top of page


From the black shed

David E, East Norfolk

In The Woodlands


We had our first rain in April yesterday so I don’t need to go round watering pots or the veg garden. Instead I have enjoyed the woodland walks from our gate. First is the 7.5 acre millennium wood, planted by the local community as its name suggests at the turn of the century. When we first lived here it was an arable field with three large oak trees in the middle and a seldom used public footpath straight across. The oak trees weren’t healthy because of ploughing damage to the roots but two of the three have recovered well. Now its the central part of a wider woodland system which is well used by the local community.


Beyond the millennium wood is the belt plantation, a much older wood of mature ash, oak and chestnut. This is where we find orchids in the spring. Today I found a new patch of early purple orchid which appears to have spread quite a bit in the last few years.

Along a track from the belt plantation is the long plantation, known to everyone as the bluebell wood. This wood is at least 200 years old but parts have been replanted over the last 60 years. Today the bluebells are at their best, their deep blue spreading like a carpet as far as one can see. There is an occasional mutant white one. These bluebells are the pure native species (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), untainted by the Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) imported to this country a century ago and quite common in gardens. The Spanish bluebell has a tendency to cross with our native variety to produce a fertile hybrid and I was concerned to see a clump of Spanish not far from the bluebell wood. I have a conscience because there is a clump of hybrid bluebells on the boundary of my garden. Should I go and dig them up once flowering is over? The experts say that our native bluebell is not at severe risk since it is so much more fertile than the hybrid so maybe I’ll just enjoy what I see.


Tomorrow I may go to the further parts of the woodland, to Austin’s wood where there is a large five sided sundial in a central open area, surrounded by carpets of cowslip and backed by a profusion of apple blossom.

Happy days in lockdown.



Strange times

Anna Stenborg, Uppsala, Sweden


Snow on the ground this morning when I took the bike to the nursing home where my mother, due to advanced Alzheimer just recently moved in, to deliver her spare glasses. She is the family member who suffers most from being in reality locked in without visits. Initially I was allowed to take her for walks, but then that was also stopped after which she herself managed to escape, so the police had to search for her for four hours before she was found.

The staff has started to take her for walks and claim that she is well adjusted, but on the phone she often in the evening expresses worry that they are going to put her down.


My shift at the hospital as an on call physician started at 4 pm. It is the first time in this position since the start of the pandemic, and I was happy to notice that most seem allright both in the emergency room and wards. Much of the Uppsala University hospital has been reorganized to cope with the plague, but it is mostly the same great coworkers. 


One of my problems to solve this evening was to help move a patient from a corona ward after negativ covid test result. This patient had been hospitalized yesterday for paracetamol intoxication and needed continued medication to save his liver. Normally we have a few beds dedicated to observe and treat "intoxications" until a psychiatrist can determine if there is a risk of suicide, but we don´t have those beds (the whole ward is closed and the staff moved to a corona intermediate care ward).


Now I had to convince a reluctant psychiatrist to go to a Covid ward and talk to the patient who could afterwards be moved to a regular ward.


Corona Diary

Annabel, A village in North Norfolk

No idea what day of the week it is.

Yesterday afternoon had a scrub up and got clean and warm after the wet garden and Earnie and I went for a walk. Met the postman at the gate who threw a box into the passenger seat. My treat, lovely smelly Neals Yard bath stuff.

We decided to make an incursion to a famous but closed blue bell wood in the vicinity. It was so lovely, a sea of watery green and blue, swathes of blue bells and a seam of wild garlic. Nobody there at all, met some one leaving and could hear a dog bark but didn't see a soul. It was gorgeous. Normally at blue bell time you get all sorts of people who never go for a walk and they shout at you to put that dog on the lead.


Boris has had a baby! That was a surprise. What an exciting life he leads. Nothing really happens in my world. Nothing big. Just communing with my neighbours the blackbirds and recently quite friendly mousey. There's one in the cutting garden, probably the one that ate the courgette seeds and one in the bit outside the back door who eats the bird food.


The postman delivered a massive bill from the garage which I thought I'd paid and another parcel which I thought was a tile. Felt in a muddle so had to clean the kitchen table which always ends up covered in stuff. Then I opened the parcel and what a surprise.
It was a lovely box of chocolates. Booja Booja Hooray.



Thin air

John Mole, St.Albans



Welcome this day 

and what may come of it


Familiar laughter

somewhere down the street


Long conversations

between gate and doorstep


A neighbour singing

as he mows his lawn


Surprise and delight

that keep things simple


Occasional kindnesses

however small


Finding the friend

who was a stranger


Rainbows in windows

and a change of heart


The Runaway Diaries

Sophie Austin

Lady Macbeth

It has only taken five and half weeks for your father and I to become murderers. We worked together seamlessly; he laid the trap, I disposed of the body.

I felt like Lady Macbeth as I washed my hands; the deed had been done. I listened out for the alarms, for the screech owl, but could only hear your peaceful snores as you lay unaware that your parents now had blood on their hands.

Our victim enjoyed a smear of peanut butter as his last meal before the fatal blow. It was swift at least. 

In these slow, isolated days, small dramas become epic.


Bumpy landing on the south coast

Catherine, Sussex, UK

Well, the Domestic Harmony Strategy Mark I failed. I'll have to think again.


Meanwhile, having said I wouldn't go out yesterday, the returning Junior 2 reported that the world was almost deserted in the rain, so I changed my mind and went after all. It was a good decision: cabin fever changed to delight in the unpeopled blue mist. The higher ground, towards which I ran, were shrouded in thicker mist, putting me unaccountably in mind of an Alpine resort, with all its happy associations.


Sign of the times: in the woods lies an incongruous beer can; on the golf course, a discarded surgical mask. Good for the Museum of Detritus, methinks.


I remembered something from the previous day which had struck me so forcefully that I forgot to mention it here (I know, perverse). Looking out to sea, straining my eyes in the sparkling sunlight for the tiny figure of Icarus falling, it dawned on me that - the orange miasma over everything, land and sea has gone. Gone! I hadn't thought I would ever live to see the day.


This new world is surely a wondrous place.



Bunny and me

Henrietta, Leicestershire

It’s  been quite a while since I’ve written in this blog as I’ve been preoccupied with sitting in the sun and mooching. It’s been such lovely weather and apart from gardening Bunny and I have very little to report. “just make something up” said Bunny. “I can’t do that! the folk out there will know it’s rubbish if I make it up, what would I say?” I asked him. “I don’t know, you’re the creative one” he said “say we’ve been kidnapped by aliens!” “Good god Bunny the suns gone to your head” I laughed.. 

I suppose I could go and get covid tested in the nhs pod that they’ve put on the village green, that would be a start! So I washed and gathered myself together and walked across the lane to the light blue pod thing they’ve put up for doing covid testing. Bunny reluctantly followed. It was still very hot outside and any unnecessary moving annoyed him. I wondered what the test would be like, would it hurt? I was amazed there wasn’t a queue outside, perhaps people in the village had been done already or perhaps they hadn’t heard about it yet. I gingerly stepped inside the pod, it was bright white and hurt my eyes, there was very little in there just a digital read out thing and a metal seat. Bunny followed me in and immediately got to work on sniffing round the perimeter of the room stroking himself against the corners of the angular walls. The sliding door of the pod suddenly slammed shut and the pod made a startling whooshing noise and I was forced to sit on the metal seat to stop myself from falling over. After a few moments I realised we were moving, upwards I think! Surely not. Then a deep voice spoke, “sorry about the bumps, it does that sometimes, don’t be alarmed we just need to run some tests on you and well get you back to you earth planet by the weekend. I realised I was being stared at by 4 giant ants all with clip boards and lanyards, the chief ant who was speaking to me was called Adam. Bunny was under my metal seat and not impressed with the size of the ants and the fact they were actually talking to us in Queen’s English. “I thought this was an nhs testing pod”? I said. The ants laughed at me, “no madam”, the one called Stuart said. “we are from planet Ant and are currently commissioned to test a human for traces of the recent outbreak of plague 20 that racing through the universe destroying our lives and creating havoc in our communities”!  “we just want to do some tests on you back at our ant lab” Colin the fattest of the ants interrupted. “we won’t hurt you or your animal thing and you’re be back before you know it!” 

“Shit” I said “ we’ve been captured by ant aliens”!


Home Thoughts

Hilary Q, North Norfolk

By Sunday evening, the night before I became a pensioner, the book which had surfaced to the top of my To Be Read pile was ‘The Consolations of Physics’ by Tim Radford, subtitled ‘Why the Wonders of the Universe can Make You Happy’. I opened a bottle of good red wine and spent the evening travelling with Voyagers One and Two.


Then, yesterday, the day after I became a pensioner, Jim Alkelele returned to R4 with a new series of ‘The Life Scientific’. I listened, as I always do, twice! I think I get it but afterwards when trying to articulate what I have heard I realise that I haven’t got it at all! What I have got is a sense of heightened energy, excitement and enormous optimism.


What I learned this week was the word ‘interferometry’... the study of interference... which, in my own tiny way, I applied, not to the detection and measurement of two inter galactic black holes colliding (which they did on 14th September 2015), but to the question of why I am finding it difficult to concentrate! Becoming 65 or preoccupation with the socioeconomic fallout from this global pandemic? It must, I suppose, be the collision of these two allegorical black holes which have yet to be measured, tested or traced!



Rural Norfolk

Chris Gates, Norfolk UK

Hancock on the Briefing yesterday, guarded as ever, repeated the usual encouragements, but offered no hope of early release. The 5 principles upon which relaxation of social and business restoration depend are clear and achievable - we just have to be patient - and diligent. And lucky. These daily addresses are getting shorter as there’s a lack of progress, nothing much to say. Hacks had a better time of it but whatever transpired I made no notes, so I wasn’t grabbed. I must admit to hoping there would be a bit of jugular grabbing re the Panorama ‘denouement’ but it never happened.


Mid morning and we hear Mr Johnson has a mini Mr Johnson safely delivered, and Carrie’s well too, so that’s good news. 


It was ‘click and collect’ at the Builders Merchants today. They will deliver, but our approach driveway is narrow, with a difficult right-angle not suited to lorries, so I took the second option of phoning in an order and going with the car and trailer for a ton of gravel in two hits - the trailer can’t cope with much more than half a ton. Off I went for my appointed 10 o’clock slot and I must say, whereas usually it’s a bit of a drawn-out process, this was as slick as could be. I was loaded with the first half ton in minutes, back home to unload, back up to the depot and finally back home again in less than an hour. An upside to lockdown - though it must be compromising their turnover.


I had a ‘Timeteam’ moment, spotting this Ammonite fragment among the stones, at least 65 million years old. One of the elder Stones then.

bottom of page