Lock-down U.K. Days 8&9

Loo Rolls Left: n+4

We are now one week into this lock-down thing. I’m still at work because inspecting boilers is an essential occupation, but where and how we are allowed to inspect is changing by the hour. Another conference call this afternoon brought a new set of guidelines, tomorrow may well bring another set. The basics are, wash your hands, keep two meters apart and if you are not sure, don’t go ahead with the inspection.

Today started off reasonably normally. I made a few calls to try and sort out some work. I don’t know if it is due to the current situation, but clients have been unusually cooperative. I have decided to reduce the risk of my cross-contaminating sites I am only going to visit one site per day if possible. So I sorted out my work for the day I set off to the job for the day.

When I opened my car door, I could hear this regular beep beep sound. Two things about it puzzled me, firstly I had never heard this sound before and secondly it seemed to carry on whether the ignition was on or off. Anyway, there were no warning lights up and the car started and ran normally, so I decided to ignore it for the time being. I turned the music up louder to drown it out. That worked to get me to the site. I did the inspections but when I got back to the car the beeping was still there and seemed to be coming from somewhere between the roof lining and the roof.

I carried back to my house with the beeping beginning to do my head in. I still couldn’t see anything about the car that might be causing it. I stopped to buy petrol and as I leaned down to release the fuel cap cover, I saw my oxygen meter flashing away. The battery had died and as well as the flashing red lights it was going beep beep. I switched it off and silence reigned.

I went home/my house (I’m not quite sure where home is now) to cut the grass, pick up some of my gardening tools and have a coffee with a slice of Diane’s excellent fruit cake. While I was home, I received a text from my manager saying that we needed to have a conference call about our new working arrangements. Great fun. After about an hour of conferencing I’m still not any clearer about what I am supposed be doing.

By the time I made it home, it was too late to go up to the allotment, so we had a G&T instead.

Day 9

The day started well. I woke up with the alarm. Diane just rolled over and went back to sleep. I got up, had a shower and went down stairs and made breakfast. Then brought a cup of tea up to Diane. After that things started to go downhill.

I tried to log on to my work computer and it told me that I no longer existed – at least as far as the company I work for are concerned. My contract was due to end yesterday, but it was agreed to extend it for another six months. Someone forgot to tell the IT department.

I went back to how we used to do it back in the days before laptops were invented. Note book and pen were sourced, with the plan being to write up the report when I went home. When my log on problems would be solved. Unfortunatly this was not the case, although it did get a different error message when I tried to log on.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned the news very much. It is not that I am uninterested or not paying attention, it is just that I don’t consider most of the output of our media at the moment to be news. There is some good news, for example the news that a team of Mercedes F1 engineers and researchers from Imperial College and UCL had produced a machine to assist breathing that can be produced cheaply from off the shelf parts. Panic buying of toilet roll seems to be over for the time being, although getting eggs and flour is still difficult. Other than that there is a daily update that tells me more people have died and more people have been infected.

So far, Diane and I have been OK. I still have my work, I think. We have each other and we have the allotment, so hopefully food, come the apocalypse.

LOCK-DOWN UK DAY NOS. 6 & 7

Loo Rolls left: Still Hanging in there.

Day No. 6

We lost an hour of lock-down today, as we moved from GMT to British Summer Time (a.k.a. Daylight Saving). Hopefully when we get our hour back in the autumn we will be able to use it.

British Summer Time has not brought summer weather (possibly it has brought British summer weather). We had a north east wind which made it feel about -5° even though it was sunny. It didn’t stop us going to the allotment though. I think it counts as our daily excercise.

I have a prediction. Gardens this summer are going to be immaculate. The allotment is looking pretty good already.

We spent most of the day up there. We had the left-overs from last night’s curry for lunch. We cleared a load of brambles, dismembered a greenhouse that had arrived courtesy of a winter storm then before we went home had a bonfire to get rid of the evidence.

We needed comfort food, so we made cottage pie for tea, followed by apple pie and icecream.

Day 7

Today started with phone call from work, apparently my contract was due to end tomorrow and did I want to renew? Maybe I should have said no, but I didn’t. We, or to be more exact Diane, went all domestic. Then she beat me ar Scrabble.  It is getting desperate.

A bike ride to Raynes Park to get some fruit ended with a full ‘T’ bag full of reduced price food. Roast chicken with reduced price veggies for dinner.

