Moving On Weeks 6 and 7 – August 10th to 23rd 2020 inclusive

Monday, August 10th

I am now stressed about the weather.  Partly because storms are forecast, and I’m now terrified of lightning, and partly because, after a fortnight of decent weather, it’ll probably rain whilst I’m in the Lakes.  I’m also stressed about traffic, parking, queues in cafes and putting on weight.  But it makes a change from stressing about lockdown.

Schools went back in Scotland today, and I assume that they go back in Italy (where the infection rate’s remained low – could that be because they were further along in things when borders were reopened?), Spain, France, Portugal etc after Assumption Day.   It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

 

Tuesday, August 11th

We had storms overnight, but it’s been so hot today – really humid and horrible.  More storms are forecast.  Please let them all have gone away before Saturday!

We won our Europa League QF last night, in extra time against Copenhagen in Cologne.  We play either Wolves or Sevilla.

Scottish Higher results, which were “moderated” so that some kids got lower grades than their teachers gave them, have been un-moderated.  So now the grades are 14% higher than they were last year.  It’s all a bit of a muddle, and the same thing’s going to happen when A-level results came out.  It’s no-one’s fault: this has never happened before.

A Sky News report has found that most pubs aren’t even bothering to ask people for their details for contact tracing.  Following an outbreak of the virus in Aberdeen, linked to a number of pubs in the area, there’s been talk of giving councils increased power to close pubs down, but how can either council officials or the police check every pub in an area?  And I was the only person wearing a mask whilst ordering in both the park café and the frozen yogurt shop today.

Went to the office today, to collect some stuff.  Thankfully, things seem to have gone quiet.  Meanwhile, the latest unemployment statistics show that 730,000 people in the UK have … well, it’s all a bit confusing due to the furlough scheme, but there are 730,000 fewer people on payrolls than there were in March.  And this is with the furlough scheme.  This is just a nightmare.  There’s been a march through town this evening to draw attention to the plight of the live music industry, but I don’t know what can be done about it: how can we have tens of thousands of people inside the Arena, or even at an outdoor venue, with all this going on?

Heigh-ho.  Thank goodness for football!

 

Wednesday, August 12th

I do not know what to worry about first!

  1.  WTF is going on in Oldham?  Rochdale and Blackburn are both looking much better now, but things are out of control in Oldham.  If the whole region gets punished for this, I will be fuming.  And now I’m stressed about getting to the Lakes again.
  2. I’m also stressed about the weather.  The storm warning now extends until Monday.
  3. It is SO hot

A-level pupils who aren’t happy with their results can ask to use mock exam results instead.  This is just getting silly.

And it was announced today that the UK is in the deepest recession in history.  OK, it’s hardly a surprise, but it’s not good.  Things did look up in June, but … eeh, it’s not good.

The Japan tour that was cancelled isn’t running in 2021, which is a great shame.  I’ve booked another one, though.  Goodness knows where we’ll be at by then.  I’ve got more time off to have this year, as work won’t let us carry our holidays forward, but it’s so hard to know what to do!  We get so little annual leave that I really don’t want to waste it.

 

Thursday, August 13th

It feels like that Billy Joel song, “We didn’t start the fire”.   The pandemic.  The economic effects.  The row over A-level results day.  I am so, so sorry for the kids involved – A-level results day’s stressful enough, without all this.  But I do see the sense in “moderating” the grades, when the teacher-assessed grades were so much higher than last year’s results.  What I do not get is why everyone seems to have known what their assessed grades were.  And the silly kid who’s president of the NUS is trying to prove how “woke” she is by saying that the system’s racist.  How is a computer algorithm racist?  Then there’s the Scottish rail derailment.  The tension in Belarus.  The blast in Beirut.  The American presidential election.  And this awful heat and storms, although it has cooled down today.  Oh, and I’ve been bitten by 2 insects!

The infection rate is still rising in 7 of the 10 boroughs 😦 , but the rate of increase has slowed considerably in 4 and stayed similar in 1.  Rochdale’s had a bad week, but isn’t as bad as it was.  But things in Oldham are just horrendous – its rate is almost as high as those of 5 other boroughs added together.  Andy Burnham, perhaps feeling a bit sensitive after everyone slated him for agreeing to the whole area being put in special measures, has asked the Government not to do anything else with Oldham for now.  Given the rows going on over A-levels, and the fact that the soaring rate of infections in France is being conveniently ignored, I’m hoping they’ll decide to avoid any more controversy for now.  But things in Oldham are very worrying.

