9th - 23rd. April 2007

The last 14 days have been just about the downshifters perfect combination; 6 days work, 3 days at home and 5 days with family in Southampton.
With most vegetable seeds now sown, the garden work has been mainly tidying up and grass cutting.
Once again I'm having problems with the carrots. As soon as they peep above the soil, the mice eat them. Before I went away last week I counted 23 babies, now there are only two left.
I may try sowing them in a raised situation, or even in large pots up high somewhere.
It appears my Staff (the cats) are not fulfilling their contracts and this years pay review, for which they are asking an extra two sachets of food a week, will have to go to arbitration. Cost of living increases do not apply down the lane, with the exception of bills of course!
The Broad Beans are looking the healthiest of all the germinated vegetables, but I'm aware the old black fly will be down at some stage. We've sown some nasturtiums a few feet away in the hope they may re-direct their flight plan to them.
I spent quite a time tweaking up my Moped a few weeks back. I couldn't understand why I wasn't getting the extra speed promised and went through countless double checking procedures.
I then decided to refer back to the original instructions and noticed at the bottom 'Don't forget to remove brass screw'.
Whata a mistaka to maka! I took it off, went out and got an extra 10mph straight off! Hours of fiddling, my time thrown away because of my inability to read everything!
I'm not tweaking it for the sake of speed for speed's sake (it now goes 40mph), but for safety reasons. I've been so fed up with people overtaking me in the most ludicrous places thus nearly putting me against the kerb, like when I'm doing 30mph in a 40mph limit with cars coming the other way etc. Hopefully I can keep with the flow more now.
I had a grand five days in Southampton with my daughter and grandkids. I had some time on my own as well.
On Thursday I went to Southampton City Centre and spent a good four hours browsing at all those things you don't need but would like. I have to own up to spending £3 though (Joggers to wear round the house - Pri-mart!).
The following day I went for a walk around Netley taking photographs of the Abbey, the shoreline and Park.
Saturday saw a fine family walk around some nearby woods.
It was grand-daughter Emilies 4th birthday party on Sunday, so my final day was spent with nervous exhaustion - 18 kids, a bouncy castle the size of the garden almost.
This was added to by a blocked drain outside the kitchen. I tried my best before the Party, but Dynorod arrived during the Party itself to fix it.
The finale of sound of the air removing the muck certainly moved some of the parents who were sitting close by. Personally I wasn't sure if it was the drain or 18 kids all with major indigestion at the same time!
But it was a very successful party, although in my day, it was only a good Party if there were at least three injuries and a couple of kids eating something which didn't agree with them or simply too much (it's that mixing of chocolate, icing, marzipan, sausage rolls and Coca Cola which usually do the trick).
I also managed to get some odd jobs done as well, so a really good time and just what I needed - and deserved I might add!!
I went to the Doctors about my back and was duly sent to the Hospital for X-Rays and Blood Tests for which I hope to get the results this week.
I have to admit to being slightly worried over something else the Doctor put into the equation about it, but all will be revealed and I'm hoping it's just a passing fancy.
What it does do is to make you think about a downshifting experience and when to do it. I was more or less 35 years sitting at a desk and at 52 started fairly strenuous physical work which may be paying me back at 59.
Should anyone be considering downshifting to a similar situation as in becoming more self-sufficient through gardening with work which demands more of a physical nature, bare this in mind - the body has evolved around your lifestyle and doesn't always take too easily to change.
A gentle transition is the ideal.
This week sees Kent taking on Cardiff University for 3 days and next week Sussex for 4 days, all at Canterbury, so a long stint is about to begin. With pre-season training over, it's back to the 13/14 hour days again.
But with the extra 10mph on my Moped, this may cut it down by a minimum of 15 minutes a day!
The sun's shining, the gardens looking good, family are healthy - all is well!

26th.March - 9th.April 2007

I couldn't boast a bronze tan following my 6 days in La Manga, but I can now from the last 6 days at Canterbury.
This week saw our first two practice matches against Nottinghamshire and we all basked in temperatures of 20 degrees.
Great, but you can be sure that out first full game proper will probably be rain interrupted!
Earlier in the week I had the chance of bowling a few balls in the practice net at the side of the pitch. I bowled two balls which took ten minutes total; one minute bowling them and nine minutes retrieving the balls from the other side of the ground!

In the last two weekends we've achieved much in the garden and despite the bad back, have managed the following;
240 Onions, Broad Beans, Carrots and built the Runner Bean framing.
In the Greenhouses
Started the following; Asparagus, Courgettes, Sweetcorn, Cucumber, Squash, Tomatoes (loads), Chilli's, Green Peppers, Jalepeno Peppers and some lettuce.

Luckily there doesn't appear to be the same amount of creeping buttercups or thistles in amongst everything, but I'm not holding my breath.

Today (Easter Monday), saw cutting the grass, cleaning the Chickens sheds and servicing the Moped.
The chickens are laying for England at present and it completely blows the theory of them running out of eggs after a couple of years. All mine are a minimum of 3 years old.
Fair enough, they have their moments through winter, but I don't give any artificial lighting etc. They lay when they want to lay and that's good enough for me; they're no problem to look after, they love seeing you coming up the garden and a joy to watch for half an hour if you haven't anything better to do.
I reckon that Hospitals should have a little chicken farm for Patients to wander over to - great therapy I'd have thought.

