Friday 31 December 2021

Happy New Year

Friday 24 December 2021

 Merry Christmas

Tuesday 24 August 2021

More records broken

I have never paid too much attention to the viewing statistics for my blog, but now the way blogger have set things up it is hard to avoid them.  Last month I could not help but notice that my blog's viewing figures were going up by leaps and bounds until on consecutive days the number of views hit over one thousand. I am certain that this has never happened before. After that hiatus the viewing figures continued to be high for several days. However, they have now dropped back to what I consider to be normal levels. It is hard to work out why I was getting so many hits, as they are not all reading my latest post and it is not as if the views are translating into comments. That is partly because I have set things up so that  comments can only be made on the last three posts that I have published, which is to prevent the undesirable comments that get left on my blog now and again.

Several of my posts have had more than one thousands views, but it has taken months, if not years for them to achieve that many views. For some time my most viewed post was Where's the tooth fairy? which is about my experiences of the initial stages of a dental implant procedure. I had intended to write a follow up post when the work was finished, but somehow never got round to it and now it is too long ago for me to remember all the detail. Currently my the post with the most views is The home strait about my elderly mother and her care home, which is an experience that a lot of us have had to cope with. These post were published in 2011 and 2010 respectively. Thankfully there have been no more dental implants and my mother died nearly ten years ago.

Life still has its' ups and downs. Currently we are having a down and are in limbo. When I know the direction of travel I shall post about it.

Thursday 22 July 2021

Hitting the ton

Here in the UK we are having a heatwave and the temperature on our patio is regularly reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I have to say that I quite like the heat and I am enjoying myself pottering around in the garden, dressed for the beach. So while some of Europe is mopping up after torrential rain and floods, we are basking in the sun. It is usually the other way round. We have the rain and floods and Europe has the heat. If this is anything to do with Brexit, I am all for it. I know that this good weather will not last. It never does in this country. Thunderstorms are forecast for the weekend. The rain will be good for the garden, although our lawn has not turned brown, probably because we have had an awful lot of rain this year. The baking heat has turned our wettest flowerbed with its bog like clay soil into something which is more like a rock than soil with a small earthquake thrown in for good measure. Thankfully we only have one flower bed like that. The other flower beds do not have such heavy soil.

Shortly I shall be out to catch some more rays as this maybe the closest we are going to get to a holiday in the sun this year, although we do have a holiday booked for a few weeks time.

Sunday 11 July 2021

1066 or 1966?

It was 1966. 30 July 1966 to be precise, when England won the World Cup.

Some of us can still remember it. And for my generation, I am sure that England winning the World Cup in 1966 is a feat that can not be beaten.That is not to take anything away from the achievements of the current England team. I wish them luck for this evening.

Friday 9 July 2021

In case you were wondering......


In the absence of anything else to do I have been spending time in the garden.

No need for social distancing or to wear a mask. 

The easing of restrictions has not made much difference to us. As we are usually away a lot, when we are at home we do not go out much. Consequently there has not been very little to write about recently.

Tuesday 23 March 2021

The way we are

Spring is in the air but, I am not entirely sure that Winter is done with us. Some days have been pleasant and sunny, while others have been cloudy and windy. However, we have managed to spend some welcome time in the garden.

