Tier 3 Plus, Week 4 … well, half a week – December 28th to 30th 2020 inclusive

Monday, December 28th (Bank Holiday, as Boxing Day fell on a Saturday)

City’s match tonight’s been called off, after a number of their players tested positive.  That’s a worrying development.

On top of everything else, there’s been heavy snow in some areas, although, thankfully, not here.

Rates here continue to rise, with the average across Greater Manchester now (as of yesterday) just under 200.  That’s obviously very worrying, but, having been at or near the top of the infection rate charts for months, the situation here at the moment is (touch wood!) not that bad compared to that in other areas.  The rate in Brentwood is now 1,442, with some other parts of Essex and parts of London not far behind.

We’re being told that the big increase in cases in Trafford and Stockport is due not to the mutant virus but to “increased social mixing”.  Probably in pubs and restaurants in Cheshire East, before it was moved into Tier 3!

The situation in neighbouring areas is worsening.  Both Cheshire districts are now well over 200, Warrington’s 298, and Liverpool’s 200.  To the north, Pendle’s on 427 and Burnley’s on 488.  And the worst rate in the North is now in, of all places, Eden (Penrith and Ullswater).  496.  South Lakeland’s not nearly as bad, but even they’re up to 188.

On a happier note, it’s hoped that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could be ready to go soon.  It doesn’t have to be stored at -80 degrees C, so should be a lot easier to administer quickly.

Despite all the goings-on, I’ve had a nice day: I managed to get a reduced rate spa day at the Norton Grange in Rochdale.  They’d tried really hard to keep things Covid-secure, although, unfortunately, some idiots were completely ignoring the signs about how many people should be in each area at once.  I had great intentions about going in the gym, and I did go in briefly, but I spent most of my time in the pool and the jacuzzi, and then had a facial and a back massage.  Really nice takeaway afternoon tea!  I am so fat …

 

Tuesday, December 29th

I was a bit stressed when I looked out this morning and it was snowing: the road up to our estate is a nightmare in the snow, and I had to get to Tesco and M&S!  However, it wasn’t too bad here, and it wasn’t sticking on the roads.  But at Tatton Park, where I’d planned to go anyway, there was loads and loads of snow!  The roads were OK, although the car park was a bit tricky (considering that they charge people to park there, they really should have cleared it), and it was all really good fun, with people throwing snowballs and building snowmen, and a few kids on sledges.

I suppose it was kind of breaking bounds, seeing as it’s in Cheshire East rather than Greater Manchester, but I’d still class it as local, and we’re all in Tier 3 now anyway.  This whole tier system is so bonkers.  Parts of Wigan are classed as West Lancashire, and parts of Rochdale are classed as Rossendale.  West Lancashire and Rossendale, despite not having particularly high infection rates (by current standards), may be moved into Tier 4 at the end of the week, because of the issues in Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn.  Or the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs may be moved too.  Or the whole country may be moved.   I can’t see the Lake District staying in Tier 2, the way things are going.  There are issues in parts of Merseyside and North Yorkshire too.  Oh, how I miss the Lakes!  Not that I ever go there in December anyway, but I hate the feeling that I haven’t even got the option.  Although some people are merrily heading off all over the place, even staying overnight.  A tiny minority of people, admittedly, but some.

It’s weird – we’ve been in the eye of the storm for so long, and now we’re not.  At the beginning, I was looking at everything on a national level, but, thanks to government policy, I’ve been looking at it from a local level since the end of July.  But the national picture is horrendous.  Over 53,000 new infections today – compared to around 13,000 per day a month ago, although more people are being tested now.  Some hospitals in Wales and South East England are struggling to cope.  I don’t know what’s going on with the Nightingale Hospitals – are they not being used because there aren’t enough people to staff them?

Indian Wells, one of my favourite tournaments of the year, won’t take place in March, because the situation in California is so bad 😦 .

The first person to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine got her second dose today.   Any hope that we could live with the virus has gone now.  We’ve just got to get people vaccinated.

We beat Wolves 1-0 – injury time goal from Rashford.  Yay!!  A lot of lower league matches were off, though – some due to the weather, but some due to positive virus tests.  Not sure if our Carabao Cup semi’ll be going ahead, because of the situation with City.

 

Wednesday, December 30th

Oh shit, double shit and treble shit.  Hancock has shoved us into Tier 4.  I did not see that coming – it was expected that parts of East Lancashire, Hartlepool and maybe Birmingham would move, but he’s dumped a whole load of additional areas too.  Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Warrington and Cheshire.  Cumbria, going straight from Tier 2 to Tier 4.  Leics, Lincs, Derbys, Notts, Northants, the entire West Midlands/Warks/ Staffs/Black Country area, the entire North East, Gloucs, Swindon, most of Somerset, parts of Dorset, the Isle of Wight and the New Forest.  Merseyside moves into Tier 3, but not Tier 4 even though its infection rates are similar to ours.  South, West and East Yorks stay in Tier 3, but North Yorks moves from Tier 2 to Tier 3, as do Rutland, Shropshire, the rest of Somerset, the rest of Dorset, the rest of Wiltshire, Herefordshire and Worcs.

Shit shit shit.  Our rates aren’t even that high.  Dunham lights is off.  Hairdressers close.  Yes, I know I sound whiney and self-obsessed, but there’s no way they’d shut down the South like this if rates were high in the North.

The nationwide picture is awful, though.  Over 50,000 new infections again.  And 981 deaths – although that probably includes deaths from over the Christmas period, recorded late.

Despite, all this, schools are to stay open, although secondary schools will return later than planned, and primary schools will close in “a small number of areas”.  “A small number of areas” has turned out to be most of London, and parts of Essex, Kent and Herts.   This includes my younger nephew’s primary school.  His comment was that he was glad he’d be getting a break from school dinners.

Amid all this bad news, some good news – the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine’s been licensed for use in the UK.  As it only has to be stored at normal fridge temperature, this will hopefully speed up the vaccination programme quite a bit.

Been for a walk round Hollingworth Lake.  In the slush and fog.

I’m pleased to say that The Olive and Pickle was so busy that it’d had to send out for extra supplies.  As I can’t be bothered getting into an argument, I’m ignoring a couple of very rude people who said on one of my Facebook posts that people shouldn’t be going for takeaways – which is about the only thing people’ve got left to do, and which is keeping eating places in business and protecting jobs – because it generates waste.  Some people are so bloody sanctimonious and irritating.  And it’s always the people whose finances aren’t affected!!  Gah.

Oh poo.  We really didn’t expect this.  Nor did most of the other areas affected.  What a nightmare.

Fulham v Spurs off due to a virus outbreak at Fulham.

 

Lockdown II Week 3 – November 16th to 22nd 2020 inclusive

Monday, November 16th

Since the start of the pandemic, the oven has broken, the toilet has broken, the toilet has broken again and damaged the kitchen ceiling, a lightning strike has knackered the router and the phones, and now the oven has broken again.  I mean, is it me?!  A new one will hopefully be coming on Thursday or Friday.  More money.

Went into town for an optician’s appointment today.  Very strange seeing everywhere so quiet, when the Christmas markets should be open.  I love the Christmas markets.  And that miserable git Matt Hancock’s said that it’s too soon to say whether or not the lockdown will end on December 2nd.  Retailers are getting really fed up: Waterstones (books) and Clinton (cards) have both complained about their shops having to close, when books and cards can be readily bought in supermarkets, garden centres and newsagents.

On a happier note, another firm, Moderna, have also got a vaccine which is over 90% effective.  And hopes are rising that testing will be made available to people with loved ones in care homes, allowing for visits.

Meanwhile, Boris is self-isolating, just at a crucial stage of the Brexit negotiations and in the middle of Lockdown II, after an MP with whom he attended a meeting tested positive.  Several other MPs are also affected.

And there’s been a worrying surge in cases in Hull and Grimsby.

 

Tuesday, November 17th

Superb match between Rafa and Dominic …  which, sadly, Rafa lost 😦 .

A load of virus cases in England have been “relocated”, because the addresses on the system were wrong.  Is this a joke?  Needless to say, they have mainly been relocated to urban parts of the north.  The area with the largest number of cases relocated away from it is the area which includes Rishi Sunak’s constituency.

Easyjet’s suffered the first loss in its history.

And Glasgow and various other parts of Scotland are being put into Tier 4 … which is basically the sort of lockdown that the whole of England’s presently in.  This is awful.  I know this is a horrible situation, but people and businesses can’t take much more.

I went to Tesco this morning, coming home at about 10 to 9.  The amount of traffic, considering that we’re meant to be in lockdown, was insane.  OK, the stupid council’s decision to reduce the main road to one lane each way makes it a lot worse, but even so.  Could have been parents returning from taking kids to school, but I’m not convinced.  Loads of people are working at offices, when they could be working from home.

And the police have been told to stop issuing the highest level of fines for breaking regulations.  TBH, I agree that the fixed penalty system’s stupid – £10,000 is a year’s net income to some people but loose change to others.  But why wasn’t this taken into consideration in the first place?

 

Wednesday, November 18th

I went to the office to drop some stuff off this morning.  Just after I arrived, the fire alarm went off.  I was tempted just to go home and leave the stuff I’d dropped off lying about on the desk where I’d dumped it, but decided that that wouldn’t be very fair, so I waited outside until it was sorted and I could go back in and put everything away properly.  Hordes of people came streaming out of the other offices in the block – and these are people whose jobs could certainly be done from home.  There were even people from a social group which uses one of the offices for meet-ups, and I’m pretty sure that social groups aren’t allowed to meet up during lockdown –  unless it’s some sort of emotional support group, which this isn’t.  FFS!

There’s talk of making restrictions in Tiers 2 and 3 even tighter when lockdown ends.  I have just had enough of this.  We’ve been under restrictions since July.  Rates in the North West are falling.  What are they going to try to do to us now?

In Scotland, police are to have powers to stop people travelling outside their own council areas in Tier 3 and Tier 4 areas.  Like they’re living in an open prison.  I understand that this is a really, really shit situation, but people have just had enough.

There’s been a big anti-lockdown protest in Berlin.

There is some talk of a Christmas truce here.   As long as you only hold small family gatherings, and only travel by car – which is a pretty stupid suggestion, given that a lot of people don’t have cars.  But maybe it means that my sister and brother-in-law and nephews will be able to come here for Christmas after all.

But there are concerns that the Australian Open may not be able to go ahead.  Players have said that they’re willing to self-isolate for a fortnight – which, given that that’d include Christmas and New Year if they were to be out of quarantine before the start of the warm-up events, is no small commitment.   But now the government of Victoria’s suggesting it won’t let players arrive until January.

And Boris has appeared at PM’s Questions by video link, as he is currently confined to barracks.

 

Thursday, November 19th

The new oven has arrived, hooray!

Rafa has reached the semi-finals, hooray!

Government funding’s been announced for some sports clubs, due to the effects of the virus.

Mink in Sweden have now got the virus as well.  What is it with mink?!

More bad news in the retail industry today – more firms going into administration.  And we’re only hearing about big firms – how many small shops have gone?

Infection rates in the North West continue to fall, which is obviously very good news, but infection rates elsewhere in England continue to rise.  It’s weird: it’s like we’re having a different pandemic to the rest of the country.   The infection rate across the 10 boroughs is down to 399.10, down 22% week-on-week.   The average across England is 265.5 and rising.  Over 500 deaths across the UK again today.  Italy suffered nearly 800 yesterday.  And New York’s closed schools again.

Hull is much the worst affected place in the country now, with Scarborough, Teesside, Bristol, Swale (in Kent), Stoke, and parts of Leics, Lincs and West Yorks also struggling.

Please, please, please let us out of bloody lockdown on December 2nd.  Northern Ireland’s going back into lockdown after next week.  So they’re coming out for one week.  Well, I hope everyone manages to get a hair appointment.  How bloody demoralising – practically straight back into it.

And Brexit talks have been suspended after one of the EU negotiators tested positive for the virus.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Michel Barnier had made the whole thing up to throw a spanner in the works, but I suppose we have to assume it’s genuine.