 

Friday, August 14th

The good news is that local restrictions aren’t being tightened, so I haven’t got to make a mad dash for the Chorley Travelodge or Premier Inn and can hopefully leave for the Lakes tomorrow morning.  However, they aren’t being eased either.  And, as we’re in the naughty corner – unlike several areas down south, which have far higher rates than ours but are just being left to it – we are excluded from the reopening of indoor theatres, casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and soft play centres, and the restarting of close contact beauty treatments and, most upsettingly, wedding receptions.   There’s also talk again about letting fans into sports stadia, but I’m not holding my breath.

Nole’s playing the US Open, but Bianca Andreescu isn’t.

France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Aruba and the Turks and Caicos Islands have been taken off the travel corridor list, as of 4am tomorrow.  It’s not a surprise, but it was announced at 10 o’clock last night, 11 o’clock last night CET.  What a stupid, stupid time to announce it.  We’re now seeing a bizarre scenario – it’d be tasteless to say that it was like a scene from wartime, but in some ways it is – in which people are frantically trying to find passages back across the Channel.  Airfares have sky-rocketed, and trains and ferries are full.  Meanwhile, cases are soaring in many parts of Europe and elsewhere.  This is a nightmare.

Roll on the Lake District!!

 

I was on holiday in the Lake District from August 15th to 23rd inclusive, which I’ve written about HERE  .

Whilst I was away:

  1.  The Government agreed to use teacher-assessed grades for A-levels and GCSEs.
  2.   Portugal was taken off the quarantine list, but Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago were put on it.
  3.   Wigan, Rossendale and Darwen were taken out of local lockdown, as were some parts of West Yorkshire.
  4.   We lost to Sevilla in the semi-finals of the Europa League 😦 .  Sevilla went on to win it, and Bayern Munich
    won the Champions League.
  5.  The 75th anniversary of VJ Day was marked.
  6.  Everyone got very into the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which provided money off food and drink in participating outlets on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays … sadly only during August!
  7.  The Cincinnati Masters started.  In New York.

 

The Summer of Staycations – holidaying in the age of Covid-19

  The lovely coach tours of  Iceland and Japan which I booked last year and had been so looking forward to were cancelled due to the evil virus, and I didn’t fancy a week in a beach resort on my own, panicking in case wherever I was got added to the naughty list and I had to self-isolate for a fortnight … so, like many people, I went for a staycation, and had 9 days in the Lake District.  It’s somewhere very special to me, and, given how little annual leave we get, I normally only go there for day trips or weekends, or a Bank Holiday weekend at most; so it was really rather lovely to get this additional time there, and to visit some areas which I don’t normally get chance to see.  OK, there were some wet times, but there were plenty of dry times, and even some glorious sunshine.  So, what was it like being on holiday in the age of Covid-19?   Did I feel safe in the hotel and in busy tourist places?   How different  was it being in a rural area, where many shops are very small and can only let a few people in at a time, to being in a big city?  And what was it like having to plan everything like a military operation, because you now have to pre-book most things: you can’t just turn up!   Well, it was lovely, but it wasn’t quite like going on holiday in normal times!

It was good to see “no vacancies” signs on nearly all the hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, rooms, cottage let sites, campsites, etc.  The Lake District and other tourist areas have suffered terribly this year, first with the bad weather in February and early March and then with lockdown.  And it could be some time before overseas visitors come back: there are usually a lot of Japanese and American tourists in the Lakes, and a lot of money was spent last year on promoting the area in China, which, sadly, was money down the drain, not that anyone was to know that at the time.  So, hopefully, the staycation boom we’re seeing this year can give the “Lakeland” economy a much-needed shot in the arm.

However, there are issues with that.  The roads in the Lake District were not built for heavy traffic, there’s a limited amount of parking available, and it can be difficult to stay 3 foot, never mind 6 foot, away from other people on narrow pavements.  There’s also, obviously, concern from residents about large numbers of people coming in at this time, and we’ve also seen a worrying increase in littering in the last few months.  I have to say, though, that I didn’t really experience any problems.  Nowhere was so crowded that I felt that there was anything to worry about, and the issues with parking and traffic were no worse than they usually are on sunny summer days.  However, there isn’t anywhere in the Lakes where people really tend to congregate, because you tend to walk around.  The problems seem to be happening more in beach areas in Devon and Cornwall, where people stay in the same places.

What there were were some issues (what’s another word for “issues”?!)  with limits on the numbers of people allowed into shops and cafes/restaurants.  A few places weren’t open at all.  Most eating places were open, but, with tables having been moved further apart, and not everywhere having the room for outdoor seating, there were queues and waits in some places.  However, nearly everywhere was operating a take-away service, and that was great.  Well, as long as the weather behaved (and there were no wasps around)!   I’ve never eaten and drunk outdoors as much in my life as I’ve done in the last 5 months: it’s like being in an Enid Blyton, Elinor M Brent-Dyer or Lorna Hill book!   It’s lovely.

