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

Easter Monday, April 5th

At last!!   After 7 months, I’ve seen my sister and brother-in-law and nephews.  Please, please, no more travel restrictions.  It is so hard being separated from families and friends.  At least the two boys (aged 12 and 9) are old enough to know what’s going on: I’ve heard some upsetting stories of babies getting distressed with grandparents and aunts and uncles whom they don’t recognise after the long separation.  It was a long, long day, driving down to London and back in the day, but, hooray, we’ve been reunited at last!

Water still dripping.  Fingers crossed that I can get a plumber tomorrow.

Boris has confirmed that we’ll be moving on to Stage 2 on April 12th – non-essential shops, hairdressers, outdoor attractions, self-contained overnight accommodation, gyms, outdoor hospitality, etc to reopen.  No Covid passports at this stage.  But he isn’t saying anything yet about overseas travel, or the possibility of using Covid passports in the future.  There will also be two free Covid tests for everyone in England from Friday onwards, but I doubt people’ll take them if they’re asymptomatic: people can’t afford the time off work, and horrible employers won’t pay people.

Oh, please never let us have to be separated from our families and friends again.

 

Tuesday, April 6th

Today has been an utter nightmare.  I haven’t even managed to get out for a walk – which I would have done, even in the snow which bizarrely decided to fall in April.  The first three plumbers I tried said they were too busy/working too far away to come.  The fourth one came 3 1/2 hours after I rang.  Then he said that the problem was not a leak from the bath but a corroded pipe, caused by someone not doing something properly when the house was built, and that he’d have to cut a hole in the ceiling to get at it.  So there is now a hole in the kitchen ceiling.

He sorted the leak out, but the shower got an airlock whilst the water had been off, and he couldn’t sort it out.  The shower is now working again, but he was here for over 4 hours, I am exhausted and stressed, and there is a hole in the kitchen ceiling to go with the stain, the smashed light fitting and my bruised knee.

I have had better days.

Collected two boxes of Covid lateral flow tests from the testing centre, because someone told me you could just go and get them.

All adults in the US are to be eligible for vaccination from a week on Monday.  Sadly, the same is not true here.  The number of jabs being given has plummeted worryingly.

 

Wednesday, April 7th

Northern Ireland is now offering jabs to anyone aged 45-49.  Sadly, England is not – although maybe things will improve once the Moderna rollout starts, which should be within the next few days.

The AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t going to be given to under 30s (not that anything’s being offered to under 30s ATM) because of these concerns about blood clots.

I spent ages on the phone to the insurance this morning.  They spent very hard trying to get out of paying anything at all, then told me that they’d have to send a surveyor round!  FFS.  If I was claiming tens of thousands of pounds, OK, but the surveyor’s fees’ll probably be more than the cost of the repairs.  I now have to wait for the surveyor to ring me, which he will no doubt do at a time when I can’t get to the phone.  Honestly, why is everything such hard work?!

 

Thursday, April 8th

Gah!!

  1.  The man from the insurance came, asked a load of questions, took a lot of pictures, and climbed up a ladder to look at the replacement bit of pipe (despite the fact that it was perfectly obvious which bit it was, because it’s a different colour).  However, apparently it is their policy to check all artexed ceilings for asbestos.  So I have now got an asbestos assessor coming next Monday.  FFS.
  2.  Northern Ireland is now vaccinating anyone over 40.  England, Scotland and Wales are still on anyone over 50.
  3.  The French Open has been postponed by a week, in the hope that Paris will be out of lockdown by then and fans will be allowed in.  This mucks up everyone’s preparations both for the French Open and Wimbledon, and the organisers of the grass court events which now overlap with the second week of the French Open must be hysterically upset!
  4.  I have piled weight on over Easter weekend.  A few days of eating a bit extra, and weight piles on.  Weeks of trying really hard … and weight does not come off.

I understand that the risks of fatal blood clots from the Astra Zeneca vaccine are very low, but it’s so sad to hear about the small number of people who’ve been unlucky.  One of them was from Newton-le-Willows.  As his sister said, you just think why did it have to be my loved one, out of all the tens of millions of people who’ve had that vaccination.  Very sad.

