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Monday, 6 July 2020

Are we nearly there.



  I received a newsletter from Real Food store in Exeter recently and this photo was shown above one of the articles.  I loved it as a beautiful photograph but then realised that it was also a metaphor for the Covid 19 pandemic.

I saw it as the path we have been travelling these past months - climbing slowly towards some sort of resolution of the problem.  Hemmed in by fencing on both sides and only one possible way to go there being no going back.  Step by step we have made our way  and an uphill sruggle it has been for so many of us but now maybe the end is in sight and I wonder what the view from the summit might be.  Will there be more hills that we can't yet see for us to climb? Or will there be a vista of green meadows filled with wild flowers, a cool clear river flowing through it and with birdsong accompanying the sound of the clean fresh water as it flows gently towards the sea or might it be a distopian scene with many people homeless and jobless searching for food amongst the empty buildings, shops shuttered and signs flapping in the cold wind. With diggers and machinery, the green meadow reduced to a building site with banging and drillling, shouting and crashing as another road or high speed railway takes shape and yet more homes that the jobless will not be able to afford are built on what might have been countryside?

I really hope that we might have learned something important on our way to the top of this hill and perhaps it might be possible to fashion a new normal which takes account of the planet and its people, somewhere the community spirit we have seen these past months might be part of the solution not yet more building more money making and less care for the Earth, and its people and the future.  That green meadow view is what is keeping me plodding onward and upward.

Friday, 12 June 2020

More from the bunker



I went for a walk in the woods this morning as the sun was shining  but we were forecast to have rain this afternoon.  I waited for a man with a dog to pass me at the junction of the paths and we spoke a few words as you do.  He was carrying some sticks of rhubarb and I jokingly said that I was sure he hadn't foraged those in the wood to which he replied that there was a house nearby which often put the stuff outside with an honesty box for a local charity.  I said I would have to go and have a look sometime but not this morning as I had no money with me and a moment of two later as he departed he turned back and gave me a couple of sticks.  I refused but he was adamant and said he'd feel guilty if he kept it all for himself and so I continued my walk carrying not only my old stick (a piece of branch I found some years ago and got Mr M to cut to the correct length for me even though I do have a proper walking ploe) in one hand but the rhubarb in the other. We get to recognise each other in our little wood and all say hello or good morning and some of us stop for a chat too but we don't know each other's names.  I can imagine people referring to me as that eccentric old woman with the stick who wears tattered jeans and an old coat but now they'll think me even weirder as they can tell each other she was carrying two sticks of rhubarb the other morning!  I wonder if the man would have given them to me if I had been 40 and well dressed or did he think "poor old dear on her own" as he said "If you are on your own it might be enough for something".

Free Rhubarb Cliparts, Download Free Clip Art, Free Clip Art on ...

So I returned home with my bounty and the knowledge of where I might be able to get some more if I remembered my purse next time.  I cooked the rhubarb in the oven and it was plenty for me with some fresh yoghurt and Mr M had the remains of the Eve's pudding I'd made yesterday and there is enough rhubarb to make us both a rhubarb puff pastry tartlet tomorrow.  We get our foodstuff where we can these days!!  

I did wonder later what one of my friends who thinks I am not careful enough about sanitising things like the post or my shopping or books swapped with neighbours would have to say about my accepting the gift handled by someone I don't know who might not have washed his hands before collecting the rhubarb and then carrying it in my hand and bringing it into the house and cooking it with a just desultory wipe with a damp cloth beforehand. 

Not only did I not have a purse with me this morning but I didn't take my camera either so the photo at the top of this post is an old one of the spot where I was given the rhubarb and the other image is a clip art one and not the 2 sticks I was given!!

Monday, 1 June 2020

OUTINGS FROM THE BUNKER


Where does the time go?  It has been 2 weeks since my last post and that time has flown by even though every day is much like the last here in the bunker.
 
