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Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Notes from the Bunker - March bulletin

What a difference a month makes!  Back at the end of February we were living our lives as usual, albeit having heard about some virus problem on the other side of the world, meeting each other hugging each other going to shops and cafes and on outings here and there and now just a month later our cities are almost silent, we are under "house arrest" and a whole new lexicon of phrases have entered our daily conversations. Phrases like "underlying health issues", "self isolation", "social distancing" "shielding" and "lock down" phrases we hadn't know existed just a month ago.

So from being advised to keep a distance of 6 feet between ourselves and other people, not always easy and called "Social Distancing", we progressed in jerky steps though "self isolation" and "shielding" vulnerable people and ending up with our country in "lock down" being told to "Stay Home" other than for all but the most basic reasons such as going to buy food or medicines, exercise or taking the dog for a walk, medical appointments if they hadn't been cancelled by this time, and going to work if one's work could not be done from home.  Wild animals are beginning to roam our empty streets and life is deinitely not what it was and one wonders if it will ever be as we knew it again.

primroses along our driveway - don't show up too well in the photo though

How has it been for us here in our bunker?  Well I have found it confusing, complicated, depressing, frightening and a whole host of other negative emotions as well as some positive ones too like gratitude, joy, friendship and happiness.  I have found the advice and instructions most confusing as the goal posts were constantly being moved and I was not aware for instance that driving to somewhere quiet for a walk would not be permitted, that shopping should be done in one's nearest supermarket rather than a short distance away and so on.  I was not sure if being over 70 with no "underlying health conditions" lumped us along with being over 70 with underlying conditions or with younger than 70 with or without underlying conditions.  By last week we had run out of many items and needed to do a shop it being 2 weeks since our last and the chance of shopping on line and getting a delivery slot within the next month or so being non existent we decided to drive a distance of 5 miles to Sherborne where we could shop at Waitose a small supermarket in which I would know where to find the items I wanted.  The route along the A30 was very quiet just like it used to be when I lived in Sherborne in my teens, we parked in the open car park and I did my shopping without having to queue, or at least the queue consisted of a couple and me and they went in almost as soon as I arrived, leaving Mr M in the car and we were home in no time which I had thought a better plan than going to the nearer Tesco with queues round the block and where I would have had no idea where to find anything inside the bigger interior and would have taken longer.  Apparently we were lucky not to have been stopped by the police!!

 On Monday I drove Mr M to the hospital for a routine appointment and waited in the car nearby to pick him up afterwards.  We wanted a couple of things and so stopped at Tesco to get these but the queue was long enough to go right round the car park so we left the car in the car park and walked the short distance into the town where I went to M&S for fresh fruit and green vegetables (our Riverford box would not contain greens this week and we couldn't order another fruit box either) and Mr M went to Superdrug for his razor blades and toothpaste.  No queues at either store and only a certain number of customers allowed in each so all very civilised and peaceful and much quicker than waiting in line at Tesco.  I expect to hear that I have done wrong once again having had my "outing" going to the hospital and not entitled to use it for another for shopping at least not that day.  It's all so difficult, doing the right thing is not the problem it is knowing what is the right thing!!

clematis on trellis by compost bins
The sun continues to shine here and Nature is doing what it does best and clothing the trees with soft green leaves, carpeting the banks with primroses and filling the air with birdsong.  All is well in our neck of the woods it seems but of course it isn't really.

My walks in the wood adjoining us raise questions as now that the schools are all closed and many people are working from home there are more people in the wood during the day but if I am not allowed to drive the short distance to the next village where I might find a quieter spot to walk or into town from where I could walk in Nine Springs it seems I will be forced to take my walks on pavements locally which is not the same at all.  There are so many areas surrounding the town that would be great for peaceful, isolated walking but as I gather we are meant to take our exercise for no more than an hour there wouldn't be time to walk there and do the walk and get back even if my elderly legs were capable!
\The bee hive compost bins behind the clematis

I know we are lucky compared with so many others and I do find moments of pure joy in the garden such as when I take the compost bits from the kitchen to the bins, made by Mr M and looking like beehives, and see this beautiful clematis which has blossomed so beautifully this year.  

Mr M's handiwork a lovely place to sit with a coffee when the sun shines

Or having my coffee sitting on the bench - also made by Mr M years ago listening to the birds in the adjoining woods.

