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

Monday, February 1st

Boris has hinted that the Evil Tier System could be dropped.  But hasn’t made a definite commitment.   He was in Batley this morning, and a reporter had a go at him for picking on the North … well, not in so many words, but he (the reporter) did point out that the North had been under restrictions for far longer than the South.

However, there are more problems with these wretched mutant variants.  There is now another mutant variant, this time in California. And, worryingly, two cases of the South African variant have been picked up in people with no known connection to South Africa, in Woking. It’s not far from Heathrow, so is it possible that a member of airport staff’s caught the virus and inadvertently passed it on in the community?  Or that someone’s got it elsewhere?  And we’ve now been told that there are 105 cases in all, in various areas – including Southport, which is rather too close to comfort.

This is why we need tougher travel restrictions, for now.  There could be more mutants anywhere, which haven’t been identified yet.

On a more positive note, every care home resident in England has now been offered a vaccination, which is an important milestone. And the rollout to the overseas territories has begun – some doses of the Oxford vaccine have embarked on a 17 hour journey to the Falkland Islands!  Also, Israel’s reported very promising results from its vaccination programme. Nothing’s going to be 100% effective, but only a very small number of people have become ill after being fully vaccinated. Wonderful news.

The Isle of Man’s completely out of lockdown – no social distancing, no closures.

February got off to a stressful start when Samsung released a phone update.  I am terrified of phone updates.  I wish there was a way of stopping them.  They’re usually fairly minor, but this one changed a few things, and a) it took me a while to find something afterwards and b) it stopped one of my apps from working.  I updated the individual app and, touch wood, it’s OK now, but the whole thing panicked me, knowing that I couldn’t go to a shop and ask for help if I needed it.  Anyway, let’s try to move on from that …

But it is so nice having some tennis to watch.  And I’m back with the spray on hair dye, which is a pain but is better than having grey roots.

And this is Children’s Mental Health Week.  It’s a tough time to be a kid.  One “expert” suggested that everyone should repeat an academic year, but a) some kids are doing OK and b) it’s not practical anyway, because then there’d be no room for the little ones due to start school in September.   Another suggestion’s been cancelling the school summer holidays, on the assumption that schools are open again by then, but a) teachers would never agree to it and b) parents will then be unable to go on holiday … if anyone can go anywhere by then.

 

Tuesday, February 2nd

Very sad news this afternoon, with the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore, aged 100.  He died “with coronavirus” (with tragic irony, he may well have contracted it in hospital), but it’s emerged that he’d had pneumonia for several weeks.  To live to 100, and still to be completely mentally alert and relatively physically fit, is a wonderful thing, and to inspire an entire country, and indeed much of the world, in a time of crisis is just incredible.  There are so few of that wonderful generation left.  Sad, sad news.  I cried over that.  Such a loss.  But a wonderful, long life.

And we’ve been told that the so-called “Kent mutation” has mutated again – this time in the same sort of nasty way as the Brazilian and South African variants.  Whether it did this off its own bat or whether it “got together” with one of the others (as a scientist on Sky News put it, which makes it sound as if they all got together for a few bevvies and to have a good laugh at us), who knows?  I do get that viruses mutate, but we keep being told that there’s a race between the virus and the vaccine, and it feels as if the virus isn’t playing fair.  Unfortunately, it isn’t really possible to disqualify it.

We’re being told that there are “mutations of concern” in Liverpool and Bristol now.   There was some talk about a mutation in Liverpool a few weeks ago.  And it’s only 35 miles away.   It could be a coincidence, but … Kent, Liverpool, Bristol – is there something going on with ports?  Maybe like “freshers’ flu” at universities, where germs from lots of different areas mingle and get swapped around?   People in those areas are being told to avoid going out, which is scary.

I’m concerned about the fact that infection rates in Greater Manchester are not falling as quickly as they are elsewhere … places which saw a surge in December are seeing much bigger drops than places where rates were already relatively high.  Is the virus now “endemic” in some areas, as was suggested in August or September?  Will this nightmare EVER end?

A few examples, rates @ 28/01/21 compared to (rates @ 21/01/21) – Knowsley 611 (898), Sandwell 547 (841), Blackburn 464 (570), Liverpool 388 (608), Carlisle 359 (607), Barnet 330 (545), central Manchester 299 (369), Bristol 269 (349), Bury 264 (333), Kirklees 234 (262), Cheshire East 197 (275), Newcastle 182 (253), South Lakes 167 (252), E Devon 109 (127), NE Lincs 92 (104).

