24/01/2021

Youlgrave lockdown

Dianne, Youlgrave Derbyshire

What a beautiful day. The sun is streaming through the conservatory windows and we were able to have our breakfast looking out over the garden in a balmy 19 degrees. I have just returned from a walk along the river, Yesterday we could only do a high walk, above the dale, looking down at the flood waters covering the footpaths and surrounding low lying fields. Today I went out in wellies intending to walk through the floods but the paths were all now clear, although muddy in places. I stopped off to collect eggs from a friend. She was incensed by a neighbour who had come from Ipswich at the weekend to visit her cottage.  

 

We are lucky in Youlgrave in that only a few houses are near enough to the river to worry about the floods. Most of the properties are high up above the dale. On another walk this week we found that the geese had moved to an adjacent field. We also saw a small herd of deer near a wood and climbed up high to see the remains of an ancient castle.

Jeremy now has the App for Ordnance Survey maps on his phone which shows all the local footpaths and has encouraged us to explore our area in much more detail. The annual cost is about the price of a couple of maps but the whole of Britain is in your pocket. A few brave souls (women) are still swimming in the river. I watched two casually strip off their clothes and step in as though stepping into a bath. They weren’t wearing wet suits but had wet suit socks and gloves and bobble hats. I don’t think they intended to get their heads wet!

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I have never watched an American inauguration ceremony before but this year it seemed important. 

I found it very moving and dignified after the awful scenes of rioting and desecration earlier. I was glad Trump wasn’t there to contaminate the event. The joy on Kamala’s face was lovely to see - will she take over from Biden in four years? A woman and black! The whole event was full of promise for better times to come.

I continue to log my state of health to the Zoe app every day. Tim Spector gives an update every week from the data that has been collected. He is very clear and concise and I feel I can trust him to keep me honestly informed of the situation. By signing on to this app if you have any symptoms they organise you a test immediately. There are some positives from today’s update. The R number is 0.8 and the infection rate has halved since the peak on January 1st. However there are still areas of the country where infection rates are increasing and over 600,000 people have the virus so risks are still extremely high. Deaths are also still very high.

 

I am continuing to be fascinated by my Great Aunt’s school magazines. I am including a photo of an article about measles from 1933. This disease ‘baffled medical science’ at the time.

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24/01/2021

Seriously isolating

Jean, Melbourne Australia

This week has been proof life can change on a dime, overnight - though of course lots of events which seem dramatic have been a long time coming.

 

This week's inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris felt like that - all of sudden, some evil thing drained out of the world and was replaced with kindness, civility and hopefulness. Like so many friends I've talked to since, I kept crying throughout the ceremony - with relief and a million other emotions. It was crazy! I thought I was such a cynic but I cried when they sang The Star-Spangled Banner and said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, when Joe gave his speech and when the young poet recited her poem. It was 3 in the morning here in Melbourne, I was drinking champagne and I just couldn't quite believe something was over and something else was beginning. It was profound, it was hard to get a handle on it.

 

Interestingly, the lifting of a psychic weight (with T's departure) made space for something other than obsessively chasing the news and the evil one's antics. It so happened that the very morning of the inauguration, I suddenly felt the urge to take up my belated translation project which I started last May and then shelved some weeks later. A kind of pandemic and lock-down exhaustion just made it all too hard. Anyway, the battery seemed to re-charge almost immediately and I'm now revising the pages of translation I did earlier (and glad to say the 2nd time around is much better) and typing them up on my new laptop. It's going well and I'm enjoying it so much, though it's kind of unnerving that almost 8 months have vanished since I grappled with it last time. Where did that time go? The question of whether I will get to the end (page 410) is interesting but maybe not too important. As they say, it's the journey rather than the arrival! Or is it the destination?

 

It's been very hot here, up in the 90s and there's a beautiful moon out tonight. I hope all the writers up north are staying warm and everyone is keeping well!

24/01/2021

Thin Air

John Mole, St Albans

THIS SHIP

 

Heavily-laden now

this ship leaves harbour

 

sailing off

unsteady as she goes.

