Confused of Manchester … are we all with this?

  OK, folks.  From next Tuesday, beauty salons offering things like eyebrow threading, and casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres, and indoor play areas including soft play areas will be able to reopen round here.  Unless you live in Bolton (10 miles away), in which case they won’t.  But you still won’t be able to meet people in houses or gardens, only in the park.  Unless you live in Stockport (15 miles away) or Wigan (18 miles away) in which case you can meet up in houses or gardens.  If you live in Oldham (10 miles away in another direction) or Blackburn (22 miles away), you still won’t be able to meet people anywhere, even in the park.   But you’ll be able to have your eyebrows threaded – the no threading thing only applies to Bolton.  And swimming pools and gyms in Blackburn will be able to reopen.  They’re already open everywhere else.  Except Leicester.

In Corby, the infection rate is double the rate in our borough, but they’re not under restrictions.  But we are.

In Bolton (10 miles away) and Trafford (6 miles away), restrictions were lifted at midnight on Wednesday but re-imposed by midday.   To be fair to the authorities, the infection rate in Bolton had plummeted and the council there had asked for the local lockdown to be ended.  Then it suddenly sky-rocketed and is now the highest in the country.  No-one seems to have a clue how things turned round so quickly.  In Trafford, the Labour councillors and the Conservative MP for Sale and Altrincham are busy squabbling, all apparently far more interested in scoring points off each other than in what’s best for local communities.

And does anyone know what the situation is if you live on the outskirts of Chester (where Portugal isn’t on the quarantine list) but work 10 miles away in Wrexham (where Portugal is on the quarantine list) and are flying back from the Algarve tomorrow?  Can you go to work or not?  Anyone know?  I’m sure I don’t.

I’m not really having a go at the authorities.  I understand that the idea is to keep things local – and I moaned like mad when all 10 boroughs were put under restrictions because Oldham had high infection rates.   Oh, except if we’re talking abroad, where a rise in cases in one part of a country means that the entire country’s shoved on the quarantine list.  But it’s so bloody confusing that no-one’s sure what they’re allowed to do and what they’re not.  And I object strongly to the fact that restrictions are in place here when they aren’t in Corby, Middlesbrough and various other places where the infection rates are higher.  That’s not fair.

Rates in our borough had fallen.  But they’ve gone up a bit.   Trafford, Salford and Tameside are apparently all at risk of becoming “hotspots”.  I can’t see a way out of this.  All I can think is that London, like Italy, is doing better because it was further along “the curve” when restrictions were lifted, and that nowhere else is as densely populated.

And I don’t want to get my eyebrows threaded.  Nor do I want to go to a casino, a soft play centre, a bowling alley or an ice rink.  I want to be able to meet up with my family and friends in a house or garden.  Please, everyone, wear masks, wash your hands, and, above all, don’t meet up in big groups, because that seems to be what’s causing the problem.

And the actual numbers are so small anyway.  12 cases in our entire suburb, in one week.  And, because of that, this.  How long can we go on imposing restrictions because of so few cases, and with, thankfully, hardly anyone seriously ill?

Sweden, which never went into lockdown, now has the lowest infection rate in Europe.  Spain, which probably had the strictest lockdown, has by far the highest.  I’d assumed that that was due to tourists, but apparently a lot of it’s due to itinerant fruit pickers not being provided with decent accommodation and therefore being unable to observe social distancing.  In France, the virus is apparently spreading around nudist camps.

Even in areas which aren’t under local lockdown restrictions, everyone’s lost track of what they are and aren’t allowed to do.

Is a puzzlement …

 

Lockdown Week 15 – June 29th to July 5th 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 29th

Today should have been the first day of Wimbledon.  But there is no tennis, it has poured down nearly all day – I went out to the park, and later for a short walk, and both times it started pouring down whilst I was out, and was so windy that it was hard to keep my brolly up – and the temperature’s more suited to November than June.  Bah!  And I’m fed up of not knowing when online booking for things will open, and worrying that I’ll miss it.  And it looks as if poor Leicester will have to keep stricter regulations for another couple of weeks.

On a happier note, my favourite café is reopening this weekend!  And my elder nephew went back to school today – mornings only, reams of paperwork, and there are only three weeks of the academic year left anyway, but it’s a start!

 

Tuesday, June 30th

Another cold, wet day.  I’ve decided that I need to cancel my booking for Japan … I’m sad about it, but, even if the trip goes ahead, it’s not the time for long-distance travel.  I made a list of European trips as an alternative, but they all say that they’re only going with Lufthansa so I’d have to change in Germany, which is ridiculous because Jet2.com will be flying from Manchester to Rome and Venice by then, and the tour company’s always used them before.  I sent an e-mail asking about all this, but the person I’ve been dealing with is off this week, so I re-sent it to the general address, and no-one’s answered (yet).  My sister is stressed out trying to cancel a holiday to America.

Off to the frozen yoghurt shop, then it’s United v Brighton.

Getting very little contact from work, and I don’t think clients are checking work e-mails.

 

Wednesday, July 1st

The holiday company have not got back to me.  The weight I somehow put on overnight last week has not come off.  Booking for something I wanted to book is opening on Friday … when I can’t watch the website because I’ve got the chiropodist.  And I went into the office this morning and felt really uncomfortable being there.  And there is no Wimbledon.  And Wigan Athletic have gone into administration.

On the plus side, we beat Brighton last night, the dental surgery has finally reopened, and it has stopped raining.

I just can’t see an end to this.  Leicester’s back in lockdown.  We’re still registering nearly 200 deaths a day.  WHY?  Nowhere else is.  Death rates are supposed to be back to normal, so it doesn’t make any sense.  Melbourne’s also back in lockdown, the situation in the US is bad, it’s bad in India too, and the US has bought up practically the entire global supply of remdesivir.  When is this nightmare ever, ever going to end?

 

Thursday, July 2nd

The French Open is apparently going to have stadia 60% full!  Which will be the same as usual, as the prawn croissant brigade only ever take their seats for Rafa, Roger, Jo or Gael!!  I’d assumed it’d be behind closed doors.

The holiday company have sent me an e-mail saying they’ll get back to me.  They haven’t done.  And the office laptop had a huge strop this morning and lost the IP address for the remote connection, although it’s working now.

And it managed to stay dry whilst I was in the park today, which was good.

I feel as if there should be an air of excitement ahead of pubs etc reopening, but the Leicester lockdown and the situation in America have really cast a wet blanket over everything.  And cases are quite high in several other places, many of which are local.  The authorities will not do anything about community transmission because they’re more afraid of being accused of racism than they are of the danger to public health.  So everyone’s feeling a bit despondent … and it’s all so political, with so many people more concerned about criticising the government than about trying to find solutions.

And, as much as I accept that it’s a nightmare, every solution raises new problems.  For example, it’s been suggested that schools should vary starting times, so that there aren’t hordes of kids all streaming in through the doors and hanging around in the cloakroom/locker areas at once.  That makes sense.  But it won’t fit in with transport timetables, especially for private schools where a lot of kids get school buses, or in rural areas where buses only run once an hour.  And what about primary schools, where most kids are dropped off by parents, who may have 2 or 3 kids in different academic years?  But school attendance will be mandatory again from September, unless there are very good medical reasons.

 

Friday, July 3rd

I don’t know what I’m more sick of, this horrible depressing rain or being chained to the office computer.  But, on the positive side, I’ve got a place on a Windermere Lake Cruise steamer for next Saturday!   They actually open tomorrow, but a) the forecast’s vile and b) I’d already booked Fountains Abbey.  I’ve waited nearly 4 months: I suppose I can wait another week.

The air bridges have been announced, but the holiday company have not got back to me.

I went to the chiropodist this morning.  The magazines in reception have been replaced by pictures of feet!  And the chiropodist was wearing a mask and gown.  And I had to leave by a side door!

 

Super Saturday, July 4th

This is so-called “Super Saturday”, when hairdressers, pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels can reopen.  The doom merchants are insisting that zillions of people will be falling down drunk all over the country and the virus will spread like wildfire, but I can’t see it.  Observed en route to Fountains Abbey – a lot of caravans heading for the coast, and a long queue outside a barber’s shop.  I left here in torrential rain, but it was dry in Ripon, and I had a really nice time.  And, hooray, the visitor centre tea room (although sadly not the lakeside tea room) was open (for takeaways), and they had lovely National Trust scones, straight out of the oven!

It was pouring down when I got home, but dried up later, when I went for a late walk in the park.  The farm centre cafe’s now reopened, the ice cream vans are back, and, hooray, some of the toilets have reopened!!

This was after United v Bournemouth.  We won 5-2!   Really exciting, eventful match … such a shame that we couldn’t be there in person to watch it, but still.  We’ve restarted well … but it’s no good unless someone else slips up.

I am due at the hairdresser’s at 8am tomorrow.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be going anywhere!

 

Sunday, July 5th

Hooray, I have had my hair cut and coloured!  I actually look like me again!  It was a bit weird with me in a mask and my hairdresser in a visor, and not being able to have a cup of tea, but it was the usual nice friendly atmosphere.  I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for nearly 20 years.  The salon’s opening 7 days a week, and extra hours each day, for now, and anyone who’s too nervous to go in the main salon can have their hair done in a room upstairs which isn’t usually used.

Later, I went into town, to my favourite café, The Vienna Coffee House, which reopened yesterday.

