A Bit Of A Setback

 Just when everything all seemed to be going so well.

We have agreed a tentative completion date with our buyers for our house sale in a couple of weeks and our Advocate has been chasing up a date for the purchase of our new place.  This morning we had a call from the Agent telling us that the bungalow we were buying has now been withdrawn from the market as the vendor's onward purchase has fallen through.

Very slight panic mode ensued.  We may be homeless in two weeks with nowhere to live.

Most of today has been spent frantically calmly trawling property rental sites for houses to rent but there are hardly any suitable ones available.  Holiday lets are also mostly booked up with staycationers or are outrageously expensive.  We have managed to find just one bungalow at a reasonable rent on a 12 month lease so have booked a viewing for Monday morning. Just hope it doesn't get snapped up in the meantime.

As a backup we have enquired about a long term holiday let for a couple of months but are waiting for a quote as to costs.

Meanwhile, the packing of many boxes continues apace.


Serves Me Right

Last night I was too lazy to cook a meal from scratch so I  cheated...again.

There was some leftover chicken from Sunday's roast which I put in the pot with a pack of rice and mixed veg from the freezer and added a jar of Thai green curry paste.

It tasted fine but at 2 a.m. I awoke suddenly with a very painful attack of heartburn, I suspect from the curry paste.

That'll teach me not to cheat.


Swallows And Rain

This weekend so far has been dull, grey, wet and windy.  Oh, and cold too so the heating has been on most of the time.

Saturday morning saw a bank of  heavy, low cloud hanging over us, leaking drizzly wet stuff, but that was the day that the swallows arrived.  Due to the cloud cover, all the flying insects seemed to be quite low down so the swallows were putting on their aerial acrobatic display over our garden, swooping, diving and  performing daredevil stunts in pursuit of all the insect delicacies.

(Please excuse the poor quality video.  They wouldn't stay still)



We had a grand view of their antics from our windows and I spent most of the morning watching them. Not much else to do on such a day anyway.  By the afternoon, the cloud had lifted and so too had the insects so the swallows were, presumably, much higher up and less visible.  Still, it was great entertainment while it lasted.

This morning (Sunday) was also grey, misty and drizzly but I went for a walk with the girls around South Barrule plantation. We only got caught in one brief shower but were able to stand under the trees to miss most of it.  An hour and a half with some steep bits but overall not too strenuous for me.  I was ready for the coffee and cake at the Coffee Cottage in the woods afterwards.

Now, a hot shower and feet up for the afternoon I think.


How I Met P

Responding to my comment on Yorkshire Pudding's recent blog post about "Ordinariness", he recommended a few topics that I may wish to blog about when I suggested that my blog was...well.. just ordinary.  One of the suggested blog post subjects was how His Lordship and I got together.

So, for those who may be interested, this is how it all happened forty years ago.

I had, unwisely, married at age 19 to my first ever boyfriend thinking at that time that nobody else was ever likely to ask me.  We moved from the London suburbs down to the south coast in search of jobs and cheaper accommodation costs.  Within three years I realised that I had made a huge mistake and so the marriage stumbled to a halt.

At the same time P had just moved back to England's south coast from Australia, (where his parents had moved their young family back in the early 1960s as "Ten Pound Poms" in search of a better life).

I was staying with friends who had kindly taken me in when my husband and I split. One evening they took me to their local bar to stop me moping about in their house.  We were having a quiet drink together in the front bar when we became aware that a fight had broken out in the back bar (not as refined as the front bar!).  Their friend, the bar manager, broke up the fight, called the police and ambulance then came to sit with us when everything had calmed down.  He chatted to us, totally oblivious to the blood stains all over his shirt front, and after a while suggested that the four of us go out one evening to try out a new restaurant that had just opened.  

Obviously, that was P. We all went along to the restaurant a few days later and had a very pleasant evening.  He found out where I worked and the next day called my office and asked me to go out for a drink.

And that, my friends, was that.

Very ordinary indeed.


May Bank Holiday Weekend

I seem to be losing track of the year and the public holidays so far.  This one crept up on me suddenly. 

Friday evening we invited our friends over for a takeaway supper. One couple volunteered to pick up our orders on their way over and we were all ready and waiting, beers and bubbles in hand, when the food arrived.  We provided a cheese platter and a fruit salad in case they were still hungry afterwards.  It was a lovely evening with lots of interesting conversation and good humour.

Today (Sunday) I met three of the girls for a walk. It was dry  bright and sunny but with  a cool breeze. Just right for walking.  We walked up the steep lane to Slieau Whallian  then followed the old railway trail back to St John's.

It was only an hour and a half walk but I have been suffering recently with my hay fever so my lungs were a bit congested and couldn't manage any more steep climbs. I managed coffee and cake afterwards at Green's though.

P is taking part in a fell race this afternoon so I have showered and am enjoying a few peaceful hours of solitude .  He had already left before I returned home so I had a brief wander around the garden, checking on the progress of the bluebells and pansies. (Excuse the rubbish photos. I am tired).





I am making a pork and apple casserole this evening which should be quick and easy to prepare. Another "bung it in a pot" meal.

Wake me up when it's time to go to bed.

May 2008

This is a very lazy post. Today a prompt popped up on my social media feed reminding me of what we were up to in May 2008.

A few photos follow - you can probably guess where we were....












Darned Trees

For anyone who suffers from hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, you may be aware that we are now in the midst of peak tree pollen season.

It seems that recent climate conditions can cause what has been termed a pollen "bomb"  with large amounts of the stuff being dispersed into the air to be sucked into our nasal passages.

Our house is surrounded by trees and we even have a little mini-woodland in our garden. Quite a few of the trees are big allergen culprits (birch, beech, ash etc) so, although very pretty, they are also very naughty.  I have been spending some time out in the garden this week enjoying our warm sunny weather but today the effects have hit me like a steamroller.  You would think I should have learned my lesson by now after sixty years of being a hay fever sufferer.

I was due to go walking with the girls this lovely sunny morning but have cancelled as I dare not step foot outside. No point in even wearing a mask as it is too late now. Horse and stable door etc....

The good news is that tree pollen production should ease off in May....just as the grass pollen season starts.  Luckily I have a good stock of man-size cotton hankies and my asthma inhaler.

No walking photos for a while I think.







Running Out Of Steam

Since my last post when our island had just lifted lockdown restrictions,  five new cases were discovered three days later.

We are not to suffer any further lockdowns now though so we must all take whatever precautions we feel comfortable with in order to protect ourselves.  

On the day the new cases were announced, P and I had travelled  by bus into Douglas to meet our Advocate regarding the house move.   (click here for information about IOM advocates).  We also visited the Costa Coffee shop at the Sea Terminal while we waited for our bus home.  Nobody, including us, was wearing a mask and we didn't find out about the new, unexpected cases until we reached home.

There are now plans afoot to allow visitors back to the island at the end of June so that will see an influx of new cases then.

I shall feel more confident being out and about once I have had my second jab but until then  because of my asthma and breathing problems   I shall remain cautious.

This week I made a start on clearing out stuff  accumulated over the past thirty years. 

Now I am running out of steam. 







And We're Off Again

 Today (Monday) the island's third lockdown has been lifted so we can now all get back to normal again.  So far, around 50,000 of our 86,000 population have had at least their first vaccination and we are hopefully on track to be completed by the autumn for the whole adult population.

Our borders, however, remain closed to visitors which should lessen the risk of the newer variants entering the island until we are ready for them.

The house move is also "on the move" again with an offer accepted and the Advocates (solicitors) duly instructed. If all goes smoothly we hope to be in our new home in mid June.

Onwards and upwards.... (oops, sorry Rachel, just noticed that I seem to have pinched your blog post title!)


A Bit More Manx Folklore

 Culture Vannin reminds us here of  Boaldyn ....

"The coming of May is a time for both vigilance and celebration.   One of the most important things to do at this time of year is to protect your household with a crosh cuirn - a small cross made out of sticks and wool - which should go up on your doors before the first of May. This will protect you against evil spirits including witches and the mooinjer veggey.. (the Little People) over the coming year."

May Day was the most dangerous day in the Celtic calendar, when witches were thought to have full power.  The crosh cuirn played a role, as no evil thing could pass in where the crosh cuirn was.

As usual the Culture Vannin website has a wealth of information about this, and other, Manx traditions.

I have attached a couple of links here to (1) a short video (which features our local town of Peel)  and (2) a short extract from Notes on Manx History and /customs which some may find interesting.




This And That

Never a dull moment here at JayCee Towers (she says with tongue firmly in cheek).

On Friday I called the GP surgery and was asked to pop in so that they could take a look at my arm as the red patch had spread quite considerably.  It appears that it is most likely just a delayed immune response to the vaccination - two weeks instead of the more usual couple of days.  So that's alright then.

Saturday was our wedding anniversary. We didn't do anything exciting, as we are still in our Lockdown number three, however our local hostelry offers free home delivery on meals from their usual menu so we had two enormous meals delivered to our door by a charming lady.  There was so much food that I felt as though I was going to explode afterwards. I should have kept some for leftovers but I was too greedy.

Sunday morning was glorious. Blue sky and sunshine, although a sharp frost.  I met the "girls" for a reasonably social-distanced walk, all masked up of course.  We walked for an hour and a half along the heritage railway track into Peel and got takeaway coffees to drink on the Promenade in the sun.

I was feeling a little tired by now so, instead of the hour and a half walk back, I sent a text message to P and asked him to drive out and collect me.  It should only take him five minutes so I strolled down to the far end of the Prom to wait there.  Suddenly, the sky darkened and it began to hail quite steadily.  P still hadn't arrived and I was getting pelted by hailstones so I put up my hood and began to walk up the hill to the coast road. When he eventually pulled up beside me he said that he had stopped by his friend's house on the way to drop off a magazine and they got chatting.  He only decided to carry on his way to pick me up when it started to hail!

The rest of Sunday was spent cleaning and tidying as our agent had booked a socially distanced house viewing for this morning (Monday).  

The viewing was a complicated arrangement involving lots of masks, gloves, sanitiser and everyone having to be in separate rooms. P and I were not allowed to be in the house at the same time as the viewing so we went to do our weekly shop until they had finished.  It seems to have been successful, just need a survey report (again) so keeping fingers crossed for a sale this time.

My arm is feeling a little better today. The large, vivid red patch is now a just a delicate shade of pink and the soreness is receding.  I hope it doesn't do the same after the second vaccination!  At least I shall be prepared for it next time.

Off now to sit in the afternoon sunshine before tonight's wintry showers arrive.








One In A Million

No, not a reflection on my, undoubted, talents as a perfect human being.  Apparently the potential (unproved) odds on developing a serious blood clot after receiving the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, according to the latest news reports.

I read a brief and concise article on the BBC Science website earlier. It appears that the risk is very low, no more so than developing a clot after an aircraft journey perhaps or taking the contraceptive pill.   However, I suspect that there will be many people who may decide not to have the AstraZeneca vaccine, just in case.

I have already had my first shot of the AZ vaccine and shall still have my second when my turn comes.

I have had no side effects so far, two weeks after my vaccination, however, I awoke this morning with a sore arm and a red patch on the skin close to the injection site.

Probably nothing to worry about. Just hope that I am not one in a million.



Suck It And See

 I noticed at lunchtime that P was sporting a white plaster wrapped around his fingertip.  When I asked him what had happened he said that he had been chopping up some old plant cuttings with his secateurs and nicked his fingertip in the process.

When I asked if he had washed his wound under the tap he said there was no need as he had sucked it before applying the plaster.

I pointed out that, as well the goodness knows what kind of stuff was in the soil matter on the secateurs, there were several rather nasty types of bacteria in human saliva but he said he has been doing the same thing for cuts since he was a boy and has survived so far.

Hmmm.  Well, don't come running to me when you get septicaemia.



A Good Friday

It has been a good day so far today. The sun is shining, although it is quite cold, around 5C, with a stiff breeze blowing to keep the temperature down even further.

We have a partial lifting of our lockdown today; allowed to gather  in groups of up to 10 people outdoors only and maintaining 2 metres distance, wearing masks.

P met a friend and went for a distanced run over the fells for a couple of hours.  I took the opportunity to go for a solo walk and get some much needed exercise.   I walked along the back lanes to the edge of Peel then back home along the coast road.  It took me an hour and a half, but I slowed up at the end due to the steep hill leading home.  I was not happy about the number of cyclists and one male runner who passed me from behind, way too close and not wearing masks.  When I reached home I had a couple of squirts from the Vicks First Defence nasal spray, just in case.  It probably doesn't make any real difference to the virus if it has already entered my system but it made me feel slightly better psychologically.

We do not celebrate Easter, being heathens(!), however I do enjoy a chocolate treat.  We sometimes share a chocolate egg at Easter, but this year we decided to splash out and have one each....




Flitters

I was reminded today by the local Manx culture organisation, Culture Vannin, of the Manx tradition for the morning of Good Friday  -  the eating of flitters.






These shellfish are caught from the rocks and cooked there on the shore. Tradition says that no iron should be used at all this day (in recognition of the nails used to put Jesus on the cross), and so the flitters should be cooked in their own shells in the embers of the fire, and eaten using sharpened sticks.

The shells are thrown into the sea with the Manx invocation, "Gow shoh as bannee orrin" ('Take this and bless us'), before performing the Flitter Dance over the embers of the fire.

There are a couple of short videos here;  the first showing the collecting and cooking of the flitters and the second  of the dance, performed by some very serious children...



https://vimeo.com/260973563


https://vimeo.com/261299607








First Spring Day

Not the first day of Spring but our first sunny and warm day of the season.

P went for a two hour run over the fells and I sat out on the garden bench enjoying a blissfully peaceful interlude.



There was no traffic noise or people passing by. All I could hear were the various tweets from all the garden birds calling to each other and the occasional croaking cry of our local male pheasant.

The odd honey bee from the hives in the field next door lazily mooched about, looking for flowers to investigate. 

The two sheep in the field were chatting quietly to each other, although they could just have been suffering from indigestion. 

Crab risotto for supper tonight and a glass or two of Mud House. 

Bliss.

DIY

As with so many people in these days of lockdown when most businesses are closed, I have resorted to trying to do some things myself.

Chopping at my fringe when it gets too long being the main culprit.

One thing I did learn earlier this week is never again  attempt a DIY pedicure in poor light without wearing glasses.  I seem to have been over enthusiastic with the rough emery board and sanded off several layers of skin from my toe by accident.

I shall not be going on any long walks for a day or two.



No Ill Effects

Well, after my first AstraZeneca vaccination on Thursday I am relieved to have suffered none of the side effects that are listed on the vaccine information sheet.

Apart from a very mild headache yesterday, which quickly disappeared after a paracetamol, I have felt fine.  One of our friends also had the AZ jab and was just tired and lethargic the next day, however, another friend had the Pfizer jab and suffered from severe headaches for two days.

