Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Covid-19’

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.

the lockdown log 24


News that we can have gatherings of no more than six presents no problem here. Apart from tradespersons no-one has been near us for the duration and we are quite happy with that. The realisation that we are stuck with this plague for the Winter has struck the Berkshire Belle rather hard and she ended her birthday very upset.

I have been accepting that it would be at least next Spring before things might have a chance of getting better for a while now so, for me, not much has changed. Life is different and I have, and will continue to, try and adapt to it. I go to work five days out of seven, do the shopping and try to fill up the rest of my week with things that need doing along with things that don’t need doing other than to take my mind off everything else.

My lady and I have very different outlooks. My glass is always half full, hers half empty so we have a full glass between us and the fact that we recognise that somehow helps. Another key difference is that she has to know and will delve into things with a passion. I prefer the ostrich method and really don’t need to know until I am ready at which point I will do my own research, but I only do that when my head is in the right place to deal with what might be bad news.

One of the hard things at the moment is in dealing with each other and our respective moods that can change in seconds. You do this in any relationship, but in times like this when there is a considerable strain from an external source it gets hard. You are dealing with your own mental health as best as you can, but you cannot fail to be influenced by the people with whom you share your life.

Something that we both learned in trying to cope with our respective Mothers as they slipped into dementia was that you cannot expect logical thinking to work when dealing with people who are not rational. If you do you just exacerbate the problem that you are trying too solve. Things that work one day will not work the next (sometimes not even later the same day) and it can be like walking on eggshells in trying to be supportive.

Yesterday was one of those days when an anticipated threat failed to turn up and, despite assurances, we have been lied to. Today we have to try and resolve the problem and whilst, as experienced managers in the field concerned, we know exactly what should happen and what needs to be done to make that happen we have our doubts as to whether it will be resolved without much stress for us. Such things are of little import to many, but they are to us in the here and now.

Still, the sun is shining, we have food in the house for the weekend, I am another half kilo lighter than last week and I have my first exercise walk of the day logged (2.5k). I am already started on the day’s job list so let’s see how things go. It’s Friday so we can share half a bottle of wine tonight (saving the other half for tomorrow). A simple pleasure that will hopefully end a successful day.

My various project continue to progress. I wrote ion my Monday Musings blog the other day about the principle that the more you learn the less you know and the same thing goes for many DIY activities in that the more you do the more you have left to do. So many jobs that seem simple reveal other problems that need to go onto the list and then you get into trying to sequence these into everything else that you were planning.

Back in January when I started planning my major assault on the back garden I had no idea that were were going to get into a lockdown with all of the consequences that was to bring. I am a long way off on some of my objectives as I am still waiting for my new shed, but I am well ahead on some other things and have many other jobs completed early so overall things are not too bad. As long as I can keep up the ratio of good days to bad it will work out well. I am hoping for some good Autumn weather so that the last big job, sanding and repainting the deck, can by done before Winter sets in. There I am at the hands of Mother Nature.

Around and about my local supermarket has done away with their controlled access to the store and to the tills. There is the usual mix of people who observe social distancing and a few that do not as well as one or two that are not wearing masks correctly, but I do my best. I shop as often as possible at times when the stores are quiet and we order on-line as much as we can (as with the delivery above that failed yesterday). So far we have avoided the plague, but one of my niece’s and her partner were not so lucky. Fortunately they appear to have both recovered.

And so another week passes. Stay safe out there.

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.

the lockdown log 22


The weather fluctuations continue to thwart me on the things that I need to do around the house and garden and so I find myself doing other things that I had planned to keep me busy over the Winter. I have long loathed the ToDo list, but I am starting to think that I do need to sit back and make a list of jobs to avoid losing focus.

Today I managed to get a few external chars out of the way before the rain set in, but am now sat by the front room window typing this as the rain steadily falls. The weather radar shows now sign of the rain stopping much before it gets dark, but from the kitchen I have the aromas of the curried carrot soup that is cooling on the hob and the belly pork joint that is slow cooking to provide tonight’s dinner. Cooking is always a pleasant distraction on days like this and it also provides some personal fulfilment; that primeval urge to provide for the family.

