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 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 10, March 8th to 14th 2021 inclusive

Monday, March 8th

Kids went back to school today.  And you’re now allowed to meet one other person outdoors, without going for a walk.  Let’s just hope that there are no more issues with schools.  Secondary school kids now have to be tested 9I mean for the virus, not school stuff!) twice a week.

Worrying news from Poland, where infection rates are up by around 30% in a week, and there’s talk of a “third wave”.

Some rain earlier, but sunny now.

And I’d intended to watch the Harry and Meghan interview, just out of curiosity, but we’ve heard most of what they said and I’m not sure that I want to dignify their lies by spending time watching it.  For example, they’ve claimed that Archie was denied a title.  WTF??  He was supposed to be the Earl of Dumbarton, but they said that they wanted him to be plain “Master”.  There are numerous similar examples.  It’s all deeply unpleasant, and I’m very sorry that the Queen’s having to deal with their vindictiveness at her age.

It’s also Commonwealth Day.  And International Women’s Day.

And another day of marking time.  I’m usually deep into holiday planning at this time of year.

 

Tuesday, March 9th

That miserable pair Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance have said that there’ll probably be a third wave of the virus in the UK at some point.  I think they want us locked down until kingdom come.

Horrible weather’s forecast for the rest of the week.  Bleurgh 😦 .  Just hope it’s decent over Easter weekend.

Rates locally and nationally continue to fall, as, more importantly, do deaths and hospitalisations, but the picture in parts of Europe, including Italy, is very worrying, with cases rising again.

Japan’s said that no overseas fans will be allowed at the Olympics.  I think I can forget my October coach tour of Japan, which I was originally supposed to go on last year.  I booked it in the autumn of 2019, and I was so excited and so much looking forward to it, and the same with my summer trip to Iceland.  I’ve got a load of books on both countries in the spare room wardrobe.

 

Wednesday, March 10th

Wet and windy today.  At least it meant that there was no queue for drinks at the park café!  I hope it doesn’t do this over Easter weekend, though, just when people will be reuniting with relatives and friends.

Just watching Dan Evans v Roger Federer.

Cases are rising rapidly in Hungary and the Czech Republic, as well as Poland.

 

Thursday, March 11th

Strong winds and heavy rain overnight.  Brightened up later, although it stayed windy, but it’s raining again later.  I got drenched in the park yesterday (despite my brolly) and windswept today.  Several people have remarked on the fact that I go out walking even when the weather’s awful and hardly anyone else does.  So why am I still so fat?!!  It’s not fair 😦 .

United v AC Milan is one of those glamour ties you dream about, even if it is in the Europa League and not the Champions League.  I’m grateful that I can watch it on telly, but it’s not the same as being there.  Later … finished 1-1, conceded an away goal in injury time, bah!!

And the eternally miserable Mark Drakeford – does that man ever smile? – wants to keep a “stay local” order in force in Wales, even when the “stay at home” order’s lifted.  And I don’t think he wants to let people from England into Wales ever again.  Will I ever see Chirk Castle, Bodnant Garden, Llangollen and Erddig again?!  Will the tourist businesses in places like Llandudno, which depend on visitors from North West England, ever make any money again?!

On a happier note, some daffodils are out in Heaton Park.

 

Friday, March 12th

Hmm.  Mark Drakeford may be miserable, but he’s said that hairdressers in Wales can reopen on Monday, four weeks before they’re reopening in England.  I’m sorely tempted to nip over to Wrexham – the state of my hair must surely class an emergency!!  He’s also said that self-catering holiday accommodation in Wales can reopen at the end of March … but not to people from other parts of the UK.  I’m not very comfortable about this.  Not that I want to go to a holiday cottage in Wales in March, but just the whole thing.

Very windy again today.

Italy’s going back into lockdown.

I feel like I’m just waiting.  Waiting to be allowed out.  Waiting until it’s my turn to be vaccinated.  Just waiting.  But rates in our borough are right down to 77 now (touch wood).  Above the national average, which is around 52, but the lowest they’ve been since … it must be September, if not August.

 

Saturday, March 13th

Hooray!!  There are usually plenty of daffodils out at Dunham Massey by mid-March, so I’d booked to go today, but was rather upset when the forecast was for rain and wind.  However, although there’ve been a few bad spells, it was fine whilst I was there, and there were indeed lots of lovely daffodils.  I was so excited!  I’m a bit obsessive about daffodils 🙂 .  *And* they had scones.

We’re supposed to be “staying local as much as possible” after the “stay home” rule’s lifted on March 29th, but I really have had enough – and people who are trapped in offices need to make the most of Easter weekend.  Anyway, we’ll see how it goes.  Please, weather, just behave …

Salford’ve won the 2020 EFL Trophy.  The 2021 final’s tomorrow!

Most of the daffodils in Prestwich Flower Park are out too.  They weren’t on Monday, so that’s quick!

Two friends who are both in my age group have had their vaccinations today.  It varies across the country, depending on demographics, and plenty of friends in their early 50s, i.e. the group before mine, are still waiting,  but I’m getting a bit impatient now.

Cases in the Netherlands are now on the up, as well as Italy and East/Central Europe.  This isn’t good.  But, this morning, my heart with pleasure fills (“filled” doesn’t rhyme) and danced with the daffodils.

 

Sunday, March 14th

Went to the park this morning.  Some of the daffodils in the woods are out.

Unfortunately, it then absolutely poured down from about 1 o’clock to half 4.  Yes, there are books, newspapers, magazines, TV programmes and films, but I feel so trapped by work stuff during the week (although not nearly as much as I do when I’m trapped in an office) and am really not good at sitting in the house at weekends.  Just hope it doesn’t do this over Easter weekend.  On a happier note, United 1-0 West Ham!

There’ve been big anti-lockdown protests in the Netherlands.

Everyone is really, really fed up.  This has gone on and on and on.  The good news is that around 45% of the population’ve now had their first vaccinations, and I’m just desperately hoping that this is our way out of it.  People are really struggling.  And it’s Mother’s Day/Mothering Sunday today, when a lot of families like to hold get-togethers.

Murray Walker died.  I hadn’t realised he was 97.  Seems like only yesterday that he was still doing Formula 1 commentary.

In the middle of it all, a huge row’s broken out after the Met Police rather badly mishandled a vigil-cum-protest on Clapham Common, following the abduction and murder of a woman there last week.  The suspect’s a serving police officer.  People were told not to attend the vigil/protest, because of the lockdown restrictions, but many did anyway, and it somehow all went wrong and there’ve been some very unpleasant pictures of policemen removing women quite aggressively.   They didn’t try to stop Black Lives Matter protests, or try to stop those idiots from Extinction Rebellion from blocking the streets, and it’s also been pointed out that no-one tried to stop crowds of Rangers fans from celebrating their SPL title victory last week.

