The Coronavirus Diaries, 22nd November 2020

I still have a degree of lockdown brain fog, but this afternoon, in search of empty streets, and it being a beautiful day so the parks would be full, I headed for the Square Mile. The City is usually quiet at the weekend, lockdown or not, so I was more than a bit surprised to find hoards of people walking beside the river between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Why? I don’t know. It was weird.

Social distancing wasn’t really evident. I mean, if you had just arrived from a Covid free place (Mars perhaps) and hadn’t heard of the two metre rule, you wouldn’t have noticed anything that would have helped you work it out. There was a photography group at work in St Dunstan’s in the East, a popular place for photography students and clubs. I took pictures too, some of which I hope to use in my work.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th November

Octavia and I realised on our evening walk that these next few weeks are going to be enlivened by Christmas decorations.

Only six weeks until Christmas

Obviously the shops have gone all out on Christmas since the day after Hallowe’en. It seems more than one Londoner has also decided the jolly season has begun. Octavia reckons it’s lockdown and people looking for enjoyment where they can find it. I am not so sure. Some people just love Christmas decorations. I have only once spent Christmas in the US. It was something of a culture shock. After lunch on Christmas Day we strolled the neighbourhood where every house, without exception, was decked in lights, lawn displays, roof displays. The national grid must have been going quadruple time. I had never seen anything like it. Except of course I had, because such scenes often figure in US films set at Christmas time. I just don’t think I had believed they were real. It was like having far too much sugar to eat in one go.

Continue reading

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
Continue reading

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

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st November 2020

It’s my half birthday and the universe seems to be telling me to leave things alone. I repeatedly forget to buy a lottery ticket in a shop, when I try to buy one online it doesn’t work; I make the decision to put my flat on the market and I turn down the virtual tour option, a second lockdown is announced immediately. Return to Go, go back two spaces, miss a turn, or whatever board game cliché you like.

I’m not sure how I feel about the flat, certainly some relief, but whether that is simply to do with knowing I can duck out of the stress of selling and buying for a while, or if I don’t really want to move, I don’t know.

I do love London in the autumn. With the dark streets lit by the lights of cafés, bars and restaurants I almost certainly shan’t go to, even the wettest night – and we’ve had a fair few of those this past week – takes on a fairy land look. Riding on the top deck of an almost empty bus, looking out at the capital is a pleasure. Then Celia and I came across a vegan café not far away with outdoor space where, when we can socialise again, we should be able to meet, and my world seems complete.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 20th October 2020

I am quite pleased with myself. I have found a way around the new block editor here at WordPress. It was by accident, as so many discoveries are. I didn’t have time to finish a post so saved the draft. when I returned to edit it, I saw there was an option to continue in classic editor. I hope this option remains.

We have just been sitting outside drinking wine. Three bottles (not necessarily all emptied) and members of three households. I had an early dinner as wine on an empty stomach isn’t a great idea for me. The others left for their evening repast a little while ago. We can meet as different households outside. Today has been warm, and tonight is very mild. Still, having Hartley on my knee as a furry hot water bottle was still pleasant. Coming inside to a cuddly MasterB nicer still.

Still no joy with my internet provider who also is my landline provider and to add to my woes the tv box (same provider) is no longer talking to the tv. So everything hinges on my ‘phone. I watched television last night courtesy of my phone’s hotspot, am posting this courtesy of the same. Amazing.

B had tried to fix my sewing machine, a gift from my parents when I turned eighteen. I am not, and have never been a keen sewer. But my older sister was, and that was she got when she turned eighteen so the precedent was set. It has been useful. I have made curtains, cushion covers, maybe even a dress, I’m not sure now. Knitting was more my thing. But when during lockdown I got it out to sew some seams which had come apart, the foot did not respond to the lever which should have clamped it to the material. b tried to mend it but no luck. Norma, a neighbour who sews and knits and bakes and cooks and gardens, and is a one woman craft factory advised me to take it to a place in Tooting, ‘by the Craft Centre’.

Back in the day I used to go to Tooting a lot. My friend Sue, now in Houston Tx, lived there. But as the years ahve passed my Tooting visits have dwindled. Craft Centre? I had no idea. Fortunately a quick duck duck go search (we don’t all want Google tracking our every move) located it. It shares a website with the sewing machine menders, and I presumed, a premises. Sewing machines are heavy. Did they have a car park? They did. I drove there yesterday, parked and joined a queue for the wrong building. It’s counter service only during the pandemic at the Craft Centre. Fortunately, an employee walked by, spotted the fairly obvious machine by my feet and directed me to a queue-free building further down the road.

It was not quite how I expected it to be. The door was open, there was no queue. The building was anonymous. There was a sign on the wall.

Sewing Machine Centre

I stepped into an area with a number of sewing machines and a staircase which had a barrier across it. No sound, no sight of anyone.

Display


Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th October 2020

A bit of change of subject today. I spent a fair amount of time travelling backwards and forwards to the West End. I can’t say it was an entirely successful use of my time, but I did get stuck into The Nickel Boys by Colston Whitehead, a book that has been on my to read list, as opposed to the pile by my bed, for some time. I found it and Margaret Attwood’s The Testaments in the Barbican Library yesterday.

Celia and I walked uo to City. Both of us were somewhat overdressed. Not in the sartorial sense, though Celia was undoubtedly smarter than I was, more in anticipation of rain which did not come (at least in the quantities expected), and temperatures lower than they actually were. Celia has a pair of waterproof trousers which are very smart. Much smarter than my over trousers. I have waterproof trouser envy, something I have never before experienced.

We ate our packed lunches under cover. There were an awful lot of cigarette butts about. I thought of the City’s campaign to get people to dispose of chewing gum and cigarette ends responsibly and realised it had failed.

After the library, which really I shouldn’t gloss over because the Barbican library is a joy, we went to the conservatory. Celia was ahead of me as I was looking at Which? reports of cordless vacuum cleaners. If anyone reading this has a Halo Capsule (with bag), a Tineco A10 Hero, a Vax Blade 4 bagless, or a Jashen cordless, please get in touch.

Since finding Billy Mann and his blog every time I am near the Barbican I wonder if unknowingly I shall see him. Maybe I did.

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

Continue reading

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.

Birkenstocks

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.

Unusual

Continue reading

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