Freedom? Week 2, July 26th to August 1st 2021 inclusive

Monday, July 26th

Gold rush!!  Well done to Adam Peaty (swimming), Tom Pickford (mountain biking) and Tom Daley and Matty Lee (diving).  And two silvers as well!   What a brilliant morning.   Go Team GB!

Tomorrow will be my first day back at the office since March 2020.  I’m not at all happy about it, with all this “pingdemic” stuff going on.  I’m also bothered about the effect that being trapped in an office again is going to have on my mental health.  And, oh, the practical nightmares.  I ordered my holiday photos from Snapfish – was I supposed to order them to come here or to go to the office/

Bleurgh.  And it saps your energy.

Some trains between Manchester, London and Birmingham have been cancelled, because of the bloody pingdemic.   And I was disappointed to see so many people walking round Tesco without masks, when it was made quite clear that Tesco were asking you to wear masks.  But the good news is that new cases are down for a sixth day in a row.


Tuesday, July 27th

Today was the dreaded first day back in the office.  Apart from the fact that I forgot to take my afternoon snack (tangerines) so I was starving by the end of the day, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting – although that was mainly because not many people were in, so I was on my own and hardly spoke to anyone else all day, which suited me fine!   Missing my walks isn’t going to do me any good, though.  I haven’t dared face the scales since getting back from the Lakes, but I’m sure everything feels tight.  Public Health England keep mithering about fat we all are!

There do not seem to be any Covid protocols at the office.  There are a few bottles of hand sanitiser around, but that’s about it.

I posted on Facebook that I was nervy about going back, and people were really kind and supportive.  I appreciate that.

Medals galore in Tokyo, including gold for Tom Dean in the 200m freestyle and silver for Manchester’s Georgia Taylor-Brown in the triathlon.   Good good!  So annoying that I can’t seem to watch the tennis anywhere, though.

The holiday company rang in response to my e-mail, sent yesterday, saying how upset I was that they’d cancelled at such short notice, but seemed more concerned about trying to persuade me to book another trip than anything else.  It’s not their fault: it’s their American head office’s fault.  But none of that helps me.

131 deaths today – although Tuesday’s figures do tend to be high.  But cases are down for a 7th day in a row … hopefully we’ll soon see death numbers falling too.

And it is absolutely throwing it down 😦 .


Wednesday, July 28th

Hooray!!   My cousin’s pre-wedding party has been rescheduled.  It no longer clashes with the match!

Thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening … but they’ve gone now.

Cases are up today, bah.  But still way down on last week.  And fully-vaccinated arrivals from the US and all EU countries will no longer need to quarantine. although tests will still be needed.  There’d been some rumours about Canada, but Canada hasn’t been mentioned.

More medals at the Olympics!  Including gold for the 200m freestyle relay men’s swimming team – including James Guy, originally from Bury.  (But still no tennis coverage.)


Thursday, July 29th

More medals.

Still no tennis coverage (ETA – hooray!!!  I have now discovered that you can watch it on Eurosport Player!!!)

And cases are up again … although nowhere near where they were a week ago.   But, locally, rates are still dropping – long may it last!   However, there’ve been a “small number of positive tests” in United’s “first team training squad”, causing the cancellation of the friendly against Preston, which is a bit worrying.

Israel’s to start giving booster shots of the vaccine, the first country to do so.

And, hooray, the self-isolation nightmare will definitely end on August 16th!


Friday, July 30th

More medals, including gold for Bethany Shriever in the BMX!

The North West now has the lowest R rate in the country, which is excellent news, and cases nationwide are down a bit today.

Things are bad elsewhere, though – parts of Asia are struggling.  And poor Sydney’s staying in lockdown for another month, even though there are so few cases there.


Saturday, July 31st

I went raspberry picking at Kenyon Hall this morning.

Then, after doing some house stuff, I went into town – The Vienna Coffee House has finally reopened after being refurbished, so I wanted to go there.  Town was really busy – mainly people eating outdoors.  It seems like people are going into town more to eat than to shop these days – which, to be fair, was exactly what I was doing!  And outdoor dining is here to stay … well, until it gets colder and wetter, presumably!