My main concern is for the Wanderer living as she does in London on her own and working from home in a job that was only ever a long term temporary one and having tried so hard but without success to find permanent employment and having had a further final interview lined up for a job she really thought was all but in the bag only to have the firm put everything on hold due to the current situation leaving her back to square one with the only thing still on the table being an interview for a job in Saudi Arabia!!!  She had a further video interview for this one on Sunday and was offered the post but obviously without a starting date which might well be towards the latter part of the year when travel becomes possible again.  At which time there will no doubt be many more people  jobless as firms have closed and then gone out of business and chances of her finding work in London will be even slighter. She won't be the only one in this position I know but it doesn't stop me worrying!!

BUT - Something I have learned is that we all rely on each other whether that be food delivery drivers,  bin men, friends offering support, shop keepers and staff and not forgetting our wonderful NHS staff from cleaners to doctors and nurses from ambulance drivers and all jobs in between.  No man is an island we cannot survive without each other.

What we really need is not the things we might have thought so important a month ago.

That there is so much love, kindness, generosity and friendship out there even during times like these.  Whatever the world looks like after this situation has passed let's hope that  these  will live on and that we will remember not how awful it all was but how wonderful other people were.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

More Notes from the Bunker

Another sunny day here in the Bunker.  I am so grateful to have the blue skies and sunshine at this difficult time as eveything in Nature is looking hopeful and hope is something that we all need right now!

Yesterday feeling a bit stressed with it all I decided that what was needed was a dose of shrinrin yoku or Forest Bathing not that the little wood that we adjoin is a forest and not that I intended to take off my clothes but just to be in Nature.  Hope springs eternal I thought as I noticed this clump of daffodils on my way.

It has been too wet and muddy recently for much mindul walking in the wood but now the paths are dry again it is a peaceful way to spend half an hour or so listening to the birdsong and noticing the greenery bursting forth everywhere.  Forgetting for a while all the worries and stresses about coronavirus.

It won't be long before the leaves cover the trees and this path will be in the shade.

A little clump of celandines at the root of a tree along with some bluebell leaves what could be more hopeful?

Last night we learned that we are to be in "lockdown", a word which along with social distancing and self isolation we had never used before nor knew what they meant, to try and slow the horrid virus - my initial thought was to be glad that we now knew exactly what we should or should not be doing as I had found the all earlier advice somewhat confusing but it will mean a major change to our way of living for some weeks if not longer.

We are OK and this morning the cheery Riverford delivery man brought us our regular weekly box of veggies to which we had been able to add a fruit box, 6 bottles of milk and 2 large loaves of bread to slice and put in the freezer (I hadn't been able to buy suitable flour to make my own before all the shops sold out). I was able to have a brief chat with him from the back door at a safe distance.  We will need to go shopping later in the week for some  other items like coffee and butter and so on but we shall not starve nor go without our 5 a day!

I have since come across this video which I plan to try for easy bake bread using any kind of flour which looks simple and delicious  I'll let you know how it turns out if/when I do.

I am more concerned for the Wanderer as she is alone in a 7th floor studio flat in Lewisham working from home but she will be allowed to go out for food shopping and for her usual run or maybe take her bike for a ride (I have just been told by Mr M that she will be able to get it serviced if needbe as home and hardware and bicycle repair shops can remain open).  It's interesting to see how little we actually need and what those needs might be; certainly not new clothes or sportswear, cafes and bookshops.  What would be on your list of must-haves I wonder and how will that list change over the coming weeks and months?

If you haven't seen this you might ind it amusing.  All for now keep safe and keep positive.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Notes from the bunker!!

Norway picture from Google Images
  For some reason this post prints in capitals even though I have used lower case as usual.

Be careful what you wish for - recently I had a "week in Norway" which is my metaphor for having nothing in the diary and being able to do as I pleased for a week. I did enjoy it and it was indeed like being on holiday and I wished for more time in Norway..... well now I have 12 weeks in Norway that I wasn't expecting.  Nothing in the diary no going to shops, or meeting friends in town for a coffee, trips to other towns or even to the garden centre.  Nobody will visit us and no seeing the Wanderer in London nor her coming here.  I imagine this will be a very different time and something I wouldn't have wished for but that it might be interesting when looking back to see what it was like and so I plan to blog about it here so that friends can see what we are up to and how we are coping.  

