Here we go again? Week 3, December 20th to 26th 2021 inclusive

Monday, December 20th

Bleurgh.  Having tested negative for Covid all the way through Abu Dhabi, Rafa tested positive on his return to Spain.  He said he’d been feeling a bit rough but was hopefully improving, but he seemed doubtful about the Aussie Open anyway and, with the players due to head to Melbourne on the 27th, I can’t see him playing.  I’m so, so sorry for him: he’s been out for over half a year with this foot problem, and now he’s played all of two matches and this has happened.

And we lost the second Ashes Test.

One of my colleagues has also tested positive.  She hasn’t been in for a few days as one of her kids was ill, so it’s unlikely she’s passed it round the office, and she’s got no symptoms, but she’s very upset because her Christmas plans have been ruined.  Such a shame.  Callous boss’s response was “Shit” and to moan about how inconvenient it was – not a word of concern for her health.

There’s thankfully been no noticeable uptick in hospitalisations or deaths yet, but infection rates are sky-rocketing … especially in densely-populated areas, with half the ten Greater Manchester boroughs now above the national average for the first time in a long time.  The biggest immediate problem is the number of people off work due to self-isolation, and what that could mean for essential services.  And a lot of people are cancelling plans, leaving the hospitality and entertainments industries struggling.  Also, more countries are imposing travel restrictions … it’s hard to keep up with it all.

Boris has said no more restrictions *yet*.

And the Queen’s cancelled the Royal Family Christmas at Sandringham.  Such a shame for her.  She’ll stay at Windsor, and family members will visit her there.


Tuesday, December 21st

I have just had some very bad health news.  There was a very, very low chance of this happening, which was why my GP never even considered it, but it has.  I’m not quite sure yet whether to keep this as a Covid blog or to make it a Covid/health blog.  I don’t suppose many people read it, so it’s really just for me.  Writing usually helps, but I’ll have to think.  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, please don’t mention it as I haven’t told many people yet.  I’ve always tried to be so careful about everything.  Much good it does you.

I’m still writing about Covid for now.  Scotland and Wales are both making sports events more or less behind closed doors for now.  Rishi Sunak’s bringing back the SSP rebate scheme, and also providing support for the arts and hospitality industries.  New Year’s Eve events are being cancelled all over the show.


Wednesday, December 22nd

Will someone please tell me that I’m going to wake up?  My world fell apart yesterday.  And it wasn’t supposed to.  I’d been referred for a benign condition, but, somehow, the original scan missed something.  I can’t take it in.  Waiting to hear what happens next.

In Covid news:

  1. Wales is bringing back the rule of 6.
  2. Nightclubs in Northern Ireland are to close after Boxing Day.
  3. In England, the self-isolation period’s being reduced from 10 days to 7 days for fully vaccinated people who’ve tested negative twice.
  4. And vulnerable children aged 5 to 11 are to be offered one dose, and 16 and 17 year olds are to be offered a booster.
  5. Various European countries are reimposing various restrictions.
  6. Israel’s to offer a fourth dose.
  7. Tim Laurence has tested positive, so he and Princess Anne are self-isolating.

Thursday, December 23rd

Dunham lights tonight.

More tests today.  I need to stay off Google.   It keeps reminding me that this is very, very rare, which doesn’t really help.  I don’t know whether I should be writing this.  I suppose writing it won’t make it any worse.

Nightclubs in Scotland are to shut for 3 weeks.

People getting the Omicron variant seem less likely to need hospital treatment than those with other variants.


Friday, December 24th

The consultant said she hoped they could do a biopsy – and it took me ages just to type that word – on January 4th.  She was being optimistic.  January 18th at the earliest … and that’s if I don’t test positive for Covid in the meantime.  How do I deal with anything until then?  I feel like a bad soap opera plot.  How is this happening to me?  I’m meant to be keeping a Covid journal, not this.  It really is like a bad soap opera plot.  You get referred for a benign condition – fibroids are not nice,  but not serious – and then this happens, 4 days before Christmas.  I can’t process it.  Sorry if anyone is reading this and finding it awkward/upsetting.

More and more places are imposing restrictions.  There may well be an announcement here after Christmas.


Saturday, December 25th

Today was Christmas Day, and, unlike last year, we had a normal Christmas Day, everyone round to Mum and Dad’s for mountains of food.

I felt like the elephant in the room.  I don’t know if everyone else felt normal or was just pretending to be normal.

I am not processing things.  I feel like I’m in a bad soap opera.  With no prospect of further news for over a month, what do I do?


Sunday, December 26th

I wanted to do something really good today, but it was miserable and drizzly, so I just went to Dunham Massey.  Again.

New restrictions come into force in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland next week, but not England.  Yet.

I am still not processing things.  I started writing this week’s post when life was normal and I thought I had a fibroid and a cyst and that was it.  Even typing this seems unreal.  I don’t even know whether or not to post it, to be read by strangers.  Nothing seems real any more.


I have decided to publish this as I’m not processing the news at all, and maybe publishing it will make it seem real.  If anyone’s reading this, please don’t feel obliged to comment – just please don’t, if you know me in real life, on Facebook or anywhere else, mention it there.  Thank you.




Here we go again? Week 2, December 13th to 20th 2021 inclusive

Monday, December 13th

I am thoroughly fed up.  My new computer was supposed to be being delivered today, but now they’re saying “7 to 10 working days”, so it doesn’t look as if I’ll have it before Christmas, and the IT guy won’t be able to come in the first week of January because I need to self-isolate before my next-but-one hospital test.

Also, everyone at work is upset about how badly we are being treated.

And it sounds as if the United Covid outbreak’s in the first team, because the club have spoken to the Premier League about postponing the Brentford match.  Also, the Champions League draw was a fiasco and had to be redone, but we’ve ended up with Atletico Madrid.    And Emma Raducanu’s now got the lurgy.  It would just say it all if the Sports Personality of the Year had to accept her award whilst self-isolating.

Long queues are forming as most people try to get their boosters, but we’re being told that Omicron is spreading even more quickly than the original virus did back in March 2020, before anyone was vaccinated.  One person in the UK’s already died with it.  It’s more or less certain that more restrictions will be announced for Scotland tomorrow, and you have to think that the same may happen in England before long.

I’m sorry for all of us.   This virus is evil.


Tuesday, December 14th

11 days to Christmas.  My life’s up in the air anyway, until I get confirmation about the operation, but now it seems like life in general’s back up in the air because of the bloody Omicron variant.  The red list’s being scrapped again.  Which is good for some people, but very frustrating for people like my friend’s mum – she was visiting relatives in South Africa when all this started, had to come back because of work and spent thousands of pounds which she couldn’t afford on a quarantine hotel, only to find now that, if she’d waited another couple of weeks, she could have avoided it.

People in Scotland are being asked to limit the number of households with whom they socialise, and to keep their Christmas celebrations as small as possible.

The United v Brentford match is definitely off.  Just hope things are OK for the Brighton match on Saturday.  And a number of theatres have cancelled shows due to Covid outbreaks.

Everyone is so fed up.

The “Plan B” measures are being voted on in Parliament tonight.  They’ll pass, because Labour’ve agreed to back them, but up to 70 Government MPs could vote against them.  It’s just a nightmare – we don’t know how bad Omicron could be, so we don’t know whether these measures are necessary are not.


Wednesday, December 15th

United are back in training.  Fingers crossed for Saturday,.

I had my MRI scan on the wretched fibroid this morning – which was horrible, because the scanner makes awful noises and I’m not good with awful noises.  I wish miserable Chris Whitty would stop saying that hospitals might all close down in January.