Meanwhile, I was actually quite enthusiastic about getting up this morning, despite snow and heavy rain, because Rafa was meant to be playing in the ATP World Team Cup at 8 o’clock our time.  But he didn’t, because of a “stiff lower back”.  With less than a week to go before the Australian Open, this is pretty worrying.  Let’s just hope it’s nothing serious.

But tonight, hooray, we beat Southampton 9-0!   9-0.  So frustrating that we couldn’t be there to see it at the ground rather than on telly, but still … 9-0.  Sorry, Southampton, nothing personal, but, wa-hey!!

 

Wednesday, February 3rd

Good news:

– 10 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a vaccine.
–  Research shows that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine protects against transmission, and that the 12 week gap
between doses is OK.
–  Numbers of Covid patients in hospital are falling.

But the numbers of deaths are still horrendous, and many people remain in hospital.  And there’s now the additional worry that your area could be the next one affected by an Unexplained Mutant Incident.  And 5 out of the 10 local boroughs have now got rates above the national average – falling, but not as quickly as the national average is falling.

And the Australian Open traumas continue.  First, Rafa said that he wasn’t going to play tomorrow because his back was still sore.  This really, really is worrying.  Then it was announced that a staff member at one of the hotels had tested positive, everyone at the hotel was going to have to self-isolate until they’d tested negative, and all tomorrow’s matches in all six warm-up events were cancelled!

Also, some insensitive person decided to include a huge photo article in the latest magazine on forthcoming highlights.  Including snowdrops at Chirk Castle and daffodils at Sizergh Castle.  Both of which I want so much to see, but won’t be doing.  It was like Jim Bowen saying “And here’s what you could have won”.  Bah.

I’ve bought more spray on hair dye.  I’d forgotten what a mess it makes of the shower curtain (when it washes out)!

I got my Christmas presents from my sister today 🙂 .  She decided to post rather them rather than keep waiting for these infernal travel restrictions to be lifted.

And it’s been confirmed that the Eurovision Song Contest will go ahead.  I’m not sure whether this is good news or bad news 😉 .

 

Thursday, February 4th

One in five adults in the UK has now had a dose of the vaccine, and research suggests that it might be OK to mix and match, i.e. it won’t matter whether or not your first and second doses are of the same vaccine.  And the Bank of England apparently thinks that the economy will bounce back strongly in the spring.  Not if we’re locked down till May, which seems to be what the scientists want, it won’t.  A lot of questions are being asked about restrictions being eased.

One question is whether or not people who’ve had both doses of the vaccine will be able to meet up.  This issue seems to be being raised in Germany as well.  If you’ve been fully vaccinated, and so has your sister/brother/cousin/close friend whom you haven’t seen since October, it’s going to be very frustrating to be told that you still can’t see them.  But, if we start creating a two-tier society, with those of us not in the priority groups becoming some sort of underclass, there’s going to be a lot of upset and resentment.  Difficult situation.

The Pet Shop Boys concert which I was due to go to in May 2020, and which was rescheduled for May 2021, has now been rescheduled again, this time for May 2022.  Third time lucky?  Just please tell me that we’ll be able to go on staycations in July.  I actually cried when I saw shots of Windermere on Joanna Lumley’s new travel programme.  So Lakes-sick 😦 .

The Australian Open draw’s been postponed, because 160 players are awaiting the results of tests.  Only one person at the hotel seems to have the virus, and it’ll be very bad luck if anyone else has caught it, so fingers crossed that it’ll be OK.  But I’m extremely concerned about the injury.  Spain’s tie against Greece has been rescheduled for tomorrow, but Rafa says that he’s still not ready to play a full match.  If he’s not ready to play on Friday, and this would only be best of 3, and the Aussie Open starts on Monday … it’s not sounding good 😦 .

A London Church of England clergyman’s tweeted that: “The cult of Captain Tom is a cult of White British Nationalism”.  This why society’s so divided, because of comments like that – and at a time when Captain Tom’s family and friends are mourning his loss.  The Diocese of London has, quite correctly, said that his “comments regarding Captain Sir Tom Moore were unacceptable, insensitive, and ill-judged”.

