Lockdown II Week 2 – November 9th to 15th 2020 inclusive

Monday, November 9th

Big news today – Pfizer and BioNTech have got a virus which preliminary analysis shows is 90% effective in preventing infection.  It’s early days, but it’s certainly sounding hopeful.

Unfortunately, in a press conference tonight, in which Boris and Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam went on about bugle toots, arrows in quivers and penalty shoot-outs, Boris went on about the evil “Tier” approach, so it looks like we’re going to be stuck with these vile travel restrictions for some time yet.  So sick of it.  Wales isn’t doing this any more.  Why are England and Scotland?

A relation of mine has contracted the virus whilst in hospital.  This seems to be happening with a lot of people.  I understand that the virus is incredibly infectious, but surely, after all these months, hospitals should have better procedures in place.

And it looks as if we may lose a place in the Nations League finals due to the Danish mutant mink virus!   England are due to play Iceland.  A few days earlier, Iceland are due to play Denmark, in Denmark.  No-one is allowed to enter the UK that soon after being in Denmark.  UEFA say that the match in Denmark can go ahead.  Mink 1 – 0 England.   There are also issues over Danish players based in England, and also Swedish players based in England, as Denmark are also due to play Sweden.  And Liverpool are due to play Midtjylland away in December, but then any non-UK players wouldn’t be able to come back, and any British players would have to quarantine for 14 days!

Still stressed about the kitchen ceiling.

On a happier note, a) the park wasn’t busy today and b) Dunham lights has been extended into January and they’ve rebooked people who were booked for the lockdown period.

 

Tuesday, November 10th

GCSEs and A-levels in Wales have been cancelled for next year.  I wonder if England and Northern Ireland will follow suit.  I would have been completely hysterical if my exams had been cancelled, and am so sorry for the kids concerned, but, as the Welsh authorities have said, and Andy Burnham’s said, going ahead with exams is very unfair on kids who’ve had to miss time in school due to self-isolating.

Mass testing is to be carried out in more areas, although Greater Manchester hasn’t been mentioned.  And it looks as if the idea is to the roll out the vaccine ASAP.

I went to Tesco first thing, and then walked to the park just after 1 o’clock.  There was loads of traffic around.  OK, first thing, it was probably mostly people going to work or returning from collecting kids from school, but what were all those “essential journeys” at 1 o’clock?  I feel less guilty about going to Dunham Massey now.  Also, whilst there’ve been reports about supermarkets cordoning off “non-essential” stuff, ours hadn’t.  Cordoning stuff off is stupid.  It doesn’t protect small shops, because people just buy stuff from Amazon.

Matt Hancock has been drivelling on about how great it’ll be to get out of lockdown and back into the tiered system.  Yes, because that’s so great for everyone in Tier 3.  Talk about “I’m all right, Jack”!!

 

Armistice Day, Wednesday, November 11th

A grim milestone today – over 50,000 people in the UK have now died “with coronavirus”.  That’s the official figure, anyway.  We’ll never know the real one.  How many people died in the early days without being tested?  How many of the 50,000 people had serious health conditions and would sadly not have survived this year anyway?  But it’s pretty grim.   595 deaths today – and 53 of those were in Greater Manchester.  Why, oh why, are we being hit so badly?  One of those Stating the Bleeding Obvious official reports has come out today, saying that Northern England’s been particularly badly hit.  Yes.  We know that.  Rates are falling here, though – although, annoyingly, not by very much in our borough.

Northern Ireland’s supposed to be coming out of lockdown after tomorrow, but no-one knows if it is or not because the politicians still haven’t decided.  FFS.

Students are to be allowed home for Christmas – but will be given timeslots in which to leave.

And I am on holiday.  My nasty employers only give us the legal minimum number of days’ holiday, and make us take some of that on days not of our choosing, so holiday days are sacred and I tie myself in knots planning them.  So, so many times I’ve had to miss things I wanted to do as a result.  But, this year, I’ve got a week (3 days in Nov, 2 in Dec which I was saving for a Christmas market trip abroad – hah!!) with nothing to do, which is crazy.  I was supposed to be having 2 weeks in Japan in October.  That got cancelled.  But November trips were still on, so I was going to go to France.  That got cancelled.  Then I thought I’d go to Wales.  Until the local lockdowns in Wales came in.  Forget Wales.  Shropshire, then.  I’d made a list of places to visit there.  Then the Tier 3 crap came in.  So I thought I could go for a spa day, and go to some of the local attractions like the East Lancs Railway.  No.  Can’t even do that.  And they won’t let us carry our holidays forward.

Er, so I went to Dunham Massey.  Which is a non-essential journey.  Across town.  And I felt a bit guilty – but there were loads of people there, all in cars.  And I didn’t go near anyone else, and I was outside.  And it was nice.  Although, FFS, they are now letting dogs in the garden.  Bloody hellfire!  There are horrible dogs everywhere.  One couple were letting their odious dog bark so loudly that you could hear it across the entire Dunham Massey estate.  People were giving this couple funny looks, and some people even remarked about it, but they clearly didn’t give a shit that they were disturbing everyone else.  I’ve actually e-mailed to complain about dogs being allowed in the gardens.  I don’t normally do things like that, but enough’s enough.  NT gardens are amongst the few outdoor places which aren’t plagued with dogs.

Er, apart from the dog thing, it was very nice.

I was there at 11 o’clock – quite appropriate, as the house was a military hospital during the First World War – and most people did stop and observe the two minutes’ silence, which was nice.

Then I went to see the Christmas display at the garden centre.  Which was breaking Tier 3 bounds, as it’s a few hundred yards outside Greater Manchester.  Judging from the accents of other people, most of them were breaking Tier 3 bounds.  I’d stupidly thought it’d be quiet on a weekday, but I had to queue to get in, which was annoying.  Shops are going to go under if this carries on: people haven’t got time to keep waiting in queues, and what if it’d been pouring down?  The fact that there was a long queue  says a lot: no-one “has” to go to a garden centre.  But it’s better that people go there, where visitor numbers are restricted and you can’t sit around, than go to each other’s houses.

I seem to be writing an essay every day.  And this is nearly 8 months in!

 

Thursday, November 12th

Business Secretary Alok Sharma, “leading” a Downing Street press briefing this evening, was asked by a lady from Sheffield if everywhere’d be going back into its pre-lockdown tier on December 2nd, or whether the tiering’d be reassessed.  He completely sidestepped the question and just said, twice, that national restrictions’d be ending on December 2nd.  So annoying.  And rude.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s government thought that the lockdown there ended tonight, but it actually ends tomorrow night, because they got confused by their own definition of “midnight on Friday”.  Seriously.  And then, just as places were getting ready to reopen, they said that they were extending it for another week.

The number of new infections, which has remained at 20,000-23,000-ish for days, has somehow jumped from 22,950 yesterday to 33,470 today.  How the hell has that happened?  How can there be an increase of nearly 50% one day, when it’d been stable for the last week or so?

Holiday day 2 today, and back to Hollingworth Lake.  The Olive and Pickle had scones today, hooray!  Nice sunny day, too.

I then went to Healey Dell, a nature reserve not far from there.  It was absolutely beautiful, with waterfalls and all the autumnal colours, but there were very few people around and I felt a bit nervous, so I didn’t walk far.

Also, there were loads of signs up saying that the tea room was open from Thursdays to Sundays, but, when I got there, ready for another cuppa, there was a sign saying that it was only open on Saturday and Sunday this week!    After that, I decided to book Styal for tomorrow.  I’m not sure whether or not I’m meant to cross into Cheshire East, but I’m getting a bit past caring: I’m only going for a walk.  If the tier thing does apply this month, I crossed from one Tier 3 area to another today, because I genuinely hadn’t realised that Healey Dell, despite having a Rochdale address and being listed on Visit Rochdale, Trip Advisor and even Rochdale Council’s own website as being in Rochdale, is a few hundred years into the borough of Rossendale.  Well, part of it is, anyway.  Whereas Middleton, which is in Manchester, comes under the borough of Rochdale.  And we, also in Manchester, come under the borough of Bury.  And Failsworth, also in Manchester, comes under the borough of Oldham.  And we’re all Lancastrians anyway!!  Er, anyway, I’m going to Styal tomorrow.

