The Coronavirus Diaries, 20th October 2020

I am quite pleased with myself. I have found a way around the new block editor here at WordPress. It was by accident, as so many discoveries are. I didn’t have time to finish a post so saved the draft. when I returned to edit it, I saw there was an option to continue in classic editor. I hope this option remains.

We have just been sitting outside drinking wine. Three bottles (not necessarily all emptied) and members of three households. I had an early dinner as wine on an empty stomach isn’t a great idea for me. The others left for their evening repast a little while ago. We can meet as different households outside. Today has been warm, and tonight is very mild. Still, having Hartley on my knee as a furry hot water bottle was still pleasant. Coming inside to a cuddly MasterB nicer still.

Still no joy with my internet provider who also is my landline provider and to add to my woes the tv box (same provider) is no longer talking to the tv. So everything hinges on my ‘phone. I watched television last night courtesy of my phone’s hotspot, am posting this courtesy of the same. Amazing.

B had tried to fix my sewing machine, a gift from my parents when I turned eighteen. I am not, and have never been a keen sewer. But my older sister was, and that was she got when she turned eighteen so the precedent was set. It has been useful. I have made curtains, cushion covers, maybe even a dress, I’m not sure now. Knitting was more my thing. But when during lockdown I got it out to sew some seams which had come apart, the foot did not respond to the lever which should have clamped it to the material. b tried to mend it but no luck. Norma, a neighbour who sews and knits and bakes and cooks and gardens, and is a one woman craft factory advised me to take it to a place in Tooting, ‘by the Craft Centre’.

Back in the day I used to go to Tooting a lot. My friend Sue, now in Houston Tx, lived there. But as the years ahve passed my Tooting visits have dwindled. Craft Centre? I had no idea. Fortunately a quick duck duck go search (we don’t all want Google tracking our every move) located it. It shares a website with the sewing machine menders, and I presumed, a premises. Sewing machines are heavy. Did they have a car park? They did. I drove there yesterday, parked and joined a queue for the wrong building. It’s counter service only during the pandemic at the Craft Centre. Fortunately, an employee walked by, spotted the fairly obvious machine by my feet and directed me to a queue-free building further down the road.

It was not quite how I expected it to be. The door was open, there was no queue. The building was anonymous. There was a sign on the wall.

Sewing Machine Centre

I stepped into an area with a number of sewing machines and a staircase which had a barrier across it. No sound, no sight of anyone.


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The Coronavirus Diaries, 18th October 2020

I was working today. The person answering my increasingly irritated queries on Twitter for TalkTalk was working today. The engineers weren’t. They don’t do weekends. Unbelievable. The internet has become like water and electricity, a utility, but it seems the engineers do office hours. I’ll leave it there

So some more Wivenhoe pictures. I am not sure now that we are gain living restricted lives if I’ll be able to return soon. I somehow doubt if viewing properties will be on the menu.

The path to the river

I have never been inside the church before, but on Thursday it was open. There was a meeting going about some music, possibly something that was going to be transmitted.

Wivenhoe church exterior

Wivenhoe church, interior

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 16th October 2020

Unusually I am writing a post in the middle of the afternoon. I shall be going out shortly and then later meeting B&J for some socially distanced socialising outside. Which reminds me I need to put some Becks Blue in the fridge now.

Yesterday’s jaunt to Wivenhoe was both delightful and depressing. Delightful because each time I go there convinces me this is a place I could live. Depressing because the properties I looked at did not suit. I’ll do the depressing stuff first. I saw a very pretty cottage in a good location. As I had feared the living room was very small, but the garden was great, there were all sorts of quirky and interesting storage places, original features and cleverly adapted ones, but the real decider was the staircase which was vertiginous. The second property, also in a good location, in many ways suited me, but did not suit MasterB as there was a long balcony, but nowhere I could fit a catflap to give him access to the real outdoors. I haven’t completely ruled it out, but as it will probably be snapped up quickly it may rule me out. The third property was lovely, perfect in every way bar the location. It looked ok on the map but I tried the walk to the station and it was around twenty minutes. As my working day involves a lot of walking, the idea of struggling up the hill and into a housing estate in all weathers reduced my enthusiasm. It was also in a housing estate and I couldn’t see myself there.

