Covid-19 Diaries 21st December 2020

21 December 20

Posted at 6:45


SquirrelSquirrel at Mount Pleasant

A couple of photos of wildlife today, taken during the November lockdown when I went for a walk around my local golf course, which was closed. Getting exercise during lockdowns is important both physically and mentally. The mental challenges during this pandemic are getting greater as time goes on.


It is now the 21st December just three weeks since my last blog post. Things are so dynamic it is really difficult to keep up.


Since the last mini lockdown ended we have entered into tiers. Initially three tiers although most of the country was in either tier two or three. Both were restrictive in terms of socialising indoors and both meant traditional hospitality like pubs and restaurants were either closed or had very restrictive rules about operating. We were though going to be allowed some respite at Christmas with the mixing of up to three households in any single bubble for a five day period encompassing 24th – 28th December. Although this was welcomed by many there were also some grave reservations of both the wisdom of it and potential abuse.


Then late on Friday 18th December at a solemn press conference the prime minister advised the country that a new mutant variant of Covid was spreading uncontrollably through London and the South East of England. This variant was thought to be much more contagious than previous strains. A new Tier four range of restrictions would be introduced immediately for London the South East and the East of England, in particular the proposed easing for Christmas in those areas was to be scrapped. This was a message that horrified many. There was anger, disappointment and something of an emotional outburst. Some tried to flee London on the Saturday although I think there was a lot of media hype about this because in reality where could people go and still conform to rules in tier three or two.



The prime minister and government have been criticised unfairly in my opinion. They are dammed whatever they do. Today it is clear how bad the new virus situation is with most of the world banning travel from the UK until the new strain is understood. Even the port of Dover is totally closed today and for next 24 hours.


On a positive note it is believed the vaccine roll out, which has commenced, still protects against the new strain.


For me personally the loss of a family gathering on Christmas day is upsetting. We would only have been five in total and we are all in near isolation anyway. Add to that we live under half a mile away from the other household. However there are many with larger households and individuals travelling potentially from all over. I concede it would be wrong to make a case for exceptions as everyone would make a claim. So we will take the medicine and look forward to things gradually improving in 2021.

Red KiteRed Kite above Mount Pleasant

Meanwhile the red kites and squirrels carry on regardless. They of course have their own challenges but not Covid related.


Covid-19 Diaries A Visit To The Hospital

07 December 20

Posted at 5:41

Lister HospitalLister Hospital Stevenage

It’s the 7th December 2020, tomorrow the first vaccinations against Covid-19 will be administered to health workers and the over 80 year olds in or visiting some designated hospitals. The first day of what will be months of vaccinations in order to cover the whole population, well those who wish to be vaccinated.

Today I had to visit the hospital for some, hopefully routine, blood tests. I’ve visited the Lister Hospital for blood tests a number of times over the years. Thankfully none have shown up anything serious but for instance I insist on a PSA test for prostrate cancer every year having a close friend with the condition, thankfully caught early enough for treatment, and a number of other friends and acquaintances who have either died from or are suffering with the condition.

I’ve always found attending the hospital for a blood test an unpleasant experience. It is always so busy! So busy in fact people who I assume are regulars get there up to an hour before the pathology unit opens at 8 o clock. They are issued a number and at eight o clock they can sign in by numerical order to sit in the waiting room. This practice means that anyone arriving at 8 o clock or just after joins a crowded waiting room with a hour or two wait for the thirty second job of having blood samples taken. The waiting room queue is therefore very long all day. The first time I went there I arrived around 8 am and joined the crowded waiting room not then being aware of the early morning number allocation system. The second time I went I actually arrived about 0730 and still found myself being allocated number 31 which I could use half an hour later to join others in the waiting room.

Remember these experiences were ages ago and pre pandemic. Never the less I found them stressful. First of all many of those in the crowded room looked visibly ill, not a surprise I guess but off putting when bundled together like sardines. Of course nobody wore face coverings so there was coughing and spluttering, groans and moans and often some frayed tempers. The phlebotomists would enter the waiting room from the cubicles, pick up the next patients papers and call out their name. Due to the crowded nature of the room, shuffling, stirring and muttering often the name was unclear, tow or three people might get up and move forwards, others would tut and mutter as it was not their name. The name would now be called again for clarification but as the noise level in the room had now increased the cycle was repeated. This served to increase the frustration and aggressive body language and expression of those present.