Meanwhile, Omicron is spreading apace – particularly in London, but apparently now in the North West as well – even amongst people who are double vaccinated and boosted.  I just can’t believe that we’re right back in the sh*t again.   And, again, we have politicians squabbling instead of trying to work together!  78,610 cases today – the highest daily number on record.  That’s nearly double the level we’d been averaging for months.  This is not good, folks.  This is not good.


Thursday, December 16th

If it weren’t for the tennis, I really think I’d cry.

  1.  United v Brighton is off.  My nephews haven’t been able to go to Old Trafford since before the pandemic, and were coming early for Christmas so that they could go to this match.  They are so upset and disappointed, and so am I.  Not to mention the fact that there’s now a fixture pile-up.  The FA said yesterday that no more matches were to be postponed, but I have no idea why they said that, as Burnley v Watford was called off soon afterwards, followed by Leicester v Spurs.
  2. The Queen’s cancelled her pre-Christmas family lunch – this horrible virus is spoiling people’s Christmas plans for a second year in a row.
  3. France has banned travel to and from the UK, except for “compelling reasons”.
  4. My younger nephew’s school’s sent out information about what to do if schools have to go back on to online learning after Christmas.  Boris won’t close schools again unless he absolutely has to, but some schools have got so many teachers and kids off that they’re struggling.
  5. 88,746 cases today.  Bloody hellfire.
  6. 745,183 boosters were given yesterday, which is something.

I just can’t believe we’re here again.


Friday, December 17th

The good news is that Rafa came through his comeback match with no obvious problems.  The bad news is that Andy beat him, 6-3 7-5, but, OK, I suppose he was bound to be rusty.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Lowry last night was brilliant.  However, again there were issues with people not wearing masks.  Being a Thursday night, it wasn’t that busy, but it will be at weekends, and for the matinees once schools break up.  The review of the pantomime in the MEN mentioned how few people were wearing masks.  It really is frustrating.

Following the postponement of United’s match (and, incidentally, four more Premier League matches have now been postponed), the boys decided that they would like to go to Sale Sharks.  I don’t really get rugby union, but, OK, whatever.  However, it was a European match against a French team, and has now been postponed as that git Macron won’t give sports teams exemptions from the new travel rules.

Wales is closing nightclubs after Boxing Day.

Hospitality businesses and theatres are reporting huge drops in bookings, and are asking for the furlough scheme to be reopened.

A number of people, especially those with school age children, have said that their mental health really can’t take another lockdown.

As I said yesterday, I just can’t believe that we’re here again.


Saturday, December 18th

The computer guy has got my new computer.  Fingers crossed that he can get it sorted ASAP, because there are a lot of reports about a 2 week lockdown after Christmas.  The Netherlands has just imposed a lockdown.  And a “major incident” has been declared in London.

Yet more matches bit the dust today, but Salford City v Stevenage survived, so we went to that, then out to the Anatolian Grill later.

Rafa lost to Denis 😦 .  But only in a final set tiebreak.  You can’t expect too much too soon, I suppose.


Sunday, December 19th 

Went to Hollingworth Lake this morning.  Nice sunny day.


And I’ve got my new computer.

Restrictions have now been imposed in Denmark.  And Germany’s saying that anyone entering from the UK’ll have to go into quarantine for 2 weeks.  And there’ve been anti-restriction protests in Belgium.

We’re getting towards a million boosters a day … but infection rates are sky-rocketing.  Locally, they’re at the highest rates ever recorded, although that doesn’t mean much because not that many tests were being carried out in March, April and May 2020.   Hospitalisations are now ticking up in London, and there are concerns over what’s going to happen if large numbers of hospital staff are off self-isolating.

It does now look very likely that further restrictions will be imposed.  We could even be looking at at a two week lockdown after Boxing Day, although, TBH, I’m not sure a) what good that’d do and b) if people’d stick to it anyway.

When will this ever end?

On a happier note, Emma Raducanu is Sports Personality of the Year.


Freedom? Week 20, November 29th to December 5th 2021 inclusive



Monday, November 29th

Ralf Rangnick has officially been appointed interim manager of United.

The snow has frozen.  Great.  But should melt overnight.

More cases of the Omicron variant.  Boosters are to be offered to everyone over 18, with the gap reduced to three months.   I’m due for mine next week, but I’m just too frightened to have it after all the problems I’ve had since the second jab.


Tuesday, November 30th

I’ve had a text and an e-mail telling me that I’m eligible for the booster.  I know.  But I tried to do the right thing by having the first two doses as soon as I was eligible, and things haven’t been right since and are now very wrong – and I’m not the only one.  I feel awful about all of it.

Kids aged between 12 and 15 are to be offered a second dose.

Mask-wearing is now supposed to be compulsory in shops and on public transport again, but a lot of people weren’t bothering in Tesco this morning – and that includes most of the Tesco staff.  Same story in Morrisons, when I popped in there briefly on my way to the dentist’s.

Switzerland has imposed travel restrictions on people returning from the UK, because of 22 cases of the Omicron variant, so there’s now talk of moving the United-Young Boys match to a neutral venue.  That hardly seems very fair.  Why should we lose home advantage?  No-one’s stopping Young Boys from coming here.  Also, it looks as if the 5th Ashes Test may have to be moved away from Perth, due to Western Australia’s quarantine rules.

Greece is to fine anyone over sixty 100 euros per month if they don’t get vaccinated, which I actually think is appalling – every case is individual and some people may have genuine fears about it.


Wednesday, December 1st

It feels like we’re gong backwards rapidly.  Although we’ve been told not to cancel Christmas plans, some people are nervous.  There’s talk in some countries of making vaccination compulsory.   And more and more travel restrictions are being imposed.   It’s thoroughly demoralising.  Will this *never* end?

And Jo Konta’s retired due to her ongoing knee injury, which is rather sad 😦 .


Thursday, December 2nd

Ralf Rangnick’s got his work permit, the Young Boys match can go ahead as planned, and we play Arsenal tonight.

Infection rates in southern Africa are rising markedly, and look rather high here today, as well.  However, it does seem that most cases are mild.  Could this be the Spanish flu moment when a milder variant drives out the more deadly variants?  Well, we can but hope, but, at the moment, all the talk is of more restrictions.

Germany’s going to ban unvaccinated people from shops and bars.  I’m really not comfortable with this.  Banning a section of the population from public places, especially in Germany … I really don’t like this at all.


Friday, December 3rd

I have to go for more tests and scans in January, then will probably be having an operation in late Jan/early Feb.  With 8 weeks’ recovery time.  This was not exactly how I planned to start the new year, but, if it needs doing, the sooner the better.   I appreciate that I’ve been lucky in not having had a major op before – I’ve had teeth, tonsils and adenoids removed, but you get over those in a few days’ time – but it’s quite hard to get your head round.   Shame it wasn’t last year – I wouldn’t have missed anything due to lockdown.

The Republic of Ireland’s closed nightclubs and tightened restrictions on the hospitality sector in general.

I suppose no-one’s life plan really includes operations, eh?


Saturday, December 4th

It’s now been announced that anyone entering the UK from abroad will have to take a Covid test before they set off.  TBH, I think this is a waste of time.   The number of Omicron cases in the UK, and indeed in a lot of other countries, is on the rise.   Maybe the thinking is that any new variant can be kept out, but that just doesn’t seem to work.

Had my hair cut this morning.  Then met up with a group of friends, for the first time in 2 years, which was lovely – we usually meet up a few times a year, but our mid-March 2020 meet-up was cancelled because some people were getting nervous, and it’s been one thing after the other ever since.  So lovely to be together again.


Sunday, December 5th

Nigeria is now also on the red list.  There are now 246 cases of the Omicron variant in the UK, which isn’t a lot, but, once the genie’s out of the bottle … .  Thankfully, unlike the Republic of Ireland, we aren’t having another big wave of the Delta variant, but case numbers are certainly well up this week.