It was quiet … which was nice for me, because my main issue with going to cafes/pubs/restaurants is the fear of being caught by “test and trace”, and I certainly won’t be going into one during the three weeks before my “staycation”, but not so for them.  It’s early days, though, and town was certainly much busier than it was the last time I went.  You do have to fear for businesses, though, and for the transport networks too, with theatres still closed, no live music, and no crowds at football matches.  This rotten weather isn’t helping – London’s been busier, because it’s been nice there, but it’s been very windy here, and now it’s raining again.  It rained whilst I was on my way back from the park, too.  Bah!

Oh well.  We do need to try to stay positive.  I don’t watch BBC News any more, because of its negative attitude and the way it criticises the Government’s every move, but now Sky News is getting as bad!   Negativity won’t help.

I still can’t quite believe that all this is happening.  My admiration for the generations who lived through the world wars, especially, because of the Blitz,  the Second World War, was always high, but it’s now higher than ever.   Our lives have been turned upside down.

But, hey, hairdressers are open, and cafes are open!  Some places of worship have reopened, and some weddings have taken place.  It’s just all so far from normal.  I want normal back.

 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown Week 14 – June 22nd to 28th 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 22nd

Hooray, the Lakeside Café in Heaton Park has reopened!  Although that means that, for two days in a row, my diet has gone for a Burton due to “supporting local businesses”!

I’d like to book a fruit picking slot for the weekend, but they’re only releasing them one day at a time, and the ones released today for Wednesday apparently sold out within 25 minutes.  They’re not released at any particular time, so I think you just have to strike lucky and check the website at a good time!   I’m glad that the lovely fruit farm’s doing so well, but it’s rather frustrating!

Boris will be making some Big Announcements tomorrow.  These had better include confirmation that hairdressers can reopen a week on Saturday!

 

Tuesday, June 23rd

Hooray!  Hairdressers are definitely reopening!!  So, as long as it can be done safely, are hotels, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and museums!

I managed to get a fruit picking slot for 5:30pm on Thursday!  Demand’s so high that they’re now doing evening slots.  I’d rather have gone Saturday morning, but decided that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, plus the weather forecast’s good for Thursday.

Had a walk in the park earlier.  Going to the frozen yoghurt shop now.

I’ve been watching some of the tennis – the “Battle of the Brits”.  It’s a shame that it’s not outdoors, on grass, but I understand that they didn’t want to take a chance on the weather.  What a to-do at the Adria Tour, though – Nole, Grisha, Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki, Jelena Djokovic and several other people have all got the virus.  Players were hugging each other at the net, and they all went to a nightclub.  To be fair, they weren’t breaking any restrictions currently in force in Serbia, but it wasn’t exactly very sensible.  Not impressed.

 

Wednesday, June 24th    

Oof, it is too hot, and the pollen count is too high!!  I was going to get a drink at the park café, but the queue was so long that I just didn’t have time to wait, and I felt quite faint by the time I got home!

Went into the office earlier.  As briefly as possible.  Going to Mum and Dad’s to watch United v Sheffield United now.

I had to make a decision about the Lakes, so, as the boats aren’t running and hotels will only be opening one week before the July date I’d booked, I’ve cancelled that and am working with the August date.  Watch it be the wettest and busiest week of the year!!

 

Thursday, June 25th

So hot, again – but I did manage to get a drink in the park today!   There was a right to-do in Bournemouth: the beach got overcrowded and the council declared an emergency.

It’d cooled down by half 5, when I had my strawberry picking slot!   It was really lovely: I had such a nice time, and got plenty of strawberries.  I’ll sort them out tomorrow – by the time I’d got home, had tea, had a bath and washed and dried my too-long hair, I couldn’t be bothered.  So glad I managed to get a slot.  I normally just turn up on a Saturday or Sunday morning, but nothing’s normal this year … but I’m so glad to have been, and so glad for the lovely fruit farm that they’ve been able to open.

We won 3-0 last night.  Liverpool also won, so, if City don’t beat Chelsea, the title’ll be decided tonight.

 

Friday, June 26th

Liverpool are champions, so, go on, congratulations to them.

Today has been one of those days, though:

  1.  I somehow seem to have put on 4lbs in 2 days.  How is that even possible?  That’s WEEKS of work gone. If I’d eaten cake and chocolate for 2 days, I’d have understood, but I bloody haven’t.
  2. I was so upset that I had an ice cream in the park.  Making it worse.
  3.  I was all set to go to the Lakes tomorrow, but now the Met Office says there’s going to be a storm.  3 sunny days whilst I couldn’t go, and now storms forecast for Saturday and torrential rain for Sunday.  I want to cry.
  4.   I am scared because there’s also a risk of storms here.  Not last week again.  Please,  I can’t take it.
  5.   I feel disgusting because my hair is such a mess, and it feels even worse in the heat.

I am trying to be positive, but I can’t think of anything to be positive about.

 

Saturday, June 27th

What an awful day.  Saved only by winning the Cup QF at Norwich, in extra time, with 2 minutes to go!   But it has rained nearly all day, after being so nice during the week when I couldn’t go out.  So bloody frustrating!  I had a nice planned, but had to cancel it – I did manage to get a walk at Alderley Edge (and, hooray, the Wizard Tea Room has reopened, and so have the toilets) before the heavens opened, and to have my scone in the garden during a break between downpours, but it poured down whilst I was halfway round the park, and I am STILL putting on weight for no reason.  How the hell can anyone put on 5lbs in 3 days?  Weeks of work, gone, in 3 days.  If I’d been stuffing myself with cake, I’d get it.  But I haven’t.

There’s a lot of talk about “air bridges”, but I don’t know if coach tours’ll be running, even if I could get a place, and it might only be a few countries anyway.  My sister & co have cancelled the holiday in America they’d booked for August.

 

Sunday, June 28th

So sick of this rain!   However, at least it hasn’t rained all day as was forecast.  I went to the park this morning, then went into town.  A lot of shops are now open, but some haven’t reopened yet, and others are only opening limited hours.  There’s hand sanitiser at the entrances to the Arndale and the entrances to most shops, and some doors are now entrance only and others exit only.  The Arndale toilets are open, but some blocks have only got the ladies’ open and others have only got the gents’ open!   Costa Coffee and other places are open for takeaways, and you can now order at the counter instead of using the app.  There were some queues – people who live in town waiting to go into food shops, and also queues for technology/phone shops, Primark and TK Maxx – but, generally, it was much less busy than a normal Sunday.  But then cafes, cinemas, theatres, pubs etc are all still closed.  There were a few police and security staff on Market Street, but there sometimes are anyway.  Of the food stalls, some were making a big effort and using gloves, and others weren’t.

It was lovely to be in town, though!

Watched the Battle of the Brits final, with Dan Evans beating Kyle Edmund.  And sorted out some photos … watching my hair get worse and worse as the weeks went on.

Going to watch City’s Cup QF now.  Nothing more sure than that we get drawn together!
And there’s talk about a local lockdown being imposed in Leicester.  I do understand the concern – there’s been a spike in cases there – but I would hit the roof if that happened here, and am very sorry for the people there, who must be dreading it happening.

Lockdown Week 13 – June 15th to 21st 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 15th

Non-essential shops can reopen from today.  People queued for an hour outside Primark, TK Maxx and Foot Locker in town.  All right for those who’ve been furloughed, eh?!  I don’t really want to go shopping.  I’d just like to walk round town, be able to go into my favourite cafe for a drink, and not have to worry about where I’m going to find a toilet that’s open!

There’s been some discussion on Facebook today about how everyone is getting ratty.  12 weeks of lockdown, holidays being cancelled, and no sign of things getting back to normal for months to come, plus having your head bitten off for making perfectly polite and reasonable comments about “culture wars”, and tempers are fraying.  Also, it’s very humid today.  We had a storm earlier – luckily, having seen the weather forecast, I’d gone to the park early, so wasn’t out in it – but that hasn’t cleared it.  And my hair is really bothering me in the humid weather.

I went to the office this morning.  Two colleagues also called in whilst I was there.  It was nice to see them.  I am so, so pissed off with the way the bosses are treating us, but it’s nice to catch up with colleagues and see that they’re OK.  Apart from needing haircuts!

 

Tuesday, June 16th

It’s now only 18 days until July 4th.  So are hairdressing salons and hotels reopening then or not?  People need notice.  This really is a shambles.   On a happier note, the free school meals voucher scheme’s to be continued during the summer holidays, following a campaign by Marcus Rashford.  I am so, so proud of him.  No political points-scoring, no name-calling, no insults – just making his point, making it well, and rallying public opinion behind him.  But it doesn’t say much for the Government that a 22-year-old footballer’s got more idea of what needs doing than they have!

It sounds as if an existing drug can help to treat seriously-ill Covid 19 patients, which is good news.  And cinemas could be reopening in mid-July.  But another 233 deaths were reported today.  OK, it’s always bad on a Tuesday, but it shouldn’t still be that bad.

Went to Tesco and M&S this morning, then into the precinct because you can’t get Slimming World chips from anywhere but Iceland!   It was noticeable that the independent cafes were open for takeaways, really trying, whilst the chains were shut.

And the US Open’s going ahead.  Without fans.  So what will Rafa and Nole do?  I desperately want to see some tennis.  I particularly desperately want to see some tennis involving Rafa.  But I do understand the players’ concerns.  No-one’ll be in shape, and they won’t be match-fit even if they’ve been training hard, but we’ve got to start somewhere … but is now the time?

