The Corona Chronicles – My First 100 Days

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It’s Saturday, the 21st March, and as the ‘new normal’ unfolds and the virus begins to dictate our lifestyle, I guess we’ll all look back on this in years to come with that wonderful gift of hindsight – and (hopefully!) draw some important lessons!

This blog, that I’ve penned on and off since 2004, tends to record the significant events in my life and COVID-19/Coronavirus certainly feels like an event worth documenting! As we the country the world begins to grapple with its implications, things are almost certainly going to get worse before they get better. None of us have been here before, and so we just don’t know what we don’t know!

Will it pass quickly, or will it be with us for the foreseeable future? Who knows? So, I’ve decided to record the ‘this and that’ of our ‘new normal’ daily life for the first 100 days under what is being termed as ‘lockdown’.

For the past week now, the population has been asked to adopt ‘social distancing’ (two metres proximity/no touching/kissing and certainly no handshaking nor hugging others) – and that’s for the foreseeable future. It’s a big ask, and some people just aren’t complying. WhatsApp has never been so busy in this house and we’re going to be using technology as much as we can to keep in touch.

None of us has ever been in a situation like this before – we’re all learning as we go along. Even in war, the churches were open, but not at the moment! Pubs, Clubs, Restaurants, Gyms, Cafés have also been instructed to close. The government, to its credit, has been very ‘up-front’ about support for businesses, but on the downside, less clear for the self-employed. There’s going to be a daily Press Conference to keep us up-to-date with ‘all things coronavirus’ too and I plan to document the headlines from that as well.

As the seriousness of the virus begins to dawn on us all, businesses were obviously hit hard, practical help from the government included the unprecedented move of paying 80% of wage bills and additionally, chucking loads of money at the population using a broad range of support packages. Not bad for a Conservative administration! As usual, and predictably, the populace feels the government isn’t doing enough! Speaking personally, I’m so glad we’re no longer working, but we’ve got a few friends who are, and they’re clearly going to be struggling, whilst the government gradually reveals its plans.

The gradual tightening of our civil liberties has, already, seen the best and worst of mankind! We’ve heard of volunteers delivering food to the vulnerable; there are local support groups being set up across the UK using social media to help those most in need, but in stark contrast, normally sane individuals are fighting over food at the supermarkets (and bizarrely, toilet rolls!) WTF!!! We can behave so irrationally sometimes!!!

The official advice is simple: ‘stay safe, stay indoors’ – it’s not the law, but like a few other countries who are ‘further round the curve’, it’s probably only a matter of time before it is!!!

Now, travel back in time to those early days of lockdown…

DAY 100: Sunday, 28th June 2020 – We Made It!

Well, here we are… at Day 100… a  hundred days of lockdown later and how’s it been and what have we learned?

Taking everything into account, for us, it hasn’t been too bad. OK, our hair is too long and the complete annihilation of our social calendar has been a pain in the wotsit, but other than that, we’ve got this far pretty unscathed. If there is a positive out of all of this (there isn’t really!), we’ve certainly boosted our savings, as there’s been nothing to spend it on!

Many will disagree, but personally, I think the government has done a reasonable job of things, given the enormity of the task in these uncharted waters – although they’ve been sometimes slow to react. One thing is sure: ‘Who’d be a politician?’ – damned if you do and damned if you don’t!!
As far as mankind’s behaviour is concerned, nothing much has changed. I began this post commenting how irrational we can be as humans, but as we pass 100 days mark, it’s the ‘same old, same old’ – people ignoring lockdown and heading for beaches; football supporters gathering in large numbers; big parties in homes as well as large un-related protests on the streets around the world. The truth is, some people just don’t want to be told what’s best for them – especially by the government of the day!! In our social-circle, we’ve managed to keep in touch with friends and family using socially-distanced get-togethers, the phone and the new hero of the hour – Zoom.

I’m off my soap-box now! Back to our 100th day…

1.30pm: We took our afternoon stroll. It was very windy but at least it was dry! My leg injury seems to have finally healed and I didn’t feel any twinges at all as we took a new route down a pathway close to the A14 that brought us out into Powell Lane.

In coronavirus news, the new total for those who’ve died from the diseases now totals 43,550 with 36 new deaths being registered overnight.

6.30pm: We finished the day listening to all manner of songs on Spotify. Since we bought the amplifier and revamped the speaker system, I don’t think we’ve ever listened to so much music!

Ironically, just as I was finishing this post, we learned that Leicester might be the first city where LOCAL lockdowns are required. There had been a rise in the number of coronavirus cases there overnight – I wondered if, having got used to a ‘new’ normal over the past three months, whether this will become the NEW (new) normal?

DAY 99: Saturday, 27th June 2020 – Hello Laptop!

5.25am: I was up with only one thing on my mind – to repair my laptop. I left it running last night to ensure it had all the updates and had downloaded all  my cloud files, but it appeared to have powered-down at some point, so we’re no further forward.

11.45am: By 11.30am, I’d made some significant progress and I didn’t feel so bad about being cooped up inside as the weather was truly horrendous! – what a change from yesterday!!

1.15pm: By 1pm, the weather had improved somewhat. Hopefully, it’ll remain dry (and warm up a bit) as we’re hoping to eat outside in the garden tonight with Jo, Janet and Carol.

3.10pm: The weather is all over the place today. Now it’s blowing a gale. I braved the elements and took the opportunity whilst it was dry to mow the lawns, but we’re still undecided whether we’ll eat outside or not tonight!

7.20pm: Well, the weather held, but although it was dry, it wasn’t warm enough to sit outside. So, we arranged a socially-distanced meal in the dining-room instead! Jo, Janet and Carol arrived on cue, as did the lamb dish that had been slow-cooking since just after 1pm! We had a great time and we didn’t say goodbye until close to midnight!!!

DAY 98: Friday, 26th June 2020 – A Wander at Wimpole

5.45am: Up with the birds again!

7.02am: We were just about to set out for our early walk, when down came the rain, and so we postponed it! Thunderstorms are forecast for later

9.55am: Mick arrived, as planned, to install a double-socket in the porch.

11.30am: Off for our ‘weekly day out’. Today it was NT’s, Wimpole Hall. It only took around an hour to get there and on arrival NT made a good job of controlling its visitors. The best news of all though was the discovery that they’d had a bit of a makeover and there was now a massive car-park and a new route to the (new) Visitor Centre. In addition, FREE charging points for EVs too! (over a dozen) and the simplest ones we’ve ever had to use – just plug in and that’s it! We took a short walk for around 2 miles and then settled down to our pre-prepared picnic. It was a really good day out AND very hot!

In coronavirus news, there was plenty in the media about the beaches being over-run because of the hot weather. A new phrase was ‘coined: ‘fly-parking’ where people just parked anywhere and risked a fine, in search of Sun, sand (and possibly a second spike!). Soccer is rarely out of the headlines, and today was no different – for all the WRONG reasons! Liverpool supporters ignored social distancing and headed for Anfield to celebrate the club winning the league! The sight of so many people (and children!) risking it all – and specifically contributing to the likelihood of a ‘second spike’ – just made no sense to me at all. There were 186 deaths overnight, bringing the total in the UK to 43,414.

4.05pm: When we got home from Wimpole Hall, I discovered that my laptop had taken a turn for the worst, requiring a full reinstallation of Windows 10. I’ve still no idea what caused it – just what I DIDN’T need in all this heat!!

8.25pm: Ann and Jo got together for their daily walk.

9.45pm: We took our daily fix of Downton Abbey.

DAY 97: Thursday, 25th June 2020 – Power to the err, Porch!

5.30am: I was up early, but I’m not sure why! ?

7.00am: We took our daily walk before it got too hot and covered just over 3 miles (4.83 kilometres). It turned out to be another scorcher here hitting the lows 30s again!

10.00am: Mick was due to fit an extra power socket in the porch, but I screwed up the date, so he’s coming tomorrow!

1.00pm: Lunch in the garden – Sausage Salad!

3.00pm: We had our first Zoom-call with our Solicitor to discuss Dad’s Estate.

In coronavirus-related news, there were 149 new deaths in the past 24 hours making the total death-count now 42,230. In Bournemouth, the beaches were completely over-run, with the news reporting ‘up to 5000,000 flocking to the site. Twats!!!!?

6.30pm: We watched Downton Abbey live .

7.30pm: We caught up with Roger, Jane and Oliver by phone.

8.15pm: Ann joined Jo for their daily walk.

9.30pm: It was still far too hot to try and sleep in the bedroom upstairs, so we stayed up for a bit.

DAY 96: Wednesday, 24th June 2020 – Lockdown Lunch

5.15am: Up with the birds again this morning!

5.25am: Finished-off the techy work I began yesterday. I spent the next 30 minutes testing, testing and more testing!

6.55am: Off for our daily walk – even earlier than yesterday in an attempt (again!) to avoid the heat that’s forecasted for later. 18℃ by 8am they reckon! (As it turned out, London hit 33℃ later today – a new record for this Summer!)

10.00am: A cuppa with Karen next door – socially-distanced of course!

12.55pm: Off to Paul and Sue’s for lunch. We had perfect weather for it (maybe even a tad TOO warm!) and it was great to catch up with Geoff and (especially) Rhonda too!

5.00pm: First day recently, where there wasn’t a weekday Press Briefing.  There were 154 new deaths overnight bringing the total to 43,081.

6.30pm: It’s Downton Abbey time – we watched it live tonight.

8.15pm: Ann and Jo headed out for their daily walk, whilst I grabbed a quick chat with neighbours David and Valerie.

9.30pm: It was still very hot – and our bedroom was even hotter, so we stayed up later than normal to give everything chance to cool down.

DAY 95: Tuesday, 23rd June 2020 – Two to One!

5.55am: Up before the birds bin-men this morning!

7.25am: We went out for our daily walk super-early to avoid the heat that was forecast for later!

8.30am: I spent a couple of hours doing some techy work for a friend, updating their website.

12.30pm: The PM got on his feet in the Commons, and announced the worst kept secret of late – a slight relaxation of the current lockdown restrictions! Specifically, from the 4th July, the 2-metre rule is reduced to 1-metre; Pubs, Restaurants, Outdoor Gyms, Museums and Hairdressers can re-open and an increase (to two) in the number of groups that can get together INDOORS. Nail-Bars and Beauty Salons are still excluded from trading though!

3.30pm: Helen dropped in for a socially-distanced cuppa and slice of cake!

5.00pm: Tuesday’s Daily Briefing was presented today by the PM. In a slightly surprising move, He announced earlier that today’s will be the last daily briefing, although they will be re-instated for significant announcements. There were another 171 new deaths from the virus overnight bringing the total to 42,927.

6.45pm: Ann and Jo went for their evening walk.

8.00pm: Our daily Downton dose!

DAY 94: Monday, 22nd June 2020 – 1 in 1700!

7.30am: The very hot weather from a few weeks back is promised to return later this week. So, that means early morning walks – but maybe not today, as it’s ‘low 20s’ only!

9.45am: Our first walk of the week hampered a little by the increasing temperature

11.45am: I’ve been promoted! In my new job as Assistant to the Deputy Under-Gardener, I spent all of 15 minutes helping Ann in the front-garden!

1.10pm: Cheesy Beans on Toast for Lunch!

2.40pm:  Snoozing in the garden indispersed with catching-up with episode 4and 5 of Amazon Prime’s new series Alex Rider.

5.00pm: The first Daily Briefing of this week, today, hosted by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary).  There were 15 new deaths reported bringing the total to 42,647. The government confirmed that the PM will announce tomorrow more meausres to relax the lockdown. A month ago, 1 person in 400 had coronavirus, now it’s 1 in 1,700. That was good news! And more good news too – specifically for those who are currently ‘shielding’ where, from July 6th and throughout August, be encouraged to begin socialising (with some restrictions). Shielding will officially end on 1st August.

5.50pm: The sun was still shining, so we had our fishcakes in the garden.

6.35pm: Ann headed out for her walk with Jo.

7.45pm: Our first portion of Downton Abbey this week!

DAY 93: Sunday, 21st June 2020 – Alex Rider on Amazon Prime

7.15am: Our late-night last night meant we were both still shattered when we woke-up. Ann stayed under the duvet, whilst I staggered into the shower and then got on with some domestic chores.

8.35am: B-movie guilty pleasure: 1951’s No Highway to the Sun starring a host of famous stars – James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins, Kenneth More, Janette Scott and many more!

12.35pm: Off to Sean’s to see his new place (he got the keys last Friday). It was a very impressive ‘pad’ and we’re sure he’s going to be very happy there!

1.45pm: I watched the first two episodes of the new series: Alex Ryan courtesy of Amazon Prime. Both were very good indeed, and they held my attention throughout.

3.25pm: Our Sunday walk (after a ‘day off’ yesterday!) that took us to just over three miles on a very blustery but humid day!

4.40pm: Oh, OK then, another episode of Alex Rider!

5.30pm: It could only be one thing on the menu tonight – curry leftovers (from last night!). Yummy!

DAY 92: Saturday, 20th June 2020 – Socially Distanced Supper

8.00am: Busy, busy today! Al the ironing done by 8.30 and then onto other jobs. John, Trish and Sean are coming round this evening for a socially-distanced meal in the garden! So that meant mowing, dead-heading, ant-killing and other tasks that would make Monty proud!

11.30am: And then, out of nowhere, came the rain! It wasn’t forecast, and it was fortunate we started the jobs when we did! Luckily, it was over in a flash, and we were back on schedule.

12.30pm: With the garden sorted, we turned our attention to getting the table prepared as well as the menu. It was to be a spicy affair with a chicken dish and a fish dish taking centre stage!

1.45pm: The Chicken Curry is in the oven, slow-cooking, whilst the Cod is in the fridge marinating nicely in the spices!

7.00pm: Our guests arrived! And what a great evening we had! The weather stayed dry (if a little windy!) and all the food went down a treat! In fact, we stayed outside until just after 11pm. The two patio heaters earned their keep as it did get a tad chilly after 10pm.

11.30pm: Rain was forecast overnight, so we brought the seat cushions and patio heaters inside. Ann then crashed-out whilst I emptied the dishwasher and put in the next load! Finally, I tidied up the kitchen, getting to bed just after midnight! We hadn’t done the ‘socialising thing’ since before lockdown started and although we were both shattered, it had been great fun and good to ‘properly’ socialise!

00.02am: zzzzzz!

DAY 91: Friday, 19th June 2020 – Anglesey Abbey

6.35am: What a c*** night’s sleep. Not sure why though! I woke us at just after midnight and couldn’t get back to sleep. Who’s Mr Grumpy this morning then?!?!

11.00am: It was our ‘day out for the week’ and we set off for Anglesey Abbey with a small picnic packed! It only took 55 minutes to get there helped by the new stretch of the A14 (which we’ve not been on since it fully opened). David and Valerie met us there and where, on arrival, the weather appeared to be anything but ‘picnic-friendly’. We ate in the car, but it soon cleared up and we took a long slow stroll around the grounds. Then, with the Sun still shining, we returned to our cars and set up four chairs and a table nearby and finished our picnic!

5.00pm: Friday’s Daily Briefing was presented by Gavin Williamson (Education Secretary). There were 173 new deaths overnight bringing the total number to 42,461. Prior to the briefing the ‘COVID-19 Threat Level’ was reduced from ‘4’ to ‘3’ (Level 3’s warning simply states that the Covid-19 epidemic is in “general circulation) where many thought it was more of a political decision, rather than one based on the science. There was also a rumour that social distancing was going to be reduced from 2 metres to 1 metre. It looks like the government is almost certainly going to abandon its ‘App’ that was initially trialled on the Isle of Wight. Instead, a Google/Apple equivalent is going to take its place (but with no apparent deadline date).

Well, there was no news either way on the social distancing distance, but there was a confirmation that the government was going to pump-in £1bn into schools. The PM has also said he wants ALL sprogs back to school by September.

7.30pm: Now that lockdown has been relaxed a little, we’ve put our regular video-chats with The Three Bears (aka Jo, Janet and Carol) on hold, but that gave us more time, doing the same, with Chris and Kate via WhatsApp.

9.05pm: Another slab of Downton Abbey! (a two-hour episode!)

DAY 90: Thursday, 18th June 2020 – RIP Vera Lynn

8.00am: Nope, not a typo, I didn’t get up until 7.45am!  The weather forecast is wet, wet and wet and to add to the gloom, it was the day we learned that Vera Lynn passed away.

9.30am: A return trip to David’s now that the aerial man had been and fixed the cable. All that was needed to complete the job was to re-tune the TV! – Success!!!

10.15am: The weather is truly awful! It put paid to any tasks in the garden, so I caught up with my reading, whilst Ann concentrated on her next painting.

And that’s pretty-much how the weather stayed for much of the day. So, a bit more reading and TV for me, whilst Ann finished-off her latest art work.

2.00pm: We planned to go out for our daily-walk later, but by 2pm it was STILL chucking it down, so we weren’t sure when (if at all!) we’d actually get out.

3.35pm: We placed a small wager on a couple of horses running at Ascot. Wish we hadn’t!?

3.50pm: Our daily dose of Downton Abbey!

5.00pm: Today’s Daily Briefing was presented by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary), where we learned that another 135 had died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total now to 42,288. Slightly embarrassingly, the government has decided to abandon its own test and trace app in favour of the Google-Apple model of non-centralised data collection. The Bank of England has going to pump £100bn into the economy under the heading of ‘quantitive easing’.

5.15pm: A new menu tonight! Slow-cooked Pork with a Date Sauce. Super-yummy!

6.45pm: Much later than normal, we took our daily walk as the rain had almost cleared-up. In fact, it was one of the nicest walks all week, covering just over 3 miles (4.83 kilometres). A perfect temperature, and not a cloud in the sky!

8.00pm: Another slice of Downton Abbey!

DAY 89: Wednesday, 17th June 2020 – Paving Problems

Well, one of the benefits of last night’s downpour is that the garden looks VERY green!

9.15am: First job of the day? Fix the loose paving-stone on the front path. It was a two-man job and David provided the extra muscle! (and the cement!). In fact, due to a mix up of start time, David was already on the case whilst I was sipping my coffee! After a fair bit of faffing around at 2 metres’ distance, we seem to have solved it – at least for the time being!