 

Friday, November 20th

It has rained nearly all day.  Despite this, there were still long queues at both the cafes in the park.

Not convinced about all this focus on Christmas.  Much as I want to see my sister and brother-in-law and the kids, we’re being told that 5 days of lockdown will be “needed” for every day for which restrictions are eased.  If we have 5 days over Christmas (the 27th and 28th are Bank Holidays, as Christmas Day and Boxing Day fall at the weekend), plus New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, that means a 35 day lockdown.  People’s mental health is suffering as it is, and a lot of businesses won’t make it through another 35 days of being closed.  We’re not in some sort of Hollywood film where everything revolves around Christmas.  I just don’t think it can be justified.  Which is extremely sad.

2 million people in Scotland are now back in lockdown, and businesses in Northern Ireland are furious that they’ll have to close again after only being able to reopen for a week.

The Serbian Orthodox Patriarch’s died with coronavirus, after attending a funeral for the Serbian Orthodox church’s chief cleric in Montenegro … lots of people, no social distancing, people even kissing the body.  It’s very sad, but there does seem to be an issue with people thinking that religious services should be exempt from the rules.  It’s happening here too.  I don’t understand why religious people seem to think they should be exempt.

Matt Hancock’s wittering on about how “we must keep our resolve”.  It might come across quite well if it was Churchill saying it.  Still, at least he manages to brush his hair before leading a press conference.

 

Saturday, November 21st

Oh no!!  Rafa lost to Daniil in the semis … after serving for the match in the 2nd set.  Just can’t win the World Tour Finals 😦 .   And it looks as if the Australian Open might be put back to March.  Tennis Australia’s idea was for the players and anyone accompanying them to arrive in mid-December, go into quarantine for 2 weeks, and then be ready for the warm-up events and for the Open to start on January 18th as scheduled, but it looks as if the government of Victoria’s going to put the kibosh on it.  That is a blow 😦 .  January’s a miserable time of year even in normal times, and the Aussie Open’s the one good thing about it.   And then that’ll muck up the calendar for the rest of the year

On a happier note, United beat West Brom, 1-0.

It’s five weeks to Christmas!   Doesn’t feel like it, with no Christmas markets … although some people are trying to cheer themselves up by putting their trees and decorations up.  Please tell me that the people over the road are going to switch their garish flashing lights off during the day – I love Christmas, but those lights flashing 24/7 will do my head in!

And it’s 5 days until Thanksgiving … and cases seem to be soaring in most parts of the US 😦 .

Managed to walk round Hollingworth Lake and have a mince pie 🙂 from The Olive and Pickle before the rain started.

I meant to go out for another walk later, but I had to make a start on clearing out the kitchen cupboards, and then Dominic and Nole’s match lasted nearly three hours and it was dark by the time it’d finished.

 

Sunday, November 22nd

We’re going to be told tomorrow what we are and aren’t allowed to do over Christmas.  It’d be vaguely comical if it wasn’t such a nightmare – it sounds as if we’re all being summoned into the school hall to be given a lecture about how reports will be handed out after the carol service and the Chanukah play, and you must give yours to your parents Or Else.

Then, on Thursday, we’re going to be told which tier we’re going in after lockdown.  This again sounds like being at school.  Some areas are being moved into higher tiers.  It doesn’t sound like we’ll be going into a lower tier.  The average infection rate across Greater Manchester’s below 360, which is well below where it was, but the national average is around 260.  Hull, by contrast, is up at around 700, with Swale in Kent around 650 and several other places over 500.  Worse news is the talk of tighter restrictions in each tier.  FFS, are things not bad enough?  But the 10pm curfew’s being lifted, which isn’t an awful lot of help when pubs and restaurants are closed anyway.

Finished clearing out the kitchen drawers and cupboards, but ran out of time, energy and enthusiasm so still haven’t done the fridge and the freezer.  I’ll try to get them done tomorrow.  Then that’s inside done.  My car urgently needs valeting, but all the decent places are closed due to lockdown.

Medvedev won the World Tour Finals.

Went to Tatton Park this morning – and there was a rainbow right over Tatton Hall!   You have to book to go round the gardens, which I’d done, but not for the estate, which was pretty busy.  It’s a big enough place to be able to walk around without going near anyone else, but the queue for takeaway food and drinks was horrendous!  It wasn’t too bad when I went, at about 11, but by half 12 it really was long!  Nice sunny morning, after all the rain yesterday.  Once we’re back in the evil tier system, I shouldn’t officially be going outside Greater Manchester into East Cheshire, but … well, we’ll see.

 

Second Wave Week 5 – September 28th to October 4th 2020

Monday, September 28th

People are busy blaming the government, the rules, the scientists, etc etc, but the fact of the matter is that the problems are due to people who do whatever the hell they want.  Police across the country have broken up hundreds of large parties, many of them at venues rather than private homes, over the weekend, and it’s being reported that fewer than 80% of people who should be self-isolating are actually doing so.  However, the 10pm curfew, which worked in Belgium, isn’t working so well here, with everyone pouring out on to the streets, and into supermarkets to buy more booze, at the same time.  Fines of up to £10,000 can now be imposed, but how many of the rule breakers, most of them people in their 20s, have got £10,000?

Cases are way down today, but that’s probably the weekend effect.  However, apart from the disaster at the hall of residence, cases locally do seem to be calming down a bit.  However, there are major problems in Liverpool/Knowsley, and also in the Burnley/Accrington/Colne area.

The way the political points-scorers carry on, you’d think it was just here.  It isn’t.

On a more cheerful note, Rafa won his first round match at the French Open pretty comfortably.  And, having been off work today, I went to Tatton Park this morning.  I found 25 conkers by the big conker tree there!

Tuesday, September 29th

71 deaths reported today, which is scary … although Tuesdays have always been bad, because of the catch-up from the weekend.

The rules in the NE have been changed again.   It’s now illegal to meet anyone outside your household/bubble indoors.  I thought it already was, but apparently the previous rules were just “advisory”.   What’s the point of “advisory” rules?  And it’s now “advisory” for people there not to meet up in beer gardens etc.  But it’s OK to do so here.  Everyone is completely confused.  Including Boris, who, much to the delight of the points-scorers, got the NE rules wrong when asked about them.  This is getting very silly.

