Freedom? Week 18, November 15th to 21st 2021 inclusive



Monday, November 15th

Round Edinburgh Castle with the tour group today.  Lovely sunny day.

All over 40s in England are to be offered boosters.  And I honestly don’t know what to do.  I was really pro-vaccination until I had the second jab, and we keep being told how important vaccinations are and how it’s silly and selfish not to have them.  But I did have some problems after the second jab, which I now know that a lot of other women have had too, and that was when the medical problems which led to my being diagnosed with a large fibroid really started.  I appreciate that the vaccine cannot have caused a fibroid, but it certainly exacerbated the problems and I’m very nervous about what might happen if I have the booster.  I’ll probably have to have it eventually, but I can’t really deal with it at the moment: I’m struggling enough, especially as it’s been so difficult just to get an appointment with a doctor.  I do have more sympathy now with people who are nervous about being vaccinated – they’re being looked down on as stupid and ignorant and being taken in by conspiracy theories, but there are genuine medical concerns as well.  I didn’t feel comfortable writing about it at the time, but I really did have some very distressing and frightening problems after the second jab, and the fact that it’s so difficult to get any sort of medical help at the moment has made me even more nervous.

On a happier note, we’ve qualified for the World Cup!  Beat San Marino 10-0!


Tuesday, November 16th

We’re in Inverness!   We left Edinburgh this morning, and called in at St Andrews and Pitlochry, then drove through Culloden (sadly no proper stop there) and ended the day in Inverness.  I’ve never been this far into the Highlands before.   We had to have our temperatures taken before getting on to the coach to leave Edinburgh, but TBH I don’t think anyone took it very seriously, and you don’t have to wear masks on the coach as it’s not public transport.

The Republic of Ireland’s tightening restrictions.


Wednesday, November 17th

A day in the Highlands!   We drove past Loch Ness this morning, although sadly there was no sign of the monster, and we saw Ben Nevis in the distance.  We then visiting a) a whisky distillery and b) Glencoe.  Most people were very excited about the former.  I was very excited about the latter.  Then ended up in Oban, which is lovely – although probably a lot lovelier in the summer!

In Covid news, cases here seem to be falling at the moment, but they’re going up in a lot of places, especially Germany and Austria.



Thursday, November 18th

We drove down from Oban to Glasgow this morning, along the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

Goodbye to the Highlands!   The Americans and Canadians in the group have now got to do Covid tests before going home … although we’re not sure whether the tests they did on arrival have actually been collected yet!   It seems that most cases here are now amongst primary school kids.  And there’s some talk of a new strain, which is rather worrying.

Friday, November 19th

Most of the tour group people have gone home, but I’m staying on till tomorrow, and have spent the day looking round Glasgow.  I went to the Willow at the Mackintosh tearooms!

Very worried about Peng Shuai, who hasn’t been seen since accusing a senior Chinese official of sexual assault.

In Covid news, Austria’s going back into full lockdown, the first “Western” country to do so this autumn.  Bavaria’s tightening restrictions, as are some other German states, and Northern Ireland looks set to bring back the WFH directive.  Cases in much of Central and Eastern Europe seem to be soaring.


Saturday, November 20th

I finally got to see Glasgow Cathedral just before my train home!   It was closed yesterday and this morning because of Walter Smith’s funeral.

We lost 4-1 at Watford.  Totally humiliating.  What a mess all this is.  Meanwhile, City’s match at Leipzig is to be played behind closed doors because of Covid restrictions being reintroduced in Saxony.   And there’ve been riots in Rotterdam, as anti-restriction protests got out of hand.

I am now home.


Sunday, November 21st

Ole’s been sacked.  It had to happen, but I feel kind of sad – we all love him.  We’ve got how City used to be, a new manager every five minutes and nothing getting any better.  It’s just a mess.

I went to the Christmas markets today.  Lovely sunny day.  Except that now I haven’t done the ironing.  I was naively expecting that, apart from Albert Square being closed, the Christmas markets’d be like normal, but they’re not – there are far fewer stalls than usual, and a lot of the old favourites, including the singing reindeer, are missing.  But at least we’ve got something, which is more than a lot of places have got, and it was nice.

Sascha won the World Tour Finals.  Olympic officials have spoken to Peng Shuai, who told them that she was OK.  I just hope that she genuinely is.

More anti-restriction protests in the Netherlands, and also in Belgium, Austria, Croatia and Italy.  Things turned violent in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Freedom? Week 17, November 8th to 14th 2021 inclusive

Monday, November 8th

I need to speak to the doctor about the blood test results, but it’s “routine”, not “urgent”, and will wait until I’m finally getting to see the doctor in person on the 24th.  I suppose it’s positive that they didn’t say “urgent”, they said I wouldn’t even be able to book a phone call until next week anyway, and I don’t want to cancel my week in Scotland.

Travel between the UK and the US (for fully vaccinated passengers) has resumed, at long last.

My elder nephew (aged nearly 13)’s getting his jab later this week.


Tuesday, November 9th

Covid vaccinations are to be made mandatory for all NHS frontline staff in England.  I don’t disagree in principle, but we’re already hearing that the NHS is having trouble recruiting and keeping staff, and what’s going to happen if people choose to leave rather than get vaccinated?  It’s already happening with some care home staff, and other countries are having similar issues.  Hmm.


Wednesday, November 10th

Infection rates both locally and nationally are thankfully now on the way back down.

However, things seem to have taken quite a turn for the worse in Germany, as well as in many parts of Eastern Europe.  Is there no end to this?!

And Gerald Sinstadt’s died, aged 91.


Thursday, November 11th

Today is, of course, Armistice Day,  This time last year, we were in lockdown.  This year, the usual commemorative events have taken place.

Meanwhile, things are really not good in Eastern Europe.  Bulgaria, with a population a tenth the size of the UK’s, recorded 334 deaths in a day earlier this week, and Romania 487.  It’s bad in Russia and Ukraine as well.  Will this nightmare never end?

FW de Klerk’s died, aged 85.