10.45am: Wednesday’s walk! It’s a lovely day here, and we covered just under 3 miles (4.83 kilometres).

1.10pm: Lunch in the garden in the sunshine! A new fish item on the menu for me – Basa – which was very tasty! We then snoozed in the Sun, before the warmth disappeared altogether for the rest of the afternoon.

2.05pm: Guilty Pleasure: The 1968 movie – Up the Junction (whilst Ann got on with her weekly online Art Class).

5.00pm: It’s the Daily Briefing, hosted by Oliver Dowden (Culture Secretary). The total deaths from the virus in the UK has now risen to 42,153 with another 184 fatalities added in the past 24 hours. The presentation had, in part, a ‘sports’ feel to it, with an announcement about the forthcoming soccer matches ‘free-to-air. There was also an upbeat message about helping the theatre and performing arts industries – and they’ll need all the help they can get as many are looking at running out of cash by Christmas!

6.15pm: For tea, it was a very indulgent Spaghetti ‘oops on large crumpets. Such luxury!

7.00pm: The rest of our evening was spent in front of the TV. Ann chose not to walk with Jo tonight because of the threatened rain!

DAY 88: Tuesday, 16th June 2020 – Wicksteed Wobbles

6.15am: Unusually, we were both up at the same time today. I learned via Facebook that the part of Wicksteed that looks after the leisure facilities had gone into administration! That’s really bad news locally and for the wider population of Northamptonshire.

In complete contrast to yesterday, it’s Thundery downpours and humid weather forecast today.

10.15am: Off to the shops – specifically, the dynamic duo at each end of the food-retail spectrum – Aldi and Waitrose. Aldi was buzzing, but Waitrose was almost deserted! No queuing outside at either!

12.30pm: In a plan to dodge the promised showers, we took our daily walk. We only covered 1.87 miles, but it felt much longer in the ‘muggy’ air – I’ll be very surprised if we don’t see a serious thunderstorm later!

…and that just shows how much I know about weather forecasting! For the rest of the day, it was brilliant sunshine! (well, until about 7pm, when the thunder came!)

5.00pm: Tuesday’s Press Briefing! Today, hosted by the PM. The big news was the announcement of the discovery of an existing inexpensive steroid, Dexamethasone, that can treat coronavirus patients with breathing difficulties. Total number of deaths in the UK is now 41,969 (adding another 233 over the last 24 hours).

In related news, the government, u-turned on the debate about free school meals for kids over the summer period. Eligible children WILL now get vouchers!

7.00pm: Ann joined Jo for their evening walk, but it was cut short by the horrendous rain!

7.45pm: Family phone-call!

8.35pm: We finished the day with a dose of Downton Abbey and Peter Capaldi’s final two episodes of Season 10 as the Doctor: World Enough and Time & The Doctor Falls.

DAY 87: Monday, 15th June 2020 – Retail Re-opens (sort of!)

A bit of a pivotal day today! Thousands of retail outlets in England re-opened and face-masks are now compulsory when travelling on public transport. Borders across the EU are re-opening too, but the UK still recommends NO ‘non-essential’ travel. The big debate is around whether the ‘two-metre’ rule should be relaxed to a lesser distance here in England – and the government is under pressure to take action.

8.15am: In news closer to home, it’s another gorgeous day with bright blue skies (but rain is forecast for later).

9.15am: We took our daily walk earlier than usual before it got too hot! And boy!, was it warm! We felt like dish-rags when we got back!

12.15pm: Lunch and a welcome return to yesterday’s Chicken Pie! Even more delicious today!

2.15pm: We sat out the garden for a bit, but the weather suddenly turned very changeable. One minute it was brilliant sunshine – and hot; the next, very overcast and very cool!

5.00pm: The first of this week’s Daily Briefings. Today, hosted by Dominic Raab (??). The total numbers of deaths from the virus now stands at 41,736 with 38 new additions over the weekend. What made this event different? It was the first time a politician HADN’T been flanked by scientists. DR looked very uncomfortable all on his own, and was ‘on the back foot’ for the majority of the briefing.

DAY 86: Sunday, 14th June 2020 – Geddington on Foot

8.00am: Looks like another hot day on its way!

10.45am: For our daily walk, we did something a little different today. We took the short drive to the village of Geddington, parked up and trekked just over 3 miles (4.83 kilometres) walking along a bridleway that we’d spotted using the OS App.

12.15pm: A very pleasant laze in the garden! Ann pottered in the garden, re-laying the back bed, whilst I didn’t!

5.25pm: A very late lunch of home-made Chicken Pie. The weather was so good, we ate outside.

6.15pm: Ann gave the back garden a thorough soaking as it had been hot all day remaining at low 20s even at 6pm! Phew!

8.20pm: Watched the 1954 movie: An Inspector Calls starring the inimitable Alastair Sim.

DAY 85: Saturday, 13th June 2020 – BBQ (Lockdown Style)

7.45am: What a change in the weather! It’s going to be another scorcher today!

9.15am: After breakfast (and the obligatory catch-up of Downton Abbey) Ann did some dead-heading in the garden whilst I polished of most of the ironing.

10.45am: Time for our morning stroll – and it’s a warm one! We covered 3.23 miles (5.2 kilometres) and that’s my longest walk since ‘Shingate’.

12.30pm: Sarnies for lunch as we’re saving ourselves for the BBQ later.

2.25pm: Guilty Pleasure: The 1964 Bryan Forbes’ movie, Seance on a Wet Afternoon.

4.00pm: It’s the highlight of the week, if not the whole lockdown to-date: a small BBQ at Jo and Janet’s with Carol to celebrate her forthcoming birthday!

8.30pm: Back from J & J’s. It was great to see everyone – especially face-to-face!

DAY 84: Friday, 12th June 2020 – Economy contracts by 20%

5.30am: I was up super-early this morning – and I’m not sure why!

9.15am: First stop today, was a return to David’s to revisit his problem of none of his TV aerials working. After another twenty-or-so minutes scratching our heads, we concluded it was definitely an aerial connection issue. Cue, a short walk, by David, to the aerial company based just down the road!

10.15am: Normally, on a Friday, we’d be off to Aldi for our weekly shop, but we’ve amassed so much stock, I think we could now withstand a full-blown siege (but only for a month!)

10.25am: We took off for our daily walk – much earlier today, mainly to avoid the forecasted showers. We covered just over 2 miles (3.22 kilometres).

11.10am: Another ‘guilty pleasure’ – watching the final episode of BBC’s Pride & Prejudice. And then in complete contrast: Sky’s Gangs of London!

1.30pm: Lunch: Macaroni Cheese (revisited!)

3.10pm: Bit of a binge-watch of Netflix’s The Last Kingdom.

4.45pm: Sean dropped-in.

5.00pm: The final Daily Briefing of the week. Today, hosted by Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary). The economy had contracted by 20.4%! There was a reminder that face-coverings are important in certain situations. There were 202 new deaths in the past 24 hours bringing the total to 41,481. Operators may refuse travel to those who aren’t wearing face-coverings. The Met POlice stongly advised people NOT to travel to mass demonstrations over the weekend. The R value is close to 1 (‘critical’) in all regions of the UK.

6.15pm: More of The Last Kingdom.

7.10pm: Ann joined Jo for their evening walk.

8.00pm: No Zoom Chat with The Three Bears tonight, as we’re seeing them in the flesh tomorrow.

8.30pm: Yet another episode of Netflix’s rather excellent The Last Kingdom.

DAY 83: Thursday, 11th June 2020 – Remember Skype?

7.30am: Yes, it’s raining again!

10.15am: We spent the morning getting ready for our chat with the Solicitors regarding Dad’s Estate.

Midday: Our video-chat with Ian & Ann and Alan & Mags – this time via the ‘grandaddy’ of video-chat apps, Skype. It was good to catch-up and great fun too!

1.30pm: Ralph dropped-by for a socially-distanced chat!

2.30pm: A busy afternoon on the phone relating to family matters.

3.15pm: Our daily walk where we covered just over 2 miles (3.2 kilometres).

5.00pm: Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) conducted today’s Press Briefing where we learned that there were another 151 new deaths overnight bringing the total deaths to a mighty 41,279. Baroness Harding took explained the data relating to the new test-and-trace initiative.

7.30pm: A family-chat over the phone with Roger, Jane and Oliver!

DAY 82: Wednesday, 10th June 2020 – Relaxation of Lockdown (Part 2)

6.00am: It’s a wet one! – a VERY wet one! We haven’t seen this much rain for quite a few weeks. ☔??

Ann spent some significant time tidying-up the filing cabinet, whilst I caught up with my reading. We also spent some time preparing for our chat with the Solicitor over Dad’s Estate.

11.00am: Our daily walk covered just 2.67 miles (4.3 kilometres) – I’m still taking it easy!

12.05pm: Time to give the back lawns a mow! (in spite of the rain!)

1.00pm: Salad for lunch! (in spite of the rain!)

1.40pm: A socially-distanced session with David attempting to solve why his TVs weren’t working. We didn’t solve it, but narrowed it down to a faulty amplifier.

3.00pm: Today’s Guilty Pleasure! Watching the 1961 movie: The Rebel.

5.00pm: Time for Wednesday’s Daily Briefing, today presented by the PM, no less!
Zoos/Safari Parks and Drive-in Cinemas are to re-open next Monday. There were 245 new deaths overnight bringing the total in the UK to 41,128. The PM announced the following relaxation of the current lockdown rules: For those single households and those single parents with children under 18, they will be allowed to form a single ‘household bubble’. Places of worship will be able to open for single worship.

DAY 81: Tuesday, 9th June 2020 – Blue Bin/Red Card!

6.45am: The Binmen were unusually quiet emptying bins outside our house today. A casual glance out of the window explained why! I’d accidentally put some lemon peel and some plastic wrapping in the blue-bin – and round here that means they clamp on a warning notice and don’t empty it until you remove the offending items! As things turned out, David and I reviewed the bin and after putting things right and contacting the Council for a re-empty, they informed me they weren’t doing the re-emptying journeys any longer!

9.15am: Ann took to the kitchen and batch-prepared various cakes for friends and neighbours – whilst I watched The Persuaders (in-between bouts of washing-up!)

I’m not sure where the rest of the morning went!!

1.15pm: Our afternoon walk consisted of a relatively short one of just 1.84 miles (2.96 km).

2.00pm: Off on the cake delivery run. First to Paul and Sue’s with a Lemon Drizzle and a socially-distanced cuppa and then on to the Costellos with a boozy fruit-cake.

5.00pm: Tuesday’s Daily Briefing was presented by Alok Sharma (International Development/Business Minister). Overnight, there a further 286 deaths bringing the UK total to 40,883. In related news: Plans to re-open primary schools fully before the summer holidays were scrapped/Pubs will NOT re-open as previously reported in the media/The rest of retail re-opens its doors from the 15th.

The rest of the evening was spent discussing ‘family matters’ relating to Denis’s Estate.

DAY 80: Monday, 8th June 2020 – Any Tune, Any Time, Anywhere!

6.45am: Luckily, no after-effects from my longer walk yesterday – so maybe (just maybe) I’m free of ‘shin-splint’ now!

A lazy morning reading and listening to music – today, the very talented Spanish composer: Ivan Torrent. Ann then did a spot of gardening whilst I faffed around in the garage – nice album cover too! (see above).

1.45pm: Off for our daily walk. Today, I covered 2.88 miles (4.45 kilometres) so I’m slowly building up the distance. Leg felt a bit stiff, but nothing too serious (I hope!).

Today’s ‘techy-challenge’ was more of a head-scratcher than yesterday’s! This time, it was (again!) a digital music-related issue: None of my LMS ‘bridge’ plugins was behaving as they should – and I’d tried everything to try and solve it. Red-faced, an hour later, it was eventually solved! The solution? Since the new PC was rebuilt by me, I hadn’t switched on the individual bridges in their respective settings screen (my excuse was that the tick-box to do this was ambiguous!). Anyway, the result was worth the temporary change in the colour of my face! I can now control all our smart-radios, smart-speakers, the TV and the Yamaha Receiver from the comfort of software on my phone and/or tablet. Any tune, any time in any room (or even all rooms!)

5.00pm: This week’s first COVID-19 Briefing was presented by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary). Some good news at last where the UK recorded its lowest number of deaths (55) since 23rd March, with no new deaths reported in Northern Ireland nor Scotland. The total though now stands at a massive 40,597.

In related news, BP announced that they’re reducing their workforce by a massive 10,000/The airlines are legally challenging the quarantine rules set by the government/the number of COVID-19-related deaths in Care Homes is falling/The ‘R’ rate is less than 1 in All UK regions/All remaining adult Care Homes – 6000 – will get tested for the virus.

6.20pm: Ann joined Jo for their first walk of the week.

DAY 79: Sunday, 7th June 2020 – The Old Bag

8.00am: It’s another one of those days where we’ve got nothing in particular to do! (they’re pretty rare, even during these strange times!). ‘Clearing up the loft’ is in the back of our minds, but it’s a long, boring job in a confined space, so neither of us is particularly excited about the prospect. Much easier, of course, to introduce some sort of ‘displacement’ activity! In my case, I transferred all my car-cleaning kit from the old (smaller) holdall to a shiny new gigantic one! Much more satisfying!

10.25am: We collated Sean’s paperwork in preparation for posting.

1.05pm: We skipped lunch and headed out for our daily walk. The whole day consisted of rain on-and-off (but mostly ‘on’) but we took our chances! We also decided to walk a little further than of late, to exercise my leg. We covered 2.3 miles (a little more than yesterday) – and it certainly felt like it with a few twinges in my shin. Hope I haven’t overdone things!

The ‘techy challenge’ that’s been an issue for quite a few weeks, got some of my attention today. Classic FM had suddently decided not to play on any of our internet radios. Cue numerous faffs by me (that didn’t help) and a few posts to various online Forums helped to narrow down the problem. On a positive note – I’m not the only one! Apparently, a lot of radio stations are moving to https streams (rather than the less secure http type). It’s not quite solved yet, but I’m on the right track!Update: solved for local devices but not a chance when driven by OK, 1 out of 2 isn’t bad!

3.15pm: A late lunch of a cod dish based on Jamie Oliver ‘5 ingredients’.

3.45pm: Guilty pleasure: We settled down to watch the 1954 movie, Carmen Jones, recorded a few days ago. Great stuff!

7.30pm: Finished the evening with toasted cheese and listening to Desert Island Discs (Martin Lewis, the financial campaigner).

DAY 78: Saturday, 6th June 2020 – With Cousins (Virtually!)

8.00am: A lazy start to the weekend, but I knew it was about to change…

10.15am: A significant amount of research by both of us, in preparation for Sean’s visit later.

11.30am: Sean dropped-in for some more advice on how to progress his claim for a cancelled flight back from America and his accommodation. Gathering all the facts took longer than we expected, but in the end, we’d created two rather punchy letters to chase his money – one to the Travel Agent and one to his Debit Card company.

2.30pm: Our daily walks continue… Today, we covered over 2 miles, so it looks like my leg might be healed! We went dressed for the weather (rain, rain, more rain and very cold) but by the time we got halfway round, it was brilliant sunshine! ☔? Weird!

4.00pm: No Press Briefing today as the government has announced these will only be carried on weekdays in the future.

4.00pm: 5.00pm: Delayed by an hour as Ali was working, it was time for our video-chat with cousins Alison and Ali (with Jake on tech support!). This time, we used (the recently offered free for everyone) Google Meet – and it was our first time using this particular platform.

7.00pm: After a delicious home-made lamb curry, we settled down to watch TV. This time The Last Kingdom courtesy of Netflix.

DAY 77: Friday, 5th June 2020 – Coronavirus Deaths pass 40,000

6.45am: Another very deep sleep – that’s two in a row – so very unusual! Once I’d worked out what day it was (!!!) the first job of the day was to read the gas and electricity meters (such excitement!). And just to keep us on our toes, unusually for a Friday, we’re NOT shopping at ALDI today (because we did it yesterday!) Oh, the surprise!

10.00am: A late, (late!) breakfast whilst watching BBC’s Pride & Prejudice (episode 5).

11.15am: A trip to the loft to assess the next LARGE job – empty it and tidy it up! As expected, a scary moment that re-defined the word ‘large’! And that was just the assessment!

1.20pm: The weather today was at best, mixed, and it, therefore, threatened our daily walk. But a quick glance at the weather forecast indicated a short ‘window of opportunity’. We took a small umbrella, just in case, and a good job too as it began to rain within two-minutes of us leaving the house! 1.8 miles later we were back indoors: rain avoided (fail!), gale-force winds dodged (fail!) and umbrella destroyed (pass!)

5.00pm: The final Daily Briefing of the week (as there aren’t any weekend presentations any longer). Today’s was presented by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary). We now have a total of 40,261 deaths from the virus in the UK where 357 new deaths were added overnight. Psychologically, passing the 40,000 mark was a significant event! In an extension to the face-mask requirements (starting on June 15th) announced yesterday, the government will require all hospital visitors and out-patients to also wear face protection together with all NHS staff too (even if they’re not on the front-line).

6.10pm: Ann and Jo went for their daily walk.

8.00pm: Our weekly video-conference with The Three Bears aka Jo, Janet and Carol.

8.45pm: More TV and our Downton Abbey fix!

DAY 76: Thursday, 4th June 2020 – Living on the Edge

7.30am: I slept like I’d never slept before – as I’d been drugged!!! Weird!

10.20am: As everyone knows, for us, FRIDAY is Aldi shopping day, so here’s a shock! We’re going shopping there TODAY!!!! Such excitement ehh??? You can’t say we don’t live on the edge!!! We even managed to include a trip to ASDA too!

1.15pm: A late lunch of oops on toast Peach Crumble.

2.20pm: Our afternoon walk! And I’m pushing myself a bit today, heading towards a two-miler (up from yesterday’s and Tuesday’s 1.5). Well, I didn’t quite make 2 miles, but 1.85 wasn’t bad!

3.30pm: An hour with Ann honing her skills with Windows 10.