 

Wednesday, June 17th

Oh no.  Everything has gone wrong.  Well, football’s back, tennis is coming back, and I has tea at Mum and Dad’s, so it should have been a wonderful day.  We all sat down for tea together, and watched the football – Villa v Sheff Utd first, then City v Arsenal, with sound effects which were great.  And I had a walk in the park earlier.

BUT – we had the most horrendous storm last night.  I think it was the worst storm I can ever remember.  And the internet went down.  And the phone went fuzzy.  I assumed it was interference, but it didn’t come back on.  I got completely hysterical, and hardly slept all night.  I managed to get through to BT this morning, and they are sending an engineer, but I’m pretty stressed.

I rang work to explain that I wasn’t able to use the remote connection, and said that I’d see what I could do without it: I’ve got some files at home.  The next thing I knew, the boss had rung to try to hassle me into going to sit in the office building, which shouldn’t even be open.  I was really upset.

 

Thursday, June 18th

Oh no.  I do not believe that this is happening.  The engineer came, spent 2 hours messing about, and then said that:

  1.  The hub had been damaged by lightning.  They would send a new hub by post, but, “due to coronavirus”, would not let me book an engineer to set it up and reconnect all my devices.
  2. He had had to rewire the phone.  The phone in the study works – although it’s still fuzzy, but the fuzziness goes off when the hub’s disconnected, and he claimed that it’ll work OK when the new hub’s in – but the phones in the front room and the bedroom are now dead, and I’ve got no answering machine.  He refused to rewire the other phones “because of coronavirus” and said that I would have to order wireless phones and set them up myself.  Amazon Prime are bringing them tomorrow, which is OK, but I am useless with IT.
  3. He would order a new hub, which would be delivered tomorrow.

Later, I got an e-mail to say that the hub would not be coming until Monday.  MONDAY.  And I now don’t know what to believe.  Are they saying Monday to cover themselves?  Am I supposed to wait in for 3 days?  I’ve got a Royal Mail tracking number, but it just says “no information yet”.

I got so upset that Mum and Dad came down to look after me.

My cousin rang, and helped me to set up a mobile hotspot link to my laptop, so that’s something.  Bless her!  However, I doubt it’s strong enough to work on the remote connection to work, plus I assume that will eat all my data.  I told work I had had an anxiety attack (which was sort of true) and would need tomorrow off ill – I felt bad for lying, but I suspect they would have made me take a day’s leave otherwise, and we only get the legal minimum and I urgently need the days for a break later in the year.  But, at that point, I thought the hub was coming tomorrow and I’d be back up and running by Monday.  A lot of friends have said that their bosses would understand that they were hardly to blame for a lightning strike.  Oh, to be so lucky!

I have coped OK until now, but I am really struggling with this.  It’s … well, it is to do with lockdown, because the guy would at least have reconnected the other phones otherwise, and they might have moved themselves to post the hub sooner.

I do not believe that this is happening.  It is a nightmare.  And I should be so happy, because United are playing tomorrow.

And Dame Vera Lynn’s died.  I know she was 103, but she was so important to the country … and she won’t even get a proper funeral, as things are.  RIP a very great lady.

 

Friday, June 19th

The hub is coming tomorrow.  But I have booked a ticket for Brodsworth Hall for tomorrow morning.  Mum and Dad have kindly offered to housesit until I get back.  I’ll have to try not to think about it all until I get back – I’ve really been looking forward to going, and want to be able to enjoy it.

The new phones came.  However, you have to charge them for at least 16 hours before plugging them into the phone socket!  So I have no idea whether or not they work.  And I’m not starting trying in the morning, because I need to leave early to make my timeslot for Brodsworth.  So then I’ll be faced with everything at once.  And I’m catastrophising like mad.

The only good thing about this is that it’s meant I’ve had a break from being chained to the office computers – and I didn’t half need that.  I really, really did need it.

It’s rained nearly all day, again.  I made it to the post office and back, to post a friend’s birthday present, without getting too wet, but had to change my shoes and socks after it poured down during my walk in the park!

And it’s United v Spurs, at Spurs, tonight!!   Our last match was the derby.  78,000 people there.  We beat City.  It was amazing.  And look what’s happened since.  But we’re back!

Saturday, June 20th

Will this nightmare never end?  The new phones do not work.  Well, they light up, and you can ring in and out, but the line’s so fuzzy that you can’t hear much, and the person you’re speaking to can’t hear you.  So is there still a problem with the line, or are the phones – which were brand new, and not cheap – faulty?  Short of asking someone if they’d mind disconnecting their phone so that I can plug these into their socket, or spending yet more money on another lot, I don’t know how to find out.  There’s a “help”line, but it’s not open till Monday, and I’d have to disconnect the phones to ring it because I can’t get to speak to anyone on my mobile, as it’s a “press button 1, press button” thing and doesn’t recognise it from mobiles.  The old phone does work in the socket, which suggests that the line is clear and the phones are faulty, but it seems odd that new phones – and they’re BT’s own make, so they should be decent – don’t work.

On the positive side:

1.  The new hub came.  I managed to connect it, get it going, and get all my devices connected to it.  Phew.  And touch wood!  It is a nightmare having no broadband, especially at the moment when you’ve got to pre-book everything.

2.  United drew 1-1 at Spurs … I’d obviously have preferred a win, but it’s so good to be back!

3. My hairdresser messaged me, to say that, assuming the July 4th reopening date isn’t put back, she’s reopening the salon then.  I’ve got an appointment in July 5th at 8am!  They don’t usually open on Sundays, and they don’t usually open at 8am any day, but everyone wants their hair done!

4.  I had a lovely morning at Brodsworth Hall, and went to the park later.

Brodsworth Hall:

 

Sunday, June 21st

OK, this is weird.  I tried the new phones at several different times yesterday.  They were fuzzy every time.  I tried them again this afternoon and, touch wood, they were OK.  So it’s not that the equipment’s faulty … which could have been solved by getting replacements.  But what on earth is it?  The BT “help” (hah!) pages go on about them using wireless frequencies and something causing interference.  But what?  It said it could be something in a neighbour’s house … like what?  And what do I do if it keeps happening?

Hmm.

Went to Hollingworth Lake this morning.  I walked round once, then Mum and Dad arrived and I walked round again, with them, which was lovely, especially with it being Father’s Day (which ought to be spelt “Fathers’ Day”!).  All the cafes there are open now, although I’m sticking with The Olive and Pickle which I’ve been going to ever since it opened.  The lakeside café in Heaton Park, where I went later, has also reopened.  This is just for takeaways, but it’s something.  A local Italian restaurant’s turned part of the seating space into a deli shop: they obviously don’t expect sit-down service to be resuming any time soon 😦 .   But the papers are all saying that hairdressers will be given the go-ahead for July 4th.  Hooray!!

And so ends Week 13.

 

 

 

The Never Ending Story

  “There upon a rainbow is an answer to a never ending story.”  Well, I wish someone could find that rainbow!   I’ve always wondered how so many people in 1914 could have been so naive as to think that what became the First World War would be over by Christmas.  Well, now I know, and I feel like I owe them an apology.   You know how the pandemic was going to peak over Easter weekend and then we were going to be pretty much back to normal by now, not just here but all over the world?  Yes, about that.  It now looks very unlikely that we’ll be going to Christmas markets and pantomimes this year.  I’ve just been told that my gym won’t be reopening until January.  The local council have said that they’re planning for restrictions to last until next summer.  People are busily cancelling things they’d rebooked for later in the year.  Will the US Open go ahead and, if so, how many players from outside the US will actually play? And as for the holiday chaos …

On a happier note, this may have been the longest league football season in history (I’m saying “league” because we’ve still got the Cup Final, the Europa League and Champions League matches to come), but at least it ended on a happy note – well, insofar as finishing third is a happy note.  The Ingalls family had Christmas in May, in The Long Winter, and United have qualified for the Champions League in July … just as we should have been recovering from Wimbledon and Euro 2020 and settling into the Olympics.  Talk about down the rabbit hole.

I was trying to find out who first said “Hope for the best, plan for the worst,” but it’s one of those quotes which seems to be attributed to a zillion different people.  It seems to be the only way to go at the moment, whomever said it.  Meanwhile, bring on those Europa League matches …

I like Whig history.  I like the idea that things move onwards and upwards.  I’m not very good with this two steps forward, one step back thing that’s going on at the moment.  Or should I be quoting Paula Abdul and saying “one step forward, two steps back,” given the worrying news about the increase in the number of cases in so many countries.  And I’m the world’s greatest overplanner: it’s part of having anxiety.  I plan everything months ahead.  I should have returned yesterday from a holiday which I booked last September.  I chose that week because I didn’t want to go away until after Wimbledon and Euro 2020 but I wanted to be back before the Olympics.  It was going to be the most wonderful summer.  Who the hell saw this coming?  OK, most people in 1914 didn’t see the First World War coming, but, if you look at things carefully, you can see how things were building up to war from well beforehand.  You can’t do that with a pandemic.

There’ve been so many pandemics before.  It’s barely a century since the Spanish flu pandemic.  Look at all the outbreaks of plague over the centuries.  But we didn’t think it could happen.  Even when coronavirus first appeared, who would ever have thought that it would go like this?  SARS, bird flu, Zika virus … they all hit the headlines for a few weeks, if that, then vanished.   I keep thinking about what Ashley Wilkes says in Gone With The Wind, about the Gotterdammerung.  Previous generations faced world wars, the Cold War, the fear of the bomb, but nothing could stop us.  Then this did.

 

Lockdown Week 12 – June 8th to 14th 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 8th

We’ve now had daily death tolls below 100 for two days in a row, but we do keep getting low figures on Sundays and Mondays, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Getting rather upset over my hair.  Please, please, let hairdressers reopen!

And how typical is this?  Rain on Saturday, rain on Sunday, sunshine today.  So annoying!  I had a nice walk in the park, though.  And Beeston Castle and Brodsworth Hall are amongst the first six English Heritage properties reopening!   Like with the NT, you have to book, but still.  I’m getting quite booked up now!

 

Tuesday, June 9th

Death toll back up today.

Tesco and M&S this morning, then called into the office.  Went to the park later.

I feel like the world’s gone stark, raving mad.  Is it this bad everywhere else?   Our dentists are refusing to reopen the surgery. Waterstones are saying that, if you pick up a book and then decide you don’t fancy it, it’ll have to be put into quarantine and then not put back on the shelf for 3 days.  A lot of shops are saying that customers won’t be allowed to use the toilets.  And the left-wing teaching unions seem hell bent on making sure that schools won’t reopen fully until 2021.  In the middle of all this madness, Sadiq Khan’s said that he’s going to review all the statues in London in case any of them are associated with slavery, like statues are anyone’s priority at the moment!   And I don’t feel that anyone’s in charge.  I do understand that Boris has been extremely ill and is probably nowhere near 100% yet, but the daily press conferences are like Play School – guess who’s going to be presenting them today!

In the real world, away from teaching unions and people harping on about statues, café owners are forking out a fortune on having takeaway hatches put into their premises, and desperate people are writing to the local papers to say that they’re going to lose their jobs because they can’t work from home and their children can’t go back to school.  When are hairdressers reopening?  When are hotels reopening?

As Tears for Fears said, it’s a very very mad world!!

 

Wednesday, June 10th

I am trying to ignore the Cultural Revolution brigade.  They clearly know not the first thing about history.  I am also trying to ignore my ill-mannered bosses.

Boris has decided that people living alone need company, so I can now “form a support bubble with another household”.  In English, this means that I can go to Mum and Dad’s for tea.  Also, zoos and safari parks can reopen.  This is all good, but we need hairdressers, hotels, flights without quarantine, and public toilets!  Not to mention schools.

I seem to be losing my way a bit … I had a few bad diet days, and I put on weight so easily that a few bad days equals weight piling on, and then I get demoralised and go off on a downward spiral. And the weather’s miserable, although I managed to get to the park and the frozen yoghurt shop without getting wet,  Sun, come back, please!

 

Thursday, June 11th

I was booked on a webinar from 1pm till 4pm – I mean, what a stupid time?! – so I went to the park early … which made the afternoon drag.  I suppose I could have gone back out later, but a) the weather was miserable and b) I had to clean the kitchen!   I had a grand tidy-up of work stuff whilst “watching” the webinar, so everything looks a lot tidier now.  There are so many half-done jobs which I can’t get the info to finish, and they’re cluttering up the front room!

There was a thing on the BBC website about all the things which workplaces are doing to make team members feel supported etc.  OK, I really do not need to do online yoga sessions with my colleagues, or Great Office Bake Off things, but, in almost 12 weeks, we have not so much as had an e-mail saying “Hope everyone is OK”.  Colleagues and I are asking each other if we are OK, but the bosses just do not give a shit.  It’s not very nice.

On a happier note, La Liga resumes tonight, with the Seville derby.   Leagues 1 and 2 here are being decided on points per game.

 

Friday, June 12th

The UK economy shrank by 20% in April.  We have got to get things open again.  Much more of this and millions of people will be out of work, with the resultant social, physical health and mental health problems, kids’ education will be severely damaged, and communities dependent on tourism will be struggling for years to recover.  But then it’s likely that cases of the virus will spread, as is happening in parts of the US.  It’s just a nightmare.

I got an e-mail from Greater Manchester Transport, saying that there’d be more trams, buses and trains from next week, but that people should try to avoid travelling at rush hour.  What a senseless thing to say!  Before lockdown, getting the tram at rush hour meant paying rip-off peak time fares so that you could stand up all the way into town, clinging for dear life to a strap, with your face squashed into someone’s armpit, watching as people at later stops struggled to board because every square inch of room was taken.  Nobody would have travelled at rush hour if they could possibly have avoided it.  People travel at rush hour because they’ve got no choice.   You might as well send an e-mail saying that people should try to avoid it raining today.

We all need to work together, but, instead, politicians are squabbling, and we’ve now got these ridiculous culture wars being waged again.  Would someone please tell me how removing the “Don’t mention the war” episode of Fawlty Towers from the BBC Archives solves the problem of racism?  And, on top of that, there’s now a row going on over comments made by J K Rowling about transgender women using female-only spaces.

Gah!!

On a happier note, the weather forecast for the weekend has improved.  Walked to Sainsbury’s Local and back earlier, and then to the park later.  I wouldn’t mind nipping out again, maybe for a drink to have in one of the smaller parks, but I’m not sure if I can face the queues!

 

Saturday, June 13th

I have had hugs!  For the first time in nearly three months.  From Mum and Dad.  We are now in a “support bubble”!

Went to Styal/Quarry Bank Mill today.  As with Lyme, I walked round parts of the woods I never usually visit, but, hooray, we were actually allowed in the gardens at Styal.  So lovely to be amongst the flowers.  So beautiful and colourful.  So peaceful and timeless.

It was lovely to be somewhere like that.  Everything’s turned so ugly.  How does removing episodes of Fawlty Towers solve anything, much less vandalising statues of Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria?  What has any of this got to do with dealing with racism?  It’s just the woke brigade virtue-signalling.  And it’s created deep divisions just when we most need unity.  It’s just awful.

Driving past the airport, which is very close to Styal, was upsetting, though.  And it’s really, really hit me today, on this long summer’s day, that this is The Year Without Wimbledon.  I accepted that Indian Wells and Miami weren’t happening.  I accepted that the clay court season wasn’t happening – and that was really hard, when it’s been Rafa’s time from 2005 onwards.  But the thought of a summer without Wimbledon is very sad.

What else?  Went to the park later.  A small ceremony took place at Windsor today, to mark the Queen’s Official Birthday.  There was something very comforting about it.

And it’s so light.  We’re only 8 days off the Longest Day now.

 

Sunday, June 14th

A-ha!  With all due respect to the National Trust, Tatton Park is doing things much better … although, to be fair, it’s an enormous estate, and The Stables tearoom (The Gardener’s Cottage tearoom sadly remains closed)’s got that big outdoor seating area anyway, and they’ve moved some stuff around in the courtyard to make room for more tables and chairs.  Entry to the gardens was by timed ticket only, and you weren’t allowed in the Rose Garden, but it was lovely to walk round.  The weather behaved again, hooray.  We did have two heavy showers later afternoon – whilst I was in the park, typical! – but it was warm, dry and sunny otherwise.

Anyway, to get back to Tatton Park, the estate’s now open to anyone, subject to paying the car parking fee.  So much better than having big estates closed whilst everyone crams into public parks.  And The Stables tearoom’s open for takeaways.  I know I had a scone yesterday, but I couldn’t resist the prospect of my first tea and scone “out” since the middle of March.  It wasn’t particularly fresh, and the choice was very limited, but it was a start.  The NT need to do this too.  And the café in the park should reopen – they’d make a fortune.

So, all in all, it was a lovely visit.

Meanwhile, 6,000 idiots attended “quarantine raves” at Daisy Nook Country Park and Carrington.  FFS.

It’s been a nice weekend.  And the Premier League’s back next week!

And that’s 12 weeks in lockdown … well, semi-lockdown now.

 

Lockdown Week 11 – June 1st to 7th 2020, inclusive

Monday, June 1st

Mum is 75 today, and Dad is 75 tomorrow.  We arranged for afternoon tea to be delivered to them 🙂 .

I feel a bit peeved that, whilst I’m doing as asked and staying away from the Lakes, other people apparently aren’t, and that these include people who’ve dropped litter all over the place and parked badly.  I’d never do that.  I’m trying to find out if the hotel I booked in April is reopening in July or not, but they haven’t answered my e-mail.  I’d kind of like to wait until the boats are running again, but it’ll be busier by August … although it sounds as if it’s quite busy now!  I do wish that places would answer e-mails.

Primary schools were supposed to reopen today, but the ones here haven’t.  Loads of kids in the park!

I messaged my hairdresser to ask if they’d be reopening in July, and she said yes.  I’ve now messaged back to ask when they’ll be taking bookings.  No answer yet.  I don’t want to hassle her, but, if I don’t, other people will, and I don’t want to miss out!

Coronation Street‘s started filming again – hooray!

And such lovely pictures on TV of grandparents meeting their new grandchild for the first time, with the easing of lockdown rules.

