The road to freedom? Week 9, May 24th to 30th 2021 inclusive

Monday, May 24th

Greater Manchester, Merseyside, the rest of Lancashire and the rest of Cheshire are to be part of a scheme trialling extra support for people who are supposed to be self-isolating.  It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t deal with the problem of unsupportive bosses.  I don’t know what will.

People aged 32 and 33 are now able to book vaccinations.  We should, all being well, hit the target of offering all adults a first dose by the end of July.  The problem’s with the people not being vaccinated … only about 5% of people, but 5% of people can do a lot of damage.

I really am going to have horrific anxiety when I have to go back to being trapped in an office.  Take today.  I had a bit of a mishap with my left wing mirror, and it cracked.  It was my fault, and I could kick myself for it, but accidents happen.  I rang the garage.  Yes, no problem, come in and they’ll fit a new one.  Now, if this had happened when I’d been trapped in an office, it would have been a complete nightmare.  The repairs department doesn’t open at weekends, and I can’t get there after work because the rush hour traffic’s so bad that I can’t get there before the garage closes.  I could have tried to go in my dinner hour, but, although the garage is not far away, there are a million traffic lights in between, and they’re always all on red, and there’s always a long queue if you go anywhere in your dinner hour.  And, when I got there, I had to wait whilst they messed about because they couldn’t decide whether I needed to pay the parts department (because it was a part) or the service department (because it was being fitted), even though the two card machines were on the same desk (seriously).   It didn’t take long, but things like this just become impossible when you’re trapped in an office, and this is one of the main reasons I had a breakdown in 2013.  Ok, rant over!

 

Tuesday, May 25th 

Oh FFS.  After all the rows last year, I really thought we’d got past local restrictions, clear as mud guidance, and failure to consult local authorities.  But no.  Last night, it suddenly came up on the Manchester Evening News website that non-essential travel into and out of Bolton had been banned.   Not just Bolton, but also Blackburn, Burnley, Kirklees, North Tyneside, Leicester, Bedford and Hounslow.  And people there had been told not to meet indoors.  No news conference.  No tweet.  Nothing.  It’d just appeared on http://www.gov.uk.

This morning, everyone was up in arms.  Councils knew nothing about it.  Nor did MPs.  Nor did health authorities.

The leader of Bolton council joined Andy Burnham for the regular Greater Manchester press conference, and said that there weren’t any additional regulations.  At 1/4 to 5, it was confirmed that there were, indeed, no travel regulations or any other regulations.

What a muddle.

Tensions are rising.  We keep hearing about “Bolton”, but it’s not “Bolton” – it’s Lever Edge, where the infection rate is almost 2,000 per 100,000, and Rumworth.  Rates in other parts of the borough of Bolton are certainly not low, but they’re nothing like that they are in those areas.  There are widespread, reliable reports of people there not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing regulations.  And all the areas with high rates are areas with high Muslim populations – and the authorities accept that.  Bury council last night tweeted an appeal from the Chief Executive of a British Muslim organisation, urging people to get vaccinated.  Lever Edge’s got a vaccination rate of around 35%, compared to 70% nationwide.  A lot of comments are being made, and there’s a possible risk of tensions.

So are hospital admissions.

In other news, my dad (a retired pharmacist) is now a volunteer helper at one of the local vaccination centres.

Still can’t get a straight answer from the holiday company.   Meanwhile, Austria has banned direct flights from Britain because of the bloody Indian variant.

 

Wednesday, May 26th

Europa League final tonight!  Fingers and toes crossed …

In the meantime, we are having to listen to the rantings of Dominic Cummings.  According to him, the Government got everything about the pandemic wrong, from January 2020 onwards.  However, he knew best, and, if everyone had listened to him, it would all have been handled perfectly.  Graham Stringer asked him why he didn’t resign.  Cummings looked shifty, bleated a bit, then said that, if he had, it would have been better for everyone (the implication being that he’d have solved all the problems from the outside), but that he stayed because he thought he could solve the problems from the inside.  The man’s ego is unbelievable.  He then tried to blame Matt Hancock for everything that’s ever gone wrong in the history of the world, and said that Boris wasn’t fit to be PM.  It rather reminded me of the Harry and Meghan interview.  Nasty-minded, bitter people, who can’t accept the fact that they weren’t indispensable, trying to get revenge by slagging off everyone else, without providing a shred of evidence.  He couldn’t even be bothered to wear a jacket and tie.

Clearly, mistakes have been made, here and in many other countries, in the handling of the pandemic.  But, with the problems in Bolton spreading into Bury and Manchester, and rates rising in Kirklees and elsewhere, we need to be focusing on the current situation, not on someone’s personal vendetta.  There were 3,180 new cases in today’s figures.  That’s the highest for a while, I think.  France has now imposed compulsory quarantine for arrivals from the UK.   Macron is probably loving this.

On a more positive note, anyone aged 30 and over can now make an appointment for their first jab.

 

Later – oh, FFS.  We lost 11-10 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw.  Penalties are a lottery and you can’t criticise anyone over those, and congratulations to Villarreal, but we played poorly, failed to capitalise on having the bulk of the possession in the first half, and, generally, screwed up.  Very, very disappointed.

 

Thursday, May 27th

To add to life’s ten million other traumas, the French Open draw is the worst in the entire history of the universe.  Rafa and Nole in the same half.  Throw in Roger in Nole’s quarter, and Diego and Sinner in Rafa’s quarter.  It is a nightmare.

The decorator has painted the kitchen ceiling.  Again.

The rate at which infections are increasing is falling (if that makes sense) in Bolton, Bury and Trafford, although it’s up in the city centre and Oldham.  Cases are rising nationwide – 3,542 in today’s statistics.   A lot of infections are in secondary school kids.  OK, this may well be because secondary school kids are being tested twice a week, so more asymptomatic cases are being picked up than in adults, but it’s a worry – there are no plans at present to vaccinate kids.

I’ve e-mailed the holiday company again.  This is getting ridiculous.

 

Friday, May 28th

I have received an e-mail from the holiday company.  It read as if it’d been written by a five-year-old.  To be fair, I’m assuming that auto-correct was to blame for a lot of it, but, if you were sending a work e-mail, would you not check it through first?  The holiday is “defiantly” (I assume that this means “definitely”) going ahead.  But they have extended the payment deadline by a month “because of this”.  Well, if it’s “defiantly” going ahead, why extend the deadline?  However, they will inform me if it’s not going ahead.   I mean, WTF?   Why can’t they just tell the truth?  “We are waiting for our head office to make a decision, and we anticipate that this will be by Such A Date.”

Over 4,000 cases reported today.  Most of these are “the Indian variant”.  Oh, and apparently there’s now a Thai variant, as well.  And the R number, which we haven’t heard about for weeks, is back above 1.

Nicola Sturgeon’s said that Glasgow’s got to stay in lockdown.  This is getting ridiculous.  I seem to be using the word “ridiculous” a lot lately!

The single dose Janssen vaccine’s been approved for use in the UK.

 

Saturday, May 29th

Went to Bolton Abbey today.  Due to Covid, you are not allowed to move your car from one part of the estate to another, although it is fine to move yourself from one part to another.  No, me neither!   Anyway, this meant that I walked the whole thing – and it didn’t take nearly as long as their maps and website suggest, so I probably won’t move the car in future anyway!   Gorgeous sunny day.  Why couldn’t it have done this last weekend?!

Then I went to Boundary Mill on the way back and, hooray, I found a dress for my cousin’s wedding.  I don’t honestly know what I wanted, so I don’t know if this is it, but it ticks the boxes of long, not low cut at either the front or the back but without having a high neckline, not clingy, and not too expensive.  Hooray!

If the wedding goes ahead.  I really can’t see all restrictions being lifted on June 21st.

Infection rates are falling in Bolton, although they’re still over 400 per 100,000.  But additional help for neighbouring boroughs has been refused.  The Government’s got nasty announcements on local radio telling you to minimise travel into and out of Bolton, like it’s a leper colony or something.

Another e-mail from the holiday company.  No more decisions will be made until the green list’s updated, which won’t be until a week on Monday.  They do expect to run Iceland tours.  So I need to decide if I can deal with the Covid stuff or not.  I am not good with decisions.  And I wish I could have my second vaccination sooner.  And I gather that the app is horrendous.

OK, I am off to watch the Champions League final.  Nice to see City and Chelsea fans enjoying themselves in lovely Porto, but, if City win, we will never hear the end of it!

Later – Chelsea 1-0 City.

 

Sunday, May 30th

Finally, a hot, sunny Sunday!  Just rather annoying that, instead of being last Sunday, when I was in the Lakes, it was today, when I stayed in most of the day to watch the French Open.  Dominic Thiem and Dan Evans have both already managed to lose.  Nice to see some fans in the stadium, though 🙂 .

However, I did go to the new Royal Horticultural Society Bridgewater Gardens this morning.  Expensive for what they are, but very pretty, only 7 miles away, and, hooray, the RHS doesn’t allow dogs in its gardens!   The opening was delayed for a year due to lockdown etc, but it’s open now, and hopefully it’ll do well.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds got married yesterday, which was a bit odd because they’d apparently told people they were getting married next July – but, hey, as long as they’re happy!

Infection rates in Bolton are now falling sharply – but, worryingly, are rising in other areas, with Blackburn how having the highest infection rate in the country.  Why, oh why, is it always the North West?   This virus has got it in for us, I’m telling you.

Polls show that nearly half of people now feel that lifting all restrictions in June 21st would be too risky.  But it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, the sun is out, the tennis is on, so let’s try to enjoy the evening and not stress too much about virus stuff!  And congratulations to Blackpool, promoted to League 1.

