Posts Tagged ‘Lockdown’

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.

the lockdown log 15

Here we are again, one week older and, in my case, a couple of kilos lighter. Yes the paid up member of the carnivore and pudding clubs is on a diet.

It is nothing to do with the current plague, just a change to lifestyle brought on by being diagnosed as having slipped into type 2 diabetes. It all started with a prescription review back around the start of lockdown. These reviews are now done by a pharmacist rather than the doctor and, due to lockdown, was going to be over the ‘phone.

When the call came the lady on the other end was quite agitated and wanted me to come in for a blood test, but would not say what for (my last one was in early 2019). I declined on the basis that I did not want to go to the surgery at that stage of the Covid-19 outbreak and asked to defer the test for 3 or 4 months.

The surgery rang me last month and in I went. The results came back and I was asked to come in for a second test and was told that my blood sugar was too high. I had actually passed the threshold in the 2019 test, but no-one had made any contact to tell me and now I had gone up again. I provided the second blood test and have to assume that it confirmed the first one as I have not had a call to discuss what they found.

It was a wake up call. I am annoyed that the surgery knew that I had a problem eighteen months ago because, had they told me, I could have addressed it then, but I can do nothing about that. What I can do is to change my diet and exercise regime and that is what I have been top to for the last 10 days or so. Carb intake has been more than halved, sugar intake likewise and I have started banging in at least a 1k walk every afternoon after lunch (except for Sundays).

When I was weighed at the surgery I was a bit down on what I had expected, but have paired off over 2 kilos since then which is pleasing, but, as we consultants would say, that is the low hanging fruit and an easy win. I have not set any targets here besides the one about power walking for at least the 1 kilometre on 6 days out of seven (I already walk 8-10k per day on average anyway, but that is not exercise, it is to do with work). I have to go back for more tests in 3 months and just aim to be in as better shape as I can manage by then.

In other news I am trying to get back on course with some of the projects around Bowen Towers. The recent bad weather, along with the news from the NHS, has knocked me off course a bit on the outside jobs and I need to get my focus back. I am slightly hampered by a couple of things that I cannot influence too much and my afternoon walks, whilst not that long at the moment, do interrupt my day. What I have done to overcome the weather issues is to switch focus to indoor projects and am making good progress on things like my internet based business activities.

Time seems to be flying past and it is hard to accept that we are on the downward slope in terms of daylight hours already. for me the lockdown has not made time drag in the slightest. I am lucky in having so much that I can occupy myself with. Away from work I can just enjoy not having to interact with anyone other than the Berkshire Belle and am very happy in isolation.

We do have to face up to the fact that we will almost certainly not be going back to America this year. Apart from Covid-19 being rampant over there we would also be due to be around for the presidential elections and have a feeling that things might get a little nasty. It already looks as though this will be a year without flying anywhere, only the second time since I first flew back in 1986, but there seems no point in taking any such risk at the moment and we will start to look at what we might be able to do in 2021.

That’s all for this week. Stay safe out there.

the lockdown log 14

Our lockdown regime continues, albeit that the Berkshire Belle will be having her hairdresser call next week for the first time since February and I can stop calling her Rapunzel.

The varied weather is not helping with any of my DIY projects and so I have found myself back at the keyboard more working on blogs and internet business. This afternoon the wind is gusting hard and my plan to be up a ladder has been postponed for example and I have contented myself with breaking down cardboard boxes for recycling. It is surprising how quickly all this stuff mounts up when you shop on-line.

Also eating onto my time is a new exercise regime. Not content with walking six or seven miles at work on five days of the week I have now added in an afternoon exercise walk. This on top of being back on a diet. It isn’t that I have been overeating (or drinking) during lockdown, more that I have been overeating for at least a year and the annual check up at the doctor’s triggered action.

It is a little ironic because we are probably eating better that ever lately with our new fish and fruit and veg box suppliers, but the damage is being done by treats and puddings so they have gone as has about 50% of my normal carb intake. I have set no targets beyond walking at least 1k every afternoon six days a week (I am allowing one day off for weather, but only one and, if weather permits, walking every day). So far this week in five days I have racked up 8.19k just in the exercise walks (my overall average over the last week is 12.3k per day).

