Tuesday 31 March 2020

Social Distancing

This is what social distancing looks like here, and this has been cleared up somewhat!

Mick is working from home and has taken over my dining table. There are other rooms he could work from but it's always quiet here during the day so he sets himself up in the dining room and works from there. Archie's pleased, he loves having Mick at home. Our one form of exercise a day, which we're allowed, is taking Archie for a walk. We rarely see anyone else on our walks but if we do, we make sure we're a good distance away from them.

There have been financial measures put in place by the government for employees who are unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will pay 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages up to £2,500 a month. Although Mick is still working at the moment, all his company's factories have closed. We don't know if he will continue working for the duration or not. His company have said they're going to continue to pay their employees 100% of their salary for now, which is reassuring if the time comes when he has nothing to do, though we don't know if they'll continue to do this or not. Obviously, they're not obliged to.

Eleanor works in a hospital laboratory so she will continue to work throughout. I'm not happy about her having to use public transport at this time so Mick is taking her to work and picking her up. A round journey from home to her place of work and back again usually takes just under an hour and a half  but because there's so much less traffic on the roads, it's currently taking about forty five minutes.

Eleanor's boyfriend also works in a hospital laboratory, a different one to Eleanor. He lives in York, so they're unable to see each other for the foreseeable future. He comes from the Midlands but moved to Yorkshire in January so that he was nearer to Eleanor and consequently, has no family at all living close by.

Daniel and Jasmine live a long way from us, in Essex. They've both been asked to work from home, which is good as Jasmine is in the high risk group. At present, they're having to self-isolate as they live in a shared house and one of the other tenants, a nurse, is showing signs of having the coronavirus. It's worrying.

My dad is 87 and in bad health. We have no option but to help him out with shopping and housework but we're trying to limit who visits him and how many times they visit him. Mick's doing the majority of the shopping at the moment, simply because he's the driver of the family now that I don't have a car. It makes sense for just one person to visit the supermarket so that job has fallen to him. Consequently, he's the person doing my dad's shopping too and doing the lion's share of looking after him.

None of this is ideal but what can you do? We, like the rest of the population, are doing the best we can in the situation we now find ourselves in. I'm mindful that we're the lucky ones, our lives may look very different to how they usually do but at least we're all healthy and showing no signs of illness. My thoughts go out to all those whose lives will never be the same after this pandemic, those who have lost loved ones or who are fighting this illness themselves.

Stay safe.

Saturday 28 March 2020

A Year Without My Mum

It's a year today since my mum died. I can't believe that a whole year has passed and that I haven't seen her for that long.

In some ways it feels as though it all happened just a few short months ago, but it has been a year and we've now done the 'firsts' of everything. The first Christmas without her, the first Mother's Day, the first birthday card I received from my dad without her name being on the card. These 'firsts' can be very emotional but we've managed to get through them.

My dad is still finding it very hard without her. Combined with his own bad health, his moods are very low most of the time. I know the doctor would be able to help and give him something to lift his spirits but he won't discuss his feeling with healthcare professionals. He doesn't seem to have any trouble letting us know exactly how he's feeling though, it can be very draining.

Our movements are restricted because of the coronavirus so we're unable to visit the grounds at the crematorium today where we have a memorial stone for my mum and my sister. Instead, I've bought some flowers which I'll have at home, and I've also ordered a beautiful rose bush, named Sheila's Perfume. I shall grow this in a container in the garden in memory of my mum and where I can enjoy it throughout the year. I don't need any special day or reminders to think about my mum though, she's in my thoughts all the time.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Socks Again

It's almost unheard of for me not to have a pair of socks on the needles. They're my favourite thing to knit, I love wearing them myself, and there's always plenty of people amongst my friends and family who are always very happy to be a recipient of a pair of hand knit socks.

I cast off the last pair of socks I had on the needles back on the 15th of January, that's over two months ago now, and though I've lost a bit of my crafting mojo over the last month or two, I've been itching to cast on a new pair.

The last pair I knit was the Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks by This Handmade Life. I love these socks, it's such a pretty pattern, but I would have preferred the leg of this sock to be a little longer. I'm still wearing these socks but I've decided that I'm going to knit this pattern again, this time making them a little longer in the leg.

Yesterday, I went stash diving and came up with this yarn from Ducky Darlings in the colourway Confetti which I think will look lovely knit up in this pattern. Eleanor bought me this for Christmas 2018 so it's time I made something with it. I've just got to get it caked up and then I'm ready to go.

Are you doing any extra crafting now that we're all stuck at home because of the coronavirus? What projects are you working on?

Saturday 21 March 2020

In The Midst Of The Madness

A bit of beauty in the midst of this madness.