The road to freedom? Week 8, May 17th to 23rd 2021 inclusive

Monday, May 17th

As of today:

  1. Hotels guesthouses and B&Bs can reopen.
  2. Indoor seating at restaurants etc can reopen.
  3. Sports stadia can admit limited numbers of fans.
  4. Theatres, cinemas, museums etc can reopen.
  5. Saunas and steamrooms can reopen.
  6. People can meet outdoors in groups of up to 30.
  7. Up to 30 people can attend a wedding reception.
  8. People can meet indoors in groups of 6, or 2 bubbles, and stay overnight.
  9. Some overseas travel’s resumed.

But the Indian variant’s casting a bit of a wet blanket over it all.  It’s now the dominant variant in Bolton and Blackburn, and it seems highly unlikely that it won’t spread.  Rates in all the local boroughs have been fluctuating – one has a couple of bad weeks and then its rates drop again, whilst another sees its rates fall right down but then go up again – but there’s been nothing to worry about for weeks … but you now have to wonder if the trend over the last few days, up in most places, might continue.

Vaccination booking’s opening up to people aged 37, then people aged 36.  As happened in Blackburn last week, the authorities in Bolton wanted to open it up to anyone aged over 16, but Westminster put the kibosh on it.

Why Bolton, again.  We’re hearing the usual lines about “deprivation” and “multi-generational housing” and “unable to work from home”, but they apply equally and probably even more so to, say Oldham, than to Bolton, and the infection rate in Oldham is currently below the national average.  Well, this time, it’s clearly happened because someone, or presumably several someones, brought the Indian variant back from the Indian sub-continent and spread it, but people from loads of areas must have been to the Indian sub-continent in the last couple of months.

Bedford’s rate is worse than Blackburn’s.  Is it something about places beginning with B?!  But the media seem to want to focus on the North West.

 

Tuesday, May 18th

Fans are back inside Old Trafford tonight, for the Fulham match!   Sadly, not me, yet – only 10,000 people – but how great to see anyone there.

The holiday company have cancelled all trips departing up to and including July 15th.  But mine is July 18th.  So I am still in limbo.  I can’t see it going, and I do understand that they can only deal with so many things at once, but they really need to give people more notice.

The whole travel situation is a muddle.  A government health minister and the Welsh First Minister are both saying that no-one should be going on holiday even to “green” countries.  Boris and Matt Hancock are both saying that no-one should be going on holiday to “amber” countries.  And does that invalidate insurance policies?  But some people have been told that, as there’s no ban on going to “amber” countries, they won’t get refunds on existing bookings if they cancel.  There’s also a feeling that the system’s unfair to people who have to go to work and therefore haven’t got the option of deciding to “take” the 10 day quarantine on return.  A straight green/red split would cause arguments with people genuinely needing to travel on business, or who’ve got loved ones abroad.  Incidentally, why were so many people travelling to and from the Indian sub-continent in February, March and April?  Don’t tell me it was all “essential” travel.  In the middle of it all is the poor beleaguered travel industry.

There’s also the issue of people coming here.  It’s all being talked about in terms of British tourists jetting off for a fortnight of sun, sand and sea (which is so not me anyway!), but what about all the overseas tourists we’d usually expect in the Lake District, London, York, Bath, Edinburgh etc?

Some universities are continuing with online lectures, and may do so in the autumn term as well.  Given what happened in September, it’s probably wise, but I’m so sorry for all the students missing out on a proper university experience.

And we’ve now got the virtue-signallers saying that it’s wrong to criticise people who’ve chosen not to be vaccinated.   This comes after Andrew Lloyd Webber said that refusing to be vaccinated was like drink driving.

 

Wednesday, May 19th

Now that hotels are open, I’ve booked to go to the Lakes for the weekend.  However, the weather forecast has now changed, and Sunday looks distinctly wet.  Gah!!  Needless to say, it looks much better for Monday and Tuesday, which is no help.  It’s no wonder people want to go abroad!

The Indian variant’s now been found in a number of other places, in different parts of the country.  No mention of it being anywhere else in Greater Manchester yet, but rates are shooting up in several boroughs.  And it’s spread from Blackburn to Burnley.

Someone’s got the lovely job of analysing sewage to see where it’s spreading!

The good news is that the vaccines do seem to be effective against it, but we can only vaccinate people so quickly.  And trials of booster jabs are to start.

And another royal baby is on the way!  Princess Beatrice is expecting in the autumn.

 

Thursday, May 20th

Infection rates in our borough had been falling for weeks.  They were below the national average.  Now, suddenly, they’ve doubled in a week.  And most cases are in an area which borders the borough of Bolton.  No mention of the Indian variant as yet, but it’s in about 80 different areas, including Tameside.

The holiday company, presumably in response to a lot of phone calls and e-mails from frustrated customers like my good self, has issued an “open letter” asking people to bear with them.   This is not helpful.

Easyjet are saying that it’s fine for people to go to amber list countries.  Boris says it isn’t.  Someone’s said they turned up at the airport to board a flight to Spain, only to be turned away because Spain isn’t yet accepting UK tourists.  OK, he should have checked, but it was irresponsible of the airline not to warn him.  And umpteen flights a day are operating between the UK and India, which is on the red list.  This really is silly.

People aged 34 and 35 are now able to book their first jabs.  And Prince William’s had his.

I’m having my hair cut and dyed tonight.  One of those things you just used to take for granted!

 

Friday, May 21st

It has rained all day.  However, tomorrow should hopefully be better.

Nicola Sturgeon – how that woman does annoy me – has said that people from Scotland shouldn’t go to Bolton, Blackburn or Bedford.  And that people from Bolton, Blackburn and Bedford shouldn’t go to Scotland.  How exactly does she propose to enforce that?!

Surge vaccinations are being carried out in some areas locally, even though we were being told last week that they wouldn’t be.   And surge testing’s being carried out in a number of areas nationwide, not that it seems to help much.  The good news is that hospitalisations and deaths aren’t going up.

 

Saturday, May 22nd

Hooray!   I finally got to stay overnight in the Lakes!  To stay overnight anywhere, for the first time since October.  And it didn’t rain.  I went to Coniston this morning, and went on a boat trip there.

 

Then went to Hawkshead, then Wray Castle.

 

Then on to Grasmere.  It was actually sunny by late afternoon!

Then I watched the Eurovision Song Contest in my room.  How sad am I?  I wish we’d stop funding it – the voting’s political, no-one votes for us, and yet we pay!  Italy won.  It’s still a good laugh, though.   Hotel Covid protocols still in place.

Cases in Bury are sky-rocketing.  From a low level, so nothing horrendous, but it’s a very worrying trend.  A lot of it seems to be in schools, again.  And Germany has banned British tourists due to the Indian variant.

But how lovely to have a weekend away!   The hotel was fully booked – everyone’s desperate for a break.

 

Sunday, May 23rd

It poured down first thing, but it went off, so I had a walk round Grasmere.

Then it rained again, but wasn’t raining much by the time I went to Allan Bank, which has now reopened.

 

And then it was dry whilst I was at Bowness and Sizergh Castle, so that wasn’t bad at all, and it was a nice day.

 

I was expecting to be able to go round the actual castle, now that indoor attractions have reopened, but no.   Limited numbers of people are allowed into the grounds and you have to book a time slot, which I’d done, but only limited numbers of those limited numbers are allowed into the houses, time slots to be booked on arrival, and, as it was mid-afternoon when I got there, there were none left.  This sort of thing is really, really annoying.    OK, it’s not the National Trust’s fault that there’s a pandemic, but I’m not surprised that people are cancelling memberships.   Not being able to have a breakfast buffet or even order at the bar in hotels is annoying too.

Got home in time for the second half of United v (at) Wolves.  We won 2-1.  Nice to end the league season on a high, and we’ve gone through the whole league season unbeaten away.  We finish 2nd.  Liverpool and Chelsea get the other 2 Champions League spots, Leicester missing out.

 

 

The road to freedom? Week 7, May 10th to 16th 2021 inclusive

Monday, May 10th

Boris has confirmed that, as of a week today:

  1. Hugging will be allowed again.  As long as you make informed decisions and hug safely.  What a crazy world we find ourselves in, being given instructions about hugging!  But, hooray, hugging is back on.
  2. Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen.
  3. Sports stadia can reopen, but only to limited numbers.
  4. Cinemas, theatres, museums, indoor seating at eating and drinking places, etc, can reopen.
  5. Masks will no longer be required in schools.
  6. Face to face teaching at universities can resume.
  7. People can meet indoors, and stay overnight at other people’s homes, as long as no more than either six people or two households are involved.
  8. Up to thirty people can meet outdoors, and attend weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs etc.
  9. Saunas and steam rooms can reopen, and indoor exercise classes can restart.

We’re officially moving from “level 4” to “level 3”.

More details to come on what may or may not happen on June 21st, but he seems optimistic that all restrictions will end then.  (Which is good, except that that may mean an end to working from home, which I am dreading.)

The holiday company have said that they’ll extend my payment deadline.  I assume this means that they’re still waiting for their international head office to make decisions about July.  Oh well, at least it’s something.

And we’re guaranteed a top 4 finish after West Ham lost last night.

 

Tuesday, May 11th

Ugh.  With 4 matches in 8 days, I can’t blame Ole for fielding a weakened team tonight … but we lost to Leicester, 2-1, and that handed City the title.  OK, they deserve it, but … hmm!

Still no news from the holiday company on anything past the end of June.

I am sick of the weather!  One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s pouring down or hailstones are coming down.

And I am worried about the situation in Bolton.  The attitude in the national media is that the pandemic’s all over bar the shouting, and I’d love to think that, but the infection rate in Bolton has sky-rocketed to 133.5 per 100,000.  It’s very localised – the rates in neighbouring Bury, Wigan and Salford are 20.4, 24 and 31.7 respectively – and, even within Bolton, it’s only affecting certain wards, but it does show how quickly this can still spread.   It’s the Indian variant that’s doing it, which, given what happened with the Kent variant, is very concerning.