So nothing much to report not having been far nor done anything much.  We continue well I am pleased to say although I must admit to being somewhat up and down mentally whilst I get to grips with this changed lifestyle.
Every day is like every other day and although one might think there'd be so much more time to do all the things one didn't have time to do before that certainly hasn't been the case here.  We spend time on the "painting of the Forth Bridge" which is our garden here and yet it never looks any different or cared for in spite of Mr M having taken 10 or 12 plastic bags filled with garden weeds and so on to the tip this weekend and yet there are already 3 or 4 more waiting to go.  I really can see the allure of a small yard with some pots in it!  Speaking of pots we have been finding our cuttings and seedlings which have been outside the back door to harden off a bit being scratched about by blackbirds and robins and left on the stones to dry out and die in the sun - why are they doing this is it the compost that interests them I wonder?  I had about 15 geraniums each in a small pot and then there were 10 and soon after just 5!  Mr. M's cosmos were tossed aside and some of them didn't recover either.  Then there's the squirrel who likes to come and munch on a half ripe strawberry now and again.  Ungrateful little beggars all of them as we make wildlife welcome and know that the Earth is to be shared with them and does not belong to us alone but this is getting too much!


This morning we went to the garden centre in Sherborne I wanted more geraniums and we decided to try some different compost.  The Castle Garden Centre is usually really good and the cafe excellent for a cup of tea and a slice of home made cake after a wander round but were a little disappointed with it today.  Cafe is closed of course and there were only a reduced number of staff who were not able to give face to face advice as usual and I couldn't get the gloves I wanted nor any parsley plants and nothing seemed to have any prices on due to the closure and reduced staff etc and so have no geraniums  no parsley and no gloves.   I do understand but it was quite frustrating although we did come home with a bag of seed compost, a couple of tomato plants, some kale and cabbage plants and some seeds. 
Interestingly though we parked face on to the wall of the car park which is an high old stone wall thickly covered with ivy and I could hear the cheep cheep of birds in the thick ivy covering and then a little sparrow appeared and stayed still long enough for me to recognise it as a sparrow - something I haven't seen for years here in the garden so a real treat.  A little further along there was a notice saying something along the lines of "Is this the largest sparrow hotel in the area?" and it was true that there must have been hundreds of them flitting back and forth to their nests - penthouse suites, doubles, singles with en suite and so on!!!  So that made up for the lack of things to buy!!
From there we drove a few hundred yards to Hunts Food Store which we discovered fairly recently.  I like it as there is free parking right outside, there are never that many people inside so it feels safe, the staff know their business and are helpful and friendly, they sell lots of different things and brands as well as the usual and it is the only store where I have found flour of all kinds when supermarkets had none, pasta when that too was not easily available and also toilet rolls when there were none to be had.



We had earlier walked down the main street as I had a package to post and so wanted to go to the post office.  I had stopped at the local post office en route for Sherborne but there was a queue of about a dozen or 15 people and I gave up on that idea - I don't do queues!!  Cheap Street in Sherborne was like a ghost town with hardly any shops open - I half expected a cowboy with a gun to appear for a shoot out on the street as if everyone was hiding out of harm's way like they do in films - although we were able to buy fresh bread at the bakers not going inside but over a table pulled across the doorway.  This is great in the summer sunshine but not sure how this kind of shopping will work in the rain or winter weather!  The Post Office was open and 3 counters were manned and only 2 customers inside including me!

It is very odd to find shopping streets closed and quiet like this and I wonder how it will eventually work out and whether people will in fact come back one day and whether there will be anything to come back to if they do.  So sorry for the traders who are all doing their best to provide their customers with what they want without even being able to open their doors!!


Anyway shopping all done we headed for home - I must say I love driving along quiet roads and not getting caught up in traffic as usual.  We do take our pleasures differently now and I felt much refreshed for having left home and gone somewhere even if it was for a bit of shopping which is not something I would normally think of as an outing! 

The photos are more my idea of an outing and somewhere I long to be able to go again.  But I think I will have to keep that idea till November as I really don't want to risk going at the mement and I like it better when the beaches are empty as shown here!  I can wait!

