Lockdown Diary – Day 65

One thing has remained consistent these past two months and that is I have had no trouble falling asleep. I like to listen to the radio through earphones when I go to bed, often it is the BBC World Service via the BBC Sounds app on my iPhone. It has a timer so you can have it switch off, thus saving you being woken up at 3am by the theme tune for the World Football show. There are also a couple of podcasts I like to listen to at bedtime, one called Shortcuts and another called Wireless Nights, which is a brilliant one by Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. There hadn’t been a new episode of Wireless Nights since January 2019, so I was excited to see one pop up on Monday. I started listening, but as usual fell asleep about 10 minutes into it. Tried to listen to it again the next night. Fell asleep about the same time. Ditto Wednesday night. So tonight I will try again to stay awake for a half hour so I can get to the end.

As for today, it was OK. The highlight was taking delivery of a new pair of running shoes. I had put about 600km on my current pair and they were so worn out I would probably have been better off running barefoot. So tomorrow I will have my first run in the new pair. It will be interesting to see if it has any effect on my time.

The other highlight was was walking into town and getting spicy wings for Charlie and I to have for lunch from Chicken Time. It’s a favourite of his (and mine) and they only reopened last week, and as he has now finished all his uni work for the year he deserved a treat. And so did I even though I haven’t done any work for two months!

Finally, I have been trying for weeks without success to check on my $1,200 stimulus payment. I never get past the first screen on the Get My Payment website despite having filed my US taxes for 25 years. I have been after Charlie to get signed up for it. He has yet to file US taxes but was still eligible for the stimulus payment. Non-filers use a separate site to check their payments and he finally tried it today and it went through first time and he has had an email confirming that the check’s on the way! No justice!

Lockdown Diary – Day 64

I had intended to start this entry earlier in the day and I promise tomorrow I will do so. Right now I am so outraged at the incompetent buffoon Boris Johnson and his incapable government that I can hardly see straight to write. Lies, shifting blame for his failings, blaming the media for reporting the truth … it’s as if he is trying to out-Trump Trump. The majority of the country, on all sides of the political spectrum, are entirely fed up. I think the screen grab below pretty much sums up how most people are feeling.

There, glad I got that off my chest. Apart from that, it was an OK day. I procrastinated as usual in the morning but final went for a run. It was pretty warm, in the low 80s, but I did OK. But when I got to the park it was even more busy than it was on Monday, and large groups were gathered, kids from multiple families playing together and little in the way of social distancing in evidence. The government’s actions have made people think the lockdown is over, which might be their real strategy anyway.

Walked in to town in the evening to get a few things from M&S, including a 500ml bottle of hand sanitizer. We had a bottle that was who knows how many years old so it is good to finally have the real deal.

Finally, the US went over 100,000 deaths today. That number will double by the fourth of July thanks to Trump and his covidiot, won’t wear a mask base.

Lockdown Diary – Day 63

The days just run into each other, with little to distinguish one from another. Sunny and warm, just a few clouds in the sky. Every day almost the same. Got out on my own for a very good bike ride up Reigate Hill via Beeches Road and Underhill Park Road then along the footpath and back down to the Clears. I only made it because I managed to get the chain on to the smallest sprocket or I never would have got up the hill. I am going to just leave it there until I can get the bike in for a major tuneup. I might go for another tomorrow but taking Charlie’s bike instead.

Meanwhile the Dominic Cummings shenanigans and Donald Trump’s psychotic meltdown continue apace. It’s an ongoing competition to see which country has the worst leadership, and at this point it is too close to call. And people keep dying of Covid-19.

Lockdown Diary – Day 62

Managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour and slept well enough but still woke up at 5.30 and took a while to get back to sleep. Went for a run in late morning, my 10th run this month, and had a time three minutes faster than the last two runs.

Priory Park, where I always finish my runs, was as busy as it has been since the lockdown began. Yes, it’s a bank holiday weekend and the weather was warm, but it seems a lot of people think this is all over, no doubt thanks to the deplorable conduct of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings. If there is a second wave, as there surely will be, there will be nobody to blame but the populist morons in the US, UK, Brazil and beyond.

We are all sick of this situation, but the sane and sensible among us are willing to keep doing what it takes to save lives. Unfortunately, it seems a growing number of people just don’t give a damn about anyone else but themselves. And who can really blame them with the scoundrels who are in government?

Had planned on going for a walk with Alice in the afternoon but we decided to give it a miss, since everywhere was bound to be heaving with people, and it was just too hot.

Grilled some chicken, which we rarely have on the BBQ, and it was fantastic. Just a pain to cook without burning the crap out of it.

Lockdown Diary – Day 61

It’s been an uneventful day. Woke up about 8am after a good sleep and my hip was no longer hurting. Very relieved because I was worried it might be arthritis. Cooked a big breakfast of bacon and eggs and biscuits that we all enjoyed.

