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.


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.

Hard To Believe... Or Not?

With our latest "Circuit Breaker" lockdown now in force, local residents are encouraged to wear face coverings when out and about and in public places.

Our local GP surgery has posted on social media that face masks must be worn when attending the surgery.  They had put out a box of 250 masks at the main entrance on the first day so that patients could put them on before entering the reception area.  Unfortunately, it seems that many people appear to have taken rather more than one at a time and these have all quickly disappeared. They have not had 250 patients in one day!

The masks have had to be removed from the main entrance now and patients have to bring their own, or request one from the reception desk when they book in.

It is very disappointing to realise just how selfish some people have been already. It is only planned to be a 21 day lockdown for goodness sake.

A Birthday To Remember

 Well, we did manage to celebrate P's 70th birthday with our planned staycation last night but it was touch and go for a while.

One couple had already cancelled the day before as news of the rising number of new virus cases started to filter through.

We arrived in Ramsey around midday and had a walk, visiting two shops on the way to buy birthday gifts for other people. There seem to be lots of January birthdays amongst our friends and family.

We met one of the couples joining us for the staycation and had lunch at the golf club. The clubhouse bar is open to non members and has lovely views across the greens and the hills behind. We had bowls of hot soup, crusty bread and whiled away a very pleasant hour and a half. 

It was a brisk walk back to the hotel in time for a 3 p.m. check in. The cold wind had got up by then and it was like being whipped with needles of ice. I felt as if my face had been scrubbed with a Brillo pad.

We were just unpacking in our room, with the kettle on for tea, when one of the other couples knocked on our door to tell us the latest news. There had been another reported surge in local cases and a government briefing was to be held at 5 p.m.  Our friend's husband is 80 and was feeling very nervous about staying, however, when we spoke to the receptionist she told us that the six of us were the only guests for that evening so, feeling reassured, he decided to stay.

Sure enough, the 5 p.m. briefing announced that we would be in full lockdown again for at least 21 days from midnight on Wednesday 6th January (today).

We still had a great evening together, talking and laughing until midnight. The hotel staff were fantastic, taking great care with distancing and mask wearing.  The food and wine were excellent,  and the rooms comfortable and warm with lovely views across the park and the lake.

After a sinfully large breakfast we drove straight home to start our lockdown.  P did pop out to the shop as we were low on bread and milk but he said people were already panic buying. Several shelves in the supermarket were empty and trollies were piled high. What is wrong with these people?

He is certainly going to remember this birthday.

A New Cluster

Things had been going so well.

On New Year's Eve there was a press release advising that we now have a couple of new cases of the virus on the island.

It seems that two people who had arrived on the island before Christmas to take up new jobs as key workers were subsequently tested positive, after they had been out and about in the community. The  positive tests came after they had completed their mandatory 14 day self isolation.  Their symptoms only showed up in the 7 days after their isolation period ended.

This is a worrying development.

Testing is now underway for people who may have come into contact with them and could be displaying symptoms. Unfortunately, there could potentially be many more who are carrying the virus but not displaying symptoms.  The two seemed to have only visited what we would deem to be "young people" venues, but some of those contacts possibly work in shops, cafes, restaurants etc. around the island.

The first vaccine injections were delivered here today, but these are initially only for health care workers and care home residents. It may be September before our turn comes around.

There is no lockdown as yet and we are being advised that the risk is still low, but there is still that little niggling worry.

We have a little celebration booked for tomorrow for P's "big" birthday.  We shall still go ahead, but I think we shall take care to keep our distance from the crowds.

I realise that this is nothing compared to what is currently happening across the water. I can only hope and wish that this new UK-wide lockdown, announced this evening, prevents further escalation of the virus.

New Year's Day

We celebrated the New Year last night with supper and drinks at our friends' house. There were meant to be a dozen of us but ended up with just six due to icy road conditions around the island last night.  Most of them sensibly decided to stay at home rather than risk an accident.

P is doing the New Year's Day fell race this morning so, as the weather is glorious today, I asked him to drop me off at the outskirts of Peel on his way through and I would then walk home.

If anyone wants to blow away the cobwebs and join me for today's short walk around my neighbourhood, please follow me....

 This is where P dropped me off, looking back towards the house

It was a pleasant walk, with no traffic

I had originally intended to walk back most of the way along the heritage railway trail but, after seeing how muddy it was, I changed my mind...

There is quite a steep section back up to our lane.  It may not be obvious from this photo but it is very steep at the end.  I started off at a good pace but soon had to stop, just to take a photo, of course...

Once at the top, I turned to get a view of the snow-capped Mountains of Mourne, across the Irish Sea. You can just about make them out in the following photo, hovering on the horizon above the houses and beneath the smudge of white clouds.

The last section was under the trees and a little dark.

As I was walking alone, I wore my high-viz tabard with the "Deaf" warning logo.  Luckily there was so little traffic that it wasn't really needed. Best to be safe though.

Now, I am looking forward to a crab sandwich and a cup of tea.