Occasionally, we go for a drive in the car for our walk. Usually, only once every few weeks and I get excited about a little outing. It is amazing how thrilling a small outing is now which I suppose doesn’t do us any harm. Anyway, the outings below are rare and over the past few weeks
Recently, we wandered around Barden Lake in Tonbridge. A glorious spot and an easy walk. There were a few people but the paths are wide for the 2 m rule so you feel quite safe. Who finds it weird how we walk in the road now to avoid other walkers? You walk along the pavement and wonder who is going to go on the road first. Must be confusing to children who are always told not to do this!
Anyway, it was great to see all the birds flying around. We saw mallards, geese, kingfishers and lots of dog walkers and families escaping the cabin fever. Is it me, are all the birds singing louder now? Probably me! I’ve heard people blame the lack of traffic but I’m sure they are louder and braver. A robin came up to me recently, and I thought I’m sure that wouldn’t have happened before.
We decided to walk around the above thirty-acre lake and soon found this challenging because the area is fairly wild in places and without paths. However, we enjoyed the ramble around the whole area.
About two-thirds of the lake area forms a nature reserve providing places for fishermen and yachting.
We started the walk by passing the Leigh Barrier which is used to prevent Tonbridge from being flooded. It is high up so provides excellent views of the surrounding area too.
Now the UK lockdown restrictions have been eased this week, I’ve seen a couple of people and briefly visited the south coast.
The weather wasn’t great but dry. We drove to Beachy Head near Eastbourne. The cliff is the highest in England rising 162 metres (531ft) above sea level. You have a magnificent view of the east coast and is quite uplifting at this challenging time. (See top pic.)
Funnily enough, the name has nothing to do with a beach but is derived from the French words Beauchef (13th Century) and Beaucheif (14th Century) meaning “beautiful head(land)” which of course, it is.
Luckily, in 1929, Eastbourne bought the 4,000 acres of land for £100,000 and saved the area from development and is part of the South Downs National Park. David and I thoroughly enjoyed our wind blown walk and even the gales were invigorating. We did eat our sandwich in the car though. Certainly not picnic weather but it is great to enjoy an outing and glorious environment.
The cliffs are eroding every year so it is vitally important not to walk too close to the edge. The white cliffs are quite bright because of the erosion revealing the chalk.
The lighthouse is 43 metres high and electrified in 1920 and automated in 1983. The wild and natural environment is truly wonderful and worth a trip. We walked all around the headland from a nearby car park so we got our exercise in.
I’ve recently got into the lockdown habit of buying a Sunday newspaper, The Sunday Times. Journalist Rod Liddle was commenting about the fact we rather like this lockdown existence (above).
I’ve mentioned all the negative aspects of the lockdown a couple of posts ago and don’t wish to appear flippant about this dreadful time but there is a positive a flip side.
Not having to see people you don’t really like is always good for an introvert (above). Personally, I like being with people and have been told I’m chatty but don’t always want to talk. Maybe that’s why I love going to the pub. You can chat to the locals or sit quietly on your own.
Not having to hug too is ok and I think this will be a permanent change. The kissing, on both cheeks. Really? People have become friendly but that is because they don’t have to talk now, just smile in the ‘yes, I’m walking round you, because of social distancing’ kind of way.
The changes this crisis will provoke are extraordinary. The main one, will be travel and commuting. I’m not sure people will commute to work like they used to. Now businesses realise employees can work at home, this will become the new normal.
Also, people don’t need to travel for business. They can hold meetings on Zoom and can action projects remotely. Hopefully, this will reduce costs, time and be good for the environment. Who doesn’t miss their two hour commute up to London or wherever? It is not just cost, but time as well rendering a productive work/life balance.
Who wants to be crammed on a bus/tube/train? Why not hop on a bike and wind all the motorists up in your lycra gear? Or we could be northern European, and use bikes as a tool to go about our business in normal attire and not look like a twit. Could we not?
