07/05/20 The total number of corona-virus deaths across the world has reached at least 264 679, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked the spread of the virus during the pandemic. The US has the highest number of deaths with 73,573 followed by the UK with 30,150 and Italy with 29,684. The number of cases in Russia overtook France and Germany on Thursday to become the fifth highest in the world after a record daily rise with a total of 177,160. Astonishingly, the Kremlin reported the US president, Donald Trump, offered to send medical aid to Moscow during a phone call with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. If true, it is surely further evidence of Russia’s involvement with Trump or another example of consistently poor judgement. However, the statement did come from the Kremlin and the world knows how it loves to stir the pot to its own advantage.
Bright sun and warm today. It was noticeable during my morning ride that there was a lot more people about than has been the case since the beginning of March. Everyone seemed to be adhering to the social distancing rule, though this evening I did take a quick spin on my bike through the park and spotted a bunch of teenagers sat together. The media have been speculating that the Government will be announcing an easing of lock-down on Sunday and I think some are jumping the gun.
Sue spent much of the day weeding around the driveway and being amused by our local pheasants. Another male has appeared on the scene, prompting regular skirmishes for Mrs Pheasant’s attention and to take/keep control of this prime bit of real estate (I put out grain for them each morning). I shall be interested to see who is keeping her company at breakfast tomorrow, though I am not sure I will be able to tell if there has been a divorce or not! I mowed the paths in the vegetable plot, fixed a puncture on my bike and stroked the cat (again), some would say a perfect lock-down day.
Jamie has a new addition to the family. Today he and Ruth picked up the little puppy that he had bought nearly eight weeks ago. From her photo she looks adorable and has been named Lana. I wonder how Maddie the mad rabbit will take to the new family member? I am sure the rest of the Palmer tribe can’t wait to meet her, but that will have to wait.
08/05/20 It was a very pleasant day for flypasts and festivities as the UK commemorated VE Day 75. I was fortunate to witness a flyover by the Red Arrows soon after I had returned from my morning cycle. Two flights roared over Harborough in V formation.
Many events had been organised to celebrate this significant date, many had to be cancelled due to corona-virus lock-down, but despite government advice: “I am afraid that the terrible Corona-virus emergency and consequent Government guidance means that we must advise participants to cancel or postpone the majority of the VE Day 75 community celebrations due to take place on the bank holiday weekend of 8th – 10th May. It is right and proper that people should be kept safe and healthy.” Many still organised street parties, Welland Park Road was one of those in Harborough that did. I expect this was repeated throughout the country. The government can’t expect to encourage and exploit a war-time spirit in tackling this pandemic and not expect the population to respond in kind. The residents of Welland Park, met at the end of their drives with fold-away seats, drink, nibbles, music and lashings of 2m distance bonhomie! The festivities began at 6pm after a very brief shower that threatened to put a damper onto the celebration. This morning I had passed many properties on my morning cycle through the villages of south Leicestershire bedecked with flags, bunting and balloons in patriotic red, white and blue, a few of the residents of Welland Park had made the effort to do like wise. You can have fun and socialise and still observe the lock-down rule of keeping your distance, even after several drinks! Gossiping with neighbours is an addictive pastime, much to be enjoyed and I think we all enjoyed this brief respite from enforced isolation.
The point of visiting another place or country is to experience and learn about its people, culture and history, with most of the world under a pandemic lock-down of one sort or another (Belarus, is stupidly the only one not), we are denied what I consider is an essential freedom. Without having first hand knowledge of a place or its people it is difficult to form any sort of opinion without having to rely on hearsay and what other people would like you to think. Much of the world’s press and media have an axe to grind, even in what we consider is the ‘free world’. So, it was with pleasure that one of the travel companies I use, recognised that among its customers there is a thirst for knowledge and produced the following:
Facts about Greece
- The Greek national anthem is the longest in the world with 158 verses.
- For many Greeks their “name day”, the day of the saint that they are named after is more important than their birthday.
- The word barbarian comes from Greek barbaros, which was used to describe people who didn’t speak Greek and therefore sounded like they were making unintelligible sounds “bar‑bar‑bar”.
- Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine or 3,000 sunny hours a year.
- It’s illegal to wear stilettos at some archaeological sites in Greece as they could cause damage. Scientists say that a stiletto emits more pressure per square inch than the foot of an elephant.
- The word tragedy is Greek for goat‑song.
- The first ancient Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. The first champion is thought to be a Greek cook, baker, and athlete named Coroebus.
- In Greece, it is considered an insult to extend your hand with your palm facing forwards and the fingers extended and apart. This is called the moutza.
09/05/20 South Korea and Germany have both reported fresh corona virus cases linked to relaxations in social distancing guidelines. The two countries have been among the most successful in containing the Covid-19 pandemic. But both are having to take measures to prevent a second spike after relaxing rules in order to open up their economies. South Korea’s capital Seoul has shut down more than 2,100 nightclubs, hostess bars and discos after dozens of corona-virus infections were linked to club goers who went out last weekend. What a surprise! And from two much lauded nations who have so far managed the pandemic well, perhaps we can learn one more thing from them: until the poisoned chalice is completely empty don’t go drinking from it again!!!!
The death toll from corona-virus in UK hospitals has hit 26,345 after 252 more people were recorded as dying from the virus in the last 24 hours. Although face coverings will not be made compulsory for people in England, the Prime Minister is likely to suggest that they are worn at work, on public transport and while out shopping when he delivers his lock-down address at 7pm on Sunday. Easy does it Boris. Let’s not commit to an initiative that could save lives.
Today was forecast to be a hot one, though it didn’t quite arrive in South Leicestershire. Having nearly exhausted my cider supplies last night, during the cool of the morning I visited a nearly empty Co-op to replenish these essential rations, while Sue went to Lidl to restock the larder of more mundane items. Later I spent a pleasant couple of hours rubbing out buds on the vines to encourage the stronger grape bearing shoots. A thoughtful but relaxing activity which I perform each year with crossed-fingers, especially as a frost has been predicted for early next week.
During the evening, part of the Palmer tribe met on Messenger video chat and played Murder Mansion – Online Escape Room Game. Sarah had suggested it during the week as a lock-down diversion and Jamie, Ruth, Joey, Sarah, Lee and I met online at 7pm and tackled the problems set. The Rothwells have Saturday night set aside for Movie night so didn’t take part, I think it was an early night too, as they had a rather exhausting route march during the day to exercise Harry and the boys. Our task was to solve a murder through deciphering a legion of puzzles, it took us an hour and a half. Great fun, very wearing on the brain and I think afterwards we all felt mentally exhausted. We may do it again, the next Escape Room is centered on Chernobyl. Hopefully Jamie and I should have an advantage there.
Unfortunately, Sue’s sister fell over in their lovely garden in Buckfastleigh, damaged her foot and had to visit the hospital, luckily it turned out to be a bad sprain and not broken. Each day during lock-down they have photographed a different flower from their garden and posted it on face book, at present they are on no. 46. Perhaps peonies are unlucky flowers?
Another foray into the life and culture of a country:
Facts about Spain
- Although many foreigners see paella as the Spanish national dish, many Spaniards don’t. Most locals see the rice dish as a Valencian dish, not a national one.
- There’s no tooth fairy in Spain, instead when Spanish children lose a tooth they put it under their pillow for a magical mouse called Ratoncito Pérez.
- The national anthem of Spain has no words.
- Spaniards celebrate the New Year by eating one grape for each bell strike of the clock.
- Spain has more than 8,000 beaches.
- La Tomatina is a festival that is held in the Valencian town of Buñol in which participants throw tomatoes and get involved in a tomato fight.
- A zip-line connects Spain and Portugal. Crossing over the River Guadiana from Spain to Portugal and traveling at speeds between 70‑80 kilometres per hour. ’Flying through time’ and gaining one hour because of the time zone change between both countries.
- You might think that Greece or Italy produce most of the world’s olive oil, but in actual fact, it’s Spain.
- The majority of 1965 classic Doctor Zhivago was actually filmed in Spain. As the book was banned in Russia it could not be filmed there, and so a huge Moscow set was built just outside Madrid with artificial snow made from dust.