomorrow…

I have been trying to balance my afternoons between exercise walks and DIY, especially where the latter involves more that just a potter around doing a bit of weeding. The shorter days and inclement weather make every hour precious and whilst I could walk after dark I do not feel safe doing so. Equally I do not want to rejoin the gym as I have other things that I could do with the £20 a month. I have tried out a neighbour’s treadmill and do not enjoy it too much, certainly less pleasurable for me than walking. I am now upon to a staggering 746 km wince I started walking for exercise back in July and have an outside chance of breaking 1000 km by the end of the year.

Going back to the vitamin D, during my twelves days of taking it I suffered from all sorts of aches and struggled, not quite with depression, buy a general lack of enthusiasm for everything. I could not get comfortable sitting, standing or walking and although I slept reasonable well I woke top a lot during the night and did not feel rested when I got up. That all started within 24-36 hours of starting to take the single pill a day and it vanished in about the same timeframe of stopping. The only thing left over is an occasional feeling of impending doom that takes the form of something fatal happening to someone or something that I know. So far none has come true. Whether that is linked to the vitamin D or not I do not know, but it is something that I have felt once or twice before in my life that has now become a daily occurrence. It is not nice, but perhaps it is just a symptom of these times.

My various projects in the garden have progressed. Around 200 bulbs have been planted, much Autumn pruning has been cut and cleared and I have been busy with the paintbrush on days when the weather has been conducive.

We have made the decision this year that, as we have enough for our needs, that instead of presents we will give money to charities supporting people in need here in the UK. There seems little point in agonising about what to buy when the money can be useful to others.

So there we are. A hectic couple of weeks, but we are still here and healthy. Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 33


Back on track! Last week I flatlined on my weight loss. Some of it was due to to needing another change to kick things along, to having done very well in preceding weeks and to a complete failure in discipline. However, I had got my head back in the game and, after a week of trying hard, I have lost another kilo.

The lack of discipline was that my normal diet regime of one treat a day; too or three walnut halves or dried apricots turned into three or four treats a day. I was doing without thinking and although that alone may not have resulted in not losing any weight (for the first time in four months) it will have made a difference. So I turned the screw and the scales are showing the difference. Official weigh in day for the week is tomorrow, but I know that I have done it.

I have also passed the 600 km walked mark and am looking good to be able to make the 1000 km target for 2021, maybe even 1500 km is possible and that would be something. I just need to be a bit careful about various joints and the dodgy knees that I was first afflicted with back around 1978 are somewhat more vulnerable 42 years on. Weight loss may be healthy, but there is a cost:benefit ratio to be considered and there is no point in wrecking important bits of me in the pursuit of losing weight.

So how are we doing otherwise? For both of us depression comes and goes. It is easier for me because I have work and a list of jobs that will keep me busy for a year or more plus a few hobbies that I would like to get around to, but can’t find time. For the Berkshire Belle it is harder as she has less to occupy her and is bored out her mind. This is a lady who once ran the largest retail distribution network in Europe through a team of around 250 people. Easy to see how she feels that she is vegetating.

Lockdown 2 means very little to us as we don’t socialise, other than to receive a series of parcels each week. There is the weekly shopping trip and that might include two shops, but mostly is just to the one. I work, but have very little interaction with colleagues so it makes little difference to us to be locked down. It will not affect our Christmas either. The only real impact fr us is that we have not had our holiday this year and have concerns around whether or not we can get one next year either. But we are healthy, safe and well fed so we are not complaining.

The various garden projects roll on with priority currently being given to bulb planting. It is not a favourite job, but I always enjoy the results come Spring when they give a bit of hope for warmer times and longer days ahead. Other jobs this week have seen some failures and the latter do little to help my mood because there are less hours of daylight and any that are wasted I abhor. Still, there is some good weather forecast and I will do my best with that.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 32


Had we not had the plague I would this morning be in the US about to start my second full day there. Why it had not occurred to us that our arrival would have coincided with the presidential election I struggle to understand, but that was the date that we booked for and I have to say that I am grateful to Covid-19 for having cancelled our trip because the situation over there is a bit ugly to say the least and we would not have felt safe.