 

Her freight is memories, 

some buried in the hold

 

while others still

lie spaciously on deck.

 

Her maiden voyage

was a big adventure

 

and this setting out 

seems no less so.

 

Time and experience

may change the route

 

but her destination

stays the same.

24/01/2021

Hello from Eastbourne

Shirley-Anne Macrae

The COVID generation

 

Franklin and Marli have run out of time this week to submit a Plague Journal entry so I thought I would have a go.

 

This lockdown is different this time around, for me at least. The schools have had months to plan for distant learning and they have succeeded. This means I am rather 'hands off' and not required, from 8.25am to 3pm. Other than break times and lunch time when I need to rustle up snacks. It means that the house is gleaming; woodwork has been waxed and the house smells glorious. Cupboards have been cleaned out, boxes packed up for charity shops, the garden mulched, paths swept, marmalade made and this afternoon I shall be cleaning the paths and patios with a pressure washer. 

 

In-between, I have been contributing to the national effort, the fight against COVID. I volunteered to help in the COVID test centre in Franklin's school. Before Christmas, Boris and his chums announced that all pupils and school staff were to be tested regularly in the New Year. The schools I now know, were dismayed; how were they to do this? Candid emails were sent from head teachers, communicating the complexities of this task and begging for any help anyone could offer.  

 

In two weeks, a classroom was converted into a clinic. Many parents volunteered. Then lockdown happened, the schools closed down and the willing parents had to retract their offer of help because they were now required to stay at home to look after their children. I had some flexibility so my cap was still in the ring. And that's how I found myself plucked from my bubble of domesticity and overcome at the astounding effort of a good few, with no medical training, in the school COVID test centre.

 

I am now an expert in PPE; the order you put it on, the order you take it off. I'm up on infection control too. It's terrifying how all the effort to combat this virus can literally fly out of the door if one doesn't use common sense and spray, spray, spray. I know what a fogging machine is. I have statistics at my fingertips. And the plastic, oh, the plastic! I wince at the thought of the waste and the oceans and the turtles and yet I'm also grateful for these life saving kits. Aprons, masks, visors, fresh for every shift and at least twenty pairs of gloves each. Swabs, plastic test tubes and pipettes. It's staggering the amount of plastic that is going in the bin. And this is just one school. Think of all that plastic PPE, across the planet! I have doubled my recycling efforts at home.

 

Then of course, our charges, the children. A child is anyone under the age of 18. It doesn't matter how mature they seem. This was brought home to me in my new role. Some of them come in, taller than me, pumped with anxiety. They might be the children of key workers or perhaps they have special needs or maybe they fall into the vulnerable children category. For the latter by the way, their anoninimity has now vanished, everyone now knows unofficially who is on the child protection register. Anyway, I digress. They aren't themselves, school is empty and they miss their peers so they are already unsettled. Then they have to perform a COVID test. Unassisted. We instruct them kindly, gently, we are patient. Some, not all, can't cope. They panic, they fuss, they swear, they gag, they become distressed, they cry, they refuse sometimes to carry on with the test. We cannot pat their arms, pat their backs, put an arm around a distressed, tall, choking, sobbing teenager. We are not allowed to do it because that would defeat the object. We can praise, encourage, thank them and pass them a bucket to vomit into if need be but that two metre distance must not shrink. This is when it struck me that these confident teenage girls are still just kids. So are the lanky, swaggering big boys. You would really want to give them a hug, I promise you.

 

This week though, in clinic, we received news that the government announced it would no longer be necessary to test children in school. Staff only. Whew! At half term, Boris and chums are hoping to get the kids all back to school so we were wondering how on earth our tiny team could test each pupil and staff member every week, (sometimes twice). And I think that's why the plug was pulled on the plan. Many schools haven't managed to get a clinic up and running yet and I know some primary school teachers who were quaking in their boots at the thought of making the 4-11 age groups perform a COVID test. So for now, they don't need to do it. And I'm glad, I'm really glad because I think we could have a generation of children permanently stressed and at worst, traumatised with having this horrible procedure carried out every week (sometimes twice). Childhood is precious and short-lived and they have had so much taken away already. 

