In the time of the virus: day 11

This morning, for no particular reason, I woke up out of sorts and crabby.  I slept well, the sun was shining, and no-one I know is ill at the moment – all good reasons for feeling cheery and upbeat.  Sometimes we just have to go with the flow and accept uncomfortable feelings, and be nice to ourselves.  Which is what I’ve tried to do today.  Fortunately I didn’t have too many commitments I needed to fulfil today, and those I had were unproblematic.

Garden/allotment – much of today was devoted to gardening in one form or another, which is both exercise and food for the soul.  I’m so grateful to have the allotment, and to have the greenhouse there where it can be most useful.  Today I potted on 24 tomato plants, far more thanI normally grow but these are not normal times.  One of the great things about gardening is that you’re always looking ahead to a time when things may be better.  I also planted out some of the rescue plants from the farm.

Exercise/staying fit – I managed to fit in a quick walk this morning (down to town to collect a pre-ordered loaf of bread from a small local producer).  It was enough to enable me to clock up my minimum aim of 10,000 steps a day.  I barely saw a soul while I was out, and there was hardly any traffic.

Craft/making – the crochet bug has really and truly taken hold, and I’m not fighting it.  I even ordered some more yarn online, partly so I can finish two current projects, and partly so I can make another blanket.  If I say it quietly, maybe no-one will notice.  Today I also learned how to make a magic knot to join yarn.  Very neat, very simple.  Rather wonderful.

House/home repairs, improvements – no, not enough time/energy today

Admin – just a little.  Enough to deal with the most urgent; not enough to make a dent on those heaps (but the heaps aren’t growing, so that’s a win.  Kind of)

Kind deeds/something for others – I joined our whole street in clapping our thanks to all those working to keep us fed, healthy, watered etc.  For me this goes well beyond people working in the NHS (though heaven knows we have so much to be grateful to them for).  It includes everyone who continues to work to enable some semblance of normality to persist.  Though rather than applaud, I would far rather they had decent protection, decent testing, and decent pay.  Although on second thoughts, I’d still want to applaud my personal thanks.

Stay sane! – I’ve set up several online virtual cultural groups, and tomorrow we will be ‘going out’ (aka staying in) for One Man Two Guvnors – a very funny play from the National Theatre in London, which should prove to be just the tonic we need.  I’m hoping that this time I will feel up to dressing up, and I will definitely be wanting something nice to eat and drink for the interval.  (We can afford it, so we’ll also be making a donation to the NT.  If you can, I hope you will too).

And then there’s the online yoga – my go-to recovery aid these days.

I do hope you’re well.  I’d love to hear how you’re getting through all of this.

See you tomorrow!

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In the time of the virus: day 10

A good day.  Mostly.  How lucky I am to be able to say that right now.

Garden/allotment – I went to the Farm to collect some plants originally intended for our fund-raising plant sale.  Some I will use in my garden.  Some are stock plants that I’ll tend until they can be returned to their proper home.  Some that were raised by our groups are being offered to the volunteers so at least they can see some benefit from their work.  Others are being tended to be used as part of the food we’re providing to local people in need.  I had thought I would go for another walk today (leg therapy….) but decided instead that some time working on the allotment and in the garden was too much to resist.

Exercise/staying fit – did my yoga; felt great.  Walked a bit, but only on the allotment and backwards to and from the garden.

Craft/making – crochet squares, again.  Never tiring of these beauties.

House/home repairs, improvements I think I did something, I just can’t remember what. It will come to me.

Admin – yup, a few bits and pieces.

Kind deeds/something for others – I’m so proud to be part of the amazing organisation that is Bath City Farm.  Most of our staff are going to be furloughed, but a core group is carrying on working, doing some of the regular work looking after animals and the place, cooking and delivering food to some of the more isolated people in our community, and doing much-needed fundraising to help us survive this crisis.    So far the team has made and delivered more than 200 meals – soups, pasta dishes, stew.  Good wholesome, tasty, home-made stuff.  We’re working alongside the other community groups and public sector groups locally.  Seeing the difference these groups (and the people who ARE them) are making is truly heart-warming.  And we know that when the worst of all this is behind us, our services are going to be needed even more than ever – jobs will have been lost, mental health damaged, relationships struggling.

