Ollie And Our Holiday

On Saturday week, we are going on our long-awaited seven-day holiday. Nothing too exciting, exactly the same place we went to last year, during the same week. But it wil be nice to be somewhere different, and in sight of a beach too.

Ollie is coming along of course. Ever since we got him, we have always taken a holiday where dogs are welcome, so he never gets left behind. With Covid-19 still very much on our minds, our accommodation is self-catering, and the small seaside place we are travelling to will be quiet from the Monday, as the kids go back to school.

Less than 100 miles from Beetley, the drive to the Lincolnshire coast is not arduous, and we know the area well enough to find enough things to do for a week. Ollie loved it there last year, as the lodge has a porch at the front. I put his bed there and he sat outside with us, able to watch the world go by. Well, not the ‘world’, but the other residents of the cabins and the hotel they are based behind.

With the holiday imminent, Ollie has begun to shed his fur in spectacular amounts. Everything we have is covered in fur, and we are stuck on a merry-go-round of dusting, vacuuming, and washing clothes. And to put the tin hat on it, he has developed an ear infection, as well as a skin infection on the skin exposed by the loss of fur.

He is due to go to the groomer the day before we leave on the holiday. A good grooming and shampoo should deal with the worst of the moulting and skin problems, but we have to tackle that ear infection before we leave Norfolk. So he is off to the Vet on Thursday, to see what can be done.

The treatments that have worked in the past, steroids and antibiotics, now make him breathless as he seems to have developed an allergic reaction to them. So we are hoping our regular Vet can come up with something to help poor Ollie.

Otherwise, we might all have a miserable holiday.

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.

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.

Ollie: The skin he’s in

Poor Ollie has had a couple of bad weeks. Yet another ear infection, this time spreading to the skin between his legs, and causing sores over the areas not covered by his fur. He was shaking his head so badly, it made the insides of his ears swell up. Not his usual happy self at all, and grumpy with other dogs he encountered on our walks, as he didn’t want them to realise he was unwell.

I tried some ear drops, but they gave only temporary relief, so we finally decided to take him to the Vet last Friday. It was confirmed that he had a bacterial ear infection, and that it had spread to his uncovered skin, as we suspected. It was also between his toes, so making him lick and nibble at his paws constantly. He was given steroids for the itching, and antibiotics to clear up the rest. Add a new bottle of antibiotic ear drops for direct application, and we got a hefty bill of £167.

It’s now only Tuesday, but he is already much better. The sores and redness have gone, and he has stopped licking his feet too. Still a while before the ear clears up, but he has stopped shaking his head, and rubbing it on the floor. When our much-loved pets are poorly, it is so distressing to watch them unable to fend for themselves, as we can. It’s up to us to do our best to relieve their suffering, whatever the cost. After all, they don’t ask us to take them on, and if we choose to do so, then we must care for their welfare at all times.