The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th December 2021, Countdown to 2022

It’s that slightly strange period between Christmas and New Year. This time last week people were buying last minute cards and wrapping paper. Today I saw those items on sale at half the price. I was hoping for fresh mushrooms but was not lucky.

A couple of weeks ago Octavia was telling me she has been trying to eat thirty different types of fruit and vegetables a week. She thought I probably already did. I was and remain more doubtful. I do eat a lot of fruit and veg, but I gravitate towards the same ones, so I have started noting my intake this week. I’m starting my list from Christmas Day. I haven’t totted things up before this minute, and I haven’t been trying to eat anything I don’t normally eat, so this list will be as much an eye opener for me as it is for you.:

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 20th December 2021, Omicron Christmas

Today has had all the grey tones of a wartime film. Brief Encounter perhaps. We have just over twenty four hours to go before the days creepingly get longer again. In the meantime I would welcome some blue skies, even if it means colder weather. I have candles and fairy lights in self-defence. Or maybe that should be protection. Those cards I send are all written and posted, the ones delivered by hand all pushed through letterboxes; a rare few parcels to addresses beyond walking or meeting distance went weeks ago, and the others have been wrapped, all with MasterB’s help – unroll wrapping paper and he sits on it – and passed into others’ hands. All except the one for my six-year-old neighbour who I shall see on Christmas Day morning. The flat has suddenly started to look festive. The sideboard is covered with cards and gifts. It’s weird how one moment it seems too early to be thinking about Christmas, the next a mad dash to get everything done.

Omicron has slimmed down the actual festivities. Drinks and nibbles are off again for the second Christmas running. I did a jigsaw at the weekend instead. I expect to do another, maybe a third. I bought a Radio Times, but the Christmas television schedules fail to inspire so far. We have lots of channels now, some of which I can access, but lots of channels seems to mean lots of dross. Why people want to sit and watch a bunch of celebs doing everything from building snowmen to buying antiques mystifies me. There must be the odd nugget in there somewhere, indeed I know there is as I have started watching Outlaws which is streamed on BBC i-player, but I am hardly spoiled for choice.

Last night was live music. Octavia and I went to St Bart the Great’s for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols which was sublime. Again I wished I had belief. The Christmas story is heartbreaking in its simplicity, in its promise of a better world, of redemption, a world saved by the innocence of a baby born in a stable. Peace on earth and goodwill to all people.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd December 2021

My work took me out into the cold of the day. I didn’t make any money, today was prep, taking photographs, making the most of the blue skies. Rain is forecast tomorrow. I walked between Park Lane and Bayswater, traversing Hyde Park. London is rich in parks, and although I have visited Hyde Park many times, I can’t truly say I know it. It is vast. I walked through bits I knew, then bits I didn’t recognise to more bits I knew. It was lovely.

After Bayswater it was back through the park to Belgravia, a part of London I don’t like much. It’s all big white houses which look alike to me. A bit of luck as I left the park, the Horseguards, Lifeguards in their red, were making their way back to their barracks and stables. These are sights I missed during lockdown. The daily panoply of pomp with beautiful beautiful horses.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th October 2021

A grey but warm day today. I finished writing my notes, packed papers and books away, swapped magazines with Celia – my copy of Walk for her husband’s copy of The Economist. Their neighbour’s Jack Russell is no more, having had that last trip to the vet on Monday. He used to be such a cheery soul, but his deterioration this year has been sad to see. I have a candle burning in the window for him tonight.

My RSPCA supporters’ magazine I have passed to Joe. In it there were pictures of pets needing homes. Two cats, aged ten, were said to need a home for their twilight years. MasterB has lived with me for ten years and he was three quarters grown when he arrived, so he is probably nearing his eleventh birthday. He is not nearing his twilight years any time soon. Today he has chased balls around the flat (I have the task of throwing them and retrieving them so they can be thrown again), raced around a racetrack that is invisible to the human eye, woke from apparently deep slumber when he heard me in the kitchen, chased and killed a fly. He’s in great shape. But I still haven’t put the calendar together.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 30th September 2021

I had my winter ‘flu vaccination yesterday. I went to the local pharmacy to book an appointment and was fitted in then and there. By late evening my arm was sore and by this morning most of my upper arm was covered in an angry red rash. I felt, still feel, somewhat under the weather though probably by tomorrow I’ll be fine. Why my body should react so strongly to vaccinations I do not know.

Consequently it has been a rather lazy day. I have read a book, made some notes for a job I am doing in ten days, read emails and replied to them. I could quite happily go to bed now, but as it’s not yet five o’clock, I shall stay up a while longer. The day has been grey, windy, not cold enough to put the heating on, but cold enough to close windows and wear socks and a jumper. It’s soup weather. Soup and crusty bread, except I am deliberately buying boring bread as when I have good bread I keep eating it. Boring bread does not exercise the same appeal.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 3rd September 2021

Friday again already. Unbelievable. The week has flown by. The opera was great last Saturday, both music and venue, both of which got good reviews in The Guardian. And that’s not even starting on the good company. Celia and I hatched a last minute plan to go walking on Sunday. We plumped for a walk we have done several times which takes in the cemetery where my great grandmother and Lewis Carol are buried, views across to Guildford cathedral, farmland, woodland, Watts Gallery, uphills and downhills, horses in fields, a country pile, a lake, the river Wey, and, most importantly for this time of year, blackberries.

