Lockdown III Week 11, March 15th to 21st 2021 inclusive

Monday, March 15th

A terrible thing has happened 😦 .  Thorntons are closing all their shops.  Their chocolate will still be available online and from some supermarkets, but all their shops are going.  I can’t believe it.  There’ll be no High Street shops left at this rate.

Sunday’s Census Day, but you can fill yours in early if nothing’s going to change.  I decided to fill mine in today, then read it over later in the week, then send it in.  I appreciate that the decision to go ahead with it was taken before Lockdown III, but it’s going to be rather a mess.  You’ve got to fill in it as things are now, so loads of people will be putting that they’re not working, even though they have actually got jobs, and loads of people will be putting that they’re working from home and therefore not using any form of transport to get to work – so how are the authorities meant to make decisions about the transport network?

Nice sunny day today.  More and more daffodils coming out.  And we’re stuck in this limbo.  And hairdressers in Wales have reopened … but we’ve got to wait another four weeks.

Some countries have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, this time because some people’ve got blood clots after having it, but there’s no evidence that the blood clots are linked to the vaccine or that the incidence of blood clots is any higher than it would be anyway.  You can now e-mail the doctors’ surgery, so I’ve e-mailed to ask if there’s any news on vaccinations for Group 10.  No harm in asking.

And Portugal’s off the “red list”.

 

Tuesday, March 16th

Bleurgh.  First, Indian Wells was cancelled.  Now, Rafa’s pulled out of Miami.  He says that it’s so he can focus on getting ready for the clay court season, and that sort of makes sense, but I’m bothered about just how bad this back injury is.

Also, infection rates are up in 7 out of the 10 local boroughs.  Not ours, but it’s probably only a matter of time.  It’s because secondary school kids are now being tested regularly.  There doesn’t seem to be any panic, because kids are rarely badly affected, but a) it shows how many asymptomatic cases there are around, b) a small number of kids *are* badly affected, c) it could be passed on to a vulnerable classmate of family member, d) it means that some kids have been sent home from school again, already, and e) with no plans to vaccinate under 18s, and no vaccines even licensed for under 18s, the issue of infections in children is a problem.

On a happier note, Prince Philip has been released from hospital.  And the first tulip’s out in my garden.

Boris’s hair is horrendous.  Mine is pretty bad, but his is ten times worse.

And the surgery e-mailed me back to say that they’re still on over-50s.

 

Wednesday, March 17th

I don’t believe this.  Just as my turn for the vaccine was getting close, the NHS is warning of a “major contraction” in supplies and saying that it might have to suspend appointments for first doses.  This may or may not be connected with Ursula von der Leyen again threatening an export ban, in her continued attempts to blame everyone but herself and her team for the complete balls-up they’ve made of the rollout in EU countries.

We’re also being told that people in their 40s will have to wait whilst the NHS chases up people in Groups 1 to 9 who haven’t yet come forward.

I am not very happy about this 😦 .

It’s been a nice sunny day – blue sky, and more and more daffodils in the park.

But this latest news about the vaccines really isn’t very good.

 

Thursday, March 18th

Oh, how annoying is this?  I do appreciate that it’s not aimed at me personally, and I also appreciate that we were always going to hit a supply hitch at some point and have done very well to get this far without one, but I was so close.  The word was that some people aged 47-49 in our area had been contacted, and that people aged 45-46, i.e. including me, could probably hope to hear next week.  And now it’s probably going to be another month.  Another month of not being protected.  And, whilst I do get that it’s not about holidays, if I’d had my first vaccination in late March or early April, I’d have had my second in time for the summer holiday season.  So near, and yet so far.

It seems that one shipment of 1.7 million doses is being held back for extra testing, and that a shipment of 5 million doses from India’s been delayed by 4 weeks because of production problems.  I thought it was great that Boris praised the “herculean” efforts of the production facility in India, rather than slagging off the people whose hard work’s offering us a way out of this nightmare, like that nasty piece of work Ursula von der Leyen’s doing, but it is, nevertheless, annoying.  The original target was to complete groups 1 to 9 by 15th April, and we’re 4 weeks before that and I’m group 10, but … ooh, it’s so, so frustrating.   So nearly there … and now I’m not.

On a happier note, we won 1-0 at AC Milan, 2-1 on aggregate, and are into the Europa League QFs.  And it’s been another nice sunny day.  More daffodils out in the park.  Please, please be nice in April!

 

Friday, March 19th

After a third fortysomething friend posted on Facebook that she’d had the vaccine, I rang our surgery to ask what was going on.  The answer was that a small number of people in their late 40s had been contacted, because the walk-in centre had had some doses which were nearing their use-by dates, but that, following the announcements on Wednesday, no-one outside the top 9 groups would be being called for the time being.  Existing appointments are being honoured, so my friend must just have been lucky in that her area was slightly ahead of ours and she’d been contacted before Wednesday.  Which is great for her, and I’m very pleased for her, but it’s very frustrating for me!

The number of cases is edging up now.  However, we still only recorded 4,802 cases across the UK today, compared to (yesterday’s numbers) nearly 35,000 in France, nearly 30,000 in Germany and nearly 25,000 in Italy.  There’s increasing talk of a “third wave”.  Will this nightmare ever end?!

I just heard a squeaky noise, panicked that the boiler had thrown a strop, and then realised that it was some birds tweeting in a tree!

For all this talk about third waves and vaccine shortages, there’s been no suggestion that the “roadmap” will be altered for the time being.  Everyone really is fed up, so let’s hope that things can go ahead as planned.

And we’ve been drawn against Granada in the next round of the Europa League.

 

Saturday, March 20th

Over 700,000 vaccinations were given in just one day yesterday, which is amazing stuff, but so, so, frustrating for my age group, left waiting outside with the door shut in our faces!   On a more positive note, over 50% of the adult population’s now had their first dose.   Cases are creeping up again, but hospitalisations and deaths are falling, which is more important.  However, the news from the Continent is grim, with the term “third wave” being used more and more.  With fears that rising numbers of cases there could lead to new variants arising, hopes of foreign travel (bearing in mind that most foreign travel from the UK is to the Continent) being allowed to resume any time soon are fading.  Poland and many parts of France have gone back into lockdown.  Oh, will this nightmare ever end?!

