Three days of freedom

Wednesday 18 August 2021 – Auckland.

In some way it was inevitable, at least it didn’t come as any great surprise to us, though of course we’re very disappointed to be placed into lockdown just three days after coming out of the managed isolation hotel. As most everyone knows (and some have laughed at) the Delta variant of Covid-19 was identified in the community on Tuesday and the New Zealand government locked the country down later that night.

Though this was very frustrating as we have just come out of isolation after 16 months of mostly being locked down in the UK, I agree with what the government have done. There was some vindication of this action when nine more cases were discovered the following day as close contacts started getting tested. At least we are out of the hotel.

I expect that until the health services understand exactly how the infection got into the country then anyone in managed isolation will be confined to the room 24 hours a day. We are now staying with my sister near One Tree Hill in Auckland. Having such a large and diverse park like Cornwall Park, which contains the hill, nearby is very fortunate as it means we have a destination to walk to; and I have somewhere to take photos.

We left the managed isolation hotel at the pre-arranged time on Saturday, and it was all very smooth. I was impressed with how things worked in the hotel;  everything was friendly and efficient. Admittedly we are very low maintenance, understanding and compliant. The time passed reasonably quickly, and we were both surprised when Saturday rolled around. It didn’t take us long to pack and be ready and waiting to leave. We spent the entire morning watching Salvage Hunters, a series we have never watched before, will likely never watch again, though thoroughly enjoyed.

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We were picked up my son and grandson and delivered to my sister’s house where mum joined us all for lunch. It was strange giving everyone a hug, though I am a bit more used to it now, at least when it comes to mum. We were gagging for a walk that was more than walking round in circles in a car park so we were more than happy to be able to go to the park for a leg stretch after lunch. I didn’t take the camera, though I took a couple of photos on my phone.

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On Sunday my sister drove Eleanor and I, and her small (cute) Maltese dog, Millie, for a walk along Tamaki Drive. Mission Bay to St Heliers and back. I very much enjoyed being by the sea again as well as getting another decent walk in. Perhaps some of this excess belly will work off over the next week? When I see Rangitoto Island I know I am back in Auckland, it is one of my favourite natural landmarks anywhere in the world.

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Monday was a non-day really, Eleanor and my sister went into the city to do a few tasks and I stayed at home to do the same, but online. I also finished another book.  Though we have been in NZ for two weeks now I am still suffering from jet lag and can barely get through the day without wanting to, or having, a nap. Being stuck in MIQ meant we only partly adjusted to life in a different time zone. I expect we will catch up with ourselves fairly quickly now.

Tuesday saw us taking a morning shopping trip to Newmarket. I had downloaded the NZ Covid Tracer application to my phone; something I did not do in the UK; my trust of the New Zealand Government is slightly higher. We caught the bus to Newmarket so I did my first ever ‘scan in’. It is still mandatory in NZ to wear a mask on public transport, the only location with any form of mask rule. Most people were compliant on both bus journeys today, though anecdotally I know this is not always the case.

We had a brief explore of the shopping opportunities, which were significantly improved on last time we were here; Eleanor bought a couple of items. We shipped three box loads of stuff from the UK a few weeks ago and they were due to arrive while we in the isolation hotel. They are now not due to arrive until mid-September which is deeply frustrating; for instance, I have no proper winter jumpers. I was planning on buying something when we visit a discount mall tomorrow, so now regret not buying anything in Newmarket.

We had lunch with mum and my sister in a cafe in the new mall. It was good seeing mum again. Soon after we got home we caught the news on social media that a Covid case had been detected in Auckland. The news that night brought us the expected result; complete lockdown, minimum three days for most of New Zealand and one week for Auckland and Coromandel township, the locations where the infected person had been. Oh well, we had three days where we could do what we wanted to do and completely mask free. I wish we had done a bit more to be honest, at least visiting a restaurant or pub would have been nice.

Today we had planned on more shopping, I was going to buy the aforementioned jumper as well as stick my nose into a few charity shops to check out the vinyl offerings. Lockdown put paid to that so we just did a couple of walks. Eleanor and I walked up to One Tree Hill park and I took some photos. I will go back tomorrow on my own and take some more. I like it there.

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I have photographed the olive trees in Cornwall Park a few times over the years, not as often as I would have liked I guess, so these will be the focus of my visit tomorrow. They look fabulous and I am glad they are still thriving  in the cold of Auckland.

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I passed this, what looks to be abandoned, villa on the way. I was tempted to sneak a look, but who knows…

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We will follow the news over the next few days, the NZ PM Jacinda Adern leads a press conference each day where she updates the nation on what is happening regarding the Covid outbreak. These are excellent events, she speaks very clearly and the information imparted is detailed enough and I feel informed about what is going on. The contrast with the UK is marked. I know who I would much rather have as my leader, and it is not BoJo. Hopefully the next few days will bring positive news and we can get out and about sooner rather than later. Sadly, I suspect my hopes are going to get dashed.

