The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th April 2020

With my anxiety increasing hourly about finances and conflicting stories about how the government help for those of us who are self-employed circulating, I got down to my tax return. Why can I never get the columns to tally first time? Anyway, I felt I made a fairly good start, and with luck and application I’ll have it finished by the end of the week. Except I always find I have forgotten something, so maybe the end of next week. Hopefully not the end of the week after that.

Totting up columns was interspersed with domestic tasks to give me breaks from sitting in front of a screen and going through files. The bed linen dried quickly, i brought it in from the line, ironed it, put it in the airing cupboard, back to the columns. Lunch was a big treat. Last night’s curry was enhanced with broccoli and cauliflower and served with brown rice. It was good. So was the raspberry flavoured ice lolly I had for pudding.

Then more going through bank statements, filling in columns. When I saw a text from Celia suggesting three thirty as a good time to go for a walk I didn’t hesitate. Yes!!!!!

So off we went. She suggested Vauxhall Park, a destination which would mean we would go down the road with The Car. It wasn’t there. We need to study the photograph for clues as to which driveway it was in. Were they just visiting? Out somewhere today? Was it just a chance in a million it had been there when we had walked by?

Lots more roses today, most of them very fragrant, but I don’t have the power to transmit those smells here. You’ll just have to imagine. I write this blog mainly as a diary for me, maybe if I read this in years to come those fragrances will come back as I look at the pictures.

Pink and yellow

Frothy white

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 5th May 2020

Today was a Shopping Day. I went to the big Sainsbury’s at Nine Elms by car with shopping lists for four households. Thats sounds more impressive than it was, as one of the households was mine, and the other three didn’t give me long long lists of things to get. But all together it made for a pretty full trolley. As usual I did a fair amount of muttering as I searched for unfamiliar items, and had to send messages asking about alternatives to specific things requested. Some got the thumbs up, some didn’t. There is still a total absence of Pears soap. They don’t even have the new fangled green one now. looking for a certain brand and flavour of rice cakes for a neighbour I found Sainsbury’s does corn cakes covered in dark chocolate. Straight into the trolley for me.

This shop has become my favourite during lockdown. It’s spacious, the staff are helpful, most customers observe the two mettre rule and I can get a a pack of fifteen bottles of Becks Blue, my low alcohol lager of choice, and carry it home in the car. Once the shopping is done the deliveries begin. I have become quite good at packing items for different households in separate bags as they sweep before me at the checkout. I arrange them by household on the belt, and it’s only if the assistant reaches for something that belongs in another group that it may go wrong.

B&J had the heaviest bag, but fortunately live just over the road, so I staggered across the street with that delivery straight away. Celia is down the road, so I put her shopping on top of Michèle’s in the bag on wheels and kept the whole thing cool while I stowed my own shopping, which included ice lollies, and ate a quick lunch.

All deliveries were complete by two. Then it was time to go through the bill and tell each household how much they owed me. You wouldn’t think doing the shopping could take up so much of the day, but it can, at least the way I do it. And ten thousand steps walked. I had a short to do list after that. All done. Tomorrow There’s more urgent things to see to. But tonight I want to watch the second half of Farnkenstein which is this week’s National Theatre free screening on YouTube. I don’t know if Jonny Lee Miller won awards for his portrayal of the monster, but he deserves to.

I didn’t go for a proper walk today, so these photos are from yesterday. It doesn’t matter how many times you pass the same house, walk the same street, visit the same park, there are always things you haven’t noticed before. Maybe you’ll enjoy one or two of these.

This bright door with matching nasturtiums made me smile.

Bright door


With matching nasturtiums

Nearby, this little train balanced on some railings.

Train on the railings

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st April 2020

It’s been a grey day. Celia tells me it was sunny mid morning but I must have missed that. It felt like one of those days that doesn’t ever get going. Or maybe that was just me. I slept badly last night, mainly I think due to my neighbour TW who is being particularly tiresome. In itself, the isn’t unfortunately unusual, but it is an added stress I could do without. Probably though not as bad as the stress of my neighbour Pam is enduring. Her daughter is a nurse. Every time the daughter goes to work Pam worries about her life.

