Ear, Ear

Those of you who are hearing aid users may possibly experience the same problems that I have when wearing them for any extended period of time.

My ears become sore and irritated after a while and I also develop an allergic reaction on my scalp where the receivers touch the skin behind each ear.

During these past few weeks of lockdown it has been bliss not having to wear them at all.

The only conversations I have are with P,  who generally speaks loud enough for me to hear him. He tends to use the 'phone on my behalf so that I don't need to struggle with it. I rarely watch TV and only if it is something with decent subtitles, and the radio is obviously a non-starter.  

It will seem strange to return to a world of sounds when I eventually start wearing them again.

Oops, Where Did Wednesday Go?

I found an old beach wrap square of fabric, unused for 30 years, so decided to try out my dressmaking skills (or lack of) before the "real" fabric arrives.

Most of the day was spent measuring, pinning, cutting out, deciphering the instructions and then sewing.

Hmmm..  The result was a bit wonky.  Must try harder.

A Bit Of A Non-Day

By that I mean today has not been one of the best for my mood.

For a start, the weather has changed and it has been cool, grey and drizzly on and off all day.  I eventually switched on the heating as I was starting to feel shivery.

The parcel delivery saga was also starting to make me feel stressed.  Absurd, I know, to get stressed over a delivery of nuts and fruits. Anyway, after several more telephone calls and two emails, I received a notification that my parcel had been delivered.  Oh, OK, then perhaps it had been left in our porch. I went to check but no. I noticed the driver had posted a photo as proof of delivery. Great, except the photo was not our house and certainly not one of our neighbours' either.  Cue more 'phone calls (by P as I can't hear too well on the 'phone).  The driver did turn up later this afternoon with a cheery hello and an apology. It seems he had scanned the wrong barcode when he delivered someone else's parcel and the system had closed off my order instead.  Oh well, at least it arrived eventually.

My sister has encouraged me to take up sewing again to give me something more interesting to do other than reading blogs(!).  I dug out some old dress patterns but have had to order some fabric online, which will take a couple of weeks to arrive.  In the meantime, being an impatient sort of person, I wanted to practice so I found a large square scarf that I have never used and decided to try out the dress pattern on that.  A lot of fiddling around to get the pattern pieces arranged then cut out.  Unfortunately, the fabric is too thin so when I tried sewing it just stared to tear.  Bother!

I think a large glass of wine and some comfort food is in order this evening.





The Curve Is Flattening

At the daily briefing today our Health Minister confirmed that we have had no new confirmed cases of Covid 19 here for the last two days, with the total number  to date standing at 308.  Sadly there have been 20 deaths, the majority of those being care home residents.

It is hoped that the lockdown restrictions may be gradually  eased, with careful monitoring,  and some sectors starting to return to work.

The border remains closed,  however, and it is reported that this will be the last restriction to be relaxed, only when safe to do so.

I presume that, even once there are no longer any cases of transmission within our community, we cannot allow anyone in until the virus is under control elsewhere.

Goodness knows when that will be.


Gone Fishing

A friend's neighbour is a fisherman who is finding things difficult at the moment as he is unable to sell his catch through the usual channels, for obvious reasons.

This week he was able to take advantage of the good weather to go out on his boat and harvest crabs.

We bought six and our friend very kindly offered to dress them for us (a messy and fiddly job).

She and her partner dropped off the prepared crab at the top of our drive, in a plastic cool bag, and collected the money we had left there in a jar.  We were able to have a distance chat for a couple of minutes. It was good to see them again.

I have separated out the crab meat into four individual plastic takeaway tubs and these are now in the freezer.

Not bad value for £14 .

Grrr...Hermes, Again!

I have posted here before on the problems we have had with receiving parcel deliveries from Hermes.

My two previous experiences were both similar - one to be delivered to my address and the other which was a Christmas gift to my niece to her address.  Both times we each had several automated messages advising that the courier was on his way, but nothing arrived.  Both times the courier then recorded that he/she was unable to find the address (both mine and my niece's) .  Eventually both parcels were marked as lost so I had to request a refund from the retailers.  I expect the drivers managed to find a good home for our parcels.