On a more positive note, there were 712 deaths involving Covid-19 in the week to 19th March (why are these figures 3 weeks behind?) in England and Wales.  Whilst that’s obviously still not good, the number was 8,945 at the peak of the second wave, so that’s a 92% drop.

And we won the first leg of our Europa League QF 2-0 – the away leg, at Granada.

 

Friday, April 9th

I’ve written a separate post here about the death of Prince Philip.  I still can’t quite take it in.

What else has happened today?  I hate to sound like a grumpy old bag, but I’ll be so glad when schools go back and I can get a drink at the park without having to wait in a stupidly long queue!  And it’s been confirmed that we will have this “traffic light” system for overseas travel, and that the  Government’s no longer advising against booking foreign travel – but, with PCR tests at £140 a time required for each person on both departure and arrival, and the red/amber/green list liable to change at any time, I’m not sure how many people’ll be going as yet.

Oh, what a strange day.  We’ve got protocols and precedents for pretty much everything, but not the death of a prince consort during a pandemic. RIP, Prince Philip.  You will be sadly missed.

 

Saturday, April 10th

The funeral – a ceremonial funeral – will be a week today, at 3pm, at Windsor.  People are trying to work out who the 30 people attending will be, which is a bit odd.  Prince Charles has spoken briefly, to pay tribute to his father and to thank people for their support.  I hope the Queen’s coping as well as can be expected.

The Grand National and other sporting events went ahead.  Real horses this year!  Sadly, I didn’t win a penny – bad choices! – but it was great to see a female jockey win for the first time in history – Rachael Blackmore, riding Minella Times.

And I’ve been to Blackpool!  I’ve seen the sea, for the first time in six months.  It being so soon after, I saw an awful lot of the sea – the tide didn’t start to go out until after midday.  I’m afraid that I sinned and had both ice cream and fish and chips, like I’m not fat enough, but … well, first time at the seaside in six months!

 

Sunday, April 11th

In the middle of April, and a day before outdoor seating at pubs, cafes and restaurants reopens, we woke up to over an inch of snow!  Snow in March isn’t unusual, but it’s the second weekend in April!  Thankfully, the roads were clear, but it took me a while to clear my car, and I don’t suppose being snowed on has done my plants an awful lot of good.

Having removed the snow, I went to Speke Hall.  No snow in Liverpool!  It disappeared somewhere between Salford and Warrington.  The Hall itself is closed, and some parts of the estate are closed off, but most of it’s open.  It’s the first time I’ve been to Liverpool in ages!

The daffodils at Speke always come early, and some are dying off now.  But the bluebells are out.  And so the year goes on.

Later, I found some bluebells in the Flower Park.

I’ll have a look in the woods at Heaton Park next week.  Between the plumbing traumas and the long queues at the cafes due to school holidays (sorry for being a grumpy old biddy, but I’ll be glad when schools go back tomorrow!!), I haven’t had chance this week.

Prince Andrew’s said that the Queen’s spoken of “a huge void in her life”.   It’s always sad when someone goes, but Prince Philip had lived a long and full life, and, thankfully, didn’t have to suffer a painful illness or the loss of his faculties.   It’s more the people who are left behind … my heart goes out to the Queen.

Back with pandemic news, over half a million jabs a day are being given, but around 80% of them are second doses, and nothing at all’s been said about when England might move on to over 40s.  So frustrating.  But the infection rate across Greater Manchester is down to around 50 per 100,000, and the average across England is around 30 per 100,000.  When you think that, three months ago, some areas were recording rates of over 1,500 per 100,000, we’ve come a long way.

And, after going behind at Spurs, we won 3-1!

 

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

  Lockdown II started on November 5th.  At least the date’s easy to remember, remember.  Blackpool Illuminations have been switched off mid-season for the first time since 1939.  The Army have occupied Pontins in Southport.  Parts of Fallowfield have been turned into a prison camp.  Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is probably wishing he’d been furloughed.  Andy Burnham has given a speech about Hilda Ogden’s muriel.  Memes are going round about the House of Commons Nativity Play being cancelled because no-one can find three wise men.  Denmark has been taken off the travel corridor list because the virus is mutating in mink.  And the US presidential election is about to be decided by Clayton County.  “Take a good look, my dear.  It’s a historic moment.”