I have taken no notice of all the hype and scaremongering doing the rounds via the media.  It all seems to be politically motivated to me. I am just glad that I have had my first jab and look forward to my second one in June.




Always Look On The Bright Side

Today was a positive one, albeit grey and drizzly.

First, I found an email in my inbox this morning from my 87 year old uncle who lives in Sydney, Australia. We have corresponded on a reasonably regular basis since he and my aunt emigrated in the 1960s. He always sends me little jokes and funny stories so that cheered me up straight away.

At lunchtime P drove me to the vaccination hub where I was booked in for my first jab. The whole process was slick and efficient with a whole team of lovely nurses directing proceedings. Due to my history of various allergies I was asked to wait for half an hour afterwards to make sure there was no adverse reaction, but all was fine.

When we arrived home there was a call from the estate agent to say that she had today received a good offer for our house before the buyer has even been to view it. They apparently liked the agents' photos and video and have driven by several times to take a look.   We are cautiously pleased but after the last experience are not counting any chickens just yet.

Just wanted to leave you with this....it always makes me smile.




A Good Read

I have just finished reading one of the novels dropped off for us by our local librarian on the day our lockdown started a couple of weeks ago.

I was not sure at first if I would enjoy it so had left it until I had finished the more obvious choices in the pile.  It follows the paths of a blind French girl and a young German orphan through the years of the Second World War leading ultimately to the meeting of their separate paths very briefly in occupied France at the time of the D-Day landings.

Some of you may have already read this book as it is a few years old now.  

I became totally absorbed in it right from the start and found it quite beautifully written and ultimately quite sad.  It may not appeal to everyone but I am quite disappointed that I have finished it so soon.




A Ghostly Walk

 This morning (Friday) I was feeling desperate to get out of the house and get some fresh air. 

P was up a ladder doing painterly things and I had exhausted my limited enthusiasm for housework tasks.

I decided to go for a short walk along the lane as we are still in lockdown and not supposed to venture far from home.

Just as I reached the top of our drive the fog came down.  I decided to carry on regardless, wearing my hi-viz tabard with the "deaf" warning logo as protection.

The fog rolled lazily up and over the fields as I walked, sometimes obscuring the lane then rolling back to reveal the sun. The trees appeared then disappeared, like ghosts.  It was quite eerily beautiful.







Sisters

 ♯ Sisters, sisters,  there were never more devoted sisters ♯

(Courtesy of the Beverley Sisters)


My sister recently sent me this photo.  Our uncle had unearthed it from a collection he had been sent over a period of 60 plus years by various members of the family. I think he was having a sort out and had decided to send some of his old family photos to my sister.  We would have been around 3 and 2 years old here probably.

Looking at it prompted me to think about how different we are from each other. Although only 13 months apart in age we are not alike at all in terms of appearance, hair and eye colouring, demeanour, lifestyle, likes and dislikes etc.  However, we do share the same heritage. We grew up together and spent the first 17 years of our lives together.  We love each other to bits, but we are still very different people.

I am grateful to have her in my life.






Injury Time

Not football related I hasten to add before you all switch off.

With the house move grinding to a halt due to our current lockdown and a recent - all too brief - spell of Spring weather, P decided to spend some time painting the outside of the house. After such a horrible winter it was looking very grubby so a coat of white paint would spruce it up a bit.

It has been a couple of years or more since he last painted the house and, although most of it is all on one level, there are a couple of high gable ends that require ladder access.  It seems that the effort of bracing one knee against the ladder whilst reaching up to paint the highest sections has caused some injury to P's knee and he is now having trouble walking around without pain.  Needless to say, the rest of the painting is now on hold so we have half of the job done.  (He refuses to pay someone to do the job as he says he is perfectly capable of doing it himself!).  Still there is no hurry as the lockdown is likely to last for several more weeks yet.

More "good" news from our agent.  The prospective buyer had a property valuation survey done by a friend of his who happens to be a surveyor and who carried out a quick one hour tour of the house.  The buyer said that several defects were highlighted which would mean that the purchase price would need to be reduced by £40,000 to cover the costs of the remedial work.  When the agent asked for a copy of the report so that we could see what works would be required, he refused and has now withdrawn from the purchase.

So, back to square one.


Unsettled

Not just the weather, although that has been swinging to and fro between bright, sunny days then howling gales and heavy rain.

Our current lockdown is set to be in place for at least another six weeks, thanks to the ferry worker who brought in the Kent variant last month and started this whole mess off all over again.  It spread like wildfire around all the schools first and then into the older adults from there. New cases every day, although most of them now seem to be contained within isolating households.

Whoever thought that arranging a house move in the midst of a pandemic was a good idea must be an idiot. Oh wait...that'll be me then.

Our buyers are now into the Survey Squeeze Game.  Trying to see how much they can knock off the purchase price because of all the dubious defects their surveyor friend found.  P doesn't want to play that game so the house may well be back on the market soon.

My insomnia is back with a vengeance so I need to try some relaxation methods, apart from half a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc each evening. (Yes, I know that probably makes it worse but hey ho).