Now, with many shops closed for the forseeable future, I decided to order our usual nuts and fruits etc from Holland & Barrett through their online shop.  They advised that delivery would be around 3 weeks due to high demand I was perfectly OK with that.  I do understand that everything is pretty difficult for them right now and I was prepared to wait.

I was quite surprised therefore to receive an email saying that my parcel was now on its way and that the courier would be in touch.  Sure enough, an email arrived from Hermes(!) saying that the courier had my parcel and would be delivering it between 12 - 2 p.m. on Thursday.  Of course, we waited expectantly for our goodies to arrive but, guess what? 

As nothing had arrived by 5 p.m. I went online to track my delivery.  Oh look.  The courier cannot find our address - again!  What a surprise.

I have been trying since Thursday to get hold of someone from Hermes to give them detailed instructions as they obviously don't know how to use a simple app to put our postcode and house name into it in order to find us.

Their website has an automated "Help" chatbot which asks lots of questions but just goes around in circles before saying that a member of their team will be in touch within 24 hours.  So that didn't happen either.

As I can't use the 'phone, P rang around several of our local freight delivery companies until he got hold of someone who operated the Hermes hub.  He promised to check and get back to us yesterday.  Of course, nothing happened so we are still waiting.

P is just going to keep ringing them every day until he gets some sort of resolution.

I am beginning to think they are not a company to be trusted as this lost parcel scam seems to be pretty rife everywhere from the various online forums I have since been reading. They have been ranked the worst parcel delivery company in the UK, alongside Yodel.

Online shopping may be something that we are having to rely on more and more these days, but it's no use if the courier firms rip us all off!

Why can't retailers use the Royal Mail?  I would be prepared to pay a couple of pounds more to make sure I actually received my goods.





Paying The Price

After so many cold, damp and grey winter months it has been wonderful to be able to spend the past couple of weeks sitting outside in the garden, enjoying the warmth and sunshine, watching nature "spring"into life again.

Unfortunately, this has a downside for me as a lifelong hay fever sufferer.  I thought that I would be lucky enough to have got away with it so far, being early in the season, but no.  Last night I was awoken at 1:30 with the first symptoms.  Sneezing, constant runny nose, scratchy throat, puffy, itchy eyes.  I think I finally fell asleep around 4 a.m.

Despite taking an antihistamine every day, all year round, sometimes over exposure to the allergens provokes the symptoms with a vengeance and I have to resort to a nasal spray as well to combat the reaction.

You would think I should have learnt my lesson by now.

From today I shall be admiring the garden from inside the house.



Buzz Off

It is that time of year again.

Wasps always make a bee-line (sorry) for our house when it is time to look for nest sites.

We try to look out for them before the nests become too well established and full of the creatures, particularly if they are too close to us.   Sometimes we don't notice them until it is too late.  

Last year P was going around all the bird nest boxes in the garden to clean them out once nesting season had finished. As he opened up the box attached to the shed, a horde of angry wasps came rushing out. I don't think I have ever seen him move so fast. 

Today, I was sitting out under the parasol enjoying my lunch in the sun when I noticed a couple of very large wasps investigating the small porch over the French doors. They seemed to be very persistent so P whipped out the can of insect spray and persuaded them to go away.

We shall need to keep an eye out for them to see where they try next.



Master Georgie

I have just finished this novel by Beryl Bainbridge,  the first of hers that I have read.

It is not a long read, I only started it yesterday.  It was amongst a pile of paperbacks we bought months ago for 50p each from a charity shop, meaning to take them on holiday with us.

I don't know if any of you have read this but, although I started off quite enjoying it, I found it quite disturbing and depressing the more the story progressed. 

Not sure if I shall read any more of hers if this is typical of her work, unless you can suggest something of hers that is not quite so dark?

Where In The World? The Final Five

The last five photos in the series.  The first one is another boat on the water, but in a different part of the world.   These may be easier than yesterday's.... (especially for local_alien)....













Where In The World?

We regularly keep in touch with our friends Tom and Jayne in Australia via Facebook. They are both keen travellers and have tried to see as much of the world as possible since retiring a few years ago.

