The road to freedom? Week 11, June 7th to 13th 2021 inclusive

Monday, June 7th

Rafa beat Sinner, 7-5 6-3 6-0 🙂 .  I was expecting a much tougher match, so that was a relief!  Nole went 2 sets to 0 down, but won anyway.  So frustrating!

I feel like I’m in limbo.  I can’t send this e-mail until OK Boss gets back on Wednesday, and I still haven’t heard from the holiday company – with whom I am now beyond furious.   The people who answer the phones and e-mails are all terribly nice, but they can’t do anything until the wretched head office says so.  Having said which, I’m only going to get a load of abuse in response to the e-mail, and the Iceland trip can’t happen because of the quarantine rule, but I just want things sorted so that I know where I’m up to.

It’s still hot.  Everything seems strange and unreal when it’s hot.  Please, please do this when I’m in the Lakes!

People aged 25-29 will be able to book their first jabs from tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 8th

I could bloody well swing for whomever spread the Indian variant round Bolton.  Hancock has now said that everyone in Greater Manchester and affected parts of the rest of Lancashire should minimise travel into and out of the area (he can sod off with that) and avoid meeting indoors.   The good news is that the extra support from the military etc, which was provided to Bolton, will now be provided to everywhere else.  But why the hell wait until now?   The councils asked for extra help weeks ago.  Things would never have got this bad if it’d been done earlier.  The infection rate in Blackburn is now 546.

So now I’m stressed in case this becomes a full local lockdown just as I’m due to go to the Lakes – although hopefully it won’t, because things have improved in Bolton.  And Andy Burnham, who has now resurfaced, says that no-one needs to change existing plans.

But I am just sick of all this.  It seems to be never-ending.

Still no word from the holiday company.  I e-mailed them again, but got an out of office reply from the person with whom I’ve been dealing.  But she’s back in tomorrow.

In the middle of everything else, the EU is trying to start a row over sausages.  I am not making this up.


Wednesday, June 9th

I’ve cancelled my trip to Iceland 😦 .   I finally got to speak to someone in the “customer services” department and they said that, as far as they were concerned, the trip didn’t start until the day after arrival, so you could spend the afternoon you arrived shut up in your hotel room, hope your PCR tests came through before going out the next morning, and hope you tested negative.  I really, really want to do this trip, but how can I take that sort of chance?   Especially given that Iceland trips are expensive.   You’d be very unlucky to test negative on departure and positive on arrival, but it happened to some people going to the Aussie Open and returning from the Champions League final.  And, even if it was only for the first evening, who wants to be shut up in a hotel room on holiday?   So I’ve rebooked for next year.  I know it was the only decision that I could make, but I’m very sad.  I booked this trip in September 2019, and it was a real bucket list thing.  And it’s on the green list.  And I’ve been fully vaccinated.  But I just can’t take those chances with the PCR test.  I wanted the holiday company to decide for me … but they didn’t.

Anyway, the decision’s made.   This was meant to be one of the trips of a lifetime … and it’s turned into 16 months of worry!   Oh, when will this ever end?   Will we ever be able to travel normally again?

I sent the e-mail asking about WFH one day a week.  No reply.  Not even an acknowledgement.  How bloody, bloody rude.

On top of all that, Rafa lost the 2nd set to Diego, before winning 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0.   Desperately hoping that Matteo can beat Nole this evening, but not holding my breath.  The other semi’s Stef v Sascha.  Some line-up!   Whereas the ladies’ semi-finalists are all unexpected.

Very hot and muggy, but dry – until about half 6 this evening.  But raining in the Lakes.

7,540 new cases today – the highest daily number since the end of February.   People are rushing to be vaccinated: over a million people booked jabs today.   A huge effort’s being made … but most of the new cases are in schoolkids and under 25s.

Sky News filmed the pop-up vaccination centre where my dad’s volunteering, yesterday, and Dad was on the news!  OK, it was for about 30 seconds, he was in the background, and you could hardly tell that it was him behind the mask and the cap, but still!


Thursday, June 10th

Still no reply.  FFS.

Very, very nervous about the semi-final.

Joe Salisbury and Desirae Krawczyk won the mixed doubles 🙂 .

Meanwhile … the snakes and ladders analogy’s been used before, and here we are again.  We were doing so well, and now we’ve slipped down another snake.  Over 7,000 new cases were reported today, for the second day in a row, and we’re being told that over 90% of new cases are of the Indian/Delta variant.  We really have had bad luck with these variants.  Why did the virus have to mutate in Kent, of all places on the planet?  And, as angry as I am that there seems to have been so much travel between Bolton and the Indian sub-continent at a time when no-one was meant to be going anywhere unless absolutely essential, and that rules on return don’t seem to have been followed, if the mutation had occurred pretty much anywhere else in Asia then it wouldn’t have affected us.  And why did it have to be us at the centre of it?  The North West?   Not that I wish it on anyone else, but why us?

But saying that isn’t going to help.  It is what it is, and we are where we are.  Infection rates in our borough are now over 200 per 100,000.  Only a few weeks ago, they were below 20 per 100,000.

Is there no end to this?

The vast majority of cases are in younger people, which does suggest that the vaccines are making a big difference.  Andy Burnham’s asked for hard-hit areas to be prioritised for vaccine supplies, but the powers that be aren’t having that.


Friday, June 11th

The match between Stef and Sascha went to a 5th set, before Stef finally won.  It would have been great, had I not been waiting anxiously for the match between Rafa and Nole to start!  It’s just got going.  And Euro 2020 also gets going tonight.

