The road to freedom? Week 2, April 5th to 11th 2021 inclusive

Easter Monday, April 5th

At last!!   After 7 months, I’ve seen my sister and brother-in-law and nephews.  Please, please, no more travel restrictions.  It is so hard being separated from families and friends.  At least the two boys (aged 12 and 9) are old enough to know what’s going on: I’ve heard some upsetting stories of babies getting distressed with grandparents and aunts and uncles whom they don’t recognise after the long separation.  It was a long, long day, driving down to London and back in the day, but, hooray, we’ve been reunited at last!

Water still dripping.  Fingers crossed that I can get a plumber tomorrow.

Boris has confirmed that we’ll be moving on to Stage 2 on April 12th – non-essential shops, hairdressers, outdoor attractions, self-contained overnight accommodation, gyms, outdoor hospitality, etc to reopen.  No Covid passports at this stage.  But he isn’t saying anything yet about overseas travel, or the possibility of using Covid passports in the future.  There will also be two free Covid tests for everyone in England from Friday onwards, but I doubt people’ll take them if they’re asymptomatic: people can’t afford the time off work, and horrible employers won’t pay people.

Oh, please never let us have to be separated from our families and friends again.

 

Tuesday, April 6th

Today has been an utter nightmare.  I haven’t even managed to get out for a walk – which I would have done, even in the snow which bizarrely decided to fall in April.  The first three plumbers I tried said they were too busy/working too far away to come.  The fourth one came 3 1/2 hours after I rang.  Then he said that the problem was not a leak from the bath but a corroded pipe, caused by someone not doing something properly when the house was built, and that he’d have to cut a hole in the ceiling to get at it.  So there is now a hole in the kitchen ceiling.

He sorted the leak out, but the shower got an airlock whilst the water had been off, and he couldn’t sort it out.  The shower is now working again, but he was here for over 4 hours, I am exhausted and stressed, and there is a hole in the kitchen ceiling to go with the stain, the smashed light fitting and my bruised knee.

I have had better days.

Collected two boxes of Covid lateral flow tests from the testing centre, because someone told me you could just go and get them.

All adults in the US are to be eligible for vaccination from a week on Monday.  Sadly, the same is not true here.  The number of jabs being given has plummeted worryingly.

 

Wednesday, April 7th

Northern Ireland is now offering jabs to anyone aged 45-49.  Sadly, England is not – although maybe things will improve once the Moderna rollout starts, which should be within the next few days.

The AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t going to be given to under 30s (not that anything’s being offered to under 30s ATM) because of these concerns about blood clots.

I spent ages on the phone to the insurance this morning.  They spent very hard trying to get out of paying anything at all, then told me that they’d have to send a surveyor round!  FFS.  If I was claiming tens of thousands of pounds, OK, but the surveyor’s fees’ll probably be more than the cost of the repairs.  I now have to wait for the surveyor to ring me, which he will no doubt do at a time when I can’t get to the phone.  Honestly, why is everything such hard work?!

 

Thursday, April 8th

Gah!!

  1.  The man from the insurance came, asked a load of questions, took a lot of pictures, and climbed up a ladder to look at the replacement bit of pipe (despite the fact that it was perfectly obvious which bit it was, because it’s a different colour).  However, apparently it is their policy to check all artexed ceilings for asbestos.  So I have now got an asbestos assessor coming next Monday.  FFS.
  2.  Northern Ireland is now vaccinating anyone over 40.  England, Scotland and Wales are still on anyone over 50.
  3.  The French Open has been postponed by a week, in the hope that Paris will be out of lockdown by then and fans will be allowed in.  This mucks up everyone’s preparations both for the French Open and Wimbledon, and the organisers of the grass court events which now overlap with the second week of the French Open must be hysterically upset!
  4.  I have piled weight on over Easter weekend.  A few days of eating a bit extra, and weight piles on.  Weeks of trying really hard … and weight does not come off.

I understand that the risks of fatal blood clots from the Astra Zeneca vaccine are very low, but it’s so sad to hear about the small number of people who’ve been unlucky.  One of them was from Newton-le-Willows.  As his sister said, you just think why did it have to be my loved one, out of all the tens of millions of people who’ve had that vaccination.  Very sad.

On a more positive note, there were 712 deaths involving Covid-19 in the week to 19th March (why are these figures 3 weeks behind?) in England and Wales.  Whilst that’s obviously still not good, the number was 8,945 at the peak of the second wave, so that’s a 92% drop.

And we won the first leg of our Europa League QF 2-0 – the away leg, at Granada.

 

Friday, April 9th

I’ve written a separate post here about the death of Prince Philip.  I still can’t quite take it in.

