It has served its purpose.

On March 20th 2020 I began a detailed record of what I thought would (and turned out to be) a significant world event, with a blog entitled: ‘Surviving Corona-virus‘. Not supposing for one moment that the pandemic would continue for any considerable amount of time, I duly chronicled family and world events every few days and titled them ‘Living in Lock-down‘, numbering them in sequence. There was plenty of news to report on and the blogs duly reached number 41 by the 4th of July 2020. With the world beginning to settle down into some sort of resigned ‘new normality’ I reflected this by continuing to report on daily developments, but only publishing weekly. Though the virus is not by any means finished with, we homo sapiens have devised a means of its end and it is reassuring. As was always going to be the case, the poor and the disadvantaged of this planet were going to be hardest hit and this is where we find ourselves now. The UK, along with other rich and technologically developed countries have struggled their way to a position where their governments treat the virus with deadly respect and its citizens now accept some restrictions on their lives. We are the fortunate ones; friends and neighbours are not dying in ‘run-away’ numbers as in India, Brasil, Mexico etc., etc. and I feel it is now time to return this ‘Family Blog’ to its original aspiration, ‘as a record of important events and experiences of the Palmer family.’

The previous 90 blogs have served more than one purpose, besides being a reflection of current events, the writing of them has been a means whereby I have personally been able to make some sense of the horror that has been taking place. It has been an inoculation against the endlessly depressing news and mind-deadening effect of a denial of freedom that a restriction of movement provokes. When many have suffered through tragic loss, others from the drip, drip, drip of frightening statistics or from living a surreal and unsettling existence wrought by the COVID-19 virus, these blogs have been my therapy and I think I no longer need them. Well, not so frequently.

With an easing of restrictions, the family have been able to meet up more often and broaden their horizons with a bit of UK travelling. It began on May 23rd with Sarah’s birthday and a celebration with Sunday lunch to the Dovecote in Narborough.

The following couple of days was a busy and anxious time for Ruth. She was completing her Chartered Surveyor’s qualification with a final exam. Because of Covcid-19, the questions were sent to her and she was given 24 hours to answer them online. As with her course essays, before the presentation, she passed them to me to check for any misspellings etc. Not having much idea of what she was writing about, her answers and reasoning seemed good, so we are quite hopeful she has done well.

Lucas and Ellis have different academic patterns which often creates problems for Charlotte and Suraj, thankfully that will change this coming year when they both attend the same school. On the 24th of May Charlotte enjoyed some ‘one on one time with Lucas on a day out to Drayton Manor Park, though she did profess to getting wet and feeling quite sick on some of the rides. I know the feeling!!!

On the 26th of May, Sue and Bridget enjoyed a U3A ramble around North Kilworth, the horrible, cold weather of the previous months had made way for a much drier and sunnier pattern and this has continued to date.

Things got decidedly busier at Willow Bank on the 29th of May when Rocky and Nala arrived for the weekend and shortly afterwards Mia

made an appearance and would stay for the week. Jamie and Ruth were spending the weekend in London while Sarah, Lee and Alice had booked a cottage in the Cotswolds. That afternoon I discovered the three dogs shared my passion for rugby, during the afternoon they diligently sat with me on the sofa and watched enthralled as Tigers beat Worcester Warriors. It meant a week of early morning wake-ups, long doggy walks and three pairs of eyes watching every morsel I ate backed up with lots of canine cuddles. I do enjoy their company, their waggy tails always let you know they are pleased to see you.

From their base in the Cotswolds near to Cirencester, Sarah and her family had a lovely time visiting many of the attractions that the area has to offer. On return home at the end of their stay, on the 2nd June, they celebrated Alice’s first birthday. Doesn’t time seem to fly by? As a treat, they visited the National Sea-life Centre in Birmingham. On the same day, Sue joined her U3A Nature group for a rather humid and exhausting morning visit to Wilbarston, causing her to cancel her planned afternoon ramble from Lubenham.

The following evening I attended a garden party at Sean’s, this format is now going to be a substitute for our long-time now-defunct pool evenings at the closed Catholic Club (a casualty of Covid). It was nice to meet old chums and catch up with news, of course with that many wise heads on offer, we put the world’s wrongs to right.

The following day, much to the family’s surprise, Jamie had his first Pfizer vaccination. He is terrified of injections and it was a worry that he wouldn’t, but after much family cajoling and accompanied by Ruth and Joey he managed to suppress his fears. That evening at Willow Bank we and our neighbours were treated to a disturbed evening as our resident Muntjac barked out his call for a mate in the field over the river.

Ellis was on holiday which gave Charlotte an opportunity for some ‘one on one time to take him to the Aqua Park at Rutland Water. She finished the day very sore and wet!

The family met up in Newbold Verdon to attend Alice’s Covid restricted birthday party on the 6th of June. With lots of friends, neighbours and Lee’s family also attending, to stay within legal regulations (outside no more than 30) there was a morning and an afternoon party. Though it was a scorching hot day, a marquee and several shady parasols in the garden ensured we all managed to stay cool. The Palmer clan had the morning slot. We had brought Doreen (a family friend) along with us, so during the afternoon, we returned her home while Jamie, Ruth and Joey went on to Tamworth to snowboard.