 

Tuesday, June 2nd

Back in April, when we had no idea when hotels would reopen but things were getting booked up rapidly as people accepted that their holidays abroad weren’t going to happen, I provisionally booked the Lakes for a week in July and a week in August.  The hotel is hoping to reopen by then … but the July date’s probably too soon – especially as I might not even have been able to get my hair cut by then, and I do not want to go away looking and feeling such a mess – but the thought of another 2 1/2 months without a break is pretty miserable.  And, whichever week I go, it’ll probably rain.  And July’d be quieter.  I wish my hairdresser’d got back to me.  If I could get an appointment booked, I’d feel so much better.

Went into the office this morning, after I’d been to Tesco and M&S.  I think one boss has dimly grasped the fact that people are upset, although it still doesn’t seem to have occurred to him to send round an e-mail asking if everyone’s OK.

Still so hot and sunny!

 

Wednesday, June 3rd

The weather turned today – unfortunately, just on the day that Mum and Dad spent in London, being reunited with my sister and bro-in-law and the kids (whilst I was chained to the depressing office network).  I thought it was very noble of them to stay outside even when it rained!  I got drizzled on in the park, but it’s dry now, so I should be OK to eat my frozen yoghurt in the flower park.

It’s so hard to plan anything.  People want to plan holidays: you can’t just up and go.

Still over 300 deaths a day here, whilst Italy etc are down below 100.  This is just awful.

 

Thursday, June 4th

I’m very pleased to say that the frozen yoghurt shop’s doing so well with takeaways and deliveries that it’s now back to its normal opening hours, and all the staff are back from furlough!   In these difficult times, it’s so good to hear a success story.

Wearing face masks will be compulsory on public transport from June 15th.  And who’s going to enforce that?

The park was quite quiet today, but that could just have been because the weather wasn’t great.  The council have mown the grass.  OK, it needed doing, but it’s quite sad that all the wildflowers have gone 😦 .

And I am so desperate for a break.  Some friends working from home in jobs where they get treated decently and get a reasonable amount of annual leave have taken a week off just to recharge their batteries, but we get so little annual leave that I can’t do that.  I think July may be too early for the Lakes, even if hotels are open by then, but am hoping for August … but it seems a long way off.  With not getting my weekend in Grasmere in April, I haven’t been away since early December, and haven’t had a day off since New Year.  Normally, in June, I’m so wrapped up in tennis that I can cope with not having had a break for ages.  And I’d normally have had my weekend in Grasmere in April.

Oh well.  Roll on the restart of the football season!

 

Friday, June 5th

The official UK death toll passed 40,000 today.  In terms of deaths per head of population, we’re only slightly ahead of France, Spain and Italy, and that’s to be expected given our greater population density, but it’s very worrying that the daily figures are still so high, and also that the R number has apparently gone back above 1 here and in some other areas.

Atlas Bar says that, when it reopens, people are going to have to register on an app if they want to use the toilet.  Is this someone’s idea of a joke?!

On a happier note, I’ve got football fixtures on my calendar again!  4 matches in 12 days, which is an awful lot, especially with the players not at peak fitness, but it is what it is.  Bring It On!!

And the weather’s gone mad.  I got caught in two showers today, one on my way back from Sainsbury’s Local and one on my way back from the park.  Heavy rain’s forecast for early morning, but will hopefully have eased off before I go to Dunham Massey.

The police have shut down 35 knock-off clothing and electrical shops in Strangeways, for being open during lockdown.  They’ve been open all along!  Nearly 11 weeks.  Why wait until now?!

 

Saturday, June 6th

It was so lovely to be back at Dunham Massey!   It was a shame that we weren’t allowed into the gardens – the roses will all be out – but it was lovely to be walking round the deer park again.  I’ve missed the place.  Not as much as I’m missing the Lakes, but still.  There were some heavy showers, which were annoying, but it was a lovely morning.  Good to be back!

Annoyingly, it then threw it down, so my plans to see a) my cousin and b) Mum and Dad had to be shelved.  It cleared up later, but it was a bit late for visiting by then, although I did go to the park.  After I’d had my scone!

Tatton Park’s reopened as well!  I’ve booked that for next Sunday.  I was sort of leaving Sunday free in case the fruit farm’d opened by then, but a bird in the hand … .  It’s so much better now that places are open, even though it’s a bit of a pain having to decide and book in advance.  Life seems a lot less empty now.

This should have been French Open finals weekend.  Rafa told Roland Garros TV that he’s trying to focus on what he’s got, not what he’s missing.  I hope he really means that and isn’t just saying it, because it’s a lovely attitude to have.

Phone update this morning, which totally stressed me out, but thankfully only a small one!

Not very happy about these big protests about George Floyd’s murder.   What happened was appalling and we should all be speaking out about it, but it’s not the time for big gatherings.  The ones here were peaceful, but there was trouble in London.  None of the people who were shrieking that Dominic Cummings should have been crucified for driving from London to Durham, in his own car, not coming into contact with anyone outside his own family, have said one word about people breaking the rules to gather in their hundreds and thousands when gatherings of more than 6 are banned.  People are such hypocrites!

Sunday, June 7th

Stupid weather!   It’s nice and sunny now, at 7pm, but it was pouring down when I got to Lyme Park this morning, and only cleared up just as I was about to leave!  Oh well, I took my brolly, and still had a nice long walk.  I don’t see why they won’t let people into the gardens, and I’m not impressed that they haven’t opened the tearooms for takeaways, but it’s still good to be back!  It’s such a huge estate.  I don’t normally walk round that much of it, because I usually spend most of my time in the gardens.

Went to the park later.  Unbelievably, the stupid council have removed the bins from by the entrance/exit!  Like there’s not enough trouble with litter.  FFS.

In between the two walks, Mum and Dad came round, and we all sat in my garden for a while, which was lovely.  We are all desperate for haircuts, but thankfully OK otherwise!

And so ends yet another week of weirdness … .  I’d hoped to spend today watching Rafa winning La Tredecima.  The USTA are still hoping to play the US Open, but I can’t see how it can be done, with so many players from so many different countries.  I’d love to see some live tennis, but I just don’t think it can happen yet.

Lockdown Week 10 – May 25th to 31st 2020 inclusive

Bank Holiday Monday, May 25th

Lovely sunny day today.  I was at the National Trust car park at Alderley Edge just after half 8.  This was a good move: by the time I left, two hours later, it was nearly full.  I had a lovely walk, and went through some bits of the woods which I’ve never seen before.  The tearoom was sadly closed, but it’s reopening for takeaways next week, and I managed to get a drink from a Costa Express stand in a shop in the village.

The toilets were closed, though.  I have had it up to here with this Toilet Tyranny.  Some people are frightened to go out in case they can’t find a toilet.  Others are using bushes and trees – and these are people who’d never dream of doing anything so disgusting normally.  People who live in tourist areas have said that … well, that the results of the toilets being closed are too disgusting to talk about.  The Victorians who did so much to improve public sanitation must be turning in their graves.  This is appalling.  Get those toilets open.

Due to Toilet Tyranny, I then came home, but, later, I drove into town (i.e. central Manchester).  It’s much easier walking round town than it is walking round the suburbs, because the pavements are wider, and Deansgate’s been temporarily closed to traffic from Kendals northwards.  I had a walk round, and (despite being fat enough already) had an ice cream (my first 99 for more than two months!!) in Piccadilly Gardens.

And, hooray, the Arndale toilets were open!  I do not normally write about toilets, but it can’t be helped at the moment!

There was a gang of 13 teenage lads hanging around near Exchange Square.  Later, when I went for my daily walk in the park, I saw 10 lads cycling together, a load of games of football and cricket going on, and people letting their kids climb over the fence into the playground despite all the “Closed due to coronavirus” signs.  I’m not judging anyone, but the point is that this situation’s ridiculous.  Lockdown cannot be enforced any more: people have had enough.  Let parks and gardens at National Trust etc places reopen.  As long as social distancing measures are out in place, let cafes reopen.  Then at least we’re not all having to gather in the same places, and at least some organisations’ll be earning some money.   It’d be a lot safer than carrying on like this.  Sermon over!!

And, hooray, three soaps on TV tonight!

 

Tuesday, May 26th

I’ve written to my MP to ask why National Trust and English Heritage gardens and parks are not allowed to reopen when public parks are packed out, and why people are being left to use the great outdoors as a toilet because councils refuse to reopen public facilities.  I doubt it’ll do any good, but I’ve tried!

Tesco and M&S this morning, then to the office to leave some stuff and collect more.  I’m not saying much about work as I’m very upset about the way we are being treated, but probably shouldn’t say too much about it on a public blog.

Shops are all allowed to reopen from mid-June, hooray!  Well, as long as it’s safe.  And, as Sky News said, if shops are open, surely the stupid councils will have to reopen the toilets.  I’m not sure how this is going to work, though.  Are they going to monitor the number of people going into the Arndale Centre and the Trafford Centre, or just into each individual shop?  But, sadly, this does not include hairdressing salons.

Watching Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich, and hoping to see the Premier League back next month.

 

Wednesday, May 27th

Another nice sunny day today.  I went to the park early afternoon, and to the frozen yoghurt shop and the flower part after the “home office” had closed!

The BBC – making a rare effort to discuss things which actually matter to people! – did a big feature on the Great Toilet Tyranny this morning.  They interviewed someone from the British Toilet Association (yes, there is one!), someone from Crohn’s and Colitis UK about what a nightmare this is for people with particular medical conditions, and a delivery driver who said that he and his colleagues were being forced to use buckets in the backs of their lorries.  It’s absolutely appalling.  Why are the petty tyrants on local councils allowed to treat people like this?