Ten weeks of lockdown.  And weeks of Tier 3/Tier 4/Lockdown II before that.  And it’s almost a year since we went into the first lockdown.   I see things sometimes, pictures of huge crowds at football matches, or at concerts, or cheering at parades, or even crowds of people on public transport, and wonder when we’ll ever get back to any sort of normality.   Sometimes, even now, it still feels unreal that this is happening.

Lockdown III Week 6, February 8th to 14th 2021 inclusive

Monday, February 8th

Hooray, the Australian Open has started.  My sleep patterns are being disrupted and I am totally stressed out about Rafa’s injury problems.  This is normal.  Hooray – something is normal!  Cracking match between Denis Shapovalov and Jannik Sinner.  Just such a shame that they had to meet in the first round.

It’s wonderful to see crowds in … but, although it’d been agreed that 30% of tickets could be sold, the place didn’t look anything like 30% full.  That suggests that people are nervous.

Due to the Australian Open, I went to Tesco this evening (in a snow shower!), rather than going tomorrow morning.  The store has been “revamped”.  Everything has been moved round, in a completely illogical way.  Neither customers nor staff know where anything is.  Some marketing consultants in London have no doubt been paid a fortune for deciding that cordial/squash should be put at the opposite end of the shop to all the other soft drinks, and that the shelves where it used to be should now contain toilet roll instead.  Why?  Why??

The studies regarding the “South African variant” are only small-scale, but it does look as if the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, and probably the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines too, are less effective against it than against other strains.  They’ll still protect against serious illness, which is the main thing, but not against mild illness.  And, even if the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine’s OK against this, the horrible virus seems to be so clever that it’ll probably mutate in a way that’ll outsmart that too.  Viruses do mutate, and vaccines can be tweaked, but doom merchants are saying that the “South African variant” will take over the UK and probably the world, and that we’ll be in lockdown until the summer/2022/the end of time.  The Government’s telling everyone to stay calm, but it’s certainly worrying news.  Every time we seem to be getting towards the finishing line in this pandemic, something else happens.

City and Liverpool have both got to play their away legs against German teams in Budapest, as the German authorities won’t let any British teams in.  My holiday company have cancelled everything up to and including the end of April now.  Matt Hancock had been talking about a “Great British Summer”, but now both he and Jonathan Van-Tam are saying that it’s too soon to talk even about staycations.

Later – oh, FFS.  Not only are 7 of the 10 local boroughs now above the national average infection rate, but now there’s a Moss Side Mutant.  It’s a mutant of the Kent mutant.  Only 4 cases, but “surge testing” is starting in Moss Side and neighbouring areas.  First Liverpool and Bristol, now Manchester 😦 .  I assume that mutations are happening in other countries too, and it’s just that we’re doing extra genomic sequencing (or whatever the correct term is) here, and being honest about it?   But, just a few days ago, optimism was rising, because the vaccination rollout was going so well, and now … snakes and ladders, and we seem to have gone down another snake.

 

Tuesday, February 9th

I should be getting ready to board a crowded tram and head off to Old Trafford, to watch United v West Ham in the Cup along with 78,000 other people.  Instead, I’ll be watching it on the telly.  Oh well.

After all the stress over Rafa’s bad back, he beat Djere in straight sets 🙂 .  It’s a very tough draw, with both Tsitsipas and Medvedev looking very strong today, but one match at a time.

More snow fell overnight, but it’s gone now.

And, in virus news, people returning from “red list” countries will now have to pay £1,750 to stay in a quarantine hotel, and face fines of up to £10,000 and even a jail sentence if they break the rules.  Having said which, a woman’s told the papers how, on returning to London after visiting her mother in South Africa, she was able to walk out of Heathrow airport without being asked for either her passenger locator form or her proof of a negative virus test.  Not very good, is it?

Travelling is so, so important to me, and I’ve been fortunate enough to go to so many wonderful places.  I’ve got photos all over the house of me at the Taj Mahal, Macchu Pichu, Gettysburg, Red Square, Tiananmen Square, Table Mountain, the Pyramids, the Mount of Olives, the Venice Carnival (sadly cancelled this year, again), a glacier on the Jungfrau, etc etc.  When I got back from the Viennese Christmas markets in December 2019, I started to get excited about my planned trips to Iceland for July 2020 and Japan for October 2020, buying guidebooks and history books and historical novels, and learning some basic Icelandic words and phrases.  This is my life … and now it isn’t.  For the last four months, I haven’t even been able to go on a day trip to Blackpool.  I hate not being able to go to the Lakes.  I haven’t seen my sister and brother-in-law and nephews since August.  I haven’t been to a football match since last March.  I haven’t been to the theatre or the cinema since last February.  I haven’t even sat in a café since October.  Yet I’m chained to the office computers for the best part of five days a week, and I’ve still got all the housework to do.  I know I’m moaning, but I think we’re all entitled to moan.

Our Europa League match at Real Sociedad has been moved to Turin, and Arsenal’s at Benfica has been moved to Rome.  Italy will exempt professional sports players from quarantine.  As flights from Portugal to the UK are currently suspended, Arsenal’s “home” leg will be played in Athens.  This is getting a bit barmy.

To finish on a happy note, Princess Eugenie’s given birth to a baby boy 🙂 .  Mother and son both doing well 🙂 .

Later – hooray, we’re into the Cup QFs, after beating West Ham 1-0.  Dire match, and it went to extra time, but never mind!

 

Wednesday, February 10th

More snow today, but, thankfully, it hasn’t stuck.  Chelsea’s match at Atletico Madrid has been moved to Bucharest.  Moving football matches is one thing, but Jurgen Klopp’s been told that he can’t go to Germany to attend his mum’s funeral.  I understand that the virus doesn’t care what your reasons for travelling are, but it seems so cruel.

Having been told that by Matt Hancock and Boris that we could look forward to a “Great British Summer”, we’ve now been told by Grant Shapps and Jonathan Van-Tam that no-one should be booking anything.  One MP’s accused Shapps of killing people’s hope.  That’s exactly how it feels.  Morale is pretty low.   And there’s more and more talk about “vaccine passports” – Israel is going to let people who’ve been vaccinated back into hotels and gyms, and some countries are saying that they’ll admit tourists who’ve been vaccinated – which is very demoralising if you’re not in one of the priority groups.

Prince Charles and Camilla have had their first vaccinations.  The WHO’s backed the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca jab.  Serbia’s bought vaccines from Russia and China, and is now steaming ahead of the EU countries.

And I am fat.

 

Thursday, February 11th

Hooray, comfortable win for Rafa over Michael Mmoh.  He now plays Cam Norrie.  It does stress me out when he plays British players: I feel like I’m about to be carted off to the Tower of London for treason for wanting the Brit to lose, LOL.

Very cold today, but very sunny too.  The lake in the park looked amazing, frozen over and with yesterday’s snow still on it, and you could see Saddleworth Moor (photo on the right) and Kinder Scout (left), both covered in snow.

