Week 593

Sunday, 3rd May, 2020

Feels quite chilly at 6.30 am at it was just 9C/48F. The contrast between the micro and the macro level of my world experience is immense. From reading, analysing and railing against Trumpian America, social Europe and the eugenics of Tory Britain to sourcing our own PPE and tending lettuces in the back garden. All of this flashes across my mind over Breakfast.

I’ve rejected the idea of injecting myself with bleach. I hate injections. From Day-1 of the lock down, I have been advocating the use of facemasks for personal and social protection and always thought that this disgraceful government manipulated ‘expert’ advice for their own purposes. Having not followed up the pandemic planning and committed cash to stockpile enough PPE for the future, they had to dissuade the public from buying up stocks of PPE and so depleting that available for the NHS.

At least I chose plain green.

In just the same way, Staying at home, closing schools and social distancing has been the mantra until someone who wanted/needed to get the economy going again suddenly ‘discovered’ that social distancing is perhaps not so important, children do not suffer from or transmit the virus to others and staying at home is just as dangerous to mental health and well being so the economy can get going again as long as we all carry a Government led tracker on our phones. No!

Many of you will remember that mad man, Keith Joseph, who was Education Secretary under Thatcher-the-milk-Snatcher between 1981 – 1986. When the Tories wanted to cut the Education budget and employ less teachers, Keith Joseph, who declared his Conservatism was founded in Christian Democracy and who was educated at Harrow public school where classes were so small they could happily self-isolate, argued that it was a well known fact that children learnt much better in very large classes. He was neither Christian nor democratic in that regard but his disingenuousness is reflected in the latest pandemic policies of his Tory successors as they clapped in the Commons at defeating the nurses pay claim and then clapped on the street to show their appreciation for the nurses ‘cheap’ commitment to saving lives.

I’m going to be eating a lot of lettuce!

Back on the ground, in spite of chilly weather, the lettuce leaves are growing quite rapidly. I have chosen cut-&-come-again leaves which incorporate soft green leaves, Ruby, Oak-leaved variety, Rocket, Frieze and Mizuna. When this is combined with basil leaves and dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper, it is absolutely delicious. I will successionally sow them and hope they take us through the Summer or until we go away – whichever comes first.

Monday, 4th May, 2020

Lovely day in which we did very little. We prepared all our documents for our latest insurance claim. It involved scanning in documents, highlighting relevant areas, turning them into PDF files and preparing them for uploading. Actually, it’s a quite a long winded process but, when you consider it’s worth around £5,000.00/€5,720.00, then the couple of hours is well worth it.

When the whole process has been completed, there is a great sense of satisfaction that comes from untangling a mess of loose leads and we can relax. Actually, it gives one a real sense of the strength of one’s claim. Of course, we didn’t relax. We went out for a 90 mins walk in the woodland path around our development. The birds were at full hue and cry in their search for mates and defence of territory. Back home, Pauline griddled the most wonderful Tuna Steaks in the garden which we ate with salad. Life felt good.

Stranded in Greece

I’ve been following the unfolding story of a German couple who have been stranded on the Peloponnese in their campervan since the Greek lock-down. Each year they spend six months touring Greece before returning to Germany. They are stuck and they say they know of at least six other couples in the same position but with properties in the country.

It is six years since we left Sifnos. We would set off for our drive across Europe at the end of March and return at the beginning of October. We crossed the borders of Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and, finally, Greece.

We sold 6 years ago in July.

The current situation would have ensured that our house stood empty and unmaintained for at least a year. We would have been extremely frustrated. One can only imagine what those stranded in a campervan are feeling.

Tuesday, 5th May, 2020

Gorgeous pink-purple sky last night and a beautiful day with blue sky opening up this morning. I’m really getting in to this new shopping mode. It is really easy for me. I drive to the chosen supermarket and Pauline goes shopping. I use the spare time to get some exercise. On Tuesdays, it is Sainsbury’s which has a football pitch size, underground carpark. Last week it was raining so I walked round the perimeter in the dry. This week it is warm and sunny so I’ve ventured outside and across the shopping park development, past Pets at Home and Halfords, on past the extensive Dunelm to the leafy path towards Rustington.

Burgeoning Nature eschews the Lock Down.

Things are definitely changing. The store opened at 8.00 am and we arrived 10 mins after. Pauline was able to walk straight in and almost had the store to herself. There was nothing she couldn’t get apart. Of course, the wet fish counter has gone. Wonder if it will ever come back? Anyway, we have found such a brilliant supplier that we probably won’t need it. The roads were very busy. People round here are certainly anticipating change. To be blunt we haven’t really let it cramp our style with the exception of travel.

Interesting thread on social media from ex-pupils and ex-(young)-colleagues. Pupils have been asking after our welfare which is nice but the staff who were young when we left but are now in middle age are throwing copious amounts of cold water on the idea of going back or sending their children back to school safely. Anybody who has any experience of education management will know immediately that it is impossible to get children to socially distance. It would be like herding cats. Corridors, old classrooms

Wednesday, 6th May, 2020

Up late today at 6.50 am on a beautiful, sunny morning with clear skies. After breakfast, we were straight down to the Office to officially file our insurance policy claim for our May Tenerife Holiday. The claim comes to around £5,000.00/€5,720 so is not insubstantial but we are confident of getting it all repaid. It may take about four weeks but it will come. The £700.00/€800.00 for the easyJet flights will also come but it will probably be 6 months in the wait. We uploaded all our documentary evidence and then felt satisfied that the nagging injustice had been, temporarily, removed.

Littlehampton Promenade

We went on to do gardening in the sunshine. Pauline trimmed the hedges until she was shaking with the stress of the hedging tool. I mowed the lawns and all the street-side edging strips.