 

Wednesday, May 12th

Still no updates from the holiday company.

We have had thunder, lightning, torrential rain, hailstones and glorious sunshine today.  Yesterday was the same.  It is doing everyone’s heads in.  The only thing less predictable than the weather is my weight, which randomly goes up and down from day to day, but never keeps going down 😦 .

Infection rates in Bolton keep going up.  And those in Hyndburn are even worse – that was originally put down to an outbreak at a school in Accrington, but it’s clearly a lot more than that.  It seems pretty clear that people have travelled to and from India and Pakistan (before they were red-listed) without quarantining, which is incredibly irresponsible, but it’s done now.  There are also concerns over case rates in parts of Yorkshire.  The only good thing is that it’s mainly amongst young people, and hasn’t led to any deaths or an increase in hospitalisations.

If this were happening in London, it would be the headlines of the news.

People aged 38 and 39 are now able to book vaccinations.

And Rafa beat Sinner 7-5, 6-4, in a rather stressful match in Rome!

 

Thursday, May 13th

Lost 3-2 to Liverpool.  Not very pleased!

It was reported earlier that,  Blackburn, which has also got issues with the Indian variant, everyone over 18 was being invited to book their jabs, but apparently someone got the wrong end of the stick.  Meanwhile, the situation in Bolton is not good.   It’s only in three wards, but it’s getting worse and worse.   I hope that the irresponsible people who went to India and Pakistan and then didn’t quarantine when they got back are pleased with themselves.  Has the North West not suffered enough?   And now Glasgow seems to be having similar problems.  And there are fears that the June 21st relaxation of restrictions may have to be rethought.

I actually managed to avoid being out in the rain today, but only because I went out early due to the tennis … which ended up being a very long and stressful match in which Rafa eventually beat Shapovalov 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3).  Poured down again later.

The painter can paint the ceiling, but he doesn’t know when.

And there is still no news from the holiday company.

 

Friday, May 14th

Boris has said that the roadmap’ll go ahead as planned for now, but that we don’t yet know very much about this wretched Indian variant affecting Bolton, Blackburn and elsewhere, so he can’t say for sure that the June 21st changes will go ahead.  That’s fair enough.  Second doses are to be brought forward, but only for over 50s.   And testing’s to be ramped up in Bolton and Blackburn.  At the risk of sounding like Mario Balotelli, why is it always the North West?

Second doses are to be brought forward, but, unfortunately for me, only for those in the first 9 groups.

Boss was mithering about wanting people to go back to the office.  I am dreading this.  Decent firms will take into account what people want, but the operative word is decent.

Rafa beat Sascha, 6-3 6-4 🙂 .  And now plays Opelka.  But it’s raining in Rome, so everything’s a bit messed up at the moment.

The Champions League final will now be held in Porto.  It would be far more sensible to hold it at either Wembley or Villa Park, both of which were suggested, but UEFA threw a hissy fit after being told that a load of bigwigs whose presence would be totally unnecessary wouldn’t be allowed to enter from high-risk countries without quarantining.

 

Saturday, May 15th

Well, this should have been a lovely day … even though we’ve still got blue sky one second and monsoons the next.  Around 20,000 fans were allowed into Wembley for the Cup Final, I was delighted that Leicester won the Cup for the first time in their history, beating Chelsea 1-0, and I felt like a proud auntie watching Kasper Schmeichel lifting the Cup!   The players had to pick up their own medals, but Prince William was allowed to present the actual trophy.

And Rafa beat Opelka, 6-4 6-4, to reach the Italian Open final … although the bad news is that he’s playing Nole.

And I had a lovely morning at Nostell Priory.  Cygnets and garlic!!   And National Trust houses are reopning next week.

 

But … I could cry when I see pictures of the Army on the streets of Bolton and Blackburn, conducting mass testing.  Miserable scientists are saying that Monday’s reopening should be cancelled.  Yet again, hope has turned to concern.  There’s been an increase in hospitalisations in Bolton – thankfully, we’re only talking about a small number of people, but it’s a big increase in percentage terms.  And it’s nearly all people who are old enough to have had their first jab, but haven’t done.  So bloody irresponsible.  Over 95% of over 45s have had their first jabs, but, as we keep being told, until everyone’s safe, no-one’s safe.  Formby – why Formby, of all places? – is also affected, as are parts of Nottingham and London, and also Glasgow.  There are fears that the Indian variant could be 50% more transmissible than the Kent variant, and that’s bad enough.  Thankfully, there’s no talk yet of local restrictions, but this is very worrying indeed.

And it was all going so well …

It’s still, touch wood, OK elsewhere in the region.  Rochdale’s up a bit, but nothing concerning.  But these things do tend to spread.  And we can’t take any more.

 

Sunday, May 16th

🙂 🙂 🙂 – Rafa beat Nole, 5-7 6-1 6-3, to win the Italian Open!  Rome isn’t Paris, but Rome is still Rome!

I went into town today.  If town/city centres are to recover, the stupid Sunday trading laws have really got to go.  There were queues and crowds waiting for shops to open.  Yes, they’ll be open at 9am or 10am tomorrow, but that’s no use to most people.  Scrap the stupid Sunday trading laws, now!!   Anyway, I had a nice walk round and some pan amb oli al fresco:

However, I could not find anything to wear for my cousin’s wedding.  If it goes ahead – 3 months to go, and they don’t know whether they’ll be allowed 30 people, 50 people or as many people as they like, and whether that’ll be just for the meal or for dancing as well.  Now that Debenhams, BHS, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins have gone, the choice seems to be between M&S (clothes seem designed for Holly Hobbie – cannot believe they sell stuff like that), Selfridges etc (fine if you are in possession of a good fortune, as Jane Austen might say) or places like River Island and Next (do not seem to cater for anyone over 25 and larger than a size 10)!

Rangers fans have been causing trouble.  Some things never change.

And it seems the vaccines do work against the Indian variant.  It sounds like a 1920s thriller – The Indian Variant.   The vaccine versus the virus.  If we can just get everyone vaccinated … .  Everyone over 30 should hopefully be able to book their first jab next week.

 

The road to freedom? Week 6, May 3rd to 9th 2021 inclusive

Bank Holiday Monday, May 3rd

OK, it had to rain some time, but did it have to come down in sheets and buckets on a Bank Holiday, as if places like Blackpool and the Lakes haven’t lost enough money already?!  The only good thing was that it came in from the west, so, as I’d booked somewhere in Yorkshire (Brodsworth Hall) for today, I got a nice hour and a half walk round the gardens before it got really wet.  And I hadn’t got much planned for this afternoon anyway.  And Brodsworth was lovely.

It looks as if some holidays abroad will be possible soon.  And that most of Europe will admit people who’ve had both jabs.  But I can’t see my tour of Iceland happening.  Iceland is very reluctant to let people in, coach tours are complicated because they rely on everywhere on the itinerary being open, and the tour company need to make a final decision at least 8 weeks in advance.  And, as much as I want to go, this is an expensive trip, and I don’t really want to spend a load of money on something that’s going to be compromised by restrictions.  I can go to the Lakes for a week, and go to some different places.  But I feel like I’ve already lost a year of travel, of different places, different cultures, different experiences, and don’t want to lose another year.  But, when I go abroad on my own, it’s usually city breaks where I spend most of the time visiting historic sites, palaces, cathedrals, etc, and I’m not sure how possible that’s going to be.  Beach and pool holidays may well be on, but they’re not my thing.  I get bored, I worry that someone will nick my stuff whilst I’m in the pool, I feel like everyone’s thinking how fat I am and how weird I am for being on my own, and I can’t be doing with hordes of noisy people.  Also, this is a messy year for holidays due to evil work not letting us have time off when we want.  And I really need a break in the summer.

Also, today’s a reminder that it would be nice to go somewhere with guaranteed good weather.  Hmm.

The Oktoberfest’s already been cancelled.  Not that I want to go and drink Bavarian beer, but it doesn’t suggest much optimism for how things are going to go.

Restrictions on numbers of mourners at funerals are to be lifted on May 17th.  Social distancing may or may not end on June 21st.

And I could swing for the minority of idiots who caused trouble at yesterday’s protests.  Two police officers were hurt – one suffering quite a nasty facial wound.

Not a word have the Glazers uttered.  I didn’t expect them to ride out on horses to meet the protesters, like Richard II at the Peasants’ Revolt (not least because they’re 3,000 miles away, which is part of the bloody problem), but say something, for crying out loud.

 

Tuesday, May 4th

Weather horrible again, although not as bad as yesterday.  The wind’s blown the blossom off the trees in the park, where I took my WP profile photo last year.  It looks rather pretty.

The plasterer can come on Saturday morning … which is rather a pain, as it messes up my free day, but it’s that or wait indefinitely!

Not a lot else to report.

 

Wednesday, May 5th

The weather has gone completely berserk.  Last night, we had hail and sleet.  We’ve now got blue sky and sunshine.

Rafa beat Alcaraz, 6-1 6-2, in Madrid.  One of the Amazon Prime commentators called the young lad “Alcatraz”.  Unfortunately, that might stick!

It’s being reported that traffic is back to pre-pandemic levels.  If you ask me, it’s worse!   There are more supermarket delivery lorries because people have got used to doing online shopping, and I think people are either nervous about using public transport or else have got used to commuting/doing the school run by car rather than by bus/train/tram, because there certainly seem to be a lot more cars on the road at busy times.  Bleurgh!

Canada’s become the first country to OK vaccines for 12 to 15 year olds.

And it’s being reported that large numbers of people flying back to the UK from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, all of which are on the red list, are dodging quarantine by stopping off in Turkey.

 

Thursday, May 6th

Europa League Final, here we come … even if we did make a meal of it by losing 3-2 at Roma!  Sadly, Arsenal weren’t able to make it 4 out of 4 for English teams (it’s City v Chelsea in the Champions League Final): instead, we’ll play Villareal.