5.00pm: Thursday’s Daily Briefing was presented by Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary) where we were told there had been another 176 deaths from the virus, bringing the total to 39,904. In perhaps a surprise announcement, the government announced that face-coverings would be MANDATORY from Monday, 15th June. Non-compliance may result in fines or travel being refused. Given the presenter, it wasn’t too surprising that the briefing had a transport bias to it. There was more news about ‘bike vouchers’ which all seemed a bit weird and out-of-place (even though it was related to transport).

5.45pm: At last, Spaghetti ‘oops made it on the menu!

7.35pm: Sean dropped by for some help claiming a refund on his cancelled holiday.

DAY 75: Wednesday, 3rd June 2020 – Cranford for a Cuppa!

6.15am: Up early! We’re now three-quarters of our way through this 100-day blog-post and I’m just starting to feel ever-so-slightly bored. My back pain has pretty much disappeared, and my shin feels like it’s really on the mend. I spent an hour-or-so double-checking Conor’s laptop before making arrangements to return it later this week.

9.15am: My second rather gentle walk of the week – again to the Post Office and back.

11.00am: We took the short drive to Helen’s in Cranford Road for a cuppa. We sat outside, just as the rain began to fall!

2.00pm: Ann joined her Zoom Art Class whilst I faffed around trying to sort out a techy issue with the internet radios. I partially solved it, but that wasn’t good enough for me, so my research continued!

The rain continued in the afternoon and that stopped us doing anything in the garden (not that there’s much left to do out there now!). A perfect opportunity to catch up with a bit of TV! Today it was The Last Kingdom courtesy of Netflix.

5.00pm: Wednesday’s Daily Briefing was hosted by the PM. The death total is now 39,728 with another 359 added overnight. The government promised 24-hour turnaround of test results by the end of June. Test and Trace data to be made available from next week. From Monday, visitors to the UK will need to isolate for 14 days.

Another lazy evening, where the wet weather stopped Ann going out for her second walk.

DAY 74: Tuesday, 2nd June 2020 – Tech Failure & Success

6.00am: I slept well, but those early morning planes overhead at 4am woke me up earlier than planned!

It’s a significant day today as there are three important tasks that need to get sorted. First is to resume my daily walks – ‘baby steps’ as they say (literally!). Next, it was to return my black Rado watch to the insurance company for repair. Lastly, to replace the non-replaceable battery in Ann’s Huawei Mate 9 mobile phone.

O O8.45am: Me multi-tasking. That’s a rare event these days! We took the short walk to the Post Office to return my wrist-watch – a much shorter walk than of late! ‘Baby steps’ as I’ve said, so it was just to the Post Office and back (just under 1.5 miles). It all felt a bit odd, and my leg, even after a week of rest, was as stiff as hell! Still, I made it without too much bother and only time – and a bit of patience – will tell.

10.45am: So now, the tricky bit – sorting out Ann’s phone – the Huawei Mate 9! Well, I followed all the instructions and a very detailed YouTube video. The result..? …complete destruction of the phone! Oh fiddle!! Who’s Mr Popular then???!!! Cue a hurried search for a backup phone somewhere in my ‘tech-spares box’. Luckily, I found one – an ageing ‘Samsung J5’.

3.30pm: Trish dropped round for a cuppa and left Conor’s laptop with me that needed some serious tlc.

5.00pm: It’s Tuesday’s Press Briefing, presented by Matt Hancock (Health Minister) where 324 new deaths were reported overnight bringing the total in the UK to 39,369. The government announced officially that those from the BAME community are at a greater risk of contracting the virus. I also read in the media that after this Friday., they”ll be no more weekend briefings (apparently because the number of people viewing over the weekend is always much lower than weekdays). No doubt, that’ll give the Press something else to moan about, I’m sure!!

6.15pm: I spent the rest of the evening trying to get to the bottom of why Conor’s laptop was stuck in a ‘boot-loop’. Closer inspection revealed that a recent Windows-update had gone horribly wrong and not completed its cycle. So, surely a simple case of downloading the Windows Media Creation Tool onto a USB stick and re-installing Windows from there would do the trick? No such luck – that would be far too straightforward. Errors, errors, and more errors! In the end, I had to delete all the partitions and literally start from scratch – so I’m feeling a bit smug that I’d configured all his files to backup to OneDrive when he originally bought the device. Three hours later, the latest version of Windows 10 was up and running (v2004) and a further 30 minutes of downloading saw all his data restored to its original locations. Job done!

8.00pm: Just time to chill-out in the garden for an hour-or-so with an ice-cold sherry!

DAY 73: Monday, 1st June 2020 – Journey to the Centre of the Garden

5.30am: That’s more like it! Up before the birds!! My back and shin feel heaps better this morning and so I plan to return to my daily walking tomorrow!

7.30am: I wasn’t the only one competing with the birds this morning either! Ann was up early and out for her daily walk before 8am!

9.10am: First task today was the short trip to Bosworth’s, the local Garden Centre. As expected, there was a formal one-way system in force, which was just as well as they were quite busy. Stock-wise, they weren’t at their best, but we managed to get all we needed for the garden.

11.10am: A spot of gardening before it became far too hot to stay outside.

1.55pm: The first of a series of ‘one-hour refreshers’ by me for Ann on her PC.

5.00pm: The first of this week’s Daily Briefings and also the first day of the eased lockdown – predictably, the ‘natives are restless’ (aka the Press!). Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) led the briefing and announced a slight change of format with John Newton (Head of ‘Track-and-Trace’) co-presenting. The Health Secretary presented the ‘numbers’ confirming there were now a total of 39,045 deaths from the virus (including 111 new deaths in the past 24 hours).

6.25pm: Ann joined Jo for their daily walk.

7.15pm: We sat in the garden for about an hour with some Plum Tart to keep us company!

DAY 72: Sunday, 31st May 2020 – On the Mend

7.35am: Thankfully, my back feels a little better this morning and so does my leg – as a result, there’s far less grumpiness around in this house!

10.15am: We spent the morning watching reruns of Downton Abbey and tidying up Ann’s filing system on her PC.

11.15am: My back and leg felt much better, so I washed Robert and then went round the garden doing my favourite job – killing the weeds!

1.10pm: Our afternoon was a mix of reading in the garden (The Sunday newspapers) and catching up with some recorded TV (BBC’s Pride & Prejudice).

4.10pm: A late lunch today! Salmon with a Herb Crust, Baked Potatoes and Peas.

4.00pm: Today’s Daily Briefing was presented by Robert Jenrick (Communities & Local Business Minister) where the total number of deaths in the UK now topped 38,489, with another 113 deaths reported overnight. In related news, the government announced 90% of rough sleepers have been offered accommodation/those still isolated/shielded (because of their serious medical conditions) will be allowed out for the first time tomorrow/the target of 200,000 tests has been reached.

6.15pm: Ann joined Jo for their daily walk.

7.30pm: After Ann got back, we spent the rest of the evening in front of the TV binge-watching a couple of episodes on Yesterday called The Architecture the Railways Built presented by rail enthusiast and historian, Tim Dunn. Neither of us are particular fans of trains, but this was a very interesting series.

DAY 71: Saturday, 30th May 2020 – Hottest Day So Far

7.45am: I really felt my age this morning! Not only was my shin splint injury not clearing up as fast as I’d hoped, I’d slept awkwardly, and my back is killing me! I feel a gentle day coming on!!

9.45am: And gentle it was! I think we spent pretty-much ALL the morning in the garden. OK, Ann worked a bit, whilst I just watched!

1.15pm: Late lunch in the garden enjoying the really hot weather (safely under the umbrella!).

2.10pm: Ann joined Jo and Janet for a walk around Weekley Woods, whilst I rested my leg and back.

4.30pm: Today’s Daily Briefing was given by Oliver Dowden (Culture, Media & Sports Minister). There have now been 38,376 deaths in the UK where 215 were reported in the past 24 hours. More positively, Formula 1 will return in July in Austria, remaining UK Premier League soccer matches will be free-to-air and more widely, domestic competitive sport re-starts from Monday.

7.20pm: That was nice! We ate our evening meal in the garden – simple fare: M&S fish fingers, hand-made chips and baked beans.

9.45pm: We sat outside, but just in case it turned as cold as it was last night, we had a patio heater on stand-by – actually, it was the first time we’ve used it, and it served us proud! It’s been a really warm day and according to the media, today was the sunniest Spring day since records began (in 1929).

10.45pm: Yes, another late one! For all the right reasons!

DAY 70: Friday, 29th May 2020 – Shin Not Sorted!

6.30am: Neither of us slept too well and being woken by the noise of planes flying over (again!) in the early hours didn’t help!

9.15am: But hey!, it’s Aldi-day, so what’s not to love? This week, it just our shopping and a few things for Geoff and Rhonda. The weather forecast promises another fine day and no doubt we’ll be making up for our lost sleep in the garden yesterday. The surprising thing was though, even though it was only a short time on my feet, my ‘sports injury’ started to hurt – obviously, I’ve not recovered as quickly as I first thought!

10.30am: The shopping is away so before we ‘worshipped the Sun’, I needed to chase ChargeMaster regarding the new home-charger NOT showing its data online. Boy! They tested my patience (but obviously NOT the Charger!!!) I know we’re in lockdown and companies are finding it difficult, but after 5 attempts (holding on for 30 minutes at a time) I nearly gave up! ‘Sixth time lucky’ (as someone probably said) and I finally got through! By 4.45pm everything was behaving as it should, and I charged the car.

12.15pm: Time to hit the pile of ironing.

1.45pm: Budget meeting! We re-looked at all our big expenditure up until April next year – a useful and sobering exercise!

5.00pm: Today’s Briefing was hosted by Rishi Sunak (The Chancellor). There were 324 deaths overnight making the total for the UK now a whopping 38,161. Given the presenter, the theme today was, as expected, very much to do with getting the economy back-on-track. It centred around the ending of the furloughing scheme in October and in advance of that, employERS will begin to contribute to their staffs’ NI, wages and salaries. This was big news (not necessarily welcomed by all the media – yes, Daily Mirror, I’m looking at you!).

8.00pm: Our regular Friday-night Zoom video-chat with the ‘Three Bears’ accompanied by some alcoholic beverage – for Ann: a glass of rosé, whilst for me: a trusty Guinness!

10.15pm: Yes, you read that correctly! 10.15pm – and we’re still up! We sat outside, reading in the cool summer breeze. It didn’t last long though and the ‘cool’ turned to plain ‘cold’! Still, nice though, but maybe time for the new patio heaters tomorrow, if the weather repeats itself!

DAY 69: Thursday, 28th May 2020 – Warning! Boiler Alert!

7.00am: An interrupted night’s sleep due to aircraft flying overhead in the early hours!!! Not sure whether it was EasyJet or BA as the engine noise sounded much ‘throatier’.

8.30am: Chris and Dale arrived to service our boiler and fix the leaky part. £130+VAT later, we were all sorted.

11.15am: Off to M&S on our monthly pilgrimage for some ‘foody-treats’. Maybe surprisingly, there was a queue to get in, but it was worth the 5-minute wait. Lots of yummy stuff filled our basket, and we were soon on our way home! Boy! it’s hot (again) today!

1.35pm: A lazy afternoon followed – mostly in the garden, soaking up the sun.

5.00pm: The PM hosted today’s Daily Briefing where he reported there were 377 new deaths overnight from coronavirus, bringing the total to 37,837. To me, it still seems like a lot of deaths at a time when the government is thinking of relaxing the lockdown – even a little – even after the PM confirmed we’ve ‘passed’ the five tests set out by the government. Premier League soccer is to restart on the 17th June/3000 Nissan jobs to go in Barcelona/Scotland is to relax lockdown a little from Friday. Best news of all was that the slight relaxation here in the UK will allow, from Monday, up to SIX people to meet in spaces (such as a garden or a park) whilst maintaining social distance. Car showrooms are being allowed to re-open from Monday, Dentists from June 8th and ‘non-essential’ retail from the 15th. It all felt cautiously upbeat, but the Press was still out for blood because of the recent Cummings debacle!

8.00pm: We joined the rest of the Close in the weekly ‘Clap for Carers’ display. What made tonight unique was that we’re told by the media that this week could be the last time we do this (simply, I guess, because there are still plenty of other people for us to show our appreciation for!). Actually, it felt a bit half-hearted tonight, so maybe the timing is perfect???

DAY 68: Wednesday, 27th May 2020 – Dragonflies!

7.00am: Up with the lark with two priorities on my mind! The first: get a better price for my blog contract, and the second, find out why our shiny new car-charger is NOT connecting with the online data usage website. The weather forecast promises another day of temperatures in the mid-twenties, so that’s something to look forward to.

9.05am: My first call was to IONOS to renegotiate my blog contract. It all started well (12 months at the old price of £1.20 per month) but some bad technical advice over the phone related to the new contract sent me down a technical rabbit-hole that would have wiped out my blog completely! I rescued the situation by cancelling the new contract and extending the current one, but at a slightly less attractive price of £6.60 per month. Bugger!

10.30am: My next call – to ChargeMaster – was slightly more positive. The latest advice about the previous advice given: “Your access to your online energy use will up-and-running within 24 hours” turned out to be a little too optimistic – and 72 hours was suggested as being more realistic!

12.30pm: The next task was much more positive and pleasurable – we finally arranged the ‘dragonfly lights’ around the pergola!

2.00pm: Ann joined her online Art Class via Zoom.

3.30pm: I finally got Skype sorted at our end for the upcoming video-lunch-fest with Alan, Mags, Ian and Ann set for a few weeks’ time.

5.00pm: Today’s Daily Briefing was hosted by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary). The PM had been ‘super-grilled’ earlier in the day by a bunch of fellow MPs, so I’m not surprised he didn’t present things tonight. Deaths overnight here in the UK are up by a staggering 412, bringing the total today to an eye-watering 37,460. The government announced that its controversial Track-and-Trace scheme will launch tomorrow in England.

8.30pm: Ahh, dragonflies!!!

DAY 67: Tuesday, 26th May 2020 – Clocked and Guilty as Charged!

6.00am: I slept well. My shin continues to recover and I can, at last, stand on tip-toes and exercise the muscles (I couldn’t do that 24 hours ago!)

9.30am: ChargeMaster arrived in the morning to swap-out the existing charger for a shiny new ‘version 2‘. Our original version had been through a period where it wasn’t communicating its charge data with the ChargeVision website, and after a lot to-ing and fro-ing with their customer service department, they agreed to give us a brand-new one.

11.15am: The re-painted clock is finished and back in its rightful position in the garden – and it’s working too!!

12.15pm: A bit of gardening.

1.00pm: My first techy-session of the week helping a friend out with LinkedIn postings.

2.20pm: An opportunity to sun bathe, but it was actually too hot for me!

5.00pm: The Daily Briefing returned to its normal format presented today, by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary). 134 new deaths – the lowest for 7 weeks – were reported overnight bringing the total here to 37,048. In related news, McLaren cut 1200 jobs/No new deaths in Northern Ireland overnight/New contact to supply 2bn items of PPE equipment/30 Tory MPs want Dominic Cummings to go!

5.30pm: Burger & Salad in the warm sunshine in the garden.

6.00pm: Ann and Jo went walkies.

8.00pm: My TV treat – the worldwide watch-along of the Doctor Who episode: “The Rings of Akhaten” (Season 7, Episode 7). The bonus afterwards being the premiere of a virtual choir and composition of The Long Song created by musician Borna Matosic (based on the original by Murray Gold).

YouTube player

DAY 66: Monday, 25th May 2020 (Bank Holiday) – Dominic and Durham

7.00am: My shin feels a bit better this morning, but let’s not tempt fate – it’ll be more ice-packs today and attempting to keep it horizontal.

11.00am: Work continued on re-painting the garden clock.

11.45am: Followed a little bit of planting in the front garden.

1.15pm: A bit of sun-worshipping!

2.35pm: A late lunch of Burgers and Salad.

4.35pm: Instead of the 4pm Daily Briefing by a Minister, today, we got Dominic Cummings, the PM’s chief-aide holding a Press Conference in response to the Media’s reporting of his apparent contravention of the current coronavirus guidelines. This impromptu event was a really unusual step, and was the result of the public’s general dissatisfaction with the PM’s announcement yesterday, attempting to deflect this media-storm and defend his political colleague. At just after 4.35pm, Dominic Cummings presented his case in the garden at Downing Street. I’m not sure what I expected him to be like, but he came across as very conflicted and slightly passive. I guess that’s just what the Press wanted, and they showed him no mercy whatsoever when it came to the Q&As. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this man’s plight, this made for very painful viewing. He brought the ‘mauling’ to an end in just over an hour – rather him than me!

Corona deaths reported in the past 24 hours equalled 121 bringing the total here in the UK to 36,914.

6.00pm: Ann joined Jo for their daily walk.

7.00pm: For obvious reasons, the Daily Briefing was delayed! The PM was on the podium again tonight. He was on time too! (and that makes a change!). Maybe surprisingly, the PM didn’t lead on the Cummings story and launched straight into the daily figures and the next phase of relaxing the current lockdown. He managed to deflect the Press pretty well, who were still out for Cummings’ blood. It all got a bit tiresome!

7.15pm: Second coat of paint for the front of the garden clock.

DAY 65: Sunday, 24th May 2020 (Bank Holiday) – Shin Splints

8.30am: We both slept ‘like the dead’ – just look at the time on the left when I got up!. First task of the day was to use the web to find out some more information about the pain in my left shin that started yesterday. Good friend Jo had said it was likely to be something called Shin Splint – and she wasn’t wrong – and it seems I’ve sustained the anterior variant. Those that know me, know that I’m not a natural with any sort of exercise, so this must be my FIRST sports injury ever – so in a peverse way, t it all feels like a badge of honour!

So, going forward (or not, in my case) it’s rest, rest and more rest for at least a week with ice-packs three-times a day and some gentle foot exercise. Daily walks are off the agenda (obviously!) and so Ann has had to find a new walking partner (thanks again Jo, for stepping in!).

11.30am: With our paintbrushes out, we dabbed them in the direction of the currently dis-assembled garden clock-surround (currently light grey). The plan was that whilst the clock is under repair, we’d repaint it black to match (mostly) everything else in the garden. It looked like it would need more than a single coat of Hammerite, so it was going to be a few days before it was all done and ready for re-assembly.