Sunday, 17 May 2020

MORE TALES FROM THE BUNKER

Beware Low Flying Robins!

Here at the bunker life goes on each day seeming the same as another but of course it isn't as the unfurling stories that take place in the garden here make sure of that.  It's as good as going to the cinema here at times.



We are always being advised to encourage wildlife to our gardens but here at the bunker we don't need to encourage them they just come as of right as they don't recognise the boundary of a fence between us and the wood adjoining us in which there is plenty of wildlife including badgers, foxes, squirrels and all sorts of different birds too not to mention all the small creatures that live in the trees and the earth surrounding them.


Since lockdown we have noticed that the birds which come to the bird table and the water dish seem to be much bolder than before and I sometimes wonder if they might be planning a take over of the world and us - would that be such a bad thing?  Might they make a better job of it all than we humans seem to?



As we sit either in the conservatory or in the garden with our cups of tea or coffee we have noticed a robin (or maybe there are more) flying at breakneck speed - literally if they don't notice the back door of the garage is open and hit the glass as has happened - across the garden and over time we realised he was going to a nest in the evergreen hedge which runs along behind our house.  Now every time we step outside the back door or go to and from the compost bins we are on his flight path as he hurtles from the wood the otherside of our fence to the nest taking in a short stop at the apple tree before going on to the trellis and the bush against that (name escapes me) and thus into his nest.  A couple of seconds later he does the same route in reverse and this is kept up all day long - he must be exhausted by evening!

This morning I was sitting on the bench with my coffee and noticed a robin sitting on top of the washing line post - he must have seen something as he then dropped onto the edge of the path beside the veggie patch and then onto the earth and reappeared with a big worm in his beak - it must have been 5 or 6 inches long and quite plump and he couldn't manage a vertical take off with it but did a rapid low level flight skimming the ground into the hydrangea where he disappeared.  I don't know if he butchered the worm into smaller portions or what happened.

Then whilst I was still sitting there a robin flew from the wood onto the apple tree but Mr M was just coming out for his coffee and he would pass too near so robin flew straight towards me but that wasn't wise either so he dipped and disappeared under the bench I was sitting on!!  


When I go to the compost bin with the kitchen vegetable scraps I am in danger of being knocked over by a low flying robin going to or from the nest - the space between the house wall and the hedge is quite narrow so no room to swerve either.    It happened yesterday but luckily the robin noticed me just in time and was able to do a U-turn and back onto the apple tree whilst I went by.  I could just imagine telling them in A&E that I had been knocked over by a robiin but it really did make me jump!!


Honestly we really need some kind of air traffic control here if we are not to be knocked over by flying robins!!

You will note that we are not striped lawns with clipped edges sort of gardeners and apart from vegetables most of the things in our garden are left to themselves.  I met a lady I sometimes speak to in the woods when walking yesterday and she asked me what the pink flowers in our front garden were (the entrance to the wood is right next to our driveway so front garden is on view to all the dog walkers) she is a gardner who opens her garden to the public in the NGS scheme and I had to say I had no idea nor did I know where they came from but as they are pretty the y can stay!

Thank you for your comments on my previous post and I am glad to find that I am not the only one who is ambivalent about the VE Day celebrations.  Thank you too for all your birthday wishes too.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

SILVER LININGS IN THE BUNKER

Can another week have passed and we are still in the bunker?  Considering we are not allowed to go out other than for specified things such as shopping for food, exercise or medical reasons the time seems to fly by.  Helped of course by the lovely weather and the fact that we are lucky enough to have a garden and are not incarcerated indoors like so many.


So what have I been doing all week?  Well Monday I chatted with a French friend via Skype as usual and then spent the afternoon gardening - attempting to clear the area which runs along the boundary with the wood which didn't get done last year as I couldn't kneel nor crouch down having broken my ankle early in the year and followed that up with the removal of a skin cancer on my arm which then became infected after the stitches were removed so not ideal for grovelling in the hedgerow amongst the blackberry bushes and nettles so this year I have been trying to rid the area of two years' of overgrowth!!


 On Tuesday after spending the morning on the boundary weeds we set off to Sherborne for a month's shopping.  Having calculated that if we went once a month the 10 mile round trip would actually be less mileagewise than a once a week shop nearer home in supermarkets I don't usually shop in and in which I don't know where to find anything.  Also I would presumably come into contact with only a quarter of the customers I might have been close to if I shopped weekly so we went and it was lovely.  The A30 almost deserted in the sunshine reminding me of all those times I must have travelled this lovely route when I lived in Sherborne and worked in Yeovil back in the '60s.  Arriving at a near empty car park we found no queue and were both allowed to go in and in next to no time we had done our shopping and encountered at a safe distance about half a dozen other customers inside.  So now I have a store cupboard - well actually it is the spare bedroom but we aren't expecting guests any time soon and it is cool in there - full of groceries to last me a month if I have guessed correctly and together with our weekly organic veg box plus a fruit box and several litres of fresh milk each week we won't go hungry!! 

Then on Wednesday morning Mr M had a little outing on his own when he had to go to the doctor's for a routine Vit B12 injection.  Seems he parked and had to wait in the car till the nurse came out and took his temperature all togged up in her PPEs and as he didn't have a temperature he was allowed to go inside and within a few minutes he was all done and dusted and on his way home - we take our pleasures in quite different ways these days!!

Thursday morning dawned with no water supply!  You don't realise just how often you turn the tap on till nothing comes out of it!!  We washed in rainwater from the water butts and also used the washing water to flush the toilets but we had no drinking water and I wasn't sure if rainwater even if boiled was safe to drink.  Luckily our neighbours were happy to exchange a couple of bottles of spring water for the idea of using rain water to flush the loo.  And the supply was back by lunchtime.  Not the ideal time to be unable to wash our hands and rinse in running water as instructed though. It did all make for a late start on the gardening work though having to fetch pans of rain water and boil them and then collect more rainwater this time cold though come to think of it why didn't we just heat the water to required washing temperature I wonder - you live and learn!

This area cleared - had forgotten there were stones along the edge!


Friday more gardening and did the washing and other domestic chores.

This is what I was up against!
Saturday more of the same - we need certain little pointers to remind us what day of the week it is now that most are the same as each other.


Little vase of Christmas roses rescued from beneath the weeds!

So we haven't left the "estate" at all other than our couple of outings early in the week and I have discovered that I am no longer so stressed as what I am doing in the garden has been calming - mindfully weeding the area in front of me and not looking to see how much more I have to do or how long it might take me and the feeling of achievement when I stopped for the day.  After all we have however long it takes and maybe the rest of our lives to do what we are doing now.  Mr M was busy doing his own thing elsewhere, the birds were singing and the sun on my back it was lovely and I was reminded of the days when we took over an allotment when we lived in Guildford all those years ago and we'd stop and wipe our brows having cleared another area of the bramble patch we had been allocated!  We dreamed of having a place where we could live the Good Life.  Well that didn't happen but we did do a lot of the things we dreamed of such as keeping a few hens in our back garden, growing lots of vegetables, making jams and preserves with some of the blackberries and other foraged items, baking bread, spinning and weaving and so on and I realised that every cloud has a silver lining and maybe Coronavirus has one too and maybe we can do a lot of those things which had fallen by the wayside along the years.


So as well as gardening I am back to making bread and hope that with practice I will soon be as good at it as I used to be.  To that end a new toy arrived on Friday - a new Kenwood Chef something I used to have for years after my mother gave up her bread making and handed it over to me.  Sadly it broke down and couldn't be repaired and so I have been considering for some time whether to get another and what better opportunity than now.  I also plan to make yoghurt and will be off to the woods this coming week for some nettles to make soup what could be nicer with a hunk of home made bread.  Unless it is that same hunk spread with some of my homemade hedgerow spread some of which I still have in the cupboard.



