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.