Friday, November 12th

Great.  I checked to see what time the Glasgow Christmas markets opened, only to find that one had been cancelled “due to Covid” (2 weeks ago, after I’d made by plans) and the other one (apparently not affected by the same Covid issues as the first one, even though the sites are only a few hundred yards apart) will now not be opening until the day after I leave.  It’s not like I was going particularly to see them, and the ones in Manchester are the best in the country anyway, but it meant I had to rejig my plans slightly.  Then I got an e-mail to say that, at a week’s notice, Glasgow Cathedral would be closed next Friday.  So I had to rebook it for the Saturday, reprint the tickets, reopen the suitcase to put the printout in, and rejig my plans again.   I have no idea why it should be closed.  It’s the Protestant cathedral, so maybe they’re praying that Rangers find a decent replacement for Steven Gerrard.  I can’t think what else can have changed at such short notice!

Also, why does the National Rail website have to put a huge warning sign next to trains from Manchester, just to tell you that the area may be busy due to the Christmas markets?!

Considering that I am the world’s most stressed person even when I’m not panicking about the fibroid trauma, I think I’m remarkably calm!

In Covid news, it looks as if the Netherlands may be going into a partial lockdown, and there’s talk of Austria introducing a lockdown for unvaccinated people only.


Saturday, November 13th

Travelled up to Edinburgh on the train this morning.  The train was quite busy, because of people going to Murrayfield for Scotland v South Africa, but very few people had masks on.   Lovely sunny day – hooray!

Edinburgh Castle, and, because it keeps tourists happy, a piper on the Royal Mile:


Sunday, November 14th

Remembrance Sunday.  Events have taken place as normal this year, after they couldn’t last year.  But, sadly, the Queen was unable to attend due to a bad back.  In Covid news, Austria’s putting unvaccinated people into lockdown.  Restrictions have been announced in the Netherlands too.  And Rafa’s been talking about vaccinations.  It’s still not clear what’s going on with the Aussie Open.

Meanwhile, I’ve had another nice day in Edinburgh – Holyrood Palace and Arthur’s Seat, and the Field of Remembrance:

I met up with the rest of the group this evening.  I was amazed to find that most of them were Americans and Canadians – evidently, all the palaver with testing (people get handed tests at the hotel reception, and are supposed to do them and put them in a collection box) isn’t keeping tourists away.

Freedom? Week 16, November 1st to 7th 2021 inclusive

Monday, November 1st

It has rained.  A lot.

That’s about all I have to say about today.

Apart from the fact that Rafa says he’s hoping to play in Abu Dhabi.  Fingers crossed.


Tuesday, November 2nd

We drew 2-2 at Atalanta.  Thanks to Ronaldo.

And infection rates locally have shot up, even though they’re falling across most of Greater Manchester.  It’s not clear why, but … well, at one point it was Tameside, then Stockport, then Trafford which had the highest rate in the country not long ago, and their rates all came down again, so hopefully ours will too, but it’s not very good.


Wednesday, November 3rd

Jonathan Van-Tam’s been going on about needing to take precautions in the run-up to Christmas.  Then make mask-wearing compulsory, because hardly anyone bothers any more.  Someone I know tried to open a window on a crowded bus on which hardly anyone else was wearing masks, to improve ventilation, and was subjected to some very unpleasant verbal abuse.

I have finally got a face-to-face appointment with my doctor, on November 24th.  I asked three times if they’d definitely booked it with the right doctor.  Then, because I’m paranoid, I checked on the online thing, and they’d booked it with the wrong doctor.  So I had to ring up and wait in a phone queue to get it changed.

Going for the blood tests was horrible.  Going to the doctors’ surgery has never exactly been a barrel of laughs, but now you end up feeling like a criminal rather than a patient.  Arrive a second late and you’re liable to be told that you’ve missed your chance.  So I got there a few minutes early.  Eight minutes, to be precise.  Eight minutes, not half an hour.  They wouldn’t let me into the building and made me wait outside.  When they finally let me in, they barked at me to make sure that I didn’t let anyone else come in behind me.  I’m not sure what I was supposed to do if someone else waiting outside had tried to come in – fight them off?   I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had: some poor woman was trying to ask about a letter or a repeat prescription or something, and they wouldn’t let her in and made her yell her business through the intercom – which isn’t easy because it’s on a busy road, with lorries and buses going past, so it’s very hard to hear what’s being said.

I appreciate that doctors are busy.   But you never got treated like this pre-Covid, and they were busy then as well.


Thursday, November 4th

The first oral tablet to treat Covid symptoms has been approved for use in the UK.  It’s called molnupiravir.  You’d think they could give tablets snappier names!  In trials, it cut the risk of hospitalisation or death by half.

And Lionel Blair’s died.


Friday, November 5th

Bonfire Night.  The local councils have cancelled most of the communal bonfires “because of Covid”, although I suspect that that’s just an excuse to get out of clearing up the mess afterwards.

Infections seem to be very high in Germany, for some reason.


Saturday, November 6th

Oh dear!  At least it wasn’t 5-0 like it was against Liverpool, but we lost the derby 2-0, at home.  This season is going wrong with a vengeance.


Sunday, November 7th

Been down to London to see my sister and brother-in-law and the kids.

Picture of scone eaten in London!

It was the first time I’d been on either an inter-city train or the London Underground since pre-Covid.  Hardly anyone was wearing a mask.  But, hey, at least we can actually travel around and see our loved ones again!

Freedom? Week 15, October 25th to 31st 2021 inclusive

Monday, October 25th

It is really confusing having everyone and their dog putting their two penn’orth in all over the media.  Infection numbers may rise to 100,000 a day, but this shouldn’t be a problem.  No, no, this is a huge problem, and we will be back in lockdown by Christmas.  Nonsense – infection numbers will be down to 5,000 per day by Christmas.  The booster programme is going well.  The booster programme is going too slowly.   Vaccinations should be made compulsory for NHS staff.  Vaccinations should not be made compulsory for NHS staff.

Latvia is back in lockdown, Russia’s going into a week’s “firebreak”, and now Romania’s imposing a night time curfew.  Only about a third of adults have been vaccinated in Russia, and the same in Romania.


Tuesday, October 26th

Case numbers have dropped quite a lot over the last week.  What does this mean?

Meanwhile, more tests today.  I arrived at 8:15 for my 8:30 appointment, to find myself in an empty room because “the receptionist doesn’t start till 8:45”.  The place opens at 8.  How can they have no receptionist until 8:45?  Anyway, they did everything, then said I should chase my GP surgery as they “were very busy” and might not get round to contacting me about the results.  My anxiety levels were already through the roof – that did not help!

The WTA’s said that unvaccinated players will be able to play at the Aussie Open.

And I hope the Queen’s OK.  We just keep being told that she’s been “advised to rest”.


