The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th November 2020

Another Tuesday, another edition of The Great British Bake Off, but tonight it’s the final. So by the time I finish writing this and post it I shall probably know who the winner is. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell. To be honest I am more worried about my bike light which is not charging than the fate of the bakers’ cream slices. The front light charged perfectly, the rear does one little flash to say it recognises it’s on the charger and then, nothing. I’m going to unplug it and try again later.

It is strange as the days cool and the sun sets shortly after four in the afternoon to see the GBBO tent and the contestants sweltering away during a heat wave in high summer, all blue skies, shorts and sunshine.

More announcements from our unesteemed Prime Minister, B Johnson, about what we can expect to be able to do at Christmas. Without wanting to go all bah humbug it does sound crazy to allow up to three households to mix indoors for five days. Maybe Johnson thinks everyone lives in a big house, doesn’t realise how families cram around the dining table and squeeze into tiny sitting rooms to watch the Queen’s Speech or whatever the blockbuster movie of the day is. It always used to be The Great Escape. I must have seen that film a dozen times with my dad while my mum escaped to the kitchen. I don’t recall my sister watching it either, so she must have sloped off somewhere. If other families do the same that may make the sitting room a bit safer.

I imagine there will be some pretty intense conversations around the country with families trying to decide what’s best. Unless miraculously the infection has dropped massively by late December I think I’ll be doing the one household Christmas Day indoors with the two or three households mixing outside options.

Boxing Day is traditionally when everyone goes out for a walk to do a little towards working off the calories consumed the day before. Maybe this year we could just do long distance walks over the whole of Christmas and the New Year. Just a thought.

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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.

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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, 26th September 2020

I’m going to let photos do most of the work tonight. I had my first proper, boots on, train to the start point, walk for months today. If we are locked down again it may be my last for a while too. At the last minute my friend Nicola decided to join me and we met yup at Waterloo Station. The walk is the the one Celia and I did at Easter 2019, and it was wonderful to do it in a different season. We stopped at the Watts Gallery for lunch, checked out the shop, spent some precious moments at the Chapel and revelled in the views of the countryside, the boot against the path, the blackberries in the hedgerows and the sweet chestnuts bursting from their spiny shells.

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Guildford Cathedral

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th September 2020.

This will be a post in two parts as in a very few minutes I am going to join Octavia, her mother and her cousin Humphrey for dinner in Octavia’s garden. So far as I know, there won’t be chips. I shall be taking my almost alcohol free gin alternative for a non-intoxicating aperitif if there are any takers. Actually I have already had an alcoholic aperitif in the shape of half a pint of medium dry cider on the return leg of a walk with Celia. It’s been a beautiful day, and I feel nicely mellow. I was working this morning with a very pleasant group of people which started the day off on a good footing. Lunch at home, a cursory read of today’s papers, and a more thoughtful read of a short story. I should have vacuumed, but that can wait until tomorrow. I have given MasterB his supper and fed the boys. Joe returns tomorrow so my garden cat feeding duties have come to an end. I intend to go to das Boot on Wednesday, so it’s just as well.

Before our walk, Celia and I sat in the garden with B&J. And Hartley. Of course. Hartley loves human company and made sure he was near us. It was only when I went inside briefly that I realised Romeo was lying in the grass at the far end of the garden. He is much less needy than Hartley. We are promised two days of hot weather, so Hartley may find some of the residents who are working from home joining him for garden breaks throughout the days. I am glad it’s going to drop to low twenties for my sojourn on das Boot, though I anticipate chilly mornings and evenings as autumn establishes itself. I am also hoping it’s not too late for blackberries. I love coming home with containers full of blackberries. There are actually quite a lot of blackberry bushes near the flat, but picking them in the country, at the edge of a field is more my thing.

Celia and I were talking about how objects take you back to places and people. We all know about Proust’s Madeleine, but he was not the first person to have memories stirred by the sight, smell or feel of something. We all have dozens of madeleine moments. So picking blackberries by a field’s edge takes me back to childhood and the excitement of food for free, fingers and mouths stained purple. Celia was saying how when she looks at the cacti in their willow pattern continuers on her kitchen window sill, she is momentarily in Coventry. It’s almost a year since we were there in the flesh, and we’d planned to return in the spring. who knows when we’ll get there now? 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, 19th August 2020

A wet, wet day, but somehow whenever I needed to go out there was a pause in the rain and I stayed dry. Last night’s walk and drink with Cynthia was fun. At our pub of choice there was a sign telling us to wait to be seated, so we did. Then we were asked if we had made a reservation. We hadn’t, but there were places at a shared table outside which was perfect. The evening was warm, we were in shirt sleeves. I imagine a lot of pubs will be hiring those outside heaters as the days cool down.

My tasks today were mainly work related, or return-to-paid-work related as I am dipping my toe in the water on Saturday and reading up the rules and regulations, the advice, the precautions, and trying on my face shield for the first time. I was disappointed to find it already had some dents in it despite the padded envelope it arrived in. However Carol tells me they are being sold in our local market now so I may get another. at this rate I am going to need a drawer for masks and face shields. I have a new bottle of hand sanitiser to take with me, and goodness only knows what. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th August 2020

Hot again. The promised rain did come but just not in the quantities expected, I woke to the welcome sound of it at seven, but by eight it had stopped and the ground was dry. The forecast said it would start again at eleven. It didn’t. I carried on taking books of the shelves and was rewarded by finding I still have my copy of Clive James’ Unreliable Memoirs. Hallelujah!

I’ve started sorting my books into categories with the idea that I may that way decide to streamline them. I am astonished how many copies of plays I have. Mainly Shakespeare, but still. I had a quick flick through some history books to see how well slavery was covered. Badly. Like women’s history it barely gets a page, if that. Yet trade, empire, industrial revolution all get covered. As though these things didn’t happen without the profits in trading slaves and slave labour. L’Oréal (because I’m worth it) claims it does not soil its hands with animal testing, yet it sells its products to China in the full knowledge they will be tested in animals there. That is rather like British history’s attitude to slavery.

I truly hope the BLM movement will lead to a more informed understanding of history. 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