Covid Election Day.  A lot of people ordered postal votes, but I rather like going to the polling station, thinking about the suffragettes, the Chartists and Peterloo as I walk down there.  I can’t get excited about local elections – whichever party wins, the council will still make the traffic situation worse rather than better – and the mayoral election result’s a given, but still. BYOB – bring your own biro.

Meanwhile, stupid French fishermen are trying to start a war with Jersey, and the weather is still crazy.

Rafa beat Popyrin, 6-3 6-3 – and has been named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year 🙂 .  Naomi Osaka’s been named World Sportswoman of the Year.

My payment deadline for the Iceland tour which I’m 99% sure won’t be happening is now under two weeks ago.  I’ve e-mailed the holiday company to ask what’s going on, and am waiting for a reply.  I know this is a nightmare situation for them, but they need to let people know.  And the Government need to let people know about this “green list”, which it seems likely will initially just be Israel, Gibraltar, Portugal, Malta and some of the Spanish and Greek islands.  They also need to confirm that the May 17th reopening is going ahead.  Hotels, cinemas, restaurants etc haven’t had the official go-ahead yet.  It’s getting ridiculous.

And there are problems in Bolton again .  Hyndburn’s got the highest infection rate in the country, which isn’t very good, but apparently that’s due to an outbreak at a school in Accrington so can be contained.  But Bolton’s got the next highest, and that’s due to clusters of the Indian and South African variants.  FFS.  Why have people been allowed to travel to high-risk countries?   It does seem to be very localised, with rates in neighbouring boroughs close to the national average, but I still haven’t got over the whole area being penalised for high rates in Rochdale last July.

 

Friday, May 7th

Iceland is on the green list.  I still can’t see the trip running, but I cannot get a straight answer from the holiday company, who just say to assume it’s running until advised otherwise.  Even with the green list, there’ll be queues at airports, and Iceland wants you to be vaccinated, and … oh, this is all very frustrating.  If it’s cancelled, it’s cancelled, but I need to know, and they won’t tell me!   You can’t get to speak to the bigwigs, and the people who answer the phone don’t know any more than I do.  I could just cancel it myself, but … I’m not sure that I’m ready to make that decision.  But the payment deadline is fast approaching.   Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel are also on.  And Australia and New Zealand, which won’t let us in!   Turkey is now red-listed, making the idea of playing the Champions League final in Istanbul even sillier.  For heaven’s sake, play it at Villa Park.  Villa have said they’re happy to stage it.

Rafa lost to Sascha in the Madrid QFs.  Bah.

The Glazers have issued a statement.  About United, I mean, not about Rafa or holidays!  It doesn’t say very much.

“The Conservatives have taken Hartlepool” – now there’s something I never thought I’d say!  The by-election was held under unfortunate circumstances, the previous MP having to resign due to allegations of inappropriate behaviour, but it’s been positive in that it’s focused attention on the old industrial heartlands of the North.  For far too long, politicians have only been interested in what the metropolitan elite want, and that has to change.  Last autumn, with all the Tier 3 business going on, it looked as if nothing had changed at all, but we seem to have moved on from that quite quickly.  And it won’t be forgotten that it was Andy Burnham, other northern mayors, and northern MPs from all parties standing up for us – it wasn’t Keir Starmer.  I feel a bit sorry for Starmer, trying to clear up Corbyn’s mess, and during a pandemic, but his idea of campaigning in Manchester was to pose by some rolls of wallpaper in the Trafford Centre.  No-one cares about Boris’s wallpaper.  We want jabs, jobs and travel.   And it has all got very personality-based, and Boris is certainly not lacking in charisma.

It now seems that the Astra Zeneca vaccine will not be offered to most under 40s.  I hope this doesn’t hold the vaccination programme up.  Hopefully not, now we’ve got supplies of the Moderna vaccine as well as the Pfizer.

 

Saturday, May 8th

In the least surprising of all the election results, Andy Burnham was re-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, with 67% of the vote.  The mayoral elections have been very interesting – both there and elsewhere, they’ve been far more about the person than the party, and Andy’s said that he wants to take a “place first not party first” approach.  I have to admit that I wasn’t initially convinced about this regional mayor idea, but it does seem to be working out well.  As I keep saying, we’ve had enough of politics being all about London.  Mixed picture with the council elections, but the overall picture is gains for the Conservatives, losses for Labour.  Not impressed with the low turnout.  Labour have retained control of the Welsh Senedd.  The SNP have won the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament, and are whingeing about wanting another referendum.

It has rained for most of the day.  So frustrating, when you’ve been trapped with work all week.  However, I couldn’t have gone out first thing anyway, because the plasterer was coming to sort out the hole in the kitchen ceiling (from the Easter pipe disaster).  It is now a brown splodge rather than a hole.  Next job is to try to get the decorator to come and paint it white.  And I did get out to Hollingworth Lake for a bit, when the rain eased up.

Really fed up with the holiday company.  As much I want to go on this trip to Iceland, I don’t want to spend all that money if it’s going to be spoilt by restrictions.  I’m also stressed because my second jab will be pretty close to when I’m due to go, and I gather that the NHS app is a nightmare.  Then there are the issues of long queues at airports and PCR tests.  At the moment, my thinking is that a summer staycation may be better, and then a trip abroad in the autumn, if one can be sorted.  But I can’t do anything until the holiday company give me a straight answer – and, this close to the payment deadline, I’m entitled to expect one.

Bolton have been promoted to League 1 … as Rochdale go the other way, ironically.

 

Sunday, May 9th

We came from behind to win 3-1 at Villa.  So we just need one more point to secure a top 4 finish.  And City still aren’t champions.

The weather brightened up today, and I went to Erddig, which was lovely.  So nice to be able to walk somewhere with no crowds and (in the gardens) no dogs!  And to drive without traffic jams and traffic lights.

My weight is a disaster.  Every time I lose a couple of pounds, they go back on.  What am I supposed to do?  Starve?

Still no news from the holiday company.

And, finally, it looks like we will get confirmation tomorrow that the May 17th reopenings can go ahead.  And it sounds as if we’ll be given permission to hug our relatives and friends, as long as we’ve made “informed personal decisions” to do so.  If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry!  Did you ever think you’d be living in a world in which you couldn’t hug your loved ones without politicians giving you the go-ahead to do so, and making “informed personal decisions”?!  Not even George Orwell came up with that one.  I’m not criticising the restrictions, just thinking how far we’ve come from the world we lived in all our lives until 14 months ago.  Covid World!

The road to freedom? Week 5, April 26th to May 2nd 2021 inclusive

Monday, April 26th

I am absolutely dreading the day Boris says that people don’t have to work from home any more.  Decent employers will probably let people choose to work from home 2 or 3 days a week, but others will want people back where they think they can “control” them better.  The slightest thing turns into a nightmare when you are trapped in an office.  Boiler needs repairing?  “Between 12pm and 6pm.”  Parcel needs delivering?  “Between 7am and 9pm, and can’t be left without a signature.  We’ll give you a one hour time slot on the day” – like it’s that easy to go home for an hour.  Need to go to the bank?  Only open 10am to 3pm, and there will be a horrendous queue during your dinner hour, because it’s everyone else’s dinner hour as well.  And the traffic is so bad and parking so difficult that you’ll have to walk there and back, which will take up most of your dinner hour anyway.  Etc etc etc!

Today, I needed to go somewhere which is only open 9am to 5pm, and which, due to traffic and queues, I couldn’t have got to and from in my dinner hour.  So I just nipped out, at a time when there wasn’t much traffic, and when there was unlikely to be a queue.  It didn’t take very long.  But I just could not have got there if I’d been trapped in the office.

People aged 44 are now able to book vaccines.  Are we doing one year at a time now?!  I’d assumed they’d say people from 40 to 44.

 

Tuesday, April 27th

People aged 42 and 43 are now able to book vaccines.  Presumably they just staggered it to avoid the website crashing if too many people tried to book at once.  Considering that we thought it might be May before anyone outside the top 9 groups was called, it’s really going pretty well, touch wood.

However, the situation in India – lovely India, where I went in 2018 and, before all this started, hoped to go again in, perhaps, 2022 or 2023 – is heartbreaking.  Car parks are being used as crematoria.  Trees in public parks are being cut down for kindling.  Hospitals have got no oxygen.  And no free beds.  We’ve sent what supplies we can, as have other countries, but it’s a drop in the ocean.  Almost 3,000 deaths per day are being reported, and, sadly, that’s probably only a fraction of the true figure.

In other news:
1.  The weather’s turned.  Cold, cloudy and showery.
2.  Wimbledon’s doing away with Middle Sunday from next year, and just playing 14 days like the other Grand Slams do, although I assume we’ll have the second week split by gender, rather than the silly Aussie Open system of having the men’s semis on two different days.  I really can’t decide how I feel about this!

 

Wednesday, April 28th

Apparently, the idea is to use the NHS app as a vaccine passport.  I don’t really fancy downloading the NHS app, but it sounds like we may have no choice.  There’s also talk about booster jabs in the autumn.

Holiday company has now cancelled all tours up to the end of June.  Mine is due to go on 18th July.  They’ll probably cancel up to 15th or 16th July next time, leaving me hanging on!   I’m not expecting it to go, but obviously I do need the official word.  I’m sorry for myself: I booked Iceland in September 2019 and was really looking forward to it.  But I’m even sorrier for the holiday company.

I’ve sent a donation to the British Asian Trust, which is doing what it can to help India.  Unfortunately, given how many people there are in India, aid sent by both governments and charities can only stretch so far.

 

Thursday, April 29th

Ugh, the weather has turned!   But it should dry up again by the weekend.

We are playing Roma this evening.