Stay sane! – too late this evening to write anything.  But here I am at the end of another day.  It brought it’s own worries and frustrations.  Doing the yoga helped.  Time in the garden and allotment helped.  Sitting down to eat good food together helped – thanks Malcolm, that was a great quiche 🙂  Tomorrow will be another day.

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In the time of the virus: day 9

Today I’ve been struggling to stay awake, so it’s all change (only the result of a particularly bad night, so I’m sure I’ll be back to normal tomorrow).

Garden/allotment – nope.  It will still all be there tomorrow.

Exercise/staying fit – I had a wonderful, long walk today.  Needed to try to get my leg swelling down again, and it was very enjoyable.

I’ve been trying to make my exercise walks purposeful as well.  Today I had a couple of pieces of post for two farm trustees that I wanted to pass on (and coincidentally remove from one of those heaps of paperwork on the floor), so that determined where I would go.  It took me to a part of the city I don’t know at all well, so that was another plus point – I’m enjoying exploring places I don’t already know well.  I’m also using my walks to enjoy and take inspiration from other people’s front gardens, and today was a perfect day for it – blue sky and lots of spring flowers.  A real tonic.

I also managed to resume my yoga today.  I always feel good afterwards (and while I’m doing it),

Craft/making –  there are more crochet granny squares to add to the pile.  This is an evening, winding down activity.

House/home repairs, improvments – nope.  Anything that needs to be done will still be there.

Admin – kind of.  I’m counting delivering those two letters as a score.

Kind deeds/something for others – one of the great pleasures of walking city streets is enjoying the gardens.  This season is particularly spectacular – the blossom is heavenly, there are spring flowers, and shrubs coming into bloom as well.  I’m appreciating all the effort some people have put into their gardens, and thinking again that I must step up my efforts (though I’m pleased to say that my front garden has really begun to come together, and each year gets better).  The other thing to look out for now is the lovely rainbows made by children and posted in windows, and some kind messages for our health and other essential workers.  I take heart from that.  See photos above.

Stay sane!

  • I was intrigued by the reaction I had to my comments about sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the amount of social messaging and phone calls needed.  I was nervous about saying it but I want to keep this space honest, and truly that is something I sometimes struggle with (and feel uncomfortable and uncharitable about).  To my surprise I had several ‘oh yes me too!’ responses.  It’s good to know I’m not the only one.  And to remind myself that all of us have to look after ourselves, as well as look out for and look after others.
  • It also reminded me that some of us are very very busy now, and others have the opposite problem – not enough to fill the time.  I’m somewhere in the middle of those extremes – I don’t have to somehow juggle working with childcare/education; I live with someone I get on well with, and we’re not in a cramped space.  I have more than enough to keep me busy, and usefully so.  And that’s just fine.  I just wish it were so for everyone.
  • I’ve decided to try out something different – finish all the phone calls etc by 6pm at the latest, and then do a yoga session.  Everything after that (barring emergencies) is wind-down time, not wind-up time.  Let’s see how it goes.
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In the time of the virus: day 8

Normal service has been resumed (or what passes for normal these days).  I had a brilliant night’s sleep and woke up feeling well and refreshed.  After almost 3 days in my room, it was a real pleasure to sit and have my breakfast reading the paper in my usual chair, to do the washing up, to catch up with some household chores.  The mundane transformed into a treat.

Garden/allotment – despite having planned an allotment and garden day today, I changed the plan and went for a walk instead (for good reason).  Tomorrow is another day.

Exercise/staying fit – this morning I noticed that 3 days inactivity had resulted in my lymphoedema leg being swollen.  Nothing too dramatic, but it’s important to nip this kind of thing in the bud.  Hence switching days and having a walk today.  It wasn’t a long walk, probably only a couple of miles, but it was nice to get out and get moving (even if I did choose the only rainy cloudy and cold bit of the day).  I enjoyed seeing other people’s front gardens.  There is some stunning blossom around.  I even caught a glimpse of the Farm in the distance.

Those green fields in the middle distance are part of Bath City Farm

I planned to resume the yoga today as well.  I find that doing this just before sitting down for the evening for our evening meal makes for a nice relaxing evening.  However, today that got swapped for a trial run of an online choir, to keep an older family member company.  Yoga tomorrow, for sure!

Craft/making – I am loving this scrap crochet blanket.  Loving doing it and loving what the squares look like.  It’s also a very good way to play around with colour combinations and see which work for me and which don’t.

Blanket squares with Bridget Riley card

House/home repairs, improvements – nothing doing here today.  It will wait.


  • I finally got round to sorting out that pile of papers that I moved from the desk to the floor.  It is now several separate piles, and I plan to deal with all of the piles by the end of this week.  Slow progress, but more progress than before so that counts as a win.
  • I’m also keeping a close eye out for opportunities to help the farm survive this crisis – mostly that means funding streams, to help replace the money we normally raise ourselves from events, donations etc.  It’s going to be a tight run thing – much will depend on how long the crisis continues, and whether the government decides to give any assistance.  I hope they do – all the signs are that our services are going to be needed even more than ever in the world to come.

Kind deeds/something for others – in among the awfulness, I’ve seen so much kindness, thoughfulness, and generosity.

  • A friend who enjoys making art did an hour long video workshop for a work colleague’s children, showing them how to make a book about their house.  They enjoyed it, so now he’s planning to offer it to neighbours with children.
  • A friend who is home from her job (a physio) has volunteered to work in a local care home if they run short of staff.
  • In a short space of time, almost 2000 people in Bath and around volunteered to help others in our community, in an initiative largely developed by a tiny (but vital) local charity linking third sector organisations in Bath.
  • Many small local food businesses have reinvented themselves to be able to provide deliveries to people self-isolating, often charging nothing extra for the delivery service. Some have also raised money or donated food so that they can provide much-needed free food to those in need and to people working on the front line (NHS, care workers, emergency services etc).  There is a huge amount of goodwill to be seen.

Stay sane! – Malcolm and I have been meeting up for morning coffee and a treat every morning at 11am.  We take it in turns to make coffee for each other, and whoever is on coffee duty is responsible for providing the treat as well,  This might be as simple as a square or two of chocolate each or a biscuit.  Occasionally it will be a piece of cake.  The question is always “what’s in the treat box today?”

This may not be a looker, but it’s a chocolate truffle and tasted delicious

After that, we meet for lunch and our evening meal.  We may or may not do things together in between time, but meals together are a time to catch up and swap notes.

I hope you’re well.  I’d love to know how you’re coping with this strange interlude in all our lives.

See you tomorrow!

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In the time of the virus: day 7

Good grief – a whole week of this.  And lots more where that came from.  I hope it hasn’t been too tough for you, and that if it has, next week feels better.

Sunday, and the clocks have changed.  The sun is shining (intermittently, but all the same it makes a difference).  I slept well and feel better.  I’m sure I don’t have c-19, but am taking extra precautions nonetheless because right now it feels even more important than ever not to pass on any bugs to someone else.  I still have afternoon headaches and sore throat, but nothing to complain of.

After just 3 days spent almost entirely in my room I’m feeling slightly stir crazy.  A lesson for me to remember when talking on the phone to someone with the prospect of at least another 11 or so weeks on their own at home.

What I’m struggling with:

  • believe it or not, the number of phone calls I want or need to make.  I’ve never been at ease on the phone, and hearing loss made that harder.  I can now easily deal with the hearing loss – I’ve found that when I wear my hearing aids and have the phone on speaker, I can hear just fine.  But I’m finding making as many calls as I have recently is emotionally draining.  So I’ve decided to limit calls to daytime (no evening calls), and try to limit how many I do in a day.  Some are important (and I really want to do them) – talking with friends and family who are struggling, but also sometimes emotionally draining.  It’s important to recognise that and pace myself.  Others are just a pleasure – close friends and family, and of course zooming with granddaughter.  The irony of more social contact than I can handle being my biggest challenge right now is not lost on me
  • learning just how negligent government planning has been at preparing for a crisis (this one has been looming since the start of January, but a pandemic of some kind has long been predicted).  Seeing and hearing about people (especially those I love and care deeply about) having to work in unnecessarily unsafe conditions, being asked to put their lives at risk makes me angry beyond words
  • self-isolating (confining myself to my room) as a precaution when I’m confident I don’t have the virus and mostly don’t feel unwell

What I’m loving:

  • the rapid and easy casual communication via WhatsApp, texts, Twitter (I stick with the reliable, the truthful, the inspiring and the kind), Instagram (this I use mainly for craft, mending, cooking and growing inspiration), and zoom (this one has really wowed me – to be able to sit with our granddaughter and chat to her is amazing; having meetings in the safety and comfort of my own home likewise)
  • solitude – aren’t I the lucky one!  I positively relish being alone, and in times past I often picked my time for going out to the allotment to avoid busy times.  I am comfortable in my own skin, as the French would have it, and a certain amount of solitude refreshes me.  There is a world of difference between this kind of solitude, and the loneliness that comes when being alone is unwanted and unsought.
  • crafts – so far I’ve been knitting and crocheting, but I have some sewing plans coming soon.  In particular I want to get round to making something I’ve been thinking about for a while that I know will be appreciated as a birthday present late in April.  It feels good to have plans that take me into the future in a positive way

  • catching up with important people in my life, even if we’ve become more distant until now
  • the sense of social togetherness and community – I am seeing such amazing work being done in my community and beyond.  Generous gestures from strangers.  Extraordinary acts by organisations.  Individuals working in roles hitherto unappreciated and now recognised by all as essential, continuing to work despite being put at risk, despite their fear, despite their anger at having been put a dangerous position
  • photos of life on the farm where youngest son and his family now live.  It’s lambing time now (the cutest Jacob cross triplet lambs born this weekend)

Time seems simultaneously to have speeded up and contracted.  Things that were normal and we took for granted just a fortnight ago are now unthinkable.  I guess the same may be true for us in a fortnight time.

In the meantime, how are you?  I hope you are safe and I wish you well.

See you tomorrow!


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In the time of the virus: day 6

Well hello!  Here we are, almost a week into the strangest time of my life (and no doubt yours too).

I slept well last night, and woke feeling fine (so thankful for that!).  As a precaution, we’re keeping ourselves apart from each other at least for today.  But far easier than another couple we know who have had to divide their house in two so she can continue to support her elderly mother, while he recovers, self-isolates, and then returns to work in the health service.

(Unfortunately the headache and sore throat returned in the afternoon so precautions continue).

We are very aware of our good fortune.

I hope this finds you well too, and in as good spirits as you can muster in these difficult times.

It’s the weekend!

One of our early decisions was to make an effort to keep weekends different from weekdays.  Otherwise the risk is that every day is the same and they blur into an indistinguishable blob.

Friday evening – last night was the first of what I hope will be a regular Friday night date  – the Friday Cultural Fixture.  Yesterday a group of us (maybe 9 in all?) ‘met’ to watch Peter and the Wolf, performed by the Royal Ballet School.  The deal was we’d dress appropriately (whatever that meant to each of us), provide ourselves with interval snack and drink, and all watch it at the same time.  What I didn’t realise was that Peter and the Wolf is only 30 minutes long.  But it was a good 30 minutes – I’ve never been to the ballet IRL, and I loved it.  Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well so was confined to quarters and watched from my bed.  However, Malcolm did us proud sartorially (think shirt and glittery ’80s tie…), and son and d-i-l sent a photo of themselves in the pre-performance front of house bar complete with beers.

