Garage

Who would have thought a year a go that a trip to the garage would so resemble a decontamination scene from the movie Outbreak. You arrive and you are greeted by someone in a full face Perspex visor and gloves. A clear bag is held out at arms length for me to drop my car keys into. They are sprayed with something before the bag is closed. I’m asked a number of health questions and told to keep my face mask on at all times. Then ushered into the building through a roped off side door. I’m then directed to a clear screen and the masked service engineer discuss my 4 wheeled bag of rust. I’m then pointed to a tray with a car key – clearly recently sprayed. After I have picked the key up another person with full head protection takes through a separate door and pointed towards the service pool car parked in a separate roped off part of the car park. I’m then given verbal instructions on how to return with the car. I have to park next to the car wash in the roped off return zone.

Wow.

Kind of makes me wish I had cleaned my car now. It is a right state. Feeling guilty about that….

And if you think that’s decontamination. It’s not a patch on what I had to go through on my return to our house. Hawklad wasn’t taking any chances.

It’s a plan

So the Government has set out the way forward. A roadmap. Starting with all schools opening on the 8th March with parents able to play golf or tennis is socially distanced way as soon as the school buses have left the street. Ending with getting the bunting out just before summer with every adult having been offered at least one shot of vaccine and virtually all restrictions lifted. That’s the plan.

This time they have introduced some gaps between the various stages to check on the impact. It’s an improvement on the first lockdown release. Not great but an improvement on the last shambles.

I’m already hearing people talk about booking summer holidays, binning the masks, going to nightclubs. The message is ‘soon it will be over, we will have won….’.

Sadly I’m not convinced yet….

  • Schools are being fully reopened against the advice of many of the Government’s own scientific advisers. Reopened with no meaningful additional safety measures put in place.
  • No plans to prioritise front line groups like teachers or police for vaccines. Apparently this will just complicate things.
  • No thought given to the Health and Care sectors that have been stretched to breaking point for a year now. They can’t keep functioning like this.
  • No plans for under 18 vaccines at all as schools are ‘perfectly safe’ and the kids can develop herd immunity without getting too sick. Yet no mention of the increasing number of under 18s suffering long covid symptoms. No mention of school outbreaks that are already happening even with 3/4 quarter empty schools. No mention of overcrowded classrooms with no ventilation. No mention of the scores of children going down with associated diseases which have been brought on as a result of a seemingly mild Covid bout. No investment in home schooling resources to take pressure off classrooms and create another avenue for education – just threats of fines for parents.
  • The plans assume that the vaccine is the way out of the crisis. No mention of virus related mutations becoming resistant to the vaccine. A real risk when you have high infection rates and delayed second shot vaccine delivery. The vaccine is good but it’s not 100% effective. Plus we just don’t know how long the protection will last for in individuals.
  • The plan is in tatters if a change in the virus makes current vaccines less effective. In that increasingly like scenario the vaccine programme has to completely reset and start again.
  • No thought on making changes to how we work, study and play to make them safer going forward. We seem to be happy going back to the status quo which so spectacularly failed only a year ago.
  • The plan assumes an acceptable level of Covid infections and casualties. This is not a zero virus plan.
  • No mention of the mental health crisis facing young and old in this country.
  • The Virus will still be here…..

So no I’m not planning for a pandemic free future just yet. I hope we are fortunate and the plan does work. But when do things ever go to Plan.

Am I missing something

A bit of a return to the white stuff again..

Do you get those times when you look at something and you get a completely different answer to the official one. According to the Government the vaccine programme is going so well that it’s time to get ourselves in shape so we are ready for our normal holiday filled summer. Think warm beaches and the sea. The virus apparently is back under control again to such an extent that schools can be potentially fully reopened at the start of March. So that’s the official line.

So why am I seeing a completely different picture.