The average infection rate across Greater Manchester remains around 35.  Across England as a whole, it remains around 25 – lowest in the South East, highest in Yorkshire, but nothing terrible anywhere.   But it isn’t really going down, just staying around the same.   This virus isn’t going away.   But we’re being told that the May 17th easing of restrictions should be going ahead 🙂 .

The US is also doing well, and things seem to be improving across much of Europe too, but Turkey, which did so well last year, is now going into full lockdown.  And the news from India continues to be very bad.  A further problem is that the Serum Institutes in India were meant to be producing vaccines for the Covax programme, to be sent to poorer countries, but, given the situation, none of those vaccines will be leaving India.  Worrying times.

Later – wa-hey!!   After going 2-1 down, we came back to beat Roma 6-2!!!   Big leads have been overturned in second legs before, so I’m not counting any chickens yet, but … well, I never dared home for a 4 goal lead.  We could yet have two all-English finals … but, as I said, let’s not count any chickens yet.

 

Friday, April 30th

Sunshine and showers today, and the same forecast for tomorrow.  Monday is looking iffy, though … and I can’t reshuffle my plans because you have to book everything in advance these days!

Everyone over 40 is now being invited to book an appointment for their first jab.  I’m hearing some reports of issues booking, though.  You can get appointments, but you may have to wait a couple of weeks, or travel a bit rather than going to a centre close to your home.  But we knew there were going to be issues in April, and things have gone much better than we thought they might.

A trial mask-free nightclub event’s being held in Liverpool.  Not that I want to go to a nightclub, but some people do!   I’d rather like to go to the pictures, but I don’t think there’s going to be anything decent on when cinemas reopen next month.

Still very bad news from both India and Brazil.

In the middle of everything else, the junction where you turn out of our estate on to the main road is closed.  Apparently something’s collapsed.  It was absolutely fine until BT started digging it up the other week – funny, that.  OK, these things happen, but there wasn’t a soul working on it when I went past at half 3 this afternoon, not when I went past at half 2 yesterday afternoon.  Typical.

 

Saturday, May 1st

Today, I have actually been out of England for the first time since … whenever I last went to Bodnant Garden, which must have been last summer.  We are less than an hour’s drive from the Welsh border, the car radio picks up Greatest Hits Manchester loudly and clearly well into North Wales, and I am sick of all this silly closing of borders to score political points.  But, hopefully, that’s over now!  I’ve had a really nice day.  I was ecstatic to find that, although the daffodils at the front of Chirk Castle were long dead, those in the gardens and woodlands were still going!

After a lovely morning at Chirk, I went into Llangollen, where I had bara brith at the Welsh Cottage Tea Rooms to celebrate being allowed back into Wales, looked at people white water rafting on the Dee, and then went on a horse drawn boat ride on the Llangollen Canal.

 

And care home residents are to be allowed to visit friends and relatives, which is lovely.

 

Sunday, May 2nd

Oh.  Well, that wasn’t the afternoon I’d planned.  Like pretty much everyone else round here, I’d intended to watch United v Liverpool. The biggest match in English club football.  El Clasico Ingles.  Both clubs needing a win in the quest for a top four finish.  And with the rather unpleasant added spice of knowing that, if we lost, City would be champions.

But it didn’t happen.

We knew there were anti-Glazer protests planned, but they were supposed to be peaceful.   However, as these things so often do, it all got a bit out of hand.  Thankfully, there was little real trouble, but a small minority of people did clash with police and stewards, and two police officers were injured.  Some people protested outside the Lowry Hotel, where the team were, and prevented the team coach from leaving; and, more seriously, some people broke into the stadium and got on to the pitch.  Gary Neville, commentating for Sky, was doing his whole Red Nev thing about the right to protest and needing to do something that would get the Glazers’ attention and make headlines, but a lot of the people on the pitch just seemed to be smirking and taking selfies.

I have had enough of the Glazers.  Everyone has.  We never wanted them in the first place.  They’ve got no connection with United, with Manchester, with football.  They were only ever interested in money.  They don’t care about the fans.  And the Super League thing was the final straw.  And, yes, something big was needed.  There are “LUHG” (Love United Hate Glazer) stickers all over the place, but they don’t care.  They’re 3,000 miles away.  But breaking into the stadium’s not on.  And we don’t want to see matches cancelled.  This is all rather a mess.   We’ve seen some awful things go on in the past.  I remember City fans going to the care home where Peter Swales’s elderly mother lived.  We don’t want trouble.  But we do want the Glazers out.  And they won’t go.   It’s our club.  But they own it.

There being no football, I watched the Estorial tennis final.  Cam Norrie went a set and a break up … but Ramos Vinolas came back to win.

And the weather forecast for tomorrow is vile.  Bloody typical!   I’m going to Brodsworth come what may, but it won’t be much fun if it’s wet and windy.  And poor Windermere Lake Cruises, who’ve lost so much money already because of the pandemic,  have had to cancel all tomorrow’s bookings.  Bloody weather!

But, to end on a high note, I went to Dunham Massey this morning (picture below), and met up with my cousin, whom I hadn’t seen for ages because she’s been shielding.   So lovely to be reunited at last!

The road to freedom? Week 4, April 19th to 25th 2021 inclusive

Monday, April 19th 

I cannot believe what is going on.  It’s another warm, sunny day, a beautiful spring day … but this European Super League idea is just a nightmare.  I am so, so ashamed that United, City and Liverpool should be involved.  And Barcelona, of all clubs.  Everyone from Sir Alex Ferguson to Boris Johnson’s condemned it.  I can’t believe it’ll happen, but I said that about the Glazer takeover, rugby league being moved to the summer, and Bury being kicked out of the league.  There’s talk of banning the clubs involved from domestic leagues.  And banning players from playing from their national teams.  How the hell would that help?  That’s punishing players, fans and national sides, none of whom are to blame for any of this, rather than the clubs’ greedy owners.  No comment from any of the TV companies.  If they refuse to televise the matches, surely that’d put a stop to it?  In the middle of it all, Spurs have sacked Mourinho.

I need to ring the plasterer later- he said he’d come to have a look, but couldn’t speak to me earlier.

Had an e-mail from the holiday company, going on about hotels and itineraries and booking optional trips.  It’s a standard e-mail which comes out three months before you’re due to go, but it’s stressed me out because I have no idea what’s going to happen.  Iceland is likely to be on the “green list”.  However, unlike Greece and Portugal, I don’t think Iceland’s keen to let tourists in.  It’s so hard to know what to think.  Holiday companies are blithely saying that everything’ll go ahead almost as normal this summer … but it won’t.  However, the holiday company always makes a definite decision 8-10 weeks beforehand, so I suppose I’ll just have to wait a few weeks and see what happens.

India has been added to the “red list”, because of the very serious and worrying situation there.

 

Tuesday, April 20th

I know this is supposed to be a pandemic diary, but all anyone’s talking about is football.  Boris held a press conference this evening, in which he spoke about hopes to develop pills to treat the virus, and also concerns about a third wave, but, even at that, people kept asking questions about football.  Even the future king’s involved: Prince William’s spoken out about his concerns regarding the proposals.

How dare the Glazers and the other greedy owners do this? Sky Sports and Amazon Prime (although not BT Sport) have both said that it’s nothing to do with them.  Supporters’ groups have been holding talks with Boris.  This is what it’s come to – appealing to the Government to take action against our own clubs.  Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have both made it pretty clear that managers haven’t been involved, and, as Jordan Henderson’s called a meeting of Premier League captains, we may soon get similar comments regarding players: Marcus Rashford’s already tweeted a picture of a banner showing Matt Busby’s “Football is nothing without fans” comment.

It’s been made clear that no German clubs will be getting involved.  So that’s Bayern Munich out.  Given the backlash, will anyone else get involved?   There’s even been talk that City and Chelsea are thinking of pulling out.  I just hope that the whole idea collapses.  But the bad feeling it’s caused won’t.  Liverpool fans were burning club shirts ahead of their match against Leeds last night.  Grimsby have suggested that replica shirts be donated so that they can be sent to Third World countries.

What a mess.

 

Later – Ed Woodward, our deeply disliked vice chairman (although, to be fair to the man, he’s just an employee) has resigned.  So has the president of Juventus.  City and Chelsea have pulled out.  Please, please, let’s just scrap the whole thing.

Oh, and the plasterer says he can sort the hole, but that it won’t be until mid-May.

And one pint bottles of skimmed milk have reappeared at Tesco.  They vanished at the start of the pandemic.  I know that people need to know this.

 

Wednesday, April 21st

Hooray.  All 6 English clubs pulled out late last night, followed by Inter and Atleti this morning, and then AC Milan.  Juve have said that the plan can’t go ahead, so, er, that leaves Real Madrid and Barca playing El Clasico every single week.  I think we can assume that the plan is now dead.  People are hailing victory for fan power, the forces of right, etc, but I think it’s more to do with the threat of being booted out of the existing competitions.  However, at least it’s over.  Joel Glazer’s written “an open letter” to United fans.  His grammar is appalling.

Rafa made an awful meal of beating Ivashka, in Barcelona, but got there, 3-6 6-2 6-4.

The Queen turns 95 today.  Not much of a birthday for her 😦 .

Getting back to pandemic news, grumpy scientists are still predicting a third wave in the summer.  I’ve now had a letter and a text from the NHS, telling me to book myself in for the vaccination if I haven’t done so already: they’re certainly being thorough.  20% of British adults have now had both jabs.

 

Thursday, April 22nd

Covid is no longer the leading cause of death in England and Wales, and infection levels are down to where they were in early September.  We still recorded 18 deaths today, sadly, but hopefully that number will fall.

However, the situation in India is terrible, and we’re now hearing that Tunisia’s running out of intensive care beds.

