Monday, 30 March 2020

and then the cupboard was bare

Barely hours before the enormity of the CV-19 situation became apparent I had finished preparing Bill for the coming season.  Tea & coffee, tins and non-perishable foodstuffs, a few bits with long shelf-life in the fridge. Ironic, huh?

This morning I went down to the van, emptied everything and turned off the fridge, cupboard doors are open and I will take a mug of tea and my Kindle down every now and again to keep Bill company - she is going to get lonely.

 I took a picture of all the food and thought grimly “that will feed us for a few more days if things get even nastier than they are now” but the photo is really to help me remember what I should consider putting back into the van.  That might not be for some while and I may well have forgotten. I have no idea when I will be allowed out again, or when it will feel safe to do so  - the vitriol and anger towards campervans and motorhomes has been unpleasant in some areas, apparently quite frightening to experience.

But it is "down in the noise" to think about driving around in a leisure vehicle: some people don't know how they will keep a roof over their heads.  When the virus is subdued, assuming it is, then those are the problems which will remain, possibly for years and years to come.

A walk by the river yesterday morning, significantly marred by meeting a neighbour.  We kept a considerable difference between us and spoke briefly.  Now I don’t know this chap although I am acquainted with his wife who I avoid as much as possible because in normal times she has somewhat rabid political views which she cannot keep to herself.

A brief conversation with this man confirmed the two of them are well matched, but things he said unsettled me for the rest of the day.  I really thought I had heard it all, but clearly not.

 I have often thought I am weird - heck, compared to this guy I am not even on the playing field.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Painting is done

Thank goodness, the last bay of the greenhouse is painted.  It was a horrible job - at any time painting all those slats would not have been particularly enjoyable, doing it with paint that has the coverage and staying power of a diluted fruit cordial* made it thoroughly tiresome.
(* thank you Kate, perfect description)

Depending upon one’s point of view, the greenhouse wood now either looks ridiculous, or ridiculously cheerful.  I know which option I prefer 🤪🤪.  The timber needed painting one way or the other, and if I get sensible and want to grow up in a few years time I can always paint over it in something ‘normal’.

The wind has turned and it has been cold and miserable, so I’ve been through the seed box and hope that despite a few packets being old, there is still some germination left in them.  I have sorted them into “now”, “mid-April” and “when it warms up a bit”,  and maybe sowing the first few packets will be a job for later?

I see in the news that Boris is writing to us all to advise that the lockdown might have to get tougher/tighter . . . which really means "it's going to get worse and we are just softening you up so you are not surprised with what we announce next".  That's a bloody depressing start to Sunday.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Colour in the greenhouse

Be careful what you wish for?  For how long have I been belly-aching about not having the time/opportunity to work in the garden - and now I have exactly what I said I wanted/needed.  And truly, there are worse places I could be right now - the garden is quiet, the weather is being very, very kind, and I've made more progress in the greenhouse.

All but one of the beds are now brightly painted and I am nearly ready to sow seeds.  I must have been tired when I did the green because the photos show I missed a bit, but truly I don't care right now.  It is surprisingly hard work and I can only manage one colour per day.  At another time, probably autumn, I want to paint the timber which faces the glass, but that will require massive contortion and backache and is not going to happen soon.  I do need to clean the glass though, both inside and out.  The window cleaner was booked to come and do his annual blitz on the outside but despite working in the fresh air and not coming into contact with anyone, he is no longer permitted to try and earn a living.

Word to the wise - just because it was the end of the season [this was November 2019] and you cannot get Cuprinol Garden Shades, do not think that B&Q own brand will do.  Goodness, it’s bl**dy awful paint. Thin, not nearly enough pigment, and I would need at least four coats if I was doing even a half decent job (which I am not).  But the colours are bonkers and it makes me smile when I go in there 🤪

Thursday I really had to go out for fresh vegetables so took advantage of a supermarket which is next to a large reed bed/wetland to minimise my journeys.

It is not the most exciting of walks, in truth I found it quite soul destroying, a couple of miles along tarmac cycleway which is dog-poo central, and the view is only good if you strategically position yourself to avoid a massive paperboard mill.  This is as close as you can get:

But the sun was shining, almost too warm for a jacket, and I saw swans, cormorants and a beautiful large heron, plus lots of small "duck-like things" which were unidentified because I had not thought to take binoculars.

Yesterday's walk was quiet, local and has been photographed many times before, so I did not bother.

This situation is doing my head in:  you might think that living where we do, with such views, I am spoilt for choice with walks.  The truth is that there are very few walks directly from our house which do not include tarmac.  Anecdotally I have heard Police are fining people for going to the sand dunes, and many other places along the coast where I used to walk Daisy.

So what of my plan to use this awful lockdown for good and take a decent walk every day?  My one government sanctioned mental health intervention cannot start with the car, so I am going to stop blogging about it.  I will still take as much exercise as I can every day, but it isn't going to be what I really need and it is not going to be recorded any more.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

People do the nicest things - Rab Equipment (UK)

Before we went into lockdown, I was having an email exchange with a member of staff at Rab Equipment who make some of the finest outdoor gear you can buy.

Re: my Strata Hoody jacket - best jacket in the world - I may have more than one {big grin}.
This morning I noticed a small (less than 1cm) tear in elbow of one of them. I know you have a Repair Service, but I am pretty competent with a needle and thread. Is it possible please to obtain a small piece of material so that I can patch it myself? The jacket is grey/black but any colour fabric would do perfectly well. Many thanks in advance.

from Rab:
Thanks for your email and I’m sorry to hear about your jacket. 

We should have a spare something suitable for you in our workshop and will have this posted out with Royal Mail.
Kind Regards,
Rab UK-Service Centre

Thank you so very much.
Your assistance - especially as this time - is very much appreciated. You haven't mentioned how I can reimburse you?

from RAB:
No need to reimburse us. Feel free to make a donation to your local Mountain Rescue or other chosen charity, on our behalf should you wish.
Kind Regards,

Isn't that lovely?  Rab didn't have to do this.  They could have replied "we have a repair service, this is what it will cost".  They could have replied "we will send you fabric, this is what it will cost", which would have been completely reasonable - a member of staff has taken the time to find the material (which is almost large enough for a whole sleeve, not just a little nick on an elbow), they have used a shipping bag, paid postage . . . 

I'll tell you how good their gear is:   Management and I went on our first fell walk together in 1991 and realised very quickly that this was a going to be a lasting "thing" and we needed much better clothing than we'd started with.  We both bought a RAB jacket and trousers.

We have worn those garments hundreds of times, and whilst they are now "spare in the car just in case" clothing, they are still undamaged, windproof, waterproof and bloody fabulous.

Thank you Rab Equipment.  Stay safe, stay well.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Day two

The Universe is having laugh, is She not?   After the wettest, most grey and unrelenting winter that most of us have complained about incessantly, now that the weather has turned beautifully bright and sunny, we all have to stay put.

Management has pointed out that his lower back and hips are not as young as they used to be and three days helping me had taken its toll.  So he was reading, browsing Faceache and recovering.  I had a slightly sweaty morning in the greenhouse:  it might have been breezy outside but under cover it was over 70 degrees and absolutely glorious.

Classic FM gently wafting in the background and me gently wielding a paintbrush, the second section of greenhouse decorating has been completed.  Started last November, it no longer comes as a surprise to me when DIY jobs have a four month break in the middle.  But with all those slats, one bay per day is quite enough.

It all took a while, because first I had to move all the overwintering plants somewhere else.  The lovely box plants have gone into cold frames, and these bulbs can sit in the vegetable patch where I see them every day, their purpose is to be planted out when they're over, to fill gaps, ready for next year.  It was so beautiful outside, butterflies flitting around although I did not manage to get any pictures of them.

(OK, Primula denticulata, not a bulb 🤪)

Continuing to develop the "walk every day" habit I cheated slightly by spending all afternoon walking around the garden - behind the lawnmower.  It all looks rather smart now, well, smart if you lie massively with the camera and only photograph the bits that are mostly under control.

I left the property once, sitting on the ride-on to cut the grass verge opposite our house.  And concluded (with support from my pedometer) that I covered quite enough distance already in one day and did not need to go further for my one bit of government sanctioned exercise.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Living in Lockdown - Day One and a couple of thoughts.

Phew . . . unprecedented times, nuff said.

Typical that the weather should choose just now to turn dry and (mostly) sunny, with a lovely breeze to help the soil dry.  Which is why we had a Mass Trespass of Muppets in so many locations over the weekend.  Bloody idiots.

Management and I trespassed nowhere except the vegetable patch.  Over a couple of days he worked very hard to take down all of the net house frame, thank you sweetie, and the resulting open space is pleasing us very much.

Nearly all the weeding is done, just a few self-seeded plants that are worth keeping still to be moved.

This morning we split some of the silver birch logs which have lived near the greenhouse for a year. It is unusually early in the season for us to be filling the log store, but I want the space where the logs are sitting for some of the recycled timber lathe, and they have to be moved sometime so why not now.

Maybe a couple of hours work with the splitter and the previously empty side of the log store is now over one quarter full.

After lunch, I took myself off for a short walk.  Driving through Main Street was horrid - it was a ghost town.  When we lived in Cockermouth I could see Watch Hill from the bedroom window and Ollie and I walked there very regularly, although it was never somewhere Daisy and I visited very often.

Shame about the thick haze which built up because there are some fabulous views from this little lump of rock.


Skiddaw in the background, my beloved Sale Fell on the right

so much SPACE, and FRESH AIR and NO PEOPLE!

Not too cold although I was nearly blown off my feet at one point, and a lovely four miles which really felt like a “proper walk”.  A few people about, but no-one close enough for contagion or conversation so my government sanctioned ONE form of exercise each day was completed safely and alone.

Two random thoughts:

I’ll be honest, whilst I often cheerfully mention what a quiet and semi-isolated little life we have chosen for ourselves up here, the current situation is a completely different sort of isolation.  I have admitted to a couple of friends it feels quite crushing.  Always something of a “blog junkie” I have been checking Feedly even more regularly than usual hoping for new posts from favourite bloggers, sadly many of them are either distracted or too disturbed by CV-19 to publish much.

The beautiful Kate at I Live, I Love, I Craft, I am Me ... summed it up perfectly on her blog this morning and with permission, here are her excellent words:

In these strange and unsettling time please can I make a suggestion or two ....

Blog - still blog, may be your world has shrunk to the size of your garden, your flat, your bedroom. 
Blog - still blog, keep that life line, not just for you but for others. 
Even a small post on that silly thing your cat did/husband said/you saw on the internet will bring a spot of light to someone who is stuck at home. 
Stay in touch.

So please keep blogging, I’m certainly going to.

Second thought:   I was pondering whilst walking (as you do!) and asking myself why the 💥⁉️💥 when I love walking so much have I done so little of it in recent months?  Apart from the obvious answers of grief, fatigue, knackered knee and horrendous weather, the simple fact is that I got out of the habit.  This lockdown is going to be reviewed in three weeks but I cannot believe it will be lifted that quickly, and it is unlikely I am the only person worried it will be made even more strict.  So I resolved to get out for a walk every day that I can, whilst I can.

And then I remembered that “experts” reckon it only takes three weeks for a new activity to become a habit.  So if I can re-make the habit of going for proper walks then I might have made something positive out of the lockdown.

Which brings me to the big question:  what good habit could you develop in the next three weeks?

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Sad, but not surprising

Press release last night from Grough

Such a shame, they will miss sights like this but it the right advice.  I woke early today and knew I'd not get back to sleep. So quiet when I stepped outside;  yes, it was very early on a Sunday morning but even so, hardly any traffic noise which is unusual.

The Keswick Mountain Festival has already been cancelled, on Friday a Cornwall MP was asking holiday-makers and second home owners to stay away from the South-West.

In the campervan I am effectively self-isolated . . . and with water and power I can be completely self-contained too;  the jury is still out as to whether I can/ought go to Scotland this summer but I suspect a verdict will be delivered very shortly.  Right now it is not looking good.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Enjoy the little things

In November 2018 I posted Daisy's annual "adoption day post" and made up my own little meme from a photo I had taken. Of course, back then I could hardly know it was her last anniversary, but then we rarely know when something happened for the last time.

Which is why my Thought for the Day is:

Our world has changed, almost overnight, and only a very staunch optimist would say it will not change more in the coming weeks/months.  Bag End is not a CV-19 free zone and by that I do not mean we are ill (thankfully neither of us have any symptoms) but this is my blog, my personal journal, and ignoring things which are happening isn't the right thing for me to do.  I'd love to pretend the nasty stuff never happens, but life isn't like that.

Yesterday afternoon I did a 'little thing' - only a couple of miles along a concrete promenade.  It was more to test my knee ligaments than anything else.  They held up, just about.  Getting out for a walk has seldom been so important.

There were a few people about, mainly dog walkers, but social distancing was not an issue.  Proving it is still possible to go out for coffee - next time - flask in a rucksack 🤪

Thursday, 19 March 2020

No room for complacency

Well, this is a big pile of poo, isn't it?  Is there a single adult in the country who is not worried, at some level, about something?  Mass anxiety is never a good thing, it is how panic and riots start.  I am not worried about food this week, although I reserve the right to amend that if/when the situation changes.  I guess my biggest worry, no make that worries, are future economic stability and the mental health problems brought on by enforced isolation.

Financially there is absolutely nothing I can do, other than continue to shop as prudently as I can and support those local businesses who manage to stay open (although my normal modus operandi of buying non-perishable items when they are on offer, which saves a lot of money, looks like history).  We had an idea for one or two 'capital expenditure' projects on the house this year but those plans are scrapped - like everyone else the value of our ISA and pension fund is frighteningly less than it was a month ago.  I am trying not to think what that might mean for us long-term.

Whilst we are still allowed to travel responsibly I shall get out and walk, did a couple of miles around a nearby nature reserve yesterday which was pleasant, but nowhere I'd return to (which might explain why I never bothered to go there before!) and there were no glimpses of the otter which occasionally visit this wetland.

Despite having enough food and getting outside {I was the ONLY person there, social distancing was not an issue}, there is no room for complacency.  The first cases in Cumbria arrived from Italy at half term via families who had been skiing.  Looking at the 'daily map'  of cases is hugely sobering - on Tuesday we had 22 cases, yesterday it was 34, thankfully that number does not seem to have changed overnight.

Outside of London and south Wales it looks as if we are one of the most affected counties.  The "cases per 100,000" number is higher than some more densely populated counties which surprised me.

So what's a girl to do but stop prevaricating and get into the garden whilst realising I am very lucky to be able to make that choice.  90 minutes later and all was much better in my world.  There was hardly any wind so it was gloriously warm in the sun.  Road noise is reduced as there are far fewer cars about.  And to my surprise, just 1½ hours had broken the back of the vegetable bed weeding.

I thought about putting a thick mulch on the soil to prevent further germination until I get round to doing whatever it is I am going to do here this season.  In the end I decided not to - the soil is so very wet, and a layer of bark chip will just contain that moisture in the soil.  Management has promised to come and help tomorrow or Saturday and take down the frame - it is surprising how much those thin bits of wood get in the way 😟

Another half hour or so cleared up all the rubbish, and I could not resist clearing a couple of the sections of the back bed next to the fence.

And after so much activity before lunch, the afternoon is earmarked for playing with a quilt top that I started at the weekend.