The good news is that P had his first vaccination yesterday. All done in 5 minutes and no side effects so far. I am in Group 6 so still have to wait for mine.  The rest of our group of friends have now all had their invitations.  Of the two who are younger than me,  one is in the vulnerable category due to cancer treatment and the other had hers early due to a mix up by the GP surgery.  I shall just have to be patient and wait my turn.

Although I may be feeling a little unsettled right now I know that this will all be over eventually.  We still have good health, a warm comfortable home and plenty of food so we are luckier than a lot of people elsewhere.

The barometer is pointing to change, so that's a good sign.




Spring Sun on a Sunday

Yesterday, Sunday, was a gloriously sunny Spring day.  P spent most of the morning painting the outside of the house then went for a short run. 

After lunch we went out for a walk up the track behind the house.  As we are in our Lockdown number three we wanted to walk somewhere free from other people.

I have shown this walk before but here it is again. 








I shall miss this when we move, but there will be new routes to explore,  and different views to enjoy.

 

A Fishy Story

Thursday afternoon I ordered online from our local fish producers, here in Peel.

This morning, around 10 a.m. the delivery man left a bag of fish in the porch and rang me from his mobile 'phone to let me know that my order had been delivered.

1kg of fresh haddock, half a kilo of hake, 1kg of fish pie mix and two tubs of mixed crab meat.

All exquisitely fresh and wholesome looking and now divided up and in my freezer.

There was an invoice in the bag so all I had to do was go online and pay by bank transfer.

What a wonderful service!



 

Bear Hunt

Hang out all the bunting!

Come and take a chair

Daddy's gone a-hunting

He's gone to fight the Bear.

The Bear is quite invisible

He can't be seen at all

He seems to be invincible

It's been a long old haul...

But Daddy's got the vax, Dear

He'll jab it in your arm

So there's no need to fear, Dear

We'll all be safe from harm.


My sincere apologies for the truly excruciating doggerel but I wanted to do something to cheer myself up on a day when our island has had the highest spike in cases since the pandemic began last year.

The vaccine rollout here is supposed to be ramped up now as we are getting 10,000 additional doses from the UK this month.  Yippee!

My sleeve is rolled up and I am ready and waiting.






On And Off

P finally received his letter today inviting him to register for an appointment for his vaccination.  They have just got around to the over 70s here.

He is supposed to ring the helpline number 111 to register and they will give him his appointment details.

Well, he tried calling on and off from the time we received the letter, around midday, until he lost patience and gave up, around 5 p.m.

I was browsing the online news feeds late this afternoon when a post popped up from Manx Telecom saying, oops sorry, there is a problem with the 111 line which we are trying to fix.  By the time it was sorted out at 6 p.m. all the helpline staff had finished for the day so there was no reply.  

Hopefully we will have better luck tomorrow.

Oh, and another three week circuit breaker lockdown has now been introduced tonight due to another sudden spike in cases, most likely caused by the ferry company staff member who brought it here last week.

Cest la vie!




A Different Take Away

Tonight we were supposed to be having supper at our friends' house with a few other couples, around 10 of us in total.  Each couple (well, wife really) was going to provide a different element of the meal.  My task was to make a chocolate trifle, which I did with great care and considerable amounts of chocolate and Cassis.

At around 2 p.m. there came an announcement on the local news feeds online that a further virus outbreak had been identified and that all residents were being advised to remain at home.  A Government briefing at 3 p.m. said that although an official lockdown has not yet been put in place, further information will follow tomorrow, Sunday, once more test results were in.

So, our soiree was off but we all had huge amounts of food that had already been prepared and waiting to be eaten. We hatched a cunning plan.  At 6:30 p.m. we all convened in a local car park, where we could all maintain social distancing, and brought along plastic takeaway containers. We then visited each car boot where the food was laid out and helped ourselves to our supper then drove home to eat it.

It was delicious, and we didn't break any rules!




Wild

 Today we have severe gale force winds with gusts of around 65 mph.  A bit of a let-down after yesterday's bright, sunny weather.

P went to visit a friend this morning to play chess so I was home alone, but the weather provided me with a little entertainment.  

As the gusts grew stronger and stronger I looked out of the window to see that the sturdy plastic lockable garden store that our neighbours, Mr & Mrs Three-Sheds. had left lying around in their garden was being blown around by the gusts.  As I watched, it was sent tumbling head over heels towards our boundary.  It is quite a large, heavy duty box so the sight was pretty alarming. At one point it became lodged against the fence, then another gust lifted it into the air, ripped off both doors and flung them over the fence into our garden, where they rolled over and over before becoming wedged against one of the apple trees.  The box was still leaping and bounding in the air, trying to vault over the fence to join its doors.

Eventually the doors shook themselves loose from the tree and continued their journey towards our greenhouse. I grabbed my wellies and strode out across the bog patch that used to be our lawn. I managed to wrestle with the doors and dragged them up into the workshop beneath the house, locking them in for safety.

i returned to the house and nervously watched the box as it continued its frantic efforts to leap over the fence.  Suddenly, a particularly strong gust of wind picked it up and tipped it unceremoniously over the fence - into our other neighbours' garden where it lodged itself amongst their shrubbery. Phew!  A lucky escape.

When P returned home he told me that the road back from Peel was strewn with wheelie bins and other detritus from people's gardens.  Quite a danger to traffic I would think.

The winds are forecast to die down overnight, but I wonder what damage will be wreaked in the meantime.

Getting Twitchy

It has been almost a week since we had to visit Douglas, against my will as we have been trying to avoid crowds.

Gradually, over the intervening days, we have been receiving news reports of an increasing number of positive cases of the virus that have been spreading amongst customers at various venues around the town.

Neither of us have yet had our vaccinations; the programme here is moving much more slowly than across in the UK, mainly because we are only allocated a small number of vaccines at a time from the UK supplies.

I am therefore very nervous about the potential for infection and that I may have been exposed to it last week.

This morning I woke up with a sore throat.  I hope that it is just one of my allergy symptoms so I shall take a paracetamol and use my throat spray.

P thinks that I am being over dramatic and just rolls his eyes, but I can't help getting twitchy.

He'll be sorry when there is nobody to wash his running kit and cook his sausages!


An Interesting Week So Far

Well, so far this has been a week to test my stress tolerance levels, such as they are.

On Monday afternoon the estate agent listed our house for sale, at about the same time as we were leaving for our overnight stay in Douglas.

On Tuesday morning I attended the jury service ballot, as mentioned in my previous post, and was excused eventually.  By the time I met P for coffee afterwards and checked my text messages we learned that the agent had already received 22 requests to view our property and was in the process of booking appointments over the coming days.  This would entail us being out of the house whilst the viewings were being held - Wednesday through to Monday!  We were a little gobsmacked to say the least and were desperately trying to work out where we could go each day to wait until the coast was clear and we could return home. 

Tuesday afternoon was spent doing some last minute cleaning and tidying ready for all these viewings.  No, P, don't sit on that sofa and mess up the cushions!

The first couple who viewed the house on Wednesday loved it and offered the full asking price before leaving, saying that they were cash buyers and did not need a mortgage so would be ready to proceed provided a survey report was favourable.

We were taken aback, in a good way, and obviously very pleased so accepted the offer and the agent cancelled all the remaining viewings.  We just have to hope that it all goes through now.

Today, Thursday, we were due to attend a second viewing of the bungalow that we want to buy but the Vendor cancelled at the last minute.  We think it may possibly be due to the evolving news coming throughout the day that the island has had seven new cases of the virus in the last 24 hours, resulting from a crew member of the ferry company testing positive.  We were all fully expecting another lockdown to be announced this evening but the 6 p.m. briefing said that, for now, there would be no immediate restrictions but we should all take extra precautions.  Well, I am certainly pretty ticked off that I was forced to cram into a tiny jury room with 21 other people for 2 hours on Tuesday morning when there was a potential virus threat at the time!

Tomorrow, we are hoping to go for our postponed second viewing of the bungalow, suitably masked, and our buyers have asked to have a second viewing of our house at the same time.  We hope they don't change their minds as it all seems to be too good to be true.

We shall see.



Excused

I was relieved to eventually be excused jury service this morning.  Although I had explained beforehand that I was very hard of hearing and struggled in a group setting even with my hearing aids, I was told that I still had to attend.

After a 2 hour wait in the jury room, all 22 of the potential jurors were taken to be lined up in the courtroom ready for the selection process, The Deemster (judge) sitting up high, shielded behind his plastic screen, began to describe the process, and the name of the defendant, the various witnesses and the nature of the crime were read out.  I understand that any of the potential jurors who may have known those being named could ask to be excused on that basis.  Unfortunately, I could hear absolutely nothing of this and looked on in confusion as hands were raised and conversations took place.  The court usher handed a notebook to a couple of the potential jurors who wrote notes that were passed to the Deemster for consideration. I tapped the usher on his arm as he passed me and told him that I couldn't hear anything of the proceedings. He handed me the notebook and I wrote a short note to explain my problem. With a little tutting and eye rolling, the Deemster and the Advocates agreed to excuse me and I was able to escape.

I was told that I could claim back my bus fare(!) however, I had used my pensioners bus pass so had a free trip into town and back.

As I had been told to be at the Courthouse by 9:15 a.m. P and I had travelled into Douglas yesterday afternoon and stayed overnight at the nearby Premier Inn.  Comfortable and budget-friendly and a 2 minute walk from the Courthouse.  No battling through the morning rush hour traffic to get there on time.

A big sigh of relief and a coffee at the Sea Terminal coffee shop with P before catching the bus home.

I wonder who the accused was and what he had done, though.


A Bit Of The White Stuff

We have finally been "blessed" with some of the stuff that has been falling all over the UK recently.



Not a lot, but just enough for the gale force winds to cause drifts and close some roads.

Very pretty, but hoping it disappears tomorrow, as forecast.


Up And Down

That has been me for the past week or so.  My mood seems to swing from being cheerful and positive one day then suddenly to anxious and fed up the next with long bouts of sleepless nights

I haven't felt much like writing any blog posts and have not been commenting very much on other blogs so my apologies if that has seemed rude.

I know that I don't really have much to complain about compared with very many people who have lost their jobs or face severe illness so I am telling myself to get a grip.  Sometimes it works.


On Monday we saw a bungalow that we liked and our offer has been accepted, so if nothing untoward happens, we may be moving house at the end of April.

The agents came to our house today to take photos and a video ready to put it on the market at the weekend.  A lady had asked to view it this morning before it was listed but it seems it wasn't what she wanted after all. The agent thinks that the non-standard construction issue is going to put off a lot of potential buyers. We shall just have to wait and see.  In the meantime, we are just going to cash in our pension pot (carefully saved over 43 years of hard work) to buy the new bungalow and pull in our belts until we get a sale.

Bread and dripping for tea every day!

Oh, and I still have the jury service ballot to look forward to next week. 






Worry

I had a message from my sister this evening to tell me that my lovely niece had been admitted to hospital this morning.

It seems that she has been experiencing chest pains  on and off recently and today tests showed increased levels of D-Dimer. I had never heard of this so obviously consulted Professor Google.

I do not advise consulting Professor G.  He scares the hell out of you.  I was ready to anticipate her imminent demise.

It transpires that, after a COVID test, blood tests, X-Rays and MRI scans she was pronounced OK to be discharged and is awaiting collection by her anxious husband to take her home to her two small children.

I am still unsure as to the reason behind the original test results and hope that she really is well enough to be sent home but we should trust the judgement of the hospital staff.

I have never had children of my own  but my niece is the closest I have have ever had to a daughter and I would be devastated if anything should happen to her.  

My sister and I are really thankful tonight that she is safe and well for now.




Summonsed!

 This morning the Coroner for our local area arrived to serve me with a summons to attend court in two weeks time for jury service.

I rang the courts officer to explain about my bad hearing but was told to turn up anyway and see if their loop system would enable me to follow proceedings.

I am hoping that I won't be selected on the day as I am sure that I shall find it a struggle to keep up.



Good Luck....Or Not?

Today was our first day of freedom from our recent lockdown.

We had booked a viewing for a property we liked and drove up to Ramsey after lunch. We had decided to do our shopping in the Co-Op store before driving on to look at the bungalow.

The Co-Op car park was full so we had to park down on the quayside. The moment I stepped out of the car a passing seagull decided to release  a full load from its undercarriage. I was covered in the revolting white stuff.



Moaning (me) all the way, we walked to the supermarket where I grabbed a handful of paper towels and tried to scrub away the offending white stains from my jacket, scarf, trousers and boots, much to the amusement of the other customers.  One kind lady suggested that being pooped on by a seagull is good luck.  Not too sure about that one!

We bought the fruit and veg that we needed then returned to the car to pack the shopping into the boot.

As we still had half an hour to kill I suggested that we visit the coffee shop on the corner. I didn't really need a coffee but I wanted to use their loos to try to wash away the stains which were starting to dry into my clothes.  I was mostly successful but I had to put everything into the washing machine once we were back home.

Unfortunately, although the house we saw was very nice, we found out afterwards when searching the online planning applications that the house next door had recently applied to build a ginormous extension which would have looked right down into our windows.  Perhaps the four white vans and three cars parked outside should have given us a clue!

Oh well, something else will turn up.

Back To Normal...Again

No new cases here for I forget how many days now . Our "circuit breaker" lockdown is due to be lifted at midnight tonight so we can get back to normal.



I will still remain cautious; after all, it just took one person at Christmas to go out and about to cafes, bars and restaurants to start it all up again.


By The Light Of The Silvery Moon

 For the past few weeks I have had a lot of trouble sleeping and usually end up awake way into the wee small hours.

Last night was one of the worst for a while. Although I dropped off pretty quickly around 10:30 p.m. I was suddenly wide awake again at midnight. 

I gathered up my pillow and duvet and toddled off to the sofa where I could read and browse online without disturbing P.   I often find it more relaxing to lie on the sofa looking out at the hills in the dark and watching the lights shining out  down at the castle. We never close the curtains in the living room so I get an uninterrupted view at night.

By 3 a.m. I was still wide awake, just gazing out of the windows and was entranced by the quality of the light shining into the room from the moon high above the garden.  It was incredibly bright, but with that iconic cold, silvery glow.

I got up to find my 'phone to take a photo.

Unfortunately the clouds had started to roll in by the time I was ready to take any pictures so this is the best I could manage.





The Hair Ghost

John from Going Gently recently posted about a ghost.. here...

This reminded me about an incident that happened to me just last week.  I was in the kitchen filling the kettle to make tea and thought that I saw a slim figure dressed in white moving from left to right behind my right shoulder and disappearing into the hallway.

I went into the room where I had last seen P and found him at his computer. I asked him if he had just been into the kitchen and he said no, that he had been seated at the computer for the past half an hour and not moved.

How strange.

