Nearly Normal.

19/04/21 UK Deaths: 4. Harborough Infected: 13. Travel from India to the UK is being banned for non-UK and non-Irish citizens from 4 am on Friday. More than 10 million people in the UK have now received their second dose of vaccine. Today quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand began.

Today is Jamie’s birthday, he celebrated it at Alton Towers on what turned out to be a warm and sunny day.

Sue played Petanque during the morning, returning jubilant after winning the tournament. I spent most of the day planting the last couple of rows of maincrop potatoes. Frustratingly, the rotavator starter cable unwound itself after the first 15 minutes of use, thus rendering the machine useless. Unwisely, I chose to do it the old-fashioned way with a fork and rake. Suffering under a cloudless sky I eventually completed the task with just enough energy left to water the emerging onions and shallots. Next time I will be less impatient and stop and fix the cable. I suspect I will sleep well tonight!

Charlotte spent the day adding a fire pit to the family’s re-modelled lower garden.

20/04/21 UK Deaths: 33. Harborough Infected: 13. France has become the first EU member state to begin testing a digital corona-virus travel certificate as part of a Europe-wide scheme. The certificate will be stored on a mobile phone, I wonder how they will overcome the problem of un-vaccinated people borrowing a mobile from a vaccinated person?

Today was another garden day; greenhouse glass cleaned and beetroot sown. Very proudly, Ellis was awarded a Silver Chief Scout certificate for his contributions to the pack.

21/04/21 UK Deaths: 22. Harborough Infected: 13. At least 100 fake corona-virus test certificates are used by UK arrivals every day, it is revealed. Why am I not surprised at this?

During the afternoon Sue rambled with the U3A group on a pleasant 4.5-mile tramp around nearby Gumley.

22/04/21 UK Deaths: 18. Harborough Infected: 11. India has reported more than 314,000 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours, beating the record previously set by the US in January.

Today normality seemed to return. With not a cloud in the sky, Sue and I journeyed to Ravensthorpe for a five-mile ramble. The village itself centres around the church of St. Denys and the Chequers pub and shop, the only history of significance seems to be of five witches found living there and hanged on 22 July 1612 at Abington Gallows, Northampton. This was the first recorded use of water-ordeal (ducking stool) in England to test witches.

Our ramble took us north out of the village along a well walked path through a mixture of meadow and newly sown arable farmland, passing through the tiny hamlet of Coton and by the 17th century Coton Manor House and gardens, outside of which a few inquisitive souls were queuing to enter this popular visitor attraction.

Alice is on her first-ever play date.

Following the lane downhill to Ravensthorpe, we branched off to follow the shoreline of the reservoir nestling in the shallow valley. A few other adventurers were enjoying this respite from Covid, some on the water with boat and rod hoping to catch a trout or two and others like ourselves stretching legs and filling lungs with fresh country air. There is something magical about the combination of water, sunshine and silence that brings peace to the soul and a smile to the lips. We crossed the head of the reservoir by walking the dam wall stopping to enjoy magnificent views across the water with its abundant wildlife. We returned to the shore by way of the boat hire lodge then made our way back via the west bank and the lane into the village. After a brief change of footwear, we visited the Chequers hoping for refreshments and lunch, attracted by the illuminated ‘OPEN’ sign we were disappointed that this only referred to the internal shop, the pub wouldn’t open until the evening. Not to be thwarted, on route back to Harborough we stopped at The Bull in Clipstone for what turned out to be a very hearty ‘al fresco lunch.

Keen to stay in the groove, during the afternoon we invited Jim and Bridget for drinks in the garden. A nice way to spend a warm sunny afternoon, with pleasant company, copious drinks and lots to talk about. We could get used to this, please!

23/04/21 UK Deaths: 40. Harborough Infected: 11. India is being ravaged by a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and is accelerating beyond anywhere else in the world. Relatives beg for help as oxygen supplies run out.

The day started early with a 7.30 am handover of Rocky and Nala. We will be entertaining them while Jamie, Joey and Ruth travel to Cheshire for a Glamping weekend. Thankfully, it was a lovely pair of shorts and a T-shirt wearing day, just right for my favourite pastime of dog walking. A morning

four miler was interrupted by lunch before a short two-miler in the afternoon. I followed this by first repairing the starter pulley on the rotavator before mowing the lawns, the mutts lay on rugs on the patio fast asleep, obviously exhausted by watching human activity!

What is wrong with this generation? I remember my first dog Jethro would have helped by passing me the tools and then following behind the mower and emptying the basket for me! Tut, tut, I blame the parents.

During the evening, Sue, I and Nala watched the Netflix film ‘Stowaway‘ (Rocky preferred sleep). A hugely entertaining effort, loosely based on an Apollo 13 scenario. And, that was what we found annoying. The plot of a lack of oxygen and a failure of the CO2 scrubber was a problem solved within hours by NASA scientists in 1970 without any loss of life. It seems that this is now beyond the wit of the present crop of boffins (fictional, at least). What is wrong with people today? I blame Hollywood and the American education system.

24/04/21 UK Deaths: 32. Harborough Infected: 10. Thousands of people have descended on central London for an anti-lockdown protest against Covid jabs and vaccine passports. The demonstrators were not wearing masks at the illegal gathering and demonstrators heckled shoppers wearing masks on Oxford Street. Are these people so dim that they do not know about what is presently happening in India and Brasil? Are they ignoring the 125000+ of their fellow citizens who presently aren’t able to exercise any civil liberties, because they have died of Covid-19? “Irony is wasted on the stupid”― Oscar Wilde

On another warmish day, the dogs were well walked, Sarah painted the fascia on her house, Jim and I watched England beat France in the final of the Women’s Six Nation and Tigers lose to Northampton, while Jamie and Joey celebrated their birthdays with a visit to some caves with Ruth.

25/04/21 UK Deaths: 11. Harborough Infected: 10. The British government is sending urgent shipments of medical equipment to India as a huge Covid wave overwhelms the country’s health services.

Fire-pit enjoyed by Jamie, Joey and Ruth.

Fire-pit enjoyed by Ellis.

Yummy toasted marshmallows.

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