The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th September 2020

Last night we had a social gathering in the garden here. By we, I mean B&J, H&J, Celia and Charlie. Hartley and Romeo naturally assumed they were invited too, and a young fox gatecrashed, at one point running off with a bag I had used to bring the olives etc outside, and my iPhone fell to the floor.

We had chips. Not the cats, and not the fox either. Chips in the garden are somehow wonderful. And they work very well instead of nibbles. Celia has investigated a newish chip shop we noticed during lockdown and gives it a good report. I shall find out if they deliver. If we are allowed to socialise this Christmas in each others’ homes I think it will be drinks and chips in at least two of them.

The young fox was very sweet, watching us with hopeful, curious eyes, close to us but far enough away for his safety. He’s not tame, which is just as well. He decided to approach Hartley and got a hiss for his pains. I think he’s the one I saw the other night waiting for the cats to finish eating so that he could have any leftovers.

This afternoon I went for a walk on my own. Celia had been swimming and that was enough exercise for her. I ended up in Ruskin Park and the streets to the west of it. It reminded me of lockdown, as this was a favourite destination when the highlight of each day was our permitted walk. The park is at Denmark Hill and the views across to the City and Westminster are great. Local residents stand at the top of the hill, south of the park to watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

Looking towards Westminster

Looking towards the City

On one of the trees beside the pond I found this notice. There didn’t seem to be any others. It’s probably true, but I was a bit puzzled by it.


I love the streets to the west of Ruskin Park. This afternoon they were very quiet which enhanced the lockdown feeling. We are used to seeing fake flowers decorating shops and restaurants. It’s become something of a tend the last year or so. But this is the first time I have seen a private house given the same treatment.


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The Coronavirus Diaries, 23rd August 2020

I am pleased to say that work went well and was very enjoyable. My face shield was a bit of a problem as the weather was windy and the face shield threatened to depart for other places. Otherwise all was fine. I think the adrenalin got to me, because mid afternoon I could have very happily gone to sleep. MasterB did go to sleep, leaning against me, and then taking the space I had occupied when I got up to answer the ‘phone.

Then I started a jigsaw. It was one I had given to Charlie for his birthday in April. It has done the rounds of our cartel and come back to me. It’s weeks since I did a jigsaw, and part of the desire is to do with The Pattern in the Carpet by Margaret Drabble which I am reading. It’s a memoir, and she uses jigsaws as a way of linking her thoughts and experiences. It is oddly enjoyable. Another spur is that I find jigsaws relaxing in a meditative sort of way. My thoughts can drift around, take time to clarify. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 21st August 2020

I feel quite tired. This is good as I should like to get to sleep early and get up early. But the best laid plans etc etc as MasterB is currently asleep but almost guaranteed to wake up, yawn, stretch and decide on some outside time just as I make tracks for bed. Tomorrow morning I am going out to work for the first time in five months. Putting everything I shall need in my bag surplus to the pre lockdown requirements made me think of those bags new parents carry. My biggest concern is finding a loo before I start working. Many are still closed, so the early start is more to give my bladder time to deal with the effects of morning coffee than anything else.

While I was talking to Chris yesterday her partner was reading a message from their local council which warned that the second wave of the pandemic is likely to hit in September and to be worse than the first. If this is right my return to work may be very short-lived. Chris was in her garden, torturing me with descriptions of ripe pears and lots of tomatoes. I have four tomato plants this year. One ripe tomato.

The ripe tomato

I haven’t picked it. I am hoping by its example it will encourage the others to turn red. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 20th August 2020

More sunshine today so I was glad I had the excuse to be out and about. A bag of books (and one jigsaw) went to the Oxfam Bookshop in Westminster, then off to the City where I wanted to check something out. Lots of opportunity to walk on sunny streets.

