Sunday, 24 March 2013

Muddy paths and potholes...

Last year there was high pressure to the south of Britain and warm air was being drawn up to us providing some of the best days of the year especially appreciated for coming so early. This year a high sits to the north of us and Siberian cold winds lash us from the east, cold, damp and chilling us to the bone. Our old stone home is sheltered from most of the prevailing winds from the west but exposed and chilled by easterlies which are bringing bands of snowy weather too. 

Here we have not had the disruption found elsewhere but being in the freeze thaw zone means that the roads are being cracked and ripped apart at an alarming rate. I fear we have reached a tipping point where repairs to the whole system are no longer possible. Though they would cost less to repair than the collective repair bills of the motorists and the danger they are facing the government seems blind to the disaster the loss of infrastructure will cause, nobody can plan a journey with any confidence of arriving safely or on time and we are condemned to endless holdups while tiny useless hole filling is carried on during the busiest times of the day. On the edge of the village elaborate temporary traffic lights were set up on Friday to repair one hole, naturally work was then abandoned for the weekend without any real work being done. Clearly those responsible for running these operations are ardent fans of Monty Python…

My recent cold has had me exhausted with the worst coughing I can ever remember and being able to take my favourite tasty cough mixture is small compensation. A steamy sauna helped bring out some of the congestion and when the snow melted I thought a brisk walk through the farm would help shift some more. On with the waterproof gardening boots and off into the bright sunshine. There is not too much choice of walks out from the village, the price you pay for being on the banks of a river… First I headed out along the old railway which has been surfaced as a cycle track, sadly those responsible had never heard of the concept of drainage and nature had ripped out a section of their work. An old Victorian scenic walk makes a serpentine way up the hill from the railway, it is still surviving despite nearly a century of neglect, the army of gardeners from the big estates vanished into the trenches of the first world war and that life was gone forever.

Thank goodness for the boots to negotiate the muddy tracks, the bitter winds sometimes vanished in the shelter of the trees only to return as I exited the farm on the south side of the hill to take the road home. What a difference between the north side where I live and the sunny south side, our stark dead undergrowth shows a few shoots testing the air whilst on the south the snowdrops and daffodils are up and in flower, trees are showing leaf buds on the point of bursting.

I guess that spring is not far away though the official first day of spring here was white with snow and the howling winds blew out the boiler so the few rooms which we heat were chilled right down. This has not happened for over a decade and my memory went blank wondering how to break into the metal box to relight it. All my memories were of the older one which used to break down all the time, this one had flush fitted panels, internet good for somethings...


Sunday, 17 March 2013

The scariest video you will ever see. Open theft of a health service...

The scariest video you will ever see.

Our public funded health service has been systematically degraded to be replaced by private funded companies who are obligated to put profit before health care!

All political parties have been following slight of hand tactics to make NHS look unworkable so that it can be replaced by a system which will not even try to look after health.

The same methodology is being followed by gangsters over the whole world and your health is at stake!

If this does not have you screaming at the screen in fury they have won...

Friday, 15 March 2013

Frozen pond and potholes...

We are being toyed with by the weather. Nearly two weeks of calm dry sunny days have turned to damp bitterly cold or snowy days which would be worse if I was not suffering with the after effects of a cold. Coughs often plague me after a cold and this is one of the worst ever but is not clearing much from my system.

To make up for not working in the garden we have been sociable when cold permitted. Our friend Louise had a girls night in last weekend and offered the spare room for the night so that wine could be enjoyed without the thought of a fifty mile drive home. As it was we woke to a white world half way up a hill! Thank goodness for new tyres… 

Some of the roads around here are becoming dangerous after years of wilful neglect by roads departments, more and more report ruined tyres after driving into pot holes when roads are wet, soon we shall all be driving at walking speed when off main routes! 

A good covering of snow greeted us on the very day we were to hand over the fruits of one of Julie’s projects. Copies of paintings had been framed up for a new navy destroyer named after a local hero, what had seemed to everyone else as a simple job had driven us crazy for a month and on the day of the hand over in a country house with steep twisting driveway we had some of the worst snow of the winter. We made it over the worst roads we have seen since Greece in the 80’s after flash floods and even got up the drive which defeated the navy! Got to sit opposite the captain of this billion pound destroyer at lunch and he turned out to be good conversationalist. This may have trumped on of Britain’s foreign ambassadors and his wife joining our table at a dinner a few days previously, I persuaded Mary, the wife to try our new weight control regime pointing out that the buffet table of deserts was actually allowed in the regime…

Such is the almost surreal life of your blogger, months of quite followed by the almost unbelievable...


