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.

 

Dancing with the Daffodils

We were put into Tier 3 in mid-October, so we had 5 1/2 months of not being able to leave the local area.  Being separated from family and friends in other parts of the country has been very hard, and I really feel for people whose loved ones are abroad and who can’t visit them even now.  And, much as I love my home city and our local park, I need to get out into the countryside, especially to the Lake District, to clear my anxiety-filled head and lift my soul; and not being able to do that’s been difficult and frustrating.  But hopefully, thanks especially to the wonderful efforts of the Vaccine Taskforce , we’re now on the “Roadmap to Freedom”; and I finally got to go back to Windermere on Good Friday.  And, for once, the Bank Holiday weather played ball – not a cloud in the deep blue sky.

Lockdown’s affected different parts of the country in different ways.  We’ve been under additional restrictions since the end of July, which has been very tough.  Walking round the streets and local park every day, trying to avoid people with horrible barking dogs and wishing that the queues at the cafes were shorter, I’ve sometimes envied people living in rural areas.  But, because we’re a densely-populated area, the takeaway cafes have been very busy all along.  I often see people I know in the queues at the park cafes, or the cafes on the main road, which is rather nice; and it’s also nice for our local businesses to have that custom.  But, at Windermere, a lot of places closed at the start of Lockdown III, or even earlier, and have only just reopened.  Tourist attractions remain closed for now, although (hooray!!) the steamers between Bowness and Ambleside can operate, classed as public transport.  But it’s been a tough old time for tourist areas.  Blackpool’s tourism boss said last week that recovery’d probably take five years.  Windermere Lake Cruises have spent millions on a lovely new steamer- which I was lucky enough to be able to go on yesterday – only to find that they couldn’t run any steamers at all for much of last year and the first three months of this year.

So it was absolutely wonderful, and very special, for me to be there.  By a weird coincidence, the music in the car, which was on shuffle, decided to have Elvis singing “Glory glory Hallelujah” as I caught my first glimpse of the lake from the A591, and that seemed very fitting!   And it’s also wonderful for tourist areas to be able to start welcoming visitors back.

I thought it’d be busy.  It wasn’t.  The “stay local” and “minimise travel” rules are … er, well, let’s say that everyone’s interpreting them in their own way.  But some people aren’t leaving their local area, some people are still nervous about going out at all, some people aren’t sure what will and won’t be open, and, with overnight stays still banned, there’s only so far that anyone can go anyway.  And goodness knows when overseas tourists will be back: the Lake District usually welcomes a lot of visitors from the Far East in the spring, from Europe in the summer and from the US in the autumn, and I can’t see that that’s going to happen this year.  But maybe we’ll see another Staycation Summer: last year’s was a big boost.

But, for me, it was glorious!   This is my favourite time of year, when the daffodils are out.  I didn’t think I’d get to see the daffodils at the Lakes this year, and to be able to see them at Windermere, and, later in the day, at Sizergh Castle, especially under that beautiful blue sky, really did mean so much.  And being able to get back out on to the lake on the glorious steamers.  I miss being able to go abroad, but not as much as I’ve missed the Lake District!   There is nothing like the wonderful views there, and the feeling of peace and nature and timelessness.

It’s quite strange being able to plan again.  OK, we can’t plan holidays yet, but I can start thinking about when I might go and see the lambs at Tatton Park, and the bluebell walks at Capesthorne Hall, and have a day out in Blackpool, and so on.  I don’t expect miracles, and I don’t think we’ll be getting back to normal any time this year.  But we’re making a start.  And I’m so very grateful to have had that day yesterday.  I waited a long time for it!

If anyone’s reading this, thanks for reading, enjoy the rest of your Easter weekend, and stay safe xxx.