Based on my previous experiences I was not looking forward to going there today. Add to that concern the fact that I read just this morning the virus is caught in hospital more than any other location and you can imagine I was not keen to go at all. This wasn’t just a precautionary visit so I knew I had to attend. I could not be bothered to get there at the crack of dawn so I went at a reasonable hour, about ten o clock, armed with a good book plenty of hand sanitiser and of course a mask, prepared for a very long wait. Waiting and queuing has become acceptable during this pandemic.

On arrival the hospital appeared to be quite quiet, maybe because visiting is prohibited during the pandemic. I made my way to the pathology area, it used to be called phlebotomy I wonder why it changed. A nurse type person was stood at the door with a clip board, I enquired whether pathology is where I get a blood test. She said yes and asked me to join a queue, which was just three people, in the corridor. I say queue, it was just three people at that point, each with a seat at least three metres apart. The nurse took my paper work and checked my details. I glanced through the door to the waiting room where there were no more than ten people, spaced out in the room that usually held upwards of sixty. More people joined the queue and the nurse ran a one out one in system to the waiting room. Within minutes I was ushered in and allocated a seat. The room was peaceful, everyone masked but even with masks their eye expressions and body language was calm and happy. When names were called out they were loud and clear, partly due to the quiet room and partly because the caller was masked up so have to raise their voice. I commenced reading, the latest Wilbur Smith, and was somewhat disappointed to have my name called within fifteen minutes, just as Mungo St John was about to murder his grandfather. The phlebotomist was very pleasant, appeared happy and calm in her work. I shared with her my trepidation about coming there and what a pleasant surprise the whole experience had been and how impressed I was with the process. She was pleased with the feedback. On leaving I wondered if the Covid safe system only worked because far less people are presenting for blood checks and what the consequences and causes of that might be.



Covid-19 Diaries 20th November 2020

20 November 20

Posted at 3:54

Hitchin High StreetHitchin High Street

A week has gone by and two more vaccines have exited phase three and await approval with the AstraZeneca/Oxford university also expected to exit soon. This is all good news for the future but for the time being I personally feel more concerned and down than I have at anytime during the pandemic.

I went to a nearby town, Hitchin, earlier in the week. Usually a bustling market town but nowadays it is really depressing. Most shops are closed and of course pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed.

Hotel ChocolateHotel Chocolate Hitchin

In theory only essential shops are allowed to open but ‘essential’ is not clearly defined. Hotel Chocolate is open, why? But the sweet shop a few doors down is closed, why? It appears that large corporate chains are open at the expense of small independents. Take away coffee is on sale but again mainly from chain outlets. There are not many people around, supermarkets appear to be ticking over but most other places that are open are pretty empty.

Market SquareMarket Square Hitchin

There are a few folk around, sitting either alone or in theoretically social distanced groups or maybe in their bubbles (a bubble is a small group of people allowed to meet both outdoors and indoors for a small variety of special reasons). What is common is they all look glum or at least very serious, I observed an absence of smiling or humour. The town has an Armageddon feel about it.

We are now two weeks into the second lockdown. All the talk in the media is about what will happen when we come out of it on 2nd December, although it is now more like if we come out of it. The talk is very much about Christmas, can we have a few days of normality? There is even talk of the devolved governments agreeing a common plan (that’ll be a first). The reasoning is that large family groups will be able to get together over the Christmas period free from lockdown restrictions. Yes I am not joking, family members travelling from and to all parts of the UK to be indoors with others, partying as though there is no tomorrow. If this happens that will no doubt become true for some! It is also mooted that in order to facilitate this national seasonal virus spreading party we should enter an even stricter lockdown prior to Christmas and then a months further lockdown in January! What exactly it is thought this madness will do for the economy or the nations mental health is beyond me! 

It doesn’t appear that common sense will prevail though!

This does not surprise me after what I have personally experienced this week. I have a very good friend who is suffering from serious cancer. He has spent most of the year in and out of hospital, currently at home he is dependent on his daughter who does not live locally, for support. This week his daughter has had to self isolate because her own young daughter has Covid. What is so worrying is that the daughter caught Covid along with most of her class from a classmate who had tested positive for Covid but her parents still sent her to school. I thought to myself how awful but that is an unusual situation created by one set of ignorant parents. I then discover that the nursery school in my own village has had to take action because parents who themselves are self isolating still send their offspring to nursery. Then nationally there are reports of wedding celebrations taking place in the worst affected towns with hundreds of guests from all over the country, of shisha lounges being raided at one thirty in the morning with over one hundred customers present. There are also numerous cases of gyms up and down the country refusing to close and ultimately being closed permanently by police and local authorities. All this is going on whilst the death rate rises and while special hospital wards are opening to cater for ‘long Covid’ patients. Long Covid is an unexplained debilitating illness that some people develop after having contracted Covid, often only mildly. Long Covid affects all age groups so the cry that ‘I’ll be OK as I’m not old’ is no longer a justifiable reason for breaking the rules. Not that it ever should have been.