Over 8,000 cases today, and there’s no denying the fact that hospitalisations are “ticking up”.   And there’s such a backlog with everything.  Trying to get through to our doctors’ surgery is a nightmare.  Half the time, it’s engaged.  Then, when you do get through, you’re told that you’re number 5 or number 6 in a queue, and it can take so long to advance one position that you wonder if someone’s telling the receptionist their life history!   Then you’re told that you can’t see a doctor and will have to wait for a “phone consultation”.  Then they don’t ring when they say they will, so you’re stuck waiting by the phone.  And waiting times at A&E can be up to 8 hours.

It looks very likely that “unlocking” will be delayed by at least 4 weeks.  (I hope that horrible bosses respect this!)

Later – oh no 😦 .  Until today, Rafa had only ever lost twice at Roland Garros.  Now it’s three times.  He won the first set, and had a match point in the third, but, hands up, Nole deserved the win.  3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.  At stupid o’clock on a Friday night, after Stef had beaten Sascha in 5 sets.  I’ll be cheering Stef on on Sunday, but I feel very sad and just crushed.


Saturday, June 12th

Oh dear.  Sat down to watch some of Denmark v Finland, and Christian Eriksen (now of Inter Milan, formerly of Spurs) collapsed on the pitch.  There was no-one near him – I can only think it must have been some sort of heart problem, like with Fabrice Muamba and poor Marc-Vivien Foe.  The physios and medics did CPR, but it really didn’t look good.  The players went off.  Thankfully, we’ve now been told that he’s stable and awake.  And the match has resumed, two hours later – surely they wouldn’t have played on if he were in any danger.  But it was just awful.   Desperately hoping that he’s OK, and thank goodness for the wonderful medical staff.

Until then, it’d been the sort of glorious sunny summer sporting Saturday that we missed last summer, trying to keep up with the tennis – Barbora Krejcikova beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win the French Open ladies’ singles, the cricket – er, not good – and the football.

This morning, I went to Tatton Park, to find that both cafes were closed, due to “staff shortages”.  FFS!  I got a pot of tea and a nice scone at a nearby garden centre with outdoor seating, but it was a jolly good job that I hadn’t gone for a full day.  They whinge and moan about how hard it’s been, put up the already extortionate entrance fee, and then close both cafes on a very busy summer Saturday when they could have taken thousands of pounds!   However, the gardens were looking lovely!

Weather still glorious.  Please, please don’t tell me that this is summer and we’ll get payback when I’m in the Lakes!  Nice weather for the scaled back Trooping the Colour parade.

It now looks all but certain that “unlocking” will be delayed by 4 weeks.   Things are improving in Bolton, but are bad in Blackburn, which has spilled over into Rossendale and Hyndburn, and is spilling over from there into Ramsbottom – although the rate of increase in the borough of Bury overall is dropping.  Cases are sky-rocketing in Salford, mainly in the university area.  Things also seem to be spilling over into “Cheshire East” and “Cheshire West”, but, strangely, not into St Helens and not much into Warrington.


Sunday, June 13th

The good news is that Christian Eriksen’s OK.  He may not play again, but he’s OK.  And the other good news is that England began with a win 🙂 – 1-0 over Croatia.

And it was so nearly good news in Paris, when Stef Tsitsipas went 2 sets to love up … but Nole came back to win in 5.   No offence to him, but that so wasn’t the result I wanted.

It is very hot.

I went to Blackpool this morning.  I always go to Blackpool on the morning of the French Open final.  It wasn’t really right, without Rafa in the final, but it was a shame to waste a lovely sunny morning.

And we await Boris’s decision tomorrow.  And we await the response of horrible bosses to it.   I know that my mental health, which has been quite fragile over the years, is going to take a huge hit from being trapped in that office again, so I’m trying not to think about it.   Boris claims that they haven’t decided yet, but I think he’s just saying that to avoid diverting attention from the G7 summit – which is quite understandable.


The road to freedom? Week 10, May 31st to June 6th 2021 inclusive

Bank Holiday, Monday, May 31st

So hot today!   Went to Hollingworth Lake early on.


And then, late afternoon, met up with my sister and brother-in-law and nephews, who are visiting for part of half term week 🙂 .  In between that, I watched a lot of tennis and stuck a lot of photos in albums.

Infection rates are rising in 2/3 of areas.  Unfortunately, the ones with the highest rates are nearly all in the North West.  Why is it always us?!  Vaccinations are being ramped up, but doom merchant scientists are saying that we’re on the brink of a third wave.  Why the hell were so many people allowed to travel to and from the Indian sub-continent during lockdown?   A dangerous new variant was always going to emerge somewhere, and travel was supposed to be banned unless it was essential.  I cannot believe that tens of thousands of people all *had* to travel.  OK, it’s done now, but it’s so frustrating and worrying.

Morecambe have been promoted to League 1 🙂 .

And Naomi Osaka’s withdrawn from the French Open because of this row about not wanting to speak to the media.  I’m afraid she’s handled this rather badly.  I take her point about it being difficult to cope with press conferences after a defeat, and I really do sympathise with her issues with anxiety and depression, but the media can’t just be cut out.  Where does she think the sport would be if matches weren’t televised and there was no coverage in the papers or on social media or on the radio?   If she’d raised the issue with the WTA and the ITF, maybe something could have been worked out, but one person can’t just decide not to abide by the rules and protocols.   It’s a very unfortunate situation – no-one wins from this.


Tuesday, June 1st

No Covid deaths reported today!   Yes, all right, all right, I know it’s been a Bank Holiday weekend, but even so.

But infection rates are sky-rocketing – dropping in Bolton now, but still over 350, and now over 100 in Salford, Bury and central Manchester.  Up by over 200% in a week in Salford, and by nearly 300% in a week in Stockport.  Why is it always us?  Well, plenty’s been said about people travelling to and from the Indian sub-continent, and other things, but saying it won’t help.

Scotland’s been split, again – some areas move to level 1, some stay in level 2, Glasgow finally moves to level 2.  I really hope Boris doesn’t split us again.  It’s horrible, and it causes a lot of resentment.  Meanwhile, Peru’s “revised” its Covid death toll, so it’s now far higher than it was, and now the highest per capita in the world.

On a happier note:

  1. Rafa beat Popyrin, 6-2 6-3 7-6 (7-3).
  2. And, as he obligingly won in straight sets, I was able to enjoy Mum and Dad’s birthday meal out – it’s Mum’s birthday today and Dad’s tomorrow, and my sister and brother-in-law and nephews are here, and my brother-in-law’s mum and dad joined us.  As the weather was nice – hottest day of the year so far! – we were able to sit outside (well, sort of outside, but the restaurant say that being in a marquee counts) so we could all sit on the same table even though there were more than 6 of us, and it was lovely.

Wednesday, June 2nd

Considering that I’m in limbo over the holiday situation and could shortly be forced back into my depressing old life of being trapped in a horrible office five days a week, I think I’m doing very well not to be completely hysterical.  Maybe it’s too hot to be hysterical …

75% of adults in the UK have now had their first jab.  And anyone over 18 in our area can now get their first jab, as we’re apparently classed as a high-risk area … which is good news in terms of getting people vaccinated, but also a bit scary.

The BBC are scrapping Holby City 😦 .

And there’s some talk going on about helping kids to make up for lost schooling, but, whatever anyone says, people moan.  Yes, kids need to catch up.  No, kids cannot possibly spend any extra time in school.


Thursday, June 3rd

Way too much has happened today.

  1.  I suddenly got at an e-mail from my horrible boss (we have two bosses, but this was only from one of them) demanding everyone back in the office full time on June 22nd.  Just like that.  No discussion, nothing.  I’d actually been in the office 2 hours earlier, collecting some files, and nothing had been said.  Unfortunately, unless Boris says anything, there’s nothing I can do about it.  I will ask if I can continue working from home one or two days a week, but I suspect that all I’ll get in response will be a load of abuse.  It was always going to happen eventually, but … ugh.  My mental and physical health have been so much better for being away from that place.  The thought of being trapped in there 5 days a week, and returning to the nightmare of every little thing (boiler service, new wing mirror, etc) becoming an epic trauma is horrific.
  2. About 20 minutes after this happened, I got a text from the doctors’ surgery, saying that I was now eligible for my second dose.  My first was 8 weeks ago today.  We’d been told that people over 50 were going to be asked after 8 weeks rather than 12, but nothing’d been said about people under 50: I can only assume that our area’s “surge vaccinating” and that that includes second doses.  For some bizarre reason, the appointment I got (it only offered me certain centres, and some were only doing Pfizer vaccinations) was on Sunday morning, and not at either Prestwich, Crumpsall or Cheetham Hill but at Ramsbottom … but, whatever, let’s get it done.
  3. I checked the entry requirements for Iceland.  I should have done this weeks ago, but the holiday company just kept insisting that everything was going ahead.  I’m getting really annoyed with them – they posted something on Facebook today about resuming travel from May 17th, but their website says they’ve cancelled everything up to July 15th!   Anyway, you have to be fully vaccinated, which, all being well, I now will be … but you have to take a PCR test on arrival, and quarantine for 24 hours until you get the result.  If it was 2 weeks pool and beach, maybe, but one day out of an expensive seven day sightseeing holiday just can’t be done.  And what if you got a false positive test?   What on earth would you do?   So I just don’t see how the trip can go.  I sent yet another e-mail, and was told that someone would be contacting people soon.  TBH, I think the staff are fed up with the lack of leadership from the head office.  Anyway, even if they say the trip’s going, I can’t do that.  The stupid thing is that, up to a few weeks ago, I’d accepted that I wouldn’t be going, but then I got my hopes up and started reading some of the books I bought last year, and … bleurgh.
  4. Meanwhile, Portugal has been taken off the green list.  And, despite talk that Malta, the Greek islands and the Balearics would be added to it, nothing’s been added to it.  This is because of the Nepalese mutation of the Indian variant.  Except that we’re now supposed to call it “the Delta variant”.  And I’m not sure why a Nepalese mutation is in Portugal.  But whatever.  I’m so sorry for people who’ve already booked, and so sorry for everyone who works in the travel and tourism industry.   And I’m sorry for a load of City fans ordered to self-isolate after some people on flights back from Porto tested positive.   Oh, what a to-do.

My brain is addled.  I hope Rafa’s match isn’t stressful!


Friday, June 4th

Rafa beat Gasquet 6-0 7-5 6-2 in the night match yesterday, and now plays Cam Norrie.

Another nice day here, but it rained in London and spoilt the cricket 😦 .

I composed a very polite e-mail asking if I could WFH one day a week …and then it turned out that vaguely reasonable boss is on holiday until Wednesday, and there’s no point asking totally unreasonable boss when he’s on his own.  FFS.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in kids aged 12-15.

And infection rates keep rising.  They’re falling in Bolton, and the Government’s harping on about how great it is that the extra support provided by the Army etc has helped to bring rates down.  But Bury, Salford, Manchester and other boroughs have asked for the same help, and the Government won’t bloody give it.  FFS.  I am SO annoyed about this.  And why’s Andy Burnham gone quiet?  More chance of getting assistance if he kicks up a stink than if it’s only local council leaders asking.

