Lockdown Week 15 – June 29th to July 5th 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 29th

Today should have been the first day of Wimbledon.  But there is no tennis, it has poured down nearly all day – I went out to the park, and later for a short walk, and both times it started pouring down whilst I was out, and was so windy that it was hard to keep my brolly up – and the temperature’s more suited to November than June.  Bah!  And I’m fed up of not knowing when online booking for things will open, and worrying that I’ll miss it.  And it looks as if poor Leicester will have to keep stricter regulations for another couple of weeks.

On a happier note, my favourite café is reopening this weekend!  And my elder nephew went back to school today – mornings only, reams of paperwork, and there are only three weeks of the academic year left anyway, but it’s a start!

 

Tuesday, June 30th

Another cold, wet day.  I’ve decided that I need to cancel my booking for Japan … I’m sad about it, but, even if the trip goes ahead, it’s not the time for long-distance travel.  I made a list of European trips as an alternative, but they all say that they’re only going with Lufthansa so I’d have to change in Germany, which is ridiculous because Jet2.com will be flying from Manchester to Rome and Venice by then, and the tour company’s always used them before.  I sent an e-mail asking about all this, but the person I’ve been dealing with is off this week, so I re-sent it to the general address, and no-one’s answered (yet).  My sister is stressed out trying to cancel a holiday to America.

Off to the frozen yoghurt shop, then it’s United v Brighton.

Getting very little contact from work, and I don’t think clients are checking work e-mails.

 

Wednesday, July 1st

The holiday company have not got back to me.  The weight I somehow put on overnight last week has not come off.  Booking for something I wanted to book is opening on Friday … when I can’t watch the website because I’ve got the chiropodist.  And I went into the office this morning and felt really uncomfortable being there.  And there is no Wimbledon.  And Wigan Athletic have gone into administration.

On the plus side, we beat Brighton last night, the dental surgery has finally reopened, and it has stopped raining.

I just can’t see an end to this.  Leicester’s back in lockdown.  We’re still registering nearly 200 deaths a day.  WHY?  Nowhere else is.  Death rates are supposed to be back to normal, so it doesn’t make any sense.  Melbourne’s also back in lockdown, the situation in the US is bad, it’s bad in India too, and the US has bought up practically the entire global supply of remdesivir.  When is this nightmare ever, ever going to end?

 

Thursday, July 2nd

The French Open is apparently going to have stadia 60% full!  Which will be the same as usual, as the prawn croissant brigade only ever take their seats for Rafa, Roger, Jo or Gael!!  I’d assumed it’d be behind closed doors.

The holiday company have sent me an e-mail saying they’ll get back to me.  They haven’t done.  And the office laptop had a huge strop this morning and lost the IP address for the remote connection, although it’s working now.

And it managed to stay dry whilst I was in the park today, which was good.

I feel as if there should be an air of excitement ahead of pubs etc reopening, but the Leicester lockdown and the situation in America have really cast a wet blanket over everything.  And cases are quite high in several other places, many of which are local.  The authorities will not do anything about community transmission because they’re more afraid of being accused of racism than they are of the danger to public health.  So everyone’s feeling a bit despondent … and it’s all so political, with so many people more concerned about criticising the government than about trying to find solutions.

And, as much as I accept that it’s a nightmare, every solution raises new problems.  For example, it’s been suggested that schools should vary starting times, so that there aren’t hordes of kids all streaming in through the doors and hanging around in the cloakroom/locker areas at once.  That makes sense.  But it won’t fit in with transport timetables, especially for private schools where a lot of kids get school buses, or in rural areas where buses only run once an hour.  And what about primary schools, where most kids are dropped off by parents, who may have 2 or 3 kids in different academic years?  But school attendance will be mandatory again from September, unless there are very good medical reasons.

 

Friday, July 3rd

I don’t know what I’m more sick of, this horrible depressing rain or being chained to the office computer.  But, on the positive side, I’ve got a place on a Windermere Lake Cruise steamer for next Saturday!   They actually open tomorrow, but a) the forecast’s vile and b) I’d already booked Fountains Abbey.  I’ve waited nearly 4 months: I suppose I can wait another week.

The air bridges have been announced, but the holiday company have not got back to me.

I went to the chiropodist this morning.  The magazines in reception have been replaced by pictures of feet!  And the chiropodist was wearing a mask and gown.  And I had to leave by a side door!