But, lovely as it was, it was so frustrating, because we can’t go anywhere.  Windermere must have looked glorious today.  This is dragging on and on, and tempers are fraying.  We were told that we’d get some news on the “roadmap” out of lockdown on February 22nd.  Now we’re being told “the week of February 22nd” – which could mean February 28th!  I feel very sorry for Boris.  If he doesn’t do as the scientists say, and death rates go up again, everyone will be yelling and screaming that he’s got blood on his hands and it’s all his fault for not doing as the scientists say.  But the scientists want us locked down indefinitely.  Their view seems to be that lockdown should continue until infection rates come right down.

And it’s not happening.  Rates here are plateauing.  They’re actually going up in Bolton, due to a spike in Horwich.  We’ve been told that the vaccination programme, as well as it’s going, is having no effect on infection rates as yet.  Yes, I know that it’s supposed to take three weeks before the first vaccine dose offers any protection, but a lot of infections are amongst younger people, the ones most likely to be out and about, and it’s going to be late summer before younger people get their first jab.

The scientists also say that viruses don’t go by the calendar, so giving dates for reopening is inappropriate.  And, fair point, viruses don’t go by the calendar.  But how long are we going to keep businesses shut, the state paying people’s wages, tourist resorts’ economies going down the pan, and kids out of school?  Not to mention the mental health impact.  There’s going to come a time where people start asking what the hell the point of all this is, if we’re not being given any idea of how and when we move forward.

I really do feel sorry for Boris.  It’s just an impossible situation.

 

Friday, February 12th

Chinese New Year.  Hmm.

Oh no!!   13 cases of the wretched virus have been identified in Melbourne, all linked to a quarantine hotel.  So the state of Victoria is back in lockdown.  The tennis can continue, but behind closed doors.  What a rotten shame, after 5 lovely days (crowds were allowed in today) of having fans back in.  Well, nearly 5 days – people were booted out in the middle of the Djokovic v Thiem match, because it was getting towards midnight.  Like some bizarre version of Cinderella.

The R number nationwide is now below 1, but cases are rising in Bolton, and are now starting to rise in the borough of Bury … still down week-on-week, but up on earlier this week.  Officials in Bolton say that it’s mainly amongst people of working age, which makes sense. – and the same thing’s happening in Liverpool.  Some jobs cannot be done from home, and that applies far more in the North West than in, say, London.  And some workplaces are open when they jolly well shouldn’t be.  Sometimes, however hard you try, you can’t reduce the risk entirely.  And some places just aren’t bothering about Covid safety: the authorities can hardly inspect every small workplace, and people are frightened to speak up because there’s so little job security at the moment.  And places that are open when people could be working from home are hardly likely to prioritise safety anyway.  It’s a huge problem.  Vaccination is not going to stop this until younger people have been vaccinated.  If the bloody tier system is brought back, what happens to us then?

Lots of groups are demanding priority for vaccination.  Teachers.  Firefighters.  Shop staff.  Public transport drivers.  They’ve all got a very valid case, but it’s just not possible to prioritise everyone.  London police (it would be the London police) are now threatening legal action, like teaching unions did.  FFS, we need to be working together here, not threatening legal action.

And the economy shrank by nearly 10% last year.

Still cold and sunny.

 

Saturday, February 13th

Rafa beat Cam Norrie (I do hate it when he plays British players – I end up feeling like I’m about to be carted off to the Tower of London for high treason) 🙂 … but now plays Fabio, against whom he does tend to struggle.

I was very glad to have the tennis to watch because, otherwise, I’d have got very upset over the fact that a sunny Saturday in mid-February would have been the perfect day on which to see the snowdrops at Chirk Castle.  Boris is supposed to be coming up with this “road map” on February  22nd, but heaven knows when travel restrictions will be lifted.  If he reintroduces the bloody tier system, I’m going to stage a revolution …. if Andy Burnham doesn’t beat me to it.   I don’t feel too bad, but I know that my anxiety levels are high because I’m getting a lot of anxiety pains and I’m crying over things which wouldn’t normally get to me.  Several friends have said that they’re finding things very hard.  And there’s nothing that anyone can do.  There are all these “lockdown tips” about meditation or yoga or whatever.  I do not need to meditate.  I need to see my sister and brother-in-law and the kids, and my uncle and cousins, and I need to go to the Lake District.

I was hoping that, today, I might actually get some time to read, catch up on the TV backlog, and sort out photos … but I ended up spending ages on the phone to Sky, who’d messed up my bill for the second time in three months, and ages throwing warm water over the boiler condenser pipe. which, despite having insulation stuff on it to stop it freezing, had, er, frozen.  It was quite satisfying when a huge lump of ice shot out of it.  But it was a terrible waste of time.  And water.

Both Matt Hancock and Boris have said that we’re going to have to learn to live with Covid, but the scientists are saying that we need to eliminate it entirely.  I think they want us locked up for ever more.   The economy, people’s mental health and children’s education can’t take much more.  There’s going to be a load more moaning when tax allowances are frozen in the Budget, but the money for the furlough scheme and the small business grants has got to come from somewhere.   I actually saw one ridiculous article saying that we should just print more money!  What, like the Weimar Republic did?  What rubbish.

Tennis and football tomorrow.  The Six Nations is going on too, and the cricket.  So glad that we’ve got sport to focus on!

 

Sunday, February 14th

As hoped, 15 million people in the UK have now received their first jab.  Pretty much everyone in the top four groups has been offered a jab.   Good news!

63 Tory MPs have said that all restrictions should be lifted by May.  That’s going too far – we can’t have hordes of unvaccinated people packed into nightclubs, or 500 guests at weddings – but we really cannot go on like this.  Public opinion hasn’t turned against the lockdown yet, but we do need this “road map” out of it.   I know it’s an impossible situation, but education, employment and mental health are all becoming serious concerns.

One of our local councillors rang me today.  They are apparently concerned about how people are coping in these difficult times, and want to make sure that people are OK and ask if they need any help.  It’s eleven months since we first went into lockdown, and now, just as elections are coming up, councillors are concerned about people … funny, that!   We had quite a nice chat, though.

My weight is a disaster.  2lbs off.  Hooray!  2lbs straight back on.  WHY??!!

The Premier League is also turning into a disaster: we only managed a 1-1 draw at West Brom.  Not a great day in Melbourne either: much as I like to see Grisha (Dimitrov) doing well, I would rather he hadn’t thrashed Dominic (Thiem), because Dominic was the one with the best chance of beating Nole.  Sascha Zverev, over to you.  Rafa and Fabio have got a day match tomorrow, so I’ve set the alarm for stupid o’clock!

The WHO team in Wuhan don’t seem to be getting very far with getting information.  Will we ever find out how this nightmare started?

On a happier note, Prince Harry and Meghan are expecting another baby.

Six weeks of Lockdown III.

 

Free tea, anxious toes, Handforth headlines, BYOB and repaying Sybil

We now live in a world in which TV travel programmes feature the delights of … Weatherfield.  Seriously.  I’m not holding my breath for sojourns to exotic climes this year, but I’m hoping that, by the summer, I’ll at least be able to go a bit further than Media City.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Media City, I hasten to add.  Joanna Lumley, who was presenting the programme, was very lucky to be able to sit in the Rovers Return with Ken Barlow, because future scripts are being rewritten, so it looks as if the Rovers’ll be back to doing takeaways only.  Rather like The Coffee Sack near chez moi.  I have only recently discovered that the said Coffee Sack does the most lovely scones.  However, this morning, when I went in, disaster struck.  There were no scones.  The man said that, not expecting many customers in this awful weather, he’d only made half a dozen, and someone had come in and bought the lot.  How dare they?!

I must have looked so devastated, even behind the mask, that he said I could have a cup of tea for free.  I did offer to pay for it – it’s not as if he’s contractually obliged to provide me with a weekly scone, after all – but no, he insisted.  Free tea, to make up for the disappointment!   How nice is that?  It’s little things like that which make this very difficult time bearable.  As for the person who bought six scones, I shall assume that they were either a) very hungry or b) part of a large household, rather than that they were planning anything nefarious.  Welcome to Lockdown-land, in which buying six scones could be construed as being suspicious.  Anyway.  Three cheers for free cups of tea!

(Apologies for anyone who’s got this in WP reader and can see it three times, but the good news is that I’ve now worked out that the Facebook app wants big pictures and small titles.  It used to prefer small pictures.  So I now need to post with a big picture and small title, share it on Facebook, then change the picture to a larger one and, if necessary, add in the rest of the title.  It never used to be so difficult!!)

As for anxious toes, one of the many weird things about living with anxiety is that random bits of you start to hurt even though there isn’t very much physically wrong with them.  On Thursday night, whilst moving the furniture in the front room around so that I could hoover, I stubbed my toe on the settee.  Ouch.  Then I woke up at two o’clock in the morning, in so much pain with this toe that I had to take two ibuprofen.  I knew jolly well that it was anxiety pains and not actual pains, because stubbed toes do not still hurt eight hours later, but this is what happens.  It can be knees, backs, stomachs, whatever.  I don’t even know exactly what it was all about, and this is something else that happens.  Was it anxiety about how fat I am?  Scones aside, I am really trying hard to lose weight, but it’s not working 😦 .  Was it because my car was going in for its MOT that day?  Was it to do with phone updates (these stress me out like mad)?  Was it to do with the Australian Open?  Quite possibly: I am extremely stressed about Rafa’s bad back.  But I don’t actually know.  So, if anyone’s reading this, and knows how to read the minds of anxious toes, do please let me know.

Pretty much everyone’s a bit stressed out at the moment.  That’s why it’s so nice to be on the receiving end of an act of kindness such as the free cup of tea.  It was particularly nice because there has been quite a bit of nastiness around in recent days.  The worst of it was from the small minority of people who tried to use the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore to attack the government and score political points, and even, in the case of one vile vicar, to accuse the whole country of being racist.  What is wrong with some people?  Whatever your political views may be, don’t start dragging the death of a lovely, kind-hearted old man who lifted everyone’s spirits into them.  I just hope that the Moore family weren’t too upset by it.

Please be nice to people.  It’s upsetting to be criticised because you’ve bought something from Amazon, even though most other shops are closed and it’s none of anyone else’s business where you buy from anyway, or for trying to cheer yourself up with a nice cake which happened to be served a polystyrene box, and even more upsetting when, after congratulating someone on their work being featured in a national newspaper, someone attacks both of you because the newspaper concerned doesn’t meet with their approval.  Then there are the people slagging off anyone hoping to go on holiday this summer as being irresponsible.  These comments come from people who live in rural areas and don’t work, needless to say, not from people who are chained to office computers for five days a week and are getting rather tired of only being able to walk round housing estates and the same local parks in their little free time.   We need a break, OK.

But there are a lot of lovely people out there.  And free tea is much appreciated!

Rest in peace, Captain Sir Tom.  You were a wonderful man.  And I was also sad to hear of the death of Christopher Plummer.  I would so have married Captain von Trapp, although I’m not sure about taking on seven children.  And, yes, I do know that he got frustrated about for ever being associated with The Sound of Music, but what a wonderful film with which to be associated!  I just typed “to be associated with”, looked at it in horror, and correct it!

To go back to the MOT, hooray, my car passed without needing anything more than a new windscreen wiper blade.  Strange times at the garage, though.  No chairs for customers.  Everything to be taken out of the car.  And I was sent several e-mails asking me to drive to the garage with all the windows open, to let the air circulate, but I’m afraid that I ignored those.  The garage is only three miles away, but there are a lot of traffic lights between here and there, and sitting in a stationary car with all the windows open is really not a good idea, especially when you’re a lone female.  Sorry, garage.  But I did stick to all your other rules.

Other things happening this week have included a video of a meeting of Handforth Parish Council going viral.  You know, Handforth, where the big John Lewis is?  Remember that, from the olden days, when we used to do things like going to shops.  I met my cousin for a drink in the cafe there once.  Remember those days?  Not only could you go into shops, but you could sit down in cafes, and you could even meet your friends and relations!   I feel like I should have the Hovis advert music playing.

Local elections are to go ahead, but it’ll be BYOB.  No, not bring your own bottle.  Bring your own biro.

And there’s also been talk of extending the term over which the government support loans for businesses hit by restrictions are to be repaid.  There are two different types of loans available to affected small businesses, depending on which one best suits their circumstances – the bounceback loans, and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans.  Due to HMRC’s obsession with acronyms, the latter are known as CBILs, pronounced “Sybils”.  We are in a severe economic crisis, thanks to this horrible virus, and it’s feared that up to 15% of small businesses may not survive.  There’s certainly nothing funny about it.  But, every time I hear someone going on about “Sybils”, I half-expect Prunella Scales to turn up and start shouting at John Cleese to repay his loan.  A small hotel would definitely need a loan.  But let’s hope that we’ll be back in small hotels, or any other accommodation of your choice, this summer.

In the meantime, here’s to tea and scones.  Oh, and I got a scone from M&S in the end.  But the ones from The Coffee Sack are nicer!  I shall be back there next week, at whatever time best fits in with the night session at the Australian Open, hoping for better luck 🙂 .

 

 

(This is here twice because I was trying to get the picture to display on Facebook!)

 

Free tea, anxious toes, Handforth headlines, BYOB and repaying Sybil

We now live in a world in which TV travel programmes feature the delights of … Weatherfield.  Seriously.  I’m not holding my breath for sojourns to exotic climes this year, but I’m hoping that, by the summer, I’ll at least be able to go a bit further than Media City.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Media City, I hasten to add.  Joanna Lumley, who was presenting the programme, was very lucky to be able to sit in the Rovers Return with Ken Barlow, because future scripts are being rewritten, so it looks as if the Rovers’ll be back to doing takeaways only.  Rather like The Coffee Sack near chez moi.  I have only recently discovered that the said Coffee Sack does the most lovely scones.  However, this morning, when I went in, disaster struck.  There were no scones.  The man said that, not expecting many customers in this awful weather, he’d only made half a dozen, and someone had come in and bought the lot.  How dare they?!

I must have looked so devastated, even behind the mask, that he said I could have a cup of tea for free.  I did offer to pay for it – it’s not as if he’s contractually obliged to provide me with a weekly scone, after all – but no, he insisted.  Free tea, to make up for the disappointment!   How nice is that?  It’s little things like that which make this very difficult time bearable.  As for the person who bought six scones, I shall assume that they were either a) very hungry or b) part of a large household, rather than that they were planning anything nefarious.  Welcome to Lockdown-land, in which buying six scones could be construed as being suspicious.  Anyway.  Three cheers for free cups of tea!

As for anxious toes, one of the many weird things about living with anxiety is that random bits of you start to hurt even though there isn’t very much physically wrong with them.  On Thursday night, whilst moving the furniture in the front room around so that I could hoover, I stubbed my toe on the settee.  Ouch.  Then I woke up at two o’clock in the morning, in so much pain with this toe that I had to take two ibuprofen.  I knew jolly well that it was anxiety pains and not actual pains, because stubbed toes do not still hurt eight hours later, but this is what happens.  It can be knees, backs, stomachs, whatever.  I don’t even know exactly what it was all about, and this is something else that happens.  Was it anxiety about how fat I am?  Scones aside, I am really trying hard to lose weight, but it’s not working 😦 .  Was it because my car was going in for its MOT that day?  Was it to do with phone updates (these stress me out like mad)?  Was it to do with the Australian Open?  Quite possibly: I am extremely stressed about Rafa’s bad back.  But I don’t actually know.  So, if anyone’s reading this, and knows how to read the minds of anxious toes, do please let me know.

Pretty much everyone’s a bit stressed out at the moment.  That’s why it’s so nice to be on the receiving end of an act of kindness such as the free cup of tea.  It was particularly nice because there has been quite a bit of nastiness around in recent days.  The worst of it was from the small minority of people who tried to use the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore to attack the government and score political points, and even, in the case of one vile vicar, to accuse the whole country of being racist.  What is wrong with some people?  Whatever your political views may be, don’t start dragging the death of a lovely, kind-hearted old man who lifted everyone’s spirits into them.  I just hope that the Moore family weren’t too upset by it.

Please be nice to people.  It’s upsetting to be criticised because you’ve bought something from Amazon, even though most other shops are closed and it’s none of anyone else’s business where you buy from anyway, or for trying to cheer yourself up with a nice cake which happened to be served a polystyrene box, and even more upsetting when, after congratulating someone on their work being featured in a national newspaper, someone attacks both of you because the newspaper concerned doesn’t meet with their approval.  Then there are the people slagging off anyone hoping to go on holiday this summer as being irresponsible.  These comments come from people who live in rural areas and don’t work, needless to say, not from people who are chained to office computers for five days a week and are getting rather tired of only being able to walk round housing estates and the same local parks in their little free time.   We need a break, OK.

But there are a lot of lovely people out there.  And free tea is much appreciated!

Rest in peace, Captain Sir Tom.  You were a wonderful man.  And I was also sad to hear of the death of Christopher Plummer.  I would so have married Captain von Trapp, although I’m not sure about taking on seven children.  And, yes, I do know that he got frustrated about for ever being associated with The Sound of Music, but what a wonderful film with which to be associated!  I just typed “to be associated with”, looked at it in horror, and correct it!

To go back to the MOT, hooray, my car passed without needing anything more than a new windscreen wiper blade.  Strange times at the garage, though.  No chairs for customers.  Everything to be taken out of the car.  And I was sent several e-mails asking me to drive to the garage with all the windows open, to let the air circulate, but I’m afraid that I ignored those.  The garage is only three miles away, but there are a lot of traffic lights between here and there, and sitting in a stationary car with all the windows open is really not a good idea, especially when you’re a lone female.  Sorry, garage.  But I did stick to all your other rules.

Other things happening this week have included a video of a meeting of Handforth Parish Council going viral.  You know, Handforth, where the big John Lewis is?  Remember that, from the olden days, when we used to do things like going to shops.  I met my cousin for a drink in the cafe there once.  Remember those days?  Not only could you go into shops, but you could sit down in cafes, and you could even meet your friends and relations!   I feel like I should have the Hovis advert music playing.

Local elections are to go ahead, but it’ll be BYOB.  No, not bring your own bottle.  Bring your own biro.

And there’s also been talk of extending the term over which the government support loans for businesses hit by restrictions are to be repaid.  There are two different types of loans available to affected small businesses, depending on which one best suits their circumstances – the bounceback loans, and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans.  Due to HMRC’s obsession with acronyms, the latter are known as CBILs, pronounced “Sybils”.  We are in a severe economic crisis, thanks to this horrible virus, and it’s feared that up to 15% of small businesses may not survive.  There’s certainly nothing funny about it.  But, every time I hear someone going on about “Sybils”, I half-expect Prunella Scales to turn up and start shouting at John Cleese to repay his loan.  A small hotel would definitely need a loan.  But let’s hope that we’ll be back in small hotels, or any other accommodation of your choice, this summer.

In the meantime, here’s to tea and scones.  Oh, and I got a scone from M&S in the end.  But the ones from The Coffee Sack are nicer!  I shall be back there next week, at whatever time best fits in with the night session at the Australian Open, hoping for better luck 🙂 .

 

 

(This is here more than once because I was trying to get the picture to display on Facebook.  The picture display went funny after a recent app update.  But I sorted out.  But now it transpires that the work-round only works on posts with small titles.  So I’ll now have to share long-titled posts on Facebook with abbreviated titles, then put the long titles back.  Oh well!)

 

Free tea, anxious toes, Handforth headlines, BYOB and repaying Sybil

We now live in a world in which TV travel programmes feature the delights of … Weatherfield.  Seriously.  I’m not holding my breath for sojourns to exotic climes this year, but I’m hoping that, by the summer, I’ll at least be able to go a bit further than Media City.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Media City, I hasten to add.  Joanna Lumley, who was presenting the programme, was very lucky to be able to sit in the Rovers Return with Ken Barlow, because future scripts are being rewritten, so it looks as if the Rovers’ll be back to doing takeaways only.  Rather like The Coffee Sack near chez moi.  I have only recently discovered that the said Coffee Sack does the most lovely scones.  However, this morning, when I went in, disaster struck.  There were no scones.  The man said that, not expecting many customers in this awful weather, he’d only made half a dozen, and someone had come in and bought the lot.  How dare they?!