I'm really hoping the back problem will go away. On Saturday, the Kent Physio had a look at it for me. It seems the problem isn't exactly where it's hurting (very low down), but in the spine.
He felt his way up and suddenly I nearly cleared the ceiling in pain, "Oh Gosh, that's jolly painful old chap" I said. Well, it was actually shorter than that and was probably heard in the scorebox on the other side of the ground!
But, he loosened it up for me and for about 6 hours afterwards, it was bliss. But a visit to the Doctor for the "Well, we're not getting any younger are we" diagnosis is now called for.
It's the last thing I wanted at this time of the year with so much happening at work and at home!

The Club kindly included me in a Skin Cancer test on Tuesday. I had mine done at 4.45pm and got the results at 8.15am the next day. They took scans and photo's of anything slightly suspicious.
Strangely the only one they found with anything in it was one I never knew I had, right on top of the head! Guess it's losing the hair and all that.
However, all OK.

I haven't had much time on the website of late, but with a few days spare to come I am planning a few changes.
At present I use a remotely hosted forum and I'm about to run out of the 'free' part to it. It is less expensive to change my website hosting and host the forum myself. This will mean that, when I do it, I will not be able to transfer posts over, but will have adequate links to those which are beneficial etc.
Whilst about it, I want to sort out a few navigational anomalies. By adding so many pages of late, it isn't always easy to find your way around.
Keeps me out of trouble anyway!

Having just about got back to 'normal' on the finances, I've got quite bored not getting the thrice weekly call with "Is that Mr.Cannon, can you confirm the first line of your address and date of birth please......"
But I'm not for complacency this year, the work becomes slightly less after the decorating and pre-season business, so I'm being careful.
I did fall into capitalistic mode earlier though and ordered 3 new Bandana's from ebay at the grand cost of £2.45 each! At least it may look as if I've got a Harley parked round the corner and not a 50cc Chinese Moped.

All in all, things are looking bright down the lane. All I need to do is find time for my family. With the exception of Leo, I haven't seen any of them since early January - and that is not good.

Finally, back to cricket. I did send a few balls down to an International batsman at 75mph last week.
It's amazing what you can do with those bowling machines isn't it!

12th - 26th. March 2007

I wish I could boast a glorious bronze tan after my six days in La Manga, but it was a tad windy and not quite as hot as last year. However, a few people have said I look better than I did before I went, so I'll settle for that.
But a great time was had by all with much 'team bonding' and extensive fitness training. It was good to be there and catch up with everyone after a long hard winter.

Regret my fitness training kept within the limits of a bad back problem which came about out the blue. I think it was a combination of all the decorating and garden work I'd been doing prior to our departure and added to by sitting on an aeroplane for two and a half hours. It's a rare event I can keep still for more than about five minutes.
It was a shame because I was quite looking forward to my 20 yard dash and two press ups.

I received a criticism about the Diary from someone close the other day. They told me I mention 'being hard up' too often and shouldn't harp on about it. Although the criticism went quite speedily and smoothly above and over my shoulders, I feel I can defend it.
Being hard up isn't a sin and isn't a failure. It's my lifestyle, a lifestyle I chose accepting whatever consequences came my way.
Down the Lane is a personal experience of downshifting and I hope it shows the good times and the bad quite fairly and squarely.
It isn't an escape, it is searching for something better for yourself and those close to you and by doing this, there are sacrifices and hardships which will come with the package.
Sometimes you can downshift and be better off financially, it depends which way you want to go. In my case the money side is secondary to living and experiencing a better way of life and opening your eyes to the realness both outside and within you.
I like to think also, that by reading some of my 'hard up' experiences, others know what to expect maybe.

In my case there's summer and winter; summer OK, winter difficult, but by stepping up a gear now and again, you survive. It's as simple as that.

Blimey, that was serious stuff - where are my pills!!

I managed, with great difficulty, to cut the lawns yesterday. Amazingly my trusty Lawnmower started on the second attempt and I swept round in only two hours!
Being a pleasant day, I also managed to clean the Moped. This took me all of ten minutes.

I was going to follow this up with putting the onions in, but couldn't bend down to take my Wellington Boots off after the above, so they must wait a couple more days.
I'm surprised to see that the Broad Beans have already germinated and an inch above the ground. This in only 20 days is good going I reckon. I sowed them about 3" deep, so no shortcuts.
We also started off more tomato plants on the staircase window sill and got some more lettuce in as well.
Meanwhile the chickens are happy and laying well. I found a torn up rabbit near the Pen but don't know if it was a fox or our cat 'Big Ron'. I'm keeping my eyes open on that one.
Ron does have a reputation amongst the other cats around here and it's rare they argue with him, he even sits by the fence and growls back at next doors dog.

There is a lot to do in the garden still; skimming off the weeds, digging and general tidying up. Sometimes you can have a tendency to think if all the back ache and so on is worth it, but you soon cancel the thought out by remembering the tastes of last seasons sweet corn, carrots, cabbages and salads etc.
There really is nothing quite like it and the knowledge that you can go out the back door at 12.30pm, fetch some eggs and vegetables, then have a fine omelette by 12.45pm is irresistible.

I'm now virtually full time at cricket until the middle of April when there's about a six day gap. Hopefully I can get down to Southampton for a few days and see the family who I haven't been able to get to since very early January - this is too long a gap, the Grandchildren will forget who I am!

At the rate things are going I shall be cutting the grass under the PIR light like last year. Hard work, but entertaining to see the reactions from those around you!

Finally, it's great to see new faces appearing on the Forum on a regular basis and we're now forming a very nice little community. Everyone is welcome to join in. I've just added a couple of new sections, so hope this will spur on some new lines of thread.
We have a fine selection of members and learn much from each other. Why not pop in and have a peep.

Going back to look at the future

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