And, just when you thought the European Commission couldn’t stoop any lower, it’s suing Astra Zeneca for not producing as many doses as it said it would.  This is a brand new vaccine.  It’s only just been developed – thanks to the sterling work of the scientists involved.  The producers are doing their best.  Astra Zeneca aren’t even making any profit from that.  But the European Commission’s going to sue them.  Because they mess they’ve made of things is everyone’s fault but theirs.  How d disgusting.

In other news, Rafa won the first set against Kei 6-0 but then managed to lose the second 6-2 before coming through 6-2 in the third.  And now plays Cam Norrie.   And the weather is glorious, and, whilst I wasn’t sure that this idea of dining out at tables in office car parks (after offices have closed) or behind bus stops (there isn’t a lot of room for putting tables outdoors in a suburb with busy main roads) would catch on, it really has done!

 

Friday, April 23rd

St George’s Day.  And a gorgeous sunny day.  I think a lot of people had decided that it was POETS Day, because there were loads of people eating outside at The Coffee Sack, Babbo and Osma when I walked past!

Restrictions are to be eased in Austria and Italy.  Here, infection levels continue to fall, although today’s figures showed 40 deaths.  But the situation in India is awful.  A load of flights came in this morning, ahead of the “red list” deadline.  Could someone please tell me why, when travel is supposed to be banned, so many people are travelling?   How many people actually need to travel internationally for “essential” reasons?

Is there anything we can do to help?  We’ve got very close historic ties with India.

Rafa beat Cam Norrie, 6-1 6-4.

 

Saturday, April 24th

I very rarely eat out in the evenings, unless I’m on holiday because I feel self-conscious about going to restaurants on my own: it doesn’t seem to matter during the day, but it feels weird in the evening.  However, it was a lovely, warm, sunny day (the water boards are getting stressed about the lack of rain, but everyone else is just enjoying it whilst it lasts) and I just really felt like doing the outdoor dining thing, which is becoming symbolic of April 2021 … so I thought I’d go early, before it got busy, and it was really lovely.

 

Problems with nice weather – a) hay fever and b) weeds.  I spent ages pulling up weeds earlier, and they still seem to be everywhere!  But not to complain 🙂 .

This morning, I went to Rufford Old Hall, which has finally reopened.  Gorgeous bluebells!!   And, hooray, dogs are not allowed in the gardens there, nor at Capesthorne Hall, where I’m going tomorrow!

Then I came home (a slightly circuitous route, due to there being traffic chaos on the M60) and watched Rafa beat Pablo Carreno Busta, 6-3 6-2.  Very nervous about tomorrow’s final against Stef Tsitsipas – I can already hear all the “changing of the guard” comments if it goes the wrong way – but we’ll see.

Joe Biden’s described the Armenian Genocide as genocide.  Bravo!  At last.  I think Bill Clinton said he would, whilst campaigning in areas with big Armenian-American communities, and then never did.

Covid news from abroad.  Positive news from Israel, which recorded zero Covid deaths yesterday.  That hopefully shows how well the vaccines work.  We recorded over 30 deaths again today: I thought the numbers’d be coming down further by now, but then the figures are for deaths within 28 days of a positive test.   But the situation in India is heartbreaking.  Makeshift crematoria are being set up, pretty much in the street,  Boris has said that we’re seeing what can be done to help.

 

Sunday, April 25th

What a glorious day!  Well, apart from the fact that we only managed to draw at Leeds, 0-0, but you can’t have everything.  Rafa beat Stef 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 7-5 in an amazing 3 hour 38 minute Barcelona final.  I was exhausted by the end, and am now running stupidly late with everything, but yay!!  Rafa winning clay court titles in April again.  Now that feels like a bit of normality!

And I was sad that I wasn’t able to do the bluebell walk at Capesthorne Hall last year, but I went today and the woods were looking absolutely glorious!   And there were tables and chairs on the lawn, which was much nicer than being indoors.

City won the Carabao Cup, beating Spurs 1-0 in the final.  I cannot pretend to be delighted about this, but it’s good news that 8,000 fans were allowed inside the stadium.  Well, good news compared to having no fans in at all.

And so we enjoy the sunshine and hope that more restrictions will be lifted in three weeks’ time … but remain mindful of what’s happening in India and elsewhere.

 

The road to freedom? Week 3, April 12th to 18th 2021 inclusive

Monday, April 12th

Non-essential retail, hairdressers and beauty parlours, gyms and swimming pools, outdoor attractions such as zoos, self-contained holiday accommodation and outdoor hospitality all reopened today!  Well, some hospitality places are still shut because they haven’t got room for much or any outdoor seating, and some businesses sadly haven’t made it this far; but it’s a big day.  Let’s hope that, this time, we really are on the way out of this nightmare.

I had a blood donation appointment in town this morning, and, woo-hoo, I sat at a table outside a café to have a cup of tea beforehand!  Long queues outside shoe shops, weirdly.  Maybe everyone’s worn their shoes out with all the walking during lockdown!  Later, out for a walk locally, I saw loads of people sat outside pubs and cafes, and queues outside walk-in hairdressers/barbers.  And this is even though the temperature was below freezing this morning, and not much warmer later!  But it’s been lovely and sunny … unlike in Monte Carlo, where rain interrupted the tennis 😦 .

A few bluebells in Heaton Park, but not many yet.

Prince Harry’s arrived back in the UK.  Let’s hope he doesn’t cause any trouble.

And the man sent by the insurance company to check the ceiling for asbestos has been.  I’ve now got to wait for the results.  What a nightmare.  When I first found the leak, I thought I’d just need to have the bath re-sealed, but now all this.

 

Tuesday, April 13th

Hooray!!!

  1.  Vaccination bookings for people in the 45-49 age group in England are now being taken.  It wouldn’t let me book the Prestwich centre, for some annoying reason – I think that’s just doing second jabs at the moment – but it let me book Cheetham Hill, which is only a couple of miles away, for Thursday evening, and it also let me make an appointment for my second dose.  I’m a bit nervous because I know some people felt rotten for a couple of days afterwards, but let’s just get it done.   This came after the announcement last night that all over 50s had been offered a first dose, slightly ahead of the target date of April 15th.
  2. I have had my hair cut and properly dyed, for the first time in 4 months!!
  3. The average infection rate across Greater Manchester is below 50 per 100,000 for the first time since the beginning of September.
  4. Over 94% of over 50s in our borough have now had their first jab.  Practically everywhere in the country’s over 90%, apart from a few London boroughs.

A few bits of not so good news – there are now concerns that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may also be linked to rare blood clots, the situation in Brazil is horrendous, and several cases of the South African variant have been found in South London.   We’re certainly not out of the woods yet.  But, hopefully, we’re getting there.

 

Wednesday, April 14th

Rafa beat Delbonis 6-1 6-2 in Monte Carlo.  I feel like the clay court season’s really here now!  And my magnolia has produced its first flower of the year.

Denmark’s said it won’t be using the AstraZeneca vaccine, and South Africa, the US and other countries are pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  We’re never going to get the whole world vaccinated at this rate.

My holiday company’s now cancelled all trips up to and including mid-June.  So mine in mid-July is officially still on, but I can’t see it happening.

 

Thursday, April 15th

Vaccination Day!  

Yes, I’ve had my first jab!   Separate post for that (above).

In other news, Rafa beat Grisha 6-1 6-1, Dan Evans beat Nole (!!), and I’m pleased that the Queen’s decided to invite Countess Mountbatten (maybe it would have been too much for Lady Pamela?) and representatives of Prince Philip’s sisters’ families to the funeral.

Now hoping I don’t have a bad reaction.  I wish people wouldn’t feel the need to tell me that they felt ill afterwards!

 

Friday, April 16th

I seem to be OK after the vaccination, touch wood.  But Rafa lost to Rublev 😦 .  2-6 6-4 2-6.  The first set and a half was the worst I’ve ever seen him play in Monte Carlo.  Then he came back to level it, but fell apart in the final set.  I suppose you can’t expect miracles when he hasn’t played a match since the Australian Open.  And it made me very late for tea at Mum and Dad’s!   Spring is so complicated, with the clay court season …

Asbestos Man didn’t find anything.  Phew.  So now I need to try to get a plasterer in.  Also, the guy was supposed to come and cut the grass yesterday, but he never turned up.

The EU says it probably won’t order any more supplies of the Astra Zeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, even though the European health watchdog’s said that the risk from the virus is far higher than the risk from the vaccines.  Well, that’s their lookout – all the more for everyone else.  Infection levels here are back to where they were in September.  Some worrying talk about a nasty new mutant, originating in India, though.

 

Saturday, April 17th

That all went as well as it could’ve done, I think.  So hard for anyone to hold a funeral at the moment: funerals are difficult enough at the best of times, without having to cope with limited numbers, face masks, social distancing and the congregation not being able to join in the singing.  The music was beautiful, and the parade beforehand was perfect, but it was very sad to see the Queen sitting all on her own.  I was a bit tearful when I saw Prince Philip’s cap sitting on the seat of his carriage, but I got very tearful when I saw the Queen.

Whilst most of the country was mourning, a woman was arrested for running topless through the grounds of Windsor Castle.  I don’t suppose the Queen was amused, but Philip would have roared with laughter.

Before the funeral, I went to Tatton Park.  I’m not impressed that they’ve put the parking fee up (it was high enough already), but anyway.  It was the most beautiful sunny day, both here and at Windsor, and I was very glad to be able to see the lambs, piglets and bluebells there, after missing them last year because we were in lockdown.

 

There are still a few “minimise travel” signs up, but everyone’s out and about now.  Thankfully, the weather’s being kind to us, and we’re out in the fresh air.   And, touch wood, we’re doing OK … but deaths have passed three million globally.   Things in India are very worrying indeed.  Boris probably wishes he hadn’t arranged to visit there now, but he can’t very well pull out without causing offence.    Brazil’s in a bad way, and Canada’s struggling now.