2.30pm: Ann and Jo went walking, and they covered over 4 miles! I was there in spirit!

5.00pm: The weekend Daily Briefing, today hosted by no less than the PM himself! This was unusual for a weekend briefing but no doubt prompted by his top aide apparently breaking lockdown guidance and driving 260 miles (418.43 kilometres) from his home in London, to Durham. Not surprisingly, the PM backed him (“He acted with integrity” and “followed every father’s instinct”) and has not asked for his resignation (cue howls of discontent from the media!). In the numbers, there were 118 additional deaths overnight in the UK bringing the total to 36,793. The government also confirmed a limited return-to-schools on June 1st.

7.00pm: Well, the three ice-packs throughout the day (at regular intervals) has helped to make my shin feel a lot more comfortable – certainly an improvement on this time yesterday! Let’s see how it is tomorrow!

DAY 64: Saturday, 23rd May 2020 (Bank Holiday) – Pain in the, err… Shin!

6.30am: The normal Saturday routine began with calculating the weekly stats for Robert followed by more Maths! – calculating the mileage we needed to walk today to exceed last week’s weekly total. Specifically, we’re going to attempt to walk in excess of 4.1 miles today to set a new personal best of more than 30.3 miles (our previous best) – but that may be hampered by a strange pain that I’ve acquired in my left shin that began after yesterday’s walk.

8.35am: Ouch! The pain in my shin is really hurting, but we thought we’d walk anyway! We covered just 1.84 miles (2.96 kilometres) and decided to maybe do another walk later.

2.15pm: Family matters took up most of the afternoon with Roger, Jane and Oliver, so much so that we missed the Daily Briefing at 4pm. Later we learned that the UK lost another 282 poor souls to the coronavirus, bringing the total in the UK to 36,675.

5.35pm: Our second walk of the day! We needed to cover just 2.26 miles (3.64 kilometres) to equal our personal best for the week total (30.3 miles (48.76 kilometres)). In spite of the continuing pain, we actually covered 2.41 miles (3.88 kilometres) – so we now have a NEW personal best of 30.5 miles (49.08 kilometres). Our final half-mile was when the heavens opened and we both got soaked! We ran into Jo and Janet who also suffered the same fate – and we all huddled under the same tree (2 metres apart of course!)

6.15pm: On our return, there was just ONE priority – ICE! And for once, not for my G&T!! A painful end to the day!!!

DAY 63: Friday, 22nd May 2020 – The Time War (Part 4)

It’s Friday, or as we like to call in these unpecedented times – Aldi-day! Oh, the excitement, it’s a trip out in the car! – the second one this week! As normal, we’re shopping for others too, with an additional two lists to manage. Still, we’ve been doing this long enough now to have got it down to a fine art – normally, in and out within the hour (including queuing).

9.45am: Surprisingly, no queues at Aldi, so we were done in record time. We dropped off G&R’s shopping and then a cake to T&J before heading home to unpack ours and drop the single item for Valerie.

11.15am: Our morning walk across the top meadow, bottom meadow, Wicksteed lake covering almost 4½ miles.

3.10pm: Me? Repairing stuff? Surely that’s someone else!!! Well, maybe, but I did have a go at fixing the garden clock again AND the one of the new garden solar lights. Time will tell (literally!) as to whether it was all a success!

5.00pm: Today’s Press Briefing was hosted by Priti Patel (Home Secretary). Since yesterday’s, another 351 deaths have been reported in the UK making the grand total some 36,393 Brits. The government announced that they were tightening travel arrangements. This included international arrivals being required to self-isolate for 14 days (with some exemptions). Failure to do so will, apparently, result in a £1000 fine and/or deportation!

8.00pm: Our weekly ‘Zoom’ with The Three Bears!

DAY 62: Thursday, 21st May 2020 – The Time War (Part 3)

5.15am: Yes, you read that correctly! I was up before the birds this morning! I’ve got my video-conference at 11 and we’re planning to do our daily walk as soon as we can this morning to avoid the heat that’s promised from this glorious weather of late.

My ongoing battle with the garden clock has ended with me admitting defeat. Overnight, the hour hand with its penchant for parking itself in the ‘six position’ permanently had returned! I say ‘defeated’ but I wasn’t quite done yet! A quick trip to Amazon revealed that replacement kits are available – so the clock may have won this latest battle, but not the (Time)War!

7.50am: Walkies (as it was already getting quite warm) all the way to Walkton Village and back, totalling just over 4½ miles.

11.00am: A Video Conference Call with Sally B testing out the features of the recently launched ‘Messenger Rooms’.

2.05pm: Not sure where it came from, but the next 90 minutes was spent on an ironing marathon!

5.00pm: Time for the government’s Daily Briefing, today presented by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary). where 338 new deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours in the UK bringing the total to 36,042. This week is Mental Health Awareness week and the government has announced extra funding for many of the mental health support services such as The Samaritans. In a surprise announcement, the government talked about a new test being trialled that doesn’t need to go to the lab for analysis – results are available in just 20 minutes! Great news!

7.15pm: Our first WhatsApp video-conference with cousins, Chris and Kate.

8.00pm: The regular Thursday clap-along in Tynan Close showing our appreciation for frontline Carers.

DAY 61: Wednesday, 20th May 2020 – A Tale of Two Buckets!

7.00am: I’m not sure where the first few hours went this morning – one minute I was repairing a light-switch, the next, we were out for our daily walk!

9.15am: Good job too, as it turned out! Early walkers had reported on the App ‘Map-my-Walk’ that it was already a scorcher out there, and so, before you could say : “I need to comb my hair, we were off! What a gorgeous day, but as expected, it sure was hot! Our walk took us just over 3 miles and 6000 steps – and as much as we enjoyed the walk, it was good to be back in the cool!

As things would turn out, the Meteorological Office confirmed it was the hottest day of the year so far!

11.30am: After a quick coffee, I was back on the techy-trail, preparing for a conference call tomorrow about the pros and cons of two new video-conferencing apps: Messenger Rooms and Google Chat.

12.15pm: I finished my notes for tomorrow and so my plan for the rest of the day was to do absolutely nothing! Let’s see how long that lasts! 😉

12.35pm: In automotive news, my two new car-wash buckets arrived together with my two extra toolboxes – at last, it meant I could finally finish tidying-up my tools – and if you’re wondering why TWO buckets?, one’s for washing, the other for rinsing. Yes, it’s official, I’m a car nut!

2.00pm: Ann joined her onine Art Class via Zoom.

5.00pm: The Daily Briefing was hosted today by Oliver Dowden (Culture Minister). The best news of all was that London recorded no new coronavirus cases!). Total number of new deaths in the past 24 hours was reported as 363 bringing the total in the UK to 35,705. Rolls Royce is going to shed nine thousand jobs here in the UK. Captain Tom has been knighted! whilst the Queen has suspended the announcement of her birthday honours list in order to accommodate some of our ‘front-line heroes’.

5.45pm: Burger and Salad for Supper!

7.00pm: A lovely evening! All windows open downstairs and upstairs!

DAY 60: Tuesday, 19th May 2020 – Into the Future/Pick for Britain

Today is a day for being indoors. Nothing to do with the weather, more the fact that Mick, our Sparky, is spending best part of the day doing various jobs around the house.

10.25am: Mick and Ash arrived on-time and got stuck in to our endless list of ‘leccy’ jobs. By far the most significant task was to install the Nest learning thermostat – confirming that we have, at last, joined the 22nd century with this ‘3rd generation’ tech-marvel!

12.35am: Well, the Nest installation went like a dream (in spite the extra challenge of the necessary cable being buried in the wall!). The other jobs went just as smoothly, although we’ve carried over the security lighting renewal until the next visit whilst Ann and I narrow down our options.

3.20pm: Because of the electrical work, we left our daily walk until later today. Temperature-wise, it was a bad decision! It was so hot! In spite of that though, we still managed 4 miles (6.44 kilometres)!

5.00pm: Today’s Daily Briefing was hosted by George Eustice (Minister for Agriculture) where we learned that a further 545 people have died in the past 24 hours in the UK bringing the total to 35,341. A national scheme – Pick for Britain – has been launched to help pick the fruit harvest where interested parties can sign-up and ‘supplement their income’ via a new website.

6.20pm: Pizza for tea! 😋

7.05pm: Another lazy evening, appreciating the good weather and catching up on some TV.

DAY 59: Monday, 18th May 2020 – Porch Perfected!

7.30am: Looks like it’s a week of glorious weather and with the slightly relaxed lockdown measures, I’m sure we’ll make the most of it! The first job of the day was to admire our painting skills on the newly-rebuilt porch – a good job (if I say so myself!).

In the news, the media still seems to be ‘stirring up the mud’ around the government’s decision to allow some pupils back to school on the 1st June.

12.35pm: In home news, it’s the annual Boiler Service. Having dumped British Gas for their persistent incompetence, we’re now using a local firm. They’re cheaper too – and the service is more comprehensive! So comprehensive in fact that they found an initial fault, requiring a new part!

1.30pm: In our daily walk, we did something a little different today. We first drove to Twywell Hills and Dales and took an exploratory walk. I’m not sure where the Hills and Dales were, but it was a pleasant (albeit short) rugged wander of just over 1½ miles.

5.00pm: It’s the first of this week’s Daily Briefings. Today’s was hosted by Dominic Raab (Business Secretary) where he reported there were 160 deaths in the UK overnight bringing the total here to 34,796. The major news today was the government promised that anyone over the age of 5 can now request testing for the virus. We also learned that the government had exceeded their 100,000 tests-per-day target. The loss of taste and smell has now officially been added to the symptoms of coronavirus.

6.30pm: I didn’t think I’d get away with such a short distance for our earlier walk today! So, it was no surprise that I was (ahem) ‘encouraged’ to do another. ?. This time, we covered 2.7 miles (4.35 kilometres), bringing our daily total to a more respectable 4.3 miles (6.9 kilometres).

7.45pm: Our day ended soaking up the last of the day’s sunshine in the garden.

DAY 58: Sunday, 17th May 2020 – Weetabix Walk

7.45am: I was woken by the sound of the birds – that was nice! 👍

8.15am: A quick review as to why the left-hand solar lights in the garden weren’t working, revealed that the solar sensor had relocated itself in the flower-bed! Soon sorted! The two new lanterns are impressive with their faux-flickering flame.

10.00am: Sunday walkies! Today, we headed in the direction of the Weetabix factory. In fact, we set s new personal best of 5.92 miles (9.53 km).

12.30pm: Time for the second coat of Ronseal on the porch.

2.25pm: Ann experimented in the kitchen for lunch: The result? A rather tasty Sausage & Apple Bake from Jamie Oliver’s Five Ingredients cookbook.

4.45pm: The Daily Briefing – today, hosted by Alok Sharma (Business Secretary) where we learned that a further 170 people had died from the virus in the UK in the past 24 hours. The total now stands at a scary 34,636! However, it wasn’t a good day for technology (theirs not mine!) – the briefing was delayed for 30 minutes due to Zoom suffering an outage, whilst Northern Ireland was unable to process its figures in time for today’s presentation.

The government announced significant progress with the development of a vaccine here in the UK and is going to award a further £84m to aid the research and rollout. Thirty million vaccines are promised by September if the trials are successful. This news was tempered with the Business Secretary commenting that “We may never find a vaccine”.
Further technical problems followed with Zoom and as a result, they were unable to provide live questions from the Press – replaced with ‘typed-up’ equivalents and shown on the local TV screen.

5.45pm: It’s time for the third coat of Ronseal on the porch! Apart from a bit of touching-in once it’s dry, I think we’re done! We both enjoyed a great sence of satisfaction over this latest bit of DIY.

We ended the weekend with a bit of TV.

DAY 57: Saturday, 16th May 2020 – Steve and DIY Duties

7.45am: It was a lazy start to the weekend, no doubt helped along by the copious amounts of alcohol last night!

10.15am: A dull day weather-wise, but perfect for our daily walk! And we’re on a mission!!! Our aim is to cover at least four miles, so that we can set a new personal best for the week – 30 miles (48.28 km)! We actually covered 4.25 miles (6.84 km), bringing the weekly mileage to 30.3 miles – Yay!

2.30pm: The rest of the afternoon was spent divided between catching-up with this week’s TV (Pride & Prejudice, Charlie Brooker’s Anti-viral Wipe and Breezin’ – the story of George Benson) and a range of DIY jobs (sorting out my new toolbox, preparing the porch for its first coat of paint and ‘making good’ the space left by the old central-heating timer ready for the new Nest Smart Thermostat). Phew!

5.00pm: Today’s Daily Briefing was hosted by Gavin Williamson (Education Secretary). The total number of deaths in the UK relating to the virus now totals 34,666 (a rise of 468 overnight), but the trend continues to head in the right direction. In less helpful news, there’s been plenty of squabbling between the unions and the schools about the merits of some pupils returning to schools on 1st June.

6.15pm: After a burger supper, we spent the next hour soaking up the setting sun in the garden. A beautiful evening with just the sound of coo-ing birds, other birdsong and the wind-chimes to keep us from dropping off! Not a bad way to end a Saturday!

PS Actually, it was such a nice evening, I managed to get an initial coat of Ronseal on our recently rebuilt porch.

DAY 56: Friday, 15th May 2020 – The Time War (Part 2)

7.30am: Such excitement here! as our normal routine of shopping at Aldi first thing has been replaced by shopping at Aldi later on this morning! Wow! You can’t accuse us of being boring!!!

First job of the day was to repair the garden clock – AGAIN! Just like before, although the hour hand was behaving normally, the minute hand was responding ONLY to gravity and sat permanently at the ‘6’ position! A pair of pliers was all that was needed (famous last words!) as a quick check after two hours revealed that it was now showing the correct time.

11.30am: The highlight of our day – off to Aldi for the weekly top-up for one of our friends and us too!

2.00pm: It’s our afternoon walk where we covered 3.67 miles (5.91 km). A lovely day for a new route in the direction of Poplars Farm Road!

5.00pm: Yes, it’s that time of the day again – the Daily Briefing. Today, it was hosted by Matt Hancock (Health Minister). Overnight, the deaths in the UK rose by another 384 bringing the total deaths to a frightening 33,998. More frightening however, though is the dreaded ‘r’ rate, where it was confirmed by the Department of Health that it’s gone UP (how???).

2w^8.00pm: Our weekly Zoom meeting with the three bears aka Jo, Janet and Carol. It was extra special tonight as it was J & J’s 10th Anniversary and the 11th since Ann left JS! The trouble with Zoom though, on the free account at least, is that it restricts you to just 40 minutes of natter. Lucky for us then, that Facebook launch ‘Rooms’ yesterday! Just like Zoom, only with NO time limits! As a result, we kept nattering until 9.45pm!

DAY 55: Thursday, 14th May 2020 – Porchio!

6.45am: A frost overnight – good job Ann covered the tender plants!

8.30am: David, our newly acquired Carpenter, arrived bang on time to rebuild our front porch that (like me) is showing serious signs of old age. It looks like a big job and well beyond my skill-set. Luckily, he’d already carried out a pretty-much identical job on David’s, our neighbour.

2.05pm: Our afternoon walk took us just over an hour, and we covered 3.2 miles (5.15 km).

4.30pm: Time to offer some techy help! Today, it was for a friend whose Tablet was popping up messages about ‘lack of storage space’.

5.00pm: Today’s Daily Briefing was hosted by Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary). UK deaths increased by 428 overnight bringing the total to 33,614. The Office of Budget Responsibility estimates that the cost to the taxpayer will be around £123bn. A Swiss pharmaceutical company has developed a ‘Covid anti-body test’ that Public Health England confirmed was a ‘positive development’. The big headline however, was urging us all to avoid using public transport!

DAY 54: Wednesday, 13th May 2020 – Art and Donkey!

7.00am: Given yesterday’s record-breaking walk, I’m surprised we didn’t sleep better than we did! Weird! ??

I’m pleased to report that the Wine Cooler seems to have returned to its normal behaviour of cooling rather than warming! That’s one less thing to worry about!

10.45am: We took our walk earlier today as Ann had the first of her ‘Facebook Live Art Classes’ this afternoon (as a pupil). However, ‘the management’ here suggested that we might do another walk later today!

2.00pm: Ann’s class started – sort of! Regular buffering somewhere along the line made it a bit frustrating, and we weren’t able to work out where the bottleneck was!

3.30pm: Yes, our second walk of the day. In total that’s almost 4 miles today!

5.00pm: Time for the Daily Briefing! Today, hosted by Robert Jenrick (Housing Minister). UK deaths now total 33,186, an increase of 494 overnight. The UK economy has contracted by 2% in the first three months of this year. Officially, those that cannot work from home have been encouraged to return to work. Also, moving home is now OK providing social distancing is adhered to. The government promised to pump an extra £600m into the care-home system to help with managing the virus.

6.15pm: It’s Pie Night! And tonight it was steak ((but Ann wasn’t too convinced: “Donkey more like” said she!)

7.00pm: We spent the evening listening to Spotify – their “Ballet and Beyond” playlist.

DAY 53: Tuesday, 12th May 2020 – Tick, Tick, Mangle Mangle!

6.45am: That strange ticking noise coming from the area of the central heating boiler (which has been going on for a week now) was on the list of things to resolve today. On closer inspection, it turned out that it wasn’t actually the boiler, but the controller/timer itself cycling on and off in an erratic fashion. Luckily, it didn’t seem to affect the heating nor the hot water, but clearly something’s not right! Time to contact the professionals! A bit like the coronavirus, it’s obviously contagious, as the wine-cooler that sits next to it, started to make some strange noises too – a mangled whirring sound – and as a result, its temperature display jumped from 7 to 12℃ – and refused to budge. Luckily, that seems to have been easier to solve, simply by leaving it switched off for an hour-or-so and restarting it. We’ll see!

9.35am: Whilst Ann pottered in the garden I sorted out some techy-tasks on the main PC.

1.35pm: After watching the mostly depressing 1 o’clock news, we headed out for our afternoon walk. The plan was to cover around 4 miles (6.44 km). As things turned out, we walked all the way to Cranford St Andrew and we covered 5.9 miles (9.5 km)! A new personal best (it felt like it too!)

