Friday, 31 December 2021

End of year activities!

We’re rushing to the end of 2021.

Colorado in the USA is finishing the year with immense wildfires. 2021 seems to be going out with a blaze for those poor people. I didn’t think we got wildfires in December!

Many countries of Europe are facing rising numbers of Covid cases. It’s a rather muted end to the year.

So what have I done with this final day. Well, I got up and ran around the village and it didn’t rain on me. I put a load of washing in the washing machine and organised breakfast. 

As we finished a leisurely late breakfast my second granddaughter contacted me to see if I fancied a trip to IKEA with them. So, when the washing was dealt with I hopped on a bus to go to their house. 

The purpose of the IKEA visit was so that the aforementioned granddaughter could buy another bookcase to house her book collection. She determinedly reads proper books and won’t give in to Kindle. And she’d done all this properly, making a floor plan and measuring everything to ensure she could fit stuff in.

So we strolled round the store, the smallest grandchildren popping into each display bedroom or living room or kitchen, making the visit into an extended game. And we picked up odds and ends like napkins, Swedish biscuits and small toys. 

Purchases completed, we stopped off at Aldi supermarket on our way home. I wanted some of their nice bread. Ever since my Uppermill baker stopped making their rye bread I’ve missed extra nice bread and Aldi does a fine malted bloomer - whatever a bloomer is! I had had half a plan to stay on the bus to Aldi on my outward journey and meet my daughter and her offspring at IKEA. For some reason I did not do so. Mistake! In the late afternoon it seemed that everyone and their grandmothers were loading their trolleys with stacks of alcoholic drink or even actual food, as though they needed to stock up ready for a great siege. Maybe they plan to party like crazy tonight and want to be prepared for the need to self-isolate from New Year’s Day onwards. The queues at all the tills were humungous!!

But it is what it is! 

Tonight we’ll quietly welcome 2022 and hope it’s not too difficult a year. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Thursday, 30 December 2021

The vagaries of weather. The vagaries of justice. More travel problems.

After a very inauspicious start yesterday (i got thoroughly soaked in the early morning drizzle) the day improved considerably. We walked up the hill to Dobcross to catch some vitamin D. My pictures of the winter sky look quite threatening but that’s because I took the pictures into the sun. 


By the time we got home there was blue sky over our street.

Overnight it rained gallons and gallons! 


The river was positively bouncing along this morning. 


But the sky was blue over King Street in the village centre as I returned from  my run.


Incidentally, here is an old photo of that same King Street, culled from a Friends of Delph site.


It’s quite likely, however, that today will be a reverse of yesterday weatherwise. The forecast is gloomy for later today and indeed for the next week to ten days. Grey times ahead!

Still it could be worse. 

Think of Ghislaine Maxwell, probably spending the rest of her life in prison … unless her no doubt well-paid lawyers find a way to weasel her out of that guilty verdict. Which could still happen!

As I listened to news reports last night, I found myself reflecting that the young women trafficked by Maxwell and co were in some ways more fortunate than similar women trafficked by less socially prominent individuals. The women who testified seem to have been able to remake their lives. Yes, the trauma is undoubtedly real but they have managed to go beyond it. Many women, girls at the time, were trafficked into a life of continued prostitution almost certainly with violence and drugs involved. Everything is relative!

In a social media group called Campaign to rejoin the EU Infound a couple of interesting posts:

“We put some toy cars up on EBay, total value came to £70. So we went to the post office, asked what we needed to do to send the package to Germany (the buyer lived in Germany) and we paid our money and sent the package. It was returned a few days later as it was not accepted in Germany. If the post office doesn’t know what was required, how else do we find the information out. Before Brexit this would have been as easy as posting to the next village or town, now it’s a game of trial and error. Even our government doesn’t understand the rules, how on eartH are the post masters and mistresses supposed to know. I would hate to now be in business sending packages and goods to Europe, I genuinely feel for them, it has to be soul destroying!!!!”

“A friend of mine, every year, goes to Bournemouth football club in jan, and buys a few calendars in the sale to send to his wifes family in ireland. every year he goes to the post office, pays his fiver and off they go. last year, he went to the post office, was given an army of forms to fill out, then he got a bill for just under £27!!! he isn't bothering any more! 

god knows how firms are supposed to deal with all this BS!!”

Ah! The benefits of Brexit.

When I first saw last night that France is not allowing Britons without French residency to drive through their country to reach their homes in other EU countries I thought it was yet another Brexit benefit. On reading further this morning, I think it’s more of a Covid-controlling measure. They are quite terrified by increase in cases of Omicron. But will stopping the British driving through France make any difference? We shall see.

Meanwhile, I have replenished our supply of Covid home-testing kits, just to be on the safe side as they are apparently in short supply in many parts of the country. It’s not that we are planning to go very far in the immediate future but should the need arise I want us to be able to test. Such is the new normal!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Running in the rain. Taking the blame. Hiking up mountains in the snow. School trips abroad.

It’s that dead time of year when the days have not started getting noticeably longer despite the shortest day having already been and gone.  It’s dull and damp, which doesn’t help. My milkman ‘fessed up to being responsible for today’s wet weather. I saw him while I was out running in the drizzle earlier this morning. We commented on the nasty weather, as you do, and he told me that at six o’ clock this morning he had commented on what a good day it was - not too cold, quite mild in fact, and dry! Five minutes later the drizzly rain started. I think it’s been going on ever since. We agreed he must have put a hex on the weather.

If I’d realised that today’s drizzle was of the very wetting variety (there are probably as many different types of rain and drizzle as there are supposed to be different types of snow) I would have put on a better rain jacket. As it was, I wore my thin running jacket, supposedly waterproof but really only able to cope with the finest of drizzle. By the time I got back home, the drizzle had permeated everything. The running gear went straight in the washing machine and I went straight in the shower. Surprisingly, though, my running shoes were only moderately wet. The path through the wooded valley bottom is full of muddy puddles but I had succeeded in circumventing most of them. No mean feat!

Who knows if it will improve as the day goes on!

Some people think I am more than a little crazy to go running in the cold and damp but there are crazier people than me. Here’s a tale of a couple who went walking in the Andes. They had decided to climb Mount Aconcagua. At 6,962 metres (almost 23,000ft), this is the highest peak in the Andes (and the western hemisphere). Having sent their guide ahead with most of their supplies, their warmest clothing and essentials such as loo roll, they planned to meet up with him some time later in the day but got caught in a blizzard and ended up spending several days snowed in - minimum food, just the clothes they stood up in, and no loo roll! 

I like running and will walk for miles and miles without complaining but climbing up mountains and risking being snowed in half way up is not my idea of fun. Why do people put themselves in dangerous situations? What do they need to prove? 

In my years as a teacher of French and Spanish I organised a fair few trips to foreign places with my students. We also welcomed groups from those foreign places to spend time here; it was a reciprocal arrangement. Now I read that Brexit is putting a stop to that. School groups from the EU that might have come to the UK are going to other EU countries instead. 

Post-Brexit immigration rules in the UK have had a huge impact on school trips bookings from EU countries, whilst many European countries are now in higher demand than Britain, organisers have said. Those who want to plan trips that give their students the chance to practise their English and experience the English way of life are choosing to go to Ireland instead. Some are even organising for their students to stay with English people living in Normandy!!

Of course the pandemic has also affected this type of travel but it’s mostly Brexit stuff that’s causing the problem. It will affect educational trips in the other direction as well. You can’t organise exchange visits if they’re not reciprocal. And I read this morning that at the end of 2022 it’s going to be necessary for us to pay an entry fee of around £7 per person to get into EU countries from here. Another Brexit benefit!

I am once again glad to be retired!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Rain. Songs. Punctuation.

Today began with rain. I listened to it hammering on the roof and snoozed my alarm instead of getting up for a run. After listening to the rain for a while, I decided to put on my raincoat and boots and walk my running route. I needed to buy bread for breakfast anyway. 

By late morning the day seemed to have improved. The rain had stopped and there was some blue in the sky. So we went out to try to catch some vitamin D, whereupon the clouds moved back in. So it goes. 

As I type, Phil is playing various versions of the Italian partisan song “Bella Ciao” that he has found on youtube. Here’s a link to one of them from a demonstration against I know not what in Palermo, Sicily. The song popped up in a Radio 3 programme where an Italian-English cookery expert selected it as her first choice of favourite music. It has also featured in the Spanish TV series, La Casa de Papel, which we watched on Netflix - a series well worth watching, by the way. Now I expect to be humming it all day long - my latest earworm!

Well, I have used a couple of dashes and an exclamation mark in that last paragraph. I came across an article about punctuation, written by an Oxford professor of English if I remember correctly. Apparently our use of punctuation is changing, largely due to text messaging and email replacing (proper) letter writing. 

The use of a full stop in a text message can be considered offensive:

“Text messages now often sent as individual sentences mean the full stop has become surplus to requirement; including one is seen to signal a deliberate desire to be blunt or convey hostility, similar to adding the word “period” in speech: “That’s enough – period.””

And using capitals is the equivalent of shouting: 

“In 2013, the US navy dropped its policy of requiring all communications to be written in capitals because its sailors objected to being constantly shouted at.” 

And the poor old apostrophe still suffers and might disappear altogether: 

“Calls to drop the apostrophe go back to George Bernard Shaw, who refused to pepper his pages with these “uncouth bacilli”. Lewis Carroll took the opposite view, insisting that the proper spellings of “can’t” and “shan’t” should be “ca’n’t” and “sha’n’t”.”

We tend to use a dash instead of a semicolon, as nobody seems to know how to use a semicolon properly. 

From the article I came across a new word:  “bangorrhea”. It’s the medical term (medical?) for excessive use of exclamation marks! Oops, there I go again! At least now I can use the excuse that I suffer from  “bangorrhea””

In a completely unrelated article by one Philip Lavelle, writing about how he survived the care system and prison to become a writer, punctuation came up again: 

“One teacher – let’s call him Mr X – remarked that my grasp of grammar was “limp-wristed in the extreme”. (Mr X, if you are reading this, I started this sentence with a bracket, just for you – and now I am not going to close it.”

Personally I always try to punctuate my text messages. My 24 year old granddaughter NEVER punctuates hers. Different generations!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Monday, 27 December 2021

Local wildlife. Fox hunting. Arguing with my Spanish sister about vaccination.

Today began bright and crisp, not too cold, some blue in the sky. The sun tried to come out later but it wasn’t very successful. However, it’s a fine day. How long it will stay fine remains to be seen. (Later - it became dull and damp!)


Running round the village his morning, as I approached the old millpond I saw a fox running across the field. He kept stopping to look back and I could hear a few dogs barking. I hoped against hope there wasn’t a hunt in progress. We did see one once years ago when we lived at Slackcote in the valley between Delph and Denshaw. Thankfully this morning it was just a few local dogs barking, no hunt going on. The fox went on his way, too far away on the other side of the field for me to catch a photo of him. He lived to make his foxy mayhem another day. Some will not be so lucky. I read this is one of yesterday’s papers:

“A scaled-back Boxing Day trail-hunting programme will go ahead this year despite the worsening Covid situation and growing calls to ban the practice on public land, the Countryside Alliance has said.


The majority of Boxing Day hunts are due to go ahead on 27 December because this year’s holiday falls on a Sunday, traditionally a day of rest for the hunting community.

Restrictions designed to slow the spread of the virus in Scotland and Wales have forced many packs to cancel public gatherings connected to their meets. Meanwhile, critics are demanding the prohibition on public land of a sport they believe is often merely a front for illegal foxhunting.”