After a week of conflicting and confusing advice and instructions, lots of fake news and far too much real news on the coronavirus topic we finally gathered that being over 70 and considered elderly we should be self isolating ie staying at home out of harm's way but of course that wouldn't be totally workable we would need to get out for fresh air and exercise and if we had nobody to help us we might need to go to the shops if we weren't to starve!  Now I think Mr M and I are ready for this and have not been out to the shops since Wednesday when we had our last quick foray.  We haven't actually stockpiled anything but shouldn't need any of our usual weekly items for another week or two, we already have an organic vegetable box delivered weekly and have taken out a subscription to Radio Times so we shall have both something to read and be able to find out what might be on television in the evenings.  I also have plenty of library books which was lucky as the library is now closed for the forseeable future.  We went to the garden centre last Monday and ordered bags of compost to be delivered and bought several packets of seeds so we should be able to have runner beans etc this year as usual.  

It was surprising to me the sorts of things I wondered about in the night when unable to sleep - "what if" questions like: if we died would a funeral be possible?  What about bird seed for the wild birds if we run out?  What if the Wanderer was ill could I go to London to help her?  What i we were ill with something othe than the coronavirus would we get to see a doctor?  And many more such things.  It's been like being on a roller coaster one minute being scared and worried and the next thinking of the positives like having time for gardening and spring cleaning etc (That hasn't happened though as this week has been taken up with e-mails and phone calls but I think we are settling down to the reality of our imprisonment now.)


Today I went for a walk in the adjoining wood - I hadn't been for several days and it was exactly what I needed a real balm to the soul listening to the birdsong, noticing the carpets of celandines and the bluebell leaves shooting up ready for the bluebells themselves in a few weeks time.  Everywhere much greener than last time I went and the mud all but dried up and I even noticed some pussy willow with its grey furry catkins reminding me of Easter.  I came back with a little Nature Table posy of twigs and flowers and felt much calmer as we sat with our cups of tea in the conservatory looking out into the garden with the daffodils and primroses in bloom and the washing blowing on the line in the wind!  All was well in my world at least for the moment.

Wishing you all well at this dificult time.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Belated Happy New Year.

As we begin another decade the word which seems to me to be the one that is most needed is HOPE

I hope that this new year will prove a happy one for us all after the turmoil of 2019 and with the world in the state it is I feel the word HOPE is so important.
(This lovely little felt decoration was a gift from my American friend of over 60 years!)

So this post is all about hope and some of the many guises it comes in.

Back in November we went to London for a few days - I wanted to attend the Resurgence Festival of Wellbeing to hear some of the interesting speakers lined up see here for a list of them two of whom were authors - one being Raynor Winn whose book The Salt Path I'd found inspiring telling as it did about how sometimes when the worst things happen it turns out to be something to be grateful for in the end a real story of triumph over adversity and the other Isabella Tree whose book Wilding was the most hopeful tale I'd heard and showed how Nature can and will repair the damage intensive farming has done to the land and how wildlife will return if given a chance.  If you haven't read them I can recommend them highly.

On Christmas day as we were on our own, The Wanderer not being able to come and join us due to train strikes, and as lunch was not going to be the traditional Christmas Day meal of turkey and all the trimmings I decided to go for a walk in the morning (waiting till after lunch usually means it is getting dark before I get back) and so off I went up through the woods.  The sky was blue and the sun was shining and I noticed the first primrose along the path just the one but a note of HOPE,

I continued my walk along this lane and came to a field gate with a huge puddle in front of it reflecting the blue sky and after all the rain we'd had it too seemed to be a note of HOPE for better drier weather to come perhaps.

I returned home in time to get some lunch for us feeling much more HOPEful than when I'd set off. I had been feeling a bit low as is usual for me at this time of year.

Today 10 days later I did the same walk in different weather - it was cloudy but with occasional sunny intervals and the ground underfoot was much drier and noticed that there were now more primroses on the little plant 

and many more daffodils in bloom too.

That's what gives me HOPE - Nature will continue doing what she does best and the wildlife - the birds were everywhere singing - and plants give me inspiration and HOPE that 2020 will be a better year for us all both in terms of health and happiness as well as on the world stage and politically.  Maybe we are not meant to live peaceful lives but to do what we can to remain HOPEful.  

(Do any of the other bloggers who have returned to blogging after being away for a long time find stringing together a few words much harder than it used to be?  My muse seems to have left me as when I blogged regularly I found it easy?)

Tuesday, 10 December 2019


Image result for election

Tumultuous times here in the UK just now and I feel as if we are drowning in the negative emotions which seem to fill the atmosphere.  The very air we breathe these days is polluted by accusation and acrimony, recrimination and fear, scandal and division, argument and anger until it seems that there is nothing good to be found anywhere. 

