Tag Archives: stress

Blowing away the cobwebs

I was walking round checking heifers the other morning and my route takes me across a field where there were potatoes. As I walked along the headland I did a double take. I could have sworn there was ice in the tread marks left by the tractors.

It was only as I looked closely that I realised that it was dew on cobwebs.

But since then autumn has tilted more towards winter, I suspect the next time I see the phenomenon it will be ice, or at least rag. On the other hand, stock still outside are looking well. Today the dry cows looked relaxed and happy in the chilly early morning sun.

Mind you, that’s more that can be said for a lot of people. After six months people are starting to get a bit stowed of it all.
I was reading the paper the other day and a lass who works in a lot of ‘interesting’ places was writing about this. Apparently if you’re trapped in a stressful situation for six months you ‘hit a wall.’ You’ve had enough and need a break.

It appears that the army discovered long ago that troops who served six month tours in a war zone were more likely to re-enlist than troops who served twelve or eighteen month tours. Even if the lads who’d done the six month tours had actually done more tours and put in more time in combat than the others.

Her advice was to ‘get away.’ But she admitted that it isn’t always possible. Indeed travelling anywhere at the moment can be more stressful than staying at home. When she couldn’t travel, what she did was to ‘escape into a good book.’ In her case, she loved Lord of the Rings’ and would just have a long weekend off at wherever she was living at the time. There, she would just shut out the world, sit and read. It felt like having a few days holiday and she emerged from it feeling better.

Funnily enough I can empathise with this. For me, the Foot and Mouth outbreak was far more stressful than the current medical unpleasantness. The fact that my lady wife and I have almost certainly had coronavirus before it was fashionable means this particular madness is a lot less stressful.

But during FMD I got to a point where I couldn’t even settle to read. So I sat down and read my way through the Asterix books.

After them, I was up to methodically working my way through the Terry Pratchett Discworld series. These carried me through.

So really, that’s my advice to people. If you can take a break, do. I drove across the country last weekend to see my daughter who we’ve not been able to see. She’s been stuck on her own in a flat. It did us both good to meet up. But thanks to the regulations, what is possible one weekend might not be possible the next. But you can always get a good book. Even if you don’t feel up to venturing into a bookshop, there’s plenty on line. But actually now might be the time to re-read the books you love. My late mother was very fond of the Miss Read books, and would re-read them. I’ve always felt that a good book ought to be a holiday you can take without the hassle of travelling.

But if you fancy something new, I could recommend some of my own stuff. After all, Port Naain is a city where you can still walk the streets without worrying about social distancing or wearing a mask.



Hired to do a comparatively simple piece of mapping work Benor should perhaps have been suspicious when the pay seemed generous.
Will he ever get to the bottom of what is going on?
How rough is the rough justice of rural Partann?
How to clean out a privy with a crossbow. Welcome to the pastoral idyll.

As a reviewer commented, “Benor the cartographer is offered a job away from home with unusually generous pay. It all has to be done on the quiet, too. Something’s up. Benor has a murder to solve. I thought he had, but there’s more to come. This story is a murder mystery and a comedy of manners, set in a world of fantasy. If you like a genre mashup, this is brilliant. The characters and their relationships and banter would make it worth reading even if it didn’t have a plot – but it does. Another winner for me.”

Creeping calmly towards Christmas.


You know it’s a bad sign when normally sensible young women go shopping wearing Santa Hats. If they’ve got some poor bloke in tow as well then things are doubtless about to get stressful.

I walked into town today, not really to buy anything but just to shunt money about and make sure various other jobs had been done. So I didn’t really call in any shops or spend any money, but it was interesting just to watch everybody else. A lot of people were cheerful, some looked a bit stressed. I did call in to one shop to pick up some pickled onions. (Living the dream here, we know how to do Christmas, and you need something to go with the cold meat.)

Talking to one of the lads stacking shelves and he commented that people had already started ‘panic buying’. Given that the shops will be open this weekend, open the 24th, and open again on the 27th, it’s not as if we were laying in provisions for a re-run of the siege of Troy.

What gets me about Christmas is the stress some people seem to inflict upon themselves. I’m afraid I’m past that now.

On two consecutive Christmas Days we had power cuts (but fortunately we cook using an oil fuelled Rayburn.) On the next Christmas the Rayburn ran out of oil on Christmas day at about 10am, but fortunately we had electricity that year.

The most ‘exciting’ Christmas for me was where we had a power cut on Christmas Day, we had a dairy cow who needed a caesarean on Boxing Day, and the day after that, as I was putting silage into the troughs for the milk cows, the tractor put a front wheel through the slats on the top of the slurry bit, breaking a concrete sleeper and toppled over slowly, stopping at an angle of 45 degrees, stuck. I had to phone someone with a telescopic handler who dropped round and lifted the front end up so I could back out. By this stage I’d had enough of the entire Christmas experience, especially as I was doing two men’s work, but was paying someone to sit at home because I couldn’t afford to pay double time for them to come in and help.

It was at that stage that we started redesigning the business to eliminate the need for paid staff.

I think Christmas needs to be put in its place. My mother was a teacher, she had Christmas ‘up to here’ at school in December, so Christmas started at home on the day after she broke up. So decorations went up on December 23rd and came down promptly on 12th night.

Christmas is a different festival to New Year. There are five working days between them. We always worked on the principle that if we couldn’t contact a supplier between Christmas and New Year, we didn’t need them during the rest of the year either.

And Christmas Day? A decent start, get stock fed,  if things go well might even make 9:30am service. Then after dinner, read and/or snooze, Queen’s Speech, back outside to feed round again and check everything is OK before finishing in time for tea. Finish up with a relaxing evening with family.

So relax. Sit down; pour yourself a glass of something restorative. Dip into a nice ebook to take you out of it all.


Numerous reviewers recommend


“This is the first book by Jim Webster that I’ve read, but it will certainly not be the last!

The world that is opened up around the main character, Benor Dorfinngil, is an interesting combination of historical fiction, legend and non-magical fantasy (although some of the creatures described are certainly, in some cases thankfully, not existing in our world).

Gripping tales, interesting situations and characters, clever plots and thoroughly entertaining.”