Andy Burnham, having spent July calling for tighter restrictions, is now complaining that the restrictions are killing the hospitality sector.  This was in a joint statement with Liverpool and Leeds.  Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds join forces- now there’s a first!

What the hell is the answer?  Other than for people to keep the rules.  Tesco staff are now wearing masks, but most of them have only got masks over their mouths, not their noses.  And I keep seeing people on buses with masks round their chins.  They must put them on so that the driver doesn’t say anything when they board, then take them off as soon as they’re out of his/her sight.  And things are not being helped by idiots spreading false rumours on social media.  No, the app is not bloody spyware.

The Czech Republic’s declaring a state of emergency.  And Brussels has banned prostitution. I’m not sure what it says about Brussels that prostitution is considered such a big factor, but whatever.

Wednesday, September 30th

Cases and deaths today are as bad as yesterday.  Boris has issued a plea for people to follow the rules.  Angela Merkel did the same in the German parliament this morning.  And yet we continue to hear about large gatherings having to be broken up.

There are rows going on in Parliament over the lack of discussion about restrictions.

Two friends (i.e. two separate people, not a couple) have had their holidays in Wales messed up by the restrictions there.

A teacher at my elder nephew’s school has got the virus, and some of the kids have been sent home, but thankfully his “bubble” isn’t affected.

Still no definite decision on the Christmas markets, but the Christmas lights switch-on and the New Year fireworks have been cancelled.

At least Rafa had a comfortable win today.

Thursday, October 1st

I’m not sleeping very well, because of the stress of all the uncertainty.   People in Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough have been asked to avoid non-essential travel.  No change for us, and some positive news in that pubs and restaurants in Bolton are to reopen, but I’m more stressed than ever now.  It’s all so illogical.  Rates in Burnley are double those in Hartlepool and Warrington.  And why Liverpool and Warrington but not Knowsley?  The mayor of Middlesbrough’s hit the roof, and said he tried to contact the Westminster government but couldn’t even get a reply.  Council leaders in Newcastle etc have said that they weren’t even told before the announcement on Monday that rules there were changing.  No financial support has been offered for businesses affected by local lockdowns.  The South would never be treated like this.  I’ve tried not to join the ranks of those criticising the government, but the way they’re treating the North and Midlands is not on.

Having said all this, rates in our borough are falling, and they’re falling or stable in most other Greater Manchester boroughs too.  Rates in the city centre are rising, but that’s because of the cases in student accommodation.  And it’s been reported that the national R rate is falling.

On a different note, our Champions League group is vile.

Friday, October 2nd

Rates in the city centre are sky-rocketing.  I just hope that a) the government realise that it’s due to student accommodation and don’t punish everyone and b) other boroughs are not punished.  It’s a never-ending nightmare.

Donald and Melania Trump have both got the virus now.  Both asymptomatic at present.

Weather forecast for pumpkin picking tomorrow is vile, but that’s the least of my worries!

Saturday, October 3rd

Thanks to Storm Alex, it’s rained all day.  Bad weather forcing people indoors is the last thing we need, but there’s not much to be done about it.  Despite the rain, I went to pick my pumpkin 🙂 .  I think the fruit farm’s had a decent year, despite everything.  I’m so pleased.

The outbreak at Manchester Met is distorting local figures, and the same thing’s happening in Newcastle.  Very few of the hundreds of students who’ve tested positive have got any symptoms, but there are concerns about the virus spreading to vulnerable people in the community.

Donald Trump was taken to hospital last night.  We’re being told that he’s fine and it’s just precautionary, but that was what we were told about Boris just before he ended up in intensive care.  People are not airlifted to hospital if they’ve just got a bit of a cough.  It sounds quite worrying.

Sunday, October 4th

FFS.  Just as it looked as if things were calming down, a huge increase in infections was announced yesterday – apparently including cases going back over a week due to a “glitch” in the system.  So the figures for the past few days were wrong.  What “glitch”?  Can’t they get things working properly?  Gah!

Donald Trump seems to be doing better, but it’s hard to know how much of what we’re being told is accurate.

The release of the new James Bond film, to which I was looking forward, has been put back to April 2021.  As a result, Cineworld’ve mothballed all their UK cinemas, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vue and Odeon follow suit.  Does it not occur to the distributors that audiences won’t return whilst there’s nothing decent on, virus or no virus?  It’s a very sad state of affairs.  Cinemas were so important during the war.  In the ’80s, we kept being told that video shops would kill off cinemas.  They didn’t.  Then we were told that subscription film channels would kill off cinemas.  They didn’t.  But now this.  I love going to the pictures and hope that this is a temporary thing, but April 2021’s a long way off, and there’s not much else coming.

As for today’s disastrous match between United and Spurs, the least said, the better.   What a total humiliation.  At least Rafa had a comfortable win, although things get very tough from now on.

Went to Styal (Quarry Bank Mill) this morning.  The garden café is now up and running.  And a lot of apples had fallen in a pond, looking like some bizarre giant apple bobbing game.  It was a distraction from all the stress and uncertainty.

 

Moving On Week 4 – July 27th to August 2nd 2020 inclusive

Monday, July 27th

I’m rather upset today.  I made the decision a few weeks ago that I wasn’t going on the trip to Japan even if it went ahead, but the holiday company swore blind that trips in October would be going ahead, and we exchanged dozens of e-mails as I tried to find one that fitted in with the French Open and had direct flights from Manchester.  I provisionally booked one to Italy in October and one to France in November, and then today I got an e-mail to say that all October trips had been cancelled.  I appreciate that this is a continually moving situation, but they shouldn’t have let me do all that and then cancel it so soon afterwards: it’s not like Spain where there’s now a travel advisory warning against going.  No idea if the one to France’ll go ahead.  Horrible work will not let me carry holidays forward, so I don’t know what to do.  I really want to get abroad for a bit, but I don’t know if it’s practical, with so many attractions closed and the risk of quarantine being reintroduced at any time.  Even for somewhere domestic, it’s not like I can just turn up at NT places as and when any more.