Then I set off in search of a bottle of gas for the BBQ. I went to the garden centre in Buckland where we usually get it, queued for about 15 minutes only to be told they had nothing in stock. So I went to another one nearby, Knights, and queued for another 15 minutes and then had to wind my way through the whole place with a trolley with my empty bottle only to find at the cash register that they only had three but couldn’t sell them in case they sold a BBQ. Finally found a small one at the little hardware store in Woodhatch. The guy running it said they were like gold dust and he sold out almost as soon as he got them. So I was lucky to get even the small one.

In the afternoon Alice and I went over to Bletchingley again for another walk. Not as long as last week’s bit still very nice. We walked down a long track to a little house that sits out by itself on a hill with a great view which we have always liked. We hadn’t been this way for years. There was a nice elderly man with a very nice dog who used to libe there but no sign of either. And the house had been completely overgrown with ivy or some kind of creeper. Have never seen anything like it. Can’t be good to have a house get into this condition.

With a fresh supply of gas we BBQ’d pork steaks for supper, then Zoomed with the family. Bob and Sue were in their car driving to Jean’s and then their son Jon’s, dropping off food. It was nice to see them all, as was being able to see out the window when they drove into Ahwatukee. I reckon it’s the only way we are going to see anything of Arizona for the foreseeable future.

Lockdown Diary – Day 60

Woke up about 5am with a terrible pain in my hip. Could not find a position that made it feel less painful. Felt like it was right in the joint rather than a muscular problem. Eventually took an ibuprofen and got a few more hours sleep, but it has been hurting all day. I think maybe I overdid it yesterday with a 5k run and a long uphill walk. Hope it is gone tomorrow because I want to run again.

So it’s been a pretty quiet day. Weird weather, very windy and a few rain squalls blowing through but bright sunshine in between. Only managed a few minutes sitting in the garden.

We had my famous lamb kebabs for supper and they were fantastic if I say so myself.

All day the news had been about Dominic Cummings breaking the lockdown rules. The Tories are in deep shit with even the Spectator magazine, where the little scumbag’s wife is employed, calling for his resignation. Yet members of this inept Tory government are all lining up to defend him. They have seriously misjudged the mood of the nation yet again.

Lockdown Diary – Day 59

Well, so much for trying to write these entries earlier in the day. It’s 10 to 10 on a Friday night and I am about to pour my third pint of Pilgrim. It’s been a pretty good day. Got up about 7.30 to cloudy, windy weather. It looked like we were about to get a storm but of course we didn’t.

I went for my third run of the week, my second three-run week in a row. You’d think that running this often my times would get better, but you would be wrong. I blame my running shoes, which have 550k on them and have nothing left in the way of support. New shoes should arrive in a week or so.

Halfway through the run the skies cleared and it got a lot warmer than the forecast had said it would get. Came home to great news as Alice had got her Covid test result back and it was negative. Never thought it would be otherwise but good to get it officially confirmed.

Had about an hour to recover before it was time for the weekly adventure of driving to Crawley to get the click and collect from Sainsbury’s. For once they hadn’t screwed up the order or forgotten things so it was relatively stress-free despite being much busier (8 cars waiting) than last week when I was the only one there.

Spent an hour or two in the garden, the went for a walk with Alice so got 18,000 steps in for the day. We had a rare treat of having our supper (pizza) in front of the television. Before this lockdown we only had meals together at the dining room table maybe once a week.

Late breaking news: Dominic Cummings, the government’s official shitgibbon, is in trouble for breaking the lockdown!

Lockdown Diary – Day 58

It’s only 3pm and I am getting an earlier start on this diary today. When I leave it until the end of the day it too often becomes a chore and I feel I am writing it just to keep the streak going. Also easier to remember what the fuck you did all day when you do it earlier!

So I am sitting in a shady spot in the garden after a fairly productive day so far. Stayed up to late again last night, just didn’t get sleepy like I usually do. So went to bed about 1am and was awake at 6.30. So a nap might be on the cards. I say that but seldom actually take one.

Decided to do some weeding in the garden before it got too hot. Started about 8 and was done by 10 and was already sweltering. Got it bagged up and took it and all the other garden waste and rubbish that has been sitting here waiting for the local dump to reopen. At least having waited a week there were no queues to speak of. It was very well organised and no problem as far as social distancing. So glad to have it all out of the garden, which is looking pretty good now.

On the way home I went past the Garibaldi pub, which, not being able to open, has cleverly been converted to an off-licence and shop. It is a community-run pub and so I thought I would show some support for it and our local brewery while rewarding myself for my hard work. So I came home with a mini keg! That’s 5 litres of beer that must be consumed within 3 days of opening. Should not be a problem!

Got an email from the Guardian extending my furlough for another month, until the end of June. So that is a big relief as I was starting to wonder whether I should start asking about shifts, fully realising they are still thin on the ground.

If that’s not enough excitement for one day we are getting takeaway from Lebnani tonight! It will be the first time in two months that we eat something we haven’t cooked for ourselves. Exciting times!

