Covid-19 Lockdown

Maya - 11 :)  Darley Dale, Derbyshire

I started writing one of these entries 3 days ago now but got side tracked watching a movie and making my brothers birthday cake!! I also started to write an entry last night but the computer deleted what I wrote so I am re-doing it now! 


It was my little brother’s birthday yesterday and the cake I spent half a day making and decorating was: 2 layers of sticky chocolate cake sandwiched together with whipped cream, covered in black icing with swirls of other colours in it – made to look like a nebula, - covered in star sprinkles with lolly-pop head planets and an icing rocket!! My grandparents came over to drop his presents off just when we were starting the first party game so we set as many party games as we could up 2 meters away so that they could join in too!! We did: paint your own self portrait holding the paintbrush with your feet; moving a cookie from our forehead to our mouths using our faces; mining chocolate chips out of a cookie with a cocktail stick; an adapted game of pin the tail on the donkey; thawing out a frozen t shirt and putting it on as fast as we could; using a straw and sucking to move smarties from one place to another and transferring water from one bucket to another as fast as we could using only a sponge!


I won a book recently from an Anthony Horowitz website! I won the next book in the Alex Rider series, nightshade, it was free and signed to me!! There was also a little post card in the front of the book which said: ‘Dear Maya, congratulations on winning the competition. I hope you enjoy my new book. Stay safe!’ I entered the competition by answering some questions - with some help from my dad - to reveal an overall answer which we then put in a competition application!! I can’t wait to read it but me and my dad have read all the Alex Rider series together so I am going to wait for him so we can read this one together too!


I found out that 2 of my relatives have had coronavirus already the other day my uncle and my great uncle! They have both recovered now though! Our neighbour had it too and she has recovered as well. So I know 3 people who have had it!


Hello from Eastbourne

Macrae children

Boy, by Franklin Lewis Macrae


My dad has been taking me out on my bike on the road. Usually, we ride on the pavement but the roads are empty at the moment and dad thought it would be a good lesson for me. We cycled to the skate park, it was empty so we had a quick cycle in there, up and down the ramps. My mum sneaked us out again later, we went to our den in the park. Mum climbed into the den with us and discovered some treasure! It was an old and massive candelabra, heavy black metal and circular with space for at least forty candles. The base was broken but my mum carried it home as she thought dad could weld it. He was surprised to see it but said he will fix it up for us.  


Me and dad moved all of the firewood from the shed to the side of the house.  We have lots of cherry tree logs because our tree had to be cut down after our nasty neighbour poisoned it. It had a swing on it and we decorated it on our birthdays.


I've read 'Boy' by Roald Dahl this week. It's full of interesting tales from his childhood. I thought it was funny and outrageous, especially the bit when he puts a dead mouse in a mean old lady's sweet jar! I thought the headteachers and prefects (or Boazers) were ghastly, they would hit the boys and use their power on them. The sweetshop owner and the headmasters reminded me of Ms Trunchball in 'Matilda'.

I enjoy Roald Dahl's descriptions and adjectives, sometimes I can't believe an adult is saying such things about other adults!  He is always telling the truth though. He said that one of his headteachers became an archbishop and crowned the Queen, which shocked me because a tyrant in a school who beats children should not go far in life. I myself wouldn't want to be a prefect because I don't think it is right for a student to tell another student what to do and boss them about.  


My mum bought me the Roald Dahl dictionary a few years ago. There are explanations for his whacky words, like 'delumptious', 'rotsome', 'wondercrump'.  He liked to play with words and encouraged children to do the same.  When I tried it in my writing at school, my teacher told me to stop it. I think Roald Dahl loved children and didn't stop being a boy himself.  He loved choc too, like me. This is a great book and I would definitely recommend it. I wish we got to read it in school instead of Shakespeare


Rural Norfolk

Chris Gates, Norfolk UK

Astonishing how the otherwise appalling figure of 429 deaths in the 24 hours to 5pm Sunday seemed such a relief while listening to briefings, given it’s very much on the way down...In this bleakness it should be grasped as a triumph in our battle, or perhaps more properly, progress, but it’s still a hideous figure. To the same timeline 16509 ‘hospital’ deaths are logged - plus, of course the ‘community’ deaths, still unknown or unreleased. 


The reluctance of Government to be fully frank with the public rumbles on as a favourite in Press and TV coverage and quite right too. As usual, a preoccupation is the supply of PPE: stories from the front line of shortages and makeshift measures abound, yet every hapless Minister trots out the line there’s plenty. The RAF have been sent to Turkey to get the consignment Hancock assured us was arriving over the weekend (last minute wranglings over just who was to pay for shipping?) and this morning, the Telegraph and BBC have stories (fully attributed?) of UK firms sending kit needed here abroad and a large-scale UK manufacturing offer being declined. Nowhere is it suggested - surprising - that it’s a matter of money ie good value. If it’s £5 for a 50p mask then I’d like to know, have the grabbing companies named. If much needed PPE isn’t being made or is leaving our shores because of a budget consideration of a few pence we should know, the decision should be defended... We should get the full storey. 

