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Lockdown 2

2021 – the 9 month year

I’m pretty sure it is Wednesday although it feels as if days have no real meaning when you are confined to barracks. I follow a routine dictated by my calendar. Today there were a couple of calls down for the morning, a walk at lunchtime and then free time. Free to do whatever needs doing to fill the day.

The doors to the shed are slightly ajar. It is slightly too warm inside. The sensible solution would be to lower the temperature setting on the heater but whoever said sensible was right. Someone is using a chainsaw or similar within earshot.  I seem to recall this situation being the case last autumn. Can’t be the same bit of building work surelement. The door stays open.

It is the 6th january 2021. Someone on Facebook asked whether it  was too late to wish people a Happy New Year. Never too late. Mind you it does feel as if 2020 has been extended by 3 months and 2021 cut down to 9. So it is only 84 days until 2021 proper gets going. Until the shackles can be cast aside and we all run through the streets hysterically, shouting  madly and banging pots and pans. Twitching nervously as I write this 🙂

The world of work is still slowly grinding into gear.  I deal with some African customers and it is the middle of their summer holidays over there so people are on elongated breaks. I’d do the same.  I tend to take most of August off although in 2020 there was no point as our world was only just reopening albeit for only a short while. Seems like a long time ago now. Although we got some quality time the weather was atrocious. Bear in mind we were in North Wales.

This lockdown situation is something nobody has had to contend with before. The battle against covid has been compared with a war. Even in WW2 people weren’t locked down and the pubs remained open. Where the pubs are concerned I don’t think it is the desire to go out and get merry or drunk that people are missing. It’s the human engagement. A Zoom call is not a replacement for this. We want a bit of banter. Yes a beer would be great, I’m thinking Timothy Taylor’s Landlord or a Beavertown Neck Oil, but banter is better.

When we dropped Tom off at his London flat after the first lockdown we stopped off a night at the University Arms in Cambridge and had dinner with Terry. We also did some shopping (John Lewis – how come I only discovered John Lewis at the age of 58), bought a few books and strolled around taking in what sights could be seen considering most colleges were still closed to the public. I’d quite like to do that again. Maybe not Cambridge this time but somewhere nice with a nice hotel in the middle of town where we could just walk out and be right where it was at. Stroll back to the hotel to drop stuff off when it suited us.

In the meantime I am planning spring 2022 – Lincoln – Boston (Massachusetts), down the East Coast and thence to the Caribbean before headed home. These things need planning well in advance 🙂

That’s all for today. Got a mailing list to clean!

Categories
Lockdown 2

Tier Cinq

They are calling it Lockdown 3 but it doesn’t really feel as if we ever left lockdown 2. Ok I got a few rounds of golf in but the pubs never reopened. I guess those in the media who shape these pseudo hysterical sentiments live mostly in London where they have been able to go about their business mostly until they recently entered Tier 4. 

Now we are all in Tier 5 together. Once common theme through all these lockdowns is the feeling that we should have entered them earlier. That is water under the bridge but it certainly shapes our opinions on the performance of our political masters regardless of the difficulty of the job to hand.

Now, sitting in isolation in the shed, it doesn’t feel inappropriate to want to wind the clock forward 3 months. That would be a massive chunk of life to wish away but it is somewhat reflective of the state of things at the moment. We should probably make more of an effort to get something out of this lockdown. It’s easier for some of us than for others. If you spent most of 2020 shut away from people it is going to have been a lot tougher a year than for some of us with a small crowd in a large house regardless of the stresses and strains of that in itself.

As part of this “effort” I have had bran flakes with blueberries and a banana for breakfast two mornings running. A good bowl of cereal is quite energising in the morning. If you have bacon in the fridge that is a big temptation but the last of that was consumed at the weekend and I have no plans to visit the butchers. In fact Anne is doing most of the shopping which will save us a fortune. It’s Lidl versus Waitrose.

It’s a sunnier day out today. Shame really as Coops and I were off to play golf. I will have to go for a walk at lunchtime to compensate otherwise I’ll be sat on my backside all day. 

Walked to the Bailgate. Crisp day with not many people about. The occasional runner. Lots of businesses closed. Just food and drink emporia and churches open. 45 mins or so including stopping to chat at  distance with a friend. Took a few pics.