This week Tom has nominated me to take the Facebook 10 Day Travel Challenge. 
With not much else to do at the moment I thought I may as well have a go.

Every day I have to select an image from my travel pictures that I love and post it without an explanation. My family and friends then guess where it is taken.

As I don't have anything interesting to post today (what's new? I hear you cry), I thought I would share with you my first 5 photos.

Some will be easy to guess...








Cruelty

I was gently reprimanded recently for commenting on someone's blog post that nature is cruel as well as beautiful.  It seems I was wrong to use the word cruel.

It prompted me to think about the meaning of the term and consider why it automatically sprang to mind when reading about the killing of one creature by another.

According to various dictionary definitions, cruelty is the wilful causing of pain and distress to another being.  I suppose that cannot therefore be applied to creatures other than humans as the wilful part of that definition would presumably not be the case.  Animals suffer through predation, disease, injury, starvation and other natural disasters.  It is all part of nature but is not wilful.

In this case then I seem to have fallen for the hackneyed clich√© "the cruelty of nature" , but it still appears that way to an emotional old softie like me.

Shed A Tear

Today was just one of those days.

I had been messaging my sister and niece, commenting on how today would have been the last day of our break together.

Later, my niece sent a message to say that they would be moving down to Hampshire in a few months time, once they are allowed to that is. My sister was, understandably,  upset that they will be apart so I felt her sadness.

And now, my niece has just sent me a short video of her daughter who wanted to share with us a little story that she had written, complete with handmade book and illustrations. 

I watched her climb up onto the kitchen chair and read her story, proudly showing us the pictures she had drawn,  and just couldn't help myself from weeping a little.

I just feel so sad.

I hope I feel better tomorrow. 


What Shall I Do Today?

That was the question I asked myself this morning when I eventually got up.

The answer came back pretty swiftly.  Nothing much.

I did run the vacuum cleaner over the carpets and dusted the surfaces  but that was the only productive thing I managed to do.

The day so far has been very warm and sunny, up to 23C just now, so much of my time has been spent sitting outside reading. Unfortunately that means that I am rapidly getting through our small stack of library books. I shall need to find something interesting on the borrowed kindle soon.

I feel that an Aperol spritz is in order quite soon, to be sipped at the table outside looking at the sun shimmering on the sea behind Peel Castle.

Who needs to go away on an exotic holiday anyway???

A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away

Yesterday I had a little mishap.

I went to the freezer to take out a loaf of bread. I keep the bread in the top section of the freezer, which is at face level for little old me. It has a plastic drop-down flap at the front but one of the plastic lugs that holds it in place is broken; it has been like that for a couple of years.

As I opened the flap it flew off and hit me right in the face.

It caught me right on the corner of my mouth, cutting my lip and eventually raising a bruise.

Luckily I am not going to be seeing anyone for quite some time.  It would be quite embarassing to try to explain that my cut and bruised face was caused by a freezer.

Easter Monday

It started off cool and grey, unlike the previous few days when the temperature had been in the high teens and we had spent most of the time sitting outside in the garden.

By lunchtime the cloud had blown away and the sun was out, although there was a stiff breeze blowing and was still quite cool.

I was feeling in need of some proper exercise, all that sitting around and eating chocolate all weekend had made me lethargic, so we decided to go out for a walk.  We are still permitted one period of exercise outside per day, provided it is taken from your door and does not involve driving anywhere.

That is easy for us, living out in the sticks and with nobody else around, so we put on our walking boots and headed up the track behind the house.

I have already posted photos from that stretch of the walk but this time we decided to carry on until the track meets the "top" road, which runs parallel to our lane but much higher up the hill.  We passed a couple of farms, silent, nobody around, just sheep, lambs, cows and their calves.






 Two hours later, the road eventually dropped down to rejoin our lane at the far end, about 2 miles from our house, and we managed to drag ourselves along the last stretch.

We found this visitor enjoying the garden when we returned.


Let's Pretend

Today was meant to be the day that I was to travel with my sister, my niece and her two small children for a girlie get-together at CenterParcs.

We haven't seen each other for quite a while and were all looking forward to spending time together.

My niece sent me a copy of this online post by someone else whose break has also had to be cancelled.  It made me laugh.......

'So disappointed that our Easter break at CenterParcs has been cancelled, however, I am getting the kids to ride around the garden on their bikes while I burn £20 notes'......



A Manx Dialect Easter Poem

I came across this today and thought I would share it here.

It really needs to be listened to so that you get the benefit if the unique and delightful Manx accent but just use your imagination.



I was very sad to read on this morning's local news that another virus related death occurred here yesterday. An ex police officer who was a youth judo coach, so not weak and vulnerable by all accounts.

Stay safe everyone.



Join The Queue

P recently (before the lockdown) borrowed a power washer from a friend as he wanted to clean up the patio slabs and garden furniture.

He was pleased with the results so decided to have a look around online as he was curious to find out how much it would cost to buy one for himself.

This is the screen he encountered when he logged into the B&Q website.



Wait an hour just to be able to browse the site before you can even think about placing an order!

A Celebration

This year our wedding anniversary has coincided with Easter weekend.

We had originally planned to celebrate the occasion  by taking a short break in Valletta, Malta.  Of course that is no longer possible so it will be a chocolate Easter egg and a bottle of fizz at home instead.


P managed to pop a chocolate treat from Green & Blacks into his supermarket basket this week,  my favourite rich, dark chocolate. 

I dug out some photos from our previous trip to Malta to remind me of the fascinating history of the Knights of St John, and the WWII siege amidst the crumbling streets of Valletta and the ancient walled cities of Mdina and Rabat. 

Here are just a few of them (taken with a very ancient mobile 'phone).










Imprinting

This week we have been lucky enough to have proper springlike weather up here. Dry, sunny and although not hot, warm enough to spend some time outside.

The other afternoon, I think it was Wednesday, P had removed the winter netting from the pond and the fish had finally woken up. 

I walked down to sit on the bench beneath the blossom of the greengage tree and watch them for a while.

Although unable to hear much, I was very much aware of the various bird songs, especially that mellow, warbling trill of the blackbird.

It was a wonderfully calming way to spend an hour and I tried to imprint the experience onto my few remaining brain cells, to be recalled at a later date.

I recently read an article, one amongst many, that said that until a vaccine is found the current precautions we are all taking will only delay the spread of this virus and that eventually we are all likely to be infected.

I pondered whether I would be one of the lucky ones who would only experience mild symptoms and go on to survive, or if I would end up hooked up to a ventilator with a 50/50 chance of pulling through.

If it is to be latter I would like to think that somehow, even though I would most likely be sedated, I could have the calming background sound of gentle birdsong played to me, perhaps with an occasional waft of freshly mown grass to help me recall that calming pondside experience.



The Lunch That Just Goes On And On

I was digging around in the freezer yesterday looking for something to take out for supper when I found a tub of manx kipper pate.

We had obviously bought it some time last year from the yellow sticker shelf in the supermarket and then forgot it was there.

Spread thickly on slices of locally baked sourdough seeded bread it was a very satisfying lunch.

Even now, hours later, it is still making its presence felt.

A New Normal

Although it has only been just over a week or so, our new social distancing measures seem to have quickly become our new normal.

Yesterday  (Monday) we needed some fresh fruit and veg so P volunteered to go to the local shop as usual. Only one person per household is allowed to enter and there is a security guard at the door controlling access.  One in, one out, and tape marking out on the floor where you should stand.

We have been asked by the local Constabulary not to use our cars unless strictly necessary so P elected to catch the bus at the end of the lane for the 3 minute journey to the edge of town.  The bus service is still running but with a Sunday service only.  The driver is protected by a plexiglass screen and no cash transactions are allowed, only travel cards which are swiped on the reader.  P was the only passenger and made sure not to touch anything at all. He told the driver where he wanted to get off and sat towards the middle of the bus. He wrapped his arm around the pole when he got up to avoid touching anything with his hands.