I also feel a bit sad and vulnerable because, without coach trips, it’s difficult to go on your own.  Even within the UK, there’s only so far you want to drive on your own.  And the nice local restaurant from which many people are ordering deliveries will not deliver for orders under £30 so, unless you’re exceptionally greedy, single people are ruled out.  Neither Ullswater Steamers nor the Settle-Carlisle Railway will sell single tickets any more, due to social distancing – not wanting to leave a seat free on either side of someone.  I suspect it’ll be the same when cinemas and theatres reopen.

So I am rather sad today.

 

Tuesday, July 28th

Oh FFS.  Blackburn’s now got the highest infection rate in the country, Rochdale’s introduced restrictions, and now Oldham’s introduced restrictions as well.  This is all frighteningly close to home.  It’s not the relaxing of restrictions that’s the problem.  It’s the fact that people have been breaking them all along.

Marks & Spencer’s have got a sign up saying that people buying alcohol have to remove their masks at the till, because masks make it difficult to tell how old people are!   If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.

I got a drink from the park café today, and nearly everyone waiting to order was wearing masks.  But, wherever you go, there’s always someone who isn’t.

Going to the frozen yoghurt shop shortly.  Just watching some of this all-British tennis event.  Goodness knows when we’ll get any normal tennis events.  Tokyo’s now off as well.  Cincy’s supposed to be going ahead, but, with all these travel restrictions in place, it’s hard to know what’ll happen.   Meanwhile, people are busily cancelling trips to Europe.

Someone was supposed to ring me about refunding my gym subs.  Still waiting.

 

Wednesday, July 29th

Interesting development today – Rafa and Nole are both on the list of confirmed entries for Cincy, and therefore presumably both intend to play in the US Open.  I think we all thought Rafa’d decided to give it a miss.  Presumably they’ll all be exempt from quarantine rules?  I hope this all works out OK.

I was the only person waiting to order in the park café today who was actually wearing a mask.  And, at the frozen yoghurt shop yesterday, I was wearing a mask and the guy told me that I didn’t need to wear one, because the rules only applied to big supermarkets!  WTF?  And then you start wondering why you’re even bothering, and then people don’t bother because no-one else is bothering …

Nice weather today.  Please, please be like this for my week in the Lakes!!

 

Thursday, July 30th

All that talk about things being back to normal doesn’t half look like pie in the sky now.  The latest is that people with symptoms are supposed to self-isolate for 10 days rather than 7 days.  None of this is enforceable, and this seems to be the problem in Australia: people aren’t sticking to the rules because they’re worried that they won’t got paid, or may even lose their jobs, if they stay off work.

Gloomy news is coming in from all over the world: cases seem to be on the increase everywhere.

Ash Barty’s said that she won’t be playing at the US Open.  Everyone else is being vague.

My new masks came today.  Two United masks and one Manchester bee mask!

And my holiday to Japan has officially been cancelled.  I’d long since accepted that it wasn’t going to happen, and really it was a relief to get the e-mail and know that I won’t have to chase them for the credit note, but it’s another blow … I booked it long before any of this happened, and was so looking forward to it.  Travelling is such a big thing for me, and it’s completely off the menu at the moment.

 

Later – WTF??  It’s just been announced that separate households have been banned from meeting indoors in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.  I don’t believe this.  There isn’t a problem in our area.  Why the hell are we being punished because there’s been an increase in cases in Oldham and Rochdale?  I am really, really pissed off about this.  So the whole area – Manchester, Salford, Stockport, Wigan, Tameside, Bury, et al – gets punished because there’s an increase in cases in Oldham and Rochdale?  I am fuming.  It better bloody well hadn’t get any worse.  TBH, I haven’t been doing a lot of meeting people indoors anyway, except Mum and Dad and I assume I can still see them indoors because we’re in a bubble, but WTF?  I know I should be saying that it’s my civic duty and I’ll do whatever it takes, but that it’s not how I feel.  It’s not our area.  Why have all 10 boroughs been lumped in together?

 

Friday, July 31st

Ugh.  This is a total nightmare.  It’s not just in people’s houses, it’s also indoors at cafes etc, and in private gardens.  If the rate of infections in our area was high, I’d get it, but it’s not.  It’s 16 per 100,000 people, which is far lower than in many other parts of the country.  In Bacup, Rawtenstall, etc, the rate’s falling.  But we’ve all been lumped in with Oldham and Rochdale, where the rate’s 3 1/2 times higher than it is here.  This is bloody ridiculous.  And it was announced, on social media, at around half 9 last night, to come into force at midnight.  What were people whose parents were meant to be looking after their kids whilst they were at work meant to do?

Support bubbles are excluded.  And you can still go on holiday as long as it’s not with members of another household.  I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t have my break in the Lakes.  Please, please don’t let anything else happen within the next 2 weeks.  But my sister & co will now probably not be visiting, because they can’t see any of us unless it’s in a park.  I haven’t seen them since February.  First the Spanish quarantine, and now this.  I feel like we’re jinxed.  I’m very upset.

Everyone, including TV channels and newspapers, is saying openly that this has been done because it’s Eid al Adha today.  Even politicians from both main parties – Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, and a local Conservative MP – are saying openly that the issue is largely within the South Asian community.  This isn’t racism: it’s what the statistics show.  I’m bothered that there are going to be community tensions if this continues.  People are very upset.  However, it’s also an issue about young people, from all ethnic backgrounds – the kind interpretation is that young people are more likely to have returned to their workplaces, but there are a lot of concerns about young people socialising without observing social distancing.

Nationwide, bowling alleys, casinos and skating rinks will now not be able to open tomorrow as planned.  I can’t say that this bothers me, but it will bother a lot of people, especially the owners of those businesses.  And couples were supposed to be have up to 30 people at wedding receptions from tomorrow, but that’s now off, which is going to devastate those affected.  Also, face masks have to be worn in places of worship, museums, galleries etc … and, at the park café today, there were about 20 people in the queue and hardly any of them were wearing masks.

I accept the stuff about casinos etc, but I bloody object to my area, where the rate of infection is not high, being subject to additional restrictions because it’s high in other boroughs in the area.  People are not happy.