It really isn’t funny, even though it sometimes sounds it.

Infection rates are still going up.  The North West continues to be the worst-affected part of the country.  Some hospitals are starting to struggle.  More and more jobs and businesses are going, despite the furlough scheme and the other support being made available.  And there’s no end in sight.  It was bad enough in the spring, when the days were longer, summer was coming, and people weren’t mentally exhausted from months and months of restrictions.  “Super Saturday” was on July 4th.  Greater Manchester was put under additional restrictions on July 31st.  Didn’t get much of a respite from it all, did we?  And the doom merchants are claiming that the lockdown will be extended until March.  Like Narnia under the White Witch – always winter, never Christmas.

It won’t go on until March.  The economy wouldn’t take it.  But the bloody Tier 3 restrictions might well go on till March – the Welsh authorities are abandoning local lockdowns, but the English authorities seem dead set on pursuing them.  Like last time, the weather’s turned nice just as we aren’t supposed to be going anywhere.  I’d booked to go round Blackpool Illuminations on a heritage tram tomorrow.  It would have been lovely, in this weather.  And Blackpool’s desperate for tourism business.  But Greater Manchester and 1974-admin-borders Lancashire class as separate areas for Tier 3 travel restrictions purposes, so that was messed up a few weeks ago.  And now, with Lockdown II, the Illuminations have been switched off.  For the first time since 1939, when they had to be switched off so that they wouldn’t shine through the blackout.

The Tower remains lit, so that it can be a symbol of hope.

United’s terrible start to the season is not the fault of the virus, to be fair.   And it was really rather sweet of Andy Burnham to take a few minutes out to congratulate Coronation Street on its forthcoming 60th anniversary.   But what on earth were the idiots in charge of the University of Manchester thinking of when they decided to put metal fences round halls of residence in Fallowfield, as a “Covid security measure”?  I’m sure we’re all well aware that there’ve been issues with the virus spreading at universities, but you can’t just put fences around people’s accommodation, like a prison camp.  Most of the people living in halls are 18 or 19-year-old kids who’d never lived away from home until the middle of September.  Use a bit of sense, please.  Following an outcry by students and the general public, the fences are being removed a day after they were put up.

That particular cunning plan was so ridiculous that even Baldrick wouldn’t have come up with it.  However, two other cunning plans are supposed to offer more hope.  And, like everything else seems to do at the moment, they centre on the North West.  One is a “lateral flow” virus test which gives results in half an hour, and is being trialled in Blackburn.  The other is mass testing in Liverpool.   Mass testing was supposed to be being trialled in Salford earlier in the year, but it didn’t seem to get very far.  Maybe this’ll work better.  It’s being carried out by soldiers.  Who are being accommodated at Pontins in Southport.

It’s no better anywhere else.  And at least we aren’t about to massacre 17 million mink, which Denmark is having to do.

This won’t go on for ever.  Pandemics never do.  But it would be nice to be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel.  In the meantime, at least there are still lights on Blackpool Tower.  And, hey, at least public toilets are staying open during Lockdown II, so we haven’t got to cope with all that again.  And, if anyone’s actually read all that, thank you for reading, and please look after your physical and mental health x.

Lockdown II.  Here we go again …

Second Wave Week 6 – October 5th to 11th 2020 inclusive

 

 

Monday, October 5th

What a bloody fiasco.  Over 16,000 cases were missed due to this “computer glitch” – which was apparently because someone couldn’t manage to use Excel properly.  The setting they’d used didn’t pick up all the rows.  I mean, seriously?  I use Excel myself every day, and I’m hardly an IT whizz.  It’s not exactly difficult to use.  We’re now on over 12,500 cases a day.  Rates have soared over the weekend, even without the missing cases.  And most of the missing cases were in the north, so infection rates in all the local boroughs are way higher than we thought.  Manchester city centre now has the highest rate in the country – although it’s nearly all students.  Newcastle’s got a similar issue with students, but it’s not clear what’s causing the problem in Liverpool.  I could cry.  Just when I thought I could start looking forward to my holiday.

The good news is that deaths aren’t rising.  Most of the cases are in low risk groups.

Paris has closed all bars.  I wish they’d do that here.  The Czech Republic’s closed schools.  Moscow’s told elderly people to stay indoors.

