Who could have dreamed this time last year, what a mess we have all been in, all the Tier 3 restrictions, the masks, the isolation.
After January’s visit to Jeni and Steve in Denmark we had barely recovered from whatever it was we went down with (could have been Covid but we’ll never know) we found ourselves in lockdown more or less ever since.
There was plenty of opportunity to photograph the birds in the garden!
A great blessing was the Government-approved daily exercise, which for me took the form of a long walk with a camera, from the house to various places nearby. The glorious spring and early summer weather provided abundant opportunities for photography.
Alan sometimes came out with me but generally he preferred to stay at home working on his nuclear power station (Minecraft), or building new territories in Satisfactory and Factorial, all of which played out on the computer. The UPS van was at our door almost daily with small packets of components to replace the ones from which the smoke had escaped.
Bikes became all the rage and by the time we had decided it would be nice to have one, there were none to be had for love nor money – until late August, by which time the weather was not so conducive, so we didn’t get the chance to try out the amazing cycle lane which popped-up on the A56 between Timperley and Manchester. Complaints from drivers finally got it removed.
A chance encounter on one of our local walks led to regular socially-distanced walks with our two holiday-travelling companions, to the mutual benefit of all of us.
Alan’s attention turned to figuring out how to control Lego with Bluetooth; designing a switch-mode power supply for which the UPS van continued to visit almost daily with small packages of electronics, and constructing a small saw-table to facilitate model-making. Most of these projects are ‘on-going’.
I volunteered with Trafford Wildlife, whose mission in life was to eradicate the Himalayan balsam carpeting the local nature reserves. In the heat of high summer is was a relief to be working in the woods, although we had to cover up well on account of the midges!
Since we could not travel out of Greater Manchester to go butterflying, my attention turned to fungi, sparked by the discovery of a brand new Chicken-of-the-woods growing on a tree trunk. It was a totally New Thing and fungi became a great fascination
The TW volunteers finished the balsam and turned attention to the rhododendrons invading the woods, which we attacked with bowsaws and bonfires. Next up came hedge-laying which is ongoing through the winter – we’re getting better at it with fewer accidental gaps being created! It looks like total carnage but hopefully, it will have a new lease of life.
And then the Government put the whole country in lockdown. Inoculations underway, and as older members of the community we received our first jabs.
Predictably, infections rose as a result of the lockdown ‘holiday’ and continued to be worryingly high until the vaccines began to roll out. Here we are in March 2021, a week away from the anniversary of the first lockdown and 43% of over-18s in Greater Manchester have now received their vaccine first dose, with the millionth first dose expected today. 92% of over-65s and 55% of 50-69s have now had a first dose.
Litter picking became the next activity as although we would arrange a time and place, the job could be done ‘solo’.
The world was gripped with excitement as NASA’s Perseverance landed on Mars – and The Times reported it with an interesting juxtaposition of headlines:
Let’s see what happens at Easter…