Looks as if High Street shops will not be rushing to reopen 😦 .  Too easy to take the furloughing payments instead!  Yes, they need to put social distancing measures in place, but supermarkets have had to do that from the start, without any sort of precedent to follow.  If the big names don’t reopen, it’ll put people off going to city/town centres and shopping centres, and then that’ll kill it for small independent shops.

On a happier note, it looks as if progress is being made with Project Restart.  Getting football going ahead would be such a boost.  Fingers crossed!

 

Thursday, May 28th

Another sunny day – had a nice walk in the park,  And, hooray, the Premier League is restarting on June 17th!!  The matches in hand have to be played first, fair enough, so City’ll restart before we do, but then everyone should play that weekend.  We’re due to play Spurs.  Hooray!!

And Dunham Massey, Lyme Park and Styal are reopening!  Well, the parkland is.  I suspect that there’ll be an absolute stampede for tickets when booking opens in the morning, but I shall certainly try!

I really did need those pick-me-ups today.  My weight has gone all wrong this week – and I don’t know why, because I haven’t done anything differently to last week.  And I am so sick of work.  Nearly 10 weeks of working from home and not so much as an e-mail asking if we’re OK, just moaning and complaining about everything that doesn’t run 100% smoothly.  As one of my colleagues said, millions of people are getting paid 80% of their wages to sit around sunning themselves in their gardens or in parks – although it’s obviously not their fault that their workplaces are closed – whilst we’re chained to laptops and not even getting a word of thanks!

It’s the last Clap for our Carers tonight.  There’s supposed to be a sing-a-thon at half 7, but I’m not sure people are going to bother with that, but it’s a shame about Clap for our Carers.  As with everything else, people are using it to try to score political points.

And my nephews’ school has said that my elder nephew can’t go back until the end of June, and then only in the mornings, and that my younger nephew can’t go back until September.  So much for all primary schools reopening on June 1st!  My sister is not pleased!

 

Friday, May 29th

I thought that booking for the National Trust sites would open at 9, but I had a look at 7 and it was already open, and the 10am slot for Dunham Massey for next Saturday was already unavailable.  I got half 10, though!  And 10 o’clock for Lyme Park on the Sunday – it said not to book up a load of slots, but I decided that one for each of two different properties should be OK.  It said “parks and gardens”, so I got my hopes up that the gardens’d be open, but it’s just the parkland … but it’s a start!

And dates have now been pencilled in for the Cup, as well as the League.

Also, it was announced last night that groups of up to 6 people from different households can now meet outdoors, including in private gardens.  (There were two groups of well over 20 people in the park, incidentally.)  So Mum and Dad are going to London next week, to see my sister and bro-in-law and the kids.  I’m really pleased for them … but sad that I’m out of it.  Weekends are the only time that bro-in-law isn’t chained to his laptop/phone, so it wouldn’t be a good time for me to go.  I wish I knew that I’d definitely be able to go to the Lakes, or somewhere, in August if not in July.  I’m struggling a bit with being chained to the office laptop all day, especially when a) I see other people enjoying themselves in the park (OK, at least I can go for walks in the park, but still) and b) work haven’t given us one shred of support.  A bit of kindness goes a long way, though.  I had nice e-mails from two clients today, and they cheered me up.

And, hooray, it’s the weekend.

 

Saturday, May 30th

Another hot, sunny day.  It’s been the driest, sunniest spring on record.  Whilst there are now growing concerns about water shortages, please do not let the dry spell end just as hotels reopen … July or August!

I went to Hollingworth Lake this morning.  The Olive and Pickle’s now doing quite a lot of takeaway stuff, and other places are also open for chips, ice cream etc.  Sadly, the toilets are still not open.  Had a lovely walk, then came home.  Week 10 of Scones in the Garden – it started with daffodils, and now we’re on to roses.

Later, Mum and Dad came round to sit in the garden for a bit.  Technically, you’re not meant to sit in other people’s gardens until Monday morning, but jumping the gun by a day and a half was pretty mild compared to all the rule-breaking going on in the park, where I went later – groups of 20-odd people sat together, gangs of lads on bikes practically running people over, and three police officers strolling around, doing nothing!  This is stupid.  Groups of 20-odd people sit around together, there are gangs of bored teenagers all over the place, but pubs aren’t allowed to reopen beer gardens and hairdressers aren’t allowed to reopen.  FFS.

Live sport from June 1st’s got the go-ahead, so the Premier League and the FA Cup are definitely on for a restart!!  Hooray!!

 

Sunday, May 31st

Blackpool!!  Hooray!!  I’d normally have been going a week today, because I’ve got a weird ritual thing about going to Blackpool before watching the French Open men’s singles final, but nothing’s normal this year.  But I’ve been!  What a lovely day.  I was there at half 8, and it was already warm and sunny.  And pretty quiet, at that time.  It got busy later, but not too busy, and, apart from a few large family groups – totally ignored by the police – most people were trying to observe social distancing.  Even in the queues for the public toilets which, with cafes, pubs and arcades closed, were pretty long by the afternoon!  And it’s much easier on the prom and the beach than trying to dodge the crowds in parks.

Loads of food places along the front were open.  I’d taken some salad with, but, ahem, succumbed first to an ice cream and then to fish and chips.  The Scales will hang, draw and quarter me for that, but it was so nice!   It was all rather 1950s, everyone eating fish and chips on the beach!

It was sad to see the piers closed, though.  And the Tower, Madame Tussaud’s and the amusement arcades.  I could have cried when I saw a poster in one amusement place, with a list of family fun days planned for 2020.  Easter, VE Day, Euro 2020 … .  Even if all the hotels reopen later in the year, this good weather won’t last for ever.  Our tourist places’ll take a terrible hit this year.

But it was such a lovely, lovely day … to see the sea, to feel the sea breeze (messing up my already messy hair), to be in Blackpool …

Went to the park later.

If I could just get back to the Lakes … but I’m so glad to have been to Blackpool!

 

 

Lockdown Week 9 – May 18th to 24th 2020

Monday, May 18th

Hooray, I’ve got a National Trust parking space for Saturday morning!!  It’s at Nostell Priory.  I don’t understand why they’re opening Nostell, but not Dunham, Lyme, Styal or Speke (it can’t be because of the car park ticket machine, because you have to book on line), and suspect that they’ll refuse to let you do the nice riverside walk and say that it’s the open parkland only; but it’s a start – I’m very chuffed!

A neighbour with Scottish connections is 60 today, and, somehow, her husband had arranged for a guy to play the bagpipes in the street, in full Highland gear!   And some goats have moved into the park, and they’ve got a really cute kid 🙂 .

Premier League teams can resume training.

So that’s some nice stuff.  It’s been a dull, grey day, though.  And I still haven’t got my cancellation stuff from the holiday company.  I’ve chased them again.   I got an e-mail from the Lowry, saying that Les Miserables will now not be on until 2022, and offering me a credit note.  I’ve asked for a refund instead.  I felt rather mean, because I know that they’re struggling – they’re not part of a group like the Palace and the Opera House are – but I don’t want to book anything else for now.

Much lower death figures for a second day in a row, but they do tend to go up on Tuesdays, so let’s see what happens.

 

Tuesday, May 19th

Got an e-mail from Old Trafford this morning, saying that refunds will be issued for the remaining matches of the season.  I knew that City had contacted their season ticket holders last week, so was wondering when we’d hear.  At least the clubs are doing the right thing by not holding on to the money, but I’m so sad about it.  Football is such a huge part of the fabric of a city like Manchester, of so many cities and towns.  I’m still hopeful that the Premier League season can be completed – even though the SPL was abandoned yesterday – but it could be a very long time before fans are able to attend matches again.  The loss of that experience, the bonding, and the huge effect on local economies … it’s just horrific.

Went to Tesco this morning, and then to the office to collect some stuff.  Then to the park later.  Nice sunny day today.

The death toll was right back up again, to 545.  It does keep happening on Tuesdays.

 

Wednesday, May 20th

Really lovely day today – the hottest day of the year so far.  I went to the frozen yoghurt shop this evening, and then sat in the flower park for a bit, and then sat in the garden with my book.

Earlier, I watched a really boring training webinar, then went to the park, then did some work.

I’m a bit fed up with the National Trust.  They’ve only reopened six places, and five of those are in the same region (East Anglia).  If it’s OK to reopen the parkland at Nostell Priory, why is it not OK to open other places with lots of parkland?  Excuse me for being cynical, but it’s hard not to wonder if they’ve decided they’d rather keep the furlough payments, at least until the shops and tearooms have reopened.  I understand that this is an incredibly difficult time, but, as they haven’t extended people’s subscriptions to make up for the properties being closed, that’s a bit off.  I’m sure Rishi Sunak is on to this, but things need sorting so that places which reopen but can’t do anything like their normal volume of business, such as cafes and restaurants reopening for takeaways, benefit financially rather than losing out.

Loads of multi-household groups in the park, including one group of six adults and ten kids.  And loads of groups of teenagers hanging around together.  I’m not judging anyone, because I don’t know their circumstances, and at least they’re not coming close to everyone else like all the wretched cyclists on the paths and pavements are, but it’s pretty obvious that people have had enough.  I don’t know what the answer is.  An invisible enemy, i.e. a virus, is hard to fight.

Two soaps tonight, hooray!! Emmerdale at 7 and Coronation Street at half 7.