For the past few years I've put an amaryllis on my Christmas list. Many shops stock them already planted up and packaged in a gift box. They're an inexpensive gift but I get so much pleasure out of watching them grow.

We've got to look for the beauty amidst the situation we all find ourselves in at the moment.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Looking For Colour

It was a mild day on Sunday, there wasn't a lot of sunshine but it was fair so we took advantage of a break from the wind and rain and took Archie for a walk at Temple Newsam.

There were swathes of daffodils on the grass banks surrounding the car park. I do like to see them grown in this way, they make such an impact when they're grown en masse.

Walking through the grounds we saw more daffodils. I love this time of year when we begin to see more colour about so we decided we'd have a look in the glasshouses inside the Walled Garden to see what colour there is there at the moment.

I meant to take a photo from the outside but it completely slipped my mind. You can see just a part of the building in this photo, there's so much space for plants which are not suitable to be grown outdoors.

Bird of Paradise.

I like how some plants are grown against the walls, the bright flowers zing against the whitewash.

Some plants are trained up columns.

There's certainly plenty of colour in the glasshouses, even this early in the season.

They never leave empty borders, even during the winter months, and the displays are changed through the seasons too.

Bush Lily.

I recently wrote about the Houseplants I'd bought, one of which is a spider plant. It has some way to go until it grows to the size of the spider plants in this display.

Angel Trumpet. I'm drawn more and more towards white flowers.

More white flowers, beautiful.

There's always something to see at Temple Newsam whatever the season, and it's great for a walk too, Archie certainly had a good time. There were lots of people there on Sunday but as from today, Temple Newsam House, the shops and cafe have been closed to the public until at least the end of April because of the Coronavirus. This action has been taken at Lotherton too, though the grounds are still open so Archie's okay for his walks there at present.

Sunday 15 March 2020

When She Got There, The Cupboards Were Bare

Thank you for all your good wishes for my dad. We finally got him home from hospital yesterday but each episode requiring treatment as an in-patient seems to take its toll. His health is very bad now and it just seems that we bring him home from hospital only to wonder when we'll be back there again.

Once we'd got him home, we went to the supermarket to stock up his cupboards. With cases of Coronavirus on the increase, it's quite worrying wondering how we'll cope if we have to self-isolate as he's beginning to rely on us more and more. One thing we can do is make sure that he has plenty of food to last should we be unable to visit for a while.

Unfortunately, scenes like the one above are quite common in most supermarkets at the moment. Empty shelves are a common sight. What is wrong with people? There really is no need to panic buy to the extent that people are doing so. We visited three different supermarkets and there wasn't one single toilet roll in any of them. Tins of beans had been bought up so there were none left and so had every packet of pasta. I read a news item this week where two women had thrown punches at each other over a toilet roll, the Coronavirus really is bringing out the worst in people at a time when we should be pulling together.

Daniel and Jasmine were supposed to be visiting her family in Colorado in just under a month but now that a travel ban from the UK to the US has been announced, their trip will have to be put on hold until later in the year.

It's such a shame that so many people think only of themselves when faced with a global crisis, surely we should be thinking of others and helping each other out as best we can.

Thursday 12 March 2020

Out And About

We didn't have a summer holiday last year for one reason or another and consequently Mick hardly took any holiday from work. It now means that he's got a lot of annual leave left to take before the end of this month. He's carrying some days over into the new year's entitlement but he took last week off, he's off again tomorrow and he's got another full week off coming up next week, though he may cancel a couple of those days yet as he's got a lot on at work at the moment.

After all the storms and bad weather we've had just lately, it was a stroke of luck that the week off he chose coincided with some better weather. We hadn't planned to do much, it's nice just to have some down time, but we did manage to do something every day.

On Monday we headed up the A1 to Thirsk, a small market town in North Yorkshire which is known as the home of James Herriot, the vet and author. It was a bright, sunny day but still very cold with a bitter wind blowing. We had a mooch around the small market and shops.

It was rather dull on Tuesday and very cold. We took some flowers to the crematorium for my mum and sister. It started spitting with rain just as we got there but the rain managed to hold off.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny and it was quite mild too so we made the most of the good weather, put Archie in the car, and headed off to Lotherton for A Stroll Through The Woods. I think Lotherton is Archie's favourite place, he loves it there and we live just a five or ten minute drive away so it's very convenient.

We didn't know what to do on Thursday but it was another sunny day so we got in the car and decided on the spur of the moment to visit The Seaside. We ended up in Scarborough where Archie had a lot of fun running about on the beach and making new doggy friends.

Unfortunately, when we returned home from Scarborough late Thursday afternoon, Mick called in to check on my dad and found that he wasn't very well. To cut a long story short, we ended up in A&E with him again where it was discovered he had yet another kidney infection and he was kept in. We arrived home in the early hours of Friday morning.

