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Hello, and welcome to The Year Without Wimbledon

 

Hello, and welcome to The Year Without Wimbledon, my coronavirus pandemic diary. I’m writing a few notes every day, grouped into blog posts for each week, on how my life in lockdown here in Manchester, Northern England is going; and I’ve also written a few posts on the build-up to lockdown, starting in January 2020. If anyone’s reading this, thank you very much, and please let me know if you’ve got any thoughts to share!

Index of posts:

The Road to Freedom?

Dancing with the Daffodils

The road to freedom? Week 1 , March 29th to April 4th 2021 inclusive

Death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The road to freedom?  Week 2, April 5th to 11th 2021 inclusive

Vaccination Day

The road to freedom?  Week 3, April 12th to 18th 2021 inclusive

The road to freedom?  Week 4, April 19th to 25th 2021 inclusive

The road to freedom?  Week 5, April 26th to May 2nd 2021 inclusive

The road to freedom?  Week 6, May 3rd to 9th 2021 inclusive

Hugging is back

The road to freedom?  Week 7, May 10th to 16th 2021 inclusive

The road to freedom?  Week 8, May 17th to 23rd 2021 inclusive

The road to freedom?  Week 9, May 24th to 30th 2021 inclusive

Coping with uncertainty

D.V. Day – fully vaccinated!

The road to freedom?  Week 10, May 31st to June 6th 2021 inclusive

The road to freedom?  Week 1, June 7th to 13th 2021 inclusive

 

Lockdown III:

Lockdown III Week 1, January 4th to 10th 2021 inclusive

The coming of the vaccines

Lockdown III Week 2, January 11th to 17th 2021 inclusive

Manchester monsoons, Melbourne mice, park perambulations and lockdown locks

Lockdown III Week 3, January 18th to 24th 2021 inclusive

Anniversaries, Adelaide tennis and appalling ingratitude

Lockdown III Week 4, January 25th to 31st 2021 inclusive

Free tea, anxious toes, Handforth headlines, BYOB and repaying Sybil

Lockdown III Week 5, February 1st to 7th 2021 inclusive

Upside Down

Lockdown III Week 6, February 8th to 14th 2021 inclusive

Lockdown III Week 7, February 15th to 21st 2021 inclusive

Lockdown Birthday/Group 10

Lockdown III Week 8, February 22nd to 28th 2021 inclusive

A match-less year

Lockdown III Week 9, March 1st to 7th 2021 inclusive

Lockdown III Week 10, March 8th to 14th 2021 inclusive

A hitch in the proceedings

Lockdown III Week 11, March 15th to 21st 2021 inclusive

Lockdown Anniversary

Lockdown III Week 12, March 22nd to 28th 2021 inclusive

 

 

Tier Four

Snakes and Ladders/Tiers and Fears

Tier Four, Week 1 – December 31st to January 3rd inclusive

 

Tier Three Plus

Eating From A Box

Some statistics – now, how does this work?

Tier Three Plus, Week 1 – December 7th to 13th inclusive

Christmas is cancelled

Lightopia

Tier Three Plus, Week 2 – December 14th to 20th inclusive

Tier Three Plus, Week 3 – December 21st to 27th inclusive

Snow pictures

Tier Three Plus, Week 4 … well, half a week – December 28th to 30th inclusive

 

Lockdown II:

Welcome to Lockdown II – the lights go out, the facilities stay open

Lockdown II Week 1 – November 2nd to 8th inclusive

Lockdown II Week 2 – November 9th to 15th inclusive

The Great Christmas Debate

Lockdown II Week 3 – November 16th to 22nd inclusive

Lockdown II Week 4, November 23rd to 29th inclusive

Lockdown II Week 5, November 30th to December 6th inclusive

Eating From A Box

 

Second Wave:

Second Wave Week 1 – August 31st to September 6th inclusive

Trying to smile behind the mask

Second Wave Week 2 – September 7th to 13th inclusive

Madrid, which saved my life … well, OK, sort of

Second Wave Week 3 – September 14th to 20th inclusive

Second Wave Week 4 – September 21st to 27th inclusive

It is better to light a candle …

Second Wave Week 5 – September 28th to October 4th inclusive

Second Wave Week 6 – October 5th to 11th inclusive

What is going on?

Second Wave Week 7 – October 12th to 18th inclusive

The Harrying of the North, or The Two Nations

Second Wave Week 8 – October 19th to 25th inclusive

Town before lockdown

Second Wave Week 9 – October 26th to November 1st inclusive

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on:

Goodbye lockdown locks, hello cafes, stay safe

Masks on the Steamer

A Visit to the Dentist

Rowing back – a nightmare couple of days

Café culture reaches the North Manchester suburbs … due to the virus

The Summer of Staycations – holidaying in the age of Covid-19

Moving On Week 1 – July 6th to 12th inclusive

Moving On Week 2- July 13th to 19th inclusive

Moving On Week 3 – July 20th to 26th inclusive

Moving On Week 4 – July 27th to August 2nd inclusive

Moving On, or maybe not, Week 5 – August 3rd to 9th inclusive

Confused of Manchester … are we all with this?

A trip into town, mayhem at the US Open, and EastEnders returns

Moving on Weeks 6 and 7 – August 10th to 23rd inclusive

Moving on Week 8 – August 24th to 30th inclusive

 

 

 

 

During lockdown:

Lockdown Week 1 – March 23rd to 29th inclusive

Lockdown Week 2 – March 30th to April 5th inclusive

Lockdown Week 3 – April 6th to 12th inclusive

Lockdown Week 4 – April 13th to 19th inclusive

Lockdown Week 5 – April 20th to 26th inclusive

Lockdown Week 6 – April 27th to May 3rd inclusive

Lockdown Week 7 – May 4th to May 10th inclusive

Lockdown Week 8, May 11th to 17th inclusive

Lockdown Week 9, May 18th to 24th inclusive

Lockdown Week 10, May 25th to 31st inclusive

Lockdown Week 11, June 1st to 7th inclusive

Lockdown Week 12, June 8th to 14th inclusive

Lockdown Week 13, June 15th to 21st inclusive

Lockdown Week 14, June 22nd to 28th inclusive

Lockdown Week 15, June 29th to July 5th inclusive

 

Before lockdown:

January – the first news

February 2020 – the virus spreads

Early March 2020 – panic-buying, and more and more cases of the virus

On through March 2020 – the world seems to be falling apart

March 16th to 18th inclusive – heading towards lockdown

 

 

 

General musings:

Mental Health Awareness Week

Football without fans

Return to the National Trust

Blackpool

Football’s coming back

Seeking peace in nature: Back to Life with the National Trust and English Heritage

Support bubbles, scones and snapdragons

Of football, hairdressers, anxiety, techno-trauma and Blytonesque picnics

Tennis is back … going well in London, disaster in the Balkans

Socially-distanced strawberry-picking – a lockdown experience!

Quarantunes

The Never Ending Story

The coronavirus era arrives in Coronation Street and Emmerdale

Goodbye Debenhams

 

 

The road to freedom? Week 11, June 7th to 13th 2021 inclusive

Monday, June 7th

Rafa beat Sinner, 7-5 6-3 6-0 🙂 .  I was expecting a much tougher match, so that was a relief!  Nole went 2 sets to 0 down, but won anyway.  So frustrating!

I feel like I’m in limbo.  I can’t send this e-mail until OK Boss gets back on Wednesday, and I still haven’t heard from the holiday company – with whom I am now beyond furious.   The people who answer the phones and e-mails are all terribly nice, but they can’t do anything until the wretched head office says so.  Having said which, I’m only going to get a load of abuse in response to the e-mail, and the Iceland trip can’t happen because of the quarantine rule, but I just want things sorted so that I know where I’m up to.

It’s still hot.  Everything seems strange and unreal when it’s hot.  Please, please do this when I’m in the Lakes!

People aged 25-29 will be able to book their first jabs from tomorrow.

 

Tuesday, June 8th

I could bloody well swing for whomever spread the Indian variant round Bolton.  Hancock has now said that everyone in Greater Manchester and affected parts of the rest of Lancashire should minimise travel into and out of the area (he can sod off with that) and avoid meeting indoors.   The good news is that the extra support from the military etc, which was provided to Bolton, will now be provided to everywhere else.  But why the hell wait until now?   The councils asked for extra help weeks ago.  Things would never have got this bad if it’d been done earlier.  The infection rate in Blackburn is now 546.

So now I’m stressed in case this becomes a full local lockdown just as I’m due to go to the Lakes – although hopefully it won’t, because things have improved in Bolton.  And Andy Burnham, who has now resurfaced, says that no-one needs to change existing plans.

But I am just sick of all this.  It seems to be never-ending.

Still no word from the holiday company.  I e-mailed them again, but got an out of office reply from the person with whom I’ve been dealing.  But she’s back in tomorrow.

In the middle of everything else, the EU is trying to start a row over sausages.  I am not making this up.

 

Wednesday, June 9th

I’ve cancelled my trip to Iceland 😦 .   I finally got to speak to someone in the “customer services” department and they said that, as far as they were concerned, the trip didn’t start until the day after arrival, so you could spend the afternoon you arrived shut up in your hotel room, hope your PCR tests came through before going out the next morning, and hope you tested negative.  I really, really want to do this trip, but how can I take that sort of chance?   Especially given that Iceland trips are expensive.   You’d be very unlucky to test negative on departure and positive on arrival, but it happened to some people going to the Aussie Open and returning from the Champions League final.  And, even if it was only for the first evening, who wants to be shut up in a hotel room on holiday?   So I’ve rebooked for next year.  I know it was the only decision that I could make, but I’m very sad.  I booked this trip in September 2019, and it was a real bucket list thing.  And it’s on the green list.  And I’ve been fully vaccinated.  But I just can’t take those chances with the PCR test.  I wanted the holiday company to decide for me … but they didn’t.

