The new way, Week six.

Saturday 25 April 2020 – same as always (London).

So, week six of lockdown has passed. While incredibly unexciting it was a pretty good week, the best working week so far. I was in a work zone, and while I did not contribute hugely, nor directly, to the effort to get us through covid19, my work does allow others to do just that.

Outside of work we didn’t do too much; no group quizzes, nor family video-conference sessions, though there was a bit of exercise. I have listened to a lot of punk rock this week, I don’t think this was in response to anything emotional. An article in The Guardian about the band Discharge started it off.

The sunshine has been off, but mostly, on since lockdown commenced, though it has been quite cool outside. Not this week. Friday was very warm and as we walked back towards home I started thinking about shorts. We had lunch most days in the garden. Vitamin D levels must be improving over the last week, though I take a tablet each day just on case. I have been doing this for quite a while and it is the only supplement I think I need.

Vitamin D is on the list of things that you should consume to boost natural immunity, and a healthy immune system is critical at this time. There are boundless stories, rumours and recommendations of things to consume to protect yourself or reduce the risk of getting sick, or improve chances if you do. Many are debunked almost immediately, particularly the latest mad utterings of the US president. Sunshine on the inside and getting disinfectant into your blood. WTAF! Madness!

I cannot believe people believe or support this man, though I guess we are not much better here. The latest debate is whether we will be forced to wear some form of mask when we leave the house. I suspect we will and it will not be far off, the government message on the benefits of masks seemingly changes  daily. In my mind it is part of their signalling strategy, warming the population up to the idea so it is less of a shock when it comes.

I have been pondering the flat a lot this week, I might have to make a run down and stay for a few days in the near future, especially if the weather continues to be so lovely.

Eleanor had to work from 9:00 to 13:00. I had thought about going for a bike ride but am still tired and would rather have the energy to ride in the mornings before work. I spent most of the morning writing, editing and posting last weeks epicly long post. I had  planned to keep it shorter this week, though I have utterly failed.

I made fish cakes with a SE Asian flavoured salad for lunch using left over mashed potato from last night. I must remember to do excess potato more often, and then not hoover it all down as seconds or thirds.

In an effort to give myself more space to work I have taken over one of Eleanor’s sons bedrooms. Moving his bed out of the way and his desk in front of the window I now how have a lot more room to work in. This will hopefully improve my sleep as good sleep hygiene is to only use the bedroom for bedroom activities. Working is not considered a bedroom activity, at least not in my profession.

We went for a late afternoon walk to the shops, passing through St Mary’s Churchyard where the bluebells are popping some colour between the monochromatic gravestones.

We have started wearing masks when we go into the shops, I am not wearing mine on the street as I walk, though some people do. At least we are prepared for the inevitable day that they will become mandatory.

Another sunny but cold day, we were out early for the pre-work commute walk. We walked through Walthamstow Village as I am getting sick of the park. I took a photo suggesting that we were not in NE London but somewhere more genteel.

I started working from my new position in Eleanor’s son’s room, then realised it just didn’t work. There was less desk space than I thought and even with the sun not shining directly in the window like it will later on it was still too bright for working. I moved myself back to my corner desk in our room and will have to think of plan B.

Work was OK, did stuff, and the day passed quickly enough. No reason to complain and I am definitely in the work from home groove now.

I made vege burgers for tea, and then unsuccessfully made a chocolate cake. The cake tasted OK, and was mostly cake-like in appearance. It would not make it far in Bake Off, so no photo was taken. I have vowed to buy two cake tins that are the same size before the next cake gets made. Though that was not the reason the cake didn’t really work.

Even though we went to bed at 11:00 last night, outrageously late for us (morons down the road playing music loudly) I was still awake about 5:00. I will never shake off the tiredness. I have been having really weird dreams lately. This morning I managed to half note the dream and will create a short weird/horror story from it. Possibly, maybe, one day. Writing stories are always on my one day list.

The thinking on weirdness and horror put me off the route I had planned for this morning’s bike ride. I ended up riding to nearby Wanstead and Chalet Wood to see the bluebell display, even though I said last week I wasn’t going to. FOMO got the better of me in the end. I am glad I did, the bluebells are glorious this year.

I got lost on the way. This is the first time I have cycled there, we usually get the train and walk back, going in the opposite direction was not quite as simple as envisaged, nor had I fully remembered the way.

I found Chalet Wood, and was very glad I did.

Work was OK, another pretty good day, and I knocked a couple of tasks off the list, one of which has been weighing me down for ages. It was a relief to get it done.

The keys I sent to my flat neighbour arrived today and he checked my place out, nothing to report and nothing going off in the fridge. This news, A) lifted my massively spirits as I have nothing to worry about, and B) lowered my spirits as I missing my flat.

I think I just need to get used to waking at stupid o’clock. I might change my routine and just get up at 6:00. Get out for some exercise, then read the news and social media over coffee. Start and finish work a bit earlier.