Face CoveringsFace masks from an enterprising retail shop - unfortunately closed as deemed not essential!

Watch this space to see what transpires next.

If you think folk in the UK, albeit a minority, are acting like morons a glance across the pond to the USA is akin to a seriously bad trip. The president, soon to be ex president Trump, continues to refuse to accept the result of the November 3rd election. It will ultimately be ratified I’m sure but for the time being Trump issues lawsuits on a daily basis attempting to reverse the election result. He fires anyone however senior who dares to disagree with him. Meanwhile over a quarter of a million Americans have died from Covid, hospitals are overwhelmed yet a substantial majority of American citizens believe the conspiracy theories tweeted by Trump on election fraud and Covid denying.

It feels to me that in November 2020 the lunatics have taken over the asylum. I sometimes wish I was a hedgehog and could hibernate until Spring when maybe there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Of course I can’t so for now I’ll look forward to being able to write a more positive post next week.



Covid-19 Diaries Second lockdown and vaccine announcement

10 November 20

Posted at 4:25

Beamish and MasksBeamish Living Museum

The image captures two realities of late summer 2020 in the UK. Wearing masks is compulsory as is social distancing (resulting in queues for everything). Both are intended to limit the tramsmission of the virus.

This photograph was taken in early September when along with some friends we took a weeks break on the Northumberland coast. We still had to break some rules to do that (six of us lived in one cottage for the week, strictly speaking that was not allowed at the time). We had to journey there in three separate cars. Eating out or visiting a pub or café was something of a chore and impersonal. We probably felt more comfortable in our cottage self catering and isolating in our, albeit illegal, bubble. Bizarre when you consider it. We did though enjoy the wide open spaces, the wild beaches and national parks. We had fun together as friends, something that had been all but impossible since February.


That limited freedom now seems like a distant memory as we are now six days into a further months lockdown. Different from the first lockdown in that schools and universities have remained open. It also doesn’t feel as serious as the first lockdown but all forms of hospitality and all non-essential shops are closed. Hospitalisations and deaths are rising again although deaths are not yet at the level seen in the Spring. It is Autumn now though, the days are shorter, the weather damp and chilly so it feels tougher.


Over the last few days there has been reason for hope and optimism. First of all in the USA elections Donald Trump has lost the presidency, to the joy of the vast majority globally. At this point Donald is not about to go quietly, he refutes the outcome and is using the legal system to query the result. The same legal system of judges that he has packed with his own cronies over the last couple of years. So the world looks on in anticipation. It is unlikely he will be successful but over recent months we have become used to the unlikely actually happening.


Yesterday we received the second good news, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer has exited phase three of its testing with positive results. As ever the media has reacted disproportionately implying that it may even be rolled out by Christmas (it won’t be). I suppose it is nice to have some good news but we really do have a long way to go before we get out of this pandemic. Just last week it was discovered in Denmark that Covid had first of all spread into their vast mink population but now had mutated into a form transmitted back from mink to humans. The mink are now being exterminated (as happened in Spain earlier in the year), travel from Denmark to other countries, well at least the UK, is banned. Mink are bred in three or four EU countries for export to China for the fur trade, banned for instance in the UK years ago. So animals, or animal products, from a species that has been infected with Coronavirus and has mutated a strain back to humans is being exported to a country where a mutated form of Coronavirus jumped from animals to humans kicking off this whole global pandemic. There is an irony there!


Of course the vaccine developed is unlikely to have an impact on a mutated version spread to humans from mink or any other animal.


Covid-19 Diaries 12th August 2020

12 August 20

Posted at 11:48

Audley End HouseAudley End House

Over recent months we have been accustomed to phrases like “strange times’ “unprecedented times” “ the new normal” etc. So at this point when much or Europe appears to have come out of lockdown but now dangerously close to going back into it with second spikes I thin I will share my personal experiences and situation.

As I’ve no doubt said before I consider myself and my family are very fortunate. The biggest pluses are I don’t have to work for a, modest, living and both Marilyn and I are healthy so we are not struggling with the biggest worries that many are facing, at the moment at least. Lockdown for me was fine, I did a lot of volunteering through March and April which was personally rewarding and also meant I got out of the house more than I would have been allowed had I not been doing that. Fast forward to August and I still exist in something of a local bubble, or maybe bubbles. I don’t venture far from home these days, I can count on one hand the times I have been more than 20 miles from home since March. I’ve posted a photo of Audley End House, an English Heritage site, which we visited recently. It is about 30 miles away so for these times something of an epic journey. In ‘normal’ times a visit to an English heritage park (the house is actually closed due to Covid) would not be high on my priorities but in the current circumstances when the weather is fine it makes for as nice day out. A picnic by the river in the sunshine, the peace and tranquillity of the countryside, and an absence of crowds of strangers. We’ve had something of a heat wave recently and folk have been flocking in their thousands to popular beach resorts where social distancing is impossible. They don’t even visit loads of different resorts but all flock to the same five or six places. To me it is madness. I’m not particularly frightened of catching the virus (I often believe I had it mildly back in January anyway), the fear I have, if fear is not too dramatic, is catching it and unknowingly spreading it to others prior to having symptoms. I don’t want to contribute to the possibility that large crowds of strangers from disparate locations being a recipe for creating second spikes which will result in more lockdowns and of course more deaths. So for a change of scenery in a ‘safe’ environment a day out in the country just 30 miles from home. Unprecedented!


Of course in normal times I would be off to London to gigs, to bars and restaurants, short breaks to France or maybe Italy and socialising locally and far and wide with a large circle of friends and acquaintances. Do I miss all that? Yes to an extent I guess but I feel it would be selfish to try and return to me ‘normal’ social activity in these abnormal times. Many don’t think like that though, especially the young which is totally understandable. However their understandable, but never the less short sighted and selfish actions since lockdown eased, are already resulting in new spikes, especially in France and Spain and in some communities in the UK.


Although my life is very different in August 2020 I’m quite comfortable with it. I’m very lucky that I enjoy playing golf and play just three miles from home at a very friendly club where I can meet people in what I consider a ‘safe bubble’. I get exercise, fresh air and a social intercourse, I have many friends also playing there so keep in touch through golf when meeting in pubs and houses is more complicated. And of course when I want solitude I have photography, I have to admit that my project work has lapsed somewhat but I have a large backlog of processing and books I place to create. When the weather is more conducive to being indoors I will crack on with it.


I’m sure in time if the pandemic eases or a vaccination is developed life will change yet again.


Away from me personally the news is spilt between updates on second spikes, as I mentioned France, Spain, even New Zealand have seen the need for further lockdowns this week and we have seen some here although not on such a big scale. Wearing face coverings is now accepted as sensible, in shops, crowded places, cinemas (who would go to a cinema at the moment??) I like many dislike wearing a face covering but I do now agree it is mine (and everyone’s) duty to try to minimise spreading the infection. The other news is the constant recriminations, be it returning to school, exam results, whatever, everything feels polarised around political beliefs irrespective of the facts. In 2020 to express a different opinion on just about anything is classed as a ‘hate crime’ and the constant bickering around so called ‘hate’ seems to fit neatly into political beliefs. The only way to escape it is to switch off all media and have a picnic in the sunshine – somewhere safe like Audley End park.


Covid-19 Diaries Mid July 2020

23 July 20

Posted at 12:05

Sanitising StationSanitising station outside Next. face coverings are compulsary in shops in England from 24th July 2020.

It is mid July 2020, forty five thousand plus have died of Covid-19 in the UK but lockdown has now been eased and there is some relaxation around meeting people, going to work and leisure activity, even pubs and restaurants have opened with the required social distancing and Covid safe routines. There are local spikes and lockdowns and of course the virus is still prevalent, there is no vaccine. Many parts of the world have not yet peaked, the US, South America, India and most of Africa for example.


In the UK the current debate is about face masks or coverings. They will be mandatory in shops and public transport from 24th July. Personally I think they are of limited use, they do of course prevent one spreading the virus through sneezing, coughing even shouting (singing in choirs is still banned) but many who wear them do not cover their nose for example (some even wear them under their chins!!). They give a false sense of security making the wearer feel invincible. Wearers also constantly fiddle with them thereby touching their faces with potentially infected hands. For me keeping hands clean and sanitised and avoiding crowded places or contact with strangers are good practices along with keeping as fit and healthy as possible so being equipped to fight the virus if you become infected.