So here I am in the UK instead. The last week has flashed past and a lot has been achieved despite the weather. The shed has come on leaps and bounds with much interior fitting out and cedar shingles installed on the side if the roof that we see from the house. Bulb planting is under way and some of the general Autumn tidying has been done.

I mentioned wildlife last week and promised some more detail. About 10 days ago I caught a glimpse of a fox leaving the garden with a bit of a limp and having passed this news on to the Berkshire Belle she reported having also seen it earlier and thought that it was not walking well. The next day I was working in the shed when said for approached me. It was holding its back left leg up off the ground and looked in discomfort. I filed a plant saucer with water from the butt and it took a drink, but by the time that I had gone indoors to raid the deli draw of the ‘fridge for some cold meat it had gone.

I talked to a local animal rescue centre and they were happy to come and get the fox if I could lure it into the shed and keep it safe. I went to the local shop and got some dog food to leave out overnight and that vanished by morning, but I did not know who had eaten it and so a basic wildlife camera was bought and set up. That caught a fox and a hedgehog as well as several cats. The fox and the hedgehog had eaten the dog food, but the fox concerned had no problem walking on all four feet and there was no sign of one limping.

Did the lime fox get better or has it died? I doubt that we will ever know and I have stopped putting out food as I don’t want to become the fox equivalent of an all-night cafe. We are happy to feed the hedgehogs, but have not yet worked out how to feed one and not the other. Cunning plans are being formulated along =with the restoration of a hedgehog house down in the back corner of the garden.

We have both been through a bad spell this last week, the Berkshire Belle slumping into a really deep depression with the leaked news last weekend about another lockdown. That, plus a poorly fox, the dishwasher packing up, the washing machine showing signs of failing, the weather predicting a very cold snap plus a bad Winter and a few other little things pushed her over the edge. Her being somewhat stricken was enough to flatten me too and so I just threw myself into anything and everything that I could find to do. We have both climbed out of our respective holes and whilst not exactly cheerful we are not miserable either.

I think that I am going to have a plateau week on the weight loss. I must be about due for another one and may have to take that one on the chin and move on. Today looks like it will be a good one for garden chores and so bulb planting will be at the top of my job list once I have got other chores out of the way. If I can I might try for a long walk later to try and burn off a few more grams before the weigh in tomorrow morning. I have still no drunk my bottle of beer and I think that t will be staying in the ‘fridge for a while longer yet.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 31


A bit late this week as it has been a hectic one here, but we are both still functioning. This is being written on Sunday afternoon and so we know that we are heading for another lockdown if parliament vote for it on Wednesday. Do we need it? Buggered if I know; we will just have to cope with whatever it brings and will, as so far, do what we are asked to do.

I would normally have written this on Thursday morning, but I got up to find that the dishwasher had died and spent most of the morning checking the obvious things to see if I could get it going again, but to no avail: A new one is needed. Grabbing the chance to get some outside work done and an exercise walk in meant no time for sitting here blogging. Friday and Saturday vanished ion a blur of jobs and Sunday mornings are always housework time so here I am taking a few minutes after getting various month end stuff done on-line. The sun is out although it was supposed to be raining and I might have an unexp[ected chance to get some time in the garden before cooking dinner.

My weight loss is still going the right way and I am down to 107 kg having hit my 108 target the week before. I still have not drunk the bottle of London Porter that I had promised myself and it is sitting in the ‘fridge awaiting the moment when I feel I have really earned it. Something in my mental approach to dieting has gone awry here and I seem to have lost all focus. On that basis I have held my reward back even though the scales tell me that I have gone below the point that I had set.

This morning I went out and walked just over 6 km in just over an hour. I did not want to go out and, when I did, I did not want to go far, but I just got my head down and got on with it despite it not being a nice morning. This was another example of my head not being in the game and having to push myself to get on with it. There may be an element of diet/exercise fatigue creeping in after 4 months and I clocked up 500 km walked since July late last week. Walking gets in the way of my various DIY projects and as for my hobbies, well they are largely forgotten. I do not have enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do let alone having to coupe with clapped out domestic appliances.