Currently I have my head in the right place for losing weight and that is obviously good, but dieting has distracted me from some of the other things that I am trying to get done. This isolation has its benefits, but it also tends to make me less focussed and I find that I am easily distracted from what I had intended to do each day. Time management has fallen by the wayside to some degree (this blog is a day late), but much is getting done regardless. It is just that it is all a bit scattergun.

Still, this is another week done and the BB, our cats and I are still here. We are thankful for that.

Stay safe one and all.

the lockdown log 13

It has been an odd week; torrential rain followed by temperatures in the thirties midweek, but today, Saturday, is grey and wet again. That’s how it goes these days, but the extremes and unpredictability seem at odds to what I remember from even ten years ago let alone thirty or forty. All signs of climate change I suppose.

Despite the relaxation of lockdown we ware still at the Full Monty here. I go to work five days out of seven and do odd shopping on my way home with a big shop on my day off while the Berkshire Belle stays stoically indoors. It suits us.

The behaviour of some of our fellow UK citizens is beyond belief though and we are appalled by their senseless acts. If this is what this country has come to then I am glad that I do not have too many more years to endure it.

Some of my projects have ground to a halt whilst I wait for certain trades to get back into action and that is a frustration as is the weather in the way that it has impacted on outdoor works. Taking stock of what I have managed to do though gives some encouragement and we have been enjoying the first fruits, literally, of some of my gardening.

Our shopping habits have changed in that we buy some food and all non food on-line now. We have found a fishmonger and a suit & veg box greengrocer Along with the butcher that we used to drive to once a month who now does on-line orders and those three provide our core needs. We have also benefitted from one of our favourite restaurants now providing mail order dishes and the first of those has been a great success. With me being able to bring home the odds and ends of basic supermarket shopping we are doing well enough.

The joy of shopping for us was always being able to wander around and look at stuff, often coming home with things that we had no intention of buying when we set out, but that is not going to be something we can return to for a while yet. We need a new TV as the current one is showing distinct signs of problems. Yes we can buy one n-line and may well have to do that, but we would prefer to be able to go and look at what is on offer. It is not that simple as yet. Our lives have changed and we do not yet know by how much.

We are not complaining about these changes; we accept that we are very lucky and regard this year’s radical change more as something that we have to live with. We would not have chosen it, but tough; life is like that. We will almost certainly not get our US holiday this year and are philosophical about whether or not we will ever go back there because the America that we love does not currently exist. Things there are turning into a disaster in terms of Covid-19 and what will emerge from the aftermath there we have no idea about at present.

There are a lot of folks much worse off than us so we will stick to our lockdown and enjoy what we have.

Stay safe one and all.

the lockdown log 12

Life has really not changed too much for the Berkshire Belle and I. We have refined our choice of intent supplier here and there, but the only real change so far is that the double B has not been out.

By that I mean that she has stayed in the house apart from two occasions when she has walked down the front path to bring in out dustbin and recycling crates. This she will do if the weather is good and it is important for us to get these things in quickly after they are emptied because the team doing the emptying often replace them at the wrong house. Other than those two outings she has not been outside of the house.

I am still working on the front line five days out of seven, but other than that my trips have been confined to food shopping plus one trip to a garden centre and I felt guilty about that. Last week I drove over to Cirencester and back, about a forty mile trip, on a business matter regarding something that I am currently involved in restarting on June 15th. That felt really weird, but made more so by the number of tourists I saw up there; where have they come from? Well in the case of a group of around half a dozen from Italy. I did not stop to make further enquiries.

So far here in Swindon we are not doing too badly on the Covid-19 front compared to some other areas and, whilst we are part of the South West where numbers of infections are rising, here we don not seem to be getting too many. I wonder if the mass exoduses to the beach and other beauty spots over the bank holiday weekends have contributed to the rise in cases.