Back home and tucked in to a splendid salad consisting of peas, black rice, chillies and a few other bits with a curry flavoured dressing. Had it with a fillet of smoked mackerel and some smoked salmon when the mackerel ran out.

Today we put away the Christmas decorations in the garage. Not an inconsiderable number of boxes and bags. It’s a good job it’s only once a year. I periodically have to tidy the garage shelves. I sense that time is not far off but it will wait a little longer.

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Lockdown 2

An everyday story of Lockdown 2

It is a difficult start to 2021. Two of the 4 Davies offspring are having to self isolate due to either housemate or recent contact being tested positive. I have also received a tedious Office for National Statistics survey to complete and am having to do my dad’s tax return. The mid winter festival excesses are also suddenly over even though the twelve days are not yet up. I sense that in 2020 the excess started back at the beginning of lockdown in March, or even February on our holiday in California.

The weather is of the usual dour English January variety. My one meeting today was cancelled, probably due to lack of enthusiasm all round, so the opportunity was taken to finally put up the fence posts and wiring to espalier the cooking apple tree. The tree is a few years old now and it should have been done from the start but I think it will be ok. The rain and fading light has driven me in. The ladder will need putting back in the garage but I can do that when I am ready to leave t’shed. Momentary lapse into Yorkshire there.

Bojo is making an announcement ce soir at 8pm. Clashes with Southampton v Liverpool. He appears to be going to crank up the lockdown volume further. So be it. Bring on the dancing vaccine dispensers. Unsure at this point whether it will affect my game of golf with Coops tomorrow. Sense it will. Only 9 holes par 3 but gets you out and it isn’t serious stuff. 

Been lots of discussion about schools. Bojo says they are safe places to be and wants the kids to keep going. Unfortunately he is lying. OK let’s say being disingenuous. They might well be safe for the kids as they are unlikely to have adverse affects from Covid. However the staff won’t be safe and neither will the families of the kids when they take the virus home. I totally get the desire to keep them in school but in these current rapidly spreading virus circumstances schools are likely to be superspreader hotspots.

Tonight it is gourmet dining. Fish fingers with small spuds and either baked beans or peas. Am leaning towards the beans as they have a sauce and the peas option might be a little on the dry side.

The next month or two should actually prove to be quite interesting as it will just be Anne and I in the house. Normally when it is just the two of us we are both busy doing our own thing and meet up at certain times of the day. There will still be an element of this but we are both likely to be more in the house than away from it. Ok I’ll be in the shed for a lot of the time but the same logic still applies.

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Lockdown 2

Hope

Austerity. Self denial. Meditation. Isolation. Covid winter survival. Physical and mental wellbeing. Patience. Optimism. Hope.

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Lockdown 2

The last bubble

The last of the Christmas bubble is back in her flat in London. She had already left before Tier 4 kicked in and by today it was simply a question of Tier 4 to Tier 4. We didn’t stop on the way down. It was a case of load up the car in Lincoln and unload straight into her flat in London. I stayed there only 5 minutes before setting the coordinates for home. We shall meet again.

You notice the change in pace of life as you get nearer rat race central. Nowadays I usually just stick the cruise control at the speed limit and let the computer take the strain. For much of the journey I was only occasionally passed but as you got near to London there were lots of cars needing to get somewhere in a hurry.

The big city was quite busy with people dressed for the cold. Drab and mostly grey with the occasional flash of colour. The fact that the shops, cafes and pubs were shuttered closed was very noticeable. There was the occasional boarded over joint suggesting they won’t have made it through lockdown. The diversity and vibrancy of life in London is half the reason for being there. At least whilst you are young and unencumbered. That reason is no longer valid.

As Waze guided me efficiently through the back streets the other thing to notice was the densely packed nature of living space. This observation is perhaps unnecessary, an obvious feature of a metropolis.  Made me glad I am fortunate to have a large house with garden and a posh shed to escape to. Lockdown affects us all but think how much more it will affect someone who is shut away for weeks on end in a tiny flat, maybe with a family to manage.

Home  now sipping a cup of tea and looking forward to a nice quiet dinner for two. It is raining heavily outside.

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Lockdown 2

Lights Out at the Strugglers Inn

Lights out at the Strugglers Inn

It is snowing outside. The notion of sitting next to an open fire in the pub drinking beer in the warmth whilst outside the snow falls is one of those utopian visions of deep mid winter life. Never mind that you eventually have to wrap up again and head home through the snow. Never mind that when it melts the snow will turn an ugly brown mush. Live for that moment. Have another beer. 