Nil illegiti carborundum as we used to say and I fall back on buy basic principle that life is shit that you have to rise above. As long as I can still laugh about it and still get some results everything will be OK.

All for now as I have other things to get done. Next week I will try and fit in some news about the local wildlife. Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 30


Autumn has come, the leaves are falling heavily on the remnants of various Atlantic storm systems and it is generally wet and cold. Outside jobs are not much fun and neither is walking for exercise, but both are necessary, so how to motivate myself?

There is a serious issue here in trying to sustain the progress that I have made so far over the last year with the garden renovation and, since July, my weight loss. In terms of the former there is an element of burnout, but it is less critical in that I have the Winter to finish things off now. The weight loss program is more urgent and whilst I have lost a lot so far I know that there will be another plateau sometime soon and any slacking off will bring that on and/or make it worse.

At least I can deal with setbacks more often than not and if I do have a bad week with no weight loss, or worse a gain, I am sure that it will just drive me to regain my position over the next week.

The shed has finally arrived and is up. The picture below shows it as built and it has already been painted on the three sides that we can see, plus much of the interior. The back will get painted when I next get a couple of dry days, but before that I will put the shingles on the rear of the roof. The shed can then be pushed back into place against the fence and I can do the front shingles. The capping pieces are on order and will, hopefully, be here next week.

Time is my biggest resource issue at the moment. The days are getting shorter and there is a lot to squeeze in. When it is wet I will not run power out to the shed so am restricted to jobs that I can do with hand or battery tools. That is not too bad as the pressure is off and all I need to do is to make sure that I do a bit every day and weave into those jobs the annual stuff; I have over 100 bulbs to plant in the next three weeks or so for example, have leaves to clear, grass to cut and so on. It all helps to fill my days.

Over the course of writing this the sun has come out and the light makes everything seem more cheerful. I have a chicken roasting in the oven for dinner tonight though and there is the veg to go with it that need preparing and cooking. Any further outdoor activity will have to wait until tomorrow.

I hope that you are all well out there. Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 29


Back to work this week after using up the last full week of my 2020 holiday allotment. I still have two air three days to take before the end of November, but my main holidays are done for the year and, with the Law of Sod in full swing, I got home from work on Monday to get a call to say that the long awaited shed will be here on Saturday.

This was the key to completing the back garden project and should have been erected back in July. The furlough period had seen demand for such buildings rocket and had also slowed production so that a simple garden shed could not be had for love nor money. The original delivery date was given as late August and so, allowing for problems, I booked the middle two weeks of September off to paint and build it. Delivery slipped to September 9th, then to October 8th and now October 17th.

I can, at least, now start to plot what happens next and do as much as I can with the loss of the long, light, evenings and the more clement weather that I had three months ago. No matter, others have far more insurmountable problems in their lives.

A couple of weeks ago I was bemoaning the slow progress on my weight loss and the Berkshire Belle suggested that I make myself soup for lunch. We always have vegetables around and I do make us soup quite often when we have a surplus and so I began a soup only lunch programme. After about eight weeks of losing half a kilo a week I have lost 3 kg in a fortnight and am, in old money, 2 stone lighter that I was when I started this diet and exercise regime at the end of June.

I have also, this week, passed 200 miles walked (350 or so Km). My exercise walks also burn off, according to my App, about 2,500 to 3,000 calories a week. This is on top of whatever I burn off at work where I bang in between 5 and 8 miles a day five days a week. Less food in and more burned off; it is working for me. It helps that I am confident in the kitchen and can knock up a couple of day’s worth of soup at a time. It costs less than a quid a go and, so far, they have all been tasty.

I am fortunate in that I can, at times, invoke willpower. It does not always work, but in matters of health it does seem to kick in and help me out. It is not always easy to keep my head in the right place and I do have to distract myself a lot to avoid negative thinking, One of the things that is currently buzzing away in my mind is what do I do when I get down to a weight that is appropriate for my skeleton. Can I risk the odd treat or is it a bit like alcoholism and one Mars bar will ruin all of the good work? All I can hope for is that the willpower will still be there (or bloody mindedness) to stop any excess eating. Time will tell.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 28


In all of my Far East working I became used to seeing large numbers of people, in fact the majority, wearing faces masks whilst out and about. That was because of air pollution rather that avoiding infection, but nevertheless I got used to it. I did not adopt a mask myself though.