On the 7th of June, I caught the bus into Leicester to have a scan on my left eye to check on how well the injection had worked. Unlike previous appointments, I had to wait over an hour for a 30-second scan, however, I count myself very lucky as many require much more urgent treatment than I are not getting appointments. I now wait for a doctor to look at the scan and decide what next, but I can see that it has worked and am grateful for that. The rest of that week was a very busy one for Sue, with a string of rambles and nature visits. On a lovely warm Thursday evening, I hosted a garden party for chums. I provided cheeses, pork pies and pickled onions as nibbles, with

a reminiscing quiz of 1970’s number one music hits. It would have been greatly beneficial to the G7 Summit who were presently meeting in Cornwall if they had joined us. We appear to have no problems finding solutions to all the major world problems, AND they missed out on my homemade pickled onions. It is their loss! That morning, Sue had a brilliant time visiting the Titchmarsh Nature Reserve in Thrapston gravel pits to see its abundant wildlife.

On the 11th June Sarah travelled to Cleethorpes with her friends Chloe and Abbie. They had a great time on their annual ‘girlie weekend’, even managing to paddle-board, without drowning!

On the 12th of June, I joined Charlotte, Suraj and Ellis in Grendon, at the Conflict Paintball activity centre. We spent around 3 hours charging around in various defending and attacking scenarios in the woods next to the lake. Charlotte and I were in the Red team and Suraj and Ellis in Blue. I got hit twice, once from ‘friendly’ fire!!! It was Ellis’s first time and like myself, think it was great fun.

Jamie has sold his R8, the family is now wondering what he will replace it with. Ruth and Joey recently spent a week at nearby Waterloo Lakes in the caravan that she has renovated herself. I visited them when I had Mia for the day and they returned to Willow Bank with me for sandwiches and to play petanque with Sue and me in the garden.

It is traditional for us to travel up to North Wales on the 16th June and visit Caergwrle Castle where I scattered my mother’s ashes on her birthday. This year, Charlotte and Sarah were unable to travel, so Sue and I made the journey on the 14th on our own. After first having a picnic at the castle we had a short ramble around the castle grounds before exploring the village itself. We got into conversation with a local gentleman who tried to sell us a couple of his goats after we had stopped to admire them. It turned out that he knew my Welsh relatives well and in further conversation, we discovered that we had been to school together in Abermorddu. As we left, he kindly gave Sue four fresh eggs for her breakfast. Later, we moved on to visit friends Noel and Gay in Mold and passed the eggs onto them.

That evening after checking in at the Holt Lodge Hotel, we had a meal at the Hare in nearby Farndon and then had a pleasant walk around the ruins of Holt Castle.

Bryn Villa 1800’s

Bryn Villa today

Over the two lock-downs, I have been researching the genealogy on my mother’s line. I have managed to get back as far as 1495, on this trip, I intended to explain the family tree to my mother’s two sisters Josie and Doreen then take them to see where one of our ancestors lived, Charles Parsonage (1797-1868) and his wife Harriet lived. To that end, the following morning I picked up the two sisters and took them to Bryn Villa near Isacoed. Harriet had moved here from Lower Hall where she lived with her husband before he died, no doubt opting for a more manageable place to live. The present occupant of the villa, despite just returning from the hospital with his wife, proved to be very helpful, providing a couple of photos of the original building and giving us a tour of the grounds (paying special attention to his prize onions). Just a little way down the lane was Lower Hall itself, a large imposing building with extensive grounds, once an important building in the area.

Lower Hall 1800’s

Lower Hall today

When we arrived, the present owner was standing in the driveway, talking to a worker cutting down a tree that was causing a problem. She turned out to be a lovely lady and very helpful. She took the time to explain what she knew of the history of the building and provided me with some relevant ancient documentation. After quite a long discussion we left and headed towards Holt and the Cleopatra Bistro where I treated my aunts to lunch and then a drink in the Hollybush on the way back to Caergwrle. It was a lovely and very informative trip. During the evening, Sue and I had dinner in the hotel as we felt too tired to try and find a restaurant in lock-down emerging Wales.

After breakfast we set off on a gentle 3-mile ramble from the hotel, taking us through some pretty Denbighshire farmland. On return, we drove to St. Andrew’s church in Holt, where we scoured the churchyard in vain to find a headstone with the name Parsonage. Undeterred, we moved on to St. Paul’s church in Isacoed and had more luck, coming across several headstones with the family name. Yet again, we got into a lengthy conversation with a local lady who promised to send us a list of all the occupants of the graveyard for my research. Very friendly people live in this area. With all our objectives (and more) now satisfied, we drove the lengthy journey back to Harborough.

Rather worryingly, as the number of infections has risen dramatically over the country, over previous weeks Harborough has remained rather immune to it all, however, the last couple of days have seen the trend lurch steeply upwards.

The coronavirus pandemic is growing “exponentially”, spreading mainly amongst younger age groups who have not yet received a vaccine, according to a study published today.

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