Today is a year since England went into its first lockdown and it has being marked by a National Day of Reflection. We are now starting to ease our way out of our third lockdown. Schools went back two weeks ago and we have a timetable for the opening of  hairdressers, non-essential shops, gyms and hospitality etc. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own plans, which are similar but different to England’s plans. During the coronavirus pandemic the three devolved governments have gone out of their way to be awkward and do things differently to England. However, their tactics have not given them a better outcome from the pandemic, with regard to infection rates and the number of deaths. My feelings are that it would have been better if the UK’s response to the pandemic had been managed from London. Then the whole country would have moved in and out of lockdown at the same time. Northern Ireland have managed things in the only the way that the Irish would - you probably need to be British to understand that sentiment. Scotland’s response has been chaotic and difficult to fathom with Nicola Sturgeon showing her true colours. While Wales have flipped in and out of lockdown as often as most people change their socks. Why am I bothered by this? - because we  live near Chester, two miles from the border with Wales and whatever the Welsh do has an impact on us. People from Chester work in Wales and vice versa. So if infection rates go up over the border, they will probably also go up over here. Last week Wales eased its lockdown ahead of Mother’s Day allowing families to meet up. Something we were not allowed to do here in England. In two to three weeks time, Wales will probably have a spike in infections resulting from Mother’s Day socialising. I see that Anglesey already has seen increased infection rates. I can't wait for the hairdressers to open, as I just want to get my hair cut.

Coronavirus vaccinations continue to be a hot topic of conversation with the shenangihans in the European Union causing concern not only in Europe, but worldwide. Mainland Europe is currently experiencing a third wave of infections leading to more lockdowns and restrictions. All exacerbated by the slow rollout of the vaccine there. Delayed supplies of the vaccines and worries about side effects being the most recent excuses to poke a political finger at the UK. This carton from The Times of Wednesday 17 March 2021 says it all.

The problem is the contract that the EU have with AstraZeneca. They negotiated on price which has put them at the back of the queue whereas the UK negotiated on vaccine availability, putting them at the front of the queue. The Europeans clearly do not understand the concept of queueing. We all know about the German towels on the sunbed.

Meanwhile back in the UK, the hiatus after the murder of Sarah Everard seems to have died down. I am not saying that her death was not a tragedy, but I seem to be missing something. At the time of her murder the whole country was in lockdown and we are still not allowed to meet anyone indoors. We can only meet one person outdoors, so what was she doing visiting a friend?  When I was around her age I too lived in London and probably walked home alone late at night, but I lived in a different area of London. I would never have walked around Brixton alone, even in daylight. The vigil on the Saturday evening broke the coronavirus regulations. The police were right to break up the crowds and despite all the fuss about their tactics, only four people were arrested.

The other issue still rumbling on is the Meg and Haz side show. Here in the UK people are not that interested. We are currently lockdown in a pandemic and have more important things to think about than two self centred and privileged individuals complaining about how badly life has treated them. After all, we lived through the events and saw then reported in the media at the time. I watched the interview, if you could call it an interview, so that I could make up my own mind about what they had to say. It was more like a conversation with Meghan steering it in the direction that she wanted it to go. It had taken them 15 months to write the script and learn their lines. Everything was twisted to fit the distorted narrative that they want to peddle. If Meghan had ever read a Jane Austen novel she would have understood the lot of a younger son, but she realised too late that she had signed up for a bit part rather than the starring role. The media is awash with stories of Meghan's erratic behaviour - they can't all be wrong. Every time I see her petulant face I see Wallis Simpson - that other American divorcee who caused the last constitutional crisis in 1936. One can only imagine how unbelievably let down and betrayed Prince William must feel. These tell all interviews rarely end well. They are probably already, regretting that they did it.