Friday, 1 March 2013

Easy weight reduction... 5:2 system.

I never fail to be surprised by how life turns round so quickly. A grey cold snowy world two weeks ago has turned into one of blue skies and sunshine allowing hours each day working in the garden. 

Last snow

Because this time last year I was forbidden any work in the garden it all got a bit wild. The wet summer encouraged growth so much that Bramble Cottage should have been renamed Ivy Cottage as it rambled everywhere providing nesting for birds the I could not touch it! Ivy clings to everything except that which you want it to, I had hoped that after winding through the front fence it would cling to the adjoining wall for added support but it somehow knew that and just lay loosely on top of the wall! The wet summer also encouraged it to set down roots every five inches as it ran across the ground setting like an iron reinforcing mesh. Someone had found some difficulty finding us, I have no idea why...


Our local authority collects garden waste every two weeks in large wheelie bins and because my neighbours were not yet ready to face their gardens I got the use of four each packed solid buy standing inside to compact the chopped prunings of ivy, rose and bramble which I do not like to compost. Within a couple of  hours of them being emptied my own was full again as were plastic sacks and an old bin, I was surprised to find that I could drag the nearly four foot high wheelie bin up a plank into the back of our van and take it all to the recycling centre where guys rush up to help lift everything out. Nothing can slow me down now.

Sleep which had been so difficult for about a month suddenly fell into a pattern of waking at 7:30 which a friend still considers a lie in but for me has never happened before in my life except on very occasional days. The early morning light is wonderful though often fades as  the sun rises into a bank of cloud only to burn this off and blaze out of a blue sky later on. Vitamin D must be coursing through the veins again as I have cheered up so much.

All my computer time has been taken up with hours each day retouching  photographic files for one of Julie’s projects. She had obtained three image files from National institutions from which she could have reproductions of paintings made. Tha files were massive and each required more retouching than I have done on all my own files made over several decades! I am now quite adept at left handed working as the thousands of clicks was risking RSI! My own clients were always overjoyed that they were able to hand over my transparencies directly to the printers because the subjects were always beautifully lit and the film perfectly exposed, these files looked like they had been made in a snow storm! All done now so I have my life back!

Sixteen months ago when at my appointment with the surgeon in Brighton I had hoped to be told to loose some weight, I respond to commands like that very well but they told me it was unnecessary! Since that time I have put on a few pounds only but with the hormonal fat redistribution my middle has become more prominent, quite a normal female shape but combined with being in the overweight part of the body mass index chart something had to be done. You would have thought that by now someone would have posted a perfect weight loss regime rather than all those links to people wanting your money,well there is a way... The 5:2 fasting diet.

During the running and jumping extravaganza in London last year a science based documentary was broadcast with an excellent regime to shed weight, naturally hardly anyone saw it! I book marked a report about it but it got buried but a month ago it was dug out and a book just written was bought. Hardly necessary really because it is so simple and does not really interfere with your normal life.
Two days per week only 500 calories are allowed, enough for a cereal breakfast and a light evening meal, this allows the body to go into burning stored reserves mode, something western three meals a day plus snacks citizens rarely ever do. The other days you can eat as usual and the expected catching up the day after does not happen. Word is getting out and it is surprising how many we meet are already trying it with success they have never experienced with any other attempts at weight reduction. I am already having to tie up my pants when working in the garden, even spent fasting days in the garden without feelings of hunger or loss of energy.

I was going to run this experiment for several months before reporting on results but it is working too well to hold back from encouraging others to give it a try, think about it, the reduced calorie intake on those two days is about a pound of fat, I have lost seven pounds in just under five weeks! If I can settle at a pound per week I shall be delighted and with increasing activity I expect I shall. Everyone also report feeling fresher and more alert as a bonus…

I am loosing this even though we have suddenly found ourselves being invited out to dinner parties, three this week alone! Try it now!