The powers that be have agreed that the Icelandic football squad are to be granted exemption from the Danish travel ban, so the Nations League match can go ahead.  There’d been some talk of playing it in Albania!   But it can now be played at Wembley.

 

Friday, November 13th

I was going to get ten billion things done during these three days off.  How many of them have I got done?  Hmm.  I’ve done two shoeboxes for the Manchester Christmas Shoebox Appeal, though.  They’ve got to be in early this year, so that they can be quarantined for a fortnight.

Some people have put their Christmas trees up already, and supermarket websites are struggling to cope with advance bookings for Christmas week deliveries.

Lovely weather today, after heavy rain from about 5am to 7am.  The autumnal colours at Styal were absolutely beautiful.  I had a really nice time there.

I’m doing so much walking at the moment, but my weight is still a complete disaster 😦 .

Today’s figures, whilst still grim, are much better than yesterday’s – 27,301 cases, and 376 deaths.  The highest rate of positive tests by age groups is amongst secondary school kids.  Hmm.

And rates in the north west are definitely falling, touch wood, and the R rate could be below 1 here.

 

Saturday, November 14th

Hooray, week-on-week infection rates in Greater Manchester are down by 18%!   Although our borough annoyingly now has the 3rd highest rate of the 10.  But rates are down in every borough.  Unfortunately, rates nationwide are still rising, and another 462 deaths were recorded today.  And it’s worse across much of Europe.  Italy had over 40,000 new cases yesterday, and France had over 80,000 one day, both with lower populations than us.  Austria, with a population less than 1/7 of ours, had over 9,500 cases yesterday, and is going back into lockdown.  And the rates in America are awful.

Rishi Sunak lit oil lamps on the steps of 11 Downing Street today, to mark the start of Diwali.  It’s lovely that we’re now at a point where it’s totally cool for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be a practising Hindu, but sad that here’s yet another festival which people will be unable to spend with family and friends.  Plenty of fireworks have been going off nearby, though!

There was an anti-lockdown protest in Bristol today, but only a few hundred people went.  Most people do accept that something needed doing, but we’re all so fed up, and there’s a lot of resentment over the fact that bookshops, toy shops, clothes shops etc have had to close when you can buy books, toys and clothes readily in supermarkets and garden centres.

The media are making a huge big deal over the fact that Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain have been given the heave-ho.  We’re getting a load of melodramatic stuff about “power struggles” and “right hand men” and “factions”.  They’re making it sound as if Henry VIII’s about to execute Thomas Cromwell or there’s been a rerun of the Bedchamber Crisis. Advisors do come and go.  I just hope that Dominic from Durham and Lee from Ormskirk are not replaced by Home Counties public schoolboys.

I found a 3 mile walk through Worsley, only 10 minutes away, on Google, so I did that today.  It was dry at that point: it rained later.   After the Healey Dell thing, I decided to save this for a weekend, when there’d be more people about.  Part of it was along the historic Bridgewater Canal and through woodland, which was very pretty, but then it brought you back through a housing estate!  Oh well, it was somewhere different to walk.  I must sound as if I go out all the time, but I really don’t – I just don’t write about all the time I spend doing housework, which is more than usual at the moment as I’m doing my annual year end house clearout (which largely consists of taking things out of drawers/cupboards, cleaning the drawers/cupboards, then putting things back in, even though I never use half of them).

 

Sunday, November 15th

Haven’t been far today, just to the park, but I’ve made progress with the Year End House Clearout, and sorted out some photos whilst watching the tennis.  Rafa’s first match of the World Tour Finals is later this evening.  Fingers crossed!

One of the inventors of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’s said that hopefully things will be back to normal by next winter.  Next winter?!  OK, OK, I’m sure we all know it won’t be a magic bullet, and there are already plans for next summer’s big sporting events to take place behind closed doors, but … just hearing it said out loud was scary.  Another YEAR of this.  “Non-essential” shops have already been shut for 15 weeks this year and, even when they were open, weren’t doing anything like as much business as normal.  The travel and tourism industries are in a mess, as is the live music industry, as are theatres.  Another year of weddings etc being cancelled?  Of not being able to go to football matches?  And I cannot take much more of these evil travel restrictions imposed on Greater Manchester and other areas.  And, most of all, FFS, we need to see our families and friends.  Yes, I know that my grandparents’ generation lived through six years of war.  But … bleurgh.

If we could just get back to where we were in July, I’d take that for now.

The Evening News has printed charts showing the rates of infection in each of the 10 boroughs since the start of August.  In every one, it started rising at the end of August, and sky-rocketing at the start of September.  Easy for people to blame “Eat out to help out” but, as rates have sky-rocketed right across Europe, it can’t be that.  So was it schools going back?  But it seems to have started before schools went back.  Or just people moving around over the summer?  It’s done now, but we could do with knowing.  Or was it just the way pandemics go?  There are always second waves.

But they do end.  Don’t they?

And, after all the fuss over the Danish mink, the Iceland match is now irrelevant, because we lost to Belgium and now cannot qualify for the Nations League finals.  Bleurgh.

 

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

Monday, November 2nd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tuesday, November 3rd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wednesday, November 4th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thursday, November 5th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Friday, November 6th

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

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

More of the artexing has come off the kitchen ceiling.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Saturday, November 7th

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

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

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

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

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

Local hospitals are now cancelling some elective procedures.

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

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

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

 

Remembrance Sunday, November 8th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving on, or maybe not, Week 5 – August 3rd to 9th 2020 inclusive

Monday, August 3rd

  1.  People who let their horrible dogs bark all the time should be locked up.
  2.  The burglar alarm service man has been.  So much easier to sort these things when you’re working from home!
  3.  The tables outside the park cafes have reappeared, so that the cafes can qualify for the new “Eat Out To Help Out” scheme, by which food and drink is half-price on certain days, to boost the hospitality sector.  However, seeing as they hadn’t advertised the fact that they were in the scheme, no-one knew about it until they paid, so no-one ordered anything they hadn’t been going to order anyway!!
  4.  I’ve had a reply from one of my MP’s minions, claiming that the North of England was definitely not being “ostracized”.  I contemplated replying, to point out that a) “ostracise” was completely the wrong word to use in this context and b) he shouldn’t be using American spellings, but couldn’t be bothered.

I am so stressed.  I was really looking forward to this staycation, and now I’m on edge all the time, in case we’re banned from travelling or anything else happens.  Hardly anyone in the region’s actually in hospital with the virus.  Most of the cases are amongst young people who’ve hardly been affected.  I quite appreciate that they could pass it on to someone else who could have it very badly, but it’s bloody frustrating that we can’t visit our families and friends just because a few people have got a bit of a cough.  And how long can this go on?  More and more job losses are being announced every day.

It’s not just here.  Festivals planned in Malta have been cancelled.  There’s been an outbreak on a cruise in Norway.  And I am so sorry for people in Melbourne, who’re practically under lock and key.

 

Tuesday, August 4th

Headline of an internet article today – “Pub closed after worker tests positive for virus following trip to Greater Manchester”.  Where had this person travelled from?  Land’s End?  John O’Groats?  No.  St Helens!  Which is, what, five miles outside the boundaries of Greater Manchester?  So someone from St Helens has got the virus, and is making out that they must have caught it when they nipped to a shop or café in Wigan for half an hour or so.  And this is being used to make it sound as if the whole of Greater Manchester should be treated as some sort of leper colony.  I have never heard such crap in my entire life.  But it’s out there.  And people down south or in Scotland aren’t going to know exactly where St Helens is.  Meanwhile, the bloody Guardian is trying to turn this into some sort of class war, by blaming the increase in cases on people who live in big houses in Hale Barns.