I plan to harvest some micro greens this evening to go with my salad for supper as my Radish Farm is ready for thinning out!!  This idea of planting in toilet roll inners was passed on by a friend although why not just plant in the carton without the toilt rolls?  As you can see we are readying ourselves for bean planting too.  Tom and Barbara here we come!!!


Last Sunday we enjoyed a lovely steam train journey - one that we would have actually done had we not been advised that a rail holiday in Scotland might not be a good idea on crutches!  If you fancy a calm couple of hours on the train through beautiful countryside do as we did and pack a sandwich and a cup of coffee and watch this

Or for something quite different listen to this or of course both.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Bunker news - woodland walk

Yesterday we had rain the first for some time as we have been basking in some early spring sunshine and warm days.  We woke to find that it had rained overnight and was by morning coming down heavily.  I opened the back door when I came downstairs and the perfume of parched English soil in the rain was wonderful!  It was something I missed when we lived in France as although we had rain on dry soil and it did smell it wasn't the same aroma as we get here.
 

 I remember sitting on the covered patio  you can see here when it was raining or had rained and noticing the different smell and feeling a little homesick!


After lunch I decided to go for a walk in the wood as I thought there might be fewer people up there if it was raining and I didn't might a bit of rain - I am English after all and we are used to it.




 It stopped raining as I set off and there were a few others in the wood enjoying the quiet like me and we passed with the requisite distance between us all very strange and like some kind of dance. I came upon this little den as I walked and wished I might crawl inside and sit quietly away from the world as it is just now  But of course I didn't and it would probably have been somewhat damp and I had nothing to sit on something which wouldn't have worried me as a child in the woods!



It was lovely in the wood, the trees had suddenly become clothed in green leaves that hadn't been there last time I went and there were wild flowers such as Lords and Ladies, yellow deadnettles, red campions and herb robbert and even a few bluebells although they weren't the traditional British blue bells but probably escapees from nearby gardens where people have grown blue and white and even pink bells.


 I did enjoy my walk and returned home feeling much refreshed and more positive about life and how it might be when eventually we are able to go where we like and to hug each other again and not do the dance of keeping 6 feet apart all the time. 

I am still puzzling out how best to get some shopping but for now we have what we need and since a neighbour came round with a letter she said had been delivered in error to them and asked if I wanted anything from the shops as she was going I now have a bag of potatoes and half a dozen eggs so we shan't starve just yet!  Oh and the water butts are all full to the top again so we shan't have to worry about watering the garden either.

What was bizarre though was that the letter was an election letter frm the Lib Dems and must have been sent last year so where had it been I wonder?




Wednesday, 15 April 2020

News from the Bunker

My plans to spend more time on things other than the internet, computer and telephone here I am 10 days later still not having done much in the way of creativity though perhaps a little less on communication.



Easter came and went and was a very quiet time for us all.  The Wanderer alone in her little bunker in London and us here in our bigger bunker in Somerset.  The weather was great with sunshine wall to wall - would be wouldn't it when nobody could go anywhere!!  I did wonder whether to bother with any decorations - I usually have a vase of twigs with tiny new leaves which open over the weekend decorated with coloured eggs but this year I wasn't in the mood but then thought that not bothering might be the slipery slope to not caring so did at least pile the eggs into a basket and add some primroses from the garden!!




I also made a cake to use up some mini eggs I had bought thinking perhaps the Wanderer might be joining us over Easter which was of course not to be.  I have made this chocolate cake recipe hundreds of times and it is usually good but for some reason everything I touch lately isn't as good as it used to be!  (Age related or mood perhaps?)  It didn't rise as it should and so was more of a chocolate biscuit.  This however created a topic of conversation when I Skyped my French friend in France on Monday morning as translation of biscuit/sponge/gateau etc were discussed and what each meant to us.  She had made some hot cross buns and had problems with the crosses which for some reason  had sunk into the buns when cooked and were invisible!  So it made for a laugh to share our failures.