 

Super Saturday, July 4th

This is so-called “Super Saturday”, when hairdressers, pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels can reopen.  The doom merchants are insisting that zillions of people will be falling down drunk all over the country and the virus will spread like wildfire, but I can’t see it.  Observed en route to Fountains Abbey – a lot of caravans heading for the coast, and a long queue outside a barber’s shop.  I left here in torrential rain, but it was dry in Ripon, and I had a really nice time.  And, hooray, the visitor centre tea room (although sadly not the lakeside tea room) was open (for takeaways), and they had lovely National Trust scones, straight out of the oven!

It was pouring down when I got home, but dried up later, when I went for a late walk in the park.  The farm centre cafe’s now reopened, the ice cream vans are back, and, hooray, some of the toilets have reopened!!

This was after United v Bournemouth.  We won 5-2!   Really exciting, eventful match … such a shame that we couldn’t be there in person to watch it, but still.  We’ve restarted well … but it’s no good unless someone else slips up.

I am due at the hairdresser’s at 8am tomorrow.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be going anywhere!

 

Sunday, July 5th

Hooray, I have had my hair cut and coloured!  I actually look like me again!  It was a bit weird with me in a mask and my hairdresser in a visor, and not being able to have a cup of tea, but it was the usual nice friendly atmosphere.  I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for nearly 20 years.  The salon’s opening 7 days a week, and extra hours each day, for now, and anyone who’s too nervous to go in the main salon can have their hair done in a room upstairs which isn’t usually used.

Later, I went into town, to my favourite café, The Vienna Coffee House, which reopened yesterday.

It was quiet … which was nice for me, because my main issue with going to cafes/pubs/restaurants is the fear of being caught by “test and trace”, and I certainly won’t be going into one during the three weeks before my “staycation”, but not so for them.  It’s early days, though, and town was certainly much busier than it was the last time I went.  You do have to fear for businesses, though, and for the transport networks too, with theatres still closed, no live music, and no crowds at football matches.  This rotten weather isn’t helping – London’s been busier, because it’s been nice there, but it’s been very windy here, and now it’s raining again.  It rained whilst I was on my way back from the park, too.  Bah!

Oh well.  We do need to try to stay positive.  I don’t watch BBC News any more, because of its negative attitude and the way it criticises the Government’s every move, but now Sky News is getting as bad!   Negativity won’t help.

I still can’t quite believe that all this is happening.  My admiration for the generations who lived through the world wars, especially, because of the Blitz,  the Second World War, was always high, but it’s now higher than ever.   Our lives have been turned upside down.

But, hey, hairdressers are open, and cafes are open!  Some places of worship have reopened, and some weddings have taken place.  It’s just all so far from normal.  I want normal back.

 

 

 

 

 

Socially-distanced strawberry-picking – a lockdown experience!

I’ve been going fruit-picking at Kenyon Hall Farm for many years.  The people there are wonderful.  One year, I very stupidly decided to go on a boiling hot day, straight after blood donation, left my bottle of water in the car, and started feeling faint whilst waiting in the long queue to pay.  The lovely owner sat me down, got me a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits, and waited with me until I felt better.

I used to go fruit-picking every year, as a child.  There was a fruit farm not far from where my maternal grandparents lived, and we used to go there with them.  But, over the years, a lot of “pick your own” fruit farms have closed … so I was delighted when I came across Kenyon Hall.  When I first started going there, they just had the fields and a polytunnel.  I’ve seen them build a café and a farm shop, put in extra polytunnels as a plant centre, and even put in a kids’ playground.  It’s quite a North West institution now: people from Manchester to Liverpool go every year to pick berries in the summer and pumpkins in the autumn.  Running a fruit farm at the mercy of the Great British Weather isn’t always easy, and, even just over the last few years, we’ve had gales, heavy snow in March, floods, heatwaves and droughts, but they always manage to produce fruit for us to pick even so!

Normally, I just turn up at 9 o’clock on a Saturday or Sunday morning, and off to the strawberry fields or raspberry canes I go.  It’s amazing.  You’re very close to both the East Lancs Road and the M6 there, but it feels like being right out in the country: it always makes me feel as if I’ve been transported into an Enid Blyton summer holiday book.