I understand Boris, the PM, is encouraging us all to flock back to city centres and return to ‘normal’ before Christmas. I say ‘understand’ as I have tired of listening in detail to the briefings from politicians. In my opinion there is no returning to ‘normal’, it is gone, and good riddance to it.

THe BarberHairdressers have opened but it is a different experience nowadays.


The pandemic and lockdown taught us a lot about ourselves and our priorities, it shone a light on a different perhaps better way of living. I have a theory that far from going back to our manic, somewhat distressing lives of six months ago we should all reset our compass and adjust to a different new norm. It will throw up problems but instead of homing in on the negative we should perhaps look for new opportunities. The old norm rule book should be thrown away. Here is an example of my thinking.


So politicians and some business are up in arms because our city centres are deserted, by comparison. We are all staying at home, or at least travelling less. Businesses that depend on commuters may not survive! The city I know best is London but I guess it is just bigger than other city centres. London has a Pret or a Costa every 100 metres, there are literally thousands of coffee shops and sandwich outlets and yes they no longer have customers. Let’s just forget those business and think of the customers. Millions of commuters used to work in city centres during the lockdown they discovered that they can be just as productive and efficient using technology whilst working from home. Gone was the two hour each way commute, the travel cost, the £15 or more per day spent on coffees, snacks etc. with up to four hours free time life was less stressful, time for exercise, enjoying the countryside, spending more time with family, less cost on child minding, breakfast clubs etc. Life became less stressful for all and less expensive. Employers also noticed expense reductions with no loss in productivity and in future the opportunity to save commercial property costs. Sales staff and their management realised that travel costs around the country and even overseas may not be so necessary. Technology can replace face to face contact to a large degree. There has been a paradigm shift and it benefits both employee’s quality of life and mental well being along with companies bottom line benefits. So why Boris should millions of people now take a step backwards simply to support the Prets and overcrowded, overpriced transport companies?


If commuting to cities was to be significantly reduced some large coffee and food chains would see hundreds of branches close. Is that so bad? No. They have been complaining for ages that they depend on cheap labour provided from EU countries that will disappear when we leave the EU. Well if that is the case so be it, UK unemployment will not suffer as it will not be UK citizens losing their jobs.

Perhaps local independent coffee shops can now thrive on the remaining market, Starbucks will not be missed. All this will result in commercial property prices dropping significantly. This again could be a benefit, how about converting all the empty office buildings and fast food chain outlets into brown field housing that could accommodate people who have to or wish to work in the city and at the same time slow down the current over development in green and open spaces. Transport services could be scaled back as could road usage both contributing to addressing climate change.


I understand economics is far less simplistic than I imply however I think I demonstrate that with some thinking outside of the box and more of a focus on people's health and well being and on addressing climate change we could learn a lot from the pandemic and not simply hanker after a ‘return to normal’.


Covid-19 Diaries 28th June 2020

28 June 20

Posted at 4:15

Shop windowsShops are Closed

So for over three months non essential shops have been closed, online has been the only way to shop. As its not been possible to go out anywhere there has been little need to shop anyway.

Recently there has been some easing, so for example you could queue to go into a do it yourself shop as opposed to click and collect. Two metre social distancing and only six people allowed in the store at a time then one in one out.

Queue outsideThe queue at Wickes

So you join a ziggy zaggy queue which is all very civil, the good weather helps, and slowly shuffle along at two meter intervals for about 40 minutes. Once in the store it is similar to supermarkets, calm, empty, no kids, no hustle, so you soon make up time queueing for an altogether more calming experience. No good if you are in a rush or stressed though.

Checkout in masks

Then there is a shorter queue to checkout. Wearing of masks is the cause of much debate. They are now compulsary on public transport, well to be accurate, face covering is compulsary. To specify masks may have led to a shortage of PPI so people are encouraged to make their own or cover up with a scarf. The theory is you won't spread the virus through coughs so wearing a mask protects others, saves lives and protects the NHS. Our culture does not warm to mask wearing as the South East Asians do but we don't have the chronic pollution they have suffered for years. From what I see we are not very good at it, folk wear masks under their chins, over mouth only and they constantly fiddle with them. I suspect the same masks are worn day in  day out so are no doubt mobile virus containers. My preference is to just steer clear of people.

