Manchester monsoons, Melbourne mice, park perambulations and lockdown locks

  2020 was The Year Without Wimbledon. This is The January Without The Australian Open.  And, on top of the plague, we’ve now got floods.  Sounds a bit Biblical, doesn’t it?  I think it’s fair to say that this year has not got off to the best of starts.  The Northwich/Warrington/Lymm area seems to have borne the brunt of the floods, although other areas have been affected too, and it’s very sad to see the pictures of the chaos caused.  Twelve cars were submerged just a few miles down the road from here, and people in parts of Didsbury and Northenden were evacuated.

It’s never the best time of year anyway, and what normally gets me through it is the Australian Open … but that’s been delayed by three weeks, and the build-up has turned into utter chaos.  There are now reports that the Olympics could be cancelled, and it can’t be a coincidence that these are emerging just after all the chaos over the Aussie Open kicked off.  Tennis Australia put a huge amount of effort into making the arrangements, but I don’t think anyone anticipated that people who’d tested negative 72 hours before flying would then test positive after arriving.  Everyone who was on a flight with those affected, and three different flights were involved, is now confined to their hotel rooms, rather than, as originally planned, being able to go out to practise for five hours a day.  And some of the rooms have got mice in them.  And there are all sorts of rows going on over social media, with everyone and their dog shoving their oar in.   What a nightmare.

Also, I just panicked when I saw that Coronation Street had had to pause filming for a fortnight as scripts need to be adjusted due to the latest lockdown, but, phew, it’s not going to affect the number of episodes shown.

Meanwhile, we’re pretty much confined to barracks, but we are allowed out to exercise, and I’m very grateful for having Heaton Park within walking distance – and for the fact that I’ve discovered that a café which I pass on my way there does excellent scones.  I know – no wonder I’m so fat 😦 .  The park’s like the social hub of the community – it’s a bit like the days when the upper classes would go riding out in Hyde Park to see and be seen!  Walk round the park for long enough, and you’ll see all sorts of people you know.

The daffodil shoots in the park are coming through now, though … although they aren’t growing as fast as my hair (which is also greying … meaning that I’m going to have to start using that awful spray-on hair dye as well).  I’m looking forward to seeing the spring flowers.  We’ve still got flowers.  And United are top of the league!  And we’ve still got each other.  It’s sad that some people seem to use social media primarily to post hatred – why hate people so much, just because they vote for a different political party to you – but most people use it to connect with relatives and friends, and hopefully that’ll get us through it.   And, all being well, we will get the Australian Open in February!  It always ends in tears.  Well, nearly always.  It first broke my heart in 1990, and, with a few exceptions, notably in 2009, it’s done the same most years ever since.  But at least it’ll be something to focus on.  And then the snowdrops and the daffodils will come …


Lockdown Week 15 – June 29th to July 5th 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 29th

Today should have been the first day of Wimbledon.  But there is no tennis, it has poured down nearly all day – I went out to the park, and later for a short walk, and both times it started pouring down whilst I was out, and was so windy that it was hard to keep my brolly up – and the temperature’s more suited to November than June.  Bah!  And I’m fed up of not knowing when online booking for things will open, and worrying that I’ll miss it.  And it looks as if poor Leicester will have to keep stricter regulations for another couple of weeks.

On a happier note, my favourite café is reopening this weekend!  And my elder nephew went back to school today – mornings only, reams of paperwork, and there are only three weeks of the academic year left anyway, but it’s a start!


Tuesday, June 30th

Another cold, wet day.  I’ve decided that I need to cancel my booking for Japan … I’m sad about it, but, even if the trip goes ahead, it’s not the time for long-distance travel.  I made a list of European trips as an alternative, but they all say that they’re only going with Lufthansa so I’d have to change in Germany, which is ridiculous because will be flying from Manchester to Rome and Venice by then, and the tour company’s always used them before.  I sent an e-mail asking about all this, but the person I’ve been dealing with is off this week, so I re-sent it to the general address, and no-one’s answered (yet).  My sister is stressed out trying to cancel a holiday to America.

Off to the frozen yoghurt shop, then it’s United v Brighton.

Getting very little contact from work, and I don’t think clients are checking work e-mails.