But, this year, the coronavirus pandemic struck.  At first, we didn’t even know if we’d be able to go fruit-picking at all.  The website kept saying that the fruit was coming along, and that they hoped that they’d be able to open, but we just didn’t know.  However, thankfully, restrictions were eased before we got into the swing of strawberry season.  I think I’ve been in July before, but strawberries really ought to be picked in June.  It just goes.  Because June goes with Wimbledon … even though Wimbledon’s now almost entirely in July, since the decision (which I had been saying needed taking for years!) to make the grass court season a week later was taken.  There’s no Wimbledon this year 😦 .  This crazy year when, on the Saturday before Wimbledon should be starting, United are playing in an FA Cup quarter final.  But there are still strawberries.

However, there’s also social distancing.  So, as with a lot of other things at the moment, you have to book a slot for fruit-picking.  And how manic has it been?  I don’t think anyone anticipated what it would be like!   It’s always popular, but, with most kids still off school, and now having been off school for over 3 months and being very bored, and a surprising number of adults still off work, it seems as if everyone wants to go fruit-picking!  And, quite apart from the social distancing issue, it’s still relatively early in the season and there just aren’t enough strawberries to meet demand.  I sort of have it my head that the fields magically replenish themselves overnight, so that, after a day’s picking, there’ll be a load of new strawberries there in the morning!   But, er, it doesn’t work like that.  500 tickets were released this Monday for this Wednesday, and they were snapped up within 20 minutes!

I’d hoped to go on Saturday or Sunday morning.  Given that the weather’s broken with a vengeance, it’s a jolly good job that that plan didn’t work out!   I checked the website every 10 minutes on Tuesday afternoon … and saw that, wa-hay, to give extra slots, they were now opening until 7pm!  Previously, the last slot’d been 3:45pm.  So I could go on a weekday.  There were evening slots for Thursday.  I grabbed one, quick!

I don’t often strike lucky, but, this time, I did.  It’d been a boiling hot day, but it’d cooled down a bit by half 5 … and the hot, dry weather meant that the field was dusty, not muddy, so I could kneel down rather than having to keep bending over!    I filled my four punnets, and the little punnet that you got included with the booking price, and I smiled all the way through.  What a lovely, lovely evening.  And what lovely, lovely strawberries!  And they do always taste that bit better when you’ve picked them yourself!

Thank you so much, Kenyon Hall.  You’re bringing a lot of pleasure to a lot of people.  You always do, but it’s appreciated all the more in this very difficult year.   I just wish that I could wave a magic wand so that the field would magically replenish itself every night!  All being well,  I’ll be back when the raspberries come!   In the meantime, I shall eat some more of these lovely strawberries.

 

 

Lockdown Week 2, March 30th to April 5th 2020 inclusive

Monday, March 30th

My payslip arrived by e-mail today.  We’re still getting paid as normal, for the time being, which is good.  A lot of people have been “furloughed”.  It’s great that the Government are running the furlough scheme, and something similar for self-employed people, rather than everyone just being thrown out of work as is happening in some other countries, but it’s only 80% of your wage, and only up to £2,500 gross per month.   I don’t think there’s much alternative to lockdown at the moment, but the economic effects are just going to be horrendous.

The chairman of Lancashire CCC’s died with coronavirus.  So has the original singer of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”.  And I’m hearing about more and more people I actually know who’ve got it.

Easyjet have grounded all their planes.  Not that my holiday in July’s likely to operate anyway 😦 .  And the Olympics have been moved until next year.  Looks like Wimbledon’ll be cancelled – it’s not like you can hold a grass court tournament in the autumn.  I can’t imagine a year without Wimbledon.  And we got tickets in the draw this year – Mum and Dad got tickets for men’s semi-finals day, which they’ve been so excited about, and my sister and I are due to go the first Friday.  I don’t know if they’ll offer people the same tickets for next year or not.  Yes, I know that there are bigger things to worry about – 180 deaths with coronavirus in the UK today – but it’s OK to be disappointed.  Isn’t it?

I went to another different bit of the park today – where the beehives are.  The bees were all hanging around with their mates.  Lucky bees!!  And there were squirrels everywhere!

 

 

Tuesday, March 31st

Fame at last!  Well, sort of.  Windermere Lake Cruises asked people (on Facebook) to post photos of Windermere, for a “postcards from Windermere” thing they’re doing.  Virtual postcards on Facebook, I mean!  I posted two, and they included one of them in today’s “postcard”, and mentioned my name.  I’m very excited!!

