26/03/20 Overnight there was yet another hard frost, 113 unfortunates weren’t here to witness the gorgeous day that followed. In total, Corvid-19 has accounted for 578 British lives. The death toll is much less compared to Italy and Spain and no doubt many other nations, but the grief is shared by us all, as is the fear. There are over half a million confirmed cases worldwide and who knows how many that are not? For those of us lucky enough to be enjoying life, albeit under different rules and a constraint on relationships with our fellow citizens, must cherish the future and acknowledge that we not only have responsibility for our own destiny but also that of others.
Two members of the family received accolades today which made Sue and I feel rather proud. First, Sarah who is taking a Foundation Degree Course, received a brilliant response from the examiner for her dissertation and this was quickly followed up by a glowing letter from Lucas’s French teacher that must have given Charlotte and Suraj great pleasure.
Such a shame that the family cannot meet up and celebrate their success. However, there will be an end to all this mess and when we do meet up again we certainly have something to look forward to. Party time!
My cycle ride this morning took me through the villages of East Farndon, Marston Trussell and Lubenham. As expected, there were hardly any motor vehicles on the road sections, though I regularly passed dog walkers, ramblers and other cyclists. I am used to seeing these, but not on a weekday and certainly not considerably younger than myself. I suppose if I was in the same position and wasn’t permitted to go to work, I too would throw myself into some socially responsible physical activity. Usually, when I pass by another citizen on one of my rides, the Yorkshire in me urges ‘yours truly’ to cheerily wish them a ‘good morning’. Straw poll of today: 50% of the cyclists, 100% of the dog walkers and 0% of the ramblers responded. Any suggestions for those who did not?
Beside pausing awhile at the vineyard to check on the pruning I also stopped to wander around Saint Nicholas’ Churchyard in Marston Trussell. Standing among the ancient gravestones, my mind wandered to Europe of 1347 to 1351 and the Black Death. I wondered if any of the graves before me held the remains of bodies from the last pandemic that swept out of the Far East. I stood for a moment and read again the information board beside the metal entrance gate. I have done this several times, but never tire of the tale it tells of the unfortunate Royalists who after fleeing the battlefield of Naseby were caught in the field next to the church by the Parliamentarians and slaughtered because the road stopped at ‘Pudding Bag End’. Where they fought and died was renamed Slaughter Field. Tragic, but fascinating history.
Sue and I again spent the day in the garden. She weeding and clearing and I, making the frame for a painting that we had bought in Parintins, Amazonia. With the frame made and whilst the glue set, I dug over the plot where I had removed the strawberry plants from the previous day.
At lunch time I called an old rugby friend John Lee in Lincolnshire to see how he was coping with lock down. Not surprisingly he and Catherine were spending the day exactly as Sue and I. He would have preferred to spend today trout fishing but the authorities have closed the lakes. Shortly afterwards I rang Jim Hankers in Cyprus. He had just had his evening meal. Despite being alone he was coping OK and still managing to socialise with the expats on the small estate he lives on. His wife Brigitte is still stuck stuck here in Leicestershire. He had spent 160 euros that morning on filling the freezer and larder as he knew he was going to be there for at least a couple more months. He informed me that before he could travel anywhere on the island he has to complete a form on-line and present it if stopped by the police, otherwise a hefty fine. It seems its the same in most of Europe. Hopefully, that won’t have to be the case here.
Jamie has volunteered to become a NHS Volunteer Responder and will be helping vulnerable people in the community. Sue’s sister Philippa, is helping to coordinate medical prescriptions for the house bound in Buckfastleigh. She will be doing this over the phone. At 8 pm this evening the country was encouraged to stand in their doorways and on balconies and applaud the efforts made by the NHS, emergency services and those that are keeping the country running.
27/03/20 On the day the death toll rose to 759, Boris Johnson tested positive for Covid-19 and self isolated. Ironically, Matt Hancock the Health Secretary also succumbed.
My bike ride this morning took me to the south of Harborough. Sunny but chillier than the previous days, there were fewer bodies out and about taking exercise. Joining the Brampton Valley Way on my route back into the town I passed through Waterloo Farm, fishing and camping ground, ignoring a large sign blocking the lane,”Please go home and respect our safety.” I followed a small Caravanette down the lane, as it stopped in front of the hoarding I glimpsed the disappointment on the drivers face, he would have to find some other place to fish or stay today! I swiftly carried on down the track, heading towards town along the disused railway line. I opted to go through the town centre to see who was about. I was surprised to see Waitrose had a 200 metre queue standing outside, all obeying the 2 m rule and patiently waiting their turn to enter the store. Sainsbury’s had a queue of around 100m, Tesco had one 20m long, Wilkinsons had three people and the Co-op had no queue. On my return, Sue surmised that the Co-op was too expensive. I think I would rather pay a few more pennies than stand for an hour or so in a queue and expose myself to infection for longer than is necessary. Surely that makes sense?
Again, Sue and I spent the rest of the day in and around the house. I completed framing the painting then planted some broad beans. Sue completed her genocide of Willow Bank’s population of spiders and weeds.
Whilst having my morning coffee, I came across a news item from the Leicester Mercury that contained photos of Harborough under lock down. I found it fascinating, well worth clicking on the link.
Charlotte had a baking day with the boys. Suraj has been told that he will have to go into work as one of his team has gone into self isolation. Lee has been busy painting garden furniture and Sarah has completed some art and craft decorations for the Baby Room that she has been working on.
I received an email from Ken and Chris. We made friends on the Magellan, it now seems years ago! They live in Spain and are existing under quite severe lock down constraints compared to ours. They are limited to within 50 m of their home and then only as an individual. The police appear to be unwilling to turn a blind eye, fines of 600 Euros have been handed out! However, they are having some building work done (Chris’s Craft Room) and surprisingly this is allowed by the authorities, though the ‘social distance’ still has to be maintained. There home is sufficiently out-of-the-way deep within the Spanish countryside to ensure that (apart from builders) isolating themselves is the norm. The nearest case of Corvid-19 is 2 km away in the nearest village, hopefully it stays there.
During the afternoon I took a phone call from Aunty Josie, she and her son David are both well. They both have quite serious underlying medical conditions and a dose of Corvid-19 is certainly to be avoided. We chatted for nearly an hour catching up on family news from the Welsh branch. I promised to ring next week.
Sometime during the afternoon, a friend Jim Crawford, dropped off a load of very useful terracotta pots at the front door step. Social distancing meant that he didn’t stay to talk.
Here are some of today’s family photos: