Some Sunday Musings

Unlike my frequent ‘Thinking Aloud On A Sunday’ posts, this is more by way of a collection of things I have been thinking about over the past week.

I have had to face the fact that I can no longer do many jobs around the house and garden. What with Vertigo, muscle weakness caused by Statins destroying my arm muscles, and the general onset of old age, I have let things go, to say the least.

I finally bit the bullet, and arranged for contractors to come and give estimates for clearing the shabby front driveway, and relaying the gravel that once covered the car parking area. With space to park up to four cars, depending how big they are, this is a considerable job. When I look back at old photos taken when I was regularly weeding and tidying the area, I hate that it now looks like nobody has bothered for a few years.

The first man who came was very local, living just a few streets away. He gave a fair price, and offered to start very soon. But when he was contacted to accept the quote, he wanted half the money up front.

This is a warning flag for home owners. NEVER pay any money up front for any work on your property, especially to someone you have never met before. He was told “Thanks but no thanks”, and the second man was contacted.

Fortunately, he was completely professional, and our attitude to him was helped by the fact that he had done some garden landscaping work for a neighbour earlier this year. Not only did he provide a fair (albeit more expensive) quote, he made us feel very confident with his grasp of what was required. In addition, his company can tackle other jobs we need doing next year, like sorting out the wonky patio at the back, fixing a fence and gate, and paving over some parts of the lawn.

Hopefully, we should have a fresh and smart driveway before Christmas, and arrangements in place to have the back garden sorted next Spring.

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A few houses in the village already have Christmas lights illuminated on their houses. Is it just me, or are people celebrating things earlier and earlier every year? We haven’t even got past Halloween, and some are beginning to celebrate Christmas in late October. My own opinion is that this actually diminishes the traditional enjoyment of any celebratory festivities, and I fully expect to be seeing Christmas lights in August soon.

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It has been nice to see Ollie chasing deer again this week. As he has been getting old so visibly, and not enjoying very long walks anymore, his sudden bursts of enthusiasm to chase random deer in the woodland are a delight. Of course, he has no hope of catching them, and he pays for it later with much longer sleeps, and stiff front legs by late evening. But I want him to enjoy life, even though he really is too old for such hunting exploits.

Sometimes, I think about life without Ollie, if he goes before me. I try to cut those thoughts short, as life without my constant companion and best friend is not something I enjoy contemplating.

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Covid-19 is still very much in the news. Despite all the government self-congratulation, infections are back on the rise, and deaths attributed to the virus account for around 100 reported every day. That means that 3,100 people in England will have died of Covid-19 by the end of October. Imagine the catastrophic impact on all those families.

Yet more and more people refuse to be vaccinated, and continue to assert that it is all just a conspiracy.

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Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.

Best wishes, Pete.

Still Not Reading

I have mentioned before about how I seem to be unable to concentrate on books since the start of the pandemic. Last night, I went to bed earlier than usual, intending to try to continue with Cindy Bruchman’s second book in a series. The third one might be published this year, and I am only halfway through that second one.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48559025-inside-the-gold-plated-pistol

This is no reflection on the story or the writing, both of which are compelling. I read the first half of the book in two sittings.

Then there was a pandemic, followed by lockdowns. And despite all the vaccinations, it continues.

At first, I thought this was a golden opportunity to read more. To really get into the TBR list of books downloaded on my Kindle Fire, and perhaps open some real books too. But it was not to be.

Within days, I could no longer concentrate on books. I would lie in bed at night re-reading the same pages, or flicking back to a previous chapter to remind myself of why a character was in a certain situation. A year earlier, i had read over twenty books, good going for me.

Then it all stopped.

It wasn’t as if I was unduly affected by news of the pandemic at first. I wasn’t worrying about it to the extent of noticeably affecting my mood, or my sleep. I was still reading lots of blog posts every day, and writing more than ever. But when I tried to settle down in some peace and quiet to read, it didn’t happen.

It will soon be two years since I have finished a book, and that upsets me. Not only do I like to read and review books published by friends in the blogging community, I have many more that I was still routinely buying. That has also had to stop, as there is no room left on the bookshelves, and too many downloaded onto my Kindle Fire.

All I can do is to hope that this strange spell will break soon, and I will be a happy and contented reader once more.

It feels like a curse waiting to be lifted.

A Non-Lockdown Saturday In Beetley

It wasn’t that long ago that I was posting about lockdown life in Beetley. To be honest, it wasn’t that different to life before lockdown, at least for me.

Now it has been almost a week since ‘Freedom Day’, and not much has changed around here. On Monday, I collected an Indian takeaway meal from a restaurant we use. Staff were still wearing masks and face shields, and the screens were in place between tables. But the diners were not wearing masks of course, so I kept mine on as I waited for the meal to be prepared.

I went into Dereham on Tuesday, and did the ‘big shop’ at a huge supermarket. Around two-thirds of the customers were weaing masks, and all the staff I saw were wearing them too. They had an announcement playing over loudspeakers suggesting masks should be retained, and that shoppers should still try to social distance where possible.

I saw some maskless shoppers grinning at that, and all of those not wearing masks were quite obviously younger than forty.

Out walking with Ollie, fellow dog-walkers are still keeping a reasonable distance if they stop to chat, and we are standing at the side of narrow paths to allow others to walk by without having to be in close proximity. But the youngsters and teenagers playing around in the river or basketball court are behaving as if Covid doesn’t exist any longer, with close physical contact, and not a mask in sight.

Where Julie works at out local Doctor’s, most people are complying with the mask rule, which is still in force for medical sites. Only a couple of people refused to wear one this week, and they were not allowed into the building. In one case, a woman became abusive and aggressive, and the manager had to be called down to make her leave.

Next weekend, there is a big family party in the Watford area, in Hertfordshire. I wasn’t going anyway, because of leaving Ollie. But Julie was looking forward to attending the 50th birthday party, and seeing many of her extended family. However, that area has shown an alarming spike in Covid infection during the last week, so attending a party inside has become a worrying prospect. Wearing a mask in that situation is not much fun, so she will likely cancel her long-awaited trip.

This all goes to show that despite ‘Freedom Day’, the virus is still around, infections are still increasing, and many of those who didn’t want to wear masks are taking full opportunity of the relaxation of rules.

In many ways, nothing has changed at all, so we carry on as before here in Beetley.

Freedom Day

Yesterday was the so-called ‘Freedom day’ here. The ending of all formal and legal restrictions in England relating to the pandemic. The country has now ‘Opened Up’.

No more legal requirement to wear face coverings or masks.
No more compulsory soocial distancing.
Theatres, Cinemas, Bars, Nightclubs, Restaurants, all fully open with no more restrictions on numbers.
Outside and inside events allowed without any limit on numbers attending.
Families allowed to visit loved ones in hospitals and care homes after such a long time.

Not everyone was happy about that.

Those with health conditions that give them reduced immunity. Staff at care homes being told masks were still compulsory for them, as well as vaccinations being mandatory. People attending hospitals, health clinics, and doctor’s appointments becoming angry that masks are still compulsory in those places. Despite the high statistics surrounding the vaccination programme, infections are still increasing, especially among those who have refused vaccination, or are in the younger age groups.

To confuse the issue even more, our buffoon of a Prime Minister then announced that from September, anyone attending an enclosed nightclub will have to show proof of vaccination, or will not be allowed in. I can understand their anger. Yesterday, they could go to a nightclub with no vaccination, and no mask. In September, that will not be allowed if they are not vaccinated. It is crazy. Why not wait until September to open them?

Because of money. It’s always about money. Pressure from the entertainment industry, and drinks manufacturers, the need to open during the peak holiday season, and get in as much money as possible before new restrictions apply at the end of that season, in September. The holiday market is equally confused. You can travel to some countries with no need to self-isolate on return, as long as you have had both vaccinations. If not, you will have to self-isolate for 10-14 days on return from your holiday. That means a 2-week holiday requires up to 4 weeks off work, so is not possible for the majority of the population.

Travel on public transport was left to the discretion of the carrier. So in London, the Mayor has made mask-wearing compulsory on all London Transport for the foreseeable future. But in other cities, it is to be left up to the traveller to decide whether ot not to wear a mask.

It’s a complete mess, and full of contradictions. The government has shown itself to be both decisive and indecisive in the same sentence. Many are confused, and that’s understandable.

No other European country facing a steady increase in infections attached to a new variant has taken the chance to open up fully. England has become an ‘experiment’.

An experiment with the lives of its people at stake.

India and Covid-19: The Harsh Reality

Thanks to Australian blogger, Lloyd Marken, I have been following his reports about the pandemic all around the world.
https://backtothedrawingboardproductions.com/2021/06/26/covid-19-diary-one-in-three/

His latest post features a You Tube video clip from the news programme, ‘India Today’. This 4-minute clip shows the devastating effect of Covid-19 deaths in that country. Poverty is so severe that many cannot afford the wood to use to cremate the bodies of their loved ones. As a result, many corpses are simpy floated into the River Ganges instead.

On the sandy banks of the same river, thousands are being buried in shallow graves in the sand, covered by prices of cloth. Unknown, and unmarked, these graves are increasing daily, and when the river floods after expected heavy rains, most of the bodies will simply be washed away into the river.

This is not the sort of thing we see on nightly news bulletins in the west. But it is exactly what we should be seeing, when we still have so many people convinced that C-19 is a conspiracy, and are refusing to get innoculations. This is the reality of life in a poverty-stricken country, facing an explosion in numbers of deaths from the virus.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Opening up England.

Last Sunday evening, we ate out in a local pub. Our first restaurant meal since Christmas Day, 2020. There were disposable paper menus, table service, and the staff were wearing masks. Diners had to also wear masks until seated, and if they left their table for any reason.

In the nearby town, every shop is now open, although customers are still asked to wear masks inside when shopping. Despite the recent rise in cases of the Covid-19 ‘Indian Variant’ in some parts of England, it appears that the government is going ahead with its plan to fully ‘Open up’ the country on the 21st of June.