We ended at a pub which used to be called the Jolly Farmer and is now I think called The Weyside, drank our half pints of cider, shared a packet of crisps, and got the train back to London. It was good. Monday, being a bank holiday, was grey and dull. I felt no regrets about getting on with paperwork. Work on Tuesday, and suddenly it’s Friday again. Michèle lent me a book called The Port of London Murders by Josephine Bell. It was published in 1938 and has been republished as part of the British Library Crime Classics series. After Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, the change of style took a few chapters for me to find the rhythm. There was quite a lot of ‘ere, and, laarst, to conjure the accents of the Rotherhithe community. At first this grated, but I got over it and would happily read more by her. However, although Michèle lent me two further books from the series they are both by different writers, both new to me. I am just embarking on Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert. For fans of detective fiction, this series is a goldmine.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 21st July 2021

I have just read that Led by Donkeys is responsible for the very moving Covid memorial beside the Thames and next to St Thomas’ Hospital. Well done them. I hope it remains.

Today I have been in Belfast. It was hot, and by the time I arrived at the bus station to come back here I was weary. Belfast, I realised today, is a city not designed to give shelter to pedestrians. In warm weather you bake, in wet weather you get soaked.

After a brief visit to the Linen Hall Library – no visit to Belfast is complete unless this is on the itinerary – where I enjoyed two exhibitions, I dropped into tourist information for a free street map. Then across the road to City Hall and beyond, heading for the university quarter, where the Ulster Museum sits in the Botanic Gardens.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 30th June 2021

Much to my surprise I have been dancing around the forecabin this evening.The sound system at das Boot is great, but I was barely able to lift myself off the cushions to eat a short while ago. Maybe it was the power of Nanci Griffith, or maybe the fact that after a day of rain and drizzle it’s approaching a fine evening. Maybe it was the power of curry. Maybe it was the adolescent swan who appeared at the rear of das Boot as I was preparing to head over to the shower. It was so excited when I hung my wet trousers on the grab rail it almost climbed aboard.

I didn’t have high expectations of dinner. I prepped a curry while it rained this morning, Fortunately there were chilli flakes and ground ginger in the cupboard because the amount of curry powder was less than meagre.But it was plate licking good. Yes I did lick the plate. And tomorrow I’ll have seconds. curry is always better a day or two later.For pudding I had soya yoghurt with mandarin oranges. A can that came from Mother’s so is at least a decade old.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th June 2021

We’re enjoying fabulous weather with temperatures in the mid twenties centigrade; warm without being enervatingly hot. I should be quite happy if the mercury rose no higher. I’m eating lots of salad and fresh fruit. My current addiction is spiralised courgette and carrot with chickpeas or butterbeans in a mustard vinaigrette. I eat it almost every day, along with lettuce or raw baby spinach. It’s tasty and really satisfying. Today there was added excitement of freshly cooked beetroot. My other current addiction is miniature gherkins. I keep meaning to look up what nutritional value the have.

An ad for an Audible book keeps flashing on my ‘phone. It’s called Food is Not Medicine. Maybe not, but surely a good diet is in some way medicinal. I should probably get the dictionary out to check the meaning of medicine. I am thinking about this because my wound is healing marvellously well. There’s one crusty looking bit at the edge, and the whole thing is rather pink, but I am both reassured and relieved. I do have the suggestion of a dart or pleat at either end, but I can live with that. The rate of healing seems quick, and at the hospital nurses and doctors have commented on it. Has my diet contributed to this? Answers on a postcard or in the comments box please.

I have started looking at flights to and from Belfast after first Celia, then B&J said they thought between them they could cover my absence. Helena also said she might be able to help. All are people MasterB knows and likes. Before I actually make the booking I need to double check with all of them as it would obviously never do if they all had commitments elsewhere at the same time. I fully expect Celia to be away a great deal, catching up on missed time with grandchildren.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd May 2021

I am very much enjoying my birthday weekend. It has been more sedentary than I imagined as I had a procedure on my leg on Friday, and due to the site of the wound, the chances of it breaking open and becoming infected are high if I move around too much. That gave me the perfect excuse to lie on the sofa (leg raised) and watch Local Hero yesterday afternoon. What a lovely film it is.

Plans were so fluid in the morning as to be next to non-existent. We are still limited to meeting outside in groups no larger than six, and after a very dry April, scattered showers were forecast. However, the skies were blue, and on Friday night I had been talking to Celia on the ‘phone. We thought elevenses would work. So I bought croissants, some vegan, and some with butter, then pains au chocolat (butter), orange juice and clementine juice. Cynthia arrived with a bottle of champagne and glasses. So organised. Charlie had gone to Notting Hill to spend the day with his friend Chris watching cricket, so Celia was unaccompanied. Michèle met me at one gate, and B&J arrived at another. It was very jolly and as well as cards I was given perfect presents, including a new doormat with silhouettes of cats on it. It’s very handsome. I am not sure what it says about my stage of life that I can spend so much time admiring my door mat, but there it is. Books, a picture, fudge which I ate watching the film, some hand cream Celia and I had found and tried out a few weeks ago, and that most necessary accessory for summer, a wine cooling sleeve.

Naturally Hartley joined us. J has started giving him treats and has made him a toy. He stayed close to her, rolling over and offering her his tummy. That cat just thrives on love and affection.

That might have been it, but the forecast was showing less chance of rain for the evening, so we decided on a takeaway from the Vietnamese restaurant, to be eaten in Celia’s garden. Mid afternoon I had an invitation from Reinhild and Mark to join them in their garden for drinks and nibbles. I had asked if they wanted to join our al fresco dinner, Michèle and Cynthia having other engagements, but Reinhild was chilled having met friends for lunch outside the café in Russell Square, so they politely declined.

It wasn’t a late evening, and I enjoyed some time at home with MasterB and let him outside for a while before bedtime.

Continue reading