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Reflections 2020 w21

How did man manage pre-time?

Was it a simpler process, just trying to stay in nature’s rhythm? Or was the invention of time a god send to a struggling species?

I only ask looking at the last post written and finding out it was 2 weeks ago, it feels like 1. And with a good portion of the world no longer a slave to the clock, are we going to see it as a restraint to our lives, or order, when it returns?

All I know is that one has made the decision to postpone my walk along Hadrian’s wall. It now looks as though it could clash with my sister moving south, and a camp at Dartmoor and Exmoor. And Spot and myself are not in any way fit enough to do it.

During the lockdown we had an hour to get some exercise, this was shared between the allotment and Spots walk. Today we walked for the first time in months the shortest old route. We are both stiff and it feels like we have just started walking.

We could do the wall walk, Spot has a K9 rucksack for when her age catches up with her, so that is not an issue, and I could just take more pain meds. But would it be pleasurable?

I’m not doing the walk for the ‘challenge’, or to say I have done it. It is on a list of places I would like to go to.

It is a walk that can be done in a week, but I allowed for two just in case I get distracted. It is the same with Dartmoor, I may just camp in one place for the two nights I stay there. Just to observe and absorb.

That is if I get there without the fog. As of yet I have failed to see the Brecon Beacons without a sheet of rain hitting the car window. I have heard rumours of sunshine there though. This is also a place I have yet to camp.

Though a lot of my equipment is unfamiliar, with only a couple of uses together, it has taken me down below 0degC with winds of up to 53mph, I stayed dry, warm and comfortable. Not all of the sleeping system was used either, so I am confident I could go to lower temperatures. Some equipment has been replaced with alternatives to work in this tent, for those times the weather keeps us undercover,  and the walking trailer has yet to have my maiden voyage with it.

By now one had planned to have done long day walks fully loaded on a regular basis, in preparation for the longest stretch of the Hadrians wall walk. But now I am only thinking of getting back to the regular walking distance with Spot.

I may even charge up the Fitbit.

Reflections 2020 w 18

The lockdown is starting to fade, or at least some counties are trying to phase it out.

My brother works as a painter, this week he started back at work, just in time for the news that he could have, if he was still on lockdown, gone fishing. I bet the air was blue when he heard that one.

As for me and Spot, we are taking advantage of being out longer than an hour, but having half that time taken by the allotment, and therefore a much shorter walk than normal, we are both stiff. Nowhere near the 8 miles 1-2 times a week and 5 for the rest we should be on.

I say we, but Spot has a K9 rucksack for when she needs/wants. At 11yrs old it is the best way to be out together whilst I get the greater distance to walk.

So as far as getting ready for walking Hadrians wall in August, we are far behind the cooking trials, I want to test them in the environment they will be eaten, with the same cooking methods. And we are far behind getting the miles in.

We are going to time the greater distances with full kit with the sun at this rate.

That is of course if Scotland is out of lockdown for the end of August.

One will aim for this to be so, it’s no harm if we are prepped but denied. This is part of the reason to try dehydrating ingredients and then vacuum packing.

They are to be a grab and go – should a camping trip come about. And the trips should be more common, as I attempt to reclassify a camp break from going to the coast. I would like to get to some more local spots one passes on the way to somewhere else.

Lets face it, if it’s piddling down, the view is pretty much the same no matter where you are. And if it is dry, then one hopes to appreciate and notice more of my immediate surroundings.

Reflections 2020 w 15

They say staying in is the new normal – is the latest YouTube add to annoy the crap out of me….

Who are they? Why do they say that? I have not heard anyone say they think this situation is normal. And why has the vague ‘they’ become popular?

If I said “they had a fire yesterday” would you know who I meant? Would you think they had a gas fire delivered, or an electric one? Or would you think their house burnt down? Or maybe they went camping and had a small fire, or burned some rubbish in the yard.

’They say’ is more akin to a propaganda tool to move public opinion towards a desired point.

Or is that my viewpoint because I have been described as ‘one of them’?

Rarely am I classed as one of the ‘we’, or part of ‘us’.

Was that in any way influenced by myself, or did ‘they’ decide for me?

And if ‘they’ have all this decision power – how far down the pecking order am ‘I’?

Take care, stay safe.

Reflections 2020 w14

Another week without signs of infection, but one of my cousins is on isolation due to a cough. I think by now we all know at least someone who knows someone, and with the hay fever season starting it has a chance to spike, what with the runny noses, sneezes, and watery eyes, we constantly need to touch our face.

With the talk of the virus being defeated by warmer weather, I took a look at the temperatures around the world, I could not see how the entire planet is at roughly the same temperature for that to be true, or if it is not true about an average temperature – does that mean that hotter countries are virus free?

No, Kenya has a temperature of 25degc, which is 8 degrees higher than a typical uk summer. If we were to rely on the heat, we would be screwed. Our only weather hope would be if it got fed up of all the rain and buggered off.