I went to Clifton Country Park this morning.  Took my own scone, from The Coffee Sack, with me!   It was nice to have a change of scene, but the place was absolutely plagued with people with dogs, and the paths there are very narrow.  I went for a walk in Heaton Park later.  Much as I like going for walks, I am getting very fed up!  And my hair is an epic disaster.

Japan’s said that no overseas fans will be allowed in for the Olympics.  My trip to Japan, booked around 18 months ago and postponed from last October to this October, looks very unlikely to happen.  Ditto my trip to Iceland, rescheduled from last July to this July.  I’m used to going abroad at least twice a year, usually more – I know that sounds “privileged”, but I wear the same grotty old clothes for decades, and use gadgets until they stop working – and suddenly not being able to do so is very odd.  I haven’t even been allowed to leave the local area for 5 months.

On a different note, I saw our local Big Issue seller today, sitting on the pavement in the precinct.  I got him something to eat, and he’d got some hot drinks, so hopefully people are keeping an eye out for him.  He’s a well-known face in the local community: he’s been selling the Big Issue outside M&S for years.  But Big Issue sellers aren’t allowed to work during lockdown.  How stupid is that?  Newsagents are allowed to open, and, OK, magazines aren’t “essential” in the same way that newspapers are, but surely the Big Issue should be a special case.   During Lockdown I, a big effort was made to find homeless people somewhere to stay, but it doesn’t seem to be happening this time.

 

Sunday, March 21st

Census Day.

A record 844,285 vaccinations were given yesterday.  That is amazing.  However, it makes it all the more frustrating that – whilst I quite appreciate that it’s no-one’s fault – most under 50s now face a long wait.  All this talk about vaccination passports is frustrating as well: it makes you feel like a second class citizen.  And it’s pretty silly, given that much of it involves activities that are mainly the preserve of younger people.  Vaccination passports for summer music festivals?  WTF?  The vast majority of people who go to music festivals are under 30, and will therefore be last in the vaccination queue, so how’s that supposed to work?!

Everything feels frustrating.  When you’re trapped doing boring work for 5 days a week, and get very little time off, weekends are precious.  A dry Sunday in daffodil season is like manna from heaven.  The Lakes?  Chirk Castle?  Biddulph Grange?  Bolton Abbey?  No … another walk round the park, and another walk into Prestwich village for another cake that I don’t need.  Everyone has had enough.  People are sitting at tables outside cafes, which they’re not meant to.  Kids are playing football in big groups, which they’re not meant to.  Plenty of people have had their hair cut by mobile hairdressers, which they’re certainly not meant to.  The odd sanctimonious person tuts at all this, and says that they’re prepared to endure restrictions for as long as it takes, for the Greater Good.  I’m sure people only say that because they think it makes them sound virtuous.  It actually just makes them sound annoying.

Yes, I’m sure we’re all aware that we’re in a pandemic, and that the restrictions are not just there to annoy us, but people are getting down.  And do scientists think they’re helping by saying that we’ll probably have to wear masks and observe social distancing for years to come, that there’ll probably be a big flu epidemic in the winter because immunity’s dropped due to lack of contact, that overseas travel will be off the menu for months yet, that even vaccinations won’t stop the pandemic, and all the rest of it?  They’re the modern equivalent of those people in the 17th century who went around proclaiming that the end of the world was nigh!   People can’t deal with hearing all that at the moment.

It’s not been a bad day.  Lots of daffodils in the park 🙂 .  Just frustrating.

OK, off to watch the Cup QF.  At least we’ve got football, which is more than we had this time last year!   I know I’m moaning a lot today, but I’m fed up.

… and we lost the Cup QF at Leicester, 2-1.  Bleurgh!

Bleurgh indeed …

 

Lockdown III Week 3, January 18th to 24th 2021 inclusive

Monday, January 18th

Ten new mass vaccination centres opened today, including another two in the North West.  Some areas, and I’m pleased to say that ours is one of them, are moving on to people in the 70-74 age group and younger people who are classed as clinically vulnerable.  However, some areas aren’t going as quickly as others, which seems to be a supply issue.   But over 4 million people have had their first doses now, and (not that it’s a competition) we’ve got the fourth highest per capita rate in the world.

I had a letter from the building society today, saying that they want to put my mortgage protection insurance up because they expect loads of people to be made redundant this year.  Very cheerful!   I’m not sure how much of it is a genuine result of forecasts and how much is just an excuse to try to get more money out of people.

Someone got fined for driving from Preston to Bolton to collect a takeaway.  FFS.  OK, I’m sure there are plenty of takeaways in Preston, but it’s hardly a long journey, and they were in their own car.  Shouldn’t the police be concentrating on breaking up mass gatherings, or closing shops which are open illegally?  And the press are tutting over pictures of lots of people walking in parks etc.  This happened during the first lockdown.  If you live in a built-up, densely-populated area, and are not supposed to leave it, how are you supposed to exercise without there being other people around?

And could someone please tell Novak Djokovic to shut up?  It is obviously far from ideal that 72 players, and their coaches etc, are all shut in their hotel rooms, not even allowed to open the doors.  Especially when they need to keep fit ahead of a strenuous two week tournament in the heat.  Also, the food looks very poor, and we’ve all seen the pictures of the mouse in Yulia Putintseva’s room.  But it is not helpful for Nole to demand that they be moved to private homes with their own tennis courts!   He’s just annoying everyone and sounding like a spoilt brat.  The situation is a nightmare, though.

 

Tuesday, January 19th

1,610 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test have been recorded today, the highest figure since the pandemic began.  The figures have been much lower over the past couple of days and they probably do average out, but it’s still very, very distressing and worrying.

Infection rates are falling in 9 out of 10 Greater Manchester boroughs now.  But not as quickly as the national average is falling, although I suppose rates are bound to be falling more quickly in areas which went into Tier 4 first. Things are improving, though.  Infections and hospitalisations across the country are falling, but things are still grim.  The lockdown in Scotland’s been extended, and there’s no sign of restrictions being lifted anywhere else either.