After lunch of homemade soup, we went to the eye clinic for my Diabetic Retinopathy check up. It was very different from any other I had ever been to. I was the only client present. The clinician came to greet me at the door of the building completely suited in PPE. I was taken up alone while Pauline waited in the carpark. My pupils were dilated with drops and then my eyeballs were photographed. In a couple of weeks, I will hear of the results.

Serious Social Distancing on the Beach.

We drove back via the seaside where there were crowds of people walking along the coastal path along with dogs and cyclists, skateboarders and joggers. Nobody seemed to be bothered about spacing or health aspects. All seemed intent on socialising rather than isolating. Do they know the dangers?

Back home, we griddled swordfish steaks – the best we have ever eaten – with home grown salad. The meal was quite delightful. We have completed our exercise targets for 50/56 days of Lock Down which we think demonstrates good self-discipline. Most people agree that we won’t be going back to the Health Club any time soon so walking the local area will continue.

Thursday, 7th May, 2020

Up at 6.00 am and out by 6.45 am to Tesco on a glorious, warm and sunny morning. We have accidentally fallen in to a pattern of Pauline shopping while I exercise. Tesco opens at 8.00 am so, when we arrived an hour early, Pauline was 3rd in the queue. I left her reading her phone and set off to walk to our Health Club. The day was delightful and the bird song was wonderful as I walked. It took me about 30 mins.

David Lloyd Health Club – abandoned.

After a walk round the Health Club car park to take some pictures and then a walk back, Pauline had been in the store shopping for about 10 mins.

The queueing at Tesco this morning. … Just wait till it rains!

By this stage, the double-backed queue stretched to infinity and was constantly growing. Before joining the shopping queue, there was a queue to get a shopping trolley. It really does pay to go early not least because, for all their efforts, supermarkets are fairly slow to re-stock the shelves so being first means a wider choice.

Back home before 9.00 am, we have a lovely, sunny day in the back garden to enjoy. Pauline is out there now using her new skipping rope which she hasn’t done for at least 40 years and she’s breathing quite heavily. This skipping rope has digital handles which allow her to input her weight, set the time and it will out put her total ‘skips’ and ‘calories burned’. If she doesn’t collapse completely, she will continue with her bread dough which is rising outside in the warm sunshine. I’ve been marinating (garlic, dill, salt, pepper and olive oil) boneless chicken thighs for griddling out in the garden this afternoon.

Friday, 8th May, 2020

Wonderful day of long, hot, sunny hours. We were up early before 7.00 am. After a liquid Breakfast, I set the sprinkler system up to water the back lawn because it has been so dry. We don’t have any sign of rain in the next couple of weeks so the grass must be supported.

The media was dominated by VE Day. Victory in Europe Day celebrates the Allied Forces defeat of Nazi Germany’s armed forces, marking the end of World War II in Europe. Who could not wish to celebrate that? Well I have a serious problem with the way it is presented. The British Nationalists like to have us believe that Brits won it unaided. Actually, it wouldn’t have happened at all without the allies which included – apart from U.S. – Poland, France, Yugoslavia, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Luxembourg plus lots of non-European countries. UK has always belonged to and needed Europe to support it.

VE Day morphs in to Brexit which morphs in to Covid-19 compliance.

Currently, it is not possible to be objective about these ‘celebrations’. Is it right to be celebrating the defeat of a fellow European friend? Our next door neighbour is German. We don’t mention the war. We are going to need a strong relationship with Germany in the future. As we went on our neighbourhood walk today, slightly less than a quarter of the houses were advertising their Nationalism. There is a paradigm shift of ideas which integrates base Nationalism, Brextremism, Boris-worship and Tory policy on Covid-19 control. It is a bit like National Front made (marginally) respectable.

A Tweet from this morning rather succinctly summarised my view:

Don’t wave your Union Jack in my face. A lot of us, each in our own ways, fight against the nationalism, racism and xenophobia that gave birth to Nazism everyday of our lives. That’s why we opposed and oppose #Brexit. #VEDay2020

Boris Johnson, under pressure from Keir Starmer at PMQs, hinted blunderingly that the Lock-Down would be lifted at the end of the week. It was another sign of his inability to control the situation. So many people have taken it as a hint that they can go where and when they want. The roads around here are roaring with a back-to-normal traffic flow. Barbecues are being fired up for ‘Patriotic’ street parties. The Tories are going to find it hard to hold on to the public’s coat tails for another month.

Saturday, 9th May, 2020

If there can be a better day than today, please let me see it. Up at 7.00 to 16C/61F with lovely sunshine. After Breakfast, we drove down to the beach for a walk. It was still fairly quiet although the roads were quite busy.

Littlehampton Beach – 27C/81F by 10.30 am.

The tide was out and the sand was empty. We walked for miles in the sunshine with the soothing sound of the waves gently lapping the shore. It was idyllic! There is something timeless and eternal about the sea that strikes to the heart of humankind.

The Tenerife seedpod tree

After driving back home, I used my electric rake to rake thatch out of the back lawn. It looked wonderfully healthy with its green/blue iridescence after I had finished striping it. I then watered the front lawn and the roadside verge for a couple of hours with my automatic sprayer as we went out for a walk. Back home, our lunch out in the heat of the garden was green lettuce leaves, sweet cherry tomato halves and smoked salmon with a few prawns. Absolutely joyous!

I turned my attention to the seedlings/plants. The seedpod I grew into a tree is now over 5ft tall. It is champing at the bit to be planted out but is unaware that cooler nights are on the way. I am determined to plant it out in June and let it enjoy a few months of Sussex sky before the winter cool brings an end to its life. It would be lovely to see it flower crimson red before then but we can only hold our breath.

As it is, today has been wonderful. I feel so fortunate to be alive and enjoying this time with my lovely wife. What more can any man want or expect?

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