Change Needed

Fava (broad) beans bolted right up out of the soil in my growing boxes and then too in the ground across the way and in between my potato rows.

My isolation has been both good and not so good. I often think that we have stopped listening and stopped most of the time; to the point that many if not most cannot stand the unsilence of silence. Because of course there is no such thing as silence, except for the totally deaf, it is a funny thing that most of those with the capacity of full hearing are the deafest of all. I have yet to meet a runner on ther streets where `i live who does not have headphones plugged into a phone arm-strapped to them as they run. Music or up-to-date news on the now very boring and filtered interpretations of the interpreters of corona virus so-called update news, blocks out the silences we really do need to maintain our sanity.

The lake lies 500 meters from the back door of my workshop and it is near here that I sit by the reeds to watch the newborns in some of my videos.

No birdsong, no background noises to tell as about a local builder or a car backing out of someone’s driveway. No kids voices or the tap of a football between two socially-distanced ball players. It’s not the pandemic that has changed us so much but the perpetuity of entertainment. I think that it is true too of taste, with the constant grazing we call health snacks and barely an hour between meals. Protein bars are gorged down with high protein foods in an effort to build musclen05% of which the owner will never actually use, except, of course, to build more useless and, actually, unusable muscle. I exercise my limbs and body to keep in shape because, well, I found my time standing at the bench meant my legs were simply locked in the standing position for hours on end. My bike changed all of that and the fact that every time I go upstairs I use them too for exercise. I do 230-30 squats and then runs up and down, yes down too, two at a time. These simple things changed me and gave me the muscle power to get up and down from sitting positions to standing in a single move.

An enlarged view of a Giant Sequoia seed cone within which are a hundred seeds. Find the green ones on the ground, take them home and let them dry in the house until they open up as in this case. They will release their seeds and you can plant them in pots until the stem and first leaves emerge.

This morning, over a five hour period, I saw only one contrail cross the blue sky. This is the positivity of a pandemic and yet every government on the earth is pushing to pollute the skies with their economies once more. As the pandemic has eased even as little as it has I have noticed the Audi and Beamer arrogance return to the streets with the blasting of horns at any bikes riding more than six inches from the kerbside corner. This is because they must alter their speed and course by moving their hands a centimeter left to right and the pedal to gain their former speed. These are the ones that park nearest to the gym doors on double yellows if there are no disabled spaces left. Seriously though, pollution is definitely on its way back as the arrogant say there is no pandemic cornovirus, no global warming and no environmental problem.

The Lye Valley is a small ecosystem that has a big impact and is central to Oxford proper. It is a truly remarkable scarcity as an 8,000 year-old spring-fed fen representing 1.5 hectares of rare habitat that supports 20 species of rare-to-Oxfordshire plants and with 14 on Englands Red List. My favourite part and thought is that it has its thriving populations of reptiles and amphibians. Here is a link to more info of the friends of Lye Valley

But of course pollution wears many hats. Light pollution, noise pollution go hand in hand with all of the other pollution and not the least of which is the more general consumerist pollution we all say we hate but don’t change the sphere in which we can make a localized difference. As one pandemic loses its grip the old ones are gradually set to return. People want ‘normal’, they want to travel to other continents to break away for five days drinking and beach bathing, no matter the cost. This year I decided not to use my car for the year except to travel on essential journeys longer distance and also to pick up what cannot be carried on my bike.In six months I have filled my car up twice and I still have 3/4 of a tank. So I have no plans to change that. I seem to be cycling about 25 miles a day now, in two sessions. At the end of this year, I will consider selling my car because I can hire a car or van for two days periodically as needed and planned for for £150. I can also use a taxi for a few pounds for other trips for little money compared to having the car sitting in the driveway all day. Two of the rental periods will be paid for alone with not needing to cover the cost of insurance for the year and my using the car for only a few hours a year. Yes, there will be days when it’s a pain of inconvenience but it is what I can do.

Will we really see these return to the skies in such volume again?

