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, Cafรฉs 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! ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽต๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽต๐ŸŽน๐ŸŽท๐ŸŽบ๐ŸŽธ๐ŸŽป๐Ÿฅ

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? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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! ๐Ÿค”

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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹ We had a great time and we didn’t say goodbye until close to midnight!!! ๐Ÿ˜

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. ๐Ÿค” 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!! ๐Ÿ˜ซ

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

9.45pm: We took our daily fix of Downton Abbey. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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

5.30am: I was up early, but I’m not sure why! ๐Ÿค”

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! ๐Ÿ™„

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!!!!๐Ÿ˜ฒ

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! ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฆ…

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. 18โ„ƒ by 8am they reckon! ๐Ÿ˜Ž (As it turned out, London hit 33โ„ƒ 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. ๐Ÿฅต๐Ÿฅต

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! ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž

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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

9.45am: Our first walk of the week hampered a little by the increasing temperature! ๐Ÿฅต

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! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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! ๐Ÿ‘

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! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹

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! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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! ๐Ÿ˜

1.45pm: The Chicken Curry is in the oven, slow-cooking, whilst the Cod is in the fridge marinating nicely in the spices! ๐Ÿ˜œ

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?!?! ๐Ÿฅฑ๐Ÿฅฑ

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 ยฃ1bn 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! ๐Ÿ˜ (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! ๐Ÿ˜. 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. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

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. ๐Ÿค”

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!๐Ÿคจ

3.50pm: Our daily dose of Downton Abbey! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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 ยฃ100bn into the economy under the heading of ‘quantitive easing’.

5.15pm: A new menu tonight! Slow-cooked Pork with a Date Sauce. Super-yummy! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. 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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž. 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’ ๐Ÿฅฑ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿฅฑ๐Ÿ˜ด. 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! ๐Ÿ˜

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

In complete contrast to yesterday, it’s Thundery downpours and humid weather forecast today. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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! ๐Ÿ˜ (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! ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜ช

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! ๐Ÿค”

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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž 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. ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž

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! ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

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’. ๐Ÿ˜€

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! ๐Ÿ˜

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!) ๐Ÿ˜

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!) ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿค”

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. โ˜”๐ŸŒ‚๐ŸŒ‚

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! ๐Ÿ™„

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฒ!

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! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ 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! ๐Ÿคจ

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!! ๐Ÿ™„

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. ๐Ÿค”

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! ๐Ÿ™„

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!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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! ๐Ÿ˜€ In my case, I transferred all my car-cleaning kit from the old (smaller) holdall to a shiny new gigantic one! Much more satisfying! ๐Ÿ˜›

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! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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! ๐Ÿ˜ 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’. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”

3.45pm: Guilty pleasure: We settled down to watch the 1954 movie, Carmen Jones, recorded a few days ago. Great stuff! ๐Ÿคฉ

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… ๐Ÿ˜

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! โ˜”๐Ÿ˜Ž 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!) ๐Ÿ˜ƒ. 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! ๐Ÿ˜‚

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! ๐Ÿค”

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!) ๐Ÿ™„

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! ๐Ÿฅฐ

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! ๐Ÿค”

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??? ๐Ÿ˜ You can’t say we don’t live on the edge!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ 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! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”

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!) ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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.

8.45am: Me multi-tasking?๐Ÿ˜ 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???!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ 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!! ๐Ÿ˜ซ

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! ๐Ÿ˜

8.00pm: Just time to chill-out in the garden for an hour-or-so with an ice-cold sherry! ๐Ÿ˜›

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! ๐Ÿ˜

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. ๐Ÿ˜

11.10am: A spot of gardening before it became far too hot to stay outside. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

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! ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿค—

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! ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜ด

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? ๐Ÿ˜. 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! ๐Ÿค”

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! ๐Ÿฅฑ By 4.45pm everything was behaving as it should, and I charged the car.

12.15pm: Time to hit the pile of ironing. ๐Ÿ˜

1.45pm: Budget meeting! We re-looked at all our big expenditure up until April next year – a useful and sobering exercise! ๐Ÿ’ท๐Ÿ’ท๐Ÿ’ท๐Ÿ’ท๐Ÿ’ท

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 rosรฉ, whilst for me: a trusty Guinness!

10.15pm: Yes, you read that correctly! 10.15pm – and we’re still up! ๐Ÿ˜ We sat outside, reading in the cool summer breeze. It didn’t last long though and the ‘cool’ turned to plain ‘cold’! ๐Ÿฅถ. 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. ยฃ130+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! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

1.35pm: A lazy afternoon followed – mostly in the garden, soaking up the sun. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

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! ๐Ÿค”

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??? ๐Ÿค”

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 ยฃ1.20 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! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I rescued the situation by cancelling the new contract and extending the current one, but at a slightly less attractive price of ยฃ6.60 per month. Bugger! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

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! ๐Ÿ˜

12.30pm: The next task was much more positive and pleasurable – we finally arranged the ‘dragonfly lights’ around the pergola! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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!) ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

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).

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. ๐Ÿ˜•

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! ๐Ÿ˜ช

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! ๐Ÿฅฑ

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

DAY 65: Sunday, 24th May 2020 (Bank Holiday) – Shin Splints ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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! ๐Ÿค”

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! ๐Ÿฅฐ

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! ๐Ÿค”

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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!) ๐Ÿ˜Š

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! ๐Ÿ˜. 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 4ยฝ miles.

3.10pm: Me? Repairing stuff? Surely that’s someone else!!! ๐Ÿ˜ 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 ยฃ1000 fine and/or deportation! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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

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