El and I went for a walk to some of the small supermarkets to pick up groceries before work. Our diet is primarily vegetarian, though we aren’t vegetarians. I was craving meat, so bought some beef mince.

Work was pretty good again, maybe listing to loads of punk rock this week has made me more productive. I watched a short documentary that featured the 90s English hardcore band The Stupids. I loved them at the time, but did not own any records. I amended that this afternoon and ordered two on Discogs. They were cheaper than I expected, a lot of old punk rock on vinyl is ludicrously expensive.

I had intended on getting my haircut, and then lockdown happened. The mop is getting unruly and I am torn between letting it grow or shanking it all off with the beard trimmer and some blunt scissors.

I made meatballs in a spicy paprika tomato sauce with orzo for dinner. It was excellent.

I was up early again for a pre-work walk. I took a different route and walked along Hoe St and then up Lea Bridge Rd. It is not the nicest route, and does not look like I was walking through a village. There was an article on thrash metal band Slayer in the paper this morning, so I listened to them while I walked. They seem appropriate for this sort of inner-city suburban walk. There has been an increase in the amount of traffic on the roads, but it is not apparent this early in the day.

Even though I ended up getting bogged down in some ultra-tedious and ridiculously last minute budget spreadsheeting, it was not a bad day. It had to be done, someone had to do it, and it was good to get it out of the way. I listened to Superchunk all day. They were one of my favourite bands around 1990, they came to Auckland twice, which was unusual for an American band. They have an affinity for NZ and have recorded covers of songs by both The Chills and The Verlaines, this made me love them even more. They are still going and released an LP in 2018 and it is pretty good. I made a playlist for that future day when Superchunk is the musical answer to the what do I want to listen to question.

We had on-line drinks again after work which was a bit of fun, I enjoyed socialising with colleagues, something else I miss, though I did not do it often when we were in the office. Sometimes it is the small and unexpected things we miss the most.

Woke early and could not get motivated to go for a walk, even though it is really nice outside. I was up and working before 8:00. There did not seem be much point in staying in bed any longer and it was good to get the work day done. It was OK, I did not achieve a heck of a lot, but I did a bunch of work admin and am well set up for next week being productive too. This was the most positive work week I have had since lock down. I have cracked it I think. Fingers crossed!

Eleanor and I went for a walk at lunch time, it was warm, verging on hot. I was in t-shirt and jeans and by the time I got home I wished I was wearing shorts. Friends had tofu for us from a supermarket delivery so we collected this, and enjoyed a safely distant conversation with them in the sun. Actually talking to people face to face was a joy, doing so under a warm sun was doubly good.

I got sidetracked in the afternoon when someone posted on twitter that they were listening to Rise Against. I have not listened to them properly for quite a time, I have a couple of tracks on a punk play list, but that is about it. I made another playlist, but it just seemed to be entirely made up of the first four albums, the ones I travelled with. They were my go-to band while I was travelling, particularly in moments of loneliness or when I was feeling down. I listen to them differently now, I think. I am never quite 100% sure where my head is at and in these uncertain times I am sure there is more stress and anxiety going on than I will admit to.

I used the mince I did not use in Wednesday’s meatballs and made a very small meatloaf, with mashed spuds and vege. It was good, I am really enjoying cooking at the moment, and am glad we share the task. I made sure there was left over mash for fishcakes another day. A lesson was learned.

The asshats at the end of our road had a party again and played bloody awful loud music to 2:30am. I was fuming, but the council no longer have an anti-social behaviour team, apart from the police there is no-one to call. I had a terrible night, even though I attempted to sleep in a back bedroom. Grrrrrrrrr.

Due to tiredness we did chores in the morning instead of a taking the planned long walk. I made soup for lunch as we had an ancient squash and a couple of old spuds that just needed to be eaten. It was good soup, though the squash had lost some of its flavour. It was four months past its best-by date!

Eleanor had to work in the afternoon so after editing some photos and writing most of this (now novella length) post I rode the commuter bike down to Shoreditch to see if any street art had happened in the past couple of years. The answer was not a lot, but here are some ropey photos of some of what I found;

Shepard Fairey, with a Ben Eine ‘R’.

Mr Cenz and someone I have forgotten, I am pretty sure I have posted this before.

Alo. I am so glad Alo is still adding to London’s walls.

Crano and the balloon is by Fanakapan.

Random paste-up artists. I love it that Jacinda Ardern can share a paste-up with Drumpf.

I should know this artist, but cannot pin a name to it. I will update if it comes to me!

This space used to be dominated by street art, now it has a garage, but the entrance is still covered in paste-ups, stickers and scrawling.

It was great to see that Thierry Noir still has a few pieces left, I am a fan and have a print in the flat.

I stopped to take this photo of the gravestones that have been relocated in one of the churchyards in Hackney as I cycled home. I may have to come back to this spot for a better look.

The roads were pretty quiet, not many cars and no trucks, making for a much improved road riding experience. There were a lot of people out on the street and in the parks, mostly sticking to social distancing guidelines, though Broadway Market was not open it was really busy in the street it is held on. I avoided it.