Lincoln has a few such pubs.The Morning Star, The Strugglers. I drove past the The Strugglers yesterday. It was dark and looked cold. Lights Out at the Strugglers Inn I said to myself, quite pleased with that snatch of poetry. It at least felt like the title of some meaningful piece of prose. A newspaper article maybe. Deep definitely.

These imagined features of our existence are ones we all want to hold on to. Never mind that most people wouldn’t be sitting around the fire anyway. We like the idea that we could do this if it snowed. There is bound to be a suitable pub nearby.

I’m quite happy with the notion of immersing myself in my own dreams. My own escapism. It is after all why a lot of people go to the movies. Why film stars and celebrities are so feted. People like the idea of the lives they live. I think for me it’s all about doing it myself rather than simply wishing I could be in someone else’s shoes. It is also about being happy with what you have and who you are.

An early doors session at the Strugglers is something to look forward to in 2021. I don’t mean a socially distanced “sorry but you can’t stand at the bar” session. I mean one of those evenings where it is actually a struggle to get anywhere near the bar. Or maybe one where you give the money to someone else to get the round in because the pub is so packed you can’t get out of your very comfortable and convenient seat with your back to the wall and just the right distance from the fire. Throw in a pack of pork scratchings with that will you?

Lots of us are looking forward to this I’m sure. There are plenty of other things to look forward to but for the moment, with the snow still falling gently in the back garden, I’ll stay with early doors in The Strugglers.

Happy New Year.

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Lockdown 2

Bottom of the curve

New Year’s day brunch. Marcus Wareing rosti potato. Slow. Relaxing. Cup of tea. News is all Brexshit. Time will tell. There is comfort knowing I’m an Irish citizen. The UK will probably take a generation to recover from the divisions created by Bojo and his troop. I’ve moved on and am letting them get on with it but have a sharpened knife at the ready.

Sister Ann and her husband Toby who are both GPs are spending the weekend preparing to give covid inoculations at their practice. The elixirs arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both varieties. Will keep them busy. Their kids are manning the phones calling the punters to arms. Exciting.

Very pleasant meal last night, the three of us. I made it as far as 10pm then hit the hay. Lightweight. 

Today we are going for a walk to Whisby Nature reserve. Blow out the cobwebs. Fair bet there will be hundreds of others doing the same thing! See how it goes. One way system? Doubt it!

It is still outside. Dull. Cold. Bottom of the curve.

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Lockdown 2

Deepest winter

Deep frost out there this morning. Picturesque and satisfying. Footprints on the lawn where someone took shortcuts to or from the shed last night. A slow start to the day. There is no rush.

Our tree is not long for this lounge. It has shed its needles more quickly this year for some reason. Symptomatic of the whole of 2020 perhaps. 

Although we knew about the virus at the beginning of this year it didn’t inform our travel plans early on. In February we flew to San Francisco for the NANOG conference. I was a NANOG virgin amazingly, at the age of 58. We arrived a few days before the main cohort and spent a couple of nights in a signature suite at the Fairmont on top of Nob Hill. Fantastic room and views although the hotel is a little faded.

Moved down the hill for the conference and then drove down the Pacific Coast Highway taking 4 days to reach Venice via Santa Cruz, somewhere near Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara. Far more relaxing than doing it in one long hike like we did when we took the kids. On to Palm Springs and then Vegas through the desert. That was a terrific drive.

Looking back it felt as if we were just keeping ahead of the spreading of the virus. Two weeks later and we were locked down. A totally memorable trip in great contrast to the rest of 2020.

Now that we are locked down again, albeit with a vaccine showing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, it feels as if a change would be appropriate moving into 2021. The kids will have all gone back to their lives away from home and peace will return once more to Wragby Road. It’s not that we don’t like having them back but we also like the pre-kid freedom of the early days of our relationship.

The shed is a perfect place to exist in a lockdown. Good communications with the rest of the world yet nicely isolated. 

Walked down to the new bypass with Hannah. My idea was to count the lorries on it. In theory it is meant to take up to 25% of the traffic away from our road. Not the best day to do the monitoring. Only saw 2 lorries go down it in 10 minutes plus one that turned off to go to Wragby and away from our house. It’s a very nice bypass anyway.