Wednesday, October 27th

More confusion over the Australian Open.  Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison said unvaccinated players would be able to enter Australia to play, as long as the state of Victoria  applied for exemptions from national rules.   But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said Victoria won’t be applying.   TBH, if the rules say no entry without vaccination, then I don’t see why you should get an exemption just because you’re a professional athlete, so I think Andrews has got a point.  Presumably this will also affect England cricketers.  Meanwhile, Dominic Thiem’s been banned from the Vienna Open, i.e. his home event, because he hasn’t been vaccinated yet.  He says he’s waiting for the Novavax.  Er, whatever!

There was a lot of speculation about whether or not MPs would wear masks whilst the Commons was packed out for the Budget statement.  Some did.  Some didn’t.   Masks have been mandatory in the Commons for everyone except MPs!   Keir Starmer wasn’t there at all, having tested positive for Covid.


Thursday, October 28th

Rishi Sunak has been to Bury Market, presumably to show how committed he is to helping Northern England.  Unfortunately, he called it “Burnley Market”.  To be fair, I think it was just a slip of the tongue, because it was straight after a reporter had been talking about coming from Burnley, but it made him look a bit of a prat.  On a more serious note, there’s been horrendously heavy rain in the Lake District and parts of Scotland.  The piers at Windermere are flooded, as are various roads, including the road between Ambleside and Grasmere 😦 .

And all remaining countries on “the red list” are to be taken off it.


Friday, October 29th

Apparently I have got a large fibroid.  Apologies for TMI, but, as I’ve kept going on about medical tests, that’s what’s turned up.  I had a complete nightmare this afternoon: I rang for the results at 3, as I was meant to, spent ages in a phone queue, and was then told that the receptionist had forwarded the results to a doctor who wasn’t in today, so no-one had looked at them.   Try again at 4.  I rang again at 4.  No-one’s looked at them: they’re all too busy.  It’ll have to wait till Monday.  At this point, I got really upset.  Thankfully, it was the nice receptionist, not the stroppy one, and she persuaded the doctor to ring me back at 6.  And at least I was WFH today.  Imagine dealing with that at work.  Or during your journey home.  So I’m quite upset, although at least it’s nothing worse.  My auntie and my cousin both had a lot of trouble with fibroids: I think they are partially genetic.  Now I’ve got to have more blood tests.  And then, hopefully, I will actually get to see a doctor, because it’s come this far and I haven’t actually *seen* a doctor yet.

I am trying to get my head round it all.

1 in 50 people in England had Covid last week.  Apparently.  How on earth do they work that out, when positive tests were about 40,000 per day and the population of England’s about 57 million?  I’m sure they’ve got a way, but it makes no sense to me.  Meanwhile, restrictions around masks and isolation are being tightened in Wales, things are not very good in Russia, and restrictions are being tightened in Beijing ahead of the Winter Olympics.


Saturday, October 30th

We won 3-0 at Spurs today.  That’s more like it.


Sunday, October 31st

Today, I had booked a Blackpool Illuminations tram.  When I arrived, the sun was out.  Then it went in, and there were two absolute deluges.  However, the tram was very nice, and it was good to see the Illuminations after not being able to go last year.

Freedom? Week 14 – October 18th to 24th 2021 inclusive

Monday, October 18th

Sad to hear of the death of Colin Powell from complications of Covid.

And there was a very sad article in today’s paper about a young man who died after being refused a face-to-face doctor’s appointment.  He had four phone consultations, but, as you can’t look down someone’s ear over the phone, they failed to diagnose mastoiditis which, as it was left untreated, led to a brain abscess.   It’s absolutely appalling.

On a happier note, Cameron Norrie won Indian Wells!


Tuesday, October 19th

  1.  Some doctors’ groups are telling GPs to refuse to co-operate with Government plans to get back to face-to-face appointments.  Oh great.  First we had teachers’ unions being determined to feud with the Government and putting playing politics above children’s interests, and now we’ve got GPs’ groups being determined to feud with the Government and putting playing politics above patients’ interests … except that this could literally cost people’s lives.
  2. There is apparently a new variant of the Delta variant.
  3. Infection rates in Trafford have dropped considerably.  The highest rates in the country are now in Ipswich, Wellingborough and Taunton.
  4. The premier of the Australian state of Victoria says that unvaccinated tennis players are unlikely to be allowed to play at the Aussie Open.
  5. Unvaccinated over 60s in Moscow have been told to stay at home until the end of February!


Wednesday, October 20th

The doom mongers are demanding that “Plan B” be activated immediately.  The uber doom mongers are demanding that we go back into lockdown.  Given that most cases are in schools, this seems rather extreme.  However, there’s no doubt that cases are rising, and hospitalisations and deaths are edging up too.  It’s not just here: a lot of countries are in the same boat.  Morocco’s suspended direct flights to the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, which seems a bit overboard.  And Russia’s closing workplaces for a week.  Cases were bound to rise as people spent more time indoors due to the time of year, but it also seems that immunity’s wearing off as time passes since people were vaccinated.  The booster programme’s under way, but a lot of those eligible haven’t yet come forward.

I don’t think there’s any need to panic, but, TBH, I don’t think it’d hurt to tell people to go back to wearing masks indoors.  Fewer and fewer people are wearing them in shops, and, even though we’ve been asked to wear them on public transport locally, not everyone’s doing so.  More positively, Sajid Javid’s been talking about anti-viral drugs.

America’s to start vaccinating primary school children.  I understand that people are nervous about vaccinating little ones, but I think we’re going to have to do the same.   And is everyone going to have to have a booster?

On a happier note, we beat Atalanta 3-2.  Although it would have been better had we not contrived to go 2-0 down first.


Thursday, October 21st

I’m going to the theatre tonight, for the first time since February 2020, to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks at the Palace.

Meanwhile, everyone and their dog has been appearing on TV, giving their opinion on Covid restrictions, which is stressing and confusing people.  Why does Tony Blair have to be shouting his mouth off about it all?  How long has he been a doctor or a scientist?!   This is the trouble – people are using the situation to try to score political points.  But there’ve been over 50,000 new cases today, which isn’t good.

Latvia’s become the first European country to go back into lockdown, but their vaccination rate’s only 54%.  And all the local public bonfires have been cancelled 😦 .