We have now had the announcement that from July 4th we are moving down to phase three which means pubs and restaurants can open if Covid compliant, non essential shops may open, from July 6th travel to certain countries is allowed without quarantine on return and we can meet in groups of 6 or eight (I'm not sure) with social distancing and people in a 'bubble' where you can even hug and stuff. this is severely limited though.

Meantime in America there have been over 125,000 deaths, a second wave is hitting Texas and Florida and lockdown is being reintroduced, similar in South America and India. At home some events, the Black Lives Matter protests, Liverpool winning the Premier League (behind closed doors) and numerous illegal street parties/music events (the drugs trade has dried up with the endning of the night time economy so drug dealers are funding street gatherings at music events to create a market) and as its been over 30 degrees for a few days muppetts have flocked to beaches in their thousands. All of these events have incurred an abolition of social distancing so we are holding our breath for three or four weeks to see if a second wave hits us. It seems inevitable!! and this is before the pubs open next weekend. It is difficult to understand the mentality of my fellow citizens.

There has been much criticism of our government and our test track and trace system. Yesterday my daughter woke up with a temperature and aches (symptoms requiring action). At midday yesterday my daughter, her husband and her son registered online for a test, drove just six miles to take it, we live in a rural area. This morning at eight o clock, just 20 hours after taking the test, they received their results, thankfully all negative. Personally I don't think that is bad at all. The experience of them going through that process, and the fact that we had contact with them the day before, brought home the reality of the situation and the madness of those who are ignoring the advice of the medical professionals and the government.


Covid-19 Diaries 8th June 2020

08 June 20

Posted at 3:35

A young girl protests silently on Windmill Hill Hitchin

For the first time in over three months the Covid-19 pandemic and all associated with it has not been headline news for the last few days. That’s nor because anything has really change but it is the global reaction to the murder of a black man by a white police officer in Minneapolis in North America. It is not so much the killing which is not unusual in America but the fact that it was filmed in all its horror and then broadcast around the world. The reaction to that and the deep seated racism it represents has been tremendous. More of that later.

The pandemic situation moves on a pace, when I last wrote on 20th May there was talk of small steps easing the lockdown and debate about limited school returns in early June. Well it is now early June and year groups one and six have returned in some schools with social distancing rules. It has not been without controversy and it is optional. Over recent days there has been a clamour for further easing and following a realisation in government what the impact of the hospitality industry remaining closed all summer would have on the economy a ramping up of easing is being anticipated.

The figures on new cases and on daily deaths have been improving at a rate but still we see deaths in hundreds each day (yesterday the lowest we have seen was 76) but there is concern that the ‘R’ rate is very close to one maybe even higher in the North West. There has though been evidence of lockdown, well social distancing being ignored by some. Beaches became overcrowded during good weather last week, there have been nightly raves in parts of London with up to three hundred attending and then the protests in the big cities blew any regarding for social distancing out of the water. People seem to think they are invincible if they wear a cloth mask! Its is a shame as in many places effective protests were held with social distancing even making the point more poignant. In London and Manchester the crowds were ridiculous and we now hold our breath if you’ll excuse the pun, to see if second waves are sparked as a result in the same way that Cheltenham and Liverpool impacted the first wave.

We haven’t had a Coronavirus update PR since Friday so I’m not sure what the message will be today but according to the media pubs and restaurants with outdoor dining and drinking could happen as early as July 4th. The 14 day quarantine for anyone entering the country that came into force today looks like being short lived. To me it makes sense, why would we allow people to enter the country freely from places in the world that are not yet past their peak. It looks as though the economy will be seen as more important than health and that there will be some blind faith the virus is weakening and won’t result in a second peak. God help the economy and us all if they are wrong.

So at the moment all shops may open from 15th June so long as they are Covid compliant. We all must now wear face coverings on public transport and in hospitals and care homes. Weddings can go ahead but only with 8 guests. Everyone who is able to work in Covid safe conditions can return to work next Monday (15th). Lots of people will still work from home at least part of the time and people will avoid public transport wherever they can.

Perhaps the ‘fear’ will reduce if the figures continue to improve and there is no backlash from events at the weekend along with the current easing of restrictions. I guess we have three or four weeks to wait and see.