Friday was the best day of the week, beautiful sunshine and very mild, but most of it was spent visiting my dad in hospital. Over the course of the week, as well as our outings, we managed to get a few jobs done at home too, so barring my dad ending up in hospital, it was a good week overall.

That takes us to the weekend where, after further tests, it was discovered that my dad's one remaining working kidney is deteriorating and it was decided that he'd need a nephrostopy, a procedure to insert a tube into the kidney through an opening in the skin to drain urine. This will now be in place permanently and we're hoping that this works as we don't know what else they can do if it doesn't.

My dad's still in hospital at the moment so it looks as though we'll be continuing with our hospital visiting, or looking after him at home if he's discharged, over the weekend and into next week.

Monday 9 March 2020

The Seaside

The better weather continued last week whilst Mick was on holiday from work so on Thursday we set off in the car without a destination in mind and made our mind up on the spur of the moment to head towards the seaside.

Scarborough is probably our nearest seaside town, it's about sixty two miles away so that's where we decided to make for.

Scarborough has two bays, there's a dog ban on the South Bay beach between May and September, but with it being March Archie was allowed on. He loves spending time on the sand and dashing in and out of the sea. He looks like a big woolly bear at the moment, he's going to the groomers tomorrow to be clipped, what a difference we'll see then, he looks so different without his fur.

There were lots of other dogs on the beach for him to play with too.

After all the bad weather we've had just lately I couldn't believe that the sun was shining. It was still quite cold but we were wrapped up well.

Scarborough is the largest holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast and it's always busy whenever we visit, even at this time of year.

There's a working harbour and kiosks line the street selling the day's catch. We always buy a treat for Archie, he's come to expect it now.

After giving Archie a good run on the beach we had a wander along the front and we may have shared a tray of chips. I was good though and stayed away from the amusement arcades.

As I mentioned in my last post, we don't walk Archie too far these days so we gave him another run on the beach before heading back home.

Though we couldn't visit the seaside without indulging in an ice cream. Another lovely day out.

Friday 6 March 2020

A Stroll Through The Woods

The weather has been so bad just lately that poor Archie has been missing out on some decent walks. To be honest, he doesn't seem to mind too much, he's such a lazy dog that he's just as happy dozing indoors in the warmth as he is running around outside. When the weather's bad he'll poke his nose out the door before performing an about turn and heading back inside.

We woke to sunshine on Wednesday though and we couldn't miss the opportunity to make the most of it so we headed off to Lotherton for a stroll through the woods.

I think Lotherton is Archie's favourite place. It's very close to home so we have an annual pass, it's very reasonable considering we visit so often.

Isn't it funny how a bit of sunshine puts everyone in a good mood? We passed lots of dog walkers and parents and grandparents on outings with their children and grandchildren and nearly all of them nodded good morning or stopped to give Archie a stroke and have a chat.

The storms have left their mark though, we passed a group of workmen clearing a fallen tree, and it's still very muddy everywhere even though we haven't had any rain for a good few days now.

It's nice to see signs of spring all around, the snowdrops are coming to an end and in no time at all the wild garlic will be flowering. The woodland floor is carpeted in their leaves just now.

It was quite mild on Wednesday, but it had been bitterly cold beforehand. The pond was still covered with sheets of ice and we could see the goldfish beneath. They weren't swimming around much, I think they were conserving their energy.

Archie will be ten in May and he's starting to slow down. He's got a heart murmur, that doesn't seem to be bothering him too much as yet but we can see that his joints are starting to get stiff. We're always mindful about how much we walk him now, too far and he suffers later on in the day, so frequent short walks seem better for him than one longer one. Lotherton ticks the box as a circular walk through the woods and round the formal gardens seems just right for him.

One lovely day can make it feel like spring is finally on the way, I hope it is, it can't come quickly enough for me.

Tuesday 3 March 2020

The Librarian Of Auschwitz

I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris last year, it was such a good book. I sometimes find that when one book about a particular subject is on the bestsellers list, a whole host of other books along a similar theme start to appear. When I first saw The Librarian of Auschwitz on the bookshelf in the supermarket I thought I'd give it a miss, but Mick bought me it, along with some other books, for Christmas and I'm so pleased that he did, it's one of the best books I've read for a very long time.

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe is based on the true story of Dita Kraus.

'It wasn't an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books...But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns...'

'Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz-Birkenau. But Dita becomes the secret librarian of the camp, tasked with taking charge of the small collection of precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor...'

As I said before, I thought The Tattooist of Auschwitz was a good book, but in my opinion this was even better. Be warned, it pulls no punches, it's extremely graphic in places, and terribly sad, but well worth reading.