Wednesday, May 20, 2020, Day 66, Week 10, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

363 new deaths taking the total to 35,704.

Brazil seems to be at or close to the peak now but their death rate per million is still low at 85 compared to 594, 532, and 521 in Spain, Italy and UK respectively.

The News

London has had no new cases in the last 24 hours!

The government is gearing up for the contact tracing phase of the War on Covid. They have employed 25,000 contact tracers. Test, Track and Trace is expected to commence in June.

Rolls Royce, who supply engines to the aviation industry, are planning to cut 9000 jobs.

More and more schools are saying that they won’t open on June the 1st.

Captain Tom, who walked 100 laps of his garden, for his 100th birthday, and raised tens of millions of pounds for the NHS, has been knighted. Captain Tom is now Sir Tom!

Devon is grid-locked with cars as people from all over the country have flooded the area hoping to make the best of the heatwave at the seaside.

The New Way of Life

Well, what an unusually busy day! It’s a scorcher too – 26 degrees.

We had to set the alarm to make sure we got up in time as we have been sleeping in so late during the Time of Covid.

Did my hair and makeup for the first time in weeks for our trip out to get M’s blood test at the special “shielding” centre.

We arrived early and they did the test early as there was no-one else there. It was all done very carefully. M in mask and gloves and the staff in full PPE. They were very careful to ensure that he didn’t touch anything, and when they were done they opened the doors for him, got him to take of his gloves and gave him a new clean pair. All in all very safe and reassuring after all our anxiety about it.

As we were over on the side of Birmingham where M’s son lives, we took the opportunity to call on them and have a front garden chat with his son, grandson and daughter-in-law. It was sooo good to see them. It really lifted us both.

We spent the rest of the day working o our presentation and plan for tomorrow’s virtual workshop. It’s coming together now very nicely – we hope!

 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020, Day 65, Week 10, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

545 new deaths taking the total to 35,341. However, the ONS estimates that this figure is closer to 44,000. 11,000 of these deaths have been in Care Homes.

The News

2 million people have registered as unemployed. The Chancellor has predicted the aftermath of the pandemic will bring a severe recession the likes of which we have never seen.

Solihull Council are the first Conservative council to defy government guidance for schools to go back on the 1st of June.

Donald Trump has been taking a malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a preventative treatment against the virus despite any evidence that it is effective.

The New Way of Life

A friend contacted me this morning to say that a small private health clinic in our village is offering an antibody test for £195 per person. She is considering getting it done for herself, her family and her daughter’s carers. Like us, they are all “shielding” (except the carers), as her daughter, like M, is one of the 1.8 million people deemed extremely vulnerable.

My first reaction, I have to be honest, was suspicion. Why would a private provider be offering a service that the NHS was not? Was it a legitimate test? If it was, what would it actually mean? There are always unscrupulous people who crawl out from under their stones at times this this and capitalise on the fear and vulnerability of others.

So, I made a few enquires and spoke to a few medical people I know. The consensus was that it probably is legitimate. They are a trustworthy organisation. They have been contracted by the health authorities to do this type of testing for the NHS. It’s just that they are not widely available to the general public yet. It’s also their prerogative to make some money by selling it to people who are prepared to pay rather than wait. However, there are purported to be other organisations who are selling the same test for half that price. So, it sounds like a valid test, if you are comfortable with the ethics of it only being available to people who can afford it. My friend believes that if you can pay you should, and take some of the pressure of the NHS.

But, what would such a test tell you and what would it mean? The only thing it would tell you for sure is whether you have had the virus and have antbodies. Antibodies can infer a degree of immunity at the point when the test is done. But, it does not guarantee immunity and no one knows how long any antibodies will be present for. So, it won’t allow you to think that you are “safe” and start getting out and about again. And, you could still transmit the virus to others, whether you got sick or not yourself. Lockdown and social distancing is about reducing community transmission not about self-protection.

But, for us, and M in particular, it would tell us if we have had the disease and didn’t get very sick and die. Again, no guarantee that if we got it again we wouldn’t get a more serious case. But, for me, it would remove some of the fear of certain death if M gets it. He’s not so sure and doesn’t really want to consider it at this time.