Getting planes in the air is of course a pandemic problem and much more destructive than the pandemic virus, COVID-19 has been. Has anyone thought about going local again? Local transport as in bikes and walking seem now to be on the table with the British government offering bike rehab grants of £50 and incentives through work to help employees buy bikes. I mean, where did this come from? Surely if people are saving by not riding public transport, taxing cars and paying for petrol and insurance, they will be able to buy a £300 bike from just that saving alone. Why not scrap insurance premiums and just tax petrol for the cost of insurance. that would me pay as you go and pay for what you get as using it. Werll, of course the governments of the world rely on hiding taxation from the public. Better to have insurers that they can control and get their taxes in that way through them. Except, of course, they have lawyers used to fudging such things. So my way would guarantee all cars are insured, that people only pay for what they use and that we would probably lower our use and need of cars on the road.

Preparing my garden last year has given me such joy yet again and I decided to try for three months worth of vegetables this year.

Let me tell you something! The only way change will happen is by the people with boots on the streets decide=ing that the global economy trading depends on us in what we buy and when and how, what we eat and when and how, what we wear, where and when we go. Of course we need to travel, that’s not the point. the point is how we spend our air-miles and I am not talking air-mile incentives from plane owners. Working from home is a great way to go but it does not need to be a lockdown approach. Who wouldn’t want a pyjama day once a week without cranking up the car and sitting early morning in traffic and fighting for a parking space? It could happen that two or three days a week can result for some in a less stress-filled way of working.

I have engineered as much of my lifestyle as much as possible so as to keep in the saddle but keep or improve my sanity. I have remained at work for almost three months so far so that I could put out content to help others adopt a better approach to a better and alternative approach to gaining control in becoming a lifestyle woodworker according to their personally defined preference.

It will be fast for some and slower for others to make changes and adjustments. that’s fine. Just stop to think about what you want. The past three months have not meant so dramatic a change for me except that I enjoy cooking 98% of all of my meals and I now know exactly what I am eating.

I cook on a two-ring electric countertop cooker alongside a mini oven. No more cafes for me when this lockdown eases up. Just the occasional one and that’s all.

This area is an area I have reinvented to suit me. I am healthier living as a long term diabetic with blood sugars almost near normal because I am in control of my food, my exercise, and my work. If there will be such a thing as a “new normal” and I doubt very much that there will be because it is little more than media hype, politics and a general penchant for spending, spending, spending again, I feel I may well have arrived to a great degree and the pandemic nudged me even further, but it was a personal decision that began well before this pandemic. I’m not saying anyone has to do what I do, but gardening, riding a bike and exercise by cycling to and from work, they all have an effect for change and in reality, it can only be good.

There is no condemnation meant in this post. No judgementalism and no self-righteousness either. Just time to rethink what we want to change . . . and do it!


  1. Hi Paul

    Is it Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes that you have if you don’t mind me asking?


  2. Hi Paul,
    Since the pandemic, I have heard many people echo some variation on these same sentiments, myself included. And while I have no desire to live like a hermit, and do look forward to a time when I can enjoy the energized social atmosphere of a local bar/cafe/restaurant/pub again, I also agree that it is quite possible to scale back without missing out on anything truly important.

    If some changed attitudes and a better balance is the result, then at least some good will have come from this pandemic.


  3. Time outs, and in this pandemic case, fairly lengthy, are a necessity in achieving wisdom not to mention re-evaluating life’s true purposes. Show me a perpetual busy body and I will show you an unenlightened fool.

  4. Hi Paul,
    Individual responsibility for all aspects of my life seems indeed a real and meaningful answer to the problem of pollution, corruption and regression. Making a beginning and then persevering (in my case two steps forward and then one step backwards) has been beneficial.
    Thank you for your encouragement.

  5. I’ve come to think that, just as alcohol and drugs provide an escape, so is being surrounded by music and inane chatter on the radio, an incessantly playing TV in the background or constantly having people around you to exchange banter with or the modern equivalent, ‘social’ media. To me it indicates people who aren’t comfortable being by themselves and need constant distraction. An escape mechanism. Without constant distraction, people will have nothing but their own thoughts to keep them company and that’s apparently a scary situation for many. At least, that’s my take on things.

    1. Bread is not an issue for me and neither is obesity. I eat a slice or less per day. Thank you for thinking of me though, and taking the time to write in. Very kind!
      Type II Diabetes is almost always associated with Type II but I am a third generation of Type II. Diet and exercise is the best way to take control of your life but somehow I think the mechanism of being told you are Type II seems to trigger some kind of resignation to a slow death, becoming more overweight and, well, allowing diabetes to just take over your life. That’s is so wrong. You can keep your blood sugar levels down and olive a wonderful life with it as I am experiencing now for at least two decades and possibly three. Diabetes has not adversely affected my life and neither di having a terminal disease in 1984 when I was given 18 months to live. Diet is just about exercise and a little exercise helps too. Don’t give up and don’t believe all that your doctors, dieticians and diabetic organisations tell you. My doctor is brilliant and she listens. My first doctor in the USA guessed his way all the way through it. Just take charge of the information and match it to your life. Ultimately it is your responsibility for your wellbeing and healthcare and not theirs.

      1. I would really like to read a post from you concerning diet. I already understand exercise, and get a lot of it, but I would like to know the changes you made when you were told you had 18 months to live, and what food groups you consume and avoid. Just broad brush strokes, I think that would be very interesting!

  6. Thanks Paul. Wonderful post.

    A couple of thoughts based on this post.

    One of my favorite video series you did was for the workbench you built in your backyard. We could hear the kids at play, seagulls, etc in the background.

    I had a chance to do some advanced studies in the UK for two years. I didn’t have a car. I did exactly as you suggested. It worked and only at times was inconvient. That is coming from an American who couldn’t imagine not having a car.

  7. I have long thought that the wearing of head phones and ear buds with music turned up to 11 are no good for our ears. I have them in their packets but don’t use them. They come with every phone.
    I have tinnitus, probably due to working as a labourer during University holidays in the press shop of a factory, now long gone 44 years ago and every long holiday for five years. But I still hear the birds every day. The changing species during the seasons. I watch the sky and the trees for the wind and the weather.
    Showing your test is diabetic shaming. Just joking, well done.
    I am far more each day. A battle.
    Take care and keep up the good work.

  8. A car makes pallet recycling and skip finds easier to get back to your own place tho. U may have to get Joseph on the job..

  9. Thank you Paul. I feel we’ve gotten lost believing that recycling and “green energy” will somehow allow us to maintain our lifestyles indefinitely. We’re going blissfully along, patting each other on the back, congratulating ourselves for our “progress”, and all the while CO2 levels are rising, the oceans are warming, species are going extinct, and the world is slowly being covered in plastic.

    We ARE going to make radical changes in how we live on this earth. The only question is timing which will determine if we have any control over what those changes are and how many billions will die in the process.

  10. Paul, really great insights and thoughts from you and those who have posted.

    I’m not sure how long before we get back to life as usual or if it is even possible. I am not referring to masks and group gatherings as masks will likely soon be discarded and groups will begin to gather again. The virus and recent events have deepen the political divide and stoked the underlying hatred and anger of many in the States. Other than vote for wise candidates and try to make a difference with the people I know and with whom I interact, there is not much for me to do about what goes on in my country. In the meantime, I will take the lessons I’ve learned from the shutdown: to better appreciate my wife, children, friends, and family; to enjoy every moment of quiet in my shop, garden and daily walk; and to think, to be grateful and to pray more often. Finally, Paul, I always appreciate the thoughtfulness of your posts.

  11. Hi Paul
    You are such an interesting person. A model of inspiration for us .
    I love to read your life opinions as I love to read your technical article.
    Thank you
    Pessach Levy

  12. I am not sure that anyone experiences total silence, when put in these sound proof rooms where all echoes are suppressed most people cannot wait to get out. I am very deaf nowadays, wearing two hearing aids to hear, but inside my head when not wearing the aids there is not total silence. All that said there is nothing to compare to listening to silence when wearing the aids !

  13. You say the arrogant say there is no global warming and then close with “no condemnation or judgement”, which is quite arrogant. Once outside of the stacked on top and sprawling hive-cities that are highly prone to group-think, there is a remarkable lack of all the nastiness you describe. Science that you have accepted is contrary to the non-political science that I have observed for many decades. It is sad to see the disdain for those not agreeing , yes, it creeps out in your writing and seasons the content with an air of superiority which I thought was beneath your character. Yes, there is a high degree of mismanagement in the arenas of big city life and in time, thinking minds will correct the problems. Beware of those intellectuals who resist or choose to not discover what they do not know. That is hubris that eliminates the possibility of reasonable discourse as it brooks no disagreement and I refuse to engage in the usual response from the emotionally governed who typically leap into vituperative name-calling with extreme prejudice. Just for a mental exercise, do this little calculation. Imagine if you will, giving each person on the planet a three square ft. area in which to stand, then take those people and have then stand in one area compiled of all those three sq.ft little plots. Every person on the planet congregated in one larger square. How large would it be? That answer surprises most. To give a hint, start with a square that is 28 miles on each side and then do the math. (28 mile x 5,280 ft/mile) x (28 mile x 5,280 ft/mile), divided by three. Merely an illustration to show that over-population proponents should be more concerned with hive-city management (generally where they reside). Just one example of “settled science” that is……not.

    1. @ Michael…

      You’re the arrogant one here…

      And you’re an idiot..

      If you had lived through the droughts, fires and floods over here in Oz, you maybe might think twice about your ignorant denialist rants.

      Or probably not, as I doubt you have the intelligence necessary to actually notice the world around you..

  14. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Paul. I didn’t realize I’d been following your various adventures since 1984. I recall the support you got from the woodworking community. You deserve the best!

  15. Paul While getting my work bench cleaned off to install a new 10 inch wood vice like the one you use I had to remove my great grandfathers too chest that my uncle left me many years ago I remember as a child not to play with that chest by my uncle and was always curious of its contents. I moved it last night and went through it and cleaned out many years of dust and repaired the bottom of the chest on the top of the chest is My great grandfathers name John H Phillips 1889 The chest had been rummage through long before I was lucky enough to have it in my passion but there are still many fine old tools inside I came across a couple that I have never seen before and was wondering if I could send you some pictures and maybe you might be able to provide me with how they were used also I have some old wood planes large and small with no numbers is there a book on the old wood planes that I may do a little research and find out more about what I have. My grandparents were from Cardiff Wales. I have my grandmother nursing graduation certificate from Saint Williams Hospital Rochester she studied in the field For Fever and Infectious Diseases. I am sure the Hospital is long gone now. I just though you might find that interesting. If there is a way I could send a few pictures your way I would love to do that thank you for your time and I really do enjoy your how to do movies and noted my younger brother just sent me one of your books so much fine info I finally just learned how to sharpen my planes. Thanks again In advance. The best to you and yours during these crazy times. Sincerely G L Kassel California USA.

  16. PAUL, you had me nodding in agreement until I saw the green goo😁. Not sure I can follow you there. Cooking was and has returned as an enjoyable pastime.
    In North Atlanta biking on small country roads to go to the store is more excitement than I care to experience. Playing the game of “dodge the old man” with a Beamer is not on my agenda. Still, I miss not biking to the store. Guess I’ll take my backpack and hoof it.
    Stay safe, stay well

  17. Well said Paul. In Guernsey, we have abolished car road tax and put it onto fuel costs, the polluter pays, everyone is happy. If you don’t wish to pay, don’t drive!

  18. I noticed the blood tester. I too am a Type 2 diabetic and my diet has changed drastically. Sugar is out! Pop is out! Sodastream provides all the fizzy concoctions along with an ounce of a tasty fruit juice. Fortunately with the effort to get wood, do wood projects, garden and deal with heavy loads of scrap from my gun club I am very well exercised. To me silence is just the missing things that bother me. People talking constantly, phones ringing all the time, shouting, traffic etc. In my shop I can close the doors and leave most of that out. We are fortunate to live in British Columbia in Canada and we have only been off the continent once to go to Maui on a trip my wife won. Aside from that there are glaciers, lakes, rivers, and so many other things to see along with the excellent fishing it makes me wonder why most of the people we know have been to Cancun every year but have no idea of just how beautiful the place we live is. That is sad to me. However I have my shop to ground me. It is truly satisfying to hear a sharp plane gliding thru a piece of hardwood. These are the joys of life. It can be a good ride or a lot of stress and work. Take care all, this too shall pass.