Friday, October 22nd

I got asked to show my vaccine passport at the theatre last night!   First time.  The theatre was fine, but I wasn’t very impressed by the behaviour of people on the bus into town.  There were clear signs on the bus asking people to wear masks, Andy Burnham’s repeatedly asked us to wear masks on local public transport, and Sajid Javid reminded us on Wednesday night that we should be wearing masks in “crowded indoor spaces”, but only 1 in 9 people (yes, I was sad enough to count) actually had a mask on.  Come on, folks, make a bit of effort.   We reported over 52,000 new cases last night.   There’s no need to panic – contrary to what the political points-scorers in the media would have us believe – but it’s not exactly a brilliant situation either.

Meanwhile, I hope the Queen’s OK.  She’s spent a night in hospital for “preliminary medical checks”.  Hopefully it’s just her knees, but it’s still worrying.

And SAGE have said that everyone should be WFH.  Listen to ’em, Boris!   Tell people to close offices and let us WFH full time.  Come on …


Saturday, October 23rd

I am really sick of all the scaremongering in the media.  First, they were claiming that there’d be no turkeys for Christmas and supermarkets would run out of everything else as well.  Then, they caused a totally unnecessary fuel panic.  Now, they’re scaremongering about going back into lockdown.  Oh, and Sky News are claiming that the Russians are after us.  What year is it, again, 2021 or 1961?!   Exactly what is any of this supposed to achieve?!


Sunday, October 24th

Ugh.  This has been one of the most humiliating days of my life.  We lost 5-0 to Liverpool.  Words fail me.   5-0.  At home.  To Liverpool.

The day did actually start quite well, when I went to Kenyon Hall to pick a pumpkin, then to the garden centre to look at the Christmas displays.

It then got very bad.  Very bad indeed.

Freedom? Week 13, October 11th to 17th 2021 inclusive


Monday, October 11th

Today, I tried ringing my PMI firm to ask what the procedure was if the scan showed that I needed to be referred to a consultant.  This was even worse than trying to get through to the NHS.  Fortunately, I was WFH today, so I just put the phone down next to the laptop and at least didn’t have to worry about being interrupted, but it took 55 minutes for someone to answer.  The person who answered was very apologetic, and I got the distinct impression that they were constantly listening to complaints about how long it took to get through, and obviously it wasn’t their fault, and, as usual, you can’t get to speak to the people in charge, but I was nearly in tears by then.  I’d tried the online service but it just kept saying “no agents are available”.  And, after all that, all I got was that I should ring back when I’d got the scan results … which was fair enough, but, by the time I’d waited 55 minutes for someone to answer, then gone through all the rigmarole security questions, then explained the situation, it took an hour and a quarter just to be told to ring back.


There’s been a large and rather violent demo in Rome against vaccine passports.  Italy’s rules are pretty draconian.  And Sydney’s lockdown’s ended, after 107 days.


Tuesday, October 12th

The official report into the UK’s response to Covid has said that things were handled very badly at first, but that the vaccine rollout was a great success.  A few salient points:

  1. We should have locked down earlier, although the Government did follow scientific advice on aiming for herd immunity.  I still think that herd immunity’s a thing, because the highest rates now are in areas which previously had low rates, and vice-versa, but the virus went for the most vulnerable people and that resulted in a tragic loss of many lives.
  2. Releasing people from hospitals into care homes was a tragic mistake, as was the lack of testing for care home staff.  At the time, the idea was to free up hospital beds, and I get that, but the death toll in care homes was terrible.
  3. There were failings over PPE.
  4. Some interesting comments about borders.  I’ve got no idea how they’ve worked this out, but the report says that 33% of cases during the first wave came from Spain and 29% from France.  At the time, the focus was all on the Far East, and then on Iran and Italy.
  5. The whole local lockdown was a shambles.  That’s putting it mildly.
  6. There should have been more testing early on.
  7. The pandemic response was based on plans for a flu pandemic, which weren’t appropriate in this case.
  8. There’s a lot of talk about “group-think”

People are busily using this to try to score political points, which isn’t helpful.  And what’s done is done.  All we can do is try to learn from it, although hopefully nothing like this will happen again any time soon.

Oh, and George Freeman, the “Science Minister”, has said that the UK’s had a high Covid death toll because we’re all too fat.


Wednesday, October 13th

The Covid app went down today.  It’s working again now, but apparently there was chaos at airports.  I don’t understand why people don’t print stuff out in case something like this happens!

Trafford’s infection rates are still sky high and getting higher.  Very odd how one borough is so much worse than the others.


Thursday, October 14th

Sajid Javid’s announced extra funding for GPs, but said that they’ve got to see more people face to face.  Good.   I wish he’d also tell them to bring back online booking and online triage so you don’t have to spend an hour trying to get through on the phone – although, to be fair, I think most surgeries are doing that anyway.  I just wish ours was.


Friday, October 15th

Due to holidays being cancelled because of you-know-what, I had a spare holiday day and, not having been to either Shugborough or Trentham Gardens this year,  I decided to find somewhere to stay in Staffordshire, and found me The Upper House, which used to belong to one of the Wedgwoods and is just off the Wedgwood Estate, and very close to Trentham Gardens.  I went to the Monkey Forest first, then the gardens, then the Wedgwood tea room (sorry, had to be done), and then came to the hotel.  How cute are these monkeys?!

Plus it’s kind of distracted me from this horrendously stressful situation of waiting for more medical tests and imagining all sorts.  It really is very, very, difficult.

Some awful, awful news, though – MP Sir David Amess has been stabbed to death during a constituency surgery.  What has the world come to?   Two MPs have been murdered in 5 1/2 years.  It would have been unthinkable a decade ago.  So much hatred.  What is wrong with the world?  That poor, poor man, and his poor family and friends.


Saturday, October 16th

FFS.  We lost 3-2 at Leicester.  This cannot go on.  On a happier note, Cam Norrie’s reached the Indian Wells final.

It now seems that the man who murdered Sir David Amess was an Islamic fundamentalist … only days after an Islamic fundamentalist murdered five people in Norway.  Awful.

Today, I went to Boscobel House and White Ladies Priory, where Charles II hid after the Battle of Worcester.  And this is the Royal Oak in which he hid!  OK, it isn’t, because the original was wrecked by 17th century souvenir hunters, but it *is* grown from one of the original oak’s acorns.  And then I had afternoon tea at the hotel.


Sunday, October 17th

Shugborough today, then home.