I must have looked so devastated, even behind the mask, that he said I could have a cup of tea for free.  I did offer to pay for it – it’s not as if he’s contractually obliged to provide me with a weekly scone, after all – but no, he insisted.  Free tea, to make up for the disappointment!   How nice is that?  It’s little things like that which make this very difficult time bearable.  As for the person who bought six scones, I shall assume that they were either a) very hungry or b) part of a large household, rather than that they were planning anything nefarious.  Welcome to Lockdown-land, in which buying six scones could be construed as being suspicious.  Anyway.  Three cheers for free cups of tea!

As for anxious toes, one of the many weird things about living with anxiety is that random bits of you start to hurt even though there isn’t very much physically wrong with them.  On Thursday night, whilst moving the furniture in the front room around so that I could hoover, I stubbed my toe on the settee.  Ouch.  Then I woke up at two o’clock in the morning, in so much pain with this toe that I had to take two ibuprofen.  I knew jolly well that it was anxiety pains and not actual pains, because stubbed toes do not still hurt eight hours later, but this is what happens.  It can be knees, backs, stomachs, whatever.  I don’t even know exactly what it was all about, and this is something else that happens.  Was it anxiety about how fat I am?  Scones aside, I am really trying hard to lose weight, but it’s not working 😦 .  Was it because my car was going in for its MOT that day?  Was it to do with phone updates (these stress me out like mad)?  Was it to do with the Australian Open?  Quite possibly: I am extremely stressed about Rafa’s bad back.  But I don’t actually know.  So, if anyone’s reading this, and knows how to read the minds of anxious toes, do please let me know.

Pretty much everyone’s a bit stressed out at the moment.  That’s why it’s so nice to be on the receiving end of an act of kindness such as the free cup of tea.  It was particularly nice because there has been quite a bit of nastiness around in recent days.  The worst of it was from the small minority of people who tried to use the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore to attack the government and score political points, and even, in the case of one vile vicar, to accuse the whole country of being racist.  What is wrong with some people?  Whatever your political views may be, don’t start dragging the death of a lovely, kind-hearted old man who lifted everyone’s spirits into them.  I just hope that the Moore family weren’t too upset by it.

Please be nice to people.  It’s upsetting to be criticised because you’ve bought something from Amazon, even though most other shops are closed and it’s none of anyone else’s business where you buy from anyway, or for trying to cheer yourself up with a nice cake which happened to be served a polystyrene box, and even more upsetting when, after congratulating someone on their work being featured in a national newspaper, someone attacks both of you because the newspaper concerned doesn’t meet with their approval.  Then there are the people slagging off anyone hoping to go on holiday this summer as being irresponsible.  These comments come from people who live in rural areas and don’t work, needless to say, not from people who are chained to office computers for five days a week and are getting rather tired of only being able to walk round housing estates and the same local parks in their little free time.   We need a break, OK.

But there are a lot of lovely people out there.  And free tea is much appreciated!

Rest in peace, Captain Sir Tom.  You were a wonderful man.  And I was also sad to hear of the death of Christopher Plummer.  I would so have married Captain von Trapp, although I’m not sure about taking on seven children.  And, yes, I do know that he got frustrated about for ever being associated with The Sound of Music, but what a wonderful film with which to be associated!  I just typed “to be associated with”, looked at it in horror, and correct it!

To go back to the MOT, hooray, my car passed without needing anything more than a new windscreen wiper blade.  Strange times at the garage, though.  No chairs for customers.  Everything to be taken out of the car.  And I was sent several e-mails asking me to drive to the garage with all the windows open, to let the air circulate, but I’m afraid that I ignored those.  The garage is only three miles away, but there are a lot of traffic lights between here and there, and sitting in a stationary car with all the windows open is really not a good idea, especially when you’re a lone female.  Sorry, garage.  But I did stick to all your other rules.

Other things happening this week have included a video of a meeting of Handforth Parish Council going viral.  You know, Handforth, where the big John Lewis is?  Remember that, from the olden days, when we used to do things like going to shops.  I met my cousin for a drink in the cafe there once.  Remember those days?  Not only could you go into shops, but you could sit down in cafes, and you could even meet your friends and relations!   I feel like I should have the Hovis advert music playing.

Local elections are to go ahead, but it’ll be BYOB.  No, not bring your own bottle.  Bring your own biro.

And there’s also been talk of extending the term over which the government support loans for businesses hit by restrictions are to be repaid.  There are two different types of loans available to affected small businesses, depending on which one best suits their circumstances – the bounceback loans, and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans.  Due to HMRC’s obsession with acronyms, the latter are known as CBILs, pronounced “Sybils”.  We are in a severe economic crisis, thanks to this horrible virus, and it’s feared that up to 15% of small businesses may not survive.  There’s certainly nothing funny about it.  But, every time I hear someone going on about “Sybils”, I half-expect Prunella Scales to turn up and start shouting at John Cleese to repay his loan.  A small hotel would definitely need a loan.  But let’s hope that we’ll be back in small hotels, or any other accommodation of your choice, this summer.

In the meantime, here’s to tea and scones.  Oh, and I got a scone from M&S in the end.  But the ones from The Coffee Sack are nicer!  I shall be back there next week, at whatever time best fits in with the night session at the Australian Open, hoping for better luck 🙂 .

 

 

(This is here more than once because I was trying to get the picture to display on Facebook.  The picture display went funny after a recent app update.  But I sorted out.  But now it transpires that the work-round only works on posts with small titles.  So I’ll now have to share long-titled posts on Facebook with abbreviated titles, then put the long titles back.  Oh well!)

 

Lockdown III Week 4, January 25th to 31st 2021 inclusive

 

Monday, January 25th

Boris says that all adults in the UK will have been offered a first dose of the vaccine “by the autumn”.  What does that mean?  The beginning of September?  Or later?

Pressure’s growing for answers on when schools might reopen, but the Government just can’t answer that.  Data out today shows that teachers haven’t been affected any more than the population in general, but I doubt that that’ll stop the teaching unions from moaning.  Male factory workers are, sadly, most likely to have died from the virus.

Israel’s banning all international flights for a fortnight.  There’s talk of doing that here, or of using quarantine hotels like Australia’s doing.  I don’t understand why so many people are travelling.  There’ve been pictures of long queues at Heathrow.  The people in them weren’t in uniform, so they clearly weren’t airline crew staffing cargo flights.  And don’t tell me that they were all travelling for “essential work” purposes.  Some of them were kids!   Some people are being fined for driving 20 miles from Preston to Bolton and yet others are jetting off on holiday.  It’s not on.  How do they get away with it.

All Debenhams shops are to close permanently, although the “brand” has been taken over and will continue online.