Friday 5 February 2021

Getting the needle

Here at the moment, the hot conversation topic seems to be the coronavirus vaccine roll out. Well it is either that or the more depressing infection rate or daily death toll. Last week's spat with the EU over the export of vaccines to the UK has spiced things up and shown the EU bullies that the world is watching them and is not impressed with their behaviour. The UK continues with its' speedy rollout - showing the rest of the world how it should be done. Their aim is to have offered every over 70 their first vaccination by mid February and it is looking as if they are on target to meet that deadline.
Ten days ago husband's brother in law, who was 72 last month and is seven months older than husband, received his appointment to have his first vaccination on Monday of this week. So, of course husband started to wonder when he would get his invite. On Tuesday a letter arrived for husband from the NHS, providing him with the information that he needed to make an appointment for his first vaccination. He wasted no time in logging into the necessary website, only to find that appointments were only available at a branch of Boots in the centre of Chester. Alternatively, the letter said that he could wait until his GP practice contacted him, which is what he decided to do, as we had heard that they were using a vaccination centre, which had been set up in a church hall nearer to us than the centre of Chester. Well, he did not have long to wait as on Tuesday lunchtime our GP surgery telephoned  offering him an appointment late on Wednesday afternoon. After a bit of dithering, as it was a slightly inconvenient time, he accepted and asked if I could go with him, although I am not over 70. So, it was agreed that we could go together. Really he needed me to hold his hand, because he does not like needles.
We left home at 5 pm on Wednesday afternoon for the 20 minute drive to the vaccination centre and were back home before 6 pm. Arriving early for our 5.30 appointment, marshalls in the car park indicated the parking options and explained the one way system in operation. At the door to the church hall we were greeted by a volunteer with hand sanitiser. Then another volunteer directed us to the desk handling our GP practice. Several GP practices are using this vaccination centre. Once checked in we were handed a questionnaire and shepherded into a queue for the vaccination. The queue moved remarkably quicky and within five minutes of arriving we had both been injected with the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine. But we were not quite done, we then had to spend 15 minutes in the post vaccination observation area. Before we could access this area a label with our exit time was stuck to the sleeve of our anoraks by another volunteer. This area was in a draughty marquee that had been erected at the back of the hall and was the worst bit of the whole process. Just to take our mind off things we had been given a leaflet about the vaccine to read. It was 5.30 in the evening, in the middle of the UK Winter with the outside temperture being five degrees Celsius. After that it took me all night to get warm! 

Now we just have to wait for the antibodies to do their business and the appointment for the second vaccination.
All in all, it was an impressively slick operation.

Tuesday 12 January 2021

2020 hindsight

Here in the UK we are lockdown once again, so I thought that I would look back on some of the events of the last twelve months.

Well, what a year it was! I am not sure that hindsight is of much use now. Foresight would have been more useful a year ago, but if any of us had seen in a crystal ball what 2020 had to offer,  how many of us would even have got out of bed last January?

About a year ago we set off for Cape Town. So as the pandemic kicked off in China we were reliant on the internet for news as we travelled around South Africa. I am sure that everywhere that we stayed had a television in the bedroom but we do not usually watch television when we are away from home. In fact we do not even watch much television when we are at home. We were aware of the situation in China but had no idea of what it would escalate into. No one did. Initially the weather was good and we enjoyed the blue skies and sunshine of the Western Cape. We didn't have a care in the world as we enjoyed a day's wine tour around Franschhoek with lunch at Richard Branson's Mont Rochelle vineyard, where the scenery is absolutely stunning.

The good weather was not to last. During our drive along the Garden Route the weather gods decided to end South Africa's drought with spectacular thunderstorms, torrential rain and power cuts. Maybe we should have seen this as a harbinger of what was to come. After Port Elizabeth we flew to the Victoria Falls for a couple of days. There the weather was dry. At Johannesburg airport we saw a group of Chinese people being taken to one side.  I think by now the whole world saw all Chinese as carriers of this virus which had infected so many people in China. The last six nights of our holiday were spent in the Seychelles, where every day we had yet more thunderstorms and rain. After nearly four weeks away we were glad to return home on February 1, to a UK that had just left the EU although there were no obvious changes at Manchester airport. We had managed to avoid delayed flights and quarantine and no one seemed to be bothered about where we had been, but then Big Brother Emirates knew exactly when and where we were flying to and from. I just hoped that we did not get burgled.

Back in the UK it was cold, grey and wet. We seemed to have brought the South African rain back with us. From the edge of our seats, we watched the television news as coronavirus spread west from China. Here life was normal. We could socialise, shop for non essential items and go to the hairdresser. But for how long? Countries in Europe were locking down.  Horrified we watched as hospitals in Italy, Spain and France were overwhelmed by cases of the virus. It was only a matter of time before coronavirus reached our shores. We are an island. Someone would kindly import it for us even though the government set up isolation centres for travellers returning to the UK from hot spots, in an attempt to contain the virus. By the third week in March the battle was lost and the UK was also locked down as the number of coronavirus infections started to climb.

