The Coronavirus Diaries, 5th November 2020

So here we are again in lockdown, but it feels quite different to March. I remember being worried about the do not leave your house instruction last time since I have to go out for MasterB, to put out the rubbish, the recycling. This time we know a bit more, it’s more familiar. We are psychologically better prepared. There are no long queues outside shops, no scared looking people on the pavements. Is that a good thing? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.

I had a bit of a retro reaction knowing I was in lockdown. Time seemed to slow. I found it difficult to get through my to do list. Celia rescued me when she called while I was having lunch to say she was not making much progress with her chores either, and how about a walk. I didn’t need much persuading.

The day had started misty and grey, but as the sun rose it burned off the mist and revealed a beautiful sunny day. We set off for Vauxhall. I wanted to include some purchase of green vegetables in our outing. There’s a branch of Sainsbury’s at Vauxhall.

Also my chair was returned today by the London Upholsterers and to walk past the premises seemed an appropriate thing to do. The walk to Vauxhall was uneventful but uplifting. so many more businesses are open than in the first lockdown, so the streets were quiet but alive. the sun shone on Spring Gardens. The light at Vauxhall Cross was wonderful

Vauxhall Cross

Vauxhall bus station

Ken Livingstone’s two fingers to Tony blair

Love different, love Vauxhall

The bus station had a remembrance message.

Remembrance at Vauxhall Bus station

At Sainsbury’s we separated, I to roam the fresh veg counter, Celia in search of bread, soup tins and kitchen roll. We have different priorities. Then we headed for Wilcox Road and the London Upholsterers. We saw a puppy. an adorable German Shepherd puppy, too young to know how to control her ears and with paws she needs to grow into. She was twelve weeks old, and I fell in love.

Persephone

Persephone

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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, 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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The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th September 2020

It’s hard to believe that two days ago we were enjoying warm sunshine. Today the temperature suddenly dropped mid afternoon and tonight I have put on an extra layer and started thinking about making soups. I’m watching the Grayson Perry programme. The first was on last night and I watched it earlier this evening on catch up, but I see the other programmes in the series are also available, so when I finish writing this I am going to settle back and watch the second one.

He made the programmes last year, travelling to different parts of the US by motorbike. The episode I have seen was about his visit to Atlanta and the main focus was on race. He’s a good listener. Maybe he has learned from his psychotherapist wife Philippa, and he says back to people what he has understood them to be saying which allows for further clarity if he has got it wrong. There was a performance poet whose name I didn’t get, but whose work I should like to know more of. Some of the conversations have a greater urgency about them now due to events this year – George Floyd’s killing, the BLM protests, the news today about the acquittal of the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Trump’s intention to replace her with a judge who supports him, the increasing threats by Trump to disrupt democracy at the election. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 14th September 2020

Time for some cat pictures I think. Just the one cat, MasterB, though I seem to be spending a great deal of time with Hartley and slightly less with Romeo. Hartley is a human seeking missile. B&J came over to the garden this evening and Hartley found them within seconds.

On the landing window sill

Carpet lounging

Teatime nap

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th September 2020

Like many people I should have liked to see Keir Starmer demolish Johnson at PMQs yesterday over the EU Withdrawal Agreement fiasco. But I think John Crace is right and Starmer was correct in sticking to the Coronavirus fiasco instead. Read what he has to say here. Fiascos are officially now what the government does best, it is world beating in this area, and if Armando Iannucci or Andy Hamilton had written all this as a satirical programme for television I should be laughing my socks off (or laughing them on perhaps, as we are still at the barefoot part of the year). Unfortunately the government is supposed to be governing, and, call me naive if you like, some honesty, compassion and integrity would really not go amiss.

On to other things, by which I mean chips. I have eaten chips (fries to you across the pond) twice this week, both times in the company of neighbours. We are becoming Chip Eaters. I don’t think I could manage any more for a while, but there is something very satisfying about eating chips out of paper sitting outside in the garden. Mark seemed to enjoy it particularly. He remarked several times that it was an age since he’d had chips. He asked where I had bought them. That tickled Celia as the chip shop is right beside the bus stop and Mark takes the bus regularly. Surely he must have noticed it?

A further chip related conversation with B&J, also part of the chip eating group, ended with a vague plan to get chips from the chippy near Camberwell New road, and bring them back in insulated bags. Some may even have fish with their chips. Cynthia had seen us from her windows and seemed positive about chips too. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 17th-18th August

I am hoping to meet my neighbour Cynthia in an hour or so for a walk with a pub as our goal. Our local pub closed at the start of the lockdown and has not reopened. It may have been sold, the owners tried to get permission for it to be converted into flats some years ago. Since then it has been listed as a community asset, and that listing is up for renewal. Some parts of London are rich in lovely pubs, Camberwell for instance. Walworth has few pubs I want to enter, so if our local does close, it would be a blow.

I have been working through tasks work related and domestic today and feeling pretty pleased with my progress. The bossy neighbour has been out which always makes for a more relaxed atmosphere. Her unshakeable belief that we are all accountable to her is somewhat wearing as well as wrong. So I have swept up leaves, hung washing out, planted some bulbs, put fat balls in the bird feeder. Romeo had a good sleep on my car. He seems to approve the new cover. I don’t like it as much as my last one, it’s much harder to do up the ties, and will be harder still in bad weather. I need it to protect the paint work from the cats and foxes.

I tried out the television from the boat and got it working, though the DVD/CD player seems to have had it. I do quite enjoy watching television on das Boot when the evenings draw in, so this is timely. The one thing I really miss about buying a hard copy of the Saturday Guardian is the the tv and entertainment guide. I switched to an online subscription shortly after lockdown began. I like not having piles of newspaper about, but I know I miss lots of articles. On the odd occasion I buy a hard copy and it’s much more satisfying. Still, the subscription means I can read the Guardian six days a week, and The Observer on Sunday. Swings and roundabouts.

I am loving A Suitable Boy. It is so well done. I caught up with Mrs America which friends have been raving about, and I enjoyed that too, but A Suitable Boy is one of my favourite novels and this tv adaptation is excellent. Andrew Davies has not lost his touch. I can see me watching the whole thing again when it ends. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th August 2020

The forecast when I looked on Saturday was for today to be warm and tomorrow cooler. Now tomorrow is going to be warm as well. I need to get home, so shall try to complete the journey after rush hour and before it gets too hot. First thing today I thought it was going to be a much cooler day than yesterday, but the sun soon burned off any hope of that. there was however a welcome breeze, so I took my walk before lunch, heading over to Burwell Fen. These pictures are from yesterday. I have managed to upload them, but the internet connection keeps dropping so I shall leave today’s until I am home.

Bullrushes

There was a horse tethered on a track parallel to te path. It had water but no company, no possibility of shade. I went to say hello to it. Its eyes and muzzle were plagued by flies. I waved them away, stroked its nose, spoke to it. It seemed defeated by its circumstances. I wanted to pull the tether and take the horse away, but where? In the end I sent a text to the RSPCA, but as it was bot in danger from traffic, had water and grazing, there was little hope anything could or would be done for it. Poor animal.

Please identify

The other animals I saw were wild, a muntjac deer trotting carefully through tall grasses, a bird, probably a kestrel, sitting on a gate, a goose, strangely solitary, enjoying a swim, ducks and swans.

The ridge path

While I was watching the deer, a man on his bike pulled up and watched it with me. There were lots of cyclists. I wished I had access to one here as well.

Greenery

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 8th August 2020

Fortunately this afternoon the breeze became stronger and the air in consequence fresher, free of the clinging humidity of the last two days.I put my book aside and went for a walk. There’s a ridge, I presume manmade, that protects the fields beyond from flooding, and it allows views across the flat farmland. This is fertile country and everywhere you look is green and growth. I took some pictures, but it seems the internet connection keeps dropping so I may not be able to upload them.

I haven’t seen the cows all day. Where are they? A moment ago I heard a cow mooing and looked up, hoping to see the herd in the field beyond the fence but nothing. The cow I heard was probably across the river. In the other direction there is another farm, or rather a farm house with a couple of fields. The last people to live there were very unfriendly and bred dogs which barked a great deal and which I used to pity. The current owners keep hens, horses, some rare breed sheep, and two llamas. I hadn’t noticed the llamas until this afternoon. I haven’t met the owners, but like their predecessors they have roped off a path which when I first came here people were free to use, so maybe they don’t want to meet the neighbours either.

I had a conversation with the Dan, son of the couple who own the marina, and another with a woman who has a boat here with her husband. Until now the woman and I have only smiled and said hello. Today we talked about Coronavirus and the uncertainty of the future. It was a similar story with Dan. Continue reading

The Coronavirus diaries, 30th July 2020

Gosh I was thirsty by the time I reached home. I had finished my bottle of water thirty minutes into an hour long train ride, then there was another half an hour before I walked through the front door. The bus fortunately came quickly or it could have been longer. I drank a litre of water, glass after glass. I am back on the water now, though I did have some grapefruit juice too. The train was very warm (it’s a warm day and although the train this morning was air conditioned, this evening’s was older rolling stock and the breeze through the window didn’t seem to do a lot. Wearing a mask didn’t help. I really don’t understand how women wear hijabs and niqabs and still manage to look cool, comfortable and even elegant. Don’t get me started on how hot a burkah must be.

I spent a happy couple of hours in Colchester. There are two stations at either end of the town. One called Colchester, which is fairly self explanatory, the other Colchester Town. That one used to be called St Botolph’s as a church dedicated to the Lincolnshire saint stands close by.

St Botolph’s tower

Last time I arrived at the latter station. This time the former. The first couple of hundred yards of my walk into town did not impress. Then I noticed plaques in the pavement giving snippets of information and history. I found the first one just after gazing across the road at this building.

The Railway Mission

Information plaque: Railway Mission

So I trailed happily up the hill reading plaques and dodging other pedestrians. I soon began to recognise sights I had seen before, and to appreciate again what a hotbed of history Colchester is. It’s main claim to fame is that it was the first Roman capital of Britain. But it also has fine Saxon buildings, including Holy Trinity church, a Norman castle, Georgian arcades, and a a whole array of structures to please the most exacting eye.

Holy Trinity tower

But I admit today I was more focused on the shopping. If I were to move to Wivenhoe Colchester would be the nearest large town. Did it have places I could buy the jars of tahini, the olives, the fresh tofu that I’d want. In short, yes. So thumbs up. It also has a large Marks and Spencer, every chain store of note and a host of eating places and open spaces. Continue reading