Anyway, the decision’s made.   This was meant to be one of the trips of a lifetime … and it’s turned into 16 months of worry!   Oh, when will this ever end?   Will we ever be able to travel normally again?

I sent the e-mail asking about WFH one day a week.  No reply.  Not even an acknowledgement.  How bloody, bloody rude.

On top of all that, Rafa lost the 2nd set to Diego, before winning 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0.   Desperately hoping that Matteo can beat Nole this evening, but not holding my breath.  The other semi’s Stef v Sascha.  Some line-up!   Whereas the ladies’ semi-finalists are all unexpected.

Very hot and muggy, but dry – until about half 6 this evening.  But raining in the Lakes.

7,540 new cases today – the highest daily number since the end of February.   People are rushing to be vaccinated: over a million people booked jabs today.   A huge effort’s being made … but most of the new cases are in schoolkids and under 25s.

Sky News filmed the pop-up vaccination centre where my dad’s volunteering, yesterday, and Dad was on the news!  OK, it was for about 30 seconds, he was in the background, and you could hardly tell that it was him behind the mask and the cap, but still!

 

Thursday, June 10th

Still no reply.  FFS.

Very, very nervous about the semi-final.

Joe Salisbury and Desirae Krawczyk won the mixed doubles 🙂 .

Meanwhile … the snakes and ladders analogy’s been used before, and here we are again.  We were doing so well, and now we’ve slipped down another snake.  Over 7,000 new cases were reported today, for the second day in a row, and we’re being told that over 90% of new cases are of the Indian/Delta variant.  We really have had bad luck with these variants.  Why did the virus have to mutate in Kent, of all places on the planet?  And, as angry as I am that there seems to have been so much travel between Bolton and the Indian sub-continent at a time when no-one was meant to be going anywhere unless absolutely essential, and that rules on return don’t seem to have been followed, if the mutation had occurred pretty much anywhere else in Asia then it wouldn’t have affected us.  And why did it have to be us at the centre of it?  The North West?   Not that I wish it on anyone else, but why us?

But saying that isn’t going to help.  It is what it is, and we are where we are.  Infection rates in our borough are now over 200 per 100,000.  Only a few weeks ago, they were below 20 per 100,000.

Is there no end to this?

The vast majority of cases are in younger people, which does suggest that the vaccines are making a big difference.  Andy Burnham’s asked for hard-hit areas to be prioritised for vaccine supplies, but the powers that be aren’t having that.

 

Friday, June 11th

The match between Stef and Sascha went to a 5th set, before Stef finally won.  It would have been great, had I not been waiting anxiously for the match between Rafa and Nole to start!  It’s just got going.  And Euro 2020 also gets going tonight.

Over 8,000 cases today, and there’s no denying the fact that hospitalisations are “ticking up”.   And there’s such a backlog with everything.  Trying to get through to our doctors’ surgery is a nightmare.  Half the time, it’s engaged.  Then, when you do get through, you’re told that you’re number 5 or number 6 in a queue, and it can take so long to advance one position that you wonder if someone’s telling the receptionist their life history!   Then you’re told that you can’t see a doctor and will have to wait for a “phone consultation”.  Then they don’t ring when they say they will, so you’re stuck waiting by the phone.  And waiting times at A&E can be up to 8 hours.

It looks very likely that “unlocking” will be delayed by at least 4 weeks.  (I hope that horrible bosses respect this!)

Later – oh no 😦 .  Until today, Rafa had only ever lost twice at Roland Garros.  Now it’s three times.  He won the first set, and had a match point in the third, but, hands up, Nole deserved the win.  3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.  At stupid o’clock on a Friday night, after Stef had beaten Sascha in 5 sets.  I’ll be cheering Stef on on Sunday, but I feel very sad and just crushed.

 

Saturday, June 12th

Oh dear.  Sat down to watch some of Denmark v Finland, and Christian Eriksen (now of Inter Milan, formerly of Spurs) collapsed on the pitch.  There was no-one near him – I can only think it must have been some sort of heart problem, like with Fabrice Muamba and poor Marc-Vivien Foe.  The physios and medics did CPR, but it really didn’t look good.  The players went off.  Thankfully, we’ve now been told that he’s stable and awake.  And the match has resumed, two hours later – surely they wouldn’t have played on if he were in any danger.  But it was just awful.   Desperately hoping that he’s OK, and thank goodness for the wonderful medical staff.

Until then, it’d been the sort of glorious sunny summer sporting Saturday that we missed last summer, trying to keep up with the tennis – Barbora Krejcikova beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win the French Open ladies’ singles, the cricket – er, not good – and the football.

This morning, I went to Tatton Park, to find that both cafes were closed, due to “staff shortages”.  FFS!  I got a pot of tea and a nice scone at a nearby garden centre with outdoor seating, but it was a jolly good job that I hadn’t gone for a full day.  They whinge and moan about how hard it’s been, put up the already extortionate entrance fee, and then close both cafes on a very busy summer Saturday when they could have taken thousands of pounds!   However, the gardens were looking lovely!

Weather still glorious.  Please, please don’t tell me that this is summer and we’ll get payback when I’m in the Lakes!  Nice weather for the scaled back Trooping the Colour parade.

It now looks all but certain that “unlocking” will be delayed by 4 weeks.   Things are improving in Bolton, but are bad in Blackburn, which has spilled over into Rossendale and Hyndburn, and is spilling over from there into Ramsbottom – although the rate of increase in the borough of Bury overall is dropping.  Cases are sky-rocketing in Salford, mainly in the university area.  Things also seem to be spilling over into “Cheshire East” and “Cheshire West”, but, strangely, not into St Helens and not much into Warrington.

 

Sunday, June 13th

The good news is that Christian Eriksen’s OK.  He may not play again, but he’s OK.  And the other good news is that England began with a win 🙂 – 1-0 over Croatia.

And it was so nearly good news in Paris, when Stef Tsitsipas went 2 sets to love up … but Nole came back to win in 5.   No offence to him, but that so wasn’t the result I wanted.

It is very hot.

I went to Blackpool this morning.  I always go to Blackpool on the morning of the French Open final.  It wasn’t really right, without Rafa in the final, but it was a shame to waste a lovely sunny morning.

And we await Boris’s decision tomorrow.  And we await the response of horrible bosses to it.   I know that my mental health, which has been quite fragile over the years, is going to take a huge hit from being trapped in that office again, so I’m trying not to think about it.   Boris claims that they haven’t decided yet, but I think he’s just saying that to avoid diverting attention from the G7 summit – which is quite understandable.

The road to freedom? Week 10, May 31st to June 6th 2021 inclusive

Bank Holiday, Monday, May 31st

So hot today!   Went to Hollingworth Lake early on.

 

And then, late afternoon, met up with my sister and brother-in-law and nephews, who are visiting for part of half term week 🙂 .  In between that, I watched a lot of tennis and stuck a lot of photos in albums.

Infection rates are rising in 2/3 of areas.  Unfortunately, the ones with the highest rates are nearly all in the North West.  Why is it always us?!  Vaccinations are being ramped up, but doom merchant scientists are saying that we’re on the brink of a third wave.  Why the hell were so many people allowed to travel to and from the Indian sub-continent during lockdown?   A dangerous new variant was always going to emerge somewhere, and travel was supposed to be banned unless it was essential.  I cannot believe that tens of thousands of people all *had* to travel.  OK, it’s done now, but it’s so frustrating and worrying.

Morecambe have been promoted to League 1 🙂 .

And Naomi Osaka’s withdrawn from the French Open because of this row about not wanting to speak to the media.  I’m afraid she’s handled this rather badly.  I take her point about it being difficult to cope with press conferences after a defeat, and I really do sympathise with her issues with anxiety and depression, but the media can’t just be cut out.  Where does she think the sport would be if matches weren’t televised and there was no coverage in the papers or on social media or on the radio?   If she’d raised the issue with the WTA and the ITF, maybe something could have been worked out, but one person can’t just decide not to abide by the rules and protocols.   It’s a very unfortunate situation – no-one wins from this.

 

Tuesday, June 1st

No Covid deaths reported today!   Yes, all right, all right, I know it’s been a Bank Holiday weekend, but even so.

But infection rates are sky-rocketing – dropping in Bolton now, but still over 350, and now over 100 in Salford, Bury and central Manchester.  Up by over 200% in a week in Salford, and by nearly 300% in a week in Stockport.  Why is it always us?  Well, plenty’s been said about people travelling to and from the Indian sub-continent, and other things, but saying it won’t help.

Scotland’s been split, again – some areas move to level 1, some stay in level 2, Glasgow finally moves to level 2.  I really hope Boris doesn’t split us again.  It’s horrible, and it causes a lot of resentment.  Meanwhile, Peru’s “revised” its Covid death toll, so it’s now far higher than it was, and now the highest per capita in the world.

On a happier note:

  1. Rafa beat Popyrin, 6-2 6-3 7-6 (7-3).
  2. And, as he obligingly won in straight sets, I was able to enjoy Mum and Dad’s birthday meal out – it’s Mum’s birthday today and Dad’s tomorrow, and my sister and brother-in-law and nephews are here, and my brother-in-law’s mum and dad joined us.  As the weather was nice – hottest day of the year so far! – we were able to sit outside (well, sort of outside, but the restaurant say that being in a marquee counts) so we could all sit on the same table even though there were more than 6 of us, and it was lovely.