There’s all sorts of stuff going on on line.  Organisations are making resources available for free, and offering “virtual tours”.  And there are loads of memes and videos.  There’s one really funny video doing the rounds with a Pirates of Penzance type Major General character singing a song about how we’re being called upon to “Do Fuck All”.  Made me laugh!   At least we’re all keeping our sense of humour!  Unfortunately, there’s also a load of ridiculous scaremongering, like that we should all stock up on warm clothes and torches because the electrical system might collapse.  The powers that be won’t let that happen, but it can worry people.

The UK “with coronavirus”  death toll jumped to 393 today.  393 in one day.  Are we really going the same way as Italy?  People said we would.  I didn’t want to believe it.

I had to go to the office today, to dump some files and collect others, and also to collect all the stuff I’d printed off because it was too much for my small home printer.   This was after yet another long phone call to IT support, after the laptop somehow reset the link from SSL to PTP or something like that, and wouldn’t connect to the office network.  Hopefully now sorted.  I’ve also, of course, been to the park.  I saw my brother-in-law’s mum there, which was nice.

And I’m watching a lot of films, with soaps on ration and no live sport.

 

Wednesday, April 1st

April Fools’ Day.   But no-one’s laughing.  Wimbledon’s been cancelled, for the first time since the war.  We knew it was coming, but … 😦 .  The whole grass court season’s off, and we’ve already lost most of the clay court season.

2020 – the year without Wimbledon.

But, at least, the All England Club have said that anyone who had tickets for this year will be offered the same ones for next year.  Phew!!

The Edinburgh Festival’s off too.  And the Champions League and Europa League have both been officially suspended until further notice.

And, of all things to happen, the toilet flush broke.  I have lived here for nearly 19 years.  Why did the toilet flush have to choose just now to break?   I felt like bursting into tears … but plumbers are obviously classed as essential workers, so I rang my usual plumbers, only to be told that they weren’t working because one of them was very ill with the virus.  I felt awful, but I wasn’t to know.  I then rang a firm of emergency plumbers we deal with at work.  They weren’t exactly cheap, but they were great – the guy arrived a couple of hours later, and replaced the flush.  I posted all about this on Facebook!

Please, please do not let anything else break.  Having said that, I’ve already got another problem – the “low battery” warning for the car key’s coming up.   I’d usually just go to the Renault service centre, but it’s closed.  The local garage is open, but can’t do it because the keys are so hard to open.  You’d think you just slipped the old battery out and the new one in, but it’s not that easy.  Halfords might do it?  I haven’t really had time to think about it, because of the toilet flush.

Part of me’s stressing because things that used to be so easy are now so difficult, but part of me’s thinking that at least, with working at home, I could wait in for the plumber without the usual hassle of having to ask Mum and Dad if they could wait in whilst I’m trapped at work, and then feeling bad about them being stuck housesitting instead of doing whatever else they’d had planned.

563 “deaths with coronavirus” today.  Similar figures in France.  Well over 800 in both Spain and Italy.  Belgium and the Netherlands are also pretty bad, per head of population.  The only “good” thing is that underdeveloped countries haven’t been badly hit.  Yet?

And Prince Charles made a really nice speech tonight.  Good to see that he’s recovered now.

 

Thursday, April 2nd

Eddie Large died “with coronavirus” today.  Like most of those who’ve died, he had underlying health problems, but maybe he’d still be here if it wasn’t for the virus.  So sad.

A row’s broken out because some Premier League football clubs – not including United, I’m glad to say, nor City – are “furloughing” non-playing staff, claiming government funding whilst continuing to pay players zillions.  It’s not on.

My hands are a bit sore again, from all the extra washing.  Nothing that moisturiser won’t sort out, though.

Been driven mad by work today.  I’m doing my best, but it’s not easy without the files and a big printer.  But I suppose I should be very glad that I’ve not been “furloughed”.

I’ve got the car key sorted, anyway.  My cousin recommended a place opposite his old house.  It’s not far away, but I still kept feeling as if I were about to be stopped by the police!   I had to ring on the bell, hand the key over to the guy there, and then wait whilst he sorted it.  And he charged a fraction of what Halfords did, when I once went there when I couldn’t get to the Renault centre!