Update: The Lebnani takeaway was fantastic! Won’t be waiting two months to we get the next one.

Lockdown Diary – Day 57

Woke up at 5.30am and took a while to get back to sleep, so my streak finally came to an end. Got up about 7.30 and enjoyed the solitude with my morning coffee. Spent most of the morning procrastinating, if you can really call it that when you don’t have anything to do anyway. Finally went for a run about 11 when the temperature was already pushing 28 degrees celsius. It was more of a chug than a run, my time was so much slower. I do seem to run faster when it is cold for some reason. But it didn’t seem too bad until I got to the park where there was no shade at all. Then it really seemed hot (for England).

I’ve now put more than 500k on my running shoes so I ordered a new pair the other day. They won’t arrive until the 30th so will have to put up with the old ones for a few more runs. They are totally worn out and I am sure running will be a lot more fun once the new shoes arrive.

The big news was that it was pay day and I checked my balance to see that I had apparently been paid two months’ worth of my furlough money in one go! I wasn’t expecting that. So I am temporarily flush, but at the same time have no idea when I will get another pay cheque.

Spent yet another afternoon in the garden but despite my run in the heat I didn’t feel as listless as I did yesterday. Maybe my hay fever medicine has kicked in.

Went for a short walk around the cemetery. It is a fascinating place and a shame that we have spent so little time exploring it. Most of the gravestones are so old that the writing and dates can no longer be read. But there are some very, very old ones there, and no doubt a lot of interesting stories. There are also some very old, very large trees, like this one, a cedar I think.

I thought today was the day my US passport expires but when I checked it had expired on the 11th. Feels a bit strange not having a valid US passport and not knowing when I will get a new one. Charlie’s expired in February. At least we both have UK passports, thank goodness.

A courier came this morning to collect Alice’s coronavirus self-test. She should get the results in 48 hours. Fingers crossed.

Lockdown Diary – Day 56

Well, it took 55 days but it finally happened. I completely forgot to write an entry so am cheating and doing this one the next morning. But through the wonders of technology it will look like I wrote it yesterday. You follow? Oh, wait! Now I will have to write two entries today! FML! I suppose I could do it this way everyday and anyone who has happened to stumble upon this diary would never know. And in any case, it’s a fucking diary, not a daily newspaper! Deadlines, shmeadlines!

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, yesterday, I mean today. I got up at 7am after yet another good sleep and went out to check on the blue tits. I could hear loud cheeping even before I opened the back door. And it wasn’t all coming from the box. I found a poor little blue tit had somehow fledged on its own, without any help from its parents, who were still nowhere to be found. How brave! How desperately hungry it must have been to take that leap into the big wide world all alone.

I watched him hop about and could tell that his wings were not yet up to flying. He barely fluttered them or attempted to fly. Too weak? Too young? Meanwhile I could hear another chick peeping and see his head looking out the hole. I knew the fledgling had little chance of survival and I thought about finding a box and taking it inside. But instead I got a few meal worms and removed their heads (just like the parents do) and tried to feed them to the chick with a little plastic ice cream spoon without success. I got a pair of tweezers and they worked much better and I was able to feed the chick four or five worms. My theory was that this would give it strength to get somewhere safe and maybe, just maybe be able to survive, though I knew this outcome was unlikely. But I had to do something.

Meanwhile a jay was flying around, waiting for its chance to grab the chick. I chased it away several times. The fledgling rather than seek shelter in the flowerbed instead came right up to the back door. Having fed it, did it think I was its mother now? It eventually hopped over to where the tap comes out of the house and managed to get up on the rim of a zinc flowerpot before sheltering behind it in the drain. Alice was now up and helping keep watch for the jay. But in the blink of an eye it struck and we could not longer hear the fledgling calling for its mother. It was gone less than an hour after leaving the nest box.

The chick that had been peeping from the nest box had gone quiet too. Had it been snatched from the hole? Had it fledged and flown away? I could not hear it in the flowerbed or nearby trees. I walked to the back of the garden listening for chicks in the trees, just as I had done in years past on fledging days. I couldn’t hear anything but other birds.

I took a photo through the nest box hole and could see at least two dead chicks. So after a few hours I decided to open it up. There were four dead chicks inside. One, probably the one I heard peeping, seeming almost ready to fledge, had died standing next to the hole looking up at it. Since we had only ever counted five eggs and chicks, it seemed all were now dead. Just 48 hours earlier they were all alive, and the male and female blue tits were flying in and out with food. They were all fully feathered and looked like proper little blue tits just a few more days away from being able to fly.

We have no idea why they had been abandoned. We still have not seen more than one blue tit in the area since Sunday evening, the male, so we assume the female must have been predated or just died. Even while the fledgling was on the ground I saw the male on the feeder, showing no interest in the drama that was unfolding 20 feet away. We will never know what went wrong. Having a nest box can bring great joy when things go well. But sadness when they don’t.

I spent the rest of the day in the garden, feeling meh.