A minor, yet uncomfortable experience

Sunday 31 May 2020 – St Leonards-on-Sea (ish)

After completing the tenth lockdown post last Sunday I decided to make it the final one. Ten is a good solid number, and it seemed to be the right time to end. To be truthful, I was bored with them myself. A week later and I am not just bored with the blog, I am just bored. Period.

We are entering a new and more relaxed lockdown this coming week. Groups of up to six can meet outdoors, and they can meet in a garden, not just in a public place. I am utterly convinced this is too early to be relaxing any rules, the weather has been too good so there has been much relaxing of rules already, and the infection rate is still too high. But, what do I know? I am an IT guy, not an epidemic specialist. I won’t mention the Cummings thing and what message this sends, it made me too angry.

While it is good things are relaxing and some form of normality; this supposed new normality, is returning, I am not convinced that this covid event is winding down so I see any longer term plans as being foolish and not really worth making. Hence the bored. I am seeing the current way will be normality and it is not as good as the old normality, and I am one of the lucky ones. I have a good job, a great partner, I live in a good house with a garden and am lacking for nothing. Apart from being able to plan for travel and doing the things I want to do without any real or imaginary constraints. I want to go and see a band!


I had an online flat resident’s association board meeting on Tuesday so used my common sense and drove down to the flat on Monday afternoon, walking down to the beach soon after arriving. I could just as easily done this from London, but it was easier to be closer to the issues if I was there. That was my reasoning anyway. The beach was busy, I am fairly sure there were more people on the beach than I saw on any day last summer. Lockdown rules. A number of people were swimming, however I just had a couple of cans of lager, listened to music and read. It was nice and I felt better for it.

I took a few photos from the flat in the afternoon, I have not taken one from bedroom looking back towards Hastings and over the Marina Court building before, it is a great view. One of the things I am trying to deal with as part of my board membership is getting the neighbours to trim their leylandii trees. This window is on the fourth floor of my building.

The sunset was pretty good too.

On Tuesday I took the opportunity of actually having a lunch break to go for a swim, it was high tide early afternoon, and yes it was cold. I did not stay in long, but at least I got in. I intended to repeat this on other days but didn’t.

For my morning walk on Wednesday I walked around the Burton part of St Leonards and took photos of some of the old buildings. Starting in 1827 James Burton, and his son Decimus, designed and built St Leonards as a seaside retreat for wealthy Londoners. My novel is set in this period and I wanted some printed photos of the place to help me visualise the area.

In the evening I walked down to the shops to buy some fruit and biscuits. On the way home I had one of those uncomfortable ‘do I or do I not’ help situations, exacerbated by social distancing and worry about either getting sick or making some else sick. A couple were walking up the hill ahead of me when the woman starting having what looked like a minor fit or seizure, her partner grabbed her and was trying to hold her up and walk her to a nearby bench. I ran up and asked if they were OK and he assured me they were fine, and she just needed to sit down. As we were speaking her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she just started to slump toward the ground. He was struggling to not drop her and I momentarily wondered whether I should help. Only a for a split second, though my immediate thought was ‘is this safe?, if I touch them could I get sick?’ you know, those sort of things. Of course I helped, grabbing her from behind and helping to gently lower her to the ground where we stood. Someone pulled up in a car from the nearby care home, and another passer-by was calling an ambulance. As we tried to place her in the recovery position, she snapped out of it and appeared to be instantly fine. Once she was sat up and speaking I carried on home. Washing my hands more thoroughly than normal.

The following day, Thursday, I was back in London. With Eleanor’s son now coming back to London and starting teaching again in a couple of weeks we have decided to move down to St Leonards for the duration, or at least for a few week. I am looking forward to this.

The new way, Week ten.

Saturday 23 May 2020 – Walthamstow.

Lousy sleep on Sunday night. Most nights these days I drop off quickly and sleep until soon after sunrise. I go to bed early, yet still do not get quite enough sleep. I try to grab those missing few hours in fitful bursts of dozing on weekend mornings. Sunday was one of those rare returns to the insomnia days of old. I don’t want those to return. I should have just gotten up and read my book, but I don’t do that, I lie there and let my brain race.

I was thinking about SE Asia travel, the places I did not get to, and the places I want to revisit. As it is me and the middle of the night I spent more time thinking on the things that didn’t go as well as I would have liked rather than the awesome bits.

These last couple of weeks I have been struck quite hard by the thing that impacts my life the most. I am sure there is a name for it, though I don’t immediately have one to hand. I am not alone in suffering from this malaise. I have lots of plans, ideas and desires, I mean to do things. I just don’t. There is a mix of miss placed guilt, laziness, tiredness, lack of motivation and lack of drive; a missing will power. Though I am not that lazy, I do have some motivation and some desire. Just not enough. I am not driven and I lack self-confidence.

