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

The Coronavirus Diaries, 21st July 2020

I am writing this early as I have a supper date. A real one, in Michèle’s garden, and she has said she is serving wine so I may be comfortably mellow by the time I return. I have kept away from computer screens today. Yesterday could have been sold as aversion therapy in my case. MasterB has been to the vet; not alone, I took him in the car, but due to the new restrictions I had to hand him over in his basket to a masked vet nurse who took my mobile number, warned me the vet was still with an earlier patient, so it could be some time, and said the vet would call me when she had examined the Boy. Fortunately the surgery is beside a large park, so I wasn’t kicking my heels in the street, or sitting in a warm vehicle.

The appointment was made a couple of weeks ago, so not an emergency, but his annual check up and vaccinations. I have been worried he might have gained weight during lockdown, but he has actually managed to lose a little. How much I did not catch. Good news anyway. His teeth were good, his coat good, in fact she pronounced him perfect. Perfect. How my heart swelled with pride.


I need to give MasterB his worming pill this week, but I think a visit to the vet, even one who admires him so wholeheartedly, is enough for him to put up with for one day. I was very interested in the good teeth report as last year he had to have a few removed due to gingivitis. I felt dreadful, but was told it’s something some cats are prone to. I did a bit of research and found a number of references to charcoal being good for dental health in cats, dogs and humans. I haven’t been using it yet myself, though maybe soon, as MasterB has had a tiny scoop of a product with charcoal, turmeric and seaweed in his food every day since last July. The pot is just coming to an end, and I wanted to know if his teeth were in good shape before ordering another. The vet could not say whether the good dental bill of health was down to this product, but she didn’t poopoo my continuing to use it. So I have just put in an order. It costs less than £10, and if it is helping that’s a lot cheaper than feline dental surgery. Time to check out the human options now. And make an appointment for a dental check up if that’s possible. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th May 2020

The other day Matt Hancock MP was asked about summer holidays. This is what he said: “I think it’s unlikely that big lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer.” Actually I don’t have any big lavish international holidays in mind for this summer, though I do have a flight booked to Belfast at the end of a July. I imagine most of compatriots have been thinking more along the lines of a week camping in the New Forest, or a caravan somewhere near the coast, than a month in the British Virgin Islands. Hancock’s answer was yet another example of the disconnect between those in power and the vast majority of the population. Matt Hancock has not shown to advantage in this crisis. He is one of those you seriously wonder about.

Maybe I will get to Belfast and then on to Magherafelt, but I have a day trip in mind that might be my consolation if not, and which can be reached easily by train: Bedford. Birthplace of John Bunyan, and not, so far as I am aware a major lavish holiday destination for international travellers. There was a piece in the Guardian on Saturday I almost missed. You can read it here. The Garden of Eden in Bedford. Who knew? Certainly not me.

Celia and I were talking about walks we shall take when we are allowed back on trains, and she reckons the Guildford circular that included Watts Gallery at Compton might have to be our first one. It is a lovely walk but I have a sneaking suspicion that she is hoping to buy a new shirt in the wonderful shop at the gallery.

Today’s walk was closer to home. I had a yen to see Cancell Street again. So our route took us there and through nearby streets. Each time we go down a street we notice something new. We are starting to pick out details in Cancell Street. I have never seen a sage plant with such large leaves.

The Biggest Sage Leaves You Ever Did See

Another garden was very ornamented.

Ornamented Garden

This front garden appealed to me a lot. I especially liked the little frog.

Spot the Frog

Continue reading

A Last Evening in Napier

There were only five of us on the wine tour on Wednesday, all of us from the UK; two from London, three from Scotland. For four of us, this was our visit to Napier and the surrounding area. Where we have stayed will have informed our opinions, our impressions of the place. Two of the women were staying in very swish hotels in the town centre; the couple from Isla at a more remote place on the Maraekakaho Road. I am at the top of the hill, on a road called Bay View, for fairly obvious reasons.

View of the bay from Bay View Road

While I was walking about yesterday, I met both of the women who were staying in the town. One was about to leave, and the other was planning a visit to the aquarium. It felt nice to be able to hail a familiar face, stand on the pavement and chat for a few minutes, and it also underlined how small a place Napier is. I met a friend of Lyn and Malcolm’s today who told me about the two degrees of separation people experience in Wellington. I’ve experienced that frequently in Northern Ireland, and surprisingly often in London.
Monica and I talked about both Napier and London, about our mothers’ dementia, about poetry, dodgy painful joints (her hip, my knee) and a host of other subjects. We got on. I got my map out and asked her if she could tell me how to get to Bluff Hill, a lookout point Lyn and Malcolm had said I should see. It looked tantalisingly close to Bay View Road but there was no obvious route. I had seen one signpost, but although I had been walking in that direction, not seen another. Monica drove me there. Quite honestly, having seen the up, down, and up again, complete with a twisty road devoid of pavement, I don’t think I could have got there any other way. Continue reading

Of Newspapers, MasterB, Cat and Trevor, and Introducing Ditto

Chez IsobelandCat we find ourselves with a wealth of newsprint this week. Normally, I restrict myself to one paper at the weekend, and gradually read all the different sections during the week. On Friday, however, I bought a paper. I bought another on Saturday. The next day, I picked up a free copy of the Independent on Sunday. Add to that the five copies of the Metro I nabbed and the several copies of something in the Cyrillic alphabet my neighbour kindly brought home for me last night, and you start to get the picture.
Are you thinking “Wow, she reads Russian”? Or “Blimey she reads the Metro”? Admittedly the two feel like opposite ends of the cultural spectrum. I read neither. No, sometimes I read the Metro and then do the Sudoku puzzle. These papers are small, tabloid sized – as indeed is the IoS, not to be confused with IDS, no, no that would never do – and my newspapers of choice for lining MasterB’s indoor facility. A facility I am glad to relate he has scarcely used since the departure of Trevor. I was getting through a serious quantity of cat litter. Cat’s ashes must have been spinning in the airing cupboard. A year or longer could pass without him using the litter tray. He believed the place for toileting was the garden. He also believed a day without a fight was a day wasted, so poor Trevor would have had a sorry time if he had tried to take up residence during Cat’s reign.



Continue reading