Not only do we have an election coming up but there is Brexit to be dealt with one way or another and whatever the outcome there half the population will not be pleased and there will be more anger and division.  

These lines from the carol "It came upon the midnight clear" seem appropriate just now:  

And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O  hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.


I came across this Poem yesterday and it sums up the situation nicely and hopefully brings a touch of humour to counteract all that negativity!
On a more hopeful note I walked up through the woods yesterday to the post box with a birthday card to post and noticed that there are daffodil shoots poking through the grass and even a tight bud or two so just as Spring will come again so hope spings eternal.

Not sure if the link is working as it should so maybe I will need to copy and paste it if it does!

Monday, 14 October 2019

Age related m'dear!!

Getting old comes to us all if we are lucky but it is nothing like I imagined it might be.  If I thought about it at all it was to see myself as a wise and serene old lady maybe with grey hair in a bun and wearing a flowered pinny who would be making cakes and bread and pottering in my garden, knitting and sewing and generally being a kind and gentle soul.  Pah! Not so!

I guess I knew I wouldn't be able to do some of the things my younger self might have done but what I didn't realise is that inside an old person is that younger self who cannot quite accept this.  I see young people running up, or even more scarily down, steps and stairs without holding the bannister and wish that I could do that too and I am jealous.  Yes really!

So how have things changed now that I am an old lady?  Well for a start although there are still 7 days in each week (I usually know what day it is too) and 24 hours in each day somehow the hours are much shorter than they were and so the weeks fly past - ask any old person who will tell you that this is so.  I dare say if/when one reaches the stage of having to be in a home and spending all one's days in a room full of other old people staring at the television and being taken to the toilet possibly even being hauled up out of one's chair with one's knickers showing and into a wheelchair for the trip there (I have seen this at first hand when I used to visit as a volunteer an old lady who ended up in a nursing home) then perhaps the hours seem longer than they were but for those of us who haven't yet reached this stage time has definitely changed and rushes past ever faster.

Then there are other changes like the increased number of appointments of a medical nature and wonderful though the NHS is in spite of all the criticisms made about it, I personally cannot fault the service, it is just that I would rather it wasn't necessary! So that might be where some of the time goes!  As my lovely young opthalmologist a few years back when I was seeing him for various eye operations used to say in answer to any of my questions about why this or that or the other had happened "I'm afraid it's age related m'dear"!  And it hasn't only been eyes since then.

Weymouth earlier this year
 I can no longer run for a bus nor get the lids off jars, lift a heavy pan in one hand whilst scooping the contents into a dish with the other, go upstairs (or downstairs) with my arms full as I now have to ensure that I have a hand free to hold the bannister.  I haven't had a bath for ages in case I can't get out and now use the shower instead, I have to think before bending down or turning round and do nothing suddenly and I try not to look in a mirror without thinking or I wonder who that old woman in the mirror might be with all those winkles!

Weymouth earlier this year

I have found that as I got older I have become more cautious and my sense of self preservation has increased - not that I am afraid of going for a walk in the wood on my own or going anywhere else on my own, I am not fearful when the doorbell rings and usually fling the door wide before wondering who it might be but it's just that I am less dare devil and take more care not to trip or fall these days and I am fearful too for those younger people doing things like leaping over a gate when they could so easily catch their foot and fall flat on their faces, riding bicycles in London (the Wanderer did this for a time and my imagination ran riot) or any other perfectly normal things which I might well have done myself without a care once upon a time.

Forde Abbey Gardens earlier this year
BUT there are some pluses to being old the most important plus is that I am still here when many of my friends and family no longer are.  I live by the mantra that "To live at all is miracle enough" these days.  Although time is shorter than it used to be I can spend it as I choose now I don't have to go to work.  Friends are more precious than ever before and we keep each other going always finding things to laugh about, I have a free bus pass so am able to go where I want on the bus for free as long as it is not before 9.30 but these days getting out of the house by 9.30 is too much of a rush anyway!  I have a Senior Rail card which entitles me to a third off rail fares again as long as I don't want to arrive in London before 9.30 but that would mean leaving home before 6.00am an unearthly hour that I would be unlikely to be doing anyway.  We rarely use the car if there is a bus or train route to where we want to go and so we are able to sit and enjoy the scenery and the ride instead of keeping our eyes on the road.  Oh and since all that time spent with the opthalmologist I no longer need to wear distance glasses and am legal to drive without them and for the cataract op the lens he put in enables me to read enough to do the shopping and look for a library book without needing to get my reading glasses out. Can't be bad!