I love to travel but the airports Ugh!!! It starts as you wait for your flight to be called. Mr Muppet sits on a chair with a bag on the next chair so you can’t sit down. Except Mrs I-will-sit-down (me obvs) will march up to said person and say directly whilst pointing to the seat piled up with wifey’s bags, excuse me, can I sit? Always works. Also, why do people queue up for 50 minutes just so they can be one of the first people to sit and wait on the plane?
We can now play spot the plane in the sky too.
The lockdown has given me time to deep clean and decorate, which I probably wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise. Also, it is good to be at one with nature again and actually hear the birds sing. From talking to people who are able to work, most seem to favour working from home and hope it will continue in some format. In fact, reading and listening to views on lockdown, it is apparent many people will view their whole lives differently and make radical changes.
Apparently, 68% of people have quite enjoyed the lockdown as they can slow down and see their children or just do what they want.
What about the children? There has been a post going around social media about two older people chatting. It starts by one remembering the cruelty of the virus, the deaths, the lost jobs, and suffering. The ageing gentleman replies by saying he doesn’t remember the lockdown that way. He was four years old, and just remembers playing in the sunny garden with his brother and seeing mum and dad all the time, laughing and spending time together due to the fact the parents were always around (working from home). This may seem sentimental and yet I do know a mum who posts daily ‘pictures of happiness’ of family life. The child she photos, will remember this time fondly.
(Yes, as a side note, I do realise how hard it can be to have children around 24/7 days a week.)
Maybe one of the issues here is many people have realised they didn’t like their ‘normal life’.
Let’s be honest, nothing much will change immediately because most of us haven’t succumbed to the virus. We will be socially distancing for months to come. So perhaps we should try to be positive?
For me, it will be nice to see family/friends/community again. I miss shopping (call me shallow), my little business, the occasional lunch or dinner out many times a week. Everyone has their own crap to deal with and I’ve certainly had mine. It is time to enjoy life and make the best of things. Isn’t it?
Many permanent changes will occur now and in the future such as home working, cycling/walking to work, using copious amounts of sanitiser, baking bread, and stocking up on food cans and bog rolls!
Makes you think doesn’t it? Do we need to introduce a fresh lifestyle?
The Good Stuff list: Key workers NHS Quiet roads (managing traffic better?) Local shopping Neighbourhood schemes/groups Remote working/socialising Online courses/virtual tours Losing your mobile phone constantly (at home) Not having to hug/kiss people in an offensively continental manner Writing daily on this blog Free schedule People are ‘war time’ friendly Altruistic attitudes Time to do stuff – even gardening New hobbies New businesses – Thai takeaway Relax Read books/newspapers/articles Podcasts – I’m hooked! Birdsong (dawn chorus) Enjoy the countryside (blossom) Baking Bread/cakes Local produce The weather! (Weird how it has been mostly sunny since this all started.)
Oh, life before Covid-19; how wonderful it was. A few weeks after The Shard visit we ventured up to London again to view the above exhibition. My friend had been lucky enough to be given a ‘membership of the Tate’ card which included free viewings and entry to private lounges. Brilliant.
We set off to London and thoroughly enjoyed the photography of Dora Maar. She is remembered for being an accomplished French artist who had a romantic liaison with Pablo Picasso. Maar created surrealist collages and depictions of the Provence with striking black and white photography and paintings.
Her use of mirrors and shadows endeavoured to form her links with intuitions and ideas rather than natural imagery. Marr’s fascinating photomontages reflect a time after the Depression that depicts poverty and society during a fraught political climate.
She seems to optimise the modern woman focusing on portraits, nudes, fashion, society, and even advertising. I loved the investigational aspect of her work. The innovative practices such as montage and collage merging fact and fiction. The work is inspiring and must have been ahead of her time. The inspirational factors seemed to represent life but Marr uses obscure techniques.
The exhibition explored Maar’s long career and in the context of her work, her contemporaries and life. The work included when she concentrated on painting, poetry, religion and philosophy not returning to photography until her 70s.
We really enjoyed the exhibition. It is great to view such disparate, philosophical work which explores the peculiarities of society and life whilst championing the irrational and bizarre.