Figures show that there are five times as many kids in school in England as there were during the first lockdown.  Whew!   I think we’re all aware that far more kids are in school, but five times as many?!  It’s been suggested that schools will reopen on a regional basis.  I quite see that there’s no point keeping kids out of school in Devon because infection rates are still high in Carlisle, for example, but it’s going to mean kids in the hardest-hit areas being at an even bigger disadvantage.

Today, I have been to:

  1. Tesco, where some of the staffed checkouts have been replaced by self-scanner checkouts.  Not self-service, which are bad enough, but self-scanner.  No doubt, in 10 years’ time staffed checkouts will seem as outdated as going into a corner shop and asking a grocer for six apples and two pounds of flour, but I prefer the staffed ones!
  2. Marks & Spencer’s, where, amongst other things, I collected the free pineapple which I had been awarded for using my Sparks card.  Life is so boring ATM that a free pineapple seems quite exciting.
  3.  The frozen yoghurt shop.
  4. The office, to leave some files and collect others.  There were loads of cars in the car park.  Some of the people at other firms in the building don’t seem even to be bothering to try working from home.
  5.  The park, in torrential rain.  Thanks to Storm Christophe, the weather is utterly vile.   I’m sure I should get double calorie burn-off for walking in that sort of weather.

And it’s Donald Trump’s last day in office.  Thank heavens for that.

 

Wednesday, January 20th

Every time you think things can’t get any worse, they do.  1,820 deaths recorded today.  Infections are falling, but the numbers of deaths are just horrendous.  On top of that, research from Israel suggests that one dose of vaccine may not be as effective as originally thought in preventing infection, so we may have to give everyone two doses before things start improving significantly.  Will this nightmare never end?

On top of that, the weather is horrendous, and there are fears that there may be flooding in parts of South Manchester and Cheshire, and maybe even in town.  I got drenched in the park, despite my brolly.  Then, during United v Fulham (luckily, we were away, and City played earlier), it started snowing.  A lot.

It’s very hard not to turn to food for comfort.

Players in quarantine at the mice-infested hotel in Melbourne have been advised to “minimise interaction” with the mice, i.e. not to feed them.  This is getting farcical.  I know it’s a very difficult situation and Tennis Australia have gone to a lot of effort, etc, but surely it’s not unreasonable to expect hotel rooms which aren’t full of mice!

On a happier note, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been sworn in.  I thought Biden spoke quite well, about the need to come together and work together.  I wish them both luck.  They’re going to need it!

And we’re back on top of the league, after a 2-1 win at Fulham.  Leicester went top last night, then City after their win in tonight’s early KO, and now us again.  It’s certainly exciting … just so sad that there’s no prospect of fans being allowed in this season.

 

Thursday, January 21st

It’s stopped raining, and, after two hours of heavy snow last night, there’s been no more snow.  Thankfully, the flood defences in the Didsbury/Northenden area held, but homes and businesses have been flooded in Lymm, Northwich and other parts of the North West.  Just as if things aren’t bad enough.  Boris has been to visit.  Not that there was much he could do, but at least he showed willing.

Northern Ireland’s lockdown’s been extended until March.

Concerns are rising over a low level of take-up of the vaccines in certain ethnic minority communities.  It seems to be a particular problem in the West Midlands.  Unfortunately, irresponsible people are spreading anti-vaxxer messages and frightening people.

There’ve also been reports that another new variant’s been found, this time in Liverpool.  Hopefully it’s something and nothing.  That really would be a nightmare.

Fines for attending house parties are to be increased.  It sounds good, but all people have to do is say that they can’t pay.

Glastonbury’s been cancelled, for a second successive year.  It’s not a surprise, but it’s a psychological blow, because it’s such a big event on the calendar, and it’s also yet another huge blow to the live music industry, and the events industry in general.   And one scientist’s said that pubs, restaurants, cafes etc shouldn’t be allowed to reopen until May.  The hospitality industry’s on its knees.  The travel industry’s on its knees.  A lot of sports clubs are on their knees.  Obviously, things cannot reopen under the present circumstances, but … bloody hellfire, how much longer can businesses survive?

 

Friday, January 22nd

A load of people formed an orderly queue outside a centre in Timperley after it was reported that it was going to be turned into a vaccination hub.  They hadn’t got appointments, and there weren’t even any doses of the vaccine there!  But it shows how desperate people are to get vaccinated.  There’ve been some reports of low uptake in certain areas, but I haven’t heard of any such issues in the North West.

The R number is now below 1, which is great news, but there were another 1,401 deaths today, and Boris has said that it’s feared that the mutant virus is more deadly than the original.  People from other parts of the country are being moved to hospitals in Greater Manchester.  There’ve been some calls to stop international travel completely, but I don’t know how practical that is when cargo still needs to be moved around.

There are reports that the Olympics could be cancelled.  I don’t think that the mayhem over the Australian Open’s helping.  Andy Murray won’t be playing in Melbourne because it just can’t be sorted in time.  There are a lot of arguments going on on social media over the whole quarantine situation.  It’s a nightmare.

Snapfish have reprinted my photos, but they’ve done the same thing again -jumbled them all up.  You can no longer ring up, and my “livechat” with someone who barely spoke a word of English was a waste of time.  Someone is supposed to be contacting me by e-mail.  I’m still waiting.

And I am so tired of all the hatred.  Why do people hate others so much, just because they vote for a different political party?  And why do they feel the need to post that all over social media?

At least the weather’s cleared up …

 

Saturday, January 23rd

It snowed quite heavily this morning.  When I got to the park – having stopped en route to pick up a scone 🙂 – there were lots of kids sledging and building snowmen.  The snow’d gone by early afternoon, so it didn’t cause any problems, and it was a bit of fun.  There are “Covid marshals” in the park at weekends, but a) they seemed more interested in messing with their phones than in watching people and b) no-one was doing anything wrong anyway.  It was too cold to hang around in big groups like people were doing in the spring.