–  daffodils at Bowness Pier

– the Swift, new steamer

– blueberry scone from the Waterhead Coffee Shop

– lambs and daffodils at Sizergh Castle

 

On through March 2020 – the world seems to be falling apart

Monday, March 9th

Oh no!!  Indian Wells has been called off, because of a case (one case!) of coronavirus in southern California.  No news on Miami yet, but a lot of the European players are already heading home.  I don’t know what’s going to happen with the tennis season now.  I can’t see Rome going ahead: the whole of Italy’s going into lockdown.   Nor Monte Carlo with it being so close to Italy, and, with the situation in France worsening, the French Open must be in doubt too.   It’s everywhere.  Israel’s now said that people will have to go into quarantine for a fortnight on arriving there, and the Republic of Ireland’s cancelled its St Patrick’s Day parades … although the one here’s going ahead.

 

Tuesday, March 10th

This morning, I wrote a blog post called “Love Letter to Italy”.  I am so sad to see what’s happening in a country that means so much to me.

Our Europa League match against LASK in Linz is going to be played behind closed doors.  LASK are going mad, but the Austrian government’s insisted.  Matches in France, Spain and Germany will also have to be played behind closed doors.  I’ve read that the virus doesn’t actually live long outdoors, but who knows?   I don’t know how the European matches are going to be played at all, because some countries are banning flights now.   Valencia’s match against Atalanta was played, but maybe Atalanta were already there.  Lazio fans are panicking that the season might be cancelled and they’ll miss out on the title they’ve waited so long for.  Could the same thing happen here, with Liverpool?

Nadine Dorries has tested positive for it now.  I hope it’s not spread all round Parliament!

Donald Trump says it’ll go away.  I wish it would …

 

Wednesday, March 11th

Everything’s just so weird.  It’s mid-March.  It should be all lambs and daffodils and Indian Wells and the business end of the football season, but it’s like we’re in some kind of parallel universe.  A lot of countries are closing schools.  The Fed Cup finals are off.  Cricket tours are off.  Arsenal are in quarantine because they played Olympiakos, and someone there’s got it, so Arsenal’s match against City’s off.  A lot of people who’ve tested positive in Italy have hardly got any symptoms.   Angela Merkel says 70% of people in Germany could get it.  I just don’t know what to think.

The WHO’s declared it a pandemic.  I’m not sure that the actual use of the word “pandemic” makes any difference – it’s just a word – but anyway.

 

Thursday, March 12th

Everything’s just falling apart.  Over 1,000 people have now died in Italy – where everything’s now been closed other than food shops and pharmacies.  The US has banned all flights from Schengen countries.  The tennis season’s off till May!   Miami and all the April events are off.  Challengers in play at the moment have stopped mid-tournament.  No Monte Carlo, no Rome, no Barcelona 😦 .  Euro 2020’s in doubt.  The French and Spanish Cup finals are off.  It’s getting really bad in Spain.  Very worried.   And the NBA season’s been suspended.

We won 5-0 at LASK.  So, so weird seeing a match played with no fans in the stadium.  Liverpool’s match against Atletico Madrid went ahead as normal last night, but City’s match against Real Madrid’s off because Real’s players and staff are in quarantine after one of their basketball team tested positive.

My sister was due to go to Dublin with two friends this weekend, but they’ve cancelled it – not that things are bad in Dublin, but they’re nervous about flights being cancelled.  Schools and cultural facilities are being closed in the Republic.  And my book club meeting on Saturday’s been called off, because some of our members are over 70 and they’re nervous.  Mum and Dad and their friends are cancelling their card games, for the same reason.

In the middle of it all, I’ve received an e-mail from my holiday company about my July holiday to Iceland, all upbeat and cheerful.  Will I be able to go?  At the moment, I’m not even sure I’ll get my weekend in Grasmere in April.

Will someone please wake me up from this nightmare?