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Eastbourne.

Sunday 05 July 2020 – Eastbourne.

The day started like most others this past week; grey low cloud, drizzle and high wind. Coffee in bed seemed like the right thing to do; immediately followed by a second coffee in bed. We made it out of bed just before 9 for an enjoyable video call with my sister in New Zealand. During the hour we were online the rain stopped, the cloud was blown away by the strong wind; clearing the sky. A nice day beckoned. It was time to make the planned, yet to be achieved trip to Eastbourne, a 30 minute drive along the coast.

I last passed through Eastbourne in Jan 2018 when I took a walk along the cliff tops to Burling Gap. I vaguely recall visiting as a child in the 1970s, though that is as likely to be a false memory as it is true. Eleanor has been twice before, and it rained both times. We both wanted to visit on a sunny day.

I parked as soon as I found a spot within an easy walk of the yet to re-open pier. It is very windy.

As we walked towards the pier we came across an oddly shaped white beach hut, which turned out to be shaped as a tooth, and is a memorial to Beachy Head Lady, with this message on it;

‘Along this coast near Beachy Head a young woman of sub-Sarahan African origin was buried one thousand eight hundred years ago. She spent most of her life thriving on a diet rich in the fruits of the sea and from fertile downland fields. Her story is recorded in chemicals hidden within her teeth and in her fragile bones. But how or why she arrived on the shores to make a new home so long ago will probably remain a mystery.’ I really liked this message and it intrigued me enough to try to found out more; as every good message should.

Beachy Head Lady is thought to be the oldest known person from sub-Saharan Africa to be found in the United Kingdom. It is not known when her remains were originally found, though they were recently rediscovered in the museum in a box marked 1956-1959. Further information on the original discovery remain quite sparse, which adds somewhat to the mystery. I chose to not dig much further. Mysteries are good.

It is a funny old day, as many have been in these barely re-opened post-Covid emergency days. It is a sunny, though windy, summer Sunday. There are a few people about, but not as many as expected. The shopping areas are mainly open, so places for people to go. There is an air of reluctance and tension in the air, as well as a touch of the ‘she’ll be right mate’ attitude you get from those who think Brexit is a good idea and social distancing is stupid. I did not see a lot of masks being worn, though they are yet too made mandatory in England.

We walked along the front, past the pier and the place where the street drinkers were gathered in a vaguely intimidating fashion when I was here last time. I don’t remember anything specific, but I knew I was very keen to use the public toilet and they were all bunched outside and I walked for ages till I got to the downs before finding an appropriately unpublic tree. The things you remember.

We walked as far as the Martello Tower where we stopped for a hot chocolate and sat in the sun feeling like our skin was being peeled from our faces by the sun and the wind. The hot chocolate was very nice, as was the Martello Tower and its little peace garden.

Leaving the tower we were walking in the direction of the Towner Gallery when the wind whipped the camera strap that was not around my neck or any other useful (or useless) part of my body and tore the camera from my hand, cracking the rear screen when it hit the ground. Damn. Three camera in three years; all broken by me not being careful enough. Lucking the camera still works,  and it has a viewfinder, though I have to use auto mode as the screen displays(ed) the exposure settings. I could at least take some more photos today.

Auto mode does not suit my style, and with three small scratches on the lens, it is now time to replace the camera. A choice I did not want to have to make again after the stress of finding and buying the small Panasonic GX800 last year, a camera I have not really learnt to love. It may be time to sell that as well and buy a single replacement. Choices and decisions. I hate them both.

The Towner Gallery is fabulous. I have seen photos and read about it, and it was a pleasure to see it at last, I love the look of it, so funky and modern. Sadly it was still closed, but it opening in a couple of weeks, a good reason to come back to Eastbourne.

We picked up lunch from a Mexican food cart, in a very un-social distant queue, not many people wearing masks either. My nachos were tasty, there was an awful lot, though the chips were stale which was a good thing really. They went in the bin, not that I like wasting food!

We walked along the sea front for a while, stopping for an ice cream in a faded little park with a faded little tea-shop and then walked back to the car and I drove us home.

Mission accomplished. A day out to Eastbourne and it wasn’t raining.

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!

Anyway…

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 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.

Sunday
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.

Monday
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?

Tuesday
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.

Wednesday
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…

Thursday
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.

Friday
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.

Saturday
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 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.

Sunday
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.

Monday
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.

Tuesday
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.

Wednesday
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.

Thursday
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.

Friday
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.

Saturday
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.