 

Saturday, August 1st

I’ve had a big rant here – big rant – about how angry I am that a) we’ve been lumped in with areas where the rate of infection is over 5 times higher (Blackburn) than it is here and b) people are blatantly breaking the rules.   Also, the tabloids have gone full on Armageddon.  We are going back into full lockdown, there will be riots, the Army will be called out, the end of the world is nigh, etc etc.  On top of this, the Spanish health authorities want the Madrid Open cancelled.

On a happier note, the Cup Final went ahead, even if it was rather odd having it in August, with no fans present, and without a proper trophy presentation by Prince William.  But at least we got a Cup Final.  Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea.  The county cricket season’s started, and the rugby league season resumes tomorrow.

Shielding ends today, except in Wales, Leicester, Bradford and Blackburn-with-Darwen.  All the people who moaned that shielding was imposed in the first place are now moaning that shielding’s ended.  I don’t mean people who actually are shielding, for whose concerns I have the deepest sympathy:  I mean people who just moan about everything to try to score political points.

It’s actually been quite a nice day, apart from the stress over what might happen next.  I had a lovely morning at Biddulph Grange.   There was quite a complicated one way system, because of the narrow paths and tunnels, but everyone stuck to it.  I should have been there four months ago, to see the daffodils.  Instead, I was there to see the woodland walk full of early blackberries!   Time marcheth on …

 

Sunday, August 2nd

I’ve just sent a stroppy e-mail to my MP.  I appreciate that he’s only been in Parliament since December and that Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock probably don’t even know his name, but one of the Stockport MPs has spoken out, so why can’t ours?  Sandwell in the West Midlands has got an infection rate of 40 per 100,000.  Ours is 16 per 100,000.  Why have restrictions been imposed here but not there?  A load of sarcastic memes are doing the rounds.  They don’t help.  There are also a load of wild rumours in the media.  The whole of London is going to be locked down.  All over 50s are going to be banned from going out … which would include the Prime Minister, the Chief Medical Officer, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and half the Cabinet, so would certainly be interesting!   This doesn’t help either.

It poured down early on, but then the sun came out and it turned into a really nice day.  I had a lovely time at Tatton Park.

 

But I’m on edge because I’m desperate for this break in the Lake District and am frightened now that something’ll happen to stop it.

 

Lockdown Week 12 – June 8th to 14th 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 8th

We’ve now had daily death tolls below 100 for two days in a row, but we do keep getting low figures on Sundays and Mondays, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Getting rather upset over my hair.  Please, please, let hairdressers reopen!

And how typical is this?  Rain on Saturday, rain on Sunday, sunshine today.  So annoying!  I had a nice walk in the park, though.  And Beeston Castle and Brodsworth Hall are amongst the first six English Heritage properties reopening!   Like with the NT, you have to book, but still.  I’m getting quite booked up now!

 

Tuesday, June 9th

Death toll back up today.

Tesco and M&S this morning, then called into the office.  Went to the park later.

I feel like the world’s gone stark, raving mad.  Is it this bad everywhere else?   Our dentists are refusing to reopen the surgery. Waterstones are saying that, if you pick up a book and then decide you don’t fancy it, it’ll have to be put into quarantine and then not put back on the shelf for 3 days.  A lot of shops are saying that customers won’t be allowed to use the toilets.  And the left-wing teaching unions seem hell bent on making sure that schools won’t reopen fully until 2021.  In the middle of all this madness, Sadiq Khan’s said that he’s going to review all the statues in London in case any of them are associated with slavery, like statues are anyone’s priority at the moment!   And I don’t feel that anyone’s in charge.  I do understand that Boris has been extremely ill and is probably nowhere near 100% yet, but the daily press conferences are like Play School – guess who’s going to be presenting them today!

In the real world, away from teaching unions and people harping on about statues, café owners are forking out a fortune on having takeaway hatches put into their premises, and desperate people are writing to the local papers to say that they’re going to lose their jobs because they can’t work from home and their children can’t go back to school.  When are hairdressers reopening?  When are hotels reopening?

As Tears for Fears said, it’s a very very mad world!!

 

Wednesday, June 10th

I am trying to ignore the Cultural Revolution brigade.  They clearly know not the first thing about history.  I am also trying to ignore my ill-mannered bosses.

Boris has decided that people living alone need company, so I can now “form a support bubble with another household”.  In English, this means that I can go to Mum and Dad’s for tea.  Also, zoos and safari parks can reopen.  This is all good, but we need hairdressers, hotels, flights without quarantine, and public toilets!  Not to mention schools.

I seem to be losing my way a bit … I had a few bad diet days, and I put on weight so easily that a few bad days equals weight piling on, and then I get demoralised and go off on a downward spiral. And the weather’s miserable, although I managed to get to the park and the frozen yoghurt shop without getting wet,  Sun, come back, please!

 

Thursday, June 11th

I was booked on a webinar from 1pm till 4pm – I mean, what a stupid time?! – so I went to the park early … which made the afternoon drag.  I suppose I could have gone back out later, but a) the weather was miserable and b) I had to clean the kitchen!   I had a grand tidy-up of work stuff whilst “watching” the webinar, so everything looks a lot tidier now.  There are so many half-done jobs which I can’t get the info to finish, and they’re cluttering up the front room!

There was a thing on the BBC website about all the things which workplaces are doing to make team members feel supported etc.  OK, I really do not need to do online yoga sessions with my colleagues, or Great Office Bake Off things, but, in almost 12 weeks, we have not so much as had an e-mail saying “Hope everyone is OK”.  Colleagues and I are asking each other if we are OK, but the bosses just do not give a shit.  It’s not very nice.

On a happier note, La Liga resumes tonight, with the Seville derby.   Leagues 1 and 2 here are being decided on points per game.

 

Friday, June 12th

The UK economy shrank by 20% in April.  We have got to get things open again.  Much more of this and millions of people will be out of work, with the resultant social, physical health and mental health problems, kids’ education will be severely damaged, and communities dependent on tourism will be struggling for years to recover.  But then it’s likely that cases of the virus will spread, as is happening in parts of the US.  It’s just a nightmare.