It was good getting out on the bike, for what was my longest ride in quite a while. I am getting a little fitter. Though this was ruined a bit in the evening as we ate take-away pizza and drank wine in front of the TV.

The new way. Week five.

Saturday 18 April 2020 – London (Again).

It is the small things, the simple pleasures that I am missing the most as I enter week five of lock down.

From August to May weekends in our house are dominated by football. Eleanor is a Spurs season ticket holder and I support bitter rivals Arsenal. Before you ask, yes, we do make it work, though we never watch the North London Derby together. We miss football a lot, it dominates our weekends; our viewing, our conversations and our reading. Over a long weekend like Easter we would watch the games our teams play as well as any other tasty clash, if it is raining then probably other games would get watched as well. Having no football on the tellybox for such a long time is a strange and not enjoyable experience.

I am also missing the pub, we don’t go a lot, our London local at the weekend is always full of families, but I miss not being able to go if I want to. I particularly miss the places we/I visit when we are at the flat in St Leonards. I miss tap beer, even though I often drink wine in the pub.

I miss the flat, obviously. I miss walking down to and along the seafront, I miss walking into Hastings, I miss the galleries and cafes and the bars. I miss being in a less crowded place, I miss the fresh sea air and the constant wind, the sea rattling the pebble beach and how the shape of the beach changes daily. I miss being in my flat, playing records, cooking, reading, hanging out in my own space; with Eleanor or on my own.

Most of all I miss being with friends, sharing the same space at the same time. I look forward to that more than anything else.

Sunday started with a Zoom call with family in New Zealand, with the bonus of my son in Australia joining in. This week we had seven participants, including all three of my children. I cannot remember the last time I was on a call with all three at the same time, as well as mum, both sisters and some nephews. It was a treat and I felt so much better for it. Admittedly if felt like half the call was one of us going ‘I cannot hear you’ or ‘it looks like so-and-so has hung’. Symptoms of modern communication, in this family scenario it was verging on amusing.

Late in the afternoon I made cinnamon swirls and a sweet potato and squash tagine for dinner. I listened to Metallica and drank beer while I cooked. It was a bit bogan in the kitchen for a while and Eleanor quite rightly stayed in another room.

Easter Monday, yet Eleanor and I were up and out the door by 8:00 for a walk around the park. No lie-in, this is not the real me. Yesterday there was a high of 25 degrees in London, today a maximum of 11 was forecast, it was quite cold out and there were significantly less people in the park than there would have been if it was warmer. Yay for that. We also stopped in Tescos which was pretty much back to full stock now, they also had Quorn mince which was great. I took some photos of the amazing spring blossoms in the park.

I spent some time doing some work related things, the guys are still working on covid19 statistics reporting and have been for most of the weekend. The rest of the day I basically wasted, though I ordered a new toilet seat for the downstairs loo. Exciting I know, welcome to lockdown life.

Back to work and a change of scene. Sat in the bedroom at my desk looking out the front window. So different to being downstairs looking out the back.

El had a hospital appointment to review the scan from last week. We already knew nothing was found, but it was good to get expert confirmation. Like last week I dropped her at the hospital and then drove to Hollow Pond for a walk in the sun. I took the Polaroid with me, it has been a while since it was last out. I took four images, the first couple were really faded, not sure why. I am wondering if there is a small light leak? I also took some photos using my phone. It was peaceful and I had a happier stroll than last week.

Work was OK, it took a while to get into the day. Tuesday and Wednesdays are meeting days, always have been, so it is rare to get any meaningful work done. At least it leaves fewer, hopefully no, meetings on the other days.

I exchanged messages with Rich, one of my flat neighbours, I am going to send him my keys and he will check all is well with the flat. The news seems to be that this thing will go on for months so no idea when I will get back there. It is a bit depressing really. He can toss the couple of manky carrots in the fridge out Smile


I cooked a pasta bake thing made with Quorn mince for dinner and loads of paprika. It was great and I made enough for a lunch later in the week. It is good having fake mince back in the freezer again.

My son asked if I had any old photos as he had lost a lot when he deleted his BookFace, so I uploaded a whole load of family shots from the past 15 years to a Google Drive and shared them with the kids. It was quite a walk down memory lane. I realised that though I have been blogging for nine years now, I doubt my kids have ever looked, so they probably have no idea of what photos I had. It was good to share them. Mind you if all posts were as long as this one I don’t blame them for not reading. I seem to have too much time on my hands these days.

Tim Burgess, who was/is the singer in 90s band The Charlatans has organised a load of ‘listening parties’ on Twitter. We get to play a selected album in our own home, and he and a member of the group tweet about the record as it is played. Tonight was Mogwai’s ‘ Come On Die Young’, one of my favourite bands. I listened to half before falling asleep, though the caught up with the Twitter chat the following morning.

Today was a good day.

