The end is nigh, the year that just keeps on disappointing is nearly done and dusted, those wishes we usually make in a light hearted way on New Years Eve for a better year to come will be sincere and heartfelt this time.
Lockdown in Summer was bearable for those of us lucky enough to have access to outside space, and I realise that's not all of us, but lockdown in Winter is another beast altogether.
The dark mornings and evenings combined with the perpetual rain we seem to have had have conspired to keep us inside our homes which we leave infrequently anyway, no escape to the garden or allotment or rarely is pure purgatory.
Sadly the death toll seems to have risen again and the debate on social media about how serious this thing is rages on, I personally don't know anyone who has passed away but the stories of people who have and the heartbreak for their families is a reminder to me not to become relaxed about the whole thing.
What has been really good to see is how some people have been helping others out, that could be with food, just generally keeping an eye on their elderly neighbours, and a whole host of other ways.
I don't want this to become a political rant but this pandemic has highlighted the level of need in some parts of the UK if it wasn't already evident, and I know there are very different opinions on the cause of this and generally it tends to polarise people into two camps.
In my own hometown this organisation does some fantastic work for people on the street,
Hope Centre – Tackling homelessness, rebuilding lives (northamptonhopecentre.org.uk)
Personally I just want to get through to Spring when I can start growing stuff again, I'm already in the process of planning that, and with each day that passes we get nearer to the days becoming longer,.
I have a tree in my back garden which has a very prickly bush entwined in it which not so much now as the birds have been feeding on them, was a few weeks ago covered with red berries.
Watching the various birds from robins to thrushes and blackbirds feeding on these little red globes is a joy,
Some months back I planted a selection of cabbages, caulis, kale, and brussels, a few weeks back the caulis started to form nice white firm heads, I went up to the allotment this morning and was a bit disheartened to see this.
I'm not sure what has happened here, someone on the web suggested soft rot which can affect vegetables, apparently prolonged periods of wet can be the cause so perhaps the long period of rain we have had has been the culprit?.
Needless to say the wind has been taken out of my growing sails, so it looks like | will have to find out how to grow caulis without them morphing into some sort of horrible skin condition.
Cauliflower cheese anyone ?. I could use mouldy cheese :)
So having fretted over my caulis (not a euphemism) overnight, I read up on this heinous blighting of my young veggies, it seems they have fallen victim to BSR, Bacterial Soft Rot, which apparently is responsible for more crop loss than anything else
So people never take for granted those lovely white, firm caulis, or for that matter any lovely veg that ends up on your plate.
It's Saturday afternoon, as I write this.
But wait, I don't want to hark back to the pandemic but my radio has just announced there's going to be some sort of announcement at 4.00 PM, its sounds horribly like further restrictions are coming.
I know restrictions are necessary but they need people to be sensible and maybe it's just me but common sense seems to be in increasingly short supply, it's going to be interesting to see if tighter restrictions do come in what difference they make.
I left the laptop to listen to the announcement, wow, the shit show just got a whole lot shittier,
Now we have another tier, and the 5 day window is now down to one, and a new variant of Covid 19 is on the loose which apparently was known about for some time but not acted upon.
I know this sounds selfish but if I could find an unoccupied Scottish island with an old stone cottage, stocked with firewood, and enough food, and a selection of good books, I would gladly occupy it.
I'm talking about self imposed isolation in the middle of a long period of isolation, I am and I make no apology for it, though I know it probably seems very strange!.
Have you ever thought of living off grid?, I mean seriously, not the fleeting thoughts you have at the end of a bad day, but really thought about how you would cope, how you would occupy your time?.
Could you not only survive but also prosper and enjoy the experience?, maybe it would be bearable if you thought it would only be for a limited time, but what if you didn't have that in the back of your mind?.
No internet, no television, no washing machine, no cooker, nobody but yourself to rely on, nobody to bounce idea's off, no water coming out of a tap, could you, would you want to give it a go?.
I bought a book a few years back written by a young chap who wanted to try his hand living off grid, he went to live in an old abandoned building in Wales, near the Black Mountains from memory.
The building was ramshackle and very isolated which is exactly what he was looking for, he wanted this to be a real test and the book was a great read from start to end.
His first priority was to mend the roof where it leaked so he had a dry area to sleep in, he unblocked the chimney so he could have a fire to provide a bit of warmth and to cook on.
His repairs were rudimentary because his isolation meant he could only use what was at hand, but he found some very inventive ways to improve his living conditions.
His good fortune was that there was a plot where he could grow stuff, and reading about how he approached this and the end results made me think about how we take for granted fresh food, and the ease with which we can get hold of it.
His experience lasted for some years not just a few months, so he had to endure sickness during the time he was there, and that's when he really appreciated the fire because at one point he ended laying in front of it for days, recovering from Flu.
I think the most interesting aspect of his story was not only his own experience of survival when all the comforts are taken away but his observations of the wildlife which shared his surroundings.
He was able to observe the same birds coming back to nest where they had the previous year, and the interactions and behaviour's between the different species of birds, including birds of prey, and the unusual habits some of the birds displayed.
I often wonder how he got back into what we would call a normal life, the comforts must have seemed wonderful but I wonder if as he got used to these if there were any times when he thought back and missed a more simple life.
Regardless the experience would be something to look back upon and I would imagine fundamentally change the way we look at the sort of lives we lead, do we need all the things we think we need, I would imagine not.
Have we lost a connection to the what's real and just see what we regard as real?, undoubtedly we live longer generally healthier lives, but in other ways have we lost something precious?, easy for me to pontificate from the comfort of a centrally heated house I suppose.
I have to be honest I always struggle with Winter, so for me if I ever did try living off grid that surely would be my hardest time, especially the very wet Winters we seem to have now.
I would surely get through a small forest of firewood, which in itself might not be too ecologically friendly, and that is the problem with modern life, we are continually told that we are killing the planet.
Getting back to the unoccupied island, If you know of one feel free to contact me, I wait in eager anticipation.