 

Friday, March 13th

Friday 13th all bloody right.  The football season (the League, anyway, not non-league football)’s been suspended until the end of March!  No tennis.  No football – Mikel Arteta’s tested positive for the virus, although thankfully he seems to be OK.  Very sorry for Liverpool, only two points away from the title – and that’s a Manchester United fan speaking!   The Cheltenham Festival’s gone ahead, but the London Marathon’s off, rugby union’s off (but not rugby league, yet), more cricket tours are off, the US Masters is off, local and mayoral elections have been postponed, and some universities have closed.   The Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla have postponed their engagements.  A lot of countries are closing borders.  It would normally give me great pleasure to see the “European Union” shown to be nothing of the sort – every country is, quite rightly, doing what’s best for itself – but not under these circumstances.

And the panic-buying!  It’s a virus, not submarine warfare.  We’re not going to be holed up in our homes with no food.  But some of the shelves in Tesco were pretty bare tonight.  I’m trying not to panic – and, besides, I don’t know where people are storing all this stuff, unless they have giant freezers! – but I must confess to buying a fair bit extra.  When you see empty shelves, it’s hard not to start panic-buying: you don’t want to be the person left with nothing.   And there was not a toilet roll to be had.  Luckily, I don’t need any more at the moment, but some people will!  For heaven’s sake.  We got through two world wars without people panicking about toilet roll … er, although most people probably used newspaper then.  This is not a nice topic to be thinking about, but suddenly everyone‘s obsessed with toilet roll.

 

Saturday, March 14th

I had a bit of a meltdown this morning.  It was because I’d put on weight for no reason, but it was just everything.  I feel like the world’s falling apart.  I’m so glad Mum and Dad got back safely from their break in Spain earlier this week, because Spain’s now banned incoming flights.   It was all so sudden.  There were flights in mid-air: they had to turn back.  And there are holidaymakers out there who’ll have to be rescued.  Spain’s now in complete lockdown.  You can’t even go out to exercise.  Belgium’s closed cafes and restaurants.  The Manchester Marathon’s off.  I just can’t keep up with it all.

People are trying to cheer each other up – there are jokey things on Facebook about typing in the @ symbol and the third name to come up’ll be your quarantine partner.  We’re hearing a lot about “quarantining”, and “self-isolating”.

Went to Dunham Massey this morning.  Lovely, lovely daffodils.  Lovely, lovely spring – nature’s carrying on.  The daffodils have even come early.  I saw my cousin there, and she gave me a hug, without thinking.  You’re not really supposed to hug people now!  It’s elbow bumps or the namaste!   Dunham was pretty busy.  I think it’s more confined spaces that people are nervous about.  I’ve had e-mails from Vue cinemas, Costa Coffee and several hotels, assuring me that they’re safe to visit.  They must be losing a lot of business.

I then tried to get some toilet roll, seeing as Tesco had none yesterday.  None at M&S.  None at Quality Save.  But, hooray, I got some at Budget Savers!   Some shops are rationing how much you can buy now, but you’re lucky to find any at all.  Is this seriously happening?

 

Sunday, March 15th

I went to Windermere today, and stopped at Sizergh Castle on the way back – the daffodils are out there, already.  So early this year.  The weather wasn’t brilliant, but I couldn’t keep waiting.  Who knows what’s going to happen?   And just being there made me feel better.  It always does.  It was fairly busy.  Not heaving, but then it would never be heaving on a damp-ish day in March.  Oh, I am so glad I’ve been.  This has been such a strange week, and I’m afraid there’s much worse to come.  The Republic of Ireland’s now closed all pubs and bars.  All over Europe, schools, shops and indeed borders are being closed.  I just cannot believe this is happening.  As a history-obsessed kid, I often thought there might be another world war, but, instead, the world’s falling apart because of a virus.

I look forward so much to this time of year.  My daffodil days out to Chirk Castle and Biddulph Grange.  My weekend in Grasmere, and seeing the daffodils at Coniston, Windermere and Sizergh whilst I’m there.  Rafa winning clay court tournaments 🙂 .  The climax of the football season.  Thoughts turning to my summer holiday.  And now … I just feel like we’re in a nightmare.  But it’s horribly real.