None of this is helping.

It’s just getting me totally stressed out.  I am absolutely desperate for this break, and don’t know what I’m going to do if it’s ruined because of idiots in other parts of the region ignoring social distancing guidelines.

A guy refilling the shelves in Tesco this morning was wearing full Spiderman headgear.  It made me laugh!

The Madrid Open’s been cancelled 😦 .

Later – and now Rafa’s pulled out of the US Open.  I quite understand his reasons, but … bleurgh.

 

Wednesday, August 5th

I woke up at half 4 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, and then burst into tears because I dropped a pile of papers.  I was feeling fine before all these restrictions were imposed because of high infection rates in Oldham and Blackburn.  And Nicola Sturgeon has slapped a travel ban on Aberdeen, which has completely panicked me.

The latest statistics show that, whilst the rate of infections is still increasing – and our area is regrettably getting worse – it’s not increasing at anything like it was in the two previous weeks.  And the overall rate for the region is about 27, and Blackburn hasn’t been put under a travel ban even though the rate there is nearly 90.  So hopefully it will be OK.  But I am stressed and upset now, instead of looking forward to my long-awaited break.

Went into a café today, for a takeaway drink, and the lady in front of me wasn’t wearing a mask.  She suddenly realised that she should be wearing one, took one out of her handbag, put it on, apologised profusely to the girl behind the counter, and said that she’d just forgotten.  The girl said that it didn’t matter and she didn’t have to wear it if she didn’t want to.  I mean, FFS!

Rafa’s said that he still hopes to play in Paris.  The US Open, if it goes ahead, will be the first Grand Slam event without both Rafa and Roger since 1999.

Some places have cancelled pantomimes.  The one here hasn’t been cancelled yet, but I can’t see it happening.  I usually book in June … although that’s usually because that’s when the football fixtures come out.

Europa League resumes tonight.

 

Thursday, August 6th

The number of infections is continuing to rise.  And it looks as if the new measures could be extended to Preston soon.  Why do things seem to be so bad in our region?  The likely explanation is that, because the pandemic got going in London earlier than it did here, we were that much further behind London on the “curve” when restrictions were eased.  Nowhere else, with the possible exception of the West Midlands, has got the same level of population density.

There were only 8 deaths “with coronavirus” nationwide today, though.  The number of deaths is falling.  It seems likely that most of the new infections are amongst younger people, who are far less likely to be seriously affected.  So are we just going to have to roll with it, and accept that people are going to get the virus?  Yes, you could get it.  You could also have a heart attack or be run over by a bus.

Skating rinks, bowling alleys and casinos are now supposed to be reopening a week on Saturday.  It seems unlikely that that will happen.  So why not bloody well say so?  It’s not fair to let places spend time and money getting ready to reopen, and then tell them the day before that they can’t, especially when it’s already been done once.

It’s not just here.  Things in Spain are bad, and France, Belgium and Luxembourg are all seeing significant increases in the numbers of cases.  Even Greece and Germany, which had been doing OK, are having more and more problems.

Went to the office this morning, to take some stuff back and collect more.  All this talk of getting people back into offices, which Boris was very keen on a couple of weeks ago, has died away.

 

Friday, August 7th

Bleurgh.  Had a nasty e-mail from the office today, saying that they were considering forcing people to go back to the office, because people are wasting part of the working day collecting files and dropping them off!  WTF?  How are people supposed to get the files?  Teleport them?  Not one word asking if people were OK.

Meanwhile, the local restrictions were supposed to be being reviewed weekly, but we’ve heard nothing.  I can’t imagine that anything’s going to be changed after a week, because it’d be way too soon for the new rules to have any effect, but at least tell us!  And tell people who run/work in casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks whether or not they can reopen next week.  The communication is appalling.

Our MP has protested about the fact that the whole area’s been lumped in together.  At least he’s tried!

Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra have been taken off the travel corridor list, and it looks as if France could be next.  The rules on Belgium apply from today for Wales and from tomorrow for England, presumably to give the Brussels gravy train brigade time to get back to Surrey.  Seeing as there aren’t any international airports in North or Mid Wales, anyone returning to there from Belgium today will be flying into an English airport.  How does that work?!  OK, I don’t suppose there are hordes of people from Wrexham or Bangor flying from Brussels to Ringway or Speke today, but the whole thing’s just so silly.

It’s all getting silly.  My mum and dad’ve had a mobile hairdresser round, touching their heads.  Yet, if my sister or my uncle went round, and stood 6ft away from them, in the garden, that would be breaking the law.  How does that work?!

Elena Svitolina and Kiki Bertens have both pulled out of the US Open.

 

Guidelines for meeting outdoors this sunny weekend:

England – max. 6 people from multiple households or 30 people from 2 (large!) households.
Wales – any number of people from 2 households only.
Scotland – max. 15 people from max. 5 households.
Northern Ireland – max. 30 people, no apparent limit on number of households.

Is it any wonder that people are confused?!

 

Saturday, August 8th

Nice sunny day today.  A bit too hot down south, but just nice here!  I had a lovely walk round Hollingworth Lake.  There were a lot of “We are at risk of lockdown” signs up, though.  Rochdale’s doing quite well with getting its infection rate down, but Oldham unfortunately isn’t, and, as Westminster seems intent on lumping the whole region together, it doesn’t look as if the restrictions’ll be lifted any time soon.  Well, I say “region”, but it’s done on council boundaries, which are so bloody arbitrary.  There’s no natural line between the areas covered by the councils of Stockport (included) and High Peak (excluded), Bolton (included) and Chorley (excluded), Wigan (included) and West Lancs (excluded) or Trafford (included) and Macclesfield (excluded).  The line runs right down the middle of particular streets.

It was finally confirmed yesterday evening that the restrictions will stay in place for another week, and that Preston will now also be included.  Leeds could be next.  But Swindon, Peterborough and Northampton, which have far higher rates than parts of our region, are being left alone.  It’s hard not to feel that there’s one rule for the North and another for the South.

The actual numbers are very low, though.  Our area looks bad this week, but that’s because of one cluster at one nursery.  The same for the city centre, because of one cluster at one postal sorting depot.  Headlines scream that rates in a particular area have doubled/trebled in a week, but, in these cases, there’s no real risk to the wider public.

A lot of new cases are now amongst under 30s.  This seems to be the same in other countries.  Younger people generally aren’t badly affected, and it’s usually younger people who don’t wear masks and ignore social distancing.  Yes, I know that it sounds as if we’re all looking for scapegoats.

Earlier, I had my hair cut … and was sorry to see that the café next door to the salon has had to close for a fortnight as the owner was unlucky enough to be in the Canary Islands the week when the rules were changed.  There are hardly any cases in the Canary Islands, but the whole of Spain’s been lumped together!

Sorry, I seem to be doing a lot of moaning, but it’s so frustrating. Although not as much as it is for the people in 3 Irish counties which have been put back into hard lockdown – no travel, restaurants closed, etc.

It has actually been a really nice day!   And we won the Test match.  Football, cricket, golf, rugby league … it’s all happening!  Except for tennis 😦 .

 

Sunday, August 9th

Outdoor café culture has really hit the Manchester suburbs – after all these years of it being joked about!   I’ve never seen so many outdoor tables.  Most of them are where they shouldn’t be, but who cares?  The weather’s about to change, but it’s been interesting to see in the meantime.