Wednesday, July 1st

The holiday company have not got back to me.  The weight I somehow put on overnight last week has not come off.  Booking for something I wanted to book is opening on Friday … when I can’t watch the website because I’ve got the chiropodist.  And I went into the office this morning and felt really uncomfortable being there.  And there is no Wimbledon.  And Wigan Athletic have gone into administration.

On the plus side, we beat Brighton last night, the dental surgery has finally reopened, and it has stopped raining.

I just can’t see an end to this.  Leicester’s back in lockdown.  We’re still registering nearly 200 deaths a day.  WHY?  Nowhere else is.  Death rates are supposed to be back to normal, so it doesn’t make any sense.  Melbourne’s also back in lockdown, the situation in the US is bad, it’s bad in India too, and the US has bought up practically the entire global supply of remdesivir.  When is this nightmare ever, ever going to end?


Thursday, July 2nd

The French Open is apparently going to have stadia 60% full!  Which will be the same as usual, as the prawn croissant brigade only ever take their seats for Rafa, Roger, Jo or Gael!!  I’d assumed it’d be behind closed doors.

The holiday company have sent me an e-mail saying they’ll get back to me.  They haven’t done.  And the office laptop had a huge strop this morning and lost the IP address for the remote connection, although it’s working now.

And it managed to stay dry whilst I was in the park today, which was good.

I feel as if there should be an air of excitement ahead of pubs etc reopening, but the Leicester lockdown and the situation in America have really cast a wet blanket over everything.  And cases are quite high in several other places, many of which are local.  The authorities will not do anything about community transmission because they’re more afraid of being accused of racism than they are of the danger to public health.  So everyone’s feeling a bit despondent … and it’s all so political, with so many people more concerned about criticising the government than about trying to find solutions.

And, as much as I accept that it’s a nightmare, every solution raises new problems.  For example, it’s been suggested that schools should vary starting times, so that there aren’t hordes of kids all streaming in through the doors and hanging around in the cloakroom/locker areas at once.  That makes sense.  But it won’t fit in with transport timetables, especially for private schools where a lot of kids get school buses, or in rural areas where buses only run once an hour.  And what about primary schools, where most kids are dropped off by parents, who may have 2 or 3 kids in different academic years?  But school attendance will be mandatory again from September, unless there are very good medical reasons.


Friday, July 3rd

I don’t know what I’m more sick of, this horrible depressing rain or being chained to the office computer.  But, on the positive side, I’ve got a place on a Windermere Lake Cruise steamer for next Saturday!   They actually open tomorrow, but a) the forecast’s vile and b) I’d already booked Fountains Abbey.  I’ve waited nearly 4 months: I suppose I can wait another week.

The air bridges have been announced, but the holiday company have not got back to me.

I went to the chiropodist this morning.  The magazines in reception have been replaced by pictures of feet!  And the chiropodist was wearing a mask and gown.  And I had to leave by a side door!


Super Saturday, July 4th

This is so-called “Super Saturday”, when hairdressers, pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels can reopen.  The doom merchants are insisting that zillions of people will be falling down drunk all over the country and the virus will spread like wildfire, but I can’t see it.  Observed en route to Fountains Abbey – a lot of caravans heading for the coast, and a long queue outside a barber’s shop.  I left here in torrential rain, but it was dry in Ripon, and I had a really nice time.  And, hooray, the visitor centre tea room (although sadly not the lakeside tea room) was open (for takeaways), and they had lovely National Trust scones, straight out of the oven!

It was pouring down when I got home, but dried up later, when I went for a late walk in the park.  The farm centre cafe’s now reopened, the ice cream vans are back, and, hooray, some of the toilets have reopened!!

This was after United v Bournemouth.  We won 5-2!   Really exciting, eventful match … such a shame that we couldn’t be there in person to watch it, but still.  We’ve restarted well … but it’s no good unless someone else slips up.

I am due at the hairdresser’s at 8am tomorrow.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be going anywhere!


Sunday, July 5th

Hooray, I have had my hair cut and coloured!  I actually look like me again!  It was a bit weird with me in a mask and my hairdresser in a visor, and not being able to have a cup of tea, but it was the usual nice friendly atmosphere.  I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for nearly 20 years.  The salon’s opening 7 days a week, and extra hours each day, for now, and anyone who’s too nervous to go in the main salon can have their hair done in a room upstairs which isn’t usually used.

Later, I went into town, to my favourite café, The Vienna Coffee House, which reopened yesterday.

It was quiet … which was nice for me, because my main issue with going to cafes/pubs/restaurants is the fear of being caught by “test and trace”, and I certainly won’t be going into one during the three weeks before my “staycation”, but not so for them.  It’s early days, though, and town was certainly much busier than it was the last time I went.  You do have to fear for businesses, though, and for the transport networks too, with theatres still closed, no live music, and no crowds at football matches.  This rotten weather isn’t helping – London’s been busier, because it’s been nice there, but it’s been very windy here, and now it’s raining again.  It rained whilst I was on my way back from the park, too.  Bah!

Oh well.  We do need to try to stay positive.  I don’t watch BBC News any more, because of its negative attitude and the way it criticises the Government’s every move, but now Sky News is getting as bad!   Negativity won’t help.

I still can’t quite believe that all this is happening.  My admiration for the generations who lived through the world wars, especially, because of the Blitz,  the Second World War, was always high, but it’s now higher than ever.   Our lives have been turned upside down.

But, hey, hairdressers are open, and cafes are open!  Some places of worship have reopened, and some weddings have taken place.  It’s just all so far from normal.  I want normal back.






Lockdown Week 6, April 27th to May 3rd 2020 inclusive

Monday, April 27th

The Virtual Madrid Open started today!  Virtual Rafa beat Virtual Denis Shapovalov.  But now has a sore back!   Surely not even Rafa could get injured playing Play Station tennis, so has he done it whilst working out or something?  Fingers crossed that it’s nothing serious.  The Virtual Madrid Open’s live on the Madrid Open Facebook site.  Heaven knows when we’ll get any real tennis, so at least this is something.

The weather’s still lovely.  It was supposed to rain today, but it didn’t.  The blossom’s pretty much gone now, but there are some gorgeous colours on some of the other trees and bushes in the park.  It’s all right for trees and bushes – they don’t have issues with their roots going grey!

And #Borisisback !  The PM spoke from outside 10 Downing Street at about half 9 this morning.  His hair looks worse than mine, except that he hasn’t got issues with the colour.  He looked fine otherwise, thankfully.  But he said that there’s no chance of lockdown being lifted any time soon.  I can’t disagree with anything he said, but … this is the sixth week already.  At least Boris sounds kind of inspirational about it, though.  No offence to Chris Whitty, but he just sounds like a prophet of doom.

The rain’s now due to come later in the week.  We’ll see.


Tuesday, April 28th

I’m very put out because Virtual Rafa lost to both Virtual Andy and Virtual Benoit Paire!   Computer games evidently aren’t Rafa’s forte 🙂 .  It’s good fun, though.  OK, there’ve been a few technical hitches, but there are players in umpteen different countries.  And saying Rafa had an injury yesterday was Feli’s idea of a joke … but it sort of came across wrong and stressed everyone out!  It wasn’t an injury, just some sort of IT problem.   Looks like Andy Murray could win his first title in a while – he’s well into it!

France has suspended all sporting events until September, so the Ligue season’s had to be abandoned.  Not sure yet whether it’s just being voided or whether PSG will be declared champions.  There’s talk of the Bundesliga and Serie A resuming behind closed doors, and I think Boris would like to get football going again here, but who knows?  And tennis is even more difficult, because of the travelling.  There’s talk of everyone arriving in the UK from abroad having to self-isolate for two weeks which, for anyone working, is going to put the kibosh on foreign holidays even if flights get back to anything like normal.  Hotels in Austria are reopening at the end of May, but no sign of that happening here yet, and you can’t travel anyway.

The death toll’s been well down the last two days, but was up today, and the number of deaths in care homes is horrendous.  There are fears that things are worsening in some places, notably Russia and Brazil.  We had a minute’s silence at 11 o’clock, for key workers who’ve died.

The weather’s taken a turn 😦 .  It rained this afternoon – luckily not until I was back from my walk, though.   I went out early partly to get back in time for the virtual tennis and partly because I needed to get away from the office e-mails because one person was being annoying.  It’s not the first time this has happened, although it was a different person this time.  I’m just trying to ignore them, in the same way that I’m ignoring the people trying to score political points out of the pandemic.