Now it is something that we have to do here in the UK in many places and I have got used to doing it, so much so that I often forget to take it off when I have left the store and started out for home. At work I currently use a visor as a face protector. I know that these have been shown in studies (I did read a Swiss one) to be less effective than a mask, but I can wear a visor without steaming up my spectacles too much and that is important.

It seems now that the visor is to be banned bye my employer and that I will have to wear a mask at work. I will work it out if that happens; I wear one in certain circumstances at work anyway and have got better at avoiding condensation problems. I will do whatever I am asked to do.

I mentioned my exercise regime last week and how it has helped, but on Saturday I had a fall and have been left with a couple of nasty grazes and some sore places. This happened whilst walking, but at a point in time when I was contemplating starting to try a jog now and again. I was never a fam of jogging; it was either running or walking for me, but then I had problems with my knees and was told to give up running on tarmac.

In recent times running on any surface was out of the question due to my weight, but the newer, slightly slimline, me had thought that it might be worth trying now and again and, whilst full on running might have been not such a good idea; I am still about 25 kg heavier than when I last ran for exercise, seeing others out jogging was tempting me. Having had a fall I am not so sure for whilst my Saturday concrete kissing moment was fairly mild the previous one a couple of years ago left me with nasal injuriess that have, so far, beaten the medics.

The Berkshire Belle has now got a taste for going out and this week we have had a ride out to Devizes, a market town about 20 miles away. This used to be a fortnightly trip for us as there is a very good butcher in the town. Since the Covid-19 crisis began we have been ordering our meat on-line from him and having it delivered, but felt that a ride out to collect our meat supplies would be nice. We didn’t sample any of the other shops there this time, but a run in the cool sunshine across the downs and through the ancient stone circle at Avebury is always a pleasure.

And so another week has passed by. Stay safe out there wherever you are.

the lockdown log 27


It was a good week last week in that the medical reviews came in from my tests of the week before and it was all good news. I have another call due this week to discuss medication with the doctor, but there is apparently nothing to worry about and I just need to keep on doing hat I have been doing for the last three months.

That good news is due, primarily, to my new diet and I have lost over 10kg, or a stone and a half in old money. The secondary cause is having got into an exercise regime. I still walk between 5 and 10 miles a day at work, but that is at no real pace and adding in an exercise walk later on the day has been key to helping the diet. I am burning off anything up to 3000 calories a week from these relatively short walks and it has made a visible difference to add to the test results from assorted bodily fluids.

Good physical health is helping with mental health and I have recalled how mentally sharp I became back around the early eighties when I took top soccer refereeing and trained regularly. It helped me enourmously as I scrabbled up the greasy pole of management back then and whilst I do not need that sharpness now having my head in a better place is useful in these trying times.

The Berkshire Belle is much more relaxed about going out now having had about five trips to the shops over the last couple of weeks. She is still uncomfortable wearing a mask, but is getting used to it. Being able to look around a shop and just buy something that she likes the look of has done a lot for her own mental health even if it is only food shopping at the moment.

My garden projects have been disrupted by the rain and wind over the last week to so as much of what I need to do involves painting or using power tools. I have also been changing priorities as there is no longer any point in trying to get the back garden ready for sitting out in; we will not be doing that now for a few months and so I am shifting my attention to the list of Autumn jobs that need doing.

Sorry that this log is a few days late. As per my “Oops” post the original version of this is stuck in my tablet and will not some out. Never mind; fixing that is a job for a wet afternoon perhaps.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.

the lockdown log 26


Well, here we are on a bright, if cold, Thursday morning six months on from my first Lockdown Log. How time flies, but we could be in for another six months yet if not longer.

I have had my first three month review since being diagnosed as Diabetic type 2 and the first results are OK. I get the rest of the news next week when the blood test data comes through. The only negative for me so far is that my knackered kidneys are showing a fractional potassium deficiency, but I have been there before and will get back on the daily bananas. My feet have been examined and found acceptable and I go for my eye assessment tomorrow, fortunately the centre is a ten minute walk away so I have no transport problems for getting home.