Except if it’s raining!  Oh, and except for the dogs.  The one big killer about staycations is that so many people have dogs with them.  But, mostly, it’s lovely.  I did eat indoors at the hotel, though: there were outdoor tables, but they weren’t really in use for evening meals.  And the tables in the restaurant had been moved well apart, with some people being asked to sit in the bar or lounge, and the hotel having to turn away people who weren’t staying there.  The hotel restaurant was also providing disposable condiments, so you got little sachets of salt, pepper, vinegar, tomato ketchup, etc, and cutlery rolled in serviettes with “sanitised” stickers on them.  And, at breakfast, you got those little plastic things of jam and marmalade – and there was no breakfast buffet, as buffets are currently no-go.

What else was different at the hotel?  I think that the original idea was for rooms only to be made up if people asked, but people must have got fed up of that, so the rooms were made up daily, as usual, unless you specifically asked for them not to be.  There was hand sanitiser everywhere, in the hotel and in shops and elsewhere.  And the staff were wearing masks in the restaurant, although I have to say that no-one was sticking to the rules about wearing masks in the hotel reception area … but it’s only a small hotel, so it’s not as if there’s a lounge/lobby area where people hang around.  And, at the hotel and in some other places, they were saying that they’d not got as many staff on as usual, so there might be waits … now, was that because of the virus, or was it an excuse?!

People did better with wearing masks in shops, though.  And whilst ordering in cafes, which I have to say is something which people aren’t sticking to at home.  The shop situation is quite different in the Lakes to that at home: here, the shops in the city centre are generally big, and the small shops in the suburbs are generally quiet.  In the Lake District, there are a lot of small shops and, with so many tourists around, there were some queues.  The Co-ops had a “traffic light” system – when the maximum number of people allowed were in the shop, the light went red and the automatic doors closed!

I do wonder how it’s all affecting business.  How long are you going to wait in a queue to buy a postcard or a souvenir fridge magnet, or something else which you’d like but don’t actually need?  One small bookshop was only allowing one person in at a time.  10 minutes’ browsing time max, but, if there are 3 people in front of you, that means you’ll have to wait half an hour to go in.  However much you might want to support local businesses, are you going to wait half an hour, if you’ve got somewhere else to be, or a bored child (or partner, or friend!) tugging at your arm, and you can open the Amazon app on your phone and order a book in a matter of seconds?  I worry about the effect that this is having on small shops, and I don’t know what the answer is.

Oh, and so many places were asking for card payments only!  It doesn’t bother me, but I hardly use cash at all these days, except for some car parking machines which won’t take cards.

The pre-booking was a hassle, though.  I’ve got mixed feelings about this: I understand that some places can get quite crowded, but I think it’s all a bit OTT.  There are enormous estates – not particularly in the Lakes, but in other areas – where large numbers of people can walk around without getting too close to anyone else.  And it is a problem.  Some places let you book well in advance, but you don’t always know that far in advance where you’ll be up to.  Others only let you book a few days in advance, which is even worse, because what if you’ve made plans but then can’t get a slot?  If you’re away for more than a week then, unless you travel with a laptop, you have to try to book on a small mobile phone screen, which isn’t easy.  And some places are very inconsistent about when they make the next week’s tickets available and, if you’re out or working, you can’t be checking the website every five minutes.  Then there’s the Great British Weather.  You book your tickets for outdoor seats on a boat trip or a walk round some nice gardens … and then, on the day, the rain is coming down in torrents!

And it’s the timing.  With the National Trust, you only get a 30 minute slot.  You can’t even go into the car park before that, or go in at all after it.  If you’re travelling some distance, it’s very hard to be within 30 minutes: traffic conditions can vary a lot from one day to another.  And, if you want to go somewhere beforehand, it’s a nightmare: how can you know exactly how long you’ll want to be at the first place, or how long you might have to queue for the tea rooms or the toilets, and that’s before you even start with the traffic.  So, yep, I see the problem, but it is undoubtedly a pain.  And I just want to have a moan at Ullswater Steamers, who refuse to sell single tickets.  Windermere Lake Cruises, the Coniston Launch and the Keswick Launch are quite happy to sell single tickets – which I appreciate in particular from lovely Windermere Lake Cruises, of whom I’m a regular customer, because they’re allocating seats so it is an issue if they’ve got to leave one empty because a customer is on their own.  I hope this isn’t going to be an issue with theatres and cinemas get going again.  I’ve already seen someone getting upset online because they’d been told that they couldn’t book a single ticket for a scenic railway … again, Windermere were great about this, and let me book a single ticket for the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.

I suppose the pre-booking avoids having to queue for the ticket office, and rush to be near the front of the queue when the steamers are ready for boarding.  But it is generally a bit of a pain!   But, hey, at least things are open and up and running again!  I booked a Windermere Lake Cruise as soon as they started running again, in July, and I did three more (yes, three!) during my staycation, including the cruise which is combined with the steam railway trip. I spent some time in lovely, familiar Bowness, and Waterhead, and also at Ambleside which I don’t usually have time to walk round properly.  And I stayed in Grasmere and went to Coniston, Hawkshead and Near Sawrey, which I usually do in daffodil time, late March/early April.  I usually do the walk from Wray Castle to Claife Heights in May, when the bluebells are out: this year, I did it in August.  And I walked all the way back, seeing as the small boats which usually take you back to Bowness weren’t running because of the virus!  And I also went to Keswick, Bassenthwaite (where a bride and groom were having their photos taken), Borrowdale, Muncaster Castle, Holker Hall and Pooley Bridge, and, hey, I walked from Grasmere to Rydal.  And, as usual, stopped off at SIzergh Castle on the way home.  So it was a busy 9 days.  But it was lovely.

I miss going abroad, though.  I’m hoping desperately that I’ll be able to do my Iceland and Japan trips next year: I’ve rebooked them.  But, in this strange year, I had a lovely staycation, and I’ll never forget those 9 days in my beloved Lake District.  I’ve often regretted the fact that I don’t get chance to spend more time there.  This summer, I did.

 

Lockdown Week 9 – May 18th to 24th 2020

Monday, May 18th

Hooray, I’ve got a National Trust parking space for Saturday morning!!  It’s at Nostell Priory.  I don’t understand why they’re opening Nostell, but not Dunham, Lyme, Styal or Speke (it can’t be because of the car park ticket machine, because you have to book on line), and suspect that they’ll refuse to let you do the nice riverside walk and say that it’s the open parkland only; but it’s a start – I’m very chuffed!

A neighbour with Scottish connections is 60 today, and, somehow, her husband had arranged for a guy to play the bagpipes in the street, in full Highland gear!   And some goats have moved into the park, and they’ve got a really cute kid 🙂 .

Premier League teams can resume training.

So that’s some nice stuff.  It’s been a dull, grey day, though.  And I still haven’t got my cancellation stuff from the holiday company.  I’ve chased them again.   I got an e-mail from the Lowry, saying that Les Miserables will now not be on until 2022, and offering me a credit note.  I’ve asked for a refund instead.  I felt rather mean, because I know that they’re struggling – they’re not part of a group like the Palace and the Opera House are – but I don’t want to book anything else for now.

Much lower death figures for a second day in a row, but they do tend to go up on Tuesdays, so let’s see what happens.

 

Tuesday, May 19th

Got an e-mail from Old Trafford this morning, saying that refunds will be issued for the remaining matches of the season.  I knew that City had contacted their season ticket holders last week, so was wondering when we’d hear.  At least the clubs are doing the right thing by not holding on to the money, but I’m so sad about it.  Football is such a huge part of the fabric of a city like Manchester, of so many cities and towns.  I’m still hopeful that the Premier League season can be completed – even though the SPL was abandoned yesterday – but it could be a very long time before fans are able to attend matches again.  The loss of that experience, the bonding, and the huge effect on local economies … it’s just horrific.

Went to Tesco this morning, and then to the office to collect some stuff.  Then to the park later.  Nice sunny day today.

The death toll was right back up again, to 545.  It does keep happening on Tuesdays.

 

Wednesday, May 20th

Really lovely day today – the hottest day of the year so far.  I went to the frozen yoghurt shop this evening, and then sat in the flower park for a bit, and then sat in the garden with my book.

Earlier, I watched a really boring training webinar, then went to the park, then did some work.

I’m a bit fed up with the National Trust.  They’ve only reopened six places, and five of those are in the same region (East Anglia).  If it’s OK to reopen the parkland at Nostell Priory, why is it not OK to open other places with lots of parkland?  Excuse me for being cynical, but it’s hard not to wonder if they’ve decided they’d rather keep the furlough payments, at least until the shops and tearooms have reopened.  I understand that this is an incredibly difficult time, but, as they haven’t extended people’s subscriptions to make up for the properties being closed, that’s a bit off.  I’m sure Rishi Sunak is on to this, but things need sorting so that places which reopen but can’t do anything like their normal volume of business, such as cafes and restaurants reopening for takeaways, benefit financially rather than losing out.

Loads of multi-household groups in the park, including one group of six adults and ten kids.  And loads of groups of teenagers hanging around together.  I’m not judging anyone, because I don’t know their circumstances, and at least they’re not coming close to everyone else like all the wretched cyclists on the paths and pavements are, but it’s pretty obvious that people have had enough.  I don’t know what the answer is.  An invisible enemy, i.e. a virus, is hard to fight.

Two soaps tonight, hooray!! Emmerdale at 7 and Coronation Street at half 7.

 

Thursday, May 21st 

Here’s a bit of getting back to normality which I could have done without!  In normal times, I spend half my life getting upset over the weather being nice during the week and horrible at weekends.  In February and early March, practically every weekend was wrecked by storms.  Lovely weather today, again.  But what’s the forecast for Saturday, when I’m due to pay my first NT visit for over two months?  Showers and high winds!  Gah!  Oh well, the showers don’t look like anything major, and my hair’s such a mess that the wind can’t make it much worse!  A bit cooler today – which was better in some ways, because the park was less crowded.  People sitting on the grass are fine, but the cyclists and skateboarders are a nightmare.

My rosebush’s first rose of the year’s pretty much out.  Hooray!  It’s a family thing that roses are supposed to be out in time for Mum’s birthday, which is June 1st, so it’s made it in plenty of time 🙂 .  It’s a reminder that it’s nearly summer, though, and that spring’s gone, and the virus has taken most of the things which make up spring.  Seeing the daffodils at Chirk Castle and Biddulph Grange, having a weekend at Grasmere and Coniston, Easter weekend, seeing the newborn lambs during Tatton Park lambing week, doing the Windermere walk in bluebell season and the bluebell walks at Capesthorne Hall, seeing the laburnum arch at Bodnant Garden, the climax of the league season, Cup Final Day, the Grand National, the Boat Race and, of course, the clay court season.  I always say that summer begins when the first ball of the French Open’s struck and ends when the final ball of the US Open’s struck.  Hmm.

Clap for our Carers later.  Right, let’s stop moaning, and get the tea in the oven!

 

Friday, May 22nd

From June, anyone arriving in the UK will have to self-isolate for a fortnight.  So anyone who works, and is restricted to annual leave, is effectively barred from going abroad.  FFS.  And, if this was going to be introduced, what’s the point of doing it now?  Why wasn’t it done in March?

I feel like everything’s got in a mess.  Councils and teachers are refusing to reopen schools, so kids are bored.  Teenagers are hanging around in groups, and people with younger kids are trying to occupy them by going out.  All this patronising “stay local” stuff doesn’t really work for people in urban areas.  Councils in areas attracting visitors are trying to put people off by refusing to open public toilets or other facilities, so people are dropping litter and, not to put too fine a point on it, making their own toilet arrangements.  It’s just not working.  And the group which includes Shearings and National Holidays has collapsed, which is very, very sad news.   Shearings has been going – had been going – for over 100 years.

Oh well, at least it’s a long weekend.  Really sick of work.  In almost nine weeks of working from home, we haven’t had a single e-mail saying so much as “Hope everyone is OK” – just a nasty e-mail reminding us that the first Monday in May wasn’t a Bank Holiday this year.  People are really fed up about it.

OK, enough moaning!!  The showers seem to have disappeared from tomorrow’s forecast, so that just leaves the wind to contend with.  It’s been very windy here today – there was a dust storm in the park!   It was already windy first thing, when I went to Sainsbury’s Local, and has been very windy this afternoon.  It’s quite weird doing stuff like putting out a bottle of water to take with me, and my portable phone charger.

The NT car park at Aira Force has reopened, which is interesting.  I’m not driving all the way to Ullswater for a walk – although I would do if it was Windermere or Grasmere! – but I thought the Lake District didn’t want visitors?  And, if you can “social distance” on the narrow paths at Aira Force, you certainly can at Dunham Massey or Lyme Park!!

I lit a candle this morning, to mark the 3rd anniversary of the Arena bombing.  People have also been putting pictures of bees in windows.

And, hooray, tennis clubs at Mallorca are now allowed to open, so Rafa’s resumed training 🙂 .

 

Saturday, May 23rd

Hooray, my first National Trust visit for over 2 months!  No gardens, no houses and no scones, but I had such a lovely walk round the (windy!) parkland at Nostell Priory.  It’s a huge estate, and they could have let far more people in without it being a problem.  Oh, the joy of walking through some fields again, of wide open spaces, of not having to dodge cyclists, skateboarders, kids and dogs!   The green, the yellow … just being in some fields again.

I really hope they reopen more places soon.  And it might reduce the numbers descending on places like the Peak District and Dartmoor.  This really is a big issue – I understand that rural areas, especially the Lake District which has had such a high rate of infections, don’t want hordes of visitors, but people from urban areas cannot just be denied access to open spaces.  I could cheerfully slap all those “I’m all right, Jack,” types saying that everyone should “Stay local and enjoy the countryside around them”.  Do they know the word “conurbation”?!  Where are people meant to go?  As for all the local authorities refusing to unlock public toilets, even George Orwell never thought of that one!  And it’s hard to get anything resolved with so much political points-scoring going on!

But anyway.  I had such a nice time.  I went to the park much later.  And, at home, had my “Scone in the garden” next to a hyacinth.