I got an e-mail from Greater Manchester Transport, saying that there’d be more trams, buses and trains from next week, but that people should try to avoid travelling at rush hour.  What a senseless thing to say!  Before lockdown, getting the tram at rush hour meant paying rip-off peak time fares so that you could stand up all the way into town, clinging for dear life to a strap, with your face squashed into someone’s armpit, watching as people at later stops struggled to board because every square inch of room was taken.  Nobody would have travelled at rush hour if they could possibly have avoided it.  People travel at rush hour because they’ve got no choice.   You might as well send an e-mail saying that people should try to avoid it raining today.

We all need to work together, but, instead, politicians are squabbling, and we’ve now got these ridiculous culture wars being waged again.  Would someone please tell me how removing the “Don’t mention the war” episode of Fawlty Towers from the BBC Archives solves the problem of racism?  And, on top of that, there’s now a row going on over comments made by J K Rowling about transgender women using female-only spaces.

Gah!!

On a happier note, the weather forecast for the weekend has improved.  Walked to Sainsbury’s Local and back earlier, and then to the park later.  I wouldn’t mind nipping out again, maybe for a drink to have in one of the smaller parks, but I’m not sure if I can face the queues!

 

Saturday, June 13th

I have had hugs!  For the first time in nearly three months.  From Mum and Dad.  We are now in a “support bubble”!

Went to Styal/Quarry Bank Mill today.  As with Lyme, I walked round parts of the woods I never usually visit, but, hooray, we were actually allowed in the gardens at Styal.  So lovely to be amongst the flowers.  So beautiful and colourful.  So peaceful and timeless.

It was lovely to be somewhere like that.  Everything’s turned so ugly.  How does removing episodes of Fawlty Towers solve anything, much less vandalising statues of Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria?  What has any of this got to do with dealing with racism?  It’s just the woke brigade virtue-signalling.  And it’s created deep divisions just when we most need unity.  It’s just awful.

Driving past the airport, which is very close to Styal, was upsetting, though.  And it’s really, really hit me today, on this long summer’s day, that this is The Year Without Wimbledon.  I accepted that Indian Wells and Miami weren’t happening.  I accepted that the clay court season wasn’t happening – and that was really hard, when it’s been Rafa’s time from 2005 onwards.  But the thought of a summer without Wimbledon is very sad.

What else?  Went to the park later.  A small ceremony took place at Windsor today, to mark the Queen’s Official Birthday.  There was something very comforting about it.

And it’s so light.  We’re only 8 days off the Longest Day now.

 

Sunday, June 14th

A-ha!  With all due respect to the National Trust, Tatton Park is doing things much better … although, to be fair, it’s an enormous estate, and The Stables tearoom (The Gardener’s Cottage tearoom sadly remains closed)’s got that big outdoor seating area anyway, and they’ve moved some stuff around in the courtyard to make room for more tables and chairs.  Entry to the gardens was by timed ticket only, and you weren’t allowed in the Rose Garden, but it was lovely to walk round.  The weather behaved again, hooray.  We did have two heavy showers later afternoon – whilst I was in the park, typical! – but it was warm, dry and sunny otherwise.

Anyway, to get back to Tatton Park, the estate’s now open to anyone, subject to paying the car parking fee.  So much better than having big estates closed whilst everyone crams into public parks.  And The Stables tearoom’s open for takeaways.  I know I had a scone yesterday, but I couldn’t resist the prospect of my first tea and scone “out” since the middle of March.  It wasn’t particularly fresh, and the choice was very limited, but it was a start.  The NT need to do this too.  And the café in the park should reopen – they’d make a fortune.

So, all in all, it was a lovely visit.

Meanwhile, 6,000 idiots attended “quarantine raves” at Daisy Nook Country Park and Carrington.  FFS.

It’s been a nice weekend.  And the Premier League’s back next week!

And that’s 12 weeks in lockdown … well, semi-lockdown now.

 

Support bubbles, scones and snapdragons

I am now in a “support bubble”.    This means that I can go round to my mum and dad’s and actually go inside, that they can come to mine and actually come inside, and that I have actually had a hug for the first time in 12 weeks.  I have also had a cream tea of sorts (tea in a takeaway cup, scone in a wrapper) somewhere other than my own garden for the first time since the middle of March.  And I have been round the gardens at Quarry Bank Mill and Tatton Park.   And, hooray, the Premier League resumes next week.   Now, if I could just have my hair cut and coloured, so that I could a) stop having to clean spray-on wash-in hair dye out of the bath and b) look rather less like I’m about to start singing an ’80s power ballad … .  OK, I’m always singing ’80s power ballads, but the look doesn’t really work in 2020.  But hooray for support bubbles, scones and snapdragons.

Has anyone else wondered if somehow they’ve fallen down a rabbit hole into a world where everything’s completely mad?   I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare and the (Mad) Hatter all turned up on my doorstep.

I cannot think of any other time in history, or even in myth or legend, where you haven’t been allowed to hug your own family and friends.    It really is strange.  But, hey, thanks to the support bubble, we’re getting somewhere!   A “support bubble” is an arrangement between a single adult household and one other household to form a “bubble” within which social distancing need not be observed.  Fortunately, our situation’s straightforward.  Mum and Dad are together, so I didn’t have to choose between them.  My sister isn’t a single adult household, so they didn’t have to choose between her and me.

And, hooray, unlike Dunham Massey and Lyme Park, Quarry Bank Mill (Styal) and Tatton Park are letting people into the gardens.  Even better, the weather has actually behaved this weekend.  Blue sky!  It feels like … well, it feels like the grass court season should be here, but it isn’t.  Oh well.  But at least there are flowers.  It’s so lovely to see big gardens, full of flowers, again.

And so peaceful.  The public parks, especially at weekends, are full of kids on bikes, adults on bikes, kids on scooters, dogs … it’s like playing some sort of computer game in which you have to try to steer a path (at a 6 foot distance!) between all the hazards.  That’s why I’ve kept saying how ridiculous it was that big estates like Tatton Park were closed.  With so few places open, it was inevitable that we’d all be crowding into public parks.