 

Thursday, May 21st 

Here’s a bit of getting back to normality which I could have done without!  In normal times, I spend half my life getting upset over the weather being nice during the week and horrible at weekends.  In February and early March, practically every weekend was wrecked by storms.  Lovely weather today, again.  But what’s the forecast for Saturday, when I’m due to pay my first NT visit for over two months?  Showers and high winds!  Gah!  Oh well, the showers don’t look like anything major, and my hair’s such a mess that the wind can’t make it much worse!  A bit cooler today – which was better in some ways, because the park was less crowded.  People sitting on the grass are fine, but the cyclists and skateboarders are a nightmare.

My rosebush’s first rose of the year’s pretty much out.  Hooray!  It’s a family thing that roses are supposed to be out in time for Mum’s birthday, which is June 1st, so it’s made it in plenty of time 🙂 .  It’s a reminder that it’s nearly summer, though, and that spring’s gone, and the virus has taken most of the things which make up spring.  Seeing the daffodils at Chirk Castle and Biddulph Grange, having a weekend at Grasmere and Coniston, Easter weekend, seeing the newborn lambs during Tatton Park lambing week, doing the Windermere walk in bluebell season and the bluebell walks at Capesthorne Hall, seeing the laburnum arch at Bodnant Garden, the climax of the league season, Cup Final Day, the Grand National, the Boat Race and, of course, the clay court season.  I always say that summer begins when the first ball of the French Open’s struck and ends when the final ball of the US Open’s struck.  Hmm.

Clap for our Carers later.  Right, let’s stop moaning, and get the tea in the oven!

 

Friday, May 22nd

From June, anyone arriving in the UK will have to self-isolate for a fortnight.  So anyone who works, and is restricted to annual leave, is effectively barred from going abroad.  FFS.  And, if this was going to be introduced, what’s the point of doing it now?  Why wasn’t it done in March?

I feel like everything’s got in a mess.  Councils and teachers are refusing to reopen schools, so kids are bored.  Teenagers are hanging around in groups, and people with younger kids are trying to occupy them by going out.  All this patronising “stay local” stuff doesn’t really work for people in urban areas.  Councils in areas attracting visitors are trying to put people off by refusing to open public toilets or other facilities, so people are dropping litter and, not to put too fine a point on it, making their own toilet arrangements.  It’s just not working.  And the group which includes Shearings and National Holidays has collapsed, which is very, very sad news.   Shearings has been going – had been going – for over 100 years.

Oh well, at least it’s a long weekend.  Really sick of work.  In almost nine weeks of working from home, we haven’t had a single e-mail saying so much as “Hope everyone is OK” – just a nasty e-mail reminding us that the first Monday in May wasn’t a Bank Holiday this year.  People are really fed up about it.

OK, enough moaning!!  The showers seem to have disappeared from tomorrow’s forecast, so that just leaves the wind to contend with.  It’s been very windy here today – there was a dust storm in the park!   It was already windy first thing, when I went to Sainsbury’s Local, and has been very windy this afternoon.  It’s quite weird doing stuff like putting out a bottle of water to take with me, and my portable phone charger.

The NT car park at Aira Force has reopened, which is interesting.  I’m not driving all the way to Ullswater for a walk – although I would do if it was Windermere or Grasmere! – but I thought the Lake District didn’t want visitors?  And, if you can “social distance” on the narrow paths at Aira Force, you certainly can at Dunham Massey or Lyme Park!!

I lit a candle this morning, to mark the 3rd anniversary of the Arena bombing.  People have also been putting pictures of bees in windows.

And, hooray, tennis clubs at Mallorca are now allowed to open, so Rafa’s resumed training 🙂 .

 

Saturday, May 23rd

Hooray, my first National Trust visit for over 2 months!  No gardens, no houses and no scones, but I had such a lovely walk round the (windy!) parkland at Nostell Priory.  It’s a huge estate, and they could have let far more people in without it being a problem.  Oh, the joy of walking through some fields again, of wide open spaces, of not having to dodge cyclists, skateboarders, kids and dogs!   The green, the yellow … just being in some fields again.

I really hope they reopen more places soon.  And it might reduce the numbers descending on places like the Peak District and Dartmoor.  This really is a big issue – I understand that rural areas, especially the Lake District which has had such a high rate of infections, don’t want hordes of visitors, but people from urban areas cannot just be denied access to open spaces.  I could cheerfully slap all those “I’m all right, Jack,” types saying that everyone should “Stay local and enjoy the countryside around them”.  Do they know the word “conurbation”?!  Where are people meant to go?  As for all the local authorities refusing to unlock public toilets, even George Orwell never thought of that one!  And it’s hard to get anything resolved with so much political points-scoring going on!

But anyway.  I had such a nice time.  I went to the park much later.  And, at home, had my “Scone in the garden” next to a hyacinth.

My official holiday cancellation came.  It came from the head office in Colorado, not the British office, and was very terse.  I was expecting a proper Word letter saying that unfortunately they had no choice but to cancel, but it was just a short e-mail saying “Urgent Tour Notice!  We have decided to cancel … “.  Oh well.  At least it’s sorted.  I knew it was coming, but I’m sad.  I’ve been on at least once coach tour every year from 1996 onwards, often two.  They’ve kept me going through some very bad times, and been the highlights of every year.  This would have been the 25th year.

My little cousin’s riding school has reopened, and my nephews can now go to football training as long as it’s one to one (i.e. one kid plus the coach).   It’s a start!!

 

Sunday, May 24th

I really, really want to sit down in a café or tearoom and have a cup of tea.

I really, really want to see the sea.  I’d get to Blackpool at 8 o’clock tomorrow, before anyone else was around, but it can’t really be done whilst the Toilet Tyrants refuse to unlock the public toilets.

I really x 1 million want to go to Windermere.

Fed up this morning.  It was cold and grey and wet, and I was upset because it should have been the first day of the French Open.  I went to Kenyon Hall Fruit Farm – I got a few plants and some fruit and veg, nothing I couldn’t have got nearer home, but I needed a ride out, and they’re such nice people there that I was glad to give them the business.  I’d thought I might go into Bents Garden Centre as well, to look round the food hall, but the queue to go in was so long that I decided not to bother.  Is it going to be like this when ordinary shops reopen?  Who’s going to go into town or the Trafford Centre if you have to queue for 1/2 hour to get into every shop?  Even if you get to one early, you can’t get to them all early.

Bleurgh.

Oh well.  Later, I went to the park.  Then Mum and Dad came round for their socially-distanced visit, which was lovely.  And the weather’s cleared up now.  Not that you can go very far when most places are closed – as they’ve been saying at Blenheim Palace, why can’t this confusion about opening parks and gardens be sorted out? – and the Toilet Tyrants hold sway!

And so ends Week 9 of lockdown.

 

 

Lockdown Week 8, May 11th to 17th 2020 inclusive

Monday, May 11th

I feel OK in myself – especially as the weather’s picked up again, and it was nice in the park – but I’m having anxiety pains.  My right leg hurt so much this morning that it was painful to walk, but then it eased up when I saw that there were no scary updates on my phone.  But started up again when I went into the kitchen to make breakfast – that’s years of eating issues for you!

The holiday company replied to say that they haven’t yet heard from their head office about the Iceland trip, which is ridiculous when the balance is due next week.  I realise that they’ve got a load of July trips to sort out, but they should have contacted me by now.  I’ll have to hassle them if I don’t hear within the next couple of days.  There’s no way it can run, sadly.

Meanwhile, I’m a bit confused … as is everyone else.  You can drive as far as you want, to exercise, but the Lake District doesn’t want visitors yet.  And what if car parks are closed?  Not to mention toilets!!   Golf clubs are reopening, so Dad’s chuffed.  But no professional sport until June, even behind closed doors.  And hairdressers can’t reopen until July at the earliest.  Oh FFS!  They were amongst the earliest places to reopen in Austria and Denmark.   But there are a lot of questions.  I’m not criticising Boris, because he could only say so much in a ten minute speech, but there’s a lot to think about.

I’m very saddened by the amount of spite and political point-scoring going on.  Not so much from Opposition politicians – Keir Starmer’s questions were all quite reasonable – but from the Bitter Remoaner brigade on social media.  We had 3 1/2 years of this, because they wouldn’t accept the result of the referendum, and I really hoped that we could move on.  You’d think people could unite at such a difficult time, and so many people have been so wonderful, and so keen to help others.  But this lot … .  I quite understand that many people are genuinely worried about the health risks associated with using public transport, or reopening schools.  We all are.  But they’re not bothered about that: it’s just spite.  Utter rubbish is being spouted, about it all being about preventing millionaires losing money, which is arrant nonsense when it’s small businesses being worse hit.  I really did hope we’d moved on from this sort of thing, but sadly it appears not.  I’m just trying to ignore it.

My brother-in-law’s office will be reviewing the situation, as Fagin would say 🙂 , in mid-June.  No news from mine.  I’m quite happy to stay working from home!

 

Tuesday, May 12th

E-mailed the holiday company again.  I understand that it’s a difficult time for them, but I need this sorting before the balance becomes due for payment next week.  They said that the trip was being cancelled, and it was just a case of sending out the paperwork.  It’s not like I didn’t know that, but I’m still sad.  And, whilst sunbathing holidays may be possible later in the year, I can’t see that coach tours will be, and sunbathing holidays aren’t my thing at all.  Coach tours have been the biggest thing in my year since 1996.  They’ve kept me going through some  very dark times.  The thought of not having them is very difficult to deal with.