 

As for Fortnum & Mason (thank you Hilary Foulds!), they are doing fine. They still have COVID toes. They are busy, online most of the day in a virtual classroom, sore eyes with staring at the screen and missing friends. C'est la vie at the moment, children of all ages are not having an easy time of it either.

24/01/2021

Florist in lockdown

Jane, Near Manchester, England

“There is always light.                                                                                                                                      

If only we are brave enough to see it. 

If only we are brave enough to be it.”

Amanda Gorman. 

 

Did you watch it? The inauguration. I was completely enthralled. It’s been so long since I’ve been to the theatre I was captivated by all the live performances! President Joe Biden is a brilliant speaker, holding the attention of his audience with his calm, reassuring voice. He didn’t seem to even have any notes, but spoke eloquently and confidently for over ten minutes. Unlike someone closer to home. Young poet Amanda Gorman’s words were beautiful and moving, she spoke them perfectly.

I am writing this on Thursday this week, due to storm Christoph, no trains are running, as there is flooding on the line. Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd on the river Calder are prone to flooding.

Residents and business owners have been watching the water levels with bated breath for the last few days. Thankfully the unsightly, recently completed, flood defence walls seem to have lived up to their purpose. Fingers crossed. Other parts of the country were not so fortunate, and I feel for everyone affected.

Just before Christmas we were saddened to hear that one of regular flower shop visitors had passed away. I say visitor because I can’t remember him actually buying anything! By coincidence when I was searching for updates on the river height on a local website, I came across a lovely lovely tribute to him written by one of his carers. I would love to share a bit about him here. Robert Blomfield was a street photographer from the late 50s throughout the 60s. He took many pictures and I particularly like his portraits of ordinary people of all ages. He took his camera to the streets of Edinburgh, Sheffield and London and his work is a historical snapshot of England after the war. He also snapped away at the early Glastonbury festivals.

Pushed in his wheelchair by Ralph, the duo often called in the shop to admire the flowers and have a banter. Robert always left us with a joke, and even though he frequently told the same one, we always laughed. He was a lovely smiley man and we will miss his visits. You can see more of his photographs on his website www.robertblomfield.co.uk 

I’ll leave you with a couple of Robert’s jokes.

‘Where do you find hippies?’... ’On the top of your leggies ‘

‘What’s the sleepiest fish?’... ’A kipper’

It was the way he said them!!

Keep well everyone xxxxxxxxxxx

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24/01/2021

Jane, just south of Norwich

Jane, Eaton

The days are drawing out slowly and people are looking ahead and many are booking holidays. This seems a step too far for Chris and I and we will see how things progress, happy just to take a short break or two in this country when safe to do so. The gradual roll out of the vaccine seems to have given hope of a speedy return to normality, but only when the doctors and nurses in our hospitals breathe a sigh of relief as numbers of admissions reduce, will I feel real hope.

 

My father’s experience of the vaccination process was positive. He was feverish for two days afterwards and felt exhausted, but he is now back to his usual self and enjoying watching the World Indoor Bowls Championship on television, screened from Potters at Hopton-on-Sea.

 

The inauguration of President Biden came as welcome news and made the headlines ahead of Covid numbers and Brexit fall-out. He seems a humble and good man and it will hopefully be a new era for troubled America. It was interesting to spot previous Presidents in the crowd partly hidden by their masks. I did think that despite their masks, they were mingling too close together at times, hugging and hand shaking! The poem written and read by the young Amanda Gorman ‘The Hill We Climb’ was beautifully presented, insightful and moving.

