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Sunday, 26 April 2020


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! 

Sunday, 5 April 2020


Due to increased demand I am struggling during the current situation finding I am spending so much time on the telephone (3+ hours some days!) and answering e-mails (more hours) and generally keeping in touch with friends then getting stressed as I haven't achieved any of the things I had hoped I might be doing as mentioned in the following piece by Kitty O'Meera but fear I might only be "meeting my shadows" and none of the other things!!  I know that I am not alone in this and that all over the world people are trying to find their "new way of living" in these times of change and anxiety and we will all have to find our own way through this but it helps to know we are not alone.  One blog which says more eloquently than I can on the topicis Sifting for Treasures take a look.

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

For more about Kitty see Oprah's magazine here.

So I plan to spend more time on the afore mentioned activities and less on the computer and telephone at least for now.  I really love to hear from my friends but I am just trying to find a way to keep in touch with everyone and at the same time to heal and find a new way of living myself!  So that I am able to be supportive to them too.

I write to you all in friendship and love and sign off with this lovely French compilation of a familiar (to the French at least!) song from the 60s. which speaks of the need for "tendresse" or affection/love/kindness/care especially at this time of isolation and which was compiled from videos made by each of the musicians all over France wherever they found themselves in isolation - there's a lesson there too isn't there it says that we are better together and even the virus cannot separate us nor stop us from making something beautiful if we work together.

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.