These things manifest themselves in different ways. I have been meaning to ring my aunt and uncle, neither who are well, to see how they have fared through the covid pandemic. I have not. I mean to email mum more often, I don’t. I mean to do more exercise and take more photos, I don’t; my photo book of Africa is a pile of prints in a drawer. This has long been the way, and I don’t know how to resolve this; or know if I truly want to.

These things impacted on my SE travels in a variety of ways, I spent way too much time on my own in guesthouse and hostel rooms, and didn’t do some things due to lack of belief in myself. Having said that, I packed a hell of a lot in during those five months and did significantly more than I thought possible. Next time will be better….

I am really enjoying Sundays. I had a video call with my sister firstish thing which was a good start to the day. The rest of the morning was spent blogging and doing not much, Eleanor I walked when she finished work in the early afternoon. It was a bit of a directionless and vaguely listless walk, though being outside was good enough. We are both a bit bored of walking around Walthamstow.

I like noise, it is most of the music I listen to.

I read a bit in the afternoon, continuing the book of short stories I recently started as well as starting to reread Stephen King’s book on writing. I have so many books on the go at the moment, yet still ordered two more novels this afternoon, second hand and cheap. I must spend less time on this computer and more time reading the books I buy. Another commitment I will fail to achieve I suspect.

In a burst of enthusiasm, driven by Eleanor, I finally hung a print from my photo exhibition 15 months ago in the front room. I have now moved another into the hall, ready to hang in a few months time.

Late in the afternoon I grabbed a can of IPA and moved to being in front of the telly, I started watching a programme on Asian rail journeys and then watched three episodes, drinking the can of beer. followed by two gin and tonics. This started me on looking at posts from 8 years ago when I was travelling. I now have decided to do a ten year anniversary trip to SE Asia to visit the places I missed last time. I would love to think I could and would take another five month journey, though suspect this will be more of a three week quick hop. I have 20 months to come up with a plan and save for it. Hopefully we will be able to travel again by then. I miss travelling.

I spent some time over the week looking at old posts and reminiscing, mostly fondly, on my travels. The travel lust is still there.

Bad night, the first night in ages when I just could not get to sleep; brain race. I was thinking about holidays; what to do this summer, as well as thinking about this 10 year anniversary trip. I also thought about Kevin and Phil, who I met in Vietnam at Dan and Van’s wedding and who are both sadly no longer with us. They loved travel and let nothing stop them, I was envious of their ambition. I still woke early, not long after the sun made its unstoppable journey around the edges and join of the curtains.

I did get up for a walk this morning, I wasn’t going to, but I felt bad as I also spent some time last night thinking about my laziness and general lack of ‘get up go’. So I got up and went. I started listening to a new punk rock podcast while I walked, two blokes talking about music. I enjoyed it, and have a bunch of bands I don’t know to listen to and add to an ever growing punk rock playlist. The YMCA gym in Walthamstow that Eleanor I both went to for a while some years back.

The book I ordered about The Luddites arrived today, with possibly the smallest print I have ever seen in a book. This is the last book I need for background for the novel, I think. I started writing a (very) short story, my aim is to write at least something each day, hopefully something useful; though anything is better than nothing.

Walked again and listened to another podcast punk rock episode, this time about the band Fugazi. I listened to them while I worked.

It is hot (UK hot, not hot place hot) today; shorts and t-shirt all day and no socks except for both times I walked. I have gotten very used to not having to iron any clothes and wearing a shirt with a collar is but a distant, and unhappy, memory. I am not looking forward to going back to the office, when ever that will be.

This Baptist church on my morning walk reminded me of the Christian churches I saw in SE Asia, or is that just me projecting?

I nipped out at lunch time to see if I could find a new notebook for work. There were a lot of people out in Walthamstow High St; not many wearing masks, or even vaguely interested in social distancing. As suspected none of the book/stationary shops were open and the queue at Wilco was massive. I went home and ordered two online. I still like to write notes, and pencils arrived yesterday. I have used pencils for writing since early school days. It will be easier to erase errors, or bad ideas.

Awake early, coffee at 6:00, walking before 7:00, Eleanor joined me this morning. It was nice out, apart from the pollen which was really bad. My eyes felt like they were full of grit before we got to the end of the road and I spent the morning streaming, sneezing and blowing.

Work was OK, busy again, though I finished dead on five and cracked a can of APA and did some flat related stuff, there is an online residents association board meeting on Tuesday evening. I am contemplating going to the flat on Monday for a few days, we have had some great weather and I want to be by the sea and enjoy walking somewhere different.

Happy Birthday mum!

I woke this morning to news that New Zealand band Bailter Space had released three new tracks, their first new material in ages. I was very excited by this.

I didn’t go for a walk, but I did listen to music and then had seven meetings. Thankfully I have tomorrow off. Monday is a bank holiday, so no meetings for four days. Hell yeah!