Wednesday, June 2nd

Considering that I’m in limbo over the holiday situation and could shortly be forced back into my depressing old life of being trapped in a horrible office five days a week, I think I’m doing very well not to be completely hysterical.  Maybe it’s too hot to be hysterical …

75% of adults in the UK have now had their first jab.  And anyone over 18 in our area can now get their first jab, as we’re apparently classed as a high-risk area … which is good news in terms of getting people vaccinated, but also a bit scary.

The BBC are scrapping Holby City 😦 .

And there’s some talk going on about helping kids to make up for lost schooling, but, whatever anyone says, people moan.  Yes, kids need to catch up.  No, kids cannot possibly spend any extra time in school.

 

Thursday, June 3rd

Way too much has happened today.

  1.  I suddenly got at an e-mail from my horrible boss (we have two bosses, but this was only from one of them) demanding everyone back in the office full time on June 22nd.  Just like that.  No discussion, nothing.  I’d actually been in the office 2 hours earlier, collecting some files, and nothing had been said.  Unfortunately, unless Boris says anything, there’s nothing I can do about it.  I will ask if I can continue working from home one or two days a week, but I suspect that all I’ll get in response will be a load of abuse.  It was always going to happen eventually, but … ugh.  My mental and physical health have been so much better for being away from that place.  The thought of being trapped in there 5 days a week, and returning to the nightmare of every little thing (boiler service, new wing mirror, etc) becoming an epic trauma is horrific.
  2. About 20 minutes after this happened, I got a text from the doctors’ surgery, saying that I was now eligible for my second dose.  My first was 8 weeks ago today.  We’d been told that people over 50 were going to be asked after 8 weeks rather than 12, but nothing’d been said about people under 50: I can only assume that our area’s “surge vaccinating” and that that includes second doses.  For some bizarre reason, the appointment I got (it only offered me certain centres, and some were only doing Pfizer vaccinations) was on Sunday morning, and not at either Prestwich, Crumpsall or Cheetham Hill but at Ramsbottom … but, whatever, let’s get it done.
  3. I checked the entry requirements for Iceland.  I should have done this weeks ago, but the holiday company just kept insisting that everything was going ahead.  I’m getting really annoyed with them – they posted something on Facebook today about resuming travel from May 17th, but their website says they’ve cancelled everything up to July 15th!   Anyway, you have to be fully vaccinated, which, all being well, I now will be … but you have to take a PCR test on arrival, and quarantine for 24 hours until you get the result.  If it was 2 weeks pool and beach, maybe, but one day out of an expensive seven day sightseeing holiday just can’t be done.  And what if you got a false positive test?   What on earth would you do?   So I just don’t see how the trip can go.  I sent yet another e-mail, and was told that someone would be contacting people soon.  TBH, I think the staff are fed up with the lack of leadership from the head office.  Anyway, even if they say the trip’s going, I can’t do that.  The stupid thing is that, up to a few weeks ago, I’d accepted that I wouldn’t be going, but then I got my hopes up and started reading some of the books I bought last year, and … bleurgh.
  4. Meanwhile, Portugal has been taken off the green list.  And, despite talk that Malta, the Greek islands and the Balearics would be added to it, nothing’s been added to it.  This is because of the Nepalese mutation of the Indian variant.  Except that we’re now supposed to call it “the Delta variant”.  And I’m not sure why a Nepalese mutation is in Portugal.  But whatever.  I’m so sorry for people who’ve already booked, and so sorry for everyone who works in the travel and tourism industry.   And I’m sorry for a load of City fans ordered to self-isolate after some people on flights back from Porto tested positive.   Oh, what a to-do.

My brain is addled.  I hope Rafa’s match isn’t stressful!

 

Friday, June 4th

Rafa beat Gasquet 6-0 7-5 6-2 in the night match yesterday, and now plays Cam Norrie.

Another nice day here, but it rained in London and spoilt the cricket 😦 .

I composed a very polite e-mail asking if I could WFH one day a week …and then it turned out that vaguely reasonable boss is on holiday until Wednesday, and there’s no point asking totally unreasonable boss when he’s on his own.  FFS.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in kids aged 12-15.

And infection rates keep rising.  They’re falling in Bolton, and the Government’s harping on about how great it is that the extra support provided by the Army etc has helped to bring rates down.  But Bury, Salford, Manchester and other boroughs have asked for the same help, and the Government won’t bloody give it.  FFS.  I am SO annoyed about this.  And why’s Andy Burnham gone quiet?  More chance of getting assistance if he kicks up a stink than if it’s only local council leaders asking.

STILL no news from the holiday company.

 

Saturday, June 5th

Rafa beat Cam Norrie, 6-3 6-3 6-3.  Sinner up next … and that will be very tough.

Meanwhile, jab jab jab!   It’s like some midsummer frenzy – jab jab jab, in the heat, in the long June days, in the sunshine, jab jab jab.  Get those jabs in arms.  Considering we were supposed to have a vaccine shortage two months ago, I don’t know how we’re managing it, but we are.  It is amazing.  Pop-up vaccination centres, many open to anyone over 18, are, well, popping up, and people are turning out in droves.  Waiting in a long queue to have a needle stuck in your arm isn’t anyone’s idea of how to spend a hot sunny Saturday, but people are doing it.  Well done, everyone!

Went to Skipton this morning.  Gorgeous in the sunshine!

 

Sunday, June 6th

I have joined the ranks of the fully vaccinated!   I couldn’t believe how many people were there, at a small centre at half 8 on a Sunday morning.  All done!

Celebratory scone at The Coffee Sack afterwards.  Shame they can’t invent a vaccination to stop people putting on weight!

Unfortunately, infection rates all over the area are sky-rocketing.  The Indian variant is 40% more transmissible than the Kent variant, which in turn was far more transmissible than the original virus.  I am so, so annoyed that so many people were allowed to travel backwards and forwards between here and the Indian subcontinent at a time when no-one was meant to be going abroad, and also that the vaccination take-up in some parts of Bolton was so low until recently, allowing the variant to spread.  But it’s done now.  However, it does seem that being fully vaccinated protects against it.  It’s now looking likely that the June 21st lifting of restrictions will be delayed until July 5th.

Roger’s pulled out of the French Open.  If he were injured, I’d be very sorry, but it seems to be because he wants to save himself for Wimbledon.  I understand why, but I don’t think it’s particularly respectful.  Meanwhile, Stef v Daniil as one of the QFs.

And Harry and Meghan’s baby girl, Lilibet “Lili” Diana’s been born.  It’s great to hear that the baby and Meghan are both well, but how completely inappropriate to use the Queen’s private nickname as a name, especially after the vile way they’ve treated her.  Lili’s quite pretty, but they should have made it either Lili/Lily or Elizabeth.  But still, it’s nice to hear that the baby’s arrived safely.

And it’s hot!

D.V. Day – fully vaccinated!

D.V. Day – double vaccination day!   I thought that I was making a brilliant pun there – 77th anniversary of D-Day, D.V. for double vaccination, D.V. for Deo volente this nightmare will soon be over.  Then I idly Googled “D,.V.” and, instead of Deo volente, it came up with a load of stuff about digital videos.  I suppose not everyone is a weird historian who likes Latin jokes.   This is a great shame 🙂 .

I wasn’t expecting to be fully vaccinated until July 1st, 12 weeks after my first jab; but, on Thursday, I got an unexpected text from my GP surgery saying that, 8 weeks after my first jab, I was now eligible for my second, despite being under 50.  We’re surge vaccinating in our area.  It feels a bit like some Midsummer Madness – the race to get everyone jabbed, in the long June days, in the heat.   Jab, jab, jab – get those jabs into arms.  What an incredible effort from everyone concerned.   I had an appointment, but I’ve seen pictures of very long queues at the pop-up vaccination centres which have opened in various parts of the region.   It’s a bit like the Spirit of the Blitz – the Spirit of the Vaccination Roll Out.   Texts, Whatsapps, phone calls and whatever it is that millennials use 🙂 are flying round as everyone lets relatives and friends know that they can “get done”.

Our entire region, Greater Manchester/East Lancashire, has been very badly hit by the pandemic, probably more so than any other part of the country.  There are a number of probable reasons for that, but going over and over them isn’t going to help.  The neighbouring borough of Bolton has received much-needed extra support from the national authorities, and rates there are thankfully falling, but, so far, the same support hasn’t been offered to other boroughs, despite requests from council leaders.  Let’s hope that the surge vaccinations help.

The vaccination programme has been absolutely amazing.  It’s not that long since we were hearing that we might face vaccine shortages due to the lack of shipments from India due to the crisis there, but that doesn’t seem to be the case now.  Everyone has been amazing.  “Pop-up” vaccination centres have been set up in a number of locations, including just down the road at Cheetham Hill, for anyone aged over 18, and people from different age groups and different backgrounds have turned out in force and waited patiently in long queues.  Huge efforts have been made to reach the so-called “hard to reach” communities – ethnic and religious minorities where English is often not widely spoken.   Not just locally, but in many other areas too.

We still don’t know where we’re going.  Will all restrictions be lifted on June 21st or not?  When will we ever be able to go abroad again, without PCR tests and queues and stresses about green/amber lists?   When are the powers that be going to start helping other boroughs in the North West in the same way that they helped Bolton?   When are we going to be able to start vaccinating children, given that we’re hearing that a lot of the infections are amongst those of secondary school age?

But, today, I am very grateful to be fully vaccinated.  Thank you to the Government, thank you to the JCVI, thank you to the NHS, thank you to the volunteers, thank you to the scientists, thank you to everyone.   I think we’re now on 76% of adults having had one jab, and 40% of adults having had both jabs.   Everyone’s amazing.  And, D.V., we are on our way out of this.  Go away, variants.  We’ve had enough!

June 6th 2021 – D.V. Day.