Boris is doing a lot of talking about prioritising schools going back and staying open.  I think nearly everyone agrees with this – apart from the teaching unions, whose priority is scoring political points rather than the welfare of children – but, if he really does shut down pubs again, there’s going to be a lot of trouble.

Stan’s pulled out of the US Open now.

Had a really lovely time at Erddig, although it was rather confusing that I *didn’t* have to wear a face mask in order to get my takeaway cream tea (although only one person was allowed into the small ordering area at a time, apart from the person serving, and they were behind a Perspex screen, so I suppose it didn’t make much difference anyway) because I was in Wales … whereas, had I been 10 miles or so nearer home, back inside England, I would have done!

It’s been a nice weekend generally.  Just hope the weather behaves for my staycation.  And also that work aren’t shitty next week and don’t try to bully us into going back.  I’m so disappointed, although not surprised, with the way they’ve behaved.

And it’s on to the next round of the Europa League tomorrow!  All go …

 

Lockdown Week 13 – June 15th to 21st 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 15th

Non-essential shops can reopen from today.  People queued for an hour outside Primark, TK Maxx and Foot Locker in town.  All right for those who’ve been furloughed, eh?!  I don’t really want to go shopping.  I’d just like to walk round town, be able to go into my favourite cafe for a drink, and not have to worry about where I’m going to find a toilet that’s open!

There’s been some discussion on Facebook today about how everyone is getting ratty.  12 weeks of lockdown, holidays being cancelled, and no sign of things getting back to normal for months to come, plus having your head bitten off for making perfectly polite and reasonable comments about “culture wars”, and tempers are fraying.  Also, it’s very humid today.  We had a storm earlier – luckily, having seen the weather forecast, I’d gone to the park early, so wasn’t out in it – but that hasn’t cleared it.  And my hair is really bothering me in the humid weather.

I went to the office this morning.  Two colleagues also called in whilst I was there.  It was nice to see them.  I am so, so pissed off with the way the bosses are treating us, but it’s nice to catch up with colleagues and see that they’re OK.  Apart from needing haircuts!

 

Tuesday, June 16th

It’s now only 18 days until July 4th.  So are hairdressing salons and hotels reopening then or not?  People need notice.  This really is a shambles.   On a happier note, the free school meals voucher scheme’s to be continued during the summer holidays, following a campaign by Marcus Rashford.  I am so, so proud of him.  No political points-scoring, no name-calling, no insults – just making his point, making it well, and rallying public opinion behind him.  But it doesn’t say much for the Government that a 22-year-old footballer’s got more idea of what needs doing than they have!

It sounds as if an existing drug can help to treat seriously-ill Covid 19 patients, which is good news.  And cinemas could be reopening in mid-July.  But another 233 deaths were reported today.  OK, it’s always bad on a Tuesday, but it shouldn’t still be that bad.

Went to Tesco and M&S this morning, then into the precinct because you can’t get Slimming World chips from anywhere but Iceland!   It was noticeable that the independent cafes were open for takeaways, really trying, whilst the chains were shut.

And the US Open’s going ahead.  Without fans.  So what will Rafa and Nole do?  I desperately want to see some tennis.  I particularly desperately want to see some tennis involving Rafa.  But I do understand the players’ concerns.  No-one’ll be in shape, and they won’t be match-fit even if they’ve been training hard, but we’ve got to start somewhere … but is now the time?

 

Wednesday, June 17th

Oh no.  Everything has gone wrong.  Well, football’s back, tennis is coming back, and I has tea at Mum and Dad’s, so it should have been a wonderful day.  We all sat down for tea together, and watched the football – Villa v Sheff Utd first, then City v Arsenal, with sound effects which were great.  And I had a walk in the park earlier.

BUT – we had the most horrendous storm last night.  I think it was the worst storm I can ever remember.  And the internet went down.  And the phone went fuzzy.  I assumed it was interference, but it didn’t come back on.  I got completely hysterical, and hardly slept all night.  I managed to get through to BT this morning, and they are sending an engineer, but I’m pretty stressed.

I rang work to explain that I wasn’t able to use the remote connection, and said that I’d see what I could do without it: I’ve got some files at home.  The next thing I knew, the boss had rung to try to hassle me into going to sit in the office building, which shouldn’t even be open.  I was really upset.

 

Thursday, June 18th

Oh no.  I do not believe that this is happening.  The engineer came, spent 2 hours messing about, and then said that:

  1.  The hub had been damaged by lightning.  They would send a new hub by post, but, “due to coronavirus”, would not let me book an engineer to set it up and reconnect all my devices.
  2. He had had to rewire the phone.  The phone in the study works – although it’s still fuzzy, but the fuzziness goes off when the hub’s disconnected, and he claimed that it’ll work OK when the new hub’s in – but the phones in the front room and the bedroom are now dead, and I’ve got no answering machine.  He refused to rewire the other phones “because of coronavirus” and said that I would have to order wireless phones and set them up myself.  Amazon Prime are bringing them tomorrow, which is OK, but I am useless with IT.
  3. He would order a new hub, which would be delivered tomorrow.

Later, I got an e-mail to say that the hub would not be coming until Monday.  MONDAY.  And I now don’t know what to believe.  Are they saying Monday to cover themselves?  Am I supposed to wait in for 3 days?  I’ve got a Royal Mail tracking number, but it just says “no information yet”.

I got so upset that Mum and Dad came down to look after me.

My cousin rang, and helped me to set up a mobile hotspot link to my laptop, so that’s something.  Bless her!  However, I doubt it’s strong enough to work on the remote connection to work, plus I assume that will eat all my data.  I told work I had had an anxiety attack (which was sort of true) and would need tomorrow off ill – I felt bad for lying, but I suspect they would have made me take a day’s leave otherwise, and we only get the legal minimum and I urgently need the days for a break later in the year.  But, at that point, I thought the hub was coming tomorrow and I’d be back up and running by Monday.  A lot of friends have said that their bosses would understand that they were hardly to blame for a lightning strike.  Oh, to be so lucky!

I have coped OK until now, but I am really struggling with this.  It’s … well, it is to do with lockdown, because the guy would at least have reconnected the other phones otherwise, and they might have moved themselves to post the hub sooner.

I do not believe that this is happening.  It is a nightmare.  And I should be so happy, because United are playing tomorrow.

And Dame Vera Lynn’s died.  I know she was 103, but she was so important to the country … and she won’t even get a proper funeral, as things are.  RIP a very great lady.

 

Friday, June 19th

The hub is coming tomorrow.  But I have booked a ticket for Brodsworth Hall for tomorrow morning.  Mum and Dad have kindly offered to housesit until I get back.  I’ll have to try not to think about it all until I get back – I’ve really been looking forward to going, and want to be able to enjoy it.

The new phones came.  However, you have to charge them for at least 16 hours before plugging them into the phone socket!  So I have no idea whether or not they work.  And I’m not starting trying in the morning, because I need to leave early to make my timeslot for Brodsworth.  So then I’ll be faced with everything at once.  And I’m catastrophising like mad.

The only good thing about this is that it’s meant I’ve had a break from being chained to the office computers – and I didn’t half need that.  I really, really did need it.

It’s rained nearly all day, again.  I made it to the post office and back, to post a friend’s birthday present, without getting too wet, but had to change my shoes and socks after it poured down during my walk in the park!

And it’s United v Spurs, at Spurs, tonight!!   Our last match was the derby.  78,000 people there.  We beat City.  It was amazing.  And look what’s happened since.  But we’re back!