Everyone’s just had enough.  We’ve been in local lockdown for over 2 months.  Most of us are keeping the rules.  But rates keep rising.  A load of jobs are going to go when the furlough system ends.  Oh, and Arsenal have made Gunnersaurus redundant.  People’s mental health is suffering, and there’s no end in sight.  Iran reckons it’s having a third wave.  And that ties in with what’s happened with previous pandemics.

Bleurgh.

 

Tuesday, October 6th

Things are not good.  Infections are up.  Hospital admissions are up.  Deaths are up.   New restrictions are to be imposed in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  For all the balls-up with the Excel spreadsheet, I’m not really blaming the authorities.  Most countries are in the same boat – Poland’s struggling particularly badly this week – and no-one knows what to do anywhere.

Local leaders have complained that local lockdowns are doing no good and causing harm, but it looks as if Nottingham could be the next place to have restrictions imposed on it.  Maybe Oxford too.  Universities going back has been a disaster.

Donald Trump’s back at the White House.

Mesul Ozil has said he’ll pay Gunnersaurus’s wages.

 

Wednesday, October 7th

I do appreciate that the virus is not timing things to cause issues with my holiday, but it doesn’t half feel like that. Nicola Sturgeon has imposed travel restrictions on Glasgow, Edinburgh and various other areas, and closed all the pubs and licensed restaurants there for at least two weeks.  I don’t honestly think that Boris would do that here, but things certainly aren’t very good.  Universities going back has been a huge mistake.

The Manchester Evening News has published my letter asking it to try rallying the troops – “A City United”, “We’re all in this together” type thing – rather than its current negativity.  I doubt it’ll take any notice, but I tried.

Rafa is through to the US Open SFs, and will play Schwartzman, rather than Thiem.

 

Thursday, October 8th

Bleurgh.  It does now look as if there will be restrictions on travel, or certainly on overnight stays.  Coming in on Wednesday, and I was due to go on Saturday.  I’m SO upset.  I was going now because this was the time I’d booked off for my Japan holiday.  Then that was cancelled but they were supposed to be doing trips to France or Italy, so they were cancelled too.  Work won’t let us carry the time forward, so my holidays, of which I get so few and which I try so hard to make the most of, are … well, I don’t even know what I’ll be able to do at home.  I’ve spent hours working out where to go and how to get there.  I’ve booked tickets for things and, as they’ll still be open, I won’t be able to get the money back.  So, so near … and yet so far.   And, as it’ll run into half term loads of families with young kids will be in the same boat.

I am sick of the virus.

I am sick of our area being one of the worst hit by it.  I don’t understand why.

I am sick of the Government.  They have completely lost the North now.  Details have been leaked to the papers before they were discussed with local council leaders, and the exact details are still unclear.  People don’t know whether to cancel holidays.  Businesses don’t know whether or not they’ll have to close, and what compensation there’ll be if they do.  People don’t know whether or not they’re about to lose their jobs.  N

Cases, hospital admissions and deaths are going up and up, so I accept that something has to be done, but I don’t see why I would be a danger to anyone in a hotel room on my own – especially as it’s apparently OK for me to be in an office with other people.

I know this sounds really self-pitying, but I am feeling very sorry for myself 😦 .

 

Friday, October 9th

This is absolutely f***ing ridiculous.  Scotland had its announcement on Wednesday.  We are just being left in suspense, with people panicking about jobs, holidays and other things.

  1.  Which areas will be affected?   Most of the papers are saying Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.  But will that include the suburbs and satellite towns?  Sadly, the answer is probably yes, which is bloody ridiculous because it means it’ll affect us and other places like Stockport, yet Bradford, Burnley, Preston and various other places where the rates are no lower than, and in many cases higher than, here will not be affected.
  2.  Is this a “circuit breaker” like in Glasgow and Edinburgh, or will it go on indefinitely?   Given that Rishi Sunak’s just announced a SIX MONTH plan to support businesses affected … well, it doesn’t sound good, does it?
  3.  What will it mean?  Will it include a ban on holidays?  It seems all but certain that eating and drinking places will have to close, but where else?  Golf clubs?  Gyms?  Cinemas?  Maybe even shops?
  4.  Are we seriously supposed to go for 6 months with no contact with other households?
  5.  The rumours in the press, which are upsetting everyone, also include a return to shielding.  Is this being planned?