I’m luckier than most, I have an allotment, which gives me time outdoors in fresh air, also a curse with pollen, pick fresh food and some social interaction over the fence. Now that more of the plot holders are going up, my time has come down. When it was just the two of us I could stay here for an afternoon – more isolated than at home. But now it is just half an hour, and a half hour dog walk.

Being a countryside dog walker (Usually) also gives me another advantage – hand sanitiser stock. I had some in two separate bags, the car, the dog drawer, and the poop bag hand sanitiser combo key ring. When you pick up poop to carry for miles you tend to have a special bag/container for it to be stored in, bagged of course, and hand sanitiser to deal with any germs – just to be safe for the cuppa or sandwich later. I also carry a couple of baby wipes for hand wiping, so I have a couple of packs of them too.

But I come from a family that has a pantry – a stocked pantry. So when the shelves ran dry in the supermarket we coped. I learnt the wisdom of having two weeks food in stock when my static nerve stoped me in my tracks a number of years ago, it took weeks until I got to the shops. I think many may rethink the empty cupboards after this if they are in the position to afford even one extra item a week that has a long shelf life. And  for those that cannot, the food bank donation boxes started to get donations again last week, hopefully they will get more deposited so they can help more to eat. We all have had a sample of going without something, and having to come up with alternatives.

It would not be the first time one has wiped my butt with leaves.

Take care, stay safe.

Reflections 2020 w13

Hello,I hope you are well in these strange times.

So far my family has not been affected by the virus, to be honest. If anyone is likely to get it – it will be me. I am currently doing the running around shopping for parents and neighbours. My nephew and cousin have had chickenpox at the start of this, but that is all that ails us at the moment. I’m just waiting to be viewed with suspicion when the hay fever starts.

The lady that runs the Monday group is trying to do one by email tomorrow, she is not tech savvy enough to be using a video group chat, so it is going to be interesting to see how she has altered the ‘worksheets’ to fit in with an email format. She has finally got us to do homework.

The group has been using messenger to stay in touch, well part of us, but it has a lot of poster posting thingies, affirmations, and repeats of the same info, but then it cannot be used the same as the group itself, nor is it the same as meeting for a cuppa. It just goes to show how much of the communication is non words.

For some reason my body clock has moved sleep time until after the dawn chorus has been sung for an hour, if it happens again I think I will forgo sleep that day to see if it will force a change later.

Other than that, one has had to put on hold the trial dehydrating camp meal ingredients until food is more plentiful, I don’t intend wasting any but you never know if the end result is going to be edible or not. Let alone wasting the goodness that the food contains. Kale is on the menu at the moment as it is starting to go to flower on the plot.

The greenhouse got to 40degC this week, which has sent the Pack Choi bolting, I will work out a time when that stuff grows as it should instead of having a leggy flower. As for flowers, one has bought a pack of mixed edible flower seeds, should be interesting. later in the year saffron crocus will be gotten for next year.

Still waiting to see if asparagus crowns will arrive, the area is now ready for them.

I have a couple of sewing projects to make patterns for, so that’s more indoor stuff to do. Though Spot will not be happy being the model for the clothing recycling, except the down dog sleeping bag/mat for camping — I may have to lift her off that one.


Reflections 2020 w12

The world is in the grip of a killer virus, there is panic at the food markets and the street are near deserted…Sounds like an opening line of a play, but that is what the start of 2020 has given us.

I have looked on the world map and the countries affected, and there are not many that are not, so far. It has spread fast. The last ones I can remember are the swine flu and the avian flu, this is believed to have possibly originated from bats, transferred to live animals that were slaughtered at a wet market. (A market that sells live animals/fish alongside butchered ones, sometimes even butchering in situ).

With all our communications and information on how these viruses spread, what to do to keep safe, and our sanitation methods, it does not seem to have halted it at a countries border. If we have all this and still it spreads quickly, it makes one wonder how we ever survived them centuries ago when we knew very little — or blamed some poor woman who had a knowledge of herbal remedies.

Or was it pure luck it took so long to transport anything back then as the carrier was halted in their tracks mid journey?

Not that future historians will not look back at us with rose tinted glasses, after all we may not be throwing our poop out of the window now, but we are pumping millions of gallons of oil into the sea, polluting the air, and filling the bellies of future food with plastic. And we know what we are doing, at least the Middle Ages did not fully understand.

Today I learned one of my neighbours at the plot died last week after being placed into a coma after a heart attack. He was a nice chap, we had a good banter when I was digging up 12ft metal poles and he was digging up yet another covered path as everyone else was digging up veg. And we had a laugh when we both were runners up for the best newcomer in the allotment competition. We wondered what building materials won it in the end.

RIP Derrick.

Reflections 2020 w10

Today I transferred the strawberries from last year into their new plot and dug up the asparagus from last year that did not grow at all. One has potted them up in the green house – just to make sure they are done.