Lock-down UK Day No.5

Loo rolls left: Same as yesterday

It is quarter to three on Saturday the 28th of March 2020. I should have been finishing of my beer and vegan pie and getting ready to take my seat at Forest Green Rovers vs Cheltenham. No Wimbledon was planned for today. We were supposed to be away to Lincoln, but I wasn’t planning on going.

My future brother-in-law, Mick, lives in Stroud and supports Forest Green. He has been wanting us to come down for the weekend to go to a game for months. We did actually have it all arranged for the last Saturday in October when Wimbledon should have been playing Bury, but the game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch. This weekend was the re-arranged date. Forest Green are English football’s only vegan club. All the food and drink sold at the ground is vegan. It is apparently very good, well better than the food at most football grounds, which is, let’s face it, a fairly low bar to get over. I was looking forward to my vegan pie and spending the weekend with Mick and Tina.

Instead I am enduring my third Saturday without football. By the end of the season I am usually ready for a break from football, especially after the tensions of the last two seasons. Having football taken away from me with nine games left to play feels different, unfair even. What will happen to the rest of the season is anyone’s guess. The season’s of all the leagues below National League level (tiers 7 and below) have been declared over and nul and void. This hasn’t pleased every one, but I’m not sure what else to do. I don’t think it will be long before the descision has to be taken to do the same with all leagues from the Premiership on down. In which case we will have to endure Liverpool supporters complaining, from now until the heat death of the universe, about how they were robbed of their first title in thirty years.

Another worry is how many clubs will survive this shutdown. Running a football club is a bit of a hand to mouth existence. This weeks gate receipts being needed to meet this weeks outgoings. This is especially true of lower league clubs, some of whom (Southend and Macclesfield spring to mind) were in a precarious position financially even before this happened. When (if) football gets started again we might see some very different leagues.

I think that is football dealt with, for now. But it does feel strange not to be checking my phone for updates to the scores.

We have put teddy bears in the windows so that when kids are out for their daily excercise, they can be “Going on a Bear Hunt”.

No trips to the allotment today, although we did buy some seeds while we were doing our food shopping. I went for a walk to get my excercise instead.

Dinner was a take-away curry to try and help the local curry house to stay in business.

LOCK-DOWN UK DAY NO 4

Loo rolls left: one fewer than yesterday but still sufficient.

So into day four of lock-down UK. The first day that I didn’t have any work to do, that is because I dont work on Fridays. So in theory it shouldn’t have been any different from a normal Friday, apart from not being able to go out for lunch, or meet up with my football friends to discuss tomorrow’s game. It was a bit different though.

As some people know Diane and I decided to9 get married about five weeks ago. We ordered our engagement ring the following week and were due to pick it up today. Obviously with things being as they are. we couldn’t travel down to Worthing to collect it. The jeweler sent it to us special delivery and it arrived before breakfast this morning. We are now officially engaged. It has been posted on Facebook, so it must be true.

In other news Boris Johnston (our Prime Minister in case you had forgotten) has tested positive for Covid -19, as has the Health Secretary Matt Hancock. So it can happen to anyone.

Back to important things. We are planning to get married next summer (2021). We were supposed to be going up to Scotland next week to look at potential wedding venues, that obviously isn’t going to happen now. So we had a Zoom meeting, at lunchtime,with one of our prospective venues. we decided probably not. However, with the benifit of hindsight, I wish Ihad bought shares in Zoom last year.

After that we decided to take our daily excercise by walking up to the allotment. The allotment could be the most immaculate allotment in the history of allotments this year. We haven’t done a lot of planting as yet, but it is definitely loking better following a bonfire and some tidying up.

Bonfire time

We also had a rather nice sunset.

We had a rather nice stir fry for supper, although we would rather have had an engagement party. That will have to wait.

LOCK-DOWN UK DAY NOs. 2 & 3

Loo rolls left: Still sufficient.

We are now in the second day of n days of lock-down. My sister who is a Senior NHS critical care manager thinks that n may be six months. So six months of lockdown. Six months before things get back to “normal”, whatever normal turns out to be.

Day 2

After yesterdays uncertainty about whether we should, or could, continue to work, Engineer Surveyors have been classified as “essential workers”. We have been told that certain settings are critical to the running of the country and in the fight against Covid-19. Places like hospitals and research laboratories fall into this category. Because the inspections that we carry out are safety critical and a legal requirement, we have been told to carry on inspecting , but only at essential sites.

Up to lunchtime was spent with phonecalls and emails trying to get a definition of an essential site. After that was agreed the rest of the time was spent producing a spreadsheet for management detailing my essential work for the next three months. Duster came upstairs to join me, but then decided to self-isolate.