The animal centre’s been closed since March.  Paying zoos opened up for a while, but the park centre didn’t.  The animals look rather bored and lonely 😦 .

Everyone is fed up.  I know we should be counting our blessings, but this is crap.  And there’s no end in sight.  Two months into the spring lockdown, you could go to Blackpool.  We’ve now been under travel restrictions for three months, and there’s no sign of things changing.  There was originally some talk of restrictions being eased by mid-February, but then it was early March, then the end of March, then Easter, and now there’s even been talk of it going on until the summer.  I feel so trapped by work, and we get so little time off, that it’s really important to me to do something special at weekends and to plan holidays, and I can’t do any of that.   People who live on their own are feeling lonely.  People who live with others are getting sick of being with them round the clock.  People are worried about money.  Kids are getting behind in their education.  And, of course, people are worried about the virus risk.  It was bad enough in the spring, but, back then, we hadn’t been under restrictions for nearly a year already, and it was still light at the end of the working day, and the weather was nice.  This is crap.

Scientists are disputing the reports that the mutant version of the virus is more deadly.  It would explain a lot if it is.  Things are bad in a lot of places, but the death rates here are just horrendous.  Political points-scorers are saying that it’s all because Boris didn’t put us into lockdown soon enough in March, but that’s rubbish.  Whatever mistakes were made in March, infection rates and death rates were way, way down by July.  Something new is going on now.

The good news is that more and more people are getting their first shots of the vaccine.  But scientists are now saying that leaving a 12 week gap between the first and second shots is no good.

Sometimes, I still can’t believe that all this is really happening.

And I am having nightmares with Snapfish.  The “livechat” is a joke: the staff barely speak a word of English, ask the set questions on their script, and can’t cope if you go off the script.  They’ve had the nerve to offer me 100 free photos as a “goodwill gesture” after ruining my order of 638 photos!  And I can’t get any further reply from them.

 

Sunday, January 24th

United 3-2 Liverpool!  Great Cup tie, and into the 5th round we go.  But when will fans ever get back to matches?

6.3 million people have now had their first dose of the vaccination.  That’s a higher percentage of the adult population than anywhere other than Israel and the UAE.  But Matt Hancock’s said that we’re a “long, long way” from easing restrictions.

The virus situation in Greater Manchester doesn’t actually seem any worse than it was in October and early November.  I may well be talking rubbish, because we don’t get detailed regional data on hospitalisations and fatalities, but that’s how it seems to me.  But it seems unlikely that restrictions will be lifted until mid-March at the earliest … and, even then, it’ll be back to the Evil Tier System.  I hope I’m wrong, but I can’t see schools reopening fully until mid-April, after the Easter holidays.

I wish different groups of people would stop demanding to be given priority for vaccination.  There is only so much vaccine available.  Clinically vulnerable people need to be vaccinated first.  Why do teaching unions seem to think that teachers should take priority over those most likely to die>

I’ve been to Clifton Country Park today.  Quieter than usual, but there was far more rule-breaking going on than there was at Heaton Park.  No huge groups, but loads of groups which clearly consisted of two or three couples plus kids.  I know there’s a risk, but I do think that way too much attention is being paid to people out for walks – the police have been lurking round some beauty spots and fining people who’ve come more than a few miles – rather than on Covid safety in workplaces.  There are some offices round here where you see around 15 cars parked outside every day.  What’s more risky, 15 people in an office together or 4 people out for a walk together?

I’ve also read two newspapers and part of a book, watched the match, watched a historical documentary, watched part of a film, written a post on my book/TV/film review blog, written some fanfic and done some house stuff.  But it still feels like a waste of a day.

WordPress thumbnails have suddenly stopped displaying on the Facebook app.  You just get a grey box with a bit of writing in it.  The pics come up as normal on the browser and mobile browser version, so it’s clearly an app issue.  Links to, say, the BBC website or the MEN website are fine.  But the issue seems to be affecting Blogspot as well as WordPress.  I appreciate that this is not the end of the world: it is hardly as if more than half a dozen people at the most ever click on to my posts through Facebook anyway, and those who do can always click on the grey box.  But it’s annoying me like mad.  ETA – ah, problem solved!  The picture needs to be enlarged.  Which is very odd, because it never used to display unless the picture was small!

However, I finally got some sense out of Snapfish.  I’ve uploaded the photos again, so we can start from scratch, and they’re going to print them for the third time, free of charge,  Fingers crosses1

The release of the new James Bond film’s been delayed again.

But sea shanties have become a thing, after a postman made a video of himself singing one, and it went viral!  Maybe we can all bond over sea shanties 🙂 .

 

 

Lockdown II Week 1, November 2nd to 8th 2020 inclusive

Monday, November 2nd

Oh great.  Got up to find that water was still coming through to the kitchen ceiling.  The stain is horrendous, and I’ve got no idea where to find a decent decorator/artexer or whether or not they’re allowed to work indoors during lockdown.  I couldn’t even do anything about it, as I had to get off to my “emergency” hair appointment.  The hairdressers are all working flat out for the next three days, but are very worried about the situation – although, thankfully, it’s been announced that self-employed people who can’t work due to lockdown will get 80% of their income funded by the state, as for employed people.

I got the plumber to come back later.  He said that there was a problem with the valve (which he put in), to do with condensation.  I hope this isn’t going to turn into a whole saga.  I have got to work at a client’s office tomorrow, and am hugely stressed about being out of the house all day with this going on.

There’s now a to-do over the possibility of people crossing from England to Wales to go to pubs, shops, hairdressers etc.  And Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland might go into lockdown now that the furlough scheme’s being extended.  This is just silly.  Why can’t we all stick to the same rules?

Cup matches involving non-league teams can go ahead, hooray.  And we’re allowed to make “short journeys” for exercise.  Whatever a “short journey” may be.

Ryanair are refusing to give refunds for cancelled flights, even though international travel has been banned unless it’s for business.  How are they allowed to get away with that?