On a happier note, we began Ralf Rangnick’s reign with a 1-0 victory over Palace.  And I’ve put my Christmas tree up – I usually do it right at the beginning of December, but just haven’t had time this year.

And this is the Prestwich Christmas tree:

I’m not coping very well with the prospect of horrendous pain, indignity and an 8 week recovery period, but am even more stressed at the thought that something in either of the forthcoming scans might prevent the operation from taking place, because I want it over and done with.   I just want it confirmed that it’s happening, and a date for it.  Well, no, I actually want someone to wave a magic wand and make the problem go away, but I do get that that’s not going to happen.



Freedom? Week 18, November 15th to 21st 2021 inclusive



Monday, November 15th

Round Edinburgh Castle with the tour group today.  Lovely sunny day.

All over 40s in England are to be offered boosters.  And I honestly don’t know what to do.  I was really pro-vaccination until I had the second jab, and we keep being told how important vaccinations are and how it’s silly and selfish not to have them.  But I did have some problems after the second jab, which I now know that a lot of other women have had too, and that was when the medical problems which led to my being diagnosed with a large fibroid really started.  I appreciate that the vaccine cannot have caused a fibroid, but it certainly exacerbated the problems and I’m very nervous about what might happen if I have the booster.  I’ll probably have to have it eventually, but I can’t really deal with it at the moment: I’m struggling enough, especially as it’s been so difficult just to get an appointment with a doctor.  I do have more sympathy now with people who are nervous about being vaccinated – they’re being looked down on as stupid and ignorant and being taken in by conspiracy theories, but there are genuine medical concerns as well.  I didn’t feel comfortable writing about it at the time, but I really did have some very distressing and frightening problems after the second jab, and the fact that it’s so difficult to get any sort of medical help at the moment has made me even more nervous.

On a happier note, we’ve qualified for the World Cup!  Beat San Marino 10-0!


Tuesday, November 16th

We’re in Inverness!   We left Edinburgh this morning, and called in at St Andrews and Pitlochry, then drove through Culloden (sadly no proper stop there) and ended the day in Inverness.  I’ve never been this far into the Highlands before.   We had to have our temperatures taken before getting on to the coach to leave Edinburgh, but TBH I don’t think anyone took it very seriously, and you don’t have to wear masks on the coach as it’s not public transport.

The Republic of Ireland’s tightening restrictions.


Wednesday, November 17th

A day in the Highlands!   We drove past Loch Ness this morning, although sadly there was no sign of the monster, and we saw Ben Nevis in the distance.  We then visiting a) a whisky distillery and b) Glencoe.  Most people were very excited about the former.  I was very excited about the latter.  Then ended up in Oban, which is lovely – although probably a lot lovelier in the summer!

In Covid news, cases here seem to be falling at the moment, but they’re going up in a lot of places, especially Germany and Austria.



Thursday, November 18th

We drove down from Oban to Glasgow this morning, along the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

Goodbye to the Highlands!   The Americans and Canadians in the group have now got to do Covid tests before going home … although we’re not sure whether the tests they did on arrival have actually been collected yet!   It seems that most cases here are now amongst primary school kids.  And there’s some talk of a new strain, which is rather worrying.

Friday, November 19th

Most of the tour group people have gone home, but I’m staying on till tomorrow, and have spent the day looking round Glasgow.  I went to the Willow at the Mackintosh tearooms!

Very worried about Peng Shuai, who hasn’t been seen since accusing a senior Chinese official of sexual assault.

In Covid news, Austria’s going back into full lockdown, the first “Western” country to do so this autumn.  Bavaria’s tightening restrictions, as are some other German states, and Northern Ireland looks set to bring back the WFH directive.  Cases in much of Central and Eastern Europe seem to be soaring.


Saturday, November 20th

I finally got to see Glasgow Cathedral just before my train home!   It was closed yesterday and this morning because of Walter Smith’s funeral.

We lost 4-1 at Watford.  Totally humiliating.  What a mess all this is.  Meanwhile, City’s match at Leipzig is to be played behind closed doors because of Covid restrictions being reintroduced in Saxony.   And there’ve been riots in Rotterdam, as anti-restriction protests got out of hand.

I am now home.


Sunday, November 21st

Ole’s been sacked.  It had to happen, but I feel kind of sad – we all love him.  We’ve got how City used to be, a new manager every five minutes and nothing getting any better.  It’s just a mess.

I went to the Christmas markets today.  Lovely sunny day.  Except that now I haven’t done the ironing.  I was naively expecting that, apart from Albert Square being closed, the Christmas markets’d be like normal, but they’re not – there are far fewer stalls than usual, and a lot of the old favourites, including the singing reindeer, are missing.  But at least we’ve got something, which is more than a lot of places have got, and it was nice.

Sascha won the World Tour Finals.  Olympic officials have spoken to Peng Shuai, who told them that she was OK.  I just hope that she genuinely is.

More anti-restriction protests in the Netherlands, and also in Belgium, Austria, Croatia and Italy.  Things turned violent in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Freedom? Week 15, October 25th to 31st 2021 inclusive

Monday, October 25th

It is really confusing having everyone and their dog putting their two penn’orth in all over the media.  Infection numbers may rise to 100,000 a day, but this shouldn’t be a problem.  No, no, this is a huge problem, and we will be back in lockdown by Christmas.  Nonsense – infection numbers will be down to 5,000 per day by Christmas.  The booster programme is going well.  The booster programme is going too slowly.   Vaccinations should be made compulsory for NHS staff.  Vaccinations should not be made compulsory for NHS staff.

Latvia is back in lockdown, Russia’s going into a week’s “firebreak”, and now Romania’s imposing a night time curfew.  Only about a third of adults have been vaccinated in Russia, and the same in Romania.


Tuesday, October 26th

Case numbers have dropped quite a lot over the last week.  What does this mean?

Meanwhile, more tests today.  I arrived at 8:15 for my 8:30 appointment, to find myself in an empty room because “the receptionist doesn’t start till 8:45”.  The place opens at 8.  How can they have no receptionist until 8:45?  Anyway, they did everything, then said I should chase my GP surgery as they “were very busy” and might not get round to contacting me about the results.  My anxiety levels were already through the roof – that did not help!

The WTA’s said that unvaccinated players will be able to play at the Aussie Open.

And I hope the Queen’s OK.  We just keep being told that she’s been “advised to rest”.


Wednesday, October 27th

More confusion over the Australian Open.  Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison said unvaccinated players would be able to enter Australia to play, as long as the state of Victoria  applied for exemptions from national rules.   But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said Victoria won’t be applying.   TBH, if the rules say no entry without vaccination, then I don’t see why you should get an exemption just because you’re a professional athlete, so I think Andrews has got a point.  Presumably this will also affect England cricketers.  Meanwhile, Dominic Thiem’s been banned from the Vienna Open, i.e. his home event, because he hasn’t been vaccinated yet.  He says he’s waiting for the Novavax.  Er, whatever!

There was a lot of speculation about whether or not MPs would wear masks whilst the Commons was packed out for the Budget statement.  Some did.  Some didn’t.   Masks have been mandatory in the Commons for everyone except MPs!   Keir Starmer wasn’t there at all, having tested positive for Covid.


Thursday, October 28th

Rishi Sunak has been to Bury Market, presumably to show how committed he is to helping Northern England.  Unfortunately, he called it “Burnley Market”.  To be fair, I think it was just a slip of the tongue, because it was straight after a reporter had been talking about coming from Burnley, but it made him look a bit of a prat.  On a more serious note, there’s been horrendously heavy rain in the Lake District and parts of Scotland.  The piers at Windermere are flooded, as are various roads, including the road between Ambleside and Grasmere 😦 .

