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

Easter Monday, April 5th

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

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

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

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

 

Tuesday, April 6th

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

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

I have had better days.

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

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

 

Wednesday, April 7th

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

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

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

 

Thursday, April 8th

Gah!!

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

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

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

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

 

Friday, April 9th

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

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

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

 

Saturday, April 10th

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

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

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

 

Sunday, April 11th

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

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

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

Later, I found some bluebells in the Flower Park.

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

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

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

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

 

Moving On Week 3 – July 20th to 26th 2020 inclusive

Monday, July 20th

Some quite hopeful news today – the tests on the vaccine being developed in Oxford have shown very encouraging results.  It’s early days, but fingers crossed.

However, even Beefeaters are being made redundant now.  More job losses are coming every day :-(.

The overall situation’s improving, but things in Blackburn are getting worse, which is worrying.  France and Spain are also seeing some worrying local clusters.

Dry day today, and it was nice in the park.

I went into the office today, and handled things badly by blanking the bosses.  I was hoping to get in and out whilst they weren’t there, but they both turned up before I’d sorted all my stuff out!   I know I handled it badly, but I’m just so fed up about the way we’ve been treated.

 

Tuesday, July 21st

We have now been working from home for 18 weeks.  In that time, we have not once had so much as a three word e-mail saying “Is everyone OK?”.  Other firms have been checking on people regularly, and organising on-line activities so that people feel supported.  OK, it’s less of an issue now that lockdown’s over and people can see their families and friends again, but the fact that they never even asked if we were OK during the full lockdown was appalling.  It’s been eating away at me, so I decided that I would say, politely, that I realised that it was a difficult time but that it was disappointing, and then try to move on.

I was not expecting a grovelling apology, and for a big bouquet of flowers to be delivered to every team member.  I was kind of hoping for something along the lines of OK, point taken.  Instead, the response I got was that that they had not once, in 18 weeks, bothered to ask how anyone was because it would be “intrusive”.  These are the people who rang someone whilst she was in hospital, to hassle her about an unimportant work issue.  What a pathetic … it’s not even an excuse so much as a lie.  I’m even more annoyed now!

The Washington tennis event’s been cancelled.  I can’t honestly see the US Open going ahead.  Things in New York aren’t too bad, but, with the overall situation in America, quarantine requirements for players returning home afterwards are just going to be make it impossible.

I am off to the frozen yoghurt shop!

 

Wednesday, July 22nd

Today, we got an e-mail from work saying that unused holidays couldn’t be carried forward until next year because it wasn’t their problem that everyone’s plans had been cancelled.

The Government has tried to protect people from this by saying that holidays can be carried forward if people can’t take them, but, unfortunately, there’s a loophole allowing employers to get out of this if people are working from home rather than being furloughed.

So people who’ve been furloughed have been getting 80% of their pay for doing nothing for 4 months, and can carry their holidays forward, whereas people who’ve been working from home have been working full time through it all, and, unless their employers treat them decent, can’t carry days forward for holidays which were cancelled.  It’s hard not to feel bitter about this.  I don’t for one second mean to have a go at people who cannot work because their workplaces are closed and they can’t work from home, but it’s difficult not to feel hard done by.

Meanwhile, there are clusters in some very unlikely places, such as Carlisle.

Last home match of the season tonight.  In July, and without being able to go in person!  Strange times.

 

Thursday, July 23rd

We had an e-mail from work today, saying, no, not that they’d like to thank us for our efforts throughout this difficult time and that they hope we and our loved ones are OK, but that, whilst they “appreciate your desire to be in the office” (I did wonder if this was meant sarcastically, but I think they’re just delusional), it appears that safety requirements won’t be met if more than so many people are there at once.  So we have each been allocated two days a week on which we may work at the office.  May, not must.  I’ve said that I’ll stay at home for now.  Hooray!!  The wording was so rude and patronising, about how they’re happy with the fact that we are actually doing some work whilst we’re at home, like we’re a bunch of naughty schoolkids who might just have been throwing paper aeroplanes around as soon as the teacher’s back was turned.  And still not even “Hope you are all keeping well”.

My sister and brother-in-law and the kids are at an apartment in Spain.  It is hot and sunny.  I am very jealous.  I suppose there’s nothing to stop me from going to Spain, but sitting by the pool is a bit crap on your own!

