25/01/20 UK deaths: 592. Current Market Harborough infections: 281. DOWN from last week 243. Moderna says its Covid-19 vaccine is effective against the new and more infectious variants of corona-virus found in the UK and South Africa. López Obrador, who has been criticized for his handling of Mexico’s pandemic and for not setting an example of prevention in public, has tested positive for COVID-19. A parallel perhaps with the ex-president just over the wall.
As expected we woke to a perfect winter’s day, blue skies, glittering sun and a thick blanket of pristine sugar frosting, dazzling the eyes from the ground to treetops. Content to wring out the last vestiges of warmth trapped between duvet and mattress, I rose much later than Sue. By 10 am we were carving footprints up the driveway, keen to experience the thrill of proper winter weather, rather than the dull, muddy and soggy affair dished up by the Met Office so far this year. There were few people about and very little traffic risking the treacherous road conditions (didn’t they grit last night?) Those walkers not accompanied by dogs had chosen to include cameras with their thermals, seemingly desperate not to miss out on a rare opportunity to capture a memory of how beautiful this world can be.
We ‘played safe’ and chose to ramble within the confines of the town, keeping well within Covid restrictions and avoiding the treacherous driving conditions. Following Harborough’s Millennium Mile we passed through a relatively empty Welland Park, a very quiet town centre and market before passing over the River Welland by way of the train station and heading up the road towards Great Bowden. I chose to deviate briefly to investigate the disused church of Mary in Arden while Sue plodded on, finding the going difficult in wellies and not wishing to risk the drifts piled up behind headstones.
Reaching the village we picked a path that took us over the main railway line and through fields in which Jamie and Ruth had yesterday chosen to snowboard. The overnight snow had made the piste fresh and deep, giving a few early sledgers plenty of slope to have fun on. We made our way diagonally across the various ‘runs’, heading resolutely towards the rear of Ridgeway School, avoiding a disaster from careering human missiles, gripped by enthusiasm and gravity.
The rest of our ‘exercise’ was completed through the northern estate and town centre before we retraced our steps back down a near virgin Willow Bank driveway indicating that we had had no visitors during the last two hours (not even the postman!)
To amuse ourselves, in the evenings we are both discovering our roots. I renewed a previous subscription to Ancestry.com and am now engaged in tracking down my family heritage, Sue is conversing (by email) with several relatives who have created family trees and is using the information to expand her own. On a plus point, lock-down does give you the time to reflect and engage in activities that are so often put off in saner times.
26/01/20 UK deaths: 1631. Current Market Harborough infections: 450. DOWN from last week 90. Corona-virus deaths in the UK have now reached 100,162. A doctor from the Wuhan hospital hit hardest by the Covid-19 epidemic has said he and colleagues suspected the virus was highly transmissible in early January last year, weeks before Chinese authorities admitted it, but were prevented from warning anyone.
It was a year ago today (reminded by Facebook) that we visited an indigenous Amazonian tribe in a remote Brazilian settlement in the jungle. It had taken us a couple of hours in a fast speedboat from Manaus to reach the village. The city had been the hardest hit by the first wave of coronavirus in the country, the hospitals had quickly failed to cope with the number of infections and the dead were soon piled into mass graves. The tribe we were privileged to visit were being protected from outside influences, our visit only took place under strict governmental supervision. Of those in the inserted photo, I sincerely hope that has been the case and they have not been touched by this pandemic.
27/01/20 UK deaths: 1725. Current Market Harborough infections: 437. DOWN from last week 47. The number of corona-virus cases recorded around the world has passed 100 million. The Prime Minister confirmed that arrivals from “red list” countries will be sent to quarantine hotels for 10 days, passengers will be “met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine”. This has been a long time coming and should have happened last March! The EU has urged pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca to supply it with more doses of its Covid-19 vaccine from UK plants, amid a row over shortages. I guess that is the inevitable consequence of trusting politicians who rely on a bloated bureaucracy incapable of making quick and decisive decisions.