And all remaining countries on “the red list” are to be taken off it.


Friday, October 29th

Apparently I have got a large fibroid.  Apologies for TMI, but, as I’ve kept going on about medical tests, that’s what’s turned up.  I had a complete nightmare this afternoon: I rang for the results at 3, as I was meant to, spent ages in a phone queue, and was then told that the receptionist had forwarded the results to a doctor who wasn’t in today, so no-one had looked at them.   Try again at 4.  I rang again at 4.  No-one’s looked at them: they’re all too busy.  It’ll have to wait till Monday.  At this point, I got really upset.  Thankfully, it was the nice receptionist, not the stroppy one, and she persuaded the doctor to ring me back at 6.  And at least I was WFH today.  Imagine dealing with that at work.  Or during your journey home.  So I’m quite upset, although at least it’s nothing worse.  My auntie and my cousin both had a lot of trouble with fibroids: I think they are partially genetic.  Now I’ve got to have more blood tests.  And then, hopefully, I will actually get to see a doctor, because it’s come this far and I haven’t actually *seen* a doctor yet.

I am trying to get my head round it all.

1 in 50 people in England had Covid last week.  Apparently.  How on earth do they work that out, when positive tests were about 40,000 per day and the population of England’s about 57 million?  I’m sure they’ve got a way, but it makes no sense to me.  Meanwhile, restrictions around masks and isolation are being tightened in Wales, things are not very good in Russia, and restrictions are being tightened in Beijing ahead of the Winter Olympics.


Saturday, October 30th

We won 3-0 at Spurs today.  That’s more like it.


Sunday, October 31st

Today, I had booked a Blackpool Illuminations tram.  When I arrived, the sun was out.  Then it went in, and there were two absolute deluges.  However, the tram was very nice, and it was good to see the Illuminations after not being able to go last year.

Freedom? Week 13, October 11th to 17th 2021 inclusive


Monday, October 11th

Today, I tried ringing my PMI firm to ask what the procedure was if the scan showed that I needed to be referred to a consultant.  This was even worse than trying to get through to the NHS.  Fortunately, I was WFH today, so I just put the phone down next to the laptop and at least didn’t have to worry about being interrupted, but it took 55 minutes for someone to answer.  The person who answered was very apologetic, and I got the distinct impression that they were constantly listening to complaints about how long it took to get through, and obviously it wasn’t their fault, and, as usual, you can’t get to speak to the people in charge, but I was nearly in tears by then.  I’d tried the online service but it just kept saying “no agents are available”.  And, after all that, all I got was that I should ring back when I’d got the scan results … which was fair enough, but, by the time I’d waited 55 minutes for someone to answer, then gone through all the rigmarole security questions, then explained the situation, it took an hour and a quarter just to be told to ring back.


There’s been a large and rather violent demo in Rome against vaccine passports.  Italy’s rules are pretty draconian.  And Sydney’s lockdown’s ended, after 107 days.


Tuesday, October 12th

The official report into the UK’s response to Covid has said that things were handled very badly at first, but that the vaccine rollout was a great success.  A few salient points:

  1. We should have locked down earlier, although the Government did follow scientific advice on aiming for herd immunity.  I still think that herd immunity’s a thing, because the highest rates now are in areas which previously had low rates, and vice-versa, but the virus went for the most vulnerable people and that resulted in a tragic loss of many lives.
  2. Releasing people from hospitals into care homes was a tragic mistake, as was the lack of testing for care home staff.  At the time, the idea was to free up hospital beds, and I get that, but the death toll in care homes was terrible.
  3. There were failings over PPE.
  4. Some interesting comments about borders.  I’ve got no idea how they’ve worked this out, but the report says that 33% of cases during the first wave came from Spain and 29% from France.  At the time, the focus was all on the Far East, and then on Iran and Italy.
  5. The whole local lockdown was a shambles.  That’s putting it mildly.
  6. There should have been more testing early on.
  7. The pandemic response was based on plans for a flu pandemic, which weren’t appropriate in this case.
  8. There’s a lot of talk about “group-think”

People are busily using this to try to score political points, which isn’t helpful.  And what’s done is done.  All we can do is try to learn from it, although hopefully nothing like this will happen again any time soon.

Oh, and George Freeman, the “Science Minister”, has said that the UK’s had a high Covid death toll because we’re all too fat.


Wednesday, October 13th

The Covid app went down today.  It’s working again now, but apparently there was chaos at airports.  I don’t understand why people don’t print stuff out in case something like this happens!

Trafford’s infection rates are still sky high and getting higher.  Very odd how one borough is so much worse than the others.


Thursday, October 14th

Sajid Javid’s announced extra funding for GPs, but said that they’ve got to see more people face to face.  Good.   I wish he’d also tell them to bring back online booking and online triage so you don’t have to spend an hour trying to get through on the phone – although, to be fair, I think most surgeries are doing that anyway.  I just wish ours was.


Friday, October 15th

Due to holidays being cancelled because of you-know-what, I had a spare holiday day and, not having been to either Shugborough or Trentham Gardens this year,  I decided to find somewhere to stay in Staffordshire, and found me The Upper House, which used to belong to one of the Wedgwoods and is just off the Wedgwood Estate, and very close to Trentham Gardens.  I went to the Monkey Forest first, then the gardens, then the Wedgwood tea room (sorry, had to be done), and then came to the hotel.  How cute are these monkeys?!

Plus it’s kind of distracted me from this horrendously stressful situation of waiting for more medical tests and imagining all sorts.  It really is very, very, difficult.

Some awful, awful news, though – MP Sir David Amess has been stabbed to death during a constituency surgery.  What has the world come to?   Two MPs have been murdered in 5 1/2 years.  It would have been unthinkable a decade ago.  So much hatred.  What is wrong with the world?  That poor, poor man, and his poor family and friends.


Saturday, October 16th

FFS.  We lost 3-2 at Leicester.  This cannot go on.  On a happier note, Cam Norrie’s reached the Indian Wells final.

It now seems that the man who murdered Sir David Amess was an Islamic fundamentalist … only days after an Islamic fundamentalist murdered five people in Norway.  Awful.

Today, I went to Boscobel House and White Ladies Priory, where Charles II hid after the Battle of Worcester.  And this is the Royal Oak in which he hid!  OK, it isn’t, because the original was wrecked by 17th century souvenir hunters, but it *is* grown from one of the original oak’s acorns.  And then I had afternoon tea at the hotel.


Sunday, October 17th

Shugborough today, then home.

Freedom? Week 8, September 6th to 12th 2021 inclusive

Monday, September 6th

What a to-do last night!  Brazil has put the UK on its quarantine list – possibly as a tit-for-tat thing because they’re on ours.  UK-based Brazilian players did not travel for the World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina.  UK-based Argentinian players did, and the Brazilian authorities apparently told the Argentinian FA that they couldn’t play as they hadn’t gone into quarantine for 2 weeks (although they were due to fly out of Brazil straight after the match).  Argentina fielded 3 (out of 4) of them anyway, and, about 11 minutes after KO, Brazilian police and health officials invaded the pitch and the match was abandoned!

And Emma Raducanu’s into the QFs of the US Open!   Absolutely amazing.  Dan Evans lost to Daniil Medvedev, but that’s hardly a disgrace.

Those schools which didn’t go back last week have pretty much all gone back today.

And I’ve had an e-mail from Old Trafford to say that there will be spot checks on vaccine passports on Saturday.  As there’s not yet a legal requirement to show them, you will not be refused admission to the stadium without one, but I suppose they want to check that the system works.  Just hope it doesn’t cause long delays like it’s done at the US Open.


Tuesday, September 7th

The Christmas puddings, mince pies, chocolate Father Christmases etc are out on the shelves in Tesco.  This didn’t surprise me, because it happens every year, but … how ridiculous!   In the first week of September!