WTF is going on?  This is just ridiculous.  And the support for business is something, but won’t go anywhere near saving many businesses from collapse, if they have to close for months.

Meanwhile, Nottingham, which now has the highest infection rate in the country, at well over 600 – thanks yet again to an outbreak at a university, the latest place to be affected by which is Bristol – isn’t in local lockdown at all!  Nor are places like York and Barrow, where infections are soaring.

I’ve sent an angry e-mail to my MP about all the uncertainty, but he was only elected in December.  It’s like asking a first year to stop the prefects from bullying people.

I have had enough.

The only good thing is that Rafa’s into the French Open final 🙂 .  Although I’m not sure I can cope with yet another defeat by Nole.  The second semi has just started. Come on, Stef!

 

Saturday, October 10th

In news not related to the pandemic, Rafa will have to play Nole in the French Open men’s final, Iga Swiatek won the ladies’ final, and Marcus Rashford has been awarded the MBE.  And I have had my hair cut.  The hairdresser said that they were managing, but things were nowhere near back to pre-lockdown levels, partly because some elderly people are nervous about going out and partly because some people are trying to reduce their spending due to worried about redundancy.

I still have no idea whether or not I will be getting my week’s holiday or spending my few days’ annual leave hanging around.  Every newspaper and every TV channel has its own version of the restrictions coming in next week.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has threatened to sue the Government.  OK, it’s easy to criticise when you’re not the one at the sharp end, but he’s quite right about the inadequate financial package.  Most people who work in pubs, bars and restaurants do not earn much anyway.  How are they meant to cope on 2/3 of that, indefinitely?  And, if the whole industry’s closed down, their chances of finding other work is going to be minimal.   And many places may never reopen.  Liverpool’s said that half its council tax comes from hospitality places, and I’d assume the figure is similar for Manchester.  The Government says that local leaders are being consulted, but they say they’re not.  Even within Boris Johnson’s own party, people have had enough of the appalling contempt being shown towards Northern England.  MPs for northern constituencies have formed a pressure group.

I am very disappointed in Boris.  And I could wallop bloody Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary.  If he says one more word about “hard work”, I shall scream.  What does he think people in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Preston, Burnley, Bradford etc are doing?  Going out raving every night?   Hospitality workers in Scotland have dumped a load of ice outside the parliament building in Edinburgh.  I wish someone’d dump a load over Matt Hancock’s stupid head.

Back in April, when the Queen made that wonderful speech, there was a genuine “Spirit of the Blitz” feeling of togetherness.  Now, people in urban areas of the North are angry and bitter.  What a mess.

 

Sunday, October 11th

Bizarrely, just as the world’s about to fall apart again, this has been one of the best days of the year.  I always go to Blackpool on the morning of the French Open, so, being superstitious – and because the weather was glorious – I went today, even if it was October rather than June.  It was a lovely morning.  And then Rafa beat Nole, 6-0 6-2 7-5!   I can’t believe it.  I wasn’t optimistic, and I thought that, even if he could do it, it’d be a long and tough battle, especially with the roof being closed.  But he was just incredible.  Absolutely wonderful.  It also means he and Roger have got the same number of Grand Slam titles, but I’m not so fussed about that – Rafa, Roger and Nole are all great, and I can live without all this “Who’s the GOAT?” stuff.  But I was definitely fussed about today, and … oh wow.  Wonderful.  Just wonderful.

Now we’ve got to see what tomorrow brings.  Five Manchester MPs have said that they won’t support Tier 3 restrictions, but Matt Hancock and Boris don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.  If the travel ban’s advisory rather than mandatory, do I still go?  I won’t be going near anyone else, and I haven’t been in close contact with anyone except Mum and Dad, but … I’m kind of bothered people will think badly of me, which I know is an awful way of looking at things.  But I heard loads of Scottish accents in Blackpool today, even though people in Scotland are “advised” not to visit parts of England in local lockdown.

This whole situation is ridiculous.

But today’s about Rafa ❤ 🙂 .

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!