I heard from my mum today that my late dad’s sister Barbara passed away yesterday. She lived in a care home in Canterbury. I don’t know if it was covid related, assuming and hoping not. Care homes, their staff and residents have been scandalously treated by this government throughout this event. I doubt I will get to say a final goodbye. I loved Aunty Barbara, she was the one responsible for my love of Arsenal Football Club, she had a fabulous sense of humour and was a wonderful warm and caring person. I regret my slackness in not seeing her, or the rest of my UK family as often as I should. Oddly, I wrote the opening of this post well before receiving this news. 

Awake far too early for a day off. I started scribbling a new short story, the ideas come to me in those early hours, just opening sentences, no story and no substance. The hard part, the part that requires effort does not come in those early hours, or seemingly later in the day. I have a number of opening ideas.

I have the day off work and Eleanor does not work Friday. Now the guidance says we can drive as far as we like for exercise, we drove to Epping Forest for a walk in the trees. All the parking spots near High Beech Church were blocked, but we lucked onto the last space in the park over the road from Butlers Retreat and did a short loop walk in Warren Wood. It is very green at the moment, there is almost no other colour.

I also took the Polaroid for its first outing in a while.

In the evening we had an online dinner party with friends, both cooking the same meal, drinking the same style of wine, all finished off with cheese and crackers. It was good fun, not as good as being in the same space, but nice to share food with friends.

Surprised to not be hungover, the benefits of drinking wine of a higher quality than usual. Admittedly I still did very little with the day. One short walk was about it. I did read a lot though, almost finishing two of the books I have on the go, so maybe things will change. There is always hope!

This will likely be the last of the weekly posts, 10 weeks of writing about not doing much is enough and I am boring myself with the content, I cannot imagine what is is like for those who read this.  However, it is good writing practice and I am using some of the techniques I have been reading about; for instance this post is much shorter than the draft and I have tried to remove surplus words, I think with some success.

The new way, Week nine.

Saturday 16 May 2020 – Walthamstow.
I came back from St Leonards feeling quite relaxed; time out from normality was a very good thing and I hope to do this again in the not too distant future. Having time out from work was wise and I didn’t really think about it while I was off, unusual, but healthy.

These last few weeks has seen good days and not so good days. This is quite normal, but has intensified during lockdown as my usual escape routes are less accessible. I am not motivated to do much, I should be bike riding this morning as I sit here at my work desk typing. There is a lot running round my head, not bad things; songs and music, story ideas I never write down, emails I don’t send. I am not in a negative place; more in a constant state of introspection.

At the start of lockdown I thought this would be a great opportunity to do stuff I do not get time to do, with writing being the main thing I thought of. I feel like I have wasted this opportunity somewhat as I have done very little of that or much else. Though to be fair to myself, I have been busy with work, I write these posts, and we still cook, we still shop, there are things that need to be done. It’s not as if a huge chunk of time was added to the day, and we have had a serious and deadly disease to contend with.

I very much know I am not the only one thinking like this.

I didn’t get out of bed till quite late, after 10 I think, though I didn’t sleep particularly well and was quite dozy until the two coffees kicked in; both taken in bed while reading. I finished the Salgado photography book and started an anthology of weird Britain/folk horror stories which arrived at the very start of lockdown. I have been reading too much non-fiction lately due to struggling to find fiction authors who resonate with my ever changing taste.

The weather turned today; yesterday was the end of the golden weather, it is cooler, windier and overcast. Eleanor was back in the garden so I got on the bike and rode down to, and then round, the Olympic Park. I was looking for the start of the Greenway, a walking and cycling path from Stratford to Beckton, almost to the Thames. The Olympic Park is not a bad place to cycle around, there is a lot of space, wide boulevards, paths everywhere and plenty of room for walkers and cyclists to share. Its major issue is a confused layout with so many dead ends, closed roads and fenced off paths. I did many a loop trying to find my way out.

I rode down the Lea towpath, which was not too busy until I get to Hackney Wick, where I ducked on to the streets as it was way too busy for my riding style (impatient).

I love the Wick Woodland, a tiny section of woodland just next to the path, and one that I rarely see anyone in.

It was also a good excuse to explore some of the area as I have rarely cycled here. I found some Real Dill street art.

I crossed over the Lea and had a quick look at Hackney Wick, and could not believe the devastation that has happened in the last five or six years. So many old buildings demolished and so many new flats that no one can afford being built. Hideous. I know the old warehouses are rundown and warehousing is no longer a core function for Hackney Wick now the Lea is no longer transporting goods, but these places were host to artist studios and band rehearsal spaces and were cheap and used and now there are fewer places for people to make art and noise. That makes me sad.

I got stuck trying to find my way out of the maze of Olympic Park, I wanted to ride home via the un-delightful streets of Leyton, which would be less crowded. I came across so many closed roads, it was a bit frustrating. I also saw a train, which was almost exciting.

I was riding for about 90 minutes and was knackered in the afternoon, not good. Fitness is slowly coming back though.

We had a Zoom online games evening with Eleanor’s boys and their partners which was a lot of fun, I even won a round which was highly unexpected.

Up early enough for a pre-work walk to the park with Eleanor, followed by breakfast and I still started work before 8:30. Sunny out but cold, the temperature has dropped 12 degrees since Saturday, and I was cold for most of the day. Damn spring and its unreliable weather.

The work day was OK, started at the start and ended at the end. I was very tired by the end and looking forward to an early night. Which I had.

The government announced the way out of lockdown today, which seems to be more of the same, just more confusing and more responsibility on individuals to use good old ‘British common sense’, whatever that is. My common sense is totally different to Eleanor’s, maybe she is more British than me?

Almost a repeat of yesterday morning, though I walked random streets alone for 30 minutes before breakfast and work starting. There are more people out this morning, and a lot more wearing masks as they head to the station, I would not travel without one, or travel at all unless I had to!

Work was similar to yesterday, the day started, it finished and was OK in between, I knocked a few things off the list, not a bad day to be fair to it.

For the first time in a few weeks I made a cake, a very basic banana cake, that was quite nice, it looked and tasted good and we ate it in less than 2 hours. Our oven is definitely under cooking things, hopefully not a sign we need to replace another appliance.

Eleanor joined me for the pre-breakfast walk this morning and we walked past the art shop on Hoe St so Eleanor could look at a painting she is interested in. I took a photo of the pub. Wistful. Some days I just feel like getting up, going to the kitchen for a bottle of wine and returning to be with a book, no glass required.

The work day passed and I don’t really recall much of any interest happening, though it was an OK day.

In the evening two directors of the residents association for the block my flat in St Leonards is in and I had a brief board meeting, I am acting chair. We were supposed to have a full board meeting just as the covid outbreak started and this is the first catch up we have had since January. We agreed to have a full board meeting at the end of the month. There is a lot to be done and I am keen to get things under way as soon as we can now that contractors are back working. It was good chatting with some people I haven’t spoken to in a while, and making some plans for the near future. It does mean I have more work to do…

I was lazy and tired and didn’t walk, but I did 10 hours of work which was stupid.

In the evening I started cancelling the accommodation I had booked for our holiday in three weeks. We were going to fly to Oslo in Norway and then train back to London, overnighting in Gothenberg, Copenhagen, Lubeck and Hannover, before meeting a group of friends in Amsterdam for a birthday weekend. We were really looking forward to it and I was very disappointed to have to cancel. Luckily I had not booked the trains and most of the accommodation had free cancellation, so there was not a huge financial loss, but there was an emotional cost. When will our (my) next holiday be? Can I fly to NZ for Christmas? No-one knows.

This may partially explain my less than positive outlook this week as I have been gearing up to the task.

I was awake stupidly early again, though feeling pretty good, not as groggy as previous days, and I had a couple of wines last night. Maybe more wine is the secret? I didn’t have the motivation to walk again, but it was a nice morning, no wind for a change so I took a couple of photos in the garden before work.

I had plans for the work day, though barely managed one of them, still it wasn’t a bad day, and good to finish a five day week on high. There were some issues in the evening, not mine to resolve, but I was on the Teams thread, and knew that I would be online in the morning to see what I could do to prevent them happening again.

We watched the final three episodes of Devs. Best TV programme in a long time, cannot believe that some critics disliked it, I thought it was fabulous.

No work meant a proper lie in. I still woke at stupid o’clock but dozed till 9:00 then had coffee in bed with the socials till close to 10 when I did some work for a couple of hours.

I have realised, and it has taken most of the last 57 years to work this out, that I do most of my thinking when I wake. That dreamy state half way between full sleep and full awake is when I process the stuff in my head. Dream thought and reality blur, mostly in a good way, this is where ideas come from. It is not an instant process, some things mull for days before disappearing completely or a conclusion is reached. Often I am very uncommunicative first thing; my brain needs to switch from consulting with itself to consulting with other people. By other people I mean Eleanor as it is so rare I see other people first thing, she must think I am quite rude some mornings.

I went for a walk for an hour late in the afternoon, buying some beer, fruit and bread, I found an anarchy sign on my walk, I have not seen a fresh one of these for ages.

When I got home I found Eleanor talking to her sister in New York while simultaneously watching football on the telly. I cracked a beer and joined in the TV watching after her call. Football, wow, what a thing to have back, admittedly it was German football, not UK football, but it was great having a sniff of Saturday afternoon normality. The German Bundesliga started today, with games being played in empty stadiums. It was weird, but it was football!