More medals for Team GB, including golds in the two new mixed events – the swimming relay and the triathlon!  And Pablo Carreno Busta beat Nole to win bronze for Spain in the men’s tennis, which is lovely.  Belinda Bencic won gold in the ladies’ tennis.  The men’s final tomorrow seems to be on at a really stupid time – typical – but at least it’s not overnight.

Being trapped in the office three days a week has definitely made my anxiety worse, but not as much as being trapped there five days a week would.

Case numbers are going down again, thankfully.   Deaths aren’t, yet, but aren’t rising either.


Sunday, August 1st

How on earth did it get to be August?!

It is SO nice not having to pre-book things for the National Trust and English Heritage any more – although I’m rather annoyed that the house at Dunham Massey is only open at weekends.  Desperately hoping that CADW abolish their booking system when restrictions in Wales are removed at the end of this week.  I went to Dunham Massey today, but I watched the tennis final – Sascha Zverev thrashed Karen Khachanov – first, and obviously I had no idea how long it was going to last, so I couldn’t have pre-booked.

Case numbers in the borough of Bury are now, like those in Bolton, below the average for England, and the average across Greater Manchester as a whole isn’t that much above the national average, and falling.  However, there are concerns – not particularly here, just everywhere – that a lot of younger people haven’t been vaccinated, and there’s some bizarre talk of trying to bribe them with free pizza and kebabs.  I am not making this up.  This is coming from pizza and kebab firms looking for publicity, not from the authorities!   Around 72.5% of adults in the UK are now fully vaccinated, though.

And more medals for Team GB, including golds for Manchester’s own Charlotte Worthington in the BMX event, and for Max Whitlock in the pommel horse gymnastics.








Lockdown Week 14 – June 22nd to 28th 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 22nd

Hooray, the Lakeside Café in Heaton Park has reopened!  Although that means that, for two days in a row, my diet has gone for a Burton due to “supporting local businesses”!

I’d like to book a fruit picking slot for the weekend, but they’re only releasing them one day at a time, and the ones released today for Wednesday apparently sold out within 25 minutes.  They’re not released at any particular time, so I think you just have to strike lucky and check the website at a good time!   I’m glad that the lovely fruit farm’s doing so well, but it’s rather frustrating!

Boris will be making some Big Announcements tomorrow.  These had better include confirmation that hairdressers can reopen a week on Saturday!


Tuesday, June 23rd

Hooray!  Hairdressers are definitely reopening!!  So, as long as it can be done safely, are hotels, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and museums!

I managed to get a fruit picking slot for 5:30pm on Thursday!  Demand’s so high that they’re now doing evening slots.  I’d rather have gone Saturday morning, but decided that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, plus the weather forecast’s good for Thursday.

Had a walk in the park earlier.  Going to the frozen yoghurt shop now.

I’ve been watching some of the tennis – the “Battle of the Brits”.  It’s a shame that it’s not outdoors, on grass, but I understand that they didn’t want to take a chance on the weather.  What a to-do at the Adria Tour, though – Nole, Grisha, Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki, Jelena Djokovic and several other people have all got the virus.  Players were hugging each other at the net, and they all went to a nightclub.  To be fair, they weren’t breaking any restrictions currently in force in Serbia, but it wasn’t exactly very sensible.  Not impressed.


Wednesday, June 24th    

Oof, it is too hot, and the pollen count is too high!!  I was going to get a drink at the park café, but the queue was so long that I just didn’t have time to wait, and I felt quite faint by the time I got home!

Went into the office earlier.  As briefly as possible.  Going to Mum and Dad’s to watch United v Sheffield United now.

I had to make a decision about the Lakes, so, as the boats aren’t running and hotels will only be opening one week before the July date I’d booked, I’ve cancelled that and am working with the August date.  Watch it be the wettest and busiest week of the year!!