 

Coping with uncertainty

One of the worst things about The Never Ending Story which is the Covid pandemic is the uncertainty.  I do not cope well with uncertainty.  Strange thing to say during a Grand Slam tournament, when everything’s uncertain, but I don’t.  I have everything planned out months in advance.  And I also think of everything that could conceivably go wrong before booking anything.  I have weekly to-do lists – like Ma Ingalls, I do everything on set days.  I book hair appointments ten weeks ahead.  I don’t do uncertainty.

I can’t make decisions either.  That’s another thing.  I wait for people to make them for me; and that creates even more uncertainty, because organisations don’t know whether to cancel things or not, and I don’t know when they’re going to decide or what they’re going to decide.

Since the pandemic started, it’s been nothing but uncertainty.  Last October, I tried to be sensible by booking a staycation.  Booked well in advance.  To some extent, you can’t be spontaneous even if you’re a spontaneous person, because things have to be booked.  And that’s another thing – whilst the pandemic’s taken away certainty, it’s also taken away spontaneity.  Want to visit a National Trust site next Sunday?  You’ll have to book it this Friday, and then you’ll be restricted to a 30 minute arrival slot.  No waiting to see what the weather does, or deciding the day before that you just fancy going.  Anyway, to get back to my sensible staycation, it turned into a huge stress-out when we very nearly got put under Tier 3 travel restrictions two days before I was due to go.

OK, we didn’t.  But it was stressful.   Loads of people’s plans for this summer are up in the air – pun intended.  And then there are the people who’ve got weddings booked, and don’t know whether they’ll be able to invite 30 people, as many people as they want, or any random number in between.  Not to mention the terrible time that so many businesses are having, not knowing whether or not they’ll be able to reopen fully.  Or indeed reopen at all, in some cases.

It’s no-one’s fault.  No-one could have foreseen that the wretched virus was going to mutate just before Christmas.  Nor that, just as we seemed to be on the last lap, the Indian variant would appear and mess things up – and it really is getting worrying round here, believe me.  When you open the paper and see pictures of the Army on the streets of Farnworth, 8 miles up the road … it’s not pleasant.

I know that we’re meant to take things one day at a time, but I’m not very good at doing that.  And, as I’ve said, to some extent you just can’t.

How do people cope with uncertainty?  If you’ve got the answer, please let me know!!

 

 

The road to freedom? Week 9, May 24th to 30th 2021 inclusive

Monday, May 24th

Greater Manchester, Merseyside, the rest of Lancashire and the rest of Cheshire are to be part of a scheme trialling extra support for people who are supposed to be self-isolating.  It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t deal with the problem of unsupportive bosses.  I don’t know what will.

People aged 32 and 33 are now able to book vaccinations.  We should, all being well, hit the target of offering all adults a first dose by the end of July.  The problem’s with the people not being vaccinated … only about 5% of people, but 5% of people can do a lot of damage.

I really am going to have horrific anxiety when I have to go back to being trapped in an office.  Take today.  I had a bit of a mishap with my left wing mirror, and it cracked.  It was my fault, and I could kick myself for it, but accidents happen.  I rang the garage.  Yes, no problem, come in and they’ll fit a new one.  Now, if this had happened when I’d been trapped in an office, it would have been a complete nightmare.  The repairs department doesn’t open at weekends, and I can’t get there after work because the rush hour traffic’s so bad that I can’t get there before the garage closes.  I could have tried to go in my dinner hour, but, although the garage is not far away, there are a million traffic lights in between, and they’re always all on red, and there’s always a long queue if you go anywhere in your dinner hour.  And, when I got there, I had to wait whilst they messed about because they couldn’t decide whether I needed to pay the parts department (because it was a part) or the service department (because it was being fitted), even though the two card machines were on the same desk (seriously).   It didn’t take long, but things like this just become impossible when you’re trapped in an office, and this is one of the main reasons I had a breakdown in 2013.  Ok, rant over!

 

Tuesday, May 25th 

Oh FFS.  After all the rows last year, I really thought we’d got past local restrictions, clear as mud guidance, and failure to consult local authorities.  But no.  Last night, it suddenly came up on the Manchester Evening News website that non-essential travel into and out of Bolton had been banned.   Not just Bolton, but also Blackburn, Burnley, Kirklees, North Tyneside, Leicester, Bedford and Hounslow.  And people there had been told not to meet indoors.  No news conference.  No tweet.  Nothing.  It’d just appeared on http://www.gov.uk.

This morning, everyone was up in arms.  Councils knew nothing about it.  Nor did MPs.  Nor did health authorities.

The leader of Bolton council joined Andy Burnham for the regular Greater Manchester press conference, and said that there weren’t any additional regulations.  At 1/4 to 5, it was confirmed that there were, indeed, no travel regulations or any other regulations.

What a muddle.

Tensions are rising.  We keep hearing about “Bolton”, but it’s not “Bolton” – it’s Lever Edge, where the infection rate is almost 2,000 per 100,000, and Rumworth.  Rates in other parts of the borough of Bolton are certainly not low, but they’re nothing like that they are in those areas.  There are widespread, reliable reports of people there not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing regulations.  And all the areas with high rates are areas with high Muslim populations – and the authorities accept that.  Bury council last night tweeted an appeal from the Chief Executive of a British Muslim organisation, urging people to get vaccinated.  Lever Edge’s got a vaccination rate of around 35%, compared to 70% nationwide.  A lot of comments are being made, and there’s a possible risk of tensions.

So are hospital admissions.

In other news, my dad (a retired pharmacist) is now a volunteer helper at one of the local vaccination centres.

Still can’t get a straight answer from the holiday company.   Meanwhile, Austria has banned direct flights from Britain because of the bloody Indian variant.

 

Wednesday, May 26th

Europa League final tonight!  Fingers and toes crossed …

In the meantime, we are having to listen to the rantings of Dominic Cummings.  According to him, the Government got everything about the pandemic wrong, from January 2020 onwards.  However, he knew best, and, if everyone had listened to him, it would all have been handled perfectly.  Graham Stringer asked him why he didn’t resign.  Cummings looked shifty, bleated a bit, then said that, if he had, it would have been better for everyone (the implication being that he’d have solved all the problems from the outside), but that he stayed because he thought he could solve the problems from the inside.  The man’s ego is unbelievable.  He then tried to blame Matt Hancock for everything that’s ever gone wrong in the history of the world, and said that Boris wasn’t fit to be PM.  It rather reminded me of the Harry and Meghan interview.  Nasty-minded, bitter people, who can’t accept the fact that they weren’t indispensable, trying to get revenge by slagging off everyone else, without providing a shred of evidence.  He couldn’t even be bothered to wear a jacket and tie.

Clearly, mistakes have been made, here and in many other countries, in the handling of the pandemic.  But, with the problems in Bolton spreading into Bury and Manchester, and rates rising in Kirklees and elsewhere, we need to be focusing on the current situation, not on someone’s personal vendetta.  There were 3,180 new cases in today’s figures.  That’s the highest for a while, I think.  France has now imposed compulsory quarantine for arrivals from the UK.   Macron is probably loving this.

On a more positive note, anyone aged 30 and over can now make an appointment for their first jab.

 

Later – oh, FFS.  We lost 11-10 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw.  Penalties are a lottery and you can’t criticise anyone over those, and congratulations to Villarreal, but we played poorly, failed to capitalise on having the bulk of the possession in the first half, and, generally, screwed up.  Very, very disappointed.

 

Thursday, May 27th

To add to life’s ten million other traumas, the French Open draw is the worst in the entire history of the universe.  Rafa and Nole in the same half.  Throw in Roger in Nole’s quarter, and Diego and Sinner in Rafa’s quarter.  It is a nightmare.

The decorator has painted the kitchen ceiling.  Again.

The rate at which infections are increasing is falling (if that makes sense) in Bolton, Bury and Trafford, although it’s up in the city centre and Oldham.  Cases are rising nationwide – 3,542 in today’s statistics.   A lot of infections are in secondary school kids.  OK, this may well be because secondary school kids are being tested twice a week, so more asymptomatic cases are being picked up than in adults, but it’s a worry – there are no plans at present to vaccinate kids.

I’ve e-mailed the holiday company again.  This is getting ridiculous.

 

Friday, May 28th

I have received an e-mail from the holiday company.  It read as if it’d been written by a five-year-old.  To be fair, I’m assuming that auto-correct was to blame for a lot of it, but, if you were sending a work e-mail, would you not check it through first?  The holiday is “defiantly” (I assume that this means “definitely”) going ahead.  But they have extended the payment deadline by a month “because of this”.  Well, if it’s “defiantly” going ahead, why extend the deadline?  However, they will inform me if it’s not going ahead.   I mean, WTF?   Why can’t they just tell the truth?  “We are waiting for our head office to make a decision, and we anticipate that this will be by Such A Date.”

Over 4,000 cases reported today.  Most of these are “the Indian variant”.  Oh, and apparently there’s now a Thai variant, as well.  And the R number, which we haven’t heard about for weeks, is back above 1.

Nicola Sturgeon’s said that Glasgow’s got to stay in lockdown.  This is getting ridiculous.  I seem to be using the word “ridiculous” a lot lately!

The single dose Janssen vaccine’s been approved for use in the UK.

 

Saturday, May 29th

Went to Bolton Abbey today.  Due to Covid, you are not allowed to move your car from one part of the estate to another, although it is fine to move yourself from one part to another.  No, me neither!   Anyway, this meant that I walked the whole thing – and it didn’t take nearly as long as their maps and website suggest, so I probably won’t move the car in future anyway!   Gorgeous sunny day.  Why couldn’t it have done this last weekend?!