If I do move from London I should miss walking around the capital I think. There is so much variety, and living as I do fairly near the centre, places like the Cities of Westminster and London are in easy reach. Then there was the walk to Camberwell and the pub with Cynthia the there night. From which it might sound as though I have decided to stay put, but in fact it’s still possible I may up sticks. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 11th August 2020

It’s hot. Sitting still is hot. Walking is hot. Lying down is hot. As hot as Africa, says Celia; as hot as Turkey, says Viv; as hot as Greece, say I. All of us referencing places we have been in the height of summer where it has been, well, hot. Hotter than the dutch Antibes, says Ross who is painting my hallway on Friday. I am guessing he has been there, but I don’t know.

Wearing a face mask in the heat is hellish. Except if you are in Marks and Spencer where the fridges are wonderfully cool and three of us admitted to loitering today.

Octavia, back from France, is off to Croatia in the morning. She had bought a big box of disposable masks. I was surprised. It turns out when she flew out of London she was wearing her good cloth mask. No problem. No problem arriving at Nice with same face mask. But when she went to board the ‘plane for the return flight she was told paper masks only. The kindness off a fellow passenger saved the day for herself and other passengers in the same situation. For obvious reasons Octavia does not want to be caught out going to or coming from Croatia. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th August 2020

So home. It was glorious this morning at the marina, warm but not hot, the promise of a new day held in the palm of the sky. I vacuumed, stripped the bed, carried things to the car while MasterB slept. He had a short stroll after breakfast.

We left around lunchtime.

Our route took us over a bridge above a dual carriageway where I could see lots of cars. Decision made, we’d take the back roads as far as we could. I started taking these roads years ago as there is more shade, and in warm weather, with a car minus air con, I didn’t want Cat to overheat. Now I often choose them as the route home to get that last good hit of countryside.

There were very few cars. It was a loveLy drive. Inevitably as we got closer to London the traffic increased. A hundred yards from home I looked at all the people on the street and reflected that I hadn’t seen half as many the whole week while I was away.

Washing dried ridiculously quickly. Even at seven this evening the temperature was over 30C. Actually it’s over 30C now but only just. 30.1C according to my thermometer. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd August 2020

To be honest I haven’t done a great deal today, and unless you are interested in my dusting technique, or how I move MasterB from one from one room to the other so he does not have to face the monster that is the vacuum cleaner, it wouldn’t be much of a read. You might sympathise with the evidence of more moth activity of course. During the first weeks of lockdown clearing cupboards turned into a national obsession. An obsession I did not share. I was focused on jigsaws, but I suppose it’s the same desire to create a sense of order when all around you is uncertainty and chaos. I did pack a few things up ready for when the charity shops reopened, but lack of storage space for packed bags was a big disincentive to do more. I am by nature a keeper. I tend to look at objects and think they might come in handy where others would immediately discard them. When I am in a discarding mood it’s best to strike while the iron is hot, because I know it will cool soon. The mood was on me today. I took a bag full of items to the charity shop today, and bagged up some of MasterB’s ignored toys for cats currently in the care of the RSPCA. When I was a child Aunt ran children’s homes. Mother, a clearer-outer par excellence, was very skilled at persuading us to part with toys and clothes to give to children in those homes. Later she was less subtle; I’d return from university to find favourite jumpers missing, books vanished. As a result I blame Mother for my own hoarding instincts. By this evening the discarding zeal had waned, and a couple of things I had put aside for the next charity shop run went back on the shelves. Maybe next time.

B&J came over and we had socially distanced G&Ts in the garden before I joined Octavia for supper in her garden. Hartley was very present during the G&Ts but mainly because he wanted me to give him more food. I obliged before I went to Octavia’s. Our meal was good and the chat thought-provoking and entertaining. The wine was also very good. I told Octavia about the house on Colenso Parade I drool over, and said I’d send her the details. Home I see that the sale has been agreed. But see for yourself here what a lovely house it is, overlooking the Botanic Gardens, right by the museum and by the university quarter. If I were ever to move to Belfast this is where I’d want to be.

Last night I couldn’t load photos, so I am going to try now. Here goes. First the Edward Snowden mosaic.

Thank-you Edward Snowden

Can someone please explain to me what the signs mean on this rainbow? I feel I am missing the message.