Dan Evans lost his Monte Carlo SF to Stef Tsitsipas 😦 .  And City won’t be winning the Quadruple: Chelsea beat them in the Cup semis today.  I really couldn’t have taken the gloating over a Quadruple.

A strange day, all in all.  Rest in peace, Prince Philip.  You were a one-off.  You will be missed.

 

Sunday, April 18th

Like there’s not enough to worry about, there’s now talk of a European Super League.  Yes, there’ve been similar rumours on and off for over 30 years, but this sounds quite serious – and United, City, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea have signed up for it, along with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus.  Fans, former players and journalists are united in condemning it, and I’m deeply ashamed that United are involved.  Greed, greed, greed.  And at a time like this.  I just hope it comes to nothing.

On a happier note, we beat Burnley, 3-1.  And some fans are inside Wembley for the second Cup SF, one of a number of pilot events taking place.

And it’s been the most gorgeous warm, sunny day – hard to believe we woke up to snow a week ago.  There are people sat out at pubs, cafes and restaurants all over the place.  I went to Beeston Castle this morning, and the views were just glorious.  Then I stopped at the Great Budworth ice cream farm on the way home.  It was wonderful to get out on to the A49 and just drive.  Round here, you cannot go more than a couple of hundred yards without having to stop at yet another set of bloody traffic lights, and it really does get me down.  OK, sometimes you get stuck behind tractors, caravans or horseboxes on rural roads, but, thankfully, I didn’t today.  The traffic and the traffic lights here really do make me feel trapped: it was so lovely just to drive.

Then I watched the Monte Carlo final.  For so many years, you could pretty much guarantee that Rafa’d win Monte Carlo.  Not any longer 😦 .  But it was lovely to see Stef win his first Masters title.  And then United v Burnley.

Infection rates in our borough are now below the national average – 25.7, with the rate across England 27.8 – which is incredible when you think that we had one of the ten highest rates in the country not so long ago, at over 200.   The week-on-week rates in some local boroughs are up slightly, which isn’t great, but the highest rate is only 60.3, and even a few cases make a big difference with numbers now thankfully so low.  62.4% of adults across the UK have now had their first jab.   Compare that to 529 in Paris – I just don’t see how we can let foreign travel resume at the moment, and risk upsetting the apple cart.

And so endeth another week!

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!

 

The road to freedom? Week 1 , March 29th to April 4th 2021 inclusive

Lockdown

Monday, March 29th

Well, this is day on on The Roadmap To Freedom, but I feel a bit out of things.  Mum and Dad have been to London to be reunited with my sister and brother-in-law and the kids, and other people have been meeting family and friends or playing outdoor sport, and I’ve just been chained to the office laptop or going for a walk in the park!   Roll on Good Friday!   The powers that be have said it’s OK to travel around the country to see family and friends, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t have a day out, as long as I stay outdoors.

The Novavax vaccine will hopefully be available by June.

Well, let’s just hope there are no more lockdowns.  Enough is enough.

 

Tuesday, March 30th

Another warm, sunny day. Loads of people in the park. And the lowest weekly death toll since October.

The situation in Europe is worrying, though.

Oh, roll on Good Friday, when I’ll be able to get a taste of this freedom, all being well!! It can’t come soon enough!!

 

Wednesday, March 31st

Second jabs outnumbered first jabs for the first time today.  I feel a bit like a third class citizen now – full vaccinated people, first jab people, and the rest of us!!

Another warm, sunny day, with loads of people in the park.  Please, please stay dry for the Easter weekend.

It looks as if France could be heading back into lockdown, and things in the Netherlands aren’t too clever either.   Thankfully, we’re doing OK – touch wood.  Well, over 50 deaths a day, which is hardly “OK”, but compared to over 1,000 a day, at the peak of the second wave, things have improved very significantly.

 

April Fools’ Day/Maundy Thursday, April 1st

Typical, just as we get towards the Bank Holiday weekend, it goes cold again!  But it’s dry, touch wood.

Shielding ends today.

France is indeed back in lockdown.  But we’re remaining steady, at around 4,500 to 5,000 new infections and 40 to 50 deaths per day.  And we should be allowed back into Wales soon, hooray!  And we beat Poland 2-1 last night, so fingers crossed for World Cup qualification.

Hooray, at last I feel like I can join the roadmap to freedom, four days after everyone who wasn’t trapped with work crap!!

But … we’re now being told that, when cafes etc reopen on April 12th, everyone’s got to sign in, and have their details kept for 21 days.  What, even for sitting outside?   That’s just put me right off!!    Oh well, let’s not worry about that just now …

 

Good Friday, April 2nd

Hooray!   I have finally made it back to Windermere!   It’s been so long.   I drove up to Bowness this morning, and had a bit of time there.  And the weather was glorious!

Then I got the steamer across to Waterhead/Ambleside.  I thought the steamers’d be busy, but they weren’t.  They only restarted yesterday, in the end, and they said that yesterday was just dead.  I think a lot of people are confused about these “minimise travel” rules, and, also, people possibly didn’t realise that anything at Windermere would be open.  But it got busier later.  Fingers crossed for a good spring and summer.  As bad as things here have been, it’s been far, far worse for tourist areas.  The cafes here have been busy doing takeaways, but most of those at Windermere only reopened today.  In fact, I got the Waterhead Coffee Shop’s first blueberry scone since they had to close due to lockdown!

The daffodils at Borrans Park were out!  And then I came back on the Swift, the new steamer which was only launched last year – my first trip on her.

Then I had more time in Bowness … oh, my lovely, beloved Bowness, how I have missed you!

And then I went to Sizergh Castle on the way home.  I love daffodil season at Sizergh!

And there were lambs!  Well, there were also loads of lambs in the fields off the M6 and the A591, but I couldn’t very well take photos whilst I was driving!  Sizergh lambs:

Oh, how I needed that.   It’s frustrating not being able to go abroad, but not being able to travel within the country’s been far, far worse.  Let’s hope we don’t ever go back there.

In other news, I’m sorry to hear that Sachin Tendulkar’s in hospital with Covid, and there’s a row going on here over vaccine passports.  If they try to introduce vaccine passports for football grounds, theatres etc now, when most under 50s are unable to get vaccinated, it will be incredibly unfair and cause a lot of trouble.  Once everyone’s been offered a vaccination … I don’t know.  The idea of having to show papers, and denying certain people access … it does smack a bit of Nazi Germany, and that’s what people are uncomfortable about.  We’ll see.

Anyway.  Gold star for the weather, and, oh, how I have missed Windermere!! 

 

Saturday, April 3rd

This morning was cloudy, and then we had glorious sunshine by late afternoon.  The other way round would have been better, but never mind!  I went for a walk round town this morning.  It’s April, and it was the first time I’d been into town this year – how crazy is that?!  Very quiet.  I don’t know what else I expected, given that non-essential shops, theatres, cinemas, museums etc are all closed, but it was weird.

However, all being well, non-essential shops will be reopening a week on Monday, as will hairdressers and outdoor seating at cafes/pubs/restaurants.  Boris is due to give a press conference on Monday night, confirming whether or not it’ll go ahead, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t.  We “only” recorded 10 Covid deaths yesterday, although obviously it was a Bank Holiday.  We may also get some news on the vexed question of vaccine passports.  Boris is the last person you’d expect to back something like that, but apparently he does.  And there’s also talk of a “traffic light” system for foreign travel – meaning the same palaver as last year, with things being moved on and off lists at the last minute.  But it seems very unlikely that the April 12th easing won’t go ahead.  Roll on haircuts!   

 

Easter Sunday, April 4th

It looks as if both the “traffic light” system for foreign travel and the vaccine passport system will be going ahead, with the passport system to be trialled at the Carabao Cup final and various other events.  Ugh.  But, by the time the new football season starts, everyone should have had at least their first jab.

Meanwhile … just as life seemed to be looking up at last, I came downstairs this morning to find water coming through the kitchen ceiling for the THIRD time in a year.  I slipped on it, and whacked my knee and arm on the wooden floor.  Then I took the cover off the light fitting, to try to see what was going on, and, in my agitated state, dropped it, whereupon it smashed to smithereens.  So I have now got no cover for the light, water coming through the ceiling, a ceiling that needs repainting again, and a bruised knee.  I think it’s the bath this time, not the shower.  I was going to ring the emergency plumber – of course, it just had to happen on Easter Day, when hardly anyone’s working – but they charge a fortune, and last time the guy made a mess of the job and I had to get him to come back.  So I’m hoping to get the ordinary plumbers next week. and am hoping fervently that the dripping gets no worse.

After all this, I had complete hysterics and rang my poor mum and dad in floods of tears.

Bleurgh.

Once I’d mopped the floor, mopped up the tears and put a bucket down, I turned to chocolate. Some people have said their supermarkets are short of Easter eggs this year, but I’m pleased to say that ours isn’t.  Here is my Easter egg, with its accompanying Malt-Easter bunnies:

I then went to Biddulph Grange, as planned.  I was very sad not to see the woodland walk in daffodil season last year, but here it is in all its glory, this year:

Also, they had Easter special hot cross scones:

I then stopped at Alderley Edge on the way home:

So that was all very nice.  But I now need to get:

  1. A plumber.
  2. The decorator (again).
  3. The electrician (for the light fitting).
    And it was all fine this time yesterday.  Why does life throw you curveballs like this?  And I keep panicking about what’ll happen when I have to go back to being Trapped in the office and something like this happens.

And, on top of all this, there are fears that the French Open might be postponed.  If that idiot Macron spent a bit more time trying to deal with the virus situation in France and a bit less time making Anglophobic remarks, things might not be in this mess.  But they are. 

But we beat Brighton, 2-1.  Sadly, nothing is going to stop City from winning the league, but fingers crossed for a top four finish this year.