On a happier note, more mass vaccination centres have opened, including one at the Blackpool Winter Gardens and one on Lancaster Cathedral.

More snow overnight.   Luckily, most of it’s melted now.  It looked very pretty under the blue sky, but I need to get to Tesco and M&S tomorrow!

And we really are terribly well-behaved in this country 🙂 .  There’ve been riots in the Netherlands, after the Dutch government announced new restrictions!

 

Tuesday, January 26th

The UK death toll from the pandemic passed 100,000 today.  We’ll never know the real death toll.  There’ll be people in the “official” figures who died of other things but had tested positive for the virus within 28 days.  There’ll be people who died of the virus but hadn’t had a test within 28 days, or (in the early days) at all.  There’ll be deaths caused indirectly by the virus – treatment for other conditions delayed, or, especially amongst elderly people in care homes, not allowed visitors, mental deterioration leading to physical deterioration.  But, comparing the expected/average death figures since the pandemic started with the actual death figures, 100,000’s probably about right.  A hundred thousand people.  All leaving behind devastated relatives and friends.

To put it into additional perspective, around 40,000 people were killed in the Blitz.

I actually cried when Sky News said 100,000.  We knew it’d be today, but the number just hit me.  A hundred thousand people.

I’m never sure how reliable the various figures are (I don’t believe any of the statistics that’ve come out of Russia, China or Iran), and I know that every country’s recording virus deaths differently, but some figures for deaths per million people, on what seems to be a reliable website, are – Belgium 1812, Slovenia 1618, UK 1474, Czech Republic 1448, Italy 1424, Bosnia-Herzegovina 1391, USA 1277, Peru 1218, Spain 1194, France 1082, Sweden 1070, Brazil 1031, the Netherlands 777, Germany 639, Rep of Ireland 602, India 112, Australia 25, New Zealand 5.

The political points-scorers are busily blaming Boris.  And, yes, mistakes have been made.  We should have closed our borders last February.  We should have locked down earlier.  But we weren’t that far after a lot of other countries.  Maybe we reopened too early.  But then so did a lot of other countries.  The second wave hit Spain long before it hit us.  And Sweden never really locked down at all.  Lockdown issues have certainly played a part.  But there has to be other stuff going on too.  The obvious answer is that it’s to do with population density, and concentration of population in urban centres.  Other demographic issues may also be involved – age, ethnicity.  Could occupations be a factor?  And travel? –  a lot of people pass through London, in particular, and a lot of people use crowded public transport to get to work.  Other health issues? – to do with demographics, climate, diet? I don’t know.  But someone needs to find out.

We need to know why the UK has been so badly hit.  And we, in the North, and especially in the North West, need to know why our region has been so badly hit.

Further to the Snapfish saga, they have, at the third attempt, managed to print the order correctly.  However, they sent it in two different envelopes (they often do this, I know not why) and only one has arrived.  They do occasionally get separated in the post and arrive on different days, so I’m just hoping that the rest turn up tomorrow.

The car was iced up so badly when I went out (to go to Tesco and M&S) this morning that I couldn’t even open the doors until I’d cleared the ice.  Later, it warmed up a bit, but poured down.  No-one is feeling great at the moment.  Cold rain does not help.

And, on a happier note, my brother-in-law’s mum and dad (in the 70-74 age group) both had their first doses of the vaccine today.

 

Wednesday, January 27th

Oh FFS.  City won last night, to take top spot ahead of us.  Tonight, we were playing Sheffield United who, with all due respect to them, had only won one match all season … until tonight, when they beat us 2-1.  Bloody hellfire 😦 .

No update on any sort of plan even to begin easing restrictions until the end of February.  And schools won’t reopen until March 8th at the earliest.  And then it’ll be, hey, a few rural areas, off you go, and to hell with other areas.  What is to be done to help kids in the worst-affected areas?   There’s been some talk of cancelling the summer holidays, but there’s no way teachers’ll agree to that.  And WHEN will we be able to travel even within the UK?

A few examples of infection rates (which I know aren’t the only factors involved, but we don’t get breakdowns by area of the other stats:

Knowsley 882, Sandwell 808, Slough 753, Brent 677, Birmingham 597

Hyndburn 568, Carlisle 544, Norwich 465, Southampton 404

Manchester central 356, Bristol 331, Bury 316, Leeds 294, Sheffield 240, Newcastle 238

… and then right down to NE Lincs on 100, and Torridge (Devon) 51

 

There are all sorts of rows going on over vaccine supplies.  Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca are both struggling to meet existing orders.  I’m sure they’re doing their best, but Germany’s threatening to stop Pfizer exports and Italy’s threatening to sue.  The EU is trying to control all member states by imposing some sort of joint vaccine supply programme, although Hungary (good for Hungary!) has gone its own way and ordered supplies from Russia.  The EU also seems to think that its orders should be prioritised over everyone else’s.  Their deal with Astra Zeneca wasn’t made until three months after the UK’s, but, a bit like Verruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they are stamping their feet and screaming “I want it now” (well, not quite, but not far off).  Talk about selfish and petulant.  And vaccine supplies to North West England, and other parts of the North, are to be reduced by a third, and supplies diverted to London, which is running behind.

Quarantine hotels are to be brought in, but only for people entering from certain countries.  Oh FFS.  It takes weeks and weeks before mutant strains are identified.  For all we know, mutant strains could currently be on the loose in France or Germany or Outer Mongolia or anywhere.  And why are so many people travelling anyway?

On the positive side, the rest of my Snapfish order has arrived.  And one of the park cafes has said that they’re introducing a 20% discount for regulars, which I class as!  And it’s been dry, and a lot warmer than usual.

Theoretically, things should feel better once we get more daylight and warmer weather.  And yet then it’ll hurt even more, because then I’ll be missing things.  I should be going to Rode Hall for the snowdrop walks next week.  Then to see the snowdrops at Chirk Castle, my pre-birthday treat.  And maybe to Rufford Old Hall and Arley Hall.  Then to Bettys in Ilkley, to see the Easter eggs and cakes.  Then into daffodil season – first Chirk, then Biddulph Grange, and then, most importantly of all, the Lakes.  Then the lambs, at Tatton Park and Bolton Abbey.  Then into bluebell season, Capesthorne Hall and Erddig and the Windermere west shore.  Will I get to do any of that?  The virtue signallers make you feel guilty for saying things like that, but more and more people are saying that they’re struggling.

 

Thursday, January 28th

Infection rates in our borough dropped below 300 yesterday.  5 of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs are now below 300.  But we’re being told that the peak of hospital admissions is likely to come this weekend, and last for a while.

According to reports in the papers, non-essential shops (including hair salons?) aren’t likely to reopen until April.  And is that early April or late April?  And cafes and restaurants not until May.  Travel hasn’t been mentioned.  Nor have cinemas, theatres etc.  And heaven only knows when we’ll be able to go back to football matches, concerts etc.