5.00pm: The Daily Briefing returned after going AWOL yesterday. Overnight, a frightening number of new deaths occurred in the UK – 627 – bringing the total to 32,692. Today’s briefing was hosted by Alok Sharmer (Business Secretary) who confirmed that government’s job retention scheme is to be extended beyond June, without any changes, until the end of October.

5.45pm: The Curry made its third and final appearance on my plate – that chicken was superb value for money – three full meals!

A lazy evening followed…

DAY 52: Monday, 11th May 2020 – Confused, you WILL be!

7.00am: Looks like a warmer day today!

8.00am: In the news, as I predicted, the message from the PM last night is being dissected to death. More worryingly, there is evidence that some people are thinking it’s all over, based on some news reports. WTF! Stay two metres apart you morons!

8.45am: It’s Monday, so time to mow the back lawns!

11.00am: Another one of those indoor jobs that has been nagging at me for ages – fix the occasional blanking of the TV screen when we’re watching something. It’s been going on for ages and I did fix it a while back with a thorough untangling of what seemed like the miles of cable behind the AV Unit. Trouble was, later, I pulled out the Unit for another reason – and the problem returned, but this time, the ‘blanking’ occurred more often than before! ? An hour later, it was all done, and I spent the rest of the morning testing out the various AV input sources, to see if I’d made a difference.
Test 1 – Amazon 4KTV: Fine, no drop-outs
Test 2 – Google Home: Seems OK
Test 3 – FreeSat: Ongoing
Test 4 – Sky Q: Ongoing
Test 5 – 4K DVD: No problems after watching one DVD
I guess we’ll only know for sure after a few more days of viewing.

1.00pm: Fish cakes for lunch!

1.45pm: Our daily walk took us on a newish route bringing us out opposite The Wayfarers Pub (shame it was closed!) and we covered just over 4 miles! Intrestingly, there was an appreciable increase in the amount of traffic we saw on the roads.

5.00pm: No Daily Briefing today, instead a longer programme at 7pm tonight to explain in more detail the tweaks to the current lockdown arrangements.

7.00pm: It’s fair to say that the PM’s message last night has been seen as confusing to the masses. We PERSONALLY, don’t see interpreting ‘Stay Alert’ as an issue, but clearly, the media has whipped up discontent amongst the population and therefore the majority now feel more confused. The PM explained the three-stage approach to managing the virus through to July, involving a phased reopening of some schools and businesses. No hairdressers yet though! Not sure the PM convinced the doubters, but as they say: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.
Over the weekend, another 210 have died from the virus bringing the total to 32,065 in the UK.

7.50pm: We finished the day watching the 4K DVD “ANNA” that Roger & Jane bought me for Christmas. It was probably one of the best films we’ve seen in a long time!

DAY 51: Sunday, 10th May 2020 – Less Lockdown

8.10am: Another lie-in? That’s the second one this year for me! What is the world coming to?

Well, we’re exactly halfway through this 100-post missive. No sign of boredom yet and there’s still plenty of ‘little jobs’ to be getting on with! A massive change in the weather overnight though – it’s a dull one with rain forecast later. A day for jobs indoors then!

10.30am: First, a thorough review of our finances going forward over the next few years. Next, a detailed look at our ‘walking stats’ for last week. I think it’s almost a new record for distance covered (see above) – OVER 24 MILES!!!.

1.30pm: Our daily walk beckoned! One advantage of the (much) cooler weather was that it didn’t feel so tiring – and we covered 5.3 miles!

3.45pm: A very late lunch in the shape of curry leftovers!

There was no Daily Briefing today because of the PM’s address later. However, deaths from the virus continued TO RISE and the media revealed another 269 deaths overnight, bringing the total for the UK to 31,855.

7.00pm: The PM addressed the nation outlining the modifications to the current lockdown arrangements. It was all conditional ‘on the numbers’ he said, and they included:-

– Introduce a new COVID-19 Alert System
– Go back to work if you can’t work from home. Ideally, walk or go by bike
– Avoid public transport
– More freedom to exercise and visit open spaces
– Maintain social distancing
– Employers to receive guidance on being ‘COVID secure”
– Reopen Primary Schools (June) – Year 1 and Year 6
– Reopen some hospitality outlets (July) “but only if the numbers support it”

…and a revised slogan: “Stay alert, Control the virus, Save lives

(Although Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales has declared they won’t be following the ‘Stay alert’ part, feeling that it is too vague). Their message remains – ‘Stay Indoors’.

I suspect that all of this will keep the media busy tomorrow as they dissect it to death!

7.30pm: We finished the evening watching (maybe appropriately) “The Kings Speech” starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. A great movie!

DAY 50: Saturday, 9th May 2020 – In the Cupboard, On yer Bike!

9.10am: Whilst Ann headed for town, a nice little project with my name all over it finally got done: Tidy the ‘cupboard next to the washing machine’! It’s that place in our house where all my ‘essential’ tools’ are kept. The definition is a loose-one and hence, over the years, it’s full of tools that actually I don’t use very much. Time for a thorough sort out where (allegedly) some of the contents date back to the Bronze Age!

10.55am: We took our daily walk as soon as Ann got back as it was getting warmer by the minute. It reached about 22-23℃ during our walk – and it felt like it too! We got back in just over an hour having covered just shy of 3½ miles.

Midday: Out lazing in the Sun!

1.45pm: Pizza for lunch!

2.30pm: More Sun!

4.00pm: The Daily Briefing: Hosted today by Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary). The government is likely to introduce a 14-day quarantine period for any flights into the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) – predictably, the airline industry isn’t at all happy! Continuing the transport theme, we’re all being encouraged to walk or cycle to work where possible. To help this, £2bn has been promised to accelerate the roll-out of an enhanced cycling programme. Finally, we were told that there were 346 new deaths overnight in the UK bringing the total death toll to 31,587.

In other news, the father of rock ‘n’ roll, Little Richard passed away aged 87.

7.30pm: Appropriately for this weekend, the big film on TV tonight was Darkest Hour starring an unrecognisable Gary Oldman in the title role. We first saw this ahead of the UK release back in January 2018 (courtesy of Sky) at a private screening in Milton Keynes.

DAY 49: Friday, 8th May 2020 – VE Bank Holiday Virtual Get-together

7.00am: Strangely, neither of us slept well last night, so I was up before 7am. My First job was to try and determine why the garden ‘mini’ clock had lost an hour. The obvious suspect was obviously the battery, but that was fine! So, given my expertise with clocks (!!!!!) NOT!!! I took it to pieces to discover that the hand mechanism had come loose from the clockface. I tightened it all up, and whilst I was there re-calibrated both the temperature gauge and the hygrometer (that had been over-estimating their respective data). I was actually quite proud of myself having not destroyed any of it in the process!!

9.45am: Ann planted up the geraniums in our newly designed ”island piece” in the back garden. Nice!

Red is the colour!

11.00am: Just before the two-minute silence, we joined some of the neighbours for coffee-on-the-drive (organised by David & Valerie). It was great fun, and we all stayed chatting for just over two hours!

1.30pm: Our daily walk beckoned. It was now a lovely warm day (22℃) that got progressively hotter as our walk continued.

3.00pm: With our walk completed, we took it easy for the rest of the afternoon catching up with the VE celebrations on TV.

5.00pm: In the Daily Briefing hosted by George Eustace (Environment Secretary), we were told that there had been another 626 deaths since yesterday in the UK raising the total number of deaths to 31,241. £16m given to food charities. It’s the sixth day in the row where we missed the 100,000 target for testing. Everyone is speculating what the PM is going to announce on Sunday for relaxing the lockdown, but methinks he isn’t going to announce a lot of change to what we’re currently adhering to!

7.30pm: Our virtual VE Celebration with ‘The Gang’: David, Rosi, John, Trish, Tom (briefly) Julie, Paul, Karen, Jo and Janet – courtesy of Facebook Messenger. I’d made a communal Chilli, Janet bought hats and Ann provided flags!

9.00pm: We dropped-out of our video-conference just before 8.55pm, just in time to watch the Queen address the nation at 9pm. Stirring stuff that finished with the Vera Lynn classic: “We’ll Meet Again” re-worked to feature key-workers singing parts of the song with a clever mix of Vera Lynn duetting with Katherine Jenkins.

YouTube player

10.15pm: In spite of all the restrictions, it had been a memorable day!

DAY 48: Thursday, 7th May 2020 – Relaxation of Lockdown Promised

It’s the day before the special VE Day Bank Holiday. And so, a day early, to avoid the rush, we’re on the shopping run for two couples as well as servicing our own (quite short) list.

9.30am: Off to Aldi and by the time we arrived, there were already queues outside. Luckily, the queue moved pretty quickly and we were in and out in just over an hour

11.55am: Our daily walk – and we did it earlier today as it was much warmer. If yesterday was a scorcher, then today is a super-scorcher! It certainly felt much, much warmer than the official forecast of 17℃! In spite of the heat, there was a good breeze, so we completed a three-miler today!

1.30pm: Lunch in the garden as the weather was perfect! Followed naturally by a short snooze in the sun! Trish popped round to pick up two of our spare pots of fence paint. She’d bought ‘Cedar Red’ but didn’t like the colour, so took some of our spare ‘Dark Oak’. It’s certainly a good day to be fence painting!

5.00pm: The Daily Briefing! Hosted today by Dominic Raab (Foreign Secretary). Deaths overnight accounted for 539 bringing the total number to 30,615 in the UK. 400,000 PPE kits from Turkey have been rejected by the UK as they didn’t conform to British safety standards. Bank of England suggests that the UK economy will shrink by 14%. Data released showed that the BAME community were more likely to die from this disease than white communities. It was confirmed that the PM will present a roadmap for relaxing the lockdown on Sunday at 7pm. “We are now in a position to start to think about the next phase” said the Foreign Secretary.

5.30pm: Another techy help session by phone: Today’s topic – more help with getting connected to Webinars.

6.30pm: A rumble in the Crumble. One of Ann’s home made Rhubarb Crumbles (contents courtesy of Fiona!). Yummy!

8.00pm: More clapping for Carers tonight. I must admit, in Tynan Close at least, it’s a bit thin on numbers (and saucepans!)

DAY 47: Wednesday, 6th May 2020 – Chillin’ with err… Chilli!

7.30am: Still in bed – some mistake surely!

9.10am: It has the makings of a gorgeous day here, so, in a change to our advertised Wednesday programme, we made some changes in our routine! First job: I rang round some close friends and caught up with all their news.

10.15am: I cleaned Ann’s car – Robert – including the inside, even the leather got a thorough spruce-up!

11.05am: A quick coffee-break followed by a final titivate of Robert, whilst Ann spent time on the back garden.

1.35pm: Our afternoon walk! And it’s a scorcher! so hats and sunglasses were the order of the day! ??. We took a look around the ongoing development of houses along Cranford Road, where, in spite of lockdown, there was plenty of construction activity! Most noticeable feature was that all properties had FTTP installations courtesy of a company called FibreNest (providing up to 500Mb down/50Mb up – that IS fast!). Other than that, the houses looked quite ordinary. We covered just under 2½ miles today.

2.15pm: A short period of sun-worshipping in the garden was followed by an hour with a friend trying to get to the bottom of her connectivity problems on one of her laptops when accessing certain Webinars. We didn’t completely solve it, and the challenge continues!

5.00pm: The coronavirus Briefing was hosted by Robert Jenrick (Communities Secretary). Apparently, the PM wants to ramp up virus-testing from 100,000 to 200,000 per day – I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet that thinks it’s doable (apart from the PM!). There were a further 649 deaths from the virus in the UK overnight totalling 30,076. It’s the highest death-toll in Europe and not helped by the fact that the UK missed its daily testing target of 10000 again (for the fourth day in a row). More positively, the PM has signalled an easing of lockdown measures from next Monday.

5.30pm: A ‘portion control’ session with the Chilli I made for the neighbours in preparation for delivery tomorrow (together with the flags!)

6.30pm: We had ‘oops!

7.00pm: Worldwide Doctor Who Watch-along! This week it’s “The Girl in the Fireplace” (Season 2, Episode 4 of ‘NuWho’) first aired exactly 14 years ago to the day. Tonight, we have scriptwriter Steven Moffat and co-star Sophia Myles tweeting along with the episode.

8.00pm: Some discussion regarding Dad’s Will with Roger.

DAY 46: Tuesday, 5th May 2020 – A Class of 3!

A relatively task-free day! A few jobs in the garden (which was a good thing as the weather was pretty dull to begin with).

10.05am: Ann attended to some wayward climbers on the back fence whilst I added the final screw in the garage wall for the loppers. Hardly a strenuous morning! On the TV, I caught up with the final (extended) episode of Westworld – Season 3. The eight episodes of this season have been hard-going and seemed more like an excuse for gratuitous violence at every opportunity! In my enthusiasm to dismiss it, I nearly made the error of NOT waiting for any post-credit scenes – interesting and intriguing stuff – maybe another season is coming?

10.55am: I contacted HMRC and paid my Class 3 NI top-up for this year – just two more payments and I’ll get the full State Pension when it’s due in 2023! ?. In preparation for Friday’s VE ‘virtual’ celebrations, we cooked a Chilli and created a supporting flyer – we’ve also got some flags coming! ?

1.40pm: In walking news, it was a shorter one for us today covering just 1.9 miles (3.06 km) – after yesterday’s mega-yomp.

The weather brightened up in the afternoon allowing us to soak up some rays in the garden after we got back from our walk.

5.00pm: In the Daily Briefing (hosted today by Dominic Raab (Foreign Secretary) announced another 693 deaths totalling 29,427 confirming the UK has the highest death toll in Europe. Virgin are axeing 3000 jobs and closing their operations at Gatwick. The UK also failed to meet its 100,000 testing target for the third day in a row.

5.15pm: Curry Night! Tonight, it’s a chicken variant using the leftovers from our recent Sunday Roast Chicken.

The best bit of news we heard today was the A14 roadworks between Huntingdon and Cambridge have been completed 8 MONTHS ahead of schedule. When things get back to normal, it’s going to make journeys to Cambridge from here so much easier!

DAY 45: Monday, 4th May 2020 – Patio Revisited

8.00am: It’s a cold start, so maybe not the best day for me to volunteer by jet-washing expertise to Fiona’s FRONT drive (having forgotten to do it, when we did her garden patio a few weeks back!)

9.30am: Pressure Washer – check!, Hose extension – check! Wellington Boots and scruffy clothes – check! I’m ready to take on said front path.

10.03am: Job done! ?

10.45am: Next task, make the Chilli for the VE Messenger Chat on Friday with the neighbours.

12.30pm: Chilli prepared and now on a s..l..o..w.. simmer for the rest of the day!

2.28pm: It’s walkies time! Today was a long one that took in a dice-with-death type wander along the part of Walkton Lane that didn’t have any footpaths. Probably not our wisest move, but it did allow us to cover in excess of five miles!

5.05pm: In the first of this week’s Daily Press Briefing, hosted again by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) we learned the total number of deaths in the UK from the virus now stands at 28,734 (288 were added overnight – a new low). A lot of the Briefing discussed the new App that went live at 5pm on the Isle of Wight. It was a very upbeat presentation no doubt helped by the drop in the number of deaths.

5.15pm: After our further-than-expected walk, we were certainly ready for our Chinese Takeaway (taken from M&S!). It was yummy!, Ann preferring the Lemon Chicken whilst I favoured the Beef in Black Bean Sauce.

6.30pm: After the News, I mowed the back lawns – and that just about finished me off for the day (I think we over-did it a bit with our daily walk).

DAY 44: Sunday, 3rd May 2020 – An Island of Colour

9.05am: A super lazy day today! The weather is all over the place – should have been hot but turned out very grey in the morning! Time to catch up with a few phone-calls (as there’s very little left to do in the garden except sit back and enjoy it!) and we’re still ‘dining-out’ on how good the garage looks now the gardening tools are off the floor.

11.30am: Time to catch-up with a bit of recorded TV (and bag of Jacob’s Cheddars in lieu of lunch!)

1.15pm: Time for our daily walk, and with a friend commenting that she walked 15 miles (24.14 km) yesterday, we maybe should up our game! ? Well, we didn’t quite manage 15 but at just under 5 miles, it wasn’t too shabby! ? It was a new route, further towards Cranford and over the bridge that crossed the (very empty) A14.

3.15pm: Lunch was Lemon Goujons and Salad with a side of Ann’s home-made Potato Wedges.

4.30pm: In the Daily Briefing (hosted by Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) we learned that the total deaths from coronavirus now totals 28,180 after 327 more deaths in the past 24 hours in the UK. The Isle of Wight is confirmed as the UK location to test the new track-and-trace App. There was a further confrmation of the PM’s announcement coming later this week regarding a slight relaxation of the current lockdown rules.

8.00pm: On TV tonight, we watched the second episode of Van de Valk. The Press doesn’t seem to like the revamp, but we enjoyed last week’s opening episode but tonight’s was a bit ‘ploddy’. Online, there is dissatisfaction too: viewers are missing the iconic theme tune and confused as to why no-one in the show has a Dutch accent! ?

DAY 43: Saturday, 2nd May 2020 – OCD in the Garage

8.00am: The weather looks good, so today, we should be able to do some stuff outside – including positioning the new solar lights and tidying the left-hand side of the garage (an annual task!).

10.15am: Sorting the solar lights was easy-peasy, but the garage took longer than expected – for all the RIGHT reasons. We decided to get as much off the floor as possible which meant putting plenty of screws in the garage wall. Me with a drill is always one of those occasions where the current social distancing rules are an advantage! ?. As things turned out: no blood, no mistakes – and best of all, plenty of floor-space recovered!

1.05pm: A quick lunch of cheese and biscuits.

2.15pm: Time of our daily walk! 3.42 miles today taking in a walk around the lake at Wicksteed Park.

4.00pm: The Daily Briefing: Today, hosted by Robert Jenrick, Communities Secretary where it was announced that there have now been a total of 28,131 deaths from Covid-19 including 621 deaths overnight. The Briefing focussed on protecting those who are subject to domestic abuse and included a promise of an additional £76m boost to funding for those who need this support. A trial using blood plasma from coronavirus survivors encouraged thousands to register their interest in taking part. Lots of talk about the rollout of a track-and-trace ‘app’ although not much detail at this stage and the Press is sceptical about whether enough of us will download it!