Duster self-isolating.

Producing spreadsheets is not my favorite activity. At about the time I had finished it Diane suggested taking a picnic up to the allotment for lunch. So we had our picnic lunch under clear blue skies and a bitterly cold east wind. It was a wonderful lunch.

Diane spent half her time trying to conduct a virtual teaparty on her phone. A bit like herding cats. I spent my time clearing one of the beds and putting some seeds in; parsnips, beetroot, spring onions and radishes. Diane also planted some tomato, pepper and chilli seeds which we have put into the cold frame. Hopefully it will work.

We finished the afternoon off with a bonfire.

Dinner in the spirit of self care (and because we had left-overs yesterday was steak and chips, followed by watching the film “Fisherman’s Friends”.

Day 3

I had to go and do some actual work today. Out inspecting boilers at a school, because schools are considered essential as they provide care for the children of essential workers (such as NHS staff) who might not be able to go to work otherwise. It felt quite strange having to make sure I was sufficently distanced (2 metres) from other people. We have also been given an instruction that we are not to accept the offer of a cup of tea from the clients as well. By the time I got home I was feeling quite de-caffinated and dehydrated, because all my normal go to cafes and coffee shops are shut for the duration as well.

I also managed to get some shopping done. Again a slightly surreal experience. I had to queue for about five minutes, two metres apart from the people in front and behind me, to get into the shop. This wasn’t because the shop was busy but to limit the number of people in the shop at any one time. I think that panic buying may be over, I managed to get everything I wanted, although they were out of the brand of beer that I prefer.

Afternoon was spent redoing yesterdays spreadsheet, because management wants the data in a different form….grrr.

Having just stood outside to give our NHS staff a minutes communal applause, I am about to take part in a virtual pub quiz. Life is becoming increasingly wierd.

Lockdown UK Day No.1

Loo rolls left: enough for the time being.

Our Prime Minister interrupted Coronation Street last night (so it has to be serious) to tell us that as of today the United Kingdom is in lock-down. More or less, details were a bit vague – work from home, unless you can’t, but only go to work if you are an essential worker. unless you work on a construction site, in which case it is apparently fine, because we need to keep the economy moving, or something. Now I am as keen as anyone to see our (AFC Wimbledon’s) new stadium completed in time for my birthday, but I don’t think that it is essential, or even, in the overall scheme of things important. The rest of the world is not exactly impressed either.

How has my first day in lock-down been? I received a text message last night from my team manager telling me, that in light of the announcement, to cancel all appointments for today and tomorrow, and to await instructions. After speaking to him it appears that we have been getting contradictory messages from the government about whether we (Engineer Surveyors) are essential workers or not. A meeting between the Inspection Authorities and the Government was being held.

I did a bit of “work” mainly down loading various collaborative tools that we couldn’t make work. we eventually fell back on something called WebEx, which is a bit clunky but did work.

After lunch (cheese toasties) we went all domestic and cleaned all the downstairs windows, inside and out. We also cut back a lot of over-hanging bushes and ivy, but that was before we found that the council would not be collecting garden waste for the foreseeable future. Minor mistake.

We then decided to take our daily permitted excursion for exercise and took our bikes along to Raynes Park. We also managed to find some milk, some veggies and tea bags. I arrived back to find a message asking me to log in to a conference call. The message of which was that some clarity about our status has been achieved but not a lot. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

Dinner, in the spirit of the times was left overs. Left over veggie curry from two days ago, with left over rhubarb (from the allotment) crumble from yesterday. It was fine, but we might have steak tomorrow.

Songs I Love: Jackson Browne Before The Deluge

A song for our time.

I love this song and today more than ever it feels appropriate.

Coronavirus and other random thoughts Pt2

I covered the important implications of the current crisis yesterday , namely the current lack of football (now extended to 30th April at least). Things have become more serious, as some one posted on Twitter “This Coronavirus thing was only supposed to stop Liverpool winning the Premiership, but now they are closing the pubs”.

We are living in strange times. We have a Tory government doing stuff that Jeremy Corbyn might have thought twice about. People are stripping the supermarkets of almost anything edible, as well as toilet paper. In someways it is a rational response to the prospect of being isolated for up to fourteen days, but it has also shown that the market doesn’t have the answers in this case. Schools are closed, pubs, restaurants and cinemas are closed. In the space of a fortnight life in the UK has changed, possibly for ever. No one knows when this will end. I think that even fewer people think that life will just revert to what it was before afterwards.

I have been trying to work out what I feel and think about all this. One thing I do know is that I feel happier when I am with Diane (as I am now) than when I am on my own.

It feels a bit like the run up to Christmas. Everything is closing down. People are buying much more than they actually need, except it is not a bottle of Advocat incase Auntie Doris comes, it is pasta, rice and loo roll. With Christmas it is all over in a few days, so even if you hate Christmas you can grin and bear it. This is different.

It seems to me more like the week before Grace died. I was stuck in a bubble, waiting for something that I didn’t want to happen. Something that I knew was going to happen, but not when. That is what our current situation feels like.

How is it going to play out. I don’t know. Most people seem to recover from disease. Some people appear to have mild or no symptoms. So it probably isn’t the end of the world, even if it seems that it is at times.

The worst fallout is probably going to be economic. Many people have already been laid off. Some companies will probably go under, even though the government has produced unprecedented measures to try and support business and workers who have been laid off.

When this is all over I hope that when this is all over we can take a good look at how we organise the world. I know that Covid-19 is an immediate threat, but when it comes down to it not an existential one. If we can take these drastic steps to fight this, possibly we can take some equally radical action to prevent the actual existential threat of climate change.

Oh and hopefully some football.

CoronaVirus, and other Random Thoughts. Pt1

Why now?

I haven’t posted for a while, almost a year in fact. The current events have prompted me to dust the keyboard off, if only to help me make sense of what is happening. Writing I find helps me to order my thoughts.

Like 99.9% of the world’s population Coronavirus, or Covid-19, or SARS-CoV-2, or whatever the hell we are supposed to call it, has been at the forefront of my thoughts for the past week or so. This post is likely to contain all the advertised, random thoughts, ramblings and possibly a rant or two as well.

Football (and sport in general) the first casualty

Important things first. Football has been suspended, as have almost all other sports. All of cycling’s spring classics have been cancelled. There is no horse racing, the Masters golf tournament has been postponed and the cricket season seem unlikely to start. Football should supposedly restart on the 3rd of April. I will be very surprised if it restarts then. I don’t see this being over or even under control until probably the end of June at the earliest. The footballing powers seem to think that, with the Euros being postponed until 2021 there is a window when the season can be completed. I don’t see it myself. My feeling is that the season will be abandoned.

This also means that I have probably watched my last AFC Wimbledon game at Kingsmeadow. If we had known that our game against Bolton was going to be the last we might have made it more of an occasion. Our new stadium, in Plough Lane, should be ready for next season. I suppose that the work may be delayed, especially if London is put into full lockdown, but for the time being we have an opening date of the 29th of August – which happens to be my birthday.

When will I get to wear these again?

We had planned a bit of a celebration for the final game of the season against Coventry, but that looks as if it is not going to happen now. We will just have to make do with this video that the club have produced.

The ground is too small for us. It is more than a bit shabby. It can take forever to get served at the bar. The sight lines, especially from the Rygas terrace are horrendous. We know all that, but it has been home for the past eighteen years and it has helped us grow from being a mad idea into a fully fledged professional club playing in EFL League One. We are still fan owned. So watch the video and see why some of us will shed a tear even though we are all glad to be moving back to Plough Lane.

I’ll leave my thoughts there for tonight and come back to them tomorrow when I will try to work out my feelings about what this virus means.

AwayDay Bradford (last Game of the season)

Because the new season is almost upon us, I thought I had better get this report of last seasons final game finished and posted

Campervan Adventures v2.1

I have, had two main subjects for my blogs recently. Wimbledon Away Days and Campervan Adventures. We are combining the two in this post.

I bought myself a campervan about a month ago (early April). Our final game of the season was against Bradford. It was a 17:30 kick-off, so that meant getting a train back after the game would be tricky. Getting the supporters coach would have meant arriving back at Kingsmeadow about one in the morning. So I decided to take the van and make an adventure of it.

We had given the van a try out last weekend after the win against Wycombe Wanderers. I took it down to Brighton for the night and it all went well, but this would be it’s first proper trip.

The plan as originally formulated was to have the van packed on Thursday night and leave my house about 9:30 so that I could get across to New Malden by 10:00 to pick up Diane  (who would also have everything packed and ready) and be on the road north by 10:30.

Round about 11:30 I left Wallington

Diane was a bit more organised than me. We left her place about 12:30.

The journey north was uneventful. The Big Green Bus (BGB)* proved to be very comfortable and easy to drive. The traffic was fairly heavy with people trying to get away early for the bank Holiday. but apart from that no problems

We arrived at our campsite, The Esholt Sports and Leisure Club about half past six and found a suitable pitch. It’s an unusual site, in that it is run by the local cricket club and the showers and toilets are the changing rooms. It works though and it is reasonably cheap.