Today it is raining and looks to be wet all day so my plans for a few hours in the garden have been shelved. I have to go out at lunchtime to the doctor’s for a routine blood test. I would rather avoid the place, but have already pout this appointment off once and they are nagging. To me this is an example of today’s society at its worst because the appointment is largely a waste of their time and mine.

The problem started when the health practice that I am registered at decided that periodic reviews of regular medication would be carried out by a pharmacist to save the doctor’s time. My review came up and the pharmacist rang me for a chat. She called top my records and latched on to the fact that I have had, from time to time, high blood pressure. I explained that my doctor had elected to stop the periodic blood pressure tests on the basis that he was happy enough with me to have stopped the blood pressure medication, but this was not good enough: I would have to come in and had a BP test plus a blood test for a variety of routine function checks.

And so I am going today and am fairly certain that what the pharmacist gets back will mean that she will compare the results to whatever chart it is that they have and she will want me to come in and see a doctor. There will be no peace until I do and so I will make an appointment and go in for a chat at which we will agree that I am an overweight 67 year old white male who is vulnerable too certain risks. The same 67 year old etc etc who has walked an average of 5.8 miles a day over the last 12 months (according to my tracker), works 4 hours a day 5 days a week at a physical job, does not smoke and drinks little. Whatever else we achieve from that appointment I doubt that it will be a productive use of the doctor’s time, but they have to go through the motions because of a duty of care and all that bureaucracy that is in place these days. This is one of the areas of waste that I would love to see swept away.

Please do not think that I am knocking the NHS; I am not. The health care practitioners are wonderful and have saved my life eight years ago. They have also saved the life of my son who is 38 today. It is the ludicrous bureaucracy that costs too much that is drowning the NHS, but that is a feature of the world that we have created now whereby nothing is our fault and there must always be someone else to blame (and sue).

Anyway, rant over. It is a wet day, I will not have to water my plants and my water butts will be replenished. There is alway some good in everything, no matter how bad it might seem.

Stay safe and have fun.

the lockdown log 11

I was distracted by other things on Thursday and forgot all about writing a lockdown log so here it is a couple or so late. Part of my distraction was self-imposed in that I was taking an absence from social media. Every now and again the puerile level of content gets to me and I just use the off button so to speak. Other than to check in to see if there are requests to join a group that I run or to pass on birthday wishes I will continue to ignore it for the time being.

Most of my disgust at Fb content at the moment is around people seeming to want to apologise for being white. As no-one can influence where they were born nor the colour of their skin it seems to be an extraordinary thing to do. As for some of the behaviour being demonstrated at the moment I despair of the human race.

At a time when we need understanding and compassion the level if anger seen on the streets of some countries is unhelpful to say the least as is the desire to eradicate history. When should be learning from history and seeing how far we have come not wiping it from the slate. Living forty miles or so from Bristol it appals me to hear people talking about all off the slaves who were brought through the port when the reality is that whilst Bristol ship owners were amongst those plying that trade they were not wasting time bringing them back here before taking them to the Caribbean and the USA. Ignorance is not a virtue.

I really do not know what the world has come to and am glad that I am approaching the end of my time here.

the lockdown log 10

The black dog of last week did leave me. I know that it is still lurking nearby, but choose ignore it. I have said often that I have never really grown up and I still have childlike delight in small things that usually works to lift my spirits.

My cure for depression this time came with one of the various projects I have on my list and this time it was the finding of some tools that I knew were somewhere, but hadn’t yet rediscovered them. I found a love for tools as a boy when I realised that you could make things to play with that there was not money in the family budget to buy.

Tools now are my big boy’s toys and finding what I did cheered me up a lot as they brought back memories of where and why I bought them. Most of what I found at the back of the shed were used on a previous lockdown project, one where I was working from home for about four months back in 2002.

It was one of those jobs where we would, as a business, pull in a good revenue at a decent profit for that type of work, but whereby there would be considerable grief from the client and, to some degree, from with our own people around the country.

My role was to co-ordinate reporting on progress and was frustrating for me because I had no leadership or executive role. I had no authority to bang heads or thump the table and had to work with what I got rather than what I needed. I only got roped in because I knew the client’s upper echelons better than anyone else and had a better understanding of how the client’s local offices worked.

