Wednesday, 30 September 2020

“Presidential” debating! Going to the market. How to dress warmly.

Yesterday afternoon on Radio 4’s Today programme Evan Davis suggested that insomniacs might like to sit up into the wee small hours to listen to the American presidential candidates’ debate. I didn’t stay up for it. I’ve watched The West Wing and seen the dramatised version of the preparation for debate and the debates themselves. That ‘s enough for me. Besides I truly cannot stand to watch or listen to Donald Trump speaking. His mannerisms, physical and verbal, make me cringe. Mind you, I feel the same about Boris Johnson.  Besides, I usually have little difficulty sleeping.

Reading reports this morning, I feel that I had a lucky escape. That or I made the right decision. It sounds to have been more of a small section of chaos than a debate, with Trump talking over Biden and Wallace, the moderator who was unable to control the debate at all, by all accounts. 

From the Guardian online I culled this:-

“Here are some of the key takeaways from the night:

  • The debate turned into a chaotic mess, largely because of Trump’s constant interruptions. The president consistently interrupted Biden and the moderator, Chris Wallace, creating an unproductive stream of crosstalk with little substantive discussion of policy.
  • Wallace was criticized for losing control of the debate. A number of commentators said Wallace failed to sufficiently curtail Trump’s interjections, resulting in what many longtime political reporters called the worst presidential debate in recent US history.
  • Trump refused to condemn white supremacist violence. Addressing the Proud Boys, Trump told the far-right group to “stand back and stand by”. Social media posts indicated that members of the Proud Boys took the comment as a sign of encouragement from the president. One Proud Boys social media account even posted a photo of the group’s logo with the words “stand back and stand by” alongside it.
  • The night was defined by insults and personal attacks. Trump attacked Biden over the business dealings of his son, Hunter, and dismissed Biden when he reflected on the loss of his eldest son, Beau. In moments of frustration, Biden also criticized Trump as a “liar” and a “clown”.”

And then there is this:-

“Kathleen Hunter at Bloomberg has this morning described last night as a “mud-wrestling match”. She writes:

Refusing to give any ground, the president at times flustered Biden – whom he has for months sought to paint as senile — with unrelenting attacks on his family and policies. Trump, 74, made assertions — on election integrity, his income taxes, a potential coronavirus vaccine and other topics — that don’t stand up to fact-checking.

For her, she thought “The biggest takeaway from the unedifying spectacle might be Trump’s refusal again to commit to a peaceful transition.”

And she had this to say about the prospect of the remaining two debates:

The question now is whether the exchange will be more civil when the candidates meet on 15 October for their second debate and whether – with large portions of the electorate already having either decided on their pick or cast their ballot — the sessions even matter much.”

And if you want any more, here’s a link to a summary of sorts of what went on:-

That’s enough of that.

Today being Wednesday, and the forecast being for rain, rain and more rain, I donned my waterproof and got on my bike to cycle to the market in Uppermill. Amazingly, I did not get rained on. Rain has fallen since then but once more I had an uneventful ride without getting soaked. It has to be said though that the ride home with panniers full of fruit and bread and fish is rather harder than the outgoing ride. My Fitbit is still confused by the whole business and tells me I have done 2,500 steps whereas if I walk there and back it clocks up at least 12,000. And how does it know I am on a bike? Witchcraft, I reckon!

The day may be grey and damp but here are a couple of photos of autumn colour to

brighten things up.


As we progress into autumn and the weather turns colder, the fashion pages on the newspapers turn to what to wear to keep warm. Not denim, is one answer. One such article included this gem today:-

“Do you need to rethink your hat?

Not really. While it’s not entirely true that we lose most of our heat from our headsall our experts agree that hat-wearing is a good idea, and they are especially enthusiastic about cosy ones. Jones and Brunton mention the importance of covering your ears – Brunton prefers a deerstalker type – but knitting could become a new valued skill, with the woolly beanie name-checked as an essential accessory. “I’m all for a woolly hat in winter,” says Hadler. “My mum knits me lots, and I have every colour.” They can be worn everywhere, too. Felicity Moir, an acupuncturist who swims every day at the Hampstead ponds in north London, says: “A lot of people swim with a woolly hat on. It’s a very funny sight.”

And now I am stuck with a picture of swimmers in bobble hats!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Child safety. Online learning. Restrictions of one kind or another. Stockpiling.

