Monday, 5th April, 2021

[Day 385]

Today has been a kind of day to defy all expectations. According to the weather forecasts, we should have had an incredibly stormy day with a blast of Artic air to boot. We certainly got the blast of Artic air all right but the skies were blue and clear. The wind was bitingly cold and our hats were anything but secure – but we obtained our newspapers and then went on our way to shiver in the park. We met up briefly with out 10-mile-a-day walking octogenarian but as it was so cold, none of us wanted to stand around for too long chatting. In fact, there had been flurries of snow earlier on this morning and some is still possible in the hillier regions of the country. It was still quite late when we got home and we had to throw together a quick kind of lunch (thank goodness for some Quorn which appears as type of simulated mince – tasty enough with a few spices and brown sauce!)

This afternoon, I spent a certain amount of time trying to configure the versions of Outlook which I have found on my ThinkPad to work with an email account I already with This ought to be straightforward and despite a plethora of advice on the web I haven’t yet succeeded. I know it is possible to have a web-based email client but I am trying to avoid the web on the XP to avoid the ‘virus storm’ which is out there. I have one or two more options yet to try before I give up entirely.

We have had a further announcement from Boris to the effect that the Roadmap to the gradual end to the lockdown is still on schedule. This means that as from next Monday, shops, hairdressers and pub beer gardens will all be allowed to open. Mind you, Boris is urging a degree of caution and I suspect that as well as socially distancing, we shall all be wearing masks and providing contact details when we enter any establishment. We still have still to make contact with our visiting hairdresser to make sure that we are booked into her schedules. Together with most of the population, I am sure we cannot wait until we get ourselves well and truly shorn. It also appears that gyms will be allowed to re-open so I imagine that means that my Pilates class will resume – I must remind myself to get in touch with my teacher to see if she is going to get us all organised.

Almost inevitably, with the end of lock-down in sight and spring just about upon us, our thoughts are beginning to turn to the next few months ahead. Many of us would have organised holidays, preferably in warmer climes for our major summer break. But the difficulty here is that foreign holidays now seem quite a distant prospect. Even if we had been vaccinated with a couple of jabs and the rate of infection was reassuringly low, what would be the situation in whatever countries we intended to visit? Even for an ardent Francophile, France seems to be absolutely not the European destination of choice. On a similar vain, we cannot start to think about when we can see our closest Spanish friends again. Meg and I have an option for 10 days in Rome (a pilgrimage, no less) in late September but we are putting the possibilities of this coming off as well below 50:50. So forgetting our foreign holidays for a moment, the word of the moment is a ‘staycation’ in which many will stay at home and have lots of trips out. Many of the holiday destinations in England and Wales that have been abandoned in an era of cheap flights are now almost full to overflowing with bookings (so we are given to understand) and I am not sure I particularly want to holiday in over-crowded resorts with lots of my fellow countrymen. Apart from holidays, though, we will probably take the opportunity to visit various parts of the country to visit relatives who got missed out last Christmas. We have at least four trips that we need to make in the next few months ahead but one is wary of booking them at this stage. Meg has three cousins/uncles that we need to see and I have my family in Yorkshire to see but planning is somewhat difficult, in view of the fact that a ‘third wave’ could suddenly rear its ugly head and put all of our plans into the melting plot again. Turning to the world of work again, one wonders how after a year may people will retain a pattern of working for at least one if not two days at home and office attendance will be as valued as ‘gatherings around the water cooler’ i.e. social gossip as well as the work for which one is ultimately attending the office. And if we wanted to really depress ourselves, there is a hidden tide of undiagnosed but developing cancers that might be afflicting some of the population as well as the thousands of children who will be attending secondary schools with depressingly diminished standards of literacy (and numeracy).