The Coronavirus Diaries, 5th June 2022

I got home late on Friday night. The train was delayed because of a trespasser on the line. At first we were told there were trespassers, and I imagined it was some kids who’d got onto or near the track. Later we learned it was a man with mental health issues. He had a razor, so it sounds as though he was threatening to kill himself. It took a while for the emergency services to do whatever they had to do, talking and listening I imagine, before he was taken away in an ambulance. I hope he is receiving the help and support he needs now. Our health service, run down by a cynical government who would like to see it in private hands, is on its knees. Make it fail, then open the door to the highest bidder and say goodbye to arguably this country’s greatest ever achievement.

I was very tired, and though I slept well, yesterday I felt jet lagged. Still, I got the washing done, stocked up on groceries and caught up with Celia. Today I feel more like myself. I have my barometer back. It’s shiny and beautiful, but it doesn’t work. Gareth, the man repairing it, could not find anyone who could supply the needed mercury. In fact neither of us could find anyone who is licensed to have mercury. There’s a list apparently of people who are so licensed, but finding this list is a something both Gareth and I failed at. If you know, please do tell.

Gareth left with the station clock from the sitting room which needs cleaning and some minor attention. It will be good to hear its sombre tick again. I have dead headed the roses, repotted the basil, collected up the stray bits of litter that were scattered about the garden, washed out the cutlery drawer (a much overdue chore), done some accounts, and prepped supper. So a day of small, necessary tasks.

The last view I had before leaving Ray’s house was of cow so close to the haha that separates field from garden she looked like she was in the garden.

Cow by the haha.

It felt a suitably bucolic image to end my stay. In the afternoon, Ray had chosen to remain at the house while Octavia and I went to Burton Agnes Hall. The hall is beautiful, but it is the art collection it houses which is jaw dropping. Marcus Wickham-Boynton, a younger son, inherited the estate last century. He restored the house and hung its walls with an astonishingly varied, superb array of paintings: Corot, Utrillo, Lely, Kneller and many many more. There are also modern sculptures, including one of Marcus, tapestries, including one by Kaffe Fassett, and the gardens are as lovely as the house. Here’s a glimpse.

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Thursday Continued

NotCat’s poo is now stowed under the car. Tomorrow I shall take it with me when we leave. That’s not because I have some weird retentive fetish about holding onto NotCat’s body waste, there are no rubbish disposal facilities here. I’ll get rid of it at the earliest opportunity. Even wrapped in newspaper and inside a bag, it still packs quite a punch.

It is still raining, but it feels like it might stop soon. There was a mighty noise a while ago and I nearly spilled my cocoa. Wet weather is such a good opportunity for cocoa appreciation. Anyway, NotCat growled, I looked out, and there was a heron. By the time I got my camera it had moved away, but I hovered hopefully, wondering if it would come back or if one of the kingfishers might appear. No such luck, so here is a photo of a distant heron. If you look carefully, you’ll see it.


My interest in ornithology continued for several minutes and I watched this bird, who was considerably happier swimming around the marina than I would be.


When the kingfisher didn’t show up, I watched the rain bouncing on the water.


I am also keeping an eye on a boat across the marina. I earned my good deed badge this morning when I noticed it behaving oddly. I realised one of the ropes had become detached and it was swinging about. At first, I couldn’t see any spare rope, then spotted a loop that was far inferior to the rope at the other end of the boat, waited for the wind to blow it towards the pontoon again and reattached it. So far so good.

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Armchair Ornithologist

After hitting the window with a resounding smack, presumably in pursuit of a bird in the garden, Not Cat confined himself to a more sedate interest in ornithology.

He nabbed Mother’s chair as the one with the best view of the garden, and settled down.

She was, and is, still in hospital, and I’ll doubtless write about that soon, though I find the whole business extremely disquieting, so she wasn’t displaced by him.

It’ll be interesting to see if they tussle for territory when (and I sincerely hope it is when and not if) she gets home.