And it’s emerged that Prince William had the virus in April, around the same time that Prince Charles did, but nothing was said to avoid worrying people.  Melodramatic types are claiming that people would have panicked in case the virus carried off both Charles and William, something happened to the Queen, and Prince George had to become king at the age of 6, which is utterly ridiculous as neither Charles nor William were seriously ill.  However, with Boris being so ill, I can see that it might have caused a panic if a second senior royal were known to have got the virus as well.

Opinion is divided over whether or not schools, colleges and universities should close.

And the North West Ambulance Service has said that it’s struggling to cope and may ask people to make their own way to hospital.  It seems that it’s due more to staff being off due to self-isolating than to an exceptionally high number of 999 calls, but it’s certainly quite worrying.

 

Tuesday, November 3rd

Hoping that no more water is coming through, but it’s hard to tell whilst it’s still damp.  Some of the artexing has come off.  Having a huge mess on the ceiling at the start of a new year will really upset my OCD.  Bleurgh.

The latest cunning plan is for mass testing of everyone in Liverpool.  Liverpool has apparently volunteered for this.   Some parts of East Asia have had great success with mass testing, so fingers crossed, but we’ll see.

I had to go out to a client’s office today.  First time since all this started.  I had to wear a mask … which obviously I don’t object to, but it was strange.  Then I went to the Cancer Research shop, to get my Christmas cards before it has to close.  Tough times for charities.  Tough times for everyone.  A lot of shops are opening late today and tomorrow.  This didn’t happen last time, because we got no warning.

“Short journeys” for exercise are allowed.  I’m defining “short” as meaning I can go to Hollingworth Lake.  I’ve had e-mails to say that my trips to Blackpool Illuminations and Dunham lights are off – fair enough, at least they’re contacting people.  I’d gladly rebook, but we don’t know what’s going to happen, and they were pretty fully booked for weekends anyway.

The Illuminations have been switched off.  The last time this happened was in 1939, so that they didn’t shine through the blackout.   But the Tower will remain lit.   Was it really only 3 and a bit weeks ago that I was there?

In the middle of everything else, there was a terrorist attack in Vienna last night.  Four people were killed.  I had four days in Vienna last December, little thinking that I wouldn’t be going abroad for the whole of 2020.  Such a beautiful city.  And now the UK’s on maximum terror alert too.

And the US is voting.  Joe Biden is hardly a dream president – there seems to be a chronic shortage of decent national leaders everywhere these days, with the possible exception of New Zealand – but he has to be better than someone who thinks people should drink bleach.

 

Wednesday, November 4th

The US election is too close to call, and we may not know the result today.  It’s like a Jeffrey Archer book.  It does look as if Biden’s going to squeak it, but nothing’s certain yet.

We do know the result of United v Istanbul Basaksehir.  We lost.  2-1.  FFS.  How can we beat PSG and Leipzig, then lose to Istanbul Basaksehir?  This season is already turning into a nightmare.  And Rafa made a meal of beating Feli, but got there in the end.

A lot of shops are staying open late tonight.  I’m going to be doing my Christmas shopping on Amazon.  I would dearly love to give struggling local shops the business, but we are where we are, and I never leave it till December.  Also, with Amazon Prime, I can have things delivered directly to family and friends at no extra charge.  My sister’s still hoping that we’ll be able to get together at Christmas, but, sadly, I can’t see it.  Infection rates here do seem to be levelling off, but are so high.  Nationally, 472 deaths “with coronavirus” today.  Grim figures.

Blackburn’s to be the trial area for a 30 minute test.

What classes as a “short journey for exercise”?  Dunham Massey is staying open.  It will be quieter than the park.  Dogs are not allowed in the gardens – Heaton Park, much as I love it, is plagued with dog walkers, most of whom don’t even keep their mutts on leads.  And the tea room will presumably be doing takeaway cream scones.   What’s “short”?  3 miles?  13 miles?  30 miles?   I think I’m going to class it as “short” and book it.

The weather’s turned nice, just as we go into lockdown.  Just like in March.  Stunning autumnal colours in the park.

Clinically vulnerable people have been advised not to go to work.  I hope employers respect this.  They can be furloughed.   It’s all very well saying in the guidelines that people will be entitled to SSP, but SSP is just ridiculously low – I’ve been saying this for years.

In the words of Tears for Fears, it’s a very very mad world …

 

Thursday, November 5th

Welcome to Lockdown II.  I’m trying to think of something very witty to say about Lockdown II and Bonfire Night, but not succeeding.  No organised firework displays this year, but I can hear loads of fireworks going off.

The tables outside the park cafes have been removed, but you can still sit on the benches a few yards from where the tables were.

If Boris says “a package of measures” once more, I’m going to scream.  It sounds like a bad 17th century play.  There was a press conference this evening, but I gave it a miss.  It clashed with Rafa’s match.  The furlough scheme is being extended until March, which is good news but also rather pessimistic.  And anyone made redundant since September 23rd can be re-employed and furloughed.  How many employers are going to do that?!

A lot of offices seem to be staying open, even though people there could work from home.  I’m not judging anyone, because working from home doesn’t work for everyone or every role, and enough businesses have gone under already, but, between that and schools staying open, I’m not sure how effective this is going to be.

Southport has been occupied by the Army.  OK,  Southport Pontins has been occupied by the Army.  In preparation for the mass testing of Liverpool.

And the University of Manchester bizarrely put fences round halls of residence in Fallowfield, with security guards at the only gaps in them, to keep students virtually imprisoned during lockdown.  I cannot believe that this has happened.  After a public outcry, an apology’s been issued and the fences are being removed.  But WTF?  I just cannot believe that anyone thought that that was appropriate or acceptable.

Still watching the kitchen ceiling.  It’s still a bit damp, so it’s hard to know what’s going on.  This is stressful.

And we still don’t know who’s won the US presidential election.   Donald Trump is making one unfounded allegation after another.  It’s embarrassing.  Both parties are fundraising to pay legal bills for when everyone sues over everything – as millions of Americans struggle to put food on the table.  I love America.  It deserves so much better than this.