Been working on Zoom again today. Made a broth with Sunday’s bones. Went for a long walk in the sun. As usual, the day seemed to fly by.

 

 

Monday, May 18, 2020, Day 64, Week 10, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

There have been 160 more deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 34,796.

The News

We are officially in a sustained decline now.

For the first time, everyone over five, who has symptoms of the virus can get a test. At last!

John Van Tam, my favourite speaker by a country mile among those that have delivered the daily breifings, thinks that we may have to live with the virus for years.

The New Way of Life

The weather is great again. I’ve had a really nice day. I just feel in a good mood today. It’s so weird how our moods fluctuate so much, from day today, during this experience.

I spent the morning getting to grips with Zoom. We’ve decided we’re going to subscribe to the full version as we like it best out of all the ones we have looked at. We have out first workshop on Thursday.

We’ve actually got a busy week! M had a web meeting today with a business network group he is a member of. After that he was working on his slides for Thursday. We’ve got more prep to do tomorrow and on Wednesday we’re going to get M’s blood test done. Thursday we’ve got the workshop and I’m OUT in the evening! Friday is curry and quiz night. I’m cooking pakora, a lamb and spinach curry and another dal this week.

I went for another lovely walk down to our local nature reserve in the afternoon.

I seem to have developed sinusitis type symptoms on the other side of my face now. I rang the GP and he said it can happen after a facial injury and its best to take a course of antibiotics to prevent a more serious infection. I’ve already picked them up and started taking them as its all done electronically. I started the antibiotics less than an hour after speaking to the doctor. Pleasingly efficient.

I spent the afternoon making some pasties. The dough is like a puff pastry but also used yeast. The filling is a mixture of Nduja and Manchego. It’s taken most of the afternoon to make them and now the pastry is chilling for a final time. I can’t finish them till 7pm!

We’re having Sunday Lunch left-overs for dinner. I love left-overs! Decent home cooked food without any of the cooking or washing up!

 

 

 

Sunday, May 17, 2020, Day 63, Week 9, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

170 new deaths taking the total to 34,636. Even taking account of low weekend number, definitely on the way out of this, for the moment anyway.

Barbados have got two new cases after a couple of weeks without any. They were picked up through contact tracing.

The News

Mixed messages over the likelihood of a vaccine any time soon. The government have said that 30 million people will be able to get a vaccine by September. However, experts are saying that a vaccine wont be readily available until next year.

Hospitals in Brazil are near collapse as the virus rages through the country.

Loss of taste and smell has been officially listed as a symptom of Covid-19.

Italt and Spain have begun to ease some of their lockdown restrictions. Some shops have been allowed to open again.

UK stations are putting new social distancing and crowd-control measures into place including the use of  trained security guards, as people begin to return to work.

The New Way of Life

Another quiet day. I got up early and put a leg of lamb in the oven to roast for seven hours! Later, I did some balsamic roast potatoes, greens and cauliflower cheese to go with it for Sunday Lunch.

I went out for a walk while M was on his bike ride. The weather is a bit better again. Its cloudy but the temperature has gone up. I’m not going on the bike until all my stiff and sore back and shoulder muscles have fully recovered from my fall.

Talking of my fall, the swelling and bruising is going down but as it does I have realised that my nose is a bit wonky. Still not sure whether to leave it and just accept it or get an X-Ray and get or sorted out. My view at the moment is that a wonky nose does not even come into play compared to the risk of M catching Covid-19.

Saying that, I have growing sense that there is less of it our there in the community now. No new stories of local people getting it and people being admitted to hospital. That could just be due to lockdown of course and it could come roaring back as people begin to get on with their lives.

But it’s more than that. I just don’t “feel” it’s out there anymore. It’s hard to explain. It might just be that I’m becoming complacent, which could be dangerous. Not that I’m taking any risks. We are here, like this until the end of June and we’ll just have to take it from there.

I’m also hearing more and more stories of friends and family discovering the extent of people meeting up in secret during lockdown. There has been a lot more of it going on than we’ll ever know. Maybe the government have allowed for this in their implicit pursuit of herd immunity. Maybe loads more people have had it and are immune than we know.

We are at a real turning point now. Either things will continue to improve or we will get another wave. Only time will tell. The WHO is warning the UK and Europe that we must prepare for a second wave this winter.

I’m a bit concerned about my two-year old granddaughter and how this is affecting our relationship. She’s become very cold and distant towards us. When I Facetime my daughter, she doesn’t even smile or want to say hello anymore. She’d rather just continue to play or watch TV. But what can we do? I just have to hope that when the time comes that I can kiss her and cuddle her, and play with her again, we’ll be able to rebuild the relationship.

 

 

Saturday, May 16, 2020, Day 62, Week 9, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

468 new deaths taking the total to 34,466.

The News

Not much new news today.

Still lots of debate and discussion about whether or not it’s to soon to ease the lockdown.

The rich list was published and some of the usual leaders have slipped down the rankings a bit due to losses as a result of the virus. James Dyson, who started out making vacuum cleaners was at the top, reported to be worth £16.2 billion.

It should have been the Eurovision Song Contest but it has obviously been cancelled. Instead a TV show played some past winners and the public voted for their favourite. The “Winner of Winners” was Waterloo by Abba which won in 1974 when the contest was held in Brighton.

The New Way of Life

A chap at the end of our road has been sitting on a deck chair in the middle of the roundabout playing live music. He asked for people to join him (socially distanced of course) and a few people came out of their houses to listen.

Quite sweet, I thought.

Oh no. Apparently, he’s not allowed to do it. The roundabout is not a public space! I ask you? What harm can it do? We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and a lockdown. Nothing is the same. All the old rules have gone out of the window. Even the Care Act has been suspended at the moment. Get a grip people!

We had a quiet day after our rather drunken Friday night quiz.

Our grand-daughter’s high chair has found a new purpose in the Time of Covid. It’s the perfect vehicle to support our laptop for virtual events. We’ve tried and couple of different set-ups for these; at the dining room table (too uncomfortable for prolonged periods) and on the sofa in the lounge (coffee table too low and sofa to deep). So we’ve opted for the sofa in the kitchen with a lap-top positioned on the high chair. It’s perfect!

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In the afternoon I had a trial run for my grand-daughters birthday cake. I can’t remember when I last made a cake. It’s got to be decades ago.

I used the Mary Berry all-in-one method to make two, 2-egg sponges. I had to make them one after the other as I only have one square cake-tin.  I sandwiched them with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream icing. I think it was a success. Next time I need to try and get my butter softer before I try to work with it though.

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I’m still really stiff and sore after my fall the other day. I keep finding bruises and scratches that I hadn’t noticed before. My back muscles and upper arms are tight and sore. The swelling on my face is going down as the bruising continues to develop. Today, I started to get sinus pain and a headache when I bend down and wondered if I had damaged my sinuses. I’m not even sure if that matters. Is it ok just to leave it?

I decided to ring 111. It turns out that falling onto your face from a standing position is regarded as serious injury. They were concerned that I could have fractured any number of small bones in my face. They said I should go to A&E for an X-Ray. I explained that I wasn’t too happy about that, as we are self-isolating for M’s protection. So, I agreed to keep an eye (pardon the pun) on things and, if needs be, arrange a “clean” X-Ray through my GP.

We went for a little walk and had our, now usual, very unusual, Time of Covid, Saturday Night, watching rubbish on the TV that we would never usually watch.

No alcohol after our boozy Friday!

 

 

 

Friday, May 15, 2020, Day 61, Week 9, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

384 new deaths taking the total to 33,998.

The News

The UK R number has gone up! It seems to vary around the country. In the North East it is over 1 and in London it is really low. Must be the rationale for the proposal to lockdown discrete geographical areas.

Not a good sign for the easing of restrictions!

The New Way of Life

My bruising had come out and I have quite an impressive black eye. I’ve never had one before. I’m quite enjoying it in a weird sort of way. I’m quite stiff and keep discovering lots of scratches all over my body. I think I have a couple of thorns in my hands too. That’ll teach me!

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I went out for another walk today. I walked very slowly and carefully, as if I didn’t trust my own feet! Ha! Ha!

Haven’t done any “work” work today. M had been on virtual meetings all day. I cleaned the kitchen area again and sanitised and put away another big grocery delivery.

My daughter popped over to collect a form I printed out for her. She brought our little granddaughter, A, and her teenage stepdaughter. We had a doorstep chat. This time A seemed less upset and she didn’t try to come into the front garden. She did seem a bit bemused and not as happy to see us as she usually is. She almost seemed a bit shy as if we were strangers. I so hope we’ll be able to pick up our relationship when this is all over.

Had yesterdays left over curry for and early dinner. Writers Group starts at 5.30pm – its 5.15 now so I need to go and get ready.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 14, 2020, Day 60, Week 9, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

428 new deaths taking the total to 33,614. Brazil seem to be at their peak now with 835 deaths in the last 24 hours. However, when we look at deaths per million population it’s a different picture:

  • Belgium 769
  • Spain 584
  • Italy 519
  • UK 495
  • France 420
  • Sweden 350
  • Netherlands 326
  • USA 263
  • Germany 95
  • Brazil 66

The News

An antibody test has been approved. It is said to be 100% accurate in terms of telling you if you have had the virus. That is all it tells you. That you have antibodies to the virus so you must have had it at some point and were immune at the time the test was done. It doesn’t tell you how long you will be immune for.

So, what does this mean. It means we could get a more accurate picture of how many people have been infected. It also means for the people that find out they have had it, that they had the illness and they didn’t die from it. For M that could be huge. He is living with the expectation that he will almost certainly die if he gets the virus. What if he won’t? What if he’s had it and he didn’t. It would take at least some of the risk out of travelling to Barbados.

One study has estimated that 19 million might already have been infected. Almost a third of the population. That could be good because the more people that have had it the closer we are to reducing the viral load out there in the community.

Its the first day of the new “relaxed” lockdown guidance. Garden Centres opened today and people have been out in their droves buying plants it appears. When M went for his bike ride hw said their were significantly more cars on the roads. Is transmission going to increase? Will we have another wave? There were still over 3,000 new cases reported yesterday so it’s still out there.

The New Way of Life

The big drama of the day was that I fell over when I was out for my daily walk. I was so shaken up I didn’t write this blog post yesterday – I’m writing it on Friday morning.

I was walking down a narrow footpath in the nature reserve near our village. I was rushing because I was conscious that the path was so narrow that if I met anyone coming the other way we’d have to get a bit too close for comfort.

Anyway, I tripped and fell flat on my face. I crashed nose first onto the edge of the path. I was so stunned I couldn’t even get up for couple of minutes. When I did, I realised my nose was bleeding. I had no tissues so my face and hands were quickly covered in blood. But, I had no idea what I looked like and I had to walk home.

I must have passed four or five people on my way back. All of them looked at me in horror and one woman placed a tissue on the ground for me to pick up.

I was almost home when I realised that I wasn’t wearing my glasses! They must have fallen off and in my daze I hadn’t noticed. I had to go back and try and find them. It took me a while, searching through the undergrowth, trying to remember exactly where I fell. A young couple stopped to help, in a socially distanced way. But, I did find them and headed home on another walk of shame to get myself cleaned up.

My nose is pretty sore and I had a headache for the rest of the day but I’m quite excited to have my first ever black eye!

 

We did some work on Key Ways yesterday. We have a seminar next Thursday which we need to prepare for.

We had a little writers group virtual catch-up at 3 to prepare for tomorrow’s meeting. Had to join them on a cheeky little afternoon glass of wine!

We had our first takeaway curry! Washed down all the packaging and only ate the cooked food – left the salad. It was nice but not as nice had we had imagined it would be. M says he prefers my home cooked curries which I have been doing every Friday but it taken me most of the afternoon.

So this week we have broken our new Covid routine. We had our curry on Thursday! What will we do Friday?!? Actually, I still have half of mine left so M is going to have a defrost a chill for himself. Yey! No cooking for two nights in a row!!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020, Day 59, Week 9, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

494 new deaths taking the “official” total to 33,186.

The News

The government have announced that house sales can resume, in a socially distanced and thoroughly sanitised way of course. Whatever?!

Primary schools are set to open on the 1st of June.

The unions are up in arms about all of this. I heard from a teacher that their unions are not happy about staff safety if schools re-open. The general feeling among teachers seems to be that this is not about children, but about getting their parents back to work.

Transport workers unions are threatening to stop trains running after crowds of people used public transport to return to work today.

I hope it doesn’t happen, but I’m predicting a second wave that is worse than the first. It’s just too soon. I know it’s hard and some people are really suffering economically but we could be making things even worse for ourselves.

Jeremy Corbyn posted this on Facebook a couple of days ago:

Today I challenged Boris Johnson on how this crisis has exposed grotesque levels of inequality and vulnerability.
Now he has given unscrupulous employers carte blanche to force people back to work when it is not safe, putting more lives in danger.
People must come before profit.

The New Way of Life

Sadly, the cleaner from the pub at the end of our road lost her battle with Covid-19 yesterday. She had been on a ventilator for 4 weeks after falling ill early on in the crisis.

Last night we finished watching Gangs of London. Very good. Very violent, very gripping and very confusing but very addictive. We would definitely recommend if you have a strong stomach!

Last night, around midnight, an ambulance pulled up next door. I thought it sounded like someone was having their shopping delivered and looked out the window to see who on earth would be delivering at that time!

Instead, I saw the baby next door being taken off in the ambulance with her mother. She’s only about 9 months old. Mum is still on maternity leave. Her parents are both doctors. Dad works in an Accident and Emergency Department. I hope she’s ok. No idea what could be wrong.

I’ve been feeling a bit off the past few days. Dull headache, slight sore throat, sore irritated eyes and feeling very tired. I think it might be hay fever. I can’t see how I could have caught a cold from anywhere! Last night I couldn’t sleep because I had a tickly cough. I felt so bad this morning I took a Lemsip and one of M’s super-strong antihistamines. I feel better but headache is creeping back in now.

This Covid-19 thing has a tendency to cause extreme sensitivity and paranoia about every ache or pain or sniffle.

We had a virtual meeting with our potential client this morning. Unfortunately, it turns out that they can’t use Zoom, our preferred platform, as they are a public sector organisation. They can only use Microsoft Teams.

I spent the whole morning and the first part of the afternoon looking into this. Making phone calls, watching tutorials, reading reviews etc. etc. about Microsoft Teams.

The conclusion is that Teams is just too “big” for us to consider as a small, family business. We’d have to transfer all our personal Microsoft data over to the business account.  It would duplicate some stuff and give us some stuff that we would never use. So, we’re going to stick with Zoom as the one we pay for. We’ll have to see if it will work if the client hosts the event and invites us as guests.

The good news is, that we have couple of takers for our free seminar next week for the local business network. That is a real motivation for us to do some work on that tomorrow.

The new guidance states that two people can meet in a park for a while as long as they stay 2 metres apart. It also allows picnics! My daughter and I have arranged to meet in a park next Thursday evening, after the baby has gone to bed (and after our on-line seminar!). We are going take rugs, snacks and wine! I can’t wait! I think its in keeping with the rules and safe. M is ok with it. He’s going to run me over there and pick me up.

I’ve had a really frustrating day. Seemed to have spend a lot of time with nothing to show for it. I went for a lovely long walk on my own in the late afternoon. M seems a bit grumpy too. He’ll read this and will get even grumpier but it is what it is …

Our supplies are running low. We badly need out next shop to arrive. It’s due Friday.

I’m on the wine early tonight! I need it!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020, Day 58, Week 9, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

627 new deaths taking the total to 32,965, reflecting the usual peak after the weekend trough. ONS data suggests that the UK has seen 55,000 excess mortality during the Covid-19 epidemic.

The News

The job furlough scheme is going to be extended until October at a cost of £8 billon per month to the government.

Lots of questions still about anomalies in the new guidance. For example, a fifty year old Teaching Assistant is to return to work but is still not permitted to see her own grandchildren. People can meet one person from their family in a park as long as they stay 2 metres apart, but they can’t do the same in their own garden no matter how big it is.

The New Way of Life

I smashed my phone screen this morning. Quite a disaster in The Time of Covid. It’s a bit of a lifeline. Found a shop online in Selly Oak where I could get it repaired. So, I got up and dressed and put my makeup on for my big adventure!

I took a mask with me. I didn’t wear it. I felt silly and no-one else was. I bought some back in March when we were still planning to go to Athens. Seems like a lifetime ago now.

It was nice to get out. The car was still working! The sun was shining. There was lots of traffic and people about. Where were they all going?

The shop felt very safe. One customer at a time, social distancing and all that. I handed over my phone, picked it up 40 minutes later with a brand new shiny screen for just £35.

Actually, it wasn’t quite like that! As soon as I had dropped it off I needed to go to the loo. Everywhere that might have been a potential loo stop In the past was closed. I couldn’t pop in to a garage or a café, or even a supermarket. By the time I had queued to get in I could have been home and back!  I was 15 minutes from home, around 6 or 7 miles away. I didn’t think I could wait 40 minutes for my phone and then another 15 in the car. So, I drove all the way home, relieved myself, and drove all the way back! Oh well, at least the car got a good run out!

Spent the afternoon reading and writing. The day seemed to fly past.

We’ve got some interest for an online seminar! Watch this space. Fingers crossed.

Trying out Fondant Potatoes for dinner tonight – along with jerk pork chops and greens.

 

Monday, May 11, 2020, Day 57, Week 9, Month 3 of Self Isolation.

The Numbers

There have been another 210 deaths taking the total to 32,065.

The News

It’s fair to say the country is in uproar since Boris’s statement last night. It seems to have generated more confusion than ever. Social media is awash with people scratching their heads. The police, businesses and unions seem horrified. Asking if they have to go to work or not? How are they going to get there? Do their kids have to go to school? Can they refuse? Can they go out more? What does that look like in reality? Some of the backlash has been really funny. Even people who are hard-nosed Tories are expressing their frustration. I think that Boris might finally have blown it!

Anonymous Facebook Quote: I’m staying home tomorrow. I don’t know how I’m going to get here; cos I can’t get the bus. Don’t worry though, on Wednesday we can all go and sit in the park; and if R doesn’t get any bigger we might go through to stage 3

A 50 page document has apparently been published outlining further details such as:

  • the suggested wearing of face coverings in enclosed spaces like shops and public transport
  • the ability to meet up with another member of your family in a park as along as you practice social distancing
  • the ability to drive to open spaces irrespective of distance
  • travel to work if its open
  • avoid public transport where possible
  • timetable will be delayed if infections rise.
  • restrictions could be imposed at any time
  • lockdown could be enforced in defined geographical areas.

There is a lot of discussion around the 14 day quarantine for people coming into the country.  Will this apply for people coming in by routes other than air. What about trains and boats and cars, via ferry or tunnel? If you go on a two week holiday or a weekend away, will you have to quarantine for two weeks when you return?

Scotland, Wales and Ireland have not relaxed their Stay at Home advice. Should they allow people from England into their countries and risk bringing the infection with them? How far can people travel to their open spaces. If they live near a border would that exclude Scotland or Wales from their potential options.

How can people go to work if the schools have not gone back? Who will look after their children? How will they get there is they cant use public transport. What if their workplace isn’t safe? Can they be forced to go back?

All I know is that none of it will affect M and I. We are continuing as instructed, at least, until the end of  June. We will watch what develops with interest.

The New Way of Life

As M and I enter month three of our isolation we are just carrying on as usual.

We stayed up late last night watching Gangs of London. M was up early for a virtual meeting. He’s been in and out them all day.

The weather isn’t great again.

I had a Zoom meeting with the subject and co-author of my biography project. Its coming along well. We’ve entered a new phase. Up until now I have been working from notes that she has made but I have reached the end of these now. Now I’m going to use legal and medical documents she has given me, a timeline spreadsheet I created at the start of the project and interview with her. I recorded our Zoom meeting today which will be a very useful function of the platform. I then spent the rest of the day working on the next chapter.

I made a stock with yesterdays chicken carcass and I’ll make some soup this evening. I’m making a veggie bake for dinner.

The icing arrived for the monkey cake! Eek!

M has been sent an appointment for a blood test by his immunologist at a special clean “shielded” centre on the 20th of May. That will be an adventure. I feel the need to get out the gloves and facemasks and to squirt a ton of First Defence up our noses, just thinking about it.