After I cooked, and we ate, a pretty good tofu, chickpea and spinach curry we had another Skype enabled chat with friends while watching more Fear the Walking Dead, the first three episodes of series four, I like the new characters more than the original…

As I write this on Sunday morning I discovered I have achieved something. Almost 18 months after the exhibition I held we have finally hung a print in the front room. I have been meaning to do this for months. Well done me!

The new way, Week eight.

Saturday 09 May 2020 – Walthamstow and St Leonards-on-Sea

Ho hum, another week done. It was a good week, it started and ended well, though the middle bit was frustrated by work; not the act of working, working is far better than the alternative. This week would have been as frustrating if life was normal and I was in the office, with the commute as a sort of additional negative bonus.

New Zealand continues to relax its rules and next week they will be taken down another level, I am a little (lot) envious. Here in the UK we continue to receive a stream of mixed messages as talk of relaxing some of the restrictions is being socialised in the media. A large portion of the population is against relaxing anything while the infection rate and number of deaths are so high. A poll this week showed 81% were against relaxing rules, I have never seen such strong opinion on anything in this country. Obviously things will be relaxed a bit, hopefully not by too much.

This started Eleanor and I thinking about maybe moving to the flat if her teacher son comes back to London to work and to live with us. This, in turn made me want to go down for a couple of days. So I did and it was welcome. Spending some time on my own, and allowing Eleanor the same, was something I needed; sun, sea air and records by artists beginning with an ‘S’ also helped.

Some positives from the lock down;

  • Cleaner air, though this is slowly receding as more vehicles are on the road.
  • More cyclists, everywhere, this is very heartening and now there is talk of improving infrastructure to encourage people to continue to cycle and walk once some form of normality returns.
  • I am listening to loads more music, even occasionally moving out of my music bubble.
  • Working from home is much more of a thing. I have done a day a week for quite a while now, but working from home all the time is the new normal and I hope to be able to do more days each week if returning to regular office hours ever happens. 
  • Eleanor and I are alone together, there are no foils in the house, and we are  constantly together every single day, we even share work day tea breaks and lunch. This has yet to be troubling and is a very good sign that our relationship works extremely well and I am extremely grateful and happy about this, as is Eleanor.
  • The best thing has been family group video calls, something we have never done before and something I very much look forward to.

Best sleep in ages, which was slightly unfortunate as I was late for a family video call, which was lovely, warm and funny and really appreciated. We sang happy birthday to my eldest son who is 30 tomorrow and my nephew who celebrated his 18th last week. My mum and sisters, who can sing, must have cringed at the awfulness of it all. It was joyous in its terribleness. I should never sing where people can hear me.

I finished last week’s post in the morning and then walked to Walthamstow Wetlands in the afternoon while El worked. It was a great walk and I wrote about it here.

I made proper meat burgers with sweet potato fries for dinner, I miss burgers and may have to order a delivery burger sometime soon. The burgers at Half Man Half Burger in St Leonards are just the business and now I am drooling thinking about them. Next time I am down they are on the menu.

In the evening we co-watched more episodes of ‘Fear the walking dead’ with friends over Skype.

It was the best day in ages.

We were up early and I took a morning walk over to Walthamstow village for fruit and vege, stopping to take some photos in St Mary’s Church on the way.

As I type this on Friday I have no recollection of what happened at work, though I know Monday and Tuesday were just full of meetings, so perhaps I have blanked them both from my memory. It is a four day week and I am having a day off, so something to look forward to.

Dave Greenfield the keyboard player from original UK punk/new wave band The Stranglers was taken by the virus yesterday. He is just one in a vast number of unnecessary deaths, but the first that has impacted me in any way. I created a Stranglers playlist not that long ago, and will listen to it tomorrow.

In the evening we had a Zoom chat with Eleanor’s sons both of whom are in different towns to us. Eleanor’s youngest is a teacher and may have to come back to stay later this month if the schools re-open. This means we may go and stay at the flat to reduce any risk of infections coming home from school. It was a good catch up.

I took a walk around the park and then visited the local Tescos for bread and crisps, before another day of meetings, seven in total today.

I made these spinach and feta pastry things for dinner and they were good.

It was a funny old day. I started work really early, before 7:30 as I could not be bothered going for a walk. I had stuff to do as I have taken tomorrow off ahead of the long weekend. It was a really busy day, at times frustrating, at times liberating. There is a lot going on in my area at the moment and I do not know what to make of it all, anyway the work day ended satisfactorily enough.

El and I went for a short walk around the park before slumping in front of the TV, watching another couple of episodes of Devs which I love and am dragging out to make it last as long as possible. We started a movie that was truly awful and got turned off, finishing the evening with a really good documentary on the ground breaking photographer Lee Miller. Though I am not sure photographer sums up Lee Miller, she was that and so much more, an extraordinary, complex women.

Last weekend I decided to take a leave day from work. I have a bunch of flat related admin to complete and don’t get the chance to do this during the week. I could make the chance, but I try not to sit on the laptop too much in the evening. Friday is a bank holiday, one I won’t be celebrating, other than by not going to work.

It made sense to use a normal work day for this flat work, take a day of annual leave I will otherwise not get to use and go to the flat. I know, some people will say I am breaking the rules; but, the flat is my home, the only home I own, I am not going to be staying with other people, and to be frank those people can go f*ck themselves. I need some time on my own, and anyway the big headlines this morning said the rules will be changed on Monday; though the government is now denying this, possibly due to the negative public reaction.

The drive down was uneventful and reasonably quick, the motorway was quiet for rush hour, but the road into Hastings was as it normally is. Soon after arriving I was out the door for a walk along the sea front.

It was lovely. Fresh sea air, warm but not hot, not too many people, the promenade was really clean there were people swimming in a way too cool sea. To counter this there was the normal number of cars on the road, the usual speeding on the side roads and of course the ubiquitous St Leonards double yellow line parking. No one does double yellow parking like Hastings and St Leonards.

It was a short walk to Hastings old town and back, but it was so nice to not be walking in Walthamstow, variety, spice of life, etc.

After taking this photo on my phone and walking on I noticed a woman glaring at me from behind the dark of the closed window…

Apart from one work conference call, important enough to dial in on my day off, I played records all afternoon and did little else.

The highlight was the sunset, it was glorious. I miss St Leonards sunsets and the mostly uninterrupted view I get of them.

It was a good day.

VE Day, Victory in Europe, celebrating victory in Europe, a victory over fascism, or at least the Nazis. Fascism never really went away; Franco’s Spain and Tito’s Yugoslavia for example, it is now making an unwelcome return in too many places. I do not celebrate the day, especially now it has been taken over by the flag waving, braying brexity mob. I had a lie in, then did all the flat admin stuff that was my main excuse for coming to the flat. I didn’t do much else with the day; chilled, read, listened to records.

I went for a walk late in the afternoon, it was warm out, much warmer than the flat suggested it would be; like yesterday, I wished I had worn shorts, not jeans.

There were fewer people out than I expected for a warm bank holiday. Hastings has not been badly impacted by covid19, which is remarkable given how high it places on the chart of relative deprivation, and the link between deprived areas and high covid mortality. The lack of folk out maybe shows that they take the messages of distancing seriously.

I was wide awake by 5, had coffee and read the news and the socials by 6 so I got up, tidied, packed and drove back to Walthamstow, arriving there before Eleanor started work at 9. Best drive time ever, and I stuck pretty much to the speed limit. I loved my small break away, and would like to spend more time in my own home. This is not practical yet, and I would rather be with Eleanor than on my own for a few weeks.

After a couple of weeks of procrastination I finally made it out the front and trimmed the privet. I had to wear my covid mask as the pollen was killing me, one of the reasons for pruning it back, the other was to provide another foot of footpath width. Contributing to making social distant walking just a tiny tiny bit safer. I acknowledge that the hedge is not exactly straight…

We got this through the letter box, a zine from one of the local coffee shops, with a Phlegm picture on the front. This one is going into a frame, I love a bit of Phlegm!

In the evening we had another Fear the walking dead TV watching session with Skype friends, this time we both ordered takeaway from one of the local Turkish places. We finally managed to finish series three, which I actually enjoyed.  We will start the next series next week hopefully.  It was a fun evening, though I was exhausted from being up at 5;30 and by 11:30 I was ready for sleep.

As i said at the beginning, it was (mostly) a pretty good week.

This coming week will be interesting, new official guidelines come out this afternoon (Sunday). What changes will they bring ? and how will the nation react? 

Walthamstow Wetlands

Sunday 03 May 2020 – Walthamstow Wetlands.

In a break from the ‘new way’ tradition I have lobbed an extra post in this week.

For my mandatory morning meandering I decided to walk to Walthamstow Wetlands, a loop walk from home that takes about 90 minutes. I ended up taking a few more photos than expected so chose to post them separately in some faint hope that the weekly post will not be so long. This is a variation on what really happened, I walked in the afternoon; mandatory afternoon meandering does not have the same ring to it.

Eleanor had to work this afternoon and I wanted to get for a walk for a couple of hours so packed the little camera, the Polaroid and a bottle of water and left the house under a warm mild grey sky. The walk along Forest Rd to the Wetlands is not the most pleasant, though today it was the best it has ever been due to significantly fewer cars on the road; lots of cyclists and pedestrians, yay. I even had the opportunity to stand in the road at the Blackhorse Road intersection and take a photo on the Polaroid. There is so much residential construction going on, too much for the facilities in the area. The council has to get its revenue from somewhere.

The walk from Blackhorse Rd to the entrance of the Wetlands is not so bad, with a view through the railing to the reservoirs that form one side of the Wetlands area and a local fishing spot.