I’ve proposed that we all ‘get together’ again next Friday evening, to watch the National Theatre’s production One Man Two Guvnors.  If you haven’t yet seen this, I really urge you to join us (or have your own timing – it will be available online from next Thursday for a week).  It’s a very funny play, an update based on the C18 Italian play Servant of Two Masters, by Godoni.  And in this strange time, available free of charge.  I’ll include a link later in the week.

I’ve suggested that those of us financially able to do so should consider making a donation to the arts organisations providing these cultural feasts.  If they’re to survive this crisis they’ll need all the help they can get.

The other change I’ve made is to ditch the daily structure on Saturdays and Sundays.  NO JOBS! (apart from any necessary ones – eg the daily cleaning).  The only thing we have planned is a scheduled family group zoom meet-up on Saturday morning.

Today we began the weekend with an unexpected breakfast zoom call with our granddaughter (her parents may have been involved as well…).  It was lovely to chat with her as she ate her breakfast and told us about the important things going on in her little world.  We are so very fortunate to still be able to do this.  Next week I will share a few more thoughts about how families and friends can stay connected.

I’m definitely planning to spend time with my crochet, my books, and R4.  Plus (weather permitting) out in the garden and on the allotment.  I’ve done 5 granny squares, and am very very pleased with the effect.  I’m trying to find all the smallest bits of yarn to use as the centres, so this blanket should be a very effective project for using up all those odds and ends that accumulate in a crafter’s stash.

This weekend, here in Europe anyway, is when the clocks change.  Which means that from tomorrow morning for a brief while it will get light an hour later than now.  So – I’ve decided this is the perfect time to experience the dawn chorus.  Which I’ve heard, due to reduced traffic and plane noise, is particularly good at the moment.  So – either tomorrow or Monday I will get up early, make myself a nice cup of tea, and sit outside enjoying the sound of the birds starting their day. (More likely to be Tuesday, as I’m still in splendid isolation).

I hope you have a good weekend yourself.  Do drop by and let me know how you’re getting on.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas too.

With all good wishes.

See you tomorrow!



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In the time of the virus: day 5

A mini-duvet day for me today.  I slept badly last night, and woke up with a bad headache and generally feeling under par.  I spent most of today in my bedroom, keeping my distance from everyone just in case.  I managed several (really nice) phone conversations this morning, until I finally admitted defeat around midday.  Since then I’ve been crocheting (see below), messaging, emailing, reading, dozing, and listening to R4.  Also  I was able to enjoy Peter and the Wolf from the Royal Opera House on my bed – a treat I’d arranged to share with a group of family and friends (the watching, not the ‘on my bed’ bit).  All good stuff.  Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Garden/allotment – today was an allotment day.  And then it wasn’t.

Exercise/staying fit – see above.  No yoga either.  Never mind, it will still be there tomorrow.

Craft/making – am feeling very inspired by the beautiful granny squares blanket my sister has made.  I gathered together all my double knit scraps and began making a lasting memento of this weird time.  I know that’s starting something new, but I also know how much I enjoy projects like that.  And what’s not to like about transforming scraps into something worth having?

House/home repairs, improvements – nothing doing today.

Admin –  nothing here today either.  I was planning that it would be the day when I finally get round to finishing updating my will.  This is not me being gloomy.  I may not work as a lawyer any more, but I’ll always be a lawyer –  each of us could go at any time, regardless of a pandemic.  This just makes it all the more real and immediate.  It’s a job that has been on my to do list for months and months.  Definitely one for sooner rather than later.

Kind deeds/something for others – got an email from our local residents’ association first thing this morning saying that they had numerous bouquets of flowers from M&S brought back by someone who works there, for anyone who needs cheering up or knows someone who could do with a cheer to help themselves to.  So many examples of things like this happening all over.

Stay sane! – well yes, despite feeling under par, to my surprise on the whole today has been an ok day.  Though some news from friends and family not so (but so far not the worst).

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