Saturday, June 20th

Will this nightmare never end?  The new phones do not work.  Well, they light up, and you can ring in and out, but the line’s so fuzzy that you can’t hear much, and the person you’re speaking to can’t hear you.  So is there still a problem with the line, or are the phones – which were brand new, and not cheap – faulty?  Short of asking someone if they’d mind disconnecting their phone so that I can plug these into their socket, or spending yet more money on another lot, I don’t know how to find out.  There’s a “help”line, but it’s not open till Monday, and I’d have to disconnect the phones to ring it because I can’t get to speak to anyone on my mobile, as it’s a “press button 1, press button” thing and doesn’t recognise it from mobiles.  The old phone does work in the socket, which suggests that the line is clear and the phones are faulty, but it seems odd that new phones – and they’re BT’s own make, so they should be decent – don’t work.

On the positive side:

1.  The new hub came.  I managed to connect it, get it going, and get all my devices connected to it.  Phew.  And touch wood!  It is a nightmare having no broadband, especially at the moment when you’ve got to pre-book everything.

2.  United drew 1-1 at Spurs … I’d obviously have preferred a win, but it’s so good to be back!

3. My hairdresser messaged me, to say that, assuming the July 4th reopening date isn’t put back, she’s reopening the salon then.  I’ve got an appointment in July 5th at 8am!  They don’t usually open on Sundays, and they don’t usually open at 8am any day, but everyone wants their hair done!

4.  I had a lovely morning at Brodsworth Hall, and went to the park later.

Brodsworth Hall:

 

Sunday, June 21st

OK, this is weird.  I tried the new phones at several different times yesterday.  They were fuzzy every time.  I tried them again this afternoon and, touch wood, they were OK.  So it’s not that the equipment’s faulty … which could have been solved by getting replacements.  But what on earth is it?  The BT “help” (hah!) pages go on about them using wireless frequencies and something causing interference.  But what?  It said it could be something in a neighbour’s house … like what?  And what do I do if it keeps happening?

Hmm.

Went to Hollingworth Lake this morning.  I walked round once, then Mum and Dad arrived and I walked round again, with them, which was lovely, especially with it being Father’s Day (which ought to be spelt “Fathers’ Day”!).  All the cafes there are open now, although I’m sticking with The Olive and Pickle which I’ve been going to ever since it opened.  The lakeside café in Heaton Park, where I went later, has also reopened.  This is just for takeaways, but it’s something.  A local Italian restaurant’s turned part of the seating space into a deli shop: they obviously don’t expect sit-down service to be resuming any time soon 😦 .   But the papers are all saying that hairdressers will be given the go-ahead for July 4th.  Hooray!!

And so ends Week 13.

 

 

 

Lockdown Week 10 – May 25th to 31st 2020 inclusive

Bank Holiday Monday, May 25th

Lovely sunny day today.  I was at the National Trust car park at Alderley Edge just after half 8.  This was a good move: by the time I left, two hours later, it was nearly full.  I had a lovely walk, and went through some bits of the woods which I’ve never seen before.  The tearoom was sadly closed, but it’s reopening for takeaways next week, and I managed to get a drink from a Costa Express stand in a shop in the village.

The toilets were closed, though.  I have had it up to here with this Toilet Tyranny.  Some people are frightened to go out in case they can’t find a toilet.  Others are using bushes and trees – and these are people who’d never dream of doing anything so disgusting normally.  People who live in tourist areas have said that … well, that the results of the toilets being closed are too disgusting to talk about.  The Victorians who did so much to improve public sanitation must be turning in their graves.  This is appalling.  Get those toilets open.

Due to Toilet Tyranny, I then came home, but, later, I drove into town (i.e. central Manchester).  It’s much easier walking round town than it is walking round the suburbs, because the pavements are wider, and Deansgate’s been temporarily closed to traffic from Kendals northwards.  I had a walk round, and (despite being fat enough already) had an ice cream (my first 99 for more than two months!!) in Piccadilly Gardens.

And, hooray, the Arndale toilets were open!  I do not normally write about toilets, but it can’t be helped at the moment!

There was a gang of 13 teenage lads hanging around near Exchange Square.  Later, when I went for my daily walk in the park, I saw 10 lads cycling together, a load of games of football and cricket going on, and people letting their kids climb over the fence into the playground despite all the “Closed due to coronavirus” signs.  I’m not judging anyone, but the point is that this situation’s ridiculous.  Lockdown cannot be enforced any more: people have had enough.  Let parks and gardens at National Trust etc places reopen.  As long as social distancing measures are out in place, let cafes reopen.  Then at least we’re not all having to gather in the same places, and at least some organisations’ll be earning some money.   It’d be a lot safer than carrying on like this.  Sermon over!!

And, hooray, three soaps on TV tonight!

 

Tuesday, May 26th

I’ve written to my MP to ask why National Trust and English Heritage gardens and parks are not allowed to reopen when public parks are packed out, and why people are being left to use the great outdoors as a toilet because councils refuse to reopen public facilities.  I doubt it’ll do any good, but I’ve tried!

Tesco and M&S this morning, then to the office to leave some stuff and collect more.  I’m not saying much about work as I’m very upset about the way we are being treated, but probably shouldn’t say too much about it on a public blog.

Shops are all allowed to reopen from mid-June, hooray!  Well, as long as it’s safe.  And, as Sky News said, if shops are open, surely the stupid councils will have to reopen the toilets.  I’m not sure how this is going to work, though.  Are they going to monitor the number of people going into the Arndale Centre and the Trafford Centre, or just into each individual shop?  But, sadly, this does not include hairdressing salons.

Watching Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich, and hoping to see the Premier League back next month.

 

Wednesday, May 27th

Another nice sunny day today.  I went to the park early afternoon, and to the frozen yoghurt shop and the flower part after the “home office” had closed!

The BBC – making a rare effort to discuss things which actually matter to people! – did a big feature on the Great Toilet Tyranny this morning.  They interviewed someone from the British Toilet Association (yes, there is one!), someone from Crohn’s and Colitis UK about what a nightmare this is for people with particular medical conditions, and a delivery driver who said that he and his colleagues were being forced to use buckets in the backs of their lorries.  It’s absolutely appalling.  Why are the petty tyrants on local councils allowed to treat people like this?

Looks as if High Street shops will not be rushing to reopen 😦 .  Too easy to take the furloughing payments instead!  Yes, they need to put social distancing measures in place, but supermarkets have had to do that from the start, without any sort of precedent to follow.  If the big names don’t reopen, it’ll put people off going to city/town centres and shopping centres, and then that’ll kill it for small independent shops.

On a happier note, it looks as if progress is being made with Project Restart.  Getting football going ahead would be such a boost.  Fingers crossed!

 

Thursday, May 28th

Another sunny day – had a nice walk in the park,  And, hooray, the Premier League is restarting on June 17th!!  The matches in hand have to be played first, fair enough, so City’ll restart before we do, but then everyone should play that weekend.  We’re due to play Spurs.  Hooray!!

And Dunham Massey, Lyme Park and Styal are reopening!  Well, the parkland is.  I suspect that there’ll be an absolute stampede for tickets when booking opens in the morning, but I shall certainly try!

I really did need those pick-me-ups today.  My weight has gone all wrong this week – and I don’t know why, because I haven’t done anything differently to last week.  And I am so sick of work.  Nearly 10 weeks of working from home and not so much as an e-mail asking if we’re OK, just moaning and complaining about everything that doesn’t run 100% smoothly.  As one of my colleagues said, millions of people are getting paid 80% of their wages to sit around sunning themselves in their gardens or in parks – although it’s obviously not their fault that their workplaces are closed – whilst we’re chained to laptops and not even getting a word of thanks!

It’s the last Clap for our Carers tonight.  There’s supposed to be a sing-a-thon at half 7, but I’m not sure people are going to bother with that, but it’s a shame about Clap for our Carers.  As with everything else, people are using it to try to score political points.

And my nephews’ school has said that my elder nephew can’t go back until the end of June, and then only in the mornings, and that my younger nephew can’t go back until September.  So much for all primary schools reopening on June 1st!  My sister is not pleased!