 

One of my favourite Welsh words is “smwddio” (sounds like smooth-i-o). It means to iron and my mother always used to call ironing, “smoothing” as in “dashing away with the smoothing iron”. I find it a very soothing word and ironing a soothing activity, especially with a good programme on the radio. Our youngsters don’t even possess an iron or ironing board and think it a pointless exercise, and I suppose there is even less need now as most of us wear a lockdown wardrobe and work from home. However, I even iron tea towels and get great satisfaction from a pile of warm ironed laundry!

 

When I worked in Norwich, near to the Cathedral, I used to walk the three miles to work and back. This gave me my daily exercise, a chance to think about the day ahead or enabled me to wind down on my way home. To pass the time as I walked, I used to learn a poem every week, to match the seasons where possible. One gentle and soothing poem for this time of year is “Puss” by Walter de la Mare. I hope you find some soothing moments in the week ahead and the chance to stretch your legs and read a good book!

 

Puss loves man’s winter fire

Now that the sun so soon

Leaves the hours cold it warmed

In burning June.

 

She purrs full length before

The heaped-up hissing blaze,

Drowsy in slumber down

Her head she lays.

 

While he with whom she dwells

Sits snug in his inglenook,

Stretches his legs to the flame

And reads his book.

24/01/2021

Corona Diary

Annabel, A village in North Norfolk

It’s been quite a big week hasn’t it? 

Trump has trumpety trumped off to the swamps on Air Force 1 and a cloud of calm has descended as the grown ups arrived in Washington. Biden is like a headmaster of a Catholic boys school talking of honesty and truth and good behaviour. He has a lot to do but he hit the ground running with his box of new fountain pens to reverse many of Trump’s decrees.

 

History has been made with the arrival of Vice President Kamala Harris. Lady Gaga belted out the National Anthem wearing a lake of red and incredible 22 year old poet Amanda Gorman read her powerful poem in a striking yellow coat and red hairband.

Thank God some normality has returned. It is a relief.

 

I just got offered the covid jab as I’m technically on the shielding list but I fessed up and said I’m not immuno suppressed as I don’t take the drugs anymore just eat my weird paleo diet instead. In the last couple of weeks I have had flu and pneumonia jabs and Earnie has had his jabs as well.

 

Covid wise, it is terrible. Hospitals are completely over whelmed. I don’t think the staff are being looked after like they were in the first wave. There are 2 schools of thought as to whether the numbers are stabilising but it looks like it is a little though cases and deaths are still very high. I think we’re going to be locked down for months, my table manners will be that of a wolf by then.

 

In my world I havn’t seen anyone apart from various shopkeepers but have spent hours on video whats app or the phone. A very very old friend died in the last week or so as did my second cousin. Both quite old and not so well and both in care homes. They wouldn’t have been saved. I haven’t computed my friends death yet as he was always there but in the background in the last decade or so but a paternal figure in my life since the early 80’s. A mentor and important. I feel for his family.

 

Feel quite dysfunctional, still brewing up to do some new work and still managing to not do my accounts. I am so good at procrastination. An expert in the field. This includes tidying and a bit of gardening. Some seeds for my cutting garden have been bought. Images of the perfect beautiful rows of flowers in my head, not the reality of poorly grown disorder. Roger won’t come until he and his wife have had their jabs.

 

I’ve been in Paris. Hanging out with some agents. It’s been such fun. Call My Agent in Netflix land. Every one seems to know about it but a recent discovery for me so several series to catch up on.

My nearly 90 year old one jab mum has just got a new whippet, a rescue from some far flung corner of the world. Maizie is in shock to find herself in cold muddy Dorset away from the hot dessert country she is from.

 

Another teenage murder by teenagers on the news and the police just broke up a Jewish wedding of 400 guests in a North London school. Honestly!

 

Better get on. 

All for now. Take care and stay away from the bugs.