 

Friday, November 6th

Some friends in Liverpool have taken part in the mass testing.  They said that loads of people turned up, which was good … but, because loads of people turned up, it all a bit chaotic, and people were getting stressed because they had to get back to work/had to collect kids from school/were just sick of waiting.  Oh well, it’s only the first day.

The park was much busier than usual today.  It probably was yesterday too, but I went early yesterday.  The queues at the cafes were so long that I didn’t bother having a drink: I hope it’s not going to be like this for the next month!   Most people were alone or in pairs, or with children, but it has to be said that there were some people in groups.

More of the artexing has come off the kitchen ceiling.

Italy has imposed a horrible three tier system.  Milan, Turin and Naples are amongst the places in tier with the highest level of restrictions.

There’ve been violent anti-lockdown protests in Slovenia.

The whole of Wales is coming out of lockdown on Monday, and there are to be no more local lockdowns there.  However, rates remain very high in the valleys in the south – the old coal mining/iron and steel areas.  I don’t know that part of Wales, but I’m assuming it’s got the same issues that we’ve got, with population density.    Rates here are still going up a bit.  And some non-emergency ops are being cancelled in Birmingham.

And we still don’t know who’s won the US election.  I’m sure it’d be easier to wait until all the votes in a state have been counted before declaring, rather than giving these running updates which just seem to get people riled up.  It looks as if Biden’s going to take Georgia and Pennsylvania, which will decide matters, but then Trump’ll call for a recount, and it could go on for days!

On a happier note, Rafa won.  And Wigan have finished top of the Super League.

 

Saturday, November 7th

Joe Biden has won the election, but Donald Trump is refusing to accept it.  It’s just embarrassing.  And I feel rather sorry for Kamala Harris: it’s a pretty big deal that the US has got a female vice-president at last, but all the attention is on Trump’s toddler tantrums.

Rafa lost to Sascha 😦 .  But United beat Everton, 3-1.

The kitchen ceiling is drying out, but the plaster/artexing is coming off and triggering my anxiety.

Lovely sunny day.  Just like last time – hello lockdown, hello sunshine.  I should, at this moment, be going round Blackpool Illuminations on a heritage tram.  But I’m not.  I have, however, been to Hollingworth Lake.  It wasn’t as busy as usual, but there were plenty of people around, and The Olive and Pickle was open for takeaways (although, tragically, it hadn’t got any scones).

Half the car park in the local precinct here’s been turned into a Covid-19 testing centre.  The borough “hotspot” is currently an area very close to chez moi, which is worrying, but it seems to be a different area every week.  Why are these “hotspots” occurring?  It’s not like the 1950s, when everyone was in and out of their neighbours’ houses all the time.

Local hospitals are now cancelling some elective procedures.

And people (unless they’re returning home) have been banned from entering the UK from Denmark, because of this mink business.

Oldham’s the worst hit part of the area at the moment, but it’s bad everywhere – our borough’s one of the ten worst in the country, although the rate here’s nothing like as bad as it is in Oldham.  Struggling to find details on what’s going on elsewhere, except that France is now seeing 60,000 cases a day, more than double the rates here and with a lower population.

And I have still not done some house jobs I was meant to do last Sunday …

 

Remembrance Sunday, November 8th

It’s not the 11th until Wednesday, so I’ll keep my poppy and my poppy brooch on my coat until then, but today is the Sunday … and there should have been a big parade in Whitehall, and events at war memorials all round the country.   As it was, people were asked to stay away, but the Queen, other senior royals, senior politicians and other dignitaries did attend a service at Whitehall.  The Queen was seen wearing a face mask in public for the first time, at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.  It was suggested that people could display pictures of poppies in their windows, and stand on their doorsteps at 11am.  I did both, but, unfortunately, neither idea really caught on, and not that many people did.

There was a big anti-lockdown protest in town today.   People are entitled to protest, but Remembrance Sunday wasn’t the day for it, there was no social distancing, and, from what the Evening News says, some of the people there were drunk.  Similar scenes in Liverpool.

Infection rates are falling in 6 out of the 10 local boroughs, and only rising slightly in 2.  Unfortunately, they’re rising quite a bit here and in Oldham.  Hopefully it’s just a blip – this was happening in Stockport last week and Wigan the week before, and those trends have been reversed now – but it’s obviously not great.  I just can’t see how rates are going to come down whilst schools and so many workplaces remain open.   And, with it now being dark by the end of the working day, I suspect that a lot more people will be visiting each other rather than meeting up outdoors.

I am really stressed about the kitchen ceiling.  The initial problem was caused by a leak, and the rest by condensation.  The bits that only got wet later are pretty much dry now, but the part in the middle isn’t.  It stands to reason that it must have got much wetter so will take longer to dry, but, because it’s not dry, I’m panicking in case there’s still a problem … but, if there was, surely it’d be spreading?   It’s hard to cope with things like this when you’ve got an anxiety disorder.

The Christmas markets should be open now.  Gluhwein and hot chocolate, and that daft reindeer head singing carols and making everyone laugh.  In the summer, I was still pretty optimistic about getting a Christmas market trip abroad.  I went to Vienna last year, Munich the year before, and Cologne the year before that.  Such lovely times.

Made myself do the house stuff this morning, then, after the Remembrance Sunday service and before the tennis and football, I went to Clifton Country Park.  People on the paths were sticking to the rules about not meeting up in groups, but the playground was busy.

Some good news – meal vouchers for underprivileged children are to be provided during the Christmas holidays.  Apparently Boris rang Marcus Rashford to tell him!

Second Wave Week 2 – September 7th to 13th 2020 inclusive

Monday, September 7th

Oh, WTF is going on??  Infection rates in our borough were below 25 a week ago.  Now they’re at 42.  This is just a nightmare.  Why can our region not get out of this?  Left-wing councillors are claiming that it’s to do with poverty, but, if that were the case, parts of Liverpool, Sheffield and other parts of the north would be affected too, not just us and West Yorkshire.  Anyway, one of the worst-affected areas is Hale Barns, Millionaires’ Row!  There’s certainly a link between the worst-affected areas and the ethnic make-up of the population, but some predominantly white and black areas are being affected too, not just predominantly Asian areas.  And why aren’t the council doing more?  I have not heard a peep out of our council leader.