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Lockdown 2

-ve result +ve news

At 9 minutes past nine last night the email came through with dad’s covid19 test result. Negative yay. We knew it would be negative but we needed the result to show the care home in Cardiff before they would take him in. He will be far better off somewhere with someone on call 24 x 7. He is 86 and has Parkinsons.

For us it has been an exhausting 6 weeks or so. Sleep patterns were back to the days of small children. Dad was in the room below us and I could hear every movement. The other night I thought I heard him call out my name but when I went down he was fast asleep. Last night the TV came on loudly at 2am. I had to go and negotiate the switching off.

It’s been a privilege having him here. He is after all my dad and if nothing else it is Christmas. However it has been tough going, even with carer’s coming in to help him get up in the morning and then to help him get ready for bed at night. Just taking him to watch sport in the shed was an expedition in itself. Too slippery for him to walk so it was a wheelchair job which entailed putting on coats and taking him out the front door, around the side of the house and across the lawn.

Dad is now quite excited at the prospect of going back to Cardiff. I told him the test result at 2am and he seemed happy with it. In fact when carer Jayne arrived we found that he was already up and dressed. Bear in mind it can take him over an hour to do this himself. Parkinsons has made him very weak. 

The place he is going to has a hairdressing salon, a small cinema, bar and restaurant with chef. Also a chauffeur to take him on local trips. My sister Sue lives 8 minutes walk away (more like 3 hours walk if you are dad). It will give him some independence back which is somewhat ironic considering that people of his age see moving to a care home as losing their independence.

I have total respect for people who serve as full time carers for their parents, whatever their age. Also total sympathy. Their lives are not their own really. We have been fortunate in knowing that it was only for 6 weeks, or at least subject to the covid test results coming back in a timely manner (not) which certainly kept the pressure on. Had the result come back positive the cat would truly have been amongst the pigeons. Was an unlikely outcome mind you.

Dad is not the only one departing the Davies house today. I’m taking John back to his garret in Birmingham where he is at University. It’s another dash for independence. Away from the parental gaze. Half way through his final year. It’s been a crappy year for him. John is a DJ and had a blossoming paid gigging scene in Brum. Covid has stymied that. Once the sh!£$how is over he will rise again.

The whole family has been affected one way or another really. Just I’m sure like every other person in the UK. Hopefully getting the Christmas Holidays out of the way will let us focus on getting back to normality, however long that takes.

Mind you not everyone will have made it to 2021 and my thoughts are with them. It’s a private thing. You don’t need any names. I’m sure most of us know at least one covid casualty. No matter what you think of Bojo and his (pri)mates we do have to look after ourselves and our friends to get through this.

Just 2 days left of 2020 to endure. Stick with it 😉 In the meantime it’s a beer from the fridge in the kitchen and not from the pub. Ciao.

Back from an afternoon trip to Brum to drop John off. A tedious drive with the various covid announcements on the radio – cranking up lockdown to more of the country. I found out about Lincolnshire when the Lincoln Golf Centre rang me to ask if I still needed the tee reservation for New Year’s Eve and explained we were now in Tier 4 so rules applied. I had to come clean and tell them they had the date wrong on their system and we had already played on Christmas Eve!

Anyways what I really wanted to talk about was the full moon visible when driving home. I first noticed it when driving around Leicster. It was very artistic with wisps of cloud covering parts of it so that you couldn’t see that it was a full circle. Then I approached a pedestrian bridge and a man walking his dog was perfectly silhouetted in front of the moon. I was very disappointed not to be able to take a photo. Even had I had someone with me in the car it probably wouldn’t have come out very well.

By the time I got back to Lincoln the moon was fully visible, the clouds having parted like celestial curtains. That’ all folks. I’m home now.

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Lockdown 2

Dream Factory

Watching Calamity Jane. iPlayer. Whip cracking stuff. In the shed on my tod. With a bottle of beer. Or two. The kids have pointed out that some of the stuff I have been watching over Christmas seems at best sexist. Old movies from the 50s and 60s. Pretty dated but they are the films of my youth. Calamity Jane is giving me a good feel. Hugely not politically correct really what with killin injuns and all that. This Christmas we need good feelings more than ever before. I haven’t watched any contemporary TV. Zero interest. Hadn’t realised how many famous songs came out of this movie. It’s just finishing and I’m feeling good. We need more of this 🙂 Hollywood dream factory.