I read this morning that the low wage increase might have to wait. I should have felt this was a bit more reasonable had it been accompanied by a message saying those in high earning tax brackets should expect to be paying substantially more. It wasn’t. Unbelievable as it seems, there are people (I don’t mean Farage, that man is so far beyond the pale that were he not to say something bigoted and ignorant it would be news) busy trying to blame the NHS for the lack of PPE. Excuse me? Is this just spin or does Laura Kuenssberg not read the news? Jeremy Hunt turned down requests to stockpile equipment for a pandemic when he was Minister for Health. Now his is one of the loudest voices saying how dreadful it is the NHS lacks the equipment it needs. It is Jeremy. It is. Feel any shame? Thought not.

I am equally shocked, or stunned might be a better word, to read that Johnson has a 72% approval rating for his handling of the crisis. Did they only poll Express, Mail and Sun readers? The bit that made me have to lie down under a damp tea towel How? why?was that Trump has a 90% approval rating among Republican voters. WTF? We really are doomed.

Fortunately this stuff was balanced by a video of nuns miming to We Will Rock You The one playing air guitar gets my vote. I don’t watch any of the Britain’s Got talent ilk of programmes but if I heard these nuns were going to be on I’d be tuning in and voting. Actually I’d probably vote for them to be the government.

The number of silly and funny videos being shared at the moment is astronomical.
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The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th March 2020

When Celia and I met for our walk along parallel paths this afternoon we were trying to remember how long we have been on lockdown. Is it a week? Less? Time has taken on an elastic quality. Tonight the clocks go forward an hour and we welcome British Summer Time. However, March has got its animals mixed up. It is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. After days and days of blue skies and warm sunshine this afternoon March remembered it is supposed to be the windy month, and sent me back to coat, hat, gloves and scarf. It also got my washing dry very quickly. Definitely more leonine than lamb like.

All the people taking their daily exercise allowance near their homes, are they becoming more aware of their local environment? Certainly Celia and I are not the only ones to stop to watch a crow gathering soft material to line its nest, a robin eyeing us from a low branch, sparrows clustering around a bird feeder.

It is both comforting and disorientating to see the non humans going about their normal lives. The swans are nesting by the lake in Burgess Park again.

Nesting swans

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The Coronavirus Diaries 24th March 2020

Another glorious spring day, blue skies, sunshine. Warm too. No need of a coat or even a cardigan when I took my exercise allowance late afternoon. I reckoned the later I took it the better, so that I had that break outside my home to look forward to. It seemed to work.

Blossom

I pegged out my washing this morning, put the recycling in the correct bin, emptied the coffee grounds into the compost. Celia and I arranged a swap, I took a jigsaw for Charlie, some lavender oil for Celia and the current copy of the New European for both of them, and my hula hoop for Celia to try. Celia had dug wild garlic plants out of the garden, put some disposable gloves out for me and an empty jar which had had sage pesto in it I given her.

Looking out of my window when Celia called me I was surprised to see Javier coming into the garden. I assumed the garage was now closed, and my car keys locked up in it. As I keep MasterB’s basket in the car I was thinking it was going to be a problem if he needed the vet’s attention. It turned out Javier had decided to come in and complete all the work on cars in the garage and return the vehicles, and in my case keys, to their owners and then shut.

Yesterday Celia thought it was Sunday, and that was how it felt today too. Very quiet. Some people walking along the main road I could see from my street. Actually, when I did go for my walk there were more people about than I expected. There was a queue outside Oli’s, so it seemed the number of customers allowed in was being restricted. The trouble with the queue was the people in it were too close together. I swerved in the opposite direction and saw a similar too close queue outside the post office.

I quickly left the main road and returned to side streets where there was almost no one about, and when I did meet anyone, we all made efforts to keep apart. Admittedly it’s safer to step off the pavement into the road when you are in a back street. To do so on a main road could mean death from something other than coronavirus.

I have heard this evening that one of my relatives is recovering from the virus. She hopes she did not spread it far, had not been out for several days when the symptoms showed themselves, and is now hoping she is immune. Continue reading

Catkin Days

The light is reclaiming the days by stealth. The night’s tenure is shortened by a minute at either end of its lease and suddenly early evening, late afternoon, breakfast time reveal the onward move towards spring. In the garden narcissi, snowdrops, crocii, anenomes are blooming. Next it will be the hyacinths, already pushing knobbly green buds through the middle of the protective sheath of their leaves. Birds are bulking up for parenthood, eating the seed from the feeders greedily. Another year turns.
Jeeves, our neighbourhood semi feral intact Tom cat has gone walkabout. Presumably there will be a kitten explosion in late March and early April. Much as I love kittens, I wish people would neuter their cats. There are too many abandoned cats needing homes, as well as the ones people have to give up when they move to accommodation where pets aren’t allowed. Such bans exacerbate the problem, make pets homeless and deny people the proven benefits of living with a companion animal. Continue reading

Farewell Terry, Farewell Miles

Supper with Octavia tonight for the first time in a while, so some catching up on how the Grey Ninja coped, first with a house full of people at Octavia’s mother’s over Christmas, then the return home to the smells of three Labrador retrievers who had been there in her absence. Fine. She has come a long long way from the cat who needed to urinate over anything and everything to mark her presence and assert her right to be. For which Octavia must take the credit. The best thing you can give an animal is the feeling of safety, to establish trust which then, if you are lucky, leads too love. The Grey Ninja, and her ginger counterpart MasterB, have decided they are safe, they trust they love. Yes, I am blowing my own trumpet too, because I know Himself has confidence in me which I have earned. It’s not that different with humans.

Last week I clicked on an Instagram picture posted by Steve of https://outwardhounds.wordpress.com. It was of Miles, one of The Pack. The photo was in black and white, which was probably a clue. A clue I missed. Miles has died. Like Terry Jones, he has gone to meet his maker and join the choir invisible. I never met Miles, or Terry Jones, although for many years the latter lived not far from me, and I learned this week went to the boy’ grammar school in the town where later I went to the girls’, but I shed a tear for both dog and man. Both have enriched my life. Continue reading

Dog Days

I’m home again and heading to bed and a sound night’s sleep before work tomorrow hoping my mobile ‘phone issue will be sorted out by the time I wake.

I had a quick look at some photos taken over the last couple of days. Babush is the Leonberger/St Bernard cross I met at Wicken Fen on Thursday. Adorable or what?

On my walk to and from Wicken I had seen horses. Not the usual kind of horses of varied sizes and shades, but a proper herd; distinctive, beautiful. They watched me from a distance but didn’t approach.69828759-4F77-4649-A452-BC98CA034C33.jpeg
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Time Off and Time Out

I worked eight days in a row after returning from my hols and boy was I glad to have a couple of days off. I love my work, but it can be a bit intense at times, and I definitely needed time to recoup. I am rereading Milkman by Anna Burns for book group next month. However, my recuperation required doing a jigsaw, and having more credits than I know what to do with with Audible, I decided to buy the audio book so I could listen and solve simultaneously. It works really well. I’m switching between the audio book and the print version according to where I am and what I’m doing. It’s a multi-sensory experience.

This afternoon I left both the audio book and the real one at home and headed to Tate Britain to see the Frank Bowling exhibition. I am so glad I did. It is wonderful. I took some photographs once I realised it was allowed, so maybe I’ll post some of them tomorrow. His work is abstract and I found it tremendously uplifting, though I can’t say why. It made me wish I lived in one of those loft places which are murder to keep warm but which have vast walls. There were several paintings I think I could happily gaze at for the rest of my life. Continue reading

Sunday morning

Celia will recognise the scenario: go for a walk that includes a visit to a place with small, independent shops; stop in those shops and see a dress/shirt/cardigan you like; try it on; buy it; return from your walk with a new addition to your wardrobe. However, I have added a new twist. The shop is in Maghera, a small town not far away, so when we returned there to buy groceries, I went back to the shop, Allie Mae, to take a second look at two more items I had seen, and I bought them too. The shop will soon have a website and be selling via shopify, so if you want to look at the stock, sign up here.
Not all walks end in shops. Walks around Cousin’s are entirely retail free. It was warm and sunny this morning when Westie Boy, Poppy and I followed out usual route to the end of the road and back.

Shaded

Blue skies

Fortunately it had rained in the night so Poppy enjoyed a paddle in the larger puddles while Westie Boy drank. I admired the view.

Interesting

Both dogs are now lying on the floor asleep.I may take them for a shorter walk when we come back from hearing Alan Johnson later today. They only had one good walk yesterday, but Poppy was tired by the late evening. She took to her bed while I read the Guardian and was soon snoring, then dreaming, making little woofing noises and moving her front paws. I must have been very quiet when I came to the kitchen this morning as I surprised her sleeping on the sofa. Continue reading