Today is another fine and sunny day. I ran up and down the Donkey Line thinking that we ought to get out and about and take advantage of the good weather while it is here. I am pretty sure the forecast for the rest of the week is not so good. This is a pity as we have just taken delivery of a very sophisticated-looking baby-carrying backpack, an early Christmas present for our daughter so that we can go on family adventures along paths too narrow and rugged for the baby-buggy. It looks much sturdier and decidedly safer than the backpack we had to carry our offspring around in on hikes forty years ago. In fact, when I look back at what we had by way of baby carriers, car seats, harness in the car and so on, it amazes me that our two children grew up safe and sound.

Yesterday we had our first Italian conversation class on Zoom. After a certain amount of initial fumbling to make sure everyone was connected and that we were not “frizzato”, Italian for frozen on screen apparently, we got along fine. We had to adjust to putting our hands up to signal a desire to speak, rather than just butting in and speaking over each other. Although I would prefer a face-to-face class, with all the chances to read everyone’s body language more fully, on the whole the session went well. I have to admire the technical wizardry of our teacher, busily throwing up extra things on screen for us to look at, as well as managing a rather eccentric group of half a dozen mostly over-seventy-year-olds. Indeed, my admiration goes out to all those school teachers doing the same thing with larger groups of teenagers. No doubt I could adapt myself to it but I am still rather glad not to be obliged to learn that new skill any longer.

That’s another thing that wasn’t around forty years ago - super-advanced distance learning. How different might the pandemic have been without modern technology.

One of my eccentric Italian conversation classmates told us she is about to acquire a puppy, which she will call Florence. Why Florence? Because she loves the city and because it is a name with so many diminutives - Flo, Florrie, Flossie. How much harder it would be if she had to call the dog Firenze, using the native Italian name for the city. Here is Peter Hitchens ranting about that very topic, largely expressing his annoyance at Bombay having to Mumbai and Peking Beijing.

He fails to mention the Spanish habit of continuing to convert names of the British royal family into their Spanish versions. The queen is Isabel, Charles is Carlos, William and Kate are Guillermo y Catalina. It’s just as well Harry and Meghan have resigned from the royal family as I am not sure what they would do with Meghan. In autonomous regions of Spain with their own “language” (aka: dialect, regional variation of standard Spanish - don’t get me started!), of course, they also change local place names, presumably to confuse and annoy outsiders. Thus The Catalans call their region Catalunya, and thenGalicians change the spelling of places like Orense to Ourense. But at least they use the same alphabet!

On the crisis front, world numbers for deaths from the virus reach frightening levels. And the WHO thinks we may have underestimated. Most places are still seeing an ongoing rise. Universities here are facing a possible mass revolt in the form of a return home of students afraid of being trapped in halls of residence. After all, if you are having lectures and classes online, you might as well do it at home where Mum and Dad will feed you and do the washing for you. 

Between threats of further lockdown and likely shortages of food and other goods because of Brexit, I understand that some supermarkets are now introducing limits as to how many of a particular item customers can buy. Nothing stops customers from going day after day to repeat buy stuff they want to stockpile of course. Strange times!

Our eldest granddaughter, meanwhile, appears to be stockpiling pet rats, as she has just acquired four baby fancy rats to join the two adolescent specimens she already owned. Personally I do not see the attraction. Each to their own, as they say!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Monday, 28 September 2020

Getting up in the morning. Restrictions fatigue. Too much testing of children? Wedding industry!

It gets harder to motivate yourself to get out of bed now that the mornings are growing colder. I wonder how many of the people working from home have set up their computers next to their beds so that they can simply stay in bed to work. Then there are those you hear if who retire to bed at nine at night to watch TV. This is not a healthy way of life, surely!

But colder the mornings definitely are. Today is not so bright cold as yesterday. There is more cloud but it does not seem to be doing much to warm things up, if cloud ever does that.

Yesterday we took advantage of the sunshine to walk up the hill to Dobcross, down the hill on the other side of Dobcross village and back home along the Donkey Line. Not a bad walk at all.

Throughout the more serious part of lockdown much was made of the development of community spirit, people pulling together and helping each other out. I’m pretty sure that is still the case for many places but I read that in some a sort of fatigue has set in and people are complaining about each other. Demarcation lines are being established. Disputes over who is responsible for trimming the hedge are cropping up. Downstairs neighbours are moaning about their upstairs neighbours following Joe Wicks’ workout programmes.

And the inevitable helplines have popped up: Calm Mediation in London and Scottish Mediation,  north of the border. Scottish Mediation apparently launched a coronavirus hotline in May and saw a 50% increase in calls on normal times, including one person exasperated by music lessons upstairs. “People were more or less happy to go along with it during the first lockdown,” said a spokesperson. “But now there’s been a little taste of freedom, going back into it … people’s patience is at a limit.”


There you go - the spirit of sacrifice when we were initially “all in this together” has worn a little thin. People have been reminded that another reality exists. One chap is supposed to have said he had been laughed at for wearing a mask earlier in the crisis and remained angry at neighbours who failed to follow the rules. “You can be in one household doing the right things and see your actions negated by someone else,” he said. “I don’t think I would ever dob a neighbour in, and anyway, if you do say anything, you just get a mouthful of abuse.”

Which brings me to a linguistic point: where did that expression “to dob in” come from? Until Priti Patel said it a few weeks ago I had never heard the expression and now it keeps popping up all over the place. Strange!

And it’s not just in this country that restriction fatigue exists. Madrid’s regional government is in conflict with the Spanish national government over restrictions. The conservative People’s Party’s Isabel Dîaz Ayuso, who leads the regional government, is refusing to implement the recommended lockdown, despite high numbers of cases. She doesn’t think It’s necessary. She has form for this. Back in May she questioned the need to extend the national lockdown, declaring: “People get run over every day but that doesn’t mean we ban cars.”

Hmmm! That may well be so but we do introduce traffic calming measures to limit the numbers of people run over by cars every day!

Meanwhile, here in the UK,  a certain Prof Russell Viner of UCL and Great Ormond Street children’s hospital has suggested that we are testing too many children. We need to keep schools fully open, he said. “I think we have a coherent policy about testing in schools, but we are probably being overcautious and testing too many children. It was the right thing to start with, but it has had some unintended consequences.”

He is undoubtedly correct in his statements about children always catching colds at this time of year. It has always been the case when schools open up again after the summer break.

“There is clearly limited capacity in testing at the moment,” he said. “We need to be thinking: ‘Are we testing too many children?’ because of our understandable but probably unscientific and misplaced concerns about children being infected in schools.”

He needs to put himself in the place of concerned parents though. If your child catches a cold at the moment you are immediately faced with that big question: is it the virus?

One of the victims of the virus crisis is the wedding industry. Much has been made of the emotional turmoil of having to cancel, or at any rate postpone, your big day but behind all that is a whole industry, which I swear did not exist fifty years ago. Or at least it did not exist to the same extent. Now I read that 400,000 people work in the wedding industry, which contributes £14.7billion to the economy. Wow!

I blame those televised royal weddings all those years ago: Princess Anne, Charles and Diana, Andrew and Fergie! Suddenly everyone wanted their own royal wedding, with a huge crowd of bridesmaids and half the country invited to join in the celebration. 

Whatever the cause, all the cancelled and postponed weddings are causing wedding planners, dressmakers, florists, caterers, and even producers of “favours” to go under. No matter that I think weddings have got a little out of hand in recent decades, it remains true that all these people are unexpected victims of the virus. 

So it goes.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Sunday, 27 September 2020

My equinox confusion. Wider world craziness. A bit of musical history.

I woke up a little confused this morning, somehow convinced that we should have put the clocks back overnight and surprised to find that my various electronic time-telling devices were unchanged. The thing is  I recently heard someone on the radio going on about the autumnal equinox, which I correctly surmised had something to do with equal day and night.


Here’s some info I recently found:

Not Entirely Equal Day & Night

On the two equinoxes every year the Sun shines directly on the Equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal - but not exactly.

The September equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south and vice versa in March.

First Day of Fall?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the fall equinox marks the first day of fall (autumn) in what we call astronomical season.There's also another, more common definition of when the seasons start, namely meteorological definitions, which are based on average temperatures rather that astronomical events.”

And somehow I equated that with putting the clocks back - daylight saving time and so on. I even checked it when I heard the stuff on the radio. Clearly I did not check carefully enough or just misread the whole shebang because this morning I checked again and found OCTOBER 25th as the date we mess about with the clocks. Not SEPTEMBER at all. Doh!

But at least I now have another month before I need to worry about the nights drawing in too rapidly.


And today is another fine autumn day. 


The sun is shining nicely. 








And the ducks who live in the bend of the River Tame that goes through the industrial estate behind our house have been fed by kindly residents.

I just hope the sun manages to stay out a little,longer than it did yesterday. Running down the Donkey Line in the sunshine yesterday morning I came across numerous runners and a prodigious number of cyclists, so much so that we even joked about the “Tour de Saddleworth”. However, by the time Phil and I decided to stomp up Lark Hill, giving Phil’s new boots a good work out, the sky was uniformly dull and grey. We did not get rained on though! Small blessings!

The wider world continues its craziness. Anti-vaccination fools, conspiracy theorists, and people opposed to wearing face-coverings and other other coronavirus restrictions gathered in London yesterday. Some of them were arrested, some police officers were injured. Conspiracy theorist David Icke made an incendiary speech at the top of the steps leading to the National Gallery, calling on people to take off their masks and embrace freedom. He urged police forces and militaries around the world to take the side of the people, rather than “psychopathic” governments.

“We will not hand control of our lives and our children’s lives to people like the UK health secretary Matt Hancock; a man who if his brains were gunpowder would not blow his hat off,” he said.

Meanwhile some head teachers are talking about organising classes of 60 pupils, taking place in school halls, because so many teachers are having to self isolate that finding supply teachers is, as well as extremely difficult with so many needed, financially prohibitive. This is a consequence of the the slowness of getting and processing tests.

And dentists are throwing in their two penn’orth. They foresee great problems as so many children have missed regular check-ups during lockdown. They fear a sugar-rich lockdown diet will have led to post lockdown tooth decay! It goes on and on!

In the USA President Trump has nominated a rightwing, catholic, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-almost every kind of freedom woman to be the High Court Justice replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, which organises annual anti-abortion marches, said this nomination “is welcome and exciting news for everyone who values the rule of law and our constitutional rights”.

She added: “We have confidence that she will fairly apply the law and constitution as written, which includes protecting the most vulnerable in our nation: our unborn children. She is a highly gifted jurist and a woman of great accomplishment – a role model for women and girls across the country – and she deserves a vote as expeditiously as possible.”

I suppose it depends what kind of role model you want for your country’s women and girls.

And finally, to cheer us up, here is something unusual Phil found on a chess website: the history of the Simon and Garfunkel song, Scarborough Fair:



Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Frost! Small local adventures. University problems. And borders.

There was frost on some, but not all, plants on the patch of land just before the Donkey Line bridle path when I went out for a run this morning. That seems a little early to me. We had what felt like summer in April and May. A rather soggy sort of autumnal period set in through the middle of August and into early September. And now, late September, frost! Is this a weird aspect of climate change? Have the seasons taken a sort of time shift? Goodness knows. It’s certainly colder than yesterday. And we can do precious little about it ... apart from fighting climate change, of course. I would suggest turning on, or up, the central heating but that rather goes against helping the ecology!

Yesterday we did not walk up Lark Hill as we had sort of planned. Our daughter contacted us and proposed a windy walk around the village after she had picked up her middle child from high school. In the event, he proved antisocial and stayed at home but she came round with the two small people. 


We followed our usual route, up the road past the cricket club, checking on the pigs who live across the road.


Close to The Pooh Sticks Bridge the four year old, who had worn her wellies on purpose, paddled in the ford and then we took her on an adventure up the hill path instead of following the lower path by the millpond. We caught up with her mother, who could not take the hill path as the buggy wouldn’t fit in the path, at the point where the two paths meet. Shortly after that Phil abandoned us to head for home while the rest of us went to the park so the small people could play on the swings.

After that we deviated from our normal route to walk through a bit of woodland and admire a bit of a waterfall.



This brought us out a little further up the valley, after which we took the path back towards the village, skirting the allotments, where a shed seemed to have delusions of grandeur, calling itself Lydgate Vicarage!


And finally we were back in the village and almost home. A mini-adventure.


Our eldest granddaughter is feeling a little bereft today. Her housemate has returned to university and now she is rattling around the house on her own - apart from her menagerie, that is! The housemate has gone somewhat reluctantly, rather afraid of finding herself trapped in her hall of residence if/when the virus strikes. At least one of the Manchester universities is already having problems but they fade into insignificance compared with Scotland, where students went back a little sooner. There is talk there of students possible not being able to return home for Christmas. I rather get a feeling of things spiralling out of control.

And then there is Brexit, with talks of a border in the Irish sea, a border around Kent and a border between England and Scotland. Brexit definitely helped us all take back control!!

It all seems rather chaotic!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Friday, 25 September 2020

Windy weather. What to wear when hiking. Defrosting. Reactions to restrictions.

Today is fine and quite sunny but very windy and decidedly cold! Well, everything is relative, of course. Compared with January or February cold, today is positively balmy. Indeed on my way back from my morning run I came into a sheltered spot where the sun felt delightfully warm. As I said, all is relative. However, I saw at least one runner wearing gloves and I noticed that all the dog walkers were well wrapped up. This did not prevent one pair of hikers from wearing shorts though. I have never quite understood why some hikers have to have big jumpers and jackets and wooly hats and gloves but legs bare below the knee. And then thick socks a pair of chunky boots. It makes little sense. Unless, of course, they just want to show off their tan and maintain it for a little longer.

Phil has just bought new lightweight hiking boots. He has been looking enviously at mine, which date from about 15 years ago, for some time and complaining that his sturdy leather boots are extremely heavy. After much internet research he finally found a pair to his liking. So far they have only had a brisk walk round the village but maybe today he can try them out on a walk up Lark Hill (aka The Quarry Road), a terrain more demanding of boots with good grips. And today is a good day for such a walk - a fine windy autumn day in the old style.

This morning I have been defrosting the freezer, a task I try to put off as long as possible. However, one or other of us has been a bit careless in pushing the freezer drawers into place and making sure the door is completely closed. For last night when I went to get ice cream out to accompany a fig clafoutis for dessert - a nice combination of hot dessert with ice cream, by the way - I found the freezer was busily converting itself into a small iceberg, frosting itself up nicely. This morning, therefore, we had to go through the difficult rigmarole of switching it off.

For some incomprehensible reason the freezer itself does not have an easily accessible on-off switch. Add to that the fact that when the kitchen was installed someone had the bright idea to conceal the freezer plug behind the washing machine. At the back of the cupboard under the sink I could understand but behind the washing machine is just silly. Washing machines are extremely heavy. They have a great weight at the bottom to stop them from dancing round the kitchen floor when they spin. But to get at the plug for the freezer we have to pull out the washing machine. Very annoying! And now the contents of the freezer are in coolbags, waiting for the iceberg to defrost. Hey ho!

Out in the wider world, people are voicing their opinions about pubs closing at 10.00pm. Newspapers have photos of crowds of people massing outside London pubs after closing time, apparently having not-so-distant final chats on the pavement before dispersing to who knows where. As far as I know there were no crowds outside our neighbouring pub. 

People are finding someone or something to blame for this new restriction. Eat out to help out is a favourite blame-hound:

“I think what done it was the eat out to help out,” said Tracey Davies, from County Durham, who was walking to a bar with her husband, Pete. “Everyone went crazy up in the north-east. Everywhere was rammed. I think that’s made the situation a lot worse.”

Others are pointing out again that it’s unfairly all right to gather in a group of 30 to go grouse shooting, forgetting obviously that grouse shooting is an outdoor “sport”. Really? I bet the grouse disagree.

Yet others are saying we should ignore the virus:

“There’s mental issues, cancer, all this other stuff, yet everyone is paying attention to Covid,” said Sophia Warne, outside Cecconi’s on Old Compton Street, in Soho. “Look at how many people are actually in hospital because of it, it’s not actually very much. I think we need to crack on.”

I particularly like this comment from a 29 year old:

“It’s actually disgusting. They are messing up people’s lives … closing at 10pm is ridiculous. I don’t understand why. They haven’t explained it,” he said.

Clearly he is too young to remember when all pubs used to close at 10.00pm or 10.30pm. Oddly enough, we still used to manage to have a good night out!

I hear that France is having a big rise in cases of the virus, with more people going to hospital and going into intensive care. Frightening stuff! Meanwhile Iceland is blaming a couple of French tourists for a cluster of around 100 cases there. It seems the pair tested positive and either did not understand instructions or simply refused to isolate.  

