Monday, 28th December, 2020

[Day 287]

Today when various members of the family were awake at 5.30am, it was a fairly typical late December day – but an hour and a half later, we had been dumped upon by a huge fall of snow which seemed fairly thick. After we had had a porridge breakfast it appeared to have stopped snowing so my son, daughter-in-law and I decided to brave the weather to walk to the shops. As it happened, walking on the snow was relatively straightforward but road traffic and other people walking to the park (with children and toboggans) was quite rapidly changing the snow into a more slippery slush. I was well prepared with two pairs of socks and two jumpers so I had lots of layers of clothing (as the Scandinavians say ‘There is no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing‘). Whilst the other family members were busy shopping, I made my way to my usual paper shop where I picked up our newspapers. I made an arrangement with the shopkeepers that if the bad weather were to persist and I couldn’t actually get my walk done to the shop, could they please keep my newspapers on one side and I would come in when I could and settle up with my vouchers. The walk home was uneventful and having had a good taste of the weather conditions and not needing to go anywhere by car, we decided collectively to let the snow clear itself and not bother with a few hours of energetic clearing. We had no snow at all last year and perhaps not even for the year before that but fortunately when the need arises we are quite all supplied with shovels and other snow-clearing equipment. Upon returning home, I did take a brush and push the thawing snow from our Lavatera outside the back window and also from those parts of the hedging around our BioDisk that I could reach.

It was evidently the kind of day to engage in typical Boxing Day type pastimes so I thought I would get to work bottling some more damson gin. I bottled another 19 bottles (four large Kilner jars worth) and had to stop only because I have run out of 25 cl bottles. I may fill up some 50 cl bottles and deploy these as intermediate storage jars in the meanwhile. Of course, I have to write my labels, which is a kind of mindless activity you can do whilst watching TV. When all of the bottling had been done (with the minimum of mess, I am pleased to day), I treated myself to watching a re-run of the Agatha Christie ‘Death on the Nile‘ featuring Hercule Poirot but several the other Boxing Day type films (The Jungle Book, Murder on the Orient Express) I had already seen relatively recently so gave them a miss.

For the first time, the number of new COVID-19 infections has exceeded 41,000 in a single day and 357 deaths. Horrendous though this figure is, there may be a degree of inflation as so many more tests are now being performed (presumably, the more you test you more you find) But what is particularly worrying is that hospitals are now operating at the peak levels that they were when the pandemic was absolutely at its peak last April. The epidemiologists know that two weeks after infection a proportion of patients will end up in hospital and two weeks after that a proportion will die. What the exact proportions are I do not at this stage know but we still have the major months of January and February in front of us. Further Tier 4 zones may well be announced next Wednesday – perhaps a complete lockdown like the initial one last spring is the only answer. I wonder, though, whether the bad weather that is keeping people indoors might help in stopping the virus spreading somewhat (although of course we do have the Christmas Day and New Year family gatherings to factor into the equation)

One of the nice things about this time of year is that people have received your Christmas cards including details of email addresses and so can write to you. One of our friends from Leicestershire who is now working in South Wales emailed me with a long and detailed email and I have taken the opportunity to reply to this, and to other friends as well. We inform each other of the various medical afflictions which are affecting our various family members and give each other a bit of mutual support.