And the German government is refusing to let Liverpool into Germany for their Champions League match against Leipzig.  This could all get pretty messy.  Benfica won’t be allowed into the UK for the Europa League match against Arsenal … unless an exemption for elite sports players is agreed, as has been done in Italy for the forthcoming tennis event there.

 

Friday, February 5th

My car went for its MOT today.  MOTs were suspended during Lockdown I, but are now operating as normal.  The garage sent me an e-mail asking me to drive there with all the windows down, but I’m afraid I didn’t – although it’s only 3 miles away, there are umpteen sets of traffic lights en route, and I wouldn’t have felt safe sitting in a stationary ca with all the windows down.   And I had to take everything out other than the wheel nuts and the service book.  Fortunately, all that was needed was a new windscreen wiper blade.  I’ve been nervous about MOTs ever since I took a previous car in, blithely thinking everything was OK, and it needed hundreds of pounds worth of repairs.

Nice weather today, but more snow forecast for next week.  FFS!

I am really stressy at the moment.  A lot of it’s to do with my weight.  I’m going for a long walk every day, and walking up and down steps as well, but I cannot shift the weight.  I don’t generally put weight on at home in a normal week, maybe a couple of pounds on some weeks and off in others, but weight piles on on holiday and over Christmas and just won’t come off.  I have spent my entire life battling my weight.  So demoralising.

Local elections are going ahead in May.  BYOB – bring your own biro!  Our council are fairly hopeless regardless of who’s elected, but the fact that the elections are going ahead does suggest that restrictions will have been eased by early May.  They’d better have been!   Scientists keep saying that the authorities shouldn’t give dates, and I take the point that the virus doesn’t work by the calendar, but that’s easy to say when you’re not the one with no idea when your business can reopen or when your kids can go back to school  And everyone’s mental health is starting to suffer.   Miserable people are saying that no-one should go on holiday this summer because it’s irresponsible, but the people saying that are invariably people who don’t work, just as the people who are saying that dates shouldn’t be given are people whose income isn’t being affected by the lockdown.   The good news is that the R rate is below 1, and cases are falling in most areas.

And I’m sad because Christopher Plummer’s died 😦 .  I do know that he wasn’t just Captain Von Trapp, but I love him so much in that role.

 

Saturday, February 6th

It’s rained so much that Salford City v Bolton was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.  United v Everton was not called off … but we conceded an equaliser in the last bloody second of injury time, dropping two points.   So, so disappointing.

When it stopped raining, I went out, only for there to be serious trauma when The Coffee Sack hadn’t got any scones.  I must have looked very upset, because the man gave me a free cup of tea!  I did get a scone from M&S later, but I was hungry, so I ended up getting crumpets in the park.  No wonder I’m so fat!

And then, even though the forecast’d given more heavy rain for later, I stupidly stayed out longer than I should have done, and got rather wet despite my brolly.

Oh dear!!

On a happier note, Dan Evans is into the final of the Murray River event.  Good to see him playing so well.  Shame he’s in the same section of the draw as Rafa and his bad back, though.

 

Sunday, February 7th

Heavy snow’s hit parts of S E England, as well as the Netherlands and N W Germany.  We only got a few flakes here, thankfully, but I could see loads of snow on the hills when I went to Hollingworth Lake this morning.

It was lovely, despite the cold wind, but I’m sad because I should have been doing the snowdrop walks at Rode Hall today … the first rite of spring.  I’m also a bit sad at the thought of having to use Amazon Prime as the Easter Bunny for a second successive year, rather than being able to give my nephews their Easter eggs in person.

It looks as if everyone may need a “top-up” jab in the autumn.  It’s not clear whether this is a general top-up thing or whether it’s to do with concerns that the original vaccine formula may not be entirely effective against this dangerous new variant from South Africa.  Concerns are also growing about low take-up of the vaccine in some ethnic groups.  For example, amongst over 80s in Bradford, 97% of white people took the vaccine, but only 77% of people of Pakistani heritage.   But the rollout is proceeding apace, and we’re on target for everyone in the highest risk groups to’ve had their first jab by February 15th.

I am so sick of all this.  Please, please let us get back to some sort of normality by June.

Some good news – Dan Evans won the Murray River Open.  But I am very stressed about Rafa’s back injury …

 

Lockdown Week 4, April 13th to 19th 2020, inclusive

Easter Monday, April 13th

A rare sunny Bank Holiday: today would have been perfect for going to the Lakes, or Blackpool, or one of the National Trust or English Heritage properties.  Oh well!  Thank goodness for Heaton Park!   And, whilst I was on my way to the park, I saw a Sikh family taking photos in their front garden, dressed up in traditional white robes, with orange turbans and shawls for Vaisakhi, which is today.  That was lovely.  Then, when I got to the park, the peacocks from the farm centre had flown up to the top of the wall.  They must wonder where all their visitors have gone!  I went to a part of the park I haven’t been to for years – decades, in fact! – today, the Dell Gardens.  We used to walk through there on “nature walks” when we were in the infants!   I’m going back there tomorrow.

I don’t know when this is all going to end.  Spain and Italy are talking about easing lockdown restrictions, but we’re a few weeks behind them.  The death figures are still horrendous – and they don’t even include deaths in care homes.  And so many different industries are calling for bailouts, and I sympathise with all of them, but I don’t know where the money’s supposed to come from.   There’s one thing I can do to help, anyway – I’ve booked a blood donation appointment,  I was due to go on Saturday, but the local session was cancelled.  However, the main centre in town’s open, and blood donation counts as essential travel.  I’ve also ordered some face masks from Amazon (one washable and some disposable) : some countries are making it compulsory to wear them, and it may well eventually happen here too.

I posted my fanfic today.  No-one said it was inappropriate, and some people have posted very nice comments, so I’m glad that I went ahead with it.

 

Tuesday, April 14th

On my way to the park today, I saw a hearse going down the road – no funeral cars, just a hearse.  This is one of the worst things about the current situation: people can’t even attend loved ones’ funerals.  My cousin who makes professional videos is organising live-streaming of funerals for free, which is brilliant of him.

Earlier, I’d had to queue for 20 minutes to get into Tesco, even though I went early.  At least it was dry and sunny!

I’m getting rather stressed about my hair.  I haven’t got the nerve to cut it myself, or even to dye itself – I keep thinking about Anne Shirley dyeing hers green! – but I can’t just leave it indefinitely.  Hmm.

On a more cheerful note, I’ve now got the Now ’80s channel on during the day, rather than any of the news channels.  I’m loving having ’80s music on.  I may even have got up to dance to a few old faves 🙂 .  And I’ve started walking up and down the steps in the garden – 20 times each session.  It’s not quite the same as going to the gym, but it’s something!  Speaking of ’80s music, though, the Pet Shop Boys concert I was going to at the end of May’s been rescheduled for next year.  As with everything else that’s been cancelled/postponed, I knew it was coming, but it’s still disappointing.  Everything people were looking forward to over the next few months, all the holidays and little treats, is being taken away.   But I do like this Now ’80s channel.

 

Wednesday, April 15th

A big envelope addressed in my sister’s handwriting came today.  Inside it was a picture of a rainbow, done by my nephews, for me to put in one my front windows.  Oh bless!  A lot of kids are drawing rainbow pictures to display on windows.  I’m really chuffed with it!

And there’ve been some new arrivals at the park – the ducks in the pond near the farm centre (I’m not sure why some ducks live there rather than in the lake!) have had ducklings!  So cute 🙂 .  Life goes on …

My £75 shopping gift voucher (for changing insurance companies earlier in the year) arrived today.  Valid at a load of High Street shops.  A lot of use that is at the moment!!  I’ll have to see which of them’ll accept it on line.

Lockdown in Northern Ireland’s been extended until May 9th.  The same thing’s going to happen in the rest of the UK: I don’t know why they don’t just say so.  Everyone accepts that it’s coming.

 

Thursday, April 15th

This morning, I watched (live on BBC 1) Captain Tom Moore, a 99-year-old Second World War veteran, complete 100 laps of his garden … which has raised over £15  million for the NHS!  His original idea was to raise £1,000 by doing the 100 laps before his forthcoming 100th birthday, but the whole thing’s gone viral, and now he’s a national hero!  He’s in the news on other countries as well.  So many people were trying to donate that the Just Giving website went down, although I did manage to get on it this evening.  99 years old.  “Captain Tom” – the nation’s new superhero!

UEFA are talking about the season ending in August. I wish! They’re being very dictatorial, saying that countries where seasons aren’t finished could lose their Champions League and Europa League places.  Control freaks are not coping well with lockdown … there was an unpleasant work-related incident (by e-mail) today, which better hadn’t been repeated.

The washable mask came.  It was made in Burnley, so I’m supporting the historical Lancashire textile industry 🙂 .  I took a selfie of myself wearing it, and sent it round the family WhatsApp group.  Mum said I looked like a gangster!

Saw my brother-in-law’s dad whilst out for my walk today.  I see someone I know pretty much every day.  It’s OK (maybe not by the letter of the rules, but it’s not hurting anyone) to stop for a quick chat, as long as you stay 6 ft apart.

Then this evening was “Clap for our carers”.  And lockdown’s been extended for another three weeks.  It’s not even that newsworthy, because we knew it was coming!

 

Friday, April 17th

The Duchess of Cornwall opened the G-Mex Nightingale Hospital today, by video link.  I was trying to see what the books on the shelves behind her were! “In creating this Nightingale hospital, you have truly brought light to a dark time.  But this is not surprising. Manchester is a past master at bringing light to dark times.”  It’s amazing how quickly these hospitals have been made ready … just so sad that they’re needed.  The NHS are coping brilliantly, though.  We feared that hospitals would be overwhelmed, but it hasn’t happened.

Virus-related hospital admissions are dropping, but the daily death figures are still very high.  Spain and Italy are still suffering badly too, as are Belgium and the Netherlands, and the situation in New York City’s horrendous.  When will this ever end?

Quite windy today.  The wind was blowing the blossom off the trees in the park.  It’s a shame, because once it’s gone, it’s gone, but the carpet of blossom petals on the ground, beneath the trees, looked absolutely amazing.

Norman “Bite Yer Legs” Hunter died with coronavirus today, aged 76.  Sad news.

I’ve sent a 100th birthday card to Captain Tom Moore!   So have tens of thousands of other people!

And tonight’s episode of Emmerdale showed Sam and Lydia’s wedding.  Such a nice, happy episode – a loving couple getting married in front of all their family and friends, and then a party afterwards.  When will we be able to have celebrations like that again?  It’s so hard to plan anything at the moment.  Strange times.

 

Saturday, April 18th

I’ve now lost over half a stone since lockdown started.  Most people are saying that they’ve put on weight, but having the chance to go on long walks every day is doing me good … and I’m binge-eating/comfort-eating far less now that I’m not going to the office, which might make an interesting psychological study for someone.

Saturday is “#Sconesinthegarden” day, and, this week, I photographed the tea and scone by one of the lavender bushes!

I went to the park mid-afternoon today, because it rained a bit late morning/early afternoon.  The sun’ll be back tomorrow, though.  I’ve never known such a long spell of good weather in April.

I have acquired some “roots touch-up” spray.  I just haven’t found the courage to use it yet!

 

Sunday, April 19th

Oh FFS.  First it was the toilet flush, now it’s the toilet seat!  The lid suddenly just cracked.  OK, it only cost £12, and that was a few years ago, but did it have to choose now to break?  I think B&Q might actually be open, but it seemed better to order one from Amazon.  Unfortunately, most toilet seats are now “top-fixing”, and mine’s “bottom-fixing”, so there wasn’t much choice, but I found one in the end.   I hope it’s not too hard to fix: it’s hard to tell just from a picture.

A helicopter flew over a few times today.  Not sure whether it was delivering stuff for hospitals or on RAF manoeuvres.  Seeing aircraft go over used to be commonplace until a month ago: now, it’s a novelty!

As well as going for my walk, I’ve caught up on some reading and film-watching, and ordered some more photos.   And opened my second Easter egg.  Well, it is Orthodox Easter today!

And I do wish certain elements of the media would STFU.  Yes, OK, if we could turn the clock back then maybe we’d do things differently, but we can’t.  You do what you think’s best at the time.  Mistakes have been made, both here and in other countries, but we can’t change that now: we’ve got to deal with the situation as it is now.  As for some of the politically-motivated things that have been posted on social media, they beggar belief.  I’m just trying to ignore them.  We all need to work together.  Pointing out mistakes in the hope of making positive changes to how things are being dealt with is one thing.  Political point-scoring is another.  And some of it’s just utter crap.  Best ignored!

And, whilst I’m ranting, some git’s dumped three mattresses, a broken vacuum cleaner and a load of other stuff in the little bit of woodland round the corner.  I know it’s annoying that the tips are closed and the public bins are sealed up, but that does not make fly-tipping OK.  It’s becoming a problem in a lot of places.  Gah!  OK, enough ranting now /rant.

And so endeth another week in lockdown!