Hello from Eastbourne

Macrae children

Lockdown again but better, by Marli Rose Macrae


This lockdown is much better planned than the last one. This time the teachers are prepared. They have made videos for us to watch on the computer. If you don't have a computer then they will send you a paper pack. I have been using our old iPad for the work but mummy asked for a paper pack too. I'm enjoying using the iPad, I can message my friends on it on the learning platform. I am so glad because last time it was a calamity.  


I have saved up the largest amount of money I have ever had! I haven't been able to spend any pocket money as we haven't been able to go into Brighton or Lewes for months. I already had £32.90 in my money box and as it was my birthday and then Christmas, I received another £50 from people. I don't even know what I want to buy. I love books but I even have £30 of book tokens left! I am waiting on a new book to arrive, it's called October, October. Mummy ordered it with my vouchers this week.

Finally, I can do the splits! I have been practicing since March 2020 and finally I can do them. Ballet lessons have had to stop since March due to COVID, we have only had six lessons, but our ballet teacher, Ms Zoe, gave us all a dvd with music and instructions as well as daily stretch exercises. I have been doing them, every day, with a timer in front of my mirror. Mummy wants me to show her so that she can learn to do them too.


Yesterday, we had a surprise. Mummy ordered sourdough and chocolate babkas from a lady who has a bakery except that she delivers the things to the house! It was delightful to have fresh buns and bread brought to the door in a brown paper bag. Mummy says we can have these for breakfast once a week during lockdown. Next time, I am ordering a ginger bun as I haven't tried one of them before.


Online school, the pros and cons, by Franklin Lewis Macrae


Online school with this Lockdown is so much better than the first Lockdown. The teachers and school have been preparing for it. I was expecting maybe three lessons a day but we do still have a full school day. We have to log on at 8. 25am for registration, we have a break and lunch like normal and then we log out at 3pm. Mum and dad make me leave the screen when it is break and lunch but I could be online with my friends or playing a game.


The first week however was a nightmare. People were spamming the chat, muting people and removing them from the session, all for fun. The lessons were a catastrophe and the teachers were furious, it was so frustrating. Things are much improved now though and anyone messing around will get into trouble. 


Some of the work is harder online and some the same. I am finding French tricky to learn online. I am allowed to talk to my friends online once school is over so I feel less lonely than the first Lockdown but still a bit lonely. My eyes feel tired from looking at the screen all day, especially as I lost my glasses. My 'classroom' is a room that backs onto the garden, I have a desk, my pens etc and my books. Mum and dad give me a hot water bottle as even though the heating is on, it gets cold sitting there all day. Dad brings me hot chocs when he's making coffee. Today, mum popped her head in and offered me something new called a chocolate babka. I was in the middle of a lesson with the headphones on but no video so she told me I could have it as I could eat it and listen at the same time and noone would know. She has found a bakery that will deliver fresh cakes and bread to the house and today we had chocolate babkas and sourdough bread with our soup at lunch. We are having this treat once a week during the Lockdown. 


Corona Diary

Annabel, A village in North Norfolk

16th January 2021

87,295 deaths in the UK


Sedition Insurrection Impeachment

Infection Insanity

Death, death and more death.

Trump has finally lost the plot and is throwing his toys out of the pram, mass grooming, charismatic luring, sedition and school dinners, Marcus Rashford, back peddling politicians and just more and more impending doom. Too much news. Don’t know where to start.


Quite quiet here in snowy lock down with Earnie and Whitty and the chickens who are happy in their poly tunnel, and my blackbird and robin companions and the odd teenage rat. It’s cold and I feel just a tad grumpy.

Should be doing my accounts but have been cleaning a lot as how can you start your accounts when there’s disorder in that other room or the floor need washing and the shelves need rearranging! The order of the pink lustre cups is obviously essential and how can one go into a New Year with a layer of 2020 dust!


See you next week.

