On 12th April the UK entered into the next stage of lockdown with the re-opening of  non-essential shops, gyms, hairdressers, and pub gardens opening across the country. Restrictions on social distancing, waring of face-masks, limit of 6 people meeting in pubs etc all remained in place, but this feels like a great step towards the return of our social liberty.

The number of UK citizens people who’ve received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine exceeded 10 million this month, and the vaccine roll-out has now opened up to the over 40’s.  While across the rest of the world the story is not so good.  April has been a torrid month for India with new infections per 24 hours peaking at over 315,000. India has been added to the “Red List” of countries from which most travel to the UK is banned, amid concerns over a new viral strain.  Globally we have now recorded over 150,000,000 people infected with the disease around the world, resulting in 3.27million deaths.

It has been reported that UK Government borrowing in the year to March reached £303.1bn. This is the highest level since the end of World War 2 and is directly attributable to the COVID-19 crisis.

Weather have patterns continued to oscillate unpredictably  between very hot and very cold, which has meant not suitable time to sow seeds and plant-up my vegetable patch this month.  The two pictures below were taken just 5 days apart. Early green shoots can be seen can be seen poking through the light fall of snow in our garden.

In the UK, the public’s attention has also been momentarily diverted to the ‘wallpaper-gate’ scandal this month. Mulling over the profligate nature of Mr and Mrs Johnson of Number 10 choosing to spend £60,000 on titivating their accommodation, it occured to me this is  more money than most of the British working population earns (in taxable income) to support their families for an entire year.  The wallpaper, costing 850 per roll,  came in for a lot of media attention, as did the scrapping of good quality John Lewis furnishings installed by the previous occupants of 10 Downing Street.  How can Johnson spout-off about sustainable futures when he acts like this?  An investigation has been kicked off because there are “reasonable grounds to suspect an offence” by the Prime Minister regarding the source the £60,000. It does not appear to have originated from either his own personal bank account or any other legitimate source. It appears to have been some kind of ‘gift’ from connected parties who will have a clear conflict of interest.  Upon being rumbled, a swift corrective action was taken by the accused, to pay the money back.

The situation, presented in a comedic fashion by the media, has distasteful undertone. It’s an example of the most senior British politician abusing his office and pulling a fast-one to influence personal gain.  A prime example of the privileged few who are running the country, kicking grit in the eyes of the UK’s tax-paying working population, as they help them-selves to outcomes that are not for the public good. It’s greedy. It’s wrong.

News broke on 18th April about attempts to establish a European Super League. This ESL was to comprise 12 of the richest clubs in Europe, included 6 clubs from the UK.  There was total condemnation from UEFA, FIFA and many UK politicians (including Boris Johnson).  The press was all over it. The initiative was killed-off 2 days later as one by one, each of the English clubs pulled out under intense lobbying from all directions. With-out these six English clubs, the plans had no legs and the ESL evaporated over-night.

A year ago, in my post for May 2020 (on this link) I blogged about the significance of the SpaceX launch that month which was the first ‘commercial flight’ made to the Space Station by the US.  Currently, eight of the eleven astronauts on the International Space Station have been flown up there by the SpaceX Dragon. The remainder have been flown up by the on-going Soyuz programme.   The SpaceX Dragon launch this month is part of a back-to-back crew rotation activity. The plan is for Dragon to bring back four astronauts on 2nd May, leaving a team of four on the ISS.

April 19th, 2021, was a big day for human exploration on Mars: NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took off and safely landed again! This was the very first powered flight, controlled by humans, on another planet beyond Earth.  This first flight lasted 39 seconds and comprised a vertical take-off and landing manoeuvre, up 3 metres and safely back down again. Since then we have seen another three successful test flights completed this month. The most recent test flight covered a horizontal distance of 266 metres with a flight duration of almost 2 minutes.

The following clip is a recording of this first flight on Mars.  Congratulations to the NASA Perseverance and Ingenuity mission teams!