Tatton Park, although National Trust members don’t have to pay to go into the house (which isn’t open ATM) or gardens, isn’t run by the NT, and, with all due respect to the NT, its management have shown a lot more sense, by getting the tearoom open.  The nice Gardener’s Cottage is shut, but The Stables tearoom is open for takeaways.  There’s a big outdoor seating area in the courtyard anyway, and more space has been made so that more tables and chairs can go out there.  They must have made a lot of money today.  Good for them.  It made me think of Mrs Merriwether in Gone With The Wind, pulling herself together and selling her pies, instead of bemoaning the collapse of her world.  A lot of local cafes and restaurants are doing takeaways now.  Good for all of them.  I very much hope that they all survive this horrible time.

And I really needed those peaceful gardens this week, because there seems to be so much anger and hatred everywhere.   What happened to all that talk, in April, about community spirit, when Captain Tom Moore was inspiring us all?  This week’s been awful.  Say you’re upset because someone vandalised a statue of the man who saved Britain from the Nazis, and someone accuses you of being a racist.  Point out that most policemen would are neither racist nor violent, and someone accuses you of “white privilege”. How did the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests become twisted like this?  The Guardian newspaper prints a cartoon depicting Priti Patel as a bull with a ring through her nose.  Whilst you don’t expect decency from what the Guardian‘s become, overt racism, and in a way that’s also religiously offensive, from a well-known newspaper is very shocking, particularly so at a time when so many people have been speaking out about the damage done by racism.   A woman who’s been a victim of sexual violence says that she thinks there’s a need for single sex spaces, and she’s threatened with rape.  What is going on here?   These are very difficult times.  We need to be working together, not hurling vile abuse at each other.

And as for the fact that, after 12 weeks of working from home, we still haven’t had so much as one e-mail asking if we’re OK …

But we have support bubbles.  And we have scones.  And we have gardens.  And we have each other.  And, this weekend, we also have sunshine!

Support bubbles, scones and snapdragons

I am now in a “support bubble”.    This means that I can go round to my mum and dad’s and actually go inside, that they can come to mine and actually come inside, and that I have actually had a hug for the first time in 12 weeks.  I have also had a cream tea of sorts (tea in a takeaway cup, scone in a wrapper) somewhere other than my own garden for the first time since the middle of March.  And I have been round the gardens at Quarry Bank Mill and Tatton Park.   And, hooray, the Premier League resumes next week.   Now, if I could just have my hair cut and coloured, so that I could a) stop having to clean spray-on wash-in hair dye out of the bath and b) look rather less like I’m about to start singing an ’80s power ballad … .  OK, I’m always singing ’80s power ballads, but the look doesn’t really work in 2020.  But hooray for support bubbles, scones and snapdragons.

Has anyone else wondered if somehow they’ve fallen down a rabbit hole into a world where everything’s completely mad?   I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare and the (Mad) Hatter all turned up on my doorstep.

I cannot think of any other time in history, or even in myth or legend, where you haven’t been allowed to hug your own family and friends.    It really is strange.  But, hey, thanks to the support bubble, we’re getting somewhere!   A “support bubble” is an arrangement between a single adult household and one other household to form a “bubble” within which social distancing need not be observed.  Fortunately, our situation’s straightforward.  Mum and Dad are together, so I didn’t have to choose between them.  My sister isn’t a single adult household, so they didn’t have to choose between her and me.

And, hooray, unlike Dunham Massey and Lyme Park, Quarry Bank Mill (Styal) and Tatton Park are letting people into the gardens.  Even better, the weather has actually behaved this weekend.  Blue sky!  It feels like … well, it feels like the grass court season should be here, but it isn’t.  Oh well.  But at least there are flowers.  It’s so lovely to see big gardens, full of flowers, again.

And so peaceful.  The public parks, especially at weekends, are full of kids on bikes, adults on bikes, kids on scooters, dogs … it’s like playing some sort of computer game in which you have to try to steer a path (at a 6 foot distance!) between all the hazards.  That’s why I’ve kept saying how ridiculous it was that big estates like Tatton Park were closed.  With so few places open, it was inevitable that we’d all be crowding into public parks.

Tatton Park, although National Trust members don’t have to pay to go into the house (which isn’t open ATM) or gardens, isn’t run by the NT, and, with all due respect to the NT, its management have shown a lot more sense, by getting the tearoom open.  The nice Gardener’s Cottage is shut, but The Stables tearoom is open for takeaways.  There’s a big outdoor seating area in the courtyard anyway, and more space has been made so that more tables and chairs can go out there.  They must have made a lot of money today.  Good for them.  It made me think of Mrs Merriwether in Gone With The Wind, pulling herself together and selling her pies, instead of bemoaning the collapse of her world.  A lot of local cafes and restaurants are doing takeaways now.  Good for all of them.  I very much hope that they all survive this horrible time.

And I really needed those peaceful gardens this week, because there seems to be so much anger and hatred everywhere.   What happened to all that talk, in April, about community spirit, when Captain Tom Moore was inspiring us all?  This week’s been awful.  Say you’re upset because someone vandalised a statue of the man who saved Britain from the Nazis, and someone accuses you of being a racist.  Point out that most policemen would are neither racist nor violent, and someone accuses you of “white privilege”. How did the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests become twisted like this?  The Guardian newspaper prints a cartoon depicting Priti Patel as a bull with a ring through her nose.  Whilst you don’t expect decency from what the Guardian‘s become, overt racism, and in a way that’s also religiously offensive, from a well-known newspaper is very shocking, particularly so at a time when so many people have been speaking out about the damage done by racism.   A woman who’s been a victim of sexual violence says that she thinks there’s a need for single sex spaces, and she’s threatened with rape.  What is going on here?   These are very difficult times.  We need to be working together, not hurling vile abuse at each other.

And as for the fact that, after 12 weeks of working from home, we still haven’t had so much as one e-mail asking if we’re OK …

But we have support bubbles.  And we have scones.  And we have gardens.  And we have each other.  And, this weekend, we also have sunshine!

 

(I know this is in twice – Facebook had a strop and wouldn’t share the first one, so I had to repost it!)