“Clap For Our Carers” tonight.  People are banging saucepans and all sorts.  My elder nephew broke one my sister’s wooden spoons by banging it too hard against a pan!   Then, there now being no soaps on Thursdays 😦 , I watched another film.

 

Friday, April 3rd

Huge queue at Tesco this morning!  I got there at 7:55, and could not believe how many people were outside.  However, it turned out that it was because it wasn’t open yet!  I knew they’d stopped opening 24 hours, but I thought they were opening at 6am, but it’s now been changed to 8am.

684 “deaths with coronavirus” in the UK today.  932 in Spain.  And things are now very bad in New York, as well.  There’s been a lot of talk about the peak coming over Easter weekend, but now it looks as if it could go on getting worse well after that.  It’s as if we’re all living in a nightmare.  All those poor people, and their families and friends.   Another of my second cousins has got it now.

The Queen’s recorded a speech, to be broadcast on Sunday.  I’m glad.  I didn’t know whether it would be possible, because of the issues of recording it, but arrangements have been made.  It’s time.  We need to hear from our Queen.  She’s the one … politicians, with the best will in the world, aren’t the same.

Prince Charles opened the new “Nightingale Hospital” at the Excel Centre today,  By videolink, obviously.  And United players are to donate 30% of their salaries to the NHS.

 

Saturday, April 4th

Today was the Virtual Grand National – yes, a computerised race, shown live on ITV.  And I got 2nd place, with Walk in the Mill!  The winner was Potters Corner.  Unfortunately, SkyBet won’t let you withdraw less than £10, so my £6.30’s stuck there.  Huh!  I’ll have to bet it on the Belarusian Premier League, which is about the only professional sport still going on.  I don’t think online gambling is for me – I’ll stick with my once a year visit to the bookies … once bookies reopen.  The whole Virtual Grand National was really good fun, though.  Loads of people watched it, and all the proceeds from betting are being donated to the NHS.

#Sconesinthegarden day (I’ve lost a pound this week, so I was entitled to a scone) – this week by the magnolia plant, which is looking lovely at the moment!   And we had a “virtual party” thing going on all day in one of my Facebook book groups.  I should be in the Lakes this weekend, though … and in this lovely weather, as well.   But, hey ho, I’m not!

 

Sunday, April 5th

Oh, what a wonderful speech by the Queen.  She always knows the right thing to say.  I was nearly in tears at the end.  “We will meet again” … I’ve found myself humming “We’ll Meet Again” a few times since lockdown started.   She spoke about the issues that lockdown’s causing, and she spoke about the situation having similarities to some of the issues people faced during the war years.  And then she said that “We will meet again”.

“We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us.

“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

I’m nearly in tears again, typing this.

It was just the most wonderful speech.  And it was broadcast in a lot of countries, not just Commonwealth countries but the US, France and other places too.  No-one in the world except our Queen could have made that speech.  She’s always there.

 

I hope Boris is OK.  He didn’t look wonderful when he was last seen on TV, on Thursday, and he’s now been taken to hospital.  It doesn’t sound too good.  They’ve said “as a precaution”, but no-one’s being taken to hospital at the moment unless they’re in quite a bad way.  Very worrying.

Things’d got a bit stressful earlier, when there were problems with Facebook, but thankfully everything seems to be OK again now.  Touch wood!   Also, there’ve been threats that outdoor exercise could be banned, because some idiots have been out sunbathing in parks.  I don’t think they actually would ban outdoor exercise, but I wish people’d stick to the rules.  I do feel very sorry for people with no gardens though.  Some parks in London have been closed because the councils said that there were too many people using them, but there’s only so much green space available in densely-populated areas, and a lot of people needing to use it.  Walking round housing estates, apart from not being particularly nice, isn’t easy with “social distancing” – you can’t stay 6 feet apart on the pavements, especially when there are so many cars parked on them, and there’s still some traffic so you can’t always step into the road.  Thankfully, there’s been no real talk of closing the parks here, although I’ve seen the police in our park, looking for miscreants.

Went through all my finished books today.  We Buy Books are doing a collect from home service – I leave the books in a box in the shed to be picked up!

And it was such a lovely, clear day today – another one – and I stood at the top of the hill near “the Temple” in the park, and gazed towards town – you can see the skyline. Well, you can see the taller buildings, anyway. I felt like a medieval pilgrim gazing towards Jerusalem.

Well, that was another week in lockdown.  How many more will there be?