The death toll is way up again today.  It happens every Tuesday, with the catch-up from the weekend, but even so.  Why is it not coming down?

And I am not very pleased that my favourite singer Bryan Adams has had a huge rant at China.  What was he thinking of?

Went to Tesco and M&S this morning.  If you go a little bit after they open, there are no queues.   It was also quiet in the park today: the weather hasn’t been very nice.

Not sure whom I’d most like to throttle, the spiteful political points-scorers or the people who let their horrible dogs keep barking.

A couple of bits of better news.  The golf club is reopening, although only 2 people can play at once, and they have to stay well apart.  This does not affect me personally, but will make a big difference to my dad.  And BT Sport are going to be showing all the Bundesliga matches.

 

Wednesday, May 13th

We are now officially allowed out for more than one walk a day, and to sit in parks.  So, after work, and after my earlier walk to the park, I walked down to the frozen yoghurt shop (takeaway, fat-free!) and then sat on the grass in the flower park.  It was really nice.

Still no official word from the holiday company.  Not impressed.  I know they’ve got a lot to deal with, but they’d normally have a load of travel documents to send out, so it’s only the same volume of e-mails.

Golf clubs have reopened.  And, hooray, tennis players are allowed to train in Mallorca again!

Worried about the situation in Brazil, though.  It’s getting bad there.

 

Thursday, May 14th

Hooray!!  EastEnders is starting filming again!  No definite news on Coronation Street or Emmerdale yet, but hopefully they’ll follow suit.  It’s going to be hard work rewriting all the storylines, but I’m sure they’ll sort something.

The National Trust has said that it’s reopening car parks.  It’s as clear as mud, though.  I’ve trawled their website and Google for info on which ones, but found nothing.  Do they just mean car parks which aren’t attached to properties, like the one at Alderley Edge, or do they also mean the ones at places like Dunham Massey?

There were lots of people sat on the grass at the park, when I went for my walk.  I know I should be glad to be in work and without any worry about redundancy, but, when I had to get up at stupid o’clock to do some housework, it’s hard not to be envious of people who are getting some time out, and clearing out their houses, catching up on To Be Read book piles, etc!   And, indeed, of people whose workplaces are being caring and supportive at this difficult time.  We have not had so much as an e-mail saying that they hope everyone is well  – just a nastily-worded e-mail last Monday, saying that everyone should remember that the first  Monday in May was not a Bank Holiday this year, and a lot of complaints every time the slightest thing has gone wrong.  I’m not very impressed.

Clap For Our Carers tonight.  Then I need to wash and respray my hair!  Hairdressers in New Zealand have reopened, and there were queues round the block at midnight!  There was also a picture in the Manchester Evening News of a long queue as Newbank Garden Centre in Radcliffe reopened.  I got a load of plants from there in March, before lockdown started, and have got a few more plants from Tesco since, so I don’t really need any more, but I’m delighted for Newbank, as long as people queue sensibly.  Sadly, a lot of businesses here and elsewhere are not going to survive this, but at least it looks as if garden centres will be saved.

 

Friday, May 15th

Some of the big fast food chains are reopening some branches for takeaways.  My sister queued for an hour at a drive through Starbucks!   Each to their own, but I don’t think I’ll be waiting an hour anywhere!

The tennis season’s been officially suspended until the end of July, but it was effectively suspended until the middle of July anyway.  More noteworthy is the fact that the League 2 season’s been suspended.  Decision on promotion and relegation to follow.  I just hope that all the clubs survive.

Not much good news at all today, really.  I was excited about the National Trust car parks reopening, but they’re now saying that there’ll be limited numbers and there’ll be a booking system.  I see their point, but, whilst that’ll be fine if you live near somewhere like Fountains Abbey, in the middle of nowhere, and aren’t working so can go on weekdays, the chances of striking lucky enough to get a slot at Dunham Massey, Quarry Bank Mill, Lyme Park or Speke Park at a weekend are going to be pretty slim.  They’re saying that it’ll be the same when properties reopen.  I was thinking that, if hotels reopen but the Lakes still don’t want visitors, I could go somewhere down south and visit some of the big NT places I’ve never seen there … but there’s no point booking a hotel and time off work if it’s going to be pot luck whether I can go to the places concerned or not.

Also, I heard today that a friend’s been made redundant – permanently, not just furloughed – because of the economic effects of the virus/lockdown.  I suspect that many people will sadly end up in the same boat.

But, hey, it’s the weekend!  Cloudy and windy today, but I walked to Sainsbury’s Local and back, and then to the park later.  There are loads of goslings now 🙂 .

 

Saturday, May 16th

Eventful day today.  I’ve been out!!   Only as far as Hollingworth Lake, but it’s a start.  I thought that driving on the motorway, even just as far as Rochdale, might feel weird, but it felt wonderful.  It wasn’t busy – although this was at 9 o’clock on a very dull morning (the sun came out later) – and the vast majority of people were observing social distancing.  The exceptions were 4 stupid cyclists who a) clearly weren’t part of the same household, b) were all over the path instead of in single file and c) sniggered at other people’s attempts to avoid them.  But there are a few idiots everywhere.  I’ve even seen people letting their kids into the playground at the park, even though there are signs up saying that it’s closed for safety reasons.  But we can’t all keep our lives on hold because of a few idiots.  I had a nice walk round the lake, and in the woods where there were still loads of bluebells out.

The Olive and Pickle, the lovely café there’s, set up a kiosk.  They said they’d just opened it yesterday.  I had a takeaway cup of tea.  It’ll hardly make up for all their lost business, but it’s a start.  I hope things go well for them.

I was quite shocked by how low the level of the lake was, incidentally.  The wetland bits are now drylands!   With all the worry over the virus and lockdown, the fact that we’ve hardly had any rain for two months has been rather overlooked.

Then I had my scone at home, and did some housework.

Then Mum and Dad came round for a socially distanced visit.  They seem fine, just fed up with things like we all are.  And then I watched Borussia Dortmund v Schalke – this being the Bundesliga’s first day back.  It’s not like watching our own teams, and it’s very, very odd watching a football match with no fans, no noise, but owt’s better than nowt and I hope other leagues can restart soon.

After that, I went for my walk in the park, and , later, watched the substitute Eurovision thing.  It was quite entertaining.  And maybe it’s because I’m a historian, but the video of “Hallelujah” being sung in the deserted streets of Jerusalem’s Old City was incredibly moving.

Nationally, there’s a row going on over reopening schools.  Why can’t people try to work together?  I appreciate that there are safety concerns, but how exactly is teaching unions threatening to sue the Government going to help?  We seemed to be trying to work together when this started, but the haters, egged on by the Guardian and the Mirror, now seem determined to do anything rather than try to find solutions.  The Children’s Commissioner’s told them all to get their act together.  And I’m concerned about the Fat Haters using coronavirus as an excuse to demonise overweight people.  (I’ve lost weight this week, but am always very sensitive on the subject).  Yes, the virus does seem to affect overweight people particularly badly, but there are enough mental health problems as it is, without creating more.  Why can’t people just try to be NICE?!

It’s been a positive day, though.  You wouldn’t think that driving a few miles on the M60 and the M62 could be so exciting, but it was!

 

Sunday, May 18th

EIGHT weeks (almost) of lockdown!   People are getting really fed up now.  And more and more divisions are appearing.  I do understand that people in countryside and seaside areas are worried that an influx of visitors may bring infection, but I’m also getting a Kinder Scout Mass Trespass vibe about the “stay away” messages – and the continued closure of public toilets to try to deter visitors.   People in urban and suburban areas have very limited access to open spaces, and no-one owns national parks.  And I wasn’t very pleased to see that someone from Best Western had said that hotels might not reopen fully until 2021.  No doubt he’s on a whacking great salary, being paid in full – what are they going to do about their staff, once the furlough system ends, and what about independent shops and cafes in tourist areas?   It’s all very difficult.   We need to try to work together.

I went to Clifton Country Park today.  It’s not far, but I’d never been there before.  If the National Trust don’t make more progress in reopening parkland, they might find that people have discovered new places to visit and don’t renew their memberships.  I went the wrong way out of the car park – the stupid map there made it look like the river was on the right! – and ended up in a load of woods instead of by the river.  There were people around, so I wasn’t scared, and it was actually pretty interesting because there were some disused pits down there, but I was very grateful when a kind person was able to direct me to the river.  Lovely place.

Later, I went on my usual walk to Heaton Park.  It gets busy by mid-afternoon, but some areas are quieter than others, so you can avoid all the cyclists, skateboards, hordes of kids on bikes, people who let their dogs run all over the path, etc, if you stick to those!   There were lots of goslings.  And I saw my uncle.  The park is the social centre of the world these days: I saw my brother-in-law’s mum and dad there yesterday.

Watched a bit more silent football – Union Berlin v Bayern Munich.  And I’ve started binge-watching the final series of Vikings.  I was waiting for the History Channel to show it, just because it’s easier to watch things on Sky than to load an app, but there’s no sign of it so I’m watching it on Amazon Prime.

I shall chase the holiday company again tomorrow.  This is getting ridiculous!!

Nice sunny day.  That reminds me, I need to water the garden.

And so ends yet another week in lockdown!