This will be good news for some companies involved in the tourist industry, also for service industries like wedding venues, and organisers of similar social gatherings. Nightclubs and other entertainment venues will be allowed to open with no restrictions on numbers, though wearing a mask will technically still be compulsory in many public places.

This new policy has made a lot of people very happy of course. Coming alongside a welcome change in the weather, England looks set to go a little ‘crazy’ as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

The lockdown rules have seemed to last for so long now, any break from the restrictive routines is bound to be welcomed.

But. There is always a but.

Having fun and adding alcohol to that doesn’t usually make for sensible behaviour, and keeping to rules like wearing masks. Being allowed to visit anyone, cuddle anyone, and to mix in large crowds of strangers may sound wonderful after so long, and the fact that so many have now been fully vaccinated will hopefully reduce any serious symptoms and cut hospital admissions.

But. Yes, another but.

There are still 8-12 people dying of Coronavirus every day here. That’s around 60-80 people a week, every week. And that is after all the vaccinations, and during the time when restrictions are still in force. In three week’s time, we could possibly see an explosion of infections once again, and a significant increase in the numbers of people dying.

Yes, I know we cannot remain locked down forever. Life has to go on. People have to go back to work, the economy has to start to rise from the pandemic slump.

But. The last but, I promise.

I for one cannot help thinking it is still too soon.

Covid

Please send some supportive comments to Arlene in the Philippines. Her and her family have all tested positive for Covid-19, and she is very scared. Arlene is one of the first bloggers I connected with when I started, and she is a great blogging friend to so many people.

DREAMS AND ESCAPES

Please pray for us. Josef, Jovy and I all have Covid. Mom is beginning to show symptoms too.

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The Nightingale Hospitals and Covid-19

When the government spent untold millions converting and equipping various large indoor spaces to provide specialist intensive care for for Coronavirus patients, everyone thought is was well done indeed. Using the Armed Services, the buildings were turned into hospitals in record time, and it was promised that they would take all the pressure off of regular hospitals, allowing them to continue to treat non-Covid cases.

That didn’t happen of course.

As the pandemic continued, and the death rate increased, little mention was made of the once-lauded Nightingale Hospitals. Then time passed, and it was discovered that they were actually empty of patients.

When pressed, the government claimed they would be used as testing centres instead.

Then they were going to be used as vaccination hubs.

Some journalists investigated, and found them closed up, guarded by security officers. When asked about this, the government claimed that they were being used to store PPE. And they didn’t even look embarrassed when they said that.

The government was lying all along. The Health Minister was lying all along. As they dished out lucrative contracts to their friends to stock the Nightingale Hospitals, most thought it a necessary expense to provide the care needed. But nobody told us when all the equipment was later removed, after only a tiny number of patients had actually been treated. Where is all that expensive equipment now? And what about the public money spent on the whole fiasco?

I found an article today that brings the woeful story of these ’emergency hospitals’ up to date. It makes interesting reading.

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/nightingale-hospitals-covid-patient-numbers_uk_605a0dd6c5b6cebf58d220eb?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

A Lockdown Saturday In Beetley

Next Monday, the lockdown restrictions in England will begin to be eased.

All school pupils will return, depite some opposition from the teaching unions. One relative will now be allowed to visit the elderly who live in Care Homes, though they must wear full PPE, and be the only ‘nominated’ visitor.

On the 29th, outdoor gathering will be allowed, with the previous limit on numbers (six) applying, and outdoor sports such as Golf and Tennis will once again be permitted.

In late April, hospitality venues such as pubs will be allowed limited opening, restricted to outside service only. Not good news for businesses that have no outside space of course.

A full return to ‘new normal’ is estimated to happen by midsummer, but that might change if infection rates go up again.

Here in Beetley, Julie had her second Pfizer vaccination last night, and my second dose of Astra-Zeneca is due in May. We will continue to wear masks where appropriate or complusory, and keep any social mixing to the minimum.

Some people are rushing to book foreign holidays, in the hope that full international travel will be allowed again. I still think this is very risky, but it is up to those people of course. Let’s just hope that they don’t bring back new strains of the virus, and start it all up again. Just for the sake of two weeks on a beach in Spain or Greece.

For us, including Ollie, it will be a week on the Lincolnshire coast, 90 miles north. It is not until September, by which time travel in England should be permitted.

If all goes to plan, this will hopefully be my last lockdown report from Beetley.

Fingers crossed.

Why It’s Not A ‘Real’ Vaccine

Much is made of the Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Astra Zeneca.

They give us some hope, but we have to remember that they are not a vaccine in the true sense.

I have been vaccinated against Smallpox, Yellow Fever, and Tuberculosis. That means I will not contract those diseases in my lifetime.

However, the vaccines offered against Covid-19 only claim to ‘reduce symptoms that could make you require hospitalisation’.

They are NOT a cure.

That doesn’t mean we should not have them. I have had mine. But it does mean that we will almost certainly have to have an annual booster jab, and that we might still get some symptoms of C-19. But hopefully, we will not require a stay in ICU. More importantly, we can still spread the virus if we unknowingly have it.

Just so you know.

This explains it better.

https://time.com/5937868/do-vaccines-stop-covid-19-spread/?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB