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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.


  1. Good to read y'all are all right.
    How wonderful other people were, I also hope defines these terrible times.

  2. Its a worrying world isn't it? The emotions you mention are so familiar, and I guess many are feeling this bewilderment about everything.
    It will be a new and different world when this is all over, I think.
    I love the beehive/composters!

  3. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who feel that going out is akin to running the gauntlet and the constant voice in your head should I be doing this? We have a very small supermarket in our village, like a large corner shop, the next supermarket is in a town 11 miles away, should I be using the small one in my village or going to town 11 miles away?

    Like you I am working hard to see the positives in all of this, messaging friends all the time and talking to people on the phone much more than I would do as we support each other through this tumultuous and unpredictable time.

  4. I can identify with the gamut of emotions you are experiencing. This is all so strange and surreal, as if we are living in a dream. It is difficult to know exactly how to exercise and shop - I think the main thing to stay away from other people as much as possible.
    Do take care.

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