Vulnerable groups are getting vaccinated but many of those have just only received one of the two doses. The second dose probably not being received until at least 12 weeks after the first one. What happened to the 3 week maximum gap. Even if everything goes to plan by the summer well over half of the population will still not have had any vaccine. The young are not even scheduled to get the vaccine even though they can catch it. The vaccine is not 100% effective and it doesn’t stop vaccinated people still spreading the virus. We don’t even know how long any protection will last and it will be different based on the individual, the number of shots you have had, when you had your last shot and on which vaccine you have had. We have mutations occurring and spreading. We have a health service beyond full capacity, with its professionals beyond exhausted and at breaking point. They can’t run like this for much longer. We haven’t used the time the lockdown offered us to make the required changes to crowded places like schools. They places even the Government yell us are vectors for transmission. So basically schools are in the same position as they were when they were deemed not safe. But this time we will be trying to reopen them with pupils, parents and staff not vaccinated at the time we are desperately trying to control the spread of mutated covid.

Sorry I’m seeing a different picture.

A first

Well that’s a first. I’ve been looking out over these fields for 20 years now. Never seen flood pools appear on this side of the field. The temporary field lake has friends…

We all need friends.

The pandemic is effecting everyone especially our children. Yes schooling has been disrupted but there is something far more important. For almost a year those all important childhoods have been largely put on hold. Fewer opportunities to meet up with friends (in many cases absolutely no friend contact). Stringent limits. Sports and hobbies frequently cancelled. Cinemas and play areas closed. Opportunities to explore and push boundaries prohibited. No holidays. No trips out. Too much timed cooped up with parents.

9 months and counting. That’s a sizeable chunk of childhood. They don’t get that time back…

That’s so sad.

November Rain

Should really be listening to that Guns N’ Roses song while writing this.

Well I did put it on….

It’s November 2020. What happened to October? For nothing much happening it certainly seemed to fly by. The new month sees England about to re-enter a national lockdown. This time until at least the 2nd December. You can go out for education, to work (only if you can’t do it from home), to do some exercise, for a medical appointment, to care for someone and to shop for essentials. Pubs, restaurants, and things like non essential shops will close. Does non essential include Boris Johnson and the Government. Unless you are at school, university or work (as the virus is cool with those places unlike than well run, conscientious little cafes) you basically can’t meet up with anyone.

Is it bad that when I hear our so called leader talk I just utter the words ‘what a pompous, self deluded, lazy prat’. Actually that can be used for most of the Government. Worryingly Boris Johnson isn’t the worst….

For our little part of the world it’s not going to make that much of a difference. We don’t meet up with anyone really. We don’t go out unless for essential stuff. I have no work until at least March. Son is not medically cleared to attend school. Ok his nurse counsellor may not be able to visit. Food shopping might become more difficult. No chance of seeing family or friends. I don’t go for runs. But it is what it is.

Last night I took son for a short drive round the local villages to look at the Halloween decorations. Nighttime when few are out is the only time he will venture out. These trips out probably become illegal from Thursday. Do we care – NO. If members of the government can drive 300 miles with the virus and apparently impaired vision to visit family and tourist haunts – well stuff you Boris. These little trips out can be classed as medical and I’m just acting as any responsible parent would do.

So welcome to November 2020. Will it fly by…

Patchy

Sometimes nothing is better than spending a few minutes kicking fallen leaves randomly around the garden. It’s good to go back to childhood feelings again. Autumn is often a great time for that.

Today’s visit by our son’s health worker has been cancelled. She will try again in a few weeks. It is what it is. At least we are due to get some help, many are not so fortunate. We just have to accept that what support we do get is likely to be very patchy over the coming months. Yep, we will be travelling these roads for a long while to come.

If anything we have just started the journey. Son is still wracked with anxiety and fears. He is most definitely house and garden bound. No sign of progress as yet. Actually no sign if progress in ages. We are not talking a few days here. We are already 7 months into his isolation. We will be adding many more months to that. Realistically his anxieties have become intertwined with the wider pandemic situation. How can he improve, his anxieties ease when the country is still in pandemic mode. If he ventured out he would just end up seeing people wearing masks and frequently looking nervous. It feels like manning the battlements until things start to pick up again.

That’s where kicking fallen leaves comes in. It’s so important that Hawklad still enjoys life. Enjoys his childhood. We find ways to fill our small world with fun. Yes kicking leaves ticks all those boxes. AND it’s fun for his old Pop as well.

Irony

It was another one of those Yorkshire days. Cold, wet, windy, brooding.