Then I went to Boundary Mill on the way back and, hooray, I found a dress for my cousin’s wedding.  I don’t honestly know what I wanted, so I don’t know if this is it, but it ticks the boxes of long, not low cut at either the front or the back but without having a high neckline, not clingy, and not too expensive.  Hooray!

If the wedding goes ahead.  I really can’t see all restrictions being lifted on June 21st.

Infection rates are falling in Bolton, although they’re still over 400 per 100,000.  But additional help for neighbouring boroughs has been refused.  The Government’s got nasty announcements on local radio telling you to minimise travel into and out of Bolton, like it’s a leper colony or something.

Another e-mail from the holiday company.  No more decisions will be made until the green list’s updated, which won’t be until a week on Monday.  They do expect to run Iceland tours.  So I need to decide if I can deal with the Covid stuff or not.  I am not good with decisions.  And I wish I could have my second vaccination sooner.  And I gather that the app is horrendous.

OK, I am off to watch the Champions League final.  Nice to see City and Chelsea fans enjoying themselves in lovely Porto, but, if City win, we will never hear the end of it!

Later – Chelsea 1-0 City.

 

Sunday, May 30th

Finally, a hot, sunny Sunday!  Just rather annoying that, instead of being last Sunday, when I was in the Lakes, it was today, when I stayed in most of the day to watch the French Open.  Dominic Thiem and Dan Evans have both already managed to lose.  Nice to see some fans in the stadium, though 🙂 .

However, I did go to the new Royal Horticultural Society Bridgewater Gardens this morning.  Expensive for what they are, but very pretty, only 7 miles away, and, hooray, the RHS doesn’t allow dogs in its gardens!   The opening was delayed for a year due to lockdown etc, but it’s open now, and hopefully it’ll do well.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds got married yesterday, which was a bit odd because they’d apparently told people they were getting married next July – but, hey, as long as they’re happy!

Infection rates in Bolton are now falling sharply – but, worryingly, are rising in other areas, with Blackburn how having the highest infection rate in the country.  Why, oh why, is it always the North West?   This virus has got it in for us, I’m telling you.

Polls show that nearly half of people now feel that lifting all restrictions in June 21st would be too risky.  But it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, the sun is out, the tennis is on, so let’s try to enjoy the evening and not stress too much about virus stuff!  And congratulations to Blackpool, promoted to League 1.

The road to freedom? Week 8, May 17th to 23rd 2021 inclusive

Monday, May 17th

As of today:

  1. Hotels guesthouses and B&Bs can reopen.
  2. Indoor seating at restaurants etc can reopen.
  3. Sports stadia can admit limited numbers of fans.
  4. Theatres, cinemas, museums etc can reopen.
  5. Saunas and steamrooms can reopen.
  6. People can meet outdoors in groups of up to 30.
  7. Up to 30 people can attend a wedding reception.
  8. People can meet indoors in groups of 6, or 2 bubbles, and stay overnight.
  9. Some overseas travel’s resumed.

But the Indian variant’s casting a bit of a wet blanket over it all.  It’s now the dominant variant in Bolton and Blackburn, and it seems highly unlikely that it won’t spread.  Rates in all the local boroughs have been fluctuating – one has a couple of bad weeks and then its rates drop again, whilst another sees its rates fall right down but then go up again – but there’s been nothing to worry about for weeks … but you now have to wonder if the trend over the last few days, up in most places, might continue.

Vaccination booking’s opening up to people aged 37, then people aged 36.  As happened in Blackburn last week, the authorities in Bolton wanted to open it up to anyone aged over 16, but Westminster put the kibosh on it.

Why Bolton, again.  We’re hearing the usual lines about “deprivation” and “multi-generational housing” and “unable to work from home”, but they apply equally and probably even more so to, say Oldham, than to Bolton, and the infection rate in Oldham is currently below the national average.  Well, this time, it’s clearly happened because someone, or presumably several someones, brought the Indian variant back from the Indian sub-continent and spread it, but people from loads of areas must have been to the Indian sub-continent in the last couple of months.

Bedford’s rate is worse than Blackburn’s.  Is it something about places beginning with B?!  But the media seem to want to focus on the North West.

 

Tuesday, May 18th

Fans are back inside Old Trafford tonight, for the Fulham match!   Sadly, not me, yet – only 10,000 people – but how great to see anyone there.

The holiday company have cancelled all trips departing up to and including July 15th.  But mine is July 18th.  So I am still in limbo.  I can’t see it going, and I do understand that they can only deal with so many things at once, but they really need to give people more notice.

The whole travel situation is a muddle.  A government health minister and the Welsh First Minister are both saying that no-one should be going on holiday even to “green” countries.  Boris and Matt Hancock are both saying that no-one should be going on holiday to “amber” countries.  And does that invalidate insurance policies?  But some people have been told that, as there’s no ban on going to “amber” countries, they won’t get refunds on existing bookings if they cancel.  There’s also a feeling that the system’s unfair to people who have to go to work and therefore haven’t got the option of deciding to “take” the 10 day quarantine on return.  A straight green/red split would cause arguments with people genuinely needing to travel on business, or who’ve got loved ones abroad.  Incidentally, why were so many people travelling to and from the Indian sub-continent in February, March and April?  Don’t tell me it was all “essential” travel.  In the middle of it all is the poor beleaguered travel industry.

There’s also the issue of people coming here.  It’s all being talked about in terms of British tourists jetting off for a fortnight of sun, sand and sea (which is so not me anyway!), but what about all the overseas tourists we’d usually expect in the Lake District, London, York, Bath, Edinburgh etc?

Some universities are continuing with online lectures, and may do so in the autumn term as well.  Given what happened in September, it’s probably wise, but I’m so sorry for all the students missing out on a proper university experience.

And we’ve now got the virtue-signallers saying that it’s wrong to criticise people who’ve chosen not to be vaccinated.   This comes after Andrew Lloyd Webber said that refusing to be vaccinated was like drink driving.

 

Wednesday, May 19th

Now that hotels are open, I’ve booked to go to the Lakes for the weekend.  However, the weather forecast has now changed, and Sunday looks distinctly wet.  Gah!!  Needless to say, it looks much better for Monday and Tuesday, which is no help.  It’s no wonder people want to go abroad!

The Indian variant’s now been found in a number of other places, in different parts of the country.  No mention of it being anywhere else in Greater Manchester yet, but rates are shooting up in several boroughs.  And it’s spread from Blackburn to Burnley.

Someone’s got the lovely job of analysing sewage to see where it’s spreading!

The good news is that the vaccines do seem to be effective against it, but we can only vaccinate people so quickly.  And trials of booster jabs are to start.

And another royal baby is on the way!  Princess Beatrice is expecting in the autumn.

 

Thursday, May 20th

Infection rates in our borough had been falling for weeks.  They were below the national average.  Now, suddenly, they’ve doubled in a week.  And most cases are in an area which borders the borough of Bolton.  No mention of the Indian variant as yet, but it’s in about 80 different areas, including Tameside.

The holiday company, presumably in response to a lot of phone calls and e-mails from frustrated customers like my good self, has issued an “open letter” asking people to bear with them.   This is not helpful.

Easyjet are saying that it’s fine for people to go to amber list countries.  Boris says it isn’t.  Someone’s said they turned up at the airport to board a flight to Spain, only to be turned away because Spain isn’t yet accepting UK tourists.  OK, he should have checked, but it was irresponsible of the airline not to warn him.  And umpteen flights a day are operating between the UK and India, which is on the red list.  This really is silly.

People aged 34 and 35 are now able to book their first jabs.  And Prince William’s had his.

I’m having my hair cut and dyed tonight.  One of those things you just used to take for granted!

 

Friday, May 21st

It has rained all day.  However, tomorrow should hopefully be better.

Nicola Sturgeon – how that woman does annoy me – has said that people from Scotland shouldn’t go to Bolton, Blackburn or Bedford.  And that people from Bolton, Blackburn and Bedford shouldn’t go to Scotland.  How exactly does she propose to enforce that?!

Surge vaccinations are being carried out in some areas locally, even though we were being told last week that they wouldn’t be.   And surge testing’s being carried out in a number of areas nationwide, not that it seems to help much.  The good news is that hospitalisations and deaths aren’t going up.

 

Saturday, May 22nd

Hooray!   I finally got to stay overnight in the Lakes!  To stay overnight anywhere, for the first time since October.  And it didn’t rain.  I went to Coniston this morning, and went on a boat trip there.

 

Then went to Hawkshead, then Wray Castle.

 

Then on to Grasmere.  It was actually sunny by late afternoon!

Then I watched the Eurovision Song Contest in my room.  How sad am I?  I wish we’d stop funding it – the voting’s political, no-one votes for us, and yet we pay!  Italy won.  It’s still a good laugh, though.   Hotel Covid protocols still in place.

Cases in Bury are sky-rocketing.  From a low level, so nothing horrendous, but it’s a very worrying trend.  A lot of it seems to be in schools, again.  And Germany has banned British tourists due to the Indian variant.

But how lovely to have a weekend away!   The hotel was fully booked – everyone’s desperate for a break.

 

Sunday, May 23rd

It poured down first thing, but it went off, so I had a walk round Grasmere.

Then it rained again, but wasn’t raining much by the time I went to Allan Bank, which has now reopened.

 

And then it was dry whilst I was at Bowness and Sizergh Castle, so that wasn’t bad at all, and it was a nice day.

 

I was expecting to be able to go round the actual castle, now that indoor attractions have reopened, but no.   Limited numbers of people are allowed into the grounds and you have to book a time slot, which I’d done, but only limited numbers of those limited numbers are allowed into the houses, time slots to be booked on arrival, and, as it was mid-afternoon when I got there, there were none left.  This sort of thing is really, really annoying.    OK, it’s not the National Trust’s fault that there’s a pandemic, but I’m not surprised that people are cancelling memberships.   Not being able to have a breakfast buffet or even order at the bar in hotels is annoying too.

Got home in time for the second half of United v (at) Wolves.  We won 2-1.  Nice to end the league season on a high, and we’ve gone through the whole league season unbeaten away.  We finish 2nd.  Liverpool and Chelsea get the other 2 Champions League spots, Leicester missing out.

 

 

The road to freedom? Week 7, May 10th to 16th 2021 inclusive

Monday, May 10th

Boris has confirmed that, as of a week today:

  1. Hugging will be allowed again.  As long as you make informed decisions and hug safely.  What a crazy world we find ourselves in, being given instructions about hugging!  But, hooray, hugging is back on.
  2. Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen.
  3. Sports stadia can reopen, but only to limited numbers.
  4. Cinemas, theatres, museums, indoor seating at eating and drinking places, etc, can reopen.
  5. Masks will no longer be required in schools.
  6. Face to face teaching at universities can resume.
  7. People can meet indoors, and stay overnight at other people’s homes, as long as no more than either six people or two households are involved.
  8. Up to thirty people can meet outdoors, and attend weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs etc.
  9. Saunas and steam rooms can reopen, and indoor exercise classes can restart.

We’re officially moving from “level 4” to “level 3”.

More details to come on what may or may not happen on June 21st, but he seems optimistic that all restrictions will end then.  (Which is good, except that that may mean an end to working from home, which I am dreading.)

The holiday company have said that they’ll extend my payment deadline.  I assume this means that they’re still waiting for their international head office to make decisions about July.  Oh well, at least it’s something.

And we’re guaranteed a top 4 finish after West Ham lost last night.

 

Tuesday, May 11th

Ugh.  With 4 matches in 8 days, I can’t blame Ole for fielding a weakened team tonight … but we lost to Leicester, 2-1, and that handed City the title.  OK, they deserve it, but … hmm!

Still no news from the holiday company on anything past the end of June.

I am sick of the weather!  One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s pouring down or hailstones are coming down.

And I am worried about the situation in Bolton.  The attitude in the national media is that the pandemic’s all over bar the shouting, and I’d love to think that, but the infection rate in Bolton has sky-rocketed to 133.5 per 100,000.  It’s very localised – the rates in neighbouring Bury, Wigan and Salford are 20.4, 24 and 31.7 respectively – and, even within Bolton, it’s only affecting certain wards, but it does show how quickly this can still spread.   It’s the Indian variant that’s doing it, which, given what happened with the Kent variant, is very concerning.

 

Wednesday, May 12th

Still no updates from the holiday company.

We have had thunder, lightning, torrential rain, hailstones and glorious sunshine today.  Yesterday was the same.  It is doing everyone’s heads in.  The only thing less predictable than the weather is my weight, which randomly goes up and down from day to day, but never keeps going down 😦 .

Infection rates in Bolton keep going up.  And those in Hyndburn are even worse – that was originally put down to an outbreak at a school in Accrington, but it’s clearly a lot more than that.  It seems pretty clear that people have travelled to and from India and Pakistan (before they were red-listed) without quarantining, which is incredibly irresponsible, but it’s done now.  There are also concerns over case rates in parts of Yorkshire.  The only good thing is that it’s mainly amongst young people, and hasn’t led to any deaths or an increase in hospitalisations.

If this were happening in London, it would be the headlines of the news.

People aged 38 and 39 are now able to book vaccinations.

And Rafa beat Sinner 7-5, 6-4, in a rather stressful match in Rome!

 

Thursday, May 13th

Lost 3-2 to Liverpool.  Not very pleased!

It was reported earlier that,  Blackburn, which has also got issues with the Indian variant, everyone over 18 was being invited to book their jabs, but apparently someone got the wrong end of the stick.  Meanwhile, the situation in Bolton is not good.   It’s only in three wards, but it’s getting worse and worse.   I hope that the irresponsible people who went to India and Pakistan and then didn’t quarantine when they got back are pleased with themselves.  Has the North West not suffered enough?   And now Glasgow seems to be having similar problems.  And there are fears that the June 21st relaxation of restrictions may have to be rethought.

I actually managed to avoid being out in the rain today, but only because I went out early due to the tennis … which ended up being a very long and stressful match in which Rafa eventually beat Shapovalov 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3).  Poured down again later.

The painter can paint the ceiling, but he doesn’t know when.

And there is still no news from the holiday company.

 

Friday, May 14th

Boris has said that the roadmap’ll go ahead as planned for now, but that we don’t yet know very much about this wretched Indian variant affecting Bolton, Blackburn and elsewhere, so he can’t say for sure that the June 21st changes will go ahead.  That’s fair enough.  Second doses are to be brought forward, but only for over 50s.   And testing’s to be ramped up in Bolton and Blackburn.  At the risk of sounding like Mario Balotelli, why is it always the North West?

Second doses are to be brought forward, but, unfortunately for me, only for those in the first 9 groups.

Boss was mithering about wanting people to go back to the office.  I am dreading this.  Decent firms will take into account what people want, but the operative word is decent.

Rafa beat Sascha, 6-3 6-4 🙂 .  And now plays Opelka.  But it’s raining in Rome, so everything’s a bit messed up at the moment.

The Champions League final will now be held in Porto.  It would be far more sensible to hold it at either Wembley or Villa Park, both of which were suggested, but UEFA threw a hissy fit after being told that a load of bigwigs whose presence would be totally unnecessary wouldn’t be allowed to enter from high-risk countries without quarantining.

 

Saturday, May 15th

Well, this should have been a lovely day … even though we’ve still got blue sky one second and monsoons the next.  Around 20,000 fans were allowed into Wembley for the Cup Final, I was delighted that Leicester won the Cup for the first time in their history, beating Chelsea 1-0, and I felt like a proud auntie watching Kasper Schmeichel lifting the Cup!   The players had to pick up their own medals, but Prince William was allowed to present the actual trophy.

And Rafa beat Opelka, 6-4 6-4, to reach the Italian Open final … although the bad news is that he’s playing Nole.

And I had a lovely morning at Nostell Priory.  Cygnets and garlic!!   And National Trust houses are reopning next week.

 

But … I could cry when I see pictures of the Army on the streets of Bolton and Blackburn, conducting mass testing.  Miserable scientists are saying that Monday’s reopening should be cancelled.  Yet again, hope has turned to concern.  There’s been an increase in hospitalisations in Bolton – thankfully, we’re only talking about a small number of people, but it’s a big increase in percentage terms.  And it’s nearly all people who are old enough to have had their first jab, but haven’t done.  So bloody irresponsible.  Over 95% of over 45s have had their first jabs, but, as we keep being told, until everyone’s safe, no-one’s safe.  Formby – why Formby, of all places? – is also affected, as are parts of Nottingham and London, and also Glasgow.  There are fears that the Indian variant could be 50% more transmissible than the Kent variant, and that’s bad enough.  Thankfully, there’s no talk yet of local restrictions, but this is very worrying indeed.

And it was all going so well …

It’s still, touch wood, OK elsewhere in the region.  Rochdale’s up a bit, but nothing concerning.  But these things do tend to spread.  And we can’t take any more.

 

Sunday, May 16th

🙂 🙂 🙂 – Rafa beat Nole, 5-7 6-1 6-3, to win the Italian Open!  Rome isn’t Paris, but Rome is still Rome!

I went into town today.  If town/city centres are to recover, the stupid Sunday trading laws have really got to go.  There were queues and crowds waiting for shops to open.  Yes, they’ll be open at 9am or 10am tomorrow, but that’s no use to most people.  Scrap the stupid Sunday trading laws, now!!   Anyway, I had a nice walk round and some pan amb oli al fresco:

However, I could not find anything to wear for my cousin’s wedding.  If it goes ahead – 3 months to go, and they don’t know whether they’ll be allowed 30 people, 50 people or as many people as they like, and whether that’ll be just for the meal or for dancing as well.  Now that Debenhams, BHS, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins have gone, the choice seems to be between M&S (clothes seem designed for Holly Hobbie – cannot believe they sell stuff like that), Selfridges etc (fine if you are in possession of a good fortune, as Jane Austen might say) or places like River Island and Next (do not seem to cater for anyone over 25 and larger than a size 10)!

Rangers fans have been causing trouble.  Some things never change.

And it seems the vaccines do work against the Indian variant.  It sounds like a 1920s thriller – The Indian Variant.   The vaccine versus the virus.  If we can just get everyone vaccinated … .  Everyone over 30 should hopefully be able to book their first jab next week.

 

Hugging is back

  🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗.  Yes, folks, at 5 o’clock this evening, Boris will tell us that, as of next Monday, we will be allowed to hug our relatives and friends!  This will apparently involve making “informed personal decisions”; and Scientific Experts are advising that “hugs should be selective, short, and avoid face-to-face contact”.  But, hey, we will be allowed to hug people.

Even after 14 months of this, sometimes I still feel like I’m having a very strange dream and will wake up, or have fallen down a rabbit hole and will eventually find my way back out and find that the rest of the world is carrying on as normal.  The restrictions have been necessary, but did you ever think you’d live in a world where you had to wait for permission from the authorities to hug your own relatives and friends, and instructions on how to do so?!   Not throughout all the vicissitudes of history – war, religious persecution, repressive regimes – or even in the most dystopian of dystopian novels, has there ever before (AFAIK!) been a ban on hugging!   Nor have scientists instructed us on how to hug!