On a social side, we enjoyed the privileges afforded to members of the Tate Gallery. The spectacular views from the Members’ bar in London are amazing. Having lunch with that view is something I will never forget. I can remember feeling jolly about being able to view some amazing forthcoming exhibitions without being encumbered by any virus. We were naively confident, we could continue to appreciate art for at least, weeks if not months, to come. Hopefully, the membership will be stretched forward to make up for the closure of the Tate.
Have a lovely day everyone.
Thanks for reading and following my blog. It is greatly appreciated. 😊
V E day marks the end of the war on 8th May, 1945 when Winston Churchill announced the war was over. This day (Victory of Europe Day) celebrates Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender.
Due to the lockdown, any celebrations will behind closed doors. Dave and I decided to go for a walk around the village and take some photos…
Well I thought it would be behind closed doors but for the first time in 30 years of living here, the village is decked out with copious union flags and tables in the front garden, with accompanied covered up teas and we are in a lockdown. Ha, go figure.
I only know this because we went to see our local public house decorations. A great effort.
We then enjoyed a delicious BBQ of homemade sauce (recipe below), burgers, sausages and lamb chops with veggies (also on the BBQ) and sat outside having a few drinks.
The weather was glorious, which was a shame in a way but brilliant in another. Shame, because we could have all been out and about socialising and brilliant because at least we can still enjoy ourselves in the garden. Again.
Stay safe, stay well and have a jolly good weekend, if you can. Cheers, Andrea
I have just read a thought-provoking article on the effect of bad news relating to the Coronavirus. The public is still worried whether the lockdown ends or not. The constant protracted stream of news which focuses on the negative facets makes people, particularly the aging population feel they are at extreme risk. In fact, 60% of the 18-34 age group feels they are at risk rising to nearly 80%, for the 55-75 year old age group.
The article questions whether this is out of perspective?
The main risk group is the older group with pre-existing health conditions and the deaths are mostly in this age group.
Dr. Amitava Banerjee, of University College London suggests the negative focus on the epidemic means we “have lost sight” as the virus causes a moderate illness for many. Of course, in my opinion, there is the problem regarding undiagnosed underlying conditions for both the young and old. He also reminds us that we need to look at the rising rates of domestic violence and mental health problems because of the lockdown.
The Edinburgh University in conjunction with London academics has published a paper advising lifting the lockdown for most whilst protecting the vulnerable thus continuing isolating the individuals and testing their carers.
Good hygiene and isolation for those who need it, is the way forward according to the scientific analysis.
For the non-vulnerable population, coronavirus carries no more risk than a ‘nasty flu’, says Prof Mark Woolhouse, an expert in infectious disease who led the research
It does look like the government will start to lift the lockdown soon. However, I think although this will be imminent, the process will be in phases, so we can return to the previous phrase, if coronavirus figures start to rise again.
It is a shame the media outlets are quite so negative. In my view, we could have done with how many people are recovering and a more positive view of progress. Although, clearly precautions will have to continue until a vaccine is secured or herd immunity.
If the lockdown is wound down, I think much more care needs to be taken on the hygiene side of things. For example, constant wiping of public use tables, hand sanitiser as you enter premises and supermarket equipment wiped down. Simple precautions aren’t actioned enough.
Coronavirus: Boom time for bikes as virus changes lifestyles
Fear of public transport due to the virus, which I use a lot, is a shame but understandable. Apparently, there is a 200% increase in bicycle orders by emergency service workers and this can only increase substantially as lockdown disperses. With large numbers of the public wanting to stop using cars and public transport, people will become similar to large parts of Europe (Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden), and start using bikes, not to irritate car users in their fancy lycra gear and roading hogging, but to just go about their daily business.
I was surprised when I recently visited London, how many bike lanes there are now. We have them in our local area too so we feel it is now perfectly safe to use bicycles. More cycling infrastructure is still needed though and hopefully, some pop-up lanes will materialise soon. They may have to now.