Last night I pumped up the tires on the mountain bike and this morning I went for my first ride in months, in possibly over a year. I rode for 40 minutes before work and was pretty broken by the time I got home. I did not realise how unfit I am. It is bad. It was lovely out, I rode up to Highams Park Lake, and visited my favourite, gnarly old tree and looked for bluebells in a patch Eleanor and I walked past a few years ago.

I read today that this event could go on until 2022. Not full time, but with periodic lockdowns as the virus moves through the population, at least until a vaccination is trialled and enough people are immune or vaccinated to allow life to return more fully to normal. It is obvious that with the infection and death rate still rising, albeit more slowly due to the lockdown, that we are not going anywhere soon. We talked about the inevitiableness of having to cancel our 10 day trip from Oslo in Norway back to London in early June. Luckily we have not spent too much, and hopefully travel insurance will cover what has been spent. Who knows, too early to cancel, but I cannot image us going.

I started watching the X-Files from series one, as it is on one of the streaming channels. I am a bit bored with telly, not that I was ever overly reliant on it as form of entertainment. I am very fussy about what I watch, who would have known.

Up early this morning, awake well before the alarm; yet again. Feeling less dazed than the rest of the week which is good. I was out the door before 7:30 and on the commuter bike for a ride down to, and around Walthamstow Marshes. It was really nice out again, apart from being knackered and my legs and bum were sore by the end of the 40 minute ride.

I chose to do this ride rather than take the mountain bike back to Epping Forest as I thought I would get to Sainsburys for opening at 8 and grab a few bits and pieces. I arrived just before opening and the queue was already out of sight round the corner. I didn’t wait, we have enough food.

It was another good work day, I am fully in the groove now and working has become easier. I am more self motivated and am doing more interesting things and managing my work better. I also started playing with Power Shell scripts today to script a task our support company fail to do reliably. My end game is to get rid of them, automate them out.

It was announced today that we will have another three weeks of lockdown, to at least 11 May. The only thing that surprised me with the announcement is that it was for only three weeks, though the government had been signalling this since the weekend. We are still missing a prime minister, he is out of hospital now but recovering at his (second) home. Something we are not allowed to do, one rule for them, one for us. We are barely being governed at all, just seem to be rolling on through, and I can continue to be glad that we are (so far) lucky.

I walked with Eleanor this morning after another lousy sleep and I am just too tired to contemplate getting back on the bike. We walked around the park again, it was really busy, lots of stupid runners, we left by a side exit and walked back up the mostly deserted street, passing some nice fly-tipping on the way.

There is a lot more traffic about this week, seemingly some people are relaxing their social isolation. The government are sending mixed messages, official line is stay home, though there are side messages about relaxing the rules and getting the economy going. This seems to be lulling some folk back to working. I don’t blame them of course, we all need money to live. Being at home 24/7 is hardly a bunch of laughs either.

Work was good and I achieved a lot for the third day this week, hopefully this will roll into next. One of the few pleasures of lock down is artists live streaming ‘gigs’. This weekend in Christchurch, New Zealand there was supposed to the ‘Better Living, Everyone!’ festival. This was cancelled and the artists performed short sets live from home via the internet. Being on the other side of the world, meant I could attend some of the gig and I really enjoyed Jim Nothing live from their garage in Auckland as I worked in the morning.

I had some records I ordered arrive today. I am doing my bit to keep the music industry alive and well.

Last night Eleanor had managed to book a ‘click and collect’ slot for tonight at a Sainsbury’s near Finsbury Park, about 15 minutes away by car. We were both surprised by this, getting an order from any of the big supermarkets is almost impossible. I drove there after work and was surprised to find we did not have to wait, unsurprised at the huge, though socially distant, queue to get in to the supermarket itself.

In the evening we joined friends for another online quiz, Eleanor and I did a lot better this time, coming second. I drank slightly less, though I am not sure if that made a huge difference. It was very good fun though, and it was great seeing friends.

Up late, dozed till 9 or so, though I first woke before 6, with a mild red wine hangover. I am drinking more than normal, not every day, and rarely excessively, but definitely more than I usually do. I am surprised I am not putting on weight, though I am eating much less processed food and doing some form of exercise each day. Hopefully this will continue.

Eleanor I walked to Highams Park Lake, as the bluebells are out now. We normally go to a big display on the other side of Epping Forest in Wanstead, but decided to walk to this smaller patch I found when riding. It was really nice walk for a couple of hours, though there were quite a few people out, to be expected I guess. I am wondering if these smaller pockets of forest are attracting more visitors than normal?

I took the Polaroid again and had a happier experience than on Tuesday.

We spent the first half of the afternoon watching the Black Panther movie on the TV. I am still tired so had a lie down before cooking some proper comfort food for dinner; vege sausages, beans and mash. It was very nice.

Another week in lockdown done. How many more?

The new way, Week four.

Saturday 11 April 2020 – London.

The start of a fourth week of working from home, I think, time is starting to blur. One of the reasons for doing a weekly post is to not forget what happened and when. I don’t think I will ever cover the why things happen, nor why I write what I do.