  19. Paul
    I certainly enjoy your blogs almost as much as I enjoy your woodworking tips.

    My truck sits in the driveway idle most of the time. Only drive for groceries, hunting trips and fishing trips. Can’t seem to part with it, however.

    Be safe and healthy

  20. Hi Paul,

    I’m not even a woodworker, but I get notifications of and avidly read your Blogs.

    There is something about the simplicity and clarity of your posts and youtube videos that makes me feel I somehow need need more of what you say and do in my life.

    Ironically I work for a joinery shop in New Zealand, but do desk based admin, sales, CAD Design and CNC programming…. nothing hands on, in fact the guys in the shop laughingly keep me away from the whirring machines and the sharp looking hand tools.

    My Grandfather from Liecester, who I was too young to really know, was a carpenter, by all accounts very skilled, who lived out his latter years, deeply frustrated, knocking up bed frames in a factory. I have vague, but very fond memories of him, in his garden shed, woodbine constantly in his mouth, tinkering with tools and timber, alone and content. Most of the time he was a grumpy old bugger…. but not in his shed.

    I can’t even think of anything I really need to make, but in the last few months have searched the local version of Ebay and have bought a few planes, a spoke shave and some old Marples chisels. As I reach my late 50’s, its about time to feel some wood beneath my fingers, listen to the world around me and reconnect with life.
    Who knows what I will make, I know whatever it is, will not be that great first time round, but I’m wanting to take part in and enjoy the process.

    Thanks for this wonderful Blogs that makes so much sense and especially thanks for all your inspiration.

    Kind Regards

    Martin Smith
    Eastbourne, New Zealand

  21. Congratulations on the ‘standing from prone’ move Prof. Sellers. That takes discipline that even ducks do not know.

  22. You made me laugh out loud with your reference to the pushy Audi and BMW drivers as it’s so often the case. Reminded me of Jeremy Clarkson driving one with his hair slicked over, blue tooth ear piece in and gaudy tie saying corporate phrases like ‘going forward’ :-).

    Last year I noted the amount of aircraft flying overhead high in the sky while lying down in my garden looking up at the sky. I started by trying to see how long I could see them for – never more than a minute. There were 2 – 5 usually in view at any one time. When no planes were visible in the sky I started counting and never got past 60 seconds. I thought that this seemed crazy as it’s just one patch of sky and I dont live next to an airport, though I am within about 40 miles of Bristol and Heathrow. I since learned on the radio that there were usually 1.2 million people in the air at any one time day and night. It just seems wrong.

    The problem with insurance being on a petrol tax is that it doesn’t take risk factors into account so no deterrent to stop the boy racers from buying a cheap but powerful car or motorbike and no reward for careful drivers though I suppose something could be worked out like excesses on claims.

    Best regards

  23. Paul Sellers writes:

    “I have remained at work for almost three months so far so that I could put out content to help others adopt a better approach to a better and alternative approach to gaining control in becoming a lifestyle woodworker according to their personally defined preference.”

    One might think it’s more logical that Paul Sellers has kept content flowing for the last three months to keep his promise to his paying customers who, after all, pay him $15 a month for that content. He is a man of integrity, after all, and wouldn’t take their money if he wasn’t delivering the content they are paying for.

    I don’t pay for “a better approach to a better and alternative approach to gaining control in becoming a lifestyle woodworker according to their personally defined preference” (whatever that means). I pay for woodworking instruction. I am sure I am not alone in this.

  24. Over here in upstate New York I find BMW and Audi owners relatively easy to frustrate, I don’t give up my right of way, when they honk their horns or start to yell they get told to read the motor vehicle laws and I raise my cane in an old curmudgeonly manner.LOL Our fuel costs have taxes built in for road maintenance and building, not enough but a large share.
    As a type 2 diabetic I understand what you say about exercise and diet, with today’s medications it is easy to control, just a bit of do diligence is all it takes. It was nice not having all the traffic, makes taking a stroll very nice.

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