Anti-vaxxers have thrown gravel at Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and protested at public transport sites in parts of Europe.

Boris has announced plans for a new 1.25% tax to cover health and social care costs.  I think we all accept that there is a huge problem with social care, and also issues with the NHS, and that the money for increased funding has to come from somewhere.  However, that’s a huge chunk out of people’s income, and you can guarantee that horrible bosses will not be giving private sector workers a pay rise to cover it.  I suspect that “the pandemic” will be used as an excuse to freeze private sector pay – i.e. cut it in real terms – for years to come, whilst public sector workers get rises but moan that they want more.   And, of course, self-employed people can’t just put up their own income.  But I do accept that the money has to come from somewhere.

The i newspaper has seen fit to report that there are plans for some sort of lockdown in late October or early November.  The Government’s denied it – although not ruled it out if hospitals are becoming overwhelmed.  Do newspapers have to do this?  Now, anyone who’s due to get married, go on holiday etc around then is going to be stressing, and hotels and entertainment venues are going to be stressing about losing half term bookings.

And it’s suddenly gone really hot.  Like, 80 degrees hot.  And I’m stuck in an office.  Bah!!


Wednesday, September 8th

Oh no!!   The boiler packed up last night.  I suppose at least it didn’t pick the middle of winter.  You used to be able to speak to a human being at British Gas even if you rang at midnight: now, even if you ring at a normal sort of time, you only get an automated voice prompt.  However, I was able to book an engineer for this morning.  To be fair, he turned up at 9 o’clock, for a “between 8 and 1” appointment.  But he seemed rather clueless, kept looking for answers on his tablet (hopefully a technical website and not Google), kept muttering to himself, rang his mate, and then said that it was “pointing towards the circuit board”.  But they don’t carry circuit boards.  So he will have to come back tomorrow.  Again “between 8 and 1”.  Let’s just hope that this sorts it.  And that it stays sorted – on numerous occasions, British Gas have claimed to have sorted a problem and then it’s gone again days or even hours later.

And this is what happens.  I appreciate that they cannot give an exact time.  I appreciate that they do not carry expensive parts with them.  But imagine if this had happened pre-Covid, when I wasn’t set up to WFH?  Mum and Dad are in London for a few days, visiting my sister, so I couldn’t have asked them to wait in.  What on earth would I have done?   Rung in sick and felt guilty about lying?   And then had 2 days knocked off my paid sick leave allowance, so that I wouldn’t have got paid if I genuinely *had* been ill later in the year?   I am so, so glad that WFH is now a “thing”, but so sorry for those people for whom it isn’t.

But, OMG, Emma Raducanu is into the semis of the US Open!   She’s beaten Belinda Bencic, whom I thought had such a chance here, in straight sets.  I’m lost for words.  A million times well done, Emma!


In Covid-related news, hopes are rising that the infernal travel system may soon be overhauled.   And Fred and various other players are going to be suspended because the Brazilian FA have complained that clubs wouldn’t release them.  Releasing them would have meant them having to go to quarantine hotels when they got back.  Talk about a no-win situation!

And official figures have shown that people in northern England were 17% more likely to die with Covid than those in the rest of the country, and that northerners had a 26% higher mortality rate in care homes than elsewhere in England, due to existing levels of deprivation.  I’m very angry and very upset about this.


Thursday, September 9th

Hooray.  The boiler is working again.  Touch wood!   Let’s hope that it stays that way!

Having my hair cut tonight.

All the Parklife crap is up in the park … including signs saying “Please have your Covid NHS pass ready”.  I’ve never actually seen signs like that in person before.

And my elder nephew only went back to school on Monday (the younger one is still at primary school so not affected by testing) but two of his friends have already tested positive for Covid.  The first kid will now miss a close friend’s bar mitzvah, at which he was due to be giving a speech.  The second kid tested positive after he started coughing *at* school … so could already have spread it all round the class and all round the bus.  Will this nightmare ever end?!


Friday, September 10th

OMG, the US Open final will be Emma Raducanu v Leylah Fernandez.  I can’t believe what I’ve just written.  Very, very, well done, ladies – and come on Emma!  What an unbelievable achievement.

I am less impressed with the Indian cricket team.  A few members of the backroom team have tested positive.  Not one of the players has.  But they’ve used this as an excuse to call off the 5th and deciding Test match at Old Trafford.  At 9am, just 2 hours before the first day’s play was due to start.  A lot of fans were already on their way to the ground.  OK, they’ll get the cost of their tickets back, but they won’t get their travel and accommodation costs back, nor the day off work.  And the insurance will cover some of Lancashire’s costs, but not all, and it won’t cover the losses suffered by local businesses.  There’s a very strong feeling that the Indian players are prioritising the megabucks IPL over the Test series, and to hell with the fans and the Manchester businesses affected.   It’s not on.


Saturday, September 11th

Ronaldo is back!!   We beat Newcastle 4-1, we’re top of the league (for now), and he scored the first two goals!   Brilliant, brilliant afternoon!

And Brazilian players will now not be suspended.

And no-one asked me for my vaccine passport.  But presumably some people got spot checked.

Now for the U.S. Open final …

… although, on the 20th anniversary of “9/11”, the mood in New York must be fairly sombre.

In Covid news, Boris will be announcing the “Winter Plan” on Tuesday.  This is likely to include:

  1.  An announcement on exactly who’ll be getting booster jabs this autumn.  Israel’s giving them to everyone.  That’s unlikely to happen here.  But we don’t know whether it’ll be everyone in the initial nine priority groups, or just the immunocompromised, frontline workers and the elderly.
  2. Presumably, a decision about vaccinating 12 to 15-year olds.
  3. Contingency plans to reintroduce some restrictions if the NHS starts to struggle under the combined weight of increasing Covid cases and the usual winter pressures.  Hopefully, this won’t be needed, but I’d rather hear Boris spell out the plans than have the press speculating and panicking everyone.  I really do feel sorry for people planning weddings or other big events: instead of getting excited about the big day, they’re going to be stressing in case they have to change their plans at the last minute.


Later – OMG, Emma Raducanu is the US Open champion!!!  6-4 6-3.  Disappointing for Leylah Fernandez, after beating three top 10 players, but I’m sure her time will come.  But Emma – WOW!   Over many years of watching tennis, I’ve seen plenty of teenagers win Grand Slam titles.  Rafa in 2005, for one!   The Steffi/Monica/Arantxa generation, and then the Venus/Serena/Martina Hingis generation.  And others.  But this!   For someone to win a Grand Slam title in only her second main tour event.  As a qualifier.  Unbelievable.  What an incredible achievement.



Sunday, September 12th

Oh, for heaven’s sake!  After everything I said yesterday, it now appears that we will not be getting used to vaccine passports, because the idea of using them even for big events has been scrapped.    This sort of thing really annoys people.  There are arguments for and against them, but don’t say that they’re being brought in and then change your mind!  It was only last week that Nadhim Zahawi was saying that the end of September was the right time to start using them.  Now Sajid Javid’s saying that the idea’s been scrapped.  Make your minds up!

I went to Tatton Park today, for the harvest festival – I always like to go if I’m here, and was sad when it was cancelled last year.  It rained in the afternoon, but it was all right earlier.