 

 

Blackpool

I went to Blackpool yesterday!!   I’d have expected to go this coming Sunday instead: I’ve got a ritual of going to Blackpool for a long walk before coming home to watch the French Open men’s singles final.  But, whilst there’s no French Open this month 😦 , there’ll always be Blackpool.  So off I went.

I know that many people are nervous about going out, and also that there are mixed feelings in tourist areas about the urgent need to restart the economy versus concerns about the risks of visitors coming in.  There are no easy answers to any of this.  I will say that walking along the wide pedestrianised areas of the Prom, and of course the beach, was a lot easier and safer than walking along narrow pavements in housing estates, having to step into the road whenever someone comes the other way, or dodging cyclists and gangs of bored teenagers in busy city parks.  And it felt great … to see the sea, to feel the famous Blackpool breeze making my already messy hair even messier, to see our beloved Tower, and to hope that The Scales would forgive me for eating ice cream and fish and chips!

The vast majority of people, whether walking along or sitting on the beach, were trying very hard to observe social distancing.  I did see a few large groups, and I also saw the police completely ignoring them.  I see this every day in my local park.  I don’t know what the answer to that is.  I do understand that two or three police officers, on foot, probably feel uneasy about tackling a group of 20 or 25 people.  But the majority of people were sticking to the rules.

And, to get back to the diet-breaking, yes, there were loads of food places open!  Places like McDonald’s weren’t, so the local, independently-owned food places were taking all the money, which was great.  The chippy which I went to had plastic screens up to protect staff, who were wearing gloves, and customers were being asked to go in one door and out another, and to wait 6 ft apart.  That was great.  Other places weren’t trying so hard:  at those, staff were not wearing gloves, and people were being told that only cash payments would be accepted for transactions under £5.  But most were really making an effort, and it was wonderful to see them open.

It was sad to see all three piers closed off, and the Tower, Madame Tussaud’s, the Pleasure Beach and all the amusement arcades closed, as well as all the hotels.  One of the big amusement places had posters in its window, innocently put up earlier in the year, advertising family fun days for Easter weekend, VE Day and Euro 2020.  I could have cried.   Our tourist places have been hit so terribly hard by this.  Hotels remain shut, and it’s proving hard to get answers about when they’re likely to reopen, even if they’re allowed to reopen in July as currently planned.  And, even if attractions are able to reopen within the next couple of months, visitor numbers will have to be limited.  Also, it’s June already, we’re not far off the Longest Day and then (to state the obvious!) days will start getting shorter, and this good weather can’t last for ever.  People won’t be rushing off for a week or even a day on the beach in November.   So I was very pleased to see people in Blackpool yesterday.  It’s a difficult balancing act, but we need to get the economy going again.

But, hooray, the toilets were open!  By the afternoon, the queues were very long – someone should write a new version of that George Formby song about Blackpool Prom, and change the bit about queues for drinks and trams to queues for toilets! – because the usual options of using the toilets in cafes, pubs, restaurants and amusement arcades weren’t there, but at least they were open.  Some local councils haven’t shown the sense or decency to reopen toilets.  Get them all open, please.  A tannoy reminded people – not that people should need reminding, but still – to put all rubbish in bins, and, to be fair, people were doing that.

Food places were open.  Toilets were open.  Blackpool was open.  The sea was there.  The beach was there.  It had a bit of a nostalgic 1950s feel: with amusement arcades closed and no option to sit in cafes, everyone was eating ice cream and fish and chips on the beach, and kids were playing football or cricket or making sandcastles with buckets and spades.  And, as I’ve said, most people were trying very hard not to get too close to others.

And it was fun.  It was lovely.  I enjoyed myself. These are very difficult times.  We deserve to enjoy ourselves.  And we need to get the economy going: we’re already facing a severe recession and large numbers of job losses.   But we need to be careful.  And most people were being careful.  As I’ve said, it’s a balancing act.  Everyone will have their own views, and what’s right for one person may not be right for another, but I never once felt unsafe.  I just felt happy and relaxed – and I really needed to feel like that.  And Blackpool can do that, even in these weird times.

If you feel safe going out, it’s OK to do so.  If you don’t, you don’t.  Everyone’s circumstances are different.  But this worked for me.