At first lockdown was a bit of a novelty. There was not much traffic on the roads, people were polite and kept their distance and restricted numbers in the supermarket made shopping a less unpleasant experience and the weather played its' part by being dry and sunny. This meant that we could spend time in the garden in addition to our allowed essential exercise of a walk around the village. Away from our Cheshire bubble things were grim, as the number of infections and deaths continued to rise. And so life went on. Holidays which had been booked and looked forward to for some time were cancelled and re-arranged. We naively thought that it would all be over in a few months and that life would return to normal. Then when we thought that things were improving as the infection rate dropped, we were instructed to wear face masks in shops, public transport and enclosed spaces. I am not a fan of mask wearing, but maybe the powers that be were right to insist on us wearing them. Everyday different scientists would pop up advising on what we should and shouldn't be doing. All seemed to be experts in their fields. Who knew that we had so many professors?

Over the summer the lockdown was relaxed, as the number of coronavirus infections fell and life became a bit more normal. We were even allowed to have a foreign holiday and we were fortunate enough to manage a week away on the Greek island of Crete at the beginning of September. But there were still rules to be abided by and that was the problem. Many did not follow the rules. In particular the young, who in general get away with an asymptomatic or mild dose of the virus. We were lucky enough to return from Crete just hours before England brought in quarantine rules for travellers returning from Crete, which had been necessitated by young people returning from the island with the virus, having partied the night away while on holiday. By mid September the second wave of the pandemic was starting in the UK as infection rate began to go up again and some parts of the country were under local restrictions. In October a tiered system of restrictions was brought in covering all of England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had their own restrictions set out by their devolved governments. My husband and I had been shocked to see on the TV, places where people were partying in the street, hugging and kissing one another against all the rules. And the authorities were letting them get away with it. Infection rates continued to climb resulting in a one month lockdown during Novmber, in the hope of saving Christmas. It did bring the numbers down, only for them to go up again in December.

In the run up to Christmas the restrictions were tightened as the number of infections rose, but there were still plans to relax the rules for five days over the Christmas bank holiday. Then the weekend before Christmas the bombshell was dropped that a new more infectious variant had been identified and was spreading rapidly around London and the south east of England. These areas were effectively lockdown overnight leaving Christmas plans in ruins. As the news of this new variant spread countries in Europe and around the world banned travellers from the leper colony that was the UK. Within a day the Frog President Macron, while suffering from coronavirus himself, took the knee jerk decision to close the French border with the UK, leaving hundreds of EU nationals stranded in England. Most of those stranded were not coronavirus carrying Brits trying to cross the English Channel to France, but eastern European lorry drivers wanting to get home for Christmas.

This caused chaos around the channel ports in Kent as thousands of lorries, trying to cross the Channel, ended up blocking the roads. Some lorry drivers ended up spending Christmas in their cab. The French  will not be forgiven for their stupid actions and will live to regret them. This household for one will no longer buy anything French including wine. Other countries produce equally drinkable wine.

Within days several other countries admitted that the new variant, termed the UK or Kent variant, was already present in their country and had been present before the UK announcement. When you take into account the fact the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic started in Europe weeks ahead of the second wave in the UK, then it is quite likely that the new variant actually originated in Europe. The UK simply identified it and alerted the world, as we lead the world in genome testing.

All year the Brexit talks had continued between the UK and the EU, finally coming to an agreement just before Christmas. In the US it had been a presidential election year with the Democrat candidate Joe Biden defeating the Republican incumbent president Donald Trump. But everything, in this strangest of years, was overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and I am wondering how many hours we have spent watching government briefings about how the pandemic has progressed and changes to the lockdown restrictions. I am also wondering how many times husband and I have walked around our village for exercise!