Hmm! And why do huntsmen need a “day of rest”? Is it such hard work riding round huntin’ ‘n’ shootin’ ?

It was a good morning for spotting wildlife around our way though. At the millpond the heron was busy watching out for fish and the swans were back, swanning around gracefully as usual. 

I almost fell out with my Spanish sister yesterday. I had meant to call her on Christmas Day but the day got too busy and so my call was put off until Boxing Day. We swapped family news, tales of what our smallest grandsons (almost two and just past two years old) and, of course, the Covid situation. Her son, soon to be thirty years old I think, is an ardent anti-vaxxer. My sister has had her two doses but expressed a reluctance to have a booster. Not even real reluctance, just a sort of lackadaisical “what’s the point?”. She says she thinks Covid is probably not as bad as flu or maybe not much worse. I don’t think she’s been vaccinated against flu either, despite having been so ill with it in her twenties that she had to be nursed by her Spanish fiancé’s mother. Eventually our mother flew out and brought her home to England. My mother may not have been the most intrepid traveller but she was a fiercely protective mother! 

And now my sister seems to be turning into a vaccination sceptic, even maybe a Covid sceptic, believing it’s not as bad as the governments are making it out to be. We argued back and forth about the need for vaccination, the need for the whole world to have access to vaccination if we are to succeed in making Covid something we can live with … rather like flu in fact. We didn’t fall out in the end; my sister and I agreed to differ. She experienced a much harsher lockdown than we did and is now faced with the possible reintroduction of mask wearing in the streets of Spain. I still think she should get her booster though.

Reports here tell us that the vast majority of those in hospital with Covid and still dying with Covid are the unvaccinated. I think that tells us something. We’ll probably get news later today about further governmental thoughts about it all. Over in the USA some states are thinking of delaying opening schools in the new year as the numbers of Covid 19 cases rise, especially amongst children.

“The risks of Covid-19 for children are real,” said acting state health commissioner Dr Mary Bassett. “We are alerting New Yorkers to this recent striking increase in pediatric Covid-19 admissions so that pediatricians, parents and guardians can take urgent action to protect our youngest New Yorkers.”

The health department advised parents to protect “children who are five years and older by getting them fully vaccinated and protect children under five by making sure all of those around them have protection through vaccination, boosters, mask-wearing, avoiding crowds and testing”.

The California public health director, Dr Tomás Aragón, warned to expect rising admissions there.

“Why? Omicron is so contagious that it finds unvaccinated/non-immune people who are most vulnerable for hospitalisations and deaths”.”

It’s the unvaccinated again! Vaccination makes sense - think of polio and measles!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Sunday, 26 December 2021

Listening to music. Thinking about restrictions of one kind and another.

Boxing day! I got up late this morning, mostly because I sat up late last night watching Leonard Cohen. Back in 2008 we saw Leonard Cohen at the Opera House in Manchester, a magical performance. Then we saw him in Castrelos Park in Vigo in the summer of 2009, in one of the municipality sponsored concerts the city organises - it cost us about €12 each. The sublime Webb sisters did cartwheels on the stage … as well as singing beautifully. Both concerts had pretty much the same song list but that was not a problem. 

Some time later we acquired a DVD of effectively the same concert in the O2 Arena (I think) in London. Well worth watching again and again. And then, some time last year, I looked for it one evening and could not locate it. We hunted all over the house. Had we lent it to a careless friend, one of those who forget to return loaned books and music? We investigated all possibilities. Nobody confessed. Lost and gone!

So Phil bought me a new copy for Christmas. (I had almost bought one for him but fortunately I chose some other music for him.) And last night, after the family had departed and we had done the remaining washing up and put the leftovers away, we finally sat down to watch “at least part of the concert”. You can’t watch just the start of such a concert. The music carries you along. And Leonard Cohen and his excellent band gave good value for money, doing an encore almost half as long as the original concert! And that’s why I didn’t get up early this morning. 

