The Coronavirus Diaries, 19th November 2020

I have not been at my brightest and best these last couple of days; nothing wrong with my physical health, just a bit of the Coronavirus/Lockdown blues.

The urge to hibernate is very strong when I feel like this. So far I have resisted and today I enjoyed a walk with Cynthia which helped. I am doing another jigsaw which Charlie has passed on to me.. Taking things slowly, taking things easy. It’s about removing pressure, eating well, playing with MasterB. It’s just that it feels there is nothing positive on the horizon. A letter in the post reminds me it’s time to renew my contents insurance. Necessary but not exactly a cause for celebration. There is a vaccine, but I doubt a) if it’s vegan and b) if I will be able to get one any time soon. Brexit gets closer and closer and the only good thing I can think of about that is that it will mean the day we rejoin the EU will also advance.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 12th – 13th November 2020

I started reading Brendan Cox’ book about his wife, the murdered MP Jo Cox. It is not a good book to read at bedtime, not just as I weep buckets over every chapter, but it also stirs up all those feelings around the referendum again as we lurch towards a no deal Brexit with no safety net, and while we are still dealing with the pandemic. However, Dominic Cummings has now resigned, so cause for a glass of red wine this evening, and I got all my washing dry on the line yesterday.

As relief from tearful reading I picked out an unread novel from my shelves, How to Measure a Cow by Margaret Forster. The title’s great, but if this were the first novel I’d read by her it would almost certainly be the last. Clunky, unsatisfying, but I shall finish it and it can go into the bag with other offerings for Oxfam Books when the charity shops reopen. I also have a bag of objects, two bags now for the charity shops near home. In my on/off moving mood actually looking at objects, particularly things I have been given and would not have chosen for myself, leads me to thinking that I do not want to take them with me if/when I do finally move. So that has made me decide they can leave me now. Except they can’t yet, so the bags are sitting on the bedroom floor. I may weaken.

We are only a week into this second lockdown but it feels much longer. I don’t know why I am finding it so difficult. I wonder if it’s because in many ways it seems very much like when we had eased out of lockdown1. Most businesses are open, the streets are busy, there’s lots of traffic. But we can’t socialise. Numbers of deaths have risen and numbers of confirmed cases.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th November 2020

So having seen our first Christmas decorated balcony the other day Celia and passed a house with a Christmas tree all set up in the living room. I have received my first Christmas card and I saw a woman wearing a Christmas themed bobble hat although the day has been extremely mild. Are these all symptoms of lockdown stress?

Not this lockdown is anything like the last one. Loads of businesses are open, we saw a P5 bus (a route that for reasons that remain a mystery to me Celia has a particular fondness for), and we stop and talk to neighbours in the street more often than we wave at them from a distance.

One thing that is the same is the resumption of daily walks. I have walked with Celia, with Octavia and on my own. I expect to walk with Cynthia in a day or two. My bike helmet broke but Bridget has rescued me by lending me one of hers; next to pump up the tyres and dust off the leaves and spiderwebs which accompanied me on my ride last week.

Celia and revisited Cancell Road and saw a house for sale. I looked it up when I got home, over £1million. So somewhat beyond my budget. Octavia and I were very taken by the furniture made from pallets by workers on the super sewer at Vauxhall.

Outside seating
A closer look
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The Coronavirus Diaries, 8th November 2020

Celia and I saw our first full on Christmas decorated balcony today. I think I need to go back and take pictures one evening when night has fallen. It was quite a sight and made us gasp then laugh. We were out for our first constitutional since learning that Trump had lost the election. Well that’s a relief.

Obviously there are still some 72 million people who voted for him which suggests something extremely worrying, but at least the Toxin in Chief will soon be gone. I have no doubt he will attempt all sorts of tedious and potentially dangerous things to overturn the result and to make things difficult for Biden, but it was amazing how in the space of a few minutes he became yesterday’s man, an annoying and loud irrelevance. We drank champagne to welcome the change.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th October 2020

Wow, I am reconnected: television, internet and landline. Will it last? I do hope so. It meant however that I had the dubious pleasure of watching some of the news and seeing news from Wisconsin where quite normal looking people said they intended to vote for Trump because they ‘don’t trust Biden’. I felt this needed more explanation. especially what they trust Trump with that don’t trust Biden with, though I have a feeling that would probably worry me quite a lot.

Toady has been busier than anticipated. I think I have said that before. I eventually cleared the sitting room floor of paper, but the papers weren’t as ordered as I had hoped. Still, it’s a start. Michèle gave me an old hand made quilt. I am not sure where she got it, but it was a bit damaged and rather grubby. I asked Carol’s advice about putting t in the washing machine. Yes, she said, but I’d need to repair it first. So sewing was added to my to do list. I can’t say my repairs were professional, and I think they are more temporary than permanent, but hopefully sufficient to stop it falling apart in the machine. I used the sewing machine and MasterB was intrigued by the moving needle. Not a good idea.

Parsley soup was on the menu for lunch, and I took a break from papers to make it. I had some squash to use up, so I popped that in too. Usually parsley soup is a lovely deep green colour. I can tell you that adding squash makes it look like a swamp. Tasted ok though. Continue reading

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, 19th September 2020

I should sleep well tonight. This morning I scrubbed the foredeck and then parts of the port gunwale until my spine ached from nape to lower back. I have no doubt I shifted a lot of dirt, the water in my bucket turned a muddy brown and there was great deal of sluicing to be done to see the results. They were good, but not as good as I’d wanted. My mop decided this was all too much and fell apart. After washing down the top and sides of the boat I did the windows inside and out again, inexpertly as I could see later, but a job that needs repeating often. My neighbours, who had spent a relaxing morning as the day warmed up, set off for Waterbeach and I walked crab like to the tap to rinse my waterproof trousers and my cleaning cloths. Then a hot shower. That did much to restore me and I realised I was hungry, too hungry to drive to Reach, order food and wait for it to be served. I had a lovely lunch on das Boot, and was just finishing when I noticed a kingfisher had landed just by the boat. I sat mesmerised by its closeness and compact perfection, then it flew away. I didn’t see where it went, but maybe if I’m lucky I’ll see it again before I leave tomorrow.

Washing up done, MasterB asleep under the rug in the fore cabin, I went to Reach to pick blackberries and sloes. Then onto the farm shop where (hurrah!) they had salad. Just one bag so I bought it and then went slightly wild buying fresh chard, a bunch of azaleas, a bag of new potatoes as well as some mammoth beetroot and a delicate thyme plant for B&J. Driving back to das Boot I was aware how much I had slowed down and was enjoying the rhythm of the day. On the road, I passed teenage girls riding their ponies, any number of cyclists, mainly adult and in twos and threes. It seemed a good way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon in September.

Cherry, from the neighbouring boat, and I had been wondering about Mr Handsome as we hadn’t seen him. He turned up this evening. I am so glad he’s not on anyone’s plate, though I suppose that is his inevitable fate. It won’t be my plate, but that’s not much of a comfort. Unusually he did not come over to say hello. Maybe he has learned the horrid truth about human beings. He is just as handsome as ever, and, I think, quite a big bigger.

Mr Handsome and Friend having a paddle

Mr Handsome gets up while his lady friend remains in the water

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 18th September 2020

There were watermelons at the organic farm today so I bought one. I haven’t cut into it. It’s in the boot of the car and I shall take it home intact. The fridge on das Boot is not much bigger than a sheet of A3 paper, and I already have quite a lot of fresh food in it. Making sure it doesn’t go off means I have been eating very well, though having established that the pub at Reach is now properly open for business I am tempted to go there for lunch tomorrow before I start my sloe and blackberry picking in the afternoon.

I had a short stroll around the marina, admiring some boats and noting the absence of others who have either been sold or moved to new moorings elsewhere.

Jolly yellow boat

The countryside around is flat. It’s one of the things the fens are famous for.

Flat as far as the eye can see

Bare fields

MasterB has had two walks ashore. The first this morning as the day warmed up, the second this evening. Given that the weather is gorgeous though autumnal, I expected lots of people to arrive this evening. They didn’t. So tonight’s walk was an unexpected bonus, and achieved just in time as, having had a very long pee (yes!!) and spent almost as long covering it up, MasterB looked about, evidently considering his options and a car turned into the marina. I watched it drive the length of the track and guessed correctly it was our neighbours who have the boat the other side of the pontoon.

Boats

MasterB has been gradually become braver about people and cars at the marina, but the likelihood of him having a panic when he saw people walking towards him was high, so I made the choice for him, lifted him up and popped him through the window of das Boot. He was quite calm while I took his harness off, but when the footsteps crunched on the shingle close by and the pontoon began to rock he displayed his disquiet by growling and sinking his belly to the floor. He didn’t rush to hide though, and that in itself is progress. The light was already fading while we were ashore, so there has been no socialising between our two vessels, and I am guessing they will set off somewhere early in the morning. I needed to cook my supper,* so I drew curtains, popped a CD into the player and poured a glass of wine. MasterB remained crouched on the floor until I lifted him onto the bed. He looks pretty relaxed now. Maybe he’ll join me in the fore cabin in a while. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 17th September 2020

So what have I done today? The military aircraft continued their fly overs much later than I expected, so my early night didn’t happen. I was in my pyjamas, but the noise kept me awake, so I read and MasterB slept on my feet.

During the night I woke briefly several times, mainly because I needed to change position which isn’t always easy with a cat who has decided to sleep on or as close to one as possible. Around six he came under the quilt, curled up by my chest and we slept companionably until half past seven. The morning wasn’t as cool as I was expecting, but the windows in the rear cabin where we’d slept were covered in condensation. Even so, it was obvious it was going to be a beautiful day. The light was gorgeous. I emerged from the boat in time to see a swan flying low over the river. It’s moments like this when it feels unthinkable to give the boat up.

I‘ve been puzzled by a bit of broken ceramic, tonight I got the answer when the bathroom shelf fell off the wall and I could see where the piece fitted on the back. Since it was fine on my last stay and Older Nephew and his partner were the last people to use das Boot, I assumed they had had a mishap with the shelf. He says not. Strange. The shelf didn’t get back on the wall on its own.

Anyway, MasterB and I enjoyed our respective breakfasts and then I read for a while, feeling rather contented and lazy. But there was shopping to be done at Reach. I wanted carrots, salad and a marrow. I didn’t find any of them, I ended up with squash and fresh walnuts. There weren’t any water melons either. I wasn’t expecting them. They are not the sort of fruit I expect to find on an organic farm in Cambridgeshire, but a woman who was there at the same time as I was waxed lyrical about them and was very disappointed not to get one today.

I turned down the lane and picked blackberries for a crumble I have made this evening. I had half feared there would be no blackberries, that I’d be too late, but I think these were on a north facing hedgerow. I’ll go back and pick more before I go home and I have two orders for sloes, both I think for gin. I may try sloe chutney. I have only had sloe gin once,  an ex neighbour made it and it was so strong I thought I’d go blind.  Continue reading