It was my fault, the crowns looked lovely when they arrived, but the weather had been against me on rearranging the plot, and I fell behind. BY the time I quickly prepped the asparagus bed they had gone mouldy. I washed them off and planted, like I had found to do on the internet, and then I waited, well, sort of. One did not expect to see any growth, and one did not.

So I ordered some more to replace them, a collection of Autumn planting crowns. This would at least give me time to just do the Asparagus bed properly.

But there was a problem with the supplier and they were being delayed to this year.

I have deleted the email at some point, and the order number I wrote down cannot be found. Truth be told I think it got burned with last years diary.

I don’t think I cancelled the order. But there were a few orders that got messed about last year, so there are refunds for items. But was this order one of them?

One has not long had the strawberries plants ordered last summer. It was that kind of year.

To top it off, the company has just upgraded its computer system, catalogue and site. Did the outstanding order transfers? If at all it exists.

So now I wait for an email, sometime over the next week or so.

Before I dare to order again. I have not the space for two lots. If the crowns that did not fall apart I dug up today are alive — some are going to find themselves in unusual homes. Or kicking the little flower strip out of its bed.

But at least the plot is in front with the growing this year. A week of time and dry weather will see the painting done. Then I have all year to do the water butts.

I have all year to do ONE job.

That feels strange to write after the upheaval one gave oneself last year.

I have photos of the plot as I took it over, I’m sure of it. One will post a then and now Later in the season, if I find them.

Reflections 2020 w09

We are having another storm, and we are on the watch for another next week as well. This one brought some snow and hail for a couple of hours before washing it away, what that is going to do to all the early blossom on the trees one has no idea. Nature is just as confused as us at the moment.

Plants are flowering way before the season they are supposed to, the frogs were about the day before the snow, and the birds are acting like they have young. All I need to see now is a butterfly flying past the window, to confirm the confusion.

Good news on the notepad and pen front — it has been found.

Twas hiding in Spots carrier. What it was doing there I have no idea, but the notepad search is done.


Not quite.

Whilst the pad And pen has been on its vacation, a spare one was being used. This I went for at the discovery of the missing pad, it has some poems to transfer to the computer, before placing into semi retirement. It was at this point one discovered that this pad has now gone missing. !!!?

I looked down at Spot, curled up in her bed, looking all peaceful, and asked her…”Are you messing with me?”

She stirred a little, looked at me with un-interest at the subject and went to sleep.

I feel now it is I, that is messing with me.

But why?

Reflections 2020 w07

Last week I wrote about the storm that had come through, and this week there is another storm coming through.

Now I live in an area that has not been hit hard nor flooded, but the dog walk at the local park had an area flooded over the path, the first time I have seen this in the 7 years of walking there, and the normally ankle high, slow flowing brook, is currently at least 2ft high and flowing like a downhill mountain stream.

I only hope that the areas flooded have a chance to drain the water away before another storm hits, we are not having enough time to dry out between rains. And the UK is renowned for being wet.

If anyone is interested there is a video on the 100 year flood by practical engineering on youtube. It goes a way to explaining how we are exaggerating the flooding by how we build houses and roads, it is not as many think, about how we build defences.

This may go to explain why previously unaffected areas are now being hit, It acts like a domino effect, one raindrop affecting the next.

One wonders, will we ever learn how to live with nature in this modern world, or will it take ever increasing ‘freak’ weather occurrences to get our attention?

Reflections 2020 w06

On Friday I finished the green house, it is ready for the growing season. Shelving made from the old greenhouse frames has been done, custom made for the square trays I bought for the job.

I just hope it needs no repairs after the storm that has come through last night and today. A neighbours roof has lost several tiles, they are not small ones at that, and after venturing out this morning one has seen a scattering of tiles, branches and twigs over most of the roads, the storm has left it’s mark. I hope that it has not left a trail of large destruction for others who had the brunt of it.

And why would one venture out in such weather???

Art supplies.

A new style of painting has started to be learnt, narrowboat/folk style, to be exact, and this requires new brushes and a new pad to be gessoe’d black. The brushes I have are either too soft or too stiff. To a non painter this must seem illogical, but other painters who do varying styles will know of the need. A carpenter dose not have one saw, nor does a mechanic have just one type of spanner, it works on the same principle for artist after the stroke left by the brush in hand.

Having said that…There is a slight hoarder aspect to the whole process, or rather a perfectionist quest for the perfect tool.

Some thing I think can be summed up quite well by the thought I had when overhearing a mother discussing her daughters selection of art supplies for purchasing…’You have all that?” “Yes, I am doing a large project.” “I understand that, but I don’t think you need all of that.” “Some of it is for general college use as well, I always use a lot of pads.” “I agree on the pads, and on the card for the project, but you can leave the pens behind – you have enough pens!” My mind raced to the question…

Yes, but are they the ‘right’ pens though?

I find out in a couple of days if the brushes are in fact my ‘right’ tools for the job.