The country is in a weird state, the stay home guidance is working as well as expected; those who obey rules are obeying and those who do not are not. There is the usual noise on social media from the self righteous telling people off for going to the park, given how crowded some of those parks were yesterday I sort of don’t blame them. We do have the right to go outside though and like most others I need my daily walk, though this week I have been slacking and have not been out every day.

I knew that this whole idea of people staying in for weeks on end was not going to be sustainable. People get bored, some people think they are invincible, and some just don’t care if they or others get sick or die. The reported hospital death rate is climbing, we are at high hundreds a day, yet some don’t seem to care. I don’t believe that the message is not getting through, it is. This is about personal responsibility, a failing of too many. Seemingly more so here than in other countries.


The day started really well, one of my sisters organised a family video-conferencing call for 9:00am and both sisters, their children, mum and one of my sons were there. Six different rooms or household attended, it was really nice seeing my NZ family all at once. It was the first time in well over a decade when we would have had that many family members together. Hopefully the next one will include my other son and my daughter, who is now safely in NZ after her flight from Sri Lanka.

After the call Eleanor and I went for walk around the extended block, surprisingly picking up all the groceries we wanted from the small Tesco at the end of the road, which was almost empty. It was a nice walk, very few people out, even at 10:00am. There are so few cars on the roads at the moment, which is great for walking and cycling and wonderful for reducing air pollution.

The rest of the day was spent doing chores around the house, later in the day I made some chocolate chip biscuits, hopefully they will last longer than the cakes do.


We woke to the news that the prime minister has been hospitalised due to covid19. He had been ill and ‘running the country’ from his sick bed, but took a turn for the worse on Sunday afternoon. While I think he is hopeless, narcissistic, incompetent, a liar and not fit to be the leader of this country, or any other, I do not wish him ill, unlike some on social media. Hopefully after a few days in a public hospital he may get a dose of reality, though I am sure all his medical team will have the full PPE protection and none of them will be checking on him after already doing 12 hour shifts for the 10th day in a row. Speaking of hospitals….

Eleanor had a scan this morning at our local hospital, after suffering from some discomfort over the past few weeks. Surprisingly she got an appointment really quickly, and more surprisingly it was not cancelled. I drove her to the hospital just after 8:00am and then drove over the road to Hollow Pond, a small section of Epping Forest, to park and wait for the appointment to be over. I took the camera and had a rather listless walk for a bit, before picking Eleanor up much earlier than expected. Good news it was so quick and the scan did not show anything untoward either.

The crows and gorse are taking over already, pre-post-apocalypse.

Work was OK, a lot of online meetings, so I didn’t get much done, they didn’t help with my general work related malaise though. Wednesday and Thursday are reasonably meeting free so hopefully I will get stuck in to something more interesting.

We went for a walk through the village after work to see this magnificent spring blossom.

I have just realised that this week is a short week with the Easter bank holiday on Friday. As I said above, time has blurred somewhat lately. A four day weekend right now is a good thing as I was contemplating having a couple of days off of work. I am not working hard, my life is very easy compared to those on the front line, and am not sure what I will do with that time. I feel it is due as I just seem to be tired all the time, and am not shaking this head cold that has been with me for what seems like months.


Over the weekend I decided I would try and take a random photo each work day. I will probably use my phone and probably take one while I am on my government sanctioned daily exercise. This morning I took a photo of Hoe St, the main drag through Walthamstow. I took it, not because there were so few vehicles, but because I have never seen the street so clean. Few pedestrians, few vehicles and far fewer shops open seems to equal far less rubbish. It sad seeing so many shut shops, I hope they survive lock down.

Today was a much better work day than yesterday, and I didn’t end up with a stonking headache at the end of it. I also finished one of the tedious tasks and did a couple of more enjoyable things. My team is quite involved in some interesting covid19 work, though I do the less fun admin stuff. Someone has to, but I feel a bit of interesting project envy at the moment. I want to know that the work I am doing has relevance and is actually helping people. This is one of the reasons I joined the civil service. Knowing my colleagues are doing critical work that saves lives lessens the feelings of helplessness, but only marginally.


I didn’t get out for a walk before work today, I slept poorly again and woke tired. Last night I received a message from the pub I worked in a few years ago saying they had a few kegs of beer to get rid of, and to bring a container and come and collect some. This made choosing to at walk mid day much simpler.

Someone has been spray painting on the Aubrey Rd walk way. It is a good question! I picked up a couple of containers from a friend on the way to the pub and got those filled as well. It was nice to chat face to face with someone, at a safe distance of course. It is the simple things I miss the most.

I had a good work day, with admin tasks half completed yesterday I had decided to use some of the skills I picked up on a recently completed SQL Server admin course. It was fun, and I completed a scripting task I had been meaning to do for ages. It was the best work day in a while.

I made a fairly basic curry for tea, using up a lot of the vegetables we had in the fridge as some were getting to the end of their useful life. I drank a pint Landlord, the beer from the pub as I cooked. It was good, free made it even better.