Today I’m assessing the leftovers, seeing what needs freezing for future use and working out how some parts can be recombined to make gourmet leftover dishes. 

In the wider world, Wales and Scotland, and I think Northern Ireland, are going into stricter measures to contain Covid today. In England we carry on pretty much as before. The government is going to discuss it again on Monday. By the tome they decide, the hospitals might be full again. There is much opposition to proposed restrictions among the Conservatives in Parliament. It rather seems that having political power is more important than taking sensible decisions. 

But, never mind, we’re busy “jabbing” everyone and we’ve taken back control. And one consequence of that is that we can decide which restrictions to ease, apparently. And so, faced with a shortage of care workers thousands of additional care workers are to recruited from abroad. 40,000 social care staff have left the sector in the past six months. And then there are problems of staff absence as they have to isolate because of Covid - hmm! I wonder why so many of them are catching it.

Anyway, reports tell me this:

“Immigration rules will be relaxed for care workers, care assistants and home care workers, who will be added to the Home Office’s shortage occupation list.

Care workers who arrive on a 12-month health and care visa must receive an annual salary of at least £20,480 to qualify, with the measures expected to come into effect early next year. They will be entitled to bring dependants, including a partner and children.”

Maybe care workers should have been paid a decent wage to begin with. Maybe then there would be fewer recruitment problems. Maybe social care establishments should not need to make a profit. Maybe we should have stayed in the EU!

Hey ho! 

Enjoy Boxing Day! 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well,everyone!

Saturday, 25 December 2021

On the subject of food.

Today has been a lot about food.

Here’s Tim Dowling writing about food Tim Dowling on food, something I found scanning the papers online before I started making sure our Christmas meal was organised.

“I like to think I have an adventurous palate. I eat many things that commonly upset people – shellfish, snails, coriander – without complaint. I don’t have any allergies and I am highly lactose tolerant.

As an American who has lived in the UK for 30 years, I can only think of a few British foodstuffs I won’t touch, among them baked beans, Marmite and prawn cocktail crisps. But can I really consider myself adventurous if I’m not willing to give these three a go?

Most of the online advice on overcoming food aversions is aimed at toddlers, and what’s left is for people who dislike certain tastes. That doesn’t apply here, because I’ve never actually tried any of these things. I’m averse to what I imagine they must taste like. When it comes to Marmite, my imagination runs wild; I don’t even like being in the same room as an open jar of it.

My aversion to baked beans may seem odd – they’re originally American, after all. The canned variety were first imported to Britain in 1886, when they were sold exclusively by Fortnum & Mason. It may be this perverse association with luxury that drives British people to persist with them. When I was growing up, we always had a can of baked beans in the cupboard, where it remained unopened.

I don’t even really know how to cook them. I have seen my wife prepare beans on toast hundreds of times, without ever observing the process closely.

Although I have never had them before, there is something wholly familiar about baked beans: that sickly sweetness, that sour note of regret. They taste of old oilcloth and indelible stains. They taste like the clocks going back. I eat about half of them before I am overcome by melancholy. Later my wife finishes the rest of the tin, with joy.

… regular consumers of Marmite have acquired my profound respect: you people really fear nothing.”

On the subject of flavoured crisps, I have to be in the right mood to opt for anything other than plain, ready salted. Occasionally I will enjoy cheese and onion. We discovered fried egg and chips flavoured crisps in the Mercadona supermarket a few years ago and bought them for my older sister who , during our stay with our younger sister, ate little more than egg and chips as she would not try anything involving fish! Not a good choice of crisps. And the other day I saw pigs in blankets flavoured crisps.  

 Baked beans? I can take them or leave them. At university, long ago now,   I discovered the joy of adding spicy brown sauce to beans. Baked beans on wholemeal bread toast provide quite a well balanced meal.

As for Marmite, well, you can throw it all away! 