In will be ducking my afternoon exercise walk this afternoon too. There seems little point in getting cold and wet and, in anticipation of dud weather, I have almost walked my target for the week anyway so I shall skive off today and see what tomorrow brings. These walks are important in terms of my seeking to loose weight and, after losing around 7kg so far I have plateaued somewhat so I need to balance my reluctance to go out in inclement weather with the desire to beexpelled from the fat bastard’s club.

One of my side projects at the moment is putting together something of a personal history. I began to do this about 12 years ago when my Mother was slipping away and dementia had robbed me of chance to talk about some of the family background. She died without revealing the Mystery of the Bowens, but my son’s research into the family tree put us in contact with the half-brother that I suspected, but did n to have any proof of. It solved some of the mystery, but not all and so I felt that I should leave something for my children should they be interested.

I have been working my way through what I remember of our lives through from when I was born through until now. It is odd how memory is flawed, for some of the dates that I would have sworn were when events occurred have proved to be out. My efforts are not hampered by an industrial accident back in early 1972 that saw me rendered unconscious and unable to recall much of the previous 18 months. I do have some documents that give me key dates and from them I am trying to piece the rest together.

It has provided something else to use the grey matter on and that can only be good, especially at the moment. Research can be frustrating, but it can also be rewarding. The internet has an astonishing range of opportunities and today I have, from the comfort of my dining chair here, visited the four houses that I lived in before I settled where I am now all via Google StreetView. It has also given me a 4 year old view of where I sit now and the improvements since are very noticeable.

Seeing the old houses has brought back a variety of memories and has also reminded me that I have lived almost half of my life here. There must be something in the water.

Stay safe one and all, wherever you may be.

the lockdown log 21


Time rolls by and there seems no end to this plague as yet. Here in swindon we are making a bid for the nation’s top spot and, having been in the top ten for a couple of weeks or so, are closing in on the top five. Not that this is anything to be proud of.

Our problems seem to be in two areas where ethnic minorities have set up home. I can remember working with some of the immigrant community from this part of town and being shocked to hear them talk of their overcrowded conditions, not that they saw it as a problem. Different cultures and expectations; fitting twenty people into the sort of two bedroomed house that my mother had lived in seemed ridiculous to me, but my background was very different to theirs.

The irony that the EMEA peoples are more likely to suffer from Covid-19, and for it to have a more severe impact, when they live in multi generational and, by my standards, overcrowded homes where it will spread more quickly is not lost on me. It is sad that people who have come to the UK to escape troubles that I cannot imagine in their homelands are now under such threat from a new enemy.

In my corer of the town life goes on as the weeks roll past. The weather is thwarting some of my efforts, but it looks as though I will have a dry day today to treat the deck with stain ready for the new shed’s arrival in a couple of weeks or so. That will also need painting inside and out before assembly so I am hoping for about three days of dry weather then.

I am back on my head in the sand attitude and am not looking at the news (I only know about the Covid situation here because the Berkshire Belle delights in telling me these snippets) and am largely avoiding social media where the political ranting of my Leftie friends I find moronic rather than amusing me as it usually does. I take each day as it comes and try not to think too far ahead beyond my personal projects. It works for me and fends off the worst of the depression that is luring too close at hand for comfort.

I am off to do some work. Stay safe out there wherever you are.

the lockdown log 20


Weather extremes are messing with my efforts to keep my various projects on track, the extreme heat not being conducive to labouring outside nor for some of the indoor jobs and now heavy rain has further complicated things; traipsing mud around is not popular and I have to wait for things that I could not paint because it was too hot to dry out before I can paint them.