That weather combined with a pandemic, homeschooling and our enforced lockdown is a heady mix. A mix which gets me pondering life. Probably too much pondering some days.

I was sat looking out through the window at that dark sky. Sat alone while Hawklad did his school work in the bedroom. I was suddenly taken back to before 2016. The old small conservatory had finally fallen to bits. We had found the money for a replacement one. I think we planned for years of sitting in there, spending time together. But here’s the thing. We never really did. Life always got in the way. We always seemed to be too busy. If only we had found a way of slowing life down. Creating time at home. Seemingly having too much time on our hands. No excuses to not sit together in that new conservatory. At the time it kind of never really mattered. We had so many years ahead of us to do that.

Well that plan didn’t go well.

Here’s the irony that 2020 presents. Suddenly time has slowed down. Often a feeling of too much time on our hands. A lockdown enforcing time together. No outside distractions this time. A perfect time to sit with my partner and look at that dark sky. Thinking how lucky we are to have that time together. The irony is not lost on me.

Bin

Another day and another email from school. Another pupil has tested positive. I’ve lost count of the pupils isolating now. One year has about 80 isolating out of 130. Another year has about 60 isolating. Countless teachers can be added to the list. Sadly that’s what happens when a cramped and old fashioned school tries to operate at full capacity during a pandemic.

Unfortunately it’s a story being repeated across the England. The latest figures show that last week 400000 pupils were have to isolate. 50000 pupils had either tested positive or were suspected as having the virus. It’s almost as if the Government is trying to get as many of our children infected as possible.

Surely it’s time to bring in better controls within our schools. For a start opening up online education options to all pupils has to be done as a matter of urgency. That would instantly create space in classrooms. Cramped and overcrowded classrooms have to be consigned to the bin.

See what the wind brings.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and see what the wind brings.

Drying clothes outside is proving a bit of a nightmare. Every few minutes the wind brings in another shower. Thankfully the bench cover is just about big enough to quickly chuck over the clothes horse. Given the dirty state of the cover rather defeats the purpose of washing. But needs must.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and see what the wind brings.

Further lockdown measures are set to be announced for northern areas next week. For the last month our part of the north has been an island. Surrounded by areas having significant pandemic outbreaks. Here it’s been reasonably calm. That means that things like shopping and daily life have continued without too much disruption. But is that about to change. Has our area succumbed.

Sons school has had confirmed cases. The local cafe had had to close due to a local outbreak. All public events are being cancelled (that includes Christmas events). Now the local city is reporting a huge growth in cases. 79% rise in 7 days, our rural area has gone up by 60%. Higher than some of the areas already under lockdown. Police are starting to enforce lockdown laws.

It’s the confusion that makes it so much harder for people. One week the PM tells people to grow a backbone and get out. Then suddenly the PM tells us it’s our fault fir getting out. Some places (often government supporting areas) have high infection rates but are excluded from lockdown while other areas with lower rates are forced into lockdown.

Feels like we as an area are about to be forced into a tough, restrictive extended period. All we can do is continue with our own family approach. Try to shield son from as much of the negative, doom loaded news. It’s the last thing he needs to hear. Much better for his (and my well-being) to sit in the back garden and see what the weather brings in.

Red

A trip out to the village post box feels like a real adventure. The stuff you can find even on a two minute walk. Definitely saviour those moments.

Today provided a longer trip out. This time a trip pharmacy to pick up a prescription. It felt odd driving in the local town. Actually it just felt odd driving. I admit that I needed to work out which of the 3 peddles was the clutch – how bad is that. Clearly cars are more than just point and go. In the town definitely more signs of the impact of the pandemic. Some places have closed down. Controlled entry queues outside the stores. 2m spacing tape on the pavements. Definitely more masks on view. In the pharmacy Perspex screens and staff dressed like they are about to perform surgery on the customers. Missing items on the prescription, some medicines are just not available. Sign of the times.

School emailed all the parents to let them know that the school has had its first confirmed coronavirus case. It’s stays open and carries on. Will be such a worry for everyone there. Sadly it won’t be the last one. It certainly doesn’t do anything to change the narrative for our son. He’s schooling at home. He’s schooling at home for the foreseeable future.

We carry on.