What else has happened today?  I hate to sound like a grumpy old bag, but I’ll be so glad when schools go back and I can get a drink at the park without having to wait in a stupidly long queue!  And it’s been confirmed that we will have this “traffic light” system for overseas travel, and that the  Government’s no longer advising against booking foreign travel – but, with PCR tests at £140 a time required for each person on both departure and arrival, and the red/amber/green list liable to change at any time, I’m not sure how many people’ll be going as yet.

Oh, what a strange day.  We’ve got protocols and precedents for pretty much everything, but not the death of a prince consort during a pandemic. RIP, Prince Philip.  You will be sadly missed.

 

Saturday, April 10th

The funeral – a ceremonial funeral – will be a week today, at 3pm, at Windsor.  People are trying to work out who the 30 people attending will be, which is a bit odd.  Prince Charles has spoken briefly, to pay tribute to his father and to thank people for their support.  I hope the Queen’s coping as well as can be expected.

The Grand National and other sporting events went ahead.  Real horses this year!  Sadly, I didn’t win a penny – bad choices! – but it was great to see a female jockey win for the first time in history – Rachael Blackmore, riding Minella Times.

And I’ve been to Blackpool!  I’ve seen the sea, for the first time in six months.  It being so soon after, I saw an awful lot of the sea – the tide didn’t start to go out until after midday.  I’m afraid that I sinned and had both ice cream and fish and chips, like I’m not fat enough, but … well, first time at the seaside in six months!

 

Sunday, April 11th

In the middle of April, and a day before outdoor seating at pubs, cafes and restaurants reopens, we woke up to over an inch of snow!  Snow in March isn’t unusual, but it’s the second weekend in April!  Thankfully, the roads were clear, but it took me a while to clear my car, and I don’t suppose being snowed on has done my plants an awful lot of good.

Having removed the snow, I went to Speke Hall.  No snow in Liverpool!  It disappeared somewhere between Salford and Warrington.  The Hall itself is closed, and some parts of the estate are closed off, but most of it’s open.  It’s the first time I’ve been to Liverpool in ages!

The daffodils at Speke always come early, and some are dying off now.  But the bluebells are out.  And so the year goes on.

Later, I found some bluebells in the Flower Park.

I’ll have a look in the woods at Heaton Park next week.  Between the plumbing traumas and the long queues at the cafes due to school holidays (sorry for being a grumpy old biddy, but I’ll be glad when schools go back tomorrow!!), I haven’t had chance this week.

Prince Andrew’s said that the Queen’s spoken of “a huge void in her life”.   It’s always sad when someone goes, but Prince Philip had lived a long and full life, and, thankfully, didn’t have to suffer a painful illness or the loss of his faculties.   It’s more the people who are left behind … my heart goes out to the Queen.

Back with pandemic news, over half a million jabs a day are being given, but around 80% of them are second doses, and nothing at all’s been said about when England might move on to over 40s.  So frustrating.  But the infection rate across Greater Manchester is down to around 50 per 100,000, and the average across England is around 30 per 100,000.  When you think that, three months ago, some areas were recording rates of over 1,500 per 100,000, we’ve come a long way.

And, after going behind at Spurs, we won 3-1!

 

Moving On Week 8 – August 24th to 30th 2020 inclusive

Monday, August 24th

Typical – first day back and it’s sunny!  A storm’s on the way, though.

The council are turning one of the two extremely busy lanes on the main road which runs past my estate into a cycle lane, so that everyone can cycle to school/work. So the very heavy traffic which crawls for miles at the best of times will be forced into one lane, leaving the other lane free for the two or three people who want to cycle in autumn and winter, when it’s usually pouring with rain and will be dark at rush hour.   FFS.  Talk about stupid!

Most of the talk ATM is about schools going back.  Teaching unions are trying desperately to stir up trouble, but everyone agrees that kids need to get back to school.  They’ve missed so much time already.  Schools in Northern Ireland went back today.

 

Tuesday, August 25th

What an awful day.  Heavy rain nearly all day … and I’ve got a horrible feeling that one of the grids outside needs unblocking, and I can’t ask anyone to come in the morning because I’ve got a blood donation appointment and don’t know exactly when I’ll be back.

There is now a row going on over whether or not kids should wear masks at school.  Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more rows over schools.

 

Wednesday, August 26th

Now masks do have to be worn in corridors etc at school in “local lockdown” areas, i.e. here.  I’m not sure how hygienic a mask’s going to be after it’s been shoved in a teenage boy’s grubby pocket or schoolbag all day, but whatever.   This is in England.  Masks have to be worn in corridors etc in Scotland and in Northern Ireland, and in schools in Wales “where social distancing is not possible” … er, and if head teachers say so.  Confused?  So is everyone.

This is just in secondary schools.

My elder nephew starts secondary school this year.  He’s not supposed to wear his blazer, because blazers are a virus risk.  No, me neither!

