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Posts Tagged ‘Lockdown’

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 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.

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.