It’s Easter Bank-holiday Monday, 12th April 2020, less than 10 days since my last post. Spring has sprung and yesterday was an Easter Day like no other, warm, gloriously sunny and memorable for all the wrong reasons. On this day, the number of COVID-19 deaths recorded in the UK now exceeds 10,000. It had taken a little over 5 weeks to reach that number since the first Coronavirus death was made public in this country on 5th March. A more worrying statistic for the UK was that 7,691 Coronavirus deaths have been reported in the UK since my last post, published just 8 days ago on 5th April. A glimmer of hope in the numbers is that the reported daily COVID-19 death rate dropped to 737 on Easter Day having been hovering between 786 and 980 the previous five days in the UK. There is hope that this rough ‘plateau’ turns out to be the peak in the current wave of Coronavirus attacking our population. At the time of writing this post (on Easter Monday) we don’t yet know if this is the peak or not.
Below is the position shown this-morning on the COVID-19 dashboard developed and managed by John Hopkins University CSSE. For the latest /update you can either click the image or follow this link to the website:
By way of an introduction, my very first post sets out how I intended my blog to be ‘like a diary’, where the narrative takes the reader back to past events, capturing the mood as seen through my eyes. While the past few entries have been almost a catalogue of events and the impact of COVID-19 to our nation, this post is more focussed on what it’s like to be living through this global emergency as a husband and a dad.
The UK lock-down began three weeks ago on 23rd March. Defying the laws of probability, after applying for several hundred jobs over the preceding few weeks I received a job-offer at the end of that week. A configured laptop was couriered out to me so that I could start working from home on 1st April. Sonja had also started working from home, as were our children who were still being issued (assessed) school work, even though GCSEs and A-levels have been cancelled this year. So a new routine kicked in with out little family unit of four, living and operating completely from home. Sonja and I had managed to clear out the storage unit in advance of the lock-down and I’d tidied up the shed, garage and my office before I started working from home. I now take some comfort from having a relatively tidy home with things being put away in a place where we can find them again when we need them.
The lock-down instruction we’re following permits us to one form of out-door exercise each day. Family walks have become a new pleasure across the nation. We’ve only done one walk as a complete family since the lock-down started we usually take it in turns to walk Teddy, or sometimes go out in twos or threes. I’m enjoying my usual route with the dog, over the Hog’s Back and down onto Pilgrims Way. One amazing up-side of the lock down is that traffic noise has reduced to almost nothing, with just the occasional swoosh of car tyres outside the house. Gone is the distant rumble of motor vehicles and only the odd noisy motor bike or perhaps a tractor can be heard from the Pilgrim’s Way when I’m walking Teddy. Also, I cannot remember the last time I heard an aircraft and the skies are beautifully devoid of vapour trails.
The children are encouraged to stick to a routine and tidy away when they’ve done their school work (during normal school hours). It may sound pedantic, but we all need to be productive and enjoy living in the common, ion particular the kitchen where I’m sitting right now and a great family space to eat, work and relax. The dining room has come into it’s own as a great place to work and also to do video conferencing for pleasure. I am fortunate to have my own small office as I’ve been running my businesses from home for 20 years. This, like the garage, is my domain and I can always retreat there for my work in quiet solitude or for video conferencing.
The garden has become such a pleasure and we all feel so fortunate we are to have an outdoor space to rattle around in. Living on a hill, we decided to landscape the back garden soon after we bought the house and carved out a levelled terrace which just big enough for a small badminton court. It’s been a joy to see Imogen practicing her netball shooting again, she’s not not been playing for over a year after breaking her knee. We’ve all had fun playing badminton on the terrace over the past couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to game playing a game of boule with the family very soon.
I’ve posted a few shots on my blog of the raised beds in various stages of re-development. I first built them when the kids were small and they helped sow and harvest some of the produce. After a few years of decline, I’ve been re-building the beds using sleepers over ther past couple of years and now is the right time to get planting again. I’ve planted up some seeds in a mini-greenhouse that I bought from B&Q recently. Delighted to see the firs green shoots coming through. It was great to have Max, my 15 year old son, working with me this Easter Weekend, tidying and preparing the raised beds and digging over the soil. I plan to put in another couple of hours in each week this month to get the soil totally ready to plant-up our 2020 veg crop for the beginning of May.
Digital Tech has come into it’s own during the lock down and we’ve all been engaging in group chats and video calls with our friends and loved-ones. Sadly, my Mum has not been able to adapt to the internet and is unlikely to do so, regardless of all encouragement. I think there are many (all be it a small minority) in the same boat as my Mum, who really are limited to the telephone for most two-way real-time communications with the outside world. Mum and many others others who do not access digital services must be feeling very cut-off. I am calling here every day to check all is OK and have arranged for online deliveries and that’s really the best I can do at the moment.
The whole panic-buying thing has calmed down now. Supermarkets are currently enforcing social distancing with customer forming orderly queues (standing 2m apart) around the outside of stores as people are admitted on a one out/one in basis. Priorities are given to the elderly and vulnerable with exclusive access at certain times. NHS and other key workers are being allowed to join at the head of the queues. We’ve booked a couple of delivery slots, but are struggling to get more availability at the moment, so are also still needing to go to the supermarket. The shelves are gradually being replenished after the buying frenzy in the lead up to the lock-down.
Closing this post with a shot taken yesterday morning (Easter day) walking Teddy along Pilgrims Way, enjoying the resplendent bluebells and the glorious warm sunshine.
Links to sources on this page:
John Hopkins University CSSE dashboard is on this link
Coronavirus deaths data for UK sourced on the Worldometer website on this link