I had another good work day, lots to do, and I am now starting to contribute in a small way to the covid19 work. My department had an online wine and cheese evening after work for a couple of hours which was nice, though I did drink way too fast, and finished most of a bottle of red before the end. I could not find any nice cheese in the local shops which was bitterly disappointing. Though eating a block of manchego before dinner would not have been wise, and I am fairly sure I would have eaten the whole thing. Cheese and restraint are not two words that go together.

The big news of today was we had a new dishwasher delivered. It was dumped on the footpath outside the house. Luckily Eleanor had had the foresight a few weeks back to buy a small hand truck and we used this to get the machine into the house. It would have been really difficult for the two of us get it in otherwise. Installing will be a task for the weekend.


Today is Good Friday. Not being religious and under these strange new circumstances, it just felt like another day. It is another glorious day, and I fervently hope that people don’t take to the streets and parks as much as last weekend. Stick to the guidance, one walk and a trip to the shops if needed. Help keep the death toll and infection rate down.

In the UK we are seeing almost a thousand ‘official’ covid19 deaths a day at the moment. The official figures only include deaths in NHS hospitals; there are surely significantly more in care homes and in people homes. Helping with the reporting of these statistics is something we are working on. It is significantly more complex than it sounds.

I took my walk in the morning, they are significantly less people out at 9:00am than later in the day. I also wanted to pick up some grocery items as well, visiting a couple of the small supermarkets, getting most of what we needed. We have elected to not drive to the big supermarket, the queues are too long and we are happy to get what we need on a daily basis. We have time and shopping local is a good thing to do. As I have said before we are lucky in that there are just the two of us so shopping is not too difficult.

I walked past Walthamstow’s ancient house on the way. It was really nice being out in the sun, and I was in a t-shirt by the time I got home, getting my vitamin D.

The afternoon was spent cleaning out the conservatory, a job we had been planning on doing for ages, and cleaning the fridge as I had used most of the veg the other night. This took up most of the rest of the afternoon. Another day in lock down was over, and we actually achieved things. It is great that the council are still emptying bins here, I know it is not happening everywhere, hopefully this will continue as we put a lot of stuff in the bin today, from both the fridge and the conservatory. I must get on those bikes again!

I made a spinach based veg Wellington for dinner, it was not what I was planning on, but we had the wrong sort of pastry to make feta and spinach triangles. It was good though, served with parsnip mash potato, and accompanied with the last of the free beer I got on Wednesday.

I discovered a new band via a weekly email from Fuzz Club, a record label I follow. Sei Still are from Mexico and have released a debut LP of droney/psychedelic krautrock and it is just my sort of thing. I ordered a copy on vinyl, my plan to not buy records has well gone out the window.


Saturday started poorly with Eleanor finding the kitchen drain was blocked when she was doing some washing and we ended up with a minor flood in the (thankfully freshly tidied) conservatory. Luckily we were able to clear it, the thought of trying to find a plumber to come out now was not something we wanted to contemplate. I then installed the new dishwasher, so hopefully when we use it we do not end up with another flood.

One of the things that attracted me to St Leonards-on-Sea is that there is photography gallery there, Lucy Bell Gallery. It is great, the exhibitions are really good, and it is a nice place to visit. I bought my first photograph print there the last day I was at the flat before lock down. Lucy runs a gallery Instagram account and due to the gallery being closed for the duration is posting three images from submitting photographers to the page. Today three of my ‘Journeys’ series of photos were put on the gallery Instagram, which I very much appreciated. I think they have all been posted here in the past. These were the three I sent, though only two made it to the Instagram, and one of them twice 🙂

I am looking forward to the day that I can continue the series.

A sneaky outing to Epping Forest.

Saturday 04 April 2020 – Epping Forest.

It felt like an absolute age since I took in the air of Epping Forest. I had to look back through previous posts to find that it was mid-January, which in this time slowed down period we are going through, was an age ago. Almost a different period of existence, the pre-covid age.

The official guidance says that one can go for a walk for exercise. I know there have been some police districts stopping people from driving to beaches, parks and areas of natural beauty, as well as the usual self-appointed social media guardians moaning about people going outside. However there is no rule or law that says you cannot, so I drove the ten minutes to Epping Forest for a photography session/walk/wellbeing break. I cannot walk the beach, so this is what I need to do for my wellbeing; both physical and mental. I enjoyed it and it worked. I was not happy with the photos I took, but ultimately that was not the point. Being outside and enjoying being outside; being in the sun, the ever-freshening air and the relative peace were the aims of this morning, as well as letting my creative side out to play.

Nature is pretty amazing, how is this tree still going ?

The roads were really quiet at 8:45 on Saturday morning, and it felt like all the traffic lights were green all the way to the small car park near Strawberry Ponds. There were a couple of cars there when I arrived, but it was fairly quiet, only a few runners and dog walkers out this early. I like the section of forest around Lost Pond and Loughton Camp and that was where I headed. Starting with a stroll along the bank of the twisty and turny Loughton Brook.

As soon as I get the chance I leave the main path and walk up the mountain bike tracks and other small paths that meander aimlessly, often ending at no particular destination, from there I just bush crash through open areas between the scrub and trees. Trying to avoid the worst of the holly that is slowing taking over the places where the volunteers have yet to visit.

I took the tripod and the big camera as I wanted to spend some proper time taking photos, rather than just walk and snap; take the opportunity to slow down and let the forest take over my thoughts. I don’t listen to music on these walks, one of the rare places I am not plugged in. So much easier to let the mind wander up, down and sideways when it is disconnected.

I got to Lost Pond after an hour of slow walking and photography. Not wanting to go to the tea huts, even if they were open, I had elected to bring a flask of coffee and a snack. It was so nice in the sun I stopped, pond side and just sat and listened to the birds, and the occasional twat on an over-loud motorbike roaring along the windy and narrow roads. For most of the 15 minutes I sat I was completely alone. It was lovely, and I would have stayed longer but people arrived, and I didn’t want people.

It was the same at Loughton Camp, I arrived and had ten to fifteen minutes of peace and then people arrived. I moved on, walking slowly back through the trees to the car. I love Loughton Camp, the beech trees here are amazing and spacious and the filtered light is just something else.

I took some intentional camera movement photos as I walked. I am trying for the perfect photographic simulation of an impressionist painting, in-camera as they say, without any post-production trickery. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Today was partially successful. 

Like I said I was not particularly happy with my photographic efforts, but as I also said, taking great images was not the point. Walking, as solitary as possible was the point. This was achieved and my morning was all the better for it.

The car park was overfull when I got back, and I could hear lots more people on the main path as I walked the narrow dirt tracks. It was clearly time to leave.

I read the following Monday that people had complained about how many others had driven to the forest to walk so the Epping Forest management people have now closed the car parks. I felt no guilt, but next time I will walk to my local bit of forest, which is not so nice. Best not to be seen as part of the problem.

I hope this was a welcome break from my weekly lock down posts!

The new way, Week three.

Saturday 04 April 2020 – London.

Another Sunday, another week completed and another week closer to this ‘event’ being over and what was deemed as normal returning.

What do we call this thing? I don’t like the word ‘crisis’ though it surely is one. ‘Pandemic’ is too scientific and probably means different things to different people. This government’s use of the words ‘war’ and ‘battle’ scare the hell out of me, this is certainly neither of those things. ‘Event’ seems a bit too casual, not serious enough, but events can be life changing and until I come up with something better, ‘event’ it is going to be.

My one wish from this covid19 event is that society, particularly the UK, has used this time to take a good long look at itself and reflect on how things were before. Society, what did you learn from all the chaos? The broken lives, broken families, broken jobs and workplaces, broken economy, broken environment and totally broken political system that has left us where we are now; scrabbling for test kits and appropriate protective gear for those working in hospitals, care homes, supermarkets. Those deemed as unskilled and unwanted just two months ago.

Can we fix it? Of course. Will we? I doubt it. The selfish will rise to the top as always and we will enter another long period of enforced austerity to fix the damage, though this time the state has gifted itself significantly more power than it had before.


Cold and grey out, though El and I still went for a walk for an hour, there were significantly fewer people out than yesterday which was good. There are a lot less cars as well which means being able to walk in the road to social distance, and I like walking in the road.

Now that spring is coming I am getting hay fever. This is disconcerting as I am now huffing and puffing, sneezing, blowing my nose and occasionally coughing. People look at me sideways. I look at me sideways.

We didn’t do much in the afternoon, I am using Sunday afternoons to edit photos and prepare these posts. Day light saving started today. Not that it makes any real difference, time has some irrelevancy now, and there seems to be a lot more of it. Thankfully I have work, and hobbies, and a pile of books to go through.


Now that it is spring the weather has taken a turn and it has gotten colder. There were far fewer walkers in the park when I went for my pre-work ‘commute’ walk. Work was OK, feeling a little uninspired still. I feed off other people when I work, and as El and I are working on different floors in the house I am feeding off my own lack of enthusiasm.

There was a fox on the roof of the shed for most of the morning, this is not uncommon and he/she has been there before. There are plenty of stories of wildlife returning to cities now there is less motor and human traffic about. This is not one of them.

I made a pasta bake thing with vegan chorizo, beans, and paprika for dinner. This is one of my favourite comfort meals and I am really enjoying cooking again, not that I ever didn’t enjoy it. Not having to commute means more time to think, prepare and cook each day and that is one thing I am grateful for. The shops are getting back to some form of normal supply, while there are restrictions on how many people can be in a shop, which is no bad thing, most things are back on the shelf. This means I can nip down to pick up something if it is missing from the cupboard and I have yearning to cook with it. Flour still seems to be in short supply though. Just when I have an interest in baking again, along with everyone else I guess.