 

Friday, May 29th

I thought that booking for the National Trust sites would open at 9, but I had a look at 7 and it was already open, and the 10am slot for Dunham Massey for next Saturday was already unavailable.  I got half 10, though!  And 10 o’clock for Lyme Park on the Sunday – it said not to book up a load of slots, but I decided that one for each of two different properties should be OK.  It said “parks and gardens”, so I got my hopes up that the gardens’d be open, but it’s just the parkland … but it’s a start!

And dates have now been pencilled in for the Cup, as well as the League.

Also, it was announced last night that groups of up to 6 people from different households can now meet outdoors, including in private gardens.  (There were two groups of well over 20 people in the park, incidentally.)  So Mum and Dad are going to London next week, to see my sister and bro-in-law and the kids.  I’m really pleased for them … but sad that I’m out of it.  Weekends are the only time that bro-in-law isn’t chained to his laptop/phone, so it wouldn’t be a good time for me to go.  I wish I knew that I’d definitely be able to go to the Lakes, or somewhere, in August if not in July.  I’m struggling a bit with being chained to the office laptop all day, especially when a) I see other people enjoying themselves in the park (OK, at least I can go for walks in the park, but still) and b) work haven’t given us one shred of support.  A bit of kindness goes a long way, though.  I had nice e-mails from two clients today, and they cheered me up.

And, hooray, it’s the weekend.

 

Saturday, May 30th

Another hot, sunny day.  It’s been the driest, sunniest spring on record.  Whilst there are now growing concerns about water shortages, please do not let the dry spell end just as hotels reopen … July or August!

I went to Hollingworth Lake this morning.  The Olive and Pickle’s now doing quite a lot of takeaway stuff, and other places are also open for chips, ice cream etc.  Sadly, the toilets are still not open.  Had a lovely walk, then came home.  Week 10 of Scones in the Garden – it started with daffodils, and now we’re on to roses.

Later, Mum and Dad came round to sit in the garden for a bit.  Technically, you’re not meant to sit in other people’s gardens until Monday morning, but jumping the gun by a day and a half was pretty mild compared to all the rule-breaking going on in the park, where I went later – groups of 20-odd people sat together, gangs of lads on bikes practically running people over, and three police officers strolling around, doing nothing!  This is stupid.  Groups of 20-odd people sit around together, there are gangs of bored teenagers all over the place, but pubs aren’t allowed to reopen beer gardens and hairdressers aren’t allowed to reopen.  FFS.

Live sport from June 1st’s got the go-ahead, so the Premier League and the FA Cup are definitely on for a restart!!  Hooray!!

 

Sunday, May 31st

Blackpool!!  Hooray!!  I’d normally have been going a week today, because I’ve got a weird ritual thing about going to Blackpool before watching the French Open men’s singles final, but nothing’s normal this year.  But I’ve been!  What a lovely day.  I was there at half 8, and it was already warm and sunny.  And pretty quiet, at that time.  It got busy later, but not too busy, and, apart from a few large family groups – totally ignored by the police – most people were trying to observe social distancing.  Even in the queues for the public toilets which, with cafes, pubs and arcades closed, were pretty long by the afternoon!  And it’s much easier on the prom and the beach than trying to dodge the crowds in parks.

Loads of food places along the front were open.  I’d taken some salad with, but, ahem, succumbed first to an ice cream and then to fish and chips.  The Scales will hang, draw and quarter me for that, but it was so nice!   It was all rather 1950s, everyone eating fish and chips on the beach!

It was sad to see the piers closed, though.  And the Tower, Madame Tussaud’s and the amusement arcades.  I could have cried when I saw a poster in one amusement place, with a list of family fun days planned for 2020.  Easter, VE Day, Euro 2020 … .  Even if all the hotels reopen later in the year, this good weather won’t last for ever.  Our tourist places’ll take a terrible hit this year.

But it was such a lovely, lovely day … to see the sea, to feel the sea breeze (messing up my already messy hair), to be in Blackpool …

Went to the park later.

If I could just get back to the Lakes … but I’m so glad to have been to Blackpool!

 

 

Lockdown Week 8, May 11th to 17th 2020 inclusive

Monday, May 11th

I feel OK in myself – especially as the weather’s picked up again, and it was nice in the park – but I’m having anxiety pains.  My right leg hurt so much this morning that it was painful to walk, but then it eased up when I saw that there were no scary updates on my phone.  But started up again when I went into the kitchen to make breakfast – that’s years of eating issues for you!

The holiday company replied to say that they haven’t yet heard from their head office about the Iceland trip, which is ridiculous when the balance is due next week.  I realise that they’ve got a load of July trips to sort out, but they should have contacted me by now.  I’ll have to hassle them if I don’t hear within the next couple of days.  There’s no way it can run, sadly.

Meanwhile, I’m a bit confused … as is everyone else.  You can drive as far as you want, to exercise, but the Lake District doesn’t want visitors yet.  And what if car parks are closed?  Not to mention toilets!!   Golf clubs are reopening, so Dad’s chuffed.  But no professional sport until June, even behind closed doors.  And hairdressers can’t reopen until July at the earliest.  Oh FFS!  They were amongst the earliest places to reopen in Austria and Denmark.   But there are a lot of questions.  I’m not criticising Boris, because he could only say so much in a ten minute speech, but there’s a lot to think about.

I’m very saddened by the amount of spite and political point-scoring going on.  Not so much from Opposition politicians – Keir Starmer’s questions were all quite reasonable – but from the Bitter Remoaner brigade on social media.  We had 3 1/2 years of this, because they wouldn’t accept the result of the referendum, and I really hoped that we could move on.  You’d think people could unite at such a difficult time, and so many people have been so wonderful, and so keen to help others.  But this lot … .  I quite understand that many people are genuinely worried about the health risks associated with using public transport, or reopening schools.  We all are.  But they’re not bothered about that: it’s just spite.  Utter rubbish is being spouted, about it all being about preventing millionaires losing money, which is arrant nonsense when it’s small businesses being worse hit.  I really did hope we’d moved on from this sort of thing, but sadly it appears not.  I’m just trying to ignore it.

My brother-in-law’s office will be reviewing the situation, as Fagin would say 🙂 , in mid-June.  No news from mine.  I’m quite happy to stay working from home!

 

Tuesday, May 12th

E-mailed the holiday company again.  I understand that it’s a difficult time for them, but I need this sorting before the balance becomes due for payment next week.  They said that the trip was being cancelled, and it was just a case of sending out the paperwork.  It’s not like I didn’t know that, but I’m still sad.  And, whilst sunbathing holidays may be possible later in the year, I can’t see that coach tours will be, and sunbathing holidays aren’t my thing at all.  Coach tours have been the biggest thing in my year since 1996.  They’ve kept me going through some  very dark times.  The thought of not having them is very difficult to deal with.

The death toll is way up again today.  It happens every Tuesday, with the catch-up from the weekend, but even so.  Why is it not coming down?

And I am not very pleased that my favourite singer Bryan Adams has had a huge rant at China.  What was he thinking of?

Went to Tesco and M&S this morning.  If you go a little bit after they open, there are no queues.   It was also quiet in the park today: the weather hasn’t been very nice.

Not sure whom I’d most like to throttle, the spiteful political points-scorers or the people who let their horrible dogs keep barking.

A couple of bits of better news.  The golf club is reopening, although only 2 people can play at once, and they have to stay well apart.  This does not affect me personally, but will make a big difference to my dad.  And BT Sport are going to be showing all the Bundesliga matches.

 

Wednesday, May 13th

We are now officially allowed out for more than one walk a day, and to sit in parks.  So, after work, and after my earlier walk to the park, I walked down to the frozen yoghurt shop (takeaway, fat-free!) and then sat on the grass in the flower park.  It was really nice.