And come on Daniil … yes, I know that it’s really mean of me to be hoping Nole doesn’t win the calendar year Grand Slam …

I always say that the end of the US Open marks the end of summer.  Without wishing to sound like a doom merchant, I think we have to accept that things may well get worse over the autumn and winter months.  At best, they’ll stay stable.  We can’t really hope for any improvement until … well, you have to say late March/early April, so almost 7 months away.   It’s not the most cheerful of thoughts!    But fingers crossed …




Freedom? Week 7, August 30th to September 5th 2021 inclusive

Bank Holiday Monday, August 30th

This is the last Bank Holiday until Christmas.  That is frightening!   And, although sadly without Rafa, it’s the first day of the US Open.  Full house allowed, but spectators (apart from young children) have to show a vaccination certificate.  However, players don’t.  Rafa, Roger, Andy, Simona and various others have spoken out in support of vaccination, but many others, led by Nole and Stef, aren’t keen.  I don’t know why they aren’t keen, but they aren’t.

I went to Chester today, for the first time in years.  Cooler and cloudier today, but dry.  Like here, the city centre was busy, but most people seemed to be eating rather than shopping!   There are so few department stores left.  But it was certainly busy.  And I went on a boat trip!

One trend which I do not like, and which the pandemic seems to have exacerbated, is people taking their dogs everywhere, even into city centres.  It’s bad enough listening to barking, snarling and yapping in parks and gardens, without having to put up with it in cafes and shopping streets as well 😦 .

Right, I am off to watch the tennis!


Tuesday, August 31st

I feel full of woe today.  Mainly because, having been off diet for 3 days, I have someone put on 5lbs.  5lbs.  In 3 days.  I mean, it’s not like I ate 10 boxes of chocolates or anything.  I just ate a bit more than normal.  It could take months to lose 5lbs.  And I was already upset because I look so horrendously fat on the photos from the wedding.  This has been the story of my life.  This is why I struggle with both depression and eating disorders.  The one time I tried to get professional help, a well-meaning doctor gave me anti-depressants.  Which caused weight gain.  So I ended up feeling worse than I’d done to start with.  Also, the weather forecast for September is vile – and SW Wales, where I’m going, is usually right in the firing line for Atlantic storms.  And there’s talk of restrictions being reimposed in Scotland.

And I’m overtired because I was up late at the wedding on Sunday, then up stupidly late last night because the Andy v Stef match went to 5 sets.  And then Stef lost.  And then I had to get up early this morning to go to Tesco before work.  And work is crap because I’ve been landed with sorting out a mess made by someone who takes no responsibility for their actions.

Some days are just crap.  Today is one of them!

In other news:

  1. Fully vaccinated visitors from the UK no longer need to quarantine on arrival on Italy.  But we still have to have the stupid tests.  And there are still far fewer flights than usual.
  2. A number of people in America have been hospitalised after taking horse de-worming tablets to cure/prevent against Covid.  I am not making this up.
  3.  Someone’s set up a small memorial to local Covid victims, outside Tesco.  Very poignant.

Wednesday, September 1st

2 of the 5lbs have come off.  I feel a bit better now.  And it was 20 years ago today that I moved into my house.  20 years!  That is frightening.


  1. One of my colleagues, who refused to be vaccinated, has tested positive.  This was on Friday, but I was WFH on Friday and Tuesday, and no-one bothered to tell me.  The firm initially refused to pay to have the office deep cleaned, but, after an outcry, changed their minds.  However, by the time they’d done this, and because of the Bank Holiday weekend, it’s not being done until tomorrow night, so it’s basically pointless.
  2. My elder nephew’s friend, whom he was with yesterday, has had a PCR test as he came back from Spain on Monday … and it’s positive.  And another friend, whom both my nephews have seen, has been tested prior to returning to school and he’s positive as well.

Covid passports are being introduced in Scotland, for big events.  The infection rate in Scotland’s currently double the rate in England.

Eeh, I am sick of all this!


Thursday, September 2nd

Most schools are now back.  Let’s see what happens.

Meanwhile, in the middle of everything else, Hurricane/Storm Ida has caused mayhem at the US Open.  And mayhem generally – very distressing scenes, with 14 people killed across New York and New Jersey.

And there is a huge row going on over Toiletgate.  Much as I like Stef Tsitsipas, no-one needs to spend that long in the toilet unless they’ve got a medical problem!

Sarah Storey is now Britain’s most decorated Paralympic athlete.

And we beat Hungary 4-0 in our first World Cup qualifier … but there was some unpleasantness, with the Hungarian “fans” shouting racist abuse and throwing things at our players.  UEFA need to do something about this.


Friday, September 3rd

The JCVI are saying that kids aged between 12 and 15 should only be vaccinated if they’re clinically vulnerable.  So now the politicians and medics have either got to go against JCVI advice or else let the virus spread through schools  – as it’s doing in Scotland – and possibly spread into the wider community, not to mention cause issues if we eventually get back to any sort of travel normality and other countries want proof of vaccination from over 12s.  To be fair to the JCVI, their brief is to look at things from a purely medical viewpoint, but would it not have been better to have had them working alongside people looking at things from other viewpoints?   Tomorrow’s papers are full of headlines about how the politicians are going to override what they’ve said, which isn’t a very fair angle to take because surely the wider benefits of vaccinating kids are pretty obvious.

Infection rates across England and Wales are fairly stable – and the average across Greater Manchester is below the average for England.  Rates in Northern Ireland, whilst higher, are now falling.  But rates in Scotland are way up.  Is this because of schools, or is something else going on?


Saturday, September 4th

Like I’m not stressed enough about going to South Wales in my own, the infection rate in Carmarthenshire is 425, whereas it’s hovering in the 280s/290s here!

A decision on vaccinating healthy 12 to 15-year-olds will probably be made next week.

Carlos Alcaraz beat Stef Tsitsipas.  Not sure whether or not Stef was put off by the crowd getting on his back over Toiletgate, but what a great performance from young Alcaraz.  I feel so old!

And I met a friend at The Vienna Coffee House this morning.  Such a normal thing to do – meet a friend at a cafe in town.  But, for much of the last 18 months, it hasn’t been possible!   Some weird-looking statues have appeared outside Central Library: this is the “Gratitude” exhibition, to thank the NHS.   Photo below (just of one statue, because there were quite a few people there so I couldn’t get a photo of the whole lot without people in it, and I don’t know how to edit them out!).


Sunday, September 5th

Some thoughts on herd immunity.

Infection rates across “Greater Manchester” as a whole, whilst not low, are around the average for England – some boroughs a bit higher, some a bit lower.  You would expect rates in such a densely-populated area to be well above the average.  That’s certainly how it was last autumn and in the spring.  Not any more.  The highest rates nationwide are now mainly in the East and the South West, which had low rates throughout last year and the early part of this year.  That’s partly due to rates being high in some tourist areas, but it was happening even before then.  London, another very densely-populated area, was the first part of the country hit by Covid, and a lot of people there probably had it unknowingly before the first lockdown.  Apart from when the Alpha variant first hit, it’s generally, since the early days, had rates well below average.

Coming back to “Greater Manchester”, Bolton was the area first hit and worst hit, not just locally but nationally, by the Delta variant.  It had much the highest rate in the country for weeks.  But, for months now, it’s had the lowest infection rate of the 10 boroughs.  If we look at smaller areas, one of the worst-hit areas last year and early this year was Broughton Park, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish area of Manchester/Salford.  People there typically have very large families, and, without wishing to cast aspersions, everyone knows that in-person religious services and big wedding parties were going on there when they were banned.  Now, it’s got the lowest infection rate in the whole of any area within the 10 boroughs – and that’s despite having relatively low vaccination rates.

The health authorities insist that none of this is due to herd immunity, and that any reduction in infection rates is due to the vaccination programme.  The vaccination programme is hugely important and no-one is denying that.  But it’s hard to ignore what these figures are telling us, and they’re all pointing in the same direction.

Anyway!   Vaccine passports are coming in from next month … not a surprise.  England 4-0 Andorra.  Paralympics GB have finished second in the medals table in Tokyo.  Emma Raducanu has reached the last 16 at the US Open … and, rather than playing Ash Barty as expected, is playing Shelby Rogers.  And we’ve had really nice weather today.  I did think about going to Windermere, but I’ve had a lot of late nights with the US Open and wasn’t sure that a big day out was a very sensible idea, so I went to Speke Hall instead.


And such sad news about the death of Sarah Harding, aged just 39.  Bloody, bloody cancer.

Freedom? Week 5, August 16th to 22nd 2021 inclusive

Monday, August 16th

Dad’s coughing less and, thankfully, is OK otherwise.  And, thankfully, no-one else has got any symptoms.   The rules change today – any earlier and I, Mum, my uncle, my brother-in-law’s dad and several friends would all have had to self-isolate for ten days.  I’ve been in the office today, but I was in a room on my own – my colleague is on long-term sick leave – and haven’t been near anyone else.

“My” entrance to Heaton Park is going to be closed for FIVE WEEKS because of bloody Parklife!  I mean, WTF?   It’s a two day festival.  How can that possibly justify closing a main area of a busy public park for FIVE WEEKS?  I can get in a different way, but it’s a bit far for a dinner hour walk, plus it’d mean walking a long way along the side of a busy main road rather than actually in the park.  Bleurgh.

Roger’s having another knee op and will be out at least until next year.  No news yet on Rafa and the US Open.

In the middle of everything else, the Taliban have retaken control of Afghanistan and over 1,200 people have been killed in an earthquake in Haiti.

So much for being fully vaccinated giving you “protection”.  Dad is only one of several people I know/know of who’ve tested positive despite having had both jabs.  Hopefully the vaccines will at least stop you from becoming seriously ill, unless you’re extremely unlucky, but I think we were all rather over-optimistic about how effective the vaccines’d be.


Tuesday, August 17th

Oh, this is just the gift that keeps giving!   Mum started coughing last night.  She did a lateral flow test and it was negative, but apparently the line was very faint, and she thinks she must have it too.  So now they are both self-isolating.

I’m going to WFH for the rest of the week.

On the downsides, so much for the vaccines stopping you from getting infected,  On the upside, apart from the coughs, thankfully they are both OK.   18 months ago, if someone had coughed for a few days, you wouldn’t have thought anything of it.  In most cases, the vaccines are stopping serious illness.

So do we carry on with the testing and the isolation and the daily statistics announcements indefinitely, or do we get to a point where we treat Covid like flu?

Dad’s PCR test came back positive.  They asked him to fill in some test and trace stuff online, but he couldn’t work out how to do it!  Then he got a phone call from someone who sounded like he was in a call centre abroad, and didn’t speak English very well.  Excellent.

And my colleague who has been on sick leave for month has passed away.  It wasn’t a big surprise, but it’s still very sad.

Finally, they are apparently closing the Sheepfoot Lane entrance to the park, as well as the Grand Lodge entrance.  It is as clear as mud.  I rang the office to check, but no-one there was sure either.  Nor were they sure how it could possibly be necessary to close off parts of a public park for 5 weeks because of a 3 day festival.  They’re putting up a few temporary sets, not building a palace!


Wednesday, August 18th

It gets worse.  My brother-in-law’s dad started coughing and sniffling last night, and now he’s tested positive too.

Again, thankfully it’s nothing worse than a cough and a bit of the sniffles.  But the Delta variant is clearly incredibly easy to catch, even for people who’ve been fully vaccinated, and that’s really frightening.  All the uncertainty which the vaccines were supposed to eliminate is still there.  If you want to travel abroad, you’re taking a huge chance – however careful you try to be, you could still test positive before travel and lose the holiday, or test positive before return and be stranded abroad.  Or you could suddenly be faced with ten days’ isolation just as you’re supposed to be getting married or doing something else really important.   Or, if you can’t WFH, find yourself having to take ten days off work – and a lot of employers will not pay any more than the legal minimum statutory sick pay, and self-employed people get even less than that.  I’m really feeling quite downbeat about things.

And Dominic Thiem will be out for the rest of the year with a wrist injury 😦 .  Who exactly will be playing at Flushing Meadows?!


Thursday, August 19th

Thankfully, no-one else has shown any symptoms.  I am going round to Plague Towers tomorrow, to drop some groceries off outside the door, like people leaving butter on the Prestwich butterstile during the time of the bubonic plague.  Mum and bro-in-law’s dad have both had positive PCR tests.

The average infection rate across Greater Manchester is just below 300 per 100,000, which in turn is just below the national average for England.  The East Midlands, East Yorkshire, parts of the West Country and seaside towns (including Blackpool)  have got the highest rates.

Sajid Javid’s confirmed that a booster vaccination programme will be starting some time in September.

It looks as if my brother-in-law will be able to continue WFH full time until October.  Lucky him!   It’s very difficult in London – most people commute by Tube, the Tube trains are usually horrendously crowded, and it’s not even as if you can open the windows like you can on a bus or a tram.

And some friends had decided to take a chance, and booked a last minute holiday abroad.  Had the pre departure PCR tests.  And one of their kids tested positive.   Thankfully, the kid is fine, just a bit sniffly, but the holiday is obviously now off.   So sorry for them.  And this is exactly the sort of thing I meant yesterday.


Friday, August 20th

Just like this week wasn’t crap enough already, Rafa’s announced that he will not only miss the US Open but will miss the rest of the season as well.  He never plays well indoors anyway, so it makes sense, but … please tell me that this isn’t the end   He’s been written off before and come back, but he was younger then.  Both Rafa and Roger out for the rest of the season.  Dominic too, but he’ll be back … will they?   I hope so, but I feel very sad and very worried.

Went round to Mum and Dad’s to leave the shopping on the plague stone (i.e. outside the front door).  They are OK, just bored.  Dad is so bored that he’s walking laps of the garden (weather has been better today).

My bro-in-law’s dad has taken part in some weird test to find out whether or not Covid can be detected through sound.  He had to say “I’d love an afternoon tea, please”, then breathe heavily three times, then cough three times.  I am not making this up, honestly!

The lockdown in Sydney’s been extended yet again, until at least the end of September.  Like that’s going to make Covid magically go away.  And the whole of New Zealand is also in lockdown.  And some people I vaguely know have had the holiday nightmare I’m dreading – went abroad, had the PCR tests before coming home, one of them tested positive despite being fully vaccinated.  They’re in a relative’s holiday home, so at least they’re not having to pay for a quarantine hotel, but they’re now stuck there, missing at least 10 days’ work, and panicking in case one of the others gets it and they’re stuck there even longer.  This situation is just a nightmare.


Saturday, August 21st

Dad and bro-in-law’s dad are OK, but Mum is feeling very tired.  Just hoping that this passes in a few days’ time.

It has poured down nearly all day today.  So miserable, especially in August and when so many people are on staycation.  I went – in my cagoule and wellies – to do the new sunflower walk at the fruit farm.  The sunflowers looked lovely, even if I didn’t!

Then I went to the garden centre, but I haven’t done much else … although I’ve got some boring admin jobs done.  Watching the tennis from Cincy now, but feeling rather morose about it.

Thousands of people have protested in Sydney and Melbourne about the ongoing lockdowns, and clashed with police.  There was also a peaceful protest in Brisbane.

The news headlines here are mostly about the awful mess in Afghanistan … and the way in which people are more interesting in trying to score political points at home than in actually trying to do anything useful.


Sunday, August 22nd

Well, our great start to the season didn’t last very long, did it?   Drew 1-1 at Southampton this afternoon.

The weather was better today, at least.  I went to Bakewell, where I went to the Tiroler Stuberl, where scones come with lots of Continental whipped cream instead of clotted cream … wouldn’t do as an ongoing thing, but it does for a change!  Then to Matlock Bath.