Love Annabel xxx


PS: Look up Randy Rainbow’s Sedition on Instagram 

PPS: Free the Qanon Shaman

PPPS: Nancy Pelosi! Isn’t she brave?



Seriously isolating

Jean, Melbourne Australia

After last week's desecration of the US Capitol by thugs egged on by the President, followed by the House vote to impeach Trump for the second time, and the devastating numbers of Covid deaths along with the ramshackle roll out of vaccination programs, I am exhausted and numb. Many things returned to 'normal' here in Melbourne after the number of new infections was brought down to zero; I've been out for lunch and to exhibitions with friends, gone to bookshops and gone for a swim, but I honestly feel I might as well be in the US, or the UK, because the impact of these awful events is like a body blow. It's shocking to face the fact that perhaps half the voting public in your mother country holds views and values that are incomprehensible and abhorrent to you. It's frightening to realise you can't take it for granted that Biden's and Harris' inauguration will be carried out peacefully, and that in fact you know armed groups are right now planning 'events' at state capitols in protest. And to watch the numbers of infections climb, and to hear of the impact on hospitals and hospital staff - under the watches of the criminally negligent Trump and Johnson - no words. 


At such times you have to keep talking to like-minded friends and family, and wait for the wind to start blowing in the opposite direction. This week I talked to my two brothers who live in Michigan. Tom. my younger brother was advocating for the inauguration to take place in the open as is traditional because he thought it would send a strong message to the country that the mob of Trump supporters hadn't prevailed. I disagreed and was and am convinced this would be a crazy move and that the risk to Biden and Harris, and others, would be too great. After sounding off in the strongest possible terms for at least 10 minutes, I thought - why am I getting so mad at Tom? I know there's a huge reservoir of anger at everything that's happening, but fortunately the three of us had a laugh because we all know we have a tendency to jump on the soap box. It's our inheritance from our father who - as I wrote in a previous post, had a severe stammer from childhood, regained his voice at a speech clinic as a young man, and from then on fearlessly let everyone know what he thought!


My recommendation for the week is a German writer whom I've just discovered: Jenny Erpenbeck. I'm reading her wonderful novel, "Go Went Gone."


Stay safe and well!


My feelings on paper

Barbara Warsop, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England

Today the 13th January it would have been my husband’s 87th birthday, I wonder what he would have thought about the situation we all find ourselves in re Covid 19. There are now more cases than ever and some people are so fed up that they are not abiding by the rules, having no consideration for the NHS staff. Who at this time are so tired that they are at their lowest ebb? With the NHS on its knees 


The good news for me is that I have the vaccination tomorrow in a church. So, I think god will be shining down on me. When my GP receptionist rang to ask If I wanted the vaccine, I said yes. She went on to ask me about my allergic reaction to bee stings and if they caused anaphylactic reaction. Well, I hadn’t so she made the appointment. But then I started to worry about it. 

What if I did have anaphylactic shock and I was in the church, who would be there to treat me. I rang my GP and was reassured by the staff that lots of questions would be asked, my notes would be available for the doctors and nurses who would be performing the task. Oh, goody I suppose they could lay me out on a church pew.

The morning came I showered and had a cuppa looked outside and it was white over with snow so I decided to stay safe at home. I rang the surgery and they will give me another date for the vaccine.
Today the snow-covered trees are beautiful.


Shirin Jacob my lovely new friend from Norway has sent me a gift of Netflix.

So, with the new lock down situation I have been bingeing on the Spanish drama, Morocco; Love in times of war.

All 13 episodes. This very bloody 1920’s Hospital drama was set in the Spanish enclave of Melilla in Morocco on the Mediterranean Sea. The nurses were all daughters from the rich aristocracy of Malaga. The Matron ruled like a rod of steal, all very impressive. The drama was about the Rif war and in Spanish with English subtitles. I thought it must be based on truth. At the end of the drama there were photos of the nurses who ran the hospital so it was based on the truth.


I was hooked on it as it took me back to 1983 when I visited my husband when he was working in Morocco. The airport was in Melilla.