4.45pm: I assembled the second patio heater. That’s the second DIY task in one day – be afraid, be very afraid!

6.00pm: In a change from the norm, tonight was ‘pie night’ – Chicken, to be precise!

DAY 42: Friday, 1st May 2020 – Jaffa Gin!

9.30am: It’s Friday – food shopping day! Thankfully, the weather is a bit kinder today. Not a scorcher, but it’s drying up, so once the shopping is done, that’ll give us an opportunity to get back into the garden.

12.10pm: Our daily walk: Just a brisk 1.64 miles (2.64 kilometres) taking in the local Co-Op.

1.00pm: We caught the BBC news over a simple lunch of a ham & cheese flatbread. The weather didn’t quite live up to expectations, so we didn’t get out the garden. Still, tomorrow looks better! ? The rest of the afternoon was a lazy one and we were pleasantly surprised to receive a yummy bottle of Jaffa Cake Gin courtesy of our friend Jo. It’ll be a perfect accompaniment during our Zoom chat tonight with Jo, Janet and Carol.


5.00pm: In the Daily Briefing hosted by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) the government announced another 739 deaths overnight bringing the total to 27,510. With a jubilant tone in his voice, he confirmed that the government HAD achieved its target of 100,000 tests by the end of April – 122,347 in fact! I think that surprised EVERYONE, even the minority of jaded Journalists!

8.00pm: Our scheduled Zoom-chat with the girls aka ‘the three bears’. It was great fun, but we were still deep in coversation, when the 40 minute limit kicked-in!

DAY 41: Thursday, 30th April 2020 – A Beacon for Boris

7.00am: Woke to find that it looked like a nicer day outside than yesterday – albeit temporarily, as the rain is a-coming! As we we arrive at Day 41 of lockdown (seems longer!), our daily focus has become our daily walk! Today is no different, but once again, to avoid the rain, we’re walking in the morning.

8.15am: In other news, Captain Tom Moore reached his 100th birthday. He’s become a ‘beacon of hope’, according to the PM, and raised almost £30m for the NHS. He’s been made an honorary Colonel, and had a flypast at around 8.25am that featured a Spitfire and a Hurricane.

9.25am: Walkies! A new route covering 3.4 miles – all pavements and no ‘off-road’ adventures meant we averaged 3.2mph! ?

In the afternoon, Ann painted whilst I caught up with my reading.

5.03pm: The Daily Briefing was hosted by the PM, the first since he returned to work at the beginning of the week. There were 674 deaths overnight from the virus bringing the total to 26,711. Embarrassingly (after announcing the target date of ‘the end-of-April’) the government looks like it’ll miss its daily testing target of 100,000 tests – which will surprise no-one! (Although technically, the announcement will be made tomorrow). The PM made a significant announcement: “We are now past the peak of the pandemic!” He also announced that next week the government will announce how we can begin the long process of returning to normal. The PM finished by reminding us of the importance of the ‘R’ (the rate of infection) using a short film.

6.45pm: In a first for me… us… ever… ever… EVER! We took a SECOND walk – just a short one at 1.85 miles (but that does mean we’ve walked over 5 miles today!

8.00pm: Clapping for Carers on the doorstep again tonight with the added ‘opportunity’ of singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Captain Tom.

DAY 40: Wednesday, 29th April 2020 – Robin & Robin

6.45am: I didn’t sleep too well last night – that’s unusual! Looking out the window revealed another damp start to the day. Those scorchers of just a week ago seem like a distant memory as we faced temperatures of around 9℃ today! ?

9.00am: A mid-week shop (taking in ASDA, M&S and B&M in Corby) plus an opportunity to deliver the cakes that Ann made a few days ago to neighbours: John & Trish and Tom & Julie. Some of the solar lights (that I thought I’d repaired had, over the past few days, proved otherwise, so ASDA and B&M came to the rescue with suitable replacements.)

11.05am: After putting away the shopping at lightning speed, it was straight out again (to avoid the promised rain showers) for our daily walk. Unlike yesterday’s aborted trip, we covered 2.22 miles (3.57 km) today – Ahh, that’s more like it! We also had the bonus of a quick chat with Julie R and also a wave from Jo from her home/office en-route.

2.15pm: A late lunch of salmon, rostis and baked beans. Two visits by robins in the garden – that’s a first!

4.15pm: Part 3 of helping out a friend with her Zoom ‘learning curve’.

5.05pm: In today’s Briefing, hosted by Dominic Raab (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) confirmed that there had been another 765 deaths in England’s hospitals bringing the total to 26,970 (and for the first time, these numbers included figures from care-homes and community cases, after criticism that the State was ignoring their plight!

DAY 39: Tuesday, 28th April 2020 – Techy Troubles

8.00am: Rain, rain and even more rain today, so it’s jobs INSIDE the house – and even our daily walk might be on-hold too! ?

11.00am: A minute’s silence was held at 11am today for all the frontline workers who’ve lost their life to coronavirus.

2.30pm: Late lunch! Burgers without a bun! But with a rather tasty salad.

3.00pm: Walkies (eventually!)… and a damp one, as expected! In fact, it deteriorated so much, we turned back at the post-box.

4.05pm: Part 2 of helping out one of my friends with her less-than-perfect Zoom experience and an initial techy discussion with another good mate about setting up Microsoft Teams.

5.00pm: The Daily press Briefing (hosted by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) where the government announced that there had been 586 deaths overnight from the virus in UK hospitals, bringing the total now to 21,678. From tomorrow, daily figures of deaths in care homes will also be published/included. The government also announced an expansion in testing for the virus to include the over 65s. In related news, BA announces that it’s making 12,000 staff redundant. ?

DAY 38: Monday, 27th April 2020 – Mighty Muscles and Small Loans

A change in the weather – it’s much, much cooler, and rain is forecast for later.

9.00am: Boris is back! In a Press Conference on the steps of No. 10, he made an empassioned speech about maintaining the lockdown as we’re at the stage where there is maximum risk of a secondary outbreak. Plenty of empathy in his words, but I’m not sure it’ll be enough.

10.05am: In (very) local news, I mowed the lawn and cleaned out the plugholes and traps in the wet-room, kitchen sink and bathroom! ? Such variety!! Ann, meanwhile, spent the morning baking cakes for the neighbours – even MORE variety (Lemon Drizzle and a Fruit Cake).

11.20am: Helped out a friend get her head round Microsoft Teams.

12.45pm: Early lunch of Pizza and Salad.

1.35pm: Off for our daily walk where we took in the lake at Wicksteed Park. We saw Ducks, Geese, Swans, Bobby and Stella on the route!

2.45pm: Helped out another friend with her Zoom issues. Didn’t completely solve it, but there’s time tomorrow!

5.00pm: I was expecting Boris to host the Daily Briefing today, but instead, it was Matt Hancock (Health Secretary). Overnight, deaths in UK hospital from Covid-19 overnight totalled 360 bringing the total death-toll to 21,092 The government has announced a £60k short-term life assurance package for families of front-line NHS workers who have lost their lives fighting the virus. In a change to the normal format, the questions now come from the public in addition to the Press. The public’s questions are randomly chosen by an independent body and presented live. A new loan scheme for small businesses was announced – paid in 24 hours and no repayments for a year!

6.15pm: A light evening meal of cream cheese on flatbread.

DAY 37: Sunday, 26th April 2020 – Walk the Walk, Van de Valk!

8.05am: Morning! One of the disadvantages of being fairly well organised is that you soon run out of jobs! For the first time, it’s starting to feel a little like that for me today. So, thank heavens for a bit of ironing! (Dad bugger alert!!!) Last night’s video-conference with the neighbours was a real laugh. We ‘left’ at 10pm after two hours, but it went on until just before midnight!

In political news: the PM is back to work tomorrow!

12.45pm: A superb Roast Chicken lunch with all the trimmings! Yummy! ?

2.45pm: Time for ur afternoon walk, as another walking week begins!! The summary of LAST week’s activity just arrived by email, (shown above) and so we’re going to have to ‘go some’ this week to top that!

4.00pm: In today’s coronavirus Press Briefing, hosted by George Eustace, Environment Secretary, the government announced another 413 deaths overnight, bringing the total to 20,732 (that’s the lowest daily increase for a while, so maybe we’re coming out of it – but still a lot of deaths though!). On a more positive note, we’re told that the reduction in the rate of deaths in hospitals is down to us observing social distancing. There’s therefore been a lot of pressure on the government to ease the Lockdown, but they’ve explained that it’s too early to make a decision.

8.00pm: The big TV offering tonight was the resurrection of the series Van De Valk from the 70s. Marc Warren takes over from Barry Foster in the titular role and unusually for us, we watched it live.

DAY 36: Saturday, 25th April 2020 – Legs Out! (be afraid!)

It’s was a lazy day – to begin with – today! Just a tiny bit of maintenance in the front garden followed by Ann putting the finishing touches to re-painting the fences in the back garden. Weather-wise, it was the coolest day of the week – but still dry, so we were still able to maintain our walking on a daily basis. In spite of the cool weather, my shorts made their innaugral appearance for 2020! ?

2.45pm: Our lazy day took on a different dimension when we went for our daily walk! Not content with just a miles… or two… or even three! – we covered over five! Yes FIVE (5.29 to be exact). And perfectly on cue, the weather warmed-up! It was a new route taking in the dismantled railway area, a walk alongiside the river (and railway) and then returning along Powell Lane. It’s the furthest we’ve ever walked… EVER! ?

4.00pm: The Daily Briefing was hosted by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel and as expected had a law and order theme. In one example, cocaine had been smuggled inside a shipment of surgical masks! There has been a further 813 deaths here in the UK in the past 24 hours, totalling 20,319 deaths.

5.45pm: A Curry Night for us (eating in of course!)

8.00pm: Our first video-conference with the neighbours, courtesy of Facebook Messenger.

DAY 35: Friday, 24th April 2020 – Website Wobbles!

10.05am: Another gorgeous day here! It’s Friday, so that means shopping day – not just for us, but we’re again shopping for two additional couples too! In fact, we see this ‘multiple shopping thing’ as an Olympic sport – and we’re aiming for gold!! – and it now doesn’t take much longer than just shopping for ourselves! In fact, were in and out within 45 minutes!

11.00am: Off to our first drop passing Richard and Pauline’s for a scheduled wave!

11.45am: Back at ours, we dropped-off David and Valerie’s shopping and then it was straight out for our daily walk. Another 3½ miler by way of Cranford Road and the new housing development. We stopped for a quick chat with Trish (who passed us in her car) along Warkton Lane.

1.00pm: A quick sandwich whilst watching the news was followed by a little sun-worshipping in the garden! That’s sad – Lynn Faulds Wood has died (aged 72)

5.00pm: The Daily Briefing (hosted for the first time by Grant Shapps, Transport Minister) revealed another 684 deaths overnight bringing the UK up to a total of 19,506 deaths. The government’s new website for registering for a test has been closed due to the incredible demand! – 16000 managed to get through before it fell over!

Financial support will be given to some cities for their light rail and tram services as well as some ferry services. In Loony News: President Trump has suggested that injecting disinfectant may help cure coronavirus! Good grief!

6.30pm: A short techy-session with TC to get her up-and-running with Messenger for our neighbours video-conference tomorrow night! Mission accomplished (after a slight issue with a Post-it Note – don’t ask!) ?

8.00pm: Our first Zoom virtual get-together hosted by Jo, with Janet and Carol also joining in!

DAY 34: Thursday, 23rd April 2020 – The Trials of Boris

Another scorcher promised today and so Ann was up early to finish painting the fence panels before it got too hot! I was a willing spectator! ?

In the main news, the subject of face masks – and should we wear them – has re-surfaced. Current wisdom suggests that wearing one won’t stop you catching the virus, but it might stop you giving it to someone else. There’s also the worry that if we all buy surgical masks it’ll create a shortage for the NHS – a real dilemma! Two of the volunteers who are trialling the new vaccine were interviewed on the TV – they were both very down-to-earth and pragmatic about the task ahead and its significance.

10.40am: In Daily Walk news: It’s another day and another new route… and another day where I forgot to switch on the tracker-app! Fortunately, as a result of my forgetfulness, the newly acquired pain in my groin distracted me from my aching legs! ?. We headed for an area nearby (ish) that featured a dismantled railway (although if it’s dismantled, I’m not sure we knew what to look for!) Anyway, we didn’t find it today – or did we? – and it turned out to be a very pleasant walk across some challenging terrain. ?

1.10pm: Lunch and it’s Fish Goujons!

5.00pm: The Daily Briefing (hosted by Matt Hancock, Health Secretary) confirmed that sadly, another 616 had died in past 24 hours from the virus bringing the total UK fatalities to 18,738. Human trials start today of the vaccine developed in Oxford. The government also announced a radical new rollout of tests for all key workers via their employers. We are also on target for 100000 tests per day – 31 drive-through test centres will be increased to 48. It was a very upbeat briefing!

6.15pm: Rhubarb Sponge for Dinner! Super-yummy! ?

8.00pm: Clapping for our Carers! ?

DAY 33: Wednesday, 22nd April 2020 – Old Labour, New Leader

Well, I think that’s a first during this lockdown – I got up WITHOUT a massive list of things to do!! Some mistake surely???? ?

So, I feel a day of pure selfishness coming on – some techy jobs on the PCs, polish the XKR and maybe some other blokey-stuff!

11.30am: Our daily walk! A shorter one today – just 2.5 miles – down to the Post Office and on to the Arboretum at Wicksteed Park (but it would have helped, if I’d remembered to switch our tracking app back on, after we paused at the Post Office!)

1.00pm: A lunch of leftovers! Yummy!

3.15pm: The repainted side-gate furniture is now back on! Just a bit of touching-up to do with some black paint.

Keir Starmer made his debut as Labour leader today in a ‘virtual’ PMQs.

5.05pm: At the Daily Briefing (hosted by Dominic Raab, Secretary of State) the main message was the concern over the increase in deaths in Care Homes in recent weeks. UK deaths are up by 759, totalling 18,100. The government advised that the greatest risk is a second spike if the lockdown is lifted and promised to hit the daily 100000 daily tests within eight days! The government rolled out General Sir Nicholas Carter to make the case for the (immense) work the Armed Forces are involved in (probably to send a signal to the Press to stop criticising the government!).

5.45pm: Continuing the leftover theme – it’s Pork Casserole (with added Brandy!)

DAY 32: Tuesday, 21st April 2020 – Vaccine news

10.00am: It’s another sunny one here and that means another spell on the garden (not ‘in’!). Whilst Ann continued her assault on the fences, I mowed the lawns (after David’s superb scarifying!) followed by spot of sealant on some bits we missed finishing with a swift application of weed-killer around the patio.

11.30am. Out for our daily walk and it was another new route taking in Barton Seagrave village eventually arriving at the fishing lake in Wicksteed Park (shown above)! Another three-plus miler!

1.30pm: Back in the garden! A final coat of sealant and I think we can put the lid on it (see what I did there?) until this time next year.

1.45pm: A quick touch-up of Robert! followed by some sun-worshipping.

3.15pm: A quick techy help-desk session for a friend.

5.05pm: In the Daily Briefing (hosted by Matt Hancock, Health Secretary) the government announced UK deaths from the virus are up 823 (totalling 17,337). The most optimistic news is that human trials for a vaccine will begin on Thursday and the State is investing £20m and ‘and throwing everything at it’ to support the Oxford team in the rollout.

6.15pm: An experimental cauliflower cheese recipé tonight for Dinner!

DAY 31: Monday, 20th April 2020 – Tablet Trek

8.05am: Another lovely day here, weather-wise, although a bit chilly in the shadows! In garden solar-light news, the repositioning of the two lanterns that were misbehaving seems to have done the trick (it was simply a matter of giving them more sunshine as they’d been too much in the shade). I’m also pleased to say that the three sets of fairy lights that we put up yesterday, work a treat. ?

10.15am: This morning, we were on a mission – to track down some HS2 tablets! (I think that’s what Ann called them) First (high-speed) stop? The Newlands Centre in Kettering town (even more of a ghost town than normal!). Three Pharmacies later and… nothing until October! Time for a ‘Plan B’ then, and ask the Doctor to tweak the brand name.

12.40pm: In our daily walk, another new to try with help from the Ordnance Survey Map App! 3.15 miles walked in the direction of Poplars Farm through to Cranford Road, past the petrol station and home.

2.00pm: After a quick lunch, we took the opportunity to review our Wills and then Ann got on with re-painting the fittings for the back gate and the door number thingy.

3.15pm: Curry preparation began! ?

5.00pm: In coronavirus news: today is the first day whereby eligible companies can apply for their wage bills to be paid by the government. Not a good day then for us to ring to pay our annual voluntary NI top-up (which was the plan!). I think we might leave it a few days! In the Daily Briefing (hosted by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak) the UK recorded its lowest level of deaths related to coronavirus – 449 (bringing the total in the UK to 16,509). Supplies of PPE are still a talking point – for all the wrong reasons! A big concern that if we relax lockdown too early, we might suffer a secondary wave of infection.

5.25pm: A gorgeous curry! ?

DAY 30: Sunday, 19th April 2020 – Software Sunday

A lovely day here (again!). It’s such a pity that we can’t take full advantage of it and spend it with friends!

On today’s to-do list: Upgrade Robert‘s sat-nav and software, finish off the oven clean and finally, start to put up the remaining ‘fairy lights’ around the garden. Ann’s also had a long list of other garden-related tasks – none of which would benefit from my involvement. Well, that’s MY excuse! ? Of all of today’s jobs, the most risky was the software update on the car. Although the process was pretty straightforward, the necessary files were obtained online (albeit from a reliable source) and the last time I tried the same exercise on a car, it was over 15 years ago on my Jaguar s-type, and the result wasn’t pretty! However, I’m happy to report that after 25 minutes of cautious progress, it all seems to have worked and we’ve got newer mapping and a bunch of extra features too!

2.15pm: For today’s walk, it was another record-breaking distance covered – 4.69 miles! – on our walk to Warkton Village and back.