These are the sort of buggerment factors that all project manage to face up to and I will manage somehow. The year is slipping by and it is now barely light when I get up at five in the morning and darkness is falling by around nine in the evening. There is still much to do if I am to meet my self-imposed plans, but if I look back there is a huge amount completed. I have written in my Monday Musings blogs about the need to occasionally stop and look back to see how far you have come and it is an important psychological boost when you start to feel that you are losing momentum.

Having written my last Monday Musing on crisis management I had to put my abilities into practice last week when one of the local foxes wandered into the house and then went berserk trying to get back out. Fortunately keeping calm and being patient Reynard was persuaded to leave, but in its blind panic it took a while for it to realise that it was rushing past an open door in its attempts to get out of a window. No damage was done in the house and the fox seems to have recovered as it has been several times since.

Such diversions are not always welcome, especially when, as happened here, I had just got everything ready to start a job when I was called shift our furry visitor. By the time that I had got rid of it, helped to restore order in the house and discussed with the Berkshire Belle (who had taken it all very calmly) how we could prevent further incursions I had largely gone off the idea of what I had gone out to do. Certainly it took me so long to get my head back into the game that I didn’t get the job finished.

With the Law of Sod in full swing it appears that my deck stain sill be delivered today or tomorrow. I will re-check the directions, but given that the weather has broken (after the thunder storm of last night it has already rained three times this morning in the two and a half hours that I have been up. Looking at the forecast my chances of getting the new decking fry enough to stain look bleak for the next ten days or so. Ho hum; Plan M I think I am up to now.

I cut my hair again this week, the fourth self-haircut of this Summer. My usual barber has apparently reopened, but I am a little twitchy about going there as we have a significant upsurge on the Covid-19 front here. So another sit in the back garden with the clippers and using my ‘phone camera as a substitute mirror has, at least, tidied me up again. In the process of using the ‘phone to check my work I inadvertently took a selfie; who is this old git I see before me? Small wonder that they want me to wear a mask when out; it must make me look less frightening. Age creeps up…

One of the biggest problems we face at the moment is that hope is being drained. I can only speak from a personal perspective, but the little things that we enjoy as a couple; going out to shop, to eat or to visit places is lost for the foreseeable future. An end to the pandemic is not in sight and we are trying to adapt, but many of the things that brought us joy are out of reach. Yes I know that there are millions worse off than we are and that we have many privileges that others crave, but that is where we have to try and get our mindset changed. We have become used to being free to do what we can afford to do and now we can’t much of that and, because we think that is is sensible, are choosing not to do other things.

This week we have learned that one of my nieces and her partner have bought Covid-19. Fortunately they seem to have been only mildly affected, but they are the first people that we know that have caught it and even though they live an hour’s drive away it somehow brings it closer.

At the end of the day we have each other and that matters enough to keep us fairly sane in these weird times. We hope that you are all staying safe too.

the lockdown log 19


Not a great week for us here in Swindon as we have rocketed into the Nation’s top ten, possibly even the top five if some reports are to be believed and are therefore under the threat of a lockdown. People locally are frightened a little more than they were.

Talk of a lockdown for the over fifties would impact on me. I am classified as a key worker, but that might not count if things change and my employer is a caring one and has already furloughed a pregnant colleague so even if I am exempt in a regulatory sense I might get bounced anyway. Wait and see. I shall not worry about it as it is out of my control, but I will have to think about how I deal with not being the hunter gatherer as I am now.

This worldwide plague is not going away and we obviously need a vaccine to counter it. We don’t have one yet, but seemingly we could be close. The problem with these things is that you only know in hindsight if you have got it right and that makes life very difficult. All we as individuals can do is to be responsible and try not to catch it or spread it.

WAs that a pig I just saw fly past the window? Probably not and the chances of everyone behaving responsibly are the same as me seeing a flying porker. Whilst I do not look to social media for intelligent debate I do read things there and the level of stupidity and ignorance is breathtaking even if you take out the politically motivated stuff. It is a shame that Covid-19 is not selective enough to take out these people.

Anyway, enough ranting for now. We are coping here well enough and remain healthy so I have little to complain about beyond the thoughts above. The world still turns and I get to see the sun and moon in turn. Our lives are different, but we still have them and I am grateful for that.

The weather is very erratic this year, again, and there can be no doubt that we are having to live with the effects of climate change. What the balance is between the natural world doing what it has done since the beginning and the efforts of certain portions of humankind I don’t know, but we try to do what we can to help. I understand that my efforts are puny in the wider scale, but every little helps and so my revamping of the garden includes plans to go from four water butts to five and space is being made for a second compost bin (although I am not sure we have enough waste to justify another one).

All of these little projects help to occupy my mind. I like solving puzzles anyway and the intellectual challenges of my assorted projects, no matter how small they are, does help to keep me amused, if at times frustrated. Anything is better that sitting around wasting my days; I know that I don’t have too many left now so I try to make them all good ones.

Stay safe out there, one and all.

the lockdown log 18


Last week the garden project took a big step forward and I needed to stop faffing about and get a new shed. My problem is that when I started all of this off about four months ago I could have had a shed delivered within two or three weeks, but now three to four months seemed to be the norm. Where am I top to now; plan K perhaps?

A local tip off suggested that there was someone across town who might be able to do better and so it proved, but it meant a drive pout to a garden centre where the company had a sales office. After all this time of masking up and going to supermarkets you might think that this would be no problem, and I have been to a garden centre once already this lockdown, but this trip made me feel uncomfortable for some reason.

I could have just ‘phoned, but I wanted to see the product before buying as I want to be sure about the quality of the product, so a personal visit was essential. All was fine and a new shed is on order for delivery in early September, not ideal, but six weeks is better that twelve. On my way home I stopped off at one of the out of town M&S food stores we have here and ended up doing what will be the main shop for this week, so a double win.

We have seen a surge in Covid-19 cases here in Swindon over the last week and people are getting a bit twitchy again. There is the usual claptrap on social media; one comment about several cases at a local distribution warehouse blamed it on casual workers there claiming that “they come to work and then go home”. Don’t we all do that? I have been trying to look at Facebook and Twitter less lately as even the hypocrisy of my Lefty friends has become boring rather than a source of daly amusement.

The Berkshire Belle had begun to make encouraging noises about possibly venturing out, but with a new surge of cases she has retreated into her shell and I know better than to try and prod her out of it. We are coming upon on the twin anniversaries of 29 years married and 31 years together so I might, just, be getting her worked out.

The problem with this mental health thing is that it is all in the mind. As long as I can keep a bit of mine behaving itself I can usually overcome the negativity in the rest of it, but what works for me doesn’t;t necessarily work for everyone. It helps that I am a natural optimist, even in the face of seemingly overwhelming forces I am always looking for the solution. The BB’ glass is always half empty though and maybe that is what we are still together after all this time; we balance each other.

In other news my lockdown diet has seen me drop 5 kg in four weeks so I am happy with progress there, especially as many others have gone in the opposite direction during lockdown. I am also drinking less alcohol and am down to a couple of glasses of wine a week, although that is not much of a reduction; I have just cut our the odd bottle of beer here and there.

Another week done. I hope that you are all staying safe and well too.

the lockdown log 17


This week I escaped from my regime of work and weekly shop. My eldest daughter had sent me a voucher for a driving experience day and so off I went to a public event.

Social distancing was in place, although you can’t stay 2 metres apart from someone sharing your car. The organisers did try hard though and as soon as a car came back to the staging area after a run once the driver was out one of the crew was straight in with anti-viral spray and wipes to clean the controls, door handles and everything else that might have been touched. Masks were compulsory and any silliness like not keeping your nose covered was challenged: Behave, comply or you don’t drive.

I have also had a husband and wife local team in for a few hours each day doing some of the heavy work in the garden that, for various reasons, I was not going to do. We have kept our distance, refrained from shaking hands on the deal and, in some ways, it has seemed like a return to more normal ways.