1982 Davy McKee Sheffield where my husband worked as a training instructor were building a rolling mill for Morocco. To be installed in Seloanne, Nador next to Melilla. My husband started training the Moroccan men who came to learn how to use the equipment. They were young Muslims a long way from home and some could hardly speak English but this would be their third language. They spoke Arabic with French being their second language. They had to have an interpreter. They also needed an interpreter for the Yorkshire ascent. Which must have been so hard for them. I asked my husband to invite them home for a meal but he said there were too many.

One day we were shopping in M&S and we met a couple of them and said hello and I invited these two to a meal.

From then on, we became friends and they had expenses to spend in this country. As we didn’t have a car, we told them if they hired a mini bus, we could take them around our country. From then on, every weekend we spent running them to the sea side or Derbyshire anywhere they wanted to go and I provided food sometimes. When it was time for them to leave, we had a big party for them all, it was a very special time and we made friends for life.


1983 My husband was sent to Morocco for 18 months to help with the installations.

Houses were built to accommodate all nationalities that were involved at Seloanne, Nador, Bihar Morocco.

My daughters and I went for a holiday that summer. I flew for the very first time on my own with my 3 daughters on two flights all very scary. One to Malaga and another to Melilla which was still a Spanish garrison town.

Morocco is a place you either love or hate. I loved it.

My husband was provided with a car so we spent our holiday around the Rif mountains and the Mediterranean.

The lagoon nearby had flamingos. Melilla is a beautiful town but to visit there you needed your passport. All very strict rules. My husband used to shop there at weekends to get the things he couldn’t buy in Nador. He bought pots, pans and food etc and at the border it was all confiscated. We all had a laugh about it. I remember seeing women at the border with square boxes under their kaftans trying to smuggle them in.

Maroc food is wonderful a mix of French and Moroccan. We ended the holiday with the marocs doing a lamb roast on a spit. A wonderful end to our holiday but we were leaving my husband there.

We were all four of us sobbing on the plane as it lifted off and us waiving to Les on the tarmac.


My husband in Nador. And my daughters and I in the Rif area of Morocco.



John Underwood, Norfolk

He just shrugged.


We are waiting nervously to see if the outgoing President of the USA will incite any more mischief before the inauguration of the incoming President in a few days. Various pundits, supporters and critics alike suggest that he would be wise to keep a very low profile, and sound contrite - but he is not a wise man, and doesn’t do contrition. There has been some talk of Biden pardoning Trump of his numerous misdemeanours, and at first, I was shocked and amazed. Pardon him? Arrest him more like - until it was pointed out that by accepting a pardon, Trump would be admitting the wrongdoings for which he was being pardoned. That would rather neatly draw a line under past events, conceivably beginning the process of unifying the country which will be President Biden’s poisoned chalice over the next few years. It sounds a wise move. Personally I would like to see the orange one in a matching jumpsuit facing many years in chokey, rather than lounging about in his private Fiefdom in Florida. Here is a cheery thought for you during lockdown though. Things might be bad for you now, but you could be Mrs Trump enjoying Mr Trump’s attentions in Mar-a-Lago. “Shudder” doesn’t come close.

COVID-19 restrictions are still being widely flouted it seems, and the police are telling us that they are going to be more aggressive in handing out fines for breaches of regulations. TV footage showed parties in private houses, raves in abandoned churches, distressed shop workers suffering abuse from unmasked shoppers and a pub “lock-in”. The television reporter interviewed one of the locked-in drinkers, and suggested that his non-mask-wearing contact was a threat to his companions. His response left me shocked. He didn’t bluster or swear, or attempt to justify his actions with words. He shrugged. Just shrugged.


Ally and I have recently built a living willow structure overlooking our newly filled wildlife pond. The willow was certainly living when we planted it- we shall have to wait and see if it continues to sprout… Something to look forward to; and that is a rare currency hereabouts.



Home Thoughts

Hilary Q, North Norfolk

Dismal weather has put us off walking. Housebound we have continued to make work for ourselves. Martin has made marmalade. Georgina has dismantled her masterpieces and I have started to catalogue my pottery and porcelain collection and am horrified by how much I have accumulated. I have always yearned for organised drawers and cupboards rather in the manner if those outlined by Gertrude Jekyll in Home and Garden. Now I dread opening them. The marvellous Stately Car Boot Sale organised by the Norfolk Churches Trust was cancelled in 2020 and the new date of 2nd May 2021 is under review. When it does happen I imagine the stall tables will groan as the entire county continues to sort through its detritus. Note to self. Sell don’t buy!!!


View from the Top of the Hill

Linzy Lyne, Pateley Bridge

This week I feel I could just send in last week's entry with small revisions. We are still in lockdown and, yes, snowed in again. Unfortunately, this week's heavy snow arrived the day our Sainsbury's delivery was due. Having seen the forecast, we tried to change the day but it wasn't possible, so we left the booking as it was and did some local shopping for heavy items the day before, making plans to walk down and pick up our big shop at the bottom of the hill. However, the driver phoned on the day to say he had been stuck in the snow in Knaresborough for two hours and wouldn't get here and the only alternative date was next week, which we had already booked. Ah well. We had run down the freezer after Christmas so we don't have a lot in but will just have to live on left over mince pies and Christmas cake. Life can be so hard can't it! Richard is going to make some more of his delicious soups – the latest one is cauliflower cheese, which is much nicer than you might expect.


Two of our seven hens are laying but not quite every day, so we have a few lovely brown eggs. There is much debate about whether they belong to Racquel, Bluebell or Warren. The little bantams, Cheryl and Miranda, don't lay any more as they are getting on a bit, Speckle lays spotty eggs and Holly blue ones, so we always know when they're laying. We once found 19 blue eggs and one brown one at the top of a haystack, so we knew who the main culprit was. Richard had to get the farmer to lift him up about twenty feet in the bucket of the JCB to collect them. This can't happen currently as they are confined to barracks for fear of bird flu and the eggs are all being laid safely in the nesting box. Whoever laid these, they are gorgeous and fresh and I'm having one for lunch!


We have been deluged with book orders, so I will be busy packaging them today in the hope that we can get them down to the post office. Lots of history, religion, arts and crafts, Jane Austen, Dickens and fantasy books have sold. Not much in the way of travel, which normally sells in January. I suppose that people have lost all hope of going anywhere for the foreseeable future. A new customer in the US is getting twelve cookery books, perhaps he is also hunkering down in his kitchen.


It sounds like all us oldies will get at least the first dose of the vaccine soon, let's hope the supplies keep coming so we also get the booster. Is anyone else sick of this expression “getting jabs into people's arms”? Also, is it necessary to have constant close-ups on the news of needles actually going in? I do have a slight phobia of needles, which I bravely set aside in order to have the flu jab, but even the word “jab” is off-putting. I have just read that South Asians in the UK are turning down their vaccination appointments because of false information that there are meat products in the vaccines. Also, despite the news this week about a nasty mutant version of the virus which has emerged in Brazil and the desperate plight of Brazilian hospitals, the president has appeared on the news there telling people they don't have to have the vaccine if they don't want, as there isn't much scientific evidence of its safety or efficacy. Good thing the government has eventually seen fit to stop travel to the UK from South America but stable door and bolting comes to mind.


So, Trump has been impeached. Again. Republicans are divided about the way forward, some sticking their necks out by denouncing his incitement of the riot and some saying impeachment is either illegal or will further divide the country. Removal vans have been seen leaving the White House and “staffers” are clearing their desks. Hopefully they are bringing away all the documents they need to write yet more books exposing the criminal antics of the president. There is talk of an inside job, as one senator reports the panic button was removed from her office before the attack and there is footage of staff giving MAGA supporters guided tours the day before. The most fortified building in Washington appears to have opened its doors to the lynch mob.


The vice president failed to impose the 25th amendment, so no instant removal from office was possible, giving Trump time to issue pardons for himself, family and friends. It shouldn't take long to write the ones for his friends. Apparently he is refusing to pay Rudy Giuliani for his tireless sweaty efforts to change the election results in the courts but spare your sympathy, the ex-mayor and former hero of 9/11 is also implicated in the insurrection attempt for his “trial by combat” speech and is probably begging for his pardon as we speak. Trump won't resign as he doesn't trust Pence to pardon him, which is unsurprising as the heroic leader sent the murderous hordes to the Capitol baying for Pence's blood. We await events on Sunday 17th and inauguration day with some trepidation. Joe Biden is bravely saying he wants to go ahead and swear his oath outside in line with tradition. The stage is set; I believe Lady Gaga will sing. No audience but the ranks of thousands of National Guardsmen and acres of metal barriers. A very sad day for the land of the free.


We have been avoiding the news briefings here. Somehow more daily figures, record infections and struggling hospitals have become so normalised that we no longer want to hear them. The only statistic I watch daily is the local infection rate shown on the Gov.UK interactive Covid map. The number of cases in Pateley Bridge and the Wath Valley has risen from “less than 3” a few weeks ago, to 5, 6, 12, 18 and 19 today. That figure takes us up to last week, so I suppose this is the “Christmas” effect. Thank goodness North Yorkshire is doing well with the number of vaccinations, so let's stay optimistic. I don't like the sound of 24 hour vaccinations though, standing outside in sub zero temperatures at 4am would be enough to put me off, although I see people in the US are camping out in queues overnight. We are all probably getting rather desperate.


Back to packaging in the hope of getting the post out and keeping the nation reading! The snow looks glorious in the sunshine. As always, stay safe everyone.



Jane, just south of Norwich

Jane, Eaton

It has been a great comfort to read the Journal entries this week. They are so varied and interesting. Thank you Susan in Beverley and Chris in Rural Norfolk for mentioning my first entry, it felt very welcoming - I was quite hesitant about submitting a piece as you all write so well! It was reassuring to see the picture of Chris’ cat asleep on the radiator which is what our cat Libby likes to do in the evenings, I worry she will cook!


The news gets grimmer by the day and it is hard to stay positive and frustrating to feel powerless to make any difference. I suppose the best we can do is to be on the end of the line for family and friends and ensure we ourselves do not become a burden on the stretched to breaking point NHS.


My father will have his first vaccination this Sunday at Epsom Grandstand. He’s a little anxious about leaving the security of his bungalow but pleased he has not been forgotten. He has two entries to put in his pristine 2021 diary now, the second being his follow up jab in April.


On Tuesday my husband Chris made bread. He enjoys bread making and comes from a long line of bakers from Bury St Edmunds. I certainly enjoy the results and the house smells delicious all day.


I’m a list maker and having a list has helped me through this time. Although I don’t necessarily do everything on my list, it is there to turn to if my thoughts take a downward dip for too long. One thing on my list this lockdown is to sort out the many packets of photographs we have. My mother used to post me copies of any photographs she took while staying with us and she was a very keen amateur photographer, we have hundreds. I limit myself to an hour a day sorting as I can get side-tracked easily.


Today (Friday) I woke with a back ache, too much sitting around this week, and feeling a bit glum. So we decided (well, I decided and Chris decided to join me) to do a 4 mile circular walk via Keswick Mill before breakfast. It made a good start to the day, certainly loosened my back up and lifted the spirits. Bonnie and Betty had laid an egg each by the time we got back – a treat in this month of short dark days! On we go ….


Rural Norfolk

Chris Gates, Norfolk UK

A novel experience this week - at the Dentist, much overdue, last seen in 2018. Only a checkup, so probably didn’t see the full panoply of protective gear, and overall all less of a trial than feared. 

