Ukraine, Covid and Moving House

Jamie moved in with us on my birthday and after work, the following day drove to Bottesford to spend the weekend with Ruth to return to Willow Bank on Sunday night. With the easing of Covid rules, Ruth’s parents had flown from their home in France to spend a couple of weeks visiting family and friends and Sue and I were going to meet up with them, Ruth and Jamie for lunch at a village pub near Melton Mowbray. However, Jamie didn’t feel well on Sunday morning and after a Lateral Flow Test, discovered he had Covid! We had been looking forward to seeing Ruth’s parents but it was not to be and consequently Jamie had to isolate in Bottesford until he tested negative. His symptoms are feeling cold, a sore throat and cough, fingers are crossed he recovers quickly and has no after-effects.

It was 10 days before Jamie tested negative and was able to leave Bottesford, return to work and move back to Willow Bank. During that time I completed planting 8 rows of potatoes, 4 rows of onions and new turf was laid around the garden room. The sand was laid in readiness for slabs, but the weather wasn’t kind and frequent showers kept that job on hold. However, the furniture for the garden room arrived and was installed, though the final layout has yet to be decided.

There was intrigue in Newbold Verdon on the 9th when Sarah and her family were woken at 5 am by police from Liverpool. They were investigating the previous owner of their house who had died in mysterious circumstances. Sarah and Lee told the officers that they had been under the impression from the wife of the owner that he had died many years ago, well before the sale of the property. They left without digging up the patio in search of a body!

On the 10th of March, Jamie was contacted to do a podcast for Trading Nut USA.  The station has around 8,000 regular listeners who tune in to hear one-hour in-depth interviews with successful financial market traders. Awkwardly, the programme serves the American public and his interview is at 3 am. Tiring, but exciting times for him.

At the weekend I hosted a viewing of the England v Ireland ‘Six Nations’ fixture and afterwards, we walked into town to enjoy an Italian meal followed by refreshments in The Swan. The evening went some way to alleviating the disappointment of a heroic but losing performance after losing a player to a harsh red card in the first few seconds of the game.

An incident in Putin’s oppressed Russia supremely demonstrated that not all Russians are taken in by his lies and false accusations when the extremely brave Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at state-controlled Channel 1 interrupted a news broadcast by holding up a sign reading, “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.” She was questioned for 14 hours, not allowed sleep for two days, and fined 30,000 roubles (£214; $280) for her efforts. Too many Ukrainian and Russian lives have now been lost for this to end well for Vladimir Putin, befitting soviet history he needs a date with a bullet and an unmarked grave somewhere in Siberia.

Over the next week Sue and I set about furnishing the garden room, seating was purchased and put together, a breakfast bar was delivered and adapted to create a drinks bar and a coffee table, table football and air hockey game that have been dismantled in the shed for several years were cleaned and put back into operation and finally, a TV was installed. Unfortunately, the patio still couldn’t be laid as the ground was still too sodden and the occasional shower didn’t help.

From the middle of March, things got quite hectic. On the 17th I organised a trip to the Little Theatre in Leicester to see an ‘Up and Under’ performance with three friends. For the past ten years, the Cobblers Arms has been the best and most feared Amateur Rugby League team. Ex-pro Arthur bets their boss that he could train a bunch of deadbeats to defeat them in a local rugby sevens tournament. We travelled to Leicester using our bus passes before the performance had an excellent and authentic Keralian fish meal in the Kayal restaurant and travelled home by taxi. It was an excellent evening’s entertainment and must be repeated at some later date.

Jamie was now living at Willow Bank with Nala and Rocky staying with Ruth in Bottesford, but on the 18th the dogs arrived to stay with Sue and me until the following Sunday. As a Christmas present to the family, we had booked them all a weekend away in a large cottage in Norfolk, as only two dogs were permitted in the accommodation Harry and Mia were the lucky pooches, Nala and Rocky, plus the rabbits had to put up with Sue and me.  To add to the excitement, on the same day, Jamie and Ruth learnt that they would be moving house on the 25th and Charlotte and Suraj would be moving on the 31st.

All three families seemed to have had a great time, even managing to visit the seaside in Great Yarmouth on Saturday. However, because of the closeness of their moving date, early on the Sunday morning Jamie and Ruth returned to pick up the dogs, first collecting a large van from work and then I accompanied them to Bottesford where we packed it with as much furniture as we could and transported it to our garage at Willow Bank. The idea is that Janie will take it to the new house using a friend’s lorry from there on the moving date. The rest of the family spent the Sunday visiting Bury St. Edmunds and Norwich.

We achieved the packing of the van by midday and Jamie and I also managed to have Sunday lunch at the Langton Inn on the way home. Storing the furniture in the garage went reasonably well, though my Fiesta has to live on the driveway for the week.

On the 21st I again caught the bus to Leicester, but this time for an eye appointment at the General Hospital. On the way home I managed to buy some tins of exotic fruit from an Asian food store as well as some fresh, blueberries and peaches from the open-air market. Later that evening I wasn’t feeling too great, cold and aching so opted for an early night.