The Wetlands are Europe’s largest urban wetland and opened to the public in 2017, they are still key reservoirs for the London’s water systems.

There are a number of trails through the area, but I stuck to walking down the broad central path as it is the most open and easiest to maintain some form of social distancing. I was surprised at how many people were there, the most I have ever seen. I can only imagine how busy it must be on a sunny day. I suspect a number of people went there as it is in theory a large and open site, however we are all funnelled down paths between the waterways.

I have processed the camera images to look a bit like the Polaroids. This level of processing is highly unusual for me, and the effect is a lot more prominent here than when I edited in Lightroom.

The cafe in the engine house was, as expected closed, I would have been tempted by cake if it was open as I had not had lunch before leaving, and the cake is always tempting.

Half way along the path fat and heavy rain drops started to fall, fortunately not heavily as I would have got soaked. It was a weird warm, almost summerish shower, verging on, but not quite pleasant. I am glad I had a light jacket on.

The walk back home is a bit of a drag, though there are a couple of older pieces of street art to brighten the otherwise dull suburban streets, like this piece from ATM.

It was nice getting out again, and getting the Polaroid out, though going further than my e17 neighbourhood would be quite nice.

The new way, Week seven.

Saturday 02 May 2020 – Yep, London.

I started the week off feeling very lack lustre and a bit over it all. I am bored, the lockdown is starting to get to me. After reading the blog I posted yesterday Eleanor asked me if I was OK as the tone of the post felt slightly negative to her. I said I was perfectly fine, which I was when I posted on Sunday. Monday was not so fine, though things improved during the week, and I think by week end I was back to my mostly normal and perky self.

Our illustrious leader is now back at work, and his heroic return speech was full of the rhetoric of war; ‘battle’, ‘fight’, ‘wrestle’ ‘victory’ etc. Sub-par, sub-Churchillian bollocks. So much blather, so little leadership. This is part of what brings me down.

One of the few, and it is a very small benefit of this event is that I have finally started working on a novel I have been pondering for ages. By start I mean I have some a basic plot outline and characters, and have started buying second hand books to provide some of the background. I may take a couple of days out and go to the flat and actually start writing. Its not like I am going to be using my annual leave up on anything exciting this year.

We took an early morning walk up to and then along Hale End Rd, along the River Ching Passage, passing a house Eleanor lived in as a child, then alongside a mostly deserted North Circular, past the Arsenal Youth Academy ground and back home via Chingford Rd. It was not a usual route for walking, nor the most attractive, but it was somewhere different, so I took some photos on my phone. A very quiet A406, North Circular.

The Ching Path.

In the afternoon we had another supermarket shop to collect, driving over to Finsbury Park. It was mid-afternoon and there were more cars than the last time, but nothing near normal. There were a lot of people out on bikes, I have never seen so many cyclists outside an event, and they were everywhere. It was great seeing families with children making use of the mostly quieter roads. My one hope from covid is that we change the way we move about our cities and towns.

In the evening we watched Fear the Walking Dead at the same time as some friends and used Skype to discuss as we watched. It worked well, and I very much enjoyed the chat and extended company.

Lousy sleep so no pre-work morning walk. This was regrettable as I had a pretty crap day and so did Eleanor. Talking to some friends who do similar things to me, a good week last week and a terrible day today was a common trend. I felt that we were less alone, sad for everyone else, but pleasing nonetheless.

I did take a lunch time walk, it is much cooler today and rain came in the afternoon, settling for a few days I think. I am glad I got out for a loop of the park. I cannot believe the queue for the small post office near the end of our road. I have never seen a queue go round the corner before.

The prime minister came back to work today. This must mean there will be some good, or at least, less terrible, news is to come.

The one positive from the day was starting to thrash out some of the characters and timeline ideas for a novel I vowed I would start writing this year. I have had the general idea for a while and have been buying books that detail some of the historical background, but they are down at the flat. I did buy another book today, about smuggling in the 19th century in Sussex, and ordered another record…

New Zealand has done remarkably well so far in its handling of covid, excellent, trusted and empathetic leadership makes a difference. They have relaxed the strict lockdown a bit and my daughter was able to go to the beach. I was not jealous in anyway, oh no, not at all.

Up early and went out for a walk with Eleanor in light rain, it was nice for a change, the constant sun was getting me down. The sun wasn’t the problem, the not being able to properly enjoy it was.

The rain is good for the garden, and the reservoirs; Eleanor has been doing a bit of garden work over the past couple of weeks, starting to grow a few vegetables, partly as a just in case and partly as something to do. The garden is nice, we are lucky to have access to one.

When we were out I missed a package delivery. Typical. Waiting for days for something exciting to come through the mail (records) and we were out when it was delivered. I love getting things in the mail, even if it is just something I have ordered myself. The old ways are sometimes the best ways. Sod all this electronic communications.