 

Lockdown III Week 11, March 15th to 21st 2021 inclusive

Monday, March 15th

A terrible thing has happened 😦 .  Thorntons are closing all their shops.  Their chocolate will still be available online and from some supermarkets, but all their shops are going.  I can’t believe it.  There’ll be no High Street shops left at this rate.

Sunday’s Census Day, but you can fill yours in early if nothing’s going to change.  I decided to fill mine in today, then read it over later in the week, then send it in.  I appreciate that the decision to go ahead with it was taken before Lockdown III, but it’s going to be rather a mess.  You’ve got to fill in it as things are now, so loads of people will be putting that they’re not working, even though they have actually got jobs, and loads of people will be putting that they’re working from home and therefore not using any form of transport to get to work – so how are the authorities meant to make decisions about the transport network?

Nice sunny day today.  More and more daffodils coming out.  And we’re stuck in this limbo.  And hairdressers in Wales have reopened … but we’ve got to wait another four weeks.

Some countries have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, this time because some people’ve got blood clots after having it, but there’s no evidence that the blood clots are linked to the vaccine or that the incidence of blood clots is any higher than it would be anyway.  You can now e-mail the doctors’ surgery, so I’ve e-mailed to ask if there’s any news on vaccinations for Group 10.  No harm in asking.

And Portugal’s off the “red list”.

 

Tuesday, March 16th

Bleurgh.  First, Indian Wells was cancelled.  Now, Rafa’s pulled out of Miami.  He says that it’s so he can focus on getting ready for the clay court season, and that sort of makes sense, but I’m bothered about just how bad this back injury is.

Also, infection rates are up in 7 out of the 10 local boroughs.  Not ours, but it’s probably only a matter of time.  It’s because secondary school kids are now being tested regularly.  There doesn’t seem to be any panic, because kids are rarely badly affected, but a) it shows how many asymptomatic cases there are around, b) a small number of kids *are* badly affected, c) it could be passed on to a vulnerable classmate of family member, d) it means that some kids have been sent home from school again, already, and e) with no plans to vaccinate under 18s, and no vaccines even licensed for under 18s, the issue of infections in children is a problem.

On a happier note, Prince Philip has been released from hospital.  And the first tulip’s out in my garden.

Boris’s hair is horrendous.  Mine is pretty bad, but his is ten times worse.

And the surgery e-mailed me back to say that they’re still on over-50s.

 

Wednesday, March 17th

I don’t believe this.  Just as my turn for the vaccine was getting close, the NHS is warning of a “major contraction” in supplies and saying that it might have to suspend appointments for first doses.  This may or may not be connected with Ursula von der Leyen again threatening an export ban, in her continued attempts to blame everyone but herself and her team for the complete balls-up they’ve made of the rollout in EU countries.

We’re also being told that people in their 40s will have to wait whilst the NHS chases up people in Groups 1 to 9 who haven’t yet come forward.

I am not very happy about this 😦 .

It’s been a nice sunny day – blue sky, and more and more daffodils in the park.

But this latest news about the vaccines really isn’t very good.

 

Thursday, March 18th

Oh, how annoying is this?  I do appreciate that it’s not aimed at me personally, and I also appreciate that we were always going to hit a supply hitch at some point and have done very well to get this far without one, but I was so close.  The word was that some people aged 47-49 in our area had been contacted, and that people aged 45-46, i.e. including me, could probably hope to hear next week.  And now it’s probably going to be another month.  Another month of not being protected.  And, whilst I do get that it’s not about holidays, if I’d had my first vaccination in late March or early April, I’d have had my second in time for the summer holiday season.  So near, and yet so far.

It seems that one shipment of 1.7 million doses is being held back for extra testing, and that a shipment of 5 million doses from India’s been delayed by 4 weeks because of production problems.  I thought it was great that Boris praised the “herculean” efforts of the production facility in India, rather than slagging off the people whose hard work’s offering us a way out of this nightmare, like that nasty piece of work Ursula von der Leyen’s doing, but it is, nevertheless, annoying.  The original target was to complete groups 1 to 9 by 15th April, and we’re 4 weeks before that and I’m group 10, but … ooh, it’s so, so frustrating.   So nearly there … and now I’m not.

On a happier note, we won 1-0 at AC Milan, 2-1 on aggregate, and are into the Europa League QFs.  And it’s been another nice sunny day.  More daffodils out in the park.  Please, please be nice in April!

 

Friday, March 19th

After a third fortysomething friend posted on Facebook that she’d had the vaccine, I rang our surgery to ask what was going on.  The answer was that a small number of people in their late 40s had been contacted, because the walk-in centre had had some doses which were nearing their use-by dates, but that, following the announcements on Wednesday, no-one outside the top 9 groups would be being called for the time being.  Existing appointments are being honoured, so my friend must just have been lucky in that her area was slightly ahead of ours and she’d been contacted before Wednesday.  Which is great for her, and I’m very pleased for her, but it’s very frustrating for me!

The number of cases is edging up now.  However, we still only recorded 4,802 cases across the UK today, compared to (yesterday’s numbers) nearly 35,000 in France, nearly 30,000 in Germany and nearly 25,000 in Italy.  There’s increasing talk of a “third wave”.  Will this nightmare ever end?!

I just heard a squeaky noise, panicked that the boiler had thrown a strop, and then realised that it was some birds tweeting in a tree!

For all this talk about third waves and vaccine shortages, there’s been no suggestion that the “roadmap” will be altered for the time being.  Everyone really is fed up, so let’s hope that things can go ahead as planned.

And we’ve been drawn against Granada in the next round of the Europa League.

 

Saturday, March 20th

Over 700,000 vaccinations were given in just one day yesterday, which is amazing stuff, but so, so, frustrating for my age group, left waiting outside with the door shut in our faces!   On a more positive note, over 50% of the adult population’s now had their first dose.   Cases are creeping up again, but hospitalisations and deaths are falling, which is more important.  However, the news from the Continent is grim, with the term “third wave” being used more and more.  With fears that rising numbers of cases there could lead to new variants arising, hopes of foreign travel (bearing in mind that most foreign travel from the UK is to the Continent) being allowed to resume any time soon are fading.  Poland and many parts of France have gone back into lockdown.  Oh, will this nightmare ever end?!

I went to Clifton Country Park this morning.  Took my own scone, from The Coffee Sack, with me!   It was nice to have a change of scene, but the place was absolutely plagued with people with dogs, and the paths there are very narrow.  I went for a walk in Heaton Park later.  Much as I like going for walks, I am getting very fed up!  And my hair is an epic disaster.

Japan’s said that no overseas fans will be allowed in for the Olympics.  My trip to Japan, booked around 18 months ago and postponed from last October to this October, looks very unlikely to happen.  Ditto my trip to Iceland, rescheduled from last July to this July.  I’m used to going abroad at least twice a year, usually more – I know that sounds “privileged”, but I wear the same grotty old clothes for decades, and use gadgets until they stop working – and suddenly not being able to do so is very odd.  I haven’t even been allowed to leave the local area for 5 months.

On a different note, I saw our local Big Issue seller today, sitting on the pavement in the precinct.  I got him something to eat, and he’d got some hot drinks, so hopefully people are keeping an eye out for him.  He’s a well-known face in the local community: he’s been selling the Big Issue outside M&S for years.  But Big Issue sellers aren’t allowed to work during lockdown.  How stupid is that?  Newsagents are allowed to open, and, OK, magazines aren’t “essential” in the same way that newspapers are, but surely the Big Issue should be a special case.   During Lockdown I, a big effort was made to find homeless people somewhere to stay, but it doesn’t seem to be happening this time.

 

Sunday, March 21st

Census Day.

A record 844,285 vaccinations were given yesterday.  That is amazing.  However, it makes it all the more frustrating that – whilst I quite appreciate that it’s no-one’s fault – most under 50s now face a long wait.  All this talk about vaccination passports is frustrating as well: it makes you feel like a second class citizen.  And it’s pretty silly, given that much of it involves activities that are mainly the preserve of younger people.  Vaccination passports for summer music festivals?  WTF?  The vast majority of people who go to music festivals are under 30, and will therefore be last in the vaccination queue, so how’s that supposed to work?!

Everything feels frustrating.  When you’re trapped doing boring work for 5 days a week, and get very little time off, weekends are precious.  A dry Sunday in daffodil season is like manna from heaven.  The Lakes?  Chirk Castle?  Biddulph Grange?  Bolton Abbey?  No … another walk round the park, and another walk into Prestwich village for another cake that I don’t need.  Everyone has had enough.  People are sitting at tables outside cafes, which they’re not meant to.  Kids are playing football in big groups, which they’re not meant to.  Plenty of people have had their hair cut by mobile hairdressers, which they’re certainly not meant to.  The odd sanctimonious person tuts at all this, and says that they’re prepared to endure restrictions for as long as it takes, for the Greater Good.  I’m sure people only say that because they think it makes them sound virtuous.  It actually just makes them sound annoying.

Yes, I’m sure we’re all aware that we’re in a pandemic, and that the restrictions are not just there to annoy us, but people are getting down.  And do scientists think they’re helping by saying that we’ll probably have to wear masks and observe social distancing for years to come, that there’ll probably be a big flu epidemic in the winter because immunity’s dropped due to lack of contact, that overseas travel will be off the menu for months yet, that even vaccinations won’t stop the pandemic, and all the rest of it?  They’re the modern equivalent of those people in the 17th century who went around proclaiming that the end of the world was nigh!   People can’t deal with hearing all that at the moment.

It’s not been a bad day.  Lots of daffodils in the park 🙂 .  Just frustrating.

OK, off to watch the Cup QF.  At least we’ve got football, which is more than we had this time last year!   I know I’m moaning a lot today, but I’m fed up.

… and we lost the Cup QF at Leicester, 2-1.  Bleurgh!

Bleurgh indeed …