My official holiday cancellation came.  It came from the head office in Colorado, not the British office, and was very terse.  I was expecting a proper Word letter saying that unfortunately they had no choice but to cancel, but it was just a short e-mail saying “Urgent Tour Notice!  We have decided to cancel … “.  Oh well.  At least it’s sorted.  I knew it was coming, but I’m sad.  I’ve been on at least once coach tour every year from 1996 onwards, often two.  They’ve kept me going through some very bad times, and been the highlights of every year.  This would have been the 25th year.

My little cousin’s riding school has reopened, and my nephews can now go to football training as long as it’s one to one (i.e. one kid plus the coach).   It’s a start!!

 

Sunday, May 24th

I really, really want to sit down in a café or tearoom and have a cup of tea.

I really, really want to see the sea.  I’d get to Blackpool at 8 o’clock tomorrow, before anyone else was around, but it can’t really be done whilst the Toilet Tyrants refuse to unlock the public toilets.

I really x 1 million want to go to Windermere.

Fed up this morning.  It was cold and grey and wet, and I was upset because it should have been the first day of the French Open.  I went to Kenyon Hall Fruit Farm – I got a few plants and some fruit and veg, nothing I couldn’t have got nearer home, but I needed a ride out, and they’re such nice people there that I was glad to give them the business.  I’d thought I might go into Bents Garden Centre as well, to look round the food hall, but the queue to go in was so long that I decided not to bother.  Is it going to be like this when ordinary shops reopen?  Who’s going to go into town or the Trafford Centre if you have to queue for 1/2 hour to get into every shop?  Even if you get to one early, you can’t get to them all early.

Bleurgh.

Oh well.  Later, I went to the park.  Then Mum and Dad came round for their socially-distanced visit, which was lovely.  And the weather’s cleared up now.  Not that you can go very far when most places are closed – as they’ve been saying at Blenheim Palace, why can’t this confusion about opening parks and gardens be sorted out? – and the Toilet Tyrants hold sway!

And so ends Week 9 of lockdown.

 

 

Lockdown Week 3, April 6th to 12th 2020 inclusive

Monday, April 6th

Les Miserables at the Lowry, in mid-May, has been cancelled now.  They said it’d be rearranged for next year.  The British Open’s also been cancelled, and that wasn’t until … well, the week after Wimbledon.  Stuff being cancelled for July does not bode well for my holiday to Iceland.  I’ve pretty much given up hope of it now 😦 .

I tried to upload a video using the Facebook app on my phone, and it didn’t work.  It’s hardly a huge trauma, and apparently not unusual, but it’s upsetting my obsessive brain and I really wish I hadn’t tried now!

I know – these are hardly major issues, when so many people are tragically losing their lives.  Pep Guardiola’s mum’s died, in Spain.  Very sad.  City and United fans alike are expressing their condolences, and so’s everyone else.

On a happier note, I’ve joined a Whatsapp group for the people in my book group (the one for which the March meeting was cancelled).   Most people in it are on Facebook anyway, but some aren’t.   And both United and City have confirmed that none of their staff will be furloughed.  Liverpool have reversed their decision on furloughing.

Later – oh dear!   Some very worrying news tonight.  Boris has been taken into intensive care.  We’ve not been told much, but no-one goes into intensive care unless things are pretty bad.

 

Tuesday, April 7th

Didn’t sleep very well last night.  I think it was all the worry about Boris.  I wish the media’d shut up with the dramatics about what the procedures for running the country are when the PM’s hors de combat.  We’ve been told that Dominic Raab’s overseeing things, and that the rest of the Cabinet and their medical/scientific advisors are all involved.

No deaths in China today!  And Austria and Denmark are talking about easing restrictions.  Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Meanwhile, the British Athletics Championships in June, to which I was going, have been rescheduled for August.  I’m not convinced they’ll be able to go ahead in August, but let’s see.  And my blood donation appointment’s been cancelled, because the local session (on the 25th) is off, which is rather annoying because we’re being told that blood supplies are urgently needed.   Staff shortages, presumably, or maybe an issue with the venue?

Went to Tesco this morning.  Shopping is now a very complicated experience!   First of all, you have to make sure that you’re not there at a time reserved for NHS staff or elderly/vulnerable people … which at M&S is usually between 8 (when they open) and 9, but at Tesco is between 9 and 10, so I had to time it so that I was out of Tesco before 9 but not at M&S until after 9!  Then you have to queue outside, because only so many people are allowed in at once.   You now have to follow a one-way system, and then, instead of waiting at a till, you have to wait in the furthest aisle until you’re told that a till’s available.  This is the booze aisle, so you’re stood there surrounded by bottles of vodka, gin, wine etc!   I also had to go to the pharmacy for some catarrh medicine (Tesco pharmacy didn’t have any), but hadn’t realised it now wasn’t opening until 9 o’clock, so I had to wait outside there as well.  It’s all very complicated, as I said!