I love the Derbyshire Dales, but it’s such a nightmare journey!  It takes me longer to get to Bakewell, which is 45 miles away, than it does to get to Windermere, which is 80 miles away.

Not much to say about Covid.  Locally, cases are slightly below the national average, some boroughs a bit lower, some higher, figures fluctuating a bit day by day and week by week but no major changes.  Nationally, I’d hoped deaths would be falling by now, but they aren’t – but they’re not rising either.   If this is as good as it gets, how can we go on like this?  How can anyone plan holidays, weddings or anything else when they could be forced into ten days’ isolation at any second?  How long do we keep being given daily stats for deaths?  We don’t get them for any other disease.   I just don’t know where we go from here.


Freedom? Week 3, August 2nd to 8th 2021 inclusive

Monday, August 2nd

Hooray, gold in the eventing, and two more silvers as well!

Some lovely scenes today, as families were reunited following to changes to quarantine rules for people coming from EU countries and the US.  There’s talk of more countries being moved to the green list, but you still need to have these bloody PCR tests and there’ve been some horror stories of people testing positive whilst abroad and then not being able to get home, being stuck in quarantine hotels abroad, paying a fortune and getting a load of hassle from their employers.  And there’s the risk of testing positive before you’ve even gone, and losing your holiday, your money and your time off work.  How long is this going to go on for?  I’ve lost two years’ travel already, which is a hell of a lot, and I really don’t want to lose any more, but how can you take those chances?

And the app’s to be “tweaked” so that it only pings people who’ve been in contact with an asymptomatic case within two days, not five.


Tuesday, August 3rd

And the medals keep coming!  Golds in the sailing for Stuart Bithell (who comes from Rochdale and learnt to sail on Hollingworth Lake) and Dylan Fletcher, and for Giles Scott.  Silvers in the men’s and women’s cycling this time – making Jason Kenny from Bolton Britain’s most decorated Olympian.  And more besides.  Great stuff!

I’ve not established my new routine yet.  I need a routine.  I am like Ma Ingalls, doing everything on a set day!  I should go back to going to the gym twice a week after work, but I can’t face it at the moment.  And last week I went to Tesco after work on Friday, like I used to pre-pandemic, but a) it was quite busy and b) some of the shelves were empty.  So today I went back to going on Tuesday morning, but I had to go very early so as to give myself time to get home, unpack the shopping and get to the office by 9 o’clock.  There were no proper tills open.  This sometimes happened pre-pandemic, if I was going early due to the French Open or Wimbledon, but they always used to open a till for me.  Today, they said that they couldn’t because there was no-one available.  The new scan tills were inexplicably cordoned off, so I had to put a whole weekly shop through one of the self service tills, dumping everything on top of other stuff so I didn’t “remove an item from the bagging area” and taking ages.  Bah!!  Also, because I’d had my breakfast so early, I was so hungry by dinnertime that I felt ill.


Also, seeing as it now looks highly unlikely that I’ll be going on a Christmas market trip abroad for the last week of November as planned, I’d bought a ticket for the rugby league World Cup final.  But it now looks almost certain that the rugby league World Cup will be postponed until 2022, as Australia and New Zealand have said they aren’t coming.  Great 😦 .  And I bet they now offer you the option of holding on to the ticket for next year, which I can’t really do when I don’t know the dates or what else might be on!


Wednesday August 4th

All 16 and 17 year olds are to be offered vaccines.  No decision yet on 12 to 15 year olds, but I can see that coming

Golds for Ben Maher in the showjumping and Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre in the sailing today!  And medals in the boxing and skateboarding too.  We’re not having much luck in the athletics, though – a superb silver for Keely Hodgkinson from Atherton in the 800m yesterday, but Dina Asher Smith, Adam Gemili and Katarina Johnson Thompson have all had to pull out injured.

And I am not doing well with being trapped in the office, and am very glad that it’s only for 3 days a week at present.  It saps your physical and mental energy in a way that doing the same work at home just doesn’t.


Thursday, August 5th

France is back on the main amber list.  Germany, Austria, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Norway and Romania have been moved to the green list,  India, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar have been moved from red to amber, and Mexico, Georgia, Reunion and Martinique have been moved from amber to red.   It’s good news about the green list, but you’ve still got to have these bloody tests, and there’s that fear that, however careful you’ve been, you could test positive before you go, when you’ve already paid for and planned the holiday and taken the time off work, or test positive whilst you’re there, and be stuck in an expensive quarantine hotel, getting grief from work.  And how are you even meant to get the PCR tests done when you’re trapped at work?!  I’m desperate to start travelling again, but I’m not really seeing a way forward ATM 😦 .

More medals!  Including gold for Matt Walls from Shaw in the cycling, and bronze for Holly Bradshaw from Chorley in the pole vault.  Well done, everyone!

Rafa won his comeback match, against Jack Sock in Washington, but was clearly and very worryingly still struggling with the foot injury :-(.

The rugby league World Cup’s officially been postponed.  Bah!

Off to have my hair cut and dyed now!


Friday, August 6th

The good news:
More medals for Team GB, including golds for Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald in the madison cycling, and for Kate French in the modern pentathlon.

The R number is probably now below 1.  There’s been no noticeable increase in infections since “Freedom Day”.

The bad news:
Rafa lost to Lloyd Harris.

We are being told that levels of the virus in people infected with the Delta variant despite being fully vaccinated are the same as those in people infected but unvaccinated, so they’re probably just as infectious as unvaccinated people.

Concerns are growing over the number of people, especially men, in the younger age groups who haven’t taken up the offer of a vaccine.


Saturday, August 7th

Hooray!   I actually went to a live professional football match today!   The Premier League starts back next week, but the lower leagues started today, and we went to Salford City v Orient.  1-1 draw.  It didn’t half feel good to be back at a live sports event.  (And it was so easy …. no messing about with these awful new digital tickets that both United and City have introduced.)  Please, please, don’t ever ban fans from football grounds again!

Another great day in Tokyo, including golds for Joe Choong in the modern pentathlon and Galal Yafai in the boxing!

But the weather is awful.  So sorry for people who’re on staycation.  I was going to go to Haworth tomorrow, but there’s a thunderstorm warning and I don’t desperately want to be driving across the moors in a thunderstorm … a bit *too* Wuthering Heights!


Sunday, August 8th

Hooray!   A 7th gold medal, a record 9th medal overall, for Jason Kenny from Farnworth.  Sir Jason Kenny and Dame Laura Kenny come New Year, surely?  Gold for Lauren Price in the boxing, too.  We finished with 65 medals, the same total as in 2012, and 4th in the medals table.  Well done to everyone – and thank you to Tokyo for putting on these Olympics under extremely difficult circumstances

The weather has been utterly vile today.  It wrecked the cricket, and meant that I did not go to Haworth.  Instead, I went to see Jungle Cruise at the Vue Printworks.   This was my first visit to the pictures since before the first lockdown.  I thought it might feel a bit weird, but, TBH, it didn’t feel weird at all.  A few people came in wearing masks, but I don’t think anyone kept them on.  It was early on a wet morning, so it wasn’t particularly busy and no-one had to sit next to anyone they weren’t with.  Maybe it would’ve felt different if the place’d been packed out.  I don’t know.  I don’t usually go to the pictures at busy times anyway.   I was a bit narked that they’d put the price up from £4.99 to £5.99, and then tried to make out that you’d still only pay £4.99 if you booked online.  No.  If you book online, you get charged a 79p booking fee.  OK, I understand that they need to try to recoup some of their losses, but at least be honest about it!  Anyway, the film was very good.

Infection rates locally are now below, around or only just above the national average, except in Salford which seems to be having a few issues but still isn’t that bad.  The highest rates now seem to be in Yorkshire.

And, needless to say, it is going to be sunny tomorrow!