We only managed to draw with West Ham last night, so still need at least a point on Sunday.  So stressful!

 

Friday, July 24th

From today, it is compulsory in England to wear masks in shops, shopping centres and takeaway food places.  I’ve been to:

  1. Sainsburys Local – most people wearing masks, some not.
  2. The Swatch Shop (watch needed a new strap) – I was the only person in the actual shop, but most people in the Arndale were wearing masks … but there are staff on the doors there.
  3. The café in the park – hardly anyone was wearing a mask.

Today has been a nightmare.  At 10 o’clock this morning, the doorbell rang.  I thought it was the postman.  No – it was a man saying that he’d come to cut down a tree in next door’s garden, and please would I move my car.  How bloody rude of next door not even to mention it.  What would they have done if I’d been out but the car had been in?  It’s now nearly 5 o’clock and the tree brigade (there are 5 of them) are still here.  And, when I got back from my walk in the park, they’d not only dumped a load of soil and twigs all over my path but had dug up one of the flags!   I didn’t want a row but I was fuming.  Anyway, they’ve now finally got the tree root out and are clearing up, but it’s all been pretty stressful.

 

Saturday, July 25th

Oh no!!  I haven’t seen my sister and brother-in-law and the kids since February.  I was meant to be seeing them as soon as they got back from Spain.  But, because of the upsurge of cases in Catalunya (which is 650 bloody miles from where they are), quarantine restrictions on people returning from Spain are being brought back in as of tomorrow.  I don’t believe this.

I’m rather put out, to say the least.  It’s been so long already.

I should think that a lot of people who were considering booking a last minute summer holiday abroad are now rethinking.

Is there no end to this?  It’s already nearly August.  There’s talk of the Christmas markets being cancelled – it’d be a huge emotional and economic blow, but I can’t see how they can go ahead, given how crowded they get.  Some Christmas events have already been cancelled.  A lot of people have rebooked holidays, not to mention weddings, for next year, but it’s looking increasingly likely that this could go on for months yet.  And, daft as this may sound, wasp season starts in a couple of months, and all this al fresco dining will not be much fun then.

It had been a nice day until this happened.   The forecast was for rain, which had upset me, but the forecast was wrong.  A full day’s play at the Test match.  And I had a lovely time at Speke Hall.  Quite a few areas were cordoned off, but the main gardens and woodlands were open, and I had a takeaway cream tea at a picnic table by an apple tree 🙂 .  It was so nice.  It actually felt like summer!

Gyms and indoor pools can reopen from today.  I don’t even know whether my gym’s reopened or not: I might ring and ask.  We are not currently getting coronavirus death statistics, as the figures are apparently crap.  Seriously.  And coronavirus has now hit Coronation Street.

 

Sunday, July 26th

Well, I should have been coming back from Iceland today, after Wimbledon and Euro 2020, and ready for the Olympics.  Instead, I’m here, and it’s been the last day of the Premier League season … and we did it!   Not sure how, given how badly we played, but we’ve made the Champions League!  And we won’t even qualify: we finished 3rd.

Whew!  That is a big boost, after the first the news about Spain (which has left a lot of people in a mess, and is the headlines of the news) and then the news, today, that my gym won’t be reopening until January.  This is bloody ridiculous. Gyms can open now.  OK, it’s quite a small gym, but it’s never that busy, so I can’t see the problem.  It’d just take a bit of effort – but they evidently don’t want to make that.  There was some muttering about refurbishment.  They’ll probably try to whack the price up.  I’ve asked for my money back (it’s an annual subscription) and someone’s supposed to be contacting me.

I don’t know what to do now.  A lot of people’ll go to other gyms, but this one’s just so convenient.  I’m getting exercise for now, because, as long as I’m not trapped in an office, I can go for a long walk every day, but this won’t go on for ever.  Another problem!!

Some rain today, but dry spells too.  I went to Wycoller Country Park – where the now-ruined Hall’s supposed to have been the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre – this morning, just for somewhere different to go, and then to the park before the match.  The toilets at Wycoller are locked, “due to coronavirus” (i.e. the council, who’ve already tried to close them down once, can’t be bothered cleaning them), but the cafe’s open for takeaways 🙂 .

Our council’s said that they’re planning for this to go on until next summer.  There seems to be no end to it.  But at least we’ve got that Champions League spot!