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Lockdown 2

Frost on the ground in the shire

Frost on the ground in the shire. Warm enough in the shed. One or two winters ago we were without central heating and relied on the open fire plus fan heaters. The shed was then the warmest place on the estate.

Have settled dad down in front of the BBC news and now getting my brain in gear for a session on Anne’s Vans. Playing some 70s Rock Anthems. Moved on from The Messiah and other seasonal entertainments.

Dad was meant to be Cardiff bound today but we are waiting on the covid test results. Lead time went up from 3 to 5 days after we had him tested. Ty Llandaff is ready to take him in. This is dad’s 6th week with us. 

I am quite looking forward to the relative peace of a mostly offspring and parent free house. I say mostly. Hannah is currently planning to sit out the London Tier 4 lockdown with us. She came home before it all happened when London was a lowly Tier 2. For her the shed is a much better working environment than her small top floor flat in Canonbury although it is something I have to get used to as she spends much of her day on calls and in meetings. See how it goes. 

We still have plenty of Quality Street, crisps and other such junk. I have had my fill. I look forward to a period of monastic austerity. Mind you had the monks of medieval times known about cheese and onion crisp sandwiches they would have insisted they were part of their regime.

There are jobs I need to do over the remaining week (maybe two, I haven’t decided) of the holidays:

  1. New light fitting for shed
  2. Put in place the fence posts and wire for developing the cooking apple espalier. The materials have been procured

Come to think of it that’s it. I dare say new ones will appear as we steam towards 2021.

Tomorrow a game of golf with the lads is planned. Wednesday I have booked lane swimming. Let’s hope we stay out of Tier 4. 

We need to go into 2021 feeling that there are grounds for optimism. The seeds are there but it is too early to call. Need to see a  wider vaccine rollout and the gradual reopening of society. I don’t consider anything brexshit related as grounds for optimism. I’m just letting the people who got us here get on with it.

My plans for 2021 include:

  1. Attend wedding in Sligo
  2. Travel to Rome to stay at the Cavalieri and watch Wales beat Italy at football
  3. Take in at least one trip to the Isle of Man
  4. England v Pakistan at Sophia gardens – I am a member of Glamorgan CCC
  5. Top off the summer with a highly successful Beyond The Woods Festival

Obvs all this depends on the world returning to a semblance of normality.  We want to look back at 2020 and consign it to the waste bin. It will make it to the history books regardless. We should attempt to gain some learnings or benefit from it. Not totally sure at this point what these might be. The benefit of hindsight is required and we are still at this time too close to the action to be able to take a step back and see.

Sat here in the shed I am fairly well isolated from the goings on in the house. Only issue is I quite fancy a cup of tea for which I would have to reenter the house or at least make some form of communication with those inside. At this time I’m favouring the time to myself rather than the refreshment.

Rewind I have just been called into the house as we are about to open the Christmas presents my sister Sue brought up from Cardiff. She is taking dad back with here one the test results come through. Christmas can come twice you know. In fact it can come as often as you like.

Ciao

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Lockdown 2

In the bleak midwinter…

I buy the midwinter bit as it is totally dark out at 16.09 but when we say bleak it makes me think snow and freezing with maybe a wind howling across the open spaces between the back of the cottage and the forest beyond. Honest folk are sat around the hearth with only a couple of candles to accompany the dancing glow of the wood fire.

Reality is constant perpendicular rain and a flooded path between the shed and the house. The vertical rain bit relates to the relative lack of wind. It’s just a straight up dank day.

This is the time of the midwinter festival. In my 59 years on the planet the real winter hasn’t rocked up until January and February. I watched a repeat on iPlayer last night. A documentary on Medieval Christmas where all 12 nights involved a celebration, for those who could afford it. Not sure how they kept the pace up. 

I am cosy enough on this day. The two others in the shed are sat there quietly doing their thing.

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diary Lockdown 2

The biggest question of the day

There may be a lot of bad karma flying around right now but sometimes you have to stay focussed on the important things in life. Does Santa prefer whisky or brandy? It isn’t a question of whether some other beverage needs to be included in the list. It’s either whisky or brandy.

I can understand that some parents might not want to introduce their younger offspring to the concept that Father Christmas may be partial to a drop or two, not totally squeaky clean so to speak, and to persuade them that milk is an appropriate and wholesome drink to offer someone who at the end of the day (when all is said and done) is working a long shift.

