Welcome to Down The Lane

1st - 10th. April 2009

At last, the website up-grade is done, all bar the Forum and I have worked out how to write a page in Dreamweaver. So we're back on the road, where to I don't know, but we're on it!

The last few weeks have seen many changes. My Shed PC's motherboard blew and it was more cost effective to buy a new PC rather than change the Motherboard and find something else was wrong etc. and the Cricket Season has started.

I have to admit that in the last few weeks I have felt the ageing process more than ever before. It's been getting up, sorting Chickens, going to Cricket, coming home and working on the Website. Add to this the fact I have recently built a new Shed and tried to start sorting the garden out and it all adds up to being nothing short of 'shot away'.

Tomorrow, Leo and myself are planning on removing 'Nettle Cottage', the existing Chicken Shed and replacing it with the old Office Shed. I've warned the neighbours there's a bonfire to end bonfires coming up and to shut the windows, for obvious reasons! This will leave three clear days over Easter to sort it out and a few other 'I'll do it tomorrow' jobs around and about.

The Rayburn is now officially closed for Summer and I'm pleased to say I managed the whole winter on just under £100 on Coal. This was achieved by using, as usual, wood from around us and the Paper Logs I made last Summer. It seems though that Mimi thinks it's still lit and every morning is still jumping on top of it thinking there's some after heat for her to divulge in! See photo.

I have however, been able to visit family in Southampton and a day at my Mother's. At Mum's I was hoping for a belated Birthday present of a couple of grand, but did get a Lunch out at Harvesters though. Leo and myself went to Southampton for my Grand daughters birthday. After nine days of working, the last four of which were over 12 hours, twenty three six year old was just the ticket! But to be fair, I thought it would wear me out, but as I was worn out anyway, we all had a tremendous time.

The ending of the visit was saddened by the fact that their cat had to be put to sleep. He had been very ill for a few weeks and regret to say, didn't take to the medication. In fact, two days after visiting my Mother, she had to put her cat to sleep as well, but that was sickness through age more than anything else, she was 20.

It's a shame that our pets have relative short lifes to us and it means we have to say so many goodbyes in our life time. But it's inevitable and after all, it'll happen to us one day - not too soon I hope.

I am keeping to my plan of only growing vegetables, except Runner Beans, in Pots. Well, when I say Pots, I mean bread baskets, wooden boxes, a Bath and Toilet. All for a good project I think and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all works out.

The Chickens are the same as ever scuttling around in panic through fear I may forget to feed them although I've never fogotten in ten years of keeping chickens! They're laying well though for ex-battery hens, from the ten I'm getting about 5 / 6 eggs a day. Putting them in a new shed may put them off for a while though, but needs be.

At Cricket, the Team are slowly arriving back from sunnier places, all with tans, but I don't care, I tell them about my day out to Hastings in February and you can see they're seethingly jealous! Next week we play our first Match and with the injuries which are appearing everywhere, I may get a game !!!

More good news is the Hospital have finally got the diagnosis for my shoulder and I have to have an operation sometime between now and July. It will mean a couple of weeks off work, but I guess it'll do me good.

In May, Leo and I are going camping for five days on the Somme to further our interest in WW1 Battlefields and Cemetaries. We recently visited Hill 60 just east of Ypres and the day after we got home, I realised my Grandfather was there. Reading about it and other such places, it's no wonder neither of my Grandfathers, or many others, never ever spoke a word about it.

From now until the end of the Cricket season at the end of September, life will be chaotic. Maybe it's too chaotic, but if it weren't, my body would probably just give up altogether! Best keep going, pace yourself, but be realistic at the same time

10th - 25th. April 2009

The last two weeks have been dominated by the start of the Cricket Season, but even then, I've managed to get quite a lot done at home on the few days off.

The main thing is that after much work and fiddling around the Forum has been up-graded and is now running well. Sure, there are a few little things I wish to change, but overall, it's running much quicker than before, has a lot of 'extras' and should, after I get used to it, make life a lot easier changing things around etc.

With my new Office now complete, Leo and myself got around to converting the old 6 x 4 into a Chicken House. You can see the result in the new 'Chickens get new Home' Blog page. I must admit that after some 7 days since we put it up, I'm very pleased. I was expecting the Chickens not to lay for a while, but egg production has remained good

Sadly, I had a Chicken die during the week. I had noticed she was getting a bit slow and isolated, but it was one bad day, then two good ones. There were no visible signs of anything wrong, but on Tuesday this week I found her dead in the Chicken House. It is strange this, because there's a perception that Chickens suffer from the cold etc., but over the years I've found I lose more during the warmer months than the cold months. It's a shame, but it's the same for all species, it's inevitable.

Needless to say, you have a few days off and hope to relax and everything starts going wrong! This time it was the Lawnmower which lost it's drive. Thankfully, someone at Work fixed this, but then it kept cutting out after a few feet. After doing a complete Oil change, taking this and that off to clean bits, I found it was a slight adjustment to the throttle cable - about a 20 second job. Bang went another afternoon!

The weather being so good appears to be doing the trick for all the vegetables and indeed, all plants in general. The Acer is in full redness and the trees seem to have their leaves out a bit earlier this year.

The Onions are growing like nobody else and the carrots are also popping through. Looking in the Greenhouse where I put some 'pick and grow' Lettuce, it looks like we won't have to wait long for those either.

Now having another few days off, I intend to make some boxes to sow yet more seeds. I have some more Beetroot to put in, another lot of Carrots and Courgettes etc. The Runner Beans need to go out shortly, but I have to fix the Strimmer first as the area I want to put them is somewhat overgrown at present. Another 'afternoon job' I have no doubt !

I have a date for my Shoulder Operation though which is good news. It's on 23rd. May (day after I come back from 5 days in France) and being done in a Private Hospital in Hythe. I had the option of a week earlier, but if I don't have my five days visiting the Somme Battlefields (loads of web pages to follow!) then, I can't make it there until the School Summer Holidays and I don't fancy weaving in and out of holiday traffic.

I've already done quite a lot of writing on the subject and intend to put the pages under 'Hobbies and Interests'. Leo and myself are basically following my two Grandfathers footsteps, but that takes in the 1st / 2nd Battles of Ypres and the Somme area between Arras and Reims. I must admit to finding it totally fascinating, along with 'spooky' and sometimes highly emotional.

Even though people know it's the Cricket Season, I'm getting loads of work requests and am having to discipline myself to either say 'no' or 'OK if you're prepared to wait'.

It's strange how the last year has gone. In all previous years of my downshifting experience, life has been very hard on the financial and getting work side of things, but suddenly, things are looking better and I'm surviving. It's not I'm a rich man (blimey that would be absolutely impossible!) but I'm getting by without having to duck and dive so much. In fact, I find it quite scarey and each day expect some horrendous Bill I'd forgotten about to come in.

Already I'm picking up bits of wood for next winter and will shortly have the Chimneys cleaned and oreder the Coal before the prices all go up around August time. By buying Coal early enough last year, on a cost of £110, I saved £30 by ordering it early enough.

So there you go, all in all, things are looking fair to good down the Lane. I'm earning money, have food in my belly, a roof over my head and still, as the Ozzies say, 'on the right side of the grass' !

Going back to look at the future
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