It is amazing how the Coronavirus is bringing about so many changes, isn’t it? We read about how cycle shops have gone from selling 20-30 bikes per week, to 50 bikes a day. Extraordinary.
David and I, are seriously thinking about this too. We favour getting some fold up bikes to travel about the local areas and also take with us on days out. What life changes are you undertaking, (that you didn’t think you would until the lockdown)?
Vitamin D Study
An interesting study referred to by Dr John Campbell recently, relating to Vitamin D, looked at 780 people with confirmed cases of infection of Sars-CoV-2 in Indonesia.
This is a good sample size. The study used age, sex, co-mobility, Vitamin D status and disease outcome (mortality). The study concluded the death risk factors; male, increasing age, pre-existing condition, below normal Vitamin D serum level.
Most of the above we already know but it is interesting to see the ‘below normal’ vitamin D levels in the outcome. They did some statistical analysis allowing for age, sex and Covid-19 mortality and found you are more likely to pass away with low Vitamin D levels! Surprised?
Having accounted for the risk factors, people with low Vitamin D were 10 x more likely to die. This is interesting because it is related to COVID-19 specifically.
It has come to my attention that it helps with colds, flu and general heath so, for the first time, I’ve been taking daily doses of Vitamin D throughout the winter and have just finished for the season. Now the sun is shining, I will try to enjoy some sun periodically, in short time frames.
Incidentally, I found taking Vitamin D improves mood too!
Photos of Odense, Denmark and Copenhagen. (My own photos from a trip taken to Northern Europe, June 2019)
Vit D in Indonesia https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c… Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D: An Indonesian Study (26th April) Retrospective cohort study which included two cohorts (active and expired) of 780 cases with laboratory-confirmed infection of SARS-CoV-2 in Indonesia Age, sex, co-morbidity, Vitamin D status, and disease outcome (mortality) were recorded Serum 25(OH) D levels 1. Normal, greater than 30 ng/ml 2. Insufficient, 21-29 ng/ml 3. Deficient, less than 20 ng/ml. This Results Death risk factors, male, increasing age, pre-existing condition, below normal Vitamin D serum level When controlling for age, sex, and comorbidity, Vitamin D status is strongly associated with COVID-19 mortality outcome of cases. When compared to cases with normal Vitamin D status, death was approximately 10.12 times more likely for Vitamin D deficient cases (OR=10.12; p less than 0.001).
This morning David (Husband) got up very early and visited our local supermarket. This saves queuing and wanting to clonk the one idiot who refuses to social distance.
My goodness, we have enough food now for several weeks and spent loads of money. This action derives from me having nightmares about running out of food, waking up with Covid-19 symptoms, and having to isolate with no food in the house. Yes, my children smiled on last night’s Zoom chat, joking they don’t charge much for delivering food.
When I become really old (if I get there which is doubtful if I don’t stop eating crap), I will be one of those stubborn folks, who refuse help will I not? Didn’t even occur to me to ask for help.
The food arrives with hubby saying it was quite busy, and I decant the bags and proceed with the ridiculous task of decontaminating the food packaging and jars. Dear God, really? This is what we have come to?
Then, once washed, and only then, is it organised, with obligatory rubber gloves on, into the appropriate storage. Raises eyes to the ceiling. What a carry on.
Although, I must confess, a list was carefully written and it is fun to have the BIG REVEAL of goodies such as copious red wine (tick), chocolate biscuits (tick), craft beers (tick), mixed nuts (tick) and I’ll probably be as fat as a house, by the time this has finished (tick)! Hubby even managed to get some gold dust; oh I mean hand sanitiser. £6 flipping pounds!!!!! I paid £20 online, but at least I acquired it when needed.
Seriously though, at the beginning of this dreadful time, I could hardly eat because I had the worst anxiety and panic I’ve ever had. My blood pressure is high and the situation is an ongoing worry. At least the government are now indicating when lockdown will end but we will all have to be very, very careful for months to come.
This week. I’m taking steps to reduce the rubbish and eat more healthily. I’m walking in the local woods daily to raise my mood ‘what is this mad woman who wanders around the woods?’ I feel everyone is thinking. Who cares what folk think as they walk their dogs? I do not. Also, we are eating even more fish, chicken and veggie meals. Although, I’ve clocked hubby has bought some charcoal, lighters and beef burgers so a BBQ is obviously imminent.
Some of the things I’ve been eating are chicken casserole, pan fried salmon/cod veggies, veggie omelettes, fresh pasta, home baked bread and picky bits for lunch. All good, healthy fodder but a few biscuit snacks are creeping in the evening which we NEVER have normally.
Who would have thought we’d have been living like this when we were at the New Year’s Eve party drunkenly hoping the 20’s are going to roar? Roar they are, but not in the way I was hoping.
I listened to the Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin and the topic discussed was lists to make memories. In a future post I will write about what I’ve changed during this time and what I will continue. Here is today’s list…
Words and phrases to describe this time:
Family walks (‘It takes a Pandemic to go on a family walk’ written on Instagram)
Alcohol (Beer, wine, gin)
Working from home
Board games (added from comment, thanks)
Anything else? Thanks for stopping by. Comments welcome.
I’ve been reading a lot during the past few weeks. If you have any good recommendations, please pop them in the comments. I’ve just finished Becoming by Michelle Obama. I enjoyed the memoir but there were a few things that jarred with me. She emerges through the book as iconic and compelling but seems to have sailed through life. Obviously bright and accomplished at school, she meets the brilliant Obama, juggles motherhood and work with ease and eventually chronicles her experiences of political life with Obama.
I enjoyed reading about her early life and meeting Obama who is clearly brilliant and an eloquent orator. Learning about just how clever the man is and his altruistic accomplishments are engrossing.
However, I found the her constant ease of passage throughout her perfect life and constant referrals to race rather irritating. Her writing wasn’t emotive but full of anecdotes and memories plus lacking in analysis. For example, when she spoke about the death of her 26 year old friend, I felt she was rather distant. More ‘when’ rather than ‘why’. All a little too perfect without much vulnerability.
On the plus side, they both clearly care deeply for their country and are very driven. Overall, it is a fascinating read and I can recommend it. Most people love the book too and I’ve never seen so many 5* reviews on Goodreads. I gave it 3 which I may increase to 4. Unfortunately, you can’t do half stars on Goodreads.
Just a few weeks ago, my friend and I visited the Shard, London and then the Bermondsey Gin Distillery. It was a birthday present from last year. You know, one of those things that you have to book months in advance but is worth the wait. It was such enormous fun and I haven’t blogged about this wonderful day out, so here you go.
The idea of The Shard was to create many diverse areas for the public to experience including magnificent London views. The building is a vertical city, which you see when arriving at London Bridge. It is operating 24 hours a day and includes a hotel, retail area, restaurant, viewing floors and of course, offices. The building finally opened officially on the 5th July 2012 after a 12-year project to build a significant landmark on the London skyline. It seems to have worked and the modernity of the building is striking although I always think it looks unfinished.
“THE VISION FOR THE SHARD WAS TO CREATE AN ARCHITECTURALLY STRIKING VERTICAL CITY INCORPORATING RETAIL, OFFICES, HOTEL, APARTMENTS, RESTAURANTS AND A PUBLIC VIEWING GALLERY.”
The Shard developer and joint owner Irvine Sellar
Around the late 90s, Irvine Sellar, the owner-developer had lunch with the award-winning architect Renzo Piano, who, incidentally informed Sellar about his dislike of tall buildings! However, during the lunch meeting, the architect was sucked in by the energy of London, the railway lines and the swirling beauty of the Thames and turned over his menu and started to draw the future Shard. This is said to look like The Shard today.
Elaine and I visited the viewing galleries, 240 m above street level. It is certainly unlike any other place in the world and the views are truly magnificent. When I first arrived, I feared we wouldn’t be able to see much because of the fog but it cleared intermittently and was great for photography too. The spectacular views improve when you experience the outside floor and feel the wind on your face. You can then look up and see the glass and steel spires poking into the rainy clouds and tapering off into the sky.