4.00pm: In the Daily Briefing (hosted for the first time by Gavin Williamson Transport Secretary), the news is that deaths in the UK are up another 596, totalling 16060, although we’re told the curve is flattening. The major announcement was the launch of an online education resource to help with home-learning.

5.15pm: Another one of Ann’s superb casseroles tonight. This time,

DAY 29: Saturday, 18th April 2020 – Wot, no PPE!?!?

A change in the weather today! Rain, rain and more rain! It certainly lashed it down overnightand carried on right up until around 11am. An opportunity then, to do some jobs around the house. By midday, it brightened up allowing me to get outside and install the ‘flame effect’ bulbs in the outside lights and to tweak a few of the solar lights that ‘mis-behaved’ overnight.

1.45pm: A light lunch of cheese and biscuits was followed by a short walk now that the weather had improved. It was another new route – down to Wicksteed and across ‘The Water Meadow’ that follows the River Ise. Another delightful expedition where we covered 2.8 miles.

4.15pm: The Daily Press Briefing (hosted by Robert Jenrick, local government and Communities Secretary) confirmed another 888 had died in the past 24 hours totalling 15,464 in the UK – we’re not out of the woods yet! Lots of criticism (still!) of not enough PPE for front-line staff. Additionally, local councils are worried about running out of money providing local support – and the government announced another £1.6bn will be given to UK Councils. government also announced that ALL Parks and Cemeteries must remain open.

4.45pm: Next challenge? The cupboard under the sink! Now spotless and tidied within an inch of its life!

5.15pm: Things are getting desperate – I cleaned the oven!

DAY 28: Friday, 17th April 2020 – Solar, So Good!

If it’s Friday, it can only mean one thing! – some ‘Retail Therapy’! So, we headed off to Aldi in Irthlingborough, shopping for THREE couples. With lists from David & Valerie, Geoff & Rhonda and our own, we’ve now got this process down to a fine-art and were in-and-out inside the hour – and that included a short period of queuing. Stock levels were pretty much back to normal, but no-one can get flour ANYWHERE.

Unusually, we took our daily walk just before midday and tried a new route – a variation on ‘four-miler’ from a few days back, slightly shorter at 3.6 miles, but more to see!

The weather is on the turn and rain is heading our way in the next 24 hours. We’re so glad we’ve got most of the large garden jobs done. The only tasks left to are to finish the fence (Ann’s domain) and for me to win my battle with our gazillion solar lights. Previously, I’d discovered that quite a few weren’t working, so I removed the battery from each and recharged them. That seemed to bring about 80% of them back to life, but today, of the remaining 20%, most were having none of it – even after ANOTHER recharge, so it looks like we’re going to have to replace them. Onwards and upwards!

In the Daily Press Briefing (hosted by Alok Sharmer, Business Secretary) we learned that 847 have died in the UK in the past 24 hours from the virus, bringing the total to 14,576. The Chancellor announced that the furlough scheme is extended until June. The government has set up a Task Force to speed-up the development of a vaccine.

DAY 27: Thursday, 16th April 2020 – RIP : Denis Norman Gambles

Today is Denis’s Funeral. We drove up to cemetery in Heckington where the grave-side service was conducted by Reverend Chris Harrington. Given these difficult times, the Service was short (just 20 minutes!) and we (obviously) had to maintain our social distance – as a result, it all felt a bit surreal. Having said that, the ongoing slightly tense relationships between certain family members, the distancing made things a bit easier! Jane wrote a wonderful poem, whilst I managed to engage the family in penning his Eulogy/Tribute that was read by the Reverend.

In coronavirus news, the government announced today that the Lockdown is going to be extended by another three weeks – until May 7th. Hardly surprising really, given the circumstances.

In the government’s Daily Briefing (hosted by Dominic Raab) we learned that another 861 people have died in the last 24 hours in the UK totally 13,729.

DAY 26: Wednesday, 15th April 2020 – Sealed with a… Brush!

7.45am: Well, today’s the day when we FINALLY complete the sealing of the patio. The delay was simply that we ran out of sealant! Thanks to Screwfix in Corby, we managed to get our hands on some more and all that’s now required is to double-coat the area immediately outside the patio doors. By way of preparation, I was out before the birds this morning giving the area a final scrub.

11.00am: An earlier daily walk today for us! What’s more, it was a long one. We finally (after two previous aborted attempts) got all the way to Warkton Village and took a slightly different route back home, along the river edge – a perfect day for it, and a new daily record for us, 4.5 miles! it felt like it too!)

The other big (and important) job today was to create the wreath for Denis’s’ funeral tomorrow! We have all the bits we need and with Ann’s flower-arranging talents and my techy know-how meant we had something we were both very proud of!

In the Daily Briefing (hosted by Matt Hancock, Health Secretary) overnight deaths from the virus increased by 761 bringing the total to 12,868. Care-workers were the main topic of discussion because the government has been criticised for not testing them sooner. The government confirmed that the Lockdown measures would remain in force until it’s safe to relax them. Matt Hancock announced a new ‘branding’ for the care profession – a white on green badge displaying the word CARE. The government also announced a recruitment campaign to recruit more care workers, where the state will cover the cost of their induction training.

In related news, over 2 million have now died from the virus! What’s slightly odd is that it’s no respecter of age – we have a 28-year-old NHS Nurse who has sadly died from it, whilst a 106-year-old woman has survived it. On the high street, both Oasis and Warehouse went into administration. Captain Moore (99 years young) raised over £6m through sponsorship of him walking round his garden in preparation for his 100th birthday.

DAY 25: Tuesday, 14th April 2020 – 25 down, 75 to go!

9.30am: I’m a quarter-way through my blog-marathon under lockdown and it all still feels a bit unreal, a bit weird, and if this is the new ‘normal’ then it’s going to take some getting used to. Happily, today was a much better day weather-wise. Whilst Ann took the short walk to the Post Office and back, I returned to Fiona’s opposite, to finish off jet-washing her patio. My second visit was just to finish off – and 45 minutes later I had! Sadly, the two-day job (in combination with the three days prior, jet-washing OUR patio) had also finished off the Karcher too! After 9 years (almost to the day, as it was bought on 21 April 2011), it heaved its last jet requiring me to briefly switch to Fiona’s equivalent to complete the job!

11.15am: Next task was to drive over to Corby to pick up a few shopping essentials, but primarily to try and source some white flowers for Denis’s funeral on Thursday. We were expecting to have to visit more-than-one shop to get all we needed, but we were lucky! ASDA had everything for our top-up shop PLUS we were able to get a wide variety of white (and cream) bouquets. With Ann preparing the oasis as soon as we got home, I created a background to the arrangement featuring a photograph of Denis plus a few well-chosen words.

12.45pm: A quick lunch was followed by our daily walk, where today, we repeated the yomp towards Warkton Village by way of the bridleway. We certainly got further than we did last week, but the route (that we’d also taken a few years back) was now sealed-off with barbed-wire. OK, we could have climbed over the stile, but by now we’d covered around 1.7 miles and it was literally a step too far! It was, however, a lovely day and a lovely walk. We returned home just over an hour later having covered 3.2 miles (that’s a record for us in one go!)

3.30pm: A quick cuppa on the patio before catching the latest Daily Press Briefing (hosted by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor). There’s been another 778 deaths in the past 24 hours in the UK (bringing the total to 12,107). Making the headlines was the worry that Care Home figures aren’t being included in the daily figures where the inference is that this part of the community is being ‘air-brushed out’ of the story. More bad news as experts predict the UK economy will shrink by 35% in June.

DAY 24: Monday, 13th April 2020 – When ONE patio just won’t do!

Easter Monday (three weeks into Lockdown!) and the weather is pretty average! (some things don’t change!). In fact, it’s a full 10 degrees cooler than yesterday, currently 12℃ and it feels it! On the to-do list today: Fix the Wall lights on the back of the house, jet-wash Fiona’s patio and finish the testing of the solar lights.

8.15am: Wall lights fixed! Must have had a screw loose (the light-fitting too!)

10.30am: With both of us ‘attacking’ Fiona’s patio with our jet-wash, we thought it would take an hour – but almost TWO hours later, we called it a day and I’m returning tomorrow to finish it off.

Our plethora of solar lights needed some serious attention today, as many weren’t working, even after two full days of sun on them. First job then: order some more replacement batteries!

12.25pm: Ann continued her planting-out back at ours, whilst I took a break.

1.05pm: Curry Leftovers for Lunch. Like marriage – even better, second time around!

1.55pm: Our afternoon stroll! Through the Spinney, Across the top meadow, turn left into the Wood and then along Barton Road then Warkton Lane and home – it’s another two-miler!

5.05pm: In the government’s Daily Briefing (hosted by Dominic Raab) we learned that Russia recorded a jump of 2500 new cases (totalling 18328) in the past 24 hours. Here, there has been 717 new deaths (now totalling 11329). Some good news though: Spain and Italy has relaxed its lockdown arrangements a little as their number of new cases is falling.

Recording the deaths as blog-headlines has become very depressing, so starting tomorrow I think I might try something more positive

DAY 23: Sunday, 12th April 2020 – Deaths from the virus hit five-figures!

It’s Easter Sunday and another warm (rather than ‘hot’) day here. More fence-painting for both of us today and I reckon we’re 95% complete. Further testing on the solar lighting revealed that we’ve got a few more ‘duff’ units (and again that’s even after re-charging their batteries).

9.30am: Those that know me, know that I am to DIY what Picasso was to computer repairs, so when I dig out my drill, hammer and a ladder, ‘social distancing’ takes on a whole new meaning round these parts. But the rose-bush along the side of the house, had become a bit unruly and needed a framework of wiring behind it to stop it taking over the driveway! Actually, it all went very well – no re-drilling, no swearing and no accidents!

Today was the day that we heard of the deaths of Stirling Moss, Peter Bonetti and Tim Brooke-Taylor (the latter caught coronavirus).

2.30pm: Lunch was a full-roast (of the beef variety) – and as expected, it was yummy! Maybe just a little too much red wine with it though!

4.00pm: In the Daily Briefing hosted by Matt Hancock,cf we heard that the UK death toll has now topped 10,000! Apparently, the worst in Europe! 657 people have died in the last 24 hours in the UK bringing the total to 10,612.

In happier news, the PM has been discharged from Hospital (but isn’t immediately returning to work).

He’s put out a video to thank the NHS for their care – “I owe them my life”, he said.

YouTube player

DAY 22: Saturday, 11th April 2020 – 9875 dead from the virus so far

A super-scorcher today: 24℃ at midday! With the excellent weather on our side, we managed to get 99% of the patio sealed. The 1% that wasn’t was down to simply running out of the magic liquid. Still, it did give us chance to stand back and admire our work. In truth, most of it doesn’t look any different, except for some slabs that have been slightly protected by the table all these years – and they looked super-shiny! But it’s not really about shine, more about sealing them – and only time will tell whether all our hard work pays off!

In the news: The PM is ‘making good progress’. The Daily Briefing (hosted for the first time by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel) told us that another 917 had died in the UK bringing the total to 9,875. Predictably, the briefing had a ‘law enforcement’ feel to it promising sack loads of money for protecting the vulnerable. There’s been a 21% reduction, overall, in crime, but a 120% increase in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.

5.00pm: Out for our daily walk – and a new route! Through the ‘top meadow’ and turn LEFT and through the wood.

In culinary news, it’s another Curry Night here! Tonight, a Lamb Tikka Masala with all the bits – and as it was such a nice day, we ate outside. Perfect!!

DAY 21: Friday, 10th April 2020 – 980 new deaths totalling 8958

It’s Good Friday and the ‘big push’ today as we attempt to apply the next coat of the sealant to the rest of the patio – it’s a big job, but luckily, the weather is on our side again! ? We didn’t do too badly – top deck (first coat), tops of wall (final coat), tops of walls, and the central part of the lower patio (first coat). That just leaves the steps (two coats) and the ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the lower patio to do (two coats). Ann continued her expert manicuring of the garden and tied-up a lot of plants. I retrieved the solar lights from their Winter slumber, to find that some of them had ‘given up’ (even after a thorough energy-soaking in the Sun).

I made the final changes to Denis’s Eulogy (we’re now at version 6!)

3.45pm: We went out for our afternoon walk and this time headed for the bridleway leading to Warkton village. We didn’t quite make the whole journey, but maybe that’s for later! Still, we covered just over 3 miles!

In coronavirus news, there are reminders in the media about STAYING HOME this weekend. It’s amazing, that some people still don’t get it!! At the Press Briefing hosted by Dominic Raab he headlined that the country had the capacity to crank-up the testing so that all healthcare workers can be tested. A lot of talk about the pros and cons of the usefulness of facemasks – currently, the scientific evidence suggests they are of limited benefit. The PM is on the mend and sitting-up in bed.

In sadder news, 980 people have now died from the virus in the past 24 hours in the UK totalling 8,958.

6.45pm: In a totally spontaneous move, we decided to add a second coat of sealant to the central part of the lower patio plus a first coat on the left hand side of the lower patio. That will get us ahead for tomorrow!

DAY 20: Thursday, 9th April 2020 – 881 new deaths totalling 7978

If yesterday was hot, today was hotter! First job was Aldi and a few essentials, as well as picking up some shopping for our isolated neighbours. We were back indoors by 9.45 and the continuing good weather meant we were straight into the garden (again!) – the perfect temperature, at around a comfy 22℃! Ann continued on her mission to re-paint all the fences whilst I finally got a top-coat on the door panel on the garage (luckily, I found the almost empty tin of paint at the back of the garage). It needed some serious stirring though! A quick polish of Robert, then it was time for lunch!

The PM is in his 3rd day in intensive care where the official line is: “he continues to improve”.

Probably the most prominent issue (apart from a sick PM) is that it’s the Easter break/weekend coming up, and there’s a worry that citizens will ignore the lockdown. Police are promising to get tough with those that risk it! Already, Manchester Police have reported closing-down loads of ‘house-parties’ (actually 494 of them! 494????) – including one that had a DJ, fireworks and a bouncy castle!!! WTF! (again!)

2.00pm: We finished-off in the garden, had a quick lunch (mmm! M and S fishcakes) and then took our afternoon stroll. After yesterday’s ‘reverse walk’, today was much more straightforward – to Wicksteed Park and back. We saw Lydia, thirteen geese and twenty-five ducks!

5.00pm: In the Daily Briefing, hosted by Dominic Raab (Foreign Secretary aka ‘acting PM’). It was confirmed that PM is in good spirits. This was followed by a general thank-you to all those on the ‘front-line’ as well as those who have stayed home! Not surprisingly, he announced that the government will NOT relax the lockdown measures and they’ll be no further announcement until the end of next week. Another 881 people have died, totalling 7978. In short, the social distancing measures appear to be working, but we’ve still got a way to go!

7.00pm: A very pleasant evening! More painting and patio-sealing

8.00pm: The weekly ‘Clap for Carers’ (hate this name!) doorstep event! …and the PM is OUT of intensive care.

DAY 19: Wednesday, 8th April 2020 – 938 new deaths totalling 7097

Another glorious day! Sun, Sun and even more Sun! It’s the start of the ‘great patio seal’ today – it’s never had so much attention. In fact, the last time we think it was sealed was back when it was first laid – over 25 years ago! ?

The recommendation is TWO light coats, but after the first, the tiles didn’t really look any different (I was expecting them to look a little more pink and maybe a tad shinier). Maybe the second coat will make a difference?

In more gardening news, Ann re-painted the trellis and continued re-painting the fences.

I made some tweaks to Denis’s Eulogy based on feedback from Bev and (shock horror) Barry!

3.15pm: Our daily walk! A shorter one today (1.4 miles) – and we reversed the route too! I may need counselling to help cope with the change!

5.00pm: At the Daily Briefing hosted by Richi Sunak (The Chancellor) where we learned that the PM is in good spirits and is ‘responding to treatment’. Meanwhile, in Wuhan, China (where it all began), life is apparently returning to normal. The government announced they are giving an injection of £350m to Charities. Additionally, the money raised by the fund-raiser ‘Big Night In’ is to be matched “£ for £ by the government”.

Deaths in the UK are up by 938 to 7097. However, we’re told that the curve ‘is flattening’. That’s incredibly good news! ? We’re not out of the woods yet, but this snippet of good news is very welcome!!

DAY 18: Tuesday, 7th April 2020 – 786 new deaths totalling 6159

Another very fine day here – wall-to-wall sunshine! More jet-washing followed by a bit of lopping to stop the neighbours’ ‘greenery’ opposite from invasion. Just to keep the day varied, I wrote the first draft of Denis’s eulogy and then finished tidying-up the wiring under the main PC. Plenty of variation today and no time to get bored. The Eulogy went well, but the wiring, shall we say, is work in progress!?

In coronavirus news: The PM is still in intensive care, ‘in good spirits’ but ‘under observation’ having had ‘a comfortable night’. The Press had to confirm that he’s NOT on a ventilator as I think a lot of people thought he was so ill, he might not make it. Michael Gove is also self-isolating as a member of his family is displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

At the Daily Press Briefing, we heard that death total for now stands at 6159 – a rise of 786.

We took our daily afternoon walk as usual – almost a two-miler again!

Finished the day, assembling one of the new patio heaters!

DAY 17: Monday, 6th April 2020 – 439 new deaths totalling 5373

What happened to the nice weather? We woke to find it lashing it down with rain! It soon cleared up though and turned-out to be just a little cooler than yesterday (17°C).

We popped out for some essentials and dropped off one of Ann’s famous Lemon Drizzle Cakes to John/Trish/Sean and to Tom/Julie and then some shopping for David/Valerie.

Midday: Back to the patio project! Today it was the remaining half of the garden – it’s all much worse than last year and so it’s a good job I’ve got plenty of time on my hands!

In coronavirus news, the PM has been admitted to hospital as a ‘precautionary measure’. Scotland’s Medical Offer has resigned after ignoring her own advice and spending time with her family in her second home. WTF! ? At the Daily briefing (hosted by Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary) we learned there had been 439 deaths overnight bringing the total to 5373. The Press seemed to be obsessed with why the PM is still ‘in charge’ when he’s sick! Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical officer made a welcome return, after finishing his spot of self-isolation.