More job cuts have been announced.

And I’m stressed because the latest Facebook app update is causing a load of problems.  I’ve got my phone set to no auto updates, but the Facebook app does them anyway.

 

Thursday, August 27th

I just cried because my printer was playing up, but hopefully it’s OK now.  And the Facebook app seems to have been fixed.  But Word Press photos have suddenly decided not to display properly on Facebook, which is annoying.

WHY are infection rates in our borough going up, when rates elsewhere in the area are going down?  I don’t understand it – and it’s a big worry.   Having said that I don’t understand it, I still keep seeing people not wearing masks where they should be.  It’s really becoming a big concern now: we’ve got the 13th highest infection rate in the country.  Meanwhile, the Czech Republic and Switzerland are amongst the latest countries taken off the safe travel list.  And Paul Pogba has tested positive for the virus.

In other news, the Cincy tennis, which is actually being played in New York, has been suspended as part of some US sports thing over racism, and Hurricane Laura is battering Louisiana and Texas.  2020, the year that just keeps on giving!  Oh, and I finally plucked up the courage to weigh myself today, and a load of the weight I’ve lost from trying so hard for the last 5 months has gone back on in one week’s holiday.  Always happens, but never gets any less upsetting.

Heigh-ho.  Maybe tomorrow will be better!

 

Friday, August 28th

Restrictions have been lifted in Bolton, Stockport and Trafford.  Trafford council has got in a strop and said it didn’t want restrictions lifted.  No change here and in the other 5 boroughs, but rates in our borough have gone down in the last few days, so hopefully things are starting to move in the right direction.  Hyndburn, Burnley and parts of West Yorkshire are also having restrictions lifted.  I do wish reporters would learn how to pronounce “Keighley” properly.

The government’s also (just in England) trying to encourage people to go back to offices.  Oh, shut up!  I appreciate that there are concerns about sandwich shops etc in city centres suffering, but I don’t buy sandwiches!  The thought of being trapped in that depressing office for 5 days a week, when I’ve got used to being at home and going for a nice walk in the park every day … bleurgh.  I do accept that it’s coming, but I’d rather put it off as long as possible.  I do genuinely think it’s inappropriate to encourage people to return to work, with infection rates likely to rise once a) schools go back and b) the colder, darker months mean that people will be spending less time outdoors.

My elder nephew starts secondary school next week.  Although they are not in a lockdown area, the school has said that kids should wear masks outside the classroom.  My young cousin started secondary school today, and her school’s talking about taking kids’ temperatures.  In Spain, even primary school kids are having to wear masks, and people in Paris are now having to wear masks even when outdoors.  Infection rates in India are horrendous.  What a nightmare all this is!  But death rates and even hospital admission rates remain pretty low.

 

Saturday, August 29th

Hooray!!!!  Reunion Day!   I have finally seen my sister, brother-in-law and nephews again!  I haven’t been apart from my sister for this long since she was born.  Come to that, I haven’t been apart from either of my nephews for this long since they were born.   I am so, so sorry for people who’ve got loved ones in countries which we cannot visit at the moment: at least we can go to London.

However, due to local lockdown rules in Manchester, Mum, Dad and I are staying at a hotel.  Unlike the one in the Lakes, rooms at this one aren’t made up except by special request (there were seals on the doors!) and the restaurant isn’t open (you can order room service, but it’s a very limited and rather poor choice).

And I’ve been to my first live sports event since United v City in March … er, younger nephew’s under 9s football match!  To be followed on Monday by elder nephew’s under 12s cricket match!

We have been hearing all about the arrangements for school.  Kids cannot share any sort of stationery: they have to have their own.  If they’ve got PE, they are supposed to stay in their PE kit all day – how awful for the more self-conscious kids, especially girls.  Younger nephew, at primary school, will have dinner in his classroom.  Elder nephew, at secondary school, will get pre-packed airline-type meals if having school dinners.  Primary school kids generally stay in their own form rooms anyway, but now secondary school kids will too, unless they need to go to e.g. the art room or the science lab.  They won’t even be allowed to go back to their lockers, and will therefore have to lug around all their books for the entire day.  What a palaver!   It’s going to be very strange.

Oh, I am so glad that we’re all back together again!

 

Sunday, August 30th 

A full day in London – watching elder nephew’s cricket training, and then doing a sort of treasure hunt thing, basically a walk round Barnet but with clues for the kids to look for.  I think I was actually more excited than they were, because we got to see the site of the Battle of Barnet!

Infection rates in our borough are now falling, which is excellent news.  However, they’re back up in Bolton and Trafford, which is worrying – for them, and also for us because they might delay unlocking us now.

Benoit Paire has pulled out of the US Open after testing positive for the virus.