STILL no news from the holiday company.


Saturday, June 5th

Rafa beat Cam Norrie, 6-3 6-3 6-3.  Sinner up next … and that will be very tough.

Meanwhile, jab jab jab!   It’s like some midsummer frenzy – jab jab jab, in the heat, in the long June days, in the sunshine, jab jab jab.  Get those jabs in arms.  Considering we were supposed to have a vaccine shortage two months ago, I don’t know how we’re managing it, but we are.  It is amazing.  Pop-up vaccination centres, many open to anyone over 18, are, well, popping up, and people are turning out in droves.  Waiting in a long queue to have a needle stuck in your arm isn’t anyone’s idea of how to spend a hot sunny Saturday, but people are doing it.  Well done, everyone!

Went to Skipton this morning.  Gorgeous in the sunshine!


Sunday, June 6th

I have joined the ranks of the fully vaccinated!   I couldn’t believe how many people were there, at a small centre at half 8 on a Sunday morning.  All done!

Celebratory scone at The Coffee Sack afterwards.  Shame they can’t invent a vaccination to stop people putting on weight!

Unfortunately, infection rates all over the area are sky-rocketing.  The Indian variant is 40% more transmissible than the Kent variant, which in turn was far more transmissible than the original virus.  I am so, so annoyed that so many people were allowed to travel backwards and forwards between here and the Indian subcontinent at a time when no-one was meant to be going abroad, and also that the vaccination take-up in some parts of Bolton was so low until recently, allowing the variant to spread.  But it’s done now.  However, it does seem that being fully vaccinated protects against it.  It’s now looking likely that the June 21st lifting of restrictions will be delayed until July 5th.

Roger’s pulled out of the French Open.  If he were injured, I’d be very sorry, but it seems to be because he wants to save himself for Wimbledon.  I understand why, but I don’t think it’s particularly respectful.  Meanwhile, Stef v Daniil as one of the QFs.

And Harry and Meghan’s baby girl, Lilibet “Lili” Diana’s been born.  It’s great to hear that the baby and Meghan are both well, but how completely inappropriate to use the Queen’s private nickname as a name, especially after the vile way they’ve treated her.  Lili’s quite pretty, but they should have made it either Lili/Lily or Elizabeth.  But still, it’s nice to hear that the baby’s arrived safely.

And it’s hot!

The road to freedom? Week 9, May 24th to 30th 2021 inclusive

Monday, May 24th

Greater Manchester, Merseyside, the rest of Lancashire and the rest of Cheshire are to be part of a scheme trialling extra support for people who are supposed to be self-isolating.  It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t deal with the problem of unsupportive bosses.  I don’t know what will.

People aged 32 and 33 are now able to book vaccinations.  We should, all being well, hit the target of offering all adults a first dose by the end of July.  The problem’s with the people not being vaccinated … only about 5% of people, but 5% of people can do a lot of damage.

I really am going to have horrific anxiety when I have to go back to being trapped in an office.  Take today.  I had a bit of a mishap with my left wing mirror, and it cracked.  It was my fault, and I could kick myself for it, but accidents happen.  I rang the garage.  Yes, no problem, come in and they’ll fit a new one.  Now, if this had happened when I’d been trapped in an office, it would have been a complete nightmare.  The repairs department doesn’t open at weekends, and I can’t get there after work because the rush hour traffic’s so bad that I can’t get there before the garage closes.  I could have tried to go in my dinner hour, but, although the garage is not far away, there are a million traffic lights in between, and they’re always all on red, and there’s always a long queue if you go anywhere in your dinner hour.  And, when I got there, I had to wait whilst they messed about because they couldn’t decide whether I needed to pay the parts department (because it was a part) or the service department (because it was being fitted), even though the two card machines were on the same desk (seriously).   It didn’t take long, but things like this just become impossible when you’re trapped in an office, and this is one of the main reasons I had a breakdown in 2013.  Ok, rant over!


Tuesday, May 25th 

Oh FFS.  After all the rows last year, I really thought we’d got past local restrictions, clear as mud guidance, and failure to consult local authorities.  But no.  Last night, it suddenly came up on the Manchester Evening News website that non-essential travel into and out of Bolton had been banned.   Not just Bolton, but also Blackburn, Burnley, Kirklees, North Tyneside, Leicester, Bedford and Hounslow.  And people there had been told not to meet indoors.  No news conference.  No tweet.  Nothing.  It’d just appeared on

This morning, everyone was up in arms.  Councils knew nothing about it.  Nor did MPs.  Nor did health authorities.

The leader of Bolton council joined Andy Burnham for the regular Greater Manchester press conference, and said that there weren’t any additional regulations.  At 1/4 to 5, it was confirmed that there were, indeed, no travel regulations or any other regulations.

What a muddle.

Tensions are rising.  We keep hearing about “Bolton”, but it’s not “Bolton” – it’s Lever Edge, where the infection rate is almost 2,000 per 100,000, and Rumworth.  Rates in other parts of the borough of Bolton are certainly not low, but they’re nothing like that they are in those areas.  There are widespread, reliable reports of people there not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing regulations.  And all the areas with high rates are areas with high Muslim populations – and the authorities accept that.  Bury council last night tweeted an appeal from the Chief Executive of a British Muslim organisation, urging people to get vaccinated.  Lever Edge’s got a vaccination rate of around 35%, compared to 70% nationwide.  A lot of comments are being made, and there’s a possible risk of tensions.

So are hospital admissions.

In other news, my dad (a retired pharmacist) is now a volunteer helper at one of the local vaccination centres.

Still can’t get a straight answer from the holiday company.   Meanwhile, Austria has banned direct flights from Britain because of the bloody Indian variant.


Wednesday, May 26th

Europa League final tonight!  Fingers and toes crossed …

In the meantime, we are having to listen to the rantings of Dominic Cummings.  According to him, the Government got everything about the pandemic wrong, from January 2020 onwards.  However, he knew best, and, if everyone had listened to him, it would all have been handled perfectly.  Graham Stringer asked him why he didn’t resign.  Cummings looked shifty, bleated a bit, then said that, if he had, it would have been better for everyone (the implication being that he’d have solved all the problems from the outside), but that he stayed because he thought he could solve the problems from the inside.  The man’s ego is unbelievable.  He then tried to blame Matt Hancock for everything that’s ever gone wrong in the history of the world, and said that Boris wasn’t fit to be PM.  It rather reminded me of the Harry and Meghan interview.  Nasty-minded, bitter people, who can’t accept the fact that they weren’t indispensable, trying to get revenge by slagging off everyone else, without providing a shred of evidence.  He couldn’t even be bothered to wear a jacket and tie.

Clearly, mistakes have been made, here and in many other countries, in the handling of the pandemic.  But, with the problems in Bolton spreading into Bury and Manchester, and rates rising in Kirklees and elsewhere, we need to be focusing on the current situation, not on someone’s personal vendetta.  There were 3,180 new cases in today’s figures.  That’s the highest for a while, I think.  France has now imposed compulsory quarantine for arrivals from the UK.   Macron is probably loving this.

On a more positive note, anyone aged 30 and over can now make an appointment for their first jab.


Later – oh, FFS.  We lost 11-10 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw.  Penalties are a lottery and you can’t criticise anyone over those, and congratulations to Villarreal, but we played poorly, failed to capitalise on having the bulk of the possession in the first half, and, generally, screwed up.  Very, very disappointed.


Thursday, May 27th

To add to life’s ten million other traumas, the French Open draw is the worst in the entire history of the universe.  Rafa and Nole in the same half.  Throw in Roger in Nole’s quarter, and Diego and Sinner in Rafa’s quarter.  It is a nightmare.

The decorator has painted the kitchen ceiling.  Again.

The rate at which infections are increasing is falling (if that makes sense) in Bolton, Bury and Trafford, although it’s up in the city centre and Oldham.  Cases are rising nationwide – 3,542 in today’s statistics.   A lot of infections are in secondary school kids.  OK, this may well be because secondary school kids are being tested twice a week, so more asymptomatic cases are being picked up than in adults, but it’s a worry – there are no plans at present to vaccinate kids.

I’ve e-mailed the holiday company again.  This is getting ridiculous.


Friday, May 28th

I have received an e-mail from the holiday company.  It read as if it’d been written by a five-year-old.  To be fair, I’m assuming that auto-correct was to blame for a lot of it, but, if you were sending a work e-mail, would you not check it through first?  The holiday is “defiantly” (I assume that this means “definitely”) going ahead.  But they have extended the payment deadline by a month “because of this”.  Well, if it’s “defiantly” going ahead, why extend the deadline?  However, they will inform me if it’s not going ahead.   I mean, WTF?   Why can’t they just tell the truth?  “We are waiting for our head office to make a decision, and we anticipate that this will be by Such A Date.”

Over 4,000 cases reported today.  Most of these are “the Indian variant”.  Oh, and apparently there’s now a Thai variant, as well.  And the R number, which we haven’t heard about for weeks, is back above 1.

Nicola Sturgeon’s said that Glasgow’s got to stay in lockdown.  This is getting ridiculous.  I seem to be using the word “ridiculous” a lot lately!

The single dose Janssen vaccine’s been approved for use in the UK.


Saturday, May 29th

Went to Bolton Abbey today.  Due to Covid, you are not allowed to move your car from one part of the estate to another, although it is fine to move yourself from one part to another.  No, me neither!   Anyway, this meant that I walked the whole thing – and it didn’t take nearly as long as their maps and website suggest, so I probably won’t move the car in future anyway!   Gorgeous sunny day.  Why couldn’t it have done this last weekend?!

Then I went to Boundary Mill on the way back and, hooray, I found a dress for my cousin’s wedding.  I don’t honestly know what I wanted, so I don’t know if this is it, but it ticks the boxes of long, not low cut at either the front or the back but without having a high neckline, not clingy, and not too expensive.  Hooray!

If the wedding goes ahead.  I really can’t see all restrictions being lifted on June 21st.

Infection rates are falling in Bolton, although they’re still over 400 per 100,000.  But additional help for neighbouring boroughs has been refused.  The Government’s got nasty announcements on local radio telling you to minimise travel into and out of Bolton, like it’s a leper colony or something.

Another e-mail from the holiday company.  No more decisions will be made until the green list’s updated, which won’t be until a week on Monday.  They do expect to run Iceland tours.  So I need to decide if I can deal with the Covid stuff or not.  I am not good with decisions.  And I wish I could have my second vaccination sooner.  And I gather that the app is horrendous.

OK, I am off to watch the Champions League final.  Nice to see City and Chelsea fans enjoying themselves in lovely Porto, but, if City win, we will never hear the end of it!

Later – Chelsea 1-0 City.


Sunday, May 30th

Finally, a hot, sunny Sunday!  Just rather annoying that, instead of being last Sunday, when I was in the Lakes, it was today, when I stayed in most of the day to watch the French Open.  Dominic Thiem and Dan Evans have both already managed to lose.  Nice to see some fans in the stadium, though 🙂 .

However, I did go to the new Royal Horticultural Society Bridgewater Gardens this morning.  Expensive for what they are, but very pretty, only 7 miles away, and, hooray, the RHS doesn’t allow dogs in its gardens!   The opening was delayed for a year due to lockdown etc, but it’s open now, and hopefully it’ll do well.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds got married yesterday, which was a bit odd because they’d apparently told people they were getting married next July – but, hey, as long as they’re happy!

Infection rates in Bolton are now falling sharply – but, worryingly, are rising in other areas, with Blackburn how having the highest infection rate in the country.  Why, oh why, is it always the North West?   This virus has got it in for us, I’m telling you.

Polls show that nearly half of people now feel that lifting all restrictions in June 21st would be too risky.  But it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, the sun is out, the tennis is on, so let’s try to enjoy the evening and not stress too much about virus stuff!  And congratulations to Blackpool, promoted to League 1.

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



Monday, October 5th

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

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

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

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



Tuesday, October 6th

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

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

Donald Trump’s back at the White House.

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


Wednesday, October 7th

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

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

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


Thursday, October 8th

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

I am sick of the virus.

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

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

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

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


Friday, October 9th

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

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

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

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

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

I have had enough.

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


Saturday, October 10th

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, October 11th

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

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

This whole situation is ridiculous.

But today’s about Rafa ❤ 🙂 .

Second Wave Week 5 – September 28th to October 4th 2020

Monday, September 28th

People are busy blaming the government, the rules, the scientists, etc etc, but the fact of the matter is that the problems are due to people who do whatever the hell they want.  Police across the country have broken up hundreds of large parties, many of them at venues rather than private homes, over the weekend, and it’s being reported that fewer than 80% of people who should be self-isolating are actually doing so.  However, the 10pm curfew, which worked in Belgium, isn’t working so well here, with everyone pouring out on to the streets, and into supermarkets to buy more booze, at the same time.  Fines of up to £10,000 can now be imposed, but how many of the rule breakers, most of them people in their 20s, have got £10,000?

Cases are way down today, but that’s probably the weekend effect.  However, apart from the disaster at the hall of residence, cases locally do seem to be calming down a bit.  However, there are major problems in Liverpool/Knowsley, and also in the Burnley/Accrington/Colne area.

The way the political points-scorers carry on, you’d think it was just here.  It isn’t.

On a more cheerful note, Rafa won his first round match at the French Open pretty comfortably.  And, having been off work today, I went to Tatton Park this morning.  I found 25 conkers by the big conker tree there!

Tuesday, September 29th

71 deaths reported today, which is scary … although Tuesdays have always been bad, because of the catch-up from the weekend.

The rules in the NE have been changed again.   It’s now illegal to meet anyone outside your household/bubble indoors.  I thought it already was, but apparently the previous rules were just “advisory”.   What’s the point of “advisory” rules?  And it’s now “advisory” for people there not to meet up in beer gardens etc.  But it’s OK to do so here.  Everyone is completely confused.  Including Boris, who, much to the delight of the points-scorers, got the NE rules wrong when asked about them.  This is getting very silly.

Andy Burnham, having spent July calling for tighter restrictions, is now complaining that the restrictions are killing the hospitality sector.  This was in a joint statement with Liverpool and Leeds.  Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds join forces- now there’s a first!

What the hell is the answer?  Other than for people to keep the rules.  Tesco staff are now wearing masks, but most of them have only got masks over their mouths, not their noses.  And I keep seeing people on buses with masks round their chins.  They must put them on so that the driver doesn’t say anything when they board, then take them off as soon as they’re out of his/her sight.  And things are not being helped by idiots spreading false rumours on social media.  No, the app is not bloody spyware.

The Czech Republic’s declaring a state of emergency.  And Brussels has banned prostitution. I’m not sure what it says about Brussels that prostitution is considered such a big factor, but whatever.

Wednesday, September 30th

Cases and deaths today are as bad as yesterday.  Boris has issued a plea for people to follow the rules.  Angela Merkel did the same in the German parliament this morning.  And yet we continue to hear about large gatherings having to be broken up.

There are rows going on in Parliament over the lack of discussion about restrictions.

Two friends (i.e. two separate people, not a couple) have had their holidays in Wales messed up by the restrictions there.

A teacher at my elder nephew’s school has got the virus, and some of the kids have been sent home, but thankfully his “bubble” isn’t affected.

Still no definite decision on the Christmas markets, but the Christmas lights switch-on and the New Year fireworks have been cancelled.

At least Rafa had a comfortable win today.

Thursday, October 1st

I’m not sleeping very well, because of the stress of all the uncertainty.   People in Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough have been asked to avoid non-essential travel.  No change for us, and some positive news in that pubs and restaurants in Bolton are to reopen, but I’m more stressed than ever now.  It’s all so illogical.  Rates in Burnley are double those in Hartlepool and Warrington.  And why Liverpool and Warrington but not Knowsley?  The mayor of Middlesbrough’s hit the roof, and said he tried to contact the Westminster government but couldn’t even get a reply.  Council leaders in Newcastle etc have said that they weren’t even told before the announcement on Monday that rules there were changing.  No financial support has been offered for businesses affected by local lockdowns.  The South would never be treated like this.  I’ve tried not to join the ranks of those criticising the government, but the way they’re treating the North and Midlands is not on.

Having said all this, rates in our borough are falling, and they’re falling or stable in most other Greater Manchester boroughs too.  Rates in the city centre are rising, but that’s because of the cases in student accommodation.  And it’s been reported that the national R rate is falling.