8.20pm: In a newsflash, it was announced that the PM is being moved to intensive care!

DAY 16: Sunday, 5th April 2020 – 621 new deaths totalling 4934

Some mistake surely!? – I slept in until just before 8am!! ?. Well, the Sun certainly had its hat on today! Glorious!! ??. Back to the garden jobs and specifically more fence-painting (for Ann) and patio-scrubbing (for me). It’s the warmest it’s been for many weeks, and that made it just perfect for the jobs in hand!

1.05pm: Lunch and a rather excellent curry!

2.15pm: After sorting out various techy-issues for friends, we went out for our afternoon walk.

3.45pm: Our afternoon walk – another two-miler!

4.25pm: A final tidy-up of the garden (I plan to finish the patio tomorrow) and it’s all looking good.

4.30pm: The daily Press Briefing presented by Matt Hancock. The new Labour leader: Keir Starmer laid into the government stating “…made serious mistakes in tackling the virus” and calls for a national vaccine programme. The government threatened to ban public exercise if citizens flout the rules. UK deaths increased to 4934 (up by 621).

8.00pm: The Queen addresses the nation.

DAY 15: Saturday, 4th April 2020 – 708 new deaths totalling 8958

It’s a warm day and that can only mean one thing! Get out the garden! Whilst Ann concentrated on painting the fences, I started pressure-washing the front path and the garden patio (I’d normally be doing this at this time of year anyway!). The difference this year is that we’re not rushing any of the jobs – we’ve plenty of free time!

Coronavirus news! The Aussies are ignoring the stay-at-home advice and filling the beaches! Closer to home, Debenhams looks like it might be a casualty of the virus and have to call in the Administrators!

3.00pm: Time for our afternoon walk but not before watching last night’s Have I Got News For You?. A very surreal (and brave) episode in that it was all done via video-conferencing. Not sure it quite worked – but it was as topical as ever!

I other news, Keir Starmer has been appointed leader of the Labour Party.

4.30pm: The Daily Briefing, hosted by the unflappable Michael Gove where England saw the deaths of 708 (totalling 4313) in past 24 hours – it’s the highest overnight death-rate so far! To make matters worse, there was great concern by the government about whether ‘staying indoors’ is going to be adhered to by the public as the weekend weather is so good.

6.15pm: We tuned into The National Theatre via YouTube where they’ve opened up their archive to many of their past performances – for free! We laughed our way through One Man Two Guv’nors starring James Corden – haven’t giggled so much in ages!!!!

DAY 14: Friday, 3rd April 2020 – Another 684 dead from the virus

Such excitement! We’re actually ventured out today! To Aldi!!! I can hardly contain myself. We picked up some shopping for two of our neighbours and took a bunch of flowers round to Rhonda, who had recently been discharged from hospital.

Once the shopping was away, it was straight out the garden, tidying-up and preparing the fences for their forthcoming paint-job. Just after 2pm, we went out for our daily walk. Our destination was the CoOp to rekindle our love for Spaghetti Hoops and to search for brown onions for Valerie (no luck on the onion front!).

On today’s Press Briefing, hosted again by Matt Hancock (the PM has opted to stay self-isolated after 7 days), there was news of TWO more Nightingale Hospitals being built – Harrogate and Bristol, whilst overnight, another 684 people have died in the UK from the coronavirus. The Health Secretary finished his presentation with a reminder that with the good weather over the weekend, we should all stay at home – he commented that it wasn’t a recommendation, it was an INSTRUCTION! Tough love!! It was also announced that the Queen will address the nation on Sunday.

In other news: Singer Bill Withers died today, aged eighty-one.

DAY 13: Thursday, 2nd April 2020 – Another 569 dead from the virus

Woke to the news that BA is grounding all its staff until further notice – around 36,000. They’re not being made redundant, just put on hold until further notice (with the government picking-up their wage bill). The PM has promised to speed-up testing after massive criticism yesterday (only 2,000 out of 500,000) and the benefits’ system is under pressure, as it saw its busiest week ever (almost a million claims) – no surprise there then! On a more positive note, a hospital in the UK is developing a test that can be administered at the bedside with the results being back in just over an hour.

In other news, we’ve had spaghetti ‘oops on for lunch, so briefly, all is right with the world! ? The mundane task for the day was tidying-up the cabling under my PC. It’s a job that’s needed to be done for almost two years – and although it took over an hour, I’m not sure its ‘job done’!

2.05pm: Off for our afternoon stroll! Just over two miles today – that’s the longest we’ve done for a while!

5.28pm: In the Daily Briefing today hosted by Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) we learned that another 569 people have died from the virus since yesterday (and this included Eddie Large from the comedy duo, Little & Large). £300m has been made available to local Pharmacies as well as writing-off of £13.4bn of NHS debt. There’s been a lot of criticism about the lack of testing again today, and to appease the baying mob (the Press, mostly!) We’re now promised 100,000 daily tests by the end of April (a ten-fold increase!). Surprisingly, and as part of the government’s defence, it was announced that a recent so-called proposed test allowed 3 out of 4 cases to test negative – when they were in fact positive! Back to the drawing board, it seems!

8.00pm: We stood on the doorstep, just like the majority of the residents in Tynan Close and applauded the Carers under the rather inappropriately titled: Clap for Carers.

DAY 12: Wednesday, 1st April 2020 – 563 dead from the virus overnight

Ann spent most of the day getting things organised for Dad’s funeral, made all the more challenging by coronavirus limiting the number of people that can gather for this very sad event!

It was surprisingly cold out today, and we’ve got plenty of garden jobs mounting-up: fences to paint and the patio to jet-wash for a start! We’d normally be doing those tasks this time of year, but bizarrely, EVEN THOUGH we have all the time in the world whilst we’re locked-down, it all feels a bit more urgent! In the news, the coronavirus death rate overnight (another 563!) has increased – sadly, as expected! Closer to home, our daily walk took in the new(ish) development of Bertone Manor – Boy! There are a lot more houses completed now, many more occupied and evidence that even more are being built. It really feels like a small village in itself.

Speaking to friends, we all seem to be developing into our own new routines. With few of us at work, we’re sleeping in a bit longer; shopping more prudently; working from home; developing hobbies and doing that job that’s been staring at us for ages! Strange times!

In the Daily Briefing hosted by Aloka Sharma, Business Secretary (the PM is still in isolation) revealed more companies are being encouraged to help manufacture medical equipment – even those that are NOT traditionally associated with the industry (e.g. Dyson, British Motorsport and Mercedes). It was a slightly stilted affair and didn’t demonstrate much warmth. The slideshow showed an upward spike in traffic use; London was still worse than anywhere else in the UK and, we haven’t reached the peak of the curve yet! The government got it in the neck from the Press for the small number of people being tested (compared to say, Germany).

And surely the most disappointing news today was they’ve cancelled Wimbledon! One final point: there were hardly any April Fools pranks anywhere!

DAY 11: Tuesday, 31st March 2020 – 381 new deaths overnight from the virus

Well, after yesterday evening’s devastating news, everything feels strangely odd this morning and where the coronavirus, for once, is not pre-occupying our thoughts! ? With the family all joining forces, we managed to get the funeral arranged and the various obituaries written.

Back to the here-and-now: News of the coronavirus reminded us that 1789 people have died so far in the UK (up by 381 on the previous day) – and we haven’t apparently hit the peak yet. A bit of criticism for Derbyshire Police for over-interpreting the current health guidance by using drones to film people out when they should be in. Another bout of criticism for the government was around the testing of frontline staff – the government promised 25,000 tests per day, actually, it’s more like 8,000. Michael Gove hosted the daily Press Briefing. Lots of graphs showing the spread of the virus around the world and here in the UK – London has sure got it worse than anywhere else here. The main message is still: stay indoors!

We managed to squeeze in our daily walk and picked up some salad cream, baked beans and of course, chocolate, from the local Budgens in St Stephen’s Road. Bev – via WhatsApp – has chosen not to be involved in the planning of Dad’s funeral (after having a bit of a tantrum). Just what we needed at this time! NOT!!?

DAY 10: Monday, 30th March 2020

Day 10 of ‘Lockdown’ and if I can draw anything positive from this experience so far, it’s given me more time to concentrate on getting my main PC back up-and-running! As I type this, I reckon I’m 99% done (and based on past reinstallations, that’s a record!).

Weather-wise, it began not too bad at all – but that wasn’t to last! Rain is now forecast, but between the showers (and the PC repair) it’ll give me an opportunity to also do a few jobs around the garden – repair the hose and rub-down the garage side-door in preparation for painting. Actually, I only managed to do the hose repair, as the day turned a bit grey, and the rain arrived on cue!

Luckily, between the ‘heavens opening’, we did manage to squeeze in our daily walk – a 1¾ mile walk down to the long meadow. On our way back, we manoeuvred around Stella and Trevor who were out, doing the same as us.

4pm: In record time, I finished getting my PC back up and running!

5.15pm: In coronavirus news, the daily TV briefing was hosted by Dominic Raab (Foreign Secretary) – he’s tested positive, but he looked and sounded OK. The main thrust of the message was about the government’s progress with getting Brits home from foreign climes. The government announced they’ll spend a further £75m on special charter flights and better access to information via bespoke 24/7 call centres. Beginning tomorrow, I’m going to start recording the number of people affected by the virus.

6.29pm: And then we heard the worst possible news – we got the call that we didn’t want to get – Denis (Ann’s Dad) had passed-away at 5.45pm in the home. I’m signing-off for today!

DAY 9: Sunday, 29th March 2020

A massive change in the weather – it’s fffffreezing! We still went for our walk though, in between me attempting to get the new PC up-and-running. Very little NEW news re coronavirus although the PM will be writing to every citizen, reminding us of the current restrictions. In the news, they’ve announced that the Olympics have been cancelled – re-scheduled to 2021.

DAY 8: Saturday, 28th March 2020

Ahh, the weekend! Actually, it’s just like any other day at the moment! The weather is on the change and not for the better – colder days (and nights) are promised! Overnight, the news is that tests are now rolling out for frontline staff and it can’t have come soon enough!

The clocks go forward in the early hours of tomorrow morning and that means lighter evenings are on the way – not that we can take advantage of it by meeting up with friends! ? Hopefully, the PC will be back from Kettering Laptops today and I can begin work on reinstalling everything and returning it to how it was. I’m just over £200 lighter but most of that was for a whizzy new 1Tb SSD.

Good news! At just after 3pm, we picked it up – from a two-metre distance (a challenge in itself).

Good grief! We’re out of baked-beans and I reckon that’s the first time in over 30 years – it’s a store-cupboard staple after all! Fortunately, a quick trip to the local Co-Op secured the necessary provisions (maximum two cans though!).

DAY 7: Friday, 27th March 2020

I’m now a week into writing this 100-day post and life does feel strangely odd. I wonder if we’ll be out of all of this by the 100th post? Or, will it be something we’ve got to get used to for a much longer period? Who knows???

A severe frost this morning. I’ve still got some mild ‘sniffles’ but nothing serious (I hope!).

The major activity for today is to do the big shop for the month. Not only that, but we’re also picking up shopping for a couple of our housebound neighbours who are self-isolating – tow-bar at the ready then!

The big news of the day though was both the PM and the Health Secretary are confirmed as having ‘mild symptoms’ of coronavirus! And later in the day, Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) and Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer) have also caught it! So, the 5pm Press Conference was presented by (the everlasting) Michael Gove (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) where there wasn’t much that was new news except two more massive ‘Nightingale-style’ temporary hospitals are to be built with immediate effect (at Birmingham’s NEC and Manchester’s National Convention Centre).

I think we’re all feeling a bit down today – there’s not much good news about, and we’re not apparently at the peak of infections yet. ?. Ann kept herself busy by baking cakes – at least we won’t starve!!

In a welcome change of subject, Ian at Kettering Laptops has diagnosed the problem with my main PC. Long-story-short: it requires a new hard disk and in spite of my very rigorous backup routines, I’m still going to have to spend a significant amount of time re-installing everything! Still, I’ve got nothing else to do!!!!

My sniffles turned to nothing – thank goodness!

DAY 6: Thursday, 26th March 2020

Another gorgeous day weather-wise, so that’s a good start! And to keep things positive, it looks like The Chancellor is going to announce more detailed plans for supporting the nation’s 5m+ self-employed! At 8pm tonight, we’re all being encouraged to show our appreciation of the NHS by applauding on our doorstep.

On today’s to-do list? Mow the lawn and start repairing the side garage door.

We took our daily walk taking in the three local meadows. It was so warm, a short-sleeve shirt sufficed!

It’s 5pm, and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is on TV announcing help for the self-employed. At last! ? His announcement lasted around 5 minutes and to be honest, turned out to be what most people had already guessed: 80% of average earnings over the past 3 years. Nothing said about backdating it and not up-and-running until June. Can’t help thinking that this will be criticised as ‘too little, too late’. As usual, the devil’s in the detail, and I expect it’ll be taken apart in great detail by the media over the next 24 hours.

David ‘donated’ one of his legendary macaroni cheese dishes for my dinner – delicious!

I watched the worldwide stream of the Doctor Who episode: “Rose” at 7pm – 15 years ago to the day, since it was first broadcast!

8pm and the nation pauses to give thanks to the frontline staff helping us through the pandemic. The gesture was by way of us standing on our doorstep and clapping. Tynan Close performed well!

Without warning, I started to feel a bit ‘off-colour’ today. It’s not the virus, but I’m not 100% – feels a bit like the common cold.

DAY 5: Wednesday, 25th March 2020

The fifth day of ‘lockdown’ and it also happens to be Ann’s birthday! Pre-coronavirus, we would, today, have been in Cyprus, but these are strange times! Weather-wise, it’s a lovely day too – cold overnight, but a bright blue sky this morning and probably the best day this week.

We’ve got a list of things to do – clearing out the garage is the ‘big one’. In the news, a reminder for ‘Volunteer First Responders’ to sign-up (they’re looking for 250,000 and incredibly, 170,000 signed-up overnight and by 5pm the following day – 405,000! Fantastic!!). Less positively, there’s been a vague message from the government for the construction industry: “Carry on if you can…”. Not very helpful! It’s also been announced that Parliament will close tonight (until 21st April at the earliest). In local news, we’re going to try and have a chat with Denis today at the Home via WhatsApp.

And just when you don’t really want any more surprises, my PC, without warning, stopped working. Luckily, Kettering Laptops are still operating their repair service, so I dropped it at their rear door in town for some TLC.

No extra information at the daily 5pm Press Conference, although the PM has promised that the Chancellor will be announcing support for the self-employed tomorrow.

DAY 4: Tuesday, 24th March 2020

Wow! After last night’s big announcement (see the video below), I think most of us are still trying to make sense of it all. We all saw it coming, but even so, reality bites! Thankfully, the weather is good, but our scheduled car-charger swap-out has been cancelled. In a similar vein, I’m not sure yet whether the garage will be open today for Robert‘s 10k Service – I really do expect that to be put on hold.

YouTube player

Many of our friends who are self-employed are feeling very unsettled as the government still hasn’t announced any further measures to support them. Personally, I think it will happen, but for many, it can’t come quickly enough. Outside, everything is eerily quiet, with the silence only being interrupted briefly by the sound of…. the Bin-men! Ah well, at least something’s working!

Off for our daily walk down to the Co-Op in St John’s Road where we also picked up some groceries for the neighbours.

Surprisingly, the Car Service WASN’T cancelled, so I set off for Bells just after listening to the news headlines for any further developments. There was – it looks like there might be some news for the self-employed real soon now.

The daily Press Conference today was hosted by Matt Hancock (the Health Minister). The main message was a massive injection of staff into the NHS (via volunteers and using ‘final year’ nurses and doctors) and the creation of a brand new 4000-bed-coronavirus-only hospital in the Docklands – ‘The Nightingale’. Interestingly, there were no Reporters in the audience – all the questions came via a video link!

DAY 3: Monday, 23rd March 2020

Woke up to a cold frosty morning here but a bright and dry day is promised. In the morning news, the government is temporarily taking control of the railways and there’s likely to be a local testing kit for the virus very soon. “Tougher restrictions are likely” announced the PM, as the news reported some of the population are still ignoring the message about social distancing. There’s a photo doing the rounds (see above) this morning showing a Tube train on the District Line absolutely packed! In contrast, we took an early morning walk where people were regularly crossing the road in front of us to maintain their distance. Maybe it’s me and I’m going to ask for a refund from Lynx! 🤔

No daily afternoon Press Conference today as the PM was chairing an emergency COBRA meeting. He promised to make an announcement later today. Sure enough at 8.30pm, the PM broadcast to the nation. As expected, it’s pretty-much total lockdown. In short: “You must stay at home”. Only shopping for essentials; No social gatherings of more than two; the closure of non-essential shops; only one form of exercise outside per day; no weddings, baptisms (or any other formal gathering) at all (apart from funerals). We were all reminded that the Police now have the powers to disperse/re-locate those not complying.

In more mundane matters, a yummy Mushroom Risotto for dinner tonight!

DAY 2: Sunday, 22nd March 2020

Another fine day! More gardening and an opportunity to wash the car. Ann made a delicious Lamb Hotpot for lunch. Plenty of stuff in the news that a lot of people are ignoring social distancing – especially youngsters!

On the daily Press Conference, the PM announced that 1.5m people with complex medical conditions will be supported by something called a ‘national hub’. We took our daily walk a little later today – around 6pm.

DAY 1: Saturday, 21st March 2020

So, here we are, day 1 of “lockdown” and we’ve got a massive list of things we plan to do – so that will take our minds of the general restrictions around the UK/World. Not knowing how long we’ll be under any sort of travel restriction will dictate whether we get them all done or not – but we both feel very motivated in these strange times!! It helps that it’s a lovely day – in fact, the best day, weather-wise, we’ve had in ages! We spent the morning doing bits and pieces in the garden, including completely revamping ‘the square’. It looked a bit bare when we’d finished, but it’ll improve over the weeks. By way of some relaxation, we took a walk in the afternoon and in the evening caught up with a bit of TV including a world-wide re-showing online at 7pm of 2013’s Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode: ‘The Day of the Doctor’.

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