“I have information that it was difficult to get them to follow instructions,” stated the Icelandic epidemiologist. “I really cannot say more.” Despite being unable to say more he went on to comment that the pair brought with them a “French strain” of Covid-19 that has been picked up in around 100 new infections traced back to two establishments: the Irishman pub and the Brewdog restaurant, both in Reykjavík. 

And now I have an image of the mutated Coronavirus wearing a beret and speaking with a French accent. After all, scientists tell us that the virus mutates and adapts and is becoming more contagious, finding ways to circumvent the measures we put in place to control the nasty little beast.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Feelings of Groundhog Day. Clever dogs. Old people and biopics. Oh, and internet interference!

There is a certain Groundhog Day feel to the news these days: the rush pellmell towards a no-deal Brexit, the seemingly unstoppable rise of Covid19 just about all over Europe, or indeed the world, our testing problem in the UK, and now repeated stories of orcas attacking yachts - or maybe just being playful! Just being playful? If so, why is it happening now? 

But there it is, the same stories cycling round and round.

By the way, if we are having so much trouble with Covid testing, how is it that I keep hearing reports of instant tests at Rome Fiumicino airport? And how about this report?

“Four Covid-19 sniffer dogs have begun work at Helsinki airport in a state-funded pilot scheme that Finnish researchers hope will provide a cheap, fast and effective alternative method of testing people for the virus.

A dog is capable of detecting the presence of the coronavirus within 10 seconds and the entire process takes less than a minute to complete, according to Anna Hielm-Björkman of the University of Helsinki, who is overseeing the trial.

“It’s very promising,” said Hielm-Björkman. “If it works, it could prove a good screening method in other places” such as hospitals, care homes and at sporting and cultural events.

After collecting their luggage, arriving international passengers are asked to dab their necks with a wipe. In a separate booth, the jar containing the wipe is then placed next to others containing different scents, and the dog starts sniffing.

If it indicates it has detected the virus – usually by yelping, pawing or lying down – the passenger is advised to take a free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test using a nasal swab to verify the dog’s verdict.

In the university’s preliminary tests, dogs – which have previously been used to detect diseases such as cancer and diabetes – were able to identify the virus with nearly 100% accuracy, even days before before a patient developed symptoms.”

We need some of those clever dogs!

And now autumn appears to be upon us with a vengeance. I cycle along bridle paths strewn with beautifully coloured leaves and wonder why we haven’t come up with a use for them. Except, of course, that maybe their purpose is just to cheer us up as the days grow  short and dull. The weathermen were right: it’s distinctly cooler now than it was few days ago. Briefly between 9.00 and 11.00 this morning it looked like a nice day, blue sky dotted with clouds, a fair bit of sunshine but it hasn’t really managed to keep going.

I spent some time this morning trying to phone our doctors’ surgery to make appointments for flu vaccinations. Yes, it’s that time of year again? After a considerable number of tries that only got me the engaged tone, I finally got onto a recorded message from one of the GPs, giving instructions about what to do if you need to see a doctor, what to do if you have Covid symptoms, what to do if you can’t access their website, and on and on for what seemed a long, long time. The first couple of times this happened I waited until he had finished before pressing button 1 to get through to reception. No good! So on the third occasion I pressed button 1 as soon as he started to speak: “Your call will be answered as soon as possible”, music, “your call is in a queue”, more music, “we will answer you very soon”, even more music ... but after about five minutes I managed to speak to the receptionist and made appointments for Phil and me. Then followed a series of instructions about arriving at the time given, to minimise queues, keeping social distancing, wearing face coverings and what to do if we develop Covid symptoms in the meantime! Oh, boy!

On the positive side, the rain finally stopped yesterday so that we could go for a walk, albeit a rather brief one, and today I managed to run round the village without getting rained on. And even the infamous mud-puddle had not developed sufficiently from yesterday’s rain to impede my progress. We are counting our blessings!

Old people have been in the news. Not old people in general, but specific old people. Captain Sir Tom Moore (or Major Tom as I will keep trying to promote him to - David Bowie has a lot to answer for!) has seemingly signed a film deal for a biopic. Now, I know he walked up and down his garden and raised vast amounts of money for the NHS. And I know he was one of the many heroes of the Second World War. And I know he has lived to a grand old age. But does that really mean that his life has been interesting enough to merit a biopic? Another old person in the news was an old lady in Ambleside who had her hundredth birthday yesterday. She has lived in the same house in Ambleside all her life. Her parents rented it and she has continued to do so. Oh, good grief! Her family must have paid for it several times over in 100 years. It’s time they gave it to her. In her youth she even got to take photos of a young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on an official visit to Ambleside. She was very compos mentis and articulate and put her longevity down to healthy living and lots of fresh air. Maybe someone will get her to sign a contract for a biopic.

And finally there is the story of the little village of Aberhosan in Wales where they have had a problem with Internet for at least 18 months. At 7.00am every day their broadband signal simply vanished. Engineers finally tracked it down to an unnamed resident who had an ancient secondhand TV set which he switched on every day at 7.00am. This caused what the engineers call “electronic noise” and messed up everyone’s internet connection. The TV owner has agreed to throw it out! Happy endings!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Duckboards. Noisy geese. Adventures.

Here’s something from the Merriam Webster dictionary website:

“Did You Know?

The word duckboard was created during the early 20th century to describe the boards or slats of wood laid down to provide safe footing for the soldiers of World War I across wet or muddy ground in trenches or camps. The original duckboards didn't always work as intended though. According to one soldier, duckboards came by their name because someone walking on wet duckboards was liable to slide off them much like water slides off a duck's back. Today's duckboards appear in all kinds of places - from marshes to the floors of saunas. The word duck itself has been part of the English language since the days of Old English, when it had the form "dŪce."”

From Wikipedia it sounds as though boardwalks are more or less the same as duckboards. 

Somehow boardwalks sound grander that duckboards.

I got onto this topic because on Monday we spent some time walking along duckboards. The fine weather from the weekend continued into  Monday. The washing was drying nicely on the garden and Phil and I decided to go for a walk. We followed a frequent route of ours, up the road past the cricket club, turning left onto Sandbed Lane and then onto Hull Mill Lane (old names for roads are very pleasing!) as far as what has been known for donkeys’ years in our family as “The Pooh Sticks Bridge”. Ever since we first read Winnie the Pooh many, many years ago with the children, we had occasionally stood on this little bridge, dropped sticks off one side and waited to see whose stick would win the race - just like Christopher Robin and friends!


At that point we usually turn left and go past Eagle Mill pond, back through the village and home. On Monday we turned right and followed a path which might eventually have led us to Castleshaw and the just about traceable remains of a Roman fort. There were huge qu

antities of Canada geese on Hull Mill pond, making a trem
endous racket with their honking. 


And not far beyond the mill pond the duckboards began, making huge sections of the path more passable in rainy weather. Not that we needed such assistance on Monday, after several days of fine and sunny weather. 

We did not continue to Castleshaw but took a left turn up a steep lane, heading in the general direction of Heights Church, although that was not our intended final destination. We went past quaint old stone houses, some of them old farm houses, others clearly weavers’ cottages, judging by the style of the windows. One was mysteriously named The Monastery. If it ever was a monastery it was a very small one. Another was called Paradise. 






And by one gateway was a sign which read “SLOW! Daschunds in the road”. In the next driveway, obviously to prove them right was a small daschund barking away at the top of his small lungs.

Eventually we reached our highest point - not Heights Church but pretty high, with fine views of Delph village. 






There we followed a steep and rugged path down the hill.

At one point it was covered with slabs of stone, a drainage system of sorts. Many years ago, following the same path on a rather wetter day, my feet slipped on a wet stone and I ended up sitting in the mud. The long off-white jumper I wore was even more off-white in the backside area after that and try as I might it was never quite restored to its former glory. A lesson learned - when walking in muddy places, wear mud-coloured clothes! 


We had no such problems on Monday though.

 Having navigated the stony path we reached the continuation of Hull Mill Lane and made our way back to The Pooh Sticks Bridge, the  past Eagle Mill pond, through the village and returned home. Another fine adventure. 

Yesterday began equally fine and sunny. I cycled over to see our anxious granddaughter and cheer her up by forcing her out for a walk after she finished her session of working from home. After the latest government announcements I think she will be working from home for a good while longer. We wait to see what the next few weeks will bring.

By the time I decided to cycle home again the sun had disappeared and the clouds had moved in. However, I managed to make it home without any rain showers. How many more good days will this autumn give us? I wonder.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!