No queues at either Tesco or M&S this morning.  About 1/4 past 8 seems to be a good time to get to Tesco – loads of people get there for when it opens at 8, but then they all go in!  There seems to be a shortage of Bran Flakes, though!  That’s two weeks in a row there haven’t been any at Tesco, either Kelloggs or Tesco own brand.  I had to get M&S’s own brand, which I’ve never tried before!

A bit frustrated because my weight loss has ground to a halt.  Going out to walk up and down the garden steps (in the rain) as soon as the next Virtual Tennis match is over … but I’m doing the steps every day, as well as the park walks, and the weight’s still not coming off!


Wednesday, April 29th

The sun’s out now, and I’ve put a few new plants (bought at Tesco yesterday) in the garden, and Rafa’s won a Virtual Tennis match against someone called DJ Mario, so I feel a bit better now.  I really was feeling quite down earlier, especially when it poured down for a couple of hours.  I’ve kept telling myself that I could go to the Lakes for the week I was supposed to be going to Iceland – which hasn’t officially been cancelled yet, but, with UK tourists banned from pretty much everywhere and tourist attractions shut anyway, will be – and maybe try to get on a coach tour of the Scottish Highlands later in the year, but we’ve now been told that we won’t even be allowed to visit the countryside or seaside for months to come.  I do understand that they don’t want to risk a load of people spreading the virus into rural areas, which haven’t been so badly affected, but it’s very hard having nothing to look forward to.  No sport.  No theatre/cinema.  You can’t even go to a café.  The only concession so far is that tips will be reopening!  Hopefully it’ll stop the fly-tipping, but I can’t say that the tip is exactly top of the list of places I’m missing visiting!

I dread to think what this is going to do to the economies of places like the Lake District and Blackpool, as well.

There just seems to be no prospect of things ending.  The death toll was in the 300s for a couple of days, but now it’s been well over 600 again for the past two days.

I know that things got bad in Italy and Spain earlier than they did here, but it feels as if everywhere else is starting to come out of lockdown.  Hairdressers have reopened in some US states now.  Lucky residents of those states!  I look absolutely horrendous.  I saw my bro-in-law’s mum in the park this morning, and she took a photo of me to put in the family WhatsApp group.  I’ve been trying ever since to convince myself that it was only the breeze that made it look so bad!  And I live in fear and dread of something breaking.  And I wish I could lose some more weight – it’s just stopped 😦 .  And, whilst I’m very glad to be on my full salary, I feel kind of envious of people who’re going on about how they’ve cleared their houses out and read loads of books and done loads of craft stuff, whilst I’m trying to work in the front room!!

I’m allowed a moan.  We’re in our 6th week of lockdown, and there’s no sign of anything being eased up, and the phrase “the new normal” is now being used everywhere – and it basically means “nothing like normal”.

On a happier note, Boris and Carrie’s baby was born this morning, a boy.  They’d said “early summer” so he seems to be early, but mother and baby are both doing well.


Thursday, April 30th

Boris says that plans for moving out of lockdown’ll be announced next week.   It’s time.  It’s happening everywhere else.

Worrying news that there’ve been more cases in Yemen.  And Prince Charles has warned of the dangers of it spreading to refugee camps.

Boris’s hair looked tidier today.  I wish mine did!   My sister’s tried cutting bro-in-law’s and the kids’.  Mum’s tried cutting Dad’s.  He moaned that she’d cut his ear!

It’s quite confusing trying to tell how things are going, because the daily death toll’s now been changed to include deaths in care homes and at home – which is quite right, but makes it confusing to compare the figures with last week’s.

Andy won the Virtual Madrid Open.  I’m rather going to miss it now it’s finished: I’ve got very into it!  Rafa had a video call with King Felipe and Queen Letizia.  He put a suit on and brushed his hair for it, bless him!

Went for my walk early today.  It rained later on.  I could really do with going into the office, but I just didn’t feel like it today.  One person keeps having strops and causing trouble, and I really could do without it.

Oh well.  Housework done for today.  I’m going to catch up on some TV, and then have a bath after Clap For Our Carers.  And it’s Captain Tom Moore’s 100th birthday today – happy birthday, Captain Tom!!


Friday, May 1st

May Day.  Some good news this morning!  I had to go out for some milk and salad and a few other bits, and to pick up some stuff from the office, and I called into the newsagents who’d said they’d get back to me – and they said they could fit me in.  Phew!!  It would have been a right pain having to buy them every day.

We’ve hit the 100,000 tests per day target, which is good news – although no doubt the Guardian and all the other idiots who seem more interesting in scoring political points than in public health wish we hadn’t!

Found some garlic flowers today, near the frozen yoghurt shop- I went to get a takeaway frozen yoghurt on my way home from my walk in the park.  I had no idea that garlic grew anywhere near here.

STILL not managed to lose any weight this week.  It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re not getting anywhere.

And things seem to be getting bad in Brazil now.


Later – oh no.  This is not happening.  The oven’s broken.  I think the element’s blown.  It blew the electrics, so the internet, the telly, Sky, the computer, the boiler … everything went off.  I think I did well not to have complete hysterics.  Got it all back on, but now the oven’s not heating up.  I rang the Currys repair line, but it said that lines are now closing at 6, and to expect long waits when they’re open, and that they’re prioritising vulnerable customers.  This does not sound hopeful.  Like the toilet, why now?  Trying to stay calm, but I feel a bit scared and vulnerable now.


Saturday, May 2nd

Phew.  Got through to Currys very quickly, and the engineer’s coming on Monday.  He’s supposed to be texting me tomorrow evening with a four hour slot.  Let’s see what happens.

Quite nice weather today.  I did #Sconesinthegarden this morning, with my mint and sage plants, then went to the park.  I saw a gosling!   First one of the year!  Later, Mum and Dad called round.  I’m not going to feel bad about it.  They stood at the bottom of the drive, and I stood on the doorstep.  I’ve seen plenty of people out walking and cycling together, when they’re clearly not from the same household, and I know some people have been visiting relatives and going inside their homes.  I wouldn’t do it myself, but I’m not going to judge anyone, because there are mental health issues to consider as well as physical ones.

I don’t know where the time goes, but go it does.  Been sorting out photos, but I don’t seem to have got much else done.  Mind you, it’s little things.  Putting the washing away.  And reading the meters.  The electricity usage is definitely up.  The office laptop strops if it’s not plugged in all the time, and then I’ve got the lights and the TV on during working hours, which I wouldn’t usually.

Today is my cousin’s birthday.  He organised a Zoom thing, but I’m still scared to try using it.  It’s also Princess Charlotte’s birthday.

The disposable masks came.

My weight has not shifted all week 😦 .  But I’ve tried the brown hair touch-up spray.  Only a bit, because I don’t want to do too much to my hair, in the hope that hairdressers’ll be allowed to reopen soon – they have been in Austria now, as well as Denmark and some US states- but the grey roots were showing so badly that it was really upsetting me.  Nothing terrible’s happened …. yet!


Sunday, May 3rd

Oven Man is coming “between 12:20 and 4:20” tomorrow afternoon.

The roots touch-up spray has to be reapplied after every time you wash your hair.  I’m hoping that I’ll eventually be able to do this without either a) getting it anywhere it shouldn’t be or b) feeling the need to take half a dozen selfies afterwards to check that it looks OK!

Actually, I’m hoping to be able to have my hair cut and properly dyed soon, but it’s hope more than expectation.  Hairdressers have reopened in Denmark, Austria, Israel and some US states, but it’s going to be late July before they reopen in the Republic of Ireland, and who knows what’ll happen here?

I do think we’ll get some detailed plans next week, though.  People are getting fed up, apart from anything else.  And there’s more rule-breaking going on.  I don’t think anyone’s having any wild parties but, for example, I was forced off the pavement on Thursday by four men all cycling together, and some of my neighbours have had their children and grandchildren round for the afternoon.  I’m not one of these holier-than-thou people criticising others: I’m just saying.  There’s also the awareness that other countries are easing lockdowns now.

It’ll be very gradual, though.  Oh, when will we ever be able to go abroad again?

I’ve put a load of photos in albums today.  More albums to find a place for in the spare room!   And, at the park, one of the peacocks put its tail out!   Oh, and today was the first day with the new newsagent, and the papers duly turned up – hooray!

Lots of talk going round about getting football going again.  At neutral venues?  In Australia, even?!

And so ends yet another week in lockdown.  Watching the VE Day programmes, I keep wondering if we’re always going to be “The Coronavirus Generation”.  Or is that a stupid thing to say, given that all generations are being affected by it … and that it’s only been months, not years.  Please tell me that it isn’t going to be years.