Some people balk at the idea of Brussels Sprouts. My late Spanish brother in law, however, used to rub his hands together in delight and cry out “coles de Bruselas” when they used to come over for a English family Christmas. This may be because it is hard to grow Brussels sprouts in the south of Spain where there is no frost to spur them on their way. Me, I cook them with bacon and chestnuts - a big improvement.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Friday, 24 December 2021

Getting nostalgic again.

Time for a bit of nostalgia! I loved Morecambe and Wise when they were regularly on television, setting out to embarrass their special guests - in the most affectionate way possible, of course. Now it seems that Eric Morecambe’s son, Gary Morecambe, rooting about in the attic of the family home, discovered a recording of a lost episode of the Morecambe and Wise Show. Back in the day they didn’t realise how important it was going to be to keep the recordings, not just of this show but also of others, and tapes were wiped or recorded over. The BBC plans to show this lost episode on Christmas Day. The rediscovered episode will air on BBC Two at 7.45pm on Christmas Day. It will be preceded at 7pm by the pair’s 1971 Christmas show, featuring André Previn, Glenda Jackson and Dame Shirley Bassey.

I hope it doesn’t prove disappointing. BBC Radio 4 has been broadcasting remakes of Hancock’s Half Hour, using a Tony Hancock imitator in the main role. We listened to one the other day and wondered at how we had remembered it as so terribly funny because it was barely raising a smile this to e round. It all sounded a little juvenile and was probably still quite fun to record. Half way through we gave up and switched from Radio 4 to Radio 3. I would like to think our sense of humour has just grown more sophisticated!

We do, however, seek out and enjoy recordings of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. 

Keeping to the nostalgia theme, here’s a link to an article about The Scaffold back in 1968 when their record “Lily the Pink” was at number one in the hit parade. They were to appear on Top of the Pops, had recorded the programme and were heading home, hoping to get to Liverpool in time to watch themselves on TV. When it became obvious that this was a vain attempt they finally knocked on a random door and invited themselves in to watch Top of the Pops. This is another consequence of recordings for TV not being kept, and of course this preceded the technology for recording onto your own video cassettes, let alone watching stuff on catch-up. Today’s young don’t know how easy they have it! 

What I particularly like is that Roger McGough met the lady of the house years later at a poetry reading. She was by then a headmistress and reprimanded him for not having waited at her house back in 1968 to give her the chance to meet the band she admired.

By the way, maybe we could do with some of Lily the Pink’s “medicinal compound” in the modern Covid world.

That’ll do for now. I have baking to do in preparation for tomorrow’s festivities.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Family traditions. The vagaries of English.

Today we’ve done our annual pilgrimage to Southport to see another bit of the family. For years and years we’ve travelled over either just before or just after Christmas and had lunch out together.  Last year we didn’t manage it because although Southport was still reasonably free and easy Greater Manchester was in a lockdown of its own. 

We were a bit depleted this year. The Southern bit of the family had already gone back South. Two of my granddaughters were both working and my oldest grandson was just too busy with his XBox. My sisters grandson was similarly busy and besides had not even emerged from his den. But the rest of us had a good lunch together and we had the addition of my niece who has been working in Dubai  and who has not been around for family Christmas get togethers for years. The small people behaved nicely. None of the grown ups got drunk. And nobody had a fight! A successful family reunion!

The weather let us down rather. It was dull and grey and drizzly, both massive lorries throwing up spray on the motorway, until we reached Halsall where the sun decided to come out, albeit only briefly. 

That’s about all to report for today, apart from a couple of linguistic oddities. I replenished our supplies of coffee the other day and found myself wondering why it is that we always “replenish“ but never “plenish”. Similarly, we often “refurbish” places, sometimes at great expense and occasionally expecting other people to foot the bill. However, I have not yet heard of anyone “furbishing” a place. Presumably these existed in old English at some time in the past. I should like to start a campaign to reinstate “plenish” and “furbish” as words in everyday use.