I had a much better work day than yesterday, thankfully. Seems Monday blues were the cause rather than some endemic system issue. Whew. I made fishcakes for lunch again as I had leftover mashed spud, they were nice and I regret not taking a picture. Not that food porn is my thing. I have taken a temporary respite from cake making, due to waistline expansion.

I watched last night’s BBC Panorama programme on PPE. I will say no more.

Up early again, and out for a walk to pick up some biscuits that formed part of what turned out to be a long conversation on Twitter. It was good to have a reason to go for a walk, I was otherwise tempted to  just stay in bed.

It was a really busy, and partly frustrating day at work, though it was good have a lot to do. I didn’t realise how tired I was until I stopped.

I need to read more books, and less social media. One of the reason I stopped Twitter last year was to read more paper based product. Failed miserably, though. My unread book stack is growing weekly, I mostly view this as a good thing.

The postman delivered the first of the The Stupids LPs I ordered online. I have been bad these past couple of weeks. My bank statement is no longer a stream of daily coffee and lunch purchases, it is now a stream discogs records and ebay books. I like that much more.

No walk in the morning, though it was briefly warm and sunny. I stayed in bed till 7:30 then started work soon after getting up, the clouds rolled back over as we ate breakfast and the temperature plummeted.

I started the day listening to a slow electric blues playlist on Spotify. Another really busy day at work, got a fair bit done and had a few interesting work related conversations with people, which made the day pass pretty quickly. It was also frustrating at times, I am not used to being out of the loop with things technical and I feel there are decisions being made that I should be influencing and I am not able to.

The highlight of the working day was a new instrumental track from Mogwai being played on the radio, a very rare outing to radioland for me, and I thank Twitter for alerting me to it, the very reason I rejoined.

In an effort to try and be as normal as possible I had an after work beer with ex-work colleague Joe, one of the few people I have worked with in the UK I like and miss seeing. I enjoyed catching up, moaning about work and drinking a couple of beers. Doing what we normally do when we meet, just over the internet rather than in one of the many boozers around Westminster.

I seemed to have not taken any photos today. Disappointed to have broken the run.

01 May; a new month. We have spent over a month in our version of lockdown, it is more obvious when defined periods are ticked over. The last month has equally been the longest and shortest month ever. Time blurs and almost seems irrelevant now. I am writing this on Saturday morning, sitting at the same desk I sit at Monday to Friday, listening to close enough the same music, drinking the same instant coffee and drinking from the same water bottle. Do days really matter anymore, does anyone really care?

Eleanor and I went for a pre-work walk, up earlier than usual. My pre-work mandatory morning meanderings have taken on a bit of a ‘must do this for the sake of routine’ feel this week. Hopefully we will be at the flat soon and we can walk somewhere less dull.

The postie delivered this book today, more background reading for the novel I (probably fantasising) am going to start writing. At least I have undertaken to start the research and have most of the materials now, one more book to come, though I am now not entirely sure I ordered it, forgetting things.

It rained a lot today, quite heavily at times and there was hail in the early evening.

Eleanor had an online catch up with friends in the evening so I watched an average, though entertaining movie on Netflix, something I have not done for ages.

Amazing, actually had a pretty good sleep, the first one in ages. When I was fully awake I rolled over to look at the time and was utterly amazed to read it was 9:30. The latest I have slept in weeks. Turning the clock back up the right way I found it was actually 7:15, a more believable yet somewhat disheartening and disappointing time. The key thing was I felt refreshed.

We went to the co-op on Wood St to restock on fruit and vege and other basics; red wine and cheese. I took a couple of photos on my phone as we walked, trying to keep up some sort of photo taking routine over lock down, though I find it hard to take photos around here.

Most of the rest of the day I did stuff all, I bought second-hand records on line, mainly old punk bands. I must stop, and this will be the end of it. I hope. I cannot keep buying things, even if they are cheap. I finished one of the five books I tell myself I am reading; Jolts by Fernando Sdrigotti. Most of those books have been languishing in the half read pile for a while. I restarted reading ‘From my land to the planet’, a Sebastio Salgado book on photography that was my daily commute read, it has been buried in my work bag as I am longer commuting. I will finish it next. It made me want to go and take photos, which got me out in the garden where Eleanor was working, though it was a little breezy to be taken photos of plants.

In the evening we watched three episodes of Devs which I am really enjoying, and then a film on the political group ‘Rock against Racism’ and the big RAR gig in Victoria Park in 1978 with The Clash. I enjoyed that too, though the footage of 1970s London was a bit grim. Those Brexiteers who hearken back to the mythical glory days of the 70s need to have their heads checked for severe memory loss; or stupidity.

Week 8 tomorrow. What delights will it bring. There is going to be an announcement on Thursday on the plan for the UK to start exiting lockdown, though word is I will unlikely be able to return to the office for at least a month. I do not necessarily view this as a bad thing.