There were a lot more walkers and runners out this morning, it was a bit later (8:00) and sunny again. Most people kept their distance, but I now understand why people are getting pissed off with runners. One ran at me and she was not going to change direction; that was up to me. and I was on the ‘right’ side of the path, she just didn’t care. Runners are now public enemy number one, taking the place of cyclists. Luckily I am neither at the moment, though at the start of lock down I was thinking I could start running again. Maybe now is not  good time!

I talked to mum in New Zealand while I walked, she has now been locked down in the retirement village, which she is not happy about. Sadly I cannot be there to provide physical support, like shopping etc. Though my sister, son and niece and nephew are helping out, and waving at mum though the fence. My mum was able to take my grandson to the park once a week, but now restrictions are in place this cannot happen, such a shame for both of them as they both enjoyed their time together. 


Today I started a three day ‘Administering ArcGis Enterprise’ for work. It was supposed to be classroom based, but obviously the world has moved on from those days. This is my first online course. I don’t like the idea of them, but it was Ok, and I coped, once I disciplined myself to not look at social media it was fine. I would still rather be in the classroom, interacting with real people though.

I have not been sleeping well and was very tired when I got up, then was a lot worse late in the afternoon, I should have gone for a walk before or after work, but was too lazy. This was stupid. I had a bad headache in the afternoon and had a bit of a temperature, though it didn’t last long. I do worry sometimes that I am going to get properly sick, and then it goes away, I feel fine and then stop worrying. I suspect I am not the only one thinking like this.

A couple of weeks ago I joined Twitter again after deleting it in a huff after the last election. I did pretty well to last this long as I was a bit of an addict. I rejoined to keep up with news from overseas, from people I respect in New Zealand, and to get back in touch with what was happening with music. It was a way to reduce the isolation, and so far so good. One of the things I am enjoying is picking up music recommendations and binge listening to artists now I can play music out loud all day. I listened to The Feelies today, their debut LP is 40 years old. I haven’t listened to them in ages, and really enjoyed the relatively sunnyness of their music.

I cooked a Thai noodle soup for dinner, another regular go-to meal, though this one was not as punchy as normal. At least I can still taste and smell.


I slept better, thankfully. I probably have sinusitis and will start doing something about it, the symptoms have been around for months and I do little to remedy them. My ears were hurting this morning, and I had a bad headache. Sinutab worked. Putting a name to what I was feeling made it all go away and I have felt find since. The pollen is not helping either I suspect.

I am now thinking about the coming weekend, and all the things I won’t be doing or feel I would be restricted from doing, like walking and stopping for a pint in a pub. I decided that I would get up early on Saturday and go to the forest and take some photos. Photography, the forest and walking are some of my go-to things when I need a break from the world. Taking the camera and the tripod and just thinking about a scene is extremely relaxing, and I have not done it for ages.

This led me to take some photos of dead leaves, a project I started ages ago and let lapse. While El made dinner I took photos in the bedroom, editing them after work on Friday. I have had these leaves for a while, slowly shriveling in a shoe box.

I am still experimenting with camera movement.

One of my sisters has managed to get mum up and running on Zoom, and has now arranged a video call for Sunday morning with the family, which is very cool and I am looking forward to it very much.


Ah, Friday. Yay, the working week is over, let the weekend and all its activities commence. 

I woke up to a huge thread on the Family WhatsApp group, with my daughter now wanting to get out of Sri Lanka and return to NZ. Naturally she has limited access to the internet and my son and ex were trying to book tickets via Australia at some exorbitant price. I logged on and found a flight to Auckland this Sunday, via Qatar, that was not significantly more than the normal price, albeit with a 20 hour layover in Doha. I booked it. I have noticed before that booking flights from the UK is significantly cheaper than booking them from NZ or Australia. 

We have talked about her leaving Sri Lanka off and on over the past couple of weeks, but with more countries closing borders, and fewer airlines flying each day it seemed the sensible thing to do. There was not a lot of choice of flights, getting to the UK would have been easier, but she has lots of friends in NZ and would not be so isolated. I was fine with Meliesha being in Sri Lanka, it is a safe country and she was in a fairly remote place but with good facilities and people, so I was not overly worried, but once she is back in New Zealand I will be even less so.

I am just glad to be here in London with El.


I was out of the door at 8:30, driving up to the forest for a photo walk. I took a lot of photos, had a nice walk and returned home refreshed. I will do a separate post about it during the week once I have edited the photos; though first look suggests that not too many will survive the cull. This is not my favourite time of year for photography. Today was less about output and more about taking some time out from life. It was pretty successful in that regard and I feel much better about the coming week.

The rest of the day seemed to just pass, even though as I write this it is only the next day I am trying to think what else we did. We finished watching Picard and Altered Carbon on TV and that was about it. I made SE Asian influenced stuffed bell peppers and rice for dinner, and thought they were pretty good. I used the last of the Quorn mince from the freezer. This fake meat product used to be in plentiful supply and we have eaten it for years. Since Veganuary it has been impossible to get as so many people have jumped on the vegan/vegetarian bandwagon, It is good for the planet I guess.

Another week, done and xx more to go.