Trying to get information was like drawing teeth and I would normally start to get numbers come through late in the afternoon with the final emails arriving around 5.30 to 6pm. I had to have my reports with the client first thing the next morning and so I ended up time shifting my day so that I worked after dinner until around 11pm, sometimes until 1am the next morning. This did little for home life as the Berkshire Belle was working full time on normal office hours back then, but it did mean that I had almost nothing work related to do through the day.

What I did do was DIY around the house and garden all day. On the rare occasion that my mobile ‘phone rang I would take the call and deal with it, but I had been withdrawn from other work to handle this one project and, as long as the client was kept quiet and happy my boss was quiet and happy too. For sixteen weeks I stayed at home aside from two trips out, both to resolve accusations of work not having been done. On both runs I photographed the completed work and went back home. After that there were no more problems.

After seventeen weeks of isolation it was agreed that I was no longer needed in a full time role, I would just be thrown back in if a wheel came off, and I was able to rejoin the team that I worked in. I was still based from home, but was back into the round of meetings here there and everywhere.

With the discovery of that box of tools the memories have all come flooding back of that time. It was not a happy time especially although it had its moments. I came to terms with the concept of time shift working, my employer earned something north of £15m quid from the project and my darling and I enjoyed the benefits of my labours through the daylight hours even if our evenings were ruined. Such is life.

Stay safe and sane out there.

the lockdown log 9

Another week and, despite some relaxing of restrictions, not much changes for us here. Some jobs have been finished, others not yet started as I focus my time on the little homestead.

The one change to lockdown for me has been a trip to my nearest garden centre. I set off just after lunch because that suited me and was surprised to see that there was no queue in the elaborate zig-zag set up by the entrance. Half an hour later, with a couple of the things on my list, several that weren’t and some knowledge of what paving was available I left to find 40-50 people queuing, the zig-zag area overflowing into the car park. My timing had been impeccable, even if the centre had little of what I had wanted to buy.

Going to look at stuff before buying is important to me. Possibly it because I have grown up through a time when that was the norm, but I do not like the concept of buying relatively blind (yes you can look at photos when buying on line, but it isn’t the same) and sending it back if you don’t like it. To a degree I have had to do that over the last couple of months and have been fairly successful in that only one item has been sent back.

This was not a bad week until late Wednesday and then an incident brought the black dog bounding to my side and yesterday I was in a very dark place. Mental health gets a lot of publicity these days and it is good if people who would benefit from help, but would not have sought it otherwise, are persuaded to do so, I am very much in the self help camp though and deal with such things in my own way. I am not out of the cloud yet although I am on the road out. I know that I may yet be turned back, but I will get out eventually and move on (again).

It is not lockdown that is at the root of my problem, rather it is fear. The worst case scenario for me is that I could bring this little bug home and pass it on with fatal results for the Berkshire Belle. I do recognise that there are indirect aspects of lockdown that affect me such as the impact it is having on the BB who has not been out for 9 or 10 weeks now. She wants to go out and could, but will not. She feels safer staying in and that is her decision even if confinement is getting to her, and thence to me.

One of the things that keeps my glass half full is that we do not have it as bad as others do, or have had in the past. Our biggest problem is merely inconvenience and a twenty minute queue to get into a supermarket where I can buy almost anything that I want is nothing compared to having to queue for hours in the hope of getting a little of what I need. A gentle stroll will get me to my local supermarket in around 15 minutes and I have enough money to spend on the essentials when I get there. There are a lot of people around the world for whom such an easy life is beyond their grasp.

I have the love of a good woman and children that I can be proud of. Possibly most of all at the moment I have my garden. It may be small, but I can enjoy pottering in it and getting lost tinkering with my plants and watching the wildlife. I have said that I am a lucky man in terms of the work that I have done, the places that I have been and the people that I have met. All of that got me here where I am today. Yes the black dog still has its teeth sunk into me, but what have I really got to be depressed about?