Still no official word from the holiday company.  Not impressed.  I know they’ve got a lot to deal with, but they’d normally have a load of travel documents to send out, so it’s only the same volume of e-mails.

Golf clubs have reopened.  And, hooray, tennis players are allowed to train in Mallorca again!

Worried about the situation in Brazil, though.  It’s getting bad there.

 

Thursday, May 14th

Hooray!!  EastEnders is starting filming again!  No definite news on Coronation Street or Emmerdale yet, but hopefully they’ll follow suit.  It’s going to be hard work rewriting all the storylines, but I’m sure they’ll sort something.

The National Trust has said that it’s reopening car parks.  It’s as clear as mud, though.  I’ve trawled their website and Google for info on which ones, but found nothing.  Do they just mean car parks which aren’t attached to properties, like the one at Alderley Edge, or do they also mean the ones at places like Dunham Massey?

There were lots of people sat on the grass at the park, when I went for my walk.  I know I should be glad to be in work and without any worry about redundancy, but, when I had to get up at stupid o’clock to do some housework, it’s hard not to be envious of people who are getting some time out, and clearing out their houses, catching up on To Be Read book piles, etc!   And, indeed, of people whose workplaces are being caring and supportive at this difficult time.  We have not had so much as an e-mail saying that they hope everyone is well  – just a nastily-worded e-mail last Monday, saying that everyone should remember that the first  Monday in May was not a Bank Holiday this year, and a lot of complaints every time the slightest thing has gone wrong.  I’m not very impressed.

Clap For Our Carers tonight.  Then I need to wash and respray my hair!  Hairdressers in New Zealand have reopened, and there were queues round the block at midnight!  There was also a picture in the Manchester Evening News of a long queue as Newbank Garden Centre in Radcliffe reopened.  I got a load of plants from there in March, before lockdown started, and have got a few more plants from Tesco since, so I don’t really need any more, but I’m delighted for Newbank, as long as people queue sensibly.  Sadly, a lot of businesses here and elsewhere are not going to survive this, but at least it looks as if garden centres will be saved.

 

Friday, May 15th

Some of the big fast food chains are reopening some branches for takeaways.  My sister queued for an hour at a drive through Starbucks!   Each to their own, but I don’t think I’ll be waiting an hour anywhere!

The tennis season’s been officially suspended until the end of July, but it was effectively suspended until the middle of July anyway.  More noteworthy is the fact that the League 2 season’s been suspended.  Decision on promotion and relegation to follow.  I just hope that all the clubs survive.

Not much good news at all today, really.  I was excited about the National Trust car parks reopening, but they’re now saying that there’ll be limited numbers and there’ll be a booking system.  I see their point, but, whilst that’ll be fine if you live near somewhere like Fountains Abbey, in the middle of nowhere, and aren’t working so can go on weekdays, the chances of striking lucky enough to get a slot at Dunham Massey, Quarry Bank Mill, Lyme Park or Speke Park at a weekend are going to be pretty slim.  They’re saying that it’ll be the same when properties reopen.  I was thinking that, if hotels reopen but the Lakes still don’t want visitors, I could go somewhere down south and visit some of the big NT places I’ve never seen there … but there’s no point booking a hotel and time off work if it’s going to be pot luck whether I can go to the places concerned or not.

Also, I heard today that a friend’s been made redundant – permanently, not just furloughed – because of the economic effects of the virus/lockdown.  I suspect that many people will sadly end up in the same boat.

But, hey, it’s the weekend!  Cloudy and windy today, but I walked to Sainsbury’s Local and back, and then to the park later.  There are loads of goslings now 🙂 .

 

Saturday, May 16th

Eventful day today.  I’ve been out!!   Only as far as Hollingworth Lake, but it’s a start.  I thought that driving on the motorway, even just as far as Rochdale, might feel weird, but it felt wonderful.  It wasn’t busy – although this was at 9 o’clock on a very dull morning (the sun came out later) – and the vast majority of people were observing social distancing.  The exceptions were 4 stupid cyclists who a) clearly weren’t part of the same household, b) were all over the path instead of in single file and c) sniggered at other people’s attempts to avoid them.  But there are a few idiots everywhere.  I’ve even seen people letting their kids into the playground at the park, even though there are signs up saying that it’s closed for safety reasons.  But we can’t all keep our lives on hold because of a few idiots.  I had a nice walk round the lake, and in the woods where there were still loads of bluebells out.

The Olive and Pickle, the lovely café there’s, set up a kiosk.  They said they’d just opened it yesterday.  I had a takeaway cup of tea.  It’ll hardly make up for all their lost business, but it’s a start.  I hope things go well for them.

I was quite shocked by how low the level of the lake was, incidentally.  The wetland bits are now drylands!   With all the worry over the virus and lockdown, the fact that we’ve hardly had any rain for two months has been rather overlooked.

Then I had my scone at home, and did some housework.

Then Mum and Dad came round for a socially distanced visit.  They seem fine, just fed up with things like we all are.  And then I watched Borussia Dortmund v Schalke – this being the Bundesliga’s first day back.  It’s not like watching our own teams, and it’s very, very odd watching a football match with no fans, no noise, but owt’s better than nowt and I hope other leagues can restart soon.

After that, I went for my walk in the park, and , later, watched the substitute Eurovision thing.  It was quite entertaining.  And maybe it’s because I’m a historian, but the video of “Hallelujah” being sung in the deserted streets of Jerusalem’s Old City was incredibly moving.

Nationally, there’s a row going on over reopening schools.  Why can’t people try to work together?  I appreciate that there are safety concerns, but how exactly is teaching unions threatening to sue the Government going to help?  We seemed to be trying to work together when this started, but the haters, egged on by the Guardian and the Mirror, now seem determined to do anything rather than try to find solutions.  The Children’s Commissioner’s told them all to get their act together.  And I’m concerned about the Fat Haters using coronavirus as an excuse to demonise overweight people.  (I’ve lost weight this week, but am always very sensitive on the subject).  Yes, the virus does seem to affect overweight people particularly badly, but there are enough mental health problems as it is, without creating more.  Why can’t people just try to be NICE?!

It’s been a positive day, though.  You wouldn’t think that driving a few miles on the M60 and the M62 could be so exciting, but it was!

 

Sunday, May 18th

EIGHT weeks (almost) of lockdown!   People are getting really fed up now.  And more and more divisions are appearing.  I do understand that people in countryside and seaside areas are worried that an influx of visitors may bring infection, but I’m also getting a Kinder Scout Mass Trespass vibe about the “stay away” messages – and the continued closure of public toilets to try to deter visitors.   People in urban and suburban areas have very limited access to open spaces, and no-one owns national parks.  And I wasn’t very pleased to see that someone from Best Western had said that hotels might not reopen fully until 2021.  No doubt he’s on a whacking great salary, being paid in full – what are they going to do about their staff, once the furlough system ends, and what about independent shops and cafes in tourist areas?   It’s all very difficult.   We need to try to work together.

I went to Clifton Country Park today.  It’s not far, but I’d never been there before.  If the National Trust don’t make more progress in reopening parkland, they might find that people have discovered new places to visit and don’t renew their memberships.  I went the wrong way out of the car park – the stupid map there made it look like the river was on the right! – and ended up in a load of woods instead of by the river.  There were people around, so I wasn’t scared, and it was actually pretty interesting because there were some disused pits down there, but I was very grateful when a kind person was able to direct me to the river.  Lovely place.

Later, I went on my usual walk to Heaton Park.  It gets busy by mid-afternoon, but some areas are quieter than others, so you can avoid all the cyclists, skateboards, hordes of kids on bikes, people who let their dogs run all over the path, etc, if you stick to those!   There were lots of goslings.  And I saw my uncle.  The park is the social centre of the world these days: I saw my brother-in-law’s mum and dad there yesterday.

Watched a bit more silent football – Union Berlin v Bayern Munich.  And I’ve started binge-watching the final series of Vikings.  I was waiting for the History Channel to show it, just because it’s easier to watch things on Sky than to load an app, but there’s no sign of it so I’m watching it on Amazon Prime.

I shall chase the holiday company again tomorrow.  This is getting ridiculous!!

Nice sunny day.  That reminds me, I need to water the garden.

And so ends yet another week in lockdown!

 

 

 

The Last Days Before Lockdown – March 19th to 22nd 2020 inclusive

Thursday, March 19th

Boris says we’re not going into full lockdown, but I’m not sure how long we can avoid it.  His daily 5pm speeches are becoming a bit of a thing, although I miss most of them because I’m on my way home from work.

Hooray for my lovely hairdresser!!  I rang up this morning, and she said she’d squeeze me in for a cut and dye tonight.  A lot of the older ladies who go during the day are cancelling, because they’re nervous about the virus, but working people are desperate to get their hair sorted whilst they still can.  So at least that’s one thing sorted for now.  Another is that my younger nephew’s had the cast on his wrist (which he broke in a footballing accident a few weeks back): my sister was panicking that his appointment’d be cancelled.  It’s hard for the kids.  Being off school sounds fun, but they won’t be seeing their friends, and their football matches and all the other stuff they enjoy’ve all been cancelled.   Professional football’s off until at least the end of April, but we’re being told that the season will be finished.  And the Oberammergau Passion Play’s been postponed until 2021.  It’s quite ironic, given its history.

An office laptop has been set up with a remote link to my office computer.  I suppose I should bring it home and check that it works, but I’m scared that it’ll upset my home internet connection.  Working from home is looking inevitable, though.  People with young kids are going to have no choice after Friday – although I don’t know how people who can’t work from home are suppose to manage.  My brother-in-law’s office is closing, so he’s going to be working from home.  And GCSE, AS Level, A Level and Scottish Higher exams have been cancelled.  So sorry for the kids involved.

Not sure what to do about Grasmere.  I desperately want to go, but who knows where we might be at by the first weekend in April?  Some people are getting very sanctimonious and saying that no-one should be going anywhere – all very well, if you don’t have to go to work, and can get online shopping! – but there’s no reason not to go out as long as you observe social distancing.

The Queen’s issued an official statement, saying we all need to stay strong.  She’s now at Windsor – and I hope she’s got no plans to return to Buckingham Palace, because things in London are getting quite bad.

Prince Albert of Monaco’s got the virus now.  And Italy’s now had more deaths than China.

 

Friday, March 20th

Bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes have been ordered to close.  So have clubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres.  I’m going to ring the hotel in Grasmere tomorrow, to see what’s happening.  The boats at both Windermere and Coniston are off.  How are tourist places going to survive this?   Not even any notice – the food places’ll all have stock in, especially with it being Mothering Sunday this week.  I’m not criticising the decision, but the financial fallout’s going to be huge.  A “furlough” scheme – the word “furlough” makes me think of Dick Bettany in the Chalet School books coming home on “furlough” from India! – is being introduced, whereby the Government will pay 80% of wages for anyone who’s had to be laid off because of the closures, but how long can that go on for?

The start of the cricket season’s been delayed.

No printer ink in Tesco.  Everyone’s now panicking and ordering home office supplies online.  I usually get mine from Amazon, but they hadn’t got any.  I’ve managed to order some directly from HP.  I had to try four places before I could get skimmed milk, and there’s no toilet roll anywhere.   Managed to get one box of tissues in Iceland, and some paracetamol from Superdrug.  No Tesco apple and blackcurrant cordial, although I got some Robinsons stuff.  I usually only go to Tesco and M&S, and could have done without having to go round umpteen shops after being stuck at work all day, but there wasn’t much option.  Honestly, it’s like the stories from the war.  Mum went during the OAPs’ hour this morning, and managed to get a packet of toilet rolls, so she says she and Dad can spare me some if I run out!!

Beautiful spring day.  Due to be very windy tomorrow, though, so I think I’ll leave Chirk till Sunday.  I’ll go to Hollingworth Lake tomorrow: the daffodils are early this year, so it should be nice there.  I’ll stay 6 ft apart from anyone else.  And take selfies, seeing as I won’t be able to ask anyone to take photos for me!

 

Saturday, March 21st

Oh no!   Chirk Castle’s closing.  I checked this morning and this afternoon, and both times the website said it’d be open tomorrow.   Then they changed it late this evening.  I only checked again because I’d heard some places were closing tomorrow due to concerns about a lot of people going for Mothering Sunday.  They’re bothered about too many people going, which is fair enough … but no notice.  I bet a load of people turn up.   And my weekend in Grasmere’s off.  The hotel’s closing.  I did think about going for the day, next weekend, but now Cumbrian police have asked people to stay away from the Lakes.  At least I got to see some daffodils at Sizergh and Windermere, but I’m very sad that I won’t be seeing them at Grasmere, Coniston, Chirk or Biddulph this year.  And, the way things are going, I won’t be seeing the bluebells at Windermere, Capesthorne, Erddig or Brodsworth, nor the laburnum arch at Bodnant Garden.  Nor Tatton Park lambing week – that’s definitely off.  Well, the lambs’ll still come, but we won’t see them.  I’m trying to stay positive, but it feels as if all the good things are being taken out of life.  A lot of shops are closing, too.

Bolton Abbey’s still open, though, so I’m going there tomorrow.  It’s a huge estate, so it should be easy to stay 6 ft away from people.  I’ll have to take my own scone!  I always have a scone at weekends.  And I had a nice walk round Hollingworth Lake, and saw lots of daffodils.  People were being careful not to get to close to each other.  Sad to see the lovely tearoom which I usually go to there all shut up, though, and with the tables already decorated for Mothering Sunday.  This horrible virus is devastating businesses.  United and City’ve teamed up to donate £100,000 to local foodbanks.

Real Madrid’s president’s died, after being hospitalised with the virus.  Very sad.

I got some toilet roll, at least.  Called in at Tesco in case by any miracle they’d got some.  No joy.  But I then struck lucky – Quality Save’d just had a delivery, minutes before I got there.  You could only take one packet each, but they were really big packets.  I was so excited that I took a photo of them and put it on our family WhatsApp group!  This is what life has come to.  Getting excited over toilet roll!!

 

Sunday, March 22nd

Had a really lovely day at Bolton Abbey.  I did get a bit upset because the heavy-handed Puritan brigade on Facebook were posting abusive remarks about anyone who’d gone out for the day, and I felt like it was all directed at me (even though loads of people had gone out for the day), but, to be fair, I think they meant more the huge crowds pictured at seaside resorts.   We’ve been told that it’s important for physical and mental health to get out, and there are only so many places to go to, so I suppose it’s inevitable that people will end up at the same ones, but we all need to try to stay 6ft apart.  It can be done.  Nearly everyone at Bolton Abbey was doing it.

I wish the heavy-handed Puritan brigade’d shut up.  They’re not helping.  Two of my friends got quite upset because people’d had a go at them for posting jokes.  Is it going to help if we all lose our sense of humour?

And, on top of everything else, filming on Coronation Street and Emmerdale‘s stopping, so they’ll be going on ration too.

The Bolton Abbey estate was so beautiful.  The countryside’s so beautiful.  Maybe I’m feeling it even more than ever at the moment.  The world’s falling apart.  Everywhere, things are closing down.  281 deaths in the UK now.  I feel a bit like Scarlett O’Hara and Ashley Wilkes talking about their civilisation collapsing.  OK, OK, rationed episodes of soaps and a lack of professional sport is hardly to be compared to that, but … it does kind of feel as if the world;s falling apart.

Let’s try to stay positive …