Whilst my small crew have moved the garden project forward massively it seems that so many others have been at similar projects during lockdown and that, combined with factories having been shut down, has seen a shortage of some materials. I had planned to buy a new shed once I knew how much space I had available, but, now I know what I can do, I can’t have one for 3-4 months. Plan F looms perhaps.

It has been a big frustration to go onto a website, select a product with all of its options and then get to the payment page before being told that the item is not in stock, That is not just the shed, I have had the same problem with a range of DIY products and it has been a blot on an otherwise easy period of internet buying during lockdown.

Today we went over to the requirement to wear face coverings in shops. Some, mostly the smaller shops, are refusing admission to those who refuse to comply, but the larger chains are taking the view that their employees are at risk if they challenge non-compliance. Why people have to be stupid about this is beyond me (I have been waring a mask whilst shopping from the start of the plague), but there is the usual bleating about infringement of ‘uman rights. Personally I feel that it is a shame that Daleks are not real; a few of those around to deal with miscreants would soon sort the problem.

The position in some other countries seems dire. America has lost the plot entirely and those who have bemoaned the UK, at one time, leading the world in deaths per capita have gone strangely quiet now that we have both lost that position and begun to understand that our own stats are flawed.

Here in Swindon we have had a little surge in reported cases, but that was to be expected as we try to get people back to work. In one case it seems that a company allowed an employee from Leicester, which is in lockdown because of the number of cases there, to come to their office here. If it is true it is mindbogglingly stupid.

Anyway, another week has gone by and me and mine still seem to be thriving and surviving so I can’t complain. Stay safe out there one and all.

the lockdown log 16


A bit of a rant to start this one off and the topic is face masks. I have worn one to shop from the early days of the plague back in March. Yes it is a pain at times, especially when it fogs up my glasses (and yes, I have tried all of the remedies with little success so far) and it makes it hard for shop assistants to understand me when I ask for help finding something, but it seemed like a sensible precaution so I have worn one, mostly to protect others in case I have the lurgi and don’t know it yet.

Now the Mask Stasi have emerged, with brigades both for and against. The pro lobby are virtue signalling with gusto, posting photos of their disguised selves on-line and, often, being very patronising to those not wearing masks. The anti lot are just being obnoxious and both camps sicken me.

I wear a mask whilst shopping because, as I said above, it seemed sensible to do so. I don’t need the government to tell me to do it, but now they have. I am a big bloke with a big pair of lungs and can easily soak a mask in the course of a 20-30 minute shop. That makes it more risky for me, but if everyone is wearing a mask it brings that risk back down somewhat.

As someone who wears hearing aids both sides I have sympathy with those who need to lip read. Even with my assisted hearing I can rarely understand anything that someone wearing a mask says to me. OK, that is, in part, because so few people make any effort to enunciate well these days, but there is a bigger problem here that we are trying to fix.

So, bottom line, wear a mask in public, wear it properly and try to contribute to society. Rant over.

Back in lockdown mode I am back from the weekly shopping trip this morning and looking forward to spending some time on garden projects. One of the problems of ordering on-line has shown up this morning when the postman brought me the garden gate hinges that I ordered. For from the robust look that they had in the photo the pair that have slid out from the Jiffy bag look far from strong enough for my needs. I could have made a trip around two or three stores, but I don’t want to expose myself to more people than I have to. Perhaps the gate improvement project will have to wait.

I am emerging from the slough that I slipped into a couple of weeks back. I have tried to be positive throughout (my glass is always half full), but sometimes it takes a bit more than just telling yourself to buck up before it works. In my case I have had one job that I cannot do solo, at least not fast enough, and have been let down by contractors. Now I have that sorted and work starts next week so I have some hope of being able to make significant progress over the back end of the Summer.

It is nice to be planning things again. Whilst I have been a bit down I have been working one day at a time and trying to end each day with a summary of having achieved something. It works for me.

Stay safe all.