The picture’s grim across most of Europe too.  France could be heading back into lockdown.  Madrid and Barcelona are running short of vaccine supplies.  Germany has said it’ll have vaccine supply issues until Easter.  Hospitals in Lisbon are running short of beds.  Over in the US, there are reports that a new variant may have emerged in California.   And Canada’s got concerns over vaccine supplies.  We don’t hear much from the rest of the world, but I gather that things are particularly bad in Mexico, and that parts of Peru are going back into lockdown.   And Lebanon’s in full lockdown: you’re not even allowed to go food shopping, but have to rely on deliveries.

Also, will someone please tell Nicola Sturgeon to STFU?  Seriously, is this the time to be mithering about an independence referendum?  She is so annoying.

Meanwhile, there are concerns about low take-up of the vaccine amongst some ethnic minority groups.  But, on a happier note, it looks as if the Novavax vaccine, being manufactured in Teesside, is pretty effective.

I am not finding it easy being chained to the office computer during the day, with virtually no contact from work (I’m not sure what I expect them to do, to be fair, but they could try to offer a bit of support) and doing housework, without having anything nice to look forward to at weekends … or for months ahead.

 

Friday, January 29th

I can’t believe what’s going on over the vaccines.  The European Commission has long been a deeply unpleasant organisation, but this just takes the biscuit.  If it weren’t for the companies who’ve developed the vaccines, we’d all be facing a future of either permanent lockdown or else millions more deaths, and many more people left with long term health problems, until herd immunity was reached.  Instead of thanking and praising these heroes, the European Commission has done nothing but issue them with threats and demands.  And insist that it should get first dibs on any vaccine produced, and to hell with the rest of the world, and never mind the fact that the UK order with Astra Zeneca was placed three months before its order was.   We’re all frustrated about the delays and production problems, but they’re pharmaceutical companies, not miracle workers.  There were bound to hiccups with operations on this scale.  And, now, export controls are being put on any supplies being exported from the EU – which is going to endanger anyone in non-EU countries who’s had the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and is waiting for the second, not to mention going against every trade deal going, as it would block the fulfilment of longstanding contracts.  Talk about I’m all right, Jack.

Meanwhile, Janssen, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson (I got confused by this and thought that two separate companies had both produced vaccines, but no!) have got a vaccine which is 66% effective, so not as good as the others, but only needs one dose.

In other news, Eurosport kindly televised the exhibition matches from Adelaide, so I got to see Rafa beat Dominic 🙂 .  And in front of a crowd!  So, so wonderful to see crowds back at matches.  When will it happen here?

And I had actually lost a few pounds from Saturday to Wednesday,  But half of them have suddenly gone back on on Wednesday and Thursday,  I just do not understand this.  One day could have been a blip, but two?  I haven’t done anything different.  I am very demoralised 😦 .

 

Saturday, January 30th

I am so, so disgusted with the European Commission.   They have totally screwed things up for 27 countries in terms of the vaccine roll-out, and are trying to divert attention from their incompetence by acting like arrogant, petulant bullies … which just makes them look even more incompetent.  Last night, an almighty row broke out when they decided to try to use Northern Ireland as a political football, saying that, in violation of the Brexit deal, they would impose border controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, to stop the UK from getting any vaccine supplies (yes, those vaccine supplies which will save people’s lives, and which the UK has quite legitimately ordered) from within the EU.   Without even bothering to consult the Republic of Ireland.  Or any other member states.  Everyone hit the roof – in London, in Belfast, in Dublin and elsewhere – and they had to back down.  I’m tempted to say “Hah”, but this really, really isn’t funny.  It’s left a very bad taste in everyone’s mouths.  And they’re still saying that they’ll block vaccine exports, although Michael Gove’s said that the UK’s vaccination programme won’t be affected.

It’s hard not to see this as the European Commission throwing its toys out of the pram because it can’t bear the fact that the UK vaccination programme’s going so much better than its own (Le Figaro‘s headline yesterday was “Vaccination: Brexit 1, Brussels 0”), but it won’t just affect the UK: it’ll affect Canada, Australia, Japan and many other countries too.

The WHO has condemned the European Commission’s vile attitude and behaviour.

Politicians and newspapers in various EU countries are extremely peed off with the European Commission.

Meanwhile, many highly vulnerable people in 27 countries, who could have been vaccinated by now had their governments made their own arrangements, are still waiting.

OK, enough about the vaccine row.   Two more points dropped today, in a 0-0 draw at Arsenal, whilst City won again.  Bah.  And I’m going to have to start using the spray on hair dye again: my grey roots are really showing.  Bah again.

On a happier note, I had such a nice time at Dunham Massey!  I’m disappointed about missing the snowdrops and early daffodils at Rode Hall and Chirk, but the Dunham Winter Garden, which I don’t normally go to at this time of year – I’m usually busy with the Australian Open during the second half of January, and then I prioritise Rode and Chirk in February – has got some beautiful, beautiful carpets of snowdrops, and quite a few early daffodils too.  I was so pleased that I went round the gardens, then round the deer park, and then back to the gardens for a second look!   Gorgeous 🙂 .

 

Sunday, January 31st

I found some snowdrops in the park today!  It was a bit of the park which I don’t normally go to, but I was trying to find a quiet area without any dogs … having been jumped up at my a horrible dog with filthy muddy paws.  Most of the mud brushed off, but the owner didn’t even apologise – just said “It’s a dog, what d’you expect?”.  I am so, so sick of dogs.  They are everywhere.  And the noise they make carries such a long way, especially with yappy little dogs with high-pitched barks.

Dogs apart, it was very nice in the park.

 

Scone courtesy of The Coffee Sack 🙂 .

Infection rates in Greater Manchester are still falling, but not as quickly as the national average, and the rate for the city centre is now above the average.  I really cannot face a return to the Evil Tier System and being told that other people can travel around the country, reopen their businesses and send their kids back to school, but we can’t, after everything we’ve been through already.  The situation nationwide seems to be stabilising, but we’re being told that it’ll be at least a fortnight before the impact of the vaccination programme starts to have any effect.  609,010 doses were given yesterday!  That’s the highest number yet.   Almost 9 million people have now received their first dose.

A WHO team’s in Wuhan, trying to get to the bottom of how this nightmare started, but I don’t think China will ever let us know.

Worrying news from Portugal, where patients are having to be sent abroad as there are hardly any intensive care beds left.  And also some worrying news here – Captain Sir Tom Moore’s in hospital with pneumonia and coronavirus.  Oh, what horrendous irony that one of the biggest heroes of this nightmare should contract the virus.  He’s not in intensive care, and hopefully he’ll be OK, but I was very upset to hear that he was ill.

And, despite a drop in temperature, it’s definitely feeling a bit springlike, but snow’s forecast for Tuesday.  Please, please do not cause any problems on Friday, when I need to take my car in for its MOT!