The Last Days Before Lockdown – March 19th to 22nd 2020 inclusive

Thursday, March 19th

Boris says we’re not going into full lockdown, but I’m not sure how long we can avoid it.  His daily 5pm speeches are becoming a bit of a thing, although I miss most of them because I’m on my way home from work.

Hooray for my lovely hairdresser!!  I rang up this morning, and she said she’d squeeze me in for a cut and dye tonight.  A lot of the older ladies who go during the day are cancelling, because they’re nervous about the virus, but working people are desperate to get their hair sorted whilst they still can.  So at least that’s one thing sorted for now.  Another is that my younger nephew’s had the cast on his wrist (which he broke in a footballing accident a few weeks back): my sister was panicking that his appointment’d be cancelled.  It’s hard for the kids.  Being off school sounds fun, but they won’t be seeing their friends, and their football matches and all the other stuff they enjoy’ve all been cancelled.   Professional football’s off until at least the end of April, but we’re being told that the season will be finished.  And the Oberammergau Passion Play’s been postponed until 2021.  It’s quite ironic, given its history.

An office laptop has been set up with a remote link to my office computer.  I suppose I should bring it home and check that it works, but I’m scared that it’ll upset my home internet connection.  Working from home is looking inevitable, though.  People with young kids are going to have no choice after Friday – although I don’t know how people who can’t work from home are suppose to manage.  My brother-in-law’s office is closing, so he’s going to be working from home.  And GCSE, AS Level, A Level and Scottish Higher exams have been cancelled.  So sorry for the kids involved.

Not sure what to do about Grasmere.  I desperately want to go, but who knows where we might be at by the first weekend in April?  Some people are getting very sanctimonious and saying that no-one should be going anywhere – all very well, if you don’t have to go to work, and can get online shopping! – but there’s no reason not to go out as long as you observe social distancing.

The Queen’s issued an official statement, saying we all need to stay strong.  She’s now at Windsor – and I hope she’s got no plans to return to Buckingham Palace, because things in London are getting quite bad.

Prince Albert of Monaco’s got the virus now.  And Italy’s now had more deaths than China.


Friday, March 20th

Bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes have been ordered to close.  So have clubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres.  I’m going to ring the hotel in Grasmere tomorrow, to see what’s happening.  The boats at both Windermere and Coniston are off.  How are tourist places going to survive this?   Not even any notice – the food places’ll all have stock in, especially with it being Mothering Sunday this week.  I’m not criticising the decision, but the financial fallout’s going to be huge.  A “furlough” scheme – the word “furlough” makes me think of Dick Bettany in the Chalet School books coming home on “furlough” from India! – is being introduced, whereby the Government will pay 80% of wages for anyone who’s had to be laid off because of the closures, but how long can that go on for?

The start of the cricket season’s been delayed.

No printer ink in Tesco.  Everyone’s now panicking and ordering home office supplies online.  I usually get mine from Amazon, but they hadn’t got any.  I’ve managed to order some directly from HP.  I had to try four places before I could get skimmed milk, and there’s no toilet roll anywhere.   Managed to get one box of tissues in Iceland, and some paracetamol from Superdrug.  No Tesco apple and blackcurrant cordial, although I got some Robinsons stuff.  I usually only go to Tesco and M&S, and could have done without having to go round umpteen shops after being stuck at work all day, but there wasn’t much option.  Honestly, it’s like the stories from the war.  Mum went during the OAPs’ hour this morning, and managed to get a packet of toilet rolls, so she says she and Dad can spare me some if I run out!!

Beautiful spring day.  Due to be very windy tomorrow, though, so I think I’ll leave Chirk till Sunday.  I’ll go to Hollingworth Lake tomorrow: the daffodils are early this year, so it should be nice there.  I’ll stay 6 ft apart from anyone else.  And take selfies, seeing as I won’t be able to ask anyone to take photos for me!


Saturday, March 21st

Oh no!   Chirk Castle’s closing.  I checked this morning and this afternoon, and both times the website said it’d be open tomorrow.   Then they changed it late this evening.  I only checked again because I’d heard some places were closing tomorrow due to concerns about a lot of people going for Mothering Sunday.  They’re bothered about too many people going, which is fair enough … but no notice.  I bet a load of people turn up.   And my weekend in Grasmere’s off.  The hotel’s closing.  I did think about going for the day, next weekend, but now Cumbrian police have asked people to stay away from the Lakes.  At least I got to see some daffodils at Sizergh and Windermere, but I’m very sad that I won’t be seeing them at Grasmere, Coniston, Chirk or Biddulph this year.  And, the way things are going, I won’t be seeing the bluebells at Windermere, Capesthorne, Erddig or Brodsworth, nor the laburnum arch at Bodnant Garden.  Nor Tatton Park lambing week – that’s definitely off.  Well, the lambs’ll still come, but we won’t see them.  I’m trying to stay positive, but it feels as if all the good things are being taken out of life.  A lot of shops are closing, too.

Bolton Abbey’s still open, though, so I’m going there tomorrow.  It’s a huge estate, so it should be easy to stay 6 ft away from people.  I’ll have to take my own scone!  I always have a scone at weekends.  And I had a nice walk round Hollingworth Lake, and saw lots of daffodils.  People were being careful not to get to close to each other.  Sad to see the lovely tearoom which I usually go to there all shut up, though, and with the tables already decorated for Mothering Sunday.  This horrible virus is devastating businesses.  United and City’ve teamed up to donate £100,000 to local foodbanks.

Real Madrid’s president’s died, after being hospitalised with the virus.  Very sad.

I got some toilet roll, at least.  Called in at Tesco in case by any miracle they’d got some.  No joy.  But I then struck lucky – Quality Save’d just had a delivery, minutes before I got there.  You could only take one packet each, but they were really big packets.  I was so excited that I took a photo of them and put it on our family WhatsApp group!  This is what life has come to.  Getting excited over toilet roll!!


Sunday, March 22nd

Had a really lovely day at Bolton Abbey.  I did get a bit upset because the heavy-handed Puritan brigade on Facebook were posting abusive remarks about anyone who’d gone out for the day, and I felt like it was all directed at me (even though loads of people had gone out for the day), but, to be fair, I think they meant more the huge crowds pictured at seaside resorts.   We’ve been told that it’s important for physical and mental health to get out, and there are only so many places to go to, so I suppose it’s inevitable that people will end up at the same ones, but we all need to try to stay 6ft apart.  It can be done.  Nearly everyone at Bolton Abbey was doing it.

I wish the heavy-handed Puritan brigade’d shut up.  They’re not helping.  Two of my friends got quite upset because people’d had a go at them for posting jokes.  Is it going to help if we all lose our sense of humour?

And, on top of everything else, filming on Coronation Street and Emmerdale‘s stopping, so they’ll be going on ration too.

The Bolton Abbey estate was so beautiful.  The countryside’s so beautiful.  Maybe I’m feeling it even more than ever at the moment.  The world’s falling apart.  Everywhere, things are closing down.  281 deaths in the UK now.  I feel a bit like Scarlett O’Hara and Ashley Wilkes talking about their civilisation collapsing.  OK, OK, rationed episodes of soaps and a lack of professional sport is hardly to be compared to that, but … it does kind of feel as if the world;s falling apart.

Let’s try to stay positive …