Freedom? Week 12, October 4th to 10th 2021 inclusive


Monday, October 4th 

Ugh.  Today has been really horrible.  I got so stressed out about the appointment with the nurse that I cried because my watch needed a new battery (yes, I know that that sentence is a non sequitur).  Then I was told to make an appointment for some tests, which involved ringing what seemed to be a central phone number for half of northern England and waiting for ages whilst an annoying voice told me that I was in a queue, then being asked for a reference which I didn’t have to hand because no-one’d told me that I needed it, then, when I found the reference, being asked what the tests were for.  Er, shouldn’t they have known that?

And now Facebook and Whatsapp, my two support mechanisms, have both gone down.  I thought at first that this was a problem with my phone and completely freaked out, but it turned out that it was a general worldwide problem.   Which has not yet been resolved.


Tuesday, October 5th

Hooray, Facebook and Whatsapp are working again … although notifications of new group posts on Facebook aren’t coming up.

In the middle of everything else, we’ve got these arrogant spoilt brats from “Insulate Britain”, none of whom appear to work for a living, blocking main roads and motorways.  Last week, they blocked the road’s near my elder nephew’s school, meaning that some of the school buses were stuck for over 4 hours.  Yesterday, they actually stopped an ambulance which was taking an elderly lady to hospital.  Angry people got out of their vehicles and dragged them away, to let the ambulance through, but where on earth were the police?   Later, the ringleader told a reporter that he wouldn’t have cared if the patient had died.  Priti Patel’s said that something’s going to be done about it, but when?

Back with Covid news, a report’s suggested that Covid was “spreading aggressively” in Wuhan in the summer of 2019, and that the Chinese authorities must have known about it because spending on PCR tests drastically increased long before they reported the issue to the WHO.  Nothing would surprise me, but it’s too late to do anything about it now.


Wednesday, October 6th

They said that my blood tests were OK but to have them redone in 4 weeks’ time.  But the receptionist didn’t know why, and you can’t get to speak to a doctor or nurse, and I was already stressed because it took so long to get through on the phone, so I’m even more stressed now.

Boris’s conference speech barely mentioned Covid.  Nor did Keir Starmer’s.  But Wales is introducing Covid passports for certain things, and this nightmare with tests for going abroad is still ongoing.


Thursday, October 7th

Not much Covid talk at the moment, but I really do think that there’s a herd immunity thing going on.  The city centre (where rates hit the national headlines a year ago), Rochdale (which sparked the original local restrictions last July) and Bolton (where all the Delta variant stuff kicked off) now have the lowest rates in the area … whereas Trafford, which was demanding to be put in a separate tier last autumn, has now got rates 2.5 times those of the city centre.  Looking further afield, Herefordshire, which was practically the last part of England to be in Tier 1, now has amongst the highest rates in the country.  Rates generally seem quite high to those in other countries, which isn’t great, but they’re not getting any worse.  More importantly, death and hospitalisation numbers aren’t getting any worse.

There is some talk going on about footballers not being vaccinated.  It’s not entirely clear why, but vaccination rates amongst footballers do seem to be quite low.


Friday, October 8th

I hate waiting for medical tests.  But it’s a position which an awful of people are in at the moment, due to the backlog caused by Covid.  There are also concerns about how many people could get flu this winter.  We’ll see.

The red list is being reduced to 7 countries, all in Central/South America or the Caribbean.


Saturday, October 9th 

I am really sick of the media trying to whip up panic over everything.  Didn’t they cause enough trouble with the petrol panic?   To watch Sky News for half an hour, you’d think that the end of the world was nigh!

Today has been a rather boring day, largely spent clearing out cupboards.  When I say “clearing out”, I mostly mean taking stuff out, reflecting on the fact that I’ve had it for 15 years and never used it, then putting it back in because it might come in useful one day.

And what on earth is going on at schools in the borough of Trafford?  Infection rates there have sky-rocketed, and are way higher than they are anywhere else in the area.

On a happier note, we beat Andorra 5-0.


Sunday, October 10th

Apart from the nightmare infection rate in Trafford, no-one’s talking much about Covid.

Today was a lovely sunny day, so I decided to go to Windermere: it’ll be the last chance I get for a while now.   It was totally irresponsible of me, because I am now behind with a million and one other things, but it was lovely!

Left to right – Bowness, Ambleside, then Sizergh Castle on the way home.


Freedom? Week 11, September 27th to October 3rd 2021 inclusive

Monday, September 27th

The head of the Petrol Retailers’ Association has said that the panic-buying’s been caused by someone from the Road Haulage Association leaking selected notes from a confidential meeting, making it sound like there were fuel shortages when there weren’t.  Grant Shapps has said the same.   The Mail on Sunday has gone further, and said that the leak came from an ex-BBC man, now at the Road Haulage Association, who’s an arch Remoaner and wanted to cause a crisis and then try to blame it on Brexit.  All this talk of conspiracies sounds like something from the 1670s, but, quite frankly, it’s probably true.  Could we please get past all this polarisation over Brexit?  The referendum was 5 1/2 years ago, for crying out loud!   The decision’s been made.  OK, some people don’t like it, but stop moaning and move on.  Meanwhile, I hope whoever’s responsible is pleased with themselves for all the trouble they’ve caused.

Mum and Dad are having their Covid boosters on Sunday, and probably their flu vaccines at the same time.  That’s all been organised very quickly and efficiently.


Tuesday, September 28th

A lot of my elder nephew’s friends have tested positive over the past few weeks, but he hasn’t … which seemed a bit odd.  The only logical explanation, unless he was a medical miracle, was that he’d had it asymptomatically in the holidays, when he wasn’t being tested regularly.  So he’s had an antibody test, and, sure enough, he’s got antibodies.  There’s no way now of knowing when he had it, and, from our point of view, it’s good news, because it means he shouldn’t get it again any time soon.  But it really makes you wonder how many other people have had it without ever knowing, especially in the early days when there wasn’t the capacity to test anyone unless they were really ill.  I still wonder if I might have had it early last year, when I felt rough for several days but, at the time, thought it was just AN winter bug, because no-one was really talking about Covid then.  Who knows?

We’re being told that the fuel shortages are easing.  However, the petrol station at Tesco was shut this morning, and the one opposite all the office has been closed all day.  The media are busily claiming that ambulances could run out of fuel, schools could have to close if teachers can’t get to work (can teachers not use buses?), etc etc, which isn’t helping.  Boris seemed to have gone to ground until he finally emerged this evening, and Grant Shapps does nothing other than bleat that everyone needs to stop panicking.  As for the Opposition, they seem more concerned with whether or not men can have cervixes than issues which actually bother the general public.  I’m not impressed with any of them.

And I really wish that I could go back to WFH full time.  Most of my anxiety symptoms have worsened considerably since being trapped in the office again.

Roger Hunt’s died.  So many iconic footballers have died over the past couple of years.


Wednesday, September 29th

FFS!   I tried to make a doctor’s appointment today.  The online system wouldn’t let you book anything.  It took me ages to get through on the phone, and a stroppy receptionist then told me that a) you could only book a phone consultation, not an in person appointment, and b) you could only book on the day, and there were no appointments left today.   WTF?   I wasn’t expecting an appointment today: I was expecting to book one for next week.  No.  You can now only book one on the day.   Er, why?   Because they can’t be sure if doctors’ll be in tomorrow or not “because of Covid”.  I have never heard such rubbish in my life.  The pingdemic is over.  Hardly anyone is off work because of Covid.  You may as well say that you can’t book an appointment in case the doctor gets run over by a bus on their way home tonight.  You can book appointments with dentists and opticians, and indeed with hairdressers, electricians, bank managers or anyone else – this is just a stupid excuse.  Ring in the morning and hope you get luckier then.  Well, I’ve got to go to work tomorrow, so I can’t ring first thing because I’ll be on my way to work.

And I can’t have a phone consultation at work: there’s nowhere private to go and I don’t really want to be discussing medical problems with other people wandering in and out of the room.  If they could guarantee that they’d ring at a definite time, I could go out for a bit, but they don’t – they say something like “after 11”, and then it could be any time.  Are people supposed to walk out of a shop full of people, or a classroom of young kids, or a meeting with a client, to answer the phone?  And that’s if there even is anywhere private to go.

I’m absolutely fuming.  It’s bad enough that organisations like energy companies are using Covid as an excuse for bad service, but for doctors to be treating people like this is a disgrace.  NHS England has actually told GPs that they need to offer face to face appointments, and the issue’s been raised in the House of Commons and the Health Secretary’s backed up what NHS England have said, but it appears that GPs aren’t listening.  If they’d at least guarantee a day, I could make a phone appointment for a day when I’m WFH, but they won’t.

I was so upset that I tried to submit a comment on the “contact us” section of the surgery website … only to get a message that the digital service was unavailable and that the only way to express concerns was to ring the number I’d just spent an hour getting through to and complain to the stroppy receptionist!


Later – wa-hey!!  Injury time goal!  Ronaldo, of course.  United 2-1 Villarreal!


Thursday, September 30th

I was so upset yesterday that I wrote a letter to the surgery “expressing my concerns”, left a stroppy note on their anonymous feedback section once it started working again, and even wrote a letter to my MP.  I’m actually rather glad that I did this because, coincidentally, figures were released today showing that people in many parts of the country are having significant problems getting to see a GP, and that this is having a knock-on effect on A&E because people are going to their local A&E in desperation.  The BBC’s interviewed some people on the subject, and, basically, patients want to go back to a normal appointments system but doctors don’t/won’t.

However, I tried the surgery again today, and got put through to a different receptionist, who was absolutely lovely and said that I could come in to see the practice nurse, in person, on Monday morning.   Well, why couldn’t the stroppy madam who answered the phone yesterday have said that?!

The local petrol stations seem to be functioning again.

And the furlough scheme ends today.

And it is raining.  A lot.


Friday, October 1st

My ticket for the musical I’m going to in three weeks’ time came.  Along with a note saying that you need a Covid pass to get into the Palace Theatre.  All theatres are making their own rules.  You do need a pass for the Palace Theatre and the Opera House, but you don’t for the Lowry.

Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi’s baby is called Sienna Elizabeth.  Not bad.

Covid rates are very high amongst secondary school kids, although less so amongst other age groups.

It is cold.  But it is October.

And Australia’s partially reopening its borders, at last.


Saturday, October 2nd

FFS.  Drew 1-1 at home to Everton.  Our league season is really going wrong with a vengeance.  With all due respect to Everton.

Petrol stations here have all got fuel again.  But those in South East England haven’t.

And the Australian state of Victoria’s making it mandatory for professional athletes to be vaccinated.  I haven’t heard any anti-vaxxer comments from any of the England cricket players likely to be in the Ashes squad, but it’s no secret that certain top tennis players aren’t keen on being vaccinated, and they’re now going to have to make a choice between getting jabbed and missing the Australian Open.  Interesting development.   Meanwhile, a pill which helps reduce the effects of Covid is sounding promising.


Sunday, October 3rd

Hooray, at last, we can see the new James Bond film, No Time To Die!  I went this morning, and it really was quite busy for a Sunday morning.   Let’s hope that this can revive the cinema industry.  Then I went to The Vienna Coffee House, and it was lovely to see it to busy after all its struggles last year.  Whilst I was so near the Midland, where Boris & co are staying for the Tory party conference, I went over for a nose, but there was nothing to see except a load of police and a few people waving placards about various things.

It’s the Manchester Marathon next week. and 80,000 people took part in the London Marathon today.  Rather odd having them in October, but better late than never!

Freedom? Week 10, September 20th to 26th 2021 inclusive

Monday, September 20th

Hooray!   The Americans are finally lifting their travel ban, for fully-vaccinated visitors from the UK and various other countries.  But still want a load of tests doing.  A new vaccine’s being tested … in Bolton.  And Princess Beatrice has had a baby girl.

Today, I went to Tenby, and over to Caldey Island on the ferry – very exciting due to the Chalet School connections, and I struck lucky and got a really lovely sunny day.

Lots of English tourists there, and lots of signs reminding people that Welsh rules are different.  It really would be a lot easier if we all had the same rules!


Tuesday, September 21st

Infection rates are down in all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.  There are quite major variations even within the local area, but the panic merchants who were claiming that we’d be seeing 50 zillion cases a day within 5 minutes of lifting restrictions have gone quiet now.  However, the virus certainly isn’t going away, and … well, it’s going to be an ongoing problem.

I went to Pembroke Castle, birthplace of Henry VII, this morning, and then to the Bosherston Lily Ponds.