Parts of Wivenhoe are surprisingly enthusiastic about hallowe’en. I mean it was 15th yesterday, so the decorations are going to be up for a while. I’m not a fan of hallowe’en, but I do like the neighbourhood witch sign. I think I’d keep that the year round.

A skull on the table

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 14th October 2020

Each time I elect to write a new post I see the new block editor again and my heart sinks. I know readers can’t see it, but I do not find it an improvement at all. I still haven’t worked out where I need to go to choose the size of any picture I want to post. Anyway.

The Ginger Ninja calendar is with the printer and we are discussing the finer details. The price should be the same as last year unless I have miscalculated the VAT. I do need to check out the post costs though. But do register your interest if you have any, and I shall I put your name on the list. I am only having twenty printed this year. The printer called me today and said he thought I could sell far more. I said if he could find me a buyer ready to order hundreds I’d happily do it. Alas he couldn’t. I think MasterB may have a new fan, and maybe there will be an extra copy of his calendar finding its way into the printer’s home.

Tonight we have candles burning in our windows to remember H&J’s fathers, both of whom have died recently. It was H’s father’s funeral today. She says it went well with good music and memories. Usually we light candles in our windows for pets, and I was a bit cautious about suggesting it for a parent, but fortunately it didn’t offend. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 11th October 2020

So another weekend draws to a close and tomorrow we shall learn what restrictions are coming into force this week. Or maybe we shan’t learn. Nothing so far has been very clear, and most people seem to have almost given up trying to follow the details. We manage Rule of Six, Two Metres, Wash Your Hands, and Wear a Mask. The rest is often confusing and contradictory.

I’m just back from supper with Octavia. My offering this time, so corn on the cob, a side dish of butterbeans in sage pesto, home made hummus and a mixed salad. Octavia provided very good wine and dietetically differentiated puddings. I loved the raspberry coulis. At the door as I left we realised we are both fans of Gogglebox. There may be more sharing of our favourite moments when we next meet.

Yesterday I went to the Museum of London in Docklands where Celia joined me. The morning had been fine, but as the hours passed the skies turned grey and the wind picked up. It’s a great museum and one any visitor to London should definitely have on his or her itinerary. Outside I saw the smartest dog poo waste container I have ever seen.

Smarter than the average dog waste bin
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The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th October 2020

A bit of change of subject today. I spent a fair amount of time travelling backwards and forwards to the West End. I can’t say it was an entirely successful use of my time, but I did get stuck into The Nickel Boys by Colston Whitehead, a book that has been on my to read list, as opposed to the pile by my bed, for some time. I found it and Margaret Attwood’s The Testaments in the Barbican Library yesterday.

Celia and I walked uo to City. Both of us were somewhat overdressed. Not in the sartorial sense, though Celia was undoubtedly smarter than I was, more in anticipation of rain which did not come (at least in the quantities expected), and temperatures lower than they actually were. Celia has a pair of waterproof trousers which are very smart. Much smarter than my over trousers. I have waterproof trouser envy, something I have never before experienced.

We ate our packed lunches under cover. There were an awful lot of cigarette butts about. I thought of the City’s campaign to get people to dispose of chewing gum and cigarette ends responsibly and realised it had failed.

After the library, which really I shouldn’t gloss over because the Barbican library is a joy, we went to the conservatory. Celia was ahead of me as I was looking at Which? reports of cordless vacuum cleaners. If anyone reading this has a Halo Capsule (with bag), a Tineco A10 Hero, a Vax Blade 4 bagless, or a Jashen cordless, please get in touch.

Since finding Billy Mann and his blog every time I am near the Barbican I wonder if unknowingly I shall see him. Maybe I did.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th October 2020

I emailed Michèle to offer her a pot of the sloe and apple jam I made yesterday. She politely declined saying she didn’t eat jam because of the sugar, indeed barely ate fruit because of the sugar. The jam bit I got, but the fruit denial shocked me. Especially at this season when we have had month after month of abundance and are now just getting to the end with the nuts, sweet chestnuts and the satsumas hitting the market stalls.