He said that there were still a few people out and about but everyone made sure to keep at least 6 feet away as they passed.  P got the things we needed and then walked home with them in his backpack.  He walked home the long way, along the back lanes to avoid passing other people.

I shall probably have to do something similar in a couple of weeks when my medication runs out as I will need to request it online and then go to the pharmacy to collect it.  Our cases are rising steadily each day it seems, so I don't know how the situation may change by then.

I do hope Boris recovers soon.




Virtual Theatre

Yesterday my sister sent me this information, received from her local W.I.


The National Theatre is releasing a filmed version of one of their plays each Thursday.


Currently playing is ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ by Richard Bean, starring James Corden. Website link: .https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/nt-at-home


The schedule for the following three weeks is :

April 9 ‘Jane Eyre’, adapted by Sally Cookson.
April 16 ‘Treasure Island’, adapted by Bryony Lavery.
April 23 ‘Twelfth Night’ by William Shakespeare, starring Tamsin Greig.




It seems they even have a subtitle facility for those of us with hearing problems.

I am going to give these a try.

A link to the theatre's web page is here:
https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/nt-at-home


Wiggly Wrigglers

A couple of weeks ago P found a rather large amount of frogspawn deposited on top of our pond.  We always find some each spring but the birds and other creatures tend to polish off most of it.

This year he decided to bring some indoors, to give them a chance of survival. 

Within a day of placing the tub on our kitchen windowsill all the eggs had hatched and the little black commas were starting to move.

Now they are all growing quite fast and are very active.

We have added a couple of small slices of courgette for them to feed on.  They seem to like it and it is fascinating to watch them swarming around, fighting for a place to nibble at the edges.

This little video shows how active they are...



P says it reminds him of his school days, when they used to have tadpoles in a tank in the classroom each spring.

We shall have to return them to the pond once they start to grow legs.  Don't want them hopping around the kitchen.

It is good to be reminded now and then that life still goes on all around us. 

Which Witch?

Not much of a post today. Not much happening here in JayCee Towers.

We had two steaks in the freezer from several weeks ago, selling off at half price, so we shall have those tonight with a bottle of fizz. Nothing in particular to celebrate but why not?

I sent my great niece a picture of me as a witch but it scared her so much I had to do a different one as a less frightening version. The Good Witch instead of the Bad Witch.

I am not sure which one looks most like me (Hint:  I was not wearing any makeup for either of them)


Ain't No Sunshine

So sad to read just now that Bill Withers has died.

This was one of my all time favourite ballads.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=YuKfiH0Scao&feature=youtu.be

Many memories of my late teenage years.

An Off Day

Yesterday was a bit of an "off" day for me.

I browsed a few blogs but didn't feel like posting or commenting.

It had been announced on Wednesday evening that the first virus related death had occurred here on the island and that the number of cases testing positive had also risen sharply, and now continues to increase rapidly day by day, with more hospital admissions.

I know that our statistics may seem trivial compared with the huge numbers suffering elsewhere in the world but I still felt the shock of that first tragedy within our small community.

P went out for his usual run across the fields and then went to pick up supplies from the shop, but I couldn't bring myself to step outside.  I felt more insecure, even though we are in a rural area with nobody passing by.

However, I am amusing myself in a rather immature way.  For the past week or so I have been messaging my sister and my niece on a daily basis, swapping news and gossip and just checking up on each other.  My niece is working from home and is also having to home-school her little girl. Sometimes she finds it a struggle to keep her, and her little brother, occupied without being able to go further than the back garden.  I have discovered that my 'phone camera has an option which uses filters on the selfie function to distort and superimpose features over your own face.  I have been sending one a day to little Poppy for her amusement (similar to the Christmas Elf series we shared in December).  I am not sure how many I will be able to send her but this was my first one. (I do not look like this in real life - honestly).







Oh Bother

I was due to visit the hairdresser this week for my usual cut but she is, obviously,  now closed.

My hair has started to really annoy me, hanging in my eyes and generally getting in the way, so I thought I would just give it a quick trim. 

How difficult could it be, I thought, if I just grab a handful and just follow the same line, chopping off an inch.

Thank goodness nobody else can see me now, or for the next few weeks!