That’s all.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Solstice thoughts. Wednesday shopping. Christmas go-ahead.

We’ve passed the shortest day. A number of my friends surprisingly posted photos of themselves celebrating the solstice. I never knew I was acquainted with so many druids and pagans!

I walked out early this morning. The plan was to walk to the market rather than cycle there so that I could then continue to Tesco, pick up the remaining few things I need, thus avoiding the need to do major shopping before the weekend, and then catch a bus home. At that time it looked as though the sun might be trying to rise but I think the clouds beat it into submission and pretty soon everything was dull and grey again.


As it turned out, my daughter phoned me while I was still in Uppermill. She had left her small girl playing Minecraft while Daddy worked from home. She had taken the small boy to nursery as he demands too much attention to be left at home while Daddy works from home. Her plan then was to go and have a catch-up chat with an old friend but the old friend was still in bed. So she checked what I was up to, treated me to a coffee in Uppermill and then we went off to Tesco together. So, of course, I bought rather more stuff than I might have done had I had to carry it all home on the bus. So it goes.  

We have been assured that Christmas will go ahead as planned in England. Here’s Michael Rosen’s take on how that decision was reached:

“Carrie, what shall we do? Lockdown or not lockdown? The decision is yours. Your prescience, your perceptive acuity, your flashes of insight have aided me just as Venus aided Homer. This was proven by you choosing me. Send memo via the nanny. 

Tutti vascillato 


Scotland and Wales are shutting down rather more than we are. We’ll see what happens after Boxing Day and find out whether or not schools will open on time. 

In our house we’re more or less organised for Christmas. The presents are mostly wrapped. The Christmas cards have been despatched, apart from those to be pushed through neighbours’ doors. We’ve reassured our anxious oldest granddaughter that a way will be found to get her and her dog to our house on Christmas Day. So far her mother has refused to have the dog in her still relatively new car. All that remains is to prepare a feast and eat it.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Special measures? Restrictions? Family stuff. And Santas.

New measures to help businesses, hospitality establishments and theatres have been announced today, in response to what some are describing as a lockdown by stealth. People, it seems, are cancelling bookings at restaurants to be sure they can have a family Christmas. And now the people in the supply chain to restaurants and similar places are expressing their concerns as they don’t qualify for governmental help at the moment. One seafood supplier is talking about having £1000’s worth of smoked salmon en route to him without a guarantee that the restaurants it is destined for will be able to accept it. He’ll freeze it but it will lose value as a result. Strange times! 

We’ve not booked any meals at restaurants and so we won’t contribute to the mass-cancellations. I still have to buy some of the ingredients for our Christmas lunch, which we hope will go ahead as usual. I hope our supply chain has no problems.

The PM has apparently not ruled out further restrictions before Christmas! Which does not leave much time to react if he decides to do so. In the meantime, according to this article train services are already being affected by covid-related staff shortages. Will schools be able to resume in January? Well, that remains to be seen. My 8 year old granddaughter will be really disappointed if she can’t go back to school in the new year. In fact, she’d happily go back to school tomorrow, she enjoys it so much.

In the meantime she has produced a picture of the family get together over the weekend. 

A friend of ours is involved in an organisation which picks up litter, plants flowerbeds and generally beautifies his small town. One member of their organisation posted this on Facebook today: 

“We received a special request asking if we could arrange for Ethan aged 4 yrs old to join us to litter picking as he had wrote a special letter to Father Christmas asking for a litter picker for Christmas as he dislikes all the litter in the streets. 

We thought this request was so lovely we arranged to meet him and his dad and Father Christmas in Whitaker park . Ethan was absolutely thrilled with his present and quickly got collecting  with help from Father Christmas . He had also drawn a lovely picture for us and the family had given a donation for us to purchase more litter pickers .  

He is such an inspiration if you feel inspired why not join us for a special litter  picking event on 1st January meeting on Kay street by the Post Office at 10.30 am for new and regular collectors ( as long as we are allowed) so please join us to clean up the town for the New Year.”