Thursday, June 25th

So hot, again – but I did manage to get a drink in the park today!   There was a right to-do in Bournemouth: the beach got overcrowded and the council declared an emergency.

It’d cooled down by half 5, when I had my strawberry picking slot!   It was really lovely: I had such a nice time, and got plenty of strawberries.  I’ll sort them out tomorrow – by the time I’d got home, had tea, had a bath and washed and dried my too-long hair, I couldn’t be bothered.  So glad I managed to get a slot.  I normally just turn up on a Saturday or Sunday morning, but nothing’s normal this year … but I’m so glad to have been, and so glad for the lovely fruit farm that they’ve been able to open.

We won 3-0 last night.  Liverpool also won, so, if City don’t beat Chelsea, the title’ll be decided tonight.


Friday, June 26th

Liverpool are champions, so, go on, congratulations to them.

Today has been one of those days, though:

  1.  I somehow seem to have put on 4lbs in 2 days.  How is that even possible?  That’s WEEKS of work gone. If I’d eaten cake and chocolate for 2 days, I’d have understood, but I bloody haven’t.
  2. I was so upset that I had an ice cream in the park.  Making it worse.
  3.  I was all set to go to the Lakes tomorrow, but now the Met Office says there’s going to be a storm.  3 sunny days whilst I couldn’t go, and now storms forecast for Saturday and torrential rain for Sunday.  I want to cry.
  4.   I am scared because there’s also a risk of storms here.  Not last week again.  Please,  I can’t take it.
  5.   I feel disgusting because my hair is such a mess, and it feels even worse in the heat.

I am trying to be positive, but I can’t think of anything to be positive about.


Saturday, June 27th

What an awful day.  Saved only by winning the Cup QF at Norwich, in extra time, with 2 minutes to go!   But it has rained nearly all day, after being so nice during the week when I couldn’t go out.  So bloody frustrating!  I had a nice planned, but had to cancel it – I did manage to get a walk at Alderley Edge (and, hooray, the Wizard Tea Room has reopened, and so have the toilets) before the heavens opened, and to have my scone in the garden during a break between downpours, but it poured down whilst I was halfway round the park, and I am STILL putting on weight for no reason.  How the hell can anyone put on 5lbs in 3 days?  Weeks of work, gone, in 3 days.  If I’d been stuffing myself with cake, I’d get it.  But I haven’t.

There’s a lot of talk about “air bridges”, but I don’t know if coach tours’ll be running, even if I could get a place, and it might only be a few countries anyway.  My sister & co have cancelled the holiday in America they’d booked for August.


Sunday, June 28th

So sick of this rain!   However, at least it hasn’t rained all day as was forecast.  I went to the park this morning, then went into town.  A lot of shops are now open, but some haven’t reopened yet, and others are only opening limited hours.  There’s hand sanitiser at the entrances to the Arndale and the entrances to most shops, and some doors are now entrance only and others exit only.  The Arndale toilets are open, but some blocks have only got the ladies’ open and others have only got the gents’ open!   Costa Coffee and other places are open for takeaways, and you can now order at the counter instead of using the app.  There were some queues – people who live in town waiting to go into food shops, and also queues for technology/phone shops, Primark and TK Maxx – but, generally, it was much less busy than a normal Sunday.  But then cafes, cinemas, theatres, pubs etc are all still closed.  There were a few police and security staff on Market Street, but there sometimes are anyway.  Of the food stalls, some were making a big effort and using gloves, and others weren’t.

It was lovely to be in town, though!

Watched the Battle of the Brits final, with Dan Evans beating Kyle Edmund.  And sorted out some photos … watching my hair get worse and worse as the weeks went on.

Going to watch City’s Cup QF now.  Nothing more sure than that we get drawn together!
And there’s talk about a local lockdown being imposed in Leicester.  I do understand the concern – there’s been a spike in cases there – but I would hit the roof if that happened here, and am very sorry for the people there, who must be dreading it happening.

Socially-distanced strawberry-picking – a lockdown experience!

I’ve been going fruit-picking at Kenyon Hall Farm for many years.  The people there are wonderful.  One year, I very stupidly decided to go on a boiling hot day, straight after blood donation, left my bottle of water in the car, and started feeling faint whilst waiting in the long queue to pay.  The lovely owner sat me down, got me a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits, and waited with me until I felt better.

I used to go fruit-picking every year, as a child.  There was a fruit farm not far from where my maternal grandparents lived, and we used to go there with them.  But, over the years, a lot of “pick your own” fruit farms have closed … so I was delighted when I came across Kenyon Hall.  When I first started going there, they just had the fields and a polytunnel.  I’ve seen them build a café and a farm shop, put in extra polytunnels as a plant centre, and even put in a kids’ playground.  It’s quite a North West institution now: people from Manchester to Liverpool go every year to pick berries in the summer and pumpkins in the autumn.  Running a fruit farm at the mercy of the Great British Weather isn’t always easy, and, even just over the last few years, we’ve had gales, heavy snow in March, floods, heatwaves and droughts, but they always manage to produce fruit for us to pick even so!

Normally, I just turn up at 9 o’clock on a Saturday or Sunday morning, and off to the strawberry fields or raspberry canes I go.  It’s amazing.  You’re very close to both the East Lancs Road and the M6 there, but it feels like being right out in the country: it always makes me feel as if I’ve been transported into an Enid Blyton summer holiday book.

But, this year, the coronavirus pandemic struck.  At first, we didn’t even know if we’d be able to go fruit-picking at all.  The website kept saying that the fruit was coming along, and that they hoped that they’d be able to open, but we just didn’t know.  However, thankfully, restrictions were eased before we got into the swing of strawberry season.  I think I’ve been in July before, but strawberries really ought to be picked in June.  It just goes.  Because June goes with Wimbledon … even though Wimbledon’s now almost entirely in July, since the decision (which I had been saying needed taking for years!) to make the grass court season a week later was taken.  There’s no Wimbledon this year 😦 .  This crazy year when, on the Saturday before Wimbledon should be starting, United are playing in an FA Cup quarter final.  But there are still strawberries.

However, there’s also social distancing.  So, as with a lot of other things at the moment, you have to book a slot for fruit-picking.  And how manic has it been?  I don’t think anyone anticipated what it would be like!   It’s always popular, but, with most kids still off school, and now having been off school for over 3 months and being very bored, and a surprising number of adults still off work, it seems as if everyone wants to go fruit-picking!  And, quite apart from the social distancing issue, it’s still relatively early in the season and there just aren’t enough strawberries to meet demand.  I sort of have it my head that the fields magically replenish themselves overnight, so that, after a day’s picking, there’ll be a load of new strawberries there in the morning!   But, er, it doesn’t work like that.  500 tickets were released this Monday for this Wednesday, and they were snapped up within 20 minutes!

I’d hoped to go on Saturday or Sunday morning.  Given that the weather’s broken with a vengeance, it’s a jolly good job that that plan didn’t work out!   I checked the website every 10 minutes on Tuesday afternoon … and saw that, wa-hay, to give extra slots, they were now opening until 7pm!  Previously, the last slot’d been 3:45pm.  So I could go on a weekday.  There were evening slots for Thursday.  I grabbed one, quick!

I don’t often strike lucky, but, this time, I did.  It’d been a boiling hot day, but it’d cooled down a bit by half 5 … and the hot, dry weather meant that the field was dusty, not muddy, so I could kneel down rather than having to keep bending over!    I filled my four punnets, and the little punnet that you got included with the booking price, and I smiled all the way through.  What a lovely, lovely evening.  And what lovely, lovely strawberries!  And they do always taste that bit better when you’ve picked them yourself!

Thank you so much, Kenyon Hall.  You’re bringing a lot of pleasure to a lot of people.  You always do, but it’s appreciated all the more in this very difficult year.   I just wish that I could wave a magic wand so that the field would magically replenish itself every night!  All being well,  I’ll be back when the raspberries come!   In the meantime, I shall eat some more of these lovely strawberries.