Hello from Eastbourne

Macrae children

Easter Sunday by Marli Rose Macrae


On Easter Sunday I was thrilled when I woke up because it was Easter. After I had my breakfast, we decorated hard, boiled eggs. I decorated mine with a star, a chick, a witch and Saskia. We then took our eggs to the Long Man of Wilmington where we had an exhilarating time. We rolled our eggs down the hill and then Franklin and I rolled ourselves down the hill! It was great fun and when we got to the bottom, we climbed up the other side to explore a tiny wood that was buzzing with bees. There were simply thousands of bees and wild flowers. The sky was clear and acquamarine, the sun shone onto the land below and it was so warm. There was the slightest, refreshing breeze that blew softly through the trees. I was exhausted by the time we had climbed back up to the top of the hill. Franklin and I discovered there was an echo though and we had a fun time shouting and hearing our voices repeated only fainter.


Earlier this week, daddy found an old camera in the attic and gave it to me. I've been playing with it a lot, I find it enjoyable taking pictures of things. I've also made a linocut of Saskia which I'm going to make into cards and wrapping paper.


Easter Sunday by Franklin Lewis Macrae


Over Easter, my family and I did some lovely things. 


On Easter Sunday we boiled some eggs until they were hard. My sister and I then decorated four each and mum and dad did one each.  We drove to the Long Man of Wilmington and found an extremely steep spot and raced the eggs down the hill. Mine were lost quite quickly! Afterwards, my sister and I decided to roll down the hill ourselves. The rolling felt like it would last forever, we tumbled down so quickly. We were in a valley and the hill started to rise steeply again. We spotted a small copse about a quarter of the way up that we felt like exploring. It was a long climb to it but worth it as it was untouched and buzzing with bees. We went inside but couldn't get far in as the undergrowth was immensely thick, a wall of thorns and brambles. We couldn't see mum and dad from the copse as we were so far down and they were on the ridge but they could see us. We could hear our own echoes too. Dad is planning to take me up there on our mountain bikes. I love the Downs, they are so peaceful yet noisy with the sounds of the birds. I've been up there more times than I can count but I still feel that there is so much more to explore up there and discover. A few years ago we trespassed and found some ancient ruins and goats and natural dew ponds. On the journey home, I felt so lucky to live here as the Downs are so beautiful and right on our doorstep.


We had lunch when we got back and I scoffed all my Easter choc.  


Rural Norfolk

Chris Gates, Norfolk UK

A Buggers‘ Muddle over vaccination - the brain blood clot thing - with AZ is not doing well despite Govt attempts at reassurance, mainly by pointing out there’s been millions of jabs and ‘only’ 79 bad reactions. 

We also now have a third vaccine on the go - Moderna. It could replace A/Z for the younger cohort. Apparently we’ve bought 70 million doses of this one-shot vaccine, and we’re trying it out on Wales first. If all goes well it could be rolled out across the rest of the UK early next month. 


There’s emerging evidence that the majority of those badly affected by AZ are young(ish) women. Taking The Pill itself is not without risk and maybe that’s a feature - I remember blood clots in the legs was talked of 40-50 years ago when such things concerned us more. Of course all this may yet turn out to be just an unfortunate coincidence, a merry pile-up of side-effects and, as one of our top medical blokes said, if you read about the possible side-effects of paracetamol you might think twice about taking it, but on balance getting rid of the headache is better. 

Various pundits go out of their way to bring us illustrations of mayhem and misadventure in attempts to let us get a handle on it, eg we’d be worse off...

driving for 2 hours 30 minutes on a motorway,

taking the aforementioned Pill, or even just being a woman - 2000 per annum die of random blood clots.

I believe having your periwig snatched by falcons is in there somewhere too. Bill Bryson would have a field day, he had a load of stats in one of his books and I’m pretty sure one was 200 people die every year falling down stairs.


Matt Hancock does all he can by offering himself as a study case. Asked on R4’s Today prog what his advice would be to a 30 to 40 year-old offered the OX/AZ vaccine today, responded “Well, that’s me. If I were offered that vaccine today I’d take it.” 


Incidentally, it’s been noted that ref to Oxford gets quietly dropped from Oxford/AZ when the context is negative

While all this real-life drama goes on, real-life commerce froths in the Pharma background. Prof Sarah Gilbert, she of the Oxford University team, stands to benefit to the tune of £22,000,000 when the Company she has a 5.2% holding in, Vaccitech, gets floated on the US stockmarket. 

Vaccitech owns the technology behind the Covid vaccine and other useful stuff - I’m guessing Prof Gilbert’s life work. Well done her, and lest there should be misplaced sniping, ponder this: the Uni gets some, her colleagues get some and her peers in Pfizer’s partner BionTech and Moderna have seen their holdings value increase to billions of dollars.


Ever topical, Private Eye runs a piece on reactions, with this handy guide:



View from the top of the hill

Linzy Lyne, Pateley Bridge

It's been a whirlwind of a week. We had a lovely get together with the family in their garden on Sunday, collected three new hens mid-week and then our book sale started and everything went mad! So unfortunately I have hundreds of books to package and have run out of time to write. I'll try and make up for it next week. 


Stay safe everyone and enjoy any new freedoms we may be entitled to next week!


From a very small Island

Michael Johnston, Isle of Wight

Writing on Friday I am happy to see the sun shining on the Island. I haven't ventured out yet, so don't know the temperature, but have a feeling it might be a bit chilly. The past few days have certainly been that way, in contrast to last week.


As I write I am keeping a lookout. A squirrel it seems has invaded my house. Several times during the past seven days I have noticed scratching noises in the area of the garden room - a former conservatory. At first I thought it was wood pigeons searching for stuff in the gutter, but I was slightly disturbed that I could never catch a bird red handed, as it were. The noise continued to happen from time to time, and I noticed it was coming apparently from a wooden box-like structure that joins the room to the outside wall of the bungalow. Having enjoyed the company of a rat in my roof many years ago, I thought that history was repeating itself, so I called Steve the rat man. He came round yesterday to take a look, and declared that the visitor was no rat. The correct evidence for rat entry was missing. I mentioned to Steve that there are quite a number of squirrels around, and he replied that he was almost certain it was one of those coming into the house. He also said, of course, that he could do nothing about a squirrel infestation, because ours, being of the red variety, are strictly protected. It seems I should make them welcome at the risk of having my home burn down because of their liking for gnawing electric cables! Whilst I do love seeing the little rodents around, even the most protected species can cause major damage. It all seems like an impasse really! Steve did say that squirrels rarely stay long in one place, so they would probably move on quite soon - a kind of silver lining to this tale. So far this morning I have heard no animal sounds, and I'm feeling a little hopeful. Later this year I am hoping to have some major work done on my roof, which should finally block any entrance points - I hope!


Best beloved and I have delayed restarting our round Island walk because of the cold weather. We hope to get going again from Shanklin soon. I am due the second Pfizer jab this coming Tuesday. That is really pleasing. Best beloved seems to have bit of a mix-up over her second appointment, so she is working on that. It seems the Island centre she went to is being closed down. What happens now we are not sure.


Can't really think of much more about which to write. I look forward to reading others journal writings so much...


Youlgrave lockdown

Dianne, Youlgrave Derbyshire

The Duke of Edinburgh’s death was announced today. I admired his dedication to his role in the Royal family and the way he supported the Queen. He took some of the formality out of royalty and had a great sense of humour. I am a Royalist at heart! My father was often mistaken for Prince Philip, which I found very amusing when I was a child.


The Astra Zeneca vaccine has caused a stir this week. I have had my first jab. I’m sure I would have felt very worried about the headache I had during the night after my first vaccine, if I had known then what I know now. There is only such a tiny risk of a blood clot though. Hopefully, now that doctors and patients know about the risk, if there are pertinent symptoms, medical treatment will prevent death.


Jeremy and our 7 year old grandson had fun setting up a geocache near our house in Youlgrave. Unfortunately Jeremy put the wrong coordinates at the first part of the geocache site! The first searchers spent over two hours looking for it before sending a question to ask if there was a mistake. Fortunately, after being given the correct coordinates, they found the geocache and worked out from the message that it had been set up by someone they knew. It was someone I had taught with but hadn’t seen for a few years so we had a long chat which was lovely. He has found over 4,000 geocaches! He and his son like to be FTF (first to find) which is why he was particularly keen to find Fred’s. He took a “trackable” out of Fred’s cache and put another one in which we discovered had travelled 12,500 miles since first being cached in 2016! I could get hooked on this.


It has been so cold here. My tulips are reluctant to open in the day and, like Margaret’s, are wondering what is going on. We have had our first rhubarb with our porridge this morning. Jeremy added some ginger and it was delicious. It was our 49th wedding anniversary yesterday. We are keeping our fingers crossed for our big family holiday in Belgium for our Golden Wedding next year.


No Margaret, I don’t intend to go on a shopping spree next week! I do, however, hope to visit Shufflebottoms in Macclesfield (what a wonderful name) to buy some fabric. One of my daughters-in-law has designed and had printed some curtain fabric and I have volunteered to make it up into curtains. I need some suitable lining material. I don’t like buying online because I want to feel the quality. Apart from that I will wait a little longer for my shopping spree.


Strange times

Anna Stenborg, Uppsala, Sweden

I just discovered a short commercial from Uppsala University Hospital: 



Our situation is however not as harmonious as in the film. The Covid-19 cases are at the same level as a year ago. I helped out in the emergency room Tuesday evening and we had so many, mostly elderly sick patients. Then came a 31 year old woman who had been taken to hospital because of intoxication with hand sanitizer. After having been placed on a gurney she soon started to run around drinking more hand sanitizer and managed to also find a bottle of very concentrated exterior cleaning spirit after wich she soon was completely unconcious and in need of intermediary care, so that was really annoying.


Today, Friday I have the day off and Georg and I am in our summer house in Västergötland. We went to look for wall paper for the living room which goes with the old furniture on the photo but we could not make a choice, maybe tomorrow we can make our minds up.



Then and now

Peter Scupham



Now, stretching itself after a sleep

this animal thing shrugs its greening pelt.

Tethered stuff nods and sways itself about;

a thousand eyes break open


and all those implements of garden surgery

flash their serrations to the coming light.

The garden meets your strictures, hand in glove;

small lives hop-dance


as it turns itself over, flexes its claws.

Hold life up to the light, see clean through it,

each droplet curled on a pulsing spectrum — 

limb, petal, thora


Broadland type

Sheila, Norfolk UK

Guilty pleasures


Somewhat illicitly, ahead of the official Monday release date, we have been in the company of my lovely niece, her husband and their 6 year old daughter who escaped from Cambridgeshire to come and stay in our self contained accommodation. What an utter joy!


I knew I had missed them but I didn't realise how much. The joy of having someone other than my husband to cook for, the challenge of all vegetarian meals, the garden help they offer, the bonfire, the walk on the beach to see the seals and simply having them around was far more rewarding than I had anticipated. I am very close to this particular niece and they brought such happiness into our lives for 48hours it has quite invigorated me and given me new energy to face what will come in the next few months as lockdown is released completely.


All three had done home tests before arriving to make sure they were 'safe' - and that was most reassuring. But now we are in possession of our own first test kits, courtesy of the NHS. Chris ordered them online at teatime on Friday and they arrived in the post Saturday morning. Incredible! Encouraging! 


I feel a little more confident now about the future and can't wait to welcome even more visitors in the coming weeks and months. Now the Mark Hearld workshop here in July is looking a bit more likely and our Yurt season which starts in June is a tad less daunting.


Homemade focaccia and our favourite beach...