Lots of love Annabel xxx

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24/01/2021

View from the Top of the Hill

Linzy Lyne, Pateley Bridge

Will have to be brief this week as I am again surrounded by books which need packaging. Happily the nation continues to read, lots of art history, biographies, books about Scotland and classic fiction. Encouraged by the express delivery of a huge Spanish dictionary and a three-volume set of Delia Smith books to the USA by courier last week, both packages arriving in three days, which is quicker than parcels sent by second class Royal Mail in the UK, I booked my American customer's twelve cookery books in for three-day shipping by UPS. Firstly it would only print out all the customs invoices but no label, which resulted in me spending an hour in a queue for “live chat” with a helpful lady called Anna, to find they now need a tariff code which wasn't required last week. I got the label and paid extra to have it collected the same day but the courier didn't turn up so I booked another collection. Next day he arrived expecting two packages. The online tracking made it look like the courier hadn't collected but it still said it would be delivered in three days. Then I got a message saying UPS aren't taking any bookings from “partners” now because of delays due to Brexit! We can only shrug and wait to see what happens. 

 

There has been a bit of disturbance on the farm as they have been digging up the yard to lay some new concrete and the work was delayed by more bad weather. We have had couriers leaving their vehicles at the far end and walking down the yard, the Sainsbury's driver barging across the gap in the road, doing goodness knows what damage to his van and now we've had to cancel a much needed delivery of oil, so we may have to turn off the heating for the weekend. Hopefully happy relations will be restored once the new concrete goes down.

 

The inauguration went off without any trauma and it was a great relief to us, as well as to the rest of the world and particularly the new President. At least they were able to have a select crowd of witnesses and Lady Gaga was amazing. The show was stolen (unlike the election) by the wonderful young poet Amanda Gorman with her inspiring work “The Hill We Climb”, which expressed the call for unity far more eloquently than Joe Biden but was the perfect accompaniment to his speech. What a good thing it was that Trump had his own little show and shunned the official ceremony, perhaps even he knew it wasn't possible to steal the limelight on this occasion.

 

In Defoe's Plague Journal the authorities are currently locking infected people into their houses with wardens outside to stop them escaping. That's an idea we could look at, although many people tricked or bribed the wardens and ran away in the night. We could also try painting red crosses on the doors. I jest, obviously. Although people think the government are being draconian, they don't know what the precedents are. Apparently bodies have been buried “six feet under” ever since the plague pits were filled as it was decided six feet of soil was necessary to stop the infection spreading from the dead to the living. This shouldn't apply to the current plague, surely.

 

The bell has tolled for the journal deadline, so I will have to end. On a happier note, today's figures in the UK are cautiously more optimistic and I'm pleased to report that the number of cases in Pateley Bridge has gone down from 19 to 9. That's a comfort. We may even watch the Downing Street briefing later today to hear what else is in store for us. Take care all.

24/01/2021

A View from Crazy Town

Chris Dell, Washington, D.C.

The Day the Crazy Died

 

Gentle Reader, it would appear that we've reached the end of the line. On Wednesday Dear Leader and team set out for the more welcoming climes of Florida. Although He chose to play “My Way” as His plane taxied for departure, we all surely agree that another Sintra standard, "Bring in the Clowns," would have been a better fit. Nonetheless, let us confess, shall we, that there was nary a dry eye in the House. In fact, there was nary an eye in the house. As is the fate of all Greatness, Dear Leader found Himself alone and friendless, abandoned in His hour of need, barely able to stir up a crowd of 100 deluded, maskless souls despite handing out tickets good for up to five visitors each (and a free Dear Leader bobble-head doll for the first ten thousand guests). Farewell. God speed. And don't let the door hit Your ass on the way out.

 

Your Intrepid Reporter will not indulge himself in rehearsing for his Gentle Readership the history of the past four Crazy years, nor even the serial insanity of the last ten months. These last are already well-chronicled in the pages of our Journal, ready to be mined by a posterity seeking to shed light on this Age of Crazy. Suffice it to say in the ironic, knowing tones of today’s youth: “Good Times.”  In truth(-iness), our Dear Leader was denied what was rightfully His, and for the first time neither threat, bluff, bluster, intimidation, insurrection, nor bribe were sufficient unto the task He had set Himself and us. In the eternal struggle between Darkness and Light, the Faithless prevailed and the Faithful proved unworthy. Indeed, shocking reports have emerged in the last twenty-four hours suggesting that the Faithful are abandoning our departed Dear Leader in droves, joining the ranks of the Faithless in disappointment that He neither pardoned them for their Insurrection nor delivered the final, triumphant blow which “Q” had predicted. Some have even had the temerity to say that Dear Leader was playing them for fools all along.