Public transport is now running far less frequently than usual, but there are still buses and trams about.  The  X41 and X43 buses are flashing up “Thank you NHS” and “Thank you Key Workers” – I saw some today.

More excitingly, we’ve had Chinook helicopters flying overhead today!  They’re going into Barton Aerodrome to drop off supplies for the new hospital – the G-Mex Centre (as everyone round here still calls it) is being made into one of the new Nightingale Hospitals.  I’m sort of got used to not seeing any aircraft in the sky, and I’m certainly not used to seeing Chinooks!

And the park looks lovely in the sunshine …

 

Wednesday, April 8th

Oh dear!  Every time the number of deaths with coronavirus in the UK drops, it goes up again.  938 today.  938.  I know it was to be expected, after what happened in Italy and Spain, but … 938.

Better news of Boris, though.  He’s sitting up in bed and “positively engaging” with medical staff.  He’s clearly been in a very, very bad way, but hopefully he’s on the other side of it now.

My official “Letter from Boris” came today.  They’re officially called government letters about coronavirus or something, but everyone’s referring to them as “Letters from Boris”.  They only say what we’ve already been told anyway, about the lockdown rules, but it’s certainly the first time I’ve ever had a letter from 10 Downing Street!   My Inside Soap magazine also came- it usually comes on a Tuesday, but the post’s running a bit slowly at the moment.  I’m very glad it’s running at all, though – three cheers for postmen/women!

Another lovely sunny day.  Usual routine – work, walk, work!  Well, except, today, for going into the office briefly, to drop some files off and collect others, and to print some stuff out because I’ve only got a small printer at home.

Passover started today, the first of several festivals, in different religions, this month.  A lot of ministers and religious groups are streaming services on line, for different religions/denominations.  My second cousin in Leeds is doing one every day.  Not my thing, but it’s bringing comfort to a lot of people.  Religious festivals are, obviously, a time when a lot of people like together with family and friends, but not this year.  A lot of people are organising meet-ups over Zoom, though.  Our book group’s also holding meet-ups on Zoom, a few times a week, but I’m scared to use it in case I break something: I’m not very good with technology and am terrified of something breaking at a time when I won’t be able to get it sorted .

I still can’t quite believe that all this is happening. How can our lives be turned upside down, just like that? As a kid, I sometimes wondered what’d happen if there was another world war, after two in two generations, but I never imagined this. I know some people have read sci-fi books in which some deadly virus takes over the world, but I never have done. It’s just … well, it’s unimaginable, but it’s happening.

 

Maundy Thursday, April 9th

My holiday company’s cancelled all tours up to and including the end of June.  My trip to Iceland, which is in July, will presumably be in the next batch to be cancelled.  It’s hardly as if they’ve got much choice, and it’s hardly as if anyone can go on holiday with so many countries on lockdown, and Easyjet aren’t even flying at the moment, but … I booked this holiday last September (to make sure I got a date after Wimbledon and before the Olympics!) and have been looking forward to it ever since.  Yes, I know that it’s selfish to be worrying about holidays when so many lives have tragically been lost, but don’t tell me that most people aren’t doing the same.   Final payments have to be made eight weeks in advance, so I assume a decision about July trips will come in early May.   I’m losing hope of being able to go on my trip to Japan too: mid-October seemed a long way off when all this started, but it doesn’t any more.  And who knows which trips’ll be on offer next year, after the hit that the airlines and holiday companies are taking from this?  Not to mention issues about working annual leave round available dates.

Bleurgh.

On a lighter note, Dad’s been dusting!  Mum is astounded.  They’ve been married for over 51 years and he’s never dusted before!!    He really must be bored!

“Clap for our Carers” this evening.  A lot of people are banging saucepans, but I decided to be different and blow the mini-Alpenhorn I got in Switzerland and ring the mini Liberty Bell I got in Philadelphia!

No soaps on on a Thursday.  Every other weekday, at least one of them’s on.  There are loads of films on, though, and I’m catching up on some of the stuff I’ve had on my Sky Planner for ages but not had chance to watch.

 

Good Friday, April 10th

Mum and Dad paid a semi-illicit visit today.  Lots of people are doing this with other family members: technically you’re not supposed to, but you’re still “social distancing” if the resident stands in the doorway and the visitors stand at the bottom of the drive.  And they were out on “approved business” (driving to the park for a walk – they usually walk round the golf course near them, but you’re allowed to drive somewhere for exercise, as long as it’s not far, and it’s only 4 miles or so from theirs), just took a slight diversion.  It was so nice to see them in the flesh!  I left my Inside Soap magazines out for them, and they took them and left their Hello! magazines for me to read.  I also saw my brother-in-law’s mum in the park, and have spoken to some of the neighbours, so it’s been quite a sociable day!