On the project front my new shed is not coming until next month according to the latest estimate. Not great news, but I have plans, F, G and H ready to deploy as necessary. Hopefully the rain will hold off today and I can get a decent day’s work done out there.

Somewhere in the timetable I will try and fit in another exercise walk. Since I restarted doing these at the end of June I have racked up just over 200 km (125 miles) and am going to try and double that by the end of the year. Next year I am going to go for 1000 km in the full year just in exercise walking (I also do over 10 km a day at work five days a week, but that doesn’t count). At the moment I am contemplating trying a 10 km exercise walk. Accepting that I do that easily in four hours whilst getting paid for it and that I have been told to stop power walking on tarmac because of aging joints I reckon that 10 km is going to take me over two hours and my real reluctance is in investing that amount of time. Watch this space…

The Berkshire Belle is over her fears of going out and we have made a couple more shopping trips plus one to the doctor’s for her ‘flu jab (I had mine when I went for my diabetic tests). She loathes wearing a mask like many do, but it is one of the things that we have to put up with. At least she is past that dread of going out and that has to be good.

Autumn seems to be upon us and I am trying to remember that there are various annual jobs that need to be plugged into my assorted projects. The gutters need maintenance, bulbs need planting, leaves need clearing up and the Hawthorn is dropping a large quantity of its fruit all over the front lawn just to list a few. All of this keeps me busy and stops me thinking too much about the bad things going on around in the world. Ignorance is bliss and I am happy to maintain my own degree of oblivion.

I hope that you are all doing as well as you can, so stay safe out there wherever you are.

the lockdown log 25


This week we have had a red letter day in that the Berkshire Belle steeled herself and let me take her out shopping. Apart from an occasional potter around the front or back yard it was the first time that she had been out of the house since February.

Confidence is important and suddenly she has that back in spades and that, in turn, has done wonders for me. When you care about someone it can drag you down too when they are having problems and so I am really pleased that we have made a step forward.

The new shed is starting to assume mythical properties. It was supposed to arrive at the local supplier last week and then their carrier was going to call me with a date for getting it to me. So far I have not cashed it as it isn’t really that important; I have plenty of other things to do, but it is an irritant and poor customer service in terms of communication.

Another delivery related to the shed has arrived and I thought that I had two problems; one in terms of damaged goods and the other being the wrong size had been supplied. I contacted the supplier using the relevant page on their web site last Friday and got a response yesterday morning (Wednesday) asking for photos. As I stood by the item later in the day ready to photograph it my ‘phone rang; it was the supplier asking why I had not responded to their email. Fact checking showed that I did have the right item, but I had been mislead first by reading mm as cm and then by assuming that the quoted dimension was length as the items is used lengthways. Wrong; the dimension is the width and so I did have the right things, just not enough of them and I need to have another measure and a re-think.

These things are the drawback to on-line shopping in that You can’t see and feel the item before you buy, but in the current environment buying on-line has become our norm for so much. Today we are due six deliveries two of which have arrived; one from the butcher ad one from the greengrocer. The fishmonger’s parcel is about 15 minutes away as I write this and Amazon will be here with the rest anytime up until around 7pm.

Today is a special day in that we have been together for thirty one years. Not bad for what many who knew us assumed would be a six seek wonder. There will be no real celebration of this milestone though, just a Thai style fish curry for dinner tonight and, probably, no booze either. We are trying to stay healthy and squeeze in as many more years together as we can.

My weight still comes off. Half a kilo, half a kilo, half a kilo onwards to paraphrase Tennyson. At this rate it will take me to the end of this year to make the target of 108 kg, which is 17 stone in old money, that I set myself before I could have another bottle of beer. This week has not been a good one in dietary terms, but a lot of physical exercise has presumably helped offset that. Another target passed this week is that my exercise walks have totalled 100 miles since I started back at the end of June. Meanwhile there is a bottle of London Porter by the wine rack awaiting my loosing another six kilos.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.