The following morning I was still feeling grotty. Charlotte and I had arranged to have lunch (my Christmas present) in a local pub but she too was feeling unwell and rang to say she had food poisoning after consuming a rather iffy Chinese take-away the previous evening. However, by then I had taken a Lateral Flow Test and informed her that it had been positive. We both took to our beds. My particular symptoms are feeling cold, back, hips and abdomen pain and occasional sniffles and sneezes, no loss of smell or taste and I still have my appetite, Ibuprofen has proven to be a godsend!

Whilst away in Norfolk the building work at Sarah and Lee’s place continued with the floors being screed and the electrics put in, when they returned the installation of kitchen units began in earnest.

History tells us that in an autocracy, the people in power surround themselves with those they consider loyal and not a threat. In reality, they are ‘yes men’, providing answers that they believe will further their position and be acceptable to the one in charge. However, this gradually removes them from a sense of reality and decisions are made from false premises, usually resulting in the oppression of the population and the loss of many lives. Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine is such an example and like those of his kind, he is now turning against those who gave him the advice he wanted to hear. Even with the modern prevalence of ‘fake news’ it seems that the war is not going well for Putin, currently, six Russian Generals have been killed, morale among his soldiers is low, with many choosing not to fight when meeting opposition. Threatening NATO with the nuclear option has resulted in the formation of four new battle groups in countries on Russia’s borders and a flood of arms into Ukraine from many democracies. The Russian economy is slowly being trashed and its citizens are being treated as pariahs by much of the rest of the world. Vladimir (born: 7th Oct. 1952), has had 69 years in which to be remembered by the citizens of this planet as one of its greatest benefactors and leaders, yet he has chosen differently. The world is in a much worse place because of the existence of this despot, unforgivably he is responsible for the deaths of thousands in Russia and the rest of the world and he must be put an end to by those closest to him who still have a shred of humanity.

On the 24th Sue felt a little unwell and tested positive for Covid-19, coincidentally having just recently returned from Egypt, her sister Philippa also tested positive though her husband did not (yet). I continued to improve and as it was a warm sunny day, I ventured into the garden, mowed the lawns, and prepared for the laying of the patio.

Another lovely day followed but it needed to be. As expected, Paul joined Philippa in the Covid-19 club within just one day. Jamie appeared at Willow Bank early in the morning, he had spent his last night in Bottesford before moving to the new house in Waltham on the Wolds. He arrived with his friend Bill and a lorry, Sue and I kept well at a safe distance out of the way while they started emptying our garage of its temporary furnishings. They set off on the first run north around 10 am, before they returned mid-afternoon I spent some time enjoying the sun in the garden while Sue attempted to sleep Covid-19 away. It was during my garden pottering that Charlotte arrived with a Mother’s Day present which she safely deposited onto the front doorstep. One more run was made with Bill and the lorry before Jamie made a final solo run in his car later that night. Maddeningly, Ruth tested positive, which added to the difficulties of the day and put into jeopardy their upcoming trip to Canada.

More journeys between Harborough and Waltham-on-the-Wolds were made by Jamie over the weekend as he slowly reduced the paraphernalia stored in the garage, shed and rooms of Willow Bank. Poor Ruth held the fort back at the new house but Covid-19 took its toll and she soon became exhausted, needing frequent naps.

I continued to lay slabs each day, a repetitive boring task. I saw little of Sue during the daylight hours as though the days were warm and pleasant, she felt grotty and cold and was reluctant to venture far from the bedroom. On Tuesday, I completed the patio to the front of the garden room and emptied the greenhouse of all but one small rabbit hutch in readiness for the arrival of Charlotte’s hens. Late in the afternoon my eldest daughter and her brood arrived with a henhouse and essential equipment. Our little glasshouse zoo is growing, sadly leaving my tomato plants sitting in their propagator located on the dining room window, gazing forlornly through the glass at their ‘not for now’ home.

The last day of March turned out to be very eventful. On the day energy prices rose; ours from £71 a month to £117, free Lateral Flow Tests ended, Charlotte and family moved home and to cap it all, it snowed. The problem with being in a long chain meant that the house move didn’t happen until the afternoon, by then the moving firm employed by the buyers of Charlotte’s house was causing issues. From 10 am they had been parked outside and it wasn’t long before they were threatening to deposit the contents of the removal van onto the pavement. They were Eastern European and spoke very little English and did not understand the system of house exchange in the UK. “Our poor buyer’s removers

Patio finished!

tried to dump their belongings in a snowstorm in the street so we had them move in on the top floor as it was the only floor clear while we were trying to pack and get out. Utter chaos!

Sarah, Sue and I  had been planning to help them out on the day, but Covid put paid to that. Harry was scheduled to be looked after by a neighbour during the move, but again Covid raised its god-forsaken head and the poor confused dog had to spend time in the car. It was well into the night before Charlotte, Suraj and the boys accomplished their move.





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