 

Yet as riveting as these scenes of Dear Leader's Final Struggle may be, we must perforce turn our gaze toward the horizon and the future. For with the departure of the Clown Car and attendant Parade - steel yourself, Gentle Reader - we must report that Crazy Town has breathed its last. Or at the very least, it appears to be on life support. The Inauguration of He Who Can Barely Be Named Without Choking Back Tears was a clear sign of the dispiriting times to come. Normal was everywhere to be seen, from the bright sunshine to the scene of He Who Can Barely & Etc., placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier alongside three of his predecessors. That dastardly He Who Can Barely & Etc. staged a ceremony the previous night at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, lighting 400 lights along the Reflecting Pool in memory of the 400,000 departed Americans. Clearly a slur on Dear Leader’s inspired and bigly successful leadership of the COVID response. And that poem by Amanda Gorman? Yes, it was a brilliant, inventive use of the language, giving birth to a new star right before our Unbelieving eyes, but really, can you believe the barely concealed slurs upon Dear Leader and His Faithful hidden as metaphors and symbols? Outrageous. Sad. True enough, the tiny crowd at the actual swearing-in was enough to gladden Dear Leader’s heart, and the traditional parade was but a pale shadow of its former glory. But, alas, these were merely the dying gasps of the Crazy situation Dear Leader was able to scatter in His wake, rather than a portent of things to come. With the return of Normal, and its sometime side-kick Competence, future material looks scarce and Your Intrepid Reporter's pen is at risk of falling silent. Of what interest the prosaic work of governing? Much less the mere logistics of getting vaccines into arms. Hardly the riveting stuff that the Gentle Readers have come to expect.  

 

Reflecting upon this dilemma, Y.I.R. has hit upon a solution, which the Dear Editors, with Their Accustomed Graciousness, have agreed to countenance. Your I.R. will continue from time to time to provide little divertissements, in the form of updates on the residual Crazy, as warranted. This new reportage will be entitled “View from a Town Formerly Known as Crazy.” Fortunately, Congress is well-stocked with whackos, who promise to provide us sufficient material for the odd line or two (Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, for example, who made her debut in these lines only last week, has once again come to the fore, accused of leading Seditionists and Insurrectionists on private recce tours of the Capitol the day before the assault). But with the supply of Crazy so sharply reduced by Dear Leader’s sullen withdrawal, Your I.R. will quietly doff his well-worn trilby and press pass, and take up instead the guise of resident advice columnist. What Plague Journal worth its salt would not offer its Gentle Readership practical advice on dealing with the little challenges we face? Thanks to the indulgent disposition of the Dear Editors, this lacuna shall now be closed. In that spirit, we shall be soliciting troubled and troubling inquiries from far and wide, fearlessly tackling the most confounding issues of our day. Your Very Sane Ordinary Person (V.S.O.P.) shall address same with all the wisdom and experience collected in a youth mis-spent (see last week's column) and a majority wasted. Watch this space for the inaugural (there's that dread word again) edition of "The Tao of Flat Rat Alley - Living Your Best Life in Crazy Times."* In the meanwhile, please forward your most perplexing problems to the Dear Editors so we may engage in diligent cogitation and dispense insights as deemed appropriate.

*It has come to Management's attention that the moniker "Flat Rat Alley"  causes puzzlement amongst a Gentle Readership unaccustomed to the gritty reality of the mean streets of Crazy Town. A cryptic reference to the underworld of drugs, perchance? Youth slang derived from the latest hip hop hit?  No, no, no. Merely a literal reflection of the seeming collective determination of the local rodent population to exit, stage right, in a most dramatic fashion at your humble and obedient correspondent’s veritable doorstep.