We went out today to an out of town shop that had reopened to make a purchase of a sofa that we had been planning just before lockdown. It meant a drive of 28 miles which felt so strange, the furthest I’ve been since early March is about 5 miles. It felt decadent!! The roads were fairly busy compared with the last 12 weeks. Mainly lorries and vans on the road. What was also strange was we went there and straight back. Couldn’t stop for a coffee or a spot of lunch as there is still nowhere open and no point in popping into a town as all the shops apart from supermarkets are still closed. If I’m honest I was quite relieved to get back home. I suspect that most people who are out on the roads are travelling to, from or for work.

Windmill Hill Hitchin BLM

On Saturday in my local town Hitchin there was a public protest in support of the Black Lives matter movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd in America but in response to racism everywhere. I must admit I went along half expecting it to reflect what has been happening in America. Disregard for the pandemic risk and no doubt descending into violence. I was really pleasantly surprised to find a well organised and peaceful protest by and large observing social distancing and respecting the pandemic risk.

David Levy

What really impressed me was one of the speakers, David Levy. David spoke with passion and eloquence, he got so many messages across. What he said in the fullness of his speech could not help but resonate with any half reasonable person. I felt it was such a shame that the people who really need to listen to and understand what David had to say were by and large not there. I was one of the few ‘older white males’ there for sure and it’s my cohort who need convincing if anything is to change. Unfortunately not all protests up and down the country we as well organised and in the bigger cities they attracted anarchists which results in polluting the message that the Davids of this world are trying to get across. I listened to David again on a Facebook broadcast on Saturday evening and again was impressed.

Here are a couple more pics from Saturday.

Protesters share a joke




Covid-19 Diaries 20th May 2020

08 June 20

Posted at 12:28

Schools out

It is now ten days since the prime minister's announcement of some potential easing of the lockdown. The daily graphs we are treated to at the press briefings continue to show a positive trend albeit painstakingly slow. After the announcement of a three phase plan to ease lockdown restrictions much more detail was forthcoming although it is fair to say there is still confusion with what is a complicated message. There is much debate continuing around the high percentage of care home deaths and whether some may have been avoided but care homes have been knocked off the top news item by the possible return to school for some children from the beginning of June. It is really difficult to understand the pros and cons not least because there are those whose position is political as opposed to in the interest of the public. The debate is set to continue but so long as there is evidence of the pandemic lessening along with progress in testing and tracing I believe some classes in some schools will return in early June.

There certainly has been a noticeable relaxation now people are allowed out more and that there is a gradual return to work for some. It is clear that change is gradual and that the idea of small steps still shows noticeable change. Assuming there is no indication of a second peak I think a month from now there will be a lot more retail open, I think sport and leisure activity will have increased and I think open air cafes and even pubs may be offering a table service with strict social distancing. That is not a major topic of conversation at the moment but when some schools are back I think it will just follow.

There has been a lot of news this week around the impact of the pandemic of the economy and jobs. Steep rises in unemployment, very low inflation and concern about businesses both big and small. None of it a surprise but a stark reminder when presented in sensational headlines. Some opening up of the leisure industry along with the ability for people to spend a day or two away from home (not possible at the moment) will provide help for the leisure sector which has hit young peoples job prospects the hardest.

There is also constant talk of when professional football will return. Personally although a fan I think it is madness to even consider at this point in time.

Red kite

I include a photo of a kite taken a few hundred yards from my home. I am a keen wildlife photographer. It has been noticeable with so many people walking in the countryside as a result of lockdown how interest in wildlife has grown. It is not a bad thing at all. There is much good that has come out of lockdown. In general people seem more friendly and supportive to each other. Lockdown has broken down many barriers in communities as people have had more time to consider what is really important to their's and their families wellbeing. We appear to be at something of a crossroads now where people are reconsidering their priorities and making changes to their lifestyle which were perhaps initially mandated but now of high importance. Some working from home, replacing travel with technology, greater use of bicycles and of electric vehicles. A realisation at last that morbid obesity that ravages our society does directly impact are ability to survive viruses from Covid-19 to the more common seasonal flu and even colds. There is a much higher level of interest in supporting local businesses and even perhaps a desire to be free from everything we consume coming from China.

When I say we are at a crossroads the general public appear to be reaching these conclusions but our political leaders both national and local - fuelled by a sensationalist media seem hell bent on returning to days of old. I'm sensing that there is a chance that the 'tail will wag the dog' and we will see something of a paradigm shift. I'm hope full anyway.