A little later as I was rinsing out the cups the same thing happened. I couldn't see anyone there but suddenly I realised what it was.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a very thick coarse white hair sticking out beside my cheek and just in my peripheral vision. As I turned my head to my right it appeared as though there was a white shadow moving behind me.

Mystery solved. It was the Hair Ghost!



The "Vax" Dashboard

We now have an online COVID vaccination programme reporting system, so that island residents can track how we are doing in terms of the numbers of vaccinations administered, booked etc.

It is updated at regular intervals during the day so we can see how things are progressing.

Gives us something to do while we wait.

(click to view)


 

For Northsider Dave

Northsider Dave recently mentioned his wife's aversion to his preference to keeping the sauce bottles out on the table... here...

I am on his wife's side on this matter by the way.

Anyway, P received this birthday card a year or so ago from a "wine connoisseur " friend of ours and Dave's post reminded me of it. 

I have dug it out for you here...


Cheers Dave!   You always make me smile,




Easing Off

Yesterday evening's news here was encouraging.  We have had a few days now with no new virus cases being transmitted in the community, although several returning island residents have tested positive on arrival and are in isolation.

The lifting of some restrictions is proposed for this weekend.  Certain trades will be allowed to restart, provided appropriate safeguards are in place, and what has been dubbed "deckchairing" will be allowed.  That means that small groups from different households will be allowed to meet, only outdoors and with distancing measures in place.  My group of walking friends are excited about this and are WhatsApp-ing about restarting our Sunday morning walks, suitably distanced and taking their own coffee.  I am not sure if I am quite ready for that yet.

I would really like the estate agents to start operations again.   I want to get something sorted out about our house move and I am very impatient by nature.  P is more sanguine and can't understand my haste. .  As usual, I found myself lusting after a beautiful period house for sale online, just within our budget.  Well, what would have been our budget if we had been able to sell for the original valuation.  Totally inappropriate of course, having four bedrooms and two-storeys when we are looking for a smaller bungalow, but it was so lovely. Sigh.








Store Cupboard Supper

 ... or dinner, or tea, or whatever you call your evening meal.

I was feeling lethargic today and not really looking forward to conjuring up anything complicated for tonight's sumptuous repast.

A rummage through the 'fridge and the pantry gave me a few options.

Three quarters of a tin of chickpeas, left over from my meal a few days ago when P had his sausages.

Four leftover roast potatoes from Sunday's meal, chopped up into bitesize pieces.

Half a jar of Thai Green Curry Paste

Adding some rice from a pack of Waitrose basmati and wild rice plus a handful of frozen sliced mixed peppers gave us a surprisingly tasty and filling meal.

Bingo!



In Limbo

The day our current period of lockdown started the estate agent, who had originally valued our house for sale at a healthy figure, emailed me with some unwelcome news.

As a result of the banks' intransigence over their lending policy on houses of non-standard construction it seems that our house is now virtually worthless.

The agent had consulted with their directors, surveyor and Council of Mortgage Lenders representative and concluded that it is highly unlikely that they will be able to find a buyer for it as it stands.

The only value it now holds is as a potential development plot, just under half of the original valuation and barely enough to buy a tiny starter home on a new estate, or a small flat. Not really what we wanted.

So, we have to make a decision on what to do next.

We could just stay put until we both conk out, which P feels could be sooner rather than later if he has to keep up with the house and garden maintenance.  We would probably have to start paying for gardeners and handymen to do all the jobs that he has always done until now.  Plus we still would not be close to shops and amenities, which was the main reason for moving.

We could get someone to draw up plans for a replacement dwelling and apply for planning permission.  One option is to then offer the plot with permission in place which should make it easier to sell, albeit at a low price, or to get a loan and go ahead with the new build ourselves then try to sell at a profit. I feel exhausted just thinking about the expense and hassle that would entail.

We can't do anything until this lockdown is lifted but we shall try to get a second opinion then.

Until then we are in limbo.

I hope that spring comes soon to cheer us up.


Week Two

 After many months of virus free freedom we are now starting the second week of our island's circuit breaker lock down.

I know that the UK has been suffering all year long and that we have been very lucky up until now.  

One of the pitfalls of allowing residents and so-called key workers to enter is that not all of them will abide by the isolation rules. We now have escalating numbers of cases and a slightly desperate seeming battle to trace, contact and test.

Today is a good day to stay at home. It is pouring down and pretty miserable outside. 

I am reading and doing not much else, apart from exchanging silly WhatsApp messages with our group of friends. 

P is playing chess with his friend. The board is set up on the dining room table and they are messaging each other with their moves.

The store cupboard and freezer are pretty well stocked but we have almost run out of firewood and coal.

May have to start on the dining room furniture soon. All that oak should burn well.

Yet Another Sunset

Today has been another below 0C day with clear skies. The ice and frost did not clear from the garden as we are quite sheltered here, so we were pretty cold all day long.

However, the plus side is that we had another spectacular sunset this evening.  I shall miss these if or when we finally get to move house.

The photos were only taken with my 'phone camera so not the best quality. The colours were much more vivid in real life.