On a different note, our Champions League group is vile.

Friday, October 2nd

Rates in the city centre are sky-rocketing.  I just hope that a) the government realise that it’s due to student accommodation and don’t punish everyone and b) other boroughs are not punished.  It’s a never-ending nightmare.

Donald and Melania Trump have both got the virus now.  Both asymptomatic at present.

Weather forecast for pumpkin picking tomorrow is vile, but that’s the least of my worries!

Saturday, October 3rd

Thanks to Storm Alex, it’s rained all day.  Bad weather forcing people indoors is the last thing we need, but there’s not much to be done about it.  Despite the rain, I went to pick my pumpkin 🙂 .  I think the fruit farm’s had a decent year, despite everything.  I’m so pleased.

The outbreak at Manchester Met is distorting local figures, and the same thing’s happening in Newcastle.  Very few of the hundreds of students who’ve tested positive have got any symptoms, but there are concerns about the virus spreading to vulnerable people in the community.

Donald Trump was taken to hospital last night.  We’re being told that he’s fine and it’s just precautionary, but that was what we were told about Boris just before he ended up in intensive care.  People are not airlifted to hospital if they’ve just got a bit of a cough.  It sounds quite worrying.

Sunday, October 4th

FFS.  Just as it looked as if things were calming down, a huge increase in infections was announced yesterday – apparently including cases going back over a week due to a “glitch” in the system.  So the figures for the past few days were wrong.  What “glitch”?  Can’t they get things working properly?  Gah!

Donald Trump seems to be doing better, but it’s hard to know how much of what we’re being told is accurate.

The release of the new James Bond film, to which I was looking forward, has been put back to April 2021.  As a result, Cineworld’ve mothballed all their UK cinemas, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vue and Odeon follow suit.  Does it not occur to the distributors that audiences won’t return whilst there’s nothing decent on, virus or no virus?  It’s a very sad state of affairs.  Cinemas were so important during the war.  In the ’80s, we kept being told that video shops would kill off cinemas.  They didn’t.  Then we were told that subscription film channels would kill off cinemas.  They didn’t.  But now this.  I love going to the pictures and hope that this is a temporary thing, but April 2021’s a long way off, and there’s not much else coming.

As for today’s disastrous match between United and Spurs, the least said, the better.   What a total humiliation.  At least Rafa had a comfortable win, although things get very tough from now on.

Went to Styal (Quarry Bank Mill) this morning.  The garden café is now up and running.  And a lot of apples had fallen in a pond, looking like some bizarre giant apple bobbing game.  It was a distraction from all the stress and uncertainty.


Second Wave Week 4 – September 21st to 27th 2020 inclusive

Monday, September 21st

We are being moved back to “level 4”.  A briefing was held today explaining that, if cases keep increasing at this rate, we could be seeing 200 deaths a day by mid-November.  Spain, sadly, is already seeing around 250 deaths a day.

A COBRA meeting’s to be held tomorrow, and Boris will then announce what’s going to happen next.  I hope they do bring in this 10pm curfew – I’m sorry for people who own pubs and bars, but something’s got to give.  But what else?  We’ve also been told that this could go on for at least another 6 months.   OK, I think we all knew that anyway, but it’s not very nice actually hearing it 😦 .

Some Labour politicians continue to say that the whole thing’s the Government’s fault.  Other political points-scorers say that it’s all Dominic Cummings’ fault.  This is crap.  And unhelpful.

Several friends have had kids sent home from school.  In some cases, this was because another kid in their bubble has got the virus.  In others, it was just because a kid coughed or was running a slight temperature – in which case, schools are insisting that they’re tested, but there aren’t enough testing slots available.  There were loads of school-age kids in the park.  They shouldn’t really be out if they’re meant to be self-isolating … but it’s a big park and you can keep well away from anyone else.  Except that some of them were in the playground.

Four more areas of Wales have been locked down, and people in Northern Ireland may no longer mix indoors with anyone outside their household/bubble.

Everyone is getting a bit stressed and ratty.  And Nole’s just won the Italian Open.


Tuesday, September 22nd

New rules:

  1. Pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm, and offer table service only.
  2. Staff in shops to wear masks.  About time too.  I was in Tesco this morning, and there were loads of people stacking shelves without wearing masks, which just defeated the point of customers wearing them.
  3. Plans for fans to return to sports stadia put on hold.  This is a nightmare.   How will smaller clubs survive?
  4.  Rule of 6 extended to indoor sports.
  5.  Maximum of 15 people at weddings.
  6.  People to work from home where possible.

Scotland’s also banned all visiting between households, and the First Minister of Wales has urged people not to travel … which is not great, as I was planning to have a few days in Wales in November.  How I wish I’d used my holiday days in July, but how was I to know that this was going to happen?

I sincerely hope that this works, especially as I want my trip to Bath in mid-October.  However, as one MP for a northern constituency pointed out, the measures introduced so far haven’t worked.  Bolton is back over 200.  We’re now over 150, with the city centre and several other boroughs not far behind, and Rossendale and Hyndburn even worse.  Wigan is now over 100.  Liverpool is over 150.  South Tyneside 130.  And most people really are trying to keep the rules.  I don’t know what’s going wrong.

These restrictions are likely to be in place for six months.  Six bloody months.  It’s just a nightmare.


Wednesday, September 23rd

I’ve got over not being able to go to Iceland and not being able to go to Japan, so I’m sure I’ll get over not being able to go to Bath, if it comes to it, but we get so little annual leave that I hate the thought of not being able to use it properly … and, if I’d known how things were going to go, I’d have booked it for September.  But I didn’t, did I?  The uncertainty’s a nightmare.  The Budget’s been scrapped, because the Chancellor can’t make plans any more than the rest of us can.

Scientists say that the measures don’t go far enough.  Sports clubs, pubs, etc, are in despair.  It’s just a no win situation.  Cases have risen by 25% since yesterday, but … oh, who the hell knows?

One of my colleagues thinks she might have the virus.  Hopefully it’s just a bad cold or something, but we’ll have to see.

It has rained nearly all day.

And Donald Trump is blaming China.  Which doesn’t help anyone.


Thursday, September 24th

Rishi Sunak has announced that there won’t be a proper Budget, but that a series of new schemes are being announced for when the current furlough scheme ends on October 31st.   More grants for self-employed people, although the amounts aren’t large.  For employed people, if someone’s working at least 1/3 of their usual hours, but not full time, the Government will pay their wages for 1/3 of the missed time, and employers have to pay the other 1/3.  He’s had extensive discussions with the CBI and the TUC, and I think we all have to accept that the state cannot pay 80% of people’s wages indefinitely.  However, people who are still off because their employers think that claiming the furlough money’s more profitable than bringing staff back (and I don’t mean that in a bad way, because I quite understand that places like sandwich shops in city centres just are not getting people through the doors, through no fault of their own), and people in sectors which can’t get going, such as event planning and live music, are out.  And, with the best will in the world, many small private sector businesses are not going to be able to pay people 55% of their wages for 33% of the work.

The much-discussed app is apparently now ready.

Infection rates continue to rise, here and in most parts of Europe.  Denmark, Iceland, and Slovakia are off the travel corridor list.  So is Curacao.  There are reports from Israel of hospitals having to turn away patients.

And the French Open draw is horrible.


Friday, September 25th

I had my first “autumn latte” of the year today.  I usually only drink tea, but I do quite like the spiced/gingerbread lattes which we get in autumn and in the run-up to Christmas.  This would normally be at Costa Coffee, whilst in town to go to the theatre or the pictures, but, this year, it was at the café at the park.  Just another little sign of the times!

Leeds, Wigan, Stockport and Blackpool have been put into “local lockdown”.   A load of areas in Wales have been put into strict lockdown, and support bubbles there have been banned, which I think it very harsh.  And there’ve been several outbreaks at university halls of residence.

People everywhere are getting fed up.  There’ve been big demos in Marseille against the closure of restaurants there.  An “I’m out” hashtag is being widely shared on social media in the Netherlands.  It’s very hard to try to find a balance, and I’m very sorry for the authorities.

On a happier note, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank are expecting a baby.


Saturday, September 26th

I’ve had a really nice day out at Hardwick Hall.  The house has finally reopened at weekends, hooray!  It’s my favourite National Trust house, and I was rather upset when it initially reopened on weekdays only.  However, as at Bodnant Garden, the signposting was awful.  I understand that some areas are closed off, but the alternative routes just aren’t signposted properly.  Oh well.

Cases continue to rise.  Household to household transmission.  It’s so hard to monitor, short of having the police or the Army marching round suburban streets, which is hardly an option.

Universities going back has turned into a nightmare.  There are outbreaks at 32 universities, one of the worst being at Manchester Met, where over 120 students have tested positive and over 1,500 more are now confined to barracks.  And here we go again with the political points-scorers, who claim that this has all happened because David Cameron and Nick Clegg privatised student accommodation.  This is crap.  Halls had to open because students need access to labs, libraries, etc, which they can’t get over Zoom.  But, from my experience of my first year in halls, shared bathrooms, shared kitchen, communal dining room, shared TV room (although I doubt they have those any more), narrow corridors, etc, social distancing in a hall of residence is well nigh impossible.  And there’ve been numerous reports of parties.  This is now a complete mess.  You can’t even say that all students should go home, because they may then carry the virus to their families and local communities.

Meanwhile, Sadiq Khan, never one to miss an opportunity to stir up trouble, is claiming that London is missing out because the authorities have actually dared to pay some attention to testing north of Watford.

And Oxford United sprayed their coach (as in vehicle, not as in manager) with alcohol-based sanitiser, in an effort to up precautions.  Unfortunately, a detector on the coach picked up the alcohol and thought the driver was drunk.  So the coach wouldn’t start.  So the players had to drive all the way to Accrington in their own cars … where, rather embarrassingly for Accrington Stanley, they won 4-1.  We just about managed to win at Brighton, 3-2.

Things are not looking good for the French Open.  Crap weather and slower-than-usual balls.  Bleurgh.

No-one can see an end to the virus nightmare.  My cousin is due to get married next August, and is now worried that wedding parties still won’t be allowed then.


Sunday, September 27th

The weather is gorgeous here.  I went to Dunham Massey this morning.  It was lovely.

Sadly, it is not gorgeous in Paris.  It is cold, grey and damp, which won’t suit Rafa at all.  And the new balls are horrible.  Dan Evans, after losing to Kei, said that he wouldn’t give them to a dog.  And Andy was thrashed by Stan.  It’s not going well 😦 .

I am so sorry for the students caught up in this virus nightmare.  These are 18-year-olds, away from home for the first time, and they’re practically being held under lock and key at the halls at Manchester Met.  There are police and security staff outside.  Meanwhile, there’ve been complaints that the 10pm curfew means that everyone is piling out of pubs and bars at the same time.  There are reports of splits in the government. Wales is going to close down completely if any more areas are put in local lockdown.  And does anyone know what “exponentially” actually means?