Like many of my generation and background the main autumn fruits of my childhood were apples, plums and pears. My parents grew five apple trees in our back garden, two were Bramleys for the pies, crumbles, tarts and other puddings my mother baked; then there were two Worcesters, and one Ellison.

Thinking about it now I suppose that familiarity of different apple types learned at an early age was also common to my generation. They also grew raspberries which were heavenly. Strawberries were exotic and it’s strange that supermarket strawberries are significantly cheaper than raspberries. Hedgerow fruits, blackberries and cobnuts made the end of summer exciting. At Christmas there were nuts in their shells. I favoured hazelnuts, every other member of my family preferred Brazils. Then there were mandarin oranges. A special treat.

We never say mandarins anymore, they are called satsumas now. Then there are tangerines, clementines and the big thick skinned oranges which peel easily, the blood oranges which don’t.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th October 2020

I should very much like to return to the old style layout and choices of writing posts. This block business seems fussy and clumsy. I don’t like it. I am not sure where I am. It took me ages last time to find out how to break up my text. I imagine I’ll get used to it, but it’s certainly not the coup de founder WordPress has been suggesting.

Or maybe it’s because I’m tired. I have had a busy day and although it is almost ten o’clock I have only just eaten my dinner. I spent the earlier part of the evening with Michèle who wanted me to take some photographs of work she needs done to send to the handyman. That done, we sat, drank wine and talked books and politics. Oddly we didn’t mention Trump, but I heard earlier he was discharging himself from hospital, so I imagine there has been a speech about how he is the bestest, fittest, healthiest person on the planet while all those forced to be near him are endangered. It would have been better if he had remained out of sight. Every time he opens his mouth he shows what a repellent individual he is. He seems to have no virtues at all. Very depressing. He also seems to have a strange idea of what working means. Apparently for him it is sitting at the end of a large table signing his name on a sheet of blank paper. The fact that we are even contemplating his being reelected is the stuff of dystopian nightmares.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd October 2020

I turned the page on the MasterB calendar yesterday morning. I have been trying to get the 2021 calendar ready to send to the printer. It’s not happening. Apple has removed the feature from Photos that allowed me to use one of its templates and save the result to a PDF. Apple no longer offers a print service, a service I never used, and has instead linked Photos to various apps. who will let you use templates so long as you also use their prohibitively expensive print service. Two lengthy conversations with Apple support got me nowhere but annoyed.

This is my first post with the new block editor. I didn’t choose it, it just popped up. I can’t say I’m warming to it. But that may be fallout from my fruitless Apple chats which left me more than a little Eyeoreish. It’s probably not fair to blame apple entirely for my dip in humour. I have also spent more time than I care to remember with TalkTalk customer services having circular conversations about an intermittent problem with my landline. But I think the Apple scenario has got me down the most. I haven’t entirely given up hope of getting the calendar done, but don’t hold your breath.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 30th September 2020

The month comes to an end with a wet evening, although this morning was dry and warm. Last night we sat in a group of six in the dusk then dark drinking and talking, nibbling on crips, or in my case water melon. Actually we were seven, but before your outrage and rule breaking surges, the seventh was feline. Not MasterB who was snoozing indoors, and took his constitutional later, but Hartley.

Hartley had a lovely evening. He found B&J before they even had time to sit down. He made sure he acknowledged each member of our little group, and checked out Celia’s bag in case it had anything for him. J groomed him and his face expressed his bliss. Later Celia groomed him as well, so if he keeps a diary I suspect yesterday would have been a five star day.

Celia had returned from Wales earlier in the day and rescued me from the computer screen by suggesting a walk in Burgess Park. It was another beautiful afternoon. And very autumnal. There were swathes of michaelmas daisies.

Michaelmas daisies en masse

Michaelmas daisy close up

The South London Botanical Institute is not offering fungi identification at the moment, though I notice it has an open day tomorrow to visit its garden. Celia’s interest in fungi has not waned and we spotted a wonderful specimen at the base of a tree.

Not everyone was interested in fungal growths. The park wore an air of contentment.

By the lake

By the lake

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