Not quite true I made this one recently!
So although I am no more serene than I ever was, am not sure how much wiser I am if at all, I don't have grey hair let alone a bun and nor do I wear a pinny,  I rarely bake cakes or bread these days nor have I done much crochet or knitting and can see the day is nearly here when we will have to employ someone to do the garden for us I am still the younger woman I once was but with a few extra perks which I put down to getting older.  All is not lost after all!  Let's hear it for old age!

Thank you for your comments on my last post I can't promise I will be posting regularly but am enjoying putting my thoughts and a few photos together so I will be back occasionally.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

An outing with a difference

Can it really be more than 18 months since I last posted on here?  I have missed you all and several times I have thought of returning to blogging but always I felt that I had nothing different to say.  Those months I have been away have been filled with the minutiae of daily life as a pensioner when everthing takes longer than it used to and there have been hospital appointments, visits to A&E and follow on appointments, X-rays, physiotherapy, dermatology I began to wonder if I might get a Blue Peter badge for visiting the most number of NHS departments in a given time ....... none of it life threatening but as my eye consultant used to say "age related m'dear"!!

However that is not why I am here now but because I wanted to tell you about an outing last week that was a bit different to my usual.

Mr M and I went to Exeter on Friday, by train as usual, and the scenery en route was as always stunning in the sunshine and although there were signs of autumn, rosehips and hawthorn berries and a few coloured leaves, it still looked and felt like summer.  The train was full by the time we got to Exeter with standing room only as at each stop more people going to the Climate Strike got on with their placards.  We had planned to spend some time wandering about and I wanted to go to a wool shop I'd heard about and to have Mr M's postponed birthday lunch (after the restauant in Weymouth that we had planned to visit on his birthday a couple of weeks ago had been closed at lunchtime and the place we went to instead not up to much) but when I had discovered earlier in the week that there was to be a Climate strike on Friday I said I'd like to join in even if only for a short while and to stand and be counted which Mr M wasn't up for so we split up and arranged to meet later and go for lunch.

It was amazing to be part of the 2000 or so protestors and the atmosphere was great with people of all ages including a few children, babies in arms and pushchairs, teens, dogs (a few) and  even some people in wheelchairs coming together with one thing in common - their love of the Earth.  I have always said that nothing would entice me to be part of a big crowd but the fate of our planet seemed worth it and I kept to the edges to start with!  I overheard several other protestors saying that this was the first time they'd ever done anything like joining a mass protest so I knew I wasn't the only newbie and I made a new friend when I stopped to speak with a lady about my age carrying a "placard" saying "You know you have to sort it out when Granny shouts about it"!  She too had been drawn to come to Exeter to join in and be counted.  We stood chatting for a while and we both left the gathering just before they all set off to march to the County Hall as neither of us was up to the walk. Does this mean we are now activists I wonder?

We went for a coffee together and I telephoned Mr M to say where we were and he joined us.  We have exchanged e-mail addresses and hope to keep in touch.  It was amazing yesterday morning when looking at the headlines in most of the papers to be able to say "I was there and part of it"!!

I had been to a coffee morning the previous Saturday to find out more about Extinction Rebellion thinking that if Greta Thunberg a 16 year old was prepared to travel across the Atlantic in a small racing yacht to speak at the UN then the least I could do was to find out more about Extinction Rebellion and maybe do something instead of talking about it.  It all seemed so very well organised that I felt drawn to join up attracted by the Non Violent aspect of it and the fact that so many people of every stripe and persuasion can come together and there be no outbreaks of damage or destruction but now I am wondering.  Why do I feel I don't want to admit to being part of it all when speaking to friends, will the gilets jaunes  or other violent groups infiltrate the peaceful non violent marches as happened here in Paris and is this the way to achieve the aim of getting governments around the world to do something about the things that are making climate change worse?  I have no intention of joining the protest they plan in London 7 - 19 October as I wouldn't be able to get there and if I sat down in the road I might not be able to get up these days but I know now that for every marcher or protestor glued to the road there are dozens more back home acting as support in one way and another and maybe I can do my bit in this way from home.  But life is very difficult at times when it comes to knowing what is the right thing to do.

Mr M got his birthday lunch and very good it was too but there wasn't time to go and find the wool shop this time never mind that can be another day.  The train home was pretty full again with people still clutching their placareds some now a little the worse for wear!!  But I'd had a lovely day and felt really invigorated by it all.