I needed a couple of birthday cards for birthdays this week so set to making those but there again maybe due to leaving it till the last minute they didn't go according to plan either.  My next task is to sort out the paper and card and other items required and to get some new sticky things as my sticky pads and double sided tape had dried out and were not sticky, my Pritt stick wouldn't glide and left clumps of glue here and there and my Copydex tube is almost empty and comes out in blobs!  I sent the cards anyway along with messages to say they came with love even if not much creativity!!


I am still feeling very up and down emotionally and wondering exactly we are meant to be doing or not doing having had so many friends asking why I was still doing my own shopping etc so when a friend in Guildford asked if I had heard that Waitrose was offering an over 70s free delivery of up to 20 items I called our local store to find out more.  Seemed they were willing to deliver to me over 5 miles from the store (but the nearest one to us) and so my spirits lifted and I placed my order - 17 items and 3 for a neighbour - and it was delivered the following day all just as hoped.  At least my friends wouldn't have to concern themselves with my well being any more.  BUT this week when I called to place my order I was told that due to increased demand from customers living in Sherborne they could no longer deliver to those not actually living there and so I was back to square one!!  Feeling very disappointed especially having tried as suggested their store in Crewkerne and 9 miles away without success.  "You might get lucky with click and collect" the lady there suggested and then went on to tell me I would need to place my order in the usual way (whatever that was) and then add my government number which would give me priority (what number?) seems if I had had a letter from the NHS I'd have a number which I could quote.  Failed again as I am too healthy and don't have any underlying conditions and thus a letter (thank goodness of course)  I gather that various supermarkets in Yeovil are open for the elderly at 7.00 am but there is likely to be a queue!  My mood plummeted further when I had a call from my sister-in-law who was all happy and bright and who told me I shouldn't let things get to me as we can't do anything about the situation of course I know that and does she think I like allowing things to get to me or choose to feel this way?!  Then whilst making some cheese scones the Mouli grater collapsed and the grated cheese went eveerywhere and I'd had enough and stormed off to bed!!  I am not proud of this childish behaviour but am just telling it like it is.  I haven't felt so down for a very long time now and felt guilty as I know how lucky I am in the greater scheme of things I have nothing to worry about when others are really struggling but that makes no difference but simply adds a good dose of guilt to the mix!

Of course I came back down and got on with the lunch and we had it an hour late but so what?!  After lunch I needed to post the cards I had made so I walked up through the woods and out onto the main road and along to the postbox.  A little further along the road is the petrol station which has a little M&S Food shop and I got quite a few things from my list and at the checkout the lad asked if I would like him to help me carry it to my car but on hearing that I had walked he asked where I lived and suggested I could borrow one of their trolleys (not a good idea through the wood) but then the very helpful young woman who I'd asked where something was offered to drive round in her break and deliver it!!  My faith in humankind was restored at a stroke!! I could have carried it all as one was a back pack and one a shopping bag.  So I will continue to shop there where possible as the idea of getting to Morrisons by 7.00 and having to queue is a definite no no for me!  I am barely awake at that time let alone up and dressed.  I am determined to manage using smaller shops rather than the supermarkets.  So we have had some lovely fresh strawberries for dessert today and I have two chocolate eclairs in the freezer for another day, we have plenty of bananas and oranges now and a veggie box came yesterday so we shall get our 5 a day alright.  I'll cross the other bridges when we get to them.


courtesy of Google images

Today I am feeling much more on an even keel perhaps because of the walk yesterday and having done my meditation this morning too.  I must take note of the motto shown in the picture above which was my junior school one and I can see it hanging on the wall in the classroom even all these years later.  Ours wasn't illustrated just the words but this one with its 50s style children seem appropriate.

I gather from some other bloggers' posts that I am not alone in feeling this way although there are those others who are quite enjoying the enforced isolation at home.  I must see if I can get some flour and do some bread making and other baking along with some crochet or scrabooking as practice makes perfect and maybe I will do better if I try. 

Not sure what's happened to the text and why it is black not the same as the rest of the post as it is all the same size and colour in Edit!