28/01/20 UK deaths: 1239. Current Market Harborough infections: 420. UP from last week 100. The UK’s Vaccine Taskforce has secured early access to a vaccine produced by Valneva with manufacturing beginning today. A deal has been reached for an initial 60 million doses with the option for a further 130 million if the vaccine is approved by regulators. Travel to the UK from the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda will be banned to prevent the spread of the COVID variant first found in South Africa.
With the snow gone, the river in flood and the sun starting to add a little warmth to the day, it seemed like a good time for a short ramble. Restricted to just our locality, we decided to visit the closest trig point at the top of Clack Hill on the outskirts of the town. Our route took us west through the southern part of the town, passing by our first ever house ‘Cartrefle’, situated next to the River Jordan in Little Bowden. We crossed over the Leicester to London Rail line by way of a huge monstrosity of a pedestrian bridge, crazily over-engineered and no doubt at an unbelievable cost This
ugly green structure may be a convenience for the residents, but it is such a horrible eyesore.
Reaching the foot of Clack Hill we slogged our way steeply upwards along the Kettering Road, passing what is one of the largest housing estates in the town, built around 20 years ago. A footpath begins near to the top and skirts the edge of the housing, then leads after a short distance to the new A6 bypass. Halfway along this path, we hopped over some low fencing into the field containing the still hidden from view trig point. It became quite breezy as we approached our goal, thankfully helping to combat the heat generated by thermal clothing and the exertion of hill climbing. We stood a while, observing the various buildings in the town below, playing a game of who could identify what and grumbling at the number of new developments, spoiling our once lovely Market Town. The trail back, took us through the sprawling estate below and on into the town centre, before following the flooded River Welland, home to Willow Bank.
Sadly, last evening we heard that a friend from our trip to Nepal a few years ago had passed away. Sarah lived with her mother in London and helped her run a pub near King’s Cross Station. She had such a bubbly character and was so full of life until tragically, she was struck down with cancer. And as if there isn’t enough grief in the world, today I showed my respects to a very old friend from the Rugby Club. I stood with many other members and past players along Gorse Lane (the site of the original club) as Jack’s funeral cortege passed by on its way to the crematorium. So sad that in the present climate we are prevented from fully showing our appreciation of those that we have had the privilege of knowing and counted as dear friends.
29/01/20 UK deaths: 1245. Current Market Harborough infections: 483. UP from last week 123.
During the morning we had a fleeting visit from Charlotte who had been working in Desborough and had taken the opportunity to drop by and pick up some ash from the wood-burner for her chickens, plus a few bags of sweets Sue had bought for the boys. In the afternoon we decided on a cycle ride down the Brampton Valley Way which follows the disused railway line. It was a gentle, flat, 6.5-mile pedal, which got us out of the house (legally) and burnt off a few calories. We cycled as far as the first tunnel then turned around, the track at this point had become a stream, fed by the run-off from saturated fields on either side. In the evening we watched an excellent film called ‘The Dig’, it had been released that day on Netflix and is based on the Anglo-Saxon royal burial site discovered at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk just before the outbreak of World War 2. After viewing, we resolved to visit the site when lock-down is finished and it is safe to travel.
30/01/20 UK deaths: 1200. Current Market Harborough infections: 368. UP from last week 114. The World Health Organisation has urged the UK and other wealthy nations to pause their mass vaccination drives once vulnerable groups are protected to ensure a fair global rollout. Noble sentiments indeed, but I fear the plea will fall wholly on deaf ears.
A miserable, cold sleety day made bearable by the internet, Netflix and the return of live rugby on the TV.
31/01/20 UK deaths: 587. Current Market Harborough infections: 411. UP from last week 113. Almost 600,000 people in the UK were vaccinated against Covid-19 on Saturday, a daily record for the vaccine programme.