Infection rates are rising everywhere, though.  The political points-scorers are blaming the Government, but it’s the same pattern right across Europe.  Most of the cases are amongst people in their 20s and early 30s.  There’ve been calls in Scotland for pubs to be closed, but it seems that private house parties are an issue as well.

The travel corridor rules have been changed, so that the mainland and islands of the same country can be treated differently.  It was thought that this meant that the Canary Islands would be coming off the list, but, instead, some of the Greek islands have gone on it!

Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden have totally shown up United, City and England by breaching coronavirus bubble regulations at the England team hotel in Iceland.  They’ve been sent home in disgrace.  Why can’t players behave?!

EastEnders is back tonight.  And, after Novak Djokovic was chucked out of the US Open last night, someone is going to win their first Grand Slam singles title!

And those schools which weren’t already back have gone back today.

I can’t believe how much I’m writing each day.  Nearly six months into this nightmare, there’s still just so much to say.

 

Tuesday, September 8th

I am a historian.  I am used to dealing with situations where I know exactly what the outcome will be.  I do not like not having a clue what is going to happen next.  Tesco have – it being, er, the beginning of September – put the Christmas stuff out.  What will happen at Christmas?  What will happen next week?

And I certainly don’t like the fact that Bolton, a neighbouring borough, a place I know so well, is the centre of attention because its infection rate is now over 120 per 100,000.  Food outlets there are now only allowed to operate as take-aways, and have to close between 10pm and 5am.  I don’t disagree with the closing of pubs, although I’m extremely sorry for the owners/managers, but it’s a shame that cafes and restaurants are affected too.  And, whilst I’ll hit the roof if these restrictions are extended to neighbouring areas, what’s to stop people from Bolton going to pubs in Bury, Salford, Wigan, Chorley, Blackburn or anywhere else?

The rise in infections is very much being blamed on young people socialising.  Political points-scorers are saying that the Government’s lost control, but you cannot defeat nature.  Most of western Europe’s a few weeks ahead of us, and infections there are soaring.  If there was a way of stopping it, short of another full lockdown, wouldn’t the authorities in France, Spain etc have found it by now?  The Netherlands, with a population a quarter the size of ours, had 5,400 new infections today.  We had around 2,000.

My trip to France in November, which I booked after Iceland and Japan were cancelled, has been cancelled.

My nephews have had a narrow escape from having to self-isolate.  A kid at a football training club they go to has got the virus.  Thankfully, they missed the last session because they had something else on, so they aren’t affected.

We now have to have our temperature taken every time we go into the office.  This is stupid.  I go in, go into an empty room, put away anything I’ve finished with, take anything I need, and leave,  I have no contact with anyone else other than saying hello and goodbye (from a distance) to the receptionist.  But at least they haven’t said any more about wanting us to go back in full time.

And Ash Barty has pulled out of the French Open.

 

Wednesday, September 9th

Bleurgh.  It was announced late last night (why late at night?) that, with effect from Monday (why not immediately?), social gatherings in England will be limited to 6 people.  This is an all areas – why are we under specific restrictions, when areas with higher rates are not? – and in all settings.  If you are a mum and dad with three kids, you can only see one grandparent at a time.   We’ve been shown graphics showing that we’re now on a curve similar to France and Spain’s, but that Belgium flattened theirs by these sorts of measures, so hopefully it’ll work for us, but it’s pretty crap.  Is Christmas effectively cancelled?  When will we EVER be allowed back into football grounds?

My little nephew’s birthday party will have to be cancelled.  Hardly the end of the world, I know, but it is when you’re a little kid and it was all arranged and you were looking forward to it.

Boris is talking about everyone testing themselves daily, I suppose like some diabetics do to test their insulin levels, but that relies on people being honest, just as all of this relies on people keeping the rules.  Young people are whingeing about being blamed, but the statistics show that most of the increase is amongst young people.  The police have the power to enforce “the rule of six”, but how can they check everywhere, especially if people are holding house parties?

Everyone is getting rather despondent 😦 .

 

Thursday, September 10th

The infection rate in our borough is now 69.6.  It was in the 20s not a fortnight since.  In the city centre, it’s 71.6, and in Salford, 82.3.  Obviously this is horrendous, with the national rate only in the low 20s.  However, Birmingham is on 77, Sunderland 69, Leeds 61.7, and they are not under additional restrictions.  We are being picked on.  It’s not on.  I wouldn’t mind if the restrictions were doing any bloody good, but they’re not.  Bolton’s rate is 160.7.  I don’t know what’s going on – are people testing positive being asked for information to try to ascertain where they caught it – but I do know that stopping people from visiting their families and friends is causing a lot of distress and not doing any good.

Scotland has just also introduced the “rule of six”. Northern Ireland has imposed additional restrictions on some areas.

Nationwide, I do wish people would realise that this is not about party politics or culture wars, and that it certainly isn’t about Brexit.  It’s a pandemic.  The way some people (mostly bitter Remoaners) go on, you’d think the entire thing was the Government’s fault.  They’re moaning that the rules keep being changed.  Yes, they keep being changed.  Because the situation keeps changing.  Rules are changing everywhere.  Portugal has just reduced the number of people allowed to meet.  Israel is facing another full lockdown.  Just because you’re bitter than you lost a referendum four years ago, don’t make this political.  It isn’t political.  It’s a pandemic.

The Portuguese mainland is now back on the quarantine list.  Also on it is Hungary.  And Reunion and French Polynesia, not that I suppose anyone was intending to go there anyway!  However, Sweden is off it.  The Swedish situation is fascinating.  Sweden didn’t introduce full lockdown – and now has lower infection rates than most countries which did, but without the economic damage.

I am so sick of this.  And, with universities about to go back – and I’m sorry for all the people who’ll be missing out on a lot of the fun of university life – it may well be about to get worse.  There are also concerns, as there were with Eid, about the possible effects of Rosh Hashanah and Succos.

On a happier note, Rafa has arrived in Rome.  The Italian Open starts on Monday.  Bring It ON!!!

 

Friday, September 11th

Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell have been put into local lockdown, on the same level as Oldham.  Liverpool’s been added to the watchlist as an “area of enhanced concern”, as has Sheffield.  Newcastle, Sunderland, Leeds and some other areas are now “areas of enhanced support”.  I think I’ve got all that down right ! The national “R number” is now above 1.  Wales has also introduced the “rule of six”, and finally made wearing face masks in shops etc compulsory. Doom merchants on social media are saying that we’ll all be going back into a full local lockdown.

People are moaning that the rules keep changing, but the situation has changed very rapidly in the last few days.  Some MPs are saying that restrictions should be reviewed more regularly.  And also that rules should have to go through Parliament … which I’d agree with in principle, but, after the nightmare we had when Parliament refused to pass the Brexit bills, just isn’t practical.  The virus will not wait around whilst MPs bicker and try to score points off each other.

Four children in Sydney, whose father is tragically dying of cancer in Brisbane, were told by Queensland state officials that only one of them would be able to visit him.  The authorities eventually said that they could all go, but only if they went to a quarantine hotel, costing around £9,000.  Kind-hearted well-wishers have raised the money, and a lot more, but FFS.

I went to the office to collect some stuff today.  Ah, the great new temperature-taking system.  “Hold it an inch from your face.”  So I did.  It came out at 35.2!  This was clearly crap, especially as my home thermometer had just said 37.  I tried holding it closer, and it said 36.6, which made a bit more sense.  But they’ve been writing everyone’s temperature down as 35.something.

Finally got my refund from the gym.

And Vika has knocked Serena out of the US Open.

 

Saturday, September 12th

Not two weeks since, I was writing that the infection rate in our borough was falling.   It’s now hurtling rapidly towards 100 – worse than Oldham, Rochdale or the city centre.  WTF is going on in this borough?  But rates are rising in most places, or at least in most urban areas in the North and Midlands.  We’re actually ahead, not behind.  And, frighteningly, we are now seeing a small increase in hospital admissions, and, sadly, deaths.

To some extent, this was inevitable once things opened up again.  Most people are doing their best, but there are reports of crowding on rush hour public transport.  But a lot of it is because of idiots ignoring the rules.  The police broke up a wedding reception for 100 guests in Bolton.  And a party attended by 300 people in Bishop’s  Stortford.

As the Chief Constable of the West Midlands police has said, there is, with the best will in the world, not that much that the police can do.  In Birmingham and the surrounding areas, there are over 4 million people subject to the new restrictions.  How can the police keep an eye on over 4 million people?  During the Blitz, there were local ARP wardens, but society’s changed, and no-one now would break up a party because Joe Bloggs from round the corner told them to.

I’m afraid that our borough is heading for tighter restrictions.  It’ll be a devastating blow to cafes etc which are only just getting back on their feet.  And, when so many people are depriving themselves of contact with even close relatives and friends, it’s so frustrating that a minority of idiots are causing everyone else to suffer.

There are problems with the testing system, too.  Home tests are running short, the website is telling people that there are no slots available, and there are long queues at walk-in centres.

At least we haven’t lost our sense of humour.  The internet is full of memes about the Secret Seven, the Seven Dwarves and even Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper being ticked off by the police for gathering in groups of more than six.

I had my hair cut this morning, and went to Clifton Country Park this afternoon.

And, in between, I went to Old Trafford!   Only to the shop.  I wanted something for my younger nephew’s forthcoming birthday.  His party’s had to be cancelled, and he’s sad about it 😦 .  OK, I could have ordered something online, and had it delivered to my sister to save having to post it, but I hadn’t been to the ground for over 6 months.  You can’t even walk right round: part of it’s cordoned off.  But still.  Our first match is the season is next week – we and City both got an extra week due to being involved in the European events – but the new Premier League season has begun today.

 

Sunday, September 13th

This has been such a lovely day that, at times, I’ve almost forgotten this nightmare that we’re all caught up in.  By my calendar, summer ends when the US Open ends, so that’ll probably be early tomorrow morning our time.  Come on, Dominic!   I hope this foot problem he had in the semi’s nothing serious.  Good final between Naomi and Vika last night. Sad for Vika to lose from a set and a break up, and it would have been such an amazing story if she’d won, but well done to Naomi.

I’d booked Bodnant Garden for today, and I struck lucky, with gorgeous weather.  I had such a nice time … apart from a few issues with the rather poorly-signposted one-way system put in place due to the virus!  The gardens were looking superb, which a lot of gardens don’t in September, and then I went on to Llanwrst, and then stopped at Colwyn Bay for a walk along the beach and an ice cream.  Such a glorious day!

Infection rates in Bury, Manchester, Salford and Rochdale all fell yesterday.  It’s only one day, but … could it mean something hopeful?

The demographics are hard to make sense of.  Left wing councillors and newspapers are claiming that it’s all to do with poverty, but Stockport’s seen an increase in cases due to a small spike in the affluent areas of Cheadle and Gatley.  In Trafford, there’ve been issues in the very wealthy area of Hale Barns.  In Birmingham, there’ve been a lot of cases in the very wealthy area of Edgbaston.   A few weeks ago, the majority of cases were in people with South Asian heritage.  Now, they’re in white people.  The only consistent factor is that most cases are now in young people.

I think we need more hard-hitting … adverts is the wrong word, but publicity, whatever.  All this “Remember, hands, face, mask,” stuff sounds like someone telling a 3-year-old to remember to wash their hands after they’ve been to the toilet.  It’s not strong enough.  France is now recording over 10,000 cases a day, and seeing a worrying upturn in deaths.  We do not want to go the same way.

Israel’s going into full lockdown for three weeks, over Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succos.  It’s the first western country to go back into full lockdown.

Oh, what a week!  I’m looking out at the most beautiful sunset, and getting excited about what should be a cracking US Open and will see someone win their first Grand Slam title … and the region, the country and the world are in chaos.

 

 

 

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!