‘Feared’ being the operative word: I have feared dentistry for most of my life, starting age 8 with the trending ‘trench filling’ only relieved by a spell of private work in the 70’s and 80’s when a process of semi unconsciousness (RA as it was called) was employed which at least rendered me happily unconcerned. Anyway having chided me for failing to conform with the accepted check-up intervals the tiny lady dentist had to congratulate me for needing no treatment. She wants another go at finding some to do in six months time.

Wednesday brings a horrible new ‘high’, 1564 Covid deaths in 24 hours. Let’s hope it’s a peak. It’s accompanied by the equally horrific passing the 100,000 mark of total deaths.

Here’s a cheery graphic of our standing within Europe regarding vaccination. Doesn’t do to get smug, but maybe an early illustration of how the united approach demanded by Union doesn’t always work best. It seems to have slowed them down at a critical time. Mind you, stories are already emerging here of erratic vaccine deliveries causing slower than expected mass jabbing. Minister Hancock and his scary pal Nadhim Sahawi continue to promote the idea everyone over 70 will be ‘seen to’ by 15th February. 


Scandal of the week is the outrageous ‘meal box’ scam perpetuated by appointed supplier Chartwell, a subsiduary of Compass, largely in the control of a certain Mr Walsh, friend of the Conservatives. The bones of it are that from an individual £30 ‘box’ destined for needy kids, they were allowed to budget £10.50 for sourcing, packing and distribution. However, instead of a nominal £19.50 worth of good food in each box, many were photographed with £3 to £5 worth. Whether the missing grub was ‘scalped’ by those charged with filling and driving the boxes around, or whether the full budget never reached regional distribution centres remains to be seen. The irony is that this replaced a voucher scheme thought to be misused by a minority of recipient parents. The idea was that giving out food couldn’t be exploited. Now the benefit doesn’t reach parents to be misused. Either way, the kids suffer, it’s all very wrong and Boris claims he’ll sort it. Compass got a £350,000,000 contract in return for a £10,000 donation to Conservatives...


The heightened Covid threat levels have caused us to once again take up the offer from our lovely neighbours to add our shopping requirements to their home deliveries and last night Sophie and Emily turned up with our first. 

Such is the kindness of true friends. We didn’t ask, they offered. Won’t take so much as a bottle of wine as a ‘thank you‘. We’ll think of something.


Thursday: Alerted to its existence by Linzy in last week’s Journal, my copy of Defoe’s “A Journal of the Plague Year” arrived this morning, and I very much look forward to having a go at it. I fully expect rats to feature a bit, they usually do. This has a certain resonance here at the mo as two have inconveniently died in inaccessible loft spaces and we are ‘plagued’ with unmistakeable l’air du rat. I don’t think you can catch plague through sniffing rats, but it sure does make an impression...

Thanks too to David Seddon for his ref to the Plague in Norfolk - I tracked down Candler and the ‘Notes on Redenhall with Harleston’, another fascinating read to while away these dull days.


Desperate for a safe outing we drove into and across Norwich to pick up a new printer rather than have it delivered. It was ‘click and collect‘, or, as it happened, ‘speak and insert‘. I phoned in old fashioned way, spoke to a human and did the Barclaycard thing, then at the depot another human (masked) brought the printer to us and slid it onto the back seat of the car. We made the most of this dubiously ‘essential’ shopping by taking a bit of a circular route home, dodged the Police Enforcers and so resumed safe isolation spiritually refreshed. There’s a worldwide shortage of small printers, fuelled by working from home and the need to print return labels for online shopping rejects. 

It filled a couple of hours, strange what passes for entertainment these dark days.


Friday’s briefing brings with it sombre notes to end the week... all travel ‘corridors’ to the UK to be closed from Monday, entrance subject to negative testing and quarantining. 2 million deaths worldwide.

Anyway, enough of that old malarky, here’s something tuneful and uplifting to get you through the weekend:


"Hallelujah" adapted by the Marsh Family