The panoramic view of London is even better than expected. We watched the Thames river meandering its way towards the outskirts of London. You are above the snaking London Bridge station railway lines which reminded me of childhood memories of toy train tracks. Across the city, you can see many iconic buildings such as Waterloo Station, Big Ben and the historic Tower of London. Parts of this building go back to William the Conqueror. Then there is the Globe Theatre and a distant London Eye. As we saw all this during an afternoon in January 2020, we had the joyful vista of a darkening London and gentle light show as all the lights came on. The rain seems to add to the excitement as London became dimmer and dimmer and more reflective. Truly wonderful.
Bermondsey Gin Distillery
We walked to the above as it is easier than traipsing through the ever-winding tunnels of the tube stations. We did get a little lost on the way and appeared to go around in circles (thanks Google Maps) but got there in the end! Upon arriving at Bermondsey we visited a bar under the arches area called Ropewalk. I enjoyed the strong cocktail as the train thundered overhead. We arrived at the gin place feeling rather merry.
Oh, those were the days.
Bermondsey in the mid-19th century was a notorious slum and the centre for trade and industry. These days the wharves and warehouses have been turned into bars, restaurants and shops. We were given a chat about the history of gin which was most enlightening. I had no idea that in recent years, the law was challenged and subsequently changed and that is why you see so many new gins now. We were both fascinated by this fact alone which explains the abundance of flavours and brands now. Oh, and we thoroughly enjoyed trying our the Jensen’s Gin too!
What an absolutely fabulous day.
Above is a selfie with London Bridge behind (oh dear)!
It is important to acknowledge the enormity of the Coronavirus crisis and the subsequent devastation on so many levels. I don’t discuss it much here whilst blogging, but it is, as with everyone, constantly on my mind. The heart-breaking medical situations, the loss of our liberty, the financial burden, employment/business fallout, the media and the anxiety and stress of our mental and physical health are not going to end imminently. It is good to have time to think, clean, exercise, read, decorate, etc. but it is a challenge to remain positive much of the time. This blog has become a journal of my experiences and I’m glad to say writing this, has been rewarding for me and I hope, interesting to others and fascinating to look back on. At present, I can’t see a return to normal for some months to come.
I’ve decided to take a break from social media and particularly Facebook. The final straw was when someone posted something moaning and referring to someone as Sicknote ….. The person had been in Intensive Care. Now normally, I just scroll past when someone posts/shares an ignorant view but this lady rarely posts so I thought it could be interesting. It made me angry because the content was so disgusting and I was shocked that this FB Friend had posted it. Anyway, it serves no purpose. None at all. Enough is enough and apart from occasionally posting on my blog page, I won’t even look at Facebook for a while. So far, it has been a couple of weeks and I feel much better for it. Yes, know I can mute/unfollow but really I need a break from all the noise. This has been coming for some time as it has become the platform to moan about who is doing what, and why they shouldn’t be doing it during lockdown or any other time! At present my main concern is my family and the surrounding community. Certainly not Gotcha armchair opinions and politics. Especially now. Oh, and it is possible to have this view on all content whether you favour the political/celebrity/friend’s views or not. I’ve been known to be irritated by daft attacks on politicians I’m not keen on (understatement). If the views are vicious and twisted and just someone launching into a cruel diatribe then it is better left unsaid. Twitter and Instagram are far more interesting in my humble opinion. Rant over. I’ll be more cheerful in future, I promise.
Positive News At least there is some good news; the one person I know who has had this dreadful virus is now recovering in hospital having been seriously ill in ICU on a ventilator for many weeks. It must be such a relief for her family and is such promising news. Hopefully, she will be able to rest, have physio and eventually make a full recovery. Also, I have a family member in a medical care situation and she seems to be happy and well looked after by the devoted medical staff. Thank goodness we have the NHS. I’ve always been an advocate and am even more so now. Hope you are all well. Onwards and upwards 🙂 Take care, Andrea x