24/01/2021

Rural Norfolk

Chris Gates, Norfolk UK

Aside from the installation of Joe Biden, a mild pre-occupation this week has been Gavin Williamson’s increasing isolation amidst schooling shambles (calls for his resignation) and getting to grips with an odd combination of positive, good vaccination news and rather worrying reports of lack of the good stuff to pump into those waiting arms...

 

We’ve noted on here before the ‘softening-up’ that goes on ahead of Downing Street Disappointments, ie the leakage of news ahead of policy statement. 

There’s been a subtly shifting ref to us, the ‘over 70 and clinically challenged‘:

You may remember a couple of weeks or more ago, the announcement was that we would receive vaccination “by February 15”. Then it became “we still aim to get the over 70’s jabbed by February 15”. Then “the over 70’s will get a letter or a text by February 15 inviting them to get jabbed“. Now it’s “the over 70’s should get a letter or a text by February 15 inviting them to get jabbed“.

 

I read my prospects of getting a vaccination anytime soon to have gone from: 

‘definitely by the 15th‘, to

‘possibly receiving by the 15th an offer of vaccination at some vague point in the future, but don’t bet on it.’

Not the same thing at all, and seems to have coincided with aforementioned reports of erratic supplies of vaccine.

Expect a regretful announcement from dear Matt Hancock soon. He’s already gone on record saying supplies of vaccine are “lumpy”.

Despite all this, it’s worth noting we’ve reached the 5,000,000 vaccinated mark - and 364,000 in the past 24 hours, which is obviously a Very Good Thing. 

America, however, even distracted by Mr Trump has inoculated 16,500,000 and The Biden Plan is for a million a day for a hundred days. Just saying...

Then, of course, we have the muddying of the water concerning second doses, once thought essential at three weeks, now made more elastic. Vaccination: arguably the single most important thing in all our lives just now and BJ and his chums are blithely playing football with it when what we require is clarity.

 

The “ok then, let’s try this” approach has led to a new deterrent for anyone thinking of a get-together. The individual fine for attending gatherings of 15 or more is raised to £800. Why 15, why £800? If impact is what you want, surely a lesser number and higher penalty is better - nice round numbers like ‘5’ and ‘£1000’ suggest themselves. 

I'm not promoting that, btw, but it is perhaps a further illustration of maddening moving goalpost bumbling. I’m beginning to wonder if any of these economy-shattering, life-shattering measures are truly worthwhile. Maybe they just confuse and breed discontent. How about ‘Be careful, Jab and Relax’?

Terrible floods and ‘weather’ inflicted on parts of the UK this week - the sheer helplessness and utter domestic devastation must be hard to bear. We’ve road flooding here in some ‘dippy’ roads. It just pours off the fields, and that catches out motorists who underestimate the depth. When we bought this place, aware of the fatal East Coast flooding in the 50’s, I checked the OS sheet - we’re on the highest point for miles around, a dizzying 25m above sea level, so not much chance of inundation.

We’ve been able to get out for a ramble most days, nothing more adventurous than our local Burlingham Woodland Walks or a wander to the carp ponds since the most recent edict that you shouldn’t drive to exercise, but it brought an unexpected joy:

Alongside the Henge that we (ie The Community) installed, the Council has a bench, a bug hotel and a Swap Box mainly for the entertainment of younger ramblers. Into this we bunged some chocolate coins from the Christmas tree a couple of weeks ago. It’s caught on - first the remains of someone’s selection box, now today a pack of Anthon Berg ‘Plum in Madeira’. We swooped on a couple of those, haven’t seen them since ‘Duty Free’ days a lifetime ago - they were more exotically called ‘Blomme i Madeira’ back then. Delicious.

Enough of this! I’m off out into the sunshine for more fun: late (or early) apple tree pruning and then some log splitting using ‘Black Shed’ David’s new electric/hydraulic splitter. Toodle-pip

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