Lovely day again.  And I went in the pool and jacuzzi at the leisure club adjacent to the hotel.  Going again on Friday.  You have to book slots, but it wasn’t that busy.


Wednesday, September 22nd

Bah.  Lost to West Ham in the Carabao Cup.  1-0.  Took a chance and put the reserves out.

Booster jabs for over 80s are now being given.   Scottish tourism officials are hitting the roof because  Sturgeon’s refusing to drop the PCR tests.   And the German government’s going to withhold sick pay from people who aren’t vaccinated and have to self-isolate.  So they just won’t self-isolate, will they?   Stupid idea!    Not that I’ve got a better one, but still.

I went into Carmarthen today, then to Dinewfr Park, and Carreg Cennin.  There was some rain, but, thankfully, nothing major!


Thursday, September 23rd

A Covid row’s broken out over Strictly Come Dancing, of all things.  It seems that three of the professional dancers haven’t been vaccinated, and that their dance partners weren’t told about it and aren’t very pleased.   This really is a difficult issue.  It’s not compulsory to be vaccinated, and I don’t think anyone really wants to go down the Italian route of saying that people in pretty much any job need a Covid pass, but is it fair for someone working in close proximity to others to be putting them at additional risk?

It rained quite heavily this morning, but turned out nice later on.  I went to the Roman gold mines at Dolaucothi, then to the Welsh National Botanic Gardens.


Friday, September 24th

I went to Cardigan Castle this morning, then to St David’s, and then called in at Laugharne on the way back.   Nice sunny day.

Fortunately, I was able to fill my car up for the journey home.  Thanks to the media whipping up a panic over fuel shortages, after a very small number of petrol stations had to close temporarily whilst awaiting deliveries – due to the shortage of HGV drivers, not a shortage of fuel – , everyone’s panic-buying.  It’s the toilet roll saga all over again – people start panic-buying, the media show pictures of long queues (the irresponsible BBC, ITN and Sky are actually encouraging people to send in pictures of queues), everyone else then panics, places run out, the panic spirals …. .  There was a bit of a queue at the station near St Clears when I got back, but nothing major, but it’s really not good in more densely-populated areas, especially for those people whose vehicles run on diesel rather than petrol.  I believe that some garages at home are out of fuel, although others are open, and my sister’s said that it’s an absolute nightmare in London, with most filling stations closed.


Saturday, September 25th

I’ve filled up again … I had a long drive from St Clears to Chepstow (lovely castle, closely associated with William Marshal, and right on the border, with a sign on one side of the bridge over the Wye welcoming you to Gloucestershire, England, and a sign on the other welcoming you to Monmouthshire, Wales!), then to Tintern Abbey, and then on to Hay-on-Wye, where I’m staying overnight after a very nice afternoon spent looking round bookshops.  Hay’s on the border, too – most of the town’s in Powys, Wales, but the first bookshop I went to was in Herefordshire, England!    Wet early on, but dried up later, and tomorrow’s looking nice and sunny.

Anyway, there was a petrol station not far from Hay, with no queue.  I don’t think it had any diesel, but it certainly had petrol.  It’s quite bad in some urban areas, though.  And no-one’s doing anything about it.  Telling people not to panic buy doesn’t work.

And we lost 1-0 at home to Villa, to a late goal, after we’d missed a penalty.  The wheels seem to be coming off this week :-(.


Sunday, September 26th

I’m home!   Via Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury.  I’ve now got that awful post-holiday feeling of having a mountain of ironing to do and having to go and be trapped in a depressing office tomorrow, but it was a lovely holiday.

Infection rates are up again in most of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.   Ups, downs … but nothing’s changed significantly for weeks.  And there’ve been protests in both Australia and the Netherlands in relation to vaccination rules.   And the USA thrashed Europe in the Ryder Cup 😦 .

And the petrol crisis is getting worse.  Could someone please do something?

Freedom? Week 9, September 13th to 19th 2021 inclusive

Monday, September 13th

The UK’s Chief Medical Officers have recommended that all kids aged between 12 and 15 be offered one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.  Bring it on!   Several of my elder nephew (12, nearly 13)’s friends have tested positive, and they only went back to school last week.  Kids cannot keep having to miss school.  And, in the cases of those kids too young to be left home alone all day, parents cannot keep having to miss work.  And there’s all the general worry in case a kid tests positive just before a holiday, a family celebration or anything else important.

The deal between the UK and the Valneva vaccine company has apparently been scrapped, but no-one seems very bothered about it.

In other news, CADW, the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage, release tickets every Monday.  So the tickets for next week should have been released today.  But they weren’t,  Because they’re “implementing a new system”, I was told, and it’d gone wrong.  Try again tomorrow.  OK.  Later, I looked on their Facebook page, and it said – presumably news to their own staff – that the reason you couldn’t book online tickets was that they were upgrading systems at their sites and would be closing certain sites on certain dates.  I don’t believe this.  If it said which sites were closed when, I could perhaps try to rejig my plans, but it doesn’t.  It just says that the list will follow.  Well, when?  It’s now only 4 working days until next week.  How on earth could they have left it till now to say something?   I’m really, really annoyed.   You can’t just do this with no notice.

And OMG, what happened last night?   Well done Daniil Medvedev.  Did the pressure get to Nole, like it keeps gettiing to Serena?  Whatever, congratulations to Daniil.


Tuesday, September 14th

Lots of announcements today:

`1.  Booster jabs for everyone in the top 9 groups – i.e. frontline health and care workers, clinically vulnerable people and anyone else over 50 – and also for anyone else who lives with a clinically vulnerable person.   One Pfizer dose or half a Moderna dose.  Some talk of flu jabs being given at the same time, to reduce pressure on NHS resources, but I can’t see that happening.

2.  Lots of graphs showing how unvaccinated people are far more likely to end up in hospital, or worse, than vaccinated people.  Sadly, I doubt that anti-vaxxers will have been watching the press conference.

3. There’s been some talk about a “bonfire of Covid regulations” and also changes to travel regulations, but nothing’s been said about any of that yet.  What we were told was that, if things get worse, we’ll move to “Plan B”, which will initially involve a return to compulsory mask-wearing, the introduction of vaccine passports, and the reintroduction of the home working directive.

4.  Some moaning about the lack of clarity about exactly what would be considered bad enough to trigger a move to Plan B … but how long’s a piece of string?