I don’t know how many Emmerdale fans read my blog, but Esholt was the village originally used as Emmerdale. We had a drink in this pub, which should be familiar to anyone who follows the show.

It is a friendly pub that serves good beer. There is obviously some Emmerdale memerobilia scattered around, but not that much that it feels like a theme pub. 

We were up reasonably early on Saturday, because, althought the match wasn’t due to kick off until 17:30, we thought that we would like a look round Bradford before hand.

We found a reasonable pub for lunch, nothing special, but the food was edible and the beer was drinkable, then had a wander round the city centre. Because Bradford was a comparitavly wealthy place in the c19th it has a lot of impressive civic buildings, banks, churches and the like. It must be admitted that a lot of the banks are now pubs and a lot of the churches are discount furniture shops, but they still look impressive from the outside.

We decided to have a look round the Science and Media Museum. Entrance is free and it is worth an hour of your time. After which it was time to head off to the match.

The Match

Thanks to our win against Wycombe the week before, we were out of the relegation zone for the first time in 2019. Barring an unusual, but not impossible set of results a draw against Bradford would be enough to ensure safety. A win would have guarenteed that we were safe and even if we lost, provided the other results went our way we could still be safe.

Before the match there was a ceremony remembering the fifty six people who lost their lives in the fire that occured on 11th May 1985. The minutes silence was well observed by both sets of fans.

So onto the game. Well it was probably the least entertaining game of football I watched all season. I suppose that Wally Downes had done his homework and decided that Bradford didn’t pose all that much of a threat (which they didn’t) and that we could settle for a draw and possibly get a goal on the break. I was a bit dissapointed, not least because this was Diane’s first experience of AFC Wimbledon and I didn’t want it to be her last. We got the draw that we needed and stayed a League One team thanks to a better goal difference compared to Plymouth. Squeeky bum time, not helped by the fourth official failing to display the board for added minutes, so we had no idea of how much injury time had to be played. The referee finally blew his whistle after what felt like about five hours of added time, jubilation and pitch invasions ensued.

The “highlights”.

Pitch invasion

We watched the celebrations for a while (but didn’t join in on the pitch). After about ten minutes or maybe quarter of an hour we decided to walk back down to the station to get the train back to Shipley.  We had already decided to have a curry at a restaurant we had seen earlier in the day. The Shimla Spice does an excellent curry and some of the biggest naan breads in captivity, but does not serve alcohol so we had to celebrate “The Great Escape” with Diet Coke and water.

Sunday

Saltaire

We decided to visit Saltaire. Back  in the mid c19th Titus Salt built a woollen mill by the banks of the River Aire. He was a philanthropist and also built a model village to house his workforce. The mill like many woollen mills in West Yorkshire is now redundant. It has been restored (or at least parts of it have) and it now has several interesting, high end, shopping outlets and a gallery dedicated to the works of David Hockney

1853 Gallery

The works on display were created on his iPad then printed onto large (A0?) sheets. I had seen them before at the Tate Modern Exhibition in 2017, thought they were wonderful then and still think they are wonderful.

As well as the mill and the village, Titus Salt also built what must be the flashest  Congregational Church in the world. It is not up there with the likes of St Peter’s or St John’s in Valetta but for a Congregationalist Church, which are usually quite plain and functional it is out there. 

The Church Outside
The church inside

Ilkley Moor

After we had spent the afternoon in Saltaire we decided that because we were only about five miles from Ilkley that a visit to Ilkley Moor (ba t’at) was more or less compulsory.

It was quite spectacular up at the Cow and Calf Rocks, if a bit on the cool side.

Monday

Monday and it was time to head home. We had a good weekend. The Wombles were safe as League One club for at least one more season. We had liked what we had seen of West Yorkshire (including Bradford.)

Hardwick Hall

We didn’t want to just blast our way backdown the M1 so we looked for somewhere that we could stop, have a bite to eat and a look round. Hardwick Hall fitted the bill. And because we are National Trust members didn’t cost us anything.

It was built by Bess of Hardwick,a remarkable woman, who became one of the weathiest and powerful people in Elizabeathen England.

After that we did blast back down the M1 .

*My other vehicle a Diahatsu Charade is known as the LLC, or Little Lilac Car because it is little and lilac coloured. So the obvious name for the Camper was the Big Green Bus, because it is big (compared to the LLC) and green.

Random thoughts, ramblings and rants

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