The political cartoonists are having great fun with this.  We’re seeing pictures of Boris trying to hug Nicola Sturgeon, and Keir Starmer trying desperately to find anyone at all who wants to hug him.  But never mind that.  Hugging is back!   Hotels, cinemas and theatres will be reopening.  Sports stadia will be reopening, although sadly only to limited numbers of fans. We’ll be able to sit indoors at cafes, pubs and restaurants … although I think we’ve all got rather into dining al fresco.  And, hey, we’ll be able to meet our friends and relatives indoors, and even stay overnight, as long as it doesn’t involve more than six people or two households.  And we’re officially moving from “level four” to “level three”.

It’s not over yet.  I’m extremely concerned about the situation in parts of Bolton, where the Indian variant and the South African variant have led to a worrying increase of infection rates.  But, hopefully, things are looking up.

Throw your arms around each other … as long as you’ve made an “informed personal decision” and are hugging safely!  And share a cup of tea and a piece of cake in a friend or relative’s house.  Next Monday.  Hugging is back!

 

 

The road to freedom? Week 6, May 3rd to 9th 2021 inclusive

Bank Holiday Monday, May 3rd

OK, it had to rain some time, but did it have to come down in sheets and buckets on a Bank Holiday, as if places like Blackpool and the Lakes haven’t lost enough money already?!  The only good thing was that it came in from the west, so, as I’d booked somewhere in Yorkshire (Brodsworth Hall) for today, I got a nice hour and a half walk round the gardens before it got really wet.  And I hadn’t got much planned for this afternoon anyway.  And Brodsworth was lovely.

It looks as if some holidays abroad will be possible soon.  And that most of Europe will admit people who’ve had both jabs.  But I can’t see my tour of Iceland happening.  Iceland is very reluctant to let people in, coach tours are complicated because they rely on everywhere on the itinerary being open, and the tour company need to make a final decision at least 8 weeks in advance.  And, as much as I want to go, this is an expensive trip, and I don’t really want to spend a load of money on something that’s going to be compromised by restrictions.  I can go to the Lakes for a week, and go to some different places.  But I feel like I’ve already lost a year of travel, of different places, different cultures, different experiences, and don’t want to lose another year.  But, when I go abroad on my own, it’s usually city breaks where I spend most of the time visiting historic sites, palaces, cathedrals, etc, and I’m not sure how possible that’s going to be.  Beach and pool holidays may well be on, but they’re not my thing.  I get bored, I worry that someone will nick my stuff whilst I’m in the pool, I feel like everyone’s thinking how fat I am and how weird I am for being on my own, and I can’t be doing with hordes of noisy people.  Also, this is a messy year for holidays due to evil work not letting us have time off when we want.  And I really need a break in the summer.

Also, today’s a reminder that it would be nice to go somewhere with guaranteed good weather.  Hmm.

The Oktoberfest’s already been cancelled.  Not that I want to go and drink Bavarian beer, but it doesn’t suggest much optimism for how things are going to go.

Restrictions on numbers of mourners at funerals are to be lifted on May 17th.  Social distancing may or may not end on June 21st.

And I could swing for the minority of idiots who caused trouble at yesterday’s protests.  Two police officers were hurt – one suffering quite a nasty facial wound.

Not a word have the Glazers uttered.  I didn’t expect them to ride out on horses to meet the protesters, like Richard II at the Peasants’ Revolt (not least because they’re 3,000 miles away, which is part of the bloody problem), but say something, for crying out loud.

 

Tuesday, May 4th

Weather horrible again, although not as bad as yesterday.  The wind’s blown the blossom off the trees in the park, where I took my WP profile photo last year.  It looks rather pretty.

The plasterer can come on Saturday morning … which is rather a pain, as it messes up my free day, but it’s that or wait indefinitely!

Not a lot else to report.

 

Wednesday, May 5th

The weather has gone completely berserk.  Last night, we had hail and sleet.  We’ve now got blue sky and sunshine.

Rafa beat Alcaraz, 6-1 6-2, in Madrid.  One of the Amazon Prime commentators called the young lad “Alcatraz”.  Unfortunately, that might stick!

It’s being reported that traffic is back to pre-pandemic levels.  If you ask me, it’s worse!   There are more supermarket delivery lorries because people have got used to doing online shopping, and I think people are either nervous about using public transport or else have got used to commuting/doing the school run by car rather than by bus/train/tram, because there certainly seem to be a lot more cars on the road at busy times.  Bleurgh!

Canada’s become the first country to OK vaccines for 12 to 15 year olds.

And it’s being reported that large numbers of people flying back to the UK from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, all of which are on the red list, are dodging quarantine by stopping off in Turkey.

 

Thursday, May 6th

Europa League Final, here we come … even if we did make a meal of it by losing 3-2 at Roma!  Sadly, Arsenal weren’t able to make it 4 out of 4 for English teams (it’s City v Chelsea in the Champions League Final): instead, we’ll play Villareal.

Covid Election Day.  A lot of people ordered postal votes, but I rather like going to the polling station, thinking about the suffragettes, the Chartists and Peterloo as I walk down there.  I can’t get excited about local elections – whichever party wins, the council will still make the traffic situation worse rather than better – and the mayoral election result’s a given, but still. BYOB – bring your own biro.

Meanwhile, stupid French fishermen are trying to start a war with Jersey, and the weather is still crazy.

Rafa beat Popyrin, 6-3 6-3 – and has been named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year 🙂 .  Naomi Osaka’s been named World Sportswoman of the Year.

My payment deadline for the Iceland tour which I’m 99% sure won’t be happening is now under two weeks ago.  I’ve e-mailed the holiday company to ask what’s going on, and am waiting for a reply.  I know this is a nightmare situation for them, but they need to let people know.  And the Government need to let people know about this “green list”, which it seems likely will initially just be Israel, Gibraltar, Portugal, Malta and some of the Spanish and Greek islands.  They also need to confirm that the May 17th reopening is going ahead.  Hotels, cinemas, restaurants etc haven’t had the official go-ahead yet.  It’s getting ridiculous.

And there are problems in Bolton again .  Hyndburn’s got the highest infection rate in the country, which isn’t very good, but apparently that’s due to an outbreak at a school in Accrington so can be contained.  But Bolton’s got the next highest, and that’s due to clusters of the Indian and South African variants.  FFS.  Why have people been allowed to travel to high-risk countries?   It does seem to be very localised, with rates in neighbouring boroughs close to the national average, but I still haven’t got over the whole area being penalised for high rates in Rochdale last July.

 

Friday, May 7th

Iceland is on the green list.  I still can’t see the trip running, but I cannot get a straight answer from the holiday company, who just say to assume it’s running until advised otherwise.  Even with the green list, there’ll be queues at airports, and Iceland wants you to be vaccinated, and … oh, this is all very frustrating.  If it’s cancelled, it’s cancelled, but I need to know, and they won’t tell me!   You can’t get to speak to the bigwigs, and the people who answer the phone don’t know any more than I do.  I could just cancel it myself, but … I’m not sure that I’m ready to make that decision.  But the payment deadline is fast approaching.   Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel are also on.  And Australia and New Zealand, which won’t let us in!   Turkey is now red-listed, making the idea of playing the Champions League final in Istanbul even sillier.  For heaven’s sake, play it at Villa Park.  Villa have said they’re happy to stage it.

Rafa lost to Sascha in the Madrid QFs.  Bah.

The Glazers have issued a statement.  About United, I mean, not about Rafa or holidays!  It doesn’t say very much.

“The Conservatives have taken Hartlepool” – now there’s something I never thought I’d say!  The by-election was held under unfortunate circumstances, the previous MP having to resign due to allegations of inappropriate behaviour, but it’s been positive in that it’s focused attention on the old industrial heartlands of the North.  For far too long, politicians have only been interested in what the metropolitan elite want, and that has to change.  Last autumn, with all the Tier 3 business going on, it looked as if nothing had changed at all, but we seem to have moved on from that quite quickly.  And it won’t be forgotten that it was Andy Burnham, other northern mayors, and northern MPs from all parties standing up for us – it wasn’t Keir Starmer.  I feel a bit sorry for Starmer, trying to clear up Corbyn’s mess, and during a pandemic, but his idea of campaigning in Manchester was to pose by some rolls of wallpaper in the Trafford Centre.  No-one cares about Boris’s wallpaper.  We want jabs, jobs and travel.   And it has all got very personality-based, and Boris is certainly not lacking in charisma.

It now seems that the Astra Zeneca vaccine will not be offered to most under 40s.  I hope this doesn’t hold the vaccination programme up.  Hopefully not, now we’ve got supplies of the Moderna vaccine as well as the Pfizer.

 

Saturday, May 8th

In the least surprising of all the election results, Andy Burnham was re-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, with 67% of the vote.  The mayoral elections have been very interesting – both there and elsewhere, they’ve been far more about the person than the party, and Andy’s said that he wants to take a “place first not party first” approach.  I have to admit that I wasn’t initially convinced about this regional mayor idea, but it does seem to be working out well.  As I keep saying, we’ve had enough of politics being all about London.  Mixed picture with the council elections, but the overall picture is gains for the Conservatives, losses for Labour.  Not impressed with the low turnout.  Labour have retained control of the Welsh Senedd.  The SNP have won the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament, and are whingeing about wanting another referendum.

It has rained for most of the day.  So frustrating, when you’ve been trapped with work all week.  However, I couldn’t have gone out first thing anyway, because the plasterer was coming to sort out the hole in the kitchen ceiling (from the Easter pipe disaster).  It is now a brown splodge rather than a hole.  Next job is to try to get the decorator to come and paint it white.  And I did get out to Hollingworth Lake for a bit, when the rain eased up.

Really fed up with the holiday company.  As much I want to go on this trip to Iceland, I don’t want to spend all that money if it’s going to be spoilt by restrictions.  I’m also stressed because my second jab will be pretty close to when I’m due to go, and I gather that the NHS app is a nightmare.  Then there are the issues of long queues at airports and PCR tests.  At the moment, my thinking is that a summer staycation may be better, and then a trip abroad in the autumn, if one can be sorted.  But I can’t do anything until the holiday company give me a straight answer – and, this close to the payment deadline, I’m entitled to expect one.

Bolton have been promoted to League 1 … as Rochdale go the other way, ironically.

 

Sunday, May 9th

We came from behind to win 3-1 at Villa.  So we just need one more point to secure a top 4 finish.  And City still aren’t champions.

The weather brightened up today, and I went to Erddig, which was lovely.  So nice to be able to walk somewhere with no crowds and (in the gardens) no dogs!  And to drive without traffic jams and traffic lights.

My weight is a disaster.  Every time I lose a couple of pounds, they go back on.  What am I supposed to do?  Starve?

Still no news from the holiday company.

And, finally, it looks like we will get confirmation tomorrow that the May 17th reopenings can go ahead.  And it sounds as if we’ll be given permission to hug our relatives and friends, as long as we’ve made “informed personal decisions” to do so.  If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry!  Did you ever think you’d be living in a world in which you couldn’t hug your loved ones without politicians giving you the go-ahead to do so, and making “informed personal decisions”?!  Not even George Orwell came up with that one.  I’m not criticising the restrictions, just thinking how far we’ve come from the world we lived in all our lives until 14 months ago.  Covid World!

The road to freedom? Week 5, April 26th to May 2nd 2021 inclusive

Monday, April 26th

I am absolutely dreading the day Boris says that people don’t have to work from home any more.  Decent employers will probably let people choose to work from home 2 or 3 days a week, but others will want people back where they think they can “control” them better.  The slightest thing turns into a nightmare when you are trapped in an office.  Boiler needs repairing?  “Between 12pm and 6pm.”  Parcel needs delivering?  “Between 7am and 9pm, and can’t be left without a signature.  We’ll give you a one hour time slot on the day” – like it’s that easy to go home for an hour.  Need to go to the bank?  Only open 10am to 3pm, and there will be a horrendous queue during your dinner hour, because it’s everyone else’s dinner hour as well.  And the traffic is so bad and parking so difficult that you’ll have to walk there and back, which will take up most of your dinner hour anyway.  Etc etc etc!

Today, I needed to go somewhere which is only open 9am to 5pm, and which, due to traffic and queues, I couldn’t have got to and from in my dinner hour.  So I just nipped out, at a time when there wasn’t much traffic, and when there was unlikely to be a queue.  It didn’t take very long.  But I just could not have got there if I’d been trapped in the office.

People aged 44 are now able to book vaccines.  Are we doing one year at a time now?!  I’d assumed they’d say people from 40 to 44.

 

Tuesday, April 27th

People aged 42 and 43 are now able to book vaccines.  Presumably they just staggered it to avoid the website crashing if too many people tried to book at once.  Considering that we thought it might be May before anyone outside the top 9 groups was called, it’s really going pretty well, touch wood.

However, the situation in India – lovely India, where I went in 2018 and, before all this started, hoped to go again in, perhaps, 2022 or 2023 – is heartbreaking.  Car parks are being used as crematoria.  Trees in public parks are being cut down for kindling.  Hospitals have got no oxygen.  And no free beds.  We’ve sent what supplies we can, as have other countries, but it’s a drop in the ocean.  Almost 3,000 deaths per day are being reported, and, sadly, that’s probably only a fraction of the true figure.

In other news:
1.  The weather’s turned.  Cold, cloudy and showery.
2.  Wimbledon’s doing away with Middle Sunday from next year, and just playing 14 days like the other Grand Slams do, although I assume we’ll have the second week split by gender, rather than the silly Aussie Open system of having the men’s semis on two different days.  I really can’t decide how I feel about this!

 

Wednesday, April 28th

Apparently, the idea is to use the NHS app as a vaccine passport.  I don’t really fancy downloading the NHS app, but it sounds like we may have no choice.  There’s also talk about booster jabs in the autumn.

Holiday company has now cancelled all tours up to the end of June.  Mine is due to go on 18th July.  They’ll probably cancel up to 15th or 16th July next time, leaving me hanging on!   I’m not expecting it to go, but obviously I do need the official word.  I’m sorry for myself: I booked Iceland in September 2019 and was really looking forward to it.  But I’m even sorrier for the holiday company.

I’ve sent a donation to the British Asian Trust, which is doing what it can to help India.  Unfortunately, given how many people there are in India, aid sent by both governments and charities can only stretch so far.

 

Thursday, April 29th

Ugh, the weather has turned!   But it should dry up again by the weekend.

We are playing Roma this evening.

The average infection rate across Greater Manchester remains around 35.  Across England as a whole, it remains around 25 – lowest in the South East, highest in Yorkshire, but nothing terrible anywhere.   But it isn’t really going down, just staying around the same.   This virus isn’t going away.   But we’re being told that the May 17th easing of restrictions should be going ahead 🙂 .

The US is also doing well, and things seem to be improving across much of Europe too, but Turkey, which did so well last year, is now going into full lockdown.  And the news from India continues to be very bad.  A further problem is that the Serum Institutes in India were meant to be producing vaccines for the Covax programme, to be sent to poorer countries, but, given the situation, none of those vaccines will be leaving India.  Worrying times.

Later – wa-hey!!   After going 2-1 down, we came back to beat Roma 6-2!!!   Big leads have been overturned in second legs before, so I’m not counting any chickens yet, but … well, I never dared home for a 4 goal lead.  We could yet have two all-English finals … but, as I said, let’s not count any chickens yet.

 

Friday, April 30th

Sunshine and showers today, and the same forecast for tomorrow.  Monday is looking iffy, though … and I can’t reshuffle my plans because you have to book everything in advance these days!

Everyone over 40 is now being invited to book an appointment for their first jab.  I’m hearing some reports of issues booking, though.  You can get appointments, but you may have to wait a couple of weeks, or travel a bit rather than going to a centre close to your home.  But we knew there were going to be issues in April, and things have gone much better than we thought they might.

A trial mask-free nightclub event’s being held in Liverpool.  Not that I want to go to a nightclub, but some people do!   I’d rather like to go to the pictures, but I don’t think there’s going to be anything decent on when cinemas reopen next month.

Still very bad news from both India and Brazil.

In the middle of everything else, the junction where you turn out of our estate on to the main road is closed.  Apparently something’s collapsed.  It was absolutely fine until BT started digging it up the other week – funny, that.  OK, these things happen, but there wasn’t a soul working on it when I went past at half 3 this afternoon, not when I went past at half 2 yesterday afternoon.  Typical.

 

Saturday, May 1st

Today, I have actually been out of England for the first time since … whenever I last went to Bodnant Garden, which must have been last summer.  We are less than an hour’s drive from the Welsh border, the car radio picks up Greatest Hits Manchester loudly and clearly well into North Wales, and I am sick of all this silly closing of borders to score political points.  But, hopefully, that’s over now!  I’ve had a really nice day.  I was ecstatic to find that, although the daffodils at the front of Chirk Castle were long dead, those in the gardens and woodlands were still going!

After a lovely morning at Chirk, I went into Llangollen, where I had bara brith at the Welsh Cottage Tea Rooms to celebrate being allowed back into Wales, looked at people white water rafting on the Dee, and then went on a horse drawn boat ride on the Llangollen Canal.

 

And care home residents are to be allowed to visit friends and relatives, which is lovely.

 

Sunday, May 2nd

Oh.  Well, that wasn’t the afternoon I’d planned.  Like pretty much everyone else round here, I’d intended to watch United v Liverpool. The biggest match in English club football.  El Clasico Ingles.  Both clubs needing a win in the quest for a top four finish.  And with the rather unpleasant added spice of knowing that, if we lost, City would be champions.

But it didn’t happen.

We knew there were anti-Glazer protests planned, but they were supposed to be peaceful.   However, as these things so often do, it all got a bit out of hand.  Thankfully, there was little real trouble, but a small minority of people did clash with police and stewards, and two police officers were injured.  Some people protested outside the Lowry Hotel, where the team were, and prevented the team coach from leaving; and, more seriously, some people broke into the stadium and got on to the pitch.  Gary Neville, commentating for Sky, was doing his whole Red Nev thing about the right to protest and needing to do something that would get the Glazers’ attention and make headlines, but a lot of the people on the pitch just seemed to be smirking and taking selfies.

I have had enough of the Glazers.  Everyone has.  We never wanted them in the first place.  They’ve got no connection with United, with Manchester, with football.  They were only ever interested in money.  They don’t care about the fans.  And the Super League thing was the final straw.  And, yes, something big was needed.  There are “LUHG” (Love United Hate Glazer) stickers all over the place, but they don’t care.  They’re 3,000 miles away.  But breaking into the stadium’s not on.  And we don’t want to see matches cancelled.  This is all rather a mess.   We’ve seen some awful things go on in the past.  I remember City fans going to the care home where Peter Swales’s elderly mother lived.  We don’t want trouble.  But we do want the Glazers out.  And they won’t go.   It’s our club.  But they own it.

There being no football, I watched the Estorial tennis final.  Cam Norrie went a set and a break up … but Ramos Vinolas came back to win.

And the weather forecast for tomorrow is vile.  Bloody typical!   I’m going to Brodsworth come what may, but it won’t be much fun if it’s wet and windy.  And poor Windermere Lake Cruises, who’ve lost so much money already because of the pandemic,  have had to cancel all tomorrow’s bookings.  Bloody weather!

But, to end on a high note, I went to Dunham Massey this morning (picture below), and met up with my cousin, whom I hadn’t seen for ages because she’s been shielding.   So lovely to be reunited at last!