And to finish off today, here are some pictures of lots of people dressed up as Santa in places as far apart of Weymouth, Madrid and Venice.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Monday, 20 December 2021

The quiet after a busy weekend. Family get togethers. Parties and reactions.

It’a all very quiet again at our house now. Not that it’s been extra noisy over the weekend but it has been extra busy with both our offspring and their offspring here, doing a kind of pre-Christmas get-together with an pre-Christmas exchange of presents for the smallest members of the family. Not the fifty-strong family gathering thatvthe queen has chosen to can el, but quite big enough when you don’t have a staff to do the cooking and cleaning.

The two small girl cousins (ages 5 and 7) spent maybe 15 minutes eyeing each other suspiciously and then went off to peruse the older one’s encyclopaedia of fairies - not the actual name of the book but that’s more or less what it was. It could have been called “All you need to know about fairies” for all I know. But it worked its magic. From that moment on they never stopped chatting, giggling, playing with Sylvanian family animals. If they weren’t doing that they were involved in craft activities, making paper chains to decorate the kitchen, learning how to make origami flowers, painting pictures. As my;daughter-in-law and I chopped up vegetables ready to cook a meal for the multitude, they just got on with it, only disturbing us occasionally to ask us to cut another couple of sheets of paper for the easel. Amazing!

My son had decided to come along no before Christmas in case things go seriously pear-shaped in the immediate post-Christmas period. He may have made the correct decision, given recent news reports. There’s this from today’s Guardian:

What new measures are thought to be under consideration in England?

The prime minister is understood to be considering three options to curb the spread of Omicron. The least restrictive would be asking the public to limit social mixing, without legal enforcement. This would bring England into line with measures in place in Scotland, where people have been advised to reduce their socialising and limit gatherings to three households.

A step up from this would be mandatory restrictions on household mixing, the return of social distancing, and forcing pubs and restaurants to close at 8pm. The third option is a return to full lockdown, or something like it, with a two-week “circuit breaker” rumoured to be on the cards. Boris Johnson said on Friday he was not “closing things down”, but increasing pressures on the NHS may prompt a rethink.”

Anyway, i’s all quiet again now. A good time was had by all. We were quite careful to keep socially distanced. We don’t want anyone posting pictures of us quaffing bubbly, after all. That kind of scandle has been going on quite enough in Dowling Street.

Here are some of Michael Rosen’s “Boris Johnson” messages:

“Dear Mogg

Check this over as a press release:

'I don't have a clear recollection of the work meeting (and it was a work meeting) in the number 10 garden. The baby was there, working. Doing a lot of work. All the time. It's a working baby. And it works.'

Infanta laboris


‘Dear Mogg

To tell the blooming truth, if it WAS a work meeting, it's pretty bloody amazing I was there, eh? I mean how many Cobra meetings did I miss? Hilarity all round. Hope the press team can go on massaging this stuff.

Manipulato veritaso.


“Dear Raab, 

You may be a twat but at least you’re my twat. I love the way you go out there and talk total bollocks but it’s loyal bollocks:sticking to the line that the post-prandial bibendum was ‘work’! Shame you can’t count tho!

Uno duo quattro 


“Dear Raab

Terrific that you and the equipage are going on about us working in 'gruelling conditions', and that we were the 'fulcrum' in the crisis etc etc. It presents us as if we are intensive care nurses in the furnace of the plague. As if!

Relaxo cabinetto


“Carrie, he who laughs last laughs last. (Is that how it goes?) Anyway, good news is: a) no one wants to be PM and b) Covid is getting lethal again. QED: I stay in the job. Yes, I will drop it asap, dearest one, but this is the game I've alway wanted to play.

Mortem plus


Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is still PM for the time being. liz Truss is now on charge of Brexit negotiations. Is she about to make a bid for leadership. We shall see.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!