It may be that he doesn’t care whether it is whisky or brandy in which place there is no way forward for this discussion. One relevant line of debate could relate to the quality of the spirit on offer. After all we know Santa doesn’t really drink it. It’s the parent wot leaves it out who knocks it back once the kids are safely tucked in and in the land of nod. On that basis it makes sense to leave the good stuff out. After all if Santa really did drink it he would very quickly become so pissed he would stop caring about the quality.

Rudolf and the gang must be quite used to carting a totally senseless Santa around the skies. Maybe it’s the elves that actually climb down the chimney and do the biz. It’s certainly not a one man job. I know this from experience as it took me and my dad to assemble the trampoline in the back garden all those years ago. 

The concealment of said substantial piece of garden furniture took some organisation. On Christmas Eve Anne took them off out somewhere for the afternoon whilst the trampo came together and upon their return it was soon dark, a fortunate deep mid winter feature of the latitude at which we live.

Anyway I’m a brandy man although I don’t have any particularly good stuff in the cupboard. It’s v expensive and doesn’t last very long for some reason 😉

Now only two days to go and time to get really focussed on Christmas. I must say that our tree, which is a good shaped piece of wood is fast losing its needles. I’m wondering whether this is because we have the heating on a lot more due to having my dad staying with us although the living room where it resides doesn’t seem to be inordinately hot. Did I not put enough water in the base? I dunno. I think it will just about last.

Most of the Christmas prep is done. I will need to check the veg sitch today. Just one more trip to Waitrose and then maybe another tomorrow to get the bread. I also have a bit of work to get out of the way sometime today. A frame agreement with one of our biggest customers. Oh and also dad’s tax submission, Urgh. 

Tomorrow morning it’s golf with my sons Tom, Joe and John. Just a bit of fun around the 9 holes at Whisby. Nothing too serious. Back home by lunchtime and then get in the zone. Maybe prep the parsnips in parmesan cheese. A few other bits like that. I need to dig up the parsnips which I’ll do today. The last crop of the year. Might even find the odd remaining carrot in the raised beds. Exciting eh?

Then as afternoon eases into evening I listen to 9 lessons and carols. It’s the right thing to do. This year in the absence of a pub to go to we are gathering for drinks in the shed early doors. Then it’s a Swiss cheese fondue followed by carol singing around the fire in the front room. Hannah has brought her flute, Joe will be on piano and horn and John on sax. The timing for the evening is somewhat governed by the carer arriving at 19.30 to get dad ready for the bed. He won’t want to miss out on any of it. Maybe we do the carol singing tonight. V shall c.

We have our traditions at this time of year. Not all of them we will adhere to in 2020. As I write it makes me wonder what others do around the world? What will the staff at the Venice Beach Hotel where we stayed in February be doing on Christmas Eve? Is it a big thing in LA? The hotel is probably closed and the staff holed up at home with no cash to celebrate anything. Tough times.

On a totally different note they got the Lincoln Eastern Bypass open in time for Christmas. It was supposed to take perhaps 20% of the traffic off the road in front of our house. This is clearly a good thing but I have no sense as to whether this has actually happened. The combination of covid lockdown and the time of year where most people are probably already on holiday means the traffic is lower than normal anyway. Also most of the lorries are probably stuck in a queue outside Dover due to the French having closed their borders with the UK. Fair play.

Anyway it’s 6.30am and I have to go and make the tea. Oh and the right answer must surely be brandy. Remy Martin XO as a minimum 🙂

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diary Lockdown 2

Thoughts on 2020

Sat here in the shed my immediate thought is that I need a haircut. What again do I hear you say? You had one in the summer and it is only Christmas. Yes yes I know but I need a hair cut. I also need a shave, some exercise and to cut down on eating junk and drinking beer, wine and gin.

I’m probably not alone.

I want to do most of the above, the exception being the drinking bit. We have a lot of catching up to do in the pub and there is a time and place for that particular strand of abstinence. We need an out and out pissup. Not a remote virtual job over zoom. One where people crack crap jokes and everyone laughs even though the joke is probably not funny. One where you lose track of how many pints you have had or what is sensible or even whose round it is.

Then we go for a ruby. And get a taxi home even though it is eminently walkable.