Curious rainbow

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 31st July-1st August

Yesterday was hot, and the evening was designed for sitting outside. Hence no post. I joined Celia and Charlie in their garden and we had pre dinner gin and tonics. Very civilised. Then they went inside to eat a fish pie and I came home for my chickpea scramble. Celia had suggested I return to sit in the garden with her and drink some wine after dinner. It sounded like a good plan. In the street two households were sitting on their steps and on garden chairs, chatting and drinking. They started doing this in lockdown, and it’s become a weekend fixture.

By the time I had eaten my dinner and washed up the light was fading. Celia and I sat in the gathering gloom. It was balmy. After a day where tasks including shopping required wearing a mask while that became increasingly uncomfortable in the heat, it was very good to feel air on my skin. Particularly on my chin which I fear will soon be a mass of spots unless I can get the right mask for hot days. A very young fox came into the garden, showed no fear of us until it had almost touched Celia’s leg with its nose, then it loped away. It returned later and again came near us. We talked about the encounter this afternoon and both agreed it was special.

Today has been cooler, mostly blue skies, but intermittently dark grey threatening ones, and at times quite muggy. I met Celia again and we went for a walk to Vauxhall. Every outside space in front of bars and cafés was busy. There were no free tables. Londoners may be eschewing the shops of the West End but they certainly want to meet up and socialise. There was one venue where people could go to eat, drink and watch the FA Cup Final on a big screen. It looked rather crowded around the entrance and ironic that people can’t go to Wembley stadium to see the match. Also strange that it was played today as it’s usually in May. Having walked this area several times in lockdown and met almost no one it felt very strange. We wandered down to the Embassy Quarter, where new blocks of flats continue to rise. Whether we had passed the mosaic of Edward Snowden before and simply missed it I don’t know. The site was obviously chosen for its proximity to the US Embassy. I can’t show it to you tonight as the internet seems to be playing up and uploading photos could take until midnight or beyond. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 29th July 2020

I am going back to Essex tomorrow to revisit somewhere that I think I might like to live. Whether I ever shall is a very moot point. Not only would it mean selling my flat for a decent amount, packing it all up, it would also mean managing that feat of finding something suitable very quickly to move into. Thinking about it makes me want to jettison the whole project.

So I went off to buy my train ticket and take some photos in the City. I had a few places in mind, but naturally saw more, photographed more.

Celia meanwhile was heading for Covent Garden to pick up a top she had ordered from Cotswold Outdoor. You will realise from this that she is really breaking out. It’s not just B&J expanding their horizons. Celia has even allowed Charlie to visit his friend Chris in Notting Hill so they can watch the cricket together. Next they are off to Brighton.

Anyway, back to today. Celia and I had arranged to meet in Covent Garden after I had photographed and she had shopped and walk home together. It was so much livelier than when I was there last, and such a contrast with our visit a couple or three months ago.

The entertainers are back

I haven’t mentioned what a lovely day it was. The weather was warm, not hot. We crossed the river via the Jubilee Bridges and walked by the Royal Festival Hall, snuck away from the main road by Waterloo Station and on passed the Old Vic.

By the Royal Festival Hall

Buses and the Shard

Not yet back

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th July 2020

For some reason today I was thinking back over the last few months, and it occurred to me that there are some streets close by I have not walked for some time that early in lockdown I seemed to walk daily. It’s one of those things that tell me this period has had a trajectory, and although probably in years to come in many history books lockdown will be described as a homogenous period, it has had its twists and turns just as any period of time has. Twists and turns for individuals and for all of us. So I decided to walk a route that was part of my routine in that early part of lockdown, a route that took in shops and streets on the way to where I was delivering groceries. I didn’t include Sainsbury’s at the Elephant, but it’s weeks since I have been there either.

Much seemed the same, but on one street I was struck by the pile of brown leaves that had blown up into a pile in a corner. We started this lockdown in spring and the trees were coming into leaf. Now we are at the end of July, summer is past its peak and already some leaves are turning. I feel as though time has slipped by me, that I have stood still and it has flowed around and beyond me. It is a feeling echoed by my neighbours opposite. They are both working from home. In a one bedroom flat that is quite tough. One of them has described it more as living at work. Continue reading