Back to "the Truth? You can't handle the truth..."



Into our increasingly ‘home delivery’ existence catalogue comes another first: I should get a half-gallon of paint today, via 1st Class mail. I have never, ever bought paint by post but have been forced to give up on the otherwise wonderful local hardware store whose inbound deliveries are up the Swanny, apparently. Painting a shed door is one of those jobs I very much want to do ahead of other jobs arguably higher on the list. The fact is I rather like nipping out - it too is a sort of queue jumping, "Can’t weed the paths, must go to buy some Bay Rum”, say, and pre-Plague I did it all the time. I’ve had a privileged life with little compulsion once I escaped school and rarely commit to anything I don’t like with good grace. Now of course we’re very restricted regarding allowable car journeys. They must be spent wisely.


So, an escapist list of things to do while under arrest today: put mower on charge, meanwhile go to garage and get allowable emergency petrol. By the time I get back it’ll be time for coffee, then an hour or so will have passed and the mower will be ready to go (once I’ve squirted some of that puncture repair foam into the front n/s tyre) and I can spend another happy hour or so trundling around cutting grass. By then the post and paint will have come, and after lunch I’ll paint the door. By then it will be about 3 and too late to start anything else in case (it rarely is, but you can’t be too careful) the No 10 Briefing is at 4 today. By the time it’s revealed it will be at 5 it’ll be too late to do anything but wait for 5.

Another day, tailor-made for the canny prioritiser.


From St Just

Jane G, St Just

To Sainsbury's again: it's still in good choreographed order, and still well-stocked with everything except flour. But I realised I've developed a hoarder's mentality, fearing that something that's available now may not always be - & so I filled up with petrol despite the tank being 80% full already. This especially makes no sense since the only journey I'm now doing is the 7 miles to Penzance and back once every ten days or so - and if there really is a full apocalypse and we're told to run for our lives (anything now seems possible), I'm only 4 miles from Land's End anyhow. But having a full tank feels like Being Prepared.


In fact 7 miles now seems a very serious distance, as if we were beginning to think in horse-riding terms rather than driving ones. And the post that arrives from all over the country looks exotic - from places so far beyond reach that going there is unimaginable. Greenwich. Colchester. Bolton. Bristol.


The other day my parents and I had a long conversation on FaceTime. Since they live in Canada, I don't expect to see them in person - & in fact we've been speaking more often recently than we usually do. But it was sobering to hear them say that - as over-70s living among other over-70s - they expect to be in lockdown until a vaccine is found. I took the phone upstairs to show them the coastline and my mother exclaimed at the birdsong - so for several minutes they listened to the sound of evening in West Penwith from an apartment in Edmonton, Alberta, at noon.


Home Thoughts

Hilary Q, North Norfolk

Tuesday. Garden impossibly beautiful in brilliant sunlight. House in brilliant sunlight rather dusty. Mistake not to have invited Weekly Angel to self isolate with us. Have been drawn back to the attic - my parallel universe - where in the intensity of a single mote-filled beam of brilliant sunlight from one small window I will continue to cut and paste into my commonplace book papers I always thought worth saving.


Bumpy landing on the south coast

Catherine, Sussex, UK

This morning I am taking a chance in sharing that my chipperness, my look-on-the-bright-side, count-your-blessings sunny-face-forward keep-your-feelings-private self, are momentarily dented.


I read here a lot about bucolic shutdown bliss: pottering in the garden, rustling up cakes, taking up new or long-forgotten crafts, chatting (at a distance) with equally contented friends.


But what if your domestic situation is soured by the shutdown? What if, as an older family member, you feel less shielded and more a sitting duck in your own home, at the mercy of an impatient Covid-scorning Trojan horse?


Does no one else experience this, or anything similar?


Do you put up a fight or, wearying, accept defeat and its possible outcome?


I expect I will have cheered up soon. I'm expecting deliveries of copious amounts of echinacea, vitamin C and zinc, which I had carelessly allowed to run down. I do what I can, and the internet doesn't answer back.


“Survival” diary

Susan, Country Victoria, Australia

We are either bombarded with virus information or latest news is very hard to come by. It was announced forty eight hours ago that C19 has almost been eliminated in the state of Victoria and that we should expect a gradual easing of restrictions on movements. Testing is now available for anyone displaying any symptoms of the virus. We have been told by our Commonwealth Government that there will no easing of restrictions if we do not sign up to an app that tracks all our movements. I remember my Father’s reaction to a proposal for the introduction of a national identity card; “I’d like to know why we fought a war against fascism, only to have them in government”. I do know exactly how he felt. Talking to friends over fences and on dog walks no one has any intention of downloading the tracker, nor of maintaining any distancing with trusted friends and family if the current trends continue. Australians are generally suspicious of authority and we will only act for a real, rather than imagined common good. Lovely Pete says,” no one will dob Susan, it would be un-Australian”. We all wish that we had a national government that provided clear goals and timelines. Jacinda Ardern constantly provides a masterclass in leadership. A local political satirist with a weekly national television programme just lets our Prime Minister (& the President of America) speak in his own words. No point writing gags when they are already laid out for you. Pure, cringe making gold. 


The shops are slowly re-opening in our little street, and our precious cafes and restaurants are making moves towards opening their doors providing some kind of service. It is a boost to see familiar smiling faces and the balmy autumn weather contributes to a feeling of optimism. 


The sweet peas and broad beans are up and running and I think I’ll have my first pick of lettuce early next week. Unlike England, garden centres are still open here and later in the week I look forward to buying and planting my tulip bulbs. 


Neil suggests watching Jeeves and Wooster tonight and we both wish we lived where stealing a policeman’s helmet was a legitimate sport.


Love still flows

Jonathan E, Toronto

A cold wind blows as we stand on our pieces of coloured tape to line up outside FoodBasic. Globally the number of Covid-19 cases exceeds two million but it is difficult not to focus on more personal issues. Will our daughter’s wobbly tooth fall out? Is the Tooth Fairy classified as an essential work? Should I splash out on an extra roll of toilet paper or will avocados be in short supply next week? How should we celebrate our daughter’s birthday now that Disney has lost its magic? Will balloons, piñatas and FaceTime with Granny and Grandpa cut the mustard? Time to move up to the next piece of coloured tape. Taking care to sanitize my hands as I enter the store I collect my groceries before beginning the long walk home. Restaurants, playgrounds, libraries and gyms are all closed but the neighbourhood sidewalks are covered in colourful chalk drawings depicting messages of love and support. Stay safe, stay calm, stay healthy. At seven thirty each evening the sound of pots and pans ring out to show support for front line workers. A chance encounter between a bat and a pangolin (a scaly anteater mammal) in the wet markets of Wuhan may have changed life as we know it, resulting in thousands of deaths worldwide, but love still flows from Canada.


Dog Days

Clarissa Upchurch, Wymondham

Dog Dumping 

Having started our own lockdown before the official date because we felt a growing unease when shopping in the town, I realise that this is our 6th week of isolation. In that time we have only broken the rules once (as far as I know) on social distancing.


The neighbour behind our house invited us over to have coffee in her garden where we could sit at the safe distance of two metres apart. She thought it wise to bring our drinks in our own cups. She had baked biscuits which she assured us had not been handled by her having been removed from the baking tray by a spatula straight onto the plate. It is amazing how well one can adapt to manoeuvring food to avoid contracting the unseen virus which you imagine is everywhere by now. Imagine the skills-acquired learning to open a letter or parcel without touching the outer covering. This reminds me of an embarrassing party game, the one passing the apple under the chin!


Not that we have been ordering goods by the dozen while in our isolation, like the people I heard about who are so bored they are buying the most unlikely items. One such person had ordered a scuba diving suit! He didn’t need it, even admitted it was just that he couldn’t think of anything else to do. 


Meanwhile dogs are being dumped in isolated places. There was the story of ‘Heinz’, the German Shepard on our local Wymondham internet noticeboard. He looked a stunner, a proper candidate for police work. How could anyone dump him? Is it the cost of his food, or the difficulty of obtaining it, or is it simply that his owner didn’t want to risk going out, and feared the dog might be going stir crazy in the living room? Cats are easier to manage, their way of coping is to carry on as normal which is sleeping in the warmest place in the house. They are cool…


On the other hand, I did see four dogs out walking yesterday. This was before lunch. I wondered if this was a good time to take your dog for a walk? Surely it should be early morning for the first relief of the day and then later on towards dusk for the relief before sleep? What do I know about dogs? 


Some benefits of lockdown:


No cold calls 

No pollution

No screaming jets 

No email adverts for Cheapflights 

Reduced traffic noise

Loads of birdsong


Corona Diary

Annabel, A village in North Norfolk

Not much to report. Huge death count, much more than normal, PPP etc.

My life seems to be a continuous step class of moving seed trays around the house and garden, green house and shed and a lot of watering. 

My neighbours came and had an illegal socially distance blue rubber clad cup of coffee in the garden. They even had a piece of cake.

They've gone to Waitrose. They were excited!

Love Annabel xxx


From South Oxford

PRKAD, Oxford

Two flowers and a statistic. The first Rose Campions have flowered in the nature reserve along the Thames. Calling to mind, here in Oxford, the Catholic martyr St Edmund Campion for whom my college is named. The diamond of England, he was called by his contemporaries. Seeing "his" flower always lifts the spirits.

There is a national shortage of ornamental pelargoniums (or geraniums). A few scented varieties to be had online, but the bold ornamental varieties for window-boxes are nowhere to be seen. Scraping onto a waiting list for delivery in May.

A University circular letter (organised, humane) quoted the astonishing yougov statistic that only 9% of the population want to go back to their old lives. That is news, and astonishing.

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