Snorrapnin. We have forgotten what it was like to live a normal life doing normal things. It’s almost as if we are each in our own spaceship on a long journey to distant galaxy and have only ourselves to talk to. Ok there are screens everywhere and you can easily communicate with distant friends and relations but it ain’t the same.

We are having to adjust to the changing coronavirus landscape. My sister Sue is no longer coming up to Lincoln for Christmas. Cardiff is in Tier 4. She will now be on her own for Christmas. It’s the same story all over the shop. We are all effectively in lockdown again. Ok the barber is open as is the pool but not really had the chance to use the latter due to a combination of busy with work and busy sorting out dad.

There is no point in my discussing 2020, the year that never was. At least we got our Californian holiday in February. That potentially marks the high point of our travel adventures with no real visibility of any more to come and a distinct feeling that habits are going to change in future. 

It’s later and I am back in the shed for our annual Capacity Yorkshire pub crawl. Except it ain’t happening this year so we are doing a short online few beers on the date we would have been wandering around the public houses of York. It’s been an institution in recent years. To qualify you have to be a northerner (ish) and run the internet.

For me the brightest bit of news this year, if you can forgive the pun, is the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn which happens tonight. Not sure I ever previously gave the word conjunction any consideration especially in celestial terms and I’m not about to dwell on it now but I thought it worth a mention 🙂

The other bit of brightness in 2020 was the ousting of Donald Trump from the US Presidency. I refrained from calling him President Trump because a more unpresidential individual  you could not find. The amazing thing is the fact that people voted for him in the first place. We could say the same thing about BoJo the chimpanzee here in the UK.

As I write the queues of lorries are piling up on the motorways outside Dover and Calais. Somewhat ironic really considering that this was supposed to have been the result of a no deal brexit. Feels as if Europe has slammed the door shut on the UK a few days early. Symbolic of “our” handling of the year really.

It is difficult to look ahead beyond the next few days. We have plans for 2021 that include running the Beyond The Woods Festival in August, heading to Rome in June to watch Wales play Italy at football and the new season of campervan rentals. We assume it will all happen but who knows?

In the meantime it is Christmas (hope you’ve been good). We haven’t had our usual carol session so this year we are going to do it just as a family around the fire on Christmas Eve. Most of the food shopping is in hand. I do need to buy some smoked salmon, some more vino and probably a bit of veg. Fortunately we have some lettuce and limes – important now that salad leaves and citrus fruits are being put forward as candidates for shortages in the light of the border closures.

Yesterday was the winter solstice. The days are now extending bringing with them the suggestion of hope for the future. Not sure many of us feel the optimism that should accompany this. We are hunkered down and in survival mode.

Have the best Christmas you can under the circumstances and a far better 2021 🙂

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Lockdown 2

Tier 4 Cometh

Up before 6am. Went to bed early last night so it was a tossup between lying in our warm cosy bed or getting up as I was wide awake and doing something. I had hoped that there would be some residual warmth in the fire but if there is I can’t feel it. Instead I have a blanket over my legs.

At this time on a Sunday morning it is very quiet. Not even an occasional car on the road. Well very occasional. Combo of tier 3, Sunday and the fact that the new bypass opened yesterday. Dad and I went for a looksee in the car but we were too early. Will take another skeet today.

London went into Tier 4 yesterday throwing everyone’s Christmas plans into disarray. Wales too. Effectively back to total lockdown. Must only be a matter of time before everywhere else follows suit. The whole country is getting fed up with this. There were mad scenes at London mainline stations with lots of people trying to get out of London before midnight trying to avoid being trapped alone in a flat over the holiday.

Modest fry up and now watching the Andrew Marr Show with dad. It’s a no pressure Sunday morning. Hannah is chef of the day for later so I don’t have any of the usual food prep – I normally cook on Sundays.

Quite a nice morning out there now.

Later the streets of the capital city deadly quiet. rubbish blows across the road but there is nobody to see it. anyone who could do so left London yesterday seeking sanctuary in tier 3 or below areas. tier 1 has become a distant nostalgia fueled memory. nobody can remember what it was like before covid. police cars patrol the empty streets. occasionally a shadowy figure can be seen disappearing into a doorway. White Christmas is on a loop on BBC1 in an attempt to convince the masses that everything is ok and they should all feel good. I think I will go and buy more gin…