A four day weekend, and perfect weather for it, for once … shame we can’t head out into the countryside to enjoy it!  Thank heavens for Heaton Park … where the first bluebells are out!  That’s amazing.  I’ve never seen bluebells out in North Manchester this early in May before.  I won’t be getting to do my annual bluebell walks at Capesthorne Hall or along the western shore of Windermere this year 😦 , but, as I keep saying, thank heavens for Heaton Park!  The blossom on the trees is absolutely gorgeous.  The daffodils are dying off now, but some of them are still going, and now we’ve got the bluebells coming through.  I took another different route today, past the donkeys!  Then, later, I washed my car, again.  A lot of car-washing is going on at the moment- it’s something to do.

And the gardener’s been … despite the fact that it’s a Bank Holiday! I wasn’t sure he was coming, and was very pleased to see him. The window cleaners are still working, as well. Some people – the spiritual heirs of the sort of people who put their neighbours on ducking stools, or denounced them to Cromwell’s Puritan goosesteppers or the Spanish Inquisition or the KGB – have been whingeing about seeing gardeners or window cleaners working, which annoys me. As long as people are working outdoors, and not coming into contact with anyone else, and wearing gloves (which they are doing), what’s the problem?  Are there not enough people unable to earn at the moment as it is?  Do they think money grows on trees?!

On a different note, several local places have Good Friday traditions, which won’t be happening this year.  In Ramsbottom, it’s rolling eggs down Holcombe Hill.  In Bolton, it’s climbing up Rivington Pike.  Here in Prestwich, it’s eating fish and chips from Armstrongs!  There’s usually a queue right round the block.  I think they’re open for takeaways ordered via Deliveroo – quite a lot of places are – but I decided to make my own low-calorie version.  Battered cod and chips fried in oil aren’t really the things to be eating on the day before weigh-in!   So I had smoked salmon and chips oven-cooked in low fat spray!  I even posted a picture on Facebook 🙂 .

 

Easter Saturday, April 11th

Some very sad news today.  The man who ran the shop which is the local Hermes drop-off/collection point has died with coronavirus.  I didn’t go in there often, but I did sometimes, if I had parcels to send with Hermes.  So many deaths.

The Queen’s recorded an Easter message, talking about lighting the darkness.  She always says exactly the right thing.  It’s New York suffering the most, at the moment.  Things are horrendous here, but even worse there.

Two letters from the National Blood Service came, one confirming that the local blood session had been cancelled, and another one (why didn’t they put them in the same envelope?) asking me to rebook.  I’ll see what’s available.  Apparently blood donation does class as essential travel.

I was hoping I was getting on a roll with losing weight, but have had a setback … and this was even before having my scone, and then I’ve got my Easter egg and a simnel slice to start on tomorrow.   I did still have my scone – by the forget-me-nots, this time!  They’re doing really well: the tulips and some of the other plants are on the way out now, but the forget-me-nots are going strong.

And here endeth my career in online gambling – I bet on Dinamo Minsk to beat Goredeya seeing as I couldn’t get the money out, and they lost!

And no more Holby City, after next week 😦 .  There mustn’t be any more episodes in the can.  Apparently the ventilators they use really work, and have been donated to the NHS.

On a happier note, my second Windermere photo’s now also been included in a Windermere Lake Cruises Facebook postcard!

 

Easter Day, Sunday, April 12th

An unpleasant landmark today – 10,000 UK deaths with coronavirus.  The real total’s probably far higher than that: that’s just the figure for deaths in hospitals, and there are some utterly horrendous stories coming out about how bad things are in care homes.

Boris, who’s thankfully on the mend now, has made a very emotional speech thanking the medical staff who cared for him.  He said that, for 48 hours, things could have gone either way.

Switzerland’s beaming messages of hope on to the side of the Matterhorn, including messages to the UK and other countries.  Such a nice idea.

I’ve eaten rather more of my first Easter egg (one for today, one for Orthodox Easter next week) in one day that I intended too – oops!   And I had some of the simnel slice.  And lamb for tea.  I spend too much time thinking about food!

I’ve written a fanfic, about some of the characters in the one of my favourite book series coping with lockdown.  I don’t know whether to post it or not.  It’s certainly not intended to be flippant, but I don’t know if people might think it is.  Still pondering.

Saw some police in the park, again.  There were concerns that rule-breaking might increase over the Bank Holiday weekend, but I don’t think it has done.

And so another week in lockdown ends!  I’m catching up on books and films, anyway.  And it’s very odd that we’re having such a prolonged spell of good weather, especially this early in the year, but long may it last.  It did rain overnight, but had cleared up by the morning.   Going out for a walk/jog/bike ride is the best part of most people’s days.