5.  We’re being told that the number of people in the workforce is now back to pre-pandemic levels.  There are now over 1 million job vacancies, and we need to try to sort things so that unemployed people are matched to vacancies.

6. The Premier League’s said that people will need vaccine passports for matches, even though the vaccine passport plan’s been scrapped.  This is silly now.   Too many sets of rules.  And what about Cup matches involving PL clubs?!

In other news:

  1.  CADW’s website still doesn’t say which places will be closed next week.  I rang up, and was told that the people in the office didn’t know either.  This is just ridiculous.  However, I then tried Facebook Messenger, which seems to go through to a different department, and was assured that only Conwy would be closed.  So I should hopefully be OK – but loads of people on holiday in Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Rhos-on-Sea etc will be affected.
  2. To add to my million and one other stresses – and nothing stresses me out like techno-stress – I’ve had an e-mail from BT, informing me that they will be disconnecting everyone’s landlines and that, to get your phone access back, you will have to connect your phone to your broadband hub.  I can see the hole, so hopefully it will be OK, but it might not be.  And thankfully my equipment’s up to date, due to the Great Lightning Disaster last year, but other people will have to get theirs replaced.  Medical pendants, panic alarms, security systems connected to phones, etc, will all be affected, and you’ll have to sort them out yourself.  And, once the digital thing’s set up, if there’s a power cut or a broadband outage then you won’t even be able to dial 999 on your landline.  Just like that.  When analogue TV was disconnected, we were warned months in advance, given helpline numbers, and given an exact date.  This was just an e-mail out of the blue, and all it says is “soon”.  Hopefully *not* whilst I’m away … but surely not as soon as next week, because they must realise that people may need time to get new stuff etc.  I am not happy at all.
  3. With all due respect to Young Boys, they were meant to be the weakest team in the group … but we (not helped by Wan-Bissaka getting himself off) managed to lose 2-1 in Bern, conceding a second goal in injury time, so the Champions League is already looking like a struggle.  That’ll teach me to say that we’d got a decent draw 😦 .


Wednesday, September 15th

I have had it up to here with CADW.  Having assured me that only Conwy would be closed, and then, when I asked if they could confirm that Chepstow and Caerphilly definitely wouldn’t be closed, assured me that Chepstow and Caerphilly definitely wouldn’t be closed, they have now said that Caerphilly will be closed.   FFS, I only asked yesterday!   It should be open again by Thursday, but they can’t guarantee it because their computer upgrades might go wrong.  So, rather than stress all week, I’ve decided to go to Caerphilly on Sunday, before the closures start.  But I had booked Dolaucothi for Sunday, so will now need to contact the National Trust and apologise profusely for cancelling at short notice, and explain that I’ve rebooked it for Thursday.   And I’ve now got a long drive on Sunday, after a long drive on Saturday and with a late start because hotel breakfast is late on Sunday.  I am not impressed.  Nor are several other people who’ve posted comments on CADW’s Facebook page.  4 1/2 days is not exactly a great deal of notice.

There’s been a Cabinet reshuffle.

And there’s a lot of talk going on about WFH.  Bring it on!!


Thursday, September 16th

Wa-hey!!!  The council have said that the Christmas markets can go ahead.  Details to follow.  Yay!!

The first booster jabs were given today.  That was quick!   Frontline health and care workers first.  Also, care home workers will be required to be fully vaccinated from 8 weeks from today, so today’s the last day for them to get their first jab.   This rule’s already in force in France and some other countries, and some anti-vaxxer staff have been suspended from their jobs.

Cases are actually falling a bit, with deaths and hospitalisations pretty much stable.

And Italy’s making it compulsory for all workers (well, all legal workers) to carry Covid passes.   I have to say that I think that’s a bit OTT.


Friday, September 17th

Hooray!!!   For fully-vaccinated people, pre-departure tests on returning from abroad will be abolished at some point in October.   Tests will still be needed on day 2 after returning, although it’ll be a lateral flow test, not a PCR test, but you’re home by then.  It’s all too late for me to arrange anything for this year, but fingers crossed for next year.  Of course, foreign countries have their own requirements, but we can’t do much about those.  And the “traffic light” system’s being scrapped – it’ll be red list and everywhere else.  Rules for non-vaccinated people are stricter, but you make your choice.

Covid passes are being brought in in Wales.  For big events, but I think the exact rules are different from those in Scotland.  So we’ve now got 3 sets of rules.  I do understand about the devolved administrations, but I also understand that, for many people living in Wales, their nearest big city or town is in England, and that all these different rules are very confusing.

Some financial news from Old Trafford – in the 12 months to 30 June, United made £254.8m from broadcasters, 81.7% up on the previous year’s £140.2m, whereas matchday revenues fell from £89.8m to £7.1m.

Well, fingers crossed, off to Wales tomorrow.


Saturday, September 18th

Day 1 of my “staycation” in Wales!   I drove to Powis Castle, then to Llandovery, then to Aberglasney Gardens, and then to my base at St Clears, near Carmarthen.

Powis Castle:

As much as I get the whole thing with the devolved administrations, it really is confusing having different sets of rules in different parts of the UK.   But anyway.  And your room doesn’t get made up during your stay, “because of Covid”.  I hate to be cynical, but *is* that because of Covid or is it to reduce the hotel’s workload?!   But anyway.  It’s a really nice place.  And, apart from one trip to a garage in Aberystwyth when I was a kid (long story to do with my dad’s car!), and a visit to the Millennium Stadium for the League Cup final whilst Wembley was being redeveloped, I’ve never been to South Wales before!

Some issues with gas supplies now.  It’s partly just bad luck – there’s been a fire at a pipeline, and also Russia’s being awkward.  But it’s also because of maintenance on North Sea platforms, which was delayed due to lockdown.  Obviously it’s easy to be wise after the event, but maintenance on gas platforms and tests for HGV drivers should really have been classed as essential, and carried on.


Sunday, September 19th

United 2-1 West Ham!    But very sad to hear of the deaths of Jimmy Greaves and of John “Boycie” Challis.

I went to Caerphilly Castle today.  Lovely looking castle!   It’s a ruin, but it’s the second biggest castle in the UK: only Windsor’s bigger.

Then to Laugharne, where Dylan Thomas lived.  This is another ruined castle, not his house!   Then to Pendine beach.

“Staycations” are still very much a thing – there are lots of people about.  I’ve heard accents from various parts of England, and also Scotland, as well as Wales.   And a gold star for the weather!