It's 11pm and I've just got in from work after an 8am start. Ah, the summer cometh !
After 4 weeks of various work at Canterbury, including pre-season training and a great working trip to Spain, the season started proper yesterday.
Now I look forward to five months of emotion, ups, downs but many good times with friends and colleagues.
After the long slog, last week I eagerly awaited my three days off over the Easter Weekend. The build up was quite exciting; I planned each day out in the garden along with time to rest and play.
Smack on time, I caught a quite amazing cold and, although I got all the work done, struggled through with every entrance for air to breath completely bunged up with assocaited temperature. Oh well, I should have seen it coming shouldn't I.
But at least I got more carrots, lettuce and beetroot sown, found more room for some extra potatoes and gave the chicken shed a good clean through.
In fact, I can proudly say that for this time of the year, the veggie garden is looking about the best it's ever been and I appear to be on top of things.
The greenhouse is also well under way with peppers and chillies on the go.
Inside the house, the tomatoes on the window sill are up to a couple of inches high.
I even got around to cutting the lawns and doing some strimming. I admit to not knowing flowers very well, so some extremely rare breeds have probably ended up in the compost heap.
Overall it's a bit worrying. Things are going a bit too well !
The weekend before last I went to Southampton with Leo for grand daughter Emilys 3rd Birthday Party. This was very relaxing !!!
About ten other children came and I reckoned that on an average each one had 4 virus's thus totalling 40 good illness's to choose from.
Strangely, timing wise, I don't think I caught my cold down there.
Next week I'll probably come out with 'Chicken Measles Gastro' disease and spend the rest of the year in a spotted heap on the floor !
But, only joking of course. It's the first grand kids party I've got to and I find it fascinating to know there's a bit of me in them. All their good points of course.
Leo is now working at the Cricket Ground as well. He has a job in the kitchens and is finding his new found experience of being with 'new' people and earning some money very rewarding.
I think, after 7 years, my downshifting challenge is now starting to come to fruitition. The reasons I did it were to live a life, see the family more, NOTICE my family more, watching them growing and developing.
With the exception of finances, I'm seeing the benefits of self reliance and frugality.
I've had some shocking downers, but with the help of some very good people and the family themselves I'm finding new motivation and understanding more the importance of getting things right.
I want to say "I haven't, for me and those close to me, done badly".
Blimey, that's a bit deep for me !!
I've been watching 'It's not easy being green' on the TV and have found the series most fascinating albeit helped by the fact that the family featured seem a really good bunch of characters and most of it was filmed during the hazy lazy days of summer.
It sems that it's not hard to be more green, but only after you've set yourself up to be that way and this takes a fair amount of work, cash and finding the necessary skills to do it with.
These TV series are obviously made to get viewers, but if you take some skills, ambitions and methods selectively from programmes such as River Cottage, Jimmys Farm and the above, you can find your medium and gain much knowledge.
On the website front, I've just done a camping supplement and Down the Lane regular, Sarah, has sent a piccie and short piece about herself in 'Your Page'. Please have a peep at her website - it's good.
So for 4 nights last week I escaped the early Spring gloom and doom of GB and experienced the sunshine and sport of La Manga in Spain.
One of our players couldn't make it, so there was a space paid for and vacant. It was deemed that I would be the suitable choice to drive the mini-bus around and generally assist in sporting activities giving the Coaches more time to coach..
I can assure you it was not all play. Training began at 8am and went on all day with me shunting players about, fielding at 'long stop' and sorting out bicycles etc.
The Spanish football team Real Socialdat were training next to us along with some Norwegan clubs who were exciled due to bad weather in Scandinavia.
It's a beautiful spot, the temperatures ranged from 23 - 28 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.
Just what I needed after a long hard winter and good preparation for the forthcoming season. The main thing is that people have remarked how much healthier I look !
Coming back was a bit of a downer though, pouring hard with rain and 8 degrees !
The weekend was then spent on catch up in the garden. I managed to dig the rest of the vegetable patch, put the onions in and sow some carrots.
I really dug it deep this year. The dig I did back in October seems to have helped a great deal, with far less weeds showing than this time last year.
On Monday I brought home some more bread baskets (see Frugal Gardening), so all is pretty much cat proof (they're toileting the greenhouse at present !).
With Cricket very much at the fore, some gardening has been completed at the ridiculous hour of 7am before I leave home. But if needs be......etc.
The chickens appear not to have missed me and continued their egg bounty with a minimum of 8 eggs a day.
Financially things are looking a lot better than they did some 4-6 weeks ago. I've even secured some work between matches at the end of April and during May. So a big forward charge is taking place. I just hope the body holds up to it OK !
I have sworn that next winter will not be the same as last. I've thrown away my credit card to avoid temptation (carefully forgetting the security number so I can't cheat !) and will rely from now on solely on the 'spend only what I have' method. It's going to be difficult and will need discipline, but I'm determined.
To avoid overdoing it too much, this weekend Leo and myself are off to Southampton. This works well as it's grand daughter Emilys birthday and for the first time, Leo and I will be there for a Party.
I've promised I won't get a sudden headache and head for the Sea !
Leo is starting a summer job at the Cricket Club working in the Players Restaurant Kitchen, so I hope this will be good experience for him.
The Players new Chef comes from West Ham FC, so I'm sure Leo will hear a few first hand stories about life in the Premiership.
Very many thanks to those who have donated to the running of this web site receiving the DVD and for the positive feedback.
I like to think I've been honest in saying it is not an instructional 'production' just a kind of camcorder record of a year 'down the lane' and showing much of the website on film.
I haven't done any recording this year outside of a few family things, but hope to do something during Spring and summer on chickens and gardening only.
Vistors to Down the Lane have doubled in the last year and we're not far off the magical 100,000 now. On average, 500 pages are visited every day now.
I have added about 30 pages through the winter and want to continue this by branching off into further relative subjects. It's just thinking of what the relevant subjects are that's the problem! Sleepless nights, aching muscles and nightmares of 147 Bank Managers standing beside my bed when I wake up come to mind !
Someone wrote the following in the Guestbook a couple of weeks ago and I thought it very relevant to many parts of a downshifter, or anyones life....