So, we are now into the third week of social distancing and, in some cases, self-isolation. Life has been interesting and active to a certain degree, but none can dispute the strangeness of this new existence, nor the stark realisation of the seriousness that this current situation demands.
I am trying to keep life as normal as possible which for me means getting up at 06:10 every day and getting on as best I can without getting under my wife’s feet! I am sure many readers will emphasise that this is by no means an easy feat…
My 50th birthday was celebrated in rather a quieter fashion than I had originally planned; with a few bubbles, a good steak and a none too shabby Claret. An early morning run with Bex was followed by a cooked breakfast consisting of pancakes made by the kids who, by my surprise, had got up especially early! A relatively lazy day followed and I was treated to a barrage of calls from family and friends through the Facetime app. Have you ever done a Facetime? Intense is probably the best word to describe my experience. I certainly underestimated the concentration levels required to get to the end of the call, especially when it’s all about you and your birthday! It is not like a normal conversation at all but it was nice to catch up with friends and family from all over.
Days have been spent with yet more gardening and making myself even more familiar with the bike in what has now become my daily routine. It has to be said however that there is only so much gardening one can do. Having talked about the pointing on the patio for some time we decided that if we didn’t do it now, it would never get done. I have done a few touch-up-jobs but not to this extent. A new 115mm mortar rake grinding blade has been purchased and the fun has started, although this task made last week’s gardening feel like a walk in the park! Knees and back are once again taking the brunt of it.
They say new skills are vital as you progress through life and I have, perhaps inadvertently, taught myself a little bit of plumbing! Now I am nowhere near the likes of Mr Thomas Crapper, well known for his improvements to modern sanitary systems (especially the invention of the ballcock), but I did manage to change the rubber washers on a Gundfos water pump which involved disconnection from the electrics, a full strip down and then re-build with plenty of PTFE tape. Result – no leaks and water pumping normally – quite chuffed with that if I say so myself!
I think you’ll all agree, one of the main issues with this ‘staying at home’ is keeping an eye on your waistline. This has proven especially difficult when my two daughters are baking at a ferocious rate. Chocolate oatcakes, brownies and individual Bakewell tarts by Lara as well as banana cake from Isobel were all prepared to a Mary Berry standard and far too tempting to deny. Whoever left them in close proximity to my place of work on the kitchen side certainly has some questions to answer! The influx of baked goods has led to a brand-new house rule - no more baking is permitted before the previous batch has been eaten. Unfortunately, quick consumption means that they’re still baking full time. The exercise bike is coming into its own!
In the name of entertainment even the dominos have been dusted off – which the kids had never seen them before – and the backgammon, believe it or not, is in constant use. If you are anything like our family, you will have been spending time refereeing ever competitive tournaments reminiscent of our own childhood!
Video conferencing, Facetime, Houseparty – they are all now playing a regular role in our lives to keep in contact with friends and family. The virtual Grand National family sweep stake, which was won by our 2-year-old niece, was streamed live to my sister who lives in Colorado. I wonder, when this is all over will we go out and socialise as we did before or will we be so used to Facetime that this will be the new norm? Isobel, my eldest, said that she would be disappearing for a least a week when the social distancing law is lifted and will be travelling around the country seeing all her friends – so the answer is perhaps not!
I spoke to my cousin earlier in the week who said that he had just been listening to Monty Python, The Life Of Brian which reminded me of one particular verse:
If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle, that's the thing
Always look on the bright side of life……
So, if you’re feeling a little low or times are tough then remember this song – it’s sure to put a smile back on your face and hopefully, even if it’s for a short time, make you forget the problems that we’re all facing.
It’s odd because if we didn’t have television, radio or social media then we would not be aware of the ins and outs of the dreadful situation that is facing us. At the least, this new technology has given us the opportunity to stay in touch with our loved ones and while we remain at home out of harm’s way, we are reminded of the amazing work of the keyworkers out on the frontline. Some of us will know people who have been affected by this virus and some, for the time-being won’t, but let us not forget those are and those who are helping.
I leave you with a thought of the day. Why